Monday, November 3, 2014

HMV (Honeymoon Megavacation) Day One - Flights, Freak Trees, Seals, and a Sunset

We woke before dawn on the day of our departure for our fabulous Honeymoon Megavacation.  Matt picked our lone watermelon to accompany our breakfast, but alas, it was still very under-ripe and no good.  It was supposed to be an orange fleshed watermelon, but ours was still quite yellow.  So, it was just pancakes and before we knew it Matt's dad was at the door to pick us up for the airport.

Matt had only flown once before, back in the '90s.  I've flown significantly more than that, but I wouldn't say I am a globe trotter or anything.  In fact, I swore off flying for five years or more after the surreal experience of looking down on the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.  But, flying we were going!  We took off shortly before sunset.  I let Matt have the window seat and I think he really enjoyed looking down on the fields, mountains, towns, and ultimately, even the Grand Canyon.  Oh, and as an aside, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will stop you for further screening if you carry a cast-iron skillet in your carry on bag.

For people that always drive everywhere it was amazing how fast we were in southern California.  We couldn't have even driven to Denver in that time and all of the sudden it was palm trees and ocean (and sprawling suburbia) below us.  Matt was especially floored by the speed of travel, I think.  When we landed in San Diego it was warm.  We could tell that right off.   Matt changed into shorts.  I peeled off my Cuddldud under-layers.  There was some amazing art in that airport!  At first we thought it was paintings, but it turned out to be dyed cord and wax!  They told myths, legends, and histories of native peoples.  It was very impressive.
Botanical Building at Balboa Park.  I'd seen Adam's photos of it and so even recognized it from the air!  Its one of the largest lath buildings in the world and houses some pretty spectacular plant life.
Adam picked us up and we headed for Balboa Park to look at exotic (to us) plants and flowers.  But, before we could explore we needed to eat!  We'd left with only a pancake in our bellies and the chips and salsa from the layover in Denver were long gone.  Adam to the rescue!  He'd packed us a delightful picnic lunch--hummus, pita chips, red bell pepper, oranges, bottle cap candy, water, and even a couple beers.  We ate it under a pepper tree.  It was exactly what we needed.
Then we wandered.  We admired the Spanish-style architecture, the ponds, the trees, none of which we recognized, and including a fig tree of epic proportions, a black pheobe (a species of bird which we'd never seen before) and the multitude of flowers still blossoming in mid-October.  Adam is quite the amateur botanist.  It was a bit like having our own tour guide!   Its like a whole other world down there.  The plant life really made that clear to me.
Look at this little tiny pineapple!  We still haven't seen any on our pineapple plant at the house.  Maybe it doesn't get enough heat and/or sun.
Adam taught us about these weird plants--platycerium ferns. They're more commonly called staghorn ferns--on account of their growing much like palmate antlers, I gather.
I've always liked the scent of plumeria.  Back when I wore perfume it was the scent that I wore.  I'm not sure I've ever seen one in person before though.  These were my favorites, but there were some lovely white and yellow ones, too.
This Moreton Bay Fig tree is a "co-champion" in the California Dept of Forestry's Registry of Big Trees.  I love that California has such a registry!  This beautiful specimen was planted before the 1915 Panama-California International Exposition.  It is 80 feet tall, has a trunk girth of 42 feet and a canopy width of 145 feet.  It was impressive.
From Balboa Park we told Adam we just really wanted to go to the ocean.  He took us to La Jolla Cove where we watched the seals, sea lions, and birds with great joy!  We saw two new-to-us birds there--Brandt's Cormorant and the Brown Pelican.  Seeing a brown pelican had been at the top of my to-do list since we started planning this megavacation.  We only have white pelicans up north.  Mission accomplished in just a matter of hours.  There was one seal playing in the surf in such a delightful manner.  He'd let the wave push him up the beach and then ride back out on them as they retreated to the sea.  He'd roll and flip and turn in the in and out of the waves.  It was wonderful.  It did not smell wonderful.  Those are some stinky critters--all those birds and sea mammals.  It was quite potent.  And I think that is being generous.  It was really something to watch the waves crash against the rocks.  There is something so tranquil about the rhythm, sight, and sound of the waves, even for this landlubber.
Two new-to-us birds in one single shot!
I adored the seals.
Check out the blue eye on this cormorant!
There were some pretty spectacular, bizarre trees down there.
We didn't even try to identify the gulls.  They are all too similar and have too many different variations based on age (1 year plumage, 2nd year plumage, etc).  We admired them without analysis.  
We stopped along the beach in south Carlsbad to catch our first sunset over the ocean.  As we were walking the beach I spotted these strange little plastic-like (but clearly not plastic) bubbles on the sand.  I squished one and it was hollow with just a little bit of water inside.  We asked Adam about it and he explained they were some sort of flotation device for sea plants and that sometimes big ones wash up, too.  We walked just a few more feet and *bam* there was a big one!  It was super interesting.  I may have a fairly good grasp on naturalist information up north, but I was way out of my element here for sure!  We spotted another black pheobe as well as a shore bird called a Willet, a Western Grebe, and two more firsts for us in the form of a Say's Pheobe and a Whimbrel.  The sunset was spectacular.  Its remarkable how the light plays over the water and sand.  Its also remarkable how fast it disappears over the cusp of the earth.
Matt thought it looked so much like a deer head that he did a mock hunting prowess pose with it.
And then they had to stretch it out to full length, you know, just to see.
Say's Pheobe
I thought it was quite interesting how this sandy cliff was so evenly studded with rounded stones and pebbles.  It had a wonderful texture to it.
Black Pheobe
The way the sunset makes the sand glow is almost as good as how it makes the clouds glow.  How does it DO that?!  It was sure lovely to watch the transitions.  Plus, it really looks like the sun is falling off the edge of the earth.  What a horizon!
It was an auspicious start to our southwestern explorations.


  1. Looks like a fun trip thus far!

    1. It was SO great. Ocean to City to Desert. Fantastic.


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