One of the few pictures I have of Carrie, Dennis' girlfriend. She was camera shy
We had hit all of the major San Diego sites, save one. Today we would be doing SeaWorld. I didn't know what to expect with this one. I knew that it featured marine animals, and that they were on display in some manner. In the back of my mind I supposed it was something more than a zoo, but I didn't really know what. But as had been our habit we were in no real hurry to get there. Part of the reason we didn't generally get started until the afternoon was that Dennis had duties around the apartment complex. He managed the place and was responsible for minor repairs. So part of his day had to be spent staying on top of those.
So we got to SeaWorld somewhere around 3:30 PM. This is actually not a bad time. The people that had been there all day were starting to leave and the lines were not bad when we got in.
Me, Margo, and Jolene at Sea World in San Diego.
After paying 20 something per ticket, about 3-4 times the zoo price back home, I was wondering what they would have to justify that price. We would soon find out. The first thing we, which today was me, Margo, Jolene, Dennis, and his girlfriend, Carrie, did was head over to Dolphin Discovery. This was a pool area, in which we spectators could just about get close enough to touch a dolphin. The animals would swim around the pool and a guide would tell us all about the dolphins as we watched and tried to entice them, with splashes and calls, to come close enough to brush them as they went by. We didn't have any luck. This lasted for about 15 minutes before we decided to move on.
Nearby was the SkyTower. The SkyTower is a tower with a doughnut shaped capsule around it.
Dolphin Discovery as viewed from the Sky Tower
The capsule travels slowly up and down, and revolves as it does so. By the time you have finished with this ride, it has taken you up about 250 feet, and turned you completely around about 6 times. It is a slow, very casual ride. It is also air-conditioned, so it is a nice way to escape the heat and to get a good look at the park. Which is exactly what we did. We all rode up and got a good look around. While we did that we also noticed that the Dolphin Show would begin at 4:45, in about 20 minutes, so that became our next stop.
The Dolphin Show (I forget what they officially called it) featured a group of dolphins (Duh.) that were trained to perform various stunts. These stunts were mostly normal dolphin behavior, but when done on command, and in the context of the show was really entertaining.
There were plenty of leaps and splashes. A few of which got us wet, as we had sat in the "Splash Zone". There was a spot where two dolphins swum side by side holding a rope, and a trainer stood on their back, ala Aquaman of the DC comic books. That was probably not normal dolphin behavior. The finally had one dolphin leap a rope that was suspended about 20 feet or so in the air. The show lasted about half an hour and was worth seeing.
After the dolphins we were in the mood for more another show, so we headed off to Shamu stadium to see the headliner. Shamu, the killer whale, is what SeaWorld is famous for. And between him and the trainers they put on a good show. They had him swim around the pool making several circuits. Just his shear mass and power had the water churning and sloshing over the top.
The Dolphin show
You wouldn't think something so simple, the act of swimming, could convey such a feeling of power, but it did. The trainers spend a good deal of time in the water with Shamu. There were several variations of the Shamu pushing a trainer high into the air by swimming underneath and pushing their feet. That was also impressive. They got the audience involved too. They got a young boy to help feet Shamu. They blended teaching with humor as they told us what and how much Shamu would eat in day. Then after the boy had finished and was looking at his fishy hands, the trainer said "Oooww, you got fish oogies, hug? After the affirmative reply, she told him that to get rid of them he only had to do this, and she wipe her hands off on her wet suit. I'm sure Mom appreciated that.
If I was those dolphins I would fork right now
We also sat in the Splash Zone here as well. Shamu splashes with much more volume than the dolphins do. If you sat in the wrong spot you were in danger of being soaked. We missed the soaking, but did walk out much wetter than we walked in.
We were getting hungry so we made our way to one of the kiosks to get a burger. We did notice that fish was on the menu, and one of us wondered out loud, if the animals that were a bit slow might end up as fish nuggets. This warranted a general chuckle, although I doubt the thought was unique among the patrons. After our dinner we wandered by where they were having a platform diver about to leap. He was up on a tower above a pool, and we got there just a few minutes before he leaped. As he had to compete with many other exhibits and animal performers this diver added a twist to his dive, by doing it while set on fire.
Shamu showing off
You don't see that everyday. We got a good look at the leap, heard the splash, and then the applause. But there were too many people between us and the pool to see if how he looked. But the absence of gasps or panic pretty much confirmed that he must have survived unscathed or blemished.
There was one other show to see, that was the Sea Lions. The sea lions are trained like the dolphins. They pretty much do the things they would do in the wild, but as the sea lions have appendages and are comfortable on land, their show can be more elaborate. They, with their trainers actually put on a play. The premise of this particular one, was that Uncle Smedley had died and nephews/sea lions Clyde and Seymore would have to show up to the castle for the reading of the will.
The start of the Sea Lion show
There was plenty of humor and bad jokes, but things did not go according to script. As one of the trainers would explain as Seymore decided to swim rather than perform, August was sea lion breeding season, and the two main actors had other things on their mind. But after several delays and improvinisations, they muddled through it. Uncle Smedley ended up really still being alive, and a walrus. He made his appearance and promptly sprayed the crowd several times by squirting water from his mouth. We all enjoyed this show, even with the delays.
Jolene was having a good time. She would sit and laugh or clap, or cheer, as the show dictated and got into it. She would ask Margo and occasional question, but was just a great audience. Our price of admission included a ticket for SeaWorld's tram ride, called Bayside SkyRide.
Clyde and the Sherrif
This tram takes you out over Mission Bay. It is relaxing and gives you a great view of the ocean and the yachts that the wealthier residents keep. It was about 9 PM when we boarded for our trip, so it was getting dark. The sun had finished setting and the lights were starting to come on. It was pretty and peaceful at the same time.
We had all been our feet for most of the day, so after taking a tour of one of the aquariums, we decided to call it a day. I had decided that I like SeaWorld. We had learned a little, and had been entertained quite a bit. Isn't that what you look for on a vacation?