Vacation Recap Day 4: Balboa Park & Seaport Village

Last month, my husband and I took a long-awaited vacation to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. I've slowly been recapping the trip and you can read about our time at Disneyland Resort and Ocean Beach.

On the last full day of our trip, we enjoyed the last hours at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs with coffee and yoga on the lower terrace.  It was amazing to do sun salutations right at the water's edge.  You can see Ocean Beach Pier on the horizon, about a mile away.

After a lovely morning, we packed up the car and headed back to People's Organic Food Market, where we got pre-made salads, crackers and hummus, and cookies for a picnic in Balboa Park.  I have to say that this health food store, which is actually a neighborhood coop, was one of the highlights of the trip!  As I've mentioned, Jason and I are gluten-free and (while Jason eats meat occasionally) I'm vegan, and we are both foodies who love to eat.  This store was loaded with inexpensive, delicious offerings and we had no trouble finding a wide selection of treats for lunch.  

We said goodbye to OB and cruised a few miles east to Balboa Park, another site that we wanted to revisit from our honeymoon.  The main reason we wanted to visit, however, was to see the Real Pirates exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum.  In 1984, a sunken pirate ship, the Whydah, was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod.  This exhibit is a collection of artifacts from this shipwreck, recovered over the last 20 years.  It was AMAZING and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.  The highlight for us was seeing the pirate's actual treasure, which included pieces of gold and silver dating from the ship's passage in 1717. Also included in the tour are clothing, tools, and weapons used by the pirates and parts of the ship such as the bell, rigging and cannons.  There is also a room that explains how the artifacts were discovered, recovered, and restored for display.  No photos were allowed, unfortunately, or else I would have taken tons!

There were a few other exhibits at the museum while we were there, but the other one that I completely loved was SKULLS, which displayed a selection of 200 of the museum's most unusual animal skulls from its vast archive.  There were skulls from the tiniest mouse all the way up to an elephant.  My favorites were the bighorn sheep (of course, I'm an Aries!), the flamingo and the anteater.  The dolphin was also interesting because it was surprising how large the brain cavity is in comparison to the rest of the animal's skull.

After our tour we found a nice shady spot under a tree for our picnic.  There's not a bad spot in that park for picnicking... it's full of gorgeous old trees and lush, perfectly manicured lawns.  We enjoyed our food and people watching for about an hour.  The final place we wanted to visit was the Botanical Building, but we discovered that it was closed on Thursdays.  Oh well!  Since it was close to check-in time we decided to head downtown where we would spend out last night at the Embassy Suites on the Embarcadero.

Since we stayed at this same hotel on our honeymoon, we wanted to visit it again 10 years later.  Last time we were here, however, we didn't have a car with us and instead relied on public transportation.  This time, arriving at the hotel was probably the biggest logistical difficulty we had during the whole trip.  I had been pretty calm and going with the flow, but I was not expecting to have to valet park the car when we arrived! We were not prepared, and I had a mini freak-out about having to get everything out of the car on the spur of the moment, and about the $40 nightly valet parking fee. We are total "country mice" when it comes to how things are done in the city!  We had two coolers of food, bedding, yoga mats, unwieldy baggage, you name it that we were expecting to be able to carry in ourselves.  So we decided to prioritize, and left the coolers since we would be getting the car to go out again later that evening.  We grabbed what we could carry, checked in, and headed up to the room.  I was still upset about the parking cost but quickly relaxed since the view from our room was spectacular.

We had plans that evening to meet my brother George and his youngest son Alex, as well as George's fiancee Danielle and her daughter Lauren for mini golf in Belmont Park.  We had time to kill before meeting up, so we grabbed some coffee and walked around Seaport Village, which is right across from the Embassy Suites.  Jason picked out a new hat from the Village Hat Shop, a store we remembered from our honeymoon trip.

Later that evening we met my brother for a round of mini-golf in Mission Bay.  It was great to see my nephew Alex (and shout out to his older brother, Ryan, for house-sitting for us while we were on the trip! You did a great job!). After saying goodbye to the family we stopped by the Whole Foods in Hillcrest for dinner and then headed back to the hotel, where we enjoyed the city lights before turning in for the last night of the trip.

Overall, this vacation was more than we ever expected.  We have changed so much in the decade that we have been married.  We have weathered the ups and downs of marriage and of life in general, and we are all the stronger for it.  We are healthier and happier than ever before, and throughout the trip we kept reflecting on how much calmer, more centered, more present in the moment and more joyful we are now than our younger selves were a decade ago.  We both hope that it won't be another 10 years before we are able to go on vacation again, but I know that the memories from this trip are as spectacular as, and perhaps even better than, our honeymoon adventure.

Here's to many more years and memories, and may our love continue to deepen and grow as we continue this crazy journey together!


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