2008.12.29 A Birthday Girl, Balloon Parade, Sea World and a Quest for In-N-Out Burger


Happy Birthday to Mallory! Mallory turns 9 today, and it is hard to imagine a better place to celebrate than San Diego. We let Mallory decide what activity we were going to do, and she has insisted all along that we go to Sea World today. Last night at Legoland, we purchased a blue, fluffy Tiara that lights up, to present to Mallory this morning. She loved it, and wore it all day long.


Mallory, with her Birthday Tiarra on, at the San Diego Big Balloon Parade.


We started the day early. San Diego puts on a Big Balloon Parade each year, as part of the Holiday Bowl activities. It is billed as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade”. We had not planned to attend this event, but Lynda and Neal were staying at the Holiday Inn on the parade route, with a balcony overlooking the Embarcadero. Even better, they invited all of us to watch the parade from their room. KK and PK visited their room yesterday and told us we would truly regret it if we didn’t watch the parade from this great vantage point. So, we convinced Mallory that we could go to the parade in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day at Sea World. That was no problem with her, as long as we got to go to Sea World!

We arrived at their hotel at 8:00, well in advance of the 9:00 parade. This also allowed us to view the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, which was being held on the street directly in front of our balcony. Mallory and Marissa love dogs, and especially wiener dogs, so they enjoyed that.


A shot of our entire group on Lynda and Neal's balcony. This picture was taken by a Penn State fan on the adjoining balcony.


The parade was very entertaining. Lots of the big balloons, such as Clifford, Woody, Shamu, the Pacific Life whale, the Winerschnitzel Wiener, etc. Both the Holiday Bowl bands marched in the parade – of course the Oklahoma State band rocked the house. We finally got to see Kelly, Lynda and Neal’s daughter, and she was doing a great job in the color guard. Yea Kelly!! Kelly always stops by our tailgates at the games in Stillwater, and we like the cache that having an official Band Member brings to our party!


Kelly (in background) represented our group very well! Go Kelly!


The Spirit of Oklahoma State - the Cowboy Marching Band!


KK and PK enjoy the parade.


High school bands from all over the country are invited, and the Elk City, OK band was there. KK has a friend whose grandson was in the Elk City band. As luck would have it, the parade marshal made the Elk City band stop directly in front of us and they played several songs, including “Oklahoma”. They sounded great.


A Special THANKS to Lynda and Neal for sharing their Hotel Room and Balcony with us. It was perfect!


We liked the OSU flag that was flying from a ship in the Bay.


About 10:00, we went down to the street and visited the Wienerschnitzel mobile hot dog stand. We picked up 20 hot dogs and everyone back at the room chowed down on those.

The parade ended after 90 minutes, and we decided to head on to Sea World. KK, PK, Scott and Erin joined us for most of the day there, which was great.

Sea World is popular, no matter the time of year. We had to wait in line to buy our tickets for quite some time. While waiting, we were approached by somebody wanting to sell us discounted admission tickets. This is the second day in a row for us! Scott long ago told me that it has been scientifically proven that Orange is the most “approachable” color. Who am I to argue with science? A high school band from Pennsylvania had three extra adult tickets and they sold them to us at a $25 discount apiece.

Also, while standing in line for tickets, a gentleman walked over to our group, handed us a Sea World poncho and said, “Take this – you’re going to need it”. We thanked him and set it aside for later.

We ended up spending about 9 hours at Sea World and did not come close to seeing everything. They have loads of animal shows, as well as several rides. The first thing we did was head straight for the Dolphin Show. Mallory was adamant that she wanted to sit in the first few rows, so we obliged her. I highly recommend this for anyone attending the shows at Sea World, because it adds a degree of anxiety and anticipation to these events. Sea World likes to refer to the first several rows of their stadiums as the “Soak Zone”. Malory and I sat in the 2nd row, Miles & Stephanie sat in the 3rd row, and the rest of the party sat about 27 rows up. Needless to say, the dolphins did not disappoint us. They put on a great show, and they obliged us with several great splashes. Mallory and I got very, very wet, while the two people sitting right next to me were as dry as a bone. We had given the poncho to Stephanie so she could keep our electronics dry.


Mallory, with her Sea World Birthday Button on, at the Dolphin Show at Sea World.


Mallory and Steve meet a Dolphin.


After the dolphin show, we went to a Pets Rule show, where dogs, cats (yes, Cats), pigs, birds and ducks perform tricks. It was a pretty entertaining show and the girls loved it.

Next, we were off to see the Star of the Show, Shamu the Killer Whale. Again, Mallory, Miles, Stephanie and I opted to sit down in the Soak Zone, and the rest of our party sat in the Upper Deck. The show lasted about 30 minutes, and I thought the theme of the show was rather hokey. After all, we’re just there to see Shamu jump up in the air, do flips, and splash the audience. They had up to 4 killer whales in the tank performing at one time. They are massive creatures, and it is amazing what they can get them to do on demand. Shamu didn’t disappoint us with the splashing either. She got us several times. Shamu can displace some water with her tail! All four of us were sharing our one poncho, by sitting close together and spreading it from end to end. When Shamu approached and a splash was imminent, the poncho went up over our heads. Unfortunately, that didn’t protect our backside too much, so we all had wet backs. By this time of day, we were in the shade in the stands, so it was actually pretty chilly once Shamu splashed 52 degree water on us.


Mallory, Miles, Stephanie and Steve get splashed by Shamu. We are the people in ORANGE in the line of fire!


A good shot of Shamu performing a jump.


As we were leaving Shamu Stadium, KK caught up with me.

KK: How much were those Shamu ponchos?

Steve: They were six dollars.

KK: And all of you were sharing one free poncho?

Steve: Yes, that’s right.

KK: You know, there’s such a thing as being too tight!

Another thing on Mallory’s Birthday To-Do List was to get a caricature made of herself. They had stations set up for this all over the park, so Mallory sat for one. These artists are very talented, and the fellow who drew Mallory definitely captured her. As a matter of fact, Mallory’s siblings were so impressed that they each decided to sit for one also. Mallory was drawn riding Shamu, Marissa was drawn riding a dolphin, and Miles was drawn as a football player striking a Heisman pose. (Special Thanks to Erin for the Heisman idea!)


Mallory gets her caricature made.


Marissa gets her caricature made.


Miles gets his caricature made.


About this time, our group parted ways. KK, PK, Scott & Erin went to see a couple more shows, then they left the park to go eat dinner at the Coyote Café in Old Town. They had eaten there a few days ago, and enjoyed it so much they wanted to take the folks back.

We stayed until the park closed at 9:00. The kids enjoyed their combination rollercoaster / water ride called Atlantis. We toured their exhibits on sharks, manatees, penguins, polar bears, and ocean fish. The last show of the night that we saw was one involving otters and seals. I think that we all laughed the hardest at this show. The animals did very funny things, and they had a great person interacting with the animals and the crowd, who kept us in stitches.

The last item of business was hitting the Shamu gift shop on the way out. Mallory picked out the largest stuffed Shamu they had, which is a birthday gift from Scott & Erin. (Marissa picked out a smaller Shamu that she paid for with her own money.) It was great to watch Mallory haul that Shamu, which is almost as long as she is, through the parking lot back out to the car.


Three satisfied kids leaving Sea World.


The kids have been great with day after day of activities. For the second day in a row, we have basically starved them the entire day, with only a small snack at the park. Today we had hot dogs at 10:00am and dinner at 10:00pm with the only food in between being some Churros at Sea World.

Once we left the park, we decided we would treat ourselves to In-N-Out Burgers for dinner. We hadn’t eaten there in years, and the kids have never eaten there. On the way back to the hotel, on Interstate 8, we would see an In-N-Out on the opposite side of the road. We pulled off the Interstate at the next available exit, about 1 or 2 miles down the road, and that began our quest to try and find our way back to the restaurant.

One thing very aggravating about driving in San Diego, is that they have never heard of a straight line. Every road you get on will twist and turn. We pulled off “the 8” (as they call it locally) and took a left so we would be on the correct side of the Interstate. However, before we knew it, our street was crossing back under the Interstate to the wrong side. We turn around as quick as we can and begin weaving our way back in the general direction we’re looking for. Thank goodness the van has a compass on it, or we would have had no chance. Going up and down the sides of the mountains, taking the twisty roads, will leave you with no sense of direction. After literally thirty minutes of no success finding the In-N-Out, we pulled over to the side of the road to try and get our bearings. We knew kinda where we were at, so we made the best plan we could and made a final attempt to locate it. Eureka! After another 15 minutes of trying several more roads, we came upon the In-N-Out! By this time, it was after 10:15. We had spent so much time looking for the eatery that both Miles and Mallory had fallen asleep in the back. Marissa was the only one awake, and that was because she was playing her leapster.

We chowed down on 5 hamburgers & fries & milkshakes. As luck would have it, there was another batch of Cowboy fans enjoying In-N-Out at the same time. I want to also note that when we walked in the door and were waiting in line to place our order, there was not a single available table in the place. Every seat was full.

It was much easier to find the Interstate and get back home. It was a quick 10 minute drive, and we were back in our room for the night. Everybody was exhausted and we went directly to bed, knowing that we could also sleep in the next day. Tomorrow is Game Day, and we’re ready to visit Qualcomm Stadium for the Holiday Bowl.

Scott & Erin had agreed to bring two extra game tickets from a friend of theirs, to see if they could sell them in San Diego. Yesterday, while walking around San Diego, a local asked them out of the blue if they knew how much tickets to the game were. Scott mentioned that they had two tickets for sale and only were asking face value. They thought that sounded like a good idea, and they exchanged phone numbers. Today, they hooked up, and sold them the two tickets they had hauled here from Oklahoma. What a coincidence that these two people would ask Scott & Erin about tickets when they had two to sell! As we like to jokingly say, “When you live right, things go right”.

Author’s Note: I cannot think of a travel day where I have had such a hard time blogging. This day was so packed full of interesting activities, it was hard to know where to begin. I am certain that I will kick myself for leaving out several items of interest once I think back on it. We had a great time, and I know that Mallory was very satisfied with her day.

I also had a hard time deciding which pictures to include, and so I have attached at least 15 pictures to today’s activities.

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