Aside from Disneyland, this was what I was really looking forward to. I love San Diego -- it's so pretty there. Sharon and I went there on our honeymoon, but I had never been to Sea World. When I was a small kid, we went to a place called Marine Land, which was kind of a substitute Sea World. When we got there, it was a little cool, but we weren't really cold -- yet. We got in to the park just a few minutes before the first Shamu show of the day was to start -- so we headed for Shamu Stadium. I wanted to get some good pictures, but I didn't really think about where we were sitting. It was the "Splash Zone." At that time we started to pay more attention to the young men selling ponchos. We bought a few. As it turned out, at that point, we didn't need them. The kids were disappointed that we didn't get wet. I was happy that I didn't get the thousand dollars worth of camera equipment, sitting in my lap, drenched in salt water. I'll come back to the Shamu show.
From there we decided to try the river rafting ride -- there aren't a lot of rides in the park, so you can really spend your time seeing the spectacular animals. We got soaked on the ride. Actually, those of us wearing ponchos - Sharon, Jordan and myself -- stayed relatively dry. Those who were more exposed -- namely Matt and my brother, Tim -- looked like they jumped in the ocean. We had to stop at the gift shop and buy Matt a new shirt, before hypothermia set in.
We saw the dolphin show. That's where we got wet. We saw sharks and penguins. The kids had a blast at the tide pool. Emma was fascinated by the star fish. I was surprised that she would pick one up, but I think she would have stayed there for hours. We went to the polar exhibit to see the polar bears, and somehow managed to miss them. We walked through the whole thing -- so we supposed -- and saw not one bear. We must have missed a turn somewhere. After the dolphin show, everybody else headed to the sea lion show - which I hear was a riot - but I headed back to Shamu Stadium. I wanted to get some better pictures.
The current Shamu show, is called "Believe," and it was amazing. This was, by far, the best non Disney portion of our vacation. The first time we saw the show, we were sitting off to the side of the main "stage" so all of my pictures had the audience in the background, rather than the backdrop of the stage -- which is really cool (the backdrop, I mean). So I went back, alone, and sat in the dead center -- in the "Splash Zone" again (Shamu can splash as high as sixteen rows in to the bleachers). My best friend, Aaron, saw this show earlier in the year and felt that it was too "green," that they were pushing their environmental, "reduce your carbon footprint" message too strongly. He's wrong (take that). Actually, knowing of the mission of Sea World (it's not just to show you how nifty marine life is), I expected to have a bit of an agenda thrown at me - but I was actually surprised that there wasn't more. To be honest, I wouldn't have minded all that much. These are passionate people, and passionate people don't bother me. Fanatical people bother me. Zealots. If you want to spend your life studying, and preserving marine life (or the planet - or whatever your cause is) I applaud that. It is a noble cause. My problem is with those who adopt the "if you're not with me, you're against me" attitude. The Al Gore types, who tell me that I am evil, if I am not as passionate about your cause as you are. Go ahead and work to make the earth a better, safer, healthier place to live. Devote all of your waking hours to it. I honestly admire that. I will try to spend my time helping to raise the next generation of inhabitants of this planet, hopefully more aware of the gifts they have been given. We're all working for the same thing, believe it or not.
But, I digress. The Shamu show, is incredible. First of all there are the whales. They are beautiful creatures. Killer whales are the top predator in the ocean, I did not realize this. And yet, these amazing trainers are not afraid to trust them with their safety, if not their lives. Why? Because killer whales are extremely intelligent, they are not just feeding machines (this is just one of the reasons they don't do the show with great white sharks). "Believe" showcases the incredible grace of these creatures. Who would have thought of an 8,000 pound creature as graceful? The whales jumped, they splashed, they flew. The trainer log rolled one of them across the entire tank. A couple of performers rode out of the water on the nose of Shamu. What a rush that must be! The whale did a backflip! Flipping dolphins are cool -- a backflipping whale is astonishing! And the music was so beautiful, that I had to buy the soundtrack. It's kind of a cross between the soundtracks for the movies "Gladiator," "Titanic," and "The Pirates of the Caribbean." If you can imagine that, you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, just take my word for it.
So, that was Sea World. It was a wonderful way to cap off the trip to California.
Oh, and on the way back to Anaheim that night, we stopped at a beach, so that my brother could get his "ocean fix" and so my kids could see the ocean up close for the first time. Their considered opinion is: "it's really big."