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September 19, 2005
Based on a recommendation by cousins, we made the trip to Legoland, located in Carlsbad, California. From our Oceanside hotel, it was less than 10 miles to Legoland.
We got there just a few minutes after opening time (10:00 am) and purchased our tickets. One-day tickets for the whole family totaled up to about $180.00. Ouch! I know that's not unusual for amusement park prices, and I had already checked into the prices before going to the park. However, forking over the dough was still a bit of a shock! Nevertheless, we were here to have a good time, and provide some great memories for the kids.
After entering the park, we rented a wheelchair. Dawn Ann's ankle had been giving her some trouble (she sprained it pretty badly last spring on Father's day, and it still gets sore if she's been on her feet for too long.) It also provided each of us a chance to sit down if we needed to as well.
Much of Legoland is aimed at pre-teen kids. There were some things that Bryan really liked, such as the "Dragon Claw", the climbing wall, the Driver's School. Amy's Favorites were the Coastersaurus (a tame roller coaster), the driving school, and getting her Clickit backpack.
We were surprised to find very small crowds at Legoland. At first, we thought that maybe Legoland just wasn't that popular of a place. But later, we learned that it was just the off-season. We also encountered relatively small crowds and short lines in Disneyland as well. Being there on a weekday, as well as being there off-season proved to be quite advantageous. There was never more than a 5-10 minute wait for any ride at Legoland. If a ride was particularly fun or interesting, the kids could just go get in line for it again, and have a re-ride within 5 minutes.
Perhaps my favorite photo from the entire trip was a capture of a silly face that Amy pulled. They had a trailer that was for "captured convicts" in which kids could pose for photos.
The dragon claw was in a class all its own, it was the only ride of the entire trip that I utterly refused to go on. I make it a practice to never go on a ride that resembles and egg beater!
This ride flips you up and twists you around in all directions. First right-side up, and then up-side down. Twisting and turning, flipping and flopping. No thanks! Not for me!
Of course, fearless Bryan thought this ride looked like great fun! After it was over, even Bryan admitted that he wasn't too keen on going on this ride again!
One wonders exactly why they have a pond underneath this ride. Is it designed to catch the loose change that must surely fall out of people's pockets -- or, is it to act as an "air sickness bag", if you know what I mean -- and I think you do!
Another fun ride was the "Aquazone Wave Racers". This is where you race around on a "jet boat" along a circular path. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, there are buttons that set of "water bombs". The objective is to time the release of the water bomb so that the desired aqua racers get splashed accordingly. Amy got quite adept at timing things just right. She practiced while Bryan and I were in line to go on the ride. By the time it was our turn, she had her timing down perfectly. We got splashed every time we came around. Later Mama and Amy went on the same ride. Bryan was the water bomber this time -- but I thing Amy got us more that we got them!
As we had nearly completed our circuit around the park, both Amy and Bryan wanted to do some shopping. Amy wanted to get a Clickit backpack, and Bryan wanted to go to the Lego store. While the kids were shopping, I had a few minutes to try out the macro mode on my camera. The gardeners at Legoland were growing some very beautiful plants. The Hibiscus plants were the most striking.
At about 5:00, we had done all that we wanted to do at Legoland. The park was about to close anyway. Because of the shortness of the lines for rides, we were able to do everything on one day, that might have taken two days to accomplish during the peak season.
It was getting a little cloudy out, but everyone wanted to go to the beach again. We drove back to Oceanside, and then to the beach there. On our way to the beach, we stopped off at a 7-11 store, and bought some large Slurpees. We were hot and dry from being in the park all day.
After arriving at the beach, Mama and the kids started collecting sea shells at once! We didn't have shorts or swimsuits with us, so we just walked along the beach (in theory). My feet were so tired from marching around the park, that I just wanted to find a nice place to sit down, and watch the sunset (and snap a few photos too!). I found a pile of large rocks, which afforded a nice beach view, and a place to sit. (I had to provide my own padding to sit on, which of course I carry with me at all times!)
A large storm cloud was approaching from the Ocean. It was beginning to rain. The sun was nearly down anyway. We collected all the sea shells everyone had gathered into our empty Slurpee Big Gulp cups, and left the beach.
We ate dinner that night at a local seafood restaurant, right on the Oceanside Harbor. The food was very good. During dinner, we saw several lightening flahses, and heard the thunder roll a few times. As we left the restaurant, we decided to drive down to the harbor pier to watch the lightening out over the ocean. It was quite spectacular really. Instead of the lightening striking in a more-or-less vertical direction, the lightening seemed to go more from cloud-to-cloud in a horizontal direction over the ocean. After traveling horizontally for awhile, it would eventually touch down on the ocean itself.
We found a place to park near the pier, and got out of the car. The water, inside the harbor, and behind the breakwater was quite calm. We walked out on the pier to discover 4 or 5 people fishing off the pier. We met a couple who were fishing there, who were in their mid-50's. As it turned out, they were children's entertainers. He was a magician, and she was a clown, and did face paintings.
Intrepid Bryan, of course, walked right up to them and asked what they were up to. They had been fishing there for about 4 hours, but had not had any luck that day. After a little while, they handed a fishing pole each to Bryan and Amy. Amy got a few nibbles, and caughy one really big rock! Bryan, on the other hand, got a good bite, and reeled in a Sea Bass! It was only about 5 inches long -- but it was a fish nonetheless. We turned him back (they have to be 12 inches long to keep), but that really made Bryan's evening. The fellow who had baited the hook for him made a big deal over Bryan being there for 15 minutes and catching a fish -- while he had been there for 4 hours and hadn't got so much as a nibble!
While the kids were fishing, the lady also had a line in the water as well. Suddenly her pole began to twitch violently. She reeled it in, and about halfway up from the water to the pier, she realized what she had -- a Sting Ray! It was a small sting ray, about 12-14 inches across. Nobody wanted to mess with the angry side of a sting ray, so they cut the line and let him go.
After about an hour or so at the pier, we headed back to our hotel room nearby. All was well until about 3:00 am. Then I heard the great rushing sound of water! What the heck? It sounded like someone was washing off the outdoor walkway outside our room with a pressure hose. I couldn't imagine what was going on outside. So I got up and poked my head outside the door. Out in the parking lot, I could see the rain coming down in torrents.
The next morning, as we were watching the weather channel (and following the progress of Hurricane Rita) we learned that this storm that caused the lightening, and the torrential rains during the night were quite unusual, so we had been given a special treat. And besides, if it wasn't for the storm, Bryan would never have caught his fish!