Zoos and Beaches

December 14 – 16
Guajome Regional Park, Oceanside, CA

After I left Joshua Tree, I went looking for a place to camp halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego that had hookups and openings and didn’t cost a MILLION DOLLARS. Whooo yeah, I spent over an hour on my phone in the parking lot of the Yucca Valley Mall Wart trying to do this and LO it turns out it that just like Joseph and Mary except without the baby thing or religion, thank the, uh, gods I guess, that all the damn inns / RV parks were full everywhere. I lucked out finding a space at Guajome, a large and lovely park in Oceanside, which is actually more or less halfway. I wish I had been able to spend more time there, actually, because it was just super nice. It’s going through a major renovation, so there were only a few camping slots open, but there are trails and ponds and birds galore and you really would not realize that you are deep in the heart of the Gibsonian Sprawl, west coast edition.

My first full day there I drove an hour south to the San Diego Zoo. OK, I know all the arguments against zoos, and I get them, and I too feel sad about seeing animals in cages. Honestly though it’s very much like hunting: I’m probably 90% vegetarian (I eat meat maybe 2, 3 times a year) and I would not go hunting myself but I have seen deer starving to death because of a lack of predators. Thus I feel, OK, there are too many deer: if you’re going to eat meat by all means go out and shoot it first. Well, definitely shoot it first, just trying to take a bite out of the neck of a deer rarely works out well for anyone. Except, I guess, Dracula and werewolves, but, wait, fascinating though the idea of werewolves as natural predators is, I am getting off track here. The track is: I feel that zoos do valuable work. They save animals who otherwise would die slowly and in great pain. They are keeping populations which otherwise would go extinct alive. They educate people to like animals. And they’re much much better than they used to be in terms of the animals having natural or naturalish habitats, etc. No, it’s not ideal. But I mostly support zoos and their mission while still managing to feel somewhat guilty about it.

The San Diego Zoo is HUGE. I had no idea. It has taken the whole idea of zoo into a new dimension, one which includes a sky tram and a safari park and, get this, fellow repressed Easterners, FULL BARS at every snack stop. There are a LOT of snack stops, too,Β  including whole restaurants that are not even all that much worse than, say, the food court at the mall. In fact if you got a cocktail at every single stop at the San Diego Zoo I venture to say you would be completely snockered by the time you left. Also much, much poorer. I was a bit shocked! Vodka! At the zoo! But here in the libertine west they, like honey badger, don’t give a shit. Thrilled, I bought a tiny plastic bottle of white zinfandel. I drank half of it with an eggroll from Panda Express and the other half sitting on a wall just by the exit, which made me feel like the lamest wino ever. Glug glug!

_MG_4722The zoo was fun. The polar bears were being fed while I was there and they were all splashing wildly about in their pond, which you can see from above and below. I love this, because polar bears get all elongated and streamlined under water and it’s just great. But other zoos do that as well now: what surprised me was the egrets and herons who flew in to STEAL FISH FROM THE POLAR BEARS. Nobody got eaten while I was there but I thought, oh man, this is just not a good idea, egrets, not a good idea at all. I wondered where the hell they came from. It turns out that when you leave the polar bear enclosure you walk downhill and eventually get to a pond full of birds. LO! there they were again, hanging out with more exotic waterfowl – and the label said LOCAL BIRD. Heee! Local bird! Go local birds!

_MG_4738The other thing that kind of blew my mind about the San Diego Zoo was the rain forest: it’s outside. I have been in many a rain forest exhibition over the years and I’ve never, ever been in one that wasn’t indoors. It is these little strangenesses that make you realize you are far from your native galaxy.

What else? I went to the Oceanside beach just very briefly; it was wonderful to be by the ocean again. I experienced Southern California as the natives do by spending a whole lot of time trapped in traffic jams on the freeway. And then, on Saturday morning, I headed up to Los Angeles, which is where I am now, sitting at a friend’s house in Pasadena.

California! I made it! I crossed the continent!


ps you may notice some changes to this blog, a few quiet hours with good internet and LO i managed to finally get some pictures up on the front page!

And I am asking you for money with that new button up on the right hand side of the front page and on the About page (which I also updated, only three months late, go me.) This, like the zoo, makes me feel a bit guilty, but like the zoo, I’m doing it anyway. Because, see, I’m making art here. I’m working hard at it. I hope you like it. It is not cheap to do this. So if you can contribute anything at all it will be very, very gratefully received. Thank you!


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