This morning started out simple enough; waking up earlier than usual, feeling bored and restless, complaining of a want to see different scenery.
A little while later, The Dink was loaded, and I was perched in the passenger seat with a pair of comfortable walking shoes and thick socks on, itching for adventure! No agenda, no final location, just "drive till we figure out what we're going to do". After a few false starts, we wound up heading for the Bay, San Francisco. Once there, we could decide what to see and where to stop.
In the end, we detoured at what USED to be the Nut Tree to pick up a couple drinks, a snack for Dink, and a quick raid of the Sanrio (Hello Kitty) outlet. I picked up a Hello Kitty plush change purse and game pen for Dink and we were off again! Before I knew it, we were crossing the Bay Bridge while I tried desperately to think of anything but my impending DOOOOOM.
I was surprised I'd managed to avoid eating drive-thru crapfood while on the road, but by the time we landed at Pier 39, I was ravenous. I do not recommend Luigi's Pizzeria of San Francisco. Their chowder was great... and that was it. The FOURTEEN DOLLAR tiny lasagna was cheeseless, bland, tasted like it'd been made with canned tomato sauce, and had meat marbles in it. This is supposedly "Luigi's grandmother's recipe"? Riiiight. Our drinks weren't refilled until our check was brought around - and we had to point it out to have it done - along with no box being offered for my lasagna (and no questions being asked as to why it had two bites taken out of it before the plate was slid clear across the table). Meanwhile, the large group at the next table over (same server) had their beer pitchers refilled twice, which sent our server skirting our table both ways. He seemed bewildered over the lack of tip for his lack of care.
After lunch, we took Dink to see the private sailboats tied to the end of the pier, then made the trek back to the aquarium entrance. She'd been talking about fish ever since we'd mentioned to her that we'd take her to see "the fish" (we'd originally considered lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, where you eat beside aquariums) and she practically danced into the entrance.
She got to see all sorts of fish in all sorts of tanks, see shining white lacy jellyfish for the first time in real life, and walk down an "under the pier" simulation tank-tunnel. There were "What does a squid's tentacles feel like?" and "What does an octopus' beak feel like?" touch panels to explore - not that she'd go near them! - and a mock-up crab pot to play with; then another tank-tunnel, this one with large fish and a LARGE nurse shark. She marveled at every last fish, waving and talking to all of them... until she saw the nurse shark. THEN she started climbing Daddy, saying "Out out out!" Fortunately, the nurse shark didn't notice her until we'd hit the end of the shark tunnel, so we were almost out anyhow.
Back upstairs, we got to visit the touch tanks, where rays and small tiger sharks swim to the edges of the pools, eager to be touched. The most amazing part of that, to me, was the rays. They're HIGHLY inquisitive, and very friendly. They can easily recognize when someone new has entered the edge of their pond, but can't see past the edge. It's only when you lean over the top to cast a shadow that they know you're there, but once they see the shadow... they move fast! Fluttering wings and gliding shapes sliding through the water towards you, and then.. the most amazing thing.. they pop their heads clean out of the water, up past the gills! They look you square in the face with both eyes, with the most curious, searching expression, for that one moment that they manage to stay above water, and then sink back in and hold very still, pressed against the wall, eagerly waiting for you to pet their wings.
I'm hoping, the next time I go, I'll be able to get a good shot of video of them rising up to meet me. And oh, you should see their excitement when they rise up and see a baby! They strain to stay up, as if they're eager to take in this strange, different creature.
Anyhow, the aquarium had snakes, and of all things, a chinchilla. That was instantly Dink's favorite. The fact that it was as active and hyper as her.. well, it might have been what won her heart. That and the fact the creature looked like a cross between a bunny and a kitty.
When we left the aquarium and tired of listening to a street performer playing a dulcimer, we returned to the car. I was exhausted. Sore. So very desperate for the gallon of water I knew I'd left in the trunk. But the best show ended up being yet to come..
When she saw the car, Dinkle rushed at it, fast as a held hand would allow, and plastered herself to the back door that held her carseat, hugging it like a long-lost friend. "Awwww.." she said, over and over. "Awwwww.." while we convinced her she had to dislodge herself if we were going to get the door OPEN for her to get in. As soon as it was open.. SUCTION-CUP to the side of her carseat, saying "Awwww... Awwww.." Oye.. LOL
Once inside, she was only too happy to be headed home. We hadn't thought to take along even an umbrella/cane stroller, and the crowd got thick enough after lunch that it would have been more a hindrance than a help, but we ALL got a good, long workout and needed to crawl into the car with groans and sighs of contentment.
Oh, yes.. Dink also got a Kid Nipper, shaped like a penguin head. We've all had a time taking turns chasing her through the house (and getting chased through the house) with it, nipping away at her neck and ankles.. or picking up toys and dropping them again.. or play-feeding it.. or pretending ventriloquism. Best $7 ever spent.