There is a lot to do in San Diego. There’s not just Sea World, but the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park — a safari-like offshoot of the zoo — and Legoland. Just past San Diego to the south is Mexico. The whole left side of San Diego is a glorious, beautiful beach. A huge naval base adorns part of the large port area. The city is rich in history and cultural heritage.

But, we only had one day left in San Diego. We tried to fit too much into that one day, and it ended disastrously, as you’ll soon see. I made a crucial mistake that ended up almost ruining the entire trip for one little girl, and it diminished the epicness of our trip by an order of magnitude. Here’s what happened.




It’s harder to get in and out of Mexico than it used to be pre-9/11. When I was a teenager, I crossed into Tijuana once without realizing I’d forgotten my wallet. When I reached customs, I said, “Please let me in the country. I’m an American and I forgot my driver’s license!”

The guard let me pass without a second thought.

Today, though, you need a passport to get in and out of the country, even Mexico. We had five kids without passports (two of them weren’t even ours!) so we decided we would just go visit the border without actually crossing out of the United States. None of them had even seen the border before, so we figured it would be fun to at least go look.

On the way, we passed by Coronado. Coronado! It’s a glorious mecca of immaculate, well-kept houses and expensive shopping. It’s where the rich and famous play on a semi-private island that’s isolated from the bulk of San Diego by a single bridge. A bridge that has to be high enough to let naval vessels and cruise ships pass by underneath. I did not reckon on how freaking HIGH this bridge is. Nor did I consider that I would be a big-ass RV on a narrow multi-lane bridge towering hundreds of feet above the earth when I took the exit. “We’ll just go look at the island and the bridge,” I said, and everyone was all, “Yeah, that sounds fun!”

I hope they got good pictures when they were up there, and saw cool things from way above the rest of San Diego. I didn’t. My knuckles were white, tight, and locked on the steering wheel as I attempted to look calm and collected across the bridge of terror.

Our crack team of photographers was on the job!
Our crack team of photographers was on the job!



Next on the agenda was driving by the US-Mexican border. There we saw that San Diego does have a glorious door between the nations, and we wondered if Donald Trump will just build his wall around it if he becomes President. He ought to: it looked like they were getting ready to open a larger, newer customs center there.

On the way back, we got a good look at the naval shipyards as we drove back to the San Diego Zoo. Arwen was getting antsy. She didn’t care about the big scary bridge. She didn’t care about the big fence and border. She didn’t care about naval shipyards. She wanted to see the baby pandas and all the other animals at the zoo. It was still early. It wasn’t even noon yet. I told her to cool her jets. The zoo would still be there when we got there.



And that’s when I discovered that the San Diego Zoo has NO RV parking (word of warning to you, fellow nomads). It sits in the middle of a public park, and the parking lanes are narrow, there is no spot for a mile in any direction for RVs if you don’t get there so early in the morning that there are still two facing parking spaces still available in the lanes.

We circled the parking lot for an hour, looking for a spot. We drove the neighborhood around the zoo looking for a spot. There was not a single damn spot to park the RV. I was embarrassed. Arwen was devastated. She took it really well for a five-year old, but she still cried, and was sad for the rest of the day. I couldn’t blame her. It was my fault. I didn’t check to see if they had RV parking. I had checked Sea World. I had checked Universal. I knew Disneyland and Medieval Times had RV parking. The one spot I didn’t check? No RV parking.

Double-dog D’oh.

I tried to cheer her up. We stopped at a wonderful little rest area near Camp Pendleton on the way back up the I-5 toward LA. I let her run around a little and promised her that when we went to Disneyland tomorrow, we’d be able to see animals there. She thought that was an okay idea.

It honestly was a nicely maintained rest area.

Santa Monica

Arriving in Orange County, we drove up and through the LA metro area, going past our eventual stop at Disneyland to sight-see the landmarks a little. I tried to get us a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign, but couldn’t find it. I tried to show them Rodeo Drive, but Siri sent us… God knows where.  We did get to go through Hollywood, and the kids saw a large number of freaks, which gave them no end of excited chatter.

Santa Monica is only 1/2 as scary at night as Venice Beach is during the day.
Santa Monica is only 1/2 as scary at night as Venice Beach is during the day.

Then we drove to Santa Monica, and spent the rest of the evening on the pier, watching the waves, riding rides, and eating snacks. When it got cold, we packed up the RV, drove back down to Anaheim, and settled down at Anaheim Harbor RV Park. Tomorrow would be New Year’s Eve, Disneyland, and a special end-of-the-year bonus I had planned for everyone. Maybe I had screwed up today and we didn’t get to do a whole lot more than drive around the Southern California freeways for while… but tomorrow would give me my one best chance to get this trip to the epic levels I had hoped for.

Would it happen? I sure hoped so.

This post is Cosplay-Kai approved!




One thought on “Epic California Road Trip – Day 5 – San Diego

  1. To get in and out of Mexico, just park the RV and go across the river. That’s what everyone else does. lol.

    Nice story. looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure.

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