Subject: Re: Playing tourist in your own town
Thank you, Diana, for answering a question for me.

My husband and I just returned (on the red-eye this morning) from a wonderful 6-day trip to San Diego, basically to attend a wedding at the Torrey Pines Hilton in La Jolla. Our daughter lived in San Diego 12 years ago and we have friends here, so we have visited the area many times.

This past Sunday we went to Balboa Park to attend the weekly concert hosted by the Spreckels Organ Society. The organ itself is the largest remaining outdoor organ and is a work of art as well as of sound. It was such a beautiful day to gather at the pavilion to enjoy the music. On the way, we saw the cottages you mention. From the signs, we saw that the House of Colombia was hosting that day. My husband and I were wondering what it was all about. Unfortunately, we couldn't stop to visit, as we had to rush back to change for the wedding. You have answered our question.

We have maintained our membership at the San Diego Zoo, so we decided to really take advantage of it this year. I know. Sounds like overkill, but we spent 2 days at the zoo and 3 days at the Wild Animal Park. We arrived last Thursday just before noon, rented a car and went to the zoo before continuing to our hotel While there, we thoroughly enjoyed lunch on the terrace at Albert's Restaurant, a full service dining experience. (No zoo food here!) Of course, there's plenty of zoo food to be had throughout the zoo.

It had been several years since we visited the Wild Animal Park, so we had to do all the walking trails that have been instituted since our last visit. Thus, it wasn't until our third entry that we hopped on the 50-minute long tram ride that takes you to see what the park is known for: several species of animals in single enclosures (about 100 acres per enclosure) enjoying life on a wide expanse of land as they would in the wild. Predator and prey are not in the same enclosures, how- ever as they do want to keep their animals! This time we signed up for a photo safari tour, which we highly recommend. About 12 of us were piled into an open truck (actually, there was plenty of room to sit and stand) and we were taken into the Africa enclosure and the Asia enclosure to see the animals up close and personal, but not in a manner that disturbed the animals. We also got to feed apples to Indian rhinos and biscuits to the giraffes. Our safari tour lasted 1 hour 45 minutes, but they also have shorter and longer tours. We have been to East Africa and this is the next best thing. And we didn't have the feeding experience in Africa!

Touristy dinner is always a must when we come to San Diego. This time we indulged in some tasty food and margueritas at Casa de Bandini in the Plaza Del Mundo on a Friday night. Usually an hours wait or more, but the margueritas make you not care.

Since we were staying at the Torrey Pines Hilton, we just had to walk some trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve. For once, we arrived in the right place at the right time and enjoyed a privately- guided (no one else showed up) wild flower and geology walk during prime blooming season. After a bad draught, this year's rains have brought almost everything back to life, and the colors were magnificent. Parts of the park are reminiscent of Bryce Canyon with its geologic formations, but on a much smaller scale. The Torrey pines are ruggedly beautiful and the ocean makes everything even more spectacular! We even saw some ruby-throated humming birds perched on a branch for a long period of time.

Some breakfasts in Del Mar and seamless flights rounded out our vacation. Sorry to be so long-winded (I'm always saying that,) but it was nice to relive the experience. Oh, and the wedding was great too!

Carrie, who is sad to be back in Bardonia, NY.