THE 2019 CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP: DAY 16 (HUNTINGTON BEACH TO SAN DIEGO!)

And so we have come to Day 16. The last FULL day of the trip. But when I say this day is “full,” it’s FULL. While we do make it to our last actual destination of the trip, we didn’t even have time to be sad about it. We were too busy. With all the fun and what not.

Anyways, let’s get on with it.

Day 16 had us and the Nerneys up and out of the hotel by 7:15AM. The Chagnons were sleeping in a little bit with plans to meet us later. But the 8 of us were on a mission. Not any sort of groundbreaking or even unfamiliar mission, to be sure. But a mission nonetheless. What was the mission, you say?

Donuts. Of course.

Specifically, Duck Donuts.

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Now, you might remember we had visited a Duck Donuts on our drive down to Florida last November, we visited a Duck Donuts in Virginia Beach. You might remember it.  But let’s be honest with each other here.

So, Duck Donuts is a wonderful, magical place. They basically offer custom made-to-order donut creations. You essentially always start with the same vanilla cake donut and then choose your coating, topping, and drizzle. They make the donut fresh and top it with everything you asked for. So it’s warm and yours and yours alone.  They do also have some already-created concoctions if you want to rely on their expertise. These are still made-to-order.

I am obviously deeply in love with Duck Donuts. Like, I have been honestly considering polygamy just so I can marry Duck Donuts.

That love started in Virginia Beach and my experience in Huntington Beach only furthered that love. Just so insanely good.

Here’s all the goodness we got.

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Just so you know, we ordered (from top left): Maple Bacon, Vanilla Coating with Rainbow Sprinkles and Marshmallow Drizzle, S’mores, French Toast, Peanut Butter Coating with Oreos and Marshmallow Drizzle, Vanilla Coating with Oreos and Marshmallow Drizzle, Chocolate Coating with Shredded Coconut and Salted Caramel Drizzle, and another French Toast.

Of those, the two that were for me were the Peanut Butter Coating with Oreos and Marshmallow Drizzle.

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And the Chocolate Coating with Shredded Coconut and Salted Caramel Drizzle.

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So good. I actually got the Peanut Butter Coating/Oreo/Marshmallow one back in Virginia Beach so I knew I would like that. But the Shredded Coconut one was also insanely good. And being newbies to Duck, the Nerneys also seemed pretty impressed with the donuts.

Definitely a good start to the day. Obvs.

But that’s all this was. Just the start. Our next Day 16 destination was about an hour and a half away. In San Diego. At here.

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Yep, a pretty big stop on Day 16 – the San Diego Zoo!

While we were waiting for everyone to arrive and meet up at the entrance, Myles and Will begged me to take their picture in front of this statue.

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OK, fine. I’m totally lion. I made them take it.

Soon enough, the Goodreaus, the Nerneys, and the Chagnons were together and ready to see some animals!

Our first course of action once in the zoo was to get on the Skyfari to get to the back of the zoo in order to work our way back.

Well, eh. Truthfully our first course of action once in the zoo was to let everyone that had to pee, pee. But our first non-compulsory course of action once in the zoo was to get on the Skyfari to get to the back of the zoo in order to work our way back.

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The line was a tad bit long. Made only longer by the little boy in front of me who awoke feelings of intense jealousy in me at the sight of his popcorn. Pfft. He knew what he was doing.

But once we made it up to board, each family got its own tram.

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While the Skyfari did aid in getting us to the back of the park without having to walk there and gave us a nice view of the skyline beyond the zoo…

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…don’t go in expecting any kind of aerial view of the animals. The closest we got was a roof which left us guessing what kinds of animals could be beneath. I assume it was some sort of Velociraptor.

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Once off the tram, though, it was animals galore.

Like um. Like these things.

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And lions. Not metal ones, this time.

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“SARABI!!!!!”
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“Yes, Scar.”

And vultures.

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“What are we gonna do?” “I don’t know. What you wanna do?

And…warthogs? Maybe?

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“You gotta put your behind in the past.”

And monkeys.

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Whoops. Sorry. I mean.

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Easy mistake.

We stopped by the elephant enclosure as well.

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And got to see one of the elephants get its nails did.

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Of course we spent more time than we probably should have over at the meerkats. But can you blame us?

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“Sit down, before you hurt yourself”

The koala was also crazy cute. I mean, it was a koala. Of course it was cute. It also had us all doing insanely bad Aussie accents.

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The baboons were also pretty cool to watch.

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There was this one dominant baboon that was just not having it. Whatever “it” was. He wasn’t having it.

All that standing around and looking at other creatures doing things started to make us all pretty hungry. So we headed over to Sydney’s Grill for lunch.

We secured a few tables outside for all 12 of us and while we were waiting, Matt bought me one of these things.

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Which held a lot of beer. And gave me the chance to drink beer through a straw. AND had discounted refills. Which worked out since I basically finished mine by the time the girls came back with the food. And that in turn worked out because it gave me a chance to also get Nickie one.

As for food, Nickie got me a barbecue chicken sandwich kind of thing with fries.

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It was good enough. Nothing to write home about. But I guess enough to write in a blog about.

And the company was top-notch.

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Once we were full of beer and barbecue sauce, it was over to the giraffes. They were all giraffe-y and what not. Meaning insanely cute.

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Especially this mother and her baby.

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I love how whenever we video animals, we all become Bob Saget on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I mean, I guess it’s better than Bob Saget on The Aristocats.

Anyways, we liked the giraffes. As evidenced by this picture of both smiles AND thumbs-ups.

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As we walked down the path, we ran into the oldest animal in the zoo. I mean, it must be the oldest animal in the zoo. Because it’s in black and white.

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And then back out came the awful Aussie accents. Because of this dude. Chillin. Like a boss.

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And then came the highlight of our day at the zoo. This dog…

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…and this Cheetah?

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Best friends. Seriously.

The cheetah’s name is Ayanna and the dog’s name is Honey. And these two…just chill with each other.

I know. It’s the best. At one point, a zoo employee came out and hung out with them. She played fetch for a bit, but really only Honey fetched. Ayanna mainly just stretched and watched.

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So awesome.

It was getting late, but we couldn’t bear to leave just yet.

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Get it? What I mean is we stopped to see some bears on the way out. But unfortunately, we did have to leave. We definitely wanted to get some pool time at the hotel in before our nighttime activity. And Matt was getting cranky. Which isn’t good for anyone.

So we left the zoo and drove the short drive over to our last hotel of the trip – The Hilton San Diego Bayfront!

Such a nice hotel. We first had to check in, so I drove down to let Nickie and the kids off while I parked the Mustang and met them in the lobby.

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I oddly didn’t take one picture of our room. So not like me. But it was nice, trust me. Or don’t. I mean, whatever man.

I DID take a picture of our view though. Which was spectacular.

I mean, beyond the roof in front.

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Like I said, Matt was a little cranky at this point so when we arrived he informed us the pool was meh and he didn’t want to go. But…he also informed us that they were doing a free whiskey tasting in the lobby. Which I knew would raise his spirits.

I told him to meet me down there and then I called George to do the same. “Free whiskey” is one of those all-time phrases guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. Like “Merry Christmas” or “Look, there’s Kim Kardashian.”

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Dude was sampling Hudson, Buffalo Trace, and Eagle Rare. Two of which (Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare) I have tried in the past but still did the whole “whiskey? What’s that like?” thing to play along.

Heh, kidding. He was fine with the fact I was there mainly because it was free. In fact, I am pretty sure he gave me three tastes of the Buffalo Trace. Which was nice.

Unlike those cheap jerks at the supermarket free sample counters. Pfft, put a “Limit 10” sign up if you don’t want me to come back for an 11th.

After his mid-day whiskey, Matt was feeling better so the three of us went over to meet the rest of the crew at the pool.

And earlier reports were incorrect. This pool was awesome.

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The pool itself was nice and big and I loved how it was situated right on the edge of the bay.

And it had both a hot tub and a super fun pool bar.

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I obviously partook of both.

We spent a couple hours down at the pool, had a few drinks, took a couple dips in the hot tub. And I joined the kids in a spirited game of “keep the beach ball in the air.” Which delighted everyone around us, I’m sure.

Eh, whatever though. It was our last day of vacation. Deal.

But eventually we had to get ready so we all went back up to the room at around 5:30 or so. Because we had tickets to catch a Padres-Braves game at Petco Park!

We not only picked the Bayfront because of how nice the hotel looked overall. It’s location relative to the ballpark was pretty awesome. In fact, it had its own walkway over. We all met in the lobby and walked over together to the park.

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Looking back gave us a good look at our hotel.

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And looking ahead, the park came into view.

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We made our way through ticketing and security and found our seats. We pretty much opted for the cheapest seats we could find when we bought our tickets. I think these were like $18 or so. Which are prices unheard of in Boston for a ball game.

So we were a bit worried about our seats. But they turned out to be great, giving us a good view of both the game and the skyline beyond.

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In fact, our seats were so great that the one drawback ended up being that people were constantly posing in front of us for pictures of themselves. It was fine, though. I mean we weren’t all that invested in the outcome of the game or anything.

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It was a beautiful night for a game (as you can see by the pictures above.) And being this was our last night of the trip, I was super happy to be surrounded by my amazing family and friends.

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And to be surrounded by my amazing beer and peanuts.

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But as the Bible says, man cannot survive on beer and peanuts alone. So I put out the call for sturdy, hungry men. Matt and Myles stood bravely, ready for whatever was in store. On we made plans to set out. On an expedition. Or should I say an ex-pork-ition.

You see, playing to type, I of course researched the crap out of food options at Petco. And I came across the wonder known as the Triple Threat pork sandwich – Breaded Pork Loin, Pulled Pork, and Bacon covered in pepperoncini relish served on a locally-baked Kaiser roll.

It was obvious this sandwich must be mine.

The issue was this was being served at the Carnitas Snack Shack, which was basically on the other side of the park.

No matter. This only made the sandwich more desirable. And our quest even more epic.

And on our journey, we discovered how truly great Petco Park really is. I love how the whole thing is sort of just in the middle of the city. In fact, at one point, we got another look at our hotel.

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And we ended up walking through this Beer Loft place, which Matt actually at one point considered as a place of residence. It was awesome. Not only did they have beer, but they had pool tables, darts, shuffleboard, drunk people. Everything.

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But much like the Sirens to Odysseus, this Beer Loft was a distraction intended to draw us from our charted course towards pork. Towards this…

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Well, more importantly, towards this…

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Oh glory of glories.

We found a spot at a counter just outside to watch the game while we enjoyed our heart-attack-in-a-bun.

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And this thing was goooood. All three of us agreed it was really tasty. I was worried it would just be sort of a mish-mash of flavors but all three pieces of pork came through perfectly.

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Afterwards, we went back to our seats and I mean…I think there was a game going on. I was sort of in a pork-induced euphoric state for the remainder of the evening.

Also I think the Padres lost because Owen had put on his rally cap at one point.

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And a quick Google search confirms that, yes indeed, the Padres lost to the Braves that night 5-3. But we all still had a really great time at the park.

On the way back over the walkway, I couldn’t help taking a few more pics of the park as we started to say goodbye to our trip.

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We also had to unfortunately say goodbye to the Nerneys as they were taking an earlier flight the next morning out of San Diego. Man, how lucky were we to have experienced so much not only each other, but with some of our closest friends? It was sad to see them go, but we felt blessed to have had the opportunity to do something like this with so many people we love.

And hey, we aren’t quite saying goodbye to the entire trip just yet. Day 17 still has us in San Diego with the Chagnons and we definitely make the most of it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say there’s both donuts and Panda Express.

Get. Excited.

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