With just 2 days left before it was time to leave the USA we couldn’t possibly do San Diego and Los Angeles justice – we could have done with another month or two.
In the end, we decided to use up the City Passes we had bought at Disney for a day at SeaWorld, San Diego and then head to LA for our final day. SeaWorld have received a lot of criticism in recent years for keeping orcas in captivity and this year have announced an end to their captive breeding program, with a commitment to ending their orca shows altogether with the current generation. During our visit we noticed the huge PR efforts to explain the research being done to better understand the species and the support given to orcas in the wild as a result of SeaWorld’s research and funding. Nonetheless, it was too easy for us to make comparisons with the amazement and awe that we felt watching humpback whales frolic on the Stellwagen Bank; it is clear that the orcas belong in the wild and thankfully that is the direction the park is moving in.
Orcas aside, there is still a great deal to do and to learn at SeaWorld and we enjoyed our day meeting rays, learning about the California Sea Lions and laughing at the adorable penguins. The boys also enjoyed some of the rides at the park and Teddy summoned up the courage to follow John onto Manta – his first real rollercoaster and the beginning of his love affair with white knuckle rides.
That evening we packed up and sorted our winter clothes ready to donate to a charity shop the following morning – for the next 3 months we’d be in the southern hemisphere and back in the summer.
With an evening flight scheduled we had time to stop at the California Science Centre on the way to the airport; the big attraction here being the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Having seen Discovery in Washington DC and Enterprise in New York, Nick was keen to tick off a third. Unlike the pristine Enterprise, Endeavour shows signs of wear following her 25 missions in space.
There is a short film about how she was moved from Florida to California by Boeing 747 and then through the streets of LA to the Science Center – moving a shuttle almost 60 feet tall and as long as two buses through the centre of a city is no easy task!
Elsewhere, the boys were drawn to the grotesquely named “Rot Room” where you can enjoy maggots feasting on a piece of meat! We experienced an earthquake in a simulator and then learned how structures are built to withstand tremors. Not put off by the risk of falling, Teddy then scaled a sheer rock face in record time.
As we drove to the airport we reflected on the many incredible experiences we’d been fortunate enough to have over the last three months. In total we drove over 9000 miles, saw 18 US states and 6 Canadian provinces, passed through 35 cities and explored 7 national parks.
Not a bad start but now it was time for the next chapter.