Today We’re Talking about Organization, Weather, and The San Diego Zoo.
Nearly two months have passed since I moved into the van and came to San Diego. Things are going extremely well but I’m past due for an update!
Sometimes the simplest things don’t occur to me. Spending time with LaVonne has been helpful. She’s been doing the vandwelling thing for years and has figured some stuff out. 😉 For example, when Urban camping, you can’t really leave your doors open like when you’re in a remote area. So why not move things along the side doors of the van? Yes, it will block the side door, but I only need to reach the cooler from there. If I move the cooler (drain plug facing out) to the main side door, I can still access it when I need to drain and refill.
This simple adjustment creates a Tetris like reorganization that allows me to relocate my ‘auto needs’ Rubbermaid (containing things like a 400-watt inverter, window cleaner, jump-start charger, etc) from its current location between the two front seats. Why move it? Because it frees me to move from the front seat to the back (and my bed) without leaving the van (which I have to do now).
It also allows me to jump into the front seat and leave if I feel uncomfortable in the night. Which I could do now, but it is awkward and I could really hurt myself attempting it. I did it once just to test things and quickly realized it was a very bad idea. I could see myself breaking my leg or ankle. No thank you.
The rear door would remain unobstructed in this reorganization, allowing me to get in or out in an emergency. Why didn’t I think of that?! Just one of many simple, but useful, pearls of LaVonne wisdom. From brushing my teeth to better managing my ‘bucket’, she has been a priceless resource and is becoming a wonderful friend.
David has been a lifesaver too. He allowed me to switch coolers with him while I’m here, saving both space and money. His cooler keeps ice a few days longer than mine and doesn’t need as much ice to maintain refrigeration. He is also storing a couple of things for me until I need them in a couple of months. This frees up space for me to get focused on reorganization. Which, to date, I still haven’t done. (The job search, small income opportunities, and writing projects have consumed my time)
San Diego weather is fantastic. Most days are in the high 70’s, with a few low 80’s thrown in for good measure. In the time I’ve been here, there have been 6 days reaching 85 or above and about as many days with high humidity. Summer weather in San Diego is hard to complain about. Locals are prone to disagree on 85 degree days with 80% humidity, but they didn’t just spend 6 summers in Phoenix either.
You might not think San Diego weather would be an obstacle, but it absolutely is. Combine the mild weather with a city I have found extremely friendly to vandwellers (accidentally perhaps), and it’s hard to leave. I look at temps in other areas and I laugh at the thought of going anywhere else right now.
I’ve committed to staying here until I find a remote job, have worked at least 2 weeks, and the temps don’t suck elsewhere. Or October. Whichever comes first. I’m betting on the job.
San Diego Zoo
Until a few days ago, I had not been to a Zoo since I went to the Columbus Zoo in my teens. In fact, other than January 7, 2006, when I attended a work event at Georgia Aquarium shortly after it opened, I have not condoned, supported, or patronized any place that exploited animals for human entertainment. It’s a personal thing. (I became aware of Zoo, Circus, Aquarium, and factory farm cruelty in the late 80s when I was 19 years old. I also became a vegetarian at that time and am still a strict vegetarian, 28 years later.)
Two years ago my new (at the time) friend David told me he worked for the San Diego Zoo. I think I said something about not liking Zoos early on, but David respectfully told me this Zoo was different. David was never put off by my questions, answering candidly and honestly, offering multiple times to give me a free pass when I came to San Diego so I could see for myself.
A few weeks ago David, LaVonne, and I were chatting and David suggested he would give us tickets to the Zoo and a spare for LaVonne’s friend Joyce. We could go together and make a day of it. We accepted, coordinated schedules, and decided to go on Wednesday.
Our day kicked off with a guided tour, then we visited one of the Aviaries, met some Monkeys, missed the Hippo pooping under water (but a group of children shared the details with anyone listening), watched a Flamingo fight, swooned over the elephants, took the sky tram over the park, and so much more. By noon LaVonne had to leave to check on Scout and Joyce had to leave for another obligation. I stayed, continuing to wander (and souvenir shop for the Monster) until my feet weren’t having any more of it. I left around 2 PM but got my hand stamped so I could come back.
A little after 5 PM, after some rest and packing a dinner, I headed back to the park. I ate, people watched and wandered a bit before taking the last guided tour of the day. Afterward, I stayed for the Jambo! parade at closing. It was a pretty spectacular day. I’m really glad I went.
I am no more thrilled with animals living in captivity now than I was before, but I can acknowledge my respect for the work the San Diego Zoo does. I learned a lot about the Zoo ethics, and their concern for the animals, first hand. Using the elephants as an example, I learned they keep the dirt in that area softer for the elephants walking comfort, how the keepers ‘plant’ treats and food daily to stimulate their brains, the detail on their weekly ‘pedicures’ to care for their feet, the decision not to separate the African and Asian elephant pair because of their bond, despite the standard otherwise, and so much more. They have also moved animals to the less stressful environment of the Safari Park if the Zoo environment has become too much for them. I like that.
Am I going to start visiting Zoos on the regular now? Absolutely not. However, I am making an exception for the San Diego Zoo and I will definitely visit this Zoo again. Is it perfect? No. They realize that as well. But if you are going to visit a Zoo and you care about animal treatment, this is the Zoo you should spend your money at. Because they are non-profit, obsessed with conservation efforts, and are doing good for the environment. Most importantly, they truly care about the animals.
Here is a slideshow of some of the pictures I took at the Zoo: