If you need ANYTHING at all….

I live in my own little world

I took a journey the past weekend and discovered my new BFF #1 arboretum, college campus, boardwalk, beach, sea lion colony, and pier, making the location my new BFF #1 city.

I checked into this little (and I mean little—what you see is what there was!) Comfort Inn at 2:41 a.m. on 1/7.

Comfort Inn

Here’s the conversation between the night clerk and me:

Comfort Inn Night Clerk (CINC): “Do you smoke?”
Me: “No.” (Having already read the disclosures about a $250 extra charge if you smoke in the room, but I don’t smoke anyway, so all I could do was feel sorry for smokers.)
CINC: “Do you smoke ANYTHING?”
Me: “No.”
CINC (incredulously): “Nothing at all?”
Me: “No.”
CINC (leaning across the counter to whisper): “Well, if you need ANYTHING at all, just let me know.”
Me: “Thank you.”

I have my own thoughts, but let’s hear some interpretations of this conversation without anyone knowing where I was.

As an aside, I took 673 pictures and videos, so stay tuned over these next weeks!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post


Best San Diego location to watch planes

Did you know?

If you fly into San Diego, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane. That will give you a birds-eye view of downtown San Diego. Some would say a “way-too-close” birds-eye view. If you sit on the right side, you’ll get a view of the grass and trees in Balboa Park, not nearly as exciting.

There are times, though, usually during extreme Santa Ana wind conditions, when neither side of the plane provide a good view for passengers because the planes will circle around and come in to land from the ocean side.

Regardless of wind conditions, there is a place where the viewing is quite spectacular for anyone on the ground. During regular wind conditions, planes take off just a hundred feet above your head, landing just a hundred feet above your head during Santa Ana wind conditions. It’s not an easy place to find or get to, but when you find it, you can spend all day there because there is a nice little park and lots of food and drinking establishments within walking distance. It’s well worth the experience.

On Google maps:

Location for great plane watching in San Diego

Here’s a picture of a plane taking off in the early morning “marine layer” (called “fog” in other parts of the world):

Plane landing in San Diego

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Did you know?

People need people

Did you know?

After arriving in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I spent the next ten months studying the world’s great, and not so great, religions. I considered myself retired and simply wanted to explore the world. I had enough money to do it.

My mom’s side of the family were Mormons while dad’s side were Catholics. A pretty eclectic marriage, pun intended.

I was looking for a religion that might welcome an openly gay guy. I didn’t find one.

The closest at the time were the Universalists, both Christian Universalist and Unitarian Universalist. Both of them were a little too strange for me, which is kind of funny since all religions believing in some of the stuff they do pretty much makes them strange.

The other possibility was the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a “religion” founded in 1968 by a gay guy to provide religious support to the gay community. However, I had two problems with MCC:

The first was with the mass, and the word mass should tell you all you need to know. It was just Catholicism under a different name.

The second was that mass was simply a place to cruise other guys (and gals for the gals) on Sunday morning. The mere fact that one was at church on Sunday morning probably meant that one had not gotten lucky Saturday night.

After ten months I had decided that my religion was nature, both fauna and flora, and I found that when I needed someone to talk to, and someone to listen to me, I could go to the beach and talk to the animals, the birds and the bees. Of course, when the ground squirrel or the seagulls stole my lunch, I had a few choice words for them. But they always came back to listen, as long as they thought I might have more food….

Finally, on February 14, 1994, I decided to go back to work. Didn’t know what I was going to do but with my typing ability and my command of the English language, I knew I could easily find a job. It wasn’t that I needed money. It was that I had determined that people are social animals and really don’t like to be alone. On that Valentine’s Day, I went to the beach and found it pretty much looking like this:

Beach chairs

It was obvious that there were people around but they were not within sight. Probably out scuba diving. I was both alone and lonely that day. I needed interaction with people on a regular basis, and work could provide that, even if it was forced interaction.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

I have been a Native since April 28, 1993

Did you know?

From October 2015 to August 2016, I was biding my time by delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now and people for Uber. One of my Uber passengers was an 87-year-old man who had been born and raised in San Diego, and had lived his entire life here. He immediately recognized an accent and we had a great conversation during the 10-minute ride, the tail end of which went something like this:

Uber Passenger: “Where are you from?”

Me: La Mesa

UP: No, originally. I’d guess Texas.

Me: Why Texas?

UP: The accent.

Me: Yes, Texas. But I’ve been here for 23 years. Surely I don’t still have a Texas accent!

UP: You do. Are you a Native?

Me: I don’t understand. I was born in Texas.

UP: But are you a Native?

Me: Okay. What’s a Native?

UP: A Native is someone who no longer GOES home because he IS home.

ME: I like that. I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. By that definition, I have been a Native since April 28, 1993.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Still here. Na na na na na na.

Did you know?

When I left College Station, Texas, the night of April 15, 1993, my original intent was to drive straight north to Canada to kill myself. I was too patriotic to do it in the United States. Let Canada deal with an unidentified dead body.

I had taken $5,000 in cash with me, though, and when I got to Canada, I still had $4,854 left. How could I kill myself while I still had $4,854. In cash. In my car. Let’s have a little fun first. So I drove Interstate 94 west from Fargo, North Dakota, looking for things to do, places to spend money.

Still had over $4,500 left when I got to Seattle, so I went to Vancouver, thinking that Canadians would love an American spending a few days and many thousands of American dollars. I was right. After spending just 60 hours in Vancouver, I was down to $3,500.

I’ll never forget the distinct difference between the two countries’ border patrols. Here’s the conversation going into Canada:

Canada Border Patrol: “How long are you planning on being in Canada?”

Texas Boy: “I don’t know. Probably a day or two.”

CBP, while looking at my Texas license plates; customized and lowered Saleen Mustang with blacked-out windows and Flowmaster exhaust making a louder-than-really-necessary rumbling sound: “Are you familiar with the work laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You need a permit to do any work. Are you going to be doing any work?”

TB: “No.”

CBP (still looking over my sleek Saleen Mustang): “Are you familiar with the gun laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any guns into Canada. Do you have any guns with you?”

TB: “No.

CBP: “Are you familiar with the alcohol laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any alcohol into Canada. Do you have any alcohol with you?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “Are you familiar with the tobacco laws in Canada?

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any tobacco into Canada. Do you have any tobacco with you?”

TB: “No.”

CBP, once again looking at my Texas license plates—probably thinking, “Texas license plates. Customized sports car. No guns. No alcohol. No tobacco. Yeah, right.”—and pointing: “Why don’t you pull into that empty spot right there?”

TB: (Does as requested.)

CBP, five of them, spent four hours going through my car unpacking everything. They searched under my car, over my car, around my car. They found my little TV made to look like a computer monitor.

CBP: “I thought you said you were not going to be doing any work. Why the computer monitor?”

TB: “It’s not a computer monitor. It’s a television.” I showed them how to work it.

CBP, after finding an unopened five-gallon can of peanut butter that I had just bought in Seattle: “What’s in the can?”

TB: “Peanut butter.”

CBP did not believe me. They proceeded to open the can and poke long sticks into the peanut butter. They were checking the length the sticks to see if their depth in the peanut butter matched the height of the can. They did. No false bottom hiding guns, alcohol, tobacco, or anything else. Just a five-gallon can of peanut butter.

CBP then invited me to repack my car, which I did. As soon as I was finished, one CBP said I could go and told me, “Welcome to Canada!”

They did not reimburse me for the five-gallon can of peanut butter. I threw it in their trash can. Why knew where those sticks had been before being poked into my peanut butter?

I spent 60 hours in Canada before reaching the border to return to the United States. Here’s dialogue with the United States Border Patrol:

USBP: “How long you been in Canada?”

TB: “2½ days.”

USBP, waving me through: “Welcome home!”

I drove to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and San Diego, still trying to spend all my money and figuring that, as far as killing myself, it would be Tijuana or bust.

Well, it was bust. Still here. Na na na na na na.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Fauna of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

As promised yesterday, here are some pictures of the fauna residing at the San Diego Zoo.

Which is your favorite?

1 – FlamingoFlamingo at the San Diego Zoo

2 – Panda with toothpick
Panda at the San Diego Zoo

3 – Bear (not sure which species)
Bear at the San Diego Zoo

4 – One-legged ball of feathers
One-legged ball of feathers at the San Diego Zoo

5 – Meerkat sentry
Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

6 – Secretary bird
Secretary bird at the San Diego Zoo

7 – Capybara (world’s largest rodent)
Capybara at the San Diego Zoo

8 – African lion
African lion at the San Diego Zoo

9 – Mountain lion
(the kind that lives in Southern California)
Mountain lion at the San Diego Zoo

10 – Reindeer with an itch
after delivering all those Christmas presents
Reindeer at the San Diego Zoo

11 – Great white pelican
Great white pelican at the San Diego Zoo

12 – White-faced whistling ducks
(wondering if the water is too cold)
White-faced whistling ducks at the San Diego Zoo

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Plants of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

One of the meetup groups that I belong to is the Pacific Photographic Society with 2,248 members.

A perk of having that many members is that when we ask a company or its representative if we can have access to something, the answer rarely is no. Companies seem to be only too happy to let a bunch of photographers come in and take pictures of everything, even behind the scenes. Quite often we’ll be asked to provide our best pictures to the company, and sometimes those pictures get used in promotional brochures for the company, with photographer credit!

A disadvantage for me is that I have about $3,000 worth of equipment. That sounds like a lot but there are people in the group who have $30,000 worth of equipment. I can’t compete with them, nor do I want to. So I try to do things differently. When I go out with the group, I usually am the last person in line. I watch what the other people are taking pictures of, and then I take pictures of something different.

Such is the case each year when our last event is a visit to the San Diego Zoo. I have been going to the Zoo an average of once a week for many years, so I have billions and billions and billions of animal pictures. Since the San Diego Zoo also is an internationally recognized botanical garden, I also have billions and billions and billions of plant pictures. It’s the plants that people seem never to notice when they go to the Zoo, and since I love plants as much as the animals, I have an advantage there.

So, of course, at our Zoo visit on December 31, 2017, I took nothing but plant pictures. Well, I was promoted to group photographer since I was the only one with any kind of a wide-angle lens, mine being a Tamron 16-300mm zoom lens, so I got to take the group photo::

Pacific Photographic Society at the San Diego Zoo on December 31, 2017

I’ll share pictures of some of the animals from my two visits to the Zoo on the last two days of the year but meanwhile you’ll have to be satisfied with plant pictures. Of the following, the first two pictures are getting a lot of comments and “best picture” votes, and that was my intent, to show them that there is more to the Zoo than just the animals.

Which plant picture is your favorite?

1 – Teeny tiny mushroom forestMushrooms at the San Diego Zoo

Plant at the San Diego Zoo

3 – Cycad
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

Plant at the San Diego Zoo

5 – I think these are dates
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

6 – Aerial roots of a Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

Plant at the San Diego Zoo

8 – Philodendron branch
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

9 – Philodendron fruit
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

Plant at the San Diego Zoo

11 – Ficus tree
Plant at the San Diego Zoo

Plant at the San Diego Zoo

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post