Mile 2,583 - San Diego

In a sermon several months ago I stated that I had no desire to ever visit California.  Yet, while we were planning our road trip I got the Everest Syndrome.  The Everest Syndrome is the delusion climbers get when they think they are close enough to summit Everest, but in reality they are close enough only to summit and die.  When I realized we would only be 6 hours from the Pacific Ocean I got the syndrome.  I determined we would get there even if an extra 12 hours in the car meant we might kill one another.  We rescheduled a few things, made some arrangements and put San Diego on the itinerary.  I’m glad we did.
Sitting in the congregation the day I wrote off California was April Chapman.  April’s husband Stephen is now a Navy Chaplain.  You guessed it, they now live in San Diego.  So I ate crow.  We stayed at the Chapman’s and had a blast.
Standing in the Pacific Ocean, like the Grand Canyon, has long been on my bucket list.  Now I can check that one off too.  This trip as certainly expedited checking off the bucket list.  I am beginning to realize that I have one of three options.  Extend my bucket list.  Slow down on accomplishing the bucket list.  Or, finish the bucket list and . . .well I guess you either die or live bored.  I don’t care for options two or three, so let’s go with number one. 
So I made it to the Pacific Ocean and stood shin high in the water.  What I failed to realize is that the Pacific Ocean is only slightly warmer than the creeks that flow through the Smokies.  Good thing I did not put “swim in the Pacific Ocean” on the bucket list.  I’m not man enough.  Now I realize why people in California wear those tight wet suits.  I just thought they did it to look cool and survive shark bites.  There were several surfers there in wet suits.  They did look cool.  Don’t know about the shark bites.  If I wore a wet suit I would look o.k. from the chest up, but below my chest it would look like I was trying to smuggle a watermelon.  You know they do check fruit in California.  
I know Californians are for the most part stressed out environmentalists with holes in their soap, but they do know how to relax.  While in San Diego April took us to a couple of beach hang outs.  One of them was La Jolla Cove in Del Mar.  In the South we go the park and watch ducks on a pond.  At La Jolla they watch sea lions.  The story is that the town decided to carve out of the rocks a sandy beach where kids could play in the water.  Kid beach didn’t last long, the sea lions took over.  I’ve never seen a sea lion in its natural habitat.  From what I observed they are a lot like Californians, they like to surf and lay on their backs.  They make a lot of noise and you have no idea what they are saying.  There were a few hundred people hanging out at the park, some swimming in the water, everyone lazily watching sea lions.  The funny thing was I think that there were a few dozen sea lions in the water, hanging out and lazily watching people.  Whatever the case La Jolla Cove is a beautiful place with sea lions, a breathtaking view of the Pacific, and rocky cliffs with crashing waves.  I loved it.
If you have ever watched The Tonight Show you have seen Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo.  If you still don’t know who I am talking about look up the Johnny Carson clip where Joan Embery brings in the Orangutans.  It is classic.  As a young teen I loved to stay up late in the summer and watch Johnny Carson.  I guess Carson was my first exposure to the fact that there is a zoo mecca, San Diego.  Up until that time I had known two zoos, Chattanooga and Knoxville.  The Chattanooga Zoo was little more than a few cages in a park.  I could get the same thing at the Swanson farm, except the Swansons didn’t have a monkey.  The Knoxville Zoo was much bigger and better, but then there’s San Diego.  They make the Late Show.  The Knoxville Zoo makes brochures at the state line welcome center.  
The San Diego Zoo is what I expected, huge and full of animals.  We had four kids in tow so we didn’t make it the whole way.  April Chapman had a pedometer on her phone.  From what she said I figure we tracked about 4 miles by the end of the day.  When you are 6’1” four miles is tiring, but you have more in the tank.  When you are 6 or 7 years old your short legs add to the distance like humidity adds to the heat.  When you’re a kid 4 miles may as well be 40.  
My favorite moment at the zoo happened at the Polar Bear exhibit.  If you have been on my facebook page you may have seen the video.  Polar Bears are massive animals.  Like the Elk thing, I knew they were big, but not that big.  The great moment came when the largest bear of the lot moved over and sat down right in front of me.  It was awesome.  Thankfully there was about a foot of protective glass between he and I, which is the only way I want to see a Polar Bear.  His neck was so large I would have a hard time wrapping both arms around it.  His paws seemed as big as my torso.  Perhaps after this trip, not quite as big as my torso, but under normal circumstances he has me beat.  It was a great day.
While in San Diego we also visited the Hotel Coronado.  I believe this is the Hotel California of Eagles fame, right?  If its not I sounded like a total southern dufus because I sang the line “Welcome to the Hotel California” about a 100 times.  They do have a ghost legend there.  In any event, it is very historic and a great place to visit in San Diego.  Every President since Benjamin Harrison has been there.  Now, so have I.  
We all know military families make a sacrifice for the rest of us.  Living with one for two nights while the husband and father of the family is deployed makes you realize how sacrificial an act military service really is.  Stephen is on the mission trip of a lifetime.  His family is supporting him.  They are true patriots and dear saints of God.  I had a chance to talk to Stephen on the phone.  When you are across the globe on a ship there is quite a delay.  Sorry Stephen, I know I sounded like a moron, but it was great to talk to you again.  From the information he gave me it sounds like he is making a great impact on the souls of those he is deployed with.  April is trying to support him at home by sending him resources.  Being here has made me realize how vital a role we play as their sending church.  We need to really connect with them.  I have some ideas.  
Thank you Chapmans for what you are doing for our country and for The Kingdom.  Hope to see you again soon.
On to Phoenix . . .  


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