Tag Archives: San Diego

Best Sleepover Ever: Explanation and background

Beluga dreams (photo by Clint Thomsen)

Mother, mother ocean,
I have heard you call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters
since I was three feet tall. You’ve seen it all,
You’ve seen it all.

Watched the men who rode you,
Switch from sails to steam.
And in your belly you hold the treasure
That few have ever seen, Most of them dreams,
Most of them dreams.

-Jimmy Buffet, from “A Pirate Looks At Forty”

Back in June I published a teaser post that I fully intended to follow up on (“Best Sleepover Ever,” June 19, 2010). Unfortunately, poor reception from both my mobile carriers thwarted my efforts to liveblog that night, and I haven’t had much free time since. Well, it’s time to make good on that teaser, and the next few posts will do just that.

I’m not sure how apparent it is on this blog, but the sea occupies a very distinct and permanent spot in my mind– like a perpetual background process on a computer. Even though I’ve never lived anywhere close to the ocean, I think about it almost constantly. My tastes for culture, food, and music are based largely on my fascination with the sea– with the islands, waves, and sand, and the mindset I’ve associated with them.

I haven’t exactly pinned down the source of the ocean’s appeal to me. Some of it must be innate. Some of it might have something to do with what they say about the therapeutic effect of ocean waves on the A.D.D. brain. Some of it certainly stems from family vacations to San Diego when I was young.

Those short trips included at least one day on the beach and one at SeaWorld. Back then, like today, one child was chosen from the audience during each Shamu show to “meet” Shamu. Today, this “meet” is a glorified photo op with lucky kid and killer whale safely separated by 6 inches of acrylic. Don’t get me wrong– that’s cool. But it’s nothing compared to the early 80’s, when lucky kid was ushered right to tanks edge where he or she got to feed, pet, and even hug Shamu.

Yes, hug Shamu.

One 1980-something Shamu show was especially memorable to me– first because I lost my first tooth waiting for the show to start (thanks, Uncle Josh), and second because I was chosen to meet Shamu. That’s me in the photo below:

Yours truly with Shamu. How about that outfit? Somehow I don't think this type of "meet" would fly today.

Call it cheesy, but that moment was unforgettable. SeaWorld has been one of my favorite places on the planet ever since.

My love for the ocean and SeaWorld seems to have rubbed off onto young Boo, who told me at about age 4 that he’d like to become a beach bum when he grows up, “because they just hang out on the beach all day and surf, and eat snacks.”  Boo himself has a certain history with SeaWorld, which I may touch on in upcoming posts.

This obsession with the sea and SeaWorld seems to be exclusive to Boo and I.  My wife detests the ocean and the other kids could take it or leave it. So when Meadow saw an ad for SeaWorld Adventure Camps’ Father’s Day Sleepover, she knew just what she’d do.  It would be– as even she put it– the best sleepover ever.  For Boo and I, that is.  She’d be more than happy to spend the night back at the hotel.

To be clear, SeaWorld Adventure Camps are geared solely toward kids.  Attending parents are there more for chaperoning purposes.  But if you’ve got small children, you know how fulfilling it is to watch their dreams come true.  The evening would consist of several classes and activities, after which Boo, me and about 35 other SeaWorld “campers” would  settle in on the cold concrete floor of the park’s Wild Arctic exhibit, next to the beluga whale tank, to spend the night.

Snoring to whale song.  Heck yeah.

The next few posts will recount this adventure.  The last in the series will feature some video I shot that night.


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