If you've been reading a lot of Bread and Bread recently, you know that, when I'm not busy voting for Barack Obama, I've been spending my time being all stressed out. This weekend, I discovered an amazing cure. Get ready: It's called vacation.
It can be as short as two days and as close as the nearest major city (San Diego, in AK's and my case). We drove down Saturday afternoon and met up with Lenise, who's good at knowing all the fun things to do, even in a city she hasn't lived in very long. Look how much fun she is:
First stop: Ray at Night. I know L.A. has dozens of little gallery walks, but I've never been to one. Maybe they'll become like cable TV, something I only indulge in out of town. Here's a painting by one of Lenise's coworkers. He's a tech guy, which sort of makes sense--this painting reminded me of those PBS specials you see about mathematical patterns found in nature.
AK and I both loved the work of Veronica Gonzalez, and we bought a little painting she did of a big-eyed, brown-feathered owl. If I'd had a few hundred extra dollars, I would have bought the painting below. Veronica was wandering around and I told her how much I liked it. She was in her early to mid-20s with thick black bangs and glitter on her eyelids. "Oh, thanks!" she said, with not a hint of artsy angst or MFA snobbishness. "That one was so time consuming! I kept messing up and I had to start over." She made me want to buy all her work and introduce "do-over" into the critical lexicon.
This morning we drove up to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Naturally, when you're at a groundbreaking preserve that allows animals to live in their natural habitats, the first thing you want to do is visit the petting zoo.
My mom used to tell me stories about a place where you could drive around and sometimes the lions would walk on the hood of your car. It seemed like one part urban legend, one part Crazy Thing People Did Before The Days Of Lawsuits. These youngsters at the WAP's Lion Camp did not kick us out of our Land Rover--it was strictly an ominous prop.
"The crowd is going crazy for the lions," AK observed. "That one lion yawned and people actually applauded."
Despite its preservationist philosophy, the WAP is still an American tourist attraction. Meaning there were expensive chili cheese dogs for sale and, when we walked toward the elephant habitat, there was lots of signage aimed at lazy, lazy Americans. "The elephant habitat is just 200 steps away. There is one slight hill." Then: "The elephant habitat is 100 steps away. You're almost there!" AK measured her head against the size of an elephant's footprint.
It was all worth the 200 steps.
AK made one more wild friend on the way out, a slim little guy who lays off the chili cheese dogs.