Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sabbatical Report: SeaWorld Snow Days

Hello, and welcome to Sabbatical Report #1.  When you work for eBay, after 5 years you get a sabbatical, which is 4 weeks off that you have to take all at once.  It’s a way to sort of reset your life, take a well-deserved break from work, and generally chill out.  Next Wednesday, I’ll start my sabbatical.

Of course, I don’t work for eBay, so that’s sort of weird.  I did work for eBay, or at least a subsidiary of eBay (what they call an “adjacency,” for some reason).  But we got sold ... about two months before my 5 year anniversary.  Happily, though, one of the conditions of the sale was that anyone who would qualify for their sabbatical before the end of the year would still get to take it.  (If you didn’t qualify until next year, you just got screwed.)  There were several of us in that boat, including some folks who started after me.  But they all took their sabbaticals already.  I am, in fact, taking the very last sabbatical my company will likely ever give out.

The other thing about sabbaticals is that you try to take them at a time when you can stretch things out.  I decided to take mine right at the end of the year primarily for the reason that there are six paid holidays in there.  Toss in 4 vacation days, and all of sudden that 4 weeks becomes 6.  Pretty smart, eh?

Also, there are a bunch of high-profile projects due at the end of the year, and I don’t feel like dealing with the pressure.

Anyway, during the next 6 weeks, I will be mostly chilling out at home, working on some personal projects, but also doing various and sundry touristy things in the Southern California area.  There will be times when I don’t have time to do a proper blog post, and, on those occasions, I’ll just post something about where we’ve gone and what we saw there.

So this is the first of the Sabbatical Reports.  It’s coming actually before my sabbatical has even started because we had planned to go to SeaWorld during sabbatical, but then we found out that this past Friday was the first day of SeaWorld’s “snow days”, and they reserve that day for season pass holders (which we are, this year).  So we started sabbatical a bit early.

We decided to invite one of the kids from our sister family (p’raps one day I’ll write a blog post about them), so we were six strong heading down to San Diego on Thursday afternoon.  The Mother drove and I worked the whole way down (got a lot of stuff to do before heading out on sabbatical, don’cha know).  We got a decent deal at a Comfort Inn (the picture there looks much nicer than the reality, but it was okay).  We got a suite—there’s just too many of us for a single room these days, especially with one extra kid.

We got in in time to spend a little time in the pool area.  My middle child “fell” into the jacuzzi.  Then we put our bathing suits and got in on purpose.

Next morning we took our time getting up and getting ready.  The park was open until 5pm for everyone, then 5pm - 10pm was for passholders only: there was a special gift for us (turned out to be a manta ray Christmas tree ornament) and fireworks just before park closing.  So no need to rush.

We got there around noon, which means we were walking around the park for about ten hours, minus breaks for food and shows.  We got the all-day-eating thingy so we wouldn’t have to stress about how much food we were getting.  Plus for dinner we got cookies and hot chocolate for free (more season pass holder goodies).  Of course, none of the food was particularly good, but that’s to be expected for amusement park food.

Show-wise, we saw the Christmas version of the Shamu show, which was a lot cheesier than the regular Shamu show (and that’s saying something).  Lots of oozing religiosity and seasonal warmth.  Whatever.  And we saw the Polar Express 4D show, which means we saw a really abridged version of the movie and they shot bubbles at us so it looked like snow.  Nothing to write home about (although here I am writing blog about it, so what do I know?).

We didn’t really didn’t do too many rides.  We rode up in the tower, and the kids did the Riptide Rescue.  Oh, and the Wild Arctic fake helicopter ride thingy.  Mostly we did animals.  The kids fed the sea lions, we all touched the bat rays, we watched the penguins and the polar bears and the beluga whales and the fish and snakes and frogs.  We saw a lady with a tarantua on her hand, a guy with a hawk on his arm, and two women with a beaver on a leash, who came up and sniffed our toes.  Plus the standard dolphins and orcas.

And of course there was the snow, that being the point of “Snow Days.”  There was a small, roped-off area where a snow machine was making honest-to-goodness snow.  The kids made snowballs to throw at each other, made a (very small) snowman, and, most importantly, got to sled down a little hill.  Not much of a hill, mind you, but considering we’re less than 20 miles from Mexico, any sledding at all is pretty impressive.

Add a few overpriced stuffed animals to the haul, and some decent fireworks right at the end, and you’ve pretty much got our entire day.  We were thinking about doing the zoo yesterday, but we decided we were all too tired.  Well, except for my middle child.  He could have kept on going for days, I’m sure.

And that was our first sabbatical trip, before sabbatical even starts.  Hope you enjoyed this brief recap.

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