San Diego and Facing Fears

So it’s been about a week since my weekend vacation in San Diego, and I’ve got to tell you–I loved it.  My last vacation to Catalina Island, I couldn’t afford to do anything, but I did everything in San Diego.  I went kayaking and paragliding and snorkeling.  I went on a speedboat ride and took a yoga class on the beach (the last of which I had done before).

I have to say that out of all of them, my favorite had to be either the kayaking or the snorkeling.  And my least favorite was probably the boat ride and yoga.

I’ll start with the boat ride.  This was a half hour jet boat ride out of downtown San Diego, and while fun, was absolutely freezing–before we got wet.  They provide ponchos to keep us dry, and they more or less work for our clothes, but the rest of me that wasn’t covered with the poncho got soaked.  I will also say that if you go on this ride, let the captain stow any bags.  I held onto mine under my poncho, and it was distracting.  It would have been much more fun if I hadn’t been so cold.

And the yoga was nice, don’t get me wrong, but by the time I had gotten there, I was exhausted.  I had snorkeled, gone on a boat ride, and swam in the hotel pool before the yoga class, so I didn’t have much energy, making it less enjoyable.

The paragliding.  I was terrified–well, until we were in the air anyway.  I loved the paragliding as well, but I had just come from kayaking not long beforehand, and even though my swimsuit and shorts/dress that I wore over it were dry, they still didn’t offer much protection from the wind.  If I were to go paragliding again, I would dress more warmly–at the very least, I would wear a sweatshirt.  That said, there is nothing like gliding over the beach and cliffs.  It was still amazing despite the cold and would have ranked higher on my list if I just thought to wear a sweatshirt.

Another note:  Paragliding is a risky sport, so much so that they video tape us stating so and stating our understanding of the potential risks that include paralysis and death.  That said, no one at the place where I did the paragliding had ever been killed or paralyzed due to the sport.

The kayaking.  First, I got horribly sunburned, so if you’re going kayaking, make sure to put on lots of sunscreen, no matter how rushed you are.  I neglected to cover my legs, and didn’t have time to do a thorough job on my shoulders, so at this point my skin is peeling, and the burns themselves were rather painful during the rest of my stay.

I was also scared about kayaking for the first time, but once we were on the water, I was fine.  I kind of wish I had been with a slightly more adventurous partner on the tandem kayak though, so that we could have participated in the stand up challenge at the end (both partners stand up for ten seconds on the kayak) and then could have surfed the kayak back in.  As it was, my partner was feeling a little seasick, so we sat those out.

I didn’t care for the caves much, mostly because we only explored one, and it was only for a minute.  I would have liked to have stayed longer honestly, but there was a long line.  We got to see some seals and sea lions, and that was pretty cool, but mostly, I just liked being on the water.  There is just something about it that draws me.  I don’t put much stock in zodiac signs, but I do some times think that when we were born has an effect on our personalities.  For me, I am a water sign, and I have always been drawn to the water.  Being on the water like this was a truly amazing experience, despite the drawbacks that I mentioned above.  When I return (because I think this is where I am going for my birthday in the fall), I will definitely go on another kayak tour–I’m thinking though that I will choose a different tour–just to see something new.

Snorkeling.  I chose snorkeling for last, because it was probably the tour that I was most nervous about.  I don’t know if I mentioned in my post when I was discussing going on the trip that I am afraid of sharks.  That is a long story that stems out of a graduate school class and a survival team building scenario, but there you have it.  Naturally, I did all kinds of research on sharks in La Jolla and San Diego and found that while an attack is possible, that they rarely happen.  We were also in a cove that prevents the bigger sharks from getting in because of the dense kelp beds.

It was an experience, and although I didn’t see any sharks despite it being a shark tour (to see smaller leopard sharks that are harmless to humans), I did see a couple of garabaldi (the CA state fish) and a few smaller fish.  It was crowded, so a lot of the sea life was hiding in the kelp, and I spent a lot of time trying to maneuver the waves.  Conditions, I found out later, were not the best for snorkeling.  That said, our tour guide seemed surprised that I had never been snorkeling before, because I was able to handle the waves.  That said, I grew up with a swimming pool in the backyard and went to the wave pool frequently as a teenager.  The waves in the ocean really weren’t much different.

To be honest, I think that I had more fun swimming than looking at sea life, but I do kind of wish I had seen more (despite my fear of the sea creatures).  I will definitely be going snorkeling again–but probably only on a guided tour.

I will hopefully be going kayaking again next weekend with a meetup group, and as I said, I am planning to return to San Diego in November for my birthday and Thanksgiving.  I’m excited–this will be my first week long vacation in as long as I can remember, actually probably ever as an adult.  My longest vacations have typically been about four days, so I’m not quite sure what I will do with myself.  I’m having almost as much fun planning it as I think I will actually being there.




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