The 1977 California Trip: Seaworld, the Deep, and the San Diego Zoo

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Though I planned this post as part of the 1977 California Trip series, I put it aside. I just couldn’t remember the events well enough to write anything interesting about them.

But then in the process of combing through an old box of photos I came across some from that leg of our trip. They had been separated from the others I knew about.

They were all taken with a little Kodak 110 camera.

So I’ve put them into a slideshow, and will let them, for the most part, tell the story themselves.

We left Hollywood behind and pointed the Plymouth Arrow towards San Diego to take in its tourist hotspots.

Seaworld in Mission Park filled our first day. With no problems having manifested so far about our plexiglass window, I no longer had any anxiety leaving the car behind in parking lots. So I could enjoy exploring the park, its exhibits and shows.

We used the SkyRide to get the lay of the land to better plan our time in the park. We didn’t make it up into the Skytower but we didn’t need to.

The big attraction, of course was Shamu, the Killer Whale – (that detail I had to look up, for I wasn’t sure that it might not have been Namu). You can see him in one shot giving a damsel a smooch. He appeared in a little entertainment called ‘Shamu goes to College’ (as you will note from one of the sets, visible in the photo).

That evening we caught the opening of the film The Deep, based on the book by Peter Benchley – a hot property at the time because of his hit ‘Jaws’ of two years before.

The next day we spent at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. Lions, turtles and bears. Oh my! Galapagos turtles that is.

Then it was back to Renton and home and work at the Saffle Theater Service. The next time we were down in the Southern Cal area – we had kids – three of them – which I will cover at a later date, so stay tuned and Watch This Space.

The 1977 California Trip: We left a few things in San Francisco

The 1977 California Trip: We left a few things in San Francisco

Not our hearts.

It was the summer of 1977 and we had plans. Plans to hit the road again for a vacation down California way.

Instead of flying this time we took our orange Arrow. With me driving of course.

We made the trip in stages, stopping the first night at the Mallory Hotel in Portland OR. We didn’t see much of the city. It was dark out, and on our quest to find a place to eat, we settled on a familiar name – Benihana’s Japanese restaurant. So that section of Portland and whatever was viewable from the off ramp to the hotel and the streets to get back onto I-5 were all we saw of the city.

We made good time from Portland through the rest of Oregon and into Northern California. We reached Vacaville in time for lunch at a restaurant in an olive orchard. My wife remembered this particular restaurant/tourist spot from a family vacation when she was growing up. She carries with her the memory of her dad grimacing when sampling a rather green olive. This time around she was the one grimacing – over my choice from the menu – gazpacho. I guess the thought of cold tomato soup put her teeth on edge. I thought it wonderful (the soup, not the fact that it made her grimace).

From Vacaville we made our way down to San Pablo Bay, skirted around towards San Rafael, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to our next destination – San Francisco. We checked into a motel somewhere along route 1, unloaded our luggage (except a couple of items) and went in search of dinner.

The Hyatt Regency at the Embarcadero Center was only four years old at the time, and a prime night spot. It had a revolving restaurant, the Equinox, on the top of its tower. We parked the Arrow a few blocks away up on Market Street, and were mesmerized by the impressive lobby of the hotel (like being in the interior of a pyramid) which we passed through on the way to the restaurant. [My wife is a great disaster movie fan, and shots of this particular lobby were recognizable, as it had been used in The Towering Inferno, three years before.]

We had a enjoyable meal. I can tell you that much, but don’t ask what it was, for what happened next completely overshadowed all else.

We each had had an adult beveridge with our meal, so we were a little fuzzy as we walked up Market to our parked car. We were puzzled by the sight of a loaf of bread sitting on the sidewalk beside the Arrow. My wife wondered out loud why our groceries were outside the car. We didn’t notice the broken glass under the bread, and were slow to realize that our car had been broken into and robbed.

We found a phone and called the cops. After giving them the rundown on our plight, they informed us that they could not come out to the scene of the crime, but if we wanted to come in to fill out a report we were welcome to.

We followed their directions to a small precinct house further uptown and made our report. Besides our groceries we were missing a couple other items: an 8mm Bell & Howell movie camera and dirty laundry in a paper sack. Sometime in the midst of this ordeal I asked urgently if they had a restroom. This sent me on another surreal sidetrack, as they had no public facility and referred me next door to a seedy bar/nightclub. I felt I was sleep walking through the rest of our time there. It was real “trippy.”

The next day was a Sunday and the memory of what transpired is all a hazy black cloud. Reality was settling in. Was our vacation over before it had begun? We needed a replacement for that backseat side window and where would we find one?

We had to wait until Monday. That’s when we raised a Chrysler dealorship, but they did not have that part in stock. Nor did any of the auto glass companies. Hope was offered, in that they could order it in – but it would take a couple of days. Desperate to save our vacation, I asked if there was something we could substitute, say something plastic. That set a light bulb off in the imagination of the auto glass specialist, and he referred us to a shop that dealt in plexiglass. On parting he suggested that we tell them to use the other window as a template to cut a replacement.

Which is exactly what we were able to do. And we were on the road again before lunch. With only an occasional whistling noise from our replacement “window.”