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home : columns : joel alvstad July 24, 2016

8/7/2013 9:18:00 AM
Back to reality, in time for fall

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

In the past few years, I've found that my schedule, even in the summer, has become more and more solidly booked.
As my children have gotten older, I've seen that going to their activities throughout the summer has been nearly a full-time job in itself. Yes, it's been a ton of fun to watch, but it's also been time consuming.
With literally just two weeks where nothing was going on the entire summer, we decided that would be the time to venture out on vacation. The kids picked Southern California as the destination, and away we went.
Let me just say that the drive to Southern California and back was well worth the time. Part of me wishes we had taken a little more time to sightsee. As it was, we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Southern California, so the days we had in the car were long with very few things to sidetrack us.
Going to California for an extended time really made me appreciate my quiet life in Minnesota. But there was no shortage of fun things to see and do.
If you go to the Los Angeles area, Disneyland in Anaheim is pretty much a must-visit destination. There are two Disney parks: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, which features the new Cars Land. We hit both and were not disappointed in either.
In fact, I was moderately surprised by both. While lines were fairly long, they moved quickly. And Disney had a free "Fast Pass" option that allowed you to get a ticket to use during a one-hour window. If you came back in that one-hour window, you basically went to the front of the line.
We also took in Universal Studios. While the park was just as interesting, the lines were excruciatingly long and there was no free Fast Pass option. Fortunately, Universal Studios helped out with Cool Zone misting fans throughout every long line.
San Diego also has three must-see parks: Sea World, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The zoo and safari park had two of the highlights for me. The zoo is one of just four in the United States that has pandas, which are nearly extinct. The safari park has the white rhinoceros, which is extinct in the wild and nearly extinct worldwide. And the safari park has California condors, which have been brought back from near extinction.
Of course, Sea World is the home of the famous Shamu. Despite sitting in the very top row of the "soak zone," I found myself wringing my clothes out after watching the Shamu show.
We also got to hit a Twins game while they were playing in Anaheim. The Twins actually won, which is something they haven't done much of lately.
Throw in a couple of days at the beach and it was an ideal getaway. In fact, it was honestly tough for me to come back to work, knowing the amount of stuff I'd have waiting for me upon my return.
But after a couple of days back, I think I'm back in the saddle again, which is good. Fall sports begin on Monday.

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