"Day 1 - 7"
* Day 1: Arrive and Palomar Observatory
I booked a rental car with Autorent.
They have only one shuttle bus and it took more than 30 minutes before they picked us up from airport while we were watching other rental car shuttles passing by multiple times.
I've tried fish taco, which is frequently recommended when asked about San Diego taste.
It was good.
First destination is not less disappointed than the car rent.
Palomar Observatories ... no people there.. they just let us see the Hale telescope through glass window.
However, on the way to Palomar mountain, we had stopped by the fruit hut along the way, so we had strawberries and oranges for many days.
We had tried to go to Point Loma, but the road was closed. It is closed at 4pm (or 5pm?).
Not a good start!
* Day 2: SeaWorld and Old Town
I went to SeaWorld.
It's very neat that I can pet dolphins. They are quite rubbery.
They have a lot of good shows: Sea Lion show, Dolphin show, House pet show, and Killer Whale show.
San Diego Old Town.
It's a nice historical area with mexican style.
* Day 3: San Diego Zoo and Balboa park
This is the best day in San Diego.
San Diego Zoo has a lot to see including Anaconda, Gorilla, Panda, etc.
I did not see everything because by 2-3 pm. We were so tired and hungry, then we went for Pho Vanh Vietnamese noodle restaurant.
After filling up, we went to Balboa park, it's beautiful everywhere. Decorating buildings, palm trees, fountains, flowers, and people make the park so alive and colorful.
Then, we headed to Los Angeles that evening to stay in Royal Pagoda Motel near Chinatown.
Los Angeles Chinatown in evening is the most quiet Chinatown I've even been.
* Day 4: USC, Lar Brea Tar Pit, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood
We started our day with Dim Sum.
It wasn't as good as we expected.
Then we went to old school of one of our memebers ... University of Southern California.
La Brea Tar Pit and Page Museum has a good collection of ice age fossils.
After that, we parked in the one-hour parking in some hotel on via Rodeo Dr.
The parking is free but it's a vallet parking, so we tipped the staff for parking.
The last destination of the day is Chinese theatre and nearby area.
It's very crowded, but the nearby theatre (I guess it was Kodak theatre) was a lot nicer and not as crowded as the Chinese.
Moreover, we could see the "Hollywood" sign from its patio.
We filled up our day in Thaitown with the familiar Thai style beef noodle soup.
* Day 5: Disneyland v.s. Surf
This day I drove my friends to Disneyland then headed to my meeting place for surf lesson on Santa Monica Beach.
Bobby, my surf instructor, taught me about surfing on land and let me practice standing on land before we moved on to the sea.
It was easier than I thought. I could stand up for the first wave and did some more and couple of them were really good.
Bobby spotted some dolphins far away but I could not see any since I didn't wear glasses when I surfed.
It was about an hour (pretty short) but I think that I have learned the trick.
It's too bad that I don't know how to find surf board in Thailand. Perhaps, I can sell it!
After that I spent a little time strolling around Santa Monica Pier and checked out California Science center a bit before picking up my friends from Disneyland.
* Day 6: Universal Studio
We started our day pretty early and it was a good strategy for this theme park.
First, I'd planed to go to Griffith Park after Universal Studio, but we were too tired and hungry, so we skipped the park and went directly to Korean Tofu soup in Koreantown.
* Day 7: Los Angeles - Kings Canyon
We left Los Angeles quite early and got to Kings Canyon to see General Grants and other huge sequoias.
We barbequed and camped in Kings Canyon NP.
"Day 8 - 13"
* Day 8: Sequoia NP
We drove to Sequoia NP to see Autolog and other huge sequoias (again), then headed to Wawona Campground in Yosemite to set up our tent.
Then, we drove up to the Glacier point to see Yosemite valley from high view.
We had a good barbeque that evening.
* Day 9: Yosemite NP
I left a bit early to hike to the top of Vernal fall (while saw a lot of people heading to Half dome!).
Then we drove around Yosemite Valley and took the bus and walked to the mirror lake.
We left Yosemite around 4pm. On the way, Hwy 156 is very nice. I wish I could take some pictures along the road.
The weather there was strange. Yosemite was sunny hot, but when we got close to Salinas, it became cloudy and cold.
We stayed in Del Monte Beach Inn, which our whale watch tour recommended when asked for a cheap hotel in Monterey.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be nice. Shawn, the hotel host, is very friendly.
The hotel (actually, it is bed & breakfast) was not perfectly clean but much better than I expected for the cheapest hotel in town with rate of around $60/night when the second cheapest rate was around $150/night.
* Day 10: Whale Watch
We left early for whale watch cruise, which we spotted humpback whales all over. Besides whales, I saw harbor seals, otters, a lot of sea birds including puffins.
We went for Chinese restaurant, which was expensive and not very good.
After late lunch, we drove around 17-mile-drive, which takes around 2-3 hours with 20 stops and we did not do all the stops.
After having enough rest, we strolled Alverado av. in the evening.
* Day 11: Aquarium and Monterey Mission
We started our morning with the Aquarium, which is about 30-minute walk from our B&B, but we took a trolley from Monterey Plaza Hotel.
After aquarium, we went to Monterey Mission, which is claimed to be the first mission in California.
We ended our day with Monterey Fish House (reservation is recommended). We did not reserve. We just waited for some spots on bar counter.
I've tried a dish with Italian name similar to cionpino. It's a fish and shellfish soup. It tastes very good and costs around $17, which, according to Shawn, is cheaper than restaurants around Fisherman's Wharf or Cannery Row.
* Day 12: Hwy 1 (Pacific Coast)
I've planed for Point Hurricane, Big Sur Julia Pfeifer beach, Bixby bridge, and Piedras Blanca beach.
Instead of the plan, we stopped on another big bridge before Bixby bridge and other nice vista points.
One of them (about 6-7 miles north of San Simone ... the first vista point after the lighthouse) is a molting area for elephant seals.
When we drove by, I saw a lot of nice places including Santa Barbara and Ventura, but we were so hungry and no one wanted to stop.
We stooped by noodle restaurant in Thaitown again and then I had a chance to take a picture of Griffith Observatory from that spot.
Too bad that I could not go there, but I save it for the next time if I have a chance to visit L.A. again.
We stayed in Goodnite Inn, Chula Vista - the same place we stayed when we arrived San Diego.
* Day 13: San Diego and Home
We started our morning at Hotel del Coronado, then Gaslamp District and drove around harbor avenue to see San Diego Harbor. I saw Star of India, USS Midway and nice harbor area.
San Diego is a very nice city.
We had Pho for the last time before heading to return the car and catch shuttle to the Airport.