Background: About a year ago, I got a great idea for a road trip. I’d take my kids, fly from my hometown of Houston TX , to San Diego CA, and then drive from San Diego to Oakland. We’d stop and see all the sights along the way, and then fly home from Oakland. Then I asked my friend Gina, who lives in California, if she’d like to come along. With her kids. She agreed, and Death Match 2014 was born. Two ladies, seven kids, and a 15-day road trip up the California Coast.

Day 3 – Everyone got a reasonable night of sleep, and woke up hungry. So back to the free hotel breakfast to fuel up… and it didn’t disappoint. Great selection of tasty items!

Today’s plan was to go to the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park, the Japanese Garden, and maybe ride the little train in Balboa Park. I knew it was an ambitious plan, but I figured we could squeeze in at least three of the four.

We arrived at the Zoo, and bought our “Two Park Ticket” combo for the Zoo and Safari, then headed inside. It was great weather, and a beautiful park! We loved the hills, the cable car ride, and of course the animals!

San Diego Zoo with text

We made it about 1.5 hours before the kids began to start wrangling for snacks. Guys, we JUST had breakfast, right? Hang in there! … No? There’s no more hanging in there? Oh, okay, let’s go get some lunch!

We ate at the Hua Mei Cafe inside the Zoo, and the food was fresh-tasting and plentiful. The shade was appreciated, too. Then we headed to see Giant Pandas, primates, and tigers..

Giant Panda at San Diego Zoo

And just like that, everyone had had enough.

And we couldn’t find our way out.

We must have stopped a half-dozen times to look at the map, but we were hopelessly turned around. One of the teens in our group kept saying “It’s this way!” and the adults were saying “Oh gosh, we are going the wrong way!” Right up until we were standing in front of the huge EXIT sign. Oh! He was right! Thank goodness for teenagers with a sense of direction.

It had been like 1.5 hours since we finished lunch, and the children were starving again, so we stopped for snacks and another rest in the shade. We took turns getting souvenirs for the kids – mostly pressed pennies, but one of the girls wanted to get some special paper. It’s made out of the “processed bamboo” that comes from the pandas. Yep, panda poo paper. That’s just not something you come across every day.

Death Match Crew at San Diego Zoo

We debated which venue we should visit next, and the hotel pool won. Again. So, back to the pool, then dinner at a Chili’s restaurant, and it was time to call it a day. And now tomorrow’s to-do list is like seven things, because we barely scratched the surface today… it’ll be interesting to see how it goes!

My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a travel planner with Travel with the Magic. Like the Travel with the Magic page on Facebook, and follow me on Pinterest to see more of our trip.

It’ll either be fabulous or awful, but it’s bound to be interesting!