The San Diego County Fair

Overhead ride for WP With logo
If you haven’t gone to the SD fair yet, you only have few more days. The fair held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is closed after July 5th. Not to worry though, there are plenty of other county fairs going on in 2015. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to get a list of the many fairs in California.

There is Nothing like a Fair:
Someone told me that whenever they go to the fair it gives them a feeling of pure joy and delight and that it always brings a smile to their face. I am talking about an adult, not a kid.

I am always leery about going to the fair because I think of all of the people. My thoughts are of traffic jams and lack of parking.
So, I was pleasantly surprised driving onto the off ramp to be greeted by an abundance of traffic attendants. All were tending to the traffic expertly and helping us to find our designated lot. We had passes for the Diamond Club parking area and were shown the way by the orange vested attendant. Don’t let the diamond part of the name fool you because we were as far away from the entrance as you can get. It should have been called the Cubic Zirconia Club. Not to worry though as we only walked a short distance to the tram stop. Some events like this you can wait quite a long time for the next transport to arrive but they had them coming in right after each other which moved us along very quickly.

I took note as the tram drivers and employees were friendly, smiling, and wishing everyone a great time. Either they are naturally happy people or the organizers of the event instilled in them to make sure everyone was greeted happily and cheerfully. Whatever it was, good job to the employees of the fair.

There is Only One Goal at the Fair…to Have Fun:
Fun could mean eating all of the wonderful types of food. Fun could mean experiencing all of the exciting rides. It could mean strolling through the photo exhibit, the new product hall, the flower garden, or trying to win a stuffed animal in the game section. Also, check out the vendors on the main street at the entrance of the fair.

Crystal vendor

“You cannot be unhappy at the fair,” one friend told me. It brings back childhood, it means romance; it is a frenetic place with vibrant colors, lights, screams, and laughter.

For daredevils there are plenty of scary rides to get your heart pumping including the bungee jump where everyone stands around yelling, “Jump, jump ,jump!” to every person who steps up on the platform. I think the people who yell the loudest are the ones who wouldn’t be caught dead up there. That would be me.

Bungee Jumper

Fairs Transcend Time:
There are sections and sections of rides from old school to new. What appealed to people long ago, still appeals to them today. I am talking about fun houses, games, cotton candy, Ferris wheels, and carousels. Just as if we traveled back in time, the fair still features all of those plus cooking, baking, pie eating, and dancing contests, as well as the Battle of the Bands. There is livestock, vegetable, crafts, and hobby events.

Ferris Wheel WP

The fair has it all and there is something for everyone. Get a pass for the full duration of the fair so you can take your time and visit all of the exhibits.

Eat something different each night. The fair has introduced us to the likes of chocolate covered pickles and fried Twinkies. For you dieters they now have deep fried Slim Fast bars. Everyone always talks about what they are going to eat when they go. They remember the wonderful taste of it from the year before or the year before that. My group couldn’t wait to eat the giant turkey leg and weren’t disappointed as they chomped on it primitive style with no utensils as if they were back in the Vikings days. It was just pure culinary joyfulness.

Overhead ride over food WP

The fair also brings out a variety of musical acts which include some big names. There are various stages scattered about and on any given night you can hear the sounds of country, rock ‘n’ roll, the blues, and much more.

Three Dog Night was playing in the paddock area the night we went and standing to watch was free to all. The seating area required a paid ticket. The larger concerts held in the grandstands can require a paid ticket so check the concert schedule on the fair web site to be sure.

Three Dog Night for WP

Leaving the Fair:
As it got later and the colorful lights of the fair now lit up the dark sky, it was time to leave.
Now it was time for the dreaded wait in line for the tram to come to take us back to our lot. I knew the line might be long as a lot of people were leaving at this time of night. We soon discovered that the line wasn’t bad and the trams were coming in one after another to make it a quick jaunt over to our Cubic Z section.

Fair at night

I was impressed! There were plenty of trams, plenty of helpers, and we made it out to our far-away lot in a short period. Props to the organizers!!! They donated plenty of transports, employees, etc. to make the night a memorable one.

With this great experience I might go again next year, I might also go again this season! It is no wonder the attendance at the fair in San Diego reaches over a million each year.

As mentioned, San Diego Fair is coming to a close for 2015. Here is the link for other fairs in California and the link for the SD Fair.


F-16 Flight Simulator

As we have mentioned many times, here at Staycations California, we like to give you a firsthand account of the activity we participate in or a close look at the places we visit. It is no fun just to write about it, we have to experience it and report back to you.

With that in mind, here is a firsthand account of our recent experience at the Flightdeck in Anaheim, California.  This has been in the top five of our experiences which include, skydiving, ride-along in a Nascar going 200 miles per hour, Jetlev, and parasailing.

At Flightdeck they have 8 fighter jet simulators and a flight simulator based on the Boeing 737-800.  You get to sit in the simulator and experience the controls as if you are in an actual F-16.

The simulator room

The Briefing
When you first get there they take you into the briefing room to teach you how to use the controls before you get into the actual simulator.  The right hand control is responsible for lift, dive, turning, brakes, as well as the guns and rockets.  On the left side is your thrust handle mostly used for take-offs and landings. They teach you the speeds needed for take-off and landing as well as how to turn the airplane.  You also learn how to spot your targets on the screen by their call numbers.  So in advance you know everyone’s jet number.

Briefing room

At first, it was too much information and I thought I was going to be a bumbling idiot trying to remember everything. Luckily they give you about a ten minute instruction ride in the simulator so you can get familiar with the controls.   The instructors are extremely nice and you feel no pressure at all.

Now it is time to leave the briefing room and enter the simulator.  The simulators themselves are off the ground and you have to climb a small ladder to get into the cockpit.  I am sure this was designed to give you the feel of actually entering a real jet. They even provide flight suits and helmets for the full experience, although you don’t have to wear them.

Uniforms As you enter the cockpit, the space is small and tight but not overwhelmingly so.  I have to admit I was a little nervous at first as I wasn’t sure if I would feel claustrophobic or not, but that wasn’t the case.   The cockpits seem to accommodate any size person although they have restrictions if the person is too small. Some kids wouldn’t be able to see the screen.

Glenn in Plane Good

The moment of truth would be when the canopy closed over your head and you were actually encapsulated in the small cockpit.  It turned out to be no big deal as you were excited to get on with it and fly!!  You are supplied with headphones so you can radio the instructors at anytime to get you out of the plane. The same headphones allow you to talk to fellow competitors as well as hear what the instructors are saying.

Time to Fly!
Soon after the canopy closes, a large screen appears and the simulation begins. On the practice run, the first thing you do is take off in pairs.   All nervousness disappeared as now I was ready to fly a F-16!…well sort of.

On take-off, you try to remember all of the directions, however the instructors gently remind you of air speed, altitude, or if your decent is too low or high.  They only chime in once in awhile, most of the time they leave you alone.

Once you are given the o.k. from the control tower to take off, you accelerate and speed down the runway.   Then it is time to lift the nose up and start flying!!!!!

Now we are in the air getting a feel for everything and it wasn’t so bad.   You can easily handle the controls while making adjustments as well as searching for your targets.

We flew around for about 10 minutes getting acclimated to the controls but now it was the time to get into the dog fight.   Off we go into battle with newly supplied rockets and gun ammo.  Once you find the other F-16’s, it was time to track them down and shoot them off the screen.   The planes had to be within 4 -5 miles of your jet for you to lock onto the target.  Unfortunately, you can waste a few rockets shooting too soon. I did manage to shoot down 4 planes and one was fellow Staycationer JoJo, who I saw go up in flames. I couldn’t help but giggle over the intercom.

Unfortunately, I got shot down a few times and I had to close my eyes as I pummeled to the ground.   I think I heard Staycationer Glenn say,”Got ya!”   So after that, I was looking for his number to get revenge.  Sadly I heard the control tower tell me I was out of rockets.  I should have stayed clear from him anyway, he got the second best score during our round.  They do re-supply you with rockets and you can also shoot your guns but you have to be close enough to use them.

The Landing
After some fun flying and gun battles lasting about 45 minutes, it was time for landing. Up ahead sat the runway so as you approached, you had to make sure you were lined up correctly and your air speed was within the right range.  You also had to watch the altitude as not to land too soon or over run the landing strip.

The first landing I kept the plane steady and on target.  My airspeed and altitude were correct and I softly landed on the runway.  I dipped the nose down, pulled the throttle back, and started to put on the brakes.  I came to a stop just in time and was ecstatic that the first landing was a success! I would walk out of there with my head held high!

Oh, but no, they had to let us do it again!  For most, that is a good thing but this time my approach was too low, in fact the tower told me I was going into the water.  So I abruptly pulled up the nose and gained some altitude.   However, the runway was coming on quickly and now my airspeed was too fast.  I pulled back the throttle and tried to keep my plane on track, but all of this overcompensating just got me in more and more trouble. In the end my wing hit the run-way and I witnessed my own plane going up in fire and smoke.    What just happened?  I had a perfect landing not 5 minutes ago.

From a perfect landing to a disastrous one and I just ruined a multimillion dollar plane.  They happily reminded me that they take personal checks.

Landing strip

The End of Combat Briefing
We received a briefing at the end by our instructor Rabbit (his call sign).  He gave us our points on a sheet of paper and of course they were on the control board for all to see.  I had 4 kills, one good landing, and one failure.  They said the average for a first timer was 0-5 kills so I was o.k. with my score.

It is a casual atmosphere and Rabbit made it fun so you didn’t feel any pressure.  However, when you are in the simulator it is game on!!   All were in on the fight except for Staycationer Jojo who was off on her own, flying randomly somewhere in the countryside.

If you do this once, you can skip the instructions and go right into the simulators on subsequent visits.  They also have a Boeing 737 which I think would be fun to try.

Also, you can bring a guest who can hang out in the Officers Club and watch all the aerial action on 10 large LCD screens.

Officers Club

Flightdeck features state of the art simulators, air-to air combat, landing and take-offs and offers several mind-bending missions and event packages for groups 6 to 80.

From their website:

Flightdeck is open to the general public with special programs for corporate groups, team building, birthday parties and unique bachelor or bachelorette parties.  Consistently voted as one of the top 10 things to do in Anaheim and Orange County.  Roger Out!

Story:Debbie Colwell
Photos:J.Schmidt Cell Phone

Staycationer JoJo gets us doing all of these fun things.

JoJO by plane

The Omni and the Marriott

Omni--Building side
Marriott-View from Seaport

A Tale of Two Hotels

It is not very often you get to stay at two excellent hotels in one weekend.  That was the case for a wedding ceremony that Staycations was attending during the first week of June.The wedding venue was at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina near Seaport Village and the event was to be held on Saturday afternoon. We booked a room at the Marriott for that night, but because we wanted to extend the weekend out a little, we took advantage of a deal at the Omni for Friday night.

The Omni
On our arrival at the Omni we were greeted with a glass of Champagne as we checked in.  Having just gotten off the train and then the trolley, the cold bubbly went down nicely.   So did the second one.  I guess we looked parched after our half-marathon, I mean, half a block walk from the trolley station.  Alex at the front desk gladly offered us up the second glass.  The staff was very welcoming and friendly and every person dressed in an Omni uniform treated us like royalty.  It was very noticeable.

We took the train from Oceanside because we knew that the traffic is horrible on Friday nights and the San Diego Fair was opening which would add even more cars to the gridlock.    We also knew the Omni and Marriott were close enough to walk to each from any trolley station.

The Omni’s atmosphere is full of sophistication and class.  It stands a stones throw from the Gas Lamp Quarter, Petco Stadium, and the Convention Center.   It is right in the heart of business and pleasure.   The Gas Lamp Quarter features some of the best restaurants and bars in San Diego and, of course, the Omni is an easy walk across the street to the Convention Center.  The futuristic looking Convention Center hosts every type of trade show imaginable and most notably, the extremely popular Comic Con.    Our room was facing Petco Stadium but we were not high up enough to see into the stadium. There were, however, plenty of rooms above us that I am sure looked right in.

Omni--Convention center

Omni-Convention and trolley
Omni Gas lamp quarter
Omnni Gaslamp Quarter

Seaport Village
We took the trolley two stops away and dined at the wonderful Cheese Cake Factory which sits at the entrance to Seaport Village.  Seaport Village features restaurants and an eclectic group of shops. You can  find clothes, shells, art, knickknacks, crafts, and much, much, more.   Don’t forget my favorite store, the Magic Shop.

Omni  Seaport sign
The sidewalk along Seaport Village is a perfect place to stroll while viewing the marina and San Diego Harbor just beyond.   Enjoy your walk as every type of boat or ship imaginable floats by.   From military to pleasure boats, San Diego Harbor has it all.   In the distance the majestic  Coronado Bridge towers above the bay like a beacon for all to drive over and visit its fair city.  That is for another day, as for now, you will be happy right where you are.

Marriott seaport village shops 1

Seaport Village also has entertainment on some nights and is a great place to wander around and window shop. Although I think the vendors would rather you actually shopped and spent money.

The Marriott
On Saturday we checked into the Marriott. I really don’t want to compare the two hotels because they are both so different. Each has an excellent staff that treats you well.  I give a nod to Omni for the wonderful champagne, however, Marriott’s check-in was fast and easy as well.

The Marriot looks like something you would see in Hawaii. As you explore the grounds, the palm trees sway easily to the gentle winds coming off of the water and the massive pool area rivals any hotel I have seen in the Aloha State.     However, the comparison ends there as Hawaii’s breezes are just a tad warmer.   Even though the sun was out, it was a nippy day in June for California standards.

Marriot pool from above

The Marriott gets points for the view from the room.  On the North Tower, all the rooms have nice sized outside balconies.     Our room was on the 18th floor so we had views of the harbor as well as the city and both sights were equally remarkable.

Marriott Room
Marriott Airport

Marriott Harbo view of lots of boats
Here is a view of Seaport Village during the day and then at sunset.

Marriott View of Seaport
MArriott Seaport village 3

Marriott Ship VS boat

On previous visits, I have had a ocean view from the Omni and it was just as impressive.  However, you can’t beat walking out on the balcony and feeling the fresh air on your face as you appreciate the sunset over the bay and the colorful  lights of the city at night.

Red tower final

 A Marriott Wedding
The wedding venue was on the fourth floor in an ample outdoor space with the marina and harbor as a backdrop.   Nearby, a large tent was set up for the reception after.  Seating areas with fire pits were scattered about and then there was that VIEW!   A wedding, sunset over the bay, and great food, you can’t ask for much more!   It was a perfect weekend and, I am sure, a wonderful beginning to the new life of the now married couple.

Marriott Wedding place Marriott Tent

Each hotel has its plusses.   I can’t think about any negatives except for the Omni‘s  bathrooms that had sliding doors which didn’t  actually close completely.    For us shy ones, it doesn’t give complete privacy and you can hear every tinkle.

However, if that is the only negative, you are doing pretty well.

 A Room with a View
If you don’t mind heights, try to get as high as you can so you can have an expansive view of the colorful skyscrapers and beautiful harbor below.

We didn’t ask for a room facing the west at the Omni so we didn’t get one.  However,  at the Marriott we asked and our request was met.  It wasn’t a full view of the bay but it was just perfect for us as the lights of the city had their own special allure.

If you are staying in San Diego and have some saved up money, I suggest either hotel.   Even if you just want to get away for the weekend, both give truly top notch accommodations.  The Omni is sophisticated while the Marriot is playful.   Both have great pools and are near to restaurants and shopping.  Each has easy access to all the San Diego attractions and both are close to the airport.

Good job Omni and Marriot.

I’m saving up my money for my next visit, so keep the champagne cold and the pool water warm.


Story and photos: Debbie Colwell



San Diego Events coming up

San Diego Full Moon P
San Diego is the focus this week with some notable events coming up.

June -July

  • The San Diego Fair opens at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This popular event runs from June 5 through July 5.
  • La Jolla Festival of the Arts at the University of California for two days on June 20 and 21.
  • The Air show at Gillespie Field on June 20th and 21st.
  • The Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe in Balboa Park. Starts in June and continues through September .
  • Over the Line Tourney at Fiesta Island. July 11-19
  • Del Mar Race Track opens .July 16—Sept 17.

Some snaps taken during the full moon at San Diego Harbor.

Photos: Debbie Colwell

San Diego with flowers Pinterest

San Diego full moon at nigt Pinterest