February is Museum Month in San Diego, California. Macy’s department stores sponsor this month long event offering fifty-percent off most museum entrance fees to any holder of its free museum month card. But, would they be interesting? Would they keep my interest? Or would I just wish in each moment that I was outside on an adventure somewhere or at the beach? Trust me, I am as surprised at the experience as you are!
We’ve been privy to a few museums in our stay so far in what I’m quickly understanding wins the token name of ‘America’s finest city’. We spent time at the San Diego Museum of Art watching as a man whose name is synonymous with philanthropy in this city donated to the art community; a brand new painting. We also met up with one of Mat’s friends from high school and his family to spend a day as pirates and submariners at the Maritime Museum. There we boarded vessels of all types, tried our hands at swabbing the deck and to my mother’s dismay, slithered our way through the tiny crawl spaces of both an American and Soviet submarine-now that was cool.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not” -The Lorax
Two of my favourite museums thus far were visited in February-the month of no excuses when it comes to museums. San Diego History Center is showcasing an exhibit that would make anyone who is a child at heart smile from the inside out. Ingenius! The World of Dr. Seuss fills two rooms in the museum with images of your youth that live on forever. Listen with Horton, snack with Sam, find joy with the Grinch or try your hand at truffula trees and learn how to save the environment with The Lorax. Whether you were a star-bellied sneech fan, worshipper of Yertl the Turtle or still can’t help but recite something about one fish, two fish-everyone in that room was smiling! Decorated in Seuss-worthy whimsical style, walls of various colours were outfitted with famous Seussian sayings by some of your life-long favourite characters.
“I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do. And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” -Dr. Seuss
Children sat colouring letters to send to Santa that they then stuffed in Grinch like sacks while others sat on comfy beanbag chairs reading their own favourite Dr. Seuss stories. Signing the guest book reminded me of so many moments where my own parents sat reading me tales of Solla Sollew (‘where they never have troubles, at least very few’) or dreaming of the part I’d play if I ran my own circus (‘the Circus McGurkus;). Perhaps that’s where I get some of my imagination and love of rhyming-who knows, but either way, I couldn’t stop smiling.
Throughout the two rooms, there were real images of Theodore Geisel, his story of how he became ‘Dr. Seuss’, images of his picturesque scenery atop a tower overlooking a panoramic view of La Jolla and stories of his life’s work amidst a backdrop of people who didn’t believe he could. He even shares how he wound up drawing so many interesting characters, because he didn’t feel he could draw people and how he was and always would be a cartoonist. The smaller room, which shows a bit of a darker side to some of his work, is geared to the adult who wants to learn more about the man than the child who wants to live amongst his characters. Whether you know every word to every story, have ever had ‘a wocket in your pocket’, eaten ‘green eggs and ham’ or ever gleaned a lesson from one of his infectious stories-a few minutes or hours in this exhibit and you’ll be retelling your ‘oh the places you’ll go’ story to someone else. Eyes widened, spirits soared, laughter ensued and hearts smiled in the one hour we spent with characters and books that without question feel like family.
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple” -Dr. Seuss
Our other foray into San Diego museums saw us ask permission to go aboard a large floating aircraft carrier-the USS Midway. Situated on the Embarcadero not far from Little Italy, the first ship too large for the Panama Canal beckons guests aboard. Once on board, guests are given an audio guide that interacts with coordinated numbers placed around the decks. Never would I have imagined that I could spend four hours at a museum. Perhaps it was the fact that it’s a NAVY ship, perhaps it’s the fact that it sits on water, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s the middle of February and we were wandering around outside jacketless or the fact that there were so many things to wander through, touch, photograph and see that made it so interesting. Docents, in yellow hats, provide tours, answer and encourage questions from guests of all ages. Many are former military members themselves while others are civilian volunteers – all have gone through a strenuous informative course to be able to freely converse with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors daily.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” -Dr. Seuss
From the chow line to the galley, the laundry room to sickbay and the chapel to officer’s quarters; the Midway winds through alleyways, up and down ladders and through corridors that only a masterful sailor could maneuver with ease. On this floating city, it is altogether obvious how very much life happens amidst the jobs of the military and the honorable service provided. And then there’s the roof.
For anyone who ever wanted to get up close and personal to aircraft carriers, this is a dream come true. Dozens of fighter planes and helicopters of all kinds line the sides of the deck available for the waiting clicks of cameras and the wide-eyed joy of passersby. In the center of the deck, docents provide specific information regarding flight, take off and specifics of in the air maneuvers, including fueling. Towards the back of the deck, you can stand just next to the serviceman who has the very important job of assisting in the launching of these fabulous vehicles that go from zero to insanity in under two seconds with only two hundred and fifty feet of land. Talk about Top Gun’s ‘need for speed’.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” -Dr. Seuss
Lastly, to get into Admiral and Captain’s country, otherwise known as the tower, visitors queue for a tour of the area. Finally arriving at the top after climbing three ladders, guests are treated to a tour of the Radio room, the Captain’s cabin and the Admiral’s quarters. It’s amazing to see the varied quarters from the enlisted all the way through Admiral and everywhere in between. It’s incredible to see even a piece of the action and such a significant part of history.
February in San Diego has treated us well. Sun, sand, new beaches to visit, fish tacos, meet up groups, new memories and thanks to the folks at Macy’s…a few extra museums under our belts. Here’s to even more adventures in and around this special city. In the famous words of Dr. Seuss…
“You’re off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…..get on your way!”-Dr. Seuss