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San Diego, California
September 20, 2007 - September 23, 2007

"Give Me Body"

It is such a joyous feeling for me to be on vacation in a new place. As our flight made its final decent into San Diego, I gazed out of the window at the houses built on the hills and all the cars on the freeways. Before long, we were on the ground and driving off in our gold Grand AM rental car to get some lunch.

Traci brought her portable Garmin GPS navigation system with her. We refer to it as The Navi. It really made getting around in unfamiliar places simple and stress-free. No more reading maps and asking for directions. Just type your destination by name or by address and let The Navi tell you when and where to turn. Fantastic!

By 1 PM, we had finished our lunch at Bennigan's but it was still too early to check into our hotel. Although I had planned many activities for this trip, I also made sure I left some space in the schedule for leisure time. Our first day in San Diego was one of those leisure days in which we had no set plans.

On our way out of Bennigan's, Traci picked up a pamphlet that was full of local attractions and events. She came across an advertisement for Bodies...The Exhibition. Thinking it was the same exhibit we missed when it passed through Philadelphia, we turned on The Navi and made our way to Westfield UTC to check out the "Bodies" attraction. As we were getting out of the car, a lady walked up and handed us her extra discount coupons to the exhibit. She was our introduction to the kind-hearted, friendly people we'd meet during our stay in San Diego, New Mexico, and Colorado.

It turns out the Bodies was not the same one that passed through Philadelphia. This attraction was the oddest exhibition I've ever seen. Its purpose is to teach visitors about the human body. It does this by displaying preserved human bodies! We were given hand-held audio devices that explain the displays when you type in the corresponding numbers. There are doctors in lab coats walking around to answer any additional questions you may have. There are display cases containing hearts, brains, livers, and other organs. In some areas, there are full bodies in various poses with the skin removed to show muscles, internal organs, genitals, nerves, etc. All of the specimens are from people from China who died with no next of kin. There is also a reproduction exhibit that displays jars containing human still-born fetuses ranging from a few days after conception to 14 weeks. There is a warning outside this entrance to alert the visitor that some people may find it unsettling.

I'm sure this exhibition has had to deal with ethical challenges. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, you cannot help but learn something from your visit. What I will remember most are the comparisons between healthy and damaged organs. There was a pair of healthy lungs in a case next to a pair of lungs from a smoker. I'm sure any smoker that sees this will think twice before puffing on another cigarette. The smoker's lungs were dark gray as opposed to the pink color of the healthy lungs. There was a large bin next to the display for people to throw away their packs of cigarettes if they are so inclined after viewing the comparison. Other comparisons that caught my attention were the physical brain damage of a massive stroke versus a healthy brain and a diseased heart versus a healthy one.

We spent about an hour and a half touring the Bodies exhibition. While this tour might not be everyone's cup of tea, those who want to know what the inside of a human body looks like will definitely benefit from a visit.

After leaving Westfield UTC, we made our way to our hotel - Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island. It is a 3-sided building located on a man-made peninsula across from the airport. It offers views of the marina and bay. The side facing the bay offers a beautiful view of the San Diego skyline. We had a marina view which was nice but not as nice as the bay view.

Our stay was of the good quality one would expect from a Hilton but you pay a little more for being in the city. There seems to be fees for everything. Parking is $17 per day. Traci had her laptop with her but there was a fee to connect to the internet from the room. The business center charges to use its computers. There is a free Wi-Fi connection in the lobby but Traci couldn't get it to work. If we ever vacation in San Diego again, I will consider saving a few bucks and staying at a hotel outside the city since we still needed a car to get to attractions during our stay at the Hilton.

Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island Hotel

marina view from our balcony

Settled into our hotel room, we thumbed through the visitors guide booklet and came across an advertisement for "seafood, ribs, and chicken" at a restaurant called Dick's Last Resort. That sounded pretty good so off we went to find this place. Once again, The Navi was right on point. Continue...


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