Day #4: San Diego Zoo and a Throwback to the Capstone

Jason, Heather, Asher, and me

roommate reunion: Jason, Heather, Asher, and me

On day four of our vacation, we went to the San Diego Zoo. I even managed to arrange to meet my college roommate and her family there. I was so excited and nervous to see them! I haven’t seen Jason and Heather since 2002! They don’t know Alan! Weird, huh?

Many of you know that I met Alan in college, where we began dating. Most of you don’t know too much about my life before Alan, and digging up all of these photos of my roomie Heather really took me back in time!

Heather and Jason, Ginny, me, Derrick and Nikki, and Brett at the bottom…. Oops Sorry, Brett!   Yes, those two couples are married now.

We had this fantastic group that we formed my freshman year of college. I don’t even know how it really came to be, but it was always the seven of us. First, I met Nikki.

me, Nikki, Ginny, and Heather

Nikki is the blonde one. We had Spanish together. We became friends, and I began having lunch with Nikki and her boyfriend Derrick at Burke Cafeteria. I met Heather through Nikki. I don’t remember how I met Ginny. But we all just knew each other. When the four of us girls became friends, we were all college freshmen, on the 14th floor of our residence hall. We used to call our larger group (there were tons of us) the 14th floor girls.

Jason entered the scene in January of our freshman year. It had to be January because I remember that it was basketball season, and Heather invited Jason to go to a basketball game with a group of her friends. Enter always single, never- has- a -date April. She’s a perfect addition to a group date. Haaa!

Actually, as I looked back through these pictures, I began to remember that I was ALWAYS the 3rd or 5th wheel to Derrick and Nikki and Heather and Jason. Ginny and Brett hung out with us during the week, but they went back to their hometowns every weekend, so our group looked like this:

Yep. I was always the single one.

This is another reason it isn’t healthy to look back. This all sounds sad for me, doesn’t it?

Don’t feel sorry for me. I occasionally did get invited to things by other people, and I had plenty of friends. I had my crushes, but I was happy being single.

We had lots of girly fun too. This was Heather, getting ready for a real date with Jason, a date on which, I promise I did not tag along. 😉 When we took this picture, Heather never suspected that April would go on to be a blogger (because blogs didn’t exist in 1999) who would post a photo of her with her hair in curlers on the interwebbin’.

Don’t worry, ya’ll. If I thought Heather would mind, I wouldn’t post it, but see that’s what I love about this group. This is why I would subject myself to third and fifth wheel-dom.

They were FUN. We had so much fun. Jason and Brett were hilarious. Ginny and Derrick were laid back. Nikki was always saying something you didn’t expect. Heather had no filter at all, and I just remember laughing until my face hurt. I loved every single one of them. They were my little college family, the first two years.

There’s always something going on in a girls’ residence hall. Nikki, Heather, Javacia, and me

the Mona Lisa and ol' Leonardo da Vinci

the Mona Lisa and ol’ Leonardo da Vinci

See! These two are FUN!

Big Al Try-outs!

Big Al Try-outs!

Jason was from San Diego, and he came to Alabama with a plan to be Big Al. When Big Al try-outs came around, we joined in the fun. I don’t know what all he had to do to try out, but our part was to participate in a skit, which he wrote and choreographed. I was Auburn in the skit. That was such a big deal. For the skit, Jason wore the Big Al costume, there was dancing, and I don’t remember what all, and then he knocked Auburn (me) down and struck a pose.

And how could he not win, with a team like us behind him?

Jason as Big Al, along with Nikki, Gretchen, me, and Heather

Jason as Big Al, along with Nikki, Gretchen, me, and Heather

It’s fun to look back. I have been so lucky to have such wonderful friends. College days are long behind us now. Jason has his own marketing and design firm, and he works all over the country. Actually, he and his friend Casey started that when we were still at the university. He and Heather also had their first baby last year. Yes, I said first. There will be more. I just know it. Heather is a program coordinator for a church in San Diego. She has also written a book and worked in the news business for 10 or so years.

Heather, Archer, and me

Heather, Asher, and me. I have found that most babies love to play with water bottles.

So now, more years than I’d like to admit later…….here we are, both living in California. Who would have ever thought?

But I’m not a third wheel now. 🙂 I have these guys:


Alan and our boys, ready for a day of zoo fun.

Alan and I got a sad chuckle out of the contrast between our pictures now, as opposed to our fresh, young college photos.

I loved that Jason and Heather took time out of their schedules to see the zoo–which they’ve seen countless times–again with us.

We have lived in a couple of tourist destinations now, and we’ve always heard our friends say things like, “I don’t care what we do. I just want to see ya’ll.” I never realized how much they meant that until I got to be the visitor instead of the visited. It really wasn’t about the zoo for me. It was about catching up with people that are important to me, friends that were there for me when I needed them, friends that know where I’m from.

But don’t worry. I know. You actually did come here for the zoo photos. We will try not to disappoint:


The flamingos are so cute when they all run together.


Kids know how to have fun.


I don’t know what they were looking at. Some of the animals were kind of hard to find.


It seemed like there were lots of birds.


Climbing on animal statues might be their favorite thing to do at all zoos.


an Alan and April photo! We never get these!!


learning about spider exoskeletons

This biologist works with San Diego Zoo’s insects, and he was so friendly. We were really impressed with how much he loves his work. This man is excited about some bugs. I truly appreciated the time that he spent talking to the boys about his work.


That spider he is holding is not actually a spider. It’s the outer covering of the spider, which it shed as it outgrew it.

That’s right, there is a spider somewhere that outgrew THAT shell. *shiver*


Naked mole rats!


Joshua was ALLL about this Skyfari. He rode it three times.


Actually, we all enjoyed it.



Daniel and the lion’s den…….baaaahahahaha




They keep a dog in the cheetah cage, which the cheetah was raised with. The presence of the dog keeps the cheetah calm. Isn’t that interesting?


really humongous rodent thing: like a capybara


There was an animal behind us somewhere, I promise!


what happens when we try to take a family photo



Give up and move on….





Caleb loved this. 


AW! A perfect all brothers photo….Wait a minute!! That’s not JD!

I literally glanced at this photo and thought these were all my children. Then I looked more closely. The boys were so excited to get to hold Asher!


so happy


This photo will be another new favorite for me.

After the zoo, we headed over to the Corvette Diner. We had so much fun that my face hurt again, so that’s big time success.

First, there was a magician, and that was so funny. I can’t explain it, but magicians + children = hilarious.



See my laughing face? The magician was trying to keep from busting up himself.


Jason is very personable, and Daniel took right to him.

While I wasn’t even noticing, Daniel poured ketchup on his spaghetti. He thought it was delicious. Jason helped him with those long noodles. Thank you, Jason!


It was so funny. I can’t even explain it.



Even John David was fascinated with baby Asher. He “helped” Jason carry him out.

I love catching up with friends. Please know that you always have a place to stay in Northern Cal, Jason and Heather! We’re here until next summer!

And that wraps up this vacation series…..back to real life!



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