When I was a kid, our family took yearly vacations to the west coast and quite often that included a visit to the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.

Our parents loved putting us in strange situations and then photographing us. My least favorite was to be plopped on the back of a giant tortoise, horsey-style. That poor prehistoric creature probably had a thousand kids on its back every day back in the 60s. I doubt they even allow that now.

We were wearing shorts, of course, and its shell had reached a skin-scorching temperature after being out in the California sunshine for hours. I still have a vivid memory of the excruciating heat and texture of that tortoise's shell on my fat, little, legs, while my mom shouted, "Smile!".

I hated the reptile house too and could only imagine what python cold cuts might look like, should they ever decide to run one through a meat slicer.

Yes, I was a weird little kid. And some things never change.

Still and all, I loved our trips there, and if this coronavirus thing ever ends, and you have the means and opportunity, it is a destination you and your children should discover, someday.

Meanwhile, you can visit virtually, as they have numerous live cams, including the archived footage from when they still had the pandas there. (My favorite!)

So if you're ready for a virtual vacation, make a sandwich and check out the San Diego Zoo's Live Animal Cams.

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