my soft spot

just a mom who plays hockey and knits

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The final throes of the birthday.

We were on vacation last weekend, and it was fabulous. It began at the buttcrack of dawn with my friend Allison (how do you make a halo in emoticons?) who picked us up at FIVE THIRTY IN THE MORNING to take us to the airport. As she dropped us off, I asked her to wait one minute while I made sure I had our boarding passes, etc. She began reciting her list of travel essentials (she travels several times a month), and got to "ID..." when I realized I had thinned out my cards/IDs--and left them in the other fanny pack. I had NO ID/credit cards whatsoever. She sweetly made a beeline for our house to get them, while I waited with G. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer and asked the guy if I could check our bags, as I had our boarding passes with me. Sure, I could. ?? But he did let me check them, so at least when Allison returned (bless her!), we just got right into the security line, and actually got to the gate with time to spare before boarding.

The flight was uneventful and blessedly brief (it's been a while since I've flown, well, anywhere but Portland, actually!), and getting the rental car was pretty easy. I had arranged to meet our friend JoAnne at the rental car place, as her other car was in the shop and driving together was way easier, anyway. The only hassle at the rental car place was a little extra pressure to get a larger car. "Just $5 a day more," she said with a practiced air. Since my rate was already about $20/day, a whopping 25% increase seemed extreme to me--even though the budget/compact cars did seem really sparse. No auto door locks? I finally bargained her down to an extra $2 a day and loaded our luggage into a Pontiac Vibe. Not a bad car (for an automatic, yech). Visibility was very good and gas mileage was, I think, excellent. We drove Ontario-Anaheim-around Anaheim quite a bit-Riverside-North Hills-Burbank on less than one tank of gas. I love Unlimited Mileage. I well remember the limited mileage of rental cars when I was younger.

JoAnne arrived just after I had set up the portable DVD player for G that I just picked up at Costco recently. She and Mary installed Ryan's carseat and off we went to Disneyland. We had a great day. I can't remember exactly what we did that day, as it blends into the next, but we did go on Autopia, where G really drove quite well, after he made it clear to me that he was trying just as hard as he could to drive well (curves are hard). We also went on the Buzz Lightyear ride, where JoAnne trounced me on points but we all had fun. (To see us, go here and enter 7E234083A44DB70E251124665C6293F2 .)

JoAnne had managed to get us a room at the new Doubletree Inn and Suites--she got us a suite, actually!--so we headed there about 3PM to get the kids to nap so that we could go back and stay until the fireworks began at 9:25. After much resistance, they both dropped off and slept nearly 2 hours. Dang, that room was nice. Not only good coffee and tea, with actual mugs, but also a separate "lounge" room with a hide-a-bed couch and its own TV. We chatted while I knitted on my mom's Christmas sock (last Christmas, for those of you keeping score at home). When the kids woke up, we stopped at Buca di Beppo for a very tasty dinner, and headed back to Disneyland for some more fun and the incredible fireworks show, including an actual flying-looking Tinkerbell (not just a straight shot, but flying up & down and back & forth. I said to JoAnne, "You couldn't pay me to do that"). What was especially lucky was that we managed to stay that night for the fireworks, and the next night, when we weren't planning to stay--they were canceled (too much wind). They really were incredible.

Oh, we also went on the rocket ride, after which G vehemently stated that he would never go on that again, ever! I'm with him. It was damned scary. (Hint: keep the rocket level for minimal fear. Lowering makes you think you're going to fall out to the left, raising makes you think you'll fall to the right.)

Friday morning, we had a reservation for a Character Breakfast in the Grand Californian. OMG, that hotel! It is so gorgeous. I kept saying, "I want to win something where I stay here." JoAnne kept saying, "Yeah, at Christmas." I'd answer, "No, anytime!!" It is just like Disney to omit no detail. It is just beautiful and warm feeling. Even the pool is absolutely charming.

After breakfast, we walked into California Adventures (I had gotten Park Hopper passes so as not to worry about going back & forth). Since we were there anyway, JoAnne thought we should get FastPasses for Tower of Terror. The ropes were going to drop in 15 mins anyway, and the kids wanted to see the fountain. The fountain has water that is constantly changing--a growing waterfall, a surflike wave, all sorts of patterns. They got a kick out of throwing pennies in.

When the rope dropped, we went straight to T of T, but the FastPass machines weren't working. We asked about the Parent Swap, and they gave us a blue paper to do it. I went right into the line, which wasn't long (estimated 15 mins but I think it was less), and went through the ride. Screamed, screamed, screamed. I held onto the metal handhold on one side of my seat and kept thinking, "I should leave the other handhold for the lady next to me..." but every time the thing dropped, I grabbed for it. Very exciting.

Came out, found the strollers, but no kids nor JoAnne! I forgot to ask her where she went--bathroom, or to see a character? Anyway, she came back soon with the kids and went right in.

Then we headed over to Disneyland and took the train all the way around to ToonTown to see Mickey in his house. Dang, that line is long. G was really having trouble controlling himself and we almost stepped out. But we got in, G handed Mickey a note that said "I love you Mickey," I snapped a photo of them hugging, and he got his notebook signed. "Mom, it says 'Your pal, Mickey Mouse'! I'm his pal!" Yeah, that's why we go to Disneyland. He was thrilled. (Ryan preferred to climb all over the set and drive the boat. Too funny.)

We also finally did the canoes I've been jonesing for for years now. The last time I went, the guy leading the canoe kept up this banter that was so funny, I had to stop paddling. (You provide all of the steam power in the canoes.) This time--no banter! I was so disappointed. It just seemed like a lot of exercise this way. Exercise is OK, but witty banter, way better.

We managed to catch most of a fantastic parade through Disneyland that evening, after eating at Cafe Zocalo, and headed out, only to be consumed by crowds leaving after the no-fireworks announcement. I got some stuff at the store (new card holder for me, and gifts for Katie for her birthday!) and we got in the car and drove to Riverside.

More later...


At 6:23 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger heather said...

dude, halo = 0
as in: 0:-)

At 8:28 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger wen said...

That sounds like so much fun! I went to DL for the first time this year (well, for New Year's 2005/2006). I had been to DW in FL years ago, but even though I'd lived here 10+ years, I never made it "down south." You're right that Disney is big on the details! I loved it.

What is "Parent Swap"? Sounds like a mixture between a swinging singles party and that Parent Trap movie remake with the Olsen twins. :)

At 8:34 AM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Dharma said...

Wow that sounds like a whirlwind.

At 12:03 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Andrea said...

excellent, glad you two had a great time on your vacation! the parent swap thing sounds interesting, how's it work? yes, i'm taking notes. =D


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