Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where it All Began: Disneyland

 If home is where the heart is, I learned on our Californian Adventure that a piece of mine is in Georgia, BUT I also know that a piece of it is at Walt Disney World. I have had the pleasure and great fortune of being able to go to Disney World more than any person could ever dream of going. If there is anything to know about Disney World, I know it. My family is so fanatical that we can take anything in this world and twist it to be something that reminds us of the place.
 "Do you smell that smell?" 
"Yeah, that reminds me of Norway, in Epcot, at sunset!"
 "Me too!"
 "Look at that color, what does it remind you of?" 
"Oh, it totally reminds me of the 5th building to the right on Mainstreet USA." 
Yeah, we are nutty about all things Disney World. So when I found out that Disneyland was a mere 40 minutes from where we were staying in Cali, I told my husband that I didn't care what it cost or how we'd get there, we were going. Period. He obliged, because he's drank the Disney Koolaid, or as I would say, smelled that "Disney Air."  I saved my pennies and we made it happen.

I had asked my Cali-friends about their DL tips, read blog after blog, watched the planning videos and studied the park maps. I had prepared myself for the differences and I was READY to go!
When my family travels to WDW we stay on property, at a Walt Disnet World Resort. It's a sin not to, and you might as well not even bother to go if you can't. Well, Disneyland is a tad different. I'd have to sell my right arm and all of my teeth to afford a night at a Disneyland hotel, but I knew I wanted to be there when the gates opened and I wanted to stay as late as our feet would allow, so I saved a few more bucks and found the nicest of the dumps that I could find. It was very much a one star motel, but the things I'll do for Disney. It looked like a snow capped, Alpine Inn (which, ironically, is what it was called) but I told Coop that we were staying at Oaken's Sauna, like in frozen, except the front desk guy did not say "yoohoo." And if you've never seen frozen, you have no clue what I'm talking about, so never mind.
After a very uncomfortable nights sleep, we were ready to get to Disney. I had a lot of anxiety about making the most of our day, but I am so pleased with how it went. At the end of our week in California, I was ready to see if Disneyland felt as much like "home" as WDW does. People laugh at me (i.e. my father-in-law) about how Disney makes me "feel" just by smelling the "Disney Air" and I was dying to see if it was the same.
After a mile walk from our hotel, we entered the Downtown Disney District, and instantly, I felt "it." They played the same music, had the same stores, and it totally gave off the same vibe. After grabbing our Starbucks, Downtown Disney literally dead-ended and dumped us right at the gates of Disneyland and California Adventure. We made it!

I'm not going to bore you with all of my tit-for-tat details between the Florida and California. The list would be about as long as the distance between the 2. I'll save that for my family who wants to know every.last.detail. But I will say that Disneyland is small. Very, very small. It is sweet and quaint and full of happiness and just as busy as it's Eastside counterpart but not nearly as hot. As I walked around the place, I often forgot that I was not in Florida.

 While it is vastly different, it was much the same. Coop felt it, I felt it....but Mr. Clean? Well, he prefers the Big Kahuna.
What was the biggest surprise? The castle. Definitely the castle. I knew it would be small, but I wasn't prepared for how small.

What was an even bigger surprise?? These folks showed up!
 When they mentioned that they might join us, I think I keeled over and died for a minute. I never thought I'd see the day!! But they made it and while we wore them slap out, don't let them say they didn't have fun. I have pictures to prove it!!

 Now I just have to talk them into going to The World with us....wishful thinking, I'm sure.
 One day was not nearly enough but maybe we'll be fortunate enough to make it back someday. It was a great end to our trip and gave me a little taste of "home"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Our Californian Adventure

Last summer we were supposed to take a trip to California to visit my husbands grandparents and we were going to make the trek one week after we moved into our new house....with a 5 month old, but we thought it best to push the trip off until this summer, so that it just what we did. While it turned out to be a great trip I have learned that I ALWAYS pay a penance when I take a trip and I learn valuable life lessons all along the way. Always. Cali was no different.
It was a 4 hour flight into San Diego and the kids couldn't have been any better! Our first order of business would be to find an In-N-Out Burger. I didn't know what to expect, but I did have very high expectations. I was surprised to find how busy it was! I was told to get the "Animal Style" burger, so I did. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to fast food, but Mr. Clean was unimpressed and was convinced that In-N-Out is actually owned by McDonalds. Party pooper.
The purpose for our visit to California was to visit family, but I knew that my east coast, early rising, children would be west coast, up-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn, children, so I would have several hours every morning where I needed to occupy my kids so that they didn't wake up the entire street, wearing out our welcome. My plan was to be out the door as soon as I could get them dressed, little did I know that I would be doing all of this alone. Enter Life Lesson #1: When your husband says he will need to work a good part of the trip, he means it.
This reality caused a little bit of a rift in my attitude and I think that's because I was on my own. On the other side of the country, not knowing where anything is. With 2 small kids. Although, I do believe it was a really great experience for me once I shed my original expectations and my bad attitude! Every night before bed I would Google about places to eat and things to see. I'd get up with the kids and we were out the door by 6am and were back in time for lunch with the grand folk. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I'm so glad I did! We got to see some awesome things because of it.
The San Clemente Pier

Dana Point
and Salt Creek Beach (or as Coop called it, Salty Critter Beach...Whatev) were our favorites!
Once Mr.Clean tied up all his loose ends with work, Vacation Chris was able to emerge before the end of our trip. And I'm so glad too, there is something about traveling with your husband and kids that really knit your bond just a little bit tighter.
We took him back to our newly discovered spots and made our way to a really cool, albeit strange, petting zoo where Lucy had died and went to heaven.

And we got a good amount of time in with the family as well. It was so great to spend time with my in-laws (who I even drug out a couple of times)

and to see the kids with my mom-in-laws parents.

Everywhere you turn your head in California you see beauty. It's just beautiful. Mountains, cliffs, the ocean, the flowers...beautiful.

But I learned another lesson. Lesson #2: You can take the girl out of Georgia, but you can't take Georgia out of the girl. I realized by the second morning when "Mary Poppins" greeted us while eating our doughnuts, and the lady at the register got frustrated that my order was wrong, that I love the South. Love it. I got very homesick while I was there. I can't put my finger on why. I have traveled to the Midwest, spent some time in the North East, but something about this trip made me ache for home like never before. Maybe it was the "June Gloom" or the constant need for a sweater in June? Whatever it was, I was never more glad to hug the red earth of Georgia. Even if it took a missed flight, 9 hours in the airport and a middle of the night flight to get us there. We made it home and just in time for my favorite day of the year!
We did make our way to the Happiest Place on Earth while we were out there, but you can bet your bottom dollar that that baby is getting a post of its own! 
Thanks for stopping by!!
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