Thursday, January 20, 2011

Honeymoon Day 10:

Our last day in California began cloudy and dripping. Alan and I were unable to connect to the internet at the hotel, so we begged the front desk clerk to tell us where the nearest Starbucks was. We found one, and discovered that the park had moved to post-holiday hours and wasn't open yet. Alan wanted to go storm the gates, but I vetoed - reminding him of how much fun we'd had outdoors in the rain at Disneyland. So I got to sit for a few minutes happily muching on Vanilla Bean Scones and a latte.

We arrived a tad early at the park, bought an umbrelly on the way in, and waited to enter. Once the gates opened, we beelined to the Universal Tram Tour. It was a really great tour! They've built or left up working special effects sets and backlots. It is a much bigger studio than Warner Brothers, but the tram tour is less intimate - with huge four-car trams and no chance to get out and take pictures. The King Kong 3-D ride was AMAZING, but Jaws was out for repair, and the exploding bridge malfunctioned.

We went on the Simpson's Ride, which Alan loved, but made me sick. Blech. We ran down to the lower portion of the park and went on the Mummy ride, which is similar to Indiana Jones at Disneyland, but not nearly as cool. We ate lunch beneath Jurassic Park, went to the little Movie History Museum, and then went on the Jurassic Park Ride when the sun peeked out. That one is fun! I waited three hours in line for it last time I was at Universal. It wasn't worth it then, but this time we walked right on.

We went back up to the main section with only a few hours to spare before we had to leave for the airport. We went on the Shrek 3-D experience together, then divided and conquered. Alan went to the Horror Movie walk through and the Terminater 3-D Ride. I went to the live trained animal show. Then we met in a little Irish Pub for a drink. We dashed around taking pictures in "Europe," went into a few gift shops, and decided we'd had enough and should head home.

We had a lovely honeymoon. It was sad to leave such a nice vacation and hit the ground running the next day. We're already read for the next one!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Honeymoon Day 9:


We got up with the sun, grabbed our free coffees at the terrible little hotel breakfast nook, and walked to the main gate with a few minutes to spare. All things considered, the crowds weren't that big. We knew there was a good chance of rain, but I layered quite a bit, and we weren't giving up that easily.

The first part of the day was wonderful. We dashed to Adventureland and went into Tarzan's Treehouse and then on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Then we got into a short line for the Indiana Jones Ride, which wasn't open the last time Alan went to Disneyland.

We stayed for a while in New Orleans Square, checking out merchandise to souvenir later, and finding the restaurant that had crepes mentioned on a cooking show on the Food Network. We went to the Haunted Mansion ride next. I usually love that ride, but at Christmas it becomes the "Nightmare Before Christmas" Mansion. I've never loved that movie for starters, and the last time I was on it at Christmas, the ride stopped for ten minutes next to a set of deranged "feed-me-seymore" plants singing the nightmarish theme. LAA la la LA LA LA. LA LA la la LAAAAAAAAA. LA la la LA LA LA. LA la LA la LAAAAAAA! Over. And Over. And Over. I'm over it.

Next we went up to Pooh Corner to go on some kiddy rides before the place packed out. We went on Pooh's Honey Pot, a silly little ride, but a fun one. We bypassed Splash Mountain, opting not to get wet that early in the day.

We made our way to Toon Town, looking for (Please, God!) an espresso stand as we went. We felt like true Seattle-ites wandering Disneyland in an increasing drizzle, searching for "real coffee." We finally found a stand next to Sleeping Beauty's Castle. I got a latte and a gingerbread cookie, Alan had a Mocha. We walked through the castle diorama to get a break from the rain for a moment.

In Toon Town, I love touring Mickey and Minnie's houses! The line for Minny's house was the longest line we saw all day. Minnie was greeting guests at the front door. Little girls with Mouse ears were lined up around the outside. Mickey's welcome sign said he was greeting, too. We went to Mickey's, and pulled the things that said "pull," pushed the things that were meant to be pushed, and sat in the dog bed. At the end of the walk, there was a Disney Cast Member who invited us to meet Mickey. So we did.

We stayed in Toon Town, doing all the walk throughs, playing with the zany cars, and then went on the Roger Rabbit Ride. It's one of Alan's favorite movies. There we hit our first snag of the day. The ride broke down right as we made it past the first corner. The announcement told us to remain seated until a cast member released us. We stayed. And stayed. They had to get the people furthest away, and then walk us all out in a line. We would have made out, but there was one more car in the room with us. I took pictures of the stilled characters.

We opted for It's A Small World. I LOVE that ride at Christmas! All the little bobble head puppets sing Jingle Bells with It's a Small World. YAY!!! Alan would have been happier had the ride been a shooting gallery.

Next we took a left to the newly remodelled "Finding Nemo" Sub Ride, which was our personal longest wait of the day. The Star Wars Ride was being repaired, but we spent time in the gift shop anyway. Then we went into the Toy Story shooting gallery. I sucked. Alan rocked!

Then we went back to Adventureland to take the Jungle Cruise. The second-oldest ride at Disneyland, and still one of the best! Our guide was really quite funny. As we left the boat, it began raining in earnest. We began regretting the Seattle mentality that had prevented us from purchasing ponchos at the first sign of trouble.

We went across the lot to the California Adventure. Alan had never been. It isn't that great, in my opinion, on a good day. Mostly it's a water park, which is useless when it's raining. As the rain worsened, I voted for spending some time in the Aladdin show, which is very good, and all indoors. We dried our coats on the seats next to us as we watched their production, lamenting the size of their budget and the coolness of the special effects. Then we braced ourselves for the outdoors and went to the Muppets, but it was broken down for the moment. We went on the Monsters, Inc ride. We went into the almost identical Toy Story shooting gallery, and this time, I. Kicked. Alan's. Ass.

We made the circle of the boardwalk, which was mostly closed in the rain, and then went into the Bug's Life 3-D show. It was cute, but so scary for a little kid! Outside, there were Bug Musical Posters which were pretty cute. We decided that we were tired of being wet with nothing to do, so we left the park after dashing back to see if Miss Piggy was "over her tantrum" and caught the Muppets in 3-D.

It was dark, now. As long as we were out of the park, we decided to head into Downtown Disney to let Alan have a look around. We ended up eating dinner at the Blues Brothers Restaurant, and watching part of the Seahawks game. We went into a few gift shops on the way back - including the Disney one. I bought some Shortbread with a picture of Mickey in a Kilt for Alan's parents.

We went back into Disneyland. The rain had turned into torrential downpour with sideways driving rain. We barely made it into the park before we had to turn into the Abraham Lincoln show to get out of it. We, and a handful of other people also escaping, watched Abraham Lincoln's lifesize sculpture come to life and deliver a stirring patriotic speech with bald eagles flying across a screen behind him. We gift shop hopped our way back up main street, and then hit some kiddie rides with no waits. Our second snag of the day - Snow White broke down on us as soon as we got into the first room. Once again, we were the last people extracted from the ride.

Wet and miserable, but determined not to wuss out now, we ran to Adventureland. On the way we stopped in at the Saloon and had tea.

At Indiana Jones we could run up and get onto any car, any row we wanted. At Pirates of the Caribbean, they asked us if we'd like to stay on for a second turn. As we left, we decided that we'd eeked out enough fun from the day, and it would be nice to be dry again. At my insistence, we hopped a bus instead of walking, which turned out to be the wrong bus. Which meant we had to take the whole route, then return to Disneyland and catch a shuttle, which didn't go to our hotel, but one down the street. Alan was right. We should have just walked.

We picked up our car and drove to Burbank to find a hotel, found a really shady one, and fell asleep after draping our clothes over the heater to dry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Honeymoon Day 8

Well everyone, rehearsal was delayed today due to snow, so I have a moment or two!

Day 8 was our last morning in Palm Springs. We woke up early (for us) and tidied up, then dropped by Grandma and Ken's place to give them the keys and garage door opener. We had a lovely time!

We stopped by the Brighton Outlet one more time on our way out of town. I bought a lovey pendant necklace I'd loved, which was marked down to less than $10. Alan won brownie points when he found the same necklace marked down lower in another section of the store. YAY!

Our goal for the day was to hit several of the movie filming sites that Alan had researched, beginning the with Vasquez Rocks, where Kirk fought the Gorn, and more than 500 films have shot. The mapquest directions sent us out and around the back side of the mountain range instead of through the city. Since the Rose Parade and Bowl were on in Pasadena, we thought skipping L.A. is a great idea.

Three hours of driving through the absolute middle of nowhere later, we were wishing we'd risked the town way. Not only were we on a two lane highway where even the scrub brush was giving up the will to live, but traffic leaving Pasadena on highway 2 backed up traffic on the one left turn off my highway. We crawled through the desert for several miles trying to bypass.

Eventually we stopped in Peachtree (population 500) for gas and a restroom. The guy with one eye standing next to the man with no teeth told us that the "bathrooms is broke. You might try the likker store." We passed. I turned to Alan, who was passed out in the passenger seat with a migraine, and told him that these had better be pretty damn cool rocks.

Finally, just as we were worrying about losing the light, we pulled into the Vasquez Rocks. They were cool. Not three and a half hours of driving cool, but cool. After all that driving, it took us 20 minutes to get back into L.A. Stupid Mapquest.

Next we went into Hollywood, but didn't stop, then took the longest possible way to the Pacific Coast Highway to go down to Long Beach. There, we found the bar they filmed "True Blood" - Alan's favorite Vampire drama. We chatted with the bartender about the filming and local area attractions. If we'd had more time, we would have stopped at the section of Long Beach with Vintage Clothing Stores and Restaurants. However, it was late, and we needed to find our hotel in Annaheim.

We stopped at a Starbucks to use our new laptop and find a hotel. Then we drove to Annaheim. After much driving around (Disney Way cuts off most of the streets around Disneyland, leaving us circling the park trying to find our street again), we checked in. Then we went to Dennys for an 11pm breakfast, then went to sleep, dreaming of Disneyland!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Honeymoon Day 7:

Today started low key. I turned on the hot tub first thing and spent the morning reading while drinking coffee. I woke Alan up at 10.

We decided on a plan of action for New Years. We'd eaten at every place that had been recommended to us, plus a few more that we found on our own. We picked our favorite pizza for lunch, and while we were there, made reservations for a late dinner at the Hog's Breath Inn. We'd gone there for appetizers earlier in the week, and thought their menu looked really tasty.

After Pizza we bummed around a bit more, then headed back home to nap and relax.

That evening we got dressed up and headed to Hog's Breath. We sat in the lounge and had a dirty martini and a lemon drop martini and listened to the piano player while we waited for our reservation. We were escorted to our table. Alan was in the mood for steak, and I wavered between the pork chop and the crab stuffed sole - but the waiter sold me on the pork chop over butternut squash with apple au jus. I had a salad, and even that was the best I've ever eaten. Alan switched over to the house wine, and I sipped champagne. We sat watching the glittering restaurant. Literally. The waitstaff had "Happy New Year" tinselly headbands, and most of the patrons were in their flashiest. One young man was wearing a silver paper top hat, and his sister had a sparkly black boa. As our meal came to a close, we decided to splurge and split the cheesecake and a glass of 20-year port. It was a lovely evening and a perfect New Year.

At home, we warmed up the hot tub again, and sipped champagne waiting for the ball to drop. We had our first New Years kiss, and then I went off to bed.

What a great end to an old year.

And a woman stopped me to compliment me on my wedding shoes, and another on my sparkly silver dress. Even better! (And Alan wore his three piece wedding suit with his white tie and a pocket watch, and looked extremely handsome - like an English Country Gentleman out on the town!)