California Adventure Day Five

I’m trying really hard to finish this trip report….seriously.

Day five was our Disneyland day.  We got up early and headed out to Disneyland, which was literally about 2 blocks down the street.  After parking in the lot and taking the tram, we had arrived to Disneyland California Adventure!

20140625_085843

20140625_085434

20140625_091258


We’ve been to Walt Disney World at least 8 times in the last 12 years but we’ve only been to Disneyland once and that’s when the kids were very young.  The California Adventure park was a first for us.  First things first…our favorite ride:

20140625_090624

 

There was no line.  Then we hopped on the California Screamin’ rollercoaster.  It was a lot of fun.  I wanted to video the whole ride but as soon as our car took off up the hill, my camera stopped!  Here’s a few shots of it:

And this should give you an idea of how fun it was:

IMG_1175

 

We saw the parade:

20140625_174749

20140625_174801

20140625_174703

20140625_174700

20140625_174629

20140625_174338

20140625_174523

20140625_174331

20140625_174259

20140625_174237

20140625_174058

And caught the end of Goofy’s fountain show:

20140625_142025

And rode the Monster’s Inc Ride.  Disney is quite clever with their attention to detail:

20140625_111905

20140625_111859

20140625_105928Here’s the whole ride.  It was really cute!

 

We walked through Cars Land:


We took a mid-afternoon break to register for VidCon.  The convention center was only a few blocks down the street so we trekked it down there and picked up our passes.

20140625_121116

20140625_200756

After we got back to Disneyland we rode Mickey’s Fun Wheel.  This is the big ferris wheel you see in all of the pictures.  From a glance it looks tame.  But we decided to sit in one of the swinging gondolas vs. one of the stationary ones.  How bad could it be?  Or so we thought….

After recovering from that horror…we went on another vomit-inducing ride – The Golden Zephyr **warning, don’t watch if you get dizzy easily!**

It was getting more crowded as the evening went on so we decided to call it a day early and went back to the hotel to rest up for the VidCon madness to come!

Advertisements

California Adventure Day Three

I know, I’m a few days late on this.  The weekend was busy and I just didn’t have the energy!

Day three was our Long Beach / Queen Mary day.  I love all things paranormal and had heard of the “ghosts” aboard the ship.  I booked our tickets for entry onto the ship which included the Ghosts and Legends “tour”.  We got there early and entered the ship – the “tour” began at 11am.  I keep saying “tour” with quotation marks because it was not really a tour.  More about this after a few pictures:

Our Clan

Our Clan

BIG Boat!

BIG Boat!

I was really excited about the Ghosts and Legends “tour” until they started talking about special effects.  Whaaaat?  Noooo! I wanted to experience the underbelly of the boat (the old swimming pool, the boiler room) in all of its original glory.  Instead we got a staged Disney-like version of a haunted tour with special effects, sounds, lights etc… which really distracted from the history of those areas.  I was really disappointed.  I’m sure if there are really spirits living down there, they are pretty pissed off!

After that mess, we explored the common areas of the boat.  Outside was really beautiful and most of it has been restored to make it look good but most everything is original  The deck was quite impressive:

Ahoy Matey!

Ahoy Matey!

 

Thinking she's Kate Winslet.  Where Leo?

Thinking she’s Kate Winslet. Where Leo?

 

An old gun

An old gun

 

20140623_114629

Hello?

Hello?

After the deck we looked around inside a bit before lunch.

Creepy old hallway

Creepy old hallway

 

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 073

Original controls

Of course by this time everyone was starving so good thing the Queen Mary is also a hotel with a restaurant on board.  Lunch was pricey but good and it was nice to rest our feet for a bit.  Overall, I would say that the Queen Mary is a very over-rated tourist attraction.  It would be nice to spend a nite or two on board but I really felt like I spent over $200 to walk around a hotel for a few hours.  Good to see once, but we won’t be doing it again.

Our son had been bugging us about going to Venice beach because he’s into skateboarding and there was a skatepark he had heard about there.  I was a bit apprehensive because according to Tripadvisor – Venice Beach is a s***-hole.  We got there quickly and after paying another gazillion dollars to park our car, we checked the place out.  Yep – Venice Beach definitely does have a certain “flavor”.  Somewhere in between 10- days- without -a -shower body odor, soured milk and dog poo.  No it did not smell good and no I would never eat at any of the places that line the boardwalk.  But, it didn’t feel unsafe as many of the Tripadvisor posters had mentioned.  We were there in the middle of the day so I’m sure that added to the comfort factor.

 

The skate park was really cool however and we spent some time watching kids with some pretty great skills on their boards.  One boy couldn’t have been more than 8 years old and he was killing it in the bowl (like a big empty swimming pool).  Being a mom I was tense every time he would drop in and fly out but he had it totally under control.  Mark my words, we will see this kid again some day – X Games, Olympics…something.  He was amazing. I don’t know if you can see him real good in this short video but he’s the one with the long blond hair. There are a few more clips on my YouTube channel.


We walked down the boardwalk a bit, bought my son a retro-style skateboard at the skate shop and then headed back up the coast.

The kids wanted to see surfers so we drove into Malibu to spend some time at Surfrider beach. The water was coooold!  I don’t know how some of those surfers could be out there without wet suits on.

20140623_172357

20140623_172348

20140623_172341

The seagulls in Malibu must eat really good because they are giants.  I’ve never seen such huge seagulls!

20140623_180101

20140623_180105

 

We watched this one gull stalk a lady’s bag of Fritos as she was sunning.  He would wait until she closed her eyes…then creep over and try to steal the bag.  She was getting quite frustrated and thought it would be a good idea to hide the Fritos in her bag.  Not deterred in the least…that was one determined gull!  He waited for her to close her eyes and then went for the bag.  This went on for a while and I couldn’t help but laugh and cheer the gull on!  Who brings Fritos to the beach anyway and not share??

The offending seagull

The offending, Frito loving seagull

We stayed in Malibu until the sun went down and began our drive back into Thousand Oaks.  We ended the night with a dinner at the local Olive Garden.

Next up…The Griffith Observatory and lovely CA traffic!

 

California Adventure Day Two

This day I had planned for us to go into the Hollywood area and do some sight seeing.  We got up early and after a nice (and free) breakfast in the hotel we headed out to Hollywood.  On the way there we drove through the ta-ta area of Beverly Hills:

 

Arriving into Hollywood, we parked right across from Hollywood High school:

20140622_093352

 

First on the agenda was the Hollywood Museum but they weren’t going to open for about an hour so we wandered down Sunset and came across the coolest store ever built:

20140622_101548

It was certainly the biggest candy store I had ever seen and there were a couple of really cool rooms that had different themes.  My favorite:

20140622_100240

Disclaimer: No humans were harmed in the making of this blog

Warning!

Warning!

 

Being the Walking Dead fan that I am, I had to check out the goods:

20140622_100307

I don’t even know how they were able to collect this and put it in a jar…

20140622_100253

Now we know, zombie brains are small

20140622_100235

Paying homage to the best show ever

20140622_100230

Might be a good disguise in the event of the zombie apocalypse…

The boys made a pit stop:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 036

The “gross” room

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 039

When you gotta go you gotta go

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 037

The best ideas are thought up while in this position….

There was even a gas station inside:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 043

 

And a Wonka section of course:

 

Holy Wonka!

Holy Wonka!

And this creepy baby thing:

No thanks!

No thanks!

By the time we were done navigating our way through the largest candy store ever, the Hollywood Museum opened up.

20140622_093540

 

Marilyn guards the front door

Marilyn guards the front door

 

Apparently this was the old Max Factor building where the stars like Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe would go to get made up before a shoot.  It is filled with years and years of movie memorabilia – which was a big hit for our move loving family.  It was three floors full of movie making goodness.  Here are some of my favorites:

20140622_103825

Costumes from Sweeny Todd

20140622_104648

We all know this guy

20140622_104847

Effie’s dress from the Hunger Games

20140622_105819

I’m dating myself here, but this is Pee-Wee’s bicycle from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

20140622_111006

Prop for the long distance shots of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”

20140622_103757

Dexter!!

We spent a good two hours in here at least, it was well worth every minute!  The museum is connected to Mel’s Diner so after we were done we got a jump on the lunch crowd and got a table.

20140622_093419 Food was good.  Expensive but good. By the time we left there were about 50 people waiting to get in.  Mel’s is kind of a Hollywood icon I guess.

Next on our “tour” was Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Which I think is now Egyptian or something because it says so.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 053

This is where they used to roll out the red carpet

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 050

See, I wasn’t kidding

Of course we had to take the obligatory tourist photos in front of the building:

20140622_094918

Note my USA jersey…it was game day vs. Portugal

20140622_094858

20140622_094603

20140622_094549

 

And of course checked out the footprints:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 020

I took a million of these pictures so here’s two

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 016

 

For those of you just itching to see about a hundred stars on the walk of fame –  I took this just for you:

 

Walking back down Sunset you can see the Hollywood Sign

20140622_102005

See, it’s waaaaay back there

After our Hollywood romp, my husband was growing restless because we had passed lunch and the USA game was approaching…yet we didn’t know where we would stop and watch it.  We decided to go down to Santa Monica and see if we could find a place.

Parking at the Santa Monica Pier was interesting.  After paying another gazillion dollars for a few hours access, we drove into this little parking garage, wedged our minivan into the smallest spot possible between another car and a brick wall – and handed our keys over to the valet who said “you pick up your car over there” and pointed across the street at yet another parking garage.

The pier was packed!  I’ve never seen so many people crammed into one space (well, I see that later in the trip but that’s another day).  Here’s our walk from the parking area down to the boardwalk:

The water was freezing so the hopes my kids had of swimming did not become reality (they are used to FL beaches).  We didn’t do the amusement park area but walked all the way down to the end.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 062

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 060

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 058

20140622_134057

20140622_134051

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

At some point my son’s flip flop had a blow out (no he didn’t step on a pop top thank goodness) and we had to buy a new pair.  One pair of $8 Santa Monica flip flops coming right up!  I’ve never seen a kid get so mad at shoes before.  I’m thankful that little shop was there!

By this time, I had another man in my life getting a bit grumpy.  Game was about to start and nowhere in sight to watch it.  We had surrendered to the fact we would have to load up the WatchESPN app on the iphone and listen to it on the drive back but then I saw a little restaurant across the way.  I said “what about there?” There was a sign out front that read “Watch World Cup Here!” It was about 10 minutes until kickoff and as we walked through the door the owner greeted us with “Are you here to watch the game or eat?” We responded in unison “Watch the game”.

He seated us right in front of the big screen TV!  To our surprise there was not many people in there yet.  A few at the bar, but there were 6 of us and the table was for…get this – exactly 6 people!  God really wanted us to be able to watch this game.  Over the course of those 2 hours, even though we had eaten lunch just a few hours before, we ate…and ate…and ate….and watched the USA tie Portugal. *sigh* By the end of the game the place was hoppin but we made our exit.  The food was excellent and the hosts gracious.  We can’t thank them enough for such a great time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Intense

With full bellies we waddled back to our car…which was again, across the street…and made our way out of town.  Somewhere along the way someone in the car  thought it would be a good idea to take Mulholland Dr up the mountain in a quest to reach the Hollywood sign.  I think it might have been the driver…my husband.  Before long we were literally hanging off the edge of the mountain (ok not literally but it felt like it) and I was holding back my stomach from spontaneously leaping out of my body completely on it’s own accord.  We have to be getting closer….we have to be…were the words we were repeating, as we could see the sign but couldn’t quite get there.  As we drove higher and higher….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nothing but a steep drop off to the side of the car!

Needless to say we never made it.  We followed every tour bus we saw until finally we asked this guy how to get to the base of the sign.  The directions went something like this “Take that street until it curves right, then left…take a right and then at the next curve take a left…take another left…then go a little ways and take a right…then another left and an immediate left…yada yada” My husband was just nodding his head.  I was thinking “Are you serious right now??” We decided to just make due with the overlook area and saw it from a distance:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was as close as we were gonna get

Making our way back down Mulholland (thank goodness) we ran into a traffic jam because something was going on at the Hollywood Bowl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure who it was that drew such a crowd

By the time we got back into Thousand Oaks, where our hotel was we were tired.  Because we stuffed ourselves silly while at Santa Monica…I can’t even remember if we had dinner that night!  I don’t think we did.  I think we all go back and crashed.  My kids are still giving me grief that we didn’t make it all the way to the sign!

Day three coming next….The Queen Mary and Malibu!

California Adventure Day One

On the agenda: Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and Anaheim.

We scored some tickets on Virgin America at a good price from DFW to LAX.  Our flight was leaving at around 145pm so after getting the animals all squared away at home and a lunch at the airport before the flight, we were up up and away!  Let me tell you, we loved Virgin America.  We are American Airlines flyers usually and there’s nothing special about AA.  But on Virgin, all the seats are a black leather type of material, there is 5 times more leg room than AA flights and every seat has it’s own TV/entertainment system where you can watch movies, listen to music, watch LIVE satellite TV and even order food and drinks from.  The cabin has what they call “mood lighting” with a purple hue.  The satellite TV came in handy because we wanted to keep up on the World Cup and was able to watch a game while flying.  My husband was in heaven!

World Cup at 30k feet!

World Cup at 30k feet!

The flight was good, minus some minor turbulence (I do not like flying) and after the mile long walk and a bus ride, we met my parents at the car rental center.  The drive to Thousand Oaks, where the hotel was, was uneventful and only took about an hour despite LA traffic.  This was probably the lightest traffic of the trip.

20140621_165525

 

Got settled into the Hampton Inn Thousand Oaks (which was really nice) and headed out for a bite to eat at Carl’s Jr.  We have a few of those here in DFW but my husband and kids made it seem like their burgers are made of rainbows and unicorns….add extra sunshine and diamonds for being a Carl’s Jr. in California! I’m a vegetarian so I just have to take their word for it.

It was an early night because everyone was pooped so we enjoyed the rest of the evening at the hotel.  Day two – Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a drive on the side of a mountain!

Catching up and a little bit Disney

I’ve been the most horrible blogger ever, taking 2 months between posts!  I’m going to try to be better and start today by catching up a bit and talk a little bit about our family vacation to Disney World that we took last month.

Since I last posted, there have been a few changes in the Dockfam household, which included me leaving a job that I absolutely hated and going back to a previous employer in which I am finally comfortable, happy and content.  Funny how blessings seem to come about when you least expect it!  Also, we have added a new family member! Since our dear Pico passed away (one of our Parakeets) back in Jan, there’s been a void.  I was smitten by a little bird in my local pet shop before we went on vacation and I swore that if she were still there when we got home, I would take her home.  Well, I did and she’s such a cutie.  She’s our new parrotlet, Pika.  A parrotlet is a mini-parrot….having the attitude and appetite of a full size parrot but the size of a golf ball.  Right now I have her quarantined in our bedroom for a month to rule out any avian illnesses and I can’t wait until I can finally introduce her to our “flock”!

Instead of posting a day by day of our trip to Disney World, I thought I would just put up some pictures.  We went for 6 days to the parks and spent our last day in Tampa.  We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort while on Disney property and enjoyed great weather, warm during the days but nice and cool in the evenings with only one day where it rained for a few hours.

Our first full day began with a breakfast at Ohana at the Disney's Polynesian Resort

Our first full day began with a breakfast at Ohana at the Disney’s Polynesian Resort

IMG_6462

IMG_6463

IMG_6466

IMG_6330

My handsome son doing a little pose

The lighting was low in the restaurant so all my pictures came out dark

The lighting was low in the restaurant so all my pictures came out dark

On the way to the park

On the way to the park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the raceway

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The new Storybook Circus area at Magic Kingdom

The new Storybook Circus area at Magic Kingdom

Dumbo has been all re-done

Dumbo has been all re-done

IMG_6363

I love taking night pictures of the castle

I love taking night pictures of the castle

IMG_6369

The original Electrical Parade

The original Electrical Parade

My Favorite

My Favorite

Baby ducks at our resort

Baby ducks at our resort

EPCOT

EPCOT

IMG_6397

IMG_6399

Journey Into Imagination

IMG_6403

One of the cars we designed and “raced” on the new Test Track

IMG_6404

Our other car

IMG_6419

one of the photo ops after Test Track

IMG_6427

Spaceship Earth

IMG_6437

World Showcase

IMG_6439

IMG_6410

Pretzels and beer in Germany

IMG_6434

The “Kitchen Sink” at Beaches and Cream

Breaking the rules with our elbows on the table at "50's Prime Time Cafe"

Breaking the rules with our elbows on the table at “50’s Prime Time Cafe”

 

In line for Dinosaur

In line for Dinosaur

IMG_6531

Some sunset pictures from Downtown Disney

IMG_6527

Characters in Flight

IMG_6524

IMG_6519

IMG_6522

Highly recommend this place…great food, drinks and atmosphere!

Lunch at Crabby Bill's, Indian Rocks Beach, an old favorite

Lunch at Crabby Bill’s, Indian Rocks Beach, an old favorite

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach

 

So there you have it.  An abridged, photo trip report.  Below are some of the videos that we took, kind of makes you feel as if you were there!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Everyday Life

I saw this challenge and it seemed interesting. My every day suburbia really isn’t that captivating but something did instantly pop into my head when I was reading about the challenge.  Something that sets this featured city apart from all others…..New York City:

Image

Wait….is that the Naked Cowboy?  You bet your spurs it is!  I love this depiction of NYC….a man in cowboy boots and not much else, playing a guitar in the middle of a busy Times Square intersection.  You can tell the native New Yorkers from the tourists….they don’t even think twice, this is “normal” to them. I caught this shot from inside a cab as we passed by.   I love it!

Aloha Oe!

Today I’m looking back on our last day in Hawaii.  Our flight was an overnight one, scheduled to leave Honolulu at around 8pm.  that morning everyone awoke with sad faces, knowing that we were facing our last few hours in paradise.  As our last hurrah, we went down and had a big breakfast at Denny’s which was really, really good.  Much better than any Denny’s here at home.  Could it just be that ANY food on vacation tastes THAT much better?

After breakfast it was beach again.  We found the perfect spot with hardly any rocks and hundreds of fish swimming about near the shore.  We’d been there for 5 days and this was the first time we had found such a good area without rocks.

We were all permanently scarred for life when we saw an older man, probably in his late 50’s wearing a speedo and sunbathing with his wife who could’ve as well been wearing a band-aid and a cork because her swimsuit was so small.  Their beach umbrella kept falling over so he was constantly forced to contort his body into all kinds of disturbing positions in order to get it stable.  It was like a train wreck…we couldn’t stop staring and our eyes were burning. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.  I think maybe one of us was able to snap a picture of them but I wouldn’t wish that sight on my worst enemy so I’m not posting it here.

After the beach we grabbed lunch again at the snack shack and then began to re-pack and finish the last bits of laundry.  It seemed like the day flew by.  There were still beers in the fridge so I thought I would finish one off before heading to the airport.

Arrival to the airport was uneventful and we grabbed food (cost a fortune!) prior to boarding the flight.  Nobody puked on us and everyone was quite solemn on the way home.  After arriving back to Texas it took me a whole day for my body to recuperate!  I couldn’t get off the couch all day Saturday and actually felt kind of sick.  We were all really glad to see our animals tho, they really missed us.

The kids have already told me that they want to go back to Hawaii next year, so we’ll see.  Maybe to explore another island but only if we can stay longer than 5 days.  It definitely didn’t seem long enough!

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again