Family Vacation

Steve and I headed down to southern California last weekend for a long overdue visit with some friends and with my grandfather. We had been talking about taking this trip for several months but had never quite managed to plan it; trying to coordinate a visit with several parties can present logistical challenges. But my parents were headed out to visit with my grandfather and house sit for my godparents for a couple of weeks. Steve and I planned our visit for the halfway point of their visit. My grandfather is 90 years old and a fairly conservative German patriarch. He and my mom don’t always see eye-to-eye, but let’s face it. He’s 90. He’s not going to change and why force the issue.

So, down we headed Thursday morning to insert ourselves in the middle of the ring between rounds. We spent Thursday and Friday in Santa Barbara visiting the fam. It was absolutely gorgeous. I even got to wear a sundress for the first time this year. Up in the Bay Area it’s gotten cold again at night and I’ve had to pull an extra fleece blanket over me. The cats love this, of course, and I’m covered by them all night.

Anyway, we had a very pleasant visit, but my grandfather does seem to get tired more easily now. The last time we visited a year and a half ago, we were able to spend an entire day with him and even went to a museum. This time he was really only good for about a half a day and then needed to go home and rest. But again, he is 90 so what am I expecting? Steve and I are hoping to visit him again early next year.

family

We left Santa Barbara Friday evening and headed to “The Land”. Disneyland, that is. This was Steve’s “reward”. He loves Disneyland and I know he wishes we could go more often. I enjoy it, but think once every year or two is plenty. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t even consider this trip at this time of year. Our Disneyland-vacation-season runs October through February. But this trip was scheduled to coincide with my parents visit, so here we were at the end of March, with the 2 most popular spring break weeks surrounding our weekend, venturing in amongst the teeming masses.

It wasn’t TOO bad (I would NEVER consider a day at Disneyland in, say, June) but it was much more crowded than we would’ve like. The Fastpasses for Space Mountain were “sold out” by 1:00; the ticket we got at noon was for a ride at 8:30 that night. Even the line for the newly renovated Pirates of the Caribbean was insane. I don’t think it’s been that long since the ride first opened. But now it’s the Captain Jack Sparrow ride.

In fact, the entire park seems to be taking on a distinctly piratey flavor. Even Tom Sawyer Island is being re-done and the implication of what we saw is that they are focusing on the pirate lair element of the book.

Steve had the idea that they could turn the Columbia into the Black Pearl and put a Kraken in the lagoon.

Really, the changes to Pirates of the Caribbean were pretty well done (and the first animatronic Captain Jack Sparrow was so good it was downright creepy), but it’s pretty obvious that the movie has been a gold mine for Disney and you can expect more piratey-goodness to extend Kraken tentacle-like throughout the park.

pirateSteve

pirateAnne

Unfortunately, Splash Mountain, my favorite ride, was closed for renovation. I just hope they’re not replacing Brer Rabbit with Captain Jack Sparrow. . .

Happily, the crowds started to dissipate as the day wore on and more wee ones had sensory-overload-meltdowns. We never had to stand too long in any one line because we made liberal use of the Fastpasses (but we didn’t go on the Matterhorn because there was no Fastpass option and a long line), and I even managed to get Steve back on the teacups with me. He just closes his eyes and spins the car for me while I giggle and whoop it up.

teacups

One weird thing about the teacups, though. The rides at Disneyland now say their cautionary “keep your hands inside the vehicle” bit in Spanish, too. At the teacups a high-pitched female voice says something about “this is Alice and welcome to my tea party” in English. But when it is time for the Spanish version, it’s a dude! Couldn’t they get a female for the voiceover? All I know is that Spanish-speaking Alice has a really gruff voice.

Even with the crowds, it was a pretty good day at the park (again with the beautiful weather); with our hotel close to the park, we were able to stay up well past our bedtime.

The next morning, we got up early to drive to Glendale and meet some friends for brunch. These folks moved to Glendale from the Bay Area 6 years ago when J got a job at Imagineering and we only get to see them every couple of years. Planning our visit this year was really tough partially because J has been traveling for work so much lately. We were only able to settle our plans a week or so before we were going to be there.

Although it was a short visit (C had to take the kids to a birthday party so we only saw her for a couple of hours), it’s always nice to see them and catch up.

Arriving home Sunday night, we could barely cope with the fact that we had to get up in a few short hours to go to work. Oh, to have more vacation time. . .