... and California Adventure, and the beach, and Hollywood Boulevard...
Our first really big family vacation since Everett was born, went off not only without a hitch, but was better even than we'd hoped! It was an ambitious undertaking to be sure, with 12 hours of total driving, 2 long days walking around theme parks, and another day of site-seeing around Hollywood. The boys had the time of their lives though, and were troopers throughout... Even Spencer, who had to make the trip with a sore tooth (details to follow in another blog)
We planned to leave bright and early on Thursday morning, but being us, we left late. It was nearly 10:30 by the time we'd dropped the dog off at the kennel and hit the road. We passed the California border after about 2 1/2 hours, and were promptly met with an awesome dust storm. Lunch at IHOP was cold and windy, as was the stop at Walmart for new wiper blades, more sunblock, and candy for the ride. We checked into our hotel in time for dinner, but were too tired from the trip to actually find someplace to eat. Chinese delivery to the rescue.
Friday morning we DID leave bright and early, and caught the shuttle bus to Disneyland. Our package from AAA came with many little perks, with being able to ride the bus to the parks for free just one of them. Our first stop was the character breakfast, where Everett was thrilled to see many of his favorites. After breakfast we headed to the Honey I Shrunk the Audience 3D show, which was the only bust of the entire trip. Ironically Everett found it hysterical, but Spencer and Paxton were freaked out, so we left early. We ended up having to hang around outside the theatre anyway, as Paxton realized he'd left his hat inside. 10 minutes later, hat in hand, and nerves calmed, we were ready to explore the rest of the park. The big boys' favorites were Autopia (a drive-your-own-car ride) and Astroblasters (where you get to shoot at bad guys for points) We all loved the canoe ride, Everett was in awe of It's a Small World, and Toontown was fun for everyone. Everett was beside himself with excitement at meeting Mickey Mouse, and he was not disappointed. He rode his first rollercoaster in Toontown too, which was met with mixed reviews. Shouts of "That was cool!!!" were later changed to "That was fun, but, I don't want to go on a rollercoaster again" Spencer and Paxton loved the rollercoaster, and it only whetted their appetite for more. Dinner that first night was at the Rainforest Cafe, and we went back to the park afterwards because we'd promised the boys souvenirs. Spencer and Paxton chose light sabers, and Everett got a little Mickey Mouse cell phone and an astro blaster, a very noisy, light-up, gun of sorts. He then proceeded to "shoot" everyone we passed, and thankfully all but one passerbys were good sports about it.
Saturday we hit the other theme park, California Adventure. Paxton had wanted to get his face painted the day before, so that was our first stop. We had preferred seating at Turtle Talk with Crush, a great interactive show which amused the kids and had me wondering how it all worked behind the scenes. Most of our morning was spent in the Bug's Life area, which was full of rides for kids as small as Everett, and with almost no wait! We went on everything they had to offer, then headed over to some of the taller-people rides where we took turns with the big boys. Ev was bummed that he had to sit out some of the attractions, but felt better after an icecream break :) I went on Soarin Over California by myself, and Mike was dying to go on the huge, highspeed coaster with loops... but it was shut down by technical difficulties by the time we got around to it. We finished off our day back at Disney, where we all rode Autopia and Astro Blasters one last time, explored Innoventions, enjoyed funnel cakes and cotton candy and lollipops, and watched the parade on the way out. Everett waved to Mickey, high on a float, and was certain that Mickey's return wave was just for him. We ended another busy day by RUNNING to catch the shuttle bus that had just arrived (we didn't want to wait the 20 minutes for the next one) and headed back to the hotel. We then proceeded to drive around for an hour looking for internet - for some reason we couldn't get it to work in the hotel- and finally found a connection outside a gas station. We got directions to where we needed to go in the morning, picked up a couple of pizzas to eat in the hotel, and called it a day.
On Sunday, the last day of our trip, we went hobnobbing with the stars. Hollywood was someplace that I'd always wanted to see, but assumed that it was the kind of place that you only needed to see ONCE. I was right. It was a neat thing to do, and a fun place to walk around, but CRAZY with tourists, especially as it got later in the day. We had breakfast at Starbucks, then browsed all the stars on the sidewalk, looking for our favorite names. We walked through the Hollywood Wax Museum, and spent a long time in the museum of the Guiness Book of World Records. We ended our Hollywood tour outside the famous Mann's Chinese Theatre. It was cool to see all the hand and footprints, and take a few pictures, but the crowds were insane by then so we didn't stay too long. Off we went to explore some more on our own. We drove up Mullholland Ave, a twisting, hairpin road which had amazing views of the Hollywood hills, and then turned around and came back down. We lost our way temporarily, and finally ended up at a Ralph's Supermarket, where we bought a map and made our way to Sunset. Driving down Sunset was really cool for someone like me, and the boys were unbelievably patient with their crazy mom who was getting all excited about passing things like The Viper Room (where River Phoenix died), the Laugh Factory where Dane Cook was performing, the Beverly Hills sign, and countless cars that cost more than our house. Our final stop? The beach, where we got our very first up-close-and-personal encounter with the Pacific Ocean. Very cool to realize that we'd finally officially been coast to coast. We watched the boys play (and of course took more pictures) and reluctantly headed home.
Dinner was early, and the ride home was uneventful (yet long) The kids slept most of the way home, and we pulled into our driveway at 10:30 at night. It was an incredible trip.