Archive for July, 2009

sick on vacation

Friday, July 31st, 2009

So far my stay at Mammoth isn’t what I’d imagined. I tossed and turned from about 3am until 6 or 7am. That’s when I finally jumped out of bed to rush to the bathroom and get sick. I guess a week of eating crap at Disneyland topped off with a 9pm burrito supreme is a horrible idea. Especially since I’ve been eating more healthily. The last few days of fried foods and no vegetables has come as a real shock to my system.

Bill and Kaitlyn went with Patrick, Julie and Sarah for lunch and a stop at the grocery store. They’ve been gone 3 hours now. I haven’t gotten much done in that 3 hours. I feel weak. Achy. Now I’ve got chills. Hopefully I’m just cold and not feverish. I guess at least if I’m going to get sick, I got sick where we have a little condo and we can eat here. If I ever want to eat. I managed to down half a banana and some water. My hands still shake if I hold them up. Maybe it’s the altitude. This is a lot higher than I’m used to. Lots.

check out day

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Naturally since we had to be out of the hotel by a certain time, we woke up late this morning. It was 10:30 by the time we were showed, dressed, packed and ready to go.

I’d suggested that we each pick one thing we want to ride or see. Good in theory, not so good in reality.

Bill stopped to get fast passes for my pick: Soarin’ Over California. But there was no line. So we went in. And we got the very best seats on the entire ride. Smack in the middle, at the top (so you don’t see anyone’s feet dangling over your head).

Kaitlyn wanted to see Crush again and see if he’d talk to her this time. It’s our third time. And he didn’t call on her. But she loved it anyway, which was good. She’s getting a little bit better at handling disappointments like that. Then, again for me, we went to the Animation Academy. This time we drew Pluto. And the animator again gave us his sketch. Too cool!

When we stepped outside, I saw that the Aladdin show was starting in just 10 minutes. Everyone’s been raving about it. Priority seating was full. The only place with any seats left was the balcony. What the heck… it’s free. So we went. It was a pretty elaborate Broadway-type production. Just like everyone had told us it would be. I think Kaitlyn liked it. I enjoyed it. I’m not so sure Bill thought it was a good use of an hour.

Then we went over to the Magic Kingdom so Kaitlyn could see the demonstration for Asimo… the robot. She loves this stupid robot. We go to it every year. And it never changes. Even the actress was the same. I hope Kaitlyn is less thrilled with Asimo next time we come.

Before leaving, Bill had to stop and buy himself a light saber. So he and Kaitlyn can have light saber battles. Fantastic. I want to see the x-ray guy looking at that at the airport. I’m going to guess that the TSA just might open that suitcase.

We tried to hop the monorail to get out quick, but it was stopped. The employees said a technical problem. Then we saw the paramedics go up the ramp with a gurney. That’s no technical problem. So we took the train.

By the time we got out, ate lunch and fetched our car and bags from the hotel, it was 4 when we hit the road for our next stop: Mammoth. We got here at 11pm. That was one long car ride.

new discoveries

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Our last full day in the park.

We discovered some things we’d never done before.

First, we dressed Kaitlyn in her bathing suit under her clothes, put flip flops in her backpack and some underwear. So after she soaked herself in the fountains, she could change clothes and go on the rides right away. That was smart. The only thing we could have used was a towel, but you can only carry so much stuff around with you.

After all the Bugs Life rides, we went over to see some shows in the Hollywood area. The first was a really lame show with some singers/dancers pretending to be animators. Then we found the shows we’d meant to go to. First up was Turtle Talk with Crush. You sit in a little auditorium and talk with Crush the turtle from Nemo. You ask him questions, he asks the audience questions. It is a very cool interactive experience. Kaitlyn was disappointed she didn’t get to ask Crush a question.

Next we went to the Animation Academy. You sit in another auditorium and a real Disney animator teaches you how to draw one of the characters. We sat right in front for our lesson on how to draw Tigger. Kaitlyn really enjoyed it (ok, so did I). And at the end, the animator gave Kaitlyn his drawing of Tigger. We now have an original sketch by a Disney artist! It’s really cool.

Bill took our sketches and Kaitlyn’s wet bathing suit back to the hotel and Kaitlyn and I watched the High School Musical parade. I’m such a sap because I nearly cried… again. There was a little boy by us who looked to be about 3 or 4 and retarded or autistic. His mom tried and tried to engage him in the dancing and singing, but with no luck. Then one of the dancers kneeled by the boy and smiled and worked with him until the little boy clapped and danced. I don’t know if that castmember knew the difference he probably made in that family’s day. But it was clear.

We thought we’d have a special dinner our last night in the park and made reservations at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean. It was really another disappointment. Maybe we just got spoiled with the fabulous meal at the steakhouse. But I recommend skipping this one for sure. We were done with our meal 30 minutes after we sat down. That’s way too fast. Our food never should have been ready so quickly.

We’d hoped to go to the new nighttime laser show in the lagoon by the Pirates ride. But the crowd was crazy. And if we stayed to watch, we’d be there just when the fireworks were being set off pretty much right there. Kaitlyn thinks fireworks are too loud if she’s inside a building nearby them; we figured this was not going to end well if we stayed. So we rushed to the monorail and rode back to our hotel. We got to sit in the very back. That was a cool place to sit.

We did see some of the fireworks as we walked from the monorail station to our hotel. Bill and I stopped to watch but before long Kaitlyn was in tears… so we went on. We may never get to see fireworks again.

Hook vs. Bill

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I don’t know how we managed it three days in a row, but we were up early again. Without the alarm. This is another day where we get into the park at 7 instead of 8. We made it by 7:30.

Kaitlyn’s first stop was the rockets in Tomorrowland. Now I ride Dumbo, so I thought I could do these. No. They are completely different. Ok, not completely different, they still just go around and around and around. But they go faster. And they have a little tilt to them to make you feel like you’re going to fall out. And when Kaitlyn controlled the up and down movement, I was certain I was going to hurl or fall out our both. So I yelled at her to stop. I had to hold her arms to get her to stop. She rode again with Bill. She tried to ride alone but they told her she’s too young. The kid behind her looked the same age and size and they let her ride alone. But it was hardly worth a fight. As long as I wasn’t on that thing, I really didn’t care who was or who they were or weren’t sitting with.

Kaitlyn then tried her best to get Bill sick by dragging him on the teacups. Then Dumbo.

Finally, it was time for breakfast. It was great. Kaitlyn got to see Chip and Dale and Tigger and Rabbit and Minnie and some baboon with a blue butt (as he will forevermore be known to us), Max (Goofy’s son). And Captain Hook. Kaitlyn was not happy about Captain Hook visiting our table. He arrived while Bill was up at the buffet getting food. First thing Captain Hook did was help himself to Bill’s camera…. snapping pictures. Then he sat by Kaitlyn…. and she scooted as far away from him as she could in that booth. She finally gave in and let Hook sign her autograph book. Then I told him to be sure not to run into any alligators today. Bill had gotten back to the table. He added “tick, tock, tick, tock.” Hook stood up, stared down at Bill, pointed at his eyes then pointed at Bill… back and forth. Now, Kaitlyn is panicked that Captain Hook is looking out for Bill.

We figured we’d head over to California Adventure next, hopefully before it got too busy. Kaitlyn headed for the Bugs Life area and went straight for the fountains set up to run through to cool off. Or to get completely soaked in, which is what she did. She was so wet, her dress was pulling itself down by a couple of inches. Bill wrung out buckets of water. Then she was ready to ride. But she was so wet, the ride operator wouldn’t let her get on. We stopped for a snack on the way to the hotel. When she wasn’t any drier after eating, we went on to our room… where we laid down and ended up taking naps. Long naps. Naps from about 1 until about 6. We were tired.

For dinner we went to Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland hotel. Friends drove down from LA to meet us. I read good reviews but didn’t really have high hopes for the place. It was amazing. Absolutely fantastic food. It’s a new must on our list. Sure, it was expensive. but this time, it was worth it.

full day of smiles and tears

Monday, July 27th, 2009

As we were getting ready to head out this morning, Bill looked in his wallet and found the vouchers he was supposed to use to pay for our lousy dinner Saturday night at Goofy’s Diner. It really was disappointing. And even more so to learn that we paid for it…. twice. He said he didn’t realize those vouchers I’d handed him when we checked in and said “we need these for dinner” were actually important. Now he knows. Before we headed out, Bill called Disney dining to explain what happened. He must not be the only one to do that. Because they quickly said we could use the tickets at a different character meal. So we’ll go eat breakfast with Minnie tomorrow. Kaitlyn is getting more than her share of time with the characters!

Today’s big special treat for staying at the resort was Toontown Morning Madness. Toontown opens an hour early for hotel guests. But you sit in the sun and watch some lame show where Mayor Mickey Mouse drones on. It wasn’t entertaining for the grown ups or the kids. And the rides didn’t open till Mickey finished. Note to self: skip this next time.

Since we wore ourselves out yesterday, today we tried to have a better plan. We left the park early and went to the hotel pool. It has a water slide and Kaitlyn went down that slide more times than I could count. There are waiters poolside to bring you tasty grown-up drinks. Except the pool was packed and the one waiter was just not able to keep up. So Bill got to be our waiter. Before going to the pool, we stopped to pick up fast passes for the rapid river ride just on the other side of the exclusive entrance to California Adventure. So we pulled Kaitlyn off the slide and, still wearing our suits, and rode the rapids. And, our plan worked. Because we got soaked. Kaitlyn absolutely loved it. It really was a lot of fun. And it was perfect to be able to just take our sopping wet selves right to our hotel and dry off and clean up.

Then, it was back to the park to see the Electrical Parade. People started staking out spots on the pavement an hour before the parade started. I’d taken Kaitlyn shopping (of course…. I’m trying to keep her from spending all those Disney dollars she earned but I think I should have just let her spend it all the first day) Bill called because he couldn’t get people to not take our spots, so the shopping had to stop so we could go sit and stiffen up on the pavement. If Disney sold pillows to sit on while parade watching, I’d totally buy. Totally. We ate dinner sitting there. Bill went and fetched hot dogs and a freakishly giant turkey leg. After what felt like forever, they dimmed the lights for the parade to start. And after what felt like another forever in the dark, the parade finally reached us. Kaitlyn was absolutely captivated by it. She cheered and hollered and clapped. Me? I cried. Except for a handful of new light bulbs, the parade is the same as it was when my parents made me sit and watch it every single night one vacation at DisneyWorld. And it made me miss my mom.

Disney… day 1.

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Thanks to jet lag, we were all fast asleep by 9:30 last night. Maybe it was 10… Bill and I listened to the booming of the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. Kaitlyn was already fast asleep by then. We were up around midnight when someone popped a cork of champagne or shot someone in the hallway. I don’t care which, I was just satisfied that they took all that racket into their room and it was quiet again. We were up again around 4:30. I got up to go to the bathroom and never could fall back asleep. Around 5:30 when we established we were all in the same boat, we got up and ordered room service and got ready to go to the park.

Today was one of our days to get into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland an hour early. A hotel guest perk. Not quite the same as the silver pass perks, but it has to do. We got there around 7:30 (pitiful, for people who’d been up since 4:30). Before the park even opened to the rest of the world, we rode Peter Pan, Snow White, Mr Toad, Dumbo, the Teacups and the Matterhorn (twice).

On the Autopia, we got stuck in a traffic jam. So typical for LA. And as a typical LA driver, Kaitlyn got mad, tried honking her horn and threw up her arms in frustration. Literally. The car three ahead of us stopped in the middle of the track. Wouldn’t re-start. What do you do when your car breaks down in the middle of the Autopia? There’s no AAA to call. The woman in the car got out and started walking back the track to tell someone. After a while, a cast member showed up from the other direction… apparently when our group of cars failed to show up back at the start when we should have. So now I know what to do if your car stops on the Autopia. Sit there and wait.

I skipped Star Tours and waited for Bill and Kaitlyn to enjoy the ride. It seemed to take them forever when finally Bill called me to say the ride dumps you into a store. Naturally. So I went in, and found them building their own light saber. I’m not 100% sure that this purchase was entirely Kaitlyn’s idea but it was happening and being deducted from her total of Disney Dollars. (She’s been doing chores and earning “Disney dollars.” She arrived with 89, earned one extra, and is now down to 50. And it’s day one.)

After a scare over losing the light saber (Bill found it inside the Carousel of Progress), we headed over to see the Jedi training session. If you’ve never seen it, it’s well worth it. The same guy has been playing the part of the jedi master for the years we’ve been coming to Disney. He’s hysterical. Kids line up and wait for the chance to don an ugly brown cloak, learn some light saber fighting “techniques,” and then take on Darth Vader while the jedi “master” cracks jokes that mostly go over the kids’ heads. (Like today: one kid just stood there while “battling” Darth Vader. The Jedi said “you were so fast I didn’t even see you move.”) We stood at the back where the Stormtroopers make their exit. At one point, Darth Maul walked right up to Kaitlyn and stared at her. That scared her. Then as they were leaving, one of the Stormtroopers stared at her and pointed his (fake) gun her way. She hid behind Bill… shaking. The Stormtrooper glared at me, too, and I admit it was really kind of intimidating. But you’d expect a light-saber toting 6 year old to stand up to the guy and try to hit him or something. Or not, I guess.

Kaitlyn found lots scary today. Snow White. Mr Toad (I forgot, it ends with you getting hit by a train). Haunted Mansion (they’ve updated it). Matterhorn (Mommy, there’s a monster hiding in there). We had to talk her into going on Pirates of the Caribbean, then as we got to the front of the line there was some problem and they shut it down.

On our way out, we stopped to watch the newest parade. It was a “dance party in Main Street.” The dancers kept pulling kids into the street to dance with them. Kaitlyn was adorable. She apparently wasn’t scared of that.

Today was a really long day. And there’s so much we didn’t even get to do. Sure, we got to paddle a canoe. I’ve been to Disneyland countless times and never once did it even cross my mind to paddle a canoe. But Kaitlyn saw it and had to do it. Tom Sawyer Island (or whatever it is now) was another must-do. She and Bill also dragged me on Splash Mountain. It’ll have to wait till we get home to the scanner, but I’m sure Bill will be sharing the photo of me screaming like I’m plunging to my certain death. At least he got soaking wet. ha!

8pm. Better turn in for the night. It’s gonna be another early day tomorrow.

My name is Mandy… and I am a Facebook addict…

Friday, July 10th, 2009

So a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and signed up for Facebook. I had one friend who told me she had to close down her account because she found herself spending so much time on it. Or, rather, wasting so much time on it. I could not imagine anything being that compelling…. outside of Trip Advisor. Man, can I spend a lot of time on Trip Advisor. I don’t even need to be planning a trip, although I usually am by the time I’m done.

Facebook makes Trip Advisor look like child’s play.

It’s really amazing. It’s been a fantastic way to keep up with people I’ve worked with or studied with or avoided studying with. And it’s an easier way to keep people posted on every silly little thing I’m up to. I’m not going to write an entire blog entry about how Kaitlyn did not properly apply sunscreen to my back when we went to the pool yesterday…. or about how having a single glass of wine at lunch today now has me seriously fending off the urge to nap. Because those sentences pretty much wrap up the entire event. Perfect for little Facebook status updates.

But here’s the other amazing part of Facebook. It really is as addicting as my friend said it is. (She’s back on, by the way.) I used to fanatically check my email every time I was by the computer. Ok, I have to make it a point to wander by the computer… so I did. Any time I walked upstairs, I managed to route myself through the office and in front of my computer. (Imagine all the extra steps I’ve walked to that end!) Now email seems so old school. So slow. Now I check Facebook. Over and over and over again during the course of the day. One reason is simple: I’m GMT +1 (Greenwich mean time plus an hour. In other words, I live in a time zone one hour ahead of London.) I have FB friends here. I have FB friends on east coast time. Central time. Pacific time. Friends in those time zones who keep bizarre hours. Point is… day or night I can generally find an update. So day or night… I check for them.

I never intend for it to be a long process. It should, theoretically, take just a minute. You pop on, see if there’s an update, maybe add your own, then pop off. The reality is, you get on FB for just a second and the next thing you know you’ve found out that you’re Mr. Sulu, that you should live in Russia and wear 80’s fashions… and an hour as passed… and your to-do list remains untouched.

Maybe some days that’s ok. That’s the way it should be. I don’t smell the roses because I’m afraid of bees… so I reconnect with old friends and play silly games and take silly quizzes. It’s my way of unwinding. And that is not a bad thing.