I had to put in for the time off from work of course. And I’m really glad I took care of that some three months ago or so, because I don’t think I would have gotten it if I had submitted the paperwork any later. Work’s been kinda’ crazy and I’m a pretty well-loved employee, so it wouldn’t have been easy getting the time off on short or shorter notice. Nonetheless, I did get the thumbs-up to go, and I kind of counted down the days up ‘till my departure. My co-workers were all pretty bummed that I was going to be away for a week, but I was pretty excited. The day before I left, this song kept running through my head.
When Wednesday finally rolled around we bopped down to Sea-Tac much too early in the morning. The flight down to Burbank was actually pretty basic. I love flying, and jet liners can be tons of fun, but the Seattle to Burbank flight was just not all that eventful. Getting a family of nine with all our carry-on luggage and… whatnot… through airport security was all sorts of fun, though. You have to read that last sentence with a voice absolutely dripping with sarcasm. Because really, it was insanely stressful. Checking as much luggage as you can, before you even reach the security checkpoints, is the smartest way to travel. Perhaps not the cheapest, but for sure the smartest. Anyway – we all made it through security and reached our gate with plenty of time to spare, so we hit Starbucks to keep from hitting the floor. About the time our coffees were gone it was time to board the plane and off we flew to Bob Hope’s lively and tiny little airport in Burbank, California. Like I mentioned the flight was uneventful. No gremlins on the wings, no crash landing off the coast of a deserted island, and no bogies on the horizon. Smooth flight, smooth touchdown. And then it was the mad scurry to gather the crew into the rental van. We visited Grandma first, which was lovely. She took us for a walk around Glendale and took us for lunch at one of the coolest Mexican restaurants ever. The atmosphere was delightful, the food was incredible. It was a good time. We walked Grandma back to her house and then took off for the condo Mom and Pops had reserved for our week-long stay in Cali. It was situated in North Hollywood and turned out to be a charming enough little place. I’m not the kind to go about taking pictures of all the rooms, but it was cozy little den and suited us rather well.
|Matty finds the switch for the ceiling fan...|
|It was a nice fan...|
On Thursday it was off to Disneyland. I had never been, and neither had a one of my siblings, so we were all absolutely bloated with excitement. Pops made record time and we were there in something around an hour. (Really – that’s a pretty short drive for our family as we’ve grown accustomed to longer commutes.) We found a nice parking spot and were in the park not long after, with pops already feeling the burn in his wallet. Entrance cost to The Happiest Place on Earth is a little over astronomical. Basically put: getting in ain’t cheap, son. From there we kind of just meandered the park. Most of us were just shell-shocked with amazement as we staggered around. And I’ll tell you, the place oozes immense quantities of charm. The rides are adorable, the themes are fantastic, it was a lot for our poor, over-stimulated systems to handle. We rode on a lot of rides, stood in a lot of lines, ate a lot of sugar, absorbed a lot of sun, and absolutely over-dosed on amusement. People are always telling me that Disneyland is quite over-rated but I find myself more privy to believe it under-rated! I had so much fun!
|Just... so... magical...|
|Bethy and me waitin' on the bathroom-goers...|
We also spent a fair bit of time shopping around the park. Despite the honestly ridiculous price tags, a number of us were dead-set on bringing home wearable souvenirs to flaunt. The three eldest ended up purchasing sweatshirts (As well as a couple antenna toppers for me…) while the younger folk in our company chose toys and plushies. All items were priced as to leave the purchaser lame and blind by the time the transaction was complete. But while I continue to complain about the pricing of pretty much everything about Disneyland, I have to continue to reiterate the amount of sheer enjoyment I got out of the park. Because really – it was an incredibly fun way to spend an afternoon. Between the gorgeous weather and the over-powering charm around every turn, it was nothing but unforgettable buckets of joy. The best word to describe it all? Magical.
|LEGO Hulk at the LEGO store just inside Disneyland...|
|Matty, Hannah, and Me in line for Space Mountain. (Our favorite!)|
We spent most of Friday with the family of an old friend of Pops’. They were very gracious and generous hosts, and just really good people. All enjoyed themselves as we told funny stories and heard about Pops’ and his pals’ many crazy adventures from his Cali days. It was a good day which came to an end all too soon.
One of the primary reasons we even went on this hair-brained adventure was because our family had been invited to a wedding by some long-time friends of ours. It made for a little more difficulty in packing, as we had to be sure to bring appropriately fancy attire and all that implies, but we got it all figured out in the end. Saturday popped up right in the middle of our wonderful trip and that meant the wedding was upon us, so we headed off to the house of the same friends who invited us to wash and iron our wedding clothes and dress for the evening. They had their pool all ready for us when we arrived, so we all went for a quick dip. I enjoyed myself so much I entirely forgot how easily my white, sun-deprived man-flesh burns in direct sunlight and not until dressed and awkwardly making my way around the wedding did I realize just how well the sun had done its dirty work on my chest, back, and shoulders. After the happy evening came to a close and we’d made it back to our condo pad, I shrugged off my clothes to find my throbbing torso glowed red in the low-light. Needless to say, sleeping was far less comfortable from that point on. As were seatbelts, backpacks, and piggy-back rides. The wedding had been a pretty venue though. Catered by In-n-Out Burgers… And thus a very yummy venue as well.
Sunday morning was spent at Grace Community church. Somehow I expected it to be a bit bigger, from so many people telling me always how huge it was supposed to be. The services were packed with hundreds of people, but somehow it just didn’t feel as big as I had imagined. The service was nice enough though and spoken from the heart. After church we went out to Travel Town to check out the choo-choos and get some pictures. The place has changed since last I was there. Basically the entire park has been safe-a-fied as to keep younglings from injuring themselves and thus just about every train car or engine is off limits for all but observing from a distance. Also, nearly all of the miniature trains have been removed or something, because I remember there being a lot of them in all shapes and sizes, but I only saw three equally-sized tracks. Basically everything awesome about Travel Town is gone or changed. So now it’s just plain, old bore-o’town. The mini-trains for riding on were still there, though, and that was a fun aspect. Except for the fact that it’s supposedly free, yet they twist your arm for a donation of some kind. Jerks. Pops is way too generous. If it were me, I would have told them to go pound sand. After we filled up on disappointment we headed for the observatory from which one could see the iconic Hollywood sign. Upon arriving, though, we discovered that everyone and his mother decided that that very afternoon was an excellent time to steal our idea, and the road was lined with hundreds of cars. No parking. Bomb-out. Instead, we drove around with Mom and Pops as our tour guides filling us in on the significance of different buildings and places that had once been very, very familiar to them.
|Hannah and I spied as many Mini Coopers as we could during our drives.|
Monday was spent chilling at the condo. Grandma came for a visit and we chattered a bit. Then she said goodbye and we loaded into the van and headed out to our friends’ place (The same place where I received my awful Sunburn…) for supper and fun. It was an enchanting evening, really. Though I decided not to swim this time around and instead tried my best to burn my legs so that they’d match the most of me. (It didn’t work… my legs are tougher. They’re kilt legs…)
We spent Tuesday at Longbeach. Browsing the shops and sitting in the sand. It was a beautiful day, albeit a little breezy. I loved every minute of it though. We ate at a little taco joint which has the best fish-related Mexican food I’ve ever had. Our clan just about cleaned them out of chips and salsa though. Also – Hannah found a dead cockroach in her dish… which was an interesting ordeal. It was yummy food nonetheless!
|From the pier...|
|Oil rigs are so cool...|
|Gorgeous Californian sunset...|
|Wind-blown hair and a sunburned face...|
|Hannah is such a beach-girl...|
The next morning meant packing up and heading to the airport. After fighting our way through the ticket-booths and security, we made it to our boarding gate. On the plane, though, finding our seats somehow got rather complicated and we ended up shuffling around a bit. Of course during our trip my Zune had to throw a little fit, which meant I had no music to listen to on the flight back to Seattle, which only forced me to pay attention to my book and burn through some seven or eight chapters. (That’s really good for me… I’m a slow reader.) Getting onto that plane was a really sad thing for me, though, in more ways than one.
I certainly was glad to get home to my friends. But I had made so many fond memories in Cali, I didn’t want to leave those places and times behind. I also had fallen in love with the gorgeous weather and was sorry to return home to rainy Washington state. I also have a sinking suspicion that this was probably the last family vacation we’d be taking together. Already Sarah had been absent so in a way it wasn’t truly a family vacation, but the rest of us had been together and had had so much fun. It was saddening to think this group probably wouldn’t be traveling together again anytime soon, if ever again.
It was an amazingly fun trip. And I’ll remember the times we had and the laughs that we shared for the rest of my life.