Joined: 10 Oct 2003
|Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:54 pm Post subject: Las Vegas/California Vacation -- Part Two
July 8 -- No sleeping in today -- it was my birthday and I planned to be in Disneyland by 1 p.m.! We headed out of Las Vegas a little after 8 and had a relatively easy trip to Anaheim – no traffic to speak of, lots of desert to cross, and just one pit stop for some breakfast. We arrived at the Howard Johnson’s in Anaheim by 12:30. Our room was ready and we were able to check in and unload all of the luggage. We had a 7th floor, Disney view room with a GREAT view of the park (more on that later). Remember, Tim is NOT a Disney fan so he opted to hang out at the hotel and swim, relax, etc. while Erik, Keri and I headed for parks. It was only about a 7 minute walk for us and we were in the gates – that was the amazing part for us, after visiting Disney for the past 20 years and not really being able to just walk into any of the parks except Epcot and MGM it was neat to just walk from our room into the parks quicker than the time it usually takes to ride a tram from the parking lots!
We had decided to start in Disneyland and if it was too crowded, we’d head over to California Adventure. I stopped at City Hall and picked up my birthday sticker, while Erik found lockers to deposit our sweatshirts (which we definitely needed by evening!). It was a Friday, but the park was not overly crowded so we decided to stay there rather than park hopping. We were able to do most of the attractions we wanted with the exception of Space Mountain. It was still undergoing “soft openings” after a long rehab, and although it was open most of the day the lines were always 75 minutes and longer with no fast passes. We chose to spent our time doing attractions that we hadn’t seen before, including Indiana Jones which we really liked. One of Erik’s best friends from college was at the park with her family and we met up with them in the late afternoon. We called Tim and had him meet us at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney for dinner. We had gotten vouchers for joining MVP club and so basically had a free dinner and played games while we waited with the free points they gave us.
After dinner we headed back into the park, while Tim headed back to hotel. We did a few more attractions and then went to get a spot to view the “Remember the Dream” fireworks. The display was excellent, although by that point, the crowds were quite large. We were going to head to the 10:30 Fantasmic show, but decided to avoid the crowds and do a few attractions instead. We managed to squeeze in Buzz Lightyear again as well as several others before heading back to HoJo’s around 11. Tim told us he had watched the fireworks from our balcony and he actually had a better view than we did – at least for the “up in the air” displays!
July 9 – Today was a more relaxed day so we let the kids sleep in while Tim and I went to breakfast at Mimi’s – an excellent (and reasonably priced) restaurant right next to the hotel. We were going to spend the day exploring the Anaheim/LA area so we got the kids up and moving and by 11:30 were on the road.
First stop was the Crystal Cathedral, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It is an amazing structure and we were surprised to know that there is no air conditioning in it. The inside temperatures are regulated by opening specially designed windows and circulating air that way. We spent a while wandering around the campus and then jumped back into the car to head up to Hollywood/Beverly Hills area.
The trip was NOT fun! Even though it was midday on a Saturday, I-5 was pretty much a parking lot for most of the way. We finally arrived at Hollywood Blvd. About 1-1/2 to 2 hours later. We just basically cruised down the boulevard taking in the sights. There were a bunch of “superheroes” in costume around the theater so we just took pics from the car and continued along. We took a few side streets in Beverly Hills to check out some of the mansions (Ringo Starr’s, Emeril’s happened to be on the street we went up) and then drove along Rodeo Drive. We all decided that we’d seen enough of Beverly Hills and headed for the beaches. Our plan was to follow Sunset Blvd. through Beverly Hills and right out to the beaches. Unfortunately, the construction crews had decided to take the same route that Saturday to do some weekend work, so our trip was somewhat impeded.
However, about an hour later we ended up in Santa Monica and amazingly got a parking place right by the pier. We spent about an hour or so on the pier and walking on the beach. Being East Coast beachgoers, we were amazed at the water temps in the Pacific – 65 degrees is definitely not Myrtle Beach swimming temp! But it was a beautiful day on the beach and it felt good to just be out of the car. We finally headed back to the car and gave Erik the map with the directions to just get us home without major traffic holdups. He did an admirable job and every time we started hitting some congestion he directed Tim to an alternate road and we got home in less than an hour (which was definitely better than the 2-1/2 to 3 hours it had taken to get there!). We were all hungry and ended up at Mimi’s for dinner which was excellent. After dinner, we headed to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping and wandering around since we were heading to Escondido the next morning. We went back to the room for a while and got to watch the fireworks from our balcony. The view was fantastic and we saw more from there than we had seen while right in front of the castle. We missed the effects that were close to the ground but the rest was great. Erik left to meet up with his friend and Tim & I ended up at ESPN Zone for a late night hot fudge brownie sundae. Fortunately, Erik and Michelle found us there and helped us finish this huge dessert! We eventually headed back to the room by around 11 and packed (again) since we were leaving in the morning for Escondido.