Monday, July 17, 2017

California 2017: SoCal

Watching the sunrise over the planes 
We are back from our first airplane trip as a family of 5- and the boys' first time ever on an airplane.  We decided months ago that we would attend my cousin Erica's wedding in California (excellent decision), and told the kids they could come. Erica made plans to include the kids in her wedding, and they were thrilled- they had never been to a wedding, either.

On Monday, July 3, we woke up at 4 am and took a taxi to the airport in the dark.  The kids were talking as if they had never been outside of the house before ("What is a motel?"), and were so excited.  We had a connection in Chicago, thinking we would get out and stretch our legs.  Fortunately everything went smoothly, but we probably didn't need the connection. The kids were all great on the plane, with the exception of their use of chewing gum.  Benjamin took his gum and stuck it on the seat, and Charlotte let hers fall out of her mouth and then sat in it.
With our friends in Santa Monica
We arrived in Orange County around lunch time (California time), and got our rental car. I had gotten in touch with a friend of mine from high school who lives in Santa Monica, and we drove to meet her, her husband, and their daughter for lunch. I hadn't seen her since her wedding in 2001!  She is also a clinical psychologist, so we had a lot to catch up on.  The weather in Santa Monica was absolutely gorgeous: sunny without a cloud in the sky and warm but not hot.  I can see why people pay a fortune of money to live there.  We had a very California lunch, and then went to the beach.
Santa Monica Pier
Smile! It's our 11th anniversary!
Around 5 we headed back to the car and drove back to Anaheim. We stayed at a Marriott Courtyard close to the Disneyland entrance and it had its own little waterpark.  The kids loved it, and it was perfect for our family and our trip. The room had 2 queens and bunk beds and we all slept like rocks. That first evening, Eric and the kids went to the waterpark and I ran to Walmart for groceries.  We had a little dinner in the room and fell into bed.

We were still mostly on East Coast time in the morning and awake before 6 am.  I went out for a jog (I am much faster in cool, less humid air and on streets that are completely flat) and then we got ready to go to Legoland. Since it was the 4th of July, we thought we would stay for the fireworks at 8:30, but who were we kidding- it was hot and we were exhausted.
Welcome to Legoland!

Legoland was fun; we rode the rides, went into the waterpark, and spent many minutes in the gift shop deciding what souvenirs to get.  We were all exhausted by about 4 pm so decided to just call it a day, and went back to the hotel to enjoy the waterpark there. I got to see a bunch of fireworks from our hotel room, and we were all asleep by 9.

For our first day at Disneyland, we went to Disney California Adventure. Top of our list was Guardians of the Galaxy, which is just a fancy new name for "Tower of Terror."  The height minimum was 40", and Charlotte is now 42", so it seemed like a great idea to take her on it.  Ha! She screamed, and screamed, and yelled, "When is this going to end?!? Get me outta here!" When we walked off the ride she was hysterical, crying that she hated it. She spent the rest of the day saying things like, "I don't think anyone should go on Guardians of the Galaxy, ever. That ride is a terrible nightmare!" Aside from that disaster, we had a great time. Asher and I rode the California Screamin' rollercoaster 2 times, we saw a great performance of Frozen, and went as a family on the Radiator Springs Racers. Benjamin was cautious and didn't want any rides that went too fast or who were too scary. Asher, on the other hand, thought the scarier the better.
Charlotte can't even look at the sign, she is so scared
Radiator Springs
Lightning McQueen
We left the park around 4 to go back to our hotel- the kids were just as excited about the water slides at our hotel as they were about Disneyland!
The boys in Radiator Springs
The ferris wheel- everyone enjoyed it, no one was scared
On Thursday the 6th, we went to Disneyland's main park. I took Charlotte and Asher on Space Mountain (Charlotte didn't love it; Asher did). We crammed in several rides in the first hour and a half the park was open, before the crowds got heavy and the sun got too hot. As a cost-cutting measure, we ate breakfast in our hotel, and I packed sandwiches for our lunches. Asher did complain that we ate a lot of sandwiches on vacation, but I had to cut a corner somewhere!  We did get treats in the afternoons.

Eric wanted a picture with the stick-guy behind him but didn't want to wait in line

Charlotte is speechless at meeting Minnie

Overjoyed to be with Minne

Outside Space Mountain

Charlotte is screaming in fear on Space Mountain

Despite those muscles, Asher was unable to remove the sword from the stone

Lunchtime indulgence: gigantic turkey leg
Meeting Moana

Benjamin adores Tigger
That day, Eric took Charlotte and Benjamin for a nap, and Asher and I went on Splash Mountain. After our ride, we caught the 4:30 parade, and then I made Asher go back and take a nap, too. That night we attended the nighttime Electric Parade, and the fireworks that followed.  I must still be a child at heart, because I love all that stuff, and I couldn't get enough of it.  The kids seemed to like it, too.

There is more to say, but I want to get this posted, and then I will get to work on Part 2 of our trip: Northern California and the wedding.

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