California Adventure

Last weekend we went to Disneyland with some good friends. We thought it would be a good idea to break up the drive, so on Thursday night we drove down to my in-laws’ in southern Utah. Then we finished the drive to California on Friday.

When we got to the park Saturday morning, we immediately noticed the smell of smoke from the wildfires, and all day we had to deal with ash raining down on us. I even got some in my mouth at one point (which still tasted better than the $8 chicken sandwich I had for lunch). It was weird to see this massive smoke blanket come across the sky throughout the day. (Naturally, I forgot my camera, but I borrowed a friend's and at least got a couple pics.)

Here it comes...

Here’s a little something to remember in case you ever find yourself at Disneyland with a young child: Do not under any circumstances take him on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. It seems like a nice, friendly little romp, but for some reason the Disney “imagineers” decided to add a Hell section to the ride, just in case any little kids weren’t sufficiently frightened by the rest of it.

Anyway, it was great to have a small group, so we could split up and do different things depending on who wanted to do what. We hit all the rides we really cared about, including the ones at California Adventure (the Tower of Terror and California Screamin’ were incredible).

We ate dinner at Naples Restaurant in Downtown Disney. You know that scene in What about Bob? Where they’re eating dinner and Bob can’t stop moaning because he’s enjoying the food so much? It was just like that, so if you’re willing to shell out the cash (it’s pretty pricey) it’s unbelievably good, especially compared with the cardboard we ate for lunch inside the park. And our server was a very nice man who was born in Communist Romania and had emigrated here a few years ago. His story was amazing.

Sam was having a hard time in the restaurant until a kid just walked up to him and gave him a balloon animal. It seemed the world was just full of nice people that day.

That's Sam sitting by me. Can't you tell?

We stayed in the park until it closed at midnight, and I was ready to call the Guiness folks, because I thought we had actually managed to tire a three-year-old. He nearly fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, but then he perked up again for three more hours. So cancel that record, I guess.

He did manage a nap, though.

The next morning we were to leave and drive back to southern Utah, but the wildfires had closed one of the freeways we had come in on. But a little help from my wife’s brother, who lived in Orange County for several years, enabled us to escape the fires and a lot of the traffic. We spent Sunday night at the in-laws’ again, and were on our way early Monday afternoon.

So, for our first “real” family vacation, it was a tremendous success, due in large part to generous financial support from a friend who may or may not wish to remain anonymous, my wife’s parents for free room and board, and my brother-in-law for his knowledge of California’s less-than-user-friendly freeway system.


The Kyles said…
Yay for Disneyland! Yay for a successful family vacation! Yay for almost tiring a 3-year old! Sounds to me like a successful weekend.
Melanie said…
Glad you had fun!
Where can I get a friend like that?
Jen said…
joel, welcome back. I was getting worried, and bored. What a fun vaycay. I miss going on rides. Also: your wife's (katie?) robot shirt is rad & i want it.
Joel said…
Her brother designed it. You actually can get it at if you want.
I have lived in California since September and still haven't gone to Disneyland. I'm jealous. Of course, I am very happy to see pictures of your family. Sam is so cute!

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