Just for You... Reviews by Lissete



Monday, July 31, 2006

Feeling Hot, Hot Hot

Time goes by so quickly. I cannot believe that tomorrow is the 1st day of August already!! Before we kow it the holidays are upon us again. I am trying to convince the girls to give up gifts this year and we will go on a holiday cruise instead! Sounds like a fabulous plan to me, but they are not quite convinced yet. I don't see why not though, they get practically everything they need anyways.

The heat is insane! I can't stand being outside. Fortunately though, we have not hit the triple digits yet. It just feels like it. Hot & Sticky that's what we are! A/C running 24/7 and FPL charging 60% more because they feel like it= close to $500 per month. We'll be bankrupt soon!

Today was supposed to be the first day of a new diet, but I still have cupcakes left over from yesterday. Too much temptation! Especially since I made them and my nephew has officially declared me "The Cake Queen". So maybe I will start tomorrow! You would think that the weight would just melt off in this heat!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cleaning Frenzy!

My OCD kicked into high gear today! I woke up around 10AM and went downstairs to get some juice. I looked outside at the back yard and it looked so messy! I couldn't stand it, I went out and started cleaning. Never mind that it was about 100 degrees in the shade! First I spray painted the chair that I had just bought new cushions for. They look brand new by the way. Danny just does not realize how much money I save him!! Then I literally scrubbed the terrace and the deck. I washed all the patio tables & chairs. And I rearranged all the furniture as well.

Then, I came inside. I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and did 3 loads of laundry. Now I am totally exhausted. My body is killing me! I took a long shower then slathered on tons of lavendar lotion. Hopefully, this will help me fall asleep early today. As it is, it's almost 11PM and I am wide awake!

By the way, I like my shopping frenzies way better than my cleaning frenzies!!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Shopping Frenzy!

I have been on a major shopping frenzy these past few days. It started on Thursday. We just happened to stumble into Target when the patio stuff went to 75% off! We bought the fire pit table which I have had my eye on for about a year. We also bought like a gazillion gallons of tiki fuel. You can never have too much of that! I found one chaise cushion in a nice burnt orange color. Since there was only one, we had to go on a hunt for at least 2 more! So off to the other Targets. We hit 3 more before we went back home but unfortunately we did not find the cushions. I did pick up 4 chair cushions, an outdoor lamp for the gazebo and a hammock.

The next day I had an appointment to get my nails done, so that cut into my shopping mission. When I was done, Danny, Kari & I went to 2 more Targets in Broward. No cushions there either and the pickins were extremely slim! I did find a rug for the gazebo & more tiki fuel! Hurray!

When we finished and drove back toward home in rush hour traffic, it was aready about 7 PM. We were all starving and I had to pee. We decided to go get something to eat. On the way, Kari wanted to stop at Old Navy for a minute since I had told her that they were having a sale. Well! Let me tell you. It was an amazing sale! Everything was 1/2 off already reduced clearance items. Our cart was over flowing and the total was only $100! We were there till 9PM and I totally forgot about being hungry and having to pee!

First thing Saturday morning, I was at Old Navy again! This time with Kat. Again our cart was over flowing! Then I decided to get the CC since I could get an additional 20% off. I did not realize that it was only what I could stuff in this tiny bag. Well, by gosh, I actually squashed all but 3 items into the bag and I only tore one bit! Grand total with no tax (tax free week) $80!

Needless to say, I am a very happy camper!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

She's Home!

Yay!! Kari's home! Now I can sleep at night! She had a really good time and took alot of pictures. She's happy, my little jet setter. Now it's back to being bored.

No plans for today. We need to save $$ & recover from our vacation. That way come October, maybe Danny will take me back to California for my birthday! Or maybe a cruise, I haven't decided.

I'm still waking up between 10 & 11. I'm practically sleeping my day away! I'm also missing my early morning Target runs.

Anyone know how I can lose 10 lbs in 11 days? I have to go to the Dr. on the 26th and she is going to call me fat again! Ugh!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

Went to see this movie today. It was ok. I could have waited to see it on DVD though. Really awesome outfits worn by Anne Hathaway though. Meryll Streep did a great job as always. Funny how they call a size 6 FAT! I really wish that we had movie theaters like the one we went to in Hollywood. Ushers? What's that??? Kids running up & down the aisles? No problem! Baby crying for almost the entire movie without the parent getting up and walking out with the child? No Problem! It took another patron to actually have to get up, miss a portion of the movie, and go complain to someone. I know it's not totally the theater's responsibility, parents should control their kids if they are going to bring them, but someone should be around to keep the situation under control. It hurts to pay the $7-9 to watch a movie in the 1st place, add a nuisance and it's like adding insult to injury. Remember, I'm a mom. I never took my babies to the movies, and they NEVER acted up when they were older either. If they had, it would not have been tolerated by me nor at the expense of the other folks who paid good money to enjoy a movie. OK, that is my rant for today.

Kari comes home tomorrow. We have really missed her! She's had fun and has learned alot for next year. She was also hypnotized at one of the shows. Can't wait to see the video!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My baby left me!

I didn't go to sleep at all last night. By 2AM I realized that it wasn't worth it to o to sleep when I had to wake up at 4 anyways. Today I had to drive my baby Kari to the airport and put her on a plane to Nashville where she will be for 6 days!! She is at an FCCLA confrence and competion. First time she's been away from home for more than a day. I was (and am) totally freakin out. So if you happened to be at Miami Int'l Airport at around 7AM and saw a vertically challenged woman crying and practically chasing the plane from window to window like Gigot, please don't point and laugh. Just know that my heart is on a plane without me.

Santa Monica, Queen Mary & Manhattan Beach

All good things must come to an end and we are nearing the end of our fabulous vacation. We wanted to get an early start on our day. We had an early breakfast and hauled all our stuff down the stairs to the parking garage. Going down is soooo much easier. We checked out at 10:30 and made our way to Santa Monica. Along the way, we saw many more interesting sights in Hollywood. Including this one shirtless guy in a Panama Hat and a flower lei trying to sell an old lamp and typewriter in the middle of the street. Although we did not care for Hollywood much we can’t deny that it gave us a few laughs! We stopped at Target to buy another suitcase to distribute the weight in the other bags, it was cheaper to buy a case than to pay another overweight fee.

We parked at Santa Monica Place. It’s a 3 story mall and I LOVED it! We walked around a bit then made our way to the pier. We spent about ½ hour or so here. Watched this guy make a clay sculpture of this other guys face which looked exactly like him! Then we walked to the 3rd Street Promenade just to look around and grab a quick lunch.

At about 3PM we headed to Long Beach & the Queen Mary. We arrived at around 4PM and the attractions close at 6. I had a coupon for a combo ticket for $12 each. This included the self guided tour & the Ghosts & Legends attraction.
I hate to say that we were extremely disappointed, not only by the condition of the ship, but also the very few areas we were able to visit. I expected to see the ballrooms & the dining rooms. It just didn’t feel like a First Class ship of any era. I was very interested in the history of the ship and the most I got from the tour was a 10 minute video tape that they played which included footage of what’s been shown on the History Channel several times. The Ghosts & Legends tour was slightly more interesting. It was more or less a narrated haunted house but it did give information about how certain people had perished on board. It did take you down to the boiler room and 1st Class indoor pool. I would have been even more disappointed if we had paid the regular price of $23 each. And then to add to my pain we paid $10 to park for 2 hours!

It took us less than ½ hour to get to Manhattan Beach. We stayed at the Hawthorne Suites Manhattan Beach because of its proximity to the airport. It also happened to be about a mile from the pier. We checked in and were told that we were in time for their “social” hour. The girl checking us in was really nice and recommended an Italian restaurant by the pier. We went to the room to freshen up while Danny went down to get some beer at the “social” hour. He came back up a few minutes late and reported that he had a jolly old time socializing by himself! LOL! All he wanted was ber anyways and at least he got some. We had a 1 bedroom king room with a full kitchen which we didn’t really need. The room was immaculate and updated. Free WiFi and printing service which allowed me to print my boarding passes the next day. Fortunately the bed was very comfy. Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight.

We drove out to the pier and were lucky enough to find parking quite quickly. There were a lot of people out trying to surf but there were no waves. We hung around the pier to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful evening & the weather was starting to get cooler. I absolutely loved Manhattan Beach. I want to return for a longer stay. Or Danny can buy a house for us right on the beach. Any of them will do nicely.

After the sun set we went to the restaurant recommended by the girl at the motel. It’s called Mama D’s and it’s a tiny family run restaurant which was packed. We were told there was about a ½ hour wait but we waited a bit more than that. While we waited they brought out several appetizers including fried calamari, meatballs and their fresh baked focaccia bread. Our meal was excellent! Served by a very friendly and efficient staff. I can’t wait to return. There is a really cute ice cream parlor across the street but we were too full for dessert. It was already 10PM and everything was closed except the restaurants so we decided to head on back to the motel.

Our window faced the street but for some reason during the day we couldn’t hear any traffic, at night it was non-stop and loud. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep. We went down to the free breakfast and were pleasantly surprised! They had a hot buffet set up with eggs, bacon, sausage & hashbrowns. There was also a make your own waffles station. Yogurts, fruit, breads, bagels, cereals and all types of beverages including different teas. We would stay here again but we would request a room that does not face the street. We checked out at 11, dropped off the car, and took the shuttle to the airport. I had wanted my last In-n-Out burger but we had just had breakfast a little over 2 hours earlier so no one was hungry. Check in & security were a breeze! I don’t know why people fear LAX. It is much easier here than in Miami. At around 12:30 the girls decide that they want Burger King to take on the plane. We arrive in Miami at almost 10PM and they are afraid that they will starve. The BK at this terminal is outrageously expensive! They charge about $9 for Value Meals! And about $6 for kids meals! The one is MIA is just slightly above regular BKs.

When we board I take my Dramamine & an ativan and before I know it I’m in la la land. I wake up 3 hours later. One more hour and we land! And so this ends our Great California Adventure! I’m still on a weird sleep schedule and I so need a vacation to recover from this vacation. Now it’s time to start planning our next trip!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

L.A. WB Tour, Rodeo Dr., Getty & Magic Castle

We have tickets for the 10:30 tour at the Warner Brothers Studios. I was up at around 8. The bed here is really hard. I’m not used to it. I have a nice comfy SAM adjustable bed at home. So I am not saying that everyone will find it hard but I did. There is a nice goose down duvet on the bed so I requested a top sheet for it so that I could lay on it tonight and maybe that would help.
We went down to get some breakfast before leaving. They set up in the small lobby but it wasn’t bad. They get their pastries daily from a local bakery and they are quite good. The also have cereals, breads & fresh fruit. Milk, coffee & three different kinds of juice.

We were off to Burbank at around 9:30. We didn’t get much traffic and arrived at 10. They asked if we wanted to take the 10 o’clock tour and we agreed. The tour was interesting. We saw the town used for the Gilmore Girls. We visited the set for E.R. And the recreated set of Friends. There was a lot of worker but no filming. I’m sure if we went during off summer months we would probably see more stuff going on. All in all it was a good tour.

The tour lasted 2 ¼ hours. When we were done we went to have lunch at Black Angus. We don’t have one here and I wish we did. The service was great, the food was really good, and the price was awesome. I had a meal that includes my entrée (Filet), 2 sides, soup or salad, your drink and a large brownie for dessert. They also serve a nice loaf of warm bread. My meal was only $14.99. Awesome deal!

From there we drove to Beverly Hills. First stop, Rodeo Drive. It was really hot today, so a quick look around and we were ready to leave. We drove around for a bit, looking at all the mansions. We went up hills & down hills until the girls asked if we could go to the movies. They really wanted to see Click. Yes, we were going to see a movie while on vacation. I think they asked because there really isn’t much to do at night. At least, nothing that all of us can do together. And as I mentioned before, hey did not want to walk around Hollywood at night.

So we got on Sunset Blvd. And went to the Arclight Cinema which is on 63rd & W. Sunset Blvd. You park in their parking garage and it’s $2 for 4 hours w/validation. I Loved this theater. The seats are extra wide and fit a cup of any size. Assigned seating you reserve when you buy, so... No Lines!!! Theres not a bad seat in the theater, even the front row is awesome. I think the first row is about 30 ft. from the screen. You can buy online or at the kiosk ahead of time with no service charge. The price is kind of high, we paid $11 each no student price, but then again we pay $9 & the girls pay $7 here. The popcorn was very good too. We all loved the movie. It’s a comedy with a message. We enjoyed it. Afterwards we walked around inside the little mall area, then stepped out onto Sunset Blvd. Whole different world. We went back & into the parking garage.
Danny decided to go back on Hollywood Blvd. The girls enjoyed the “sights” from the safety of our car! My girls are very sheltered!

The next day, we decided to take a drive to Malibu. We drove through the area for a while then drove through Santa Monica, we will be stopping here tomorrow. It was VERY hot today! I wanted to go see the Getty Center, so we went. All along listening to the whining in the back seat. I actually enjoyed what I did see. The grounds are beautiful & the views are great. I was able to see 2 wings of the museum before we left. The museum is free and parking is $7. You park and are taken by train up to the Getty Center. I would like to return someday to see the rest.

From there we went to the Farmer’s Market on 3rd & Fairfax and the Grove Mall. We loved this whole area. The Farmer’s Market is just that. They had lovely fresh produce along with many other things. The Grove Mall is an outdoor mall. There is a double decker trolley that takes you from the beginning of the mall to the Farmers market and has another stop ½ in between. There are restaurants & a movie theater as well.

We had to get back because it was nearing 4:30 and Danny & I had reservations for dinner at the Magic Castle Club. After we were showered and ready we walked to the club. We greatly enjoyed our visit. The shows were amazing. I love magic & illusions so I was really entertained. The dinner was a bit pricey for what was basically cruise ship food. We were sitting in a room with a magician, while waiting for a show to start. When the show was about ready to start, we walk out and I nearly bump into Criss Angel! I love his show! He said hello but we didn’t have a camera since we couldn’t take pictures inside the castle. I didn’t ask for an autograph either since he was not performing or anything, he was just there with his girlfriend & I hate to intrude! Anyhoo, we had a really nice evening. The girls were happy to stay in the room, watch movies & get online. That is, until they found out that Criss Angel was there!

Tomorrow is our last full day in California. We are going to Santa Monica, to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, then staying in Manhattan Beach for our last night.

Los Angeles (Hollywood)

Day 13-15

We had no need to wake up early today, but I was awake at 8. I ran down, actually I had to make 2 trips, to get the troops some breakfast. They stop offering breakfast at 9AM, which is kind of early. Everyone was up by 10 and by the time we actually checked out it was 11.
We were on our way to Hollywood. What should have taken us about 40 mins. according to Mapquest or an hour realistically. BUT, Danny decided to take a “scenic” route or non-scenic if you were to ask the girls and me. He grew up (until the age of 12) in Torrance. He wanted to give the girls a tour of where he lived, went to school, played, etc. It made him happy, so we complied. The best thing for me was finding the King’s Hawaiian Bakery. I LOVE King’s Hawaiian Bread. We bought some more stuff that we don’t need to munch on. I got some bread of course and their cakes & cookies are really good too. Danny got onion rings with macadamia nuts in the batter. They were ok.
We finally arrived at the Magic Castle Hotel at 3PM. We checked in and the girl checking us in was super friendly & helpful. We were given room 215. WARNING!: If any of you want to stay here and they give you a room in the 200’s RUN AWAY! Not really, but sort of. This is an old apartment building (a la Melrose Place) turned motel. There is no elevator. Remember how many bags we have. From the under ground parking garage to our room we climbed about 40 steps. One of the staff members helped with the bags. Poor man, had just gotten in to work. He was nice & clean. He made 2 trips with our bags. By the time he was done, he was drenched in sweat. Plus Danny was about to have a heart attack!

Aside from the stairs we were quite happy with our room. We had a 1 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and TONS of storage space. The room was somewhat renovated but the carpet was a bit soiled, this did not in anyway deter from our stay. Free wireless was included though our connections tended to be slow. They have a laundry room as well, which I used, for .75 per machine and the motel supplies the detergent.Continental breakfast was served in the morning till 10. Plus we were able to visit the Magic Castle Club next door. The hotel is about a block away from the Hollywood & Highland Center, Grauman’s & the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

We unpacked our stuff and walked to Hollywood Blvd. We went to see the prints at Grauman’s and I found my Tommy’s. I don’t care what anyone says, I have loved Tom Cruise for over 20 years & I still do. We watched all the people walking around dressed like characters. I so wanted the girls to take a picture with the freaky Chucky, but they refused. We also walked around Hollywood Blvd. for a bit then went to Hollywood & Highland mall.

By now it was 8PM and we were all getting a bit hungry, so we got In-n-Out and went back to the room. The girls weren’t too keen on walking around at night, so, since we were in the Pirates mood we went back to the room to watch Pirates of the Caribbean and I did a load of laundry as well. Not a very exciting or productive day. We’ll see how the next 2 days go. The girls are not very thrilled with Hollywood. Tomorrow we go on the WB Tour in Burbank, go to Rodeo Dr. (so Danny can buy a present for me) and maybe drive to Malibu.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

California Adventure & DL Part III

Today we could sleep in! Hurray!!! I still woke up at 7 though. But I was able to just rest my body in bed while the others slept. Danny & I went down slightly before 9 to get breakfast for the 2 sleepyheads & us. We were out the door at about 9:30. We caught the shuttle and were in California Adventure by 9:45AM.

We went directly toward Soarin’. We haven’t ridden it at WDW so it was new to us. We all liked it. We then just wandered around and did everything in the order that we saw it & caught our fancy. As far as rides go, we really only rode Soarin’ (10 mins.wait), the Sun Wheel (on the gondolas that don’t move), Tower of Terror( FP), Grizzly River Run(5 mins) & Monster’s Inc.(45 mins) Kari & Danny also rode Screamin’(15 mins). We totally regretted making the line for Monsters.
We saw the Aladdin show which was fantastic. The genie is hilarious!! We also did the bakery & the tortilla tour and Turtle Talk. We unanimously agreed that this was not the park for us. Sort of like MGM, we like it and all but if we had to buy a 1 day pass we would not waste it on MGM.

We left the park a little before 3 and walked across Harbor Blvd.to Denny’s. The girls like the country fried steak so they requested that we go there. After we ate we went back to the room for a while. Relax a bit and start packing up so that we could sleep a little longer the next morning.

At about 6PM we headed back to Disneyland. We went directly to New Orleans Square to see if there were any plans to open Pirate’s today. There was a bunch of people crowding around a CM who seemed totally frustrated. When she broke loose we asked her and she told us that she kept telling them to go to the other side but they wouldn’t listen. We took her word for it and started running. When we get there, they were just staring to let people in.

Although we were behind a huge crowd we only waited for a maximum of 20 minutes! I was so happy! Especially since I had practically given up all hope of seeing DL’s version. I concur with everyone, we liked DL’s Pirates better! The Jack Sparrow animatronics are extremely amazing. We stared at them hard because they looked so life like that we thought that it was like a candid camera thing and one was the real thing!

We rode a few things that we wanted to repeat. Then sat and listened to a group that was playing 80’s music in Tomorrowland. We had FPs for Autopia but the stand-by line was like 90 minutes or so and the CM said the FP line would be about 50 minutes, so we passed and gave our FPs to someone who was about to get in the stand-by line.
We went to play around in Innoventions for a bit then decided to call it a day.

Our Disney days have come to an end with many surprises along the way. We are very happy campers and hope to come back in the future. Up next: LA

Disneyland Part II & The Red Carpet

I knew that there wan no way on earth that we would be at the park for the 6:30 opening, but I sure was going to be there by 8. We were out the door right at 7, we stopped and had a quick breakfast by the pool and we were on our way. The breakfast at the Candy Cane is quite nice. Yummy Carbs! Actually that’s all we have been having for breakfast since we got to California, except in Monterey. They have bagels, breads & English muffins, fruit, pastries & cold cereal plus coffee, juices & cocoa. We ate then caught the shuttle to the park. We were surprised to find barely any lines to enter the park. We get our Pirate’s Premiere badge at the gate along with a commemorative park map.

We walk in and immediately see a bunch of people camping out along Main Street. They were mostly settling in for the long haul. Most were sleeping or reading books, some were having their own private parties with friends. Looked like fun, but we were on a mission.

We started off in Fantasyland where everything was a walk-on. Then we went to Tomorrowland and worked our way around. I think the most we waited was about 25 mins. for Indy and about 20 mins. for Autopia & Space Mountain. Oh, and Danny wanted to make the line for Splash Mt. although the wait stated 45 minutes, so we did. Up until then, the girls had stated that they liked the DL version of many rides better. They liked “our” Splash is better though. When we were exiting the ride they were loading wheelchairs through the exit, this caused a gridlock on the platform since the wheelchairs were lined up through the exit. Many of those in the wheelchairs were in no way physically challenged in any way. I felt bad for those that really were but had to wait in line behind those that were taking turns on the chair. I am too thankful to be physically able to stand and walk on my own to fake something just to get ahead of a line. OK, off my soapbox now. Where was I? We did not ride Dumbo, Astro Orbiters, or the Teacups. We actually rode everything we wanted by 11:15 including a few that we had already ridden yesterday.

We decided to go back to the motel to rest & so that I could do 10 days worth of laundry. Danny went with Kari to pick up some lunch while Kat & I took our stuff to wash. They have 3 washers and fortunately they were all empty because I had 3 loads of laundry. The machines are $1 each & the little boxes of detergent are $1 each as well. We had lunch & relaxed for a while until our laundry was dry.
We headed back to the park at 3:30 with the intention of going to California Adventure. When we got off the shuttle we see hoards of people hurrying to C.A. The lines to get into C.A. were outrageous! I wish I had taken a picture! There were tons of people, reaching back past the California letters. There was no way we would be going there today. We saw that the lines into DL weren’t that bad so we went in to use the Space Mountain & Buzz Lightyear fast passes which we got earlier in the day. Actually, I just went on Buzz. By now the crowd along Main Street had just about doubled in size. We tried to navigate around the park but it was a mad house. The poor cast members were trying to direct the herd but the cattle weren’t cooperating. Plus, Critter Country, New Orleans Square & Frontierland had closed at 3PM. So everyone was concentrated in more or less the same area. We decided to just leave and come back the next day after California Adventure. Trying to get out of the park was just as bad, worse than what we experienced on I-5 the day before. We figured it would be better to hang back & wait till we could get out without getting crushed.

We waited by a lamp post around the corner from the Main St. Cinema. After a few minutes we realized that this was the beginning of the Red Carpet.
This area had a few people around it but nothing compared to the rest of the Red Carpet.
We were immediately caught up in the excitement & now the girls wanted to stay. At about 6:30 or so, people started coming out on the Red Carpet, many of whom I did not know, but the girls knew who they were but did not know their names. By now we were all sweaty & tired but were re-energized by the excitement of the crowd. Although I only had about 2 people in front of me, I really wasn’t able to see much since I am vertically challenged. Who would have known that my shortness would help in a few minutes?? I got a good glimpse of several celebrities that I did recognize when they came close to sign autographs All of a sudden you hear a roar and people yelling Orlando! I was suddenly pushed practically between 2 people and since I am so short I guess it didn’t bother anyone. Orlando came up to the barricade and signed autographs and shook my hand. I had nothing for him to sign though. The same thing happened with Johnny Depp a few minutes later. I was really close now, so I asked Danny for the camera. After I take 2 shots of Johnny I get “Memory Full” on my camera. I stood there trying to delete pictures of people that we don’t even know that Danny had taken. We have a 1G so he took about 400 pictures, 200 or so of people we don’t know. I was able to get a few good shots all the same.I also got a few good ones of Keira Knightley.

After Johnny Depp came by, I guess people decided that it was over. We were hanging around listening to the screams coming from the other side and looking at the pictures we had gotten. Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria came out with their kids while I was still trying to delete some pictures from my memory stick. I got one quick shot. He didn’t seem very happy that there were still people on the red carpet. Actually, the mob was still on Main St. because Johnny & Orlando were still signing autographs towards the very beginning of Main St. Christina Applegate also came out around the same time but she did not want to stop for long because she said that then she would have to stop for everyone. And when we were about to leave, Ace Young from American Idol came out. He’s a cutie. The girls took a picture with him. Although they weren’t very happy by how it came out since they were all a mess with no make up and all.

It was an interesting day to say the least. We actually enjoyed our unexpected day. We did all the rides plus we saw the stars!

I’ll finish the rest of our Disney portion later.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Solvang & Disneyland!

Days 10-12

We wanted to get an early start this morning and for the first time since we have been in California we were all ready to go at 9:30!!!! Yay for us!!!

Today was the day that my 2 “babies” were looking forward to. No more looking at trees, waterfalls, jails & castles. Well, not that kind of castle anyways. We are going to Disneyland!!! Being South Floridians, we are WDW vets. I personally have been going to WDW at LEAST 3x a year since Jan. 1972. My girls have been going practically since they were born! Not really, I would never even consider taking a newborn, and I have seen them at WDW too! I bet they even smell new! They each did start going at about 1 ½ though. And now at 16 & 17, they were sitting in the back of the van chanting Disneyland! Disneyland! Disneyland!
We had about a 4-½ hour drive ahead of us so we decided, actually I decided, to split up our
drive with a pit stop in Solvang. Just a quick look around, stretch our legs, use the potty and maybe buy some pastries. We arrived in Solvang at 11:30AM. We parked the car and walked around for a bit. It was getting warm about this time. We had left Cambria at 52 degrees and it was about 78 in Solvang. This is a quaint little town with lots of CLEAN public restrooms.

We looked around some of the shops. Kat found a shop called Katrina’s but they didn’t have anything with her name on it except a magnet. We also bought ice cream & some pastries at one of the bakeries because we are so thin that I was afraid the folks at Disney might think we are anorexic!
We were back on the road at about 12:30 with an ETA at Anaheim of about 3:30.

We had a nice, smooth ride first on the 154 then on the 101. We just had less than 25 miles to go. We were so close to Disneyland that we could practically smell it. It was 3:00 we were right on schedule. Hurray! We start singing It's a world of laughter..... Screeeeeeeeech! That’s the sound of us coming to a complete standstill on I-5. It took us exactly an hour and 16 minutes to get to get off on the Harbor Blvd exit. We live in Miami, we thought we knew what traffic was, I guess not. For the rest of our trip, I promise not to complain about Miami traffic ever again. Well, we pass right in front of Disneyland and point it out to the girls who do not believe that it is the park. “But it’s in the middle of the street!” I told them, just wait…. For once in our life we will get to the Magic Kingdom by actually walking from our motel in about 20 minutes. It felt like when they were younger and I was showing them WDW for the 1st time. Only this time I would be experiencing it myself for the 1st time as well! Just Wait......

We were just a bit off schedule, we arrived at the Candy Cane Inn just a little past 4:30 and check in was a breeze so we were in our room 15 minutes later. The room was better than expected. It was nicely decorated and really clean. I would actually rate it on par with WDW’s moderates maybe even better since it includes breakfast. We unloaded all our crap and Danny got his 1st taste of no elevators! Imagine lugging all our luggage including his over-weight one up the stairs. We freshened up a bit then walked to the most magical place on earth! We walk through the turnstile and totally forget that god-awful traffic. The first thing the girls ask is why there is not a castle. Mind you we haven’t gotten to Main St. yet. Then they see it.

Kari: (pointing at it) There it is! It’s soooo little
Kat: Why is it so tiny?
Anyone hearing this at this point, without knowing what they were talking about, might wonder?????? OK, now get your minds out of the gutter and let’s get back to the castle.
Kari then says: “Ours” is so much bigger, ours is a real castle.
Now I bet ya’ll did not know that “we” had a castle did ya??? That’s Queen Lissy to you!

Anyhoo, we went right into Disneyland’s 1st 50 Years of Film, which is quite cute. Then we decided to just explore a bit and get a lay of the land, per se. Well, it didn’t take that long. So we made our 1st line to ride something that we have at home, Buzz Lightyear. Then we watched the parade and got in line for the Matterhorn. I even rode it, although I hate coasters. It was ok. I won’t ride again but at least I can say I did. Everyone else liked it. We went to see my original Tiki Birds, which I miss dearly! Everybody! “In the tiki, tiki, tiki .. tiki room” Plus I had my Dole Whip Float while we waited. Doesn’t get any better than that. We also rode the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Pooh, and Danny & the girls rode Thunder Mountain before we left.

They close out entire areas of the park for the fireworks which we weren’t aware of so we spent about 1/2 hour just wandering around along with the herd trying to figure out where to go. We passed by Pirates and lamented the fact that we wouldn’t be able to ride it this trip. We finally decided to just go back to the motel since we were supposed to get a very early start the next day. The park opens at 6:30 AM! So we drag our bodies out to the shuttle stop at 10:45, did you really think we were going to walk back???? The magic of walking to & from the park wore off really quick! Enough for today. I guess Disneyland needs more than 1 entry!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Day 8 & 9

As we neared Cambria the fog rolled in, as did the cold. When we arrived at the motel the girls declared that it looked like a setting for a scary movie. Not because the motel was scary but it was sooooo foggy. We stayed at the White Water Inn. It’s a small motel, which is 100% smoke free and impeccably clean. We had 2 king rooms that connected. I had booked with their mid-week special. I think that it was $218 for each room for the 2 nights. You get a light continental breakfast delivered to your room each morning. Nothing major, again enough to get us going. Fresh baked muffins, fruit, bagels juice, coffee or hot cocoa. Each room also included a $50 certificate for dinner at a local restaurant & a $15 certificate for lunch. The motel is right on Moonstone Beach Drive.

You just cross the street and you can see the playful seal lions & seals, or just walk the path along the Pacific. We arrived at around 6:00PM to check in. This is another town that closes quite early so we just went to dinner around 8:00 then returned to the motel to rest. We ate at a place called Mustache Pete’s, mainly because it was one of the few places that were open. It was ok. A bit pricey for what you actually get, but it was not bad.

Cambria is a great place to stay if you are visiting Hearst Castle. It is only 15 minutes away. I had bought tickets for 1:00PM and we got there slightly before noon to catch the Imax movie before the tour. It’s amazing what people do when they have gazillion dollars at their disposal!We even saw zebras grazing on the property while driving back to the motel. It was an interesting tour and I would like to take another one some day. Today we did Tour 1, which is recommended for your 1st tour.

On our way back to the motel we stopped at the Indigo Moon, which was the place for which we had the lunch certificate. Although there wasn’t anything that really appealed to us for lunch, we were able to use it for anything that they sold there, like a bottle of wine, cheese, cookies, etc. We had $30 to spend so we got some cheese, a couple of bottles of beer, some cookies and some other stuff. The ladies there were very friendly & helpful and although they were getting ready to close, we were not rushed.

That evening we had dinner at the Sow’s Ear. We had $100 certificate to use from the motel. The food was good, the flowerpot bread is delicious, and the desserts were amazing! The place is really nice & intimate. The only downfall was that our server was really slow. People that were seated waaay after us got served before us. We returned to the motel at around 10:30 and turned in to rest for our drive to Anaheim & Disneyland the next day.


Day 6 & 7

We arrived in Monterey at around 2PM. Our motel is actually in Pacific Grove which is just a hop, skip & a jump from all Monterey attractions. We stayed at the Lighthouse Lodge & Suites. I had originally reserved a double-double in the lodge side @ $129 per nt. But the vacation gods were watching over us and we were upgraded to a Junior Suite. This included a cooked to order breakfast which was very good, afternoon wine & hors d'oeuvres, and afternoon BBQ which was ok as well. We also purchased the Aquarium tickets from them. The price is the same but it includes 2 consecutive days & a boxed lunch. The motel is older but comfy and clean. The staff is great and we couldn’t be happier with our stay.

We drove around a bit but this town closes everything at around 5PM so there really wasn’t much to do the 1st day except drool over the homes facing the Pacific.

The next day we had our Whale Watch cruise at 9:30. We booked with Sanctuary Cruises. When we head out to the harbor the fog was really thick, then when we boarded the boat it cleared up and the sun was shining so I was happy. But after we were out on the water it got foggy, cold & windy. Right off the harbor we saw sea lions & sea otters. The sea otters are super cute. Then it took a while to see any whales. We saw 2 different pairs of humpbacks and that was amazing! None of them breached for us but they did show their flukes.
We were out for a little over 4 hours. Sanctuary goes above & beyond to assure that we experience seeing a whale. But 4 hrs. was a bit too long for me & the girls. We did rent the relief bands which helped immensely, but Kari still got a bit queasy.

After the cruise we had lunch and headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was about 4 PM and they close at 6PM so it wasn’t very full. This aquarium is beautiful. We loved the jelly fish exhibit & of course the sea otters!

We then strolled down Main St. in Pacific Grove which is really quaint and practically everything was closed, and had dinner at a really good place (which I think is called “Chili Great Chili” and Danny proclaimed their clam chowder the best he’s ever had!

The next day we checked out. Went to the aquarium again to see what we didn’t see the day before then did the 17 Mile Drive around Pebble Beach. We actually didn’t drive the whole thing since we exited in Carmel. We drove around Carmel & through Big Sur (with several stops) on our way to Cambria.


Day 4 & 5

Everyone but me got accustomed to the time change right away. I just kept waking up in the middle of the night and finally fully awake at about 6:30AM. A combination of the time change and Danny snoring like a jackhammer and not having anywhere to kick him out to, really did a number on me. Mental note made: Make appt. w/ sleep clinic to see if he can get a c-pap. Anywho, we finally were packed up and ready to go around 10 AM. We had reservations at the Cedar Lodge, which is right on Hwy. 140. Due to the rockslide we had to take the 120 into the park then out through the 140 to get to our motel.
On the way we spotted a Target I think in Manteca and stopped to get some drinks and breakfast stuff since this motel didn’t offer free breakfast. Well surprise, surprise, there is an In-n-Out in this shopping center. So we had a quick lunch the fueled up the car and we were on our way.OK, remember we are Floridians. We live practically below sea level and on totally flat land. So why would anyone be surprised when I start freaking out while going up that mountain???

Yes, we drove to Muir Woods, I freaked. We drove to Sedona last year, I freaked. We started going up to Yosemite, I freaked.

It went something like this:

Me: Danny slow down.
Danny: (silence)
Me: careful, careful, careful

Danny: (Silence)
Me: slow, slow, slow
Danny: If I go any slower, I’ll be stopped. Plus there are people behind me.
Me: oh my god, slower pleases.
Danny: Why don’t you trust my driving?
Me: You’re not used to driving on mountains.
Danny: Just trust me
Me: (Looking straight down about 5,000 ft out my window) please, please, please
Danny: You want to drive?

Obviously, we made it. But it was not my favorite part of the trip. Kari got a bit sick too. Should have given her some Dramamine.

We entered the park around 3:00PM or so and got to the visitors center at around 4. We watched the movie and bought my magnet. At around 7 we decided to go check in and relax for the next day. The Cedar Lodge is about 15 minutes from the West entrance if the park. It is right at where the road is closed due to the rockslide a few miles up. If you reach the roadblock, look to your left and there is the Cedar Lodge. We had a room with 2 queens & a sleeper sofa. The bathroom is large and the room was clean. It had a fridge and coffee maker as well. Not much storage room though. It was ok for our need and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it. The Yosemite View Lodge is closer to the park but about 60 a night more expensive. You save about 10 minutes drive time. Due to the road closure there is actually no traffic getting to the park from the motel.

The next day we woke up early and headed to the park. They informed us at the gate that the Tioga Pass Rd. had been cleared and was open to traffic. So we went up that way to see snow. It was quite a sight watching us in tank tops and shorts running around in the snow. It was absolutely beautiful. Then I saw the bear tracks and started wondering how fast I could actual run in the snow.

We then drove to Glacier Point with several stops in between. One stop was at Bridalveil Falls. Extremely cold splashing water! We had a really nice day and got some beautiful pictures.

The next day we entered the park through the 140 then exited through Mariposa to get to Monterey.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Day 1-3

We picked up our car and went in search of our motel. Yes motel. Although the girls & I are certified hotel snobs, all the places we stayed at were all motels. We are really picky about where we stay and I am happy to report that we enjoyed each one.

We arrived at the Nob Hill Motor Inn in the Russian Hill neighborhood at approx. 1 PM. The innkeeper checked us in but informed us that our room was not quite ready. He gave us a map of the city and crossed out areas that we might want to stay away from. This was greatly appreciated, especially since we had our girls with us. We went ahead and took a walk around the area and walked to the wharf area to get some In-n-Out. I LOVE In-n-Out burgers!
We returned to the motel at 4:30 picked up our keys and went to check out our room. The room was HUGE! We had a Junior Suite w/ 2 queens & a pull out single. It included FREE parking, FREE wireless Internet, FREE continental breakfast (very basic but enough for us), a fridge & microwave. The motel is older but the room was super clean & 100% non-smoking! On top of all that, it is in a great location.

About ½ block to the bus & streetcars and about 2 blocks to the cable car stop. I have never used public transportation here so it was a new experience for me.

We made our way back to the wharf area after resting up a bit. Around 6PM or so it got really cold and windy. We had packed a couple of jackets but we each ended up buying a heavier reversible jacket as well. They are sold at almost every store for $20. We decided to take the cable car back so we waited in line across from Ghiradelli’s for about 45 minutes. We later realized that we could catch a cable car at other stops with little to no wait. I don’t now if this is the norm, but we never made a line for a cable car after the first time. Actually, I think we rode the cable cars about 8 times during our trip. We also used the streetcars & buses. The 3-day Muni is $18 and we got our money’s worth.

On our 2nd day we went to Alcatraz. I had purchased my tickets online a few weeks earlier from Blue & Gold Fleet, they are the ones listed on the National Parks website. They are on Pier 41 and you pick up your tickets at Will Call. Note: There was a long line to pick up your tickets. There are about 4 machines out front where you can swipe the credit card you used to purchase your tickets and it will spit them right out for you.

The audio tour is very interesting. And the views of SF are amazing! It’s neat to do once although I may also like to do the night tour one day. After Alcatraz we had lunch at Boudin’s Café at the wharf. Excellent chili & OK clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls and sandwiches. Then we just did the typical tourist stuff. After our showers we ended up at Ghiradelli Square. Had dinner at Lori’s Diner. Just OK, typical diner stuff. If you go, be sure to print out the 20% coupon from their site http://www.lorisdiner.com/home.html .
We of course had dessert at Ghiradelli’s.

On our 3rd day we took out the car! We drove to Muir Woods and then spent a couple of hours in Sausalito before returning to the hotel to shower for dinner. Oh and on the way back my DH insisted on driving down Lombard St. Beautiful homes along this street but I can’t imagine living there. Kat is really into Japanese culture so we went to Japan Center to have a look around. Not much really. She found her good luck cat plus we bought some candy & Pocky. We had dinner at Benihana (not very Japanese, I know) then took the bus back to the motel.

All in all a nice time in SF. Yes, a lot of homeless people begging for money but it’s the same as most big cities. We stayed in the areas recommended by the innkeeper and we had no problems at all. The weather fluctuates a lot so dress in layers, we came somewhat prepared but still ended up buying jackets because our thin Floridian blood could not handle the cold. We did A LOT of walking on non-flat surfaces and it did a number on my knees but then again the most walking I do is on the treadmill and at the mall! Plus I am carrying a few extra pounds that should not be there.

We also had some food at Nicky's Pizzeria Rustica, yummy pizza $3.50 per square slice. I had the caramelized onion and pancetta pizza and it was delicious.
And Polker's Gourmet Burgers, we split a burger & chicken strips w// fries & rings. Everything was very good. Both these places are near our motel on Polk Street. Nothing fancy just good food.

Proloque to Our Great California Adventure

This will be an off the top of my head report since I didn’t take notes during our trip. It will also be divided into sections, since I tend to be long winded and you can skip to what you are interested in.


Originally we were to take this vacation in June 2002. I started planning in Aug. 2001 with the first thing on my list being to take a “Fear of Flying” class. At the time, I was 35 and I had NEVER been on a plane. I had my itinerary planned out and I actual made a few reservations. Then came 9-11-2001. The world changed & everything changed for me as well. Plus there were a few other obstacles in store for me. I had a heart attack in Feb. ’02 & another medical scare in Mar. of the same year. In Mar. 03 I had a pre-cancerous 13 cm cyst removed along with my uterus. With all these things happening, I realized that life is too short and that I had to live my life to the fullest. I don’t want fear to stand in the way of my seeing everything that I want to see & experience.

Fast forward to 2005 and Danny decides to take me to Vegas & Arizona for my 39th birthday. I got on the plane cold turkey with only an Ativan that didn’t work. A little bit of tears here and there, but I did well. Plus, I was ready to resume planning our Great California Adventure! I mostly reserved everything, including airfare by February. Danny just does not realize how much money I save him!

Dates: June 14 – June 30, 2006
Cast: Me 39, Danny (DH) 39, Kari (DD) 16 & Kat (DD) 17
Flight: American Airlines Miami to San Francisco & LAX to Miami ($1400)
Car: Chrysler Town & Country from Dollar Car Rental ($502 total for 2 wks & 2 days inc.taxes & fees)
Stops: San Francisco, Yosemite, Monterey, Cambria, Anaheim, Hollywood, and Manhattan Beach

So with all that out of the way, on with the show!

We took the 7:45 AM non-stop flight out of Miami. My girls and I are pretty good about not over packing. My husband on the other hand is totally clueless! Although I always stressed to pack light, he totally ignored me. So in a way, I was secretly happy when they charged us for an over-weight bag. It was only 7 lbs over but they charged $25. Anyhow, hopefully there was a lesson learned. Especially since he didn’t use ½ of what he took.

Fortunately, we had a smooth & uneventful flight with very little turbulence.

We arrived at SFO around 11 AM and proceeded to the car rental counter after getting our bags. We had originally reserved a Dodge Magnum but they didn’t have any available so they were going to give us a Taurus. We had 2 large bags (one over-weight), 1 large rolling garment bag, 2 20 in. rolling bags, and 2 laptop bags. That’s not counting our personal bags. So they offered us a luxury Chrysler 3000 for $10 a day more. If it had been just DH & me, we would have gotten it. But we settled on the Town & Country for $5 a day more. We had tons of room! And since we would be in the car quite a bit, it worked out well!
We also purchased 3 day Muni passes ($18 each) at the airport. We didn’t plan to use the car much in SF and considered getting the rental on our last day but it would have cost us more to hire a cab to our hotel then back to the rental place. So we just rented it from the 1st day because we had free parking at the hotel anyhow. Confused yet? I will start with San Francisco in the next segment!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We're Baaaaaacccckkkkk!

After much fun, lots of eating & very little sleep,..... we are back home. I woke up around noon, but have yet to get out of my pjs. I need a vacation to recover from this one! I will post a recap soon.

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