Saturday, 26 November 2011

It's REALLLLY beginning to look a lot like Xmas.....

It's THAT day, time to put up the Xmas tree! Actually I've already put it up, just waiting for Tracey to get home to decorate it. I had to completely rearrange the living room in order to put it where we wanted it, so hopefully that gets Tracey's approval; if not, I guess I'll be re-re-arranging the living room before we get around to decorating the tree!

Christmas day is four weeks from tomorrow. Wow, where does the time go??

Last weekend we had a couple friends over and I made my first cheesecake! Yay! It sucked. Boo!! Actually I'm not sure it was my fault, I think it was the sour-cream heavy recipe. I'm trying again right now with a more "traditional" New York style cheesecake, which will be covered with blueberry sauce. It can't possibly be worse than the last attempt.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

I was going to call this blog "Random musings from a tubby idiot" but that name was already taken. Apparently Rush Limbaugh has a blog.

Is it wrong that I'm about 90% done my Christmas shopping on November 12th?

Yes, these gifts under our mini-tree are all for my wife, not to mention she's already got 2 of her gifts.


And, for the first time, we've created a little Christmas village:


Ah yes, looking at this village makes me think of days gone by, of an innocence they had at the turn of the century.

Well, maybe not THAT innocent. Where is this little girl's right hand going, anyway?



And look, they even had a figurine of Canucks winger Alex Burrows:


Ah, that's probably not really Burrows, he's not biting anyone. Actually it looks like he's challenging a defenseless kid to a fight, so it's probably Bieksa. The kid is probably Swedish.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Random Remembrance Day cuteness

There should be a law against this kind of cuteness overload, a mama otter holding up her baby!



On this Remembrance Day, take a moment to thank a veteran. Their sacrifice allows us the freedom to write and read silly blogs like this.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Disneyworld Trip – March 2011

Disneyworld Trip – March 2011

Hello, faithful readers, and welcome to Return of Vacation Blog 2: Electric Boogaloo, as Tracey and I head back to Orlando for a visit to Disney, AND experience the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter land at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure. FINALLY I get to taste Butterbeer.

Is it just me, or is that weird? Butterbeer? I mean, I like butter, and I like beer, but they just don't seem to go together. What's next, peanut butter and chocolate??? Oh, the humanity.


Wednesday, March 9th

6:00 PM - Well this is unprecidented, a blog entry two days BEFORE the vacation begins? What could possibly be of interest at this point? HOW ABOUT A REALLY SORE THROAT?!?!?!? Oh this is not a good way to begin the vacation!! Going to sleep in a bit tomorrow morning and hope that the rest makes it go away.

Thursday, March 10th

7:00 AM - Nope. It's worse, so I'm off to the clinic, just to make sure it's not something that antibiotics can help. The Doctor tells me it is not, it's a viral infection, and I'll basically just have to put up with it for 7-10 days. Fan-freaking-tastic. He does reassure me by mentioning that the heat and humidity in Florida should make it feel a little better.

5:00 PM - Home from work and I am completely EXHAUSTED. This is what scares me about the trip; I can certainly put up with a sore throat, but if it's accompanied by this kind of fatigue, combined with the humidity of Florida, it's going to be tough.

7:30 PM - I'm packed and am going to bed. I'm sure all I need is a really good night's sleep. I'm watching the Coyotes/Flames game but am not expecting to make it through. It's 1-0 Phoenix after 2 periods, Ilya Bryzgalov has been brilliant as the Flames have played a great game. I fall asleep around that point, only to be awakened 7-8 times by calls of "OH WHAT A SAVE BY BRYZGALOV" or "BRYZGALOV IS PUTTING ON A CLINIC".....and I guess it was a pretty good clinic as the Flames don't get one by him all game. Thankfully the Ilya show ends and I'm able to stay asleep.....c'mon, let's sleep through the night.....

Friday March 11th

2:30 AM - PFFT. 2:30 AM is NOT sleeping through the night. I try to go back to sleep but no luck. Damn this sore throat.

5:00 AM - I drag myself out of bed and start to get ready for work. Tracey tells me about the Earthquake in Japan, so I turn on CNN for a while and notice they are saying that at least 60 people died. Considering the devestation we are seeing, something tells me that number is going to go up quite a bit. Hope I'm wrong but it seems like 60 would be a pretty good result considering....

2:30 PM - Tracey picks me up from work and we're off! Through the border in no time (love NEXUS!!!) and we stop at Tulalip to hit Walmart for some medicine and assorted supplies for the trip. We have dinner at Olive Garden. They have a special, Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli. Pear and Gorgonzola? What a bizzare combination. What's next, peanut butter and chocolate? Sheesh.

7:00 PM - We arrive at our hotel, the Red Lion Inn. We got an awesome price on this place; $207 for the night and 14 days parking. It would have cost us much more than that to park at the Airport! The parking rates at SeaTac are absolutely absurd.

Saturday March 12th

7:45 AM - We're awake and ready to head to the airport. Our flight leaves at 11:50 so we have lots of time for breakfast first. I've checked online and both our flights today are "on time" at this point so that's a good start. This isn't going to be a great day for me.....not crazy about flying in the first place, and flying when I feel this crappy is going to be a challenge. Oh well, it's worth it.

9:00 AM - Ready to head to the airport and when I go down to put the car into the long term parking that I paid for a month ago, I'm told it's full. They overbooked the parking. They allow me to park the car right outside the hotel at no extra charge (gee thanks)....I guess the only real difference is that it's not secure parking, but it's 20 feet from the booth that has someone in it 24/7 so I guess that's pretty secure. If something happens to my car while I'm away, there is going to be trouble.

10:45 AM - Sitting at the airport after having breakfast and I notice a couple at the table to my right taking pictures of their food. I can understand that if it's a beautiful meal in a fancy restaurant, but the guy is eating a Whopper for chrissake. I imagine it looks like every other Whopper. I shouldn't mock them, I'm sure they are winning. Duh. Maybe the Whopper has tiger blood on it. THAT would be picture-worthy.

That WILL be the last Charlie Sheen reference in this blog. I mean, I HAD to do one, right??? You would have all lost respect for me if I didn't.

1:50 PM - We land in San Francisco. I've noticed something unusual....I'm pretty much deaf at this point. OK now I know it's not that strange to have your ears plug on a flight, but I've never experienced anything like THIS. I can't hear a damn thing. Tracey is 2 feet away from me and I swear she's just moving her mouth and not actually saying anything. Hopefully this goes away quickly.....

2:20 PM - We start to board, at the same gate, and onto the same plane, we got off 40 minutes ago. One of my ears got SLIGHTLY better while I was off the plane but not much. Wow this is quite a sensation. Every time I say something I feel like I am yelling, and there is a very loud echo in my head, but Tracey says I am whispering and she can't hear me. Bliss for her.

11:25 PM - We land in Orlando! Flight was really smooth, and it went fast due to a couple of books I was reading. I read "A Lion's Tale" by Chris Jericho. If any of you are, or ever have been, the slightest interested in the world of Professional Wrestling, this is an absolute MUST READ. Fascinating stories of Jericho's early days in the business and some really interesting behind the scenes info on the chaos that was the Eric Bischoff-led WCW during the Monday Night Wars. It's also very, very funny. After I finished that, I got through the first 100 pages of "Searching for Bobby Orr" by Stephen Brunt. So far, I'd also highly recommend this one.

11:50 PM - We have our rental car and arrive at Summer Bay Resort. It looks absolutely gorgeous, of course it's dark so we can't see a ton right now, but I'm sure we are going to be very happy here! Our room is fantastic and we have a view of a large water fountain right out our back window. We head off to Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries for the week and we come across this monstrosity:



That is a lifetime supply of cheese puffs, all for the bargain basement price of $6!!! Tough to resist, but we manage.

Time for bed, with the hour we lose for Daylight Savings it's actually 3:27 AM now, and tomorrow will be our first day at the Magic Kingdom so we don't want to sleep THAT late. That might be kinda tough but we'll see :-)

Sunday March 13th

11:45 AM - Much later than I wanted to sleep but I can't say I am surprised. My throat feels a little better, but still has a long way to go, so I obviously needed the rest. Tracey is actually up before me, which is probably the first time since the Nixon administration that has happened. My ears are STILL not completely unplugged, but they are a little better and Tracey can hear me now. Too bad for her. We have a little breakfast and get ready to head over to the Magic Kingdom.

2:00 PM - We pull into the parking lot and there is a tram waiting to take us to the Magic Kingdom. After the tram drops us at the Ticket & Transportation Centre, we pick up our tickets, hop onto a Monorail and we're at the gates in minutes. The weather today is outstanding. It's hot, but not overly hot, and the humidity seems to be almost non-existant today. I could not possibly have asked for a better day with my throat still bothering me. We head straight for the Engemoen-traditional Disney opener, Pirates of the Caribbean, stopping on the way to enjoy a fruity Dole Whip float, and get to POTC to find that there is a 35 minute wait. It's busy today but not outrageously so. After POTC, we grab a fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain and decided to do a little shopping.

6:50 PM - After hitting It's A Small World and Big Thunder Mountain, we head over to the Liberty Town Tavern for our dinner reservations. This place rocks. The food isn't anything complicated....they start you out with some salad and incredible buns, then the real party begins. Ham, strips of beef, turkey, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy....comfort food.....and they keep bringing it to you until you tell them to stop...but they sure know how to do it! Tracey and I both remarked that it was possibly the best ham we'd ever eaten. The dinner was finished off with apple crisp and ice cream and it was all absolutely scrumtrelescent. We love this place so much that we have reservations to come back here next Monday.

8:00 PM - After dinner we decide to head out, doing some shopping down Main Street, taking a ton of pictures, and driving back to the resort. Two of the four pools at the resort are open 24 hours so we are going to check one of them out. Nice to be sitting in a heated pool at 10PM sipping a frosty beverage! Here's a funny story that you hockey fans will find amusing. As we're in the pool, a young girl (14? 15?) comes into the pool area, wearing a Carolina Hurricanes T-shirt. OK so that's odd in itself, this may be the first person I've ever seen wearing such a shirt, anywhere.....to see it in Orlando is especially odd, particularly on a young female. It got more bizarre when she turned around to show that the shirt had a name and number. 14. Adams.

KEVYN ADAMS????? Really? This guy gets a T-shirt, and someone bought it? This guy played 540 NHL games and scored a whopping 59 goals. Tracey is convinced she must be his niece and she must be right. Gotta be some sort of relative, that's just too random. Next I'm half expecting to see someone walk in with a Zdenek Blatny (HOLY BIZARRO REFERENCE, BATMAN!!) shirt.

11:30 PM - Back in the room, checking Email and updating the blog, and then off to bed. Tomorrow will be a big deal, and we are planning to be up early. Hogwart's beckons!!

Monday March 14th

6:30 AM - Well I wasn't planning to be up THAT early but whatever.....as long as I'm up I guess I might as well get out of bed and make some pancakes for breakfast. The park opens at 9 and we want to be there as early as we can to lessen the lines we are expecting for the Harry Potter world.

9:00 AM - We get there just as the park is opening. It's already a zoo and it's a long walk to the park, and then a longggggggggg walk from the park gates to the Harry Potter area. Luckily for us, Tracey and I can walk a lot faster than anyone with little kids :-) Still, by the time we get there......

9:40 AM - The Harry Potter world is at capacity. FOURTY MINUTES after the park opens and the entire land is full. We have to go and get a "return time ticket" (like a Fastpass I guess) so we can come back around 11:10. I go on the Jurassic Park river ride while Tracey watches as she doesn't want to get wet. I end up in, literally, the middle seat in the entire boat and barely get a drop of water on me. The weather today is beautiful again, hot but tolerable, and very little humidity.

10:30 AM - We head back towards The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and find out that the land is no longer full so we go in before our return ticket time. We purchased the "Express Pass" for today ($50 each!!!) so we get to jump the line of almost every attraction once, but they do not work on the signature attraction in the Harry Potter castle, which is currently advertising a wait time of 110 minutes. After about 20 minutes of waiting in line while a bunch of kids with cancer are ushered ahead of us (kids with cancer get all the breaks ;-) ), a guy tells us we can go into the "single rider" line which will take us much less time. We do that and probably get on the ride in another 15 minutes. It's a VERY good decision because you can't see the other people on the ride with you so it really doesn't matter if your friends are on the same ride with you or not. This ride is FANTASTIC. It's part virtual reality, part thrill ride, all VERY EXCITING!!! All the major characters show up, you are involved in a Quiddich match, get attacked by spiders and dementors, and you are tossed around as if you were really on an enchanted bench. Very well done.

Next we head to the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a roller coaster that lasts about 30 seconds, and I'm not joking. In fact, I might actually be overstating the length of the ride. We head down Diagon Alley where all the shops are and there are huge lineups to get into Olivander's Wand Shop, so we decide we'll do that next time. We line up and get a couple of Butterbeer. It's really good, but I cannot possibly describe it. It's not butter and it's certainly not beer. I've heard someone describe it as butterscotch, but it didn't taste like that to me. Very odd and unique, but refreshing. I bought a chocolate frog, which came with a Helga Hufflepuff card, and Tracey got some fudge. We also took on the dueling dragons coaster. We chose the Chinese Firetail (you can also ride a Hungarian Horntail) and it was the most extreme roller coaster I have ever been on to this point in my life. You go up, down, sideways, upside down, sideways while upside down, upside down while sideways, and pass within EIGHTEEN INCHES of the other dragon on three occasions. OMFG. After getting off this coaster we both literally had trouble walking straight. Must have been the butterbeer.

We've done all we can in TWWOHP for now and decide to make sure we make good use of our Express passes. We're hungry so we grab a couple hot dogs and they it's time for SPIDER MAN, baby!! Definitely one of the best rides ever and this experience is just like the last time we were here: Spectacular!! The Express pass works it's magic again, as we bolt past the posted 90 minute wait and are in line no more than 10 minutes. Next it's off to The Hulk Coaster, which has a posted wait of ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MINUTES!!! WTF?!?!? That's like, let me do the math here, three hours. THREE HOURS FOR A ROLLER COASTER?!?!?! I wouldn't wait three hours to punch the ACTUAL Hulk in the nuts. Thankfully the Express pass is worth it's money again, as our actual wait is closer to 15 minutes at most. Remember when I said that the Chinese Horntail was the most extreme coaster I'd ever been on? Well it held that distinction for about an hour. HOLY CRAP. I had to spend most of the ride holding my sunglasses onto my face so they wouldn't fall off, and I've NEVER had to do that on any coaster before. They may not have fallen off, but just the feeling that they MIGHT was enough to make me put my hand over my face. This coaster is INSANE. Fun, fun, fun!!!

1:30 PM - Enough for today, we are going to head back to the resort and hit the pool. This was a very fun day. When the Harry Potter world opened, I'd read a couple of online reviews that were negative...well, maybe not negative, just guarded. The reviewers said that while TWWOHP was fun and had been well thought out, it was missing something. Magic. Pretty ironic to be missing magic in a land based on a boy wizard. Apparently JK Rowlings was long in negotiations with Disney to put this in a Disney park, and the reviewers felt that Disney would have added the magic that Universal missed. I have to concur. We still have some things in the Harry Potter world to see but at this point although I would still give it an enthusiastic recommendation, it just isn't Disney.

2:00 PM - We get back to the resort and Tracey goes to change into her bathing suit. I sit down on the couch for a minute.

5:20 PM - Well that was more than a minute. Tracey obviously needed a nap too as she's STILL asleep.

6:00 PM - Tracey is up and we're off to Applebees for dinner. It's a brand new restaurant, open less than 2 weeks, and they are advertising "Happy Hour", 2 for 1 drinks. Every day, all day. How is that "Happy Hour"? Anyway, who cares? We get 7 drinks, a trio of appetizers and 2 entrees for $80, including a nice tip. Cha-ching. The service wasn't great, our waiter was very friendly but he was definitely as new as the restaurant, and the food took a while, but we weren't in a hurry so no big deal. Hell if they kept serving us 2 for 1 drinks they could have held our food until tomorrow and we wouldn't have complained. Oh yeah, Tracey got ID'd. Clearly the waiter, in addition to being new, had a vision problem. OMG I'm going to pay for THAT comment.

8:00 PM - We're off to go skinny dipping with a bunch of other guests. No, of course we aren't skinny dipping, but Kevin requested more "sex and violence" in the blog so I am trying to keep the readers happy.

10:30 PM - Back from the pool and it's bedtime. Tomorrow is a "resort day", we have no scheduled plans until dinner, so we are going to take it easy.

Tuesday March 15th

12:30 PM - Well THAT is the definition of "sleeping in"...although it's not quite as good as it seems. I've added a bitch of a cough to my sore throat and that kept us both awake most of the night so even though we're getting up after noon, neither of us is particularly rested.

1:50 PM - There is something freeing about eating breakfast at nearly 2 in the afternoon.

2:30 PM - Off to the pool. The weather today is nice but there are some wandering clouds so we lose the sun from time to time. Still, no complaints, it's 80 degrees and mostly sunny. Could be worse, considering it's still technically winter.

7:00 PM - After a couple more naps and some puttering around, we are headed back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner at Cinderella's Castle!! This is awesome, it's the only dinner you have to book (and pay for) 6 months in advance in order to get in. Last time we were here, we were visited by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother and some rats who did a little song and dance, so that's what I was expecting here. The dinner was terrific and we were eating here again mainly for the food, not so much for the song and dance. Well, we were in for a pleasant treat, as instead of the Fairy Godmother, we got Jasmine, Belle, Ariel and Aurora! Pictures with Princesses certainly trumps a song from a couple of rodents! They were awesome as usual, especially Ariel who took extra time chatting with everyone. After she left our table she went to a table a few feet away, but surprisingly she came back to our table, tapped Tracey on the shoulder and said something to her....Tracey didn't hear what she said, but it became obvious a couple of minutes later when the guy at the table next to us pulled out a ring and proposed to his girlfriend! Seriously, could you imagine a better place to do that? In Cinderella's castle, surrounded by Princesses? What a nice touch and a fantastic topper on a great evening. After dinner we headed into the park to hit a couple of rides, including Space Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. Tracey was already making excuses about how she was going to lose because her hand hurt. WAAAAAAAAAAA. She ended up with around 50,000 points, which is a pretty good score! YAY for Tracey! My score was around the same, if by "around the same" you actually mean "around triple the same amount".

12:30 AM - We decide it's time to head back to the resort and get some sleep. We are back to the Magic Kingdom tomorrow, we have dinner reservations at a character buffet, but we are going to sleep in and get to the park when we get there.

Wednesday March 16th

11:53 AM - I wake up and stumble to the bathroom. Stumble?? Where did that come from? I'm suddenly dizzy. Well sure, exactly WHAT ELSE can happen on this trip? It seems to subside in 5-10 minutes but that will be something to watch out for.

It's another GORGEOUS day and we're headed back to the Magic Kingdom. First, off to the store to restock on medicine as I've run out and my throat is not feeling any better at all.

2:00 PM - We arrive at the Magic Kingdom only to find that the entire population of Orlando is already there. WTF??? It's WEDNESDAY for chrissake, don't some of these kids need to be in school, learning how to say "would you like fries with that?" so they can earn $4.50 an hour??? What is this country coming to anyway????

2:45 PM - Already 110 minute wait for Splash Mountain. We could get a Fastpass to return at 10:00. Jesus, a Fastpass over SEVEN hours in advance? SO, since we aren't going to be doing any big rides today, we do a few smaller attractions (including the "Mickey's Philharmagic" show which is great!), a little shopping, and kill some time until dinner. We notice that they are heavily advertising the "new Fantasyland", which opens in 2012, and features a lot of exciting looking new rides:

Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid (likely the same as the ride opening at California Adventure later in 2011)

Seven Dwarves Mine Ride

Some sort of Circus attraction

"Be Our Guest" Dinner...this looks like dinner in the Beauty and the Beast castle!

8:00 PM - Dinner at the Crystal Palace, with Pooh and Friends. It's a good buffet dinner, nothing particularly spectacular, but the food is good.

In an effort to make Kevin happy with more sex in the blog, here is a picture of two of the biggest asses you will EVER see:


And who doesn't love a good Pooh?





After dinner we are tired and decide to head home. We get caught as the Main Street Electrical Parade is just starting so we have to wait until that passes us before we can get out. It looks very cool, we are going to catch it in full next week.

9:45 PM - We get out of the park and get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, almost the entire way home. WTF?!?!?!? Wednesday at 10 PM must be party time in Orlando. NO sign of any accident or traffic incident, just a hell of a lot of people in my way.


Thursday March 17th


11:50 AM - Well, the good news is that my sore throat is about 75% better. The bad news is that the cough is about 400 times worse. I pretty much sound like I'm about to hack up a lung. Or kidney. Or both. I'm going to be "Mr. Popular" on the rides with the kids and their parents today. Oh well, let's face it, I probably got this from a kid, or from someone with kids, so it's payback time, baby!!!!

1:00 PM - Off to Epcot today. We changed our plans because I got very little sleep last night and if I can't make it through a full day, this is the park where we'll miss the least. I'm still sleeping on the sofa bed so that Tracey can try to get some sleep; we tried to sleep in the same bed one night which resulted in HER sleeping on the sofa bed, so that didn't work out well. My wife, wonderful as she is, is a "bed princess", everything needs to be just right for her to sleep, so a soft bed is not her friend. I sleep much easier so it works better if I suffer, er, sleep on the sofa bed.

2:00 PM - We arrive at Epcot, looking forward to what might be a short day; last time we were here, this was by FAR our least favorite park. So much so, in fact, that Tracey didn't even want to come back here, and she bitched a bit when I put it on our itinerary. I checked out the website and saw quite a few things that looked interesting that we didn't do last time so I thought it was worth a shot. In fairness, the reason we didn't have much fun here last trip was more weather-related than anything else. Between the crazy heat and humidity and the fact that we got rained on every 15 minutes, we didn't stay very long and we missed a ton of stuff. Right after we entered the park today, we got pictures with a couple characters you don't see very often:



Stitch

Daisy Duck

The best ride in this park is Soarin' (called Soarin' Over California at California Adventure) and I tell Tracey that I am NOT leaving the park until I've been on that ride. It's really my only "MUST DO" of the day. As we start to head in that direction, we see a sign that says the wait is currenly 150 minutes. Oh, and Fastpasses are SOLD OUT FOR THE DAY. Hmm. Suddenly "MUST DO" just became "SCREW THAT". We grab a little lunch and head to the "World Showcase" section, where the lands of individual countries reside. It didn't take us long to find the formula for having a better time at Epcot: Liquor. Oh yes, as Tracey put it, "everything is more fun with wine". We go into Aux Vins De France (after running into Aurora, another nice photo op) and, for $20 (each), get to embark on a "World Showcase Wine Walk", tasting 6 wines from 3 different countries. From France, we try:
Georges Duboeuf Pouilly Fuisse (Chardonney) - Very sharp and refreshing

Chateau Tour de Segur (Bordeaux) - Light, peppery

We also taste a Pinot Noir (very delicate, not as good as the ones we usually have at home) and an excellent champagne.
Now that we're sufficiently liquored up, we check out a movie about France (seemed very outdated and kind of ordinary), and then headed up the road to the next area, Morocco. Oh, we noticed that Belle and The Beast were outside taking pictures but they closed the lineup before we had a chance to get in it. Too bad, it's rare to get a chance at a picture with Beast.

In Morocco, we get into line to get pictures with Jasmine and Aladdin. I remark to Aladdin that I ALMOST wore that EXACT outfit this morning. Boy that would have been embarrassing.


Next up is the Italy area and two more wine samples:
Castelo Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio (not bad, very subtle)

Rosa Regale (Sparkling Red, so awesome we bought a bottle!)

Next door was Germany. The final two wine tastings:
Valckenberg Madonna Liebfraumilch (tasty, sweet and light)

Valckenberg Madonna Spatlese (even sweeter, nice)

We went into a German candy shop and found the kinds of things you would find in a lot of these types of shops, except that apparently in Germany they put caramel on EVERYTHING. Chocolate covered strawberries. Covered in caramel. Chocolate covered marshmallows. Covered in caramel. Hunks of caramel....covered in caramel....you get the idea. I think I would like Germany. :-)
Another photo op, as Snow White is hanging around the German area (anyone know Snow White was German??)

Next we head to the Norway area. Tracey finds a random worker and hands him her ID, just to see if they could pronounce our last name. They have no trouble, no surprise there, apparently it's a very common name in Norway. We get a Fastpass for a little boat ride they have, thank goodness because it wasn't that exciting and the stand-by wait was almost an hour.
Next up we head to Mexico, where we go on another little boat ride through Mexico, accompanied by the Three Caballeros (Donald Duck and a couple characters I don't know), and then decide to have dinner in an authentic Mexican restaurant. Tracey is very excited as she loves authentic Mexican cuisine. I'm pretty indifferent to it. Not suprisingly, she loves her meal and I'm pretty indifferent to mine. Oh well, it was fine, just not totally my thing.

9:00 PM - We are just done dinner and the park is closing so we head out of the park. So much for it being a "short day". We had a GREAT day!! I finally get Tracey to admit that I was right in scheduling Epcot on our itinerary :-)

9:30 PM - We stop at the grocery store in our resort to pick up a couple things and Tracey tries to pay with her credit card, only to find that she doesn't have it. Oops. We used it to pay for dinner and left it behind in the restaurant. We try to call them but they are closed. We call Mastercard and have them suspend the card and we'll try to get it back tomorrow. If the restaurant can't find it we'll have to cancel it and deal with it when we get home. No huge deal, but it could be a bit of an inconvenience if we have to go back to Epcot to get it. I guess we'll deal with that tomorrow. We are heading to Universal Studios tomorrow, and we're planning to be up early to get to the park before the lineups hit.

Friday March 18th

12:45 PM - Not my idea of "up early", but unfortunately the cough got the better of me and I probably didn't fall asleep until around 4. Since it would be a painful day of crowds and lineups to go to Universal Studios at this point, we decided to have a leisurely breakfast (er, lunch) and then go the Outlet Mall and do a little shopping.

6:00 PM - After spending the rough equivilent of the damage from the BP oil spill, we are heading home with our goodies in tow.

7:00 PM - We stop for some Mexican food that is a little more up my alley, El Taco Del Bell-o. Now THAT's what Mexican food should taste like :-)

7:30 PM - It's still gorgeous and hot and we're off to the pool!!!

9:00 PM - Back from the pool and going to TRY to get a good sleep so we can get an early start tomorrow. First, we have to pack, as we are moving from this unit into a 2-bedroom unit tomorrow morning (FINALLY I get off the damn sofa bed!!!). Also looking forward to switching showers. This one is OK, but once you turn it on it gets kind of weird. You can turn it in either direction to turn it off, but if you turn it one way, it only goes MOSTLY off. You know, kind of like how Westley was only MOSTLY dead when Fezzik and Inigo took him to Miracle Max.

If all goes well, we're off to the Animal Kingdom tomorrow!

Saturday March 19th

8:15 AM - Up and packed and ready to move into our new suite. There is one available right now so we move in; it's even in the same building we were already in, so we just have to move up a couple of floors. OMFG is it ever gorgeous! The old one was awesome, this one is even better. It's like upgrading from a mansion to a palace! HUGE soaker tub which has Tracey all atingle.

9:30 AM - We arrive at the Animal Kingdom. It's another GORGEOUS day. Ho-hum, 80 and not a cloud in the sky. And NO humidity. Tracey and I both remark that this is more like California weather than anything we experienced the last time we were in Florida.

We head right to the biggest ride in the park, Expedition Everest, and get on after a short wait. After that we buy a couple of parkas so we don't get competely drenched and go on the Kali River Rapids. Tracey gets pretty wet EVEN WITH THE PARKA! I get as wet as I was willing to get.....the parka worked perfectly. After that we start to hit the trails, and get some great animal pictures.

1:00 PM - We're done everything we wanted to do here, so we decide to head to Downtown Disney and have some lunch and do some shopping. We eat at the Rainforest Cafe and pick up a few more souvenirs (because we haven't bought enough ALREADY) before heading back to the resort.

4:30 PM - Back at the resort and off to the pool. Another beautiful evening for a little pool and hot tub time, aided by a frosty beveridge or two.

7:00 PM - Back in the room, just chillin'. Watching a rather stupid program all about the "dumbest drunk people". They have "top 20 boozers and losers" countdown. There is a drunk guy trying to cross a highway in the middle of traffic. He darts out right in front of a taxi who, not surprisingly, sends him about 100 feet in the air and crashing down on his face. Two suprising facts here: One, the guy lived. Two, this was only number TWO on the countdown. Number one was a chowderhead who got so drunk he let his friends (non-professionals) wax all the hair off his body. You've seen the scene with Steve Carell in "the 40-year old Virgin"? OK now imagine that in his butt crack. Sweet jesus.

10:00 PM - Off to bed. Feeling much better today, the throat is about 90% better and the cough subsided a little bit too. I discovered a new formula last night:

Advil + Tylenol + Robitussin + Sleeping Pills > Cough

In the absence of liquor, nothing like knocking yourself out with over-medication.....

Sunday March 20th

11:00 AM - Nice sleep-in today. Nothing exciting planned until dinner at one of the resorts this evening.

11:45 AM - Tracey wakes up and announces that now SHE is sick. F'N fantastic. I don't think she is as sick as I was, YET, hopefully she doesn't get that bad. She has some breakfast and immediately goes back to bed to try to sleep it away.

12:30 PM - The weather is not perfect today. There are (GASP) a few clouds in the sky. I am tempted to write a strongly worded letter but am not sure who to send it to.

5:30 PM - We're off to the Swan Resort where we are having a BBQ buffet dinner at the Garden Grove restaurant. The food is fantastic, and the restaurant is very nice. We get greeted by a couple characters that you don't see everyday, Pluto and Goofy.

After dinner we head to the Fantasia Gardens Mini-Golf. We decide to play the "Gardens" course, which is pretty awesome. Some highlights:

Pretty sure the ball isn't supposed to be in the trees.



After missing a particularly short putt, Dean reacts rather poorly.




After fishing the club out of the lake, Dean goes looking for his ball (which, it turned out, wasn't in there):


Tracey, celebrating her first hole in one:


The 11th hole, featuring one of Dean's favorite things, dancing whores:



After one of his FOUR aces, Dean does his best Chi-Chi Rodriquez impression:




Oh, and the Highlight of the Night doesn't even have anything to do with us, it goes to the oldest daughter of the Hippie couple playing in front of us. How do we know they were Hippies? They named their youngest daughter "Meadow" and the oldest one "Eternity". They named her well, because I will remember her outfit for an Eternity:



Sweet Jesus. I was tempted to hit her upside the head with my putter to try to knock some fashion sense into her. Look at those leggings. Maybe she was auditioning for the part of one of the Dancing Whores from hole #11. And yes, that is a cocktail on the ground behind her. Who gets DRUNK at mini-golf?????

Lots of fun at mini-golf. Dean ends up with a sparkling score of -14. Probably a world record. Guinness is getting back to us.

After one shot where Tracey just missed an Ace, I told her I would "give you that 2 incher", to which she replied, "that's what I'm used to from you". Ouch.

10:15 PM - We get home just in time for me to turn on the computer and watch the last 7 minutes of the Flames/Ducks game, where I get to see just another example of the complete ineptitude of NHL referees, who completely hand the Ducks 2 points. They should have just kicked the puck into Calgary's net themselves and saved us all the embarrassment of watching that fiasco. I thought Brent Sutter was going to spontaniously combust on the bench.

All in all, another terrific day. Tracey's throat is starting to get worse so we're really hoping that it settles down for tomorrow, we are sleeping in but have another big day planned!


Monday, March 21st


11:30 AM - Another nice restful sleep in! Off to the Magic Kingdom today, we have reservations at the Liberty Tree Tavern again. In my mind I am already on my third piece of ham. Also going to try to catch the evening parade and fireworks show after dinner.

11:45 AM - Tracey gets up, has breakfast, and promptly goes back to sleep. Again. She's still not feeling well but isn't feeling any worse which is a good sign.

1:56 PM - Sitting on the balcony at our resort, overlooking a lake and a pool, with a can of Diet Cherry Coke in hand and my computer at the ready. I'm not sure how much better it gets than this. Another gorgeous day, the temperature is....wait for it.....80 and sunny. There are a couple clouds in the sky but not enough to cause any problems. It's a bit windy today but that just makes for a nice cooling breeze. Still no humidity to speak of. We've been SO lucky with the weather so far. Tracey thinks this is the most humid day we've had and she might be right, but it's still nothing compared to our last trip

3:30 PM - We arrive at the Magic Kingdom. It's the least busy we've seen so far this trip. We have a great dinner, eating so much we both come pretty close to a food coma. We also catch the Main Street Electrical Parade, but the spot we pick for the fireworks isn't any good, the fireworks come right behind a tree, so we'll catch those another night. We manage to knock off all the other rides that we had missed so far, including Splash Mountain which normally has a 100+ minute line. Staying late here has it's advantages.

11:45 PM - We head back to the resort after another terrific day!! We'll be back here one more time this week to catch the fireworks and finish our shopping.

Tuesday, March 22nd

11:45 AM - Tracey had a rough night of coughing so we slept in later than we had intended today. We're up and getting ready to hit Disney's Hollywood Studios.

1:30 PM - We are off!

2:00 PM - We arrive at Disney's Hollywood Studios. There are four significant rides here: Toy Story Midway Mania, Aerosmith's Rock N Roller Coaster, Star Tours and the Hollywood Tower of Terror. We already knew that Star Tours is down as they are putting in a new film and changing it over to 3-D. When we get into the park, we notice that Toy Story has 110 minute wait and all the Fastpasses are already sold out, so it looks like we might be down to two.

3:00 PM - We are watching their Pixar parade, with all the main Pixar characters. Good parade!

3:30 PM - We hop into the 80 minute lineup for the Aerosmith coaster. We already got Fastpasses for Tower of Terror and they start at 4:40 so the timing works pretty good. I decide to test out their ride times so I start the timer on my phone.

4:35 PM - 65 minutes later, we are right at the front of the ride.

4:37 PM - HOLY SHIT. I had forgotten how awesome this ride was. Sharp turns, corkscrews, loops, and FAST FAST FAST, all in the dark. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4:40 PM - Off to the Tower of Terror, which is right next door. Another very fun ride, this one is a little more elaborate than it's Disneyland cousin, and I admit this ride is the one that scares me the most. Probably the only ride that actually "scares" me, in fact. Always love this one.

5:00 PM - We go into an exhibit chronicling the life of Walt Disney. Very interesting. Always forget that this man was actually dead 3 years before I was even born. What a visionary he was.

5:15 PM - We've done what we wanted to today and we're both a little tired. Today is the hottest day of the trip so far, it's gone north of 90, and the humidity is up there too. We're going to grab a quick bite for dinner and head back to the resort. I hear a pool and a frosty beveridge calling my name.

7:00 PM - Currently sitting by the pool, frosty beveridge in hand. Someone walks by with a drink that looks too good to pass up. Tracey goes to ask her what it is, and immediately heads to the bar to get us a couple. The concoction is called a "frozen Mudslide". I'm calling it "Get-in-my-Belly".

Oh, I finally found a problem with this resort. The quality of the cherries they serve with their cocktails is substandard. Here comes another strongly worded letter.

9:00 PM - Back to the room to finish off the bottle of sparkling red wine that we bought from Epcot a few days ago. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

11:29 PM - Watching Conan, who is as funny as ever. Last night I watched a bit of George Lopez, who follows Conan. Worst. Monologue. Ever. Not only was it not funny, it actually had the (I assume) unintended consequence of making me angry. That's how unfunny it was. Apparently any chowderhead can get a show. I guess I should have already known that, since Jay Leno has had a show for years.

Wednesday, March 23rd

11:45 AM - Another nice sleep in, although I didn't actually get to sleep until after 4AM so I guess it's not really that out of line.

12:44 PM - Tracey finally gets up; she's still not feeling well, so again she has some breakfast and goes back to bed. We were planning on going to Universal today but we'll scrap those plans so she can get some rest. We have Cirque du Soleil tickets for tonight so we'll relax today and head out for a nice dinner and show later tonight.

2:30 PM - Going to let Tracey sleep for a while. Heading down to the pool to catch some rays and finally finish reading my book.

4:45 PM - Another GORGEOUS day at the pool. Back in the room, and I wake Tracey up. If she sleeps much longer she will never be able to get to sleep tonight. Besides, I'm going to want some dinner at some point today.

I finally finished reading "Searching for Bobby Orr". A must read for any hockey fan.

7:00 PM - We arrive at Downtown Disney for dinner before the show. We hit the House of Blues. Dinner is good, although I overdo it on seafood (Prawn appetizer, Salmon main with shrimp and crab). Hopefully I don't pay for that later.

8:30 PM - We get into the Cirque "big top", which isn't as big inside as it appears to be outside. We have awesome seats, centre stage, row 8. There are only 8 rows in our section so there is nobody behind us to kick our seats or generally annoy us.

8:50 PM - As usual, the show starts before the show actually starts. Two clowns come out in the aisle directly behind us, carrying a platform that contains a bunch of colourful boxes. They stop RIGHT BEHIND US. Hmm, if this turns into audience participation, as it often does, we're likely to be in the show.

It doesn't take them long before they spill something in Tracey's hair (not really), and as an apology, the dumber of the clowns gives her a box. And then another, and another, and another, until she can't balance them anymore and they fall over backwards onto the clowns. The smarter of the two clowns apologizes (all without actually saying a word) and starts to collect the boxes that are still stitting on Tracey's lap. When he goes to grab the last box, my lovely wife won't give it to him. LOL. Instead she hands him her empty champagne glass and insists he go and get her another glass of champage in exchange for the box!! He tries to barter with her, grabbing a bottle of water from another audience member, and then a beer, but she is steadfast and insists on champagne. So he goes and gets her some champagne!!! Well at least she got an extra glass of champagne out of the situation!! :-)

9:00 PM - The show starts and it's brilliant. It contains the usual assortment of Cirque performers: tightrope walkers, acrobats, gymnasts, clowns (more than just the two mentioned above), lots of performers risking their health and lives for their art. They also featured the most amazing juggler I have ever seen. All of this was fantastic, but the entire show was completely stolen by four little asian girls. Yes, you read that right, four little girls, I'd guess their ages were between 6-8, stole the ENTIRE show. They came out with ropes and pieces of wood that looked like a thread spool, and they proceeded to use the ropes to toss the spools around. They tossed them to themselves and to each other, and then they started doing it while dancing and then while doing gymnastic routines, tossing them up high in the air, doing flips or rolls, and catching the spool with the ropes before it hit the ground. If that wasn't enough, they started jumping ON EACH OTHER'S SHOULDERS. Not one spool hit the ground, even when it was CLEAR that they had missed one....nope, out of nowhere one of the other girls caught the thing and you knew that was their intent all along. Absolutely stunning, and there is no way anything I can write in this blog could do it justice. Despite the fact that they were on stage for only 8-10 minutes (plus a couple very short cameos later in the show), they were among the last to come out for their bow, and the audience went ballistic. All the performers got very enthusiastic reactions from the crowd, but those little girls were the stars of the show and everyone knew it.

11:00 PM - Back at the resort and headed to bed. I'm extra tired tonight and we are getting up early to hit SeaWorld and their water park, Aquatica, tomorrow. Hoping that Tracey gets some sleep but I'm sure it will be tough for her since she slept so late.

Thursday, March 24th

4:00 AM - Uh-oh. This is not what I meant by "up early". Apparently some of that seafood last night is not agreeing with me beause I feel like I'm going to be sick.

8:30 AM - Tracey is up and in the shower, getting ready to go, and I have to tell her that I can't possibly go. I haven't been sick, but it's RIGHT THERE and I feel terrible. I have been awake since 4, basically just lying there praying that my stomach would settle.

1:00 PM - I've been laying here, basically motionless, for 9 hours. I still feel awful but haven't been sick yet although it still feels like it's coming any second. I must be feeling slightly better though as I finally fall asleep.

3:00 PM - I'm awake again and I decide to get up and go sit outside on the balcony and update the blog. I feel like someone who's been sick all night, without actually having been sick. I have no energy, my stomach hurts, my knees are weak and the though of food, any food, is repulsing. Tracey has just gone to the pool to try to get some enjoyment out of the day. This sucks.

11:00 PM - Well today's blog entry was really exciting for you. Sleep and more sleep. Hopefully I'm feeling better tomorrow...

Friday, March 25th

11:30 AM - Up and feeling a little better. Going to have some waffles for breakfast, the first food I've consumed in about 40 hours. The stomach feels settled. I think we're going to give SeaWorld another shot today. Tonight we have to pack as it's our last night here. We still have a big day planned for tomorrow (back to Harry Potter!!) as our flight leaves in the evening, but we have to check out of the resort in the morning.

1:30 PM - We arrive at Aquatica. FUN! I've never been to a water park like this, it's quite cool. Since we only have a few hours to see what we can here, and at SeaWorld, we quickly rush onto as many waterslides as we can, and spend some time cruising down a lazy river. Next time we come we'll plan for more time here. Interesting how a water park seems to remove the inhibitions of people who really, really should not be seen in bikinis. My eyes hurt.

3:30 PM - We arrive at SeaWorld, just across the street, and grab a bite to eat. My stomach is feeling close to 100% now. I have a ham sandwich and add on about 49 cents worth of potato salad, for which they charge me $2.79. We see some penguins, sharks, dolphins and sea lions, and that's about it. My energy level has gone down close to 0 so it's time to head back to the resort and pack.

7:30 PM - I convince Tracey we should go spend one more nice evening at the pool, where I am typing this blog, while enjoying another frosty beveridge. This resort is really awesome and we will plan to stay here on our next trip to Orlando.

8:40 PM - Back in the room, time to prepare for tomorrow's departure. I'd be more than happy to help but Tracey has informed me the only thing she wants me to do is "stay the Hell out of my way!". Message received.

Saturday, March 26th

7:30 AM - Up, packed and ready to go. We check out and head back to Islands of Adventure to try to finish off everything we had missed in the Harry Potter land. Let's face it, this is why we are here. If not for my wife being a Harry Potter-phile as she is, we'd probably be in California right now. Today's visit was definitely a waste of time; the "castle tour" was no different than what you see while waiting in line for the big ride that we went on last time we were here. We also waited in line for about an hour to get into Olivander's Wand shop which turned into a 2 minute show that was really only interesting for the one kid who got "chosen" to have a wand selected to him. After the show, you can go buy a replica wand for $30 if you like!!! I did get to finish trying out the beveridges: Pumpkin juice (which is, ironically, made mostly from pumpin juice) which was good but VERY sweet, and the frozen variety of Butterbeer, which I thought tasted basically exactly like the non-frozen variety. Tracey, however, thought the frozen one was better.

11:30 AM - After another ride or two we are done here and off to the Magic Kingdom for one more time before heading to the airport. We hit a couple minor attractions (we had another go at the Buzz Lightyear ride, which always ends in pouting. Tracey pouts because I clobber her, and I pout because I don't beat her by enough!!), have a bite to eat and buy a couple more souvenirs before saying "goodbye" to the park for this trip. I can't imagine anywhere that would have been a more appropriate place to finish off our vacation.

5:00 PM - We arrive at the airport and drop off the rental car. We couldn't fill up the car with gas as there was not ONE SINGLE GAS STATION between the Magic Kingdom and the airport! How is that even possible?? Anyway, they were going to try to charge us a ridiculous premium for the gas but I put up a huge fight and refused to pay it, so we ended up paying the same as if we had pre-paid for it. Next time I'll remember to do that and save the hassle.

5:15 PM - The hits just keep on coming. Tracey's bag is 62 pounds, so it costs us $90 EXTRA to check the damn thing. A total of $140 for the privledge of getting our bags home with us. Nice.

7:00 PM - It gets better and better. Flight is delayed. Unless our connection in Atlanta is also delayed, we will miss the flight and be stuck in beautiful Atlanta for the evening. Fantastic.

10:15 PM - We land in Atlanta, have missed our flight to Seattle, and are basically told to bend over and like it, as Delta won't do a damn thing to help us except to offer us a discount on a hotel. Since, by the time all this gets sorted out, it's almost midnight and our flight to Cincinnati tomorrow (yes, that's right, they can't even get us on a direct flight for chrissake!!!!!) boards around 6:30 AM, there is little point in taking a taxi to their fleabag motel, so we decide to find somewhere to get something to eat and stay the night in the airport. I would have bet everything I own that I would never, ever, ever be sleeping in the Atlanta International Airport. There is just NO reason to be here. I tried everything I could to get out of this god forsaken city but the stupid girl behind the counter couldn't figure out that we wanted to go ANYWHERE West and get to Seattle from there! You are telling me there wasn't a single flight to Vegas, or LA, or San Jose, San Francisco? Reno? How about Des Moines, Iowa? Boise, Idaho? Salt Lake City? How about SOMEWHERE in North or South Dakota?!?!??!!? Nope, she couldn't figure it out, so we are stuck here in this idiotic city, which is only 1.5 hours from where we started this trip, to sleep in an airport and STILL have one hell of a long day ahead of us tomorrow. It's 1:25 AM while I am writing this, we should have already landed in Seattle and been halfway home. What a totally shitty end to what was, up to this point, a nearly perfect trip.

Sunday, March 27th

9:37 AM - How lucky you are, my loyal readers! Bonus coverage! We now sit in Cincinnati, after a lovely night of zero sleep at the Atlanta airport, enjoying a lovely breakfast of Sausage McMuffins. Finally Delta paid for something, giving us a whopping $6 meal voucher, because WE ARE NOW STUCK IN FUCKING CINCINNATI!!!!! Plane was suppose to leave a few minutes ago but is not here yet, now scheduled to depart in a few hours but I'll believe that when I see it. Maintenance problems with the plane, which really adds to my confidence, and the plane is (so we are told) just leaving wherever-the-Hell-it-is on its way here. I notice she didn't announce where the plane is. "Ladies and gentlemen, your plane has just left Berlin.......". Someone please shoot me if I ever suggest taking another Delta flight.

11:30 AM - Still here. Flight delayed, now scheduled to leave around 1:45. Of course, the plane is still sitting on the tarmac in Fort Myers, Florida, as I guess the "minor" mechanical delays weren't that minor.

1:15 PM - Plane still in Fort Myers, no other planes available anywhere near here, so flight has now been cancelled. Shoot me now.

2:30 PM - No way to get to Seattle tonight, so our options are to stay in Cincinnati tonight and try stand by on the direct flight to Seattle in the morning or fly to Minneapolis and stay overnight there. Will get home faster if we stay here, but ONLY if we actually get on the stand by flight. We'd have a better chance of finding a 3-legged ballerina than getting on that stand by flight, so we're going to Minneapolis, which will get us to Seattle in the early afternoon tomorrow (assuming that flight actually happens of course).

8:45 PM - Now in Minneapolis (I think it's 8:45, I've lost track of time zones but at this point I don't care), and I'm now going to sleep for the first time in about 40 hours. If I don't get home tomorrow, I'm going to murder someone. Pretty good bet they will be wearing a Delta uniform.

Monday, March 28th

10:00 AM - At the airport and waiting for flight to Seattle. I am taking bets on where our luggage ends up:

Atlanta: 5-1

Orlando: 11-1

Cincinnati: 12-1

Minnepolis: 15-1

Seattle: 90-1

Anywhere else: 22-1

12:15 PM - The fact that the airplane has wi-fi is the only positive of this trip. I am actually working since tomorrow is a payroll day and I have to process the entire payroll by tomorrow or nobody gets paid on Friday. If that happens, I'll give everyone the Delta customer service number. Currently about an hour from landing in Seattle as I write this. I'm reminded of Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

Neil Page: "Please, have mercy. I've been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday!
Del Griffiths: "I can vouch for that".

Since all our toiletries and clothes are in the luggage that was checked, we had to buy what we needed to get by (Delta did give us a "travel kit" and pay for our meals tonight). Fun, fun, fun. Note to self, next trip make sure some clothes and essentials are in the carry on luggage....

1:25 PM - We land, on time. Finally something went right on this trip home.

1:45 PM - Our bags arrive. Well, that's not true, our BAG arrives. Tracey's bag is here but it is damaged. Mine is nowhere to be found. The hits just keep on coming.

To be fair, this time, Delta is going to try to arrange to have my bag to me tonight, and they have offered us $250 to replace Tracey's bag, so at least they took care of that situation.....assuming my bag, and the cheque, do actually arrive.

3:00 PM - Driving home and Tracey, who started to feel lousy on the plane, is now feeling like she is going to be sick. She pulls over and projectile vomits all over the side of the highway. This happens three more times before she settles down. I'm blaming Delta for this, too.

4:50 PM - We are home. No issues at the border and the drive was without incident. Finally it's over. A brilliant trip which unfortunately finished with a nightmare while trying to get home, but all in all, a great vacation. Thanks to all for reading, hope you enjoyed it.

Engemoen OUT.

Disneyland Trip – November 2009

Tuesday, November 10th

1:00 PM - We're off!! We are flying from Seattle early tomorrow morning and have booked a room at some discount motel for the night. It's listed as 1.5 stars; now, I cannot remember the last time I spent the night in a 1.5 star motel, but this one actually had fantastic reviews on Expedia (where we booked it) and the price was insane ($68 CAD for one night stay AND up to 7 days parking!!!) so we thought we'd give it a shot. Generally you get what you pay for but hopefully it's pleasant enough.

We are off to do a little shopping at Seattle Premium Outlets. We hit the usual suspects, the Coach store, Burberry, and the like, without doing much damage. We do find one nice item for a Xmas present so that's good. I pay a visit to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop and pick up someting called a "Tiger Tail marshmallow"....basically a marshmallow covered in caramel, peanut butter and chocolate. Good Lord. Tracey had to pull me away by the ears or I could have consumed about 17 of those bad boys.

Off to Applebee's for a nice dinner. We both have fajitas which are fantastic; not quite as good as Cactus Club but pretty darn close. It's a good meal, the service is terrific and we are both very satisfied as we finish our trek to the motel. It's raining. Yes, I know, alert the media, rain in Seattle.....but this is some SERIOUS rain. I'm driving (yes, I know, alert the media, DEAN is driving?!?!?) and the visibility is near zero. We make it alive (obviously or you wouldn't be reading this blog, would you???) and get there in time to watch a hockey game or two on the computer. We notice that the motel is perfectly nice; no frills, of course, but very clean and comfortable and an absolute steal for the price we paid. It would have cost us more to park our car at the airport, never mind the hotel charge as well. I'm sure this will be the last "deal" we get on this vacation, as nobody in their right mind goes to Disneyland for a discount vacation!

7:40 PM - As I'm unpacking, I have a look at the itinerary I printed out when I first made the reservations and notice that our flight from Orange County to Seattle on Saturday is scheduled for 8:30 PM; which is exactly what I remembered booking. However, when I look at the itinerary that Expedia Emailed me a couple days ago, it now says that our flight leaves at FOUR PM!!!!! Holy crap, we just lost four hours of our vacation!! I call Expedia and, to be fair, they are very helpful, and they call the airline to find out what happened. Turns out our flight was canceled so Alaska Airlines automatically booked us on the only other flight they had going out that day. They offer a full refund....not sure what good that does me since I'll be stranded in Anaheim. Of course, there are worse places to be stranded. Anyway, they are able to book us on a flight leaving early Sunday morning (and I do mean early...8 AM) so we are actually going to gain a little vacation time rather than lose it. Of course, that means another night at our hotel and another $300 or so but what the Hell, it's worth it.

9:30 PM - Tired, so it's time for bed and now I have discovered the only downfall to this hotel; the beds are just a little hard. And I'm a "little" overweight. I'm tempted to sleep standing up against the wall, as I expect that would be a little softer than the bed. Luckily I'm so tired it doesn't matter that much and I'm able to get to sleep fairly quickly despite the hard-as-a-rock conditions. That's what she said.

Wednesday, November 11th

6:00 AM – Our wake-up call comes in and we’re up and ready to start the vacation. The shuttle arrives as expected and we are whisked off to Sea-Tac for our 8:30 flight into Orange County (SNA) Airport. This airport is closer to Anaheim than LAX and has to be less chaotic. I hate LAX.

8:25 AM - Our flight leaves on time (perhaps even a smidgen early) and we have a very uneventful flight. Of course, the last thing you want is an eventful flight.

11:00 AM – We land at SNA and are off the plane quickly and down to get our luggage. This airport is much smaller than LAX (well DUH) and is easy to navigate. Good choice coming here, I think. We get our luggage and go right to our shuttle and we're off to the hotel. So far this vacation is starting awesomely.

12:00 PM – We arrive at the Grand Californian, a little ahead of schedule. We knew we'd be the last ones to get dropped off by the shuttle as we are the closest to the park so that's fine. The driver is very helpful getting our luggage off the van and we're off to check in. We LOVE this hotel, it's gorgeous. We get a very friendly guy to check us in, and we enquire about spending an extra night since our flight got pushed back a day. That's no problem. our room isn't quite ready though, check in time isn't until 4 PM, but he takes our phone number and will have us sent a text message when our room is ready. The bell desk takes our luggage and we're off to have lunch.

12:30 PM – We head to the Storyteller Cafe in the hotel for lunch. This place has the best corn muffins on the planet (and they are free with your meal), and also the best corn chowder I have ever eaten (seriously, I don't even LIKE corn chowder and I could easily make a meal of just the soup). Another great meal and now we're getting a bit impatient as I'd like to get up to the room and unpack, have a shower and unwind for a few minutes before hitting the parks. We go to check on our room and it's still not ready but they are expecting it to be ready shortly, so we grab a seat in the lounge and wait. And wait. Finally we check again and our room had been ready for a half hour or so but we never got the text; they did send it but it never arrived (this had happened to Tracey previously while down in the States so it's probably our carrier).

4:10 PM - Finally up to the room. I have a shower while we wait for our luggage to arrive, which is only a few minutes, and then we're finally ready to get the "Disney-ing" underway. By the time we are finished cleaning ourselves up and ready to go, it's getting close to time for our dinner reservations, so we decide to hit Downtown Disney and do a little shopping and then head off to dinner.

7:10 PM - We have dinner reservations at Hook's Point, a fairly casual steak/seafood house right outside of the Disneyland Hotel (right by their pool in fact). The place is pretty empty; and the service is great; so great, in fact, that we have eaten our appetizers, entrees, paid for the meal and left the restaurant by 7:35!!! Now THAT's service!!

7:35 PM - Finally into Disneyland! As is our tradition, we head straight to Pirates of the Caribbean, which is always our first ride. We continue on to hit a bunch more rides tonight (as it's a holiday the park is open until 11 PM) and then head back the room to get some rest before a big day tomorrow. We stop at the Haagan Daaz shop for a little ice cream treat before going back to the room. Ice cream rules. Seriously, it rules.


Thursday, November 12th


8:30 AM - I'm up as we are headed into the park for breakfast with Minnie and Friends, a great breakfast buffet featuring a bunch of Disney's most beloved characters. I'm wearing a Pirates T-shirt that says "the beatings will continue until morale improves". Captain Hook is so impressed with this shirt that he hugs me - twice.




Hook is less impressed with Tracey.



After breakfast, off to the parks; we hit Disneyland and get through almost all the major attractions, and hit a few of them for the second time.

6:50 PM - Dinner at the Blue Bayou. Probably our favorite restaurant here, and you can't beat the ambiance of being IN the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Dinner is fantastic as always, the service up to the usual Disney standards, and we leave full and satisfied. The park closes at 8 PM tonight so we are on the way back to the hotel to relax, tomorrow is scheduled to be a VERY full day.


Friday, November 13th


10:30 AM - We sleep in a little bit and get up to start the day. We head into California Adventure and go straight for the Toy Story Midway Mania. Tracey beat me at this last time, and she manages to defend her title this time. She is a really lousy winner :-)

1:00 PM - Lunch at Ariel's Grotto. Another one we never miss; sure you get pictures with 5 Disney Princesses (and, really, what guy has a problem with having his picture taken with Princesses???) but the food is the main attraction here. Well, OK, it's probably a tie between the food and the Princesses. Anyway, after devouring a tower of appetizers and a great entree (both of us have the chicken), you get this plate of dessert:




The dessert is actually a good enough reason to come here every time. Good Lord.

Our waiter is very attentive, but he's a genuine low-talker. I can barely understand anything he says. At some point I'm pretty sure I ordered a puffy shirt.

2:00 PM - After lunch we decide that we are both tired enough for a nap. This is the beauty of staying at the Grand Californian; your room is never more than 15 minutes away. On the way back to the room I decide to take on the Grizzly River Rapids ride, which I know I'll get soaked on, but who cares....I'm heading right to my room. I am right, I get soaked, but it's a lot of fun. I am sitting next to a couple who have never been here before and they decided to try the "water ride" first, as they had just walked into the park. They choose poorly. I'm sure they'll enjoy the rest of their day as they try to dry out. The weather is great here, for mid-November, but it's not so hot that they are going to dry that quickly.

6:00 PM - That was a heck of a nap. Anyway, we get dressed and get ready for dinner, we are headed to Steakhouse 55.

7:00 PM - Our table is ready and we are seated. They start us off with some seriously good sourdough bread and every so often a guy comes by and combs the crumbs off the table. Tracey's steak is great, my prime rib is good, but not as good as it was the last time we were here. Still, a very satisfying meal and great service as always. Off to the park!!

8:00 PM - We walk into Disneyland and pick up our tickets for Fantasmic. We had reserved a couple of seats in the "Premium viewing area". Our show is at 10:30 but they asked us to check in around 8 PM. After we pick up our tickets we head up Main Street and get a good spot for the fireworks which are scheduled to start at.....

9:25 PM - The Holiday Magic Fireworks show begins. It's a wonderful show, exactly as you would expect, and it snows at the end. OK, here's a secret....the snow isn't real. Still, it looks real, and it's a nice effect. I'm sure the California locals don't know the difference :-)

After the show we hit another couple of rides and head over to our spot for Fantasmic. With the price we paid for the special viewing area we get a fantastic tray of desserts and coffee and hot chocolate. Not that it's cold, mind you, but I guess it's a bit nippy for California. It's only about 17 degrees :-). Anyway the show is great and we enjoyed the extra special seats and the VIP treatment. Disney gives everyone a VIP treatment, but when you pay extra to stay in their hotels or for their premium experiences, they really go the extra mile.

After the show we head out of the park, do a little more shopping, and head to bed.

Saturday, November 14th


9:30 AM - Today we are having breakfast with Chip N Dale, at the Storyteller Cafe. As character meals go, it's not a big deal, as Chip N Dale are the main attractions and we can see them almost anywhere. It also features some minor characters that I don't recognize (except for the raccoon from Pocahontas) including some bears and a gorilla. This restaurant always has a critter problem. The reason to come here is for the food, it's a top-notch breakfast buffet.

After breakfast we take the monorail into Disneyland to knock off the last few rides that we haven't seen yet. We grab a Fastpass for Space Mountain and head off to It's A Small World, and then get our pictures taken with some of the Fairies in Pixie Hollow. I'm wearing a Disneyland shirt, and Tinkerbell mentions that she's on my shirt...her fellow Pixie, a guy named Terrence (so we are told), wonders why he's not on the shirt. I'm tempted to tell him that since he's a minor, irrelevant character that nobody's ever heard of, he'll get his shirt right about the same time as they make a special DVD of the Uncle Scrooge's greatest Disney moments....but that would be cruel, so I resist.

Now it's time for Space Mountain, so we hit that (AWESOME as always), take another turn at Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (and I clobber Tracey as always), then we decide it's time for lunch.

2:00 PM - We head to the Thunder Mountain Ranch BBQ for lunch. This is fairly new and it's our first time. Basically they plant you down at a trough and bring you BBQ items (ribs, chicken, cornbread, beans, coleslaw) over and over until one of three things happens:

1. You projectile-vomit over a Cast Member

2. You go into a meat coma and fall off your bench

3. You beg them to stop bringing you food

Thankfully we choose #3, although the other two weren't far behind.

After lunch we head back to the hotel to relax for a little while, do most of our packing, and finish this darn blog. On the way back, we finally find a rude Disney employee




As we are waiting in line, she actually comes over to us and announces that we are the LAST IN LINE, and if anyone else tries to join the line, we should tell them to get lost. We actually have to do this and send a couple people away. As it's time for the picture, the Wicked Queen says to me "look evil...oh, you already know how to be evil don't you?". My reputation has proceeded me apparently. Oh, that reminds me, while sitting at the BBQ, Santa Claus walked by our table, pointed at me, and said "Naughty boy". Somebody's been talking.....

6:08 PM - Finished this darn blog, to this point. I've noticed something odd on this trip, my clothes seem to have shrunk. I've come to the conclusion that there is some kind of chemical in the air in the Haagen Daaz shop that causes my clothes to shrink. Of course, I'll have to do my due diligence and check it out one more time to test my theory.

6:30 PM - Back to DCA to hit Screamin', the roller coaster we haven't hit yet, and then to do a couple other rides for the second time. It's our last night here :-(

We do Screamin' a couple of times, and are lucky enough to hit the Toy Story ride again, and I break Tracey's heart by stealing the title of "reigning champion" from her by kicking her sorry ass. Justice prevails!! WOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

We say goodbye to DCA and head across the plaza to Disneyland to finish up our trip. We hit a couple of last rides, do some last minute shopping, and head out of the gates. The final walk down Main Street is always the worst part of the trip, and this one is especially tough since we don't expect to be back until September, 2010. Ten months is a long time!!

9:58 PM - Back in our room and time to finish packing and get ready for tomorrow's long trip home. Wake up call coming at 4:15 AM. Ick. Ordered some room service, a couple bowls of that unreal corn chowder, as we didn't even stop for dinner tonight.

Unless something interesting happens tomorrow, this will be my last blog entry this trip, hope all my loyal readers enjoyed it (assuming anyone actually reads these damn things that is).

Engemoen OUT.

California Trip – March 2009

Friday, March 6th

4:00 PM - After a full day of work, Tracey and I are off to RiverRock Hotel to spend the night. We leave very early tomorrow and decided to stay in Richmond rather than make the early morning drive from Chilliwack to the airport. Tracey’s brother is the GM of RiverRock so we get a very good deal on a room; we get there and get checked into a beautiful 2-bedroom suite. VERY nice.

We’re off to Richmond Centre, Tracey and I each want to pick up a new pair of shoes for the trip. We both get a pair of Nike Vomeros (seriously, the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned; even better than Nike Shox). After that we meet some friends for dinner and then it’s back to the hotel to get some rest. We’re both asleep before 10 PM.

While at work on Friday, Tracey noticed a problem with one of her eyes; we later deduced it is a “stye” (which I confess I’ve never heard of). Not serious at all, but irritating and painful, and the timing couldn’t possibly be any worse, as she didn’t pack her prescription sunglasses for the trip; and she’s not supposed to wear contacts until the stye goes away; so either she wears contacts, which will irritate her eye and cause her discomfort, or she wears her glasses without sunglasses and gets blinded by the California sun. Nice choice. She chooses the former.

Saturday, March 7th

4:15 AM – Our wake-up call comes in and we’re up and ready to start the vacation. Our flight is scheduled for 7:15, and we want to get to the airport early enough to grab some breakfast before the flight.

6:00 AM – We use our Nexus to get quickly through customs (not that there was much of a lineup to shoot through at this time of the morning anyway) and head over to Burger King for breakfast. Yes, that was the best we could do; they have a little restaurant there called the “Pacific Grill” but we’ve had breakfast there before and it’s a step DOWN from Burger King, believe it or not.

6:45 AM – Our flight begins boarding, right on time. The plane looks to be pretty full, mainly thanks to a group of school girls heading somewhere…..not sure if they were a school group or church group or what, as they were clearly all together but I overheard some of them say they were 15, some were 18, and they weren’t all going to the same place, either; some were going to New Zealand, and some mentioned Hawaii. All told, there must have been 30 of them (and a handful of adults (teachers?) chaperoning). Now, normally being in a small, enclosed space with a bunch of teenage girls is something that a lot of men would pay big bucks for; but in this case, my wife was sitting right next to me, so it was just damn irritating. They were in front of us, behind us, across the aisle from us; everywhere. Somehow I guess we got seated right in the middle of them.

7:15 AM – Flight takes off right on time, and not much happens of any significance. The hoochie sitting behind me is playing cards and manages to somehow hit the back of my chair for the better part of 3 hours, but I should be used to that by now, I guess, as it happens to me every time I fly. Whatever. It’s a good flight, I watch a World Poker Tour event on the TV and Tracey watches Slumdog Millionaire, both for free; well, Tracey watched MOST of the movie, as it shut off with 5-10 minutes left as we were preparing to land. I guess we’re going to have to get the Blu-Ray when it comes out as I haven’t seen it yet either.

11 AM – We get to the rental car centre and get our car, which we’ve already paid for. We get a Mercury Grand Marquis; which is one hell of a big car, and pretty nice too. Very comfortable and a fairly nice ride. We’re off to SeaWorld today; I planned this intentionally, knowing that after the flight we’d probably want a shorter day and there is less to see at SeaWorld than the other parks we are visiting.

1:00 PM – We arrive at SeaWorld, right on schedule, and head right to the Penguin Encounter. The last time we were here they were renovating this area and it was closed, so we were pretty disappointed as it’s our favorite thing here. It wasn’t closed today, and we got some great pictures and video of the penguins, which are very cute. They also have some warm-weather penguins outside, not something you see every day.

1:40 PM – We stop for lunch. Sitting about 20 feet away from us is Snoop Dogg. No entourage, no posse, just Snoop and his kids, and nobody bothering them. For shizzle.

4:00 PM – We’ve seen everything we want to see here and we are, predictably, pretty tired, so we decide to head out and drive up to Escondido to our hotel. It’s been a great day, other than not getting many good shots of the dolphins (they are there, but they are doing some renovations on their area so we couldn’t get as close as usual). Fun!!
4:30 PM – We arrive at our hotel for the night, the Comfort Inn Escondido, which I chose as it is nice enough and very close to the Wild Animal Park which we are tackling tomorrow. Can’t wait!!!

The wife tells me not to hurt my arm patting myself on the back, but so far I’ve planned this trip perfectly; everything has gone as planned and I am sure tomorrow will be a great day.

7:33 – Finishing today’s blog and heading to bed to watch some TV and relax. With Daylight Savings kicking in tonight it’s really 8:33 and it’s been a long, full day, and I imagine I’ll be asleep early. We’ll be up fairly early again tomorrow as we want to get to the park in time to see a few things before our Photo Caravan Safari tour starts, which is at 12:30.

Sunday, March 8th

8:20 AM - Up for breakfast. Our hotel includes breakfast with their charge, so we head on down to the "breakfast room", not really expecting much more than a muffin or danish or two; after all, a very smart man once said "you get what you pay for". We are pleasantly surprised, though, in addition to the usual continental breakfast fare, they have eggs and even a waffle maker where you can make your own waffles! Pretty good free breakfast, I must say.

10:45 AM - Arrive at the Wild Animal Park and head inside. We have a Photo Safari Caravan Tour booked for 12:30 so we don't have a ton of time to look around first as we are going to need to have some lunch before the long tour. We get to see the gorillas and meerkats, and visit the petting kraal to get some pictures with the very-friendly deer and gazelles. We also get to visit with the baby rhino, who we learn was 150 lbs at birth, and now, at 2.5 months, is over 500 lbs.!!

12:30 PM - After a quick lunch, we head to the loading area for the tour. This is always one of the highlights of our vacations here; it's not often you get to interact so closely with so many species of wild animal in their natural habitat. I'm not going to spend too much time trying to describe this tour; I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Suffice it to say we fed a few giraffes and a couple of rhinos. Pretty damn cool.

The shirt I am wearing in these pictures is from the Wynn, in Las Vegas, and is made of bamboo. Yes, bamboo. Don't ask me how, it just is. While feeding the giraffe, he grabbed my shirt and had a little taste of it. When we get home we'll have to see if we can get giraffe slobber out of bamboo. Yes, that is the first time that phrase has ever been uttered in human history.

Some more pictures of the Wild Animal Park here:

http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e75/deanengemoen/Wild%20Animal%20Park%20March%202009

6:00 PM - On the way to our next hotel we decide to make a detour into Buena Park, to the Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant which is located just outside of Knott's Berry Farm. The last time we were here, which was a few years ago, they served the best Fried Chicken and Biscuits I have ever tasted.
For $14.99, you get 3 pieces of Fried Chicken (all-white meat is an extra couple bucks), potatoes and country gravy, corn or cabbage, soup AND salad, pie for dessert and biscuits. For anyone who isn't a huge Fried Chicken fan, there are some other chicken dishes you can substitute. Now, I mentioned how great the biscuits were last time; interestingly enough, this time they were possibly the WORST biscuits I have ever tasted. How odd. Anyway, everything else was very, very good, and the chicken was out of this world. The biscuit issue notwithstanding, this was a fantastic meal.

8:00 PM - We arrive at tonight's hotel, the Hollywood Downtowner. We had picked this one based on it's proximity to Universal Studios, tomorrow's destination. I had checked out the reviews on Expedia.ca before booking, and they were pretty positive; I'm not sure what most of those people were smoking. This place was sketchy, to say the least, in a sketchy neighborhood. The building was at least 80 years old, and looked it. The lobby was so small that Tracey had to stand outside in the cold while I checked in because there was no room for 2 people and their luggage!! Wow. In fairness, the staff was extremely friendly and they have obviously tried to update the place with some more modern touches, like coffee and a microwave in the rooms, and the pool was well maintained, but in reality the only thing that would really save this place is a bulldozer. Anyway, we'd already paid for it and it was only one night, so we put a few things in front of our door and decided to stick it out. Hopefully I'll still be alive in order to finish the blog tomorrow.....

Monday, March 9th

8:30 AM - Alive, and awake. Tracey's eye is still bothering her but is a little better today. As she's getting ready, I stop into the lobby to grab a couple doughnuts, which is this hotel's idea of a "free breakfast".

10:00 AM - We head to Universal, which is only about a 5 minute drive from the hotel. We pay the extra $8 for "preferred parking", which is worth every penny, as we end up parking just in front of the entrance gates. Into the park we go, straight to the Simpsons Ride, which we loved when it had just opened in Orlando last year; this version is identical, and it's just as fantastic. It's very true to the Simpsons universe and a lot of fun. You are taken on a simulated roller coaster in Krustyland, as Sideshow Bob is trying to kill the Simpsons.....and YOU. Fun!!!



5:00 PM - The park is closing, so we finish our dinner and start to head out. We've hit all the major attractions today, including the Studio Tour, and it's been a good day. We have some time to kill, as the Canucks/Kings game doesn't start until 7:30. Luckily we can always count on LA rush hour traffic, and it takes us a while to get to the game.

6:10 PM - We arrive at the Staples Centre and park in a lot across the street; ironically, it costs us exactly as much to park ($20) as it did for each ticket!! We don't have great seats, but $40 for both of us to see a hockey game was pretty tough to pass up. The Staples Centre is a beautiful facility, and we walk around and have a good look before the game starts. Our seats are high, but they are still pretty good, it's nice to have a different view of the game once in a while. Tons of Canucks fans here.



The Canucks lose 3-2, Tracey takes it like a trooper despite being irked that I cheer for the Kings, and then we head to our next hotel.

11:00 PM - We're off to Anaheim, but because we knew we'd be late, we didn't bother booking the big hotel for tonight, we're staying at the Alamo Inn, very close to Disneyland. It's perfectly fine, but the beds are incredibly hard and it's tough to get a good sleep. I wake up a few times during the night; it's like sleeping on the floor, but not nearly as pleasant.

Tuesday, March 10th


8:30 AM - It's been a great trip already, but now we're really kicking it into high gear; off to Disneyland, and the Grand Californian Hotel, where we are spending our last four nights!! Woo-hoo!!! We get to the hotel and are checked in immediately, and are pleasantly surprised to find out that our room is already ready to go. We head up to the room and our bags arrive just minutes after us; typically terrific service from this hotel. We have a beautiful view of Downtown Disney. This hotel is expensive, and the view even moreso, but it's worth every penny.

11:30 AM - It's close to lunchtime but Tracey feels like breakfast, so we stop at the Rainforest Cafe to grab a bite. The food is terrific, and the atmosphere is as well. Now that we've eaten, it's off to Disneyland! Time for the main event! We get through the gates and head to Pirates of the Caribbean, which is always our first ride. We get in quickly and get in the first row of the boat. This would be a recurring theme throughout the day, as we end up in Row 1 on most of the rides.

3:00 PM - We stop at La Brea Bakery to grab some lunch, after doing a little shopping... and by "little", I mean "a little" for me, a "ridiculous amount" for Tracey. She is doing her own private part to keep the US economy going! Good for her!!!

4:00 PM - After lunch we head back into Disneyland to hit a few more rides and do a little more shopping; we have dinner reservations at the Blue Bayou at 7 PM so we have a little time to kill. We head to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. This is a ride that features a game where you shoot at targets, all in the name of saving the galaxy from the evil Emperor Zurg. You get points for all the targets you hit. Tracey always loses to me at this and it, frankly, kind of pisses her off; she is always asking me to let her win. It's almost as if she doesn't know me AT ALL. The last time I let someone win was.....well.... OK it's never happened. Not gonna start now. In order to keep her whining to a minimum, I decide to give her a chance, and shoot at the targets with my left hand. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, I am NOT left handed. The final score? Tracey 25000, Dean's left hand 99000. She is not a happy camper. Of course, she feels that her gun was malfunctioning. That must be it.

7:00 PM - We get to the Blue Bayou (after a repeat ride on Pirates) and ask for a table near the water, which we get almost immediately. I notice the menu features "surf and turf", a filet mignon accompanied by a lobster tail. I don't need to read the menu any further. Tracey orders short ribs, the same thing she had last time we were here; both meals are ridiculously fantastic. They always are. After the meal, we top it off with some creme brulee, and leave completely satisfied, and stuffed.

8:45 PM - We are back at the hotel room, awaiting the fireworks show. By turning our TV to a certain channel, we can listen to the show from our room; no need to brave the crowds watching the fireworks from Main Street! Tracey sits in a chair on our balcony while I lay on the bed. Now THIS is how to watch fireworks!!!! Fantastic!!!

11:20 PM - Finally got this blog updated and heading to bed. Tomorrow we are tackling California Adventure, and going to the Canucks/Ducks game. Another big day!!!!

Wednesday, March 11th

9:00 AM - Tracey wakes me up as the breakfast we ordered should be here any minute, she says. I point out that we asked for it to be delivered between 9 and 9:30, so the odds of it being delivered right at 9 are not very good, and I'm going back to sleep for a few minutes.

9:01 AM - Our breakfast arrives. Damn.

10:00 AM - Breakfast was great and now we're headed into the park. We get to go in a special side entrance as hotel guests; we hightail it right to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, and even so, the lineup is 20 minutes long already, even though the park just opened seconds ago. It's a very popular ride, which features 3-D midway games that you play as you ride; shooting targets, breaking plates, a ring toss, all those types of games. Tracey never beats me at THIS, either, so we are seriously trash talking in the lineup on the way in. After telling me it's "on like Donkey Kong", she proceeds to make up about a dozen excuses as to why I beat her, from "the game cheats" to "my wrist hurts" to "I got the lousy 3-D glasses" etc etc etc.
10:30 AM - She beats me. So much for excuses. I think I must have got the lousy 3-D glasses.

Now we're off to do the other significant rides in the park: California Screamin', Hollywood Tower of Terror (which reminded me of the hotel we stayed in a couple nights ago), and Soarin' over California (they must not like the letter "G" here). All are great. We get our picture taken with Sully from Monsters Inc. We also go into the Blue Sky Exhibit, which is a preview of attractions to come; there is already a great deal of construction going on where they are putting in a new show, "Worlds of Colour", which is going to be similar to Fantasmic, I think. This opens in the spring of 2010. Coming in 2011 is a new ride based on The Little Mermaid, and in 2012 they are completely re-doing the entrance to the park into a 1920's theme, AND opening a complete new land, Cars Land. Lots going on.

1:50 PM - We have reservations for lunch at Ariel's Grotto. Lunch consists of three courses, some antipasto, bread and salad to start, an entree of your choice (Tracey went with Herbed Chicken and I had Spiced Tri-Tips), and then a plate of mixed desserts that you have to see to believe. We also get pictures with most of the Disney Princesses: Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Jasmine. I've always wondered if that is their entire job; is the girl playing Snow White ALWAYS Snow White, and that's all she does? I've always wanted to ask them but they never come out of character so there would be little point. They are sure great at their roles...the little kids (and slightly bigger kids) sure enjoy spending some time with them.

3:30 PM - Up to our room to relax a little bit before heading to the Canucks game.

6:00 PM - Tracey is up from her nap and we're off to the Honda Center for the Canucks/Ducks game. It's only about a 10 minute drive away. It's a nice facility, but nowhere near as nice as the Staples Center. Canucks jerseys outnumber their Anaheim counterparts by at least 2 to 1; a far cry from the Kings game where Kings jerseys were everywhere. This game is a nightmare for me; as a Flames and Stars fan, there is no good result here; basically I don't care who wins, as long as it doesn't go to overtime and turn into a 3-point game. I try to foster a few chants going during the game: "No Overtime!!!!", "Reg-u-LAY-shun CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP", and, after the Canucks had tied the game late in the third period, "Someone score, CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP, I don't care WHO!! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP". I am less than successful. Oh, and there is no truth to the rumour that I led the "REF, YOU SUCK!!!!!" chant that broke out in the third period after Anaheim's goalie was run over.

9:30 PM - My nightmare is complete, as regulation time ends in a 3-3 tie and we are headed to overtime. My nightmare gets just a little bit worse a few minutes later when Scott Niedermayer scores for Anaheim, which was really the worst possible result. The Ducks pick up 2 points on Dallas, and the Canucks move one point closer to Calgary. Fan-freaking-tastic.

10:15 PM - We arrive back at the hotel and put the car back into valet parking. A cast member asks us how our day was, and when Tracey responds that it would have been better if her team had won, he apologizes!! GOD they are nice here :-)

10:36 PM - Heading to bed now, another great day in the books and we are getting up early tomorrow to use our "early entrance" pass to hit a couple of the attractions that always have long lineups. Tracey's eye is much better now and hopefully will be almost completely healed by tomorrow.

Thursday, March 12th

10:56 AM - Well so much for using the "early entrance" pass today as we decided to sleep in. By the time Tracey is ready to go it will be close to noon; there is one advantage to sleeping this late, we get to save on meals! We've already missed breakfast :-)

11:30 AM - We head to the Storyteller Cafe for lunch; Tom Bergeron is there filming a segment for "American's Funniest Home Videos"; not sure how anything he's filming can constitute a "home video" but whatever. He's hanging out at the buffet with Goofy and Donald, and we get seated in a separate part of the restaurant. This restaurant RULES; they have the world's greatest corn muffins, and quite possibly the best soup I've ever tasted, their corn chowder. Fantastic. Tracey and I also have a fantastic chicken caesar salad and are quite full when we leave.
After lunch, we head upstairs to change into "get wet" clothes as we are going to go right into California Adventure and go on the Grizzly River Rapids ride, where we know we are going to get wet. We are not disappointed, getting quite soaked as we ride it twice. During our second ride, there is a father with two kids, one girl and one boy, who I would estimate were 5 and 6, on the ride with us. The boy got absolutely drenched, and the look on his face was something I wish I had captured on our camera. He wasn't going to cry; he wasn't pissed off; it just looked like he couldn't possibly comprehend what had just happened to him. Priceless.

1:00 PM - Back to our room to change out of our wet clothes and relax for a while, then down to the World of Disney store to do a little more shopping. I got basically shut out this trip, as all the cool stuff was for Tracey!!!! She cleaned up with lots of very nice shirts.


7:00 PM - We have reservations for Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel. It's a beautiful, high-end steakhouse and the food is great. Tracey has a New York Steak and I have a great piece of prime rib. They bring us a loaf of sourdough to start, and periodically throughout the meal a guy comes to the table with some sort of instrument and removes the bread crumbs from our table! Now THAT'S service!! The entire meal is great. On the menu they have a glass of cognac that is $135. I don't even like cognac but I'm curious as hell what a $135 glass of cognac tastes like, but I resist.

8:45 PM - Back at the hotel room and we are watching the fireworks from our room again. Love this!! Got another big day tomorrow so we are going to go to bed early.

1:45 AM - Hmm. I am awakened with an impending intestinal requirement which is going to have to be taken care of immediately. I get up and take a couple Pepto-Bismol tablets, that should solve the problem.

1:50 AM - Nope. The first things to come up are a couple of Pepto-Bismol tablets. Don't remember the last time I was this sick, I even wake Tracey up. As much as I enjoyed the taste of the garlic mashed potatoes with dinner, they are not quite as satisfying going the other way. Wow.

2:15 AM - I actually feel quite a bit better. That was quick. Must have been something I ate, I guess, but the only thing I ate that Tracey didn't was the prime rib. Hard to imagine there was something wrong with that but I guess anything's possible. Hopefully I'll feel OK in the morning.

Friday, March 13th

7:30 AM - Our last day in Disneyland and we have reservations for breakfast with Minnie and Friends. We do this every trip, it's a lot of fun, a good buffet, and we get lots of pictures with the characters. I feel pretty good this morning, considering the vomit-a-thon that I was involved in last night.

9:00 AM - Breakfast is $46, I pay the cashier with $100 bill and, as I'm walking to my table, notice she only gave me change for a 50. I go back to get the other $50 and she can't remember me giving her a hundred, so they have to balance her till to make sure I really did give her that. They are nice about it, of course, but it's a little bit irritating as I know for a fact I gave her $100.
We get to our table and start breakfast; I'm not as hungry as I would normally be but I still eat some muffins, french toast and waffles. The food is great, as always, and we get pictures with Pooh and Eeyore, as well as Captain Hook. There are a few characters walking around who we don't normally see here, including Goofy's son, whose name I don't know, and the Baboon from the Lion King as well. Chip and Dale are here as well but we don't wait for them to get to our table as we will see them at breakfast tomorrow. Near the end of the meal, Steve, a supervisor, brings me my $50 and apologizes for the mistake.

10:15 AM - We head to Splash Mountain, the last of our favorite rides that we haven't hit already. I barely get wet at all, Tracey gets pretty wet....wet enough that she would be uncomfortable for the rest of the day, so we head back to our room. I wanted a nap anyway, I didn't have a great sleep last night so I'm pretty tired.

3:00 PM - I like naps. Seriously. Up and into California Adventure, to get a good spot for the Pixar Play Parade. We get an excellent spot.

5:15 PM - The parade starts, I have an excellent view to tape it. It's a good parade, featuring most of the Pixar characters you would expect to see.
After the parade, we head back to Disneyland for the last time this trip. We shop a bit, go on the Finding Nemo Submarine Rides, and then say our goodbyes to the park. We are planning to be back in September, for our 5th wedding anniversary. Can't think of a better place to spend it.

9: 25 PM - We watch the fireworks from our room again, and this time I tape it for posterity. After the fireworks I catch up on blogging, and we pack. Tomorrow is our flight back home.

Saturday, March 14th

9:00 AM - We are having breakfast with Chip N Dale, at the Storyteller's Cafe. It's a buffet, and it's the best buffet here. We have a great breakfast, get pictures with the chipmunks, a racoon and a couple bears (this restaurant has a wildlife problem) and head back to the room to finish packing and get ready to leave. They have delivered our itemized bill, and we don't actually even have to check out; as long as we agree with the bill, we just leave. Everything looks OK so we are heading out. Going to have a few hours to kill between now and when we want to get to the airport so we are going to hit an outlet mall and do a little shopping.
Thus ends another great vacation. T-minus 6 months until our next appearance in Disneyland.

Engemoen OUT.