I cannot put into words how much fun this vacation was and JUST how much I needed it. To put it lightly, we are in the season of busy, and we had to slow down. Now that meant ramping life up before and after our trip so that we could take five days to be away, but it was so worth it to drink Butterbeer and rest my head on Daniel’s shoulder on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Hearts.
The trip started out with me realizing (for the 18th time) that Old Navy shorts/jeans/bottoms just don’t fit me well (too much fabric in the waist and not enough in the thighs) and having a slight panic attack about having to wear the same pair of cut-offs for all three days in the park was not on my list of things to do. However, I fit in shorts shopping the day we left PDX.
Thankfully, we got to the airport in enough time for me to read the new issue of Saveur magazine and buy a bottle of water. Unfortunately, the person who I thought was Kevin Jones sitting next to me was in fact your run of the mill 2012 hipster. Famous people on the plane = 0. But, I never gave up the hope that Ryan Gosling would fly commercial and I’d see him on the way home.
The most terrifying experience happened whilst on what I can only describe as “The Night Bus” from Harry Potter. LAX provides a shuttle to your car rental pick-up. The driver, who was wearing skull gloves might I add, almost killed us about five times weaving in and out of other buses and regular ole’ people. I was pretty sure that night was where it was all going to end. However, we arrived at our car rental place called Cheap & Speedy or Rent Stolen Cars Here, or something like that, without a scratch.
Once in Inglewood, after I kissed the cement that tasted slightly of old cigarette buds and Air Force Ones, we got into our rental car and drove to the nearest In and Out Burger. We ate our feelings that night.
My Aunt Rena, who hosted us for the week, left us her whole flat that overlooked the pool and several palm trees. It couldn’t have been more picturesque (save if Ryan Gosling was down there). He wasn’t.
Day One: Driving to Universal Studios Hollywood was a little difficult as I had consumed 32 ounces of coffee, and the LA roads are lined with pothole after pothole. I made it though. As soon as I saw Hogwarts Castle I knew, I was home. First stop was to the Three Broomsticks with Madam Rose Marta and copious amounts of Butterbeer. Daniel opted for the shepherd’s pie and I went with citrus roasted chicken. Greasy and deliciously satisfying. I could barely hold my camera without it slipping though my fingers.
It should be noted that the previous night I woke up four times to take care of low blood sugar, and this day was basically more of the same. The good was that I could treat my low blood sugar with Butterbeer. The bad was that I literally could not keep my blood sugar up, and I was constantly eating to fix it, which made my tummy a little upset.
I also feel like there should be an etiquette book about what are appropriate conversations to have in a line while waiting for a ride. Why is it that I always stand next to the loudest people talking about things that one doesn’t hear in civilized conversation? Aside from them NOT being kid appropriate, they weren’t even Karlee appropriate. Emily post is rolling over in her grave.
A definite highlight of the day was going on the Studio Tour where we viewed some of the Universal Studios sets. We loved seeing where they film The Voice, The Mindy Project and some of West World. The best part was seeing old film sets like the Back to the Future clock tower, The Great Outdoor’s cabin, Jaws’ mechanical shark named Bruce, Whoville from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and the list goes on and on. I felt VERY tourist-y and sort of awkward about the whole thing and still… no Ryan.
We stayed late enough that night for the golden hour so I could take all the pictures of Universal Studios. However, we didn’t stay late enough for the beaming sun to leave the castle, and those pictures turned out only so-so. Dinner that night was a delivery pizza — a pepperoni and meatball number that changed my life. I am forever sad that we are out of their delivery range.
The next day started with breaking a traveling rule of ours, and we ate at a chain restaurant that we have at home. But gosh, Krispy Kreme donuts just sounded so good! And they were, they really were. Plus, they helped keep my blood sugar levels a little more normal than the previous day. Lunch was Bubba Gump Shrimp where I ate shrimp tacos and we watched the Golden State Warriors parade on TV. #GOWARRIORS!!
We drank more Butterbeer, got our souvenirs, and stood in the Jurassic Park ride for what seemed like three hours. As soon as we were on the ride we quickly remembered how scary this ride really is. It didn’t help that the latch bar didn’t come down far enough on us because of the varying sizes of people in our row. The drop was terrifying, and we got SOAKED. We survived with enough time to say goodbye to Hogwarts, grab my last cup of Butterbeer, and head out to the next destination.
I wanted to make a quick trip to the Griffith Observatory where La La Land and Rebel Without a Cause were filmed with the hopes that I would run into Ryan Gosling. He wasn’t there, but Daniel was, and I was pretty happy about that. What a beautiful view of LA! It literally made me feel like an ant in an ant farm. It also provided a pretty great view of the Hollywood sign. I gave all my random facts about that sign to Daniel and he did his very best to look interested as he drank his coke in the little café. We barely had energy enough to walk around the place, but we pushed through and found the little dome where Ryan and Emma dance around. We listened to the sound track on the way back to Anaheim.
Dinner that night was, yup, In and Out Burger. After that, we had a long soak in the hot tub in preparation for Disneyland.
I mean, what can you say? Disneyland is just the best. We started the day out going pretty hard. We are known as the Steph Curry and Klay Thompson of Disneyland in our friend sect. We raced through every ride in New Orleans Square and Adventure Land. We never waited longer than five minutes for a ride. We were living hard and dying fast. Literally, because about an hour and a half in, I couldn’t move. So we left to shop and eat and see Great Moments with President Lincoln. Daniel fell asleep in the theater.
Remember those mouse ears I promised myself I was going to get? Never happened. The Mad Hatter only had them in youth sizes and having a headband headache was not on my list of things to do. Instead, I got a Monsters University hat and called it good.
Our reservations at Blue Bayou were for late afternoon and it was the best money we’ve ever spent. We always eat lunch or dinner there when we are in the park for a nice cool down, romantic ambiance, and to be waited on. This time the food was over the top good! I got the chicken (again, I know, I was being boring), but it was perfectly cooked, and it rested on a hot, creamy, pea risotto with a sun dried tomato, basil and feta puree. I washed it all down with a cool and refreshing mint Julep. Daniel had a steak cooked to perfection with the most decadent au gratin potatoes.
The night ended with a second go of rides, three Mickey Mouse shaped beignets, and me trying to fight off the tears because the trip was coming to an end. It didn’t help that my feet were the sorest they’d ever been, my heels were torn to pieces, and what I thought was a heat rash was actually a reaction to the sunscreen I’d been wearing. Again, if I could just have a body that works normally, that would be greeeeeat.
We closed out the last day hanging out by the pool with my family and eating the greatest sliders with Tillamook cheese and Hawaiian bread buns. I tested out a salad recipe for the fam, and I’m pretty sure it’s still missing that “wow” factor. However, it was still tasty, and it did the trick. Later that night, the California sun set against LAX as I watched Sherlock while dosed up on Benadryl and anxiously awaited my very own bed.