Sea legs

Tadaima! Honey, I’m home!

A seven-day vacation passed like a whirlwind… although while in the midst of the fun, it seemed like we had been vacationing forever. Our brains nearly exploded with the flurry of activity and the massive amounts of things to do and see… and we didn’t even get to see it all!

Disney World was a lot of fun, but tiring. Of course, lots of walking, lots of waiting, and lots of crowds to fight. We only got to visit three out of the seven parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM), but there was no lack of anything to do. I got to go on all the rides that I wanted to, save Star Tours and Test Track (god bless the person who invented FastPasses).

I will add that the Tower of Terror is the best. ride. EVAR. I love that the ride is different every time we ride it, with randomized drops and all. I am very pleased to learn that it is coming to Disneyland (California Adventure) this year. We rode this one four times during our short visit to MGM… and it wasn’t enough!

Corporations at work: a poster at Epcot
As much as I fear Disney as a monopolizing corporation, I gotta admit, they have the whole “magical experience” down pat. Especially when it came to going on the Cruise Line. Their customer service is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced. Their activities for all ages are quite varied and keep things fresh. The food was, to say the least, awesome (I just wish they had some available in the wee hours for us late night snackers, but maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t)… I don’t think I gained weight, but it certainly felt that way on some days! I also don’t think I’ve drank that much alcohol in a single period. ^_^;; But hey, it’s all good… I didn’t get drunk per se, but it certainly added to the sea leg experience, heh. As a comedian on ship said, the sober people walk like they’re drunk, and the drunks always walk straight.

As a matter of fact, I still have my sea legs. I am still swaying about here at home. It’s actually quite entertaining.

For my first cruise experience, I think this was a good one. There was a lot to do on ship as well as in port (although, I do wish we could have spent more time in port). There’s tons for kids of all ages… so much, that you often don’t see your kids from 9AM till past midnight! The scheduled mealtimes in different restaurants each night was great… we all got to have dinner together most days, and we also had the same waitstaff rotate with us! We would also get to see a stage show within an hour of finishing dinner, which was great.

Our first port of call was Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas, and spent most of the day at Atlantis. I wasn’t overly impressed with Atlantis, and wished that I could’ve spent the day exploring the city. Nothing really much more to say about that day, except that we shortly perused the nearby handcraft market for some local goods, but didn’t buy anything.

The Disney Wonder docked at Castaway Cay
I absolutely loved the big D’s private island, Castaway Cay, which we visited on our next day. I mailed most of my postcards from there, so those of you who requested ’em, keep an eye out! Bren and I went jetskiing there (our first time, which was awesome), then Kev and I went snorkeling in their lagoon (which was a bit lackluster compared to Hawaii, but still pretty cool). Beautiful weather, crystal blue waters, what more could we want?

We tried to get a little bit of relaxation in on our one and only sea day on Wednesday. We woke up late, which means 8:30 AM, compared to our previous days’ 6:30-7:30 wake up calls. We went to a matinee of one of their daily stage shows (which were all pretty good) and pretty much sat around the ship most of the time. We also go to the exclusive 18+ restaurant, Palo, which had some gourmet-quality entrees and not to mention, a killer Chocolate Souffle! We actually got to bed earlier that evening (hmm, now that I think about it, 12:30 isn’t all that early, heh) after some cocktails in the Promenade Lounge. Wow, the cruise was just about over… four days does not seem like enough!

I feel like I did not do this vacation much justice by my few words here. I simply can’t describe how much fun my entire family (all 11 of us) had on this trip… I want to thank my dad for making this celebration of his retirement fun for all of us.

time to get away

Many have wondered where I’m headed later this month. The story is, I’m embarking on my first real vacation in a while. I think the last time I went on a bona fide vacation (more than a weekend trip) was my Japan trip last summer, but even so, it was a trip that went hand in hand with a business trip for K. This upcoming trip is a full-on family vacation, with my parents, siblings, my sister’s family, as well as K and kids.

The mere mention of the words Family and Vacation in the same sentence are enough to make many people shudder in fear. I am actually not having much anxiety about this one at all.

So where are we headed? We’re going to Disney World!

Not just the big D (and all of the other parks within the resort), but we’ve got a whole Disney Cruise package goin’ on. 3 days land, 4 days sea, including stops in the Bahamas. I’ve never really perused Disney World (save a short trip to Epcot maybe 6 years ago), and I have never been to the Bahamas, so this will be a fresh and new experience for me. I really cannot wait. The cruise line is very much geared towards families (natch), so I don’t think anyone is going to have a hard time finding something to do that they like. I can’t believe all the stuff that’s available on the boat. Hopefully this will be a good first-time cruise experience, because I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reviews for cruises in general.

I’m pretty psyched for this trip. The purpose is to commemorate/celebrate my dad’s retirement this year (he retired from BART after over a quarter century). My mom has been counting down to this trip for a year and a half… it’s sure to be the event of the decade for our family. Mom has already been packing for the past month. I probably won’t until the last day or so, heh.

This vacation also signifies another chapter in my life. I promise to expound on that statement very soon. Trust me, it’s a good thing.

The weather outside is frightful

This weekend, we went on a whirlwind trip to the South Lake Tahoe area… more precisely, just on the other side of the Nevada border in the appropriately named city of Stateline, NV. My parents own a timeshare up that way, and I often join them on their trips there. It’s always a welcome getaway.

I was saddened by the fact that no snow fell at all on the day we arrived… the drive up was relatively dry, with patches of annoying rain here and there. The mountains were still as gorgeous as I remember them. I grew up taking at least a yearly pilgrimage with my family to the Tahoe area, and seeing the mountains made many memories flood back. I still get excited when I see the first patch of snow during the long drive.

Overnight, the area was transformed. I woke up around sunrise to see a white flurry outside our window, and could not see past a couple dozen yards. Sweet. Strong winds swirled the heavy snowfall around our building that stood at almost 7,500 feet up. I couldn’t see the valley below at all. We had fears of getting snowed in.

Within an hour, the clouds had cleared, there was blue sky, and the world looked new. Everything was covered in fluffy white snow that gleamed in the sunlight. Interestingly enough, the weather went through this cycle maybe two or three times… heavy snow, sunlight, again and again. I enjoyed watching it from our window, and snapped a few pictures, as you see here.

I will share my photo gallery of our snow trip with you soon.

california crusin’: Day 2

Friday, 27 June 2003: In the Haus of Maus

Ah, Disneyland. The stuff that dreams are made of. Or, at least, that’s what the numerous flyers, commercials, and billboards tell us. What joys await us within?

K and I awoke at about a quarter to seven in the morning, since my family wanted to make the eight AM opening at the park. Exhausted and sore, I endured my pains for the good of the rest of the group. But frustratingly, no one else was even awake by the time we were enjoying our semi-continental breakfast from the hotel. Why do they call it “continental”, anways?

I think we made it to the park Resort at 0930 or 1000. Keep in mind that I have not seen this place for many years, even before California Adventure was merely a dirt lot. It’s completely different, and more reminiscent of Disney World… there is no longer the endless parking lot, there is now a larger-than-Paul-Bunyan parking lot to handle the masses. Patrons ride in a stinky gas-powered tram through the Resort area, past hotels and shopping areas… all reeking of sickly Disney commercialism.

It’s so freakin’ American.
Continue reading california crusin’: Day 2

California Crusin’: Day 1

Thursday, 26 June 2003…

0000: Go to bed, setting alarm for 0330.
0315: Cell phone rings, with brother on other end of line, asking us to bring his forgotten gameboy along. Go back to bed.
0330: Alarm sounds. Smack it across the room, crawl groggily out of bed and collapse on floor.
0345: Arise from floor. Cell phone rings, answer to Dad stating that they are leaving within a few minutes.
0355: Splash cold water on face. Pull on grubby yet comfy clothes, throw toiletries into pre-packed suitcase, stumble out door.
0400: Realize I’ve forgotten something. Back into the house.
0405: Forgot to get something out of the car. Rustle through car in the dark.
0410: Inadvertently wake up baby next door. Hit head on car door frame.
0415: Finally pull away from the driveway, already in a foul mood for the day.

Things didn’t get off to a smooth start, but what can you expect, it’s four o’clock in the frickin’ morning. Dad has this thing about leaving super early in the morning, to “drive in the dark”. He’s done this since we were little kids. It didn’t really accomplish much for us this time but missed sleep and crankiness.

After missing a meal at Andersen’s (they were still closed at 0530 when we arrived in Santa Nella), we stomached a breakfast at Lenny’s Denny’s and continued on our merry ways.

A few potty stops and millions of smashed bugs upon the windshield later, we were in Southern California. A few hours of weekday traffic were magically bestowed upon us, with much luck. It was getting hot, I could feel the backs of my knees getting sticky. Eww.

We arrive at our destination (Orange, CA) at around 1300. Lucky us, check-in time is not until 1500. Tell me why we left so early again? We had to sit tight for a few hours while our rooms were prepared… my sister and her family were able to secure a room earlier, so we just hung out in their room until the nazis front desk crew waved us into our humble suites.

I participated enthusiastically in a much-needed nap for a couple o’ hours, while my parents ventured out to a local military base to purchase theme park tickets. Then it was to Joe’s Crab Shack in Garden Grove for some eatin’ and burpin’. What a whacky place. The waitstaff line dances, and birthday guests prance around in cow costumes, complete with rubber neeples.

We go for a quick walk down at The Block, only to have my Mom and Seester sucked into Old Navy for some reason, whilst the rest of us enjoy a scoop or two from Ben and Jerry’s. K and I depart for the hotel a little bit earlier than the rest of the shoppin’ crowd. Gotta get to bed. We have a long day ahead of us.

Tomorrow: The Mouse is in the House.