Lex Stays at Home

When we used to go to conventions or go on vacation out of the country, we can’t take our beloved dog with us. In the past we’ve had friends and family look after him. But we’ve also come to rely on a local kennel.

Birch Bark Kennels is the place we have been taking Lex (and our previous dog, Chuppy) for many years. The price is great, and our dog runs in excitedly. The staff are pretty darned good at their jobs as well. We get him back healthy and clean every time.

The kennel has been recognized in our community as well over the years. That makes me really happy to know that they care for animals in such a great manner. I’m always happy to leave our furry family member in their hands.

That being said, he is also really happy to see us again after our vacations. He could barely keep still in the car ride home and wanted to lick me constantly. The first thing he did when he entered our home was run to his bed. He landed in it so fast that it slid further under our piano.

I wish we could take him on some of these trips, but it would also take away from our travels. Spending sixteen hours in Disneyland each day was already tough on us. I couldn’t imagine how it would be for him in an unfamiliar room for that length of time.

I’m really happy to see him again that’s for sure. Absence does make the heart grow stronger.

Land, Air, and Sea

Flying home from Los Angeles I chose to sit by the window. I took advantage of this and enjoyed the scenery below.

Flying over California was neat. The change in landscapes was quick paced. Almost immediately leaving Los Angeles there were mountains and farmland. Lots of earthy tones of brown and green.

As we approached the Vancouver airport, the view changed drastically to more lush green and the blue of the water surrounding the outskirts.

Flying over both was surreal to me. In California- I could see below us all of the many roads we have driven in the past to get to Disneyland. Arriving at Vancouver, I could see the many locations that my work services. Rail cars and train tracks that I have been on numerous times. Plus many local roads that I have driven.

Once you’re in the air- flying is neat. The other stuff at airports, check in, paperwork, delays, etc… sucks. I prefer a good old fashioned road trip.

More Than Just Rides

Disneyland is great fun. Over the course of three days, we hit probably 90% of the rides. Which is a big portion of our trip usually. We utilize the FastPass option frequently. Disneyland has a MaxPass option for an additional $10/day per person. We didn’t feel that was of any value to our trip. A few extra steps to go get a pass won’t hurt me.

Besides the rides, we love meeting the characters. Our first trip, the girls met all the princesses as they dressed as princesses. We’ve also met numerous Disney characters over the years as well.

This year is no different. We took the time to meet a few characters (not including the cockroach from Wall-E). Each and every moment so far has been filled with jokes and laughs.

Another great aspect of Disneyland and California Adventure is the shows. We stop pretty often for the short side shows on the streets.

We also like taking in some stage shows. Disneyland goes all out and is a leader in how to create these entertainment experiences. This year we enjoyed “Frozen.”

Of course fireworks, parades and other nighttime shows are wonderful to watch.

We find some great moments by trying to experience everything. We have become a true “Disney Family” and love each and every moment in the parks.

Magical Day…?

Finding joy in some of the silliest things is what I love about life. Even in Disneyland when things aren’t always as magical as you think.

We had a few “Not-So-Magical” moments Saturday. But we had fun nonetheless.

My son’s car in Autotopia died before he could even get in. When I got to the end of the ride, they stopped us all in a row to insert a new car. No big deal, but it made the ride last longer.

On our walk to the train station, I met a celebrity from Wall-E.

The cockroach.

Ya, it’s just a bug. But I had to have some fun with the idea of it.

Later in the evening while we were in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, it broke down.

Twice.

People cheered both times as the ride started up again. The Disneyland App was pretty fast at posting rides going down.

None of this made our trip any less enjoyable. In fact it made it just as memorable as previous visits to Disneyland. We are still having a great time despite these flaws behind the magic.

Portofino Aneheim

Back at the end of January/ beginning of February 2009, I was getting laid off. So we took that opportunity to go to Disneyland for the first time. I was told on the Wednesday that on the Friday I’d be laid off. So we went onto the Disneyland website and booked tickets and a hotel starting the Sunday.

That Saturday morning, Mickey and his friends called our house and the kids answered the call. Their ages were 2,4 and 6. They lit up! Immediately after the call, we packed our minivan and hit the road. We drove straight through for 26 hours taking turns driving.

We arrived at the Portifino Inn and Suites. It was perfect. Separate bedroom for the kids and only a short walk to the park. This our third time returning to stay at the hotel.

The rooms are spacious and moderately priced. Like most hotels near Disneyland, this one boasts a parking lot pool. It’s the perfect size for a quick dip to relax.

There’s only two things that would make this place one of my favorite hotels.

First, breakfast.

Unfortunately there is no breakfast offered. Nothing more than the in-room coffee is available. I’d worry that if there was breakfast offered- it’d be subpar. So maybe no breakfast is a good thing, especially for the price we pay.

Secondly, better WiFi.

Just like German WiFi- it’s the wurst. It drops constantly and has trouble connecting. Walking up to the hotel or at the pool- it works great. In the rooms, it sketches out. Having teens- (and myself) this is life ending! But we are trudging through.

We like staying at this hotel. Even with a couple of flaws. For a place to rest my head and enjoy some downtime- this place is perfect.

The Void

We always do something unique for every trip we take to Disneyland. This year we hit a place called “The Void” in Downtown Disney. We played though “The Secrets of the Empire” which was Star Wars based.

I wish I could’ve taken photos inside. The VR was more than just wearing goggles. You go in and harness up with a helmet and vest. It was pretty intense. Not only do you see a 360° view of everything, there is so much more. As you turn your head, the sound is full 360° as well. Your other senses also get assaulted. You feel the heat and cold as you actually move through the levels.

Yes- you walk around!

There are smells and scents as well depending on where you go. And you grab at stuff, interact with buttons, and shoot blasters! The storyline reacts to what you do.

My wife and I teamed up while our kids went off on their own. The interactivity in the VR world was incredible. It was a ton of fun. While we were doing it, we were fully immersed. By the end, it was all too real. Afterwards, my wife felt her fear of heights was almost real even though we were planted firmly on the ground. It was sensory overload, but worth every penny.

What we experienced was amazing. Worth the cost and such a wicked memory was created. If I could share what I saw- you’d be amazed. Even though it was about thirty minutes of play, it felt like a full movie. An interactive movie.

Absolutely crazy.

Check out The Void for other adventures.

A Tale of Two Flights

Yesterday we flew with Westjet out of Vancouver to Los Angeles. The check in was easy and my wife got the extra screening bonus going through customs. (Which has nothing to do with the flight…) The staff were really friendly and helpful.

But then our flight was delayed two and a half hours because… an employee had damaged the plane… or that’s what we were told by another employee. We had to wait for another flight to come in from Winnipeg in order to get a new plane to ride. So I took a nap before we boarded. Shit happens. I’d rather get on an undamaged plane.

I guess because the flight was late, we got to enjoy taxiing around the runway in Vancouver before departing another 30 minutes later. The flight itself was smooth. Included in the price- we were given a sip of soda and a tiny snack pack of pretzels. To watch any movies- we had to download the Westjet App. Rather frustrating.

When we touched down, the plane drove around every part of LAX terminal for 45 minutes before stopping and having everyone disembark and then board a bus for a ten minute drive back to the terminal. After all was said and done, we were over 4 hours later than we originally planned. Even the employees were getting edgy by the end. But they kept their cool.

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Too Much Time On My Hands

This year I have had too much vacation time.

Shut the front door! How can someone have too much time off?

Well it seems I may have. I never thought it was possible. I was lucky enough to have some of my vacation carried over from previous years. As if my regular five weeks off wasn’t enough. But I have also had three extra weeks that I have enjoyed as well this year.

What are you complaining about!?

I’ve enjoyed the freedom of relaxing and traveling this year. With a whirlwind of trips including Tokyo, Calgary, Leavenworth, Bridge Lake and 20 Mile Bay. I feel as if I was destined to travel.

Today we are off to Disneyland. The hardest part isn’t my time off. The problem is returning to work. All this time off is getting me to plan for retirement. Which is in 15 years. Which is going to come damn fast if I keep working.

While at work I look forward to my next vacation. While on vacation- I do not think about work. It’s pretty awesome. But I don’t ever want to return to work. That’s the new dilemma. All my extra time has spoiled me.

It’s just too much time off.

Photos, Fire, and a Friend

Thursday at Twenty Mile Bay was filled with a couple of long hikes and a few big meals. After breakfast, we ventured around the campsite along the water’s edge and capture some amazing pictures, and a little snake.

We did a ton of artsy pictures throughout the day. My daughters and I discussed photography (as I took it in High School, and they are as well). So we tried to out do one another.

The end of the day, we sat around the campfire and tossed in some Mystical Fire to add some colours to the flames.

It was a great way to end our last night of camping.

Rain? Only for Half a Day

Wednesday started with a light rain. Between the short bursts of showers, we made scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast then went for a hike.

Periodically it rained throughout the morning and early afternoon. Just a few drops, but enough that we stayed at our shelter and played cards most of the day.

Just before dinner, we hit the beach again and played in the water. It was far warmer out that way than at our campsite in the forest.

My son built a small shelter from some drift wood throughout the day. He wanted to sleep in it, but we couldn’t allow that. The night ended with more card games and lots of laughs.