Driving Day

Today we embarked on a 12 hour road trip from our home to Grande Prairie, Alberta. It started off with us being an hour behind schedule. No big deal- I was able to... ahem... make up the time while driving.

We whipped through Kamloops with a quick stop for gas. Then off to Jasper for a late lunch and of course- trains. Plus amazing beer and food! We had nachos and Wild Boar Steam Buns all at the Jasper Brewing. I highly recommend the Boar and “Jasper the Bear Ale”.

It was a beautiful day to drive through the mountains from British Columbia to Alberta. We watched the sun set and the sky change colours. Absolutely stunning.

Now it’s time to unwind in the hotel room and mentally prepare for the next couple of days. A quick dip in the pool and finish my blog is a great way to end a 12 hour drive.

Winter Won’t End

It seems winter isn’t over quite yet. At least here it isn’t. I’m really happy about it as well.

What is funny was our oldest daughter wanted to shovel the driveway after this afternoon’s snowfall. I didn’t want to stop her, so I didn’t. This snow may last only a day or two before thawing into spring. For my family though- this winter will continue for another couple of weeks. We just received some good news.

Our son has earned a spot at the Canada West Speed Skating Championship in Grand Prairie, Alberta in mid-March. He successfully competed in Prince George last weekend to earn this spot. This time, I’ll be taking our son. My wife is thinking she may join me in order to avoid Airport Goodbyes. This is really exciting for us. Our son has worked hard towards this.

So it seems winter will be lasting a bit longer- and I couldn’t be happier.

Airport Goodbyes

Rarely have my wife or I traveled by plane without the other. In fact today is only the third time since we met in the year 2000 that this is occurring. The first time was about fifteen years ago when I had to travel to Toronto for work and be away for two weeks. The second was my wife taking our middle daughter for a cheerleading competition in Los Angeles a few years ago.

This weekend is also for one of our kids- our son. He is competing in a speed skating competition in Northern BC. My wife has chosen to take him this weekend, and if he is successful- I’ll be taking him to the next one in a couple of weeks.

Today was a quick drop off at the airport. I had barely stopped the car and the two of them had jumped out and were on their way. A quick hug for me and that was it. Their short flight had them flying off in a small plane. They even landed before I had a chance to finish driving home and writing this blog.

I wish I had a longer goodbye, but it wasn’t necessary this time around. They’ll be back home by Sunday. But I’ll still miss them. Wishing I could be there to show support to our son. I can’t wait to hear the results of his meet.

Taking This City for Granted

I’m always excited to travel to other countries, states, provinces, and visit different cities. I enjoy driving around certain cities such as Los Angeles or Calgary. Some of my favorite cities to walk around are Seattle, Tokyo, and San Jose. As well as the beaches of California and Hawaii. And of course, Disneyland.

Our adventures over the years have taken us to see some beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes. From unique architecture to forests to parks to beaches. But I forget that Vancouver is unique and beautiful in its own way. With many of the things I have experienced elsewhere.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work downtown Vancouver. It made me want to come down to this city more often. I’ve begun to take the time and just wander around Vancouver as well as take in a Hockey Game with my son. Vancouver has parks and architecture that you can only find here.

The outskirts of Vancouver boast beautiful trails located in many municipalities; and White Rock’s beaches aren’t crowded. This year, we aren’t planning any big trips or vacations. I’m going to plan more daily explorations of our current stomping grounds. Let’s share what the Lower Mainland has to offer.

By all means, give me some ideas of places to visit and things to do. No need to keep secrets about this exquisite locale we call home.

Taking a Quick Survey

Sometimes I enjoy taking online surveys. I try my best to answer as honestly as possible. Multiple choice ratings with specifically designed questions that would still give a vague answer… not always true to what I want representing my feelings. How does one express themselves then?

After I completed my optional Disneyland survey, I decided that it wasn’t quite enough. I had more opinions to share about my previous experience last weekend. Since I was already at the computer, I figured I’d email them as well. We had some great experiences that I wanted some cast members to be recognized for.

But as I began writing my email, I realized that there was a few not so positive aspects that I felt needed to be addressed. I don’t usually complain or rant, but by the end of my email- that’s exactly what I had done. So I took a day to reflect and then re-read before hitting “Send”.

It was a bit satisfying to Let It Go. Who knows if my opinion matters. Maybe my email just ends up in a slush pile of typical complaining. Maybe not. Only time will tell.

But for now, we don’t really have a plan to return to Disneyland any time soon.

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.