The Downtown Disney/Newport Beach Birthday Trip

Yes, we did it. We finally decided to go forward with staying at the beach, booking outside dining at Tommy Bahama in Newport Beach for my birthday dinner, and the next day lunch and shopping at Downtown Disney. It was pretty awesome. And we felt totally safe. People were wearing masks (definitely at Disney) and most other places we went, too. Life felt almost normal – certainly nothing like what you read in the media. Ugh!

The tyrant governor newsom should investigate his “data” a little more thoroughly and figure out where, exactly, these spikes are coming from and the reasons for them. Because I could see no reason for them or the closures where we were. Of course, we stayed outside and chose wisely. It did seem a bit more loose when we drove by the donut shop on Newport Beach. People were wearing masks but I couldn’t say they stood 6 feet away from each other. Maybe that doesn’t matter as much if you’re wearing a mask?

Here are some photos from the trip starting with the birthday dinner at Tommy Bahama, Newport Beach, kicking it off with a Mai Tai:

First Sip

Incredible Calamari with Cilantro Slaw (shared appetizer)

Rich’s Ribs

Kathy’s Coconut Shrimp

Key Lime Pie to share (Rich insisted – lol)

First Cut

First Bite

Evening walk on Huntington Beach

Everything was delicious and we took half the rack of ribs and a couple of shrimp back to our beach hotel for dinner the next night.

The next day we drove to Downtown Disney at around 11 am to secure a parking spot in Simba Parking Lot before it was full.

The CMs teased us that Rich was wearing an Angels mask, and Kathy was wearing a Dodgers mask (to match her blue outfit,she explained). Yeah, right, they said – lol!

Not sure a Dodgers mask goes with a Mickey hat – lol!

We stood in line for about half an hour for entry to World of Disney (nothing compared to those who arrive later in the day).

In line, waiting to enter the World of Disney

After the walk from the Simba parking lot, temp check, and security, 30 minutes in line for World of Disney, 45 minutes and $200 of shopping later, we were desperate to take off our masks at the Uva Bar and have a drink and some lunch.

Scanning the menu from the iPhone

Rich toasts Kathy’s birthday with a glass of Spanish Chardonnay

Enjoying the atmosphere, company, and refreshments at the Uva Bar in Downtown Disney

Rich’s Fish Tacos (Garlic Fries substituted for Sweet Potato Fries)

Kathy’s American Cheeseburger, Garlic Fries, and a Glass of Argentinian Malbec

Lunching at the Uva Bar at Downtown Disney was Magical! We felt safe and it was so like us that we didn’t even feel cheated that Disneyland or DCA weren’t open. We’re just waiting for the Grand Californian to reopen. Oh, and our server noticed the Angels and Dodgers masks and said her boyfriend was Angels but she was Dodgers. lol! The food was delicious and we took half the fries back to our beach hotel for dinner, but they didn’t heat up well. Darn! They were so yummy!

We returned to our beach hotel and admired our World of Disney shopping haul: Baby Yoda plush, 65th Anniversary Photo Frame, “the child” top for Kathy, coral top for Kathy, the Mandalorian t-shirt for Rich, Disneyland 65th Anniversary socks for Rich, Star Wars mask for Rich, Baby Yoda mask, and Mickey Mouse mask (matches her purse) for Kathy.

All in all, it was an awesome and much-needed trip and great birthday celebration even though we were originally disappointed that Napa Rose wouldn’t be open. It was nice to change it up. We’ll see what’s open for Rich’s birthday.

We’ll be uploading some new videos on YouTube.

Breaking News: California Shutdowns (including Orange County)

When I lived in California, I must confess I sometimes flipped people off. Okay, I was much younger then, but how can you not do that as part of the California lifestyle? Thankfully, since I left, I don’t think I’ve flipped anybody off – lol!

But I’m now ready to flip off California itself after that ridiculous Governor declared shut downs for 19 counties, including Orange County. I can’t really celebrate my birthday in my beloved childhood county (indoor restaurants closed and beach parking closed), my annual tradition whenever I’m not living in Florida.

We cancelled the trip. I think. How could we not? What are we supposed to do, order delivery from our hotel room? Peek at the ocean as we drive down PCH? I can’t imagine that Downtown Disney will open at all until later because these shut downs aren’t just for the 4th of July weekend, but for the next 3 weeks. Not much of a celebration. Will keep abreast, though.

 Screen shot of the video so it’s a bit screwy

San Diego is not on that list nor Napa, Sonoma, or San Mateo. So there are other counties to visit, but the birthday trip is a short trip and we cannot really go beyond Orange County. If things change in Orange County for our August trip, we might go then. But I’m sad and mad, having looked forward to this trip for so long.

In the meantime, Plan B is a staycation at Caesar’s Palace. Drinks out by the pool and a nice dinner out.

I really like how the Florida governor is handling this. Check out what he said in this post.

I did a little research on Governor Newsom and he is a typical Bay Area liberal – I lived there for 23 years and I recognize the sort. I also learned he’s another one of those Democratic Catholics I disagree with. So, having discovered he’s a fellow Catholic, I may have to forgive him. Okay, so maybe I won’t flip him off. 🙂

But reading this pisses me off all over again.

 

 

Why Did We Leave Las Vegas?”

The question we’ve asked ourselves more than once during this long, arduous time has been, “Why did we leave Las Vegas?” If we hadn’t, we could have avoided much of the emotional and financial stress, although nobody has any idea what they would have to deal with had they taken a different road.

It would have been comforting to have been in familiar surroundings during all of this, like the second time around when we moved back into our home. But we sold the Vegas home before we moved to Florida last time, and that enabled us to buy the Florida home. That had been a difficult decision to make and we almost didn’t. Still, there were reasons to go. But if we’d known we would leave Las Vegas only to return to Las Vegas, I doubt we would have left. I guess that’s why you can’t see into the future.

When I started thumbing through our photos and vids, I remembered all the fun and excitement of our 18 months in Florida the last time around, including building a beautiful home in a golf course community near the beach. A dream come true! So I put together a video to be able to remember and reflect on that special time in our lives, even with all its difficulties.

This video takes you from the “Welcome to Florida” sign to landing in a local apartment, to house hunting, touring model homes, picking out options from the model home, beaches, tiki bars, Walt Disney World, and the last few gorgeous sunsets from our Florida home.

I now have the answer to the question, “Why did we leave Las Vegas?” We would have missed out on all of this:

Hope you enjoy. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you.

French Martini & Cocktail Video (Inspired by Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, California, Florida)

With the release of French Martini on Kindle, I was inspired to create a video looking back at our life through cocktails – lol! This was so much fun to put together (PS – a link to a recipe for a French Martini is in the video description). Enjoy! Also, please subscribe, like, and/or comment on the video. Thank you!

Our Last Trip to Disneyland (#Covid-19)

During this time of isolation, we’ve been binge-watching our favorite Disney and Cruise YouTube channels, namely (in no particular oder) The Daily Woo, Best Life and Beyond, Fresh Baked, Mr. CheezyPop, CruiseTipsTV, Tim Tracker, Scott Singer Cruises, and even peeked into Sharon at Sea.

And uploading some of our own videos, too, especially since this Oasis of the Seas video has now had over 14.5K views (and climbing). Our latest upload is the 3-Part series from “Our Last Trip to Disneyland” last summer to celebrate Rich’s milestone birthday. So glad we went!

Our Last Trip to Disneyland (Disneyland Park)

Disneyland Hotel Tour and Birthday Dinner at Catal

Walt’s Favorite Cocktail at Carthay Circle and Other DCA Fun

Nothing fancy here – just a collection of photos and video taken on our iPhone from the trip.

Hope you enjoy!

Turning 29 Again at Disneyland, Day 2, Part 2: DCA

We entered Security at DD but it was a breeze, although Rich did have to remove his celebration pin. When we headed through the DCA gates, the CM said, “You need to have a real birthday button” and told us where to get it inside DCA. So we stopped in at the 5 and Dime and got one. They were so friendly and wished Rich a “Happy Birthday” and gave me one that said, “I’m Celebrating with Rich.”

It was hot and we were early for our Lamplight Lounge ressie, so we decided to have a drink at Carthay Circle Lounge, but, first, had to wait in line to be admitted. We were originally going to celebrate Rich’s birthday in the Carthay Circle Restaurant but decided to do Catal the night before and not use up our park time for a sit down dinner.

After about 10 minutes, we were admitted and seated in a cozy table for two. I had the amazing “Carthay Martini,” of course, and Rich had a “Scotch Mist,” considered to be “Walt’s drink of choice,” which is now Rich’s drink of choice.

We were enjoying the atmosphere so much, we decided to order a snack. We got the Vietnamese Beef Tacos, which were so scrumptious! We had an awesome server (Mark) who teased us about hearing Lamplight Lounge call us when we asked for the check. Next time, we’ll just stay there.

Scotch Mist: known to be Walt’s drink of choice – Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch with a Lemon Peel served over Crushed Ice

Carthay Martini: classically prepared with Hendrick’s Gin or Double Cross Vodka, Lillet Blanc Dry Vermouth and Gourmet Blue Cheese Truffle Olives served with an Ice Sphere

Vietnamese Twice-cooked Beef Tacos with fresh Pineapple-Mint Salsa

We then moved on to Lamplight Lounge via the Golden Vine Vineyard and Winery, one of our old favorite hangouts.

Golden Vine Vineyard

Golden Vine Winery

We’d heard so much about the Lamplight Lounge, although we were not fans of the Cove Bar, which was the original watering hole here. The CMs were friendly enough and we had the most incredible Salmon Sandwich that we shared and would go back just for that, but the atmosphere was just “Meh.” I think it might be better outside after dark, but it was hot and we were happy to be seated inside.

Rich reads the Lamplight Lounge Menu

Salmon Sandwich Photo from Touring Plans

We walked around and caught up with new stuff on Pixar Pier, shared a Churro (not the best – better at Fantasyland cart), rode Little Mermaid, Luigis, and Mater for the first time, which we now love more than Luigis. We stopped in at the Cozy Cone for an ice cream cone. We also did our Radiator Springs Racers watch after dark, which is so awesome. Watching may be even more fun than riding, especially with the 90-minute wait.

Stopping for a Churro

Luigi’s

The Cozy Cone

Pixar Pier

Our Lamplight Lounge Video (from iPhone)

Our Radiator Springs Racers Video (from iPhone)

We did our usual peek-in at the merch at Rushin River Outfitters, but didn’t find anything. The atmosphere at night is just so awesome. We walked through the GC on our way out, with a quick walk through the gift shop, a breeze through Security, and a walk back through DD, which was pretty quiet on a Sunday night.

Rich and the Hat he did not get

Overall, it was a very special birthday for Rich (and me), and we had a lot of fun, although the 7.5 miles would take a while to recover from. 🙂

 

 

Turning 29 Again at Disneyland, Day 2, Part 1

For the intro (rant) for Day 2, click on this post. To pick up with Disneyland, continue reading below.

Eventually… we moved step by step to the front gates and we entered with our mobile ticket and at one point thought we were getting early admission. But no, they now let guests line up at the beginning of each land, instead of holding you on Main Street. Alas, no joy there so we turned around and went to the Market, the only place open, for some breakfast.

I found a seat and Rich got us a couple of coffees and two chocolate croissants, whic were truly amazingly delicious. We enjoyed our breakfast, and made our way to Frontierland, which had a humongous line for the Galaxy’s Edge ride, whatever that’s called, I can never remember (Millennium Falcon).

We decided to sit down at a table in front of Jolly Holiday, which was not yet open, and waited for the park to open and the crowd to die down. Our main objective was to get to Oga’s Cantina for our 10:45 reservation.

The park opened and the line began moving and we weren’t sure what the best way to get to Oga’s Cantina was. We asked a security guard and he told us the most direct way would be through the gate past Big Thunder Mountain. We headed that way, but a CM redirected us to the gate past Hungry Bear Restaurant, which, apparently, is the only gate open at park opening.

We noticed Haunted Mansion was empty, so we jumped in an almost nonexistent line and got right on the ride, which was so cool since it was the 50th anniversary of its opening. That was fun. We were moving so fast, we forgot to take any pics.

Then we found our way to Galaxy’s Edge and noticed the line for the ride was humongous. We passed on that – have no interest in that ride – and had to ask for directions on how to get to Oga’s Cantina. Galaxy’s Edge is open and empty and hard to find anything because of the almost nonexistent, non descript signage. I predict they will have to fix this land, more signage, snack and drink options, and Disneyfy it the way they had to do for Epcot and DCA.

We checked into Oga’s and were seated at a booth with one other couple, but then they left and a few adults with about 6-8 kids sat their kids down at the booth while they all stood at a nearby table. The kids misbehaved and took over the table. Eventually, the CM came by and I stood to tell her we were not with them and were there first. She snapped at me with, “I’m aware of that.” Okie dokie!

We got our drinks: Margarita for me (Outer Rim), and a Bourbon thing for Rich (Jet Juice), which he pronounced as very good. We were next to DJ Rex, so I got up and danced with him, taking video and having a really good time. Going in, we thought we’d want to get a booth, but ended up enjoying standing and walking around more. It was a really fun atmosphere and inspired me to produce more DJ-type music. So fun!!!

After our drink and our 45 minutes were up, we asked directions for Ronto Roasters and each got a Ronto Wrap (delicious!) Then we made our way out of Galaxy’s Edge, and out of the park. My hip was starting to hurt and we’d accomplished what we’d set out to accomplish at Disneyland. Time to nap at the Disneyland Hotel to rest up for the evening at DCA. But we did stop off at Salt & Straw to get a cup of ice cream to share and the CM gave it to Rich for free for his birthday (he was wearing the hotel “I’m Celebrating” button — more on birthday pins later).

Impressions of Galaxy’s Edge — I thought I’d be more excited about a new land at Disneyland, but it just wasn’t my thing, at least, not yet. Oga’s Cantina was the real star – that was my favorite part about Star Wars. Ronto Roasters and the shops were fun. Rich got a Black Spire Output t-shirt, which is cool. We’d like to go back to Oga’s and maybe eat at Docking Bay.

Photos below (no captions, self-explanatory, I think). Videos following photos.

YouTube Videos:

Main Street, Part 1

Main Street, Part 2

Waiting for Rope Drop

Millennium Falcon Line at Jolly Holiday

Millennium Falcon Line Starts to Move

Chewy at Galaxy’s Edge

First Look at Oga’s Cantina

DJ Rex at Oga’s Cantina

Oga’s Cantina Cocktails at the Bar

 

Turning 29 Again at Disneyland Resort, Day 1, Part 1

If you’d like to peek ahead, check out the Rich’s Birthday at Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland playlist on YouTube.

We’d had many plans for Rich’s birthday – when we were living in Florida we’d even booked a Med cruise, but, alas, with the move back west, we had to scale down those plans. But celebrating at Disney is always fun, right?

Staying onsite these days is reserved for special events, and this was pretty special, so we booked the Disneyland Hotel. Unsure about our future travel plans and with the AP we were interested in blocked still, we did not purchase an AP, but got a one-day park hopper to focus on catching up with what’s new, such as Galaxy’s Edge.

While Rich got in the check-in line, Kathy waited in the tea cup in the lobby, and after dropping off our bags in our pool view room, we changed into our swimsuits with a stop at Tangaroa Terrace for some lunch. We snagged a table outside, Rich ordered a Mai Tai and Kathy a Margarita, shared some Pulled Pork Nachos, and an order of Asian Chicken Wings. Tasty and refreshing. It was a hot afternoon and the whole pool area (Tangaroa Terrace) was packed.

After our lunch snack, we headed for the pool, but no chairs were available so like many others, we stacked our stuff on a cement wall and jumped in the pool for a refreshing dip. When we returned to our stuff, this big guy was sitting on our stuff but when I said, “You’re sitting on our stuff,” he got up and just stood there while we got dressed. Really strange, if not rude.

After the pool, we rested until time to get ready for Rich’s birthday dinner at Catal (and Kathy snuck in some birthday room decorations while Rich was out of the room).

 

 

 

Port Canaveral: Cruising from Central Florida

Looking back at our most recent time living in Central Florida, we feel immense gratitude for yet another Florida adventure, this time living closer to the beach than Disney World, enjoying beach bars and hanging out at Port Canaveral.

We even celebrated Rich’s birthday cruising to the Bahamas on the Carnival Liberty. So I put together a little video celebrating that time.

Port Canaveral is expanding so whether you’re a local, cruising solely, or combining your cruise with a trip to Disney World, I hope you enjoy it. If so, please like and subscribe to this blog and on youtube.

Thank you!

#Mexico #cruising #Princess #Carnival #Liberty #Bahamas #cruising #Carnival #Cruises #CentralFlorida #DisneyWorld #Florida #fiction

 

 

2018 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Round One

So we couldn’t resist the Food and Wine Festival now that the Labor Day weekend and early vlogger crush was over. And we did it in such an awesome way.

We arrived a bit after 9 am and headed straight for the Festival Center for our AP Chef Mickey magnets. We also got the ornament/keychain (whichever works for you) and a gift card, which makes snack purchasing a snap.

Then we made our way to France for our usual beignet and champagne except that there were no beignets so Rich got us some yummy chocolate croissants instead.

We finished our bubbly outside in the shade but at around 10:30, we walked back to Ireland to see if they were opening early and they did. We were first in line and the only downside was that the chocolate shavings for the Guinness Baileys Shake hadn’t arrived yet. But the chocolate cake provided the chocolate after all. And, oh yeah, the Irish Sausage with colcannon  potatoes and onion gravy made for an awesome savory breakfast after the sweets in France.

This totally lived up to the rave reviews we’d heard about and hope to return for seconds and thirds on future visits.

After all of this deliciousness, we headed back to France for the official rope drop at 11 am and stopped in Spain for some chicken and sausage paella and wine flight.

After that it was China for my very favorite Shrimp and Garlic Noodles! Yum!! Rich can’t eat shrimp so he got some kind of Chinese Pancake. We shared everything else.

By this time we were pretty full so our next and final stop for this tasting was in Mexico for the Mariachinand Aye Carrimba Margaritas. Both were interesting but not my favorites by a long shot.

It was very hot, we walked 4.5 miles and were exhausted the next day, although no other aches and pains. The heat really wears you out. We hope to make it back 2 or 3 more times because we barely got starte, but we’ll see. Along about now, a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge sounds a bit more relaxing/refreshing. 🙂

Rich’s Birthday Cruise to the Bahamas, Day Three, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Port Canaveral/Nassau 3-night cruise
What: Carnival Liberty
When: August 9-12, 2018
Why: Rich’s Birthday Celebration

We finished getting ready after packing and showering and headed for the Alchemy Bar. This time Rich had the Caribbean Old-Fashioned (Rum), and I had the Antioxidant. Our favorite server arrived with snacks – thank goodness because I was starving – lol!

Our view from the Alchemy Bar

Caribbean Old-Fashioned

The AntiOxidant

Mixed Nuts, Cheese, Kalamata Olives

We then headed to the Steakhouse for dinner. Rich’s report is next.