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.

I Love Masks, Fireworks, the Making of Frozen II, Disney World, and Church

This morning we stopped at Albertson’s for our weekly grocery shopping and for the first time since “The Bob,” I was actually in a grocery store. It was early on a Sunday morning so it wasn’t busy at all, especially the morning after the 4th of July firework shows lasting until well past midnight. Really cool displays all around us, so that was fun, but eventually, I really wanted to get to sleep. 🙂

Anyway, I realized wearing my mask this morning that I was starting to like it, if not love it, because it gives me my own personal space from other people. I didn’t have a panic attack. My ears didn’t hurt. I didn’t get a headache, although it wasn’t for that long of a time. Honestly, we both hope that some of these “social distancing” measures stay in place well beyond this Pandemic. We don’t need to sit or stand up close to strangers. We don’t need to dine so close, you can hear others’ conversations and vice versa. Dining alfesco can be pretty awesome.

We’ve been watching the making of Frozen II on Disney Plus. Totally LOVE it!!! I or rather we both prefer this over the making of the Mandalorian, although that’s cool, too, but much more technical. The making of Frozen II has story and music and animation and reminds us both of our Silicon Valley days. Stressful, yes, hard work – oh yeah, but a heckuva lot of fun!

Since I’m now retired from the tech world but spending my days writing and producing music, I miss that interaction. Writing and music are both so solitary. I mean, I love my alone time, but I also like some communal teamwork time, too. Anyway, it’s inspired me to act as if I have a team – lol! I’ve got plans to decorate my studio accordingly.

Adam the Woo flew to Orlando yesterday so I’m looking forward to seeing his videos (and others) of the opening of the parks in WDW. Still haven’t heard exactly if/how Downtown Disney is going to open on Thursday so we can make more concrete plans. Really frustrated with Disneyland or rather California and thinking of seeing if we can do WDW later this year.

Just when we were able to get back to church, we got word that our priest was exposed to “the Bob” and so he will be quarantining for the next couple weeks and there will be no church services.

 

Birthday Trip: The “Plan C” Compromise

One reason I was up at first light is that I was thinking about Plan B (staying at Caesar’s), instead of driving to SoCal (Plan A) after Governor Newsom “dimmed” the lights on outside dining, bars, etc. At bedtime, we were both excited about Plan B. But somewhere during the night, I came up with Plan C, which is a bit of Plan A (SoCal) and Plan B (Vegas).

I still wanted to go to SoCal – it’s been too long since we’ve been during this house building project, and I need to see, smell, and hear the ocean. I need a road trip. It’s my birthday. So we will do the big dining celebration here in Vegas (Border Grill, one of my favorites), and then drive to SoCal for my birthday for a couple of days. It looks like Downtown Disney will open as planned with outside dining restrictions. You can read about it on AllEars. And we can drive down PCH to enjoy the ocean, and maybe even find a beach.

The other mood enhancers for today have been watching some DIS videos – here and here. I totally wouldn’t mind owning a Disney vacation home. 🙂

And I’m missing cruising. If you’re missing cruising, too, enjoy a virtual cruise here.

 

 

Las Vegas Showgirls Wearing Masks

When I saw this photo, I’m pretty sure I must have flashed a huge smile. Showgirls in masks. Gotta love Las Vegas!

The governor of Nevada is starting to win me over, especially when he said how “Nevadans are independent people.” Oh yeah! But he also asked that we show our independent spirit by each donning a mask. lol!

I do wear a mask when I’m out in public, but I also don’t choose to go out in public very often. It was okay during church, but I really struggle when shopping. Like today, we went to a couple of furniture stores shopping around for a living room chair. Looking down at the tags, my glasses slip off my nose (that’s what your nose is for if you’re a glass-wearer – not masks), and when I shove them back on, they fog up. Really an unpleasant experience. So I get it the resistance not to wear them. But if it’s true wearing a mask is the difference between spreading “the Bob” and not spreading it, I’m pretty sure we must wear them.

On a side note, I was watching the Tracker Live show today where they were talking about theme park news, and then, of course, a little peek at Jackson, who is so cute! But must Jenn talk about his bodily functions all the time? And breast feeding?

It reminds me of when we’d drive to the Central Valley from Orange County to visit my step dad’s family. Inevitably, the men would go out to the front porch and talk while eventually, a few people would jump in the car to get some rock salt (I was usually in that car) to make some home made ice cream. The men would take turns with the crank, and the women would sit in the living room and talk about babies, ad nauseum.

I, of course, would be sitting with the men on the porch. Their conversations were much more interesting, even if only because they weren’t talking about babies. Ah, how I miss those days. Never thought I’d say that – lol – but the problem with everything being online today, especially today, is that you can’t just leave the conversation when the women (and now men, it seems) start chatting about their kids bodily functions, breast milk going sour, etc, etc.

You know, I did all of that as a kid, although back then babies were mostly bottle-fed. I helped raise my half-brother and half-sister. I heated the milk, fed them a bottle, Gerber’s baby food, burped them, changed diapers, emptied the “diaper pail.” (Now here I am talking about those same things I dislike hearing about – Ooops!)

Anyway, all I wanted to do was to grow up and be an adult. Progress. Move on. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the lifestyle working in Silicon Valley. Maybe that’s also why I enjoyed trips to Las Vegas from San Francisco. And maybe that’s why I, for the most part, love living in Las Vegas.

I miss having easy access to Disney and the beach (or at least, what used to be easy), but Vegas is where you can hang out without kids. Because even cruise ships are all about families it seems today. Cruising also used to be more about adults. You can’t even go to work and enjoy that same kid-free zone when they have “take your kid to work day.” lol!

(Okay, I absolutely adore kids at Disney, so don’t go all crazy on me. Time and place. Time and place.)

YUM!

What I Love Most About Disney World (#myHappyPlace)

Disneyland is my home park, having grown up 8 miles from there. It sends me back to my childhood in a flash.

But what I love about Disney World over Disneyland are the resorts! I can (and do) just hang out there and have a ball. So, I’m really enjoying the videos from vloggers who are posting from the resorts.

Here’s one we watched over lunch and it really lifted our spirits. We’re wondering now if we should try to book a stay this fall, if we get the opportunity. Might be more fun than dealing with all this Disneyland (and California) crap.

(Ooops! I meant to be all positive and happy here.)

Anyway, see if this puts a smile on your face:

Disney World, Disneyland, Protests, Birthday Trip, The Bob, and Other Ramblings

Like most of my ramblings, similar to Adam the Woo’s, these are just thoughts rambling around my brain at the moment. And most are based on what I’m watching and reading. To hear Adam’s thoughts about Disneyland opening, check out today’s video. I totally can’t wait to be in the neighborhood again! I am so missing my SoCal life!!

It was good to see Pete and friends of the DIS dining at the Wave at Disney World. It’s also nice to see what progress is being made at a Disney theme park I might actually go to. With no word on what will be open at Downtown Disney when it opens July 9, it’s hard to make birthday dinner plans. Hope we get some news soon, or we might be planning a trip back to Florida – lol.

It’s disheartening to read reports of spikes in “the Bob.” In spite of my resistance to being told to wear a mask, just know that I do wear one in requested places, and I expect others to do the same. A lot of talk about these spikes but nobody seems to remember the protests where thousands of people across the country (and world) stood shoulder to shoulder without wearing one.

Speaking of protests, I must say, this is what I like to see: members of the BLM movement with peaceful police interaction, although I wish the BLM person had been wearing a mask. I applaud him for approaching the officer and asking if he thought he was a bad person for protesting (or something like that).

Orange County Register, June 24, 2020

We are planning the birthday trip carefully, choosing to avoid places with crowds, although if we were to go to Downtown Disney, I’m trusting Disney will enforce social distancing. All of this remains to be seen. Just wish they would release the specifics of what they’re planning.

FreshBaked was recently in Palm Springs and concerned over the lack of social distancing with the crowds and wondering if we’re ready for Disneyland to open, if this is the way people insist on behaving. The difference is, I would think, is that Disney will enforce it. Palm Springs isn’t, at least not out on the sidewalks.

As Adam the Woo said, Disney seems to be ready, but the public may not be.

 

All of Life is an Argument: Church, Masks, Disney vs Cruising, etc.

I’m happy to say I finally made it back to church and wore my Angels mask for an hour. I’d tried the neck thingie first, but it felt too claustrophobic with too much material, too tight around my neck, and overall felt more uncomfortable even though it was thinner. I mean, it was 102 yesterday.

But, have you noticed, I mean, how could you not, right? How all of life has become political? Every little thing you say or do is now scrutinized and judged. and argued Whether it’s going to the grocery store, eating in a restaurant, wearing a mask, opening Disney parks or cruise ships, or not, etc., etc.

There is such passion around the tiniest piece of life today and it’s all made political whether you want it to be or mean it to be or not. All of these arguments taking place on social media and behind-the-scenes are now internalized so that should you make what seems to you to be an innocent comment, the person shouts at you as if you’re arguing with him/her because the arguments (s)he’s been involved in are taking place in his/h34 head. The audience he/she) is now speaking to has changed, but his/her way of communicating has not.

For example:

  • I read in the paper about the phases of re/opening and the governor shouts “it’s science!”
    Who said it wasn’t? Not I.
  • The priest at the church says we must all wear masks and he is enforcing it, stating what he told one person who disagreed with him, “use your brain.”
    Okay, I think we all were wearing masks at the time he stated this.
  • I hang out with a cruise channel’s impromptu live chat last night to talk about the latest news that all cruise lines have suspended sailing until fall. We’re talking about “plan B.” I mention my plan B is Disney, but that’s tricky, too, because it’s all a waiting situation in both. She goes on a rampage about how cruise ships are safe and cleaner than any Disney park with rides and kids, and all the ICK that goes with it.
    I wasn’t engaged in a “what’s worse argument.” Besides, who says we’re talking about rides? We do what they do on cruise ships – mostly eat and drink.
  • A vlogger talks about Disneyland opening and his companion insists quite passionately that Disney parks cannot open before professional sports.
    Wow!

It’s all wearing me out.

I read this cool quote from one of the desert fathers (from the Wisdom of the Desert), and I think he may have been onto something (similar to Matthew 10:14):

If anyone speaks to you about any matter, do not argue with him. But if he speaks rightly, say, “Yes.” If he speaks wrongly, say to him, “You know what you are saying.” But do not argue with him about the things he has said. Thus, your mind will be at peace.

 

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.

Knotts, Disney Springs, and Las Vegas (#Covid19)

Fresh Baked, the Woo, and BLAB got a lot of crap for how they met up the day Knott’s Berry Farm Marketplace opened with social distancing guidelines in place. Wrongly so in my opinion – the crap, not the gathering.

Disney Shanghai is getting ready to open with social distancing guidelines in place. You can watch a video that David of FreshBaked shared here.

Disney Springs is opening on May 20 with just a few non-Disney restaurants like Wine Bar George. (Why Tim Tracker will not be going).

Las Vegas sit-down restaurants with safety measures in place are starting to open today, May 9, 2020.

Everybody reacts differently to being sequestered at home for an extended period of time. Extroverts need people – that’s what energizes them. Introverts tend to stay home more anyway so it may not be as obviously painful. But, for me, as an introvert, I’ve struggled mentally with the lack of freedom to move around. For me and the world at large. I need other people to be out and about, even if I’m not.

So how do I feel about these openings? Will I be among the first to get out and about? Well, I must say I’m happy to see things starting to open, that people have more freedom moving around, that people are getting back to work and small businesses will be coming operational.

But as a people-watcher, sitting in the car while Rich shopped for groceries, watching people wearing masks, I began to feel like I was watching a horror movie and I’m so not into that. I realized then that as long as masks are required, I won’t be there. That’s what I’m thinking right now.

I might not mind CMs, servers, and clerks, etc. wearing them. It could seem like part of their uniform. I’d hoped I could imagine masks on guests (especially themed masks) as part of a masquerade party. We’ve ordered both Dodgers and Angels masks (the Disney masks on ShopDisney aren’t available until July) to wear out instead of our usual generic white masks. But watching the shoppers wearing their generic masks? Like they’d escaped some hospital or something worse? That’s not magic. That’s a horror film.

 

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!

Sharing Positivity in the Writing, Disney, and Cruise Communities

During this difficult time, I noticed that writers are actively seeking out other writer’s books, asking where to buy them, and cruise/Disney vloggers are actively uploading vids that are uplifting. I love this.

One of the cruise vloggers (Scott Singer Cruises) I subscribe to uploaded a vlog from his 2019 Alaska cruise this morning. I noticed it really picked people up. For me, too. So I started sorting through some of my travel and cruise videos and uploading them.

And why not combine both – my love for travel, cruising, and writing books set on cruise ships and other touristy locales. Here are some links you night be interested in:

Travel Blog (Two4Disney) – Covers Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, and other Travels with a link to my novels, too.

Two4Disney on YouTube – A few of our travel adventures uploaded in small bites. More to come. Not much of a channel yet, but why not subscribe and let’s build this thing together.

Screamie Birds Studios – My writing/music web site where I keep you up-to-date on my latest music and fiction creations.

 

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).