“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day One, Part Two

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

Picking up the story where we left off in Part 1 (pulling over to figure out how to get to 405S and to make arrangements for Skipper with our pet sitter), we found our way to the freeway, amazingly enough. We were both quite devastated over the news and I suggested we cancel my birthday dinner at Napa Rose and just rest up at the hotel before boarding our ship the next day. The good news was that when we picked up our car in the Emerald Aisle, a black Challenger just like ours at home was sitting there waiting for us. Amazing. We’ve never seen a sporty car like that in the Emerald Aisle. So we were at least feeling comfortable driving a familiar car in the midst of all this craziness.

We were also happy we’d chosen the Residence Inn in Garden Grove just a few miles from Disneyland. We’d stayed there many times when we came in from Las Vegas and it felt like home. We’d booked and unbooked so many choices before we finally settled on this hotel, and we were glad we’d stuck with this choice. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we decided we should go ahead and celebrate and keep our dinner reservation at Napa Rose. Skipper would have wanted it that way.

We checked in and relaxed for a few hours and then valet parked the car at the Grand Californian. Unfortunately, the porte cochere was under some sort of refurbishment and we had to park over by the Conference Center, which meant a roundabout walk to the lobby. We admired the lobby, the oh so familiar Hearthstone Lounge, and our favorite gift shop before heading into Napa Rose a bit early. They seated us at a table in the Napa Rose Lounge and asked if I’d like a birthday pin. I said yes and we ordered a couple of glasses of MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir for old times’ sake.

Rich will write about the actual dinner. But let me say that this was our best experience at Napa Rose and the Napa Rose staff surprised me with so many wonderful birthday touches – far more than they had before. Maybe because Andrew Sutton was in the house and everybody outdid themselves. 🙂

And now for a few pics – we’d made a pact that we wouldn’t take any photos of each other because after travel day and the news about Skipper, we decided it would be best not to.

“Good Neighbor” Residence Inn Hotel along Hotel Row, Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove/Anaheim with our Black Challenger rental car (just like Home)

The Grand Californian Lobby – a site for sore eyes!

Our usual table at Hearthstone Lounge – ah….

A glass of MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir in the Napa Rose Lounge while we wait for our 7:30 p.m. reservation

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip (Pre-Trip Report) Updated

So excited, I’m jumping up and down! We’ve been going back and forth with how to celebrate my birthday in SoCal. Longing for home, we’ve booked and unbooked hotels near the beach, near Disneyland, and then finally booked a cruise. But I started to miss Disneyland. So, here are the latest plans:

Wednesday:

MCO to LAX, check into Anaheim Hilton. Dinner at Napa Rose

Thursday:

Drive to Huntington Beach, breakfast at Norm’s, then drive up PCH to Long Beach where we will board Carnival cruise ship at the new terminal – can’t wait to try the new terminal! Cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, round trip.

Friday:

Day at Sea – Sea Day Brunch, Chef’s Table birthday dinner

Saturday:

Ensenada – booked a wine and lunch excursion in the vineyards. Were so wowed by the vineyards in Ensenada several years ago. Who knew Ensenada had such a wine culture? You usually think of Tequila when you think of Mexico.

Sunday:

Return to Long Beach. Drive to Disneyland – get park hopper – do Disneyland in the morning, check into Anaheim Hilton for afternoon rest, and then back to DCA for the evening – Dinner at Carthay Circle (martinis and amazing biscuits, here we come!)

Monday:

LAX to MCO

I’m so stoked about getting to do Disneyland, the beach, and a cruise for my birthday! In the meantime, we’ve got a little overnight trip planned for Epcot and the MK as a pet sitter test run. She seems really great and was recommended by our visit but it’s always good to do a short trip close to home before flying across the country and going out to sea. Just in case anything needs to be ironed out.

 

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip (Pre-Trip Report)

You might recall we’d booked the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland Resort for my birthday in July. It’s a semi-milestone year for me and feeling homesick, I really want to get back to SoCal. On a side note, Valerie, our Vegas petsitter, originally from Long Beach, and her husband moved to Long Island, NY two years ago and she’s having the same homesickness. “I didn’t know it would be this hard,” she said. I knew it was hard, but I didn’t know I would miss “home” so much so early this time around.

Anyhoo, what to do, what to do to make the most of this trip to get that feeling of home? We have booked and unbooked and rebooked so many different things. Including Paradise Pier. Some of you may remember the time we stayed there about 10 years ago (the “Big Kahuna Family”) with all of our trials and said we’d never stay there again. For one thing, it’s an awfully long walk to the parks and you can no longer cut through the GC to get to DCA due to security reasons. Bummer!

And we love to cruise. And, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Flower & Garden post, we’re missing Mexico!

Really thinking hard about spending the whole trip hiking around the parks and getting to/from them, especially with this latest hip flare-up at Epcot. It’s too bad the GC is so outrageously expensive these days – that’s the resort we truly love. So we changed it up. Here are the new plans:

Wednesday:

MCO to LAX, check into Queen Mary area hotel (not staying at the Queen Mary again – yikes!) Have dinner/drinks at our favorite restaurants/bars on the Queen Mary.

Thursday:

Board Carnival cruise ship at the new Long Beach terminal – can’t wait to try the new terminal! Cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, round trip.

Friday:

Day at Sea – Sea Day Brunch

Saturday:

Ensenada – booked a wine and lunch excursion in the vineyards. Were so wowed by the vineyards in Ensenada several years ago. Who knew Ensenada had such a wine culture? You usually think of Tequila when you think of Mexico.

Sunday:

Return to Long Beach. Drive to Huntington Beach, grab a burger at In N out, catch up with my beach cities and check into hotel in Anaheim. Birthday dinner at Napa Rose that night.

Monday:

LAX to MCO

Valerie said she flew back to LA to visit family and it made being back in Long Island harder! I’m hoping that hitting the highlights in SoCal will satisfy that need and that returning to our beautiful home in the Orlando area will show me how great life is here.

Some of the fun we had at Hussong’s the last time we were in Ensenada:

Spring Cleaning

This weekend was another hellacious weekend. Stuck in limbo, not able to move forward at all. Worry, worry, fret, fret. House hunt day and night. We both had fitful nights sleep – both worried about going if we get a yes. Suddenly, we’re terrified of the whole idea of moving to Florida – we’ve done it twice and left twice.

This morning we talked it out and calmed down, eliminating Windermere or “Winder Fear” as we’re calling it. While there are some lures to that choice, it would probably mean close to an hour commute twice a day for Rich, and then I’d be home all day without a car.

I also have Lake Mary fears, although both Lake Mary and Windermere are highly-rated for places to live. I don’t know why I have Lake Mary fears. Maybe because of the hospital scare, and losing Buddy – both in Seminole County. I know that might seem a bit silly, but there it sits. I want to steer clear of either place.

The last time we lived in the Orlando area, Rich was working in Lake Mary and we lived nearby. That was very nice for sharing the car and for me getting out and about – even to Disney if I wanted.

I scoured the Lake Mary homes, but they’re in high-demand. When we started our search, there were several possibilities, but while we wait, they’re being snapped up.

I did find a property in a gated community that sounded familiar to me. And then I remembered driving by that neighborhood when it was just being built – isn’t that wild? Maybe it’s a sign. It would mean a short commute for Rich, and I’d have the car for the day on days I wanted/needed it.

There’s a lovely church in the area that would work for both properties. We went there last time. The convert priest has the very same background as Rich, growing up.

This area would give us normal life with access to the beach and Disney. We would be living halfway between Disney and the beach, just not Cocoa Beach, the way I’d imagined.

The latter house is a bit remote, but close to Rich’s work, and it has that Tampa Bay house vibe to it, complete with woods view, although the house is a bit big for us. We were trying to downsize – lol! But what we really want is a single story so just that in itself will be an improvement – it’s much harder to maintain a two-story house like we have now.

In the meantime, we’re continuing on with spring cleaning, stuff that needs to get done whether we stay or go.

We’ve done touch-up painting and baseboard repairing from when the renters were living here. We’ve scoured the closets and drawers, although we would need another round should we go.

Today the landscapers arrive for a general spruce up. We thought they’d never fit us into their schedule, but, finally, today is the day. We still need to schedule a few repairs: the front gas burner on the stove, the master bath toilet handle, the laundry room fan.

Writing this post, I’m getting a lot more excited by the possibilities of going. We’ll see…

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report TOC

Now that the “surprise” trip report is complete, I’ve added a TOC to link to each day’s posting, which can also be found on the “Disneyland Adventures” page. The trip was a much-needed Lenten retreat and break from the desert and the personal challenges we’ve been having with our little family.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to postpone our Food and Wine Festival trip due to family health issues, so this trip was even more special.

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report: Day 1

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report: Day 2, Part 1

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report: Day 2, Part 2

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report: Day 3

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report, Day 3

I forgot to mention stopping in at Sprinkles before we left Downtown Disney the night before. We spotted it on the way in and said we’d stop on the way out to get a cupcake to take back to our room for a bedtime snack. True, there’s a Sprinkles in Las Vegas, but we wanted to do this at Disney.

The Red Velvet Cupcake caught our attention, and so we ordered one of those.

When we arrived back at our hotel in Newport Beach, the fog had come in, and it was quite chilly. Anaheim was about 10-15 degrees warmer. We stopped in at the gift shop to see if it had milk and found a lowfat organic carton so we got that.

We shared the cupcake, and it was so delicious and just the perfect size for sharing – about 230 calories apiece. We were delightfully surprised – we’d expected some over-the-top super sweet super big thing. But it was just right for a calculated splurge. We’d logged about 3.6 miles for the day, which helped.

The next morning – the morning after DST – we were tired so we took our time getting up for coffee, packing, and heading off to Norm’s for breakfast. We absolutely love their “Bigger Better Breakfast” – especially their pancakes. Even if you don’t want to eat everything they give you, it’s still less expensive to buy it and eat just what you want. We basically eat once a day when we start off at Norm’s – nothing more than a little evening snack.

It’s such a great little community coffee shop – the sun was shining in Huntington Beach and, frankly, I didn’t want to go home. But the kitties were waiting, and we told ourselves we’d be back in four days. This was the first time we’d been gone since we lost Lovey – I mentioned how our pet sitter had said he missed Lovey, too, didn’t I?

Skipper was a bit stressed with us being gone, and his kidney problems seem to be getting worse. We took him to the vet today, except I couldn’t stay. I was overcome with emotion after losing Lovey here just last month. I ran out and drove home and popped a chocolate in my mouth, which helped me feel a bit better. Rich and I texted each other and I drove back and picked them up when they were finished. Skipper is down a pound, and we should have the kidney results back tomorrow. Always a big kitty, it scares me to see him losing weight, especially with how thin Lovey had become right before she was gone.

In the meantime, we’re testing out some special food for him that should support his kidneys better than the food we’d been giving Lovey for her diabetes, which is the opposite of what Skipper needs. So we cancelled our Food & Wine Festival trip for this weekend to see how things go and not to leave him and stress him out again so soon.

This trip was a fun surprise trip, and I’m so glad we went. I wondered if it would compromise the Food & Wine trip just a week later, but I couldn’t stay cooped up in Las Vegas for another week. As it turns out, we had to postpone the trip, but, hopefully, we’ll get to reschedule it later.