Happy 65th Birthday Disneyland: Our First Trip Back to Downtown Disney (#YouTube #Disneyland65)

Happy 65th Birthday, Disneyland! This was the day Disneyland chose to reopen nut the state of California (ie Governor Newsom) rejected them. And the way he keeps shutting down the state, who knows when Disneyland will open again.

But our recent trip to Downtown Disney was a real pick-me-up to help tide us over. We’d hoped to get back to Anaheim for Rich’s birthday and had made reservations at the Hilton (while we were lunching at Uva Bar at Downtown Disney), but Hilton just cancelled them. They’re not opening by mid August after all.

Listening to Walt’s opening speech on July 17, 1955, I knew I had to update our youtube channel with a video of our recent time at Downtown Disney. The video starts with our driving by the Grand Californian, on to the Simba parking lot, and then Downtown Disney, concluding with lunch at the Uva Bar (Catal).

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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Independence Day – the Irony of It

Happy July!

Reading the OC Register this morning, I see that the California governor is going to tighten restrictions today. Who knows what that means but I’m hearing “bars and beaches.” Laguna Beach is talking about closing before the 4th of July. In fact, all of this is happening now to prevent a huge spike over Independence Day.

Oh the irony of that name. You may as well cancel the 4th, because, frankly, we don’t seem to have any independence these days.

But what does independence in this context mean anyway? The ability to not wear a mask? Not to stay socially distant? But if you don’t wear a mask, or stay socially distant, things close. Not much independence in being forced to stay home because nothing is open.

I’m especially concerned because for all intents and purposes, we’ve been locked down in Vegas since the end of September. Returning from our trip to California, we decided to go ahead and build a home here. During that time we were so focused and financially strapped and uneasy about leaving the cats with a new pet sitter in that strange rental, that we stayed in Las Vegas.

Ten months in Las Vegas straight is a record for us. Geographically and culturally, we’re basically a suburb of SoCal. And it’s normal for us to visit every six weeks or so during the warmer months of the year. Mostly Disneyland and the beach. And my old neighborhoods, of course. 🙂

No Napa Rose for my birthday celebration. And now maybe no beach. We’d give California the finger and cancel the trip if it we weren’t in such need right now to see the beach – the beach that belongs to not only California residents, but the entire country. Closing the beach is not the way to celebrate “Independence Day.”

I get it, but I don’t like it. Some people can’t be trusted and they’re deciding what I get to do and what I can’t do right now. Not feeling very independent at all.

Oh the irony. We escaped lockdown well before the 4th, so now we may be back under lockdown orders by the 4th!

Break it to Me Gently #Disneyland

The YouTube video I watched over coffee this morning was FreshBaked’s live show from last night. You can watch it here.

Basically, David and Liz and the people in the chat were discussing all the changes around Disney and Disneyland right now. When will Disneyland open, Splash Mountain’s redo, and other unPC rides. As I’ve said before, I don’t think we need to rewrite American history and erase the stories of the people who lived before us. When they do that, I feel like they’re also erasing me.

If you must take Disneyland away from me, please do it after I’m gone. Disneyland means more to me than a theme park. I was there when it was being built. I saw Walt. I lived 8 miles down the road. It’s home. It’s family. It’s compensation for my mother sending my father a “Dear John” letter for another man while my father was serving in Korea, preventing me from knowing my father until my late 40s. Talk about complications when you pop into your father’s life at that late date. Next month marks 2 years since he was gone from this earth. I miss him every day.

Taking Disneyland away from me is like losing my father all over again. This year I may get to celebrate my birthday at Downtown Disney, unless Governor Newsom takes that away from me, too.

I tried to substitute Walt Disney World for Disneyland when we moved to Florida 3 times, but my heart knew the difference. And if certain people have their way, that will be taken from me, too.

My heart can’t help but sing “Break it to Me Gently,” and, yes, I prefer Brenda Lee’s version over Juice Newton’s.

Oh, oh…break it, break it to me gently
Give me time, oh give me a little time to ease the pain
Love me just a little longer, cause I’ll never never love again
Cause I’ll never love again

 

My Orange County (CA) Life: Nostalgia, Disneyland, and Denny Pezzin

This morning Adam of The Daily Woo is eating his meal (Denny’s) at his favorite location outside the Anaheim Convention Center, talking about whether he will be interested in securing entrance to the opening of Disneyland. Well, of course, we would all love to since it’s happening on Disneyland’s 65th anniversary.

It’s really hard for me to be cut off from Disneyland. It’s one reason we moved back West each time we moved to Florida. The easy access to Disney World and the beach in Florida couldn’t compare to the much longer 4-hour drive to Disneyland and the beach from Las Vegas. Disneyland is special to many people, but especially to those who grew up there and maybe even more so to those who grew up there but no longer live there. Disneyland is family.

The years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, working in Silicon Valley, were filled with trips to Disneyland just to touch that childhood nostalgia. My mother tells the story of us watching it being built when I was quite small and my step dad was in Korea. As soon as his stint was over, we went to Disneyland for the first time with my mother, step dad, his daughter (Sherry), and me. You might have seen this photo before:


Disneyland: then and now (me on the lower right, afraid of the “old Lady” in the rocking chair)

This was taken several years ago, perhaps around 2010. We updated the (now) version in the same spot just last summer when we were there on Rich’s birthday.

August 2019

As so many of us, I was also aware of being in Disneyland when Walt was walking around Main Street. My mother, ever so discreet, would say quietly, “There’s Walt.”

Back to my Silicon Valley days with trips to Disneyland in the 1990s. I would often stay at my favorite Embassy Suites where Denny Pezzin would perform his “One Man Show.”

Since then, he’d moved to Florida when we were there the second time around. His father was living there after his mother died and Denny was there to help him during his time of grief. Denny and his wife have since moved back to SoCal in the desert area where he performs at various venues with some trips to the OC (at least before the “Bob” affected our lives).

I subscribe to his YouTube channel and he uploads a performance daily (or close to it). So check out today’s Denny Pezzin performance, an Elvis Medley, “The Wonder of You” and “One Night With You.”

I’m really feeling the pull of my childhood and younger days and can’t wait to get back to my Orange County and Disneyland, especially Galaxy’s Edge, DJ Rex, and Oga’s Cantina.

Rich enjoying a Jet Juice at Oga’s Cantina

Grooving to DJ Rex

“Dear Kitten” and Other Laguna Beach Fun

I’m watching Adam the Woo’s video for today, one in a series of local SoCal food locations offering take-out, pick-up, drive-thru, etc. Lo and behold, he’s at the first Taco Bell in Orange County in Laguna Beach.

Well, once again, the Woo is taking me back to my childhood and teen years. I even based a short story on Laguna Beach in Dear Kitten. Laguna Beach will be one of my first destinations sometimes this summer, hopefully, for my birthday.

Dear Kitten…

Dear Kitten, My Favorite Pussycat,

Love,
TomKat

Kitty Arness hasn’t been called “Kitten” since her college days. So when a chance encounter reunites her with an old love on Laguna Beach, she realizes she longs to be “Kitten” one more time.

Still hurting from the breakup all these years later, she must make a hard choice: to hold onto her pride or forgive and forget, especially when she reads the writing in the sand.

AVAILABLE NOW on amazon.com as a standalone or part of an anthology for your Kindle.

San Diego to Napa Rose (Surprise Halloween Trip)

Took a little trip to San Diego to take care of some business and so, of course, we had to stop off at Napa Rose for dinner before returning home to Las Vegas. I thought I’d post a brief report with some pics.

San Diego was lovely, as usual, with perfect weather.

Walking the grounds of the San Diego Hotel with a quick, tasty bite at Chili’s next door.

After one night in San Diego, we drove up to Orange County and checked into our favorite Residence Inn for one night. We then drove to the Grand Californian and left the car with valet.

We were a bit early for our Napa Rose ressie, so we took a walk around, checking out the gift shop and the Halloween decorations, including the giant cake of Ursula. At a nearby cart (the one with the cookie shots), we grabbed a fun Halloween cookie (photo below was taken after we unwrapped it back home) before heading for Napa Rose.

We arrived for our 8:30 pm ressie at around 8 pm, hoping to be seated early, but it was soon apparent that wasn’t happening. We were quite surprised by the crowd on a Monday night. So were the Napa Rose CMs.

We were finally were seated in the lounge for a glass of wine.

Rich had the Syrah, Stolpman Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley and I had the Malbec, Bodega Viamonte, Montevia, Argentina.

We ended up being seated for dinner at around 8:40 pm. The food was well worth the wait – it’s just as delicious as ever. That’s three times at Napa Rose for us since May. It’s becoming a thing.

We shared the Hamachi “Crudo” with Avocado, Jalapeño and Prickly Cactus Pear Vinaigrette for our appetizer with the usual bread service (the breadsticks are our favorites).

Rich had the Pomegranate-glazed Veal Osso Bucco served with Apple-Pine Nut Relish and Sautéed Potato Gnocchi, and I had the the Market Fish of the Day (Hawaiian Ono) with Pacific White Shrimp, Light Shrimp Broth, accented with Lemongrass, Mint and Chile

No dessert – we just finished our wine.

On the way back to valet, I took a couple of photos of the registration area, remembering when that was also a thing.

 

Kathy’s July Birthday Trip to Disney and the Beach, Part 1

I’m really struggling to write much of anything these days, but Rich’s birthday trip is coming up and so I really must write up my birthday trip report. I’m so much more into my music and videos these days.(I just finished song #16 for 50/90.) In the future, I may just focus on photos and videos here.

As a side note, we finally got into the pool area for the first time since we got the key (it’s been way too hot to be out there until today, the day after a big rain), and I’ve been promising videos, so here they are:

Summerlin Pool Tour (with narration)
Summerlin Pool Tour (no narration)

Anyway, on with the July birthday trip to Disney(land) and the beach.

We did our usual Friday getaway, but since we’re half an hour north of where we used to live and we were staying in Huntington Beach, that added another half an hour on the trip. Sigh. Really hoping to move back to our old neighborhood after this lease expires.

We did our usual lunch stop in Barstow at Tommy’s (tamale for me, chili hot dog for Rich), checked into our hotel in Huntington Beach, rested up from the trip (so busy in the summer and maybe anytime these days).

For dinner, we drove over to Surf City Tacos via the beach, but this time we knew to get only two tacos to share and they tossed in some chips and salsa.

I woke up really early the next morning on my birthday and knowing how crazy busy the beaches are in the summer, we got up and drove to Newport Beach around 6 am. We found a parking place (one of the few not taken by the surfers), and walked over to Mutt’s, which opens for breakfast at 7:00. We were early so we walked the beach for a bit and then headed over to Mutt’s for breakfast. It was a bit early for cocktails, so when they asked, we passed – lol!

This was the first time we tried breakfast there and it was amazing! Must-go-back!!!

The morning fog was still pretty thick, but it made for a nice morning sitting in our chairs and watching the waves and people. Really a wonderful way for me to spend the morning on my birthday, relaxing on my childhood beach, especially after being away for the last couple of years while we were in Florida.

I remember my mother and step dad used to sneak off early and have breakfast at the beach while we slept. I suppose they figured I was old enough to babysit. 🙂

Anyway, it started getting busy around 9:30-10:00, the sun was coming out, and it was time for us to leave. We ended up in Irvine to take care of some personal business, and then headed back to the hotel for a nap before birthday dinner at Napa Rose.

Residence Inn at Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach

Surf City Tacos

Rich’s Salmon Breakfast at Mutt Lynch’s, Newport Beach

Kathy’s Eggs and Hash with Hash Brown Ribbons (incredible hash browns!)

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Five

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)

We got up early, Rich brought us some coffees and pastries while I showered, and we made our way to the Theatre to wait for disembarkation. We were off the ship by about 7:15 a.m. We saw our friend April and her friend again and we chatted once again. She wished me “Happy Birthday” again – really fun girls!

We had so many ideas about what we might do this day since we were flying back to Florida until the next day. One popular idea was to go to Disneyland if we got off the ship early. Well, we were off early but we were exhausted so we drove to Newport Beach.

It was only 8:30 am but already all parked up. So we drove to Huntington Beach and had breakfast at Norm’s – where our favorite pancakes in the world awaited and the friendliest, hometown experience.

Then we went to Mass at one of our regular SoCal churches. We were blessed to have been part of a baptism. So far, we were really feeling at home again.

We also drove around some of our favorite neighborhoods and when our hotel wasn’t ready early like we’d requested, we drove to Corona del Mar, hoping to enjoy the beach there. Nope – parking full. We ended up taking the ferry to Balboa Island, although there was quite a line of cars ahead of us.

This was a favorite childhood hangout for my family, including my mother who used to hang out there as a teen. My novel, Letters on Balboa Island, was inspired by all that.

Exhausted from getting up early and driving around, we decided to park at our hotel and wait in the lobby for our room. They’d offered a pool view room but we waited for our water view room.

We ended up ordering room service – burgers and wine – and relaxed and sipped and watched the sun set over Balboa Bay where I used to go with my family to watch 4th of July fireworks!

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day 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)

As I mentioned here, we ate the leftover steak from Napa Rose for breakfast this morning along with some eggs from the hotel breakfast buffet. Then we headed for the port of Long Beach via my old stomping grounds – childhood home, high school, and other neighborhoods. I’ve posted enough pics about them so I won’t repeat that – lol!

We were a bit confused by the entry to the port due to some detour. But when we looked confused, a bus driver asked if everything was okay via a thumbs up? And so I rolled down the window and asked how to get to the port and he very nicely gave us directions. We were so impressed!

We parked the car in the garage and headed for the new check-in area at were directed to priority boarding and were onboard in no time at all. Because we were suite passengers, our room was ready so we dropped off our luggage and I noticed there were birthday decorations and a bottle of Prosecco that Rich had ordered. Yay! We met our cabin stewardess who was amazing and kept our ice and water well-stocked and cleaned.

 

We then headed for Guys Burgers for lunch. We shared the Straight Up – amazing!! Maybe even better than In N Out! Ohhhhh!!!

Then we made our way to the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Rich ordered a Blue’s Patron Margarita for me then ran over to the Red Frog Rum Bar on the opposite side of the ship and brought back his Rum Jumper (aka Rum Runner).

Rich’s Rum Jumper

Kathy’s Blue’s Patron Margarita

We did a bit of a ship tour, although we have sailed on two sister ships, the Paradise (twice), and the Inspiration. One of our favorite areas is the Adults Only Serenity Deck, especially on this class of ship.

We unpacked our carry-on bags and then it was off for the Muster Drill. Ours was located up on the pool deck. Carnival has improve somewhat with accounting for people by electronically beeping people’s Sail & Sign cards, similar to Princess but Princess is far more efficient. Then it was time for sailaway, although there seemed to be a bit of delay.

Our Prosecco was on ice waiting for us but due to the delay, we headed to the salad bar (Carnival’s is the best!). We made our way back to the cabin where chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, macaroons, and truffles awaited! Eventually, the ship began to move and Rich popped open the Prosecco, poured us each a glass, and we sailed away from our balcony.

I don’t remember doing much more after we sailed away. I think we pretty much just hang out on the balcony, which is our favorite thing to do on a ship. This is why we cruise. We texted with our pet sitter a few times before leaving range. We were pretty tired, as we always are on embarkation day.