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Old 06-09-2012, 10:16 AM   #46
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How cute!! "Why did we steal a car?" Oh how wonderful it would be to sleep through all that!!
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:32 AM   #47
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:11 PM   #48
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ROTFLOL!!!!! Shame on you for stealing that car!

With her long hair, Mulan looks so much like you! All 3 girls look so pretty.

Boo's story about climbing the Sequoias is pretty cute. Sounds like something my DD would say.

Don't you just love all of the people who feel they are more important than everyone else? Seems to be a pretty common thing these days.
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:04 PM   #49
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And there is your new trip report title!

Jill in CO
Great idea!

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How cute!! "Why did we steal a car?" Oh how wonderful it would be to sleep through all that!!
I know, right? Being on Ohio time and sleeping the entire last four hours of the trip meant she was ready to GO the next morning!

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Welcome, Suzy. Suzy is currently on her summer vacation to Canada. Niagara Falls, Toronto, etc. They are having a grand time. But don't tell her boys as she's surprising them with their REAL summer vacation in August to WDW! Charming knows, but the rest of the boys will be surprised.

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ROTFLOL!!!!! Shame on you for stealing that car!

With her long hair, Mulan looks so much like you! All 3 girls look so pretty.

Boo's story about climbing the Sequoias is pretty cute. Sounds like something my DD would say.

Don't you just love all of the people who feel they are more important than everyone else? Seems to be a pretty common thing these days.
That lady was crazy. I understand frustration. I work in customer service and have a lot of empathy for people. But it was so weird because there was NO line. So her only option was to literally shove me out of the way. She obviously was not very in touch with reality.

Thanks for saying Mulan looks like me. Normally everyone says none of my kids look like me. Had I not had them, people would say I was a liar. Maybe that's why when Donald said I was an evil stepmother on our last trip, all the strangers believed him!

Next day is coming right up.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:37 PM   #50
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We drove the block the Westin. We had gotten it on Hotwire for $70.00 or so. Because we are five now, we do Hotwire more than Priceline as you can choose four people instead of the two like Priceline. But it also means we pay just a little more.

It was a little fancier than I was prepared for in my travel clothes at 2am Ohio time. A zillion JetBlue employees were checking in in front of me. Some of them knew each other, but lots didn't. They were all just talking and discussing. Then the one pilot asks one of the cuter girls to go to Disneyland with him the next day. So they all wandered off keys in hand to discuss their plans for DL the next day. I was next and began to check in when a bartender comes running up to the desk clerk and says, "I need security called right now!" The bar had been rather noisy, but we hadn't been paying very much attention as it's a bar and good bars are noisy and we were listening to the pilots try and flirt with the cute girls. But at this we give our attention to the bar across the super fancy lobby and sure enough there is practically a old west brawl going on in the super contemporary lobby.

The clerk threw my keys at me, gestured in the general direction of the parking garage and I got the heck out of dodge.

We found a spot in the garage and headed towards the doors to the hotel. We play the license plate game, as you all know, so despite the late hour, we were all on plate alerts. And that is when I spied this:



Here's the backstory: A few weeks before, at the height of my California planning, Suzy and I were text conversing as we often do. I texted her "Why am I obsessing over this trip?" She texts me a picture of Jack Black and captions it: "The real question is, why am I watching Yo Gabba Gabba by myself?"

This then brought on a long text conversation about Yo Gabba being popular with adults being the sole thing wrong with Californians. It's like Steve Martin. I love Steve Martin. And most of the time I get his humor. But every once in awhile he goes too west coast for me and I'm like, "What???" I know I'm midwestern, not east coast. But when it comes to humor I'm much more likely to get a New York joke than a Cali one.

Prior to leaving for Cali we made our girls watch some cult Cali classics that we thought would be fun. Like Clueless and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. It WAS fun, but they didn't 100% enjoy the humor. They didn't laugh at the right places. Kind of like people not getting why Princess Bride or Napoleon Dynomite are funny.

So I took the above photo to text to Suzy the following morning. Upon receipt of it she said that maybe the person with that license plate created Yo Gabba. I rejected this. It was on an old Nissan. No. It was just an ordinary Californian with a sense of humor that just isn't funny.

After my deep contemplation of what an enjoyment of brightly colored be-wigged adults meant to the world, I fell into bed at 1:00 am Californian time.

At 6:30 am, Boo was awake. Ahhh!!! 5.5 hours of sleep. I didn't feel too hung over. Just a little bit. Moments after awakening the girls school called and asked about attendance. I told her we wouldn't be in today or the next day (the last day of school). She was a little jealous.

Boo was STARVING. She must have mentioned breakfast 30 times from awakening to the time we got breakfast. I'm sorry kid, but it takes time to get up, shower, and repack the vehicle for real and get going. I Yelped a place on our way. It was called the Serving Spoon. It seemed a pretty icky part of town, but that's what you get near an airport. Plus lots of LA seems kind of icky to me. It's like this block is nice and classy, this block is scary. One block away. Very confusing for out of towners. But I trust Yelp. It has never steered me wrong. We pull into this tiny strip mall which again, was kinda scary, and into the Serving Spoon we go. It was soul food, a family owned, black power place. The art was really beautiful and the coffee ROCKED!



The people eating in there were mostly black men having some kind of business meetings. 3-4 men per table wearing clothes I can only imagine cost WAY more than anything I've ever worn. It's the kind of place that famous musicians write lyrics on napkins. That's how I felt. I felt big deals were happening around me, deals I couldn't begin to understand.

Mulan and I split an omlet. It was really good and we practically licked our plates. They put tomatoes in their potatoes and it was a revelation to us both. With the onions, it added this wonderful sweetness. I haven't done it at home yet, but I intend to. Yum!

The service was fantastic. Boo told the beautiful server "I want dunky eggs!" which means over easy (dunky means she can dunk her toast in.) The server started laughing and said, "I have never heard of donkey eggs, what is that?" It was sooo funny. We all knew that we were from VERY different worlds but instead of it being a problem, both the wait staff and we the guests loved the culture shock. I think we will forever call over easy eggs Donkey Eggs from now on.

Here's my food. They separated our meal in the kitchen for us which was really nice of them:


We all went potty in the funny little tiny potty and then we were back in the car to hop on the 12 lanes of the 405. We crossed 6 lanes of traffic to get into the speedy carpool lane. If you think 20 mph is speedy, that is. Thank goodness Donald is a good driver. He actually enjoys the challenge of the LA traffic.

An hour in Donald says, "We just passed more people than the average person would have seen in their lifetime 100 years ago." Obviously, we have no idea if that's true, but it FELT true.

I didn't think to take a photo in the middle of all of it, but here we are coming out of LA into the mountains.



Having just been to Spain, I was surprised by how similar the scenery of the two seemed. The yellow and brown rolling hills, the architecture, the temperature. Very, very similar to Spain. Even though California is so very different scenery-wise from the rest of America, it seemed to me this trip that it was so very American. Maybe it's that movies have defined America the last 100 years and movies are produced out of California. Maybe it's because so many dreams have come true in California. Maybe because you are allowed to be 100% unique in California, which is a very American concept. Again, having been to Spain which is just recovering from a dictatorship and has a mentality of sameness. Everyone and Everything in Spain obeys. It is a country that follows the rules. So a few months later to be in a place that looks scenery-wise eerily similar to Catalonia, Spain but insists on never obeying nor following any unwritten (and sometimes even the written) laws made a stark contrast for Donald and I.

Any crazy, wild, teeny-tiny idea you have: try and sell it in California and it just might sell. Like Rob Kardashian starting a sock empire. Really? I'm sorry but that seems a silly idea. But he lives in California and there are NO silly ideas in Cali. You want to build an amusement park centered around a whistling mouse? Go ahead and build it in Cali and it may just become the most well known empire ever.

It reminded me of the famous Winston Churchill quote:
"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities.

And that is what makes California great. Because great things come from being allowed to be creative. And in Cali, creative reigns supreme, as was obvious from the multiple trucks with very, very interesting company logos on them.

I was loving this day. I love myself a good road trip. The purple little flowers all over the brown hills with the spiky yellow and white yucca flowers was delightful. The sky was bright, bright blue with fluffy, streaky white clouds. And our car had sirius radio which we thoroughly enjoyed. Boo was watching Alvin and Chipmunks with headphones on so the rest of we four were allowed in total peace to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and music.

We started this day at the airport which is at sealevel. By midmorning we were at 3,000 feet and the yellow and purple and deep green stopped abruptly. Instead there was brown lumps that Mulan proclaimed looked like baked potatoes. You would think this would be ugly but really it's fairly enjoyable. I don't have any pictures, however, as it is ugly in photos. It doesn't even look like earth. I think George Lucas secretly made Luke Skywalker from California, because Tatooine looks like that. We had thought it'd been inspired in Spain, and certainly the architecture is from Spain, Gaudi to be exact. But the countryside seems pure Cali.

At 4,000 feet you reach the central Cali plateau where all that delightful food we all love is grown. I love this part of Cali. So, so fertile. Where else can you go and have grapes, avacados, tomatoes, olives, oranges, cherries, strawberries, etc, etc all grow in one area at the same time? Amazing.

And even the center of the roads are pretty:


Miles and miles and miles of the most beautiful farm land with those flowers in the center of the road. So very peaceful.



The orange groves smelled like oranges even in our car. Ariel said it was like Living with the Land except actual land, not hydroponics. And I loved that there were beehives in between every field. So wonderful!

I've picked oranges off of trees before, but I've never seen actual orange season. They would have a truck go by and drop off these:


Then they had another truck with a portapotty on it and what I assume the foreman and helper. And then everyone else followed in groups in their cars.

Very cool.

We also drove by lots of windmills. I know I've seen windmill farms in Cali, but we didn't see any on this trip.


We wanted to get in on the action and so stopped by a side of the road fruit stand. There was no one manning it and a doorbell that said, "Ring for service." We dutifully rang the doorbell. When the lady came we asked if we could pick an orange from a tree. She seemed confused but gave her consent.

We headed over and all took our turn:








When we got back to the little stand to buy some oranges the lady had disappeared and would not reappear. So we took our 4 oranges and headed off. I guess in the long run we didn't steal a car, but we did steal 4 oranges from a confused lady.

Boo had stepped in something dead on this little stop. And had also turned a corner into viciousness. I'm not sure what made her so cranky, but happy little Boo was gone. Donald and I tried to eat the absolutely amazing oranges but they were so drippy with yumminess it was challenging in a car. Boo and Mulan refused to have anything to with the oranges. Boo because she was being a cranky-butt. Mulan because she doesn't like to get that messy.

We turned to go directly towards Sequoia and ran into a wonderful little strawberry stand. Mulan and I hopped out to get some.

I have a feeling this girl was exactly Mulan's age and I asked Mulan if she would be willing to run one of these stands. She and I both thought that she probably would. Especially if she got to keep half the money.



I have picked strawberries and know that it is hot, backbreaking, not at ALL fun work. But Mulan wanted to give it a quick try.


And I, of course, took the opportunity to get a great shot. Mulan felt that if her options were to run the stand vs. pick strawberries than the stand won hands down!

They also had cherries here. I opted not to buy any as normally we aren't cherry people. I think Donald wished I had as really everything is delicious in this little plateau so why not cherries?

Those berries were the best fruit I've ever had in any country, any fruit. And they were $2.00 a pint.

Next we stopped at Kaweah Lake. I mostly spent this entire stop cleaning Boo's shoes. There wasn't a formal source of water so I used the irrigation spouts that, of course, turn. So I got rather wet. That child was really annoying me at this point. But I did get them clean. And we took a few nice family photos.



As you can see, this is where the hills truly turn golden. The golden state.



It was 77 degrees. And then we headed up, up, up.
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Old 06-17-2012, 02:51 AM   #51
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Okay, I guess I am not your average Californian. Who doesn't see the humor in Princess Bride? That movie is hilarious and I watch it every chance I get. Maybe it is because I am from northern California? Who knows. I think we are a whole different world than the southern part of the state.

I am always amazed as we drive through the valley and see the trailers with the chemical toilets. It is a great idea. There are a lot of farm workers in the area. I love the fresh fruit stands. We have a few in our area and I visit them, nothing like fresh ripe fruit.


Oh and by the way, I have never watched Yo Gabba Gabba.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:53 AM   #52
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I am so jealous of all that fresh fruit!! My part of the country - West Texas - isn't exactly what one would call fertile.

I've been debating whether or not we should fly or drive to DL next Spring and your TR is already making me lean towards driving. I love, love, love a good road trip - but I don't know how good a road trip can possibly be with a 3 year old, and very persnickety 7 year old, and a preteen.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:53 AM   #53
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p.s. you hair looks gorgeous in that last pic!
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:34 PM   #54
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I love your description of your impression of California.

What is the fascination with Yo Gabba Gabba? That has to be the dumbest kids' show ever.

Yum! I love freshly picked fruit.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:36 PM   #55
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Okay, I guess I am not your average Californian. Who doesn't see the humor in Princess Bride? That movie is hilarious and I watch it every chance I get. Maybe it is because I am from northern California? Who knows. I think we are a whole different world than the southern part of the state.

I am always amazed as we drive through the valley and see the trailers with the chemical toilets. It is a great idea. There are a lot of farm workers in the area. I love the fresh fruit stands. We have a few in our area and I visit them, nothing like fresh ripe fruit.


Oh and by the way, I have never watched Yo Gabba Gabba.
Not to get political, but we did feel for Californians on this trip as how on earth can north & central Californians vote with southern Californians? They are completely different places to be from.

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I am so jealous of all that fresh fruit!! My part of the country - West Texas - isn't exactly what one would call fertile.

I've been debating whether or not we should fly or drive to DL next Spring and your TR is already making me lean towards driving. I love, love, love a good road trip - but I don't know how good a road trip can possibly be with a 3 year old, and very persnickety 7 year old, and a preteen.
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p.s. you hair looks gorgeous in that last pic!
I love a road trip, but if it's too much parenting time, I'm all for flying. I like to be left alone to view the scenery and contemplate the world. So persnickety makes me think, "airplane! You sit with dad."

Thanks on the hair. I love my hair right now. Not crazy about my weight, but love my hair.

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I love your description of your impression of California.

What is the fascination with Yo Gabba Gabba? That has to be the dumbest kids' show ever.

Yum! I love freshly picked fruit.
Thanks. It's a very interesting state. This is my 4th time there and I have literally scratched the surface of interesting things to see and do there!
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:50 PM   #56
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We are totally different. I live in the bay area. The home area of places like Apple computers, twitter and Facebook. I think the mindset is different. If it makes any sense I am definitely more at home in the northern part of the state.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:58 AM   #57
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Definitely just found this report and subbing! I'm loving your stories about coming to CA! I particularly loved (and lol'ed) at the gentleman at the airport with the "siri" comment! I would have been so confused and it would have taken every ounce of self-control in me to not completely judge him and correct him like a good Disney fan should!

Also having lived in Nor Cal my whole life but now going to school in So Cal, I can definitely attest to the idea that people are SO different between the 2 regions.

Looking forward to the rest of the report!
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:38 AM   #58
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We are totally different. I live in the bay area. The home area of places like Apple computers, twitter and Facebook. I think the mindset is different. If it makes any sense I am definitely more at home in the northern part of the state.
It totally makes sense. I've never been to northern California. But the parts of Cali I've driven through are as different as New York City and rural Texas and the coast of Florida are from each other. I'm sure northern California is yet another region.

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Definitely just found this report and subbing! I'm loving your stories about coming to CA! I particularly loved (and lol'ed) at the gentleman at the airport with the "siri" comment! I would have been so confused and it would have taken every ounce of self-control in me to not completely judge him and correct him like a good Disney fan should!

Also having lived in Nor Cal my whole life but now going to school in So Cal, I can definitely attest to the idea that people are SO different between the 2 regions.

Looking forward to the rest of the report!
Welcome!

It was HARD to just be civil and continue a nonsensical conversation. I'm so happy to have my Dis-friends that understand the desire to educate the uneducated masses. We all have a specialty in life, sadly my Disney knowledge is not very profitable for me.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:15 AM   #59
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It was HARD to just be civil and continue a nonsensical conversation. I'm so happy to have my Dis-friends that understand the desire to educate the uneducated masses. We all have a specialty in life, sadly my Disney knowledge is not very profitable for me.
Anytime someone starts talking Disney nonsense (which is often! It's amazing how confused the general population is about Disney theme parks!), my husband gives me 'the look' that says "Don't do it - don't correct them. It's not important. Nobody cares but you."
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:41 AM   #60
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Into the Wonderland of Seqouia

This was to be my third trip into the Sequoia Forest. When I was 17 we took a family trip there and I rode horseback through the deep part of forest. My best friend was with me and I remember feeling just like Alice in Wonderland, a tiny being in a strange and magical land. Sharing it with Donald 20 years later had been so amazing that we just knew we had to take the kids when they were still kids to see the giant trees that were around when Julius Caesar ruled the world.

On my last trip the road construction had been terrifying. The main road had collapsed and there was basically a one lane road with a sheer drop hundreds of feet with only a few traffic cones to stop you from death. TERRIFYING. So I was dreading the drive up. And Donald was gleefully looking forward to me freaking out. He says I'm afraid of heights. I'm not really afraid of heights. I'm afraid of death. And, as I pointed out to him, if you are on a road that half of it has fallen down a mountain, why would you trust that the half you are still on will not also pitch off the side of the mountain? He's so much more trusting than I am.

Well before you get to the entrance to the National Park things turn really beautiful. I was trying to take pictures of the gorgeous rocky river but it was one of many, many sites we saw that you simply can't take a photo of and convey the beauty.



Quick as can be, we were at the main gate. I have been to MANY national parks. And state parks. And national parks of other nations. But I have never had a super cute park ranger. Obviously there are super cute people in all fields of work. But for some reason, and I hadn't realized it, I had stereotyped park rangers as the outdoorsy, no make-up, not cute workers. To all the park rangers I so unfairly judged, I'm sorry. Because I have been corrected.



This girl was gorgeous. I didn't want to take her photo in an obvious sort of way. But she was SO pretty I had to have a picture for all of you, just in case you, too, had unfairly judged park rangers. When she looked up after this photo, she smiled and talked to us about bears and the like and then she was SUPER gorgeous. She had an amazing smile. And she was wearing the perfect amount of make-up. So now I know. Park rangers are beautiful.

We stopped at the first little rest area inside the park to go potty. It was nice and clean. And outside was this pretty little bird.





He put on quite the little show for us. Also at this restroom was the first time Boo noticed a big sign about bears. Even though she can't read, she understood the meaning behind the sign perfectly. Bears live here, they are scary, they will eat you. If you've been following me for awhile you know this, but if you haven't then let me tell you a little bit about Boo. She is totally obsessive. From 2-4 years of age I was sure she had OCD. She is THAT obsessive. She canNOT be distracted. She just has an intense capacity to fixate solely on one thing and think of nothing else for days. And a sign explaining pictorially that bears can kill you was the perfect starting point for such a fixation.

Add to that the amount of time I had spent that morning pulling out all toiletries and food items so that we could take them into the lodge with us that night because of bears and it was becoming crystal clear to her that bears were an actual threat. And thus began my absolute hatred of bears.

And my repeating fairly often, "Stupid bears." Trust me, this comes up again despite never seeing a bear this entire trip.

We carried on, stopping at tunnel rock. I tried to get Boo to pretend she was holding it up. She almost was able to pull it off:




Last time we were here it was totally in fog. But this time it was just gorgeous:


Even though I was dreading the road construction, this time the road construction proved to be a blessing. In the year and a half since we had last been here they had made huge strides forward and I wasn't afraid of dying. The blessing was it slowed us down and was a nice transition from road trip to seeing the sites. At one point we were actually stopped completely and everyone got out of their cars and enjoyed the sights and outdoors. We took the time to have a little impromptu picnic of goldfish crackers, strawberries, pretzel M&M's, and water. It was nice. Then the family climbed this hill and got FILTHY!



Here's our little car stopped:


It was wonderful. After about 20-30 minutes the traffic started moving and we headed on up. From that point on we told the girls all electronics were to be turned off as they were to be on the lookout for big trees. At first Boo was into the search and found many big trees. But they weren't actually THE big trees. But to her, they were big. Because really they were big trees in general and she had no point of reference.

After finding said big trees, she went back to playing with her toys and being immersed in her imagination. The other two girls, understanding much better that a true Sequoia would blow their minds continued their hunt and slowly the conversation of we four turned to amazement as the big trees came into view. Really they are so AWESOME that after the initial excitement the four of us fell silent, just looking out the window at an extremely unique forest.

It was in this silence that a tiny little voice from the backseat said, "Whoa." Someone had just come out of her imagination land and looked out the window. Now THAT is a big tree.
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