A Solo Trip 28 Years in the Making-Oct 16-17th, 2012

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by DaveinFallsChurch, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Yup, will be clicking away on my camera from the train! :thumbsup2 The train also has wifi so I could do some live posts from the train with my iPad as well.

    You're right, trying to do mostly AM+PM EMHs would not go well for a 5 year old. In any case, I'm sure you'll have a blast! :)
     
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  3. NStramler

    NStramler Mouseketeer

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    You might also consider the option of renting a locker at Disneyland then if you do not want to carry it all with you. Just put the things in the locker you will not need and that way you have room in the back pack to carry all the goodies you buy... I noticed there is no comment about leaving the wife and kids at Disney while you go to the conference... :cool1:
     
  4. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the locker idea at DL. :thumbsup2 I think that will be my back up plan if my plane gets delayed and I won't have time to swing by the hotel before catching the train.

    A couple of weeks ago, I did float the idea of DW being with the kids to DLR while I'm in SD, but she gave me a resounding "no-thanks". :rotfl: She's not as big of a Disney fan as I am so she was not interested in going to a Disney park twice in one year and she definitly did not want to be touring the parks by herself with two kids.
     
  5. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Living in the DC area, we are definitely spoiled with all of the museums we have easy access to. Whenever DW is working a weekend, I frequently take the kids to the Simthsonian Natural History, American History, or Air and Space Museum although I do try to avoid going during the crowded tourist seasons. During January or February, you can easily streetpark your car right in front of the museum for free for three hours, and head on in to a nearly empty museum.

    Today, with my father-in-law and brother-in-law visiting, we went to the "other" Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport and I thought I'd share some pics with you. While most visitors know about THE Air and Space Museum located in the heart of DC on the National Mall, fewer people are aware of the Udvar-Hazy Museum. And the kids and I LOVE this one far more than the one on the Mall. They converted an Airplane Hangar into a museum, and packed it in with all kinds of aircrafts.

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    Every Halloween, they host a party for kids with trick or treat stations and numerous meet-and-greet stations including Star Wars characters! The museum also frequently serves as a filming location for movies with most recently, the third Transformers being filmed here.

    The highlight of this museum for most is the space shuttle Discovery which has resided here since April of 2012.

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    Prior to that, it was the shuttle Enterprise that took up the same space in the hangar but that one was moved to NYC. The transport of the Discovery took place during the week we were in Disney last April when they piggybacked it on an airplane, and made multiple fly-bys over the DC skies for 45 minutes! This was the first time we were visiting the museum since Discovery "landed" here. My only wish is that they would let the visitors somehow enter the shuttle but I understand the concerns for the wear and tear associated with that.

    We also caught an Imax movie about the Hubble telescope. Prior to that, we went up the observation tower. Since the museum is right next to the Dulles airport, the tower gives you a great view of the runways and the kids love watching planes take off. They also patch the speakers in the tower to the actual radio chatter at Dulles.

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    We also got to see the Enola Gay, the Black Bird and one of the concords.

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    If you're ever in town, I would recommend this one!
     
  6. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Traveling by myself for business or conferences is not new to me. Between the heavy work schedules of DW and I, it’s been very difficult to line up our schedules for any reason and we’re lucky if we have a year when both of us have Christmas off. So, needless to say, whenever either of us have to go to a conference, it’s usually solo.

    Traveling by myself for personal reasons are much less frequent. I have gone on weekend trips with a few friends a couple of times (including the upcoming Vegas trip). But this will be the very first time I will be taking a vacation-type trip completely by myself even if it's a short sidetrip from my conference. No friends. And more significantly, without my family (DW, DD5, and DS2). To tell you the truth, part of me feels a little guilty not being able to bring my kids with me to DLR. I’m trying to justify the visit to DLR as a “scouting” mission. ;)

    I did suggest to DW that she could take a vacation week and bring the kids to SD during my conference, but she preferred to use that vacation time during the holidays which I can’t blame her. Plus, she probably wouldn’t get much relaxation out of it since I would have to attend conference activities all day for most of the time we’re there and not be able to spend much time with them. Also, she raised a good point that since DD will be starting in a new school in first grade, it would be better if we didn’t have to take her out of school so early in the school year when she’s just getting acclimated to her new environment and teachers – she attended kindergarten at a different school last year. Anyway, all of that was to help me ease the feeling of guilt of taking this side trip to DL by myself. :goodvibes Not being able to share and watch my kids’ reactions to the Happiest Place on Earth is obviously the biggest minus for this solo trip.

    I am not so much worried about the aspects of going on rides by myself or sitting down for dinners by myself. Between the many trips I’ve taken for conferences over the years, I’ve gotten very comfortable dining at restaurants by myself every now and then. I’ll be honest that there will be a handful of attractions that I will not be going on by myself because it would make me feel self-conscious. I really can’t see myself riding the teacups or Winnie the Pooh ride all by my lonesome! :rotfl: And of course, I most likely will not be getting many pictures with me in them.

    The biggest pros for going solo to DLR can be summed up in two words: mobility and flexibility. I fully plan on moving from point A to point B at a very brisk pace. Actually, now that I think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if I find my self jogging or running between attractions. I won’t have to worry about a stroller, “potty breaks” or nap times. I can fully utilize the single rider lines. My breakfasts and lunches will be very much on-the-go! All of this gives me hope that I will be able to maximize my short time at DLR. :cool1:

    Next Up: Prioritizing the rides and attractions at DLR
     
  7. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Before putting my touring plan together, I had to prioritize the rides I want to try especially since I know I won’t have time to go on every single attraction no matter how fast I run! :rotfl:

    So here is how I prioritized the rides for DCA.

    Priority Level 1 ( = I’m going to get on this ride even if I have to wait in line the whole day!)

    Radiator Springs Racers: A no brainer, right? I’m hoping the novelty will have worn off a bit by October but even if it hasn’t, I think this one will be worth the wait. Plus, I’m dying to walk down the main street of RS and immerse myself in the scenery which looks exactly like the movie!

    Priority Level 2 (= Will be grumpier than Grumpy if I miss these)

    Soarin’: I really enjoyed this one at WDW. And the ending will be more fitting since it finishes above Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!:wizard:

    Tower of Terror: I absolutely adored this one at WDW. I read that they don’t have the “randomization” of the drops at DCA. But it’s not just the drops that I love about this attraction. The theming and details that went into each part of the interior of the hotel are amazing.

    Little Mermaid: I’m considering this as a sneak preview of the FL expansion!

    Priority Level 3 (= Curious but won’t be shedding tears if I miss them)

    California Screamin’: Just so that I can say I tried all of the coasters at DLR. Sounds like it’s a very smooth ride.

    Monsters, INC: At first I thought this was the Laugh Floor equivalent. But on closer inspection of the description, it’s a ride? That got my attention.

    Toy Story Midway Mania: Gotta make sure I warm up my fingers, wrists, and hands with some stretching exercises while I’m in line. Last time I was on it, near the end, my hands were cramping up after the rapid fire I put on! :rotfl:

    Leaning towards skipping

    World of Color: I’ve heard the rave reviews. I’ve read that it’s a must. But for some reason, so far I haven’t been able to get excited about this one. I’ve been avoiding youtube videos on all the attractions that will be new to me, but I had to check it out for this one to get a better understanding of what the show was all about. I’m sure I’m underestimating this attraction and the videos don’t do this justice. But it also sounds like there’s a lot of layers of trouble to go through to ensure I get an optimal viewing location including the color coded fastpasses and lining up early to get in. Given my tight schedule, I would have to give up a few other rides to fit this one in and as of now, not sure if this is worth it.

    Goofy’s Sky School: One of those rides which I know little to nothing about. Is it like the Barnstormer? Or is it more like Primeval Whirl? I’ve also heard it described as an outdoor Space Mountain. The description didn’t sound like anything unique which is why I’m hesitating.

    Luigi’s Tires: It just doesn’t sound like it’s going to be worth the long wait in line. Although, the interior details inside Luigi’s tire store looks pretty enticing. Plus, how do they accommodate single riders? Do they pair you up with another single rider? Trying to coordinate the shifting movements with a total stranger just doesn’t sound fun to me.:sad2:

    Grizzly River Run: Mid October. If I do go on this, it will be in the evening hours. So the real question is, do I want to get wet?

    Next Up: Prioritizing the Rides (DL)
     
  8. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    After much back-and-forth in my head about my return trip to San Diego, I decided that instead of taking the last train out on Wednesday (17th) which would get me in at SD around 1am, I would take the first train out on Thursday (18th) and get in around 9am and not miss any of my conference activities. I think this will give me a more relaxed itinerary and more sleep! Plus, I would be able to try out an additional sit-down dinner at DL or Disney Downtown.

    When I tried to extend my exisiting ressie at Quality Inn and Suites at the Park, I couldn't get the same cheap $59/night rate I initially got. So I started looking at other places and found Anaheim Plaza Hotel and Suites which offered $59/night for both nights! Plus, the location is a lot better with it being across the street from the entrances/gates. The ratings on Tripadvisor are comparable to the first hotel.
     
  9. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Priority 1 (=Will stand in line for as long as it takes! As long as they're open ;))

    Indiana Jones: I have really high hopes for this one! And I’ve been avoiding reading any details about this ride because I want everything to be a surprise. I’m just hoping that the rumors of it going on refurbishment beginning in the fall do not come to fruition.

    Star Tours: Noticing a trend here? Yes, I’m a fan of films by Lucas during his earlier years. Can’t say the same for what he did to both franchises in the last 10 years. In any case, this is a must. If it was possible, would be happy to go on this over and over again.....as long as they're free of Jar-Jar. :lmao:

    Matterhorn: This is ranked high primarily out of nostalgia. I have very fond memories of this particular ride from 28 years ago and would like to go on it for ol’ times sake.

    Finding Nemo Submarine: Also has a nostalgic factor. Before it was Finding Nemo, it was Submarine Voyage I believe. I remember the first time I went on the old version as a young child, I really believed that we were in an actual submarine. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time, but you never know. ;)

    Priority 2 (= Not the end of the world if I miss these, but I’ll still be as sad as Eeyore on a rainy day)

    Space Mountain: I’m hoping for a smoother ride than the one at WDW. And, excited to see what the Halloween theming looks like!

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Heard many times that this one is far superior than the one at WDW. It’ll also be a good chance to really test out my camera’s ability to capture images in very low lighting without a flash!

    Haunted Mansion: It’s Halloween time! There isn’t another ride at DLR that is more perfect to go on during the Halloween season.

    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been on Big Thunder. I’m way over due.

    Priority 3 (= Curious enough to want to try these but ok if I don’t)

    Roger Rabbit’s Spin: It just dawned on me how old this movie is – 24 years! Feeling a little old after realizing that. :worried: I remember thinking that the cartoon and human characters interacting with each other was the coolest thing ever.

    Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: I clearly remember, as a child, having to sum up the courage to step on this ride for the very first time. For some reason, this one was always described to me by my parents as a “very scary ride!” and that had a long lasting effect. Once I tried it though, I loved it and went on it again right away.

    Alice in Wonderland: Have nooooo idea what to expect for this one. Which is why I would like to try it!

    Priority 4 (= only if I’ve done everything else and still have time)

    Tom Sawyer’s Island, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Pinocchio’s Journey

    Next Up: Eating and Snacking My Way Around DLR!
     
  10. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Our last trip to WDW in April involved 13 ADRs. So this trip is going to be a huge withdrawal for me in terms of dining experience! :lmao:

    Attractions and rides will take priority over dining but I still have a couple of evenings after Park hours to try to sample some of the better cuisine DLR has to offer. Debated for awhile whether to try to fit Blue Bayou in but decided against it for this trip so that I could go on more rides. Here's my meal by meal plan. Will be going with on-the-go for breakfast and lunches.

    Tuesday, October 16th

    Lunch: Starbucks across the street from SD train station - Will grab a sandwich and eat on the train.

    Late Afternoon Snack: I need some snack ideas for DCA. Any suggestions? Would like to snack on something while waiting in the single rider line for RSR.

    Dinner: Right now, I'm leaning towards Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant. After DCA park closing, I'll check in to Anaheim Plaza Hotel, drop my backpack off then head over to dinner in walking distance.

    Wednesday, October 17th

    Breakfast: Denny's. ;) Will get an early breakfast before lining up at the entrance for DL. A Grand Slam Breakfast should tidy me over for the rest of the morning!

    Lunch: Corndog from Main Street. Heard there's a Little Red Wagon selling good corndogs near the Plaza Inn.

    Dinner: I'm considering Napa Rose. Will eat after DL closes and this will give me an opportunity to check out GCH! I'll have to make a reservation once my 60 day window opens up.

    Snacks: Throughout the day at DL, I'm going to look for opportunities to get a churro, Dole Whip, and perhaps something from the Jolly Holiday Bakery. I also want to try a Tigger Tail as well as a Tiger Tail! So many snacks to try, so little time! :lmao:
     
  11. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Any suggestions or recommendations for snacks I should try in DCA?
     
  12. Velvetia

    Velvetia Mouseketeer

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    I'm planning on trying the Dill Pickle popcorn at the Cozy Cone.

    And a frozen banana at some point. They're Proustian for me - they take me right back to being 5 years old on my first ever DL trip! :)

    Have you considered going to Trader Sam's Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel - or maybe you won't have time in your schedule? I'm definitely going to stop by there for a Krakatoa cocktail at some point during our trip...
     
  13. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the tips! :thumbsup2

    I've heard seveal DISers talking about the frozen banana and been wanting to try it.

    I didn't know about Trader Sam's Tiki Bar! There's still much to learn about DLR for me ;) But just looked it up and the drinks they serve sound very intriguing. May need to swing by over there after dinner on one of the two nights I'm there.
     
  14. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    A couple of weekends ago, we took the kids to the Smithsonian Natural History of Museum. We hadn't visited it in awhile and DD6 wanted to see the dinosaur exhibit and the gem and mineral exhibit. So we headed out early and arrived at the National Mall about 30 minutes before the museum opened so we could secure a three-hour free parking spot in front of the museum. The kids played tag, and hide and seek with us while waiting for it to open. Not many places to hide along the Mall except for the trees. ;)

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    We got in line at the entrance with about 5 minutes to go. There was a couple making their first visit to DC from Atlanta in front of us, who was also very nice enough to offer some gum for the kids. DS2 LOVES gums. What 2 year old doesn't, right? :) The doors opened, went through security, and we entered the atrium.

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    We headed straight towards to the dinosaur exhibit since this area always becomes the most crowded later in the day. Sort of like racing towards Dumbo when MK opens at WDW although I've heard FPs now have eliminated the need for that. :lmao: Boy, did I get schooled by DD on dinosaurs. I would walk up to a fossil exhibit and say "Hmmm, let me see what this one is called" while squinting my eyes to read the display, but before I could even read the first word, DD tells me "Daddy, that's a parasaurolophus because it has a long crest and a duck bill!" :rotfl: She of course learned all this from a PBS tv show called "Dinosaur Train"

    Even I knew the name of this one! ;)
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    Next we headed upstairs for the minerals exhibit. Part of the exhibit includes a simulated mining cave with certain minerals embedded in the rocks. DD and DS loves it because it makes them feel like walking into a real cave!

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    They also had an exhibit about the Chilean miners that were rescued a couple of years ago. The Chilean government (or whoever owns the item) also donated the actual rescue capsule they used. I still remember watching that very moving moment live on my computer when the capsule pulled out the first survivor.

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    We made our way to the gem exhibits with all kinds of colors on display. This was DD's favorite part.

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    And of course, the Hope Diamond. Is it bad that whenever I see this display, all I can think of is the movie, Titanic? ;)

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    Afterwards, it was time to grab a quick lunch at the museum cafe. We were looking for one of the elevators on the rear end of the exhibits when we came across this.

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    What's that you ask? Why, it's Titano-Boa of course! Yikes. Don't think I really needed to see that one. We got some food for the kids. Food prices tend to be on the over-priced side in the Smithsonian museums but since the admission is free, it doesn't bother me as much. After lunch, DD picked out a book about gems from the gift shop and DS picked out a book about dinosaurs. On our way out of the museum, we quickly passed through the Ocean exhibit.

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    And while waiting for the kids on their potty break, I found this totem pole tucked away along one of the staircases. Thought it was an odd location for an exhibit since this particular stairway doesn't see much traffic.

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    We got back in our car before our three hour parking was up and drove back home.
     
  15. solana131

    solana131 DIS Veteran

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    You make me want to go back to DC again! It was one of my favorite family vacations we ever took (and that includes 3 trips to WDW, so you should feel special ;)). I am so excited for my son to start school this fall. I know a have a few years before he starts learning about DC stuff, but it means our trip is getting closer. I just want to wait until he actually knows what some of the stuff is about before we go. Until then....Disney will be the trip of the year for us :)

    Yikes! That Titano-Boa thing is really scary! Not a snake fan :sad2: I'm not sure I could've walked by that thing!
     
  16. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    There's so much to see and do, I think you could easily plan a whole week here. We're definitely spoiled with all of the museums, a good zoo, lots of children programming at the Kennedy Center, and also the close proximity to Baltimore - the kids really enjoy the Inner Harbor at Baltimore which has one of the better aquariums around! Just let me know when you do start planning that trip, and I can help you out! :thumbsup2
     
  17. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    DW and the kids are visiting family and relatives in Kansas City this weekend. I couldn't go since I had to work. I still have my evenings free and tonight, I decided to venture out to the National Mall to tour the memorials. I've been wanting to visit the memorials at nighttime so took this kids-free opportunity to stay out a little late AND get some practice on taking photos at night in preparation for my DLR trip. Still a newbie with my DSLR which I upgraded from our point and shoot 4 months ago.

    After a 15-minute drive from our house, I parked by the Basin. It was still light out. Turned out that I picked a rainy evening. Had to wait out a passing of showers in my car. Then walked over to the WWII Memorial.

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    Next I walked over towards the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflection Pool is undergoing a rehab and with chain fences lining along it and the water drained, it just doesn't give you that majestic feeling. By the time I reached the Lincoln Memorial, the downpour started again and I had to take shelter inside the Memorial.

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    I followed the outer-edge of the Memorial building, still sheltered by the edge roofing to the back side where you get a beautiful view looking out west towards the Potomac River and the Memorial Bridge that leads straight into Arlington Cemetery. Even with the rain coming down, it still looked great!

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    As I waited out the rain, the sunlight finally gave out. When the rain ended, I walked back to the front of the Memorial and was rewarded with this beautiful view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building behind it. You can also see the WWII Memorial near the base of this picture.

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    Walked down the steps, and looking back at President Lincoln.

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    I then walked over to the Korean War Memorial. The centerpiece of this Memorial is the statues of a troop patroling the ground that were almost haunting at night.

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    The rain started coming down again, so I had to call it a night and nearly ran back to my car. Right before I got back in the car, tried snap a picture of the Jefferson Memorial across the Basin from the parking lot but I couldn't get a steady shot off, so this is the best I got.

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    Drove back home. I was out walking for about 2.5 hours. Glad I got to try it, but would like to give it another shot when it's not raining ;)
     
  18. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Went out again for another shot at a night tour of the memorials. Weather was perfect. This time, I walked around the Tidal Basin to visit MLK and FDR Memorials.

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    MLK Memorial

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    FDR Memorial

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    Jefferson Memorial

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  19. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    Just purchased Amtrak tickets for the roundtrip from San Diego to Anaheim -getting excited! :cool1: 62 days remaining!

    Flying out to Las Vegas tomorrow evening for a weekend with friends from my residency.
     
  20. solana131

    solana131 DIS Veteran

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    How did I miss the memorials updates?? :confused3 Well those pictures are gorgeous! Looks like they have added a few more memorials since I went in the 80s ::yes::. And they are definitely cool at night.

    Yay for booking your Amtrak. It's getting close!!
     
  21. DaveinFallsChurch

    DaveinFallsChurch DIS Veteran

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    It is getting close - just two more months! I'm going to be making my dinner ressie for Napa Rose in a couple of days. :cool1:
     

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