Our “California Adventure” a Road Trip to the West (Update: Day 17 - There and back again)


DIS Veteran
Aug 20, 2003

Our “California Adventure” - a Road Trip to the West. 5,000 Miles, 6,000 Photos, and Countless Memories!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my latest trip report. I call this our “California Adventure”, because even though we visited Disneyland on this trip, it was only a part of our 17 day road trip that covered a good part of the Golden State.

In a nutshell, we drove from St. Louis, MO to San Francisco, CA. Toured the Bay Area for a few days, visited Yosemite, spent nearly a week in Anaheim/LA, and visited sites along the old Route 66 on the way back home, including a stop at the Grand Canyon. We left St. Louis on June 12 and returned on June 28.

We peppered the trip with a fair amount of Disney too! Starting with a visit in Marceline, MO (site of Walt’s boyhood home). We explored the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. We stopped at Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park (LA) and got to meet Bob Gurr (Disney Legend.) We spent three full days in the DLR parks for the Diamond Celebration. And finally, we got to see some of the inspiration for the Cars movie as we traveled home with stops on on the old Route 66.

It was truly a spectacular vacation!!! We had some amazing experiences and I can’t even begin to describe the breathtaking sites as we passed through 11 states. It’s not called, “America the Beautiful” for nothing!!!

I took over 6,000 photos and nearly 4 hours of video on this trip, and I have a lot of cool stuff to share with you. So, let’s go ahead and get started with the family introductions, trip background, and then the actual trip report!!!


DIS Veteran
Aug 20, 2003
Table of Contents

Meet the Family
Trip Background
Day 1 - Friday, June 12 - And We’re Off!! (Marceline, MO)!
Day 1 - Friday, June 12 - Part Two
Day 2 - Saturday, June 13 - Trains!!!!
Day 2 - Saturday, June 13 - Part 2
Day 3 - Sunday, June 14 - A family Reunion
Day 4 - Monday, June 15 - California!!!
Day 5 - Tuesday, June 16 - Japantown
Day 5 - Tuesday, June 16 - Golden Gate Bridge
Day 6 - Wednesday, June 17 - Santa Cruz!
Day 6 - Wednesday, June 17 - Roaring Camp
Day 6 - Wednesday, June 17 - Giant Trees and Disney Vans!
Day 7 - Thursday, June 18 - Walt Disney Family Museum
Day 7 - Thursday, June 18 - Walt Disney Family Museum - Part 2
Day 7 - Thursday, June 18 - Walt Disney Family Museum - Part 3
Day 7 - Thursday, June 18 - Lucasfilm and Fisherman's Wharf
Day 8 - Friday, June 19 - Yosemite Bound!
Day 8 - Friday, June 19 - Yosemite - Glacier Point
Day 9 - Saturday, June 20 - Yosemite Valley!
Day 9 - Saturday, June 20 - Yosemite Valley - Part 2
Day 9 - Saturday, June 20 - Yosemite Valley - Part 3
Day 10 - Sunday June, 21 - L.A. Live Steamers and Bob Gurr!!!
Day 10 - Sunday June, 21 - Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park
Day 10 - Sunday June, 21 - Candy Cane Inn & Downtown Disney
Day 10 - Sunday June, 21 - Downtown Disney
Day 11 - Monday, June 22 - A day at the Beach
Day 11 - Monday, June 22 - A day at the Beach (continued)
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 23 - California Adventure - Part 1
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 23 - California Adventure - Part 2
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 23 - California Adventure - Part 3
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 23 - California Adventure - Part 4
Day 12 - Tuesday, June 23 - California Adventure - Part 5
Day 13 - Wednesday, June 24 - Disneyland - Part 1
Day 13 - Wednesday, June 24 - Disneyland - Part 2
Day 13 - Wednesday, June 24 - Disneyland - Part 3
Day 13 - Wednesday, June 24 - Disneyland - Part 4
Day 14 - Thursday, June 25 - Disneyland - Part 1
Day 14 - Thursday, June 25 - Disneyland - Part 2
Day 14 - Thursday, June 25 - Disneyland - Part 3
Day 15 - Friday, June 26 - Drive to Grand Canyon
Day 15 - Friday, June 26 - Drive to Grand Canyon - Part 2
Day 16 - Saturday, June 27 - Driving through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas
Day 17 - Sunday, June 28 - And... were' home!
Closing Thoughts (video)
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<font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your
Aug 17, 2006
Love the collage! I'm excited to hear all about your trip!
  • PrincessInOz

    Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
    Feb 8, 2010
    Epic trip! Looking forward to seeing a large percentage of those 6000+ photos.


    <font color=CC66CC>Disney Think Formula is:<br>HE=
    Mar 16, 2002
    This is truly an adventure! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.
  • melk

    DIS Veteran
    Oct 20, 2000
    I'm in! You really are fortunate to have experienced so much of the country...in one trip! Someday we hope to do a drive vacation of the western U.S.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    Love the collage! I'm excited to hear all about your trip!
    Thanks kaoden39!

    Epic trip! Looking forward to seeing a large percentage of those 6000+ photos.
    Thanks PrincessInOz. I hope to find a balance between sharing a lot of them without overdoing it. :hippie:

    Following along!
    Thanks momtohms!

    Can't wait!!
    Cool kylie71!

    This is truly an adventure! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.
    Thanks poohbear2! I look forward to sharing more about it too :hippie:

    I'm in! You really are fortunate to have experienced so much of the country...in one trip! Someday we hope to do a drive vacation of the western U.S.
    Thanks melk! Fortunate indeed. If you can pull it off, a western road trip is totally worth it. It was way cooler than I ever expected it to be!! I look forward to doing another big road trip in the future.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    Meet the Family

    Before we get going with the trip report, I thought it would make sense to introduce my family. This will be somewhat of a rehash of content from my previous trip report introductions and especially the pre-trip report for this thread. For those of you who’ve followed along before, feel free to skip ahead. Otherwise, here’s the scoop on the “cast” of this report.

    The trip consisted of my immediate family, my wife’s parents, and her brother (and his immediate family.) All in all, we had 11 people on this trip. It was quite the crew!

    About My Immediate Family

    DW and I have been Disney fans most of our lives. Both enjoying the classic movies and cartoons as kids, and we each went on family vacations to WDW several times. (She had gone 4 times and I had been twice.) The first movie that we saw in a theater together was 101 Dalmatians in 1996. And when we were first dating, I remember she mentioned that as a little girl, she dreamed of going to WDW on her honeymoon. So, later when get got married, the decision on where to go for our honeymoon was a no brainer! That started the tradition of including Disney in our family vacations and we've been going back for more ever since.

    For most of my family, this was our third trip to Disneyland. DW and I went on a solo trip in 2010, staying at the Howard Johnson. And then DD15 (Princess) went on her “10 year old trip” with my parents in 2010, staying at the Grand Californian. Next up was DS12 (Buddy) who went on his “10 year old trip” with my parents in 2013, staying at the Disneyland Hotel. Finally, all five of us visited in 2013 staying at the Disneyland Hotel. That was DD8’s (Pickle) first trip to Disneyland. After two visits, we were hooked and couldn’t resist a third trip this year! We consider WDW our “home” resort, but Disneyland is now our favorite.

    Matt (me) - Please don’t ask how/why I came up with the MarbleBob screen name, because I don't really remember. (It’s hard to believe I joined Disboards almost 12 years ago.) I'm not related to anyone named Bob and I don't even own any marbles. Some might argue, that I've lost a few marbles, but that's a different story. About me? I’m an IT manager, skateboarder, gardener, and of course, a Disney fan. I tend to go through phases where I'm super into Disney, and then I focus my interest on other things. But I always come back!!!

    Stephanie (DW) - My best friend and awesome mother to our 3 kids. She isn't really any more or less into Disney than I am, but she's certainly more consistently plugged in. I think she's listened to almost every DIS Unplugged podcast through the years (both WDW and DL) and she's probably listened to every one of Ricky Brigante's Inside the Magic podcasts too. She keeps me up to date on the latest Disney related events, and she closely followed the plans for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, and made sure we were up to speed on the Diamond Celebration festivities.

    I periodically make collages of our kids growing up with Disney. I thought it would be fun to make one out of a few scan’s from Stephanie’s trips to WDW as a kid.

    Princess (DD15) - My oldest daughter. Obviously, that's not her real name, but that's the name that we'll use for this trip report. As mentioned above, she's grown up going to Walt Disney World, and loving Disney princesses. She outgrew the princess loving stage a few years ago, but her love for Disney hasn't diminished. She also loves everything Nintendo and Japan, and of course, her favorite Disney attraction is the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. And one of the highlights for her on this trip was visiting Japantown in San Francisco.

    Buddy (DS12) - Also not his real name, but this is what we usually call him around the house. He's our engineer. He loves building things with his monorail sets, Legos, Rokenbok, trains, etc. And of course, his favorite past time is playing Minecraft on the computer. His favorite Disney attractions are the trains, monorails, Expedition Everest, and California Screamin’. Highlights for him on this trip include getting to meet Bob Gurr (designer of the original Disneyland monorail) and seeing so many trains across the country (including Bailey Yard, Walt’s Carolwood Pacific Trains at the Family Museum, Roaring Camp Railroad, Los Angeles Live Steamers, etc.)

    Pickle (DD8) - We don't really call her this too much in person, but she owns up to her nickname, and it fits her well. Very sweet and loving, but she can be a bit ornery and spicey too! She's just starting to outgrow the princess loving stage, but she’s not quite finished yet. She seems to go back between favoring Elsa and Cinderella.

    About Stephanie’s Family

    Stephanie’s Parents - We’ve have a lot of Disney experiences with my parents, but outside of a daytrip to Walt’s hometown (Marceline, MO) last year, we had never gone on a Disney trip with Stephanie's parents before. So this was special treat for us! Dennis and Shirley have gone to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland multiple times through the years, but I think the last time that they visited Disneyland was right before California Adventure opened up.

    For the sake of the trip report, we’re going to refer to them by the names my kids call them. Nanny and Grandpa. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that Grandpa has been a HUGE fan of Donald Duck since he was a kid!

    Dave’s Family - Dave (Stephanie’s brother) and his wife (Angie) joinined us too. They have two kids, we'll call them Luke (6) and Leia (4) during this trip report. (Yes, there are a lot of Star Wars fans in our family.) They went on their first trip to Disney World with Nanny and Grandpa last year, and now have a Disneyland trip under their belt too. Pickle was super excited to travel and visit with her favorite cousins!

    So, I guess that’s enough about the family. How about a little more background on the trip before we get started?
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    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    Trip Background

    Part A. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been thinking that our vacations have been a bit too Florida heavy. Certainly, our kids have seen other parts of the country, but probably 75% of their trips have involved Florida and Disney in some shape or form. We've been thinking that we should probably broaden their horizons a little more before they grow up.

    We thought about visiting the North East, NYC or even going up to visit an old friend in Montreal, or going to Wyoming/Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon, etc. I had always wanted to do a mega road trip out west, and there's still the conflict of wanting to see other places besides Disney, but still wanting to experience Disney.... So we thought, how about driving to visit my aunt and uncle in San Francisco, then spending a couple days in Yosemite (I've flown over it countless times on the Soarin' ride, but I really want to see it in person!), and then make our way to the LA area... spend a few days at Disneyland and LA in general, and then stop at the Grand Canyon for a night on the way back. That would meet both parts of the vacation equation... Get a Disney fix, expose the kids to new parts of the country, and also satisfy a bit of the road trip dream. Perfect!!

    Part B. We travel with my parents more regularly (they share our love for all things Disney and it just works out), but It’s been a few years since we’ve gone on vacation with Stephanie’s parents. We tend to plan our travels pretty far in advance and it seems like the last few times they’ve suggested a joint vacation, we’ve already had plans locked in, and we’ve had to decline. When we dreamed up this vacation about a year and a half ago, we thought maybe we should give them a heads up about it and see if they wanted to join us. We shared the outline of our plans to drive to San Francisco for a few days, visit Yosemite, spend several days in Anaheim, and then hit the Grand Canyon on the way back. They were indeed interested.

    Part C. Dave and Angie realized that Nanny and Grandpa would have a lot of extra space in their mini van. One thing led to another, and then we had another family joining us. And Pickle was thrilled to find out that her two favorite cousins would be joining us on our vacation!

    Trip Overview

    Dave and Angie had slightly different objectives for their vacation, so although we generally travelled as a group, we split up quite a bit. To start with they all (Dave’s family and Nanny/Grandpa) left a couple days early to see Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Devils Tower, etc. Also, we split up quite a bit in San Francisco and LA. And finally, they ditched us after the Grand Canyon on the way back (they travelled a few extra days with a stop at Carlsbad Caverns.) This was actually a blessing in disguise, as keeping three distinct families on the same page was a bit of a challenge. I’m sure this helped quite a bit in reducing the inevitable friction between families on such a long trip.

    Anyway, this trip report will center around my family. You’ll see photos and mention of everyone else from time to time, but everything shared will be from our perspective. Also, I plan to share bits and pieces of the whole trip, but I’ll share more details and photos of the Disney related experiences.

    Finally, before we get going with the report, here’s an overview of how the trip played out for us:

    Day 1 - Drove from St. Louis to St. Joseph, MO - With a stop in Marceline, MO (Walt Disney Hometown)
    Day 2 - Drove to Cheyenne, WY - With a stop at Bailey Yard (the world’s largest train yard)
    Day 3 - Drove from Cheyenne to Elko, NV - Stops at Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats
    Day 4 - Drove from Elko to San Francisco, CA - Stops at Sacramento and Vacaville
    Day 5 - Explored Japantown SF and the Golden Gate Bridge
    Day 6 - Drove to Santa Cruz - Visited the beach/boardwalk, Roaring Camp Railroad, and Henry Cowell State Park
    Day 7 - Visited the Walt Disney Family Museum, Lucasfilm Office, and the Wharf area.
    Day 8 - Drove to Yosemite - Visited Mariposa Grove (giant sequoias) and Glacier Point
    Day 9 - Spent the entire day exploring Yosemite Valley
    Day 10 - Drove to LA - Stopped at Griffith Park to see Walt’s Barn and to meet Bob Gurr, checked into the Candy Cane Inn, and explored Downtown Disney
    Day 11 - Beach day - We visited Newport and Laguna beaches
    Day 12 - Spent the day at California Adventure
    Day 13 - Spent the day at Disneyland
    Day 14 - Park hopped between Disneyland and California Adventure
    Day 15 - Drove to Grand Canyon and explored the rim before sunset
    Day 16 - Drove to Amarillo, TX
    Day 17 - Final drive back home

    Stay tuned for Day 1 :hippie:
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  • BadPinkTink

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 13, 2015
    all I can say is wow, and cant wait for updates. As a European, this kind of trip is one for "when I win the lottery" as my travel costs just to USA are over $1000, before even starting any kind of touring like this.


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    all I can say is wow, and cant wait for updates. As a European, this kind of trip is one for "when I win the lottery" as my travel costs just to USA are over $1000, before even starting any kind of touring like this.
    If you ever can find a way to make it happen, you won't be disappointed!

    Sounds like a fantastic adventure
    Thanks jhoannam. Indeed it was :)


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    Day 1 - Friday, June 12 - And We’re Off!!!

    As I mentioned in the overview, Nanny, Grandpa, and the others had already left to visit Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Devil’s Tower, etc. The plan was to meet up with them the following day in Cheyenne, WY and then caravan together the rest of the way to California. So we were on our own for the first leg of the trip...

    This was perfect, because we decided to start our journey with a visit to Walt’s hometown, Marceline, MO. We’ve been there a few times before. It’s great for a day trip and certainly worth a visit on its own accord. If you are ever even remotely close to being in the area, you should plan a visit. For a Disney fan, it’s like making a pilgrimage.

    We originally planned to drive to San Francisco in three days, which didn’t leave time for a stop in Marceline. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stop. It just seemed appropriate since we’d be seeing so many other Walt Disney related sites on this trip. So, we decided to depart after lunch on Friday (instead of early Saturday morning.)

    I took a half day off from work. I got home around Noon, we finished loading the car, and we were on the road by 12:30 PM. Not bad!!!

    We drove north to Hannibal, waived to the giant Mark Twain statue, and then headed west on Route 36. It took a little less than three hours to get to Marceline. Sort of an uneventful drive, so I won’t bore you with the details...

    I wrote a little bit about Marceline in the pre trip report, and see my signature for a TR from a couple years ago. In a nutshell, the Disney family moved from Chicago to Marceline in 1906 when Walt was four. They lived there for a few years, until 1910. However, as an adult, Walt said, “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened to me since or are likely to in the future.” This is where his great love of trains started, and much of his time spent living on the farm served as inspiration for future movies and cartoons. Later in life, he came back to Marceline many times, and had even purchased his boyhood home with the plans to develop a rural experience around it. The idea behind this “Marceline Project” is really facinating. Unfortunately, it was in its infancy when Walt died and it was scrapped (along side his Mineral King ski resort project http://www.yesterland.com/mineralking.html), so that they could focus on completing the Walt Disney World project. The land was sold back to Walt’s partner, who’s daughter (Kaye Malins) still lives in the home today. She’s the one who runs the Walt Disney Hometown museum, and has has opened up some of the original Disney farm property to the public. We’ve had a chance to meet her at the museum couple times, and she’s a real sweet heart. (Actually all the people who work at the museum have been very sweet.) Her story of growing up and interacting with Walt is pretty darn cool.

    There are a few more sites of interest in Marceline, and I’m going to gloss over them here. If you are more interested, go to the Walt Disney Family Museum website for more information. And read this quick D23 article. It does a better job at summarizing Marceline than I can.

    So, back to the trip report….

    We arrived around 3:15 PM. The museum closes at 4:00, but that was OK because we’ve toured it twice in the last couple of years, so we didn’t feel like we needed a full tour this time. But I did want to hit the gift shop before they closed.

    Noting that the museum is located in former Santa Fe train station. Pretty cool. We took a couple minutes for a few photos.

    And then the first train came barreling by. Seems like one passes by every 10 or 15 minutes, pretty darn cool! (Buddy and I stopped by earlier this spring just to sit and watch the trains go by all afternoon.)

    The kids were having fun exploring the garden outside, so Stephanie and I went inside to visit the gift shop. I knew that we’d have the chance to meet Bob Gurr later in this trip (more on him later) and I wanted to bring him a pin from Marceline and maybe a post card (and have it cancelled by the Walt Disney Post Office.)

    I couldn’t resist getting a photo inside. Kaye took the photo for us. How cool is that!

    A couple notes about that photo. The Disneyland flag above us is the only DLR flag authorized to fly outside of Disneyland. Walt donated it to the local school, when they renamed it to the “Walt Disney Elementary School”. Also behind us in the glass case, is the desk that Walt sat at as a child. You can still see his initials carved into it today.

    So yeah, we stopped to talk to Kaye and the other ladies for a few minutes. We purchased the pin and post card, and then they wished us well on our journey. Asking us to tell their Californian counterparts hello when we arrived.

    Note that the photo above shows the back side of the post card. Marceline has the only official Walt Disney Post Office in the country, and they have a special stamp that they use to cancel postage. We headed over to the post office next to get this post card (as well as a couple generic envelopes) cancelled as cheap souvenirs.

    Someone could write a whole blog post on just the history surrounding the Post Office, but I’ll just leave you with a couple photos.

    The kids played outside in Ripley Park while I went to get the stamps cancelled.

    I came out to find the younger two spinning on the merry go round. (And you can just make out another train passing behind that black locomotive.)

    Classic!!! I know that these things are dangerous and aren’t available in most newer playgrounds, but I totally remember playing on these things when I was a kid. Great memories!!!

    And of course, a quick snap shot of the locomotive located in the park. Too cool!

    All right, we don’t have a ton of time to spend in Marceline, so come on kids… let’s get moving to our next destination. (Of course, they didn’t want to leave.)

    So they say... Main Street Marceline served as a lot of the inspiration for Main Street Disneyland. Of course, it’s not an exact replica or anything, but the main street “vibe” is totally there. There are a several cool sites on Marceline’s main street (including the Uptown Theater where Walt held the Midwest premiere of The Great Locomotive Chase), but again, I don’t have time for all those details. I did want to get a photo of our family on Main Street Marceline and then a similar photo from Main Street Disneyland for comparison. You’ll have to wait until later in the trip report to see how they compare to each other. Ahhh… the suspense. :)

    Next up, we headed a mile or two south to the Walt Disney Municipal Park.

    The main attraction here, is the site of the old Midget Autopia ride. You can Google it for more details, but basically Walt had it removed from Disneyland after a year or two because he didn’t like how parents couldn’t ride it along side their kids. Instead of trashing it, he donated it to the town of Marceline. I think this was the only Disneyland attraction to be repurposed outside of the park. It fell into disrepair a few years later, but you can see one of the original cars in the museum back in town. They have plans for a new version of the attraction. I really hope that they can make it happen.

    The cars and the metal track are long gone, but the concrete foundation is still present. They turned it into a playground.

    In the past, we’ve brought the kids big wheels and scooters to cruise around on the tracks. No room in the car for those this time around, but they still had fun running along the tracks… pretending they were driving imaginary cars.

    After playing on the Autopia track for a while, they moved over to the other old school playground equipment.

    In the meantime, Stephanie and I just soaked it all in. The weather was spectacular that day. A nice cool breeze. The wind pushing the leaves in all the trees. The rolling hills in the background. Everything was just so laid back. That combined with the small town vibe of the area, really set us off in a positive way. Things just felt “right”. I can see why Walt held such a fondness in his heart for Marceline. What a great way to start our vacation!

    A couple more freight trains rolled by too. When it was time to load back into the car, we looked up to see Buddy and Pickle watching the trains together from the old Midget Autopia overpass. OK, this trip is really starting off on the right foot. (And I promise that the following photo was not staged.)

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    DIS Veteran
    Aug 20, 2003
    Day 1 - Friday, June 12 - Part Two

    After we loaded back into the mini van, we headed over to our last Marceline destination before heading further west… The site of Walt’s boyhood home and the Disney family farm.

    Here’s a snap shot of the home.

    I think it’s been renovated a bit and doesn’t really look like it did during Walt’s days, but Kaye and her family do an amazing job taking care of it. We’ve passed it multiple times in the last several years, and the landscaping and upkeep is always impecible. It sure has that quaint, small mid-western town charm!

    Driving a little way back behind the house, you’ll find a small parking area for Walt’s Barn and his Dreaming Tree. Again, you could write multiple blog posts on these two sites, but I’ll try and keep it quick…

    Walt’s Dreaming Tree - When Walt was a child, he was too young to go out and do farm chores with his older brothers, so he was assigned the task of watching his younger sister Ruth. They spent a lot of time playing and exploring around the farm. One of Walt’s favorite spots was an old cottonwood tree. Apparently, he’d do “belly botany” here - looking at various bugs and animals. He drew from these memories when he created his Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse stories. As an adult when Walt would return to Marceline, he would always set aside a few hours to come back and reflect under his tree. This really feels like hallowed ground.

    (I pulled this photo of Walt and Roy from the Walt Disney Hometown Museum's Flickr Feed, from this web page.)

    Unfortunately, nature took its toll on the tree and it’s been in bad shape over the last decade or two. Being struck by lightning and taking storm damage. It took it’s last hit about a month ago and was toppled over in a storm. It was a registered historical tree, and I’m not sure what they’ll do to preserve it’s memory long term, but there is cool part of the story that remains… About 10 years ago, Walt’s grandson and Disney ambassadors brought soil from the Magic Kingdom and water from the Rivers of America to be used in a ceremony when they planted a sapling from the original tree. It’s known as the “Son of the Dreaming Tree”, and it seems to be thriving today.

    This really had a big impact on Pickle. She brought up the sad story multiple times during the trip...

    Here’s a photo of Steph and Buddy in front of the toppled tree.

    We took a few minutes to pay our respects to Walt’s Dreaming Tree and then we heading down the path to Walt’s Barn.

    The kids were distracted by ripe mulberries. Personally, I’m not a fan of those things, but the kids love them. I hope nobody cares that they ate a few :)

    Turning the corner, the barn came into view...

    And boy, isn't mid-Missouri beautiful?!?

    More history… Walt also spent a lot of time in the family barn. It made such an impact on him, that he recreated it for the live action film, “So Dear to My Heart”. And then later, he re-created it yet again at his home in LA. He spent a lot of time tinkering in his barn when he created his small scale “Carolwood Pacific Railroad”. It was his “Happy Place”, and is generally regarded as the birthplace of imagineering.

    The original family barn is long gone, but they created a replica of it in 2001. It’s really cool that this is open to the public. Even cooler, you can go inside and leave a message for Walt on the walls. Also, they have an arboretum with trees and other plants around the property.

    Stephanie leaving a memory from our road trip.

    And here’s a message that Princess left on one of the rafters last year.

    It was pretty darn hot and humid in there, so we left a few minutes later. Similar to the Main Street photo, I wanted to get a photo of the family in front of the Marceline Barn and in front of Walt’s Barn in LA. Again, you’ll have to wait for the comparison photo :)

    At that point, it was nearly 5pm and time to be getting on the road. We had about two more hours of driving until we reached our destination, so we decided to move on.

    Before we finish off the first day of the TR, I’ll share a couple interactive photos that I took of the barn and tree last year. If you click on these links, you’ll get immersive 360 degree photos that you can look around in (almost like you were standing there.)

    Outside Walt’s Barn

    Inside Walt’s Barn

    Walt’s Dreaming Tree

    OK. Back on the road again!

    We drove the last bit of the day and arrived at the Comfort Suites in St. Joseph, MO.

    I wasn’t too impressed with this place. It wasn’t bad, but there were a few head aches with it. Quality was just OK (yes we are Disney snobs.) I picked it because we needed a place that would sleep 5 and they had a sofa bed, but when we rolled it out, it had bugs and stains on the bed. Buddy refused to sleep on it. So there was that...

    The rest of the room wasn’t bad though.

    Anyway, we dropped off our stuff and headed for dinner. Knowing that we’d be eating some great meals out west, we wanted to eat cheap earlier on the drive and splurge a bit more in California. But I still like the idea of eating at unique places or chains that we don’t have at home. I had heard of Taco John’s before, but never tried it. The kids were all for it, so that’s what we had.

    Stephanie liked it well enough, but the rest of us didn’t. The kids kept on making potty jokes about it, because of its name. I’m not a fan of Taco Bell either, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that it wasn't any better or worse than that. Oh well, at least we can say that we tried it.

    Strangely, the best thing on the menu (in my opinion) where these squashed tater tot things. Not what I expected at a Mexican food place, but they were actually tasty.

    I normally like to snap a few photos of our vacation meals, because it’s fun to go back and remember what we had later. In this case, I didn’t really take photos. Somehow, I ended up with these two. Not good photos, but I guess that was appropriate. LOL.

    OK. To be honest, we were really just going through the motions with dinner. We had Yelped for unique places and read about an ice cream stand down the road. Dinner was just something that we had to get through before we had dessert. You know, because you can’t just eat ice cream for dinner. At least, that’s what we tell the kids... :rotfl2:

    So, yeah, we drove a mile down the street to Kris & Kate’s ice cream. Good ice cream served to you from the window of a giant ice cream cone?

    Yes, please!!!

    This placed had "road trip destination” and “cool factor” written all over it. They played 50’s rock n roll (mostly Elvis) and had a GIANT menu that took a while to navigate. Ultimately we all made our choices, and there were no regrets. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. What did we have for dinner again...Taco Who’s?

    We sat outside and enjoyed our ice cream for a while. It was a pleasant evening. The day was cooling off and we stayed until it was just getting dark. Such a cool atmosphere, and a nice way to end the evening.

    We stopped for gas on the way back to the hotel, and then headed up to our room. Steph took care of a few things upstairs and I took the kids down to swim in the pool for a while. We came back around 10pm and pretty much all went straight to sleep.

    Day 1 was in the books, and all in all, it was a great start to the vacation.
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    <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your
    Aug 17, 2006
    What a nice way to spend your day! I'd love to see Marceline someday. It all looks fun and entertaining.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 20, 2000
    Your 360 photos are cool, it really gives such a good perspective of just what it looks like. And what a great ice cream place you found. It totally fits with just what I would expect to find on a cross country road trip.

    Great start!


    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Jan 17, 2005
    You are off to a great start! As a mid-Missouri native, I love the shout out. :) I don't like Taco Johns either. It is not that great.

    Jill in CO


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