Monday, April 27, 2015

Twelve Hours at Disneyland

I posted a little ride recap on Saturday morning, but since then, I haven't had time to post anything about the rest of our tour weekend to Anaheim. I'll just say right now that I'm glad we went in later on Saturday; we had a leisurely morning to relax that way--well, I did. I woke up well before I had to, so while my students slept in, I had a cup of tea and played around on my laptop. It was glorious.

Saturday was entirely reserved for Disney fun. We left the hotel a little after 10:00, waded through parking traffic, and at one point, I heard a panicked voice from behind me.

"Ms. Cooper! Susie forgot her ticket!"


"Don't worry, we'll get her in the park!"

And we did. I had to buy her a $150 one-day park-hopper pass, but I can get reimbursed for that and the alternative was leaving her outside. Not gonna happen.

After that, we all scattered to the four winds. I went to California Adventure, so here's a ride recap from my morning there.

The Little Mermaid Undersea Adventure

This is a so-called "dark ride," which means it's mostly dark, and it's also slow-moving. You ride in a sea-shell buggy on a track through various animatronic scenes from The Little Mermaid, complete, of course, with the soundtrack of the best songs. It was really cute and well-done, much like It's a Small World except far more modern and a slightly less-annoying soundtrack.

Merry Medlies Swings

I love those huge carnival swing rides, which is what this one is. The wait was short (as is the ride), but I do love to soar like that. There's nothing particularly special about this ride compared to any other swing ride.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

As a rule, I am not a fan of sudden drop rides, but I had been on this one before and know that it's not one big drop. Plus, the whole thing is done with great effect, and it's quite thrilling. The best part is when the "elevator" pauses and a huge window opens, affording riders a view of Disneyland that you just can't get anywhere else in either park.

Plus, our "porter" who helped us load into the ride was both creepy and hilarious--obviously having a great time with his job, crooking his finger at us to come aboard and making the teenage girls in front of me in line giggle like crazy. He took advantage of this by getting even more spooky/silly, and that's just what is so great about Disney cast members--they help make the experience even better.

This was actually my last ride. It started to rain for a while, so I mostly darted around from one dry spot to the next, trying to share tiny spaces with lots of other dampened strangers. I had a cup of hot chocolate. When the rain let up, I was over standing in long lines, and figured it was best if I find a show or two to watch.

This led me back to California Adventure, were first I attended a Frozen Sing-Along, complete with the main characters along for the fun. Next, I saw a production of Aladdin, which was wonderful, too.

At the end of Aladdin, I checked my phone and found a missed call and voice mail from about three minutes earlier. The area code was Anaheim, so I listened to the message. Sure enough, it was a cast member. I had a pair of twin boys along on this trip--they're both really great kids, but they're a wee bit on the young side of 14 and they need a little bit of extra care and reminding sometimes. Turns out, they had left their bag on the Disney train--with their cell phone in it--and then they had been separated from each other. Twin A was now upset, with no way to find or get a hold of his brother, and the cast member had seen him and offered her support. I called her back and said, "I'm in California Adventure, but I'm on my way!"

So I booked it--not running, but a fast power-walk--from Hollywoodland in California Adventure to the Mickey and Walt statue in Disneyland, weaving among people and strollers and gaggles of teenagers. When I got to the statue, I saw Twin A sitting forlornly, with the wonderful cast member, a lady named Julie, and a security cast member with him. I got the whole story, and asked them where we might look for a lost shopping bag and a lost twin brother. They suggested the train station on Main Street and the City Hall, as well. I thanked them profusely for them helping Twin A reach me, and for comforting him, and with huge smiles, they were off. So Twin A and I set off down Main Street to the train station, where, lo and behold, the bag had been returned with the phone. We went back to the statue then, as the boys had agreed to meet there if they got separated. After about 10 minutes, I said to Twin A, "You stay here, in case Twin B comes along. I have a hunch I should check City Hall."

So off I went again, actually preferring the power-walk over sitting and waiting. When I reached City Hall, I saw a familiar pair of shoes from the doorway. Sure enough, there was Twin B, red-eyed and sitting on a bench, with another cast member and the same security card who'd helped Twin A!

"Twin B! I'm so glad to see you. I know where Twin A is, and we found your bag and your phone." There were huge smiles from the two cast members, a lot of profuse thanking from me, and a very quiet, "Thank you for helping me find my brother..." from Twin B.

With that, we were off, back to the statue, where Twin A waited anxiously. I caught his eye and did a "Ta Da!!!" gesture.

These boys are funny, in that they're not particularly boisterous or prone to showing emotion. There were no loud greetings, no huge smiles. Twin B simply sat down next to Twin A and lowered his head to his brother's shoulder, while Twin A repeated his brothers words of a few minutes before: "Thank you for helping me find my brother..."

By now, we had about an hour til we had to meet everyone else, so I left them to have some more fun, and went off in search of a few final souvenirs, a treat, and dinner. While waiting to order, I felt a pair of hands land on my shoulders--it was a group of my girls, so I ended up cramming together with them at a table and eating dinner, talking about our adventures, updating them on the twins (I had sent out a group text asking them to be on the lookout for Twin B) and realizing just how much I enjoy these kids. They have their moments, but they really are just nice kids.

By the time we left, we were all dragging and exhausted. Everyone had a great time overall, however, and aside from the twins' mini-crisis, there weren't any problems.

Still, it's good to be home. : )

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rides, Rides, Rides.

I managed to get on some pretty good rides yesterday, despite having a big several-hour chunk of time where we had to leave the parks in the middle of the afternoon. I've been trying to hit some rides I haven't been on in many years, or ever, while also getting my favorites. Here's what I rode yesterday.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

I asked a cast member if it was ridiculous for an adult to ride Dumbo alone. He just smiled and said, "Of course not!" I explained that when I was three or four, my parents brought my brother and I to Disneyland, and as we left for the day I whined and cried--all the way out of the park--that "we didn't ride Dumbo!!!!"

I'm still living it down.

So yesterday, I saw that the line was short, and I decided a photo op was in order. The man in front of me in line laughed at my story and told me he'd just been texting his parents about his childhood refusal to go on Tom Sawyer's Island, and how today he did with his child. I laughed and told him, "Oh, I'm putting a selfie of me on this ride on Facebook and tagging my parents!" And that's just what I did.

Let's face it, Dumbo is a happenin' ride for the toddler set--but I couldn't help but smile and laugh as I rode it, taking the required selfie and enjoying my high-flying elephant for what it is: pure Disney nostalgia.

King Arthur's Carousel

I love, love, love carousels. They're not terribly exciting, but there's so much nostalgia in them, and I love the flowing, up-down motion of them. Carousel horses are works of art in themselves, so riding one feels like being given permission to ride a priceless antique.

King Arthur's Carousel isn't too different from any other carousel anywhere, except, of course, that it belongs to Disney, so it's always spit-shined and well-tended...and it plays popular Disney tunes on pipe organ.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

I rode this one on a whim, as I could see it from the Carousel and the wait was short because it had stated to drizzle. I know I've ridden it at some point, but it's been many, many years.

On the "wild factor," there are certainly a lot of twists and turns, but it's not quite so heart-pounding as some of Disney's faster rides. This is a wild ride for the young set, but it's very, very fun. As with all things Disney, it's extremely well-done and what makes it thrilling for adults to ride is the attention to detail that makes the whole Disney franchise so famous and well-loved. Like the other Fantasyland rides I rode yesterday, it was pure nostalgia and "cute" factor that made the ride so enjoyable.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me! This is a long-time favorite, and one I make a point of riding every visit. Pirates, of course, is not about thrills and speed, but rather, it's humor. I've always loved watching the pirates cavorting and fighting, and the dog with the jail keys in its mouth. These days, the ride has been updated to include mentions of characters from the endless movie franchise, so yes, you see Jack Sparrow a time or two, and Captain Barbosa. But you also get a merry band of barefoot pirates singing that happy little "Yo-ho" ditty and a battle between a pirate ship and the British troops on shore. It's all very marvelous.

Radiator Springs Racers

This one is on the newer side, and I didn't ride it last year because the lines are outrageous. Last night, I saw a reasonable wait time for the single rider line, so I decided I had to go.

Modeled after Cars, this one is adorable. Six people ride in a race car with eyes on the windshield and a little mouth on the front bumper. The start of the ride has some speed and lots of twists and turns as you drive through Radiator Springs--nearly running into a truck, glimpsing tractors that have been tipped (like cow-tipping), and seeing familiar friends like Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater. Then, you line up with another race car and "race" on the roller-coaster part of the ride, to a thrilling finish. It's adorable, it's thrilling, and I loved it. If I find a reasonable wait time, I wouldn't mind riding it again today.

Splash Mountain

I've loved this ride for years, but for some reason, I've failed to ride in in any of my adult visits to Disneyland. I vowed to change that this time, and last night, I hopped in a log and had a go.

It was every bit as awesome as I remembered.

Most of the ride is a slow meander through Critter Country, floating past Brer Bear snoring in his den and other woodland creatures creating mischief. This is based on a very obscure old Disney movie called "Song of the South" that I haven't seen. Has anybody? Who knows?

Anyway, the ride meanders along with a few little thrilling plunges here and there, and finally gets to its ultimate moment--a fifty-foot drop before slowly gliding through a large assortment of animals merrily singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of your visit.

Star Tours

I last rode this one in high school, so I figured a visit was overdue. These days, they've updated it to include characters from the prequel movies (which I haven't seen, only the original three). It's also 3-D, so we all had to wear special "flight glasses."

Now, I don't normally get any kind of motion sickness, but I had a moment on this one where I felt my fajita salad from a couple hours before shifting uncomfortably in my stomach. It's a really fun ride, no doubt, but I was flopping around in the seat a lot with one measly lap belt, having a hard time bracing my feet on the floor and my hands on the seat rest. I'm short, but I'm still well over the minimum height requirement.

Again, well-done ride, but by the time I rode it I was tired and feeling that salad...though I'd also ridden Splash Mountain on a full stomach, with no problem.

Other Stuff I Did

When I wasn't riding or waiting in line, I did some other fun stuff, like visiting Toon Town for the first time in a long time. I intended to go last year, but it closed early and I missed out, so this year, I went early, right after riding Dumbo. Cali Swimmy and I visited Donald Duck's house boat (adorable) and I met up with Goofy and Pluto.

In the evening, when we came back, I spent some time in California Adventure first, and waited 30+ minutes to get into Olaf's Snow Fest. It ends on April 30th, so I was eager to get a glimpse of it. It was adorable, as expected, but I wouldn't wait that long again to slip and slide around on hard-packed snow. Do you want to build a snowman? Yes, but there wasn't enough loose snow to make it worth the effort. Still, it was really cute and I'm glad I can at least say I saw it, though it is obviously intended for the stroller set who are obsessed with "Frozen."

And now I have "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" stuck in my head. At least it pushed "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" out.


I'm sort of on a mission to find/meet a ton of characters, just because they're so damned cute. Yesterday I got pictures with Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Mickey and Minnie, and I saw Alice with the Mad Hatter, and later, Maleficient (who was awesome). And Olaf, of course, at his Snow Fest. I haven't actually seen any princesses yet, but I know I will today.

We're back for about 12 hours today, with a late start this morning because we stayed 'til midnight last night and teenagers don't like mornings. I hope to ride Space Mountain, California Screamin', and a few others today. Sadly, Soarin' Over California is closed right now, as is the Matterhorn, and Indiana Jones. Still, there are plenty of great rides and attractions left to enjoy. And food. Really excellent food.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cali and Donald

Well, Cali Swimmy got to meet Donald Duck again today, and let me tell you, he's still quacking.

Donald was just as excited to meet a lucky rubber ducky, and I, of course, was happy, too. Right now we're back at the hotel for a bit so the girls can do hair and makeup for our performance at 4:30. After we sing, we'll change back into our jeans and walking shoes and go back to the parks. Then we're there all day tomorrow, as well. So much fun!

The kids are having a blast, and I'm like a big kid, too. So far today, I've had my picture taken with Goofy, Pluto and Donald, and I'll definitely get more as I see them!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Half-Week in Instagram (Week #126)

I have half an hour to kill before I do room checks--we made it safely to Anaheim after several hours on the bus. Surprisingly, it went by quite quickly, the long slog from Northern California to Southern California (in some ways, really, two different states). We won't have a lot of hotel time after tonight, but nonetheless I'm glad I brought my laptop with me.

Anyway, I intend to Instagram the hell out of Disneyland tomorrow and Saturday, so here's Week #126 in Instagram, before I haul out my intrepid little lucky rubber duck and take him to Donald Duck's Houseboat tomorrow. Good times, ahoy.


Researching a mostly-written but yet-unpublished blog

Sunday Selfie--no makeup, no glasses.

Mom started planting her tomatoes.

Millie got some garden time herself.

Then we settled in. I had a book to read, Millie had a nap to

The Good Life.


Roses from the garden.

I bought this on last year's choir tour. 

Gym selfie--gettin' it done.

Two sets of lat pull-downs at 70 pounds, then one at 80.

Maayani gave me this pencil four years ago this week. It's
my Choir Pencil. : )

My second language.

My tax refund ($82) came on Tuesday, along with my car
registration ($96). Getting money from one government entity,
giving it to another! 

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

This was on LOLCats and I about fell off my chair.

Someone is SO EXCITED to meet Donald Duck again.

The garden at dusk.


When you run into that cute boy when you are fresh as a daisy
and wearing a very cute outfit.

The "Countdown to Anaheim" and "days" are my writing.
The rest is all students. 

Same as the last one. ; )

Sunrise over the Large Suburban High School.

There are actually people on this bus. A lot of them were
hunched down in their seats. There are 12 of us.

Along Interstate 5

We stopped near a bunch of places. Everyone trooped into
Starbucks. Because of course.

Pyramid Lake, and yes, it was quite overcast today. 

So much red. 

King-sized bed, and a couch all to myself. Not a bad deal.

On the way to dinner we drove by Angel Stadium. Terrible
picture with the reflection.

When we got back, I realized I have a ceiling fan in here.

The view from the bed. Those shoes ran the Urban Cow
Half, and will get me around Disneyland for two days.

Tomorrow is going to be busy and fun and hectic and exciting. We start at Disneyland, then leave for a few hours to go to Fullerton College for the music festival. Then it's back to Disneyland. Saturday, we're at the park all day. I feel like a little kid, I'm so excited.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Quick English Lesson

I'm at a point where I just shake my head and sigh at misuse of there/their/they're and your/you're, though I still get a bit peeved when people mix up "are" and "our."

However, I cannot abide when I see someone talk about how hard they were crying by using the word "balling."

"I was balling so hard when [insert favorite fictional character] died!"

According to Urban Dictionary, this means this person was either a) playing basketball, or b) living the good life.

"Bawling," on the other hand, means "crying one's eyes out."

Anyway, it's just an observation. I've seen this more than once and I always laugh a little to myself, picturing this sad person sitting surrounded by stacks of cash and wearing diamond-encrusted what-nots.

Carry on.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Garden Girl

In my file drawer is a folder labeled "Pets," in which resides all adoption paperwork and vet records for one Millennium Joy (nee Punky Brewster in her foster days). On one form, it is noted that "kitten likes to try to escape outside," and in the fifteen-plus years I've known her, this hasn't changed. Millie loves to explore the back yard, and has the misfortune of having a pretty paranoid mama who doesn't let her go outside very often, and certainly not without supervision.

When she was a younger cat, this was for good reason--she wanted to explore ALL the yards, not just our own. This often ended up with me chasing down a pouting feline and dragging her--howling all the way--back into the house.

These days, she seems pretty content to sniff her way around Mom's many plants and flowers. I always follow her around, worrying about snakes (we do have rattlers in this area) and her eating a plant that is toxic to cats. Mostly she's just content to sniff every single object and prowl like a tiny tigress on the hunt. I'm content to take pictures of her with my phone and ever-ready to snatch her up should danger present itself.

Today, I wanted to sit on the patio and read, but figured first I'd let Millie have a long-overdue exploration. Mom has been busy in the garden and it is alive with bees, lizards and birds. I put my book down on the love seat, and followed her around for a few minutes.

After about ten minutes, Millie decided to have a little rest. She stretched out on a shaded part of the patio, and, figuring I'd get up if I saw her move off again, I sat down with my book. Millie, however, was content to relax, and we ended up having a nice interlude on the patio, with me stretched on the love seat with my book, and Millie on the ground nearby, not really napping, but just seeming to soak in the sounds and smells of the garden.

When she was ready, she got up to explore a bit more, so we wandered around the yard again, pausing for her to appease her curiosity. Finally, I started inching back towards the door to the house. To my surprise, she followed me. After a moment of hemming and hawing at the open door, she stepped right in, without any "help" from me.

She spent much of her time outside today purring at me, so I figure she enjoyed it. As we go through Spring, perhaps I'll give her more of these little afternoons outside, enjoying the garden with my sweet girl.

My Week in Instagram (Week #125)C

As many pictures as I've been taking lately, expect it to at least triple this week...I'm going to Disneyland!!


This hawk stopped in my path.

We've been making mulch out of fruit peelings and coffee

Belly rubs.

Sunday Sisters

Mom and Dad bought an umbrella for the garden.

Yoga. Way more difficult than it looks, but SO effective.


Pink jewelry kind of day.

Handed out the tour packet. 

I finally remembered to pick up my new FitBit Zip. Won it
in a raffle!

Little Miss Cuddles.


It's mocking me.

From Renaissance to Rock, 'cause we're cool like that.


Yay, running!

The goats and sheep are back to help trim things down.

Not a bad first day!


Getting my sweat on at the gym.

I clean up well.

I covered a class for a colleague who has surveillance cameras
in his room. He's a bit odd.

"Why are you on the floor?!"
Yoga, Millie. Yoga.

My friend and colleague, Terry. He teaches...guitar. : )


This lizard was on the fence about all these sheep.

We had three more nights this week, and the pit gifts from
Lynn continued.


It's on! I'm registered for the Beat the Blerch Half.

Day of Silence. Some of my kids participated. 

Our award-winning school paper is always on it.

They see me rollin'...again...

A funny line from the play, and fuzzy dice.

I'm biased, but I think clarinets are beautiful.


Someone on Twitter told me to be aware that the Meowfia
is watching me...

More garden pics.

We don't actually drink beer. Mom just uses it to repel slugs.

Solar-powered lights.

What, you DON'T carry a pitch-pipe in your purse?

Closing night.

A Girl and her clarinet.

All of the pit gifts from six shows. 

Pit selfie!

Lynn in action.

Sarah Brown preaching to New York's sinners.

Charlie the Horse, Nicely Nicely Johnson, and Benny, talking
about the crap game.

Crapshooter's Ball

Sit down, you're rockin' the boat...the kid in front there is in
choir this semester. Great kid!
As I mentioned, this week, my intrepid little duck and I are taking 11 teenagers to Disneyland. It should be a fun trip, and Cali is beside himself because he will get to meet his idol, Donald Duck, again.