Disneyland Adventure, Part One

I have a lot of photos and we crammed a lot into two (three? four?) days, so I want to split up this post.

A few months ago, we learned that my brother and sister-in-law were planning on taking their kids to Disneyland in February. B likes Disney and hadn’t been in about ten years and I haven’t been since the late-1980s. Possibly 1990. A long time ago, in any case. So, with permission, we decided to loosely tag along, since we mostly did our own thing.

Thanks to flights the way they were, we had to skip curling Sunday afternoon to catch a flight to LAX. We ate snacks in the Delta Sky Club (I pretty much ate lunch thanks to some salad-y type stuff) before picking up his car and driving to Anaheim. We stayed at the Anaheim Marriott, right near the Convention Center (less than a mile away from Disney). We considered going out to dinner, but decided to do it on the cheap thanks to the schmancy lounge at the Marriott having really delicious chicken wings. A stop at Target was made that evening, however, for some Dramamine so we didn’t vomit everywhere.

(My equilibrium changed sometime in college and my life has been hell since. I used to do spinny rides and roller coasters (and read in the back of a car) no problem. However, I can no longer read in vehicles and it’s hard for me to be in the back seat of a car for more than an hour. It’s terrible. As a result, I haven’t been on amusement park rides in a very, very long time.)

We woke up early on Monday, February 12, so we could get in a quick run. Breakfast was at aforementioned schmancy lounge in the Marriott. Brandon got coffee at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf while I decided to wait for Starbucks until we got in the park … not realizing that the ‘Bux I wanted to hit up was actually in Downtown Disney. Oops. As a result, I didn’t caffeinate myself until late morning (when I found the licensed store on Main Street).

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We met up with my brother and his family as soon as we entered the park. We all agreed to buy FastPasses for Space Mountain, but first, we went on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

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Amelia and Jax.

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Amelia loves Nemo.

I vaguely remember this ride from way back in the day when it was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-themed and it had the scary squid of doom try to eat the Nautilus. I think I liked it better then, too. The loose “plot” of this ride … didn’t work.

Post-ride, we hit up Space Mountain (otherwise known as the first test of the Dramamine).

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B and I went on it first – no nausea! woo! dizziness, though … – and then watched Jax while Amelia and the parents rode.

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… I’m pushing around a stroller. This will never be my future. Unless I’m borrowing other people’s kids. Like I am here.

Afterward, Stefan and Nicole took Jax over to Toontown to get in line for characters because Amelia wanted to ride with B on Autopia.

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In line. Someone behind us was like, “your daughter has her shoes on the wrong feet.” B was right on it – “she’s not my daughter, she’s my niece.” “Well your niece has her shoes on the wrong feet.” Meh. She said her feet didn’t hurt so whatever. (I did tell mom later though.)

Autopia was okay. Would have been better without other people (that is, the other idiots on the road/track). We walked Amelia to Toontown to dump her off with her parents and then wandered off to find me some coffee.

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Saw the Mad Tea Party (i.e. Tea Cups) on the way. Did not ride. Did not want to test the limits of the Dramamine. They looked pretty, though.

Stopped at the Market House (which has a licensed Starbucks inside) for some much needed caffeine (that is, iced coffee) and a cheese danish. I think B got extra coffee too. We then stopped at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe for more food. It was technically past 10:30 (like 10:37) and therefore officially lunchtime, but they still had bacon, egg, and cheese croissants on display, so we bought one and split it. It was food. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Our next FastPass was for the Haunted Mansion, but I’m pretty sure we walked through Tarzan’s Treehouse on the way there (another thing I vaguely remember from back in the day … when it was Swiss Family Robinson themed and WAY COOLER). Haunted Mansion was much like I remembered it.

Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t have a FastPass, but we decided to wait in the line for it anyway. It has been redone to be heavy on the Jack Sparrow, but there’s still some “questionableness” to it with the wench/wife auction bit. Makes me happy they didn’t completely overhaul it.

At that point, our FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was just about ready, so we walked over there and met up with Nicole who was sitting with Jax waiting for Stefan and Amelia to ride. While chatting, B got a Mickey Bar.

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Damn things are frozen solid.

Ride wasn’t bad. Kind of disappointed there were no cameras to take pictures on it. We knew we needed more food, so we wandered around looking for it … stopping at Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition on the way. It’s one of those cheesy shooting gallery things that costs 50 cents … but we enjoy them (and I’m actually pretty good at it), so we stopped and spent the dollar.

We split (okay, B more ate) a hot dog and chips from the Refreshment Corner and then a root beer float (one of the best deals at any theme park) from the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. We also took this opportunity to sit for a moment.

Food eaten, we finally did B’s favorite ride ever, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. When he visited with his parents back in 2009, he kept emailing me photos from the ride. I crushed it (and him), beating him by like 30,000 points. He was stunned. And happy, yet annoyed. I think his parents were secretly happy about this.

Since I didn’t get to really see Mickey’s Toontown earlier, we walked up that way next to explore it, walking through Chip ‘n Dale Treehouse and then wander around a bit until our next FastPass was ready.

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In front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

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B wanted to meet Moana, so we met Moana.

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It’s A Small World.

Our next FastPass was for the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Fun ride … yetis inside the mountain were definitely creepy … and it broke down on us, right before the finish. It was actually nice to just chill for a second, we were right near the waterfall, good ambiance … it wasn’t bad.

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Being stopped meant I could take pictures of us.

Thanks to the ride breaking down, we got another FastPass to use at almost any ride, so we decided to use it for Indiana Jones Adventure (so ride it at 5pmish as opposed to our 8pm scheduled FP time). we quickly saw the family and learned that poor Nicole was dying, so they skipped their dinner reservations and made it an earlier night so they could get in a second day okay. We got in line … and right afterward … the ride breaks down. We had the option to hang out and wait for it to reopen, so we decided to do that. I was checking the Beanpot score while I had reception and B decided to do some yogic legs up the wall to stretch out.

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We ended up averaging about 28,500 steps each day, so this was a lifesaver for him.

The ride was actually really fun and I do love me some Indy.

Afterward, we went on the Jungle Cruise (which is apparently better at night) … it was okay. So many one-liners. I hear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in talks to redo it and I’m excited to see what it will turn into.

At this point, we really wanted actual food (not just snacks) and I wanted to try to watch the final bit of the Beanpot (despite BU sucking), so we exited the park and went to the ESPNZone in Downtown Disney (and saw the two Starbucks). I couldn’t get the Beanpot on TV (fail. but given how it went …), but got a beer and ACTUAL FOOD OMG (cobb salad). We finished, walked outside … and lo and behold, it was raining. We weren’t quite finished yet, so we hopped the Monorail back into the park pretty much just so I could ride It’s A Small World. Mostly the same as I remember it, except it’s been updated with actual Disney characters tossed in when appropriate (like Lilo and Stitch in the Polynesian area). It also had a creepy Mountie, which was hysterical. It wasn’t as crappy as I remembered, but this could also be because we made snarky comments about everything? Who knows.

I’ll end this here, and come back next time with day two … which was a touch of Disneyland and a lot of California Adventure!

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On Helga’s German Restaurant

We tend to get in food ruts.

If you pay attention to my travel posts – particularly the ones on cities I’ve visited several times – you’ve probably noticed that we often migrate toward the same places. We’ve tried to get a bit better with this in Las Vegas (and are going to start this in Tucson) … but we’re super guilty of sticking with our old favorites at home in Denver.

Therefore, in order to MAKE US PICK SOME NEW PLACES DANGIT, I actually started a page for “new restaurants tried” in the super loose bullet journal I’ve got going this year.

First new place tried? Helga’s German Restaurant and Deli, in Aurora.

It was a touch obnoxious to get to (sometimes, Google Maps, I swear …), but it’s basically off Exposition sorta behind the train station near Aurora Mall. We went on January 31st at around 6:45 pm. They had some soft pretzels and a beer cheese sauce that looked outstanding, but we decided if we wanted anything extra, we’d rather have dessert rather than an appetizer.

Ambiance was what you’d probably typically think of a German restaurant (that is, Bavarian-style). B I believe had a Paulaner Wheat, which he liked. I abstained since I’m not the biggest fan of German beers.

We both had schnitzels for dinner – his was the traditional, with green beans and fried spaetzle on the side. I had the rahm schnitzel – “Your choice of Pork, Chicken, or Veal: breaded or floured, then fried and topped with our chef’s made-to-order sauce using rich cream, mushrooms, and our brown sauce to create a creamy mushroom delicacy” – with more traditional spaetzle on the side as well as the kroketten (fried potato dumplings … which I was hoping would be the smaller potato balls I fell in love with over there ages ago … but alas, no.).

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Tasty.

Our dinner took a bit longer to come out – even compared to a table that got seated after us – but I think it was probably due to the above-mentioned made-to-order sauce. We’re really pretty patient, but it’s hard seeing people in a larger party than yours who got seated after you get their food first.

(I should mention that we also apparently got soup with our meals and we chose the potato. It had a weird spice in it that was a tad too much, but other than that, we enjoyed it.)

We did decide to do a dessert and split the apple strudel (which we got a la mode):

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My only complaint with it was that I wish it had been a bit warmer.

Overall, it was a good meal. Would we go back? Probably, but given how heavy it was, not for a good few months.

Tucson, January 2018

I seriously go to Tucson/Arizona enough at this point that I’m just titling these posts as to when I go. Which I’m pretty sure I’ve also intro’ed with before. *shrugs*

In any case … I had a serious, serious hankering for Mexican food. Not the green chile-based crap that you mostly find in Colorado. Oh no, I wanted the deliciousness I get in Tucson. As I don’t work … I felt like adventure. I was considering going on my own … but B wanted to come … so we went together.

We tried getting Hamilton tickets in the DCPA presale the morning of Monday, January 25th … but our random lottery numbers were way too far down. I also in theory had a Global Entry appointment that afternoon, but thanks to the government shutting down, that was also cancelled. So, we decided to get a bit more time in Tucson and bust out of town Monday.

Dinner was at K Bob’s in Las Vegas, N.M., and we stopped for the night in Albuquerque. Got up earlyish Tuesday morning and continued on driving. I mostly just snacked for lunch and dinner was at the glorious, wonderful Casa Molina. Cheese crisp, beer, bean burrito … and instead of a green corn tamale, I decided to try a chicken enchilada.

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It was pretty dang delicious.

After dinner, we met up with our friends Seton and Debbie for a drink at the Tucson Hop Shop … and to pick up Girl Scout cookies. Mmmm, Thin Mints.

We found out late Monday night that the government was reopening, so I called on Tuesday to try to reschedule my Global Entry appointment at DIA. Yeah, unless I wanted to walk in that day, they weren’t going to help. I got on the site to reschedule when we got to our hotel … and the next appointment in Denver? July. Not helpful. I checked Tucson … February 3. Also not particularly helpful. However, I saw a spot for Nogales (the border) … they had a ton of spots open. I picked an early spot for the next morning.

So, Wednesday morning, we woke up early, got breakfast at the hotel, stopped for coffee, and then took I-19 south out of Tucson to Nogales, Ariz., just at the border. 20 minutes later, Global Entry appointment was taken care of, easy peasy.

We stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac on our drive back to Tucson. I’m pretty sure I’d been there before – I did have a great-aunt who was a nun, after all – but I definitely didn’t remember it. So, we stopped.

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The Mission is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, which is pretty dang cool. It also still has Mass to this day, even as they continue to renovate it. Plus we saw a few crested saguaro on the drive, so that automatically made it worthwhile.

After, we drove back to Tucson to pick up a tote bag at a visitor’s center that I won off the @visittucson Instagram feed, Bookman’s to check out the used books, and then some In-n-Out Burger for lunch.

Afterward, we spent some relaxing time by the pool (even though Tucson was kind of cold … well … comparatively) before heading off to Saguaro National Park. We picked up a few items at the Visitor’s Center (because it’s been closed most every other time we’ve been), went for a short run, and then caught the sunset – something I’ve been trying to do for a while.

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B and saguaro.

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Crested!

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Sunset.

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Almost doesn’t look real.

Pics taken, we did our standard Tucson meal for dinner – Eegee’s (where I tried their flavor of the month – prickly pear – and it was weird), a stop at Wienerschnitzel for fries and good ketchup, and then Lucky Wishbone. I got my usual shrimp, but B actually decided to try their fried chicken:

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It was surprisingly good.

While tasty as always, I think I might actually be able to skip Lucky Wishbone next trip. And only mooch off of B’s eeg.

Headed out early the next morning and decided to do the whole drive in one day.

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New Mexico state monument as seen off a rest stop somewhere near Truth or Consequences. Have always wondered what it was for. Monument was closed. Remains a mystery.

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El Camino Family Restaurant, Socorro, N.M. (no web site). Lunch stop. Average BLT. Glad I got cheese on my fries.

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We get bored, we take selfies. Okay, I do.

Dinner to make it quick and easy was Golden Corral in Pueblo, Colo.

Short little jaunt, but always nice to head to Tucson for a visit.

On Ultimate Dinosaurs at DMNS

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has an exhibit on Ultimate Dinosaurs (that is, newer dinosaurs unearthed in recent years) that’s actually ending in a few days – Monday is the final day – and we had been delaying forever on going. So, on January 4, we finally went.

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Entrance.

We all know the usual suspects – Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, our personal favorite T. rex – but this exhibit had other, lesser-known dinosaurs (as mentioned above, because they’re fairly new discoveries). Pretty cool to learn about.

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Three smaller new ones. They also had the fossils/casts of the fossils.

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Husband and dinosaur.

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Nigersaurus head. It has a funny mouth.

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Love the fin-type spines on this one.

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This leg bone is a lot taller than I.

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Our three dinosaurs got in on the diorama action.

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Gigantosaurus, a theropod relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

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SO COOL.

If you’re in Denver and like dinosaurs (and need something to do this weekend), check it out!

On 2018

While I may not always post them here, I am a bit of a New Year’s Resolutioner. Most of my goals this year have to do with my triathlon life (as they do,) but I have a few others that I’ll share here.

My main goal is to try to live with purpose. I’m not entirely sure as to what that means, exactly, but part of it is, I am fortunate enough not to work so I don’t want to waste my days.

(Read: I need to not mindlessly scroll the internets, particularly Facebook.)

I’ve really enjoyed chasing the sun, so I’d like to continue doing that. It will probably need to mostly occur when B is out of town (as he’s not quite as into it), but that’s okay.

I also have the goal of visiting all 43 (41 … whatever) state parks here in Colorado. I’ve got two so far, and I think about a quarter of that number will be easy to hit. The others will take some planning (and the summer), but it will be fun exploring different corners of the state.

In general, I’m also trying to work on my organization, both in the house and in life, and on my grace.

Obviously I’d like to continue creating, and I think (I hope) that will be a thing.

Here’s to a good year!

On 2017

You got to see most of the year unfold here, but all in all, it was a pretty good one.

– I saw two movies in the theaters, “Hidden Figures” and “Patriot’s Day.”

– I saw two shows – “The Secret Garden” here in Denver and “Le Reve” in Las Vegas.

– I traveled fairly extensively. Grand Forks, N.D., in February. Road-tripped to Albuquerque, N.M., in March. Road-tripped to Tucson, Ariz., in April. Boston, Mass., Los Angeles, Calif., and Las Vegas, Nev. in May. Indianapolis, Ind., in July. Road-tripped to Tucson again in August, as well as flew to Minneapolis, Minn. Back to Minnesota in early September, only to get stuck and drive back home through the night. Road-tripped in September through Utah and Sacramento en route to Santa Cruz, Calif., coming back home through Las Vegas. Also went to Atlanta, Ga., that same month. Los Angeles again in October. Road-tripped to Tempe, Ariz., in November, driving back through Tucson. Las Vegas again in December, but driving there after flying to Los Angeles.

– I saw the last of B’s foursome of college friends get married (the Georgia trip).

– I saw my dad go through cancer.

– I quit my job in May.

– I gained some weight and lost a little.

– We picked up curling.

– I saw three concerts – Shinedown twice (both out of state) and Apocalyptica.

– I spent a lot of time in the mountains.

– I made a few new friends.

– I started to catch a lot of sunrises.

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Taken December 31st at Cherry Creek State Park.

All in all, once again, it was a good year with quite a bit of life changes. This next year will include a bit of the same (different travel, but probably still a lot of it, sunrises, mountains, friends), but with no more foreseeable huge life changes. Hopefully.

Fourth Quarter Style: 2017

I have five outfits for this post. That might be a new record.

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Worn to a pumpkin festival.

Hat: Skirt Sports
Sunglasses, Scarf: Target
Sweater: Aerie (by American Eagle)
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Boots: Lauren Ralph Lauren

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Worn out to date night dinner in Scottsdale.

Necklace, Earrings: Ann Taylor LOFT
Purse: People StyleWatch x JustFab Online
Tank: H&M
Skirt: Express
Sandals: Madden Girl

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Worn to see Le Reve at the Wynn.

Earrings, Dress: Express
Wristlet: Simply Vera Vera Wang
Tights: no clue
Shoes: JustFab Online

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Worn to date dinner at Prime Bellagio.

Top: Tahari
Purse: Longchamp
Pants: Candie’s
Shoes: Aerosoles

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Wore this twice, technically; to my niece’s Christmas recital and to a friend’s dinner.

Hat: Skirt Sports
Sweater: Old Navy
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Boots: UGG Australia