Sun, palm trees, warm weather.
Credit for one out of three?
Oh don’t worry. Spoiler alert, the sun eventually came out!
My most recent travel/experience/travel experience took me on my first cross-country trip, to the west coast and to Southern California. It was a trip that was three months in the making, and began in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, December 21st. More specifically, it began in the first class cabin of an American Airlines jet bound for Dallas/Fort Worth (the layover airport on the way to Ontario International Airport), which was another first. If only we could have maintained that lovely status for the second leg of the trip, but it wasn’t possible.
Also not possible? Sun when we arrived. It became a thing the next day, but for that day (and a brief portion of the next morning), it was all about the rain. It was also chilly when we arrived (it got up to 70 on our final day, but was a suitable 60-something degrees on several days, sometimes cooler), but still better than at home this time of year.
There were palm trees though! Lots and lots of palm trees!
After a chill first day, the next day was a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.
I love theme parks, and I love ones that are open and fully operating in the middle of the winter months. Even if you have to wear a sweatshirt to be able to enjoy the attractions, it is still nice to be outside in fresh air and getting the adrenaline pumping on some rides (ok, those were indoors, but still).
Also awesome? Ordering something called a Krusty Burger, and it not being something possibly construed as gross:
And the Flaming Moe? It’s a thing, sans the mixed ingredients and children’s cough syrup.
(It wasn’t mine, but it was orange soda and it looked awesome!)
One of my favorite things about Christmas is light displays on houses, so amusement parks silly with exterior illumination are the stuff of amazement.
And I’m a sucker for things like backlot tours. I love seeing how things work!
And breathtaking views? Amazing!
I also saw a few famous individuals…and Arnold Schwarzenegger on a giant poster.
I soared through the skies at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, rode with The Simpsons (twice), helped Optimus Prime stop Megatron’s attempt to quash his attempt at absolute power, saw the Waterworld stunt how (yes, a stunt show based on the Kevin Costner movie, no pee-drinking done there)…
and took in a bit of Grinchmas.
I also got kissed by Beetlejuice…
…Spit on by a dinosaur on the Jurassic Park ride (no pictures available)…
And my boyfriend has a picture of us with “Doc Brown” on his camera.
I also made some quick videos of the Backlot Tour, if you’d like to see them.
Go on, click play!
In all, the perfect first full day in California. And yes, the rain stopped early in the day. It didn’t rain again the entire trip either!
The next three days involved preparing for Christmas and celebrating Christmas. I did get a Thor mug, a Thor “Little Golden Book” journal, Sixteen Candles Funko Pops (and the Blu-Ray!), a bracelet, and a Kindle Fire Stick. My “dumb” TV became a “Smart” TV!
I also have a snazzy Thor stocking waiting for my return to California…
I’m now the envy of every eight-year-old boy.
And Olaf may not have survived the God of Thunder’s presence.
The day after Christmas took me on my next awesome adventure. Because two in a week when you’re visiting some place for the first time? Why not!
I heard some insane rumor that it is the happiest place on earth.
That’s right – Adventure #2 of this trip took me to the Disney Park of the West Coast…Disneyland. It doesn’t have a creative name, folks, it is what it is.
Having been to Disney World five times, I can safely tell you this is the smaller of the two United States parks, but it is the original, and since I like nostalgia and all, why not see how the magic all started?
So much magic!
By far, my favorite attraction (aside from one of my Disney World favorites, Space Mountain), was the Indiana Jones ride, which is not at Disney World. It involves sharp twists and turns while riding in a Jeep (buckled up for safety, of course!) through caves, and an encounter with the boulder that’s nearly as famous as the eponymous hero. And Pirates of the Caribbean has not one, but two drops, and begins its journey with a restaurant overlooking the start point. I also got to experience the revamped Star Tours ride (I saw the original attraction on my last visit to Disney World in 2007).
And then there were the Matterhorn Bobsleds. As I recall, there is something similar in Disney World, but this felt so classic and fun.
With the help of Fast Passes, we got on the good stuff quickly, and had time for everything else we wanted to do. It was truly the perfect day, fun and weather wise.
And I even got my “First Visit” pin that I’d been promising to get.
And slightly dangerous. Only because I don’t read signs.
My final day in California was chill by choice – lunch, a morning of exploring the mountains, and t-shirt weather. If only that had been the case on other days, but I was grateful for no snow.
And of course, my trip was topped off with In-and-Out Burger (twice) and Jack-in-the-Box…twice.
Like my first time having Tim Horton’s in Michigan in May 2016 made me an Honorary Canadian, I am an honorary Californian for having In-and-Out and Jack-in-the-Box.
And much like my trip began, it concluded in the First Class cabin from Ontario to Dallas/Fort Worth in the early morning hours, one week after I arrived.
The final part of my flight was spent in Coach.
Can’t win them all, folks.
And there you have it, my first California trip! We’re planning to go back this summer, and at that time, we’ll see where the adventure takes us!
Until the next adventure, check out some of my other travels and experiences! I’ve been writing them since 2015, and as long as there is something to do, I’ll be writing about it to share with you!
And until the next trip, how about another good California song?