Hawaii – Part 3

…continued from Hawaii – Part 2

On day 4 of the trip, mom spent some time perusing lists of things to do on Maui and found a snorkeling excursion in Wailea she thought we would all like. After discussion, we ended up booking the snorkeling as the main activity to do on the 6th day of our trip.

After the excursion to Honolulu on day 3, followed by the fun yet somewhat stressful expedition that was the road to Hana on day 5, we were in serious need of an adventure that didn’t span the bulk of the day but still got us out and enjoying what the island has to offer. Snorkeling ended up being the perfect activity.

Day 6

Our group got up nice and early on the morning of our 6th day of vacation, and promptly loaded into the Jeeps so we could start the trek around the island to Wailea.

We had pre-arranged our snorkeling adventure through Swim with Turtles Maui, which was located near the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott. We opted for a private guided tour where we kayaked out to a cove, anchored our kayaks (single anchor in the sand, not in the coral reef), and spent the next couple of hours snorkeling around in the water between Wailea beach and the Molokini Crater. We were fortunate enough to see some eagle rays, tons of tropical fish, a few turtles, and some eels.

When we finished our snorkeling adventure, it was time to re-bandage Ryan’s foot. The rest of the group took the opportunity to change into dry clothes, and we all met back at a small restaurant by a hidden pool at the Marriott.

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After lunch the group made our way back to the west side of the island and spent the afternoon relaxing. That evening, we had reservations for Duke’s, the restaurant that sat on resort property near the boardwalk that connected the string of resorts along Ka’anapali.

Ryan and I went down to the restaurant a little over a half an hour before the rest of the group so we could grab a drink just the two of us as a mini celebration of our engagement.

Day 7

Earlier in the week we had requested a late check out from the condo we were renting and we got that request approved. As such, we had some more time that morning to wander around on the beach, and to make the boys put on something nice for a group shot.

Following pictures, we changed into comfy traveling clothes, finished packing up the condo, and checked out. Our group had previously decided that we were going to check out the Maui Ocean Center on our way from Kaanapali back to the Maui Airport, which was pretty cool.

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Our flight home was a trip from hell as it was not only a red-eye, but there was a young child screaming and kicking Nich’s seat the last 3 hours. The parents approach to taking control of the situation was arguing loudly with one another – a bold strategy I must say.

Trip Reflections

This vacation was impactful for a number of reasons, and was hands down one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

  • Pearl Harbor absolutely blew me away and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on that day tour. My dad and brother toured the memorial the last time the family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I always felt like I had missed out by choosing to not go with them
  • Snorkeling was something I had always wanted to do but was a little scared of. I’m glad I got over that mild fear because it was such an amazing experience!
  • I don’t know how I go so lucky as to have a significant other who is as up for just about anything my dad is AND as equipped to make the “just about anything” happen because LORD knows I would not have been equipped to do that Road to Hana trip (as much as I liked to think I was)
  • We could not have gotten a better group together – everyone had a buddy, everyone got along, and everyone had similar goals for the trip, so it was super easy to plan excursions

I’m so grateful to my parents for the opportunity to go on a trip like this – here’s to more fun adventures as adults!

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Hawaii – Part 2

…continued from Hawaii – Part 1

After allowing Day 4 of our trip to be a mostly “down” day, we were prepared for a pre-planned full day adventure for Day 5. When booking the trip, we knew we wanted to go to Hana. As such, we rented cars for the trip from Maui Lifted Jeep Rentals as there are very few rental car places on Maui that 1) allow you to take the cars to Hana and 2) have vehicles that are fit for the task of handling the terrain.

Day 5

Our group had decided prior to the trip that we wanted to do a full loop of the east side of Maui when we made our Hana trek. I was tasked with finding some locations to stop along the way, and upon doing so realized a full loop, starting with the road around the south side of the island, would be the best way to accomplish our mission. I went into the day anticipating it would be long with lots of beautiful views and had absolutely no inclination as to what would occur that day.

There aren’t too many words that can do the proposal justice, and as such I have opted to include pictures of the progression of the walk Ryan took me on:

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In this picture, Ryan is acting like his foot is bothering him more than it is, and I’m concerned with how close to the edge he is standing.

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The vehicles that made this proposal possible

Following the proposal, we continued our trek around the island. Preston and Nich had opted to ride with my parents on the first leg of the journey, but chose to join Ryan and I for the rest of the drive.

Our next stop was at the Kīpahulu Visitor Center in Haleakalā National Park. The visitor center is home to the trailhead that marks the start of the hike to the Seven Sacred Pools.

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Ryan has been wearing the carbon fiber ring pictured here since the end of March 2019 – he had gotten me a Swarovski ring set for my birthday just a few weeks prior to that.

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From the Seven Sacred Pools, we continued our loop. As it was now early afternoon, we stopped in Hana for lunch.

After we finished lunch, we got right back to our adventure. The group only made one other major stop along the way, and that was the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.

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From there, we made our way across the north side of the island on the Hana Highway, counting down the mile markers. Ryan, Preston, Nich, and I spent the drive back towards the middle of the island singing and doing Yoda impressions.

My dad and Ryan were major troopers on this trek as they drove the whole way! For those who are unfamiliar, the Hana Highway and the road that connects around the south side are almost entirely one lane roads that are paved less than 2 car widths across, have hundreds of blind corners, steep drop-offs, and several dozen one-lane bridges.

We were all relieved when we returned to the condo that evening, and all but mom (who was already up way past her bedtime) headed down to the restaurant on resort property for drinks and appetizers to celebrate the day’s accomplishments!

 

…to be continued…

 

Hawaii – Part 1

Since my father retired, my family has been making an effort to make big trips together more. Back in 2018, we had decided to make a big trip in 2019 as it is the year my younger brother graduates with his Bachelor’s Degree.

The original trip we had planned over the CSU college system’s spring break was a cruise to Mexico, which we backed out of almost 2 months later for a variety of reasons including food options, freedom to create our own schedule, and the desire for more available activities than drinking.

We knew we still wanted to go somewhere tropical, and decided that a trip to Hawaii better fit the kind of vacation we were looking for.

Seeing as my brother and I are older now, we each got to bring a friend – a travel buddy if you will – so that everyone had someone to do things with. My younger brother Preston brought his best friend Nich, and I brought my boyfriend Ryan.

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Day 1

As soon as we got off the plane in Maui, we grabbed our baggage and wandered out to the shuttle area so we could work on getting our rental cars. We ended up renting our cars through Maui Lifted Jeeps and they were P E R F E C T for our group and the trip we had planned.

With the cars loaded, we made our way to the west part of the island to where we were staying near Ka’anapali. As soon as we were checked in, Ryan and I wasted no time changing into our bathing suits and heading down to the beach with my mom.

The view from our room – the wall of windows from the living room to the balcony folded away entirely to create a true indoor/outdoor space!

Day 2

The following day, myself, my mom, and Ryan got up early (still on California time) and went for a walk on the beach together. To stick with the relaxing theme for the day, Ryan and I had scheduled a 90 minute couples massage for 11am at the spa on the main floor of the resort building we were staying in.

Later that day, our group made our way to Lahaina for a late lunch and to walk around by the Banyan Tree.

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That night was the season premier for the final season of Game of Thrones, so naturally, the 5 of us on the trip who were invested in the show gathered in the living room as soon as we were able to stream it.

Day 3

The following morning around 4:00 am, dad, Preston, Nich, Ryan, and I made our way back to the Maui airport. The five of us had opted to spend one day of our vacation on Oahu to do the Pearl Harbor memorial. Preston and my dad had gone to the memorial the last time my family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I had regretted not going ever since.

When the five of us got off the plane at the Honolulu airport, we were taken from the airport to the memorial via transport my dad has arranged when he booked our Pearl Harbor tour.

Once at the main visitor’s center, we swapped our receipt for physical tickets and made way to the ferry that would take us out by the USS Arizona Memorial – the dock for the ferries was still undergoing construction when we went, so we were unable to get out and walk over the top of the sunken vessel.

Once back on land, we wandered the grounds a bit before making our way to the shuttle that would take us to the USS Missouri and continue the loop to the Aviation Museum on Fort Island. On USS Missouri, we jumped into a tour group to learn a bit about the history of the ship and it’s significance in not only WWII, but in relation to the USS Arizona. For those who are unaware, the ships sit in the harbor bow to bow where Arizona marks the true beginning of the war in the Pacific theater and the Missouri marks the true end as the Japanese surrendered on her deck.

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After the tour, we wandered the ship’s innards before heading back to the shuttle stop so we could get food and visit the Aviation Museum.

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With the Aviation Museum explored, our group got back on the shuttle to the main visitor center. On our return, we made our way directly to the USS Bowfin to explore the submarine.

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Preston wouldn’t stop making faces, so here’s his punishment

By the time 4:00 pm rolled around, we were all exhausted from our adventures (and because we were up so early that morning to fly to Honolulu). We flew back to Maui that evening and all promptly passed out in our beds.

Day 4

The next morning my mom and I got up and walked on the beach together. This day was set to be a “down” day because the previous day had been so packed and we had equally lengthy plans for Wednesday.

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On our return to the condo, Ryan and my dad cooked omelets and turkey bacon for everyone. With leisure in mind, my mom, Nich, Ryan, and I headed back down to the water.

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Ryan tried his darnedest to get Nich to follow him out on these rocks he had gotten me on our first night in Maui but he was unsuccessful. Ryan ended up cutting his foot pretty bad in 2 places on some coral and had to head back to the condo shortly after. Nich and my mom stayed down by the water for awhile longer, but I figured I should join my travel buddy upstairs.

For those of you who don’t know, my dad was a paramedic in his early 20’s, and was arguably one of the best fit people to assist Ryan in his injured state. I won’t get into too much more detail about what happened, but I do have a picture that properly summarizes what happened after my dad did the initial clean out and went to bandage the wound:

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That evening, Ryan and I got dressed up and went out to dinner with my parents at a nice restaurant in Lahaina. We sat down about 20 minutes before sunset, and we ended up having such a lovely time that we were at our table for several hours.

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to be continued…

 

Reflection

I try my best to not have two posts like this back to back, but 2018 was one motherf***er of a year in every imaginable and unimaginable way and there’s no avoiding it. There were tremendous highs and absolute rock bottom lows, and each and every one of them deserves to be acknowledged.

I’ve done myself a disservice by not actually dealing with everything that happened in the last year – I sure as hell haven’t been willingly talking about much or any of it, and I’ve been on a writing hiatus for several months.

Family Relations

In 2018, my immediate family members and I hit an all time low in our relationships. It took one R O U G H sit down with everyone in the living room a few months into this year to finally talk about everything that everyone had been keeping in, but it was worth it.

As a direct result of that long conversation and subsequent work put in by all involved, my family now has pretty darn solid communication with one another, and we are back to truly enjoying each other’s company.

Friendships

There are way too many friendships I haven’t properly tended to in the last few years, and boy did I let some of them slide at the beginning of this year. I would like to thank everyone who has stuck with me through the bad and those who are helping me climb my way back out of the deep, dark hole I dug myself. Y’all are the real deal, solid gold, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the constant support, accountability, and tough love you all show me.

Financial decisions

As I write the heading, I can literally hear the lecture I would get from my financial advisor & grandmother if they knew half of the shit I buy in a month. This last year and a half has been the struggle of me finding a balance between “Treat Yo Self” and living minimally.

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In all transparency, I got myself into a really rough financial spot earlier this year and it was no one’s fault other than my own poor choices. I’m definitely working towards a better balance, but I’ve finally found some kind of stability, which is a great start.

Moving out of my parent’s house

Ok, let’s be realistic, everyone still has SOME of their stuff at their parent’s house, so I’m not completely out of their house. Despite that, I am paying rent and bills on top of the bills I was already paying while living with my parents and I no longer have a bed there. Now, not only do I have my family as a support system, but I have Ryan and Brandon’s support (and shenanigans) day in and day out.

Self Care – Physical

I have been severely neglecting my physical health. I had my last doctor’s appointment in October after neglecting my yearly physical (due in February) for approximately 18 months. In that time where I didn’t have a physical, I had more ER/Urgent care trips than I like to admit, and had a whole collection of not-so-stellar symptoms that impacted not only me but those around me.

Self Care – Mental/Emotional

A major thank you goes to my friends and family members who have been custodians of my health extending all the way back to when I refused to acknowledge there were any issues to begin with.

I hit my lowest low shortly after realizing that the “truth” I had been living for a year was a lie – I knew what I signed up for, and it turned out that what I signed up for was never what I received. It took until the day I walked away to realize just how badly I had my trust taken advantage of. I know that in ways I am still processing that fact, and I also know that I am a long way from being near the end of processing it, but every day I make progress.

 

The Take-aways

This year I truly did learn a lot about myself and the kind of life I want to invest in.

  • I started a new job that is the base of a career that I didn’t anticipate in the slightest, but excites me and constantly provides me opportunities to learn and grow
  • I’ve found myself building a life with another person that is a wonderful adventure filled with growth and challenges
  • I had many friendships renewed and strengthened
  • My family relations are arguably stronger than they have been in a very long time, if not ever
  • I got to travel a lot, and I already have many plans for 2019 that provide me with more balance – spoiler alert, I’m taking a BIG break from Disney trips

I’m anxious and excited to see what happens in 2019, and I know the foundation has been laid for it to be a big year. I look forward to continuing to share it with you all!

Major Life Updates!

The last several months have been a tremendous period of growth in my life, and I’ve finally hit a point where I feel like I’m able to update everyone about what has been going on.

On the 4th of July, I left a severely toxic relationship, assisted by my dad and a friend of mine. Just over a month later I left my job of a year and 10 months for a lot of reasons, including concerns for personal safety, and the deep-seated feeling that it was time to move forward from that in a somewhat scary way.

What I mean by that is that I quit my job with nothing lined up to replace it. I had a lot of long conversations with my parents, brother, and others closest to me, and all were supportive of my decision. Since leaving that job, I have been able to begin to really process everything that has been going on the last few years. Some days were easier, and others were tremendously difficult.

With all the changes, many other plans in my life had been on hold/up in the air. Thankfully, my initial ideas for moving forward in life didn’t work out, and life pushed me in a different direction (read: the right direction). Starting about a month ago, actual tangible decisions regarding moving forward were made. Those simple decisions started a chain reaction that caused every other aspect of my life to sort of fall into place.

At the end of September, I moved out of my parent’s house and into a place with Ryan & Brandon – 2 of the most wonderfully supportive people in my life – which had been in the works since March or so.

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We went into our apartment search with the intent to just view a place on the Tuesday we started physically looking. After seeing it, we realized it was perfect, decided to apply, and were accepted not 2 days later. That Saturday was moving day, which we all made work, despite being out of town the week leading up to it, having no real plan for moving logistically, and having absolutely nothing packed. The 3 of us had planned to move in together sometime in fall of 2018, but it was a whirlwind.

When we moved in, we started with just beds and 2 rolls of toilet paper in the house (thanks dad *facepalm*). Thankfully, I still had all of my kitchen stuff from my apartment in Colorado in the barn, so that came in the next day. In the first week, we had a fully fleshed out cable & internet setup, as well as most of our clothes and “important” things moved, and we established a base pantry stock. We also had our base set of cleaning supplies almost immediately.

From the beginning, Ryan wanted a Roomba so that he wouldn’t ever be stuck with the task of vacuuming. No one wanted to pay for a Roomba. By some miracle, we ended up getting a Roomba from someone that hadn’t been used in awhile; all it needed was to be cleaned and get a replacement battery. $25 and 2 hours later, Ryan has his Roomba!

Within 2 weeks, we pulled just about everything together – got a new couch, moved my bedroom set from my parents, have a kitchen table, have the guest room put together, and I just finished re-staining and re-covering chairs to match the table (barn finds!). We still have a few odds and ends to put together, but they are small convenience pieces.

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Ryan already had a job in town, which was a main driver for the move. Brandon found a job in town within a week of the move, and just finished his last 2 weeks of commuting to work.

At the beginning of this month, I spent a few weeks interviewing for a company that offers career opportunities that excite me. This last week, I got a call offering me the job I had been interviewing for. I was ecstatic!

I still have difficult days, but they are few and far apart now. Part of limiting difficult days is restricting social media. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately considering my use of time on my phone, the way I maintain various social media accounts, how effective I feel certain platforms are, etc.

When I started blogging, I knew the day would come that Facebook would become obsolete for me, and my use of it the last year has felt somewhat forced. Please, be advised that Facebook is getting minimal time from me, and that almost all “updates” will be posts shared via this blog & my Instagram.

For those of you who are interested in staying connected in a “social media” way, subscribing to my blog is a great way to do so. To do that, simply scroll past the Archives and Tags widgets on the right hand side of any post or the home page. Below those sections there are options to either follow via WordPress or simply receive email updates about new posts. I also want to take a moment here and thank everyone who already follows or is subscribed!

If you choose the email route, I highly recommend clicking to open the posts in a browser page as the emails don’t show the formatting correctly.. If you don’t want the emails, bookmarking my home page is another solid way to keep tabs on my blog posts.

Also on the topic of the blog, feel free to leave comments on posts. To avoid spam, I have it set up so that I have to approve comments from new commenters to the blog in general. I approve basically everything, so don’t worry if you don’t see your comment immediately.

I’m grateful for a lot of new beginnings: new living situation, renewed relationships with my family members, a new job that I want to make a career of, a new relationship, and new adventures.

As grateful as I am for all the new, I’m thankful for those who have been there and been supportive – the steadfast group that stayed with me even through the worst.

I have made some progress, but there is still a lot more to come. Here’s to the start of getting back to me – more diligently writing, spending time with the people close to me, and finally starting the Colin quilt(s).

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Halloween at Disneyland 2018 – Part 2

… continued from Halloween at Disneyland 2018 – Part 1

Park Day 2

Fortunately for our sanity, the parks opened an hour later on our second day. This meant our early hour in California Adventure fell from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. until 8 a.m., so we got an extra hour or so of sleep. Even with the extra hour of sleep, we ended up taking our time and getting into the park a little later than we would have liked. Our delay? Room service! Mickey waffles are L I F E. 

By 8:15 a.m. we made it to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! While in line, decided we wanted to make sure we watched the FastPass return times so we could get passes for the Halloween overlay of this ride – Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters After Dark – which runs from 5 p.m. until close.

I mentioned this in the last post, but I really had no idea what I was missing out on by not using Disney’s new(ish) MaxPass offering. Without a doubt, I will be paying the extra money upfront to add a year of MaxPass when I get around to renewing my Annual Pass.

When we got off the ride, we made our way around toward the trolley station near the soon-to-be entrance to Marvel Land so we could find the Avengers manhole cover.

Avengers Manhole

Following Guardians, I was feeling up to rollercoasters, so we made our way over to the Incredicoaster. Since it was still before gates opened to the general public, we got to choose our seat so Ry chose the front, rode with <8 other people, and had basically no wait time at all. We both felt they could have done a little bit more when they did the Incredibles overlay on the track, but had a lot of fun on this ride.. so much fun, in fact, that we walked right back on!

Alebrije wing wall California Adventure

We walked the long way around the Pier after Incredicoaster so I could snag a picture with this Alebrije wing wall for the Día de los Muertos setup in California Adventure.

Right at 9:10 a.m. we made it back over to Radiator Springs Racers because we had the first set of FastPasses available for the day. After our car won the race, we made our way to take a picture with the Sugar Skull car outside of Ramone’s, and then over to the tractor in Mater’s Petting Zoo. At that point, it was time to get our Disneyland Castle pictures taken care of, so we switched parks.

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Since I haven’t mentioned it before, Ryan is basically on the feeding schedule of a hobbit. As such, it was time to stop for food again, so we made our way to Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland to get one of the breakfast platters, which are delicious!

Once we were fed, we played the part of obnoxious Disney tourists so I could get pictures with my bat wing ears from MickeyCityEars by Haunted Mansion. Following the picture extravaganza, we made our way over to the Mint Julep Bar to snag some pumpkin beignets.

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Beignets consumed, we decided to go back to the Star Wars Launch Bay so Ry could look into ordering the D-Tech phone case he saw the previous day. As fate would have it, they were having a technical issue and the D-Tech system was down. Bummed by the news, we decided it was time to swing back by the hotel and switch some things out.

Seeing as we were already in Tomorrowland, we hopped on the Monorail once more so that Ryan could see what the Downtown Disney return trip looked like in comparison to the route leading into the park.

At the hotel, we swapped out my usual grey JanSport backpack that is my usual go-to for a dinosaur backpack that has a tail (yes, it is marketed for kids) Ry found on Amazon.

We decided to walk back to the parks for a couple of reasons. First, it was time for us to get caffeinated and Downtown Disney is the only place we can mobile order to. Second, we were planning to head straight to California Adventure, and there is no direct transit route from our hotel.

It was right around 12:30 p.m. when we got back to DCA, and our next FastPass return in that park wasn’t until 1:00 p.m., so we had to decide what we wanted to do. We already knew the best course of action was to head towards Hollywood Land so we could be near our FastPass location. That worked out well, too, because I wanted to stop by the Annual Passholder corner by Mike and Sulley to the Rescue to pick up some pins and take a picture with the Oogie Boogie setup they had back there.

After the AP corner was visited, we decided to visit one of the Chase Visa Character Experience spots because we had a little more time and I hadn’t ever indulged in this card member perk before. If you didn’t already know, I’m ridiculous and definitely have a Chase Premier Rewards Visa (it has Elsa on it!) and I use it for EVERYTHING!

We learned that the characters here rotate regularly. At the time we went, it happened to have just switched over to Stitch.

The Stitch character experience was precious and different from others in that you weren’t rushed at all. Ryan and I spent a considerable amount of time interacting with Stitch, including getting my spikes investigated and shaking our tails together.

Not long after, 1:00 p.m. rolled around, so we made our way to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this ride was VERY impacted and we ended up waiting 45 minutes from the FastPass side to get on the ride. It was obvious there was either a technical issue or a staffing issue, and it was funny to us that the longest wait of our whole trip was a FastPass return.

Before we left for our trip, Ryan and I visited my Grandma and her husband Steve. Grandma raved about the Silly Symphony Swings she loved so much on the trip she made with my mom and I in April, and we assured her he wouldn’t miss them. After our FastPass adventure, we figured it would be a good time to make good on our word. Following that ride, we spent some time wandering Pixar Pier so that I could get a better look at everything that had been added since the renovation.

The plan for the rest of the afternoon involved a long-standing reservation we had at Lamplight Lounge. I could not have been more excited when 2:40 p.m. rolled around and we got seated in a half-booth table inside of the lower portion of the restaurant. Two hours, two burgers, and four drinks later, Ry and I left rather satisfied with our experience.

When we left Lamplight Lounge, we made our way back to the hotel to once again trade out items we had brought & bought in the park. After swapping some items, we made our way back to California Adventure for our Monsters After Dark FastPass return. I know there have been mixed reviews of Guardians: Monsters After Dark , but Ryan and I really enjoyed it.

From there, we wandered back to Disneyland so we could try once again to get Ryan the Darth Vader phone case he really wanted. Unfortunately, the system was still down and there was no hope that it would be up and operational again before the end of the day, which was especially sad because it was our last day inside the parks.

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As we prepared for the last of our FastPasses for the evening, we made our way to the park entrance to get a picture with the Railroad Station and the ever-lovely Mickey landscaping at the front of the park. Yes, that picture looks like it’s still daylight, and yes, I said evening. This particular park day was just before the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties were set to launch, so both parks closed at 8 p.m. that day.

The first of our “final” FastPasses was for Indiana Jones – Ryan’s favorite of the trip. Our wait time here was particularly short, which was nice. After that, we made our way over to Haunted Mansion Holiday with our FastPasses ready for one final ride in a doom buggy before making our way to the hotel.

Heading Home

The next morning, we took our time getting up and getting ready. The first thing on that agenda was sleeping in just a little, meaning we made it until about 8:30 a.m.

After we got ready and packed, I called down to bell services to get our luggage held downstairs until we were actually ready to leave. From there, we made our way into Downtown Disney for one last look into some shops and to stop by Starbucks.

That morning I also decided that I was going to go into Disneyland and get Ryan that phone case he really wanted but we weren’t able to get the day before – after all, I did have an annual pass. He walked me almost all the way to the park gates before heading to Starbucks to wait for me. While I was in the Star Wars Launch Bay, not only did I get him the D-Tech phone case he had been wanting, I also got him the replica Darth Vader light saber he had been eyeing both of the days before. Buying these items was the easy part, getting them back through the park was an adventure.

For those wondering, I was wearing flip-flops, using my Haunted Mansion Dooney that I love so much, and carrying a rather large and awkwardly shaped light saber box. The number of men in their 40’s standing by strollers who either yelled “Congratulations!” at me or exclaimed their jealousy over the fact that I “got the good one” made me laugh on my awkward walk.

To say Ryan was excited when he saw what I had bought in the park would be an understatement. While I was in the park, he surprised me, too, and bought me a mug I had been eyeing the whole trip.

 

Reflection

All in all, we had such a great trip. Though I’m sad about letting my pass lapse, I know I made the most of the year I had it active. My next goal is to make it a year before I go back, so that I can prioritize other things during this period of my life.

However, just because I’m not planning on going again for about a year doesn’t mean I’m not already planning that next trip!

Halloween at Disneyland 2018 – Part 1

Unfortunately for me, my Annual Pass expired on September 30th, and I chose to let it lapse. This decision was made after considering a number of factors, including the fact that there is no longer a renewal incentive (waiving the down payment) and that the absolute soonest I would be able to make another Disney trip wouldn’t be until February and it doesn’t make sense to pay for 5 months I won’t be going. I am proud of myself, though – I managed to go on 10 different Disneyland trips during the time I had a current annual pass.

Disney Halloween Shenanigans

Fortunately for me, Disney starts Halloween festivities the first part of September. Also in my favor was some flexibility of schedule for both Ryan and myself. On top of that, Disney was offering AP discounts on hotel rooms for the time frame we were looking to go. After much discussion, Ryan and I decided to book an upper floor, pool view room at the Disneyland Hotel.

For this particular trip, we also decided it was time to finally try the MaxPass feature (after watching Traci use it on her trip with Tyler to Disneyland at the end of June). The only part of this offering by Disney that I had no experience with was the FastPass via app function, as I was grandfathered in on Annual Passholders getting PhotoPass pictures for free when I originally started my Annual Pass around 2011.

Also while preparing for this trip, Ryan realized that I hadn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies all the way through. We ended up taking the better part of a week prior to the trip (following our trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks) and watched them all.

Arrival Day

Ryan and I left mid-morning to head down to Anaheim. With traffic, we finally made it down to Disneyland a little over 5 hours later. All in all, the drive was easy, but to be honest, I can’t stand it.

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Once we had gotten ourselves checked in, made it up to our room, and had our bags delivered by the bellman service the resort offers, Ryan and I made our way down to Trader Sam’s. Going into that adventure, we already knew that our plan was to split an Uh Oa… about halfway through that drink, Ry realized I wasn’t kidding about the alcohol content of that particular beverage and the need to split it!

After we finished the fishbowl of tiki-themed goodness, I took Ryan for a walk through Downtown Disney. Since this was the first trip to Disneyland for Ry that would be remembered, we took our time going into most of the shops and taking it all in.

As we reached the end of the walk, we put our name in at Naples and continued the walk so Ryan could see the gates of each park. Shortly after, we got our table, ate dinner, and wandered back to our hotel room.

First Day in the Parks

Since we were staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, we got early entry to a park each morning. It turned out that park was scheduled to be California Adventure on both mornings, which was okay because all the rides I like to do “first thing” in the morning are in that park.

For the first day, we donned matching Storm Trooper t-shirts we found at Kohls. As Ryan and I wandered from park gates toward Cars Land, we stopped to take pictures with the Headless Horseman and the “Welcome to Cars Land” sign.

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Our first ride out the gate was Radiator Springs Racers. Ry had never been on it before and he loved it! That brought me a lot of joy because Cars Land is my favorite area in California Adventure (for those of you who might be wondering, New Orleans Square is my favorite area in Disneyland).

From Cars Land, we made the long loop around to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! With all the Pixar Fest fun of the summer gone, Bugs Land also ceased to exist. This means that the only way to the tower that houses Tivan’s Collection is by going to Buena Vista Street and then going all the way through Hollywood Land.

After we experienced Mission Breakout! we headed back towards the park gates. On our way, we stopped to get pictures with the Pixar themed walls.

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After our picture shenanigans were done, we made our way to Disneyland. Our first order of business with the MaxPass feature was to select a FastPass for Space Mountain at 8:30 a.m.

Once we finished Ghost Galaxy (the current overlay for Space Mountain), we wandered across the way to Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters. With Zurg defeated, we made our way back to Main Street to figure out breakfast.

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On our quest, we took a moment to stop and get a picture with the Mickey pumpkin that resides at the start of Main Street USA. Once finished there, we wandered down to Jolly Holiday for some semblance of breakfast.

Once we had fed ourselves, we made our way towards Pirates of the Caribbean! Along with changing out the Red Woman (something I still have mixed feelings about), they also added a pirate holding a treasure chest that appears human or skeletal depending on the angle it’s viewed from in one of the corridors between rooms.

**I want to make a note here that the entire trip, Ryan and I waited no more than 20 minutes for anything EXCEPT one pass through Guardians of the Galaxy that happened to be a FastPass we had while they seemed to be experiencing staffing shortages**

Thunder Mountain was the next stop of the morning. As this is one of my favorite rides of all time, I was very excited to see how Ryan would react to it. Ryan ended up agreeing that it was great, but would probably be better at night. Although he’s right about that, we didn’t end up getting to do Thunder at night this trip.

At 10:10 that morning, we showed up for our Haunted Mansion Holiday FastPasses.

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After seeing what holiday surprises Jack had in store, Ry and I switched parks for a second time that day. From the park gates, we made our way back to The Little Mermaid.

By this part of the morning, it was time to feed Ryan again, so we stopped at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. Here we tried the chicken sun-dried tomato pesto and the anti-vampire pizza, and I have nothing but good things to say about both of them!

While we ate our pizza and pasta under the pergola outside, I worked on our next FastPass selection on my phone. Have I mentioned yet that the MaxPass feature is worth it? Well, it is!

We decided that after eating would be a good time to head to Toy Story Midway Mania, so we walked around the pier toward that ride. After we finished playing the Midway Mania games, it was around 12:30 p.m. so Ryan and I decided to head back to the hotel. On our way out of the park, we stopped at a couple of carts and stores to collect souvenirs.

From our room, we made our way downstairs, eager to go down the Monorail slide the Disneyland Hotel’s pool offered. I hadn’t been on a water slide or anything of that nature in awhile, and I have to say, I enjoyed it quite a bit! Ryan was much more graceful about the exit off of the slide than I was, though..

With the pool enjoyed, we wandered back to our room to get ready to head back into the park. Now that we had a better idea of time, we made another FastPass selection in Disneyland for that afternoon at 3:15 p.m.

Ryan had never been on the monorail before, so we decided that would be our way back into the park for the next part of the adventure. Once we made it into the park we made our way through Tomorrowland, around Fantasyland as to dodge the afternoon parade route, past Frontierland and the Rivers of America, and jogged up by Pirates so we could get to Indiana Jones, which was the ride Ry went into the trip looking forward to the most.

After braving the jeep ride, we grabbed a couple skewers from Bengal Barbecue. Now that the Ryan had been fed a snack, we wandered back across the walkway to the Jungle Cruise! Having survived the jungles of the world, we decided it was time to present ourselves to Lord Vader at the Star Wars Launch Bay (our shirts said “Those were the droids we were looking for”).

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We had been waiting for this event all day. Our Darth Vader character meet & greet was probably the best character interaction I’ve ever had in the parks.

Following our visit with Darth Vader, we explored the Star Wars Launch Bay. Having never seen the movies all the way through prior to this trip, I had never seen a reason to go in before. Boy, was I missing out on a lot of things by not exploring the world of Star Wars!

After that, we had to swing by the hotel once more because sometimes I get a little too excited about the “next” ride or attraction at Disney and get a little short sighted and forget things I legitimately need in the park.

As we left the hotel we mobile ordered the Starbucks Reserve store in Downtown Disney because it was high time for caffeination. While Ryan took care of that, I got us FastPasses for Soarin’ at 5:30 p.m.

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Following our flight around the world, we made our way to Cars Land to hunt for food. Ryan ended up getting pretzel bites from the Cozy Cone before we moved on to Hollywood Land to get hot dogs.

One of the hot items released for Halloween were the poison apple glow cubes, this year having purple as a special release color. While green and red can be found in various refreshment areas around the park and sold separately, the purple cube was a feature of the Poison Apple-tini served exclusively at the Carthay Circle Lounge. On this trip, Ryan and I determined we would be getting 4 – one for each of us, as well as one for each of our moms.

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With our glow cube mission accomplished, we walked back into Cars Land to ride Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. At this point, I was content because Ry had seen Cars Land at night, we had done the vast majority of the rides on the “must-do” list, and it was close enough to park close that we could call it a full day.

 

to be continued…