Last Day, wheels up

Wednesday October 5, 2011

Awoke to rain for our last day, boo!

We decided to have breakfast in Story Tellers cafe, and there were lots of Disney Characters cruising around.

    

Sue wanted us out of the unit to pack up, so we 3 headed out for some rides after I made a poncho purchase. The Toy Story ride was great, and we found the because of the rain, every outside ride was closed.  In fact due to the rain, no one was about the park, and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience for adults, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  We headed for an indoor attraction, the Bugs life show, which was really well done, in 4D no less!

I peel off from the kids for a little bit, to finish up clearing out the unit.  The rain comes down harder and we decided to checkout downtown disney and the monorail.  The kids wanted to brave the rain further, so Sue and I we hung out in our hotel reception for bit whilst they got in their last rides.

Packed and ready to go

  

The lobby was spectacular at the Grand Californian

  

Tegan’s final pins after swapping the 4 originals we got at checkin

 

Got our car, bags in and reshuffled, and off to LAX.  We were lucky enough to make use of the Qantas lounge (well American Airlines lounge) and it  was great for a drink, feed and shower!  We knew we were in LA when a lady was talking loudly about a new show that she wanted to cast Eric Estrada in the role!

Kids relaxing their way (travel journal and iPhone)

 

and my relaxants

 

Our ride home

  

We relaxed until the plane was called, and it was chock o block full. Wheels up and thanks USA for a great 3 weeks.

I caught the Hangover 2 and Bridesmaids (had a theme going there) and enjoyed the non think viewing.

We lost Thursday as we crossed the International date line, and we arrived around 6:00 back into Brisbane.  We were all a little groggy, but glad to be home.  We all managed to get “some” sleep so we looked vaguely like our passport photos, but with poofy hair.  We had put all of the “potentially” suspect items in one(ish) bag to declare to customs.  All made the cut, except for our luau beads 😦

Ryan and I headed off to pick up Charlie the wonderdog from the kennels, and our family was back to norm in our house from travels, even though we had suitcases everywhere to remind us of our travels.

I will write a reflection of our trip in a couple of weeks, but it was such  a great experience, and I think we will be booking another Waikiki holiday, sooner than later.

 

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Rainy for a bit

Tuesday October 4, 2011

We were met with a rainy day, but we had a Magic Morning in Disneyland (meaning allowed in 1 hour before the rest of the punters) so we headed in to make the most of it.

 

Quiet in the park for the Magic Morning

 

Rest of the park goers about to move in after the dropping of the rope

We headed to Buzz Lightyear again, the star wars ride, Indiana Jones and the river cruise.  After getting the tip from Ryan on how to score more on Buzz, I managed to take him out in the highest score!  Thanks mate!  Indian Jones was a fantastic ride!

The girls about to head off on the Indiana ride

 

As the ground was wet, Sue slipped over, and luckily wasn’t hurt.  I was however noted about her going over  in London on our last big holiday, and we realised that it also occurred on the 3rd week of holidays.

Pumpkins everywhere!

The kids and I

 

We headed back to Cal Adv to get fast pass for world of colour in the evening.  We could get access to it earlier in the day, which allowed us to secure tickets for a particular area to watch the show.  Even though we got our fast pass, it was advised to get there at least an hour before the show.

   I haven’t seen a vending machine like this before

 

Sue and kids in the park, shot from our balcony

     

The rain came down heavier and kids wanted to brave the rain for a while, so they had some time in the park, while Sue and I relaxed.  I was heading to a shopping mall to get some clothes and the rest of the crew decided to join for some lunch and a turbo 1 hour shop to tag out from the rain.  The mall at Brea was almost a ghost town, and there were some great bargains to be had.  Whilst Disneyland maybe the happiest place on earth, it is also the most expensive.  A can of heineken from the local store in the lobby has a can for $6.50, so I picked up some beers, a 3 pack whilst shopping for $5.

3 pack of beer

 

We headed back to DL and the skies had cleared, Yay!  We hit some rides and got setup for the Parade.

The parade starts

Sue and the kids on the Grizzly ride

We headed to the World of colour show where we had a long wait until the show started.  It was worth it though, as it was brilliant!

Lots of lights, animation and colour!

Disneyland!

Monday October 3, 2011

We hit the park with vigour and were guided by the kids and what they wanted to see.  The last time we were at Disney, it was early December, and the park was themed for Christmas.  This time it was Halloween themed.

The buzz lightyear attraction (shooting game) was a hit for us all last time, and the four of us enjoyed it again this time.  Seems Ryan’s video game time investment has paid off with him top scoring.

Heading into Buzz Lightyear

The girls in the car ahead of the boys

The prams and strollers were just over the top at DL! 

Heading into Toon town

  

The attention to detail is amazing everywhere you look

 

Sue and I decided that we would let the kids travel around the park on their own for set periods of time, regular txt check-ins and rules.  We were staying at the park, so we were very close by, and it was great to see the kids with this responsibility and looking out for each other, knowing the boundaries and accepting and acting on these.

Easy access in and out of the park from our hotel

The day was beautiful, so Sue and I decided to check out the pool for a bit, and it was fantastic!

Sue enjoying a cocktail in the pool.

The kids reported came back and we all headed into California Adventure Park, and we were a little disappointed in the number of rides shut for maintenance and with some new (very large) attractions being constructed, there were a lot less rides open.  We were still glad to be in the happiest place on Earth though…

California Adventure Park at night

   

   

We decided to go for  walk to the Cheesecake factory for Dinner, checkout the menu as it is ridiculously large. After seeing Staf’s meal at this restaurant in Hawaii, Ryan and I attempted the burritos and it stopped us both! The White chocolate, macadamia and caramel cheesecake was a winner again!

We talked about our time in the park, what to do tomorrow, and how no matter the duration of a holiday, 4 days or 4 weeks, towards the end you are thinking of home.

 

Santa (Barbara & Monica) then Disney

Sunday October 2, 2011

We headed into Santa Barbara for a look around, and the pier was pretty big, with a number of stores and restaurants built at the end.

The Santa Barbara pier in the background

One of the restaurants at the end of the pier

We then headed south towards Malibu and at one point there were end to end RV’s parked at the beach for many miles!  There were so many massive houses at the beach, with waves underneath their balconies, to mansions up in the hills looking out to the pacific.  A lot of money in this area!  When I was struggling with our dodgy fuel cap trying to fill up, a Ferrari just cruises up beside us at the bowser, with the owner not missing a beat on his “cell” while filling up.

We stopped at Santa Monica for lunch as I had a Margarita at the end of the pier on a previous trip and suggested it would be a good option for Sue.  It didn’t take a lot of convincing, and we found ourselves there with a gazillion others on this beautiful day.

Heading into the Santa Monica Pier area

  

     

Sue enjoying her drink


And me enjoying mine

We headed on to Disneyland, and checked into the Grand Californian hotel where there was a large queue of people coming in.

The queue ahead

 

We got into our room and, and we could see and hear the sounds of the park from our small balcony on the 4th floor.  The hotel also has it’s own entry into the park which is very convenient!

View from our room

 

We decided to grab some food from downtown before heading into the park.  Seems everyone else had the same idea, so we headed to the ESPN sports bar / restaurant.  There was a 45 min wait, but the kids could play on the games inside whilst Sue and I grabbed a frosty drink.

Our buzzer sounded and we were led into the restaurant area.  Oh my, it was like a small cinema with 1 large screen and 12 others surrounding.  We had a regular table, but people were in like gold class lounges. I milked as much sports viewing as I could until the park beckoned.

Inside ESPN

    

We were on the rides until the 10:00 PM close and had a great time.

Big Sur and Pismo Beach

Saturday October 1, 2011

Today we are leaving our Monterey accommodation and heading through the Big Sur, and on to Santa Barbara overnight.

We had heard a lot about the Big Sur, and it didn’t fail to disappoint.  I thin think the family was getting sick of me stopping every 200 metres for a photo.

Heading down Highway 1

The scenery was jaw dropping and the twists and turns had the family on edge with the constant call of watch the road 🙂

One of the many stop off points

 Some of the coastline views

  


 

 

 

We called into a National Park to trek out to a waterfall

Waterfall near middle of frame

Me caught standing under gum trees with camera gear on the back

 

At the end of the Big Sur, there is a colony of Elephant Seals, that take over a local beach and are very accessible to watch and photograph.

 

  

We headed on to Pismo beach for lunch, and it was a pretty lively spot.  I had been given the word to give the Fish Taco’s a try at some stage, even though they sound so wrong, I decided to give them a go.  Man were they good!  Thanks for the tip Rob!

  

We had a stroll around Pismo beach, and with more retail bags under our arms, we headed onto our hotel just outside of Santa Barbara.  We had a quiet night in as we were getting ready for the Disney arrival tomorrow.

 

 

 

Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel

Friday September 30, 2011

Hearty breakfast at our place (Sue’s personal chef was called into action) and we were off to explore Monterey.

This was artichoke country, stretching all the way to our place in the sand dunes.

We walked around the cannery row area and had our first sighting of seals and sea otters.  We had some very excited kids, as well as Ryan and Tegan.

John Steinbeck wrote a novel Cannery Row and they call this area Steinbeck Country

Shots of Cannery Row

        

We drove a 17 mile private road to Carmel through some beautiful country, with very expensive golf courses and houses along the coastline.

The golf courses were magnificent including Pebble Beach

 

A seal colony on a rock not far off shore.  They were making a lot of noise.

  

Getting a better look at their antics

  

The guys were enamoured with the squirrels we came across

 

The guys taking it in

 

We walked around Carmel, which was a very cute town, with some big brand stores servicing the well heeled locals.  We lunched in a swiss cafe, which got the 2 thumbs up rating from us all.

    

When picking up some supplies I spotted the Hosties Twinkees, a fabled thing of my youth, only seen in comic books with sea dragons and xray specs.  I was educated with the importance of these sweet morsels when I watched the documentary Zombieland.

We had pre-booked all of our accommodation except for the following night, as we were unsure where we would like to stop.  Our plan was to research from our Monterey accommodation, but without an internet connect, that proved difficult.  I txt’ed the owner of the property asked about the interntet password as I could see a wireless network, and he txt back saying only dialup (if you brought a modem) or cell access.  Hmmm, doesn’t meet the “internet” indicated on the accommodation, but any how, that meant a diversion to a neighbouring town to get some starbucks and use their wireless.

After consulting tripadvisor’s ratings and hit a couple of no’s before securing our accommodation.

We went for a walk on the beach for a while, and I returned later to get some sunset shots.

Our accomodation

  

Tegan leading the charge to the beach

Beach shots

      

One of the shots I grabbed whilst chilling out (literally in tshirt and shorts) at sunset

A really nice day, and ready to hit the Big Sur in the morning and on to Santa Barbara overnight.

Leaving SF, on to Monterey via Google

Thursday 29 September 2011

I headed across town to grab our hire car whist the rest of the crew got their last minute souvenirs and finalised our pack up.  I managed to make it back across town without a prang, so a good start before picking up the crew at our apartment.

I was stoked that Simon, who I have worked with before, and who now works at Google was able to organise a tour for our family of the Plex at Mountain View.  When I initially asked Simon about the possibility many months back, he said he would be at Mountain View in September also.  Bingo!  Unfortunately, he flew out just before we arrived, so he said it would be unlikely, but he may be able to work something out.

You know you have arrived when you see a google maps marker on the side of the road

He caught up with Adam, who is an American, but had worked in Oz for a while, living in Bondi, and we had met on a couple of occasions, and I determined he is a terrific guy from our meetings.  Thankfully he is now a SF local with his wife, and agreed to show us around.  He was gracious, informative, amusing and a terrific host.  I am so pleased we got to have a tour of the campus with him.  Seems Ryan’s career aspirations may be wavering from being a surgeon, as he asked me what he needed to do to work for Google.

Our host Adam and I in front on the google slide

I guess after seeing the free food, that has different cuisines for each building, as well as everyone smiling, and what I think impressed Tegan the most (being the animal lover she is), you can take you dog to work, and it sits near your desk, you can walk in the parks around the campus, and they have specific doggy buses to transport pets (and their owners) around.  They also had a bowling alley, cinema, football fields and bikes to allow you to cycle around the campus.

The bowling alley

  

Adam showng Tegan the Snacks you can have between chef cooked meals

  

We made some purchases from the google shop, and dropped Adam back to his office building and we were rolling to our digs oustide Monterey.

Heading into Monterey

We had a quick look around our place, which is built just behind the dunes, and headed to find some groceries.  We couldn’t get over how cheap everything is, and had to contain ourselves from buying too much.

Our place was perfect, except no internet, though some would argue that is perfect…

We had a nice night in, and rested up for our exploring in the morning.