Las Vegas-Day 1

Las Vegas is an interesting place. Seems a lot of people need to getaway and forget who they are everyday. The filters fall off and the weird and wild side they’ve pushed deep down emerges with a flash.

We ate dinner at Gordon Ramsey’s Heels Kitchen. Great food, severely over priced, but worth it for the experience. Our waiter was amazing. Our table was up next to the window over looking the strip.

We shared a tomahawk steak and had a fancy dessert with a table side show.

Today will be spent at the pool reading and relaxing.

Quick update

Day 4 and we have seen lots and the weather has been crazy.

We stayed outside of Henderson Nevada last night at a small KOA campground. I love camping and my little tent is quick to set up.

Last night was terrible though. Almost 100 degrees at 1am. I don’t think I have ever tried to sleep outside in that kind of heat.

I jumped up early and started packing. I was anxious to get on Route 66 and go to Oatman Arizona. A tiny town where the donkeys wander the streets. I will write about Oatman in another post soon. This one is more about trying to sleep and the weather we have seen.

When leaving Oatman it poured rain. Huge drops. Lighting, wind, you name it. By the time we got back on I40 we were good and the temperature started to rise again.

So our next destination was Williams, Arizona. I made a special reservation at a much larger KOA. More to come on this place too.

Here is where we are staying tonight! And the weather is more like home. 60’s.

I am ready to get some sleep. It’s a little chilly but guess what? Our tee pee has a space heater and a fridge!

Good night! 💤

4th Annual Shotgun Rider Road Trip

Well the planning is as far as it’s going to get. Less than 48 hours and we will be on the road.

I am sure I am forgetting something but I’m not worrying about it. I keep thinking about the line from the movie Coal Miners Daughter when Patsy Cline tells Loretta Lynn to not worry about not having the things she needs.

Patsy Cline: [to Loretta] “I’ll call you on Monday and we’ll go shopping. Anything we can’t buy, we’ll make. Anything we can’t make, we’ll steal!”

With that philosophy I suppose we are ready to go.

No real plans for the first 3 days. I want to hit as much of Route 66 as possible because it’s Route 66. Who wouldn’t want to travel on Route 66 given the chance.

We have reservations for Wednesday night outside of Sedona Az. That location has a little twist I will share with you when we arrive. Then 2 nights at Grand Canyon and 2 nights near Bryce Canyon. We are hoping to hit Devils Tower in Wyoming if our trip takes us in that direction.

For now I will finish the little bit of prep needed at home and just start my slow down and relax mindset.

Ahhhhhh, it’s almost time to kick my shoes off and travel shotgun style again.

Prep work for a Disneyland Halloween time road trip

Getting ready for an October Disneyland road trip that includes Mickey’s trick-or-treat party. That means we need costumes. 

Disneyland has some specific limis on the costumes adults wear.  No masks and capes must not be longer than their waist. As you may know, Disney properties have really upped their everyday security measures. Your bags and strollers are checked pretty thoroughly at a security checkpoint. If capable, you must go through a metal detector. As well as you may be check with a detector wand.

They have a no weapons with your costume policy. Nothing spiky that could actually  poke another guest. They request that you don’t take pictures with other guests in costumes. If you go Disney trick or treaing, you’ll see costumes that look exactly like Disney’s professional costumes. You would suspect that the guest is the actual princess or character from the park. I’m not quite sure of the reasoning for no pictures. FYI, Any other day adults or kids 14 & over cannot wear a costume in the park.

I do like to dressup in a way called Disney Bounding. It’s when you wear regular clothes but the coloring and the set up of the clothes resembles a Disney character. For instance,  I wore a long, green skirt with a purple top and my hair happens red. The little mermaid, ARIEL. 

This time I wore a yellow dress with a little blue sweater over the top and I have a red bow in my hair. 

Me in Sniw Whites grotto

I’ve heard people say they were sent away at the security checkpoint for bounding. I think it would be hard to prove that you specifically were trying to trick guests into believing that you were the character with bounding. Honestly when you go look around. You will see people with Mickey and Minnie ears and gloves on, as well as Goofy hats, Donald hats and so much more. They are encouraging you to celebrate the characters with clothing. I have not never been questioned for my attire. 

Going back to prep for our Disney trip. I’ll admit it I totally overpack for myself. I never know what mood I’ll be in just like other trips but Disney is pretty bad when it comes to packing. My boys pack very minimally. I guess that’s one of the differences between boys and girls. 

Obviously one of the essentials is having your tickets. You can buy them there and sometimes at your hotel but I suggest you get your tickets early. The lines at the Disneyland ticket booths can be very long. Plus you have to go through the security checkpoint first which in itself can be a long line. Maybe it’s just an introduction to the right lines you’re gonna have to wait in later. 

We are annual pass holders to Disneyland and take several trips a year. In most cases I t’s not worth the price if the annual pass if you don’t go at least twice. The additional discounts in the park and downtown disney relieve so of that monthly fee. 

There are a ton of hotels near the entrance gates and more are being built. Google maps is your easiest way to seethe location of each hotel. I’ve stayed close for a short walk. I’ve stayed a bit farther for a long walk. I’ve stayed at enough away to drive. My favorite but most expensive hotel is Disney Resort hotels. Specifically the grand Californian. The newest and the most expensive. It’s a treat when we stay on the resort property in more ways than just being close. That’s all for another blog though. 

Clothes, tickets, hotel and money. All of the essentials right? Best advice of all for a trip? Enjoy the Disney magic. Relax, don’t stress and look around. It’s not all about running to the next ride. Just being in the park can be a thrill if you let it. Let yourself soak it all in. 

Do the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do

Do the things you have to do so you can do the things you want to do. 

I think I heard this for the first time on a tv show when a father was teaching his son a lesson about school. I have repeated this line repeatedly to my boys.  

Last night hubby and I watched Disneys movie, “Up”. The story is important to my blog so stick with me please. If you haven’t seen “UP”, this post is a big huge spoiler. Stop now if you don’t want me to ruin it for you. 

“up” it a love story about a regular couple. No princess, no animals and no catchy songs. Carl and Ellie meet as kids, get married, lose a baby, never have another child, and are happy with the life they share. 

As their love grows they start a fund to live in Paradise Falls someday.  Everyday life keeps draining the money jar.A broken window, a flat tire, and a broken leg were just some of the unexpected events which delayed their trip. Just not enough money. 

Like most Disney movies, a big sad moment and lesson comes when as an older couple Ellie passes away with Carl at her side. Through his mourning and bitterness he remembers the Paradise Falls jar and decides to make their dream of going on the trip a reality. Nothing will stop him. Finally he decided above all else he would complete this trip for the love of his life.

How he does or doesn’t do it isn’t really important. It’s the point that after his wife, his anchor, the one he would put his life down for is gone. They didn’t find the time and now it’s too late to do it together.

As I write today I’m reading about an unexcusable, senseless shooting in Las Vegas. At this time it’s being reported that over 400 have been injured and 50 killed. The numbers keep going up. A shooter cowardly sat in his safe hotel room and took aim on 22,000 people happily watching a country concert. 

I’m sure they were singing, dancing and having a spectacular time. None of the victims could have thought this may be my last moment on earth. 

Let me be clear. In my opinion everyone of  those attending, the working, the first responders and all of their friends and families are victims. They will live with this memory the rest of their life. They should have the fun times of the concert to remember not this horrible event which may not have been able to prevent. Does that really matter right now. It happened and the after effects are horrendous. 

My heart is hurting thinking about the unfulfilled dreams those killed never were able to make happen. Maybe the car broke down so their money had to go to fix it instead of taking the trip cross country/world with their family. Maybe they had a wife or girlfriend at home waiting to have a baby. What about the bachelor and bachlorette parties Vegas is know for. How will the future spouse cope? 

I know life is about the have to. Without it you can’t do the big things you want to do. That’s the responsible thing to do. Maybe you work  a little harder to get a little bit more. Not easy for most I know. Scrimp, save so you can’t fulfill that dream. Life is short is a common saying . How often do you think about your dream then tell yourself it’s impossible? What about the person(s) you were going to fulfill the dream with like Ellie and Carl? Maybe fulfilling dreams is a “have to” as well. 

I am so fortunate. I try to remember to tell my husband daily how much I appreciate his hard word, how much he loves me and our boys. He just got done working 18 days straight to pay for this Disneyland trip. We are driving down I-5 as I type. This trip is important. Memories for all of us are important. We, as a family did what we had to do so we can now do what we want to do. Sometimes it’s leaving the dishes undone to go for a bike ride. Movie and game night is important in our house. 

I want to fulfill my families dreams before the end of my life. Yes we are all going to die. It’s a fact of life. To quote a song by the great Greorge Strait “Life’s not the breaths you take, But the moments that take your breath away”. I want thousands of breath taking moments with my family. It’s up to me to find the things me. Do the things I have to do to have the time. 
This has been hard to type through my tears. It may have a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. I don’t care. I hope just one person reads this and makes some time. Find a way to fulfill your dreams. Big ones, small ones, ones that cost a lot, and especially those that are free that you can do everyday. 

Yes, life is short and full of the unexpected. Live it now. Find that thing that will take your breath away today. 

Make your own adventure, don’t just lfollow mine. XOXO

Halloween at Disneyland

18 days and counting until our annual October trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. AKA Disneyland.  I’ve started packing already. I have to conjure up some Halloween costumes too. Thinking we could all go as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Hmmm……maybe.

Disneyland during the Halloween celebration is magical. I think maybe even more so than during Christmas. Pumpkins everywhere. To make our experience even better we pay the extra fees to attend Mickeys Trick or Treat Party. The special event tickets always sell out. We buy ours in August, shortly after they become available for purchase. 

This special event ticket gives you the right to stay in the park after it closes for everyone without a ticket. They put a wristband on you when you check in and hand you a small bag for truck or treating. It is really tiny so if you attend be sure to bring a backpack. 

Trick or Treat paths are set up throughout the park and they never run out of treats. If you like a certain treat, just keep going back through that path. They don’t care. Occasionally the Treat is sliced apples or bag of carrots. Be sure you separate them from you other candy and snacks as soon as possible. Those fresh items make for a great pick me up snack while walking the park too. 

Another advantage is a special parade, fireworks and …… the villains are out and about for pictures and autographs. We buy a Disney Halloween shirt for the characters to sign with a laundry pen. The lines for the rides are short and sometimes nonexistent. We walked right on to Pirates of the Caribbean and Nightmare Before X-Mas themed Haunted Mansion. One time my youngest son and I ride the Storybook boat ride all by ourselves. That was a very special night. 

This year not only will Disneyland be decorated for Halloween but California Adventure will join into the Halloween spirit. Mater is dressed as a vampire. I’m so excited to see everything. I think that’s one of the great parts of Disney Magic. Finding new things each time you visit. I have an annual pass so I go several times a year always finding something new to me. 

I won’t give away all of the special sites and magic because it really is something you must to see to believe. 

Disney magic is real if you open up and let it in. 

I will report back with updates soon. 

Disneyland, my favorite road trip then and now

Hi. My name is Donna, aka Shotgun Rider,  and I’m a Disney addict. Disneyland is my go to favorite vacation spot. 

I went when I was a little girl. This was a time when you bought ticket books and each ride or attraction required a specific ticket. A-B-C-D-E. see below for a whole book. My mom still has some old tickets somewhere. I’d love to frame them up one day. I remember wearing my Mickey ears and my Donald Duck squeaking duck bill cap. My sister and I  had matching hats. I’m 47 now and have witnessed lots of changes to Dusneyland but the magic has always been there. 

The best rides were “E” tickets. We always ran out of “E” tickets. It was all about the “E” ticket. 

That left the other tickets for the not as fun stuff like the Swiss family Robinson tree house. The tree house is now Tarzans tree house. 

You even needed a ticket for the shooting gallery.These other tickets were ok. They just were not “E” tickets. “A”tickets were the worst and we always came home with leftovers since you purchased the tickets in books. 

The competing amusement parks policy of general admission for the entire park and all rides forced Disney to fade out the tickets in 1981. Most kids today don’t have any knowledge of the old carnival ticket style of getting on rides. The times you just could not go on a ride because you were out of tickets. Thankfully with the general admission fee I have visited Disneyland a lot without the worries of running out of tickets. 
It’s my happy place. I went to celebrate my first year together with my boyfriend in 1989. I went for my honeymoon with the same man in 1991. I go for so many reasons now but mainly because of the magic that surrounds me the instant I see the sign above the archway to enter main street. My breathing changes and I feel the stress release from my shoulders. My smile grows, my eyes sparkle and at times tears sneak out. It’s a feeling I cannot duplicate. 

Fast forward to the present and how I keep the magic new and fun. My family travels to Disneyland at least 3 times a year. We’ve purchased annual passes the past 3 years for the whole family. I am in Disney heaven. This makes each trip relaxing since we are not rushing to get in every ride or having to stand in the long lines. Plus after so many years we’ve developed a fool proof plan to get on the rides we want without the crowded lines. 

In 2006 Hubby bought me a permanent memorial brick which is installed between the entrance gates of Disneyland and California Adventure. We visit it at least once each trip. It makes for a great meeting spot when we separate. “Meet at my brick st 1:30 and we will grab lunch”. It’s a place that’s never crowded and never has a line. 

Even after all of these Disneyland trips we find things to do that are new to us. Rides to go on, sites to see and adventures to take. Disney does update rides and brings in new rides very often. These are not the new parts I am talking about. I’m talking about rides like the canoes, the Mark  Twain steam ship, the Columbia ship. And most recent in California Adventure, the ferris wheel. I was always in a rush to go on other  big rides. I did not want to waste my precious minutes riding in a slow moving boat or paddling a canoe. Our annual passes have made me slow down and experience these classic attractions for the first time. I’m still working my way through all the things I’ve never done. Have you ever taken one of the tours? I haven’t, but I will eventually. 

I won’t go through all the “secret” tips because you can find them on other sites. I will tell you I’ve experienced almost all of them. Still waiting to get a ride inside the Lilly Belle car on the Disneyland Railroad. If you can visit during Halloween and Christmas you will see another side of Disney magic. 

There is also a long of foods I’ve never tried. The Monte Cristo sandwhich in New Orleans Square.  A Bloody Mary from Cathay Circle. A chili mac cone from Carsland. I’m sure there is more and I’ll keep looking and eating my way through all that Disney has to offer. 

You can be sure I will be posting more about Disneyland while I ride my favorite attraction and try some new ones to. My will continue adventures with Mikey Mouse. Next trip planned for October 2017. 

Coney dog and Rootbeer Float times two

Ok so I broke my rule about no chain restaurants. Well in my defense it was an old style A&W Drive-in. On a hot day. It really love coney dogs and rootbeer floats. I caved ok! So we stopped at a place in Montana before getting to Glacier National Park. 

It brought back some tasty memories. Hubby got an Oreo ice cream. He doesn’t eat fast food. Thankfully he will still stop for me. 

This location had the old drive in order speakers and a few other details that made it special. I even met a few fellow Warriors fans. They saw my 2017 NBA Finals hat. Turns out, Tatiana was from the Bay Area too. She was showing her live of the team with her Strength in Numbers tee. 

On to my coney dog and rootbeer float, take 2. After leaving Glacier and driving a few hours away, hubby found me another A&W. 

This time I added onion rings. Unfortunately this coney dog did not even come close to the first one. Maybe it was because I was so hungry the first time, but it just did not hit the spot. In fact I only took two bites. The float was ok but they put it in a paper cup. Having it in a chilled glass mug is the only way to have it. 

It was good, just not great. Breaking “my no chain restaurant” rule was necessary. Don’t judge me. 

What is your favorite road trip food stop? The one that you’ll instantly take the exit for when you see it. 

Disneyland Fastpass and the new Maxpass

On our recent trip to Disneyland snd California Adventure we were introduced to a new feature called Maxpass. It’s an option available for purchase which allows you to use your smart phone to book your ride fastpass from anywhere on the property. Actually I found out the app worked even when I was at my hotel over a mile away from the park. I’m curious now what the limitations really are? I do know that if you do not use your ticket to enter Disneyland or California Adventure you will not be able to use this feature. Since you don’t use your ticket to leave this allows you to still book fastpasses, like I did from my hotel. 

I’ll start at the basics for those readers who aren’t as current on the Disney ins and outs. When the lines for favorite tides were becoming too long, Disney introduced a ticketed reservation type system to save you some time. Rather than wait in line for 2 hours or more for rides like Space Mountain or Radiator Springs Racers, you use your admission ticket to come back to the line at a later time. The fastpass line is considerably shorter than the standby line. I always wonder why everyone does not use the fastpass system. I guess some people don’t know how it works or just don’t mind waiting, I loathe waiting in long lines. The fastpass was ingenious. You just walk to the ride you wish to get a fastpass for, insert your ticket and a fastpass would be issued with a time to return. 

Pictured a fastpass kiosk from Ca Adv park

Pictured- old fastpass ticket with return time and barcode 

Rules for the fastpass system and some downsides:

  • Each person needs a fastpass and you have to have each persons admission tickets to get all of your passes. Each person must be in the park you are trying to get the fastpass for. Example. You can’t be in Ca Adv and have a friend run to get your tickets in Disneyland for Space Mt. 
  • you can get a new fastpass every 2 hours or after your fastpass is used. 
  • You cannot have more than one active fastpass for a specific ride at s time
  • Sometimes the fastpasses for the most sought after rides run out. In other words they have a set number of passes and once they are gone they stop issuing anymore that day. (A little hint- late at night the lines tend to be much shorter for those rides, be patient)

The worst part was running around both parks, back and forth to get the fastpasses. It created a lot more walking. Also since the fastpass is a ticket with a barcode you give to the cast member, these passes were transferable. I’ve given tickets to strangers if I was leaving the park. I’ve been given tickets as well. Well you can’t do that anymore. Fastpasses are now directly linked to your admission ticket or annual pass. The paper ticket that comes out at the fastpass kiosk is only a reminder of your return time. No bar code any longer. Keep your ticket or annual pass handy when you get to the fastpass line. 

New fastpass return time reminder, no barcode

When returning during your fastpass reservation time (1 hour window) you will scan your annual pass/park admission ticket. Sometimes st the beginning of the line and then closer to the ride to keep line jumpers from doing the wrong thing I’m guessing. The fastpass is loaded onto your admission ticket. See, no more passing off your fastpasses. I observed people trying to get in line without scanning,  or scanned wrong ride, no pass at all, wrong return time etc, but the cast members are on top of their game. This new process seemed to work really well. Now onto the next phase and advancement in the fastpass world. 


This option is part of the Disneyland App download here, The app allows you to basically manage your entire trip. You must pay to activate it before you can use it. 

The Disneyland app and the MAXPASS option require cellular connection and a smartphone. Hubby refuses to upgrade from his flip phone so he’ll be at my mercy for this time saving convenience. For others who don’t have smartphones or who do not wish to use their cellular data they still can use the kiosk fastpass system which is free. 

MAXPASS is not free. 

MAXPASS requires each ticket holder to pay an additional fee. It is new and at the time of this post it was an additional $10 per person per day. The MAXPASS feature allows you to get your fastpass easily without running around to each kiosk. The same fastpass restrictions apply like the 2 hour wait etc. everything else is exactly the same as using the walk up kiosk. It’s purely the convenience of using your phone to get your fastpass instead of running around between the 2 amusement parks. A time and feet saver. Worth the $20 bucks I spent without question. I’ll forgo the churro and Mickey pretzel to pay for this treat. 

Holy shmoly! This is the greatest advancement since the fastpass itself. I was on the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, in California Adventure, and reserved my fastpass for The Haunted Mansion without leaving the line. Do you get it? I did not have to walk all the way across the property just to find out I’m going to have to wait 3 more hours before I can get on anyway. This was huge! 

 The MAXPASS also tells you how long the current standby wait is and what time the next fastpass is for. If you are really savy you can plan your day out in a very efficient way. 

We were able to go on 14 rides within 11 hours that day. Granted it was a Tuesday which was a bit lower attendance. However we did not wait longer than 20 minutes per ride. Those 11 hours included ordering our food and eating, riding the train around the park twice, bathroom breaks, and some people watching. We did not rush at all. If you’ve attended Disneyland before you know 14 rides in 11 hours is an amazing feat. 

An additional advantage is all photopass pictures are free to download with your MAXPASS. 

I am certain the fees and the structure of the MAXPASS will change since this is advertised right now as introductory. It will be very interesting to see how Disney rolls the MAXPASS option out completely. 

I can highly recommend making the extra purchase assuming it stays reasonably priced. Experienced Disney addicts like myself will really work it to their advantage but even the novice will benefit greatly. 

Well that just my opinion. I don’t get anything out of sharing my thoughts from Disney or any of their affiliates. 

Again, I’ll be clear that I am not opposed to any offerings which may be available to me. Blogging is fun and all, but if I can get a little something to help with my Disney and travel addiction I will gladly discuss those options with you. Any incentives are greatly welcome. See my contact page if you would like to get in touch. You have to start somewhere and this is my beginning. 

Come join me on my adventure! 

Air Jordan, pizza!

My absolutely favorite pizza is an hour drive away for me. Oh it’s so worth it. Pizz’a Chicago in San Jose, CA. I first had this pizza over 20 years ago. Hubby brought me dinner one night and I was hooked.

The Air Jordan is a simple deep dish cheese, tomato, garlic and basil pizza. It’s the lightest “airiest”, if that’s even a word, pizza I’ve ever tasted or seen. 

The decor inside the resturant is full of signs and sports memorabilia. We try to make the trip every few months or so. It’s just so worth it. 

Today we sat outside in the shade. Puzz’a Chicago is located in a small strip mall next to a bakery.   

I am only able to eat one piece but it makes for an awesome before bedtime snack.