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.

Road Trips: High’s and NO’s!!! part 2

I explained a few of the highs and no’s in my last post. Let’s talk about a few more I have discovered in my travels.

Starting with coffee. Now hubby does not require a daily dose of coffee but understands and respects my  addiction. He even makes a point of fueling it. I am sure his enabling habit is so I am not a bear in the morning. Purely selfish.

Ahhh but here’s that catch. Not all coffee is created equally and meet even my low standards. I do not care for strong coffee. I usually add a little hot water to my cup to dilute it. Then to make it even more tolerable I am A LOT of cream and sugar. I do not like the little “half and half” cups but I will use them when I don’t have real half and half. I buy a container for the cooler and even carry it into the diner sometimes. When I don’t remember it I use the little cups and usually have to ask for more. The server always comments on it.

My over indulgence in cream for my coffee leads me to this question. Why do they fill the cup up so much when you ask for a ton of cream? So frustrating when there is no room for cream. They just brought me 15 little cups and I intend to use at least 10 in this little cup but I barely have any room for the milky goodness. Now I have to sip and try to ignore the strong taste until I get to the right level to add more.

No add to the coffee experience I am creating when it is a horrible cup of nectar from the gods. It’s bitter sludge without enough cream and sugar to mask to awful taste. However as the addict that I am I will still drink at least half of the cup because I need it. Without it hubby has to deal with me. It’s like the quote from one of my favorite movies, Steele Magnolias. I am sure hubby is thinking “If I don’t then I have to deal with my wife. I make it a point to never deal with my wife”.

Back to the High’s and NO’s of coffee.

So now that I have my coffee level at a safe add enough cream level, I add about 8 packs of white sugar. I don’t want raw or fake sugar. Why? Just give me the natural sweetener. I will cut back else where if I need too. My torn up little white packets bring more giggles from everyone that notices. What? I like my coffee the way I like it. It’s not like others don’t order coffee a hundred different ways. I just choose to make my own the way I like it. Now most of this is assuming it is a decent cup of caffeine. What happens when it is so horrible I can’t swallow without gagging?

I try to get my coffee at little shops. I Hate Starbucks coffee but in an emergency one cannot be picky. Here’s the problem. You can’t tell by looking if the liquid is acceptable by looking at it most of the time. Smell sometimes works but not always. So after spending the time creating my perfect creamy sweetness and I take that first real sip I am often left unsatisfied.

When it’s good it is like singing angels. When it’s bad it’s like the depths of hell.

So to end this part of the High’s and NO’s series I will say this trip was full of both. Ultimately hubby only had to “deal” with my lack of caffeine 3 times in 23 days. I will take that ratio as a High.

 

Road Trips: The Highs and NO’S!! part 1

This years trip has been full of some great things and some not so great things.

We started out with a little hiccup. We made a pitstop that was in the opposite direction from where we really planned on travelling and turned it into a longer stop than we should have. We had to travel back close to home so we actually went home and started again the next day. Why pay for a place to sleep when we were so close to out own beds. Needless to say the kids were shocked to see us return.  So this was somewhere between a high and NO. It was fun to see the kids faces but I dont think it was one of our best thought out plans.

Ok, hiccup out of the way, we started our trip again on 7/9.

Travelling south down through California on I-5 we made it down to Santa Monica Pier. We parked a couple blocks away in a parking structure and to our surprise it was free to park for 4 hours since it was a week day. Free Parking….High! Keep this in mind when you go because we watched tourists sitting in their cars in the heat to park at the pier and pay too! It was bumper to bumper just to avoid a few blocks. That is a huge NO!

We jumped into our truck after a short walk around. I guess when you live so close to Pier 39 in San Francisco this is not that impressive. I am glad we went since it is the end of Route 66. The meant the beginning of our adventure this year.

Continuing south our next stop was….. yes Disneyland! My all time High of every road trip. Remember this is a no kids road trip so getting to leisurely wander around Mickey’s home is completely different. We have annual passes and that changes the atmosphere too. No rushing, no stress, no worrying about getting on every ride.

This Disneyland High was riding Pirates of the Caribbean. They just updated it changing the brides auction to make it more politically correct. The Redhead is now a pirate instead of being auctioned off. The  “rounder” lady is holding a chicken on the platform now and they are selling the chicken eggs. This part was a new NO in my opinion. The redhead is still the beautiful, strong woman but really, selling chicken eggs to the pirates. NO! They made up for it by changing the tunnel to the cannon fire entrance back to the way the ride used to be. Dead Men Tell No Tales. It made me smile. High!

The Next day we went into the part for just a bit and then started off to find Route 66. This is not an easy task since a lot of Route 66 has been destroyed and lost over the years. Finally getting on the historic route we traveled east towards Arizona.

To be continued

 

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. 

Sharing feedback and comment cards

I spent a few hours after we returned answering emails and completing feedback requests frim hotels, camping sites, restaurants and sightseeing locations from our trip. When you’re staying away from home for 17 days that’s a lot of places to rate. 

Most places were rated as excellent. Some were just ok. A few were completely bad. There is no way I could recommend them. I will go into more details about the individual locations another time. 


Like I said most stays were excellent. I try to complete all of my opinions and experiences. Not just the negative ones. Plus within a negative experience there may have been a bright side. An employee who did everything right but wasn’t able to correct the problem. That employee deserves the recognition for their positive effort. 

I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to an overnight stay. A hotel needs to be clean with clean bedding and have a working toilet, shower and mainly bathtub. I enjoy soaking in a tub after sitting in the truck for so long and especially after hiking around hills or downtown for hours. One day we walked over 15 miles. Yep, I was looking forward to a bubble bath that night. Unfortunately that was the night in Victoria at the lighthouse, no shower or tub available until the following day. 
If I’m camping out then I want flushable,  non-smelly toilets, a clean shower and hopefully quiet time. It’s camping after all so you can’t expect too much. I do my best to not camp near killer beasts like bears. The less bugs the better but that ines hard to control. The location dictates the bug problem. I never needs my Shoo-Fly device so I have no idea if it works or not. I’ll have to try it on our next trip. 

I filled out a few from restaurants after completing our meal as well. 


In my other part time job, these surveys are highly coveted by the corporate offices. Proudly I will say I have a very large number of highly satisfied customers who have completed the feedback email. My employer does offer a discount on the customers next purchase if they complete the survey, but still they are completing it with a positive experience and those positives ones are hard to get. Most customers only write about the negative parts. 

So I ask you:

  • Do you fill out feedback forms? 
  • Do you only fill them out if you get a freebie or discount by providing your experience?
  • Do you only fill them out for negative experiences? 
  • How important do you think these feedback requests are and do you think they make a difference? 

Ironically while writing this blog I just received another hotel Etsy feedback request. Off to complete that one while it’s fresh in my mind. Incidentally it was a positive experience. 

I’ll let you know if I get any responses from my recent road trip. 

    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. 

    The MAXPASS

    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!