Funny how we make such a delineation of our being from year to year. After all it is just another day in just another month in just another year in our life. Perhaps it is because everyone else is pausing to think about what they want to accomplish next year, and what they did not get to do this past year. Right now, everyone is looking forward to next year.
I think a better plan is to have a plan for the next few years and continually work and refine that plan as situations arise that are either beneficial to you achieving those goals or detrimental.
We had a few things happen in my household this year that helped us move closer to some goals and a few things that were setbacks. Some items we can control like choices and determination, but some things like health and for some of you, mother nature, can come out of nowhere and set you back a few months if not years.
Regardless of what hits us, we need to keep moving forward and not let these things stop us. One of the keys to progress I believe is having a strong support system. If you are having trouble achieving your goals or are getting discouraged, talk to someone close to you. If you don’t have anyone close to you, well that is another issue that you need to work on as mentors or trusted advisors can help you in many ways.
I left a company this year and took a position at a new one (to be detailed in a later post). This new company has clear goals and has forced me (for the better) to reexamine where I want to go moving forward.
For now I have one short term goal in 2013 and that has to do with why I started this blog 3 years ago. I will again be running on Disney Marathon Weekend but this time doing the half by myself. I have a goal of a sub 2 hour half, which will be a bit difficult as the previously mentioned health setbacks and all the traveling I have been doing for the hew job, has made training difficult.
I will try my best (that’s all we can really do when it comes down to it) to achieve that first goal, and then continue on with the rest to continue being the kind of person I want to be.
I have a problem. I am a coffee drinker. Why is that a problem? I am in front of people every week, teaching a class, giving a presentation or just meeting people. I consider myself a very outgoing and personable guy and I like to smile, a lot. But recently I have been smiling a bit less because I was conscious of the color of my teeth.
A little background first. About 22 years ago, my older brother Mike was in dental school at the University of Illinois Chicago. At that time he was starting his cosmetic studies and required some patients to sit and get veneers installed. He asked me if I would be willing to come down to the Chicago campus for a few visits to get some new teeth. I jumped at the chance because I did not have the best natural teeth and in fact had a few chips from various sporting activities, which were repaired (patched) years ago by our uncle, also a dentist. So, long story short, the smile that Mike gave me lasted 22 years, which is pretty good considering the materials he had to work with back then. The design and form worked flawlessly for two decades, but my coffee habit caused them to get yellow and a little embarrassing over the years.
Flash forward to today and I again had the chance to get a new smile from Dr. Mike. This time the materials are a lot more resistant to stains (I was ecstatic to hear that) as my coffee habit shows no sign of slowing down. There are basically two types of veneers, those that are made by a dental lab (porcelain veneers) and those that are made and shaped on the fly, in your mouth while you are in the chair (composite veneers). My older veneers were made in my mouth about 25 years ago, after my teeth were very lightly prepped. The new veneers are applied to your prepped teeth (my old ones had to be ground off, which was a bit like resurfacing a roadway) using different colors or shades of composite (a tooth colored material used for fillings, veneers and other things) to match the final color I wanted. Natural teeth have many different colors, so its necessary to use different colors of composite so the final tooth looks real and not like a chicklets.
As I mentioned above, the fact that the materials require mixing and forming, requires that the dentist is actually an artist as well as a dentist. He needs to form and sculpt the material into something that looks great and looks like it belongs in your particular facial structure. This is where Mike excels. He did an amazing job with the color of the teeth (he convinced me to not go with the top two whitest shades as I would have had to had out sunglasses each time I smiled) and the shape of the six we were able to do in one sitting (I need to go back for the last outside two) are perfectly proportioned to my mouth and my face.
Mike has been perfecting his craft for a long time and it really shows. You can see some of his work when you watch various news casts in Chicago as he has given many of the news anchors their beautiful smiles. I can’t name names as the is verboten, but if they have a perfect fantastic smile, Mike probably helped them with that.
It was a long 8 hours in the chair, with breaks and some liquid nourishment, but at least I got to sit and get some sleep (yes I did get a few hours in as the Novocain made the procedure very comfortable) while he had to concentrate on my smile and work meticulously for the whole time.
I could not be happier with the results, and others have already noticed the difference. I was down at a customer in Florida last week and when I arrived and shook the clients hand he said “Wow, Dan, your teeth look amazing. He did a great job.” I had warned him that I would be getting some new teeth a few weeks before, so this was probably a premeditated comment, but sincere non the less.
This post may sound like a commercial for his services, but I wanted to express how happy I am with what he did for me. Could you find someone less expensive? Maybe, but you get what you pay for. Could you find someone better at what they do? In my opinion, no way. You can find examples of his excellent work over at www.smilesbymorgan.com. Thanks big bro.
Once again, the fine folks at the Chicago Half Marathon have generously donated an entry for the September 9th, Chicago Half Marathon, which takes place on a beautiful out and back course that is actually run on Lake Shore Drive. Details about the course and facilities etc. can be found here. You can view some of the highlights of the 2010 race here.
The Half Marathon starts at 7am followed by a 5K start at 7:45am. All runners receive the following:
Commemorative Technical long-sleeve T-shirt
Computerized Timing & Scoring
Great course support
Entertainment throughout the course
Outstanding post-race party in beautiful Jackson Park
Water & Gatorade Endurance available at 10 aid stations along the route
USATF certified course
and finishers receive a Custom finishers medal.
Post-race party complete with Michelob ULTRA (ID required) and free Chicago Style pizza
Packet pickup will be at Navy Pier, Exhibit Hall B at 600 N. Grand Avenue. Expo hours are Friday September 7th from noon to 7pm and Saturday September 8th from 9am till 5pm. Admission to the expo is free and open to the general public but you will need to pay for parking. Just plan ahead, get there early and walk around the pier and enjoy what Chicago has to offer. There is NO Race Day Pickup on Sunday the 9th, so if you forget, you will be watching the race from the sidelines. The deadline for race entry is September 2nd.
I am on the road quite a bit and one of my biggest challenges is staying on track with my training while traveling. I often go to locations that are quite a bit higher in altitude than Chicago and need to cut back on miles, or I am in and out of town for a one or two day trip with no time to even put my sneakers on.
To enter our giveaway for a free race entry, just comment on this post and let us know how you stay on track for your training while traveling or on vacation. I will pick the winner at random on Sunday July 29th at midnight, so you have 3 weeks to enter. We will send the winner an email with their free signup code. Please only enter if you are able to attend the race and use the code. You are welcome to comment even if you don’t want to enter, but let us know in the comment to exclude you from the drawing. Good luck and see you at the race.
Note: If you are participating in the Allstate Half tomorrow (June 9th) you are also eligible for the Windy City Challenge which will net you a third special finishers medal if you also complete the Chicago Half on September 9th.
Update: I gave the drawing one more week and will be selecting the winner on August 5th
Congratulations to Matt M. You are the lucky winner of the free race entry. See you at the finish line.
I was traveling again this week and had a chance to try out the Westin Workout while staying and the Westin Imagine in Orlando, right across the street from the convention center. Trying to workout while on the road can always be a challenge, but at process at least helps simplify the solution. During check-in, I mentioned that I would like to participate in the rental of the workout gear. The woman checking me in simply asked what size shoes, shit and shorts I needed (woman can get capri pants or a sports bra as well). We finished check-in, and she stepped away for maybe 3 minutes before returning with a mesh draw string bag that contained all the gear. She explained that I just needed to leave the gear in the bag in my room when I was leaving for checkout (I was staying for only one night) and that I would be charged a small fee of $5 for the rental. The rental also includes a pair of padded shortie New Balance socks that you get to keep, so the total cost is really just a few bucks.
All four items in the bag were clean and fresh smelling and the shoes and socks were brand new. The shoes were in the retail box with the normal crushed paper stuffed in each shoe and the socks still had the not for resale zip tag on them. Also included in the bag was a 10% off coupon for a next purchase on New Balance gear from the New Balance website, and a small postcard explaining the program and the philosophy of the program. You can also request maps of local running trails or paths when you request your gear. I did not this time as I knew my time for a run was short (explained below).
Each item fit very well and the shoes themselves were fresh, shiny New Balance model 759s. The shoes were very light and comfortable to wear. I laced them up and went downstairs for a quick workout. I unfortunately had recent back surgery (external) so I was only able to do a quick run so as to not aggravate the wound. Since I knew I would not get to do a full 1 hour test of the shoes, I had planned to go over to Downtown Disney and walk over to Saratoga Springs for dinner, wearing the shoes as a test.
I spent a good 3 hours in the shoes today and overall was impressed with their weight, comfort and size. They felt a bit less supportive than my Brooks Adrenaline 11’s, but I think I need a 1/2 size smaller next time. I was not a picky during this process as I would normally be if I was buying so I just estimated on the size I normally wear.
Bottom line is this is a great program if you forget your workout gear or if you just want to try some new equipment. The possible downside is the property could be really busy with health conscious gests and could be sold out (rented out) of your size. Since this program is so new, that was not an issue for me. I will be adding this to my list of positives when I am deciding on which property to stay as during my business trips.
What do you do to stay on track for your workouts when you are on the road? Please leave a comment.
I had my first pleasant and humorous TSA pre check experience today. It was pleasant because of the speed and humorous because of the agents and one guy in the premiere line.
I arrived at OHare my normal two hours before the flight and was greeted by a rather long line for 5 pm on a Wednesday . As I approached the security lines, I noticed the TSA pre check sign right next too the premiere access lines at the far south end of the United counters in terminal one. I stepped down the end of the line and the woman in front of me immediately turned around to ask what TSA pre check was. I started to answer her question and was interrupted by the guy in front of her who she had NOT asked. When he finished, I politely added that this line would get her to premiere access as well as TSA pre check. The guy again butted in and added that this was for pre check only. I politely corrected him and referred the young lady to the signs indicating both.
A few minutes later we were up to the scan station that determines if you continue to premiere or get in the pre check line. Here’s where it gets funny…. for me at least. The interrupting guys hands over his boarding pass to the agent and says he is pre check. The agency that scans it and…. Negative sir you are not. ‘ What do you mean I’m not?’ Tirade follows. ‘ I signed up x number of days ago… Blah blah blah.’ He proceeds to hold up the line. Finally he moves and the lady in front of me just tells the agent she is not present check so he does not need to scan. I step up and present mine. I had applied about a month ago and was already Nexus approved so knew I would eventually get it. Agent scans it. Beep, beep, beep. The three magic beeps which means I am in the system and approved. I stepped in to the pre check line and just turned and smiled at the guy who threw a fit.
I got up the the next check point in less than 10 seconds ( there was absolutely no one ahead of me) to the 3 waiting TSA agents. One of them said ‘we have a winner’ and another one actually said ‘finally we have been waiting for someone to come through’. I felt as if I should have been given a stuffed animal or something.
I breezed through the check with my shoes and belt on, my laptop in the bag and my liquids in the bag. As a bonus the agent on the other side of the metal detector was a Purdue fan ( I had my Boiler golf shirt on).
Being on the road so much I needed to choose a hotel loyalty program that meets my needs and has properties in most of my destinations. I choose two a few years ago and have attained top level status for both of them. I choose Priority Club because you can find a Holiday Inn or one of their other properties in pretty much any town in the US or Canada, and I choose SPG because I live the rooms, the upgrades and the points I can earn with Sheraton and Westin properties.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Westin has recently started a program called the WestinWorkout whereby guests at a Westin property can ‘rent’ gear from New Balance during their stay. In addition to gear, the hotel will provide running maps for local routes and in-room video workouts to help you stay on your training track when you are away from home.
If you ever wanted to try New Balance shoes (I am a Brooks guy myself), this would be a great way to be able to do so at very little cost. They are offering the 759 as their rental shoe as of this article. For clothing, they offer the NP Short and Tech Tee for men and the Fitness Capri and the Tonic Crop plus CB Tempo Short Sleeve Tee for women. The product types and availability will vary by property so you should check before you arrive at your hotel.
If you don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes, thoroughly washed or not, you can wear your own, but this is great if you forgot to pack your own stuff and want to stay on your training regiment. I buy lots of my items at the local thrift store so this does not bother me at all.
The email I received says the rental is only $5 for shoes and clothing but does not say if it is $5 each or for the whole package. I will do a little research and find out. You can find more information at westinnewbalance.com.
I have two stay in Florida this month so I will try the rental program and report back.
Update: I called the Westin Imagine in Orlando and she confirmed that it is a flat $5 fee which includes the shoes and the clothing.
I ran the home team charity run again this year with my sister in law Mary, a fun little race that benefits the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox charities. Last your was the inaugural event and the 10K course took us from the United Center down to the south side for a finish in the US Cellular field parking lot. This year was a little different as they concentrated the course around US Cellular and that gave them the flexibility to fit in a 5K as well.
The weather was about the same as last year, a bit cold and damp at the start but no rain, and a little bit of sunshine and a warm-up for the finish and post race festivities.
Since the course was basically an out and back, this allowed the organizers to have the 5K runners follow the same route as the 10K runners, and just turn around at the 2.5K mark for their return. The 10K runners ran out to our 5K half way point and then turned around for our return. The 10K runners got a 15 minute head start which lessened the overlap at the point where our return leg mixed in with their return leg.
One benefit of the 10K was the on field (warning track) finish. The 5K runners started and finished at the same line outside the stadium, but the 10K runners entered that back of the stadium and picked up the warning track in center field, made a left and ran in front of the right field bleachers, past the visitors dug out and finish just before home plate.
We got to mingle for a few moments around home plate for pictures before heading up the stairs (right past our season seats pictured at right here) to the exit down the ramp into the parking lot for the post race pizza, beer (or coffee) and the entertainment.
The pizza and coffee lines were huge so Mary and I went over to the beer corral for our free beer. The two guards did not even card me (sad for me ego). We downed our cup and walked around the lot to see what else they had going on. In addition to the refreshments, the were post race massages, autographs with some of the Chicago sports legends and you could get your picture taken with the 2005 White Sox World Series trophy or one of the he Bulls NBA Championship trophy. We opted to avoid the lines and just relax and enjoy the moment.
All in all it was an excellent race and I recommend it for a good starter race if you are training for a half marathon or a full marathon this year. Thank you to all the volunteers. We will surely be attending next year.
I have been meaning to write this review for a long time now and was finally kicked in the butt by a recent conversation I had with my race partner. Turns out, Disney will not be repeating the relay next year or even in years to come. This is unfortunate as I had a fantastic time, reconnected with some old friends and made a new friend all in a few glorious days.
The 2012 Disney Marathon weekend was the first time (and sounds like the last) that the Run Disney program allowed a team of two to compete in the full marathon as a relay. The race was divided evenly between the two runners so each of us had a chance to run a full 13.1 across the 26.2 course that the full marathoners would run. The only choice a team would need to make was, who would run the first leg and who would run the second. I had one more choice: who would I run with.
When I first heard about the relay I immediately decided I wanted to do it but I would need to find a running partner. I took to the Disney message forums, of which there are many specifically for Disney runners.and after many weeks of looking and asking, finally paired up with a fantastic woman Charrissa, from Connecticut. She and her husband are avid Disney fans and runners and like me, she likes the half as a preferred distance. We exchanged messages for a few weeks before finally speaking on the phone to finalize our team name (Keep Moving Forward), our travel plans and our meet up logistics.
My wife Lorie and I had plans to go down to Orlando on Saturday, the day before the race with our good friends the Demskis who I have know for over 30 years and we were going to say into the next week post race to enjoy the parks. Charrissa would be getting there on Friday and leaving out early Monday to head back home. She was coming down solo as her husband and she had just been down for the Wine and Dine Half so he was not able to get off work again.
We had the first flight out from Chicago so there were no delays and we were in Orlando, on the Magical Express and at the Brach Club Villas before noon on Saturday. I called Charrissa and we agreed to meet up at 3 over at the Big River Brew pub on the boardwalk, which is just across the lake from our resort. It was a bit strange meeting your running partner for the first time less than 24 hours before you were going to run together, but we were all excited to meet her for the first time. We were just finishing up lunch outside on the boardwalk when she walked up. We had a meet up and discussed the logistics for tomorrows race.
We had decided ahead of time that she would run the first leg, as she had never run through the Magic Kingdom before (I have on the Full and Half Marathons that I have done there in the past) and that would give me a chance to run the second leg which passes right by our resort with just under 2 miles to go. There, hopefully, Lorie, Rick and Yvonne would be standing by with an cold beverage for me, or at least an encouraging hug. With everything planned out, we were ready for Sundays race.
Both Charrissa and I need to be at the Epcot parking lot by 5am for the walk to the starting corals, which means that even though I would be starting my leg about 2 hours after hers I still needed to get to the main starting area at the same time as her. We decided to meet under the orange and white strip tents in the queue area where she was waiting with some other Disney forum runners she had raced with before. The main area were we all gather is very well marked with various colored roof tents (the little 10ft wide ones with no sides) and some larger tents for medial, bag drop-off and paid admission prerace eats and drinks. The layout makes it very easy to plan your meet ups both pre and post race.
Charrissa made her was to the starting corals which is about a 15 to 20 minutes walk from the main queuing area, and I made my way to the relay bus corral ( yes they had us in a little fenced in area like little excited ponies) for my ride over to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. My ride took about 15 minutes and I arrived at my waiting area by 5:30, about 15 minutes before the first wave was to start back at Epcot. It was a bit chilly out there in the open and Disney had provided ‘butt warmers’ for us to sit on as part of our race packet. I decided to forgo the warmer and instead had procured an extra large hoodie just for this purpose, so i just pulled that down over my legs and sat on part of it like my own little tent. Many racers will bring a piece of clothing to this event an plan on leaving it behind when they start their run, which I also did . Disney collects the garments, washes them and then distributes them to local charities.
I had about a two hour wait as Charrissa’s estimated finish time was 1:50 so I alternated a little rest and some roaming around taking in the various events that I could see from my lot. This being a Chip and Dale themed relay, the two boys them selves made an appearance in our lot and posed for photos with anyone who wanted to participate. I could also see a row of classic cars to the left of our lot and could hear the classic rock the DJ was playing along that stretch of the course. At the front of our lot was a stage with a giant view screen and the transition area where we would ‘hand off’ to the second runner, We had our own DJ to keep us motivated during the wait and the jumbo screen was showing live shots of the runners from the starting gun all the way through the Magic Kingdom.
From this are I was able to see the elites run by to our left as the ran towards the Magic Kingdom, and to our right as they came out. I had never been able to see them so far out ahead by themselves so this was a pretty special moment. I noticed that many of the runners did not even see them going by but I had been looking forward to seeing this and started watching about 10 minutes before I estimated they would come by.
I believe one of the reason they are not going to do the relay again was complaints form the second leg runners who had to wait around for the first leg runners. I was fortunate that Charrissa was a sub 2 hour runner so my wait was really pretty good ( I tend to enjoy any time I have down in Disney even if I am sitting around waiting for something), but I can see how the second leg runners who had a 3 plus hour first leg runner would be getting a bit antsy by the tie they showed up. The only way to get around this, in my opinion would be to have the team do a true estimate of their first leg partner and get over to the MK parking lot 1 hour before that estimated time. But that would mean the second leg runners would need to get to the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center by the Magic Kingdom) directly instead of going over to Epcot as a starting point. So, Disney would need to provide busses from the hotels to two different locations and a monorail from Epcot not just to Epcot which would probably be too confusing at 4 am. Or perhaps if they at least provided a warm tent with a few characters and maybe a little food, that could make the wait a bit more bearable for the second runners.
The other thing that would have been nice would be to have your first leg partners name show up on the jumbo screen wen they were within 5 minutes or arriving at the exchange point. That would be easy enough to do as we were all wearing D-Tags on our shoes for timing and they knew who the first leg runners were. They would just need an extra strike pad 1/2 mile or so out to make this happen.
I started looking for Charrissa at about the 1:40 mark and saw her coming up on the shoot at 1:45. She was right on the mark and actually PR’d the race (way to go Charissa!) I pushed and excused myself through the other waiting second leggers and stepped out into exchange area. If I had been thinking ahead I would have given Charissa an acorn to carry for a hand off as there was nothing provided for the exchange. It was more of me flagging her down doing a quick hug and congratulations and then I was on my way.
It was still before 8 am when I took off so the weather was a perfect sub 60 degrees. I wont bore you with a mile by mile account but I did do better than I expected. I had been training for a 2 hour half like Charrissa, and was right on track for most of 2011, but I ended up getting a chest infection that prevented me from running for three months.which pretty much wiped out all my hard work. I had estimated that I would fining in about 2:40 and ended up doing a 2:25 which is OK considering my retraining window.
I mentioned earlier that our resort, the Beach Club Villas, was just under two miles from the finish, right along the running route. We try to stay there every year during the race so I can run by the family on my way to the finish. I pass right in front of the resort before entering the back entrance of Epcot for the final mile around the countries, past the big golf ball and exit out to the finish line in the parking lot near where we started.
I was really looking forward to seeing my wife, Rick and Yvonne at this late point in the race for a little moral boost. They did not disappoint me. As I approached their cheering section Lorie jumped out and gave me a hug, to which the lady next to her said ‘eeeewww, how can you hug him when he’s all sweaty like that?’. Lady we have been married for 25 years and she has seen me a lot worse. I was able to get a quick hug from Yvonne and Rick as well then I pushed on to the finish.
One of my favorite parts of the Disney marathon, which I wrote about here also, is the full on live gospel choir they have about 300 yards from the finish. Just when you feel like you can’t go any more you get a nice boost that helps me quicken my step towards the finish line.
Charrissa and I had planned on meeting under the same orange and white test post race so I got my knees wrapped in ice, stood for my post race photo, grabbed a banana and PowerAde and headed over to meet the group. Everyone was all smiles despite the obvious pain some of us were in (things obviously hurt a little more as we get older) and we all recounted our high points and low points of the race. I stuck around for a little while then we exchanged hugs and discussed when we would talk next to exchange photos etc. I made my way, slowly, to the bus for my ride back to the hotel. There were a few finishers near me on the bus, who had just run for the first time here and were wondering how they would feel over the next few days. I suggested that they should step out sideways on Disney transportation for the rest of their stay. What I mean by that is instead of walking straight down the stairs to exit a bus (going up does not really hurt too much), you stand at the top of the stairs then turn either left or right so you hip is facing the stairs. You then take your steps down that way which put less stress on your knees. Believe me it works and you can easily tell who the runners are when they exist any transportation.Back to the hotel for a much needed shower and a race debrief with my friends.
Once again, I had an awesome race experience here at Disney (thanks Charrissa)and I look forward to next year. A special thanks to Rick and Yvonne, for sharing the experience with us.I hope we can do it again in the future. We had talked about not coming down for 2013 as we will be going to Disney Hawaii for our 25th anniversary, but I have such a good time and it gives me something to train/look forward to for the next year, that I think I need to do it again. When does sign up start for 2013?
Today there was an article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune about visiting Disney World. I felt compelled to write a few comments to the editor based on the comment that one of the benefits of staying at a Disney property was the free use of transportation. While this is true, it is not only available to those who pay to stay on property. Any guest to the parks has free use of all Disney transportation including the bus system, the Monorail and the boats. Once you have parked at one of the lots for one of the parks, you can use any of the transportation that will get you to other parks, hotels, water parks, Downtown Disney/West End etc.
Parking for the theme parks is not free if you arrive by car, but the cost of you parking at a Disney hotel is not really free either if you have arrived by car, as you have paid to stay at that hotel.
So if you did drive to a park, spend a little time exploring the rest of Walt Disney World via their hassle free transportation system.
It has been over 25 years since I last visited Disneyland. It was a trip I took with my soon to be wife as a day trip when we were in Palm Springs. I was excited to see how things have changed and looked forward to sharing the experience with my daughter before she went off to college. She has been to Disneyworld quite a few times since she was 2, but this would be her first ever visit to Disney on the left coast.
We spent some time planning the trip as I always like to do so that we would be sure to fit all the activities into a quick weekend, including a trip to the beach and an Angels game (I wanted to check another Major League stadium off my list). We decided we would do the ball game the Friday night we arrived, visit the parks on Saturday and go to Huntington Beach on Sunday before we drove to the airport.
We took an early flight to LA from Chicago and arrived at before noon. I had gotten a good price on an Advantage rental car from www.autoslash.com, so we took the shuttle over form the airport to pick up the car. A word of advice if you are renting from the. Their location is a good 10 – 15 minutes away from the airport, dropped in the middle of an industrial neighborhood so make sure you make note of the address and put it in your GPS if you have one. It is NOT easy to find on the return and my Google maps took us to the wrong place (similar address the first time). We secured the vehicle, a KIA soul, or toaster as some call it, which Jenna was not too thrilled about, but I enjoy driving something different when I have the chance, even if it look weird. Weird is good.
I had reservation at the Sheraton with a high floor facing the Disney parks and we were not disappointed with the floor to ceiling windows with gave us a great view of the fireworks each night. What we were disappointed with was the amount of time if took to get into the room. It ended up taking more two hours to get into our room, but luckily I had suggested to Jenna that we grab out suits, stow the baggage and head to the pool instead of waiting around in the lobby. We went up to the pool, it is on a deck in the center of the U shaped hotel, and got some California sun and a drink while we waited.
After about 90 minutes our German/Irish skin exposed to some color, we headed back down to the lobby to try to check in. Still not ready so we grabbed a coffee in the lobby Starbucks and waited another 20. We finally checked into the corner room facing the parks and although we had a view of the Cinderella castle the hotel is far enough away that the castle is only about an inch tall in the distance. We were not here for the view so it was no big deal but just be aware that you do pay a premium for park view and now with the addition of Cars land, you are looking at the back of Radiator Springs which is just a view of a bunch of rust colored girders.
We got cleaned up and drove about 2 miles down the road to Angels stadium for the ball game. I had not purchased tickets ahead of time so there was a brisk line of people buying same day seats. The stadium is now part of the Disneyland half marathon so you get to run into and out of the stadium if you decide to run that particular race. It was a perfect night for a game and we enjoyed some of the local ballpark fare ( some Rudy’s Steak sliders and a strawberry shake) for dinner and walked all around the park before heading back to the hotel. The Angels ending up winning in extra innings.
The next morning we were up early so we could be at the park for rope drop. Early AM is not Jenna’s favorite time of the day so I appreciated her indulging me on this trip. We planned on Disneyland first to hit the classics and then California Adventure in the afternoon to see some of the new rides, some of which we had experienced already in Florida.
I made my first mistake early which I have done once before in Disneyworld. I got on a motion ride first thing, with no food in my stomach. I have a pretty wimpy dizzy factor when it comes to motion rides so I need to be careful. I hate to say no to the kids but there are just some things I can never do, like Mission Space in Disneyworld, and sometimes not even Expedition Everest. This morning we decided to do Space Mountain first as there was no line out of the gate and The Matterhorn was closed for renovation (sad face).
The California version of Space Mountain ‘seemed’ to be darker and faster than the Florida version, plus it is two seats wide instead of a single. It took me about 1 minute before I was dizzy and trying to keep from throwing up what little I had in my stomach from the night before. We exited the ride and I had to sit down for a minute to stop the spinning before we walked a few yards to the Nemo submarines.
Jenna was too young to remember the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea subs at Disneyworld so she was excited to try this one and enjoyed the effects of the Finding Nemo characters projected into the water outside the sub windows. I enjoyed the subs in Florida so this brought back some good memories.
Next was a ride you can only do in Disneyland now as they closed the one in Florida; Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. This was another one that she really does not remember as it has been closed for a while. The joke in our family is that the ride was closed because of my wife. On one of our trips to Disneyworld. Lorie was on the ride with Matt while I was sitting outside with Jenna. The ride stopped as they sometimes do for various reasons, so they were both stuck inside the non moving ride while the doors between rooms continued to open and close with the music still playing. The recording to stay in your cars played occasionally as they waited for a good 10 minutes for the ride to start. Lorie is a bit claustrophobic and Matt was getting a bit upset himself, so Lorie decided to get out of the car with him and try to find the exit. That is a Mickey No No. As soon as they got out of the car and headed for one of the doors, the ride started up, but it was too late to get back into their original car. They had to press up against wall, wait for a door to open then rush into the next room avoiding the passing cars. The repeated this process until they found the exit and walked out to some very surprised cast members. She received a scolding and was on her way. The next year we visited the park the ride was closed. Thanks Lorie.
After Mr. Toad, we headed for my two favorites; the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. They were both as awesome as I remember, except for the insertion of the movie characters in the Pirates attraction. It was nice to share them with her for her first rides on the classics. I had always wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou restaurant which you see when you first get in the boats for the Pirates attraction so we had made a reservation for that evening. I will come to find later that the kitchen that serves this restaurant also servers the private Club 33 which you can see from any of the outside tables at Blue Bayou.
We spent the rest of the day hopping back and fourth between the two parks trying things we had not done before and comparing rides we had experienced in Florida like Soarin’. As the lines started to get longer we were able to do less and less rides so we just walked around and did some people watching until dinner.
One of the areas we went to was the animation exhibit where we me a new friend. I really like the fact that Disney has the cast members put their home town on their name tags. I always look for towns I know and have even seen a cast member from Downers Grove where we live. This time as we were entering the animation area, I noticed the gentleman (Disney Dan as he calls himself) was from Niles, IL. I struck up a conversation with him and we talked for a good 30 minutes about what brought him out here, what different jobs he has done over the years and how he landed with Disney. Turns out he is a member of Club 33 and offered to get us in for dinner there. Now this is no simple feat as it is a private club, and I felt bad turning him down as I had wanted to eat a Blue Bayou for more than 30 years. He made me promise to take him up on it next time I am here, with advanced notice. I agreed and was happy to have made a new friend. We have kept in contact and I plan on getting out there soon to take him up on it.
We headed off to Blue Bayou and had just an outstanding meal. as we were dining I noticed a set of stairs and a terrace up and to our left where may of the wait staff were going with trays of food. I asked our waiter what that was and that is when I found out that our kitchen also served Club 33. I now have that to look forward to next time I/we visit.
After our fantastic dinner, we crossed over to California adventure where they had set up a Tron Legacy area that was open only in the evenings. They had a Flynn’s arcade were we spent some time playing some of the classic arcade cabinet games, like Zaxxon, Frogger and Robotron.
Just outside the arcade in the court yard they had created a large dace area and bar like Zeus’ club in the movie. They had cast members dressed as Tron characters including Zeus with his cane and had thumping music and light shows. I grabbed an adult beverage with a light up ice cube, Jenna had something soft and we enjoyed watching everyone do their best ‘ You Got Served’ dance moves. A nice way to end the evening before our walk back to the hotel.
The next morning we checked out, got in the car and headed for Huntington Beach so Jenna could see the Pacific and the beach scene. We lucked out and there was a HUGE pro surf competition, so the whole town and beach was packed with every shape, size and color of humanity. We wandered around the beach and pier before we grabbed some lunch at one of the little sidewalk cafes. Jenna grabbed some souvenirs for her friends and we were off to the airport for our flight home.
Although it was a quick three days, we packed a lot in and I had a fantastic time with Jen. It took me a long time to get around to writing this post, but the upside it it gives me time to go through the whole weekend again, which is why I am typing this with a big smile on my face.