Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tour of Orange County

Today we had a change of pace and took a guided tour of Orange County with our tour guides, the Taggart Family! Kevin had reserved a 12 person van, but all they had was a 15 person van so we had plenty of room for the 9 of us. We left around 9am from the Disneyland area and headed out to Newport Beach. We ate breakfast at a great 50's style diner at the end of the Newport Beach Pier. From there we looked around the Balboa Peninsula boardwalk before taking a little car ferry over to Balboa Island. It was a cute little beach community with neat little stores to shop in and pretty little neighborhoods to see. A 1,000 sq. ft. "beach cottage" runs you a couple of million dollars, if you have any extra money to spend. From there we headed to Huntington Beach to Jack's Surf Shop to buy some famous "Jack's" t-shirts for our Jack. Cole got a cool sweatshirt too. The last beach stop was Laguna Beach, where the ultra rich live. It was there that the kids were supposed to "get their feet wet" and play in the sand. The boys saw it a different way and before you knew it Jack was wet from getting water for his sand castle moat and Cole was literally body surfing in the waves. Only Kate could wear the clothes that she came in. Mary Kaye rescued Cole and Jack and had brought some extra clothes for her kids. Unfortunately the only thing that would fit Jack was a pair of Katie Taggart's purple sweatpants. We thought that he would be embarrassed but he told us that he looked like a "Rock Star". Good for him. We then headed up to a very fancy outdoor mall called Fashion Island in Laguna Beach, the Lane family looking like people thrown out of Wal Mart. While the girls were shopping, Kevin and I took Katie and the boys to a corner of the mall to watch the sunset. We were near an outside escalator that led down to the parking lot. The kids were riding the escalator for lack of better entertainment, while Kevin and I took pictures of the sunset (as opposed to supervising our children). What we didn't see was Jack sitting on the escalator steps riding it up from the bottom, backwards. When he reached the top, his pants got caught in the escalator and ripped his pants and underwear off of his body and pinned one of his ankles to the top of the escalator. With no visible emergency shut-off button in site, Kevin and I tried to get him free. Finally, we removed his shoe and let the machine keep his pants. All that remained was a torn leg of the purple sweatpants and shredded underwear. He was majorly freaked out (as well as the adults) and he swore to never again ride an escalator again. He has a couple of puncture wounds on his bum, but is otherwise unharmed. Teresa bought him a pair of cheap ($32) sweatpants to wear home (no Wal Mart in this mall). Our last stop was to Mary Kaye's old neighborhood in Tustin, CA near Anaheim. We ate a great dinner at their favorite Mexican restaurant before heading home. We eventually made it back to the hotel around 9pm, where we all crashed. Tomorrow we plan to swim at the Grand Californian with the Taggarts and then head on over to California Adventure before the Taggarts leave for home in Puyallup. Gates open at 10am!

Our 15 person limo and our chauffeur, Kevin.

Newport Beach. Not as crowded as I expected.

This is what the locals consider a car ferry. Not exactly a Washington State Ferry, eh?

He wanted to take this home, but it wouldn't get past airport security. Besides, they spelled his name wrong.

Two old guys on a bench.

Who needs Disneyland when you have sand castles?

As the local Californians looked on wearing fur lined parkas and stocking hats, the two Washington natives undressed for a swim in the Pacific Ocean.

Miss Laguna Beach poses for her photo shoot.

The now infamous purple pants. We kept the shredded remaining pant leg as a souvenir of the trip.

This was the exact moment the escalator grabbed Jack by the pants. From Ooooooo... to AAAAAAAA!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday at Disneyland

What an exhausting day! We started our day at Disneyland, with an early admission into the gate. Today we tried to see some of the attractions that we missed on Sunday. We rode the Thunder Mountain Rail Road, explored Tom Sawyer's Island/Pirate's Island, and some of the older classics that we missed like Snow White and the Storybook Land boat ride. Kevin Taggart's brother and two of his daughters showed up around 11am today, and spent the whole day with us. The kids hit it off really well, and we had a good time with them all. After a corn dog lunch, we went back over to California Adventure and rode Soarin' Over California once more and watched the High School Musical 2 show in the courtyard. The kids loved that. We stayed at California Adventure until it closed at 6pm, catching two of the last rides on the big roller coaster. We walked back over to Disneyland and spent some time at Toon Town. Finally, we rode Thunder Mountain Rail Road 2 times in a row until they kicked us out at 8pm. We stopped at Millie's for dinner and everyone but me was asleep 10 minutes after getting into our hotel room.

Tomorrow we are renting a 12 person van, and Kevin is driving us around their old stomping grounds. Mary Kaye grew up in near Anaheim, in Tustin, and Kevin is from San Diego. I think we are all looking forward to a little less walking, so it should be really fun. Here are a few photos from today. More tomorrow! - Rob

Early morning Character spotting!

That morning sun is hard on the eyes.
Just got on the ferry back from Pirate's Island when Capt. Jack came staggering up. We waited all week to get his signature, I guess we will have to wait a little longer.
The little slave Abominable Snowman, cranking away making popcorn for you and me. For three days Jack had been obsessed with this guy, so I just had to take a picture.

Finally got to walk through the castle.

I think that The Taggarts should use this as their next Christmas Card! Notice Katie in the bottom left corner. She's a real roller coaster veteran now!

Kate and Katie Taggart with her cousins, Hanna and Hailey.
Once last ride on the roller coaster!
Just before leaving California Adventure tonight.

Thanks for the car keys, Dad!

Night shot of Tomorrowland.

Monday, January 28, 2008

California Adventure Day

Greetings from the Happiest Place on Earth....this time from the other side of the street in California Adventure! We began our day with breakfast at Millie's and then we met the Taggarts near "Soarin' Over California". Just like yesterday, there was very little wait and we got seats at the very front. Everyone loved it! We made our way around the park, riding almost every ride including the big roller coaster that went upside down. All of the kids loved it and went 4 times in a row (again, no waits). Some of our other favorite attractions were A Bug's Life, The Muppets 3-D, and Mulholland Madness. Kate didn't like the Ferris Wheel, but once was enough for everyone. Jack went with us to Tower of Terror, but I think it scared him a little more than he thought it would. We will have to see if he rides it again later in the week. As of now, he says no. We saw lots of Disney Characters and even our first princess! We ate an early dinner at the Taste Pilot's Grill and finished out the day getting soaked on the Grizzly River Run. By then the park was closing so we headed over to the Grand Californian Hotel, where the Taggarts are staying. I believe that this could be my favorite hotel that I have ever seen. The arts & crafts style is just beautiful. The kids swam for about an hour at the pool there, and then we headed to McDonald's for a cheap late-night dinner. The kids were crashed by 10pm, but will be ready for more tomorrow. We are meeting at the entrance to Disney at 7:45am. Tomorrow is the morning we chose for our one-time early entrance ticket. Stay tuned for more! -Rob

We caught Pluto as soon as we stepped in the park. He hadn't even had his coffee yet...or was that me who didn't have his coffee yet?

A look down Hollywood Blvd.

The mouse aviator is ready for take-off!

This kid hasn't met a roller coaster that he didn't like.

No Kate...T IANK YOU!

Finally...We spot Mickey!

Woodey has his new "Toy Story" attraction coming in May 2008. They are working on it now.

Our first princess sighting and photo opportunity. Strangely enough, Katie Taggart (Miss Disney Princess herself) wouldn't get near her!

Night shot of Hollywood Blvd. If only it was as warm as it looked (about 50 degrees today).

"C" is for Cole! Too bad California isn't spelled with a R, T, K and J. Maybe we can all stand at the L for a photo

Sunday, January 27, 2008

First full day at Disneyland!

Well, today was our first full day at Disneyland and boy did we put in a full day! After nearly 12 hours of walking, riding rides, and eating, we finally dragged ourselves back to the hotel. We rode nearly every ride in Disneyland today with almost no wait times the entire day. The only waits we had were about 10 minutes for Autopia and about 40 minutes for finding Nemo. We rode Splash Mountain 5 times in a row and got a little wet, but it didn't matter much since we had to dodge about 5 different rain storms throughout the day (hence the photos of us in rain parkas). In between rain showers we had beautiful weather and had some great food. Today was our day to splurge on eating out. We had breakfast before the park opened at the Disney Character breakfast where all the kids got to have the characters sign their autograph books. Then for a late lunch we ate at the restaurant inside The Pirates of the Caribbean. We finished out the day at McDonald's takeout, back at the room. This is probably the most money I have spent on food in any one day of my life.

Take a look at just a few of today's photos, and I will update you on tomorrow's day at California Adventure. We are meeting the Taggarts at 10am at the "Soaring Over California" ride. It should be an exciting day! -Rob

The group photo with just some of the Characters at breakfast

Cole's favorite thing - All you can eat!
Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue!
(Jack wanted nothing to do with him and hid behind a garbage can)

I found Space Mountain a real bore

We found Nemo!

Even though this car is British, Jack was ready to go!

Can you tell that Katie T. and Jack were fighting?

A classic ride that we could not pass up

I closed my eyes on the first ride...I think this was the 5th trip

Dad, can I quit pretending to lift this thing?

Boys only on this ride

Hey, wait a minute. There's a girl hiding back here!

Main Street at night
Last photo taken for the night...More fun tomorrow!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Disney Vacation 2008

Well, we are finally here at Disneyland! We flew in this afternoon with the Taggart Family, around 3:30pm. This was the kids first airplane flight and they loved it! Since we are staying at different hotels, we had to take separate shuttle vans from the airport. I was able to convince our driver to take a slight detour to the local Vons grocery store and pick up some bottled water and snacks, which should save us some money on food. Since the Taggarts are leaving on Thursday, they went into Disney to use one of their five day passes. We spent our time at the Disney store in Downtown Disney. The kids got their autograph books and did some window shopping. We then went to dinner at Millie's near the hotel and finished the night by spending 45 minutes in the pool. The kids swam and I sat in the rain watching. Tomorrow we have a breakfast in the park with the Disney characters at 8am. Everyone crashed at 9:45pm after the very loud fireworks display had finished across the street. Of course, I'm not tired and so I decided to create a blog and post some pictures before bed.

More details and photos later! -Rob

Getting off the Shuttle at SeaTAC

Killing some time before the big flight

Heading down the ramp to board

One last call to the hospital

Ready for take-off!!

Cole and Jack Taggart, ready to roll

Katie and Kate are ready too
Dad, who is John Wayne?
Is Disneyland more fun than this luggage cart?
Resting up for shopping tonight

Trying out the merchandise!

A "Goofy" pirate with an attitude!

Let us in, Let us in!

California Adventure entrance at night

Disneyland entrance at night