Tag Archives: fun

San Diego Day Trip (or The Backgammon Witch)

I was down in San Diego for a day trip not too long ago, but I was able to do another day trip down there this past weekend. I’m glad I’m able to go down there more often because my grandma is in San Diego. She understands that I can’t be there all the time, but I know that she appreciates it when I’m able to get down there too.

This time, my parents were in San Diego for the week visiting my grandma (unlike last time when their trip was for the surgery I was supposed to have) and they had been doing a lot of fun stuff. I couldn’t visit during the week because of my schedule, but I was able to take time off on Saturday so I could spend a few hours down there with everyone.

I’m glad I took the time off work because there were so many accidents on the freeway on the drive down. It usually takes me 2 hours to get there, but this time it was 3 hours. If I hadn’t gotten the time off work, I only would have had an hour or so with my family before I had to go back to LA.

Once I got there, my parents and I went out for lunch. Originally my grandma was possibly going to come with us, but it was easier for her to eat lunch at home. So the 3 of us (plus the dog) went out for a casual lunch at a Greek restaurant just around the corner from where my grandma lives. It was nice getting to catch my parents up on some of the stuff happening in my life and what I’m trying to plan to do coming up. I was hoping to get to Tahoe sometime soon, but I don’t think that will be happening until the winter now.

After our lunch, we headed up to my grandma’s apartment. It was nice to see her at her place since I hadn’t been up there in a while (when I was there last time, I waited in my car while my dad got her). Her apartment is really nice and has some of my favorite pictures of our family on her desk and tv table. And it also has her backgammon set.

My grandparents used to play backgammon every single day. My grandpa would always say that my grandma is a witch because she could always get double sixes or whatever roll she needed at the time she needed it. She would win most of the time and it was so funny seeing my grandpa get frustrated that she always got lucky with the dice.

I don’t know how much backgammon my grandma has played since my grandpa passed away. But my parents had told me that while they’ve been on this trip they have been playing backgammon with her. And it’s like she never stopped playing! She’s just as good as she always has been and she still has all her witch powers. My dad took this photo from the day before I was there of my grandma right after she won a game against my mom.

I love that expression on her face! You can tell how proud she is that she can still kick my mom’s butt in backgammon. And while I was there, my mom and grandma played some more.

This time, my grandma wasn’t as lucky with the dice (and she kept saying how badly she was playing) so my mom was lucky and was able to win a game. But seeing my grandma so happy doing something that I’ve seen her do my entire life made me so happy. My grandparents had taught all their grandkids how to play backgammon, but it’s been a while since I’ve played. But I think I’ll need to brush up on my skills because I have a feeling we will be playing a lot at Thanksgiving this year.

After visiting with my grandma, we went back to the place my parents were staying at. My parents’ friends were going to be coming over to hang out with them and I was going to visit with them as well. A lot of the conversation was about medical stuff (that’s the case a lot of the time around my family) and clearly Tucker was pretty bored by all the talk.

I stayed for about an hour with everyone and then headed out when they were all walking down to the beach. I have a friend who recently moved to San Diego and I was going to have dinner with him and his sister before heading back up to LA. It was a pretty chill dinner and was a nice way to feel like I did have a bit of a mini-vacation with my day trip down to San Diego. Usually I’m down and back so quickly that it doesn’t feel like I did much more than drive a lot.

On my drive back up, I happened to time it out perfectly and was driving past Disneyland just as the fireworks were going off. It was actually a better view from the freeway than what we had by the castle the last time we were there! Seeing the fireworks made me miss Disneyland a bit, but it’s only about another month before I can go back with my pass.

While my trip down to San Diego wasn’t that much longer than the time it took me to drive there and back, it was still a nice break from LA. I don’t think I’ll be down there again before Thanksgiving, but you never know. I’m lucky that it’s not too far for me to get there and that I can easily do it as a day trip.

A Night Of Stand Up (or Just Having Fun With My Friends)

I’ve got several friends who perform stand up. Unfortunately, more often than not those shows are on evenings that I can’t go. Either I’m working or the show is really late at night when I need to be up very early the next morning. It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend a friend’s stand up show.

So when my friend Marie invited me to her stand up show, I was sad that originally I couldn’t attend due to having other plans. But my other plans got cancelled so I could go! I immediately bought a ticket online since they were cheaper that way and let Marie know that I’d be there! I don’t think I’ve seen her perform at a venue for at least 5 years (it may actually be closer to 10 years) so I was so happy I could be there. And she mentioned that she would be working on new material and I was excited to support her as she was doing that.

The show was at The Open Space, which isn’t too far from my house but I had never been there before. I left early because I wanted to find some parking and lucked out to find a meter just down the block from the venue. I paid my meter and headed over to meet up with Marie, Chris, and whoever else was there already!

When I got inside, everyone in there was a part of the usual group of friends I see at the parties that Marie and Chris throw. It was still early, but it was nice to have a fun catch up time with my friends and to be excited to see people perform. I didn’t realize it when I got my ticket, but I had 3 friends performing that night plus a couple of comedians that I didn’t know. So it was going to be a fun and full stand up night. And of course, I had to get a selfie with Marie before the show started.

Right before the show started, the room started to fill up a bit more. But it stayed a pretty intimate show and I think that was pretty great. Most of the comedians were testing out new material and having a small and supportive room is perfect for doing that.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen Marie perform live, but she’s so amazing at it! She does a great mix of regular stand up plus songs that she’s made up. And this time she didn’t disappoint! She did some really funny bits about the warnings in birth control pills that made me laugh and then made me think if my tumors are listed in those warnings (I looked it up the next day and it actually is mentioned in the packet insert with all the other warnings!).

And Marie had a new song that was all about Chris. It was pretty funny listening to her sing about him when I was sitting right next to him. And everything was cheering so loudly for her when her act was done!

Another friend of mine who performed is a trans woman who was doing her first act since transitioning. She was so funny and had some really great jokes about her transition and her life now. And she also had a song in her act! This one was a rap about the 10 commandments and I was laughing the entire time. I told her afterwards how much I loved her act and I was surprised it was her first one since transitioning she was so polished and had some really smart jokes.

And I enjoyed the comedians who I didn’t know too. Some of them had some jokes I didn’t love, but overall they were pretty great. During one person’s act, there was a woman sitting right in the front who was a friend of another performer. She arrived just in time to see her friend and was sitting there when the next performer started. She was on her phone texting during the act and the comedian was pretty funny calling her out on it. I’m sure that he felt pretty annoyed that she was on her phone (I was feeling annoyed for him), but I think that he handled the situation well and in a super funny way!

The entire show was a little more than an hour long and I really wished that it was longer! It was such a fun night out with friends (again, helping me get back to feeling normal) and I’m so glad that my schedule worked out so I was able to go! I love supporting my friends in their creative adventures and I don’t get to do it often enough. So I have to take advantage of each opportunity I get like this that fits into my schedule.

Celebrating Not Having Surgery (or Getting To Have Some Family Time)

Today was supposed to be my surgery day. I had planned out blog posts to write while I was going to be in the hospital and how to document my recovery the best way possible. I think I’m still in a bit of shock that the surgery was cancelled and that I’m not going to have to worry about all of that right now. There is still a chance I will be having surgery in the future, but unless something crazy happens soon it won’t be for at least another 6 months or so.

My entire family did so much planning to make sure that they would be able to help me as much as possible through surgery and recovery. While most of my family wasn’t going to be able to be in LA with me, my parents made plans to come to LA for a week to help me get through everything. My parents have come to LA in the past to take care of me after I’ve had surgeries, so I expected that they would do the same this time. But I’m still aware how lucky I am that my parents have the ability to come here to help me out when I need it.

Since the surgery was cancelled, a lot of things have changed but one thing hasn’t. My parents are still going to be in LA with me for the week. I don’t think my parents have ever spent a week with me in LA outside of taking care of me after a surgery, so this will be pretty cool. We are slowly filling our calendar with some fun things that we’ve been wanting to do so we can enjoy this weeklong hangout. I’m going to take a few days off of work since I banked so many hours so I can spend a lot of time with them. But I’ll also be working a little bit as well so I still have some hours saved if I need them in the future.

I think it will be pretty great getting to have this week with my parents here. Normally when they are in LA, they are only here for a day or so and we are pretty busy doing things. They haven’t really met any of my LA friends. But now, they will have a chance to meet all the people I hang out with (and blog about) while they are here. I think it will be pretty cool to get to have everyone meet each other. And my dad is going to join me for an Orangetheory workout too! He usually only does the Thanksgiving workouts, so this will be a nice bonus for him.

I will also be going to San Diego with my parents to visit my grandma. I won’t be in San Diego as long as originally planned (since I won’t be recovering with my parents and I want to work a bit), but I will get to spend a nice weekend with them. It will be much more relaxing this way than it would have been if I was in pain from surgery.

I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you who prayed for my tumors to shrink or put some awesome tumor shrinking thoughts out there. Since I shared the news that my surgery was cancelled, I got so many amazing messages on social media and emails telling me congratulations and how they were so happy for me. I’m so grateful that you all care about me and my health and that you were as excited about my news as I was!

While I won’t be blogging about surgery or recovery now, I’m glad I’ll have much more interesting things to share with you all in the coming weeks. I’m working on getting my social calendar filled up again since I was planning on taking time off. And so far, the things I think will be coming up are going to be so much fun and just a continuation of celebrating not needing surgery today!

A Harry Potter Afternoon (or Enjoying Some Butterbeer)

Since my appointment with the surgeon about my liver was in the morning, I knew I’d have that afternoon free. And when I have an afternoon free, I always contact my friend Michelle to see if she wants to go to Disneyland or something. We had gone to Disneyland recently enough, so we decided that we should do another adventure at Universal Studios. And right before that day, we discovered that they were offering one of the special Harry Potter drinks as a hot version for the first time there! So we figured it was meant to be that we went to the park.

Our entire reason to go to Universal was to ride the Harry Potter ride again and to get the hot butterbeer. We decided to get our drinks first since we were both a bit hungry and wanted a snack. We were warned that the drinks were hot so we decided to find a place outside to sit and people watch while we waited for the drinks to cool down.

hot-butterbeer

For those of you wondering, yes the hot butterbeer is awesome! I really love the frozen one, but this is just as good. It’s not as sweet as I expected it to be (except for the topping which was a bit too sweet but I didn’t taste that until I got to the end of the drink) and it felt like such a treat! We just hung out and relaxed while enjoying our drinks (and discussed the craziness of me having a tumor).

Our next stop was to ride the main ride in the Harry Potter section. After my fat shaming incident, things have gotten much better and I do enjoy the ride now. I use the alternative loading area so I have more time to get into the ride, but there is no issue with me fitting into it. The ride was just as fun as it was the last time and I know it will be one of those rides that I go on each time I go to Universal.

The only other ride we went on was the little roller coaster in the Harry Potter section. It’s a cute little ride (nothing too crazy), but since we didn’t want to do too much else in the park it was a nice way to spend some time.

Besides the butterbeer, the other main thing about going to Universal was to see the Harry Potter castle lit up at night. With the time change, there was finally a chance to see that happen. But we had some time to kill before the sun went down. At least the sky looked really pretty while we waited.

sunset-at-universal

And we got to check out one of the short shows that they do as well. I hadn’t seen one of the shows before, but this was really cute (even though I haven’t really read or watched Harry Potter and didn’t know all the references).

harry-potter-show

They do character photos after the show and we had no plan to stick around for it. But then they decided that the line would be starting behind us and we realized that since we were first we might as well take advantage of it and get a fun photo from the day.

group-photo

And before we knew it, the sun was down and the castle was lit up. It really was beautiful to be there looking around because they worked really hard on making this section of the park look amazing.

castle-at-night

You get sucked into the world and it feels like the outside world doesn’t exist anymore. You get to escape, which was perfect since this was the day before the election and we were both scared what would happen (I’m still pretty freaked out now after it’s all gone down).

We walked back through the Harry Potter land to get back to the main gate to leave the park (it was only a few minutes before the park closed so we weren’t going to stick around). We went to a fun Chinese restaurant at Citywalk for dinner to wait out rush hour traffic before heading home.

It wasn’t that long of a visit to Universal Studios (we were there less than 2 hours), but it was a lot of fun. After being nervous about my doctor appointment and then in probably a bit of shock after, I needed something to distract me from my day and make things end on a positive note.

My pass to Universal is about halfway done. I’ve got about 6 months to keep going to the parks and then I’ll have to figure out if I want to get a new pass. Before this, I hadn’t been to the parks since I worked there, but now I’m really enjoying it. It’s not as fun as going to Disneyland most of the time, but this is much closer to me and I still have a great time there. I’m hoping I’ll get at least another couple of visits in before my pass expires and I have to make a new plan on what to do.

Epic Disney Evening (or 8 Rides In 3 Hours)

After my dentist appointment was over, I had something fun scheduled. A few days before the appointment, my Disneyland friend June asked me what I was doing on the day of my appointment. I told her that I should be free after 4pm and she asked if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours to check out the Halloween stuff.

I said yes right away since I wasn’t sure if I’d be at the parks anytime while the Halloween stuff was up (now it looks like I’ll make it there next month), and even though it was going to be a long drive in rush hour to get there I was super excited! I needed something positive to focus on during the dentist appointment, and I think knowing I had a Disneyland adventure after really did help keep the panic away (June and I have already said that we will have to go to Disneyland after my next appointment).

The drive down was a bit longer than usual, but fortunately there were carpool lanes on a few freeways we used. It was just over an hour to get to the parking lot but it took quite a while to get through the parking booths and parked (lots of people going into the parks for some after-work fun). By the time we got into Disneyland, it was 6pm and we were on a mission to check out all the Halloween themed stuff.

Our first stop was the Tower of Terror. This ride will be closing in a few months, but before it closes they are doing a special totally dark version of the ride at night. Instead of seeing the various scenes before the elevator drops, it’s totally dark and you only hear the voiceover. There are some tricks that they do that make the ride feel very different, but I don’t want to give away the fun! But I have to say that riding it was really awesome and I was laughing so hard I was crying.

tot-total-darkness

They also have a really awesome photo spot in front of the ride and we took advantage of that. I’m glad we did that because I’m hearing now that the Hollywood Tower sign was taken down that night and I don’t know if it will be put back up before the ride closes.

tower-of-terror tot-photo-spot

After Tower of Terror, we actually decided to leave California Adventure and go over to Disneyland where the other 2 Halloween rides were. We really only had a plan to ride those 3 so we were on a mission to get them done! Our next stop was going to be Space Mountain, but as we passed Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters with almost no line so we made a quick detour and battled each other on the ride. I ended up hitting one of the secret targets that gets you a ton of points, so I did beat June. But I’m guessing if I hadn’t hit it that June would have beat me.

Then it was time to ride Space Mountain. I’ve loved the Hyperspace Mountain overlay, but for Halloween they do a Ghost Galaxy overlay. It’s fun to ride the ride with different theming and it does make it feel like a totally different ride even though it is the same track. It felt super fast and while we did pose for a photo during the ride, the photos weren’t working so we didn’t get an official ride photo.

The last Halloween themed ride we wanted to go on was Haunted Mansion Holiday. This technical lasts through Christmas, but we wanted to go on it for Halloween too. They have added some stuff to the ride each year and it was very fun spotting what was new and different while riding it. It was just as good as I remembered it from last year, and while I love the regular Haunted Mansion too the Holiday one is fun too!

haunted-mansion-holiday

After accomplishing all of our Halloween rides, we realized we had about an hour before the park closed. We were impressed with riding 4 rides in 2 hours, but we wanted to see what else we could do!

Our next stop was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We noticed it while walking back from Haunted Mansion because it looked so beautiful in the dark!

nighttime-at-disney

It had been a while since I had been on the ride and it was more intense than I remembered. I wanted to keep my hands up in the air (how I ride roller coasters), but I kept sliding on the seat so I had to ride with one arm up and one holding on.

We decided to continue on with our crazy ride count and went to Fantasyland where several rides had almost no line at that point in the night! We almost walked onto Snow White right away! We figured this ride fit into the Halloween theme of the day since it is one of the scarier kid rides (which is probably why there was no line). Then we ran next to Snow White to ride Pinocchio which also had almost no line.

With about 5 minutes until the park closed, we decided to do one final ride which would bring us to 8 rides between 6 and 9pm (which is insane since on a normal full day we don’t always get 8 rides done!). Our final ride of the night was the Carousel which was also a walk-on. It was a nice calm ride to end our evening with and it felt like we really had the perfect Disneyland outing.

Since our first 2 rides (Tower of Terror and Buzz Lightyear) both had ride photos, we decided we needed to do a ride photo or a selfie on each ride that we went on. Some of them are in the dark so it’s not as easy to see, but we did get our 8 ride photos in that night.

disneyland-rides

As we were walking out, it was pretty crowded since the park was now closed for the night and everyone was heading home. But I did manage to get a picture of the big Mickey pumpkin in Main Street with no people in it! I don’t know how that timing happened, but I thought it was pretty cool!

mickey-pumpkin

Overall, this was the perfect thing to do after a dentist appointment. It kept me positive, gave me something else to focus on, and I got to walk off all the nerves I had while walking from ride to ride. We had no idea that our 3 hours at Disneyland were going to be so amazing, but I’m so grateful that June had the idea to do this because it really was one of the best Disney adventures!

Another Universal Day (or Having Much More Fun)

I’ll admit, my last trip to Universal Studios wasn’t the best time. I felt bad about being stopped by the “fat police” for days after it happened and it really upset me every time I thought about it. I know I’m probably making a bigger deal out of it than it was, but for me it was just humiliating and I never wanted to have an experience like that again.

After that trip to Universal, I did some research online and found out that for the accessible loading area for the Harry Potter ride they have a loading area that doesn’t have a moving walkway (which means I would have more time to get onto the ride). It reminded me of the accommodations Disney makes on Space Mountain so I kept that in mind for when I could go to Universal again.

I made it back to the park this past Monday and I’m happy to say that the day went so much better! I went with my friend June, but it turned out my friend Robert was going to be there too so we all got to hang out!

We started our day with taking the Tram Tour. Both Robert and I are ex-employees so we had a bunch of fun talking about our time working at Universal while on the tram tour. And I got to show him different places that I had to go for work while I worked there for Halloween. I got to share with him some crazy stories from my 3 years there and all of us enjoyed seeing the silly stuff on the tour. One of my favorites has always been Jaws and I got a pretty decent picture of the shark coming up to the tram (we were sitting in the first row of our car so it was tough to not get the tram railing in the photo).

jaws

And of course we got to go by my old workplace on the tram. Because Halloween Horror Nights is about to start, the Bates Motel was hard to see because of the HHN stuff that is already in place.

bates-motel

But the War Of The Worlds area (where I worked my second year at HHN) was still looking as great as ever!

war-of-the-worlds

After the tram, we were starting to get hungry so we walked over to the Harry Potter section and went to Three Broomsticks for lunch. Both June and Robert have been to the park a bunch so they both have been working their way through the menu at Three Broomsticks. They were able to share with me what was good and what was too filling to eat for a lunch if you are planning on still riding more rides.

While I am working on HDE, I also wanted to make a good choice for food. There were a couple of things that looked good to me, but I also knew that I didn’t want to feel too full and I might get a snack later. So I ended up getting the chicken salad (which was one of the cheapest things on the menu so that was nice) and I was pleasantly surprised by how giant the salad was!

lunch

It was really good, but not as filling as I would have liked. I ended up being hungry again sooner than I would have wanted to, but that’s not the worst thing. If I had planned things out better, I probably would have gotten a side of something with my salad. That will just have to be something I do next time.

After lunch, we headed over to the Harry Potter ride so I could hopefully have a better experience. Robert wasn’t going to ride it, but because of the alternative loading area he was able to wait where the load/unload area was (and he held our purses so we didn’t have to use the lockers). The alternative loading area was actually a fun adventure to get to and while the wait was probably longer than the regular wait, it was totally worth it! Oh, and I wasn’t stopped by the fat police so that was pretty awesome too!

The bench you ride on it brought over to the side where you can load. Nothing is moving around it and I was able to get into the seat easily without feeling rushed. June helped me pull the harness down and it locked easily. When the employee came over to check the harness, he asked me if it was too tight because I could loosen it 2 clicks and still have it low enough to be ok. I don’t know if I’ve gotten that much thinner or what happened to me last time was a weird experience, but obviously I am small enough to have harness options now. I did loosen it one click (we put it down really tight because that’s what they did last time to me). After we were all set in the bench, they handed us the 3D glasses and the bench moved over toward where the regular ride was.

When we moved over, we had to wait a minute or two for our bench to have a turn to go into the ride system. But while we were waiting we were able to see all the benches from the back that were on the ride track! Both June and I are total geeks about seeing how the rides work, so this was so exciting for us. Even when we started the ride we could see a bit of the track and arms controlling the benches before we got into the regular ride.

I seriously enjoyed this time on the ride so much more than last time! I know that last time I was feeling pretty upset the entire ride time and that made it tough to focus on the ride and have fun. This time, there was no stress and everything was just amazing for me! And when the ride was over, we got moved back over to the alternative loading area where I could take my time getting out of the bench (which I needed because my hip was locking). And after we were out of the ride, we were able to see a bit of the ride track for the regular loading area (which was behind us) and found out the loading area is actually 20 feet above the ground!

After that, Robert had to head out to get ready to work that night. But June and I were going to stick around a bit longer and headed over to watch Waterworld. It’s such a fun show to watch and I enjoy it every time! And we sat all the way on the far side, so it was a different view than I’m used to seeing.

waterworld

Our final ride of the day at Universal was the Minions ride. This is in the place that the Terminator ride used to be in and I had never been on it before. It was a cute little ride, but probably not one I’ll be doing all the time. It was a bit jerky and it’s in a corner of the park that I’m not usually in. But I’m glad we got to ride it this time because I’ve been curious about it.

I think it’s pretty clear that this trip to Universal was significantly better than the last time. I’m so glad I learned about the alternative loading for Harry Potter because I know I’ll be using that from now on. It really helps me and makes a huge difference in my enjoyment in riding the ride. It’s tough when I feel super rushed to try to get in and out of a ride and this makes that go away.

I’m not sure when my next trip to Universal will be. My Mondays are starting to get really busy and my pass might not be good for Sundays at all (and if it is, I’m not sure if I want to deal with the crowds). I’ll totally be there again at least one time before my pass ends next year, I’m just not sure how soon that will be. But I’m already looking forward to it!

A Very Full Disney Day (or Finally Able To Get Back To The Parks)

I haven’t been to Disneyland in a while. Mainly, it’s because the type of annual pass I have doesn’t allow me to go during the summer (which is fine with me). The last time I was there was on Father’s Day so I could ride the new Soarin’ ride, so I was antsy to get back and have a real Disney day.

My pass type was finally able to go back this week so my friend June and I had made plans to get back to the park on Monday. We were discussing that at my birthday party, and my friend Dani wanted to come with us too! Dani is a big Disney person too and she’s never been to the parks with us. Plus, she was going to be getting her first annual pass so she’s getting ready to have a full year of Disney adventures too!

Our day didn’t start super early. I had a workout in the morning and none of us cared to be there as soon as the park opened because we knew we were going to be staying there late. Once we arrived, we got through security and Dani got her pass (she paid in advance and just had to pick up the card at the ticket booth) and we were off to California Adventure.

Our first stop there was Soarin’. Even though I got to ride it twice back when it opened, neither June nor Dani had been on the new version. I was super excited to see what they thought about it and I was ready to see what new things I noticed and saw while watching it for the third time. I think the ride actually got a bit better because the scents that are used are more distinctive and I wasn’t as overwhelmed by the newness of it all. And June and Dani agreed that it was a good new movie and totally worth going on again another time.

We were going to do some more rides at California Adventure, but the Tower of Terror was down that day and we didn’t feel like waiting in the long line for Radiator Springs Racers because we had lunch reservations. So we headed across to Disneyland where we spent the rest of the day.

Our first stop in Disneyland was to ride Indiana Jones. This is always a fun ride for me and this time was no different. I know that other people have mentioned to me that some of the effects have been down in the ride, but I thought pretty much everything seemed to be working. We did have 2 times where the ride stopped (once in the dark and I was feeling a bit panicky when that happened), but other than that it was a pretty good ride.

The next stop was our lunch reservations. Since we heard that the Paint The Night parade and the current fireworks show were going away soon, we wanted to make sure we could see them one more time (and for Dani, for the first time). We decided to splurge and go to the Blue Bayou for the Paint The Night deal where you got a 3 course meal and reserved seating for the parade and fireworks!

Blue Bayou

As soon as we were seated, we experienced what we considered one of the most awesome and magical things we’ve seen at a restaurant lately.

Blue Bayou Menu

The menus had LED lights in them so you could read them! It is pretty dark inside of the restaurant and I was totally ready to use the flashlight on my phone to try to read it. But when we opened the menu and saw that it lit up, we all were so excited and amazed! We may have loved them so much that we had our server take a photo of us with the menus lit up.

Menu Lit

We did have a small problem when we got our menus. They didn’t say they were for the Paint The Night deal and when we brought that up to our server she said that the Paint The Night thing was only for dinner. I was really confused because when I made the reservation I was very specific in what we were trying to do and I guess something got mixed up when the reservation was put into the computer. Fortunately, our server was able to get us the special menu for lunch (just a few items weren’t available) and we were ready to enjoy a very special lunch.

Paint The Night Menu

We each had our 3 courses (I had shrimp for an appetizer, steak for my entrée, and creme brûlée for dessert) and it was really delicious! This wasn’t a cheap meal, but we enjoyed it and I think it was totally worth the cost. Plus, non-alcoholic drinks were included so I decided to get a lemonade with my meal too (I usually only drink water). We relaxed while we ate, and it was a nice grown-up meal!

After a huge meal like that, we decided to go on the Pirates ride since it wouldn’t be too much movement after eating. And it was fun to see where we were just eating lunch from the ride side. We ended up sitting in the front of the boat, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. It was nice with the extra leg room and having an unobstructed view of the ride, but we did get splashed on a lot during the 2 drops.

After Pirates (and our food had settled a bit) we were ready for some more exciting rides. We went over to Tomorrowland and went on Hyperspace Mountain. It’s still one of my favorite rides in the park and I always have so much fun riding it! I love the Star Wars overlay and I’m really hoping that they keep it because I think it adds so much to the ride! And of course, we had to try for a silly ride pose. Since there were 3 of us, we went for “hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil” and I think we really succeeded at it.

Hyperspace Mountain

What ended up being our last ride of the night was Star Tours. Again, none of us were chosen to be the Rebel Spy, but it’s still fun and Dani hadn’t been on it since they changed the ride to be in 3-D. We had originally also planned to go on Big Thunder Railroad after Star Tours, but the ride was down when we got over there and we didn’t want to wait to see how long it would be until it opened again.

Since we had some time before we needed to line up for our reserved seating for Paint The Night, we decided to get some character photos with the Star Wars characters that were out. Our first character stop was Kylo Ren, and I think this may be the greatest character photo I’ve ever been in. When it was taken, none of us knew the photo was being taken. Dani was being silly with Kylo Ren, June was pretty much laughing at Dani, and I was posing for a photo that I thought would be happening soon. I think I look like a total goober in it, but I seriously love this photo so much!

Kylo Ren

As soon as we saw the photo after it was taken, we all laughed so hard. It’s so perfect and completely not posed that we are all doing something totally different.

The other character out was Chewbacca, and we tried to go for a classic Charlie’s Angels thing, but Chewbacca decided he wanted to show off his muscles instead.

Chewy

Finally, it was time to head over to Main Street for our reserved seating for the parade. There was a line when we got there of people who also had reserved seating, but when we were finally let into the section we were able to sit on the sidewalk right behind the people sitting on the curb. We had a pretty great view and I was just so happy that we could sit down to watch the parade. Plus, we had a gorgeous view of the train station while we were waiting.

Train Station

The parade was really fun to watch and I enjoyed it just as much as the other times I had seen it. While I’m sad to see it go because it’s a good parade, I’m glad we are getting the Main Street Electrical Parade back soon! Since this was the last time I’d get to see this parade, I tried to get some great pictures, but I also just focused on enjoying it and having fun.

Paint The Night Belle

As soon as the parade ended, we made a mad dash back toward Main Street to get a great viewpoint to see the fireworks. I loved it when I got to see the fireworks from the castle last year, but I had never seen them from farther back before.

Main Street Viewing

While we couldn’t see the projections on the castle that well from how far back we were, we were able to see all the projections that were on the buildings on Main Street. That was pretty amazing and it was a beautiful show.

Main Street

And as always, the fireworks were great too.

Fireworks

I tried to get some great fireworks pictures, but I think that Dani wins with the one she took that had the Mickey fireworks in it!

Mickey Fireworks

After the fireworks ended, even though we had been at Disneyland for 10 hours already, we weren’t ready to go home. We walked over to the Disneyland Hotel to try to get some food at Trader Sams, but it was just super packed and there were no tables for us to sit at. So we walked back to Downtown Disney and we got some sandwiches at Earl Of Sandwich (even with the big lunch we had, we were all hungry at 10pm).

After our late dinner, we walked back to the car (the tram to the parking lot had already stopped for the night) and headed back home.

It was a full Disney day, even though it wasn’t the most ride-filled day. I had such a great time with June and Dani and I know that we are going to continue to have some amazing Disney days coming up as we don’t have to worry about summer blackout dates anymore!

Castle

15 Years Later (or Reflections On LA)

About 15 years ago, I moved to LA. My move was actually pretty easy as I was coming to LA to go to college at LMU. It was a pretty traditional move to college, I just didn’t know then that it would be pretty much my forever move from Northern CA to Southern CA.

I still remember moving down here with some really fun memories. My parents drove their car and my best friend Kate and I were in my car. My parents car was pretty much filled with everything that I was moving down with me. I’m sure I had way too much stuff (and honestly I don’t think anything is still with me that I moved down here 15 years ago), but at the time I thought I needed it all.

Packed Car

Since we were in separate cars, we needed a way to make sure we didn’t get too far apart from each other during the drive. Even though we all had cell phones at the time, we decided that we needed to have walkie-talkies in the cars. Kate and I had a lot of fun with those, but I still wonder why we had them.

When I moved to LMU, it was a pretty easy transition. I didn’t know anyone but I made a bunch of friends in my dorm and in my classes as everyone was pretty much in the same boat as me. I lived on campus during my freshman and sophomore year and I had a sublet in an apartment during the summer between (my winter break trip home was the longest I’ve been home since I moved here 15 years ago).

I had my own apartment my junior year and shared an apartment with my friend Marcus during my senior semester (because of summer school classes I took, I only had 1 semester of a senior year). I was in that senior year apartment for almost 6 years until I moved into the house that I’m in now. I’ve pretty much lived in a 5 mile radius since I got here, so there are places that I discovered when I was 18 that I still go to now.

I think as soon as I came back after my winter break freshman year, I knew I was meant to stay in LA. It felt like home right away to me and I’ve never regretted the decision. It’s so crazy to think that in 3 years, I will have lived in LA as long as I lived in my parents’ house in Northern CA.

In that car ride down here 15 years ago, I knew that awesome things were in store for me in LA. But there was no way for me to know then that I was finding what would become my home and I would have so many amazing opportunities and adventures here. But that excitement of moving down here has stuck with me throughout the years.

I still have “pinch me” moments where I have to wonder how I get to be so lucky. I have times where I joke that if I had known in high school that these things would happen to me in my 30’s that I wouldn’t have cared so much about all the silly things that bothered me in high school. I don’t live a perfect life (it’s pretty far from perfect), but it’s still so awesome to me and I have so many things every day that I’m grateful for.

I know that not everybody lives in the same place as long as I have. Lots of people went away for college and either moved back to where they were from or to another city after college. I’m lucky that my college move happened to be my move to my dream city. It made my transition from my hometown to LA so much easier and I think that is part of the reason why I love it here so much.

Here’s to my first 15 years in LA and here’s to whatever incredible adventures will come in the next 15 years! I could never imagined this life 15 years ago, so I’m not even going to try to guess where I could be in another 15 years!

My First Cinespia Experience (or Watching “Speed” In A Cemetery)

I’ve lived in LA for almost 15 years now, so I feel like I’ve done a lot of the things that people love to do in LA. I go to the Pantages, I go to the Bowl, I go to the beach, and I go to the mountains. I go to a lot of movie screenings (mainly thanks to my union) and I get to do a lot of fun adventures quite a bit! Most of the time when I see lists of the top things to do in LA, I’ve done all of them. But there was one thing that it seems like everyone does that I hadn’t done until this past weekend: Cinespia screenings.

Cinespia organizes some pretty amazing movie screenings, but I never had gone to one before. I believe they have screenings throughout the year, but their most popular ones are the summer ones at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. I’ve actually driven past the cemetery on screening nights and seen the huge crowds there lined up to get into the cemetery. It seemed a bit overwhelming but fun at the same time.

So when my friend Erin asked me if I wanted to join her and some friends to a screening of the movie “Speed” at Hollywood Forever cemetery this past weekend and I figured this was a perfect opportunity to check out what the screenings are all about. I got my ticket online and got some picnic stuff together for Saturday’s fun.

I got to the cemetery a little more than an hour before we could go inside. There was a big line in front where you wait before you have your tickets checked, and one of Erin’s friends had gotten there early and got us a good space. So I met up with everyone and we sat down and waiting for the gates to open so we could go inside.

Once we got inside, I really didn’t know what to expect. A couple of people went ahead to claim a good spot for us to put our blankets down at, but I walked a bit slower with some of the other stragglers. I wanted to check out the cemetery plus I was carrying a bunch of stuff and couldn’t go that quickly.

The cemetery was pretty cool, but so many of the headstones had headshots or photos on them and I thought that was a bit different. I don’t have a ton of experience being in cemeteries, but from the few I’ve been in I don’t remember so many photos of people on their graves. But it was still interesting to look at and some of the people buried there were buried a very long time ago.

Once we walked around the cemetery we got to where the screening was going to take place. We got a pretty good place to put our stuff down and once we got all the blankets out a couple of us went wandering around. The cemetery is pretty beautiful so I’m glad we got to explore a bit.

Hollywood Forever

We went looking around at the various graves to see who was buried there. There are quite a few famous people who are buried there, but the first “celebrity” marker that caught our eyes was the one for Toto.

Toto

We also saw Mickey Rooney and Hitchcock, but I didn’t get pictures of those. And as we were walking back toward where the screening was happening, we saw the photo setup they had for the movie. We were all hoping it would be some sort of bus, but it was a bus stop and I think we got a pretty amazing photo as a group.

Cinespia

At the end of the night (after the credits of the movie aired) they put a couple of the photos up on the big screen to show off and our photo was one of maybe 10 that they chose to do that with. I don’t know if that means we were one of the top 10 photos of the night, but we felt pretty special.

Once the photos were done, it was starting to get dark so we headed back to our blankets to get settled in before the movie started.

Movie Time

We also all brought some food with us to share, so we were eating while we waited for 9pm which is when the movie was supposed to start (I brought the feta dip I make for Thanksgiving).

Once the movie started, it was pretty exciting. We had an ok view of the movie (the people in the chairs in front of us blocked our view a bit) but I have seen “Speed” so many times that I was ok not having a perfect view.

Speed

The crowd was very energetic and it was so exciting to watch a movie this way. At the screenings I usually go to, people are quiet and trying to be respectful. This screening had people cheering and yelling at the screen and it was so much fun!

The only negative to me (besides having a partially blocked view) was my lack of preparation to be there. I brought a nice beach blanket with me and I thought that would be fine. But I wish I had brought something to lean against or one of the camping seats that are on the ground but have a back to them. I was getting a bit locked up in my hips and toward the end of the night I was starting to be in a decent amount of pain. But since I had never been to a screening like this before, I didn’t know what to expect and now I’m more prepared.

I’m so glad that Erin invited me to join her for this screening! It was such a fun night out and while I don’t know if I’ll make it to another screening this summer I’m totally going to do this again!

A Busy Summer (or Realizing I Have A Lot To Look Forward Too)

While summer is definitely here now (I’m so grateful for my a/c because it’s been pretty hot here in LA lately!), I haven’t really thought too much about my summer plans. Summer doesn’t really mean as much now as it did as a kid, but I still think of it as the time I want to make some really fun plans and try to get out and do summer things like go to the beach or hang out with my friends at a BBQ.

I’ve been adding things to my calendar as I hear about them (or get tickets to them as it is the case with the Hollywood Bowl), but I haven’t really thought that I had a ton of stuff planned yet. In fact, I was thinking that I needed to look into more things that I want to do. It just didn’t seem like I had a lot planned out and I figured I would have lots of gaps in my calendar that I would want to fill up.

Then I looked at my calendar.

For the next 6 weeks, I don’t have a free weekend. Each weekend is booked with some pretty cool things. Sometimes I’m going to a show. Some days I have a party I’m going to. There are a couple of meals with friends already on my schedule. I’ve got my short film shoot one weekend. I’m going to a blogging conference one weekend (although my time there is going to end up being very limited so I won’t get to experience it all). And I’m going back east for a weekend for a family reunion (some of the family there I haven’t seen in 16 years!). Then of course there are some weekends that are already booked with work (not counting my usual Saturday morning shifts).

It’s a lot of stuff to do and that’s just getting me to August! In August, I’ve got my birthday to figure out and I’ll be going to San Diego to celebrate with my parents for their anniversary and my birthday. But that month is relatively clear for now but I know there are a couple of shows at the Hollywood Bowl that I’m hoping to go to that I haven’t gotten my tickets for yet.

I think I’ve really set myself up for a great summer. I will be extremely busy and I’m sure at times I might get a bit overwhelmed at my schedule, but I’m happy that I’ve got so much to look forward to instead of feeling like the summer weekends are going to drag on.

Of course, after the beginning of September my calendar pretty much only has my work and workouts scheduled (plus my season ticket dates for the upcoming season at Pantages) so I know I’ll need to plan some fun things for the fall too. I’m already working on one trip I’m hoping to take in October (thanks to some airline credits I have to use up before the end of the year) and of course I have Thanksgiving in the fall too.

I feel like this is the first summer that I’ve really been looking forward to in a while. Summers lost some of their specialness after I was out of school and working meant there wasn’t a big chunk of time off (unless I was unemployed). In the past, it was just time that I was going to keep working and I knew I’d have to deal with the heat in creative ways. Now, I’ve set myself up to have as much fun as I can while still working 3-4 day jobs. I don’t think I could have done it any better.