My First Vacation - The Happiest Place on Earth

Monday, April 04, 2011
I've taken a total of two "real" vacations in my life.  I'm not talking about the family camping trips and weekends spent visiting family.  No, I mean getting on a plain and flying away somewhere.  Most recently, I jetted off across the Atlantic to visit London and meet up with some blog friends.  It was 18 years before that though that I took my very first vacation.

After graduation high school, my best friend, Jody the Non-Blogger, and I decided that we wanted to get out of our small town and see the world.  Or at least as much of it as our part-time cashier jobs would let us.  We had big ambitions:  the Caribbean was calling our name.  Jamaica in particular held a particular allure.  Sadly, the cost associated with spending a week touring the island and drinking fruity cocktails on the beach was just a bit too much.  We figured that we'd be able to get there, pay for our hotel and ... that was about it.  If we could have managed to go for 10 days without eating, we were all set!  Sadly, no.  Instead, we opted for sunny southern California and trip to the "happiest place on earth":  Disneyland.

We flew on Delta Airlines (I don't recommend it!) from Edmonton to Calgary, Calgary to Salt Lake City and then into Los Angeles.  All I remember was our mom's crying as we boarded the plane, Jody getting airsick on the way there, and a delicious looking cauliflower soup that I was too excited to eat. 

Jody's always had great hair...No comment on mine.
We arrived at LAX and one of the first things we saw was a Marine.  I'm embarassed to say that we giggled our way to our ride as only two 18 year old girls right out of high school can do.  Our hotel was plain but functional; it was also handy - right across a massive freeway like roadway from Disneyland.  Not close enough to walk (I think the parking lot was as big as my hometown) but there was a daily van that would take us there.  Relaxed, called home, snacked on chips and salsa and then went to bed.

Our first day was all Disney.  As part of our package, we were "lucky" early entry into the park for breakfast with the characters.  It wasn't nearly as exciting as it sounds - a really bad breakfast and a couple hundred other lucky folks.  However, we did manage to get pictures with some of our faves.  Jody the Non-Blogger insulted Donald Duck, my main mallard, and he came waddling back to me to get a hug.  Yeah, duckman, you know where the love is.  Everyone around us seemed to be either a parent or under the age of 12 but it didn't matter.  We ran around the park excited as any little kid we trampled along the way.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, the Matterhorn...we rode them all.  Sadly, Splash Mountain was closed for renovations during our visit but we had a blast nonetheless.  An entire day walking around, hoping from ride to ride, and feasting on theme park treats and we were beat.  Home to the hotel where there was a red flashing light on our phone.  When we called down to the office, they said we had a message which they gave us through fits of giggles and snorts: "Tell Jody and Karen that their moms miss them and love them lots".  More giggles and snorts.  More embarassment.

Mickey Mouse clearly loves me and my unnaturally colored hair.

But Winnie the Pooh loves me more! Ignore the badly bleached homemade jean shorts...

Over the next few days, we visited the San Diego Zoo, drove around Hollywood and Beverly Hills, ate at Medieval Times, spent another day at Disneyland (and STILL did not see everything).  We also spent a day shopping at a market in Tijuana.  It was an interesting experience; having to haggle over prices for everything was not something I was really comfortable with and, after wandering around the area near the market and seeing the poverty, it was not something I tried very hard to do. We both came away with leather jackets and some silver jewelry, plus a few souvenirs for family and friends (I bought my brother a whip...why? Why not?).

One night I'll never forget.  Our hotel didn't have a restaurant attached to it so we had to find somewhere to eat each evening or resort to junkfood from the convenience store beside the office.  We decided to walk a few blocks to see what was around and hopefully find a nice but inexpensive restaurant.  After a few minutes we could see a Tony Roma's in the distance so we headed for their neon sign.  We were stopped by two young guys, not much older than us, with duffle bags full of perfume.  They tried really hard to sell us something and I think Jody the Non-Blogger came close to caving but we managed to make our exit without parting with our cash.  It was one of those situations you see on television programs happening in New York all the time but we never expected it to happen to us.  Looking back now, meh, whatever, no biggie. But at the time, I think we were both unsure how to deal with the situation.  Two small town girls in the big bad city...getting accosted by thieves and murderers!  Or at least that's kinda how we might have made it sound to our friends back home...

My vacation in London was much different than my first vacation in SoCal: I went alone, no itinerary, met and stayed with complete strangers.  However, I'm glad that for my first real vacation, I went with my bestest buddy and opted to go with a tour group which had events planned for every day.  I don't know how I would have handled Los Angeles on my own with no clue what I was doing. 

Have you been to Disneyland or Disneyworld?  What was your favourite ride or your favourite theme park?

6 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

Never been to anything Disney...The closest I've been to anything "world" is Cadbury's World in England. FUNx3!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the little walk down memory lane! That was certainly a trip to remember - glad we did it together!
Jody (who might eventually blog one day)

sp said...

I've never been to either. I've only been to Canada's Wonderland where my favorite ride was the Wild Beast. It was a wooden roller coaster so it felt a little less "slick" than the more modern thrill rides, but it was so much fun and still thrilling.

Wandering Coyote said...

Oh!!! Sp totally reminded me because I completely forgot: I've been to Canada's Wonderland, too! I was 8 years old and snickered at their fake mountain made with chicken wire & cement!

S.M. Elliott said...

I have to admit I would rather do just about anything than go to Disney Land or World. Something in me just rebels against manufactured entertainment like amusement parks and fairs. I'm boring enough that a couple days tenting in the mountains makes me happy. But - traveling with a buddy and getting to make fun of all the crazy stuff you see would be a hoot, so you guys clearly made the right choice!

Milla said...

I went to Gardaland (an Italian theme park, nothing to do with Disney, but had the same kind of rides; it is on Lake Garda) when I was a teen-ager, with my friends, and I only enjoyed the rain that poured down that day. I hated the queues, the crowds, the rides. I lost interest even in the 'Far West Town' attraction after realising that the handsome cow boy, was, in fact, a woman with a set of fake mustache.

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