Southern California Vacation 2010

We went southern California for Ethan’s 3rd birthday to catch his free tickets to all of the theme parks. We decided to squeeze in two days to Disneyland, one day at Seaworld, one day at the beach, and one day at San Diego Zoo. We squeezed in some fantastic local food thanks to Yelp and so many incredible memories, I am so glad we went. It was so great to have such a great time with my family. I’ll do my best to capture the best moments below. One thing was that it was an incredibly slow week for the theme parks. Most lines were 0-5 minutes! Seriously, there were a few rides we rode 2-3 times without waiting in a single line. Buzz Lightyear was one of those rides. The longest line we waited in was 20 minutes for the brand new Woody ride in California Adventure. It was nice to have the parks effectively to ourselves. The only downside was that many of the refreshment stands were closed because there were so few people. We didn’t get to see Pirates of the Caribbean because it was closed. Its a Small World was closed too, but I was glad about that :).


We left Monday for California. We were supposed to drive down to Casa Grande (the completely opposite direction) to vote in the General Election. Instead, we had to drive to Ahwahtukee to buy Aubrey’s Highlander new tires because the steel belting was showing in one tire with both front tires bald. So we scrapped voting, since it doesn’t matter (that’s another matter), and got new tires. After our new tires were installed, we headed west. After a movie, we stopped at a Carl’s Jr. in Quartzite for a quick bite, and back on the road. One more movie and a nap and we arrived at our hotel, the Desert Palms Hotel, in Anaheim. It was located directly south of California Adventures, about 15 minutes from Downtown Disney and 10 minutes from Disneyland/California Adventures.

After quickly unloading, we headed off to Downtown Disney, a short 15 minute walk. We wandered aimlessly for a bit, but headed towards Goofy’s Kitchen for dinner, which was incredibly character-dense! It started with a quick picture with Pluto. Then it was off to a buffet style dinner with Ethan’s favorite being the peanut butter and jelly pizza. We also saw Chip and Dale, Minnie, Goofy, and Goofy. After dinner we wandered around downtown Disney an hour or so more then headed home.


We started early on Tuesday by catching the continental breakfast at our hotel which worked out great. It had hot sausages, decent scrambled eggs, and waffle irons let me keep to my diet marginally and kept the family fueled for our long days! After breakfast we headed to Disneyland, a quick 10 minute walk. I don’t know who was more excited, Aubrey or Ethan.  We rode rides, enjoyed the wonderful Disney atmosphere and yummy treats. We took Ethan on the Tea Cups. First Aubrey did, then I went on it with them too. There are some videos below of it. We also caught new-ish Buzz Lightyear ride where you help Buzz capture the Evil Emperor Zurg. I really liked that one.  We caught the California Adventures Pixar Parade. After that, we had a picnic dinner just before the world of color show which was mind blowing. I think it may have been one of the best parts of the vacation. Ethan was too tired without a nap, so we fell asleep halfway through the show.


Wednesday we went back to breakfast and Disneyland. It was even more rides and and rides.  We started at California Adventures. We really liked the new Woody from Toy Story ride where we got to interact with the game. We caught a few more characters and headed back to Disneyland. We caught the Disney parade at the end of the day and finished out day in Anaheim. Ethan fell asleep as we were leaving Disneyland, so we got dinner back at the hotel before we drove down to San Diego. We didn’t get to San Diego until 11pm.


Thursday we kept up our hectic schedule by scooting off to Mission Cafe for breakfast, thanks to Yelp. It was great. Luckily we went on Thursday. When we drove by it on Sunday morning, it had 10-20 people waiting outside for a table. It was incredible. I had the chicken apple sausage and eggs. Wow. After breakfast we went to Seaworld. It was nice that Seaworld was only open 10 to 5. Unfortunately, the sun was out and Aubrey and I got sun burned. Ethan escaped somehow. We ended the night eating at Outback – boring 🙂


We took a day off from theme parks on Friday to enjoy an unbusy day at the beach. The day started by sleeping in, then catching breakfast at the Corner Cafe and Bakery. I think it was a chain, but I suspect local to San Diego or California. They had a tasty scrambler. After breakfast, we headed to the beach. It was a good idea to go to the beach on a Friday because the beach was great. Ethan made friends with the University of Arizona Volleyball team in town for a volleyball tournament. They were playing about 20 yards away while Ethan and I were building a sand castle. At one point, Ethan whispered to me, “Dad, go talk to them”. It was awesome! We even got some photos of his new friends. We also caught a cool video of Ethan chasing me on the beach. We went back to the hotel to clean up then drove up to La Jolla for dinner. We went to a place called Prepkitchen, a cool little restaurant. They put so much effort into the food and you could taste it. Even the hot dog Ethan got was tasty. I had the meatloaf and it was incredible. They even had Stone IPA on tap! We headed back to the hotel after that.


We headed to the San Deigo Zoo on Saturday. It was great to get to the zoo after a “day off” at the beach. We had breakfast the same Corner Cafe. Nothing too exciting at the zoo, other than the polar bear was allegedly pregnant. The tour bus guide wouldn’t use the loudspeaker near the enclosure, but they still drove past it, making me wonder which was worse… the loud speaker or the diesel motor. Either way, we had a great day at the zoo. By the time we got back to the hotel, Ethan fell asleep, to awake at 8:30pm. I wanted to get take-out at another cool restaurant found on Yelp, but the boy woke up so changed plans to a pizza place in North Park. We found the pizza place, but there was no parking within 2-3 blocks, so we hit up Pei Wei instead.


We headed home on Sunday after a great week. We wanted to get a cool breakfast before we left so we headed back to that Mission Cafe. It had a huge line, so while Aubrey was getting a Starbucks coffee, we saw a guy with a shirt to a place I had seen on Yelp that was supposed to have a great Sunday brunch. It was around the corner  so we headed over. It was called Urban Solace. We arrive at 10:20am, however they didn’t open until 10:30. This was a very good thing, because we were able to get in quickly. By the time they opened, they had a wait, there were that many people waiting for brunch there. They had incredible food. Our meal started with in incredible cinnamon roll that made a Cinnabon taste stale and old. I had an EBLT, which was a BLT with egg bread and a fried egg on it. Ethan had a tasty pancake the size of a plate. Aubrey had some of the best french toast I’ve ever had. Also, the orange juice tasted like it had been squeezed directly into the glass. It was awesome! After an incredible breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to check and head home.


The vacation was incredible. It was great to get away from work, web development, the internet (during the day). It was awesome to try new restaurants and spend great quality time with the wife and son. We are excited to do it all over again in a few weeks when we go to San Antonio!

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