So at the appointed hour of 4:45 am in the morning, we woke the spawn up. We grown-ups had been up since four o’clock showering and getting the last minute stuff together. Finally we got the camera ready and went and rousted them. They looked terrifically confused and bewildered but they did get up.
What were we expecting? Excitement, maybe. Girlish shouting. Gleeful jumping-up-and-down with shining eyes, etc. etc.
What did we get? Slow, painful awareness creeping over them. …Wait, we’re doing what? Where? We are? When? Now? Really? Neat!
I think it did hurry them along to get dressed and get their shoes on, which was good. Normally this is a thirty-minute affair and we had maybe half that long before Kirsten arrived to squire us off to the airport in her Minivan of Justice.
Fifteen minutes later we were on our way, and fifteen minutes after that we were unloading the six wheeled cases and the three slightly dazed children and the five backpacks onto the curb. The TSA guy at the security checkpoint was obnoxiously passive-aggressive and the latte I got at Coffee People was so hot that I scalded the taste buds off my tongue, but we finally made it onto the Virgin America jet. Luckily for us the plane was stuffed full so they asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to gate-check their bags. UM YES PLEASE, WE DO.
And what is with this thing where you pay to check your bags? Because obviously it’s not hard enough to cough up the giant wad of cash to fly five people to Anaheim, but we must also haul our shit through the airport and on and off the plane by hand the entire way now too. Have you ever supervised a 5, 7, and 8-year-old through this process? THANKS A LOT, AIRLINE COMPANIES.
At any rate, I found myself sitting next to my personal mini-me, who at not quite nine years old is already nearly five feet tall. She sat by the window and blithely glanced at the ground slipping away beneath us before turning her attention to her Nintendo 3DS.
Now, I’m not what you’d call a good flier. I used to be, but then a couple of things happened. The first thing was 9/11. Yes, I know that the chances of anything like that happening again are slim, and certainly wouldn’t be likely to happen here, but it was more the whole mortality thing. And the second thing was that I flew to Nome, Alaska when I was about five months pregnant and it was a really turbulent flight. A really turbulent flight over frozen seas and mountains. I was so terrified that I declined to remove my boots or jacket, figuring this might buy me a whole twenty minutes to get my affairs in order should I survive what was surely going to be the inevitable crash into a snowy peak.
We did not, in fact, crash into anything, but I’ve never really trusted flying since then. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or something, but it really ratcheted up my anxiety about flying.
So here I was seated next to my sweet, innocent child on this big stupid bus with wings, trying not to betray my terror each time the plane jostled or shuddered. And really it was a pretty smooth flight, but I spent the entire flight clinging discreetly to the armrests and very determinedly making a show of playing sudoku on my tablet so that my third grader wouldn’t be alarmed.
Such is motherhood: pretending you’re not consumed with worry about the plane crashing while your kid listens to Schoolhouse Rock and sips complimentary ginger ale.
At last, about a week later (two hours or so), we landed without incident and made our way to the rental car place via a shuttle that was driven by Mario Andretti’s Spanish-speaking cousin. We picked up a sedate, four-door Chevy Somnolater (probably a Malibu or an Impala, but who cares) and internets, I am here to tell you: every single one of our multitudinous luggages fit into the trunk of that thing. Perhaps there is something to be said about American cars and their capacious storage capacity.
We then made our way to the hotel. I will refrain from discussing how efficiently this was done and say that in her defense, The Lovely Rhonda was working with an annoying GPS service on her phone that wasn’t the best at letting you know very far in advance which direction you may wish to travel on a given roadway. This was less than useful when approaching an exit that gives you a choice between, say, East and West. Nevertheless, we eventually made it to the hotel even allowing for a pit stop for coffee and
Valium other essentials.
… Which the children found to be super interesting and fun to watch and name.
Once we unpacked, i.e. threw our collective shit everywhere in the room and fondled the miniature soaps and shampoos, we gathered up some essentials — money, mostly — and left for That Place in California that we’d heard of this one time.
It was a relatively short drive and pretty soon we found ourselves driving past this:
Shortly thereafter we found ourselves surrendering our bags for a cursory search, showing our tickets to the smiling cast members at the turnstile — and there we were, inside the hallowed gates of Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
I greatly enjoyed the name of this shop although we did not eat here:
And the lights were fireflies with butt cones:
The Lovely Rhonda and her girls rode this twirly ride:
…but Delia would have none of it. She declined any ride that left the ground or went down fast steep hills (like roller coaster type rides). So we watched and took pictures.
Like, a lot.
We did find a ride in this area that Delia liked. It was a wee little ride of ladybugs spinning around, similar to the teacups ride in Fantasyland at Disneyland. She and I rode this and we loved it. I didn’t get a picture, but imagine teacups that look like ladybugs, shaded by giant clovers.
We all rode this ride:
Then we moved on to Luigi’s Flying Tires, which are big tires you majestically careen around on and gently bump into each other. It’s on a giant air-hockey table kind of surface, and it’s the most genteel bumper car you’ll ever ride.
Toward evening we rode another Delia-approved ride, Mater’s Tractor something or another. It involved — you guessed it — spinning without leaving the ground or going down any hills. And it was really fun.
Pretty soon it got dark, and we had to buy — HAD TO, I SAY — these light-up wand thingies for the children. Which we regretted almost immediately because hello, they are big sticks designed to be swung around in the dark. Who designs these things?
Not long thereafter, we bid Disneyland’s California Adventure adieu:
And then we made our way back to the parking lot:
And that brought Day One to a close. We were exhausted, having been up since 4am, and we all slept like dead bodies.