Monday, February 28, 2011

Disneyland: Getting There Is One-Eighth the Fun

I'm going to Disneyland!

That's what I was saying a couple of weeks ago. "I'm going to Disneyland!" Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It was. But that doesn't mean it was easy. Taking a vacation can be hard work.

The week before the trip was full of a lot of prep time. There was shopping and packing and laundry and more packing. (Here's a laundry tip: Before washing the children's clothes, make sure there are no diapers or Pull-Ups mixed in with the clothes. Not fun.)

The Wife's parents, Grammy and PopPop, were going on the trip with us, which was great because when wrangling two kids, the more adults the better. They met us at a little after 5:00 AM on Friday morning to drive down in tandem with us. Unfortunately, that morning Grammy discovered that the hotel reservations they thought they had did not, in fact exist. It didn't matter at that point, because they were coming hell or high water. (And it turns out there was actually some high water.)

We took off and drove to our first stop, St. George, Utah for some fuel. And some caffeine. (Between my weird work schedule and getting ready for the trip, I had gotten less than four hours of sleep the previous two nights.) My caffeine of choice is Mountain Dew Live Wire, an orange-flavored soda. Unfortunately, it is a limited flavor that I can only find in southern Utah. So I loaded up. (And while in St. George, Grammy was frantically on the phone and was able to get reservations at a hotel a half a mile away from ours.)

The next stop was Las Vegas. Except we didn't stop there. I'm not a "Vegas" guy. I don't like to gamble. I get as much entertainment out of flinging change at random strangers as I do shoving it into a slot machine. So, we saw no need to stop in Vegas.

The thing that interested me most about Vegas (besides the large, gold-plated buildings) was the billboards. There were a lot of billboards, and they were mostly divided into two categories: sleazy strip club/casinos or sleazy personal injury lawyers. And while it's true the sleazy strip club ads showed more skin and cleavage, it doesn't mean that the lawyers were any less sleazy. Who knew they needed that many personal injury lawyers in Vegas? Maybe they're working together. People stare at the strip club billboards, get in wrecks, and need to call the personal injury lawyers. (It's possible.)

And why is it personal injury lawyers feel the need to have rhyming slogans? Here in Utah we have "One call, that's all." The one from Vegas was, "Enough said, call Ed." I guess I answered my own question: the rhyming ones are the ones I remember.

Anyway, I was able to keep my eyes on the road just enough and made it through Vegas without the need to call Ed.

We decided we could make it all the way to Barstow, California before we needed to stop for fuel and food again. The freeway between Vegas and Barstow is a bit troubling. It is mostly two lanes and sagebrush. And there is a lot of traffic. I cannot for the life of me understand why they don't make it three lanes. (I guess we have to score one in the victory column for the Sagebrush Presevation Society.)

The only real town between the California border and Barstow is Baker. Baker promotes itself as the gateway to Death Valley. It gets hot in the summer. Now, our van does not have a GPS, so it had no way of knowing where we were. But, I kid you not, the air-conditioner automatically turned on as soon as we hit Baker city limits, even though it was the middle of February. Somehow it knew.

The road between Baker and Barstow is the location for some kind of temporal disturbance. How else to explain how traveling a distance of 60 miles at 80 miles per hour can seemingly take two and a half hours? (I've seen enough Star Trek to know a temporal disturbance when I see one.)

As if the road between Baker and Barstow wasn't bad enough, ten miles out of Barstow the good people of California have put up a Fruit Inspection stop. They force all cars to pull over and inspect any fruit you might be bringing with you to California. At least, that's what they do in theory. They had the road down to two lanes. In one lane they were letting everybody through without stopping them. Of course, this was not the lane I was in. Most of the cars in my lane were getting through without getting stopped, too. Except, of course, for me.

I pulled up and they asked if I had any fruit in the car. I said yes. So, I had to stop, go around to the back of the van, find the fruit and show it to him. He "inspected" it for about half a second, then sent me on my way. Grammy and PopPop, in the vehicle directly behind me, had the same problem. Except that when Grammy went to the back of her vehicle to retreive her fruit, it was buried behind all of their suitcases. Upon seeing this, the "inspector" decided it was too much hassle and sent her on her way. So, obviously, their inspections must not be too serious. Why bother at all?

I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a Fruit of the Loom inspection stop.

We finally arrived in Barstow and stopped for lunch at McDonald's. Next door to McDonald's was a place called Tom's which featured on its sign a cartoon of a Mayor McCheese-like hamburger headed man, except the only thing this burger man was wearing was a snug Speedo swimsuit. There's something to be said for the comfort of McDonald's.

While in Barstow, it was warm and sunny. More than one person in our party commented on how absurd the forecast for rain in Anaheim seemed. We laughed at the possibility of rain. (You can see where this is going, can't you?)

We then needed to fuel up, but couldn't immediately see a Chevron. (My wife and her family will only fuel up at Chevron stations. They belong to the Cult of Techron.) So, Grammy said she would find one using her GPS. I was to follow her. She immediately made a left turn and had us heading back north on the freeway. Luckily we were able to get off and turn around before making it back to the Fruit Inspection station. Meanwhile, we found where the Barstow Swap Meet and drive-in theater are, information that could come in handy, well, never.

We finally found a Chevron, fueled up, and made our way to Anaheim. And hey, there's nothing like driving on an unknown freeway in a big city during rush hour in a heavy downpour of rain. (Sunny in Barstow and rainy in Anaheim! Who'd a thunk it?)

We made it! We found our hotels, checked in, and got ready to attack Disneyland in the morning. The only thing left to do was find the guy who sang that song "It Never Rains In California" and go punch him in the face.

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