Sunday, May 30, 2010

Disneyland Report

Two weeks ago today we returned from our most recent visit to Disneyland.  As previously reported, we had been trying to find a time to get away for a weekend, and it turned out to be a (nearly) perfect trip!  The Wife has done an excellent job of posting photos on facebook, but for those who don't frequent that place and still have an interest in sharing in some of the joy, I'll post them here with day-to-day highlights.

Thursday:

• Arose early, finished packing our bags and some snacks & cheeses, grabbed some breakfast burritos from Carl's Jr. and headed south on I-15.  We listened to music, talked, played Yes & No and only had a minor incident with the Iron County Highway Patrol (he seemed quite unfazed to report that he had been passing out tickets to several out-of-towner families on their way to southern California).

 SNOW in southern Utah.  Amazing!

• Still made it to Anaheim in good time, checked in to the local Travelodge, took a few minutes to recover from the long drive.

• Made our way over to Huntington Beach for some quality seaside sunset time.  It took a while to find somewhere to make change for the parking meter, but we had plenty of sun left by the time we laid out our beach towels and hit the water.  It was pretty cold at first, but we're not afraid of a little initial shock.  We took a walk down to the pier where we had last summer taken some honeymoon pictures, and then headed back to the hotel.

• We tried to catch Survivor while we were getting dressed, but couldn't find the channel.  What kind of hotel doesn't have CBS?

• We visited Downtown Disney dressed in our finery, did a little shopping and had dinner at the Rainforest CafĂ©.  We thought about getting something different from the last time we went there, but the ribs (for me) and the fajitas (for Julie) still just sounded like the best thing on the menu, so that's what we ate.


Friday:

• After a nice, much-needed rest, we walked the fifteen or so minutes to the entrance of Disneyland!  We redeemed our Give a Day vouchers with no problem whatsoever, were handed Honorary VoluntEAR buttons and passes to the park and entered!  (Though Julie rightfully pointed out that we aren't "Honorary" volunteers, we actually DID volunteer.  Still, the buttons had Miss Piggy and Kermit wearing hard hats and holding tools, so I was satisfied.)

• The passes were not park-hopper passes, so we spent the entire day at Disneyland.  We made really good time in the morning and went on a lot of popular attractions before the crowds came.  We did Peter Pan first (which is a good idea, considering its popularity and how the lines seem to form there first), then made our way through Fantasyland and crossing over into Tomorrowland.
Dumbo!  How did I not go on this ride for so many years?
Princess and the Frog decor!


• We spent the day riding our favorite rides (Splash Mountain!) and sampling some of our favorite treats (turkey leg!) and it was glorious.  The crowds were fairly minimal, it being a weekday, and we never had to wait longer than around 15 minutes for anything, even in the stand-by lines.
These are photos of Americans who have made significant contributions to the music industry.  Well, I guess they're photos of some Americans who have done that, and one embarrassment.  You be the judge as to which.
Now back for an indefinite period, and because he's dead, Captain EO!  It's still cool.
 
That's us!
This is how a turkey leg looks before you eat it.  So barbaric!
This is how a turkey leg looks after you eat it.  So dainty!
So our wishing well proposal locale was being worked on, so this is as close as we could get this trip.
She just loves that little Dumbo.
Will I ever pull it out???
 
Nothing like a late morning nap inside a teacup.
A woman appreciates a man who's comfortable behind the wheel.

 • We made reservations and had lunch at the Blue Bayou.  Of course, there was hardly even a need to look at the menu, as we ordered the Monte Cristo to share yet again.  I always wave back to the passers-by in their boats on their way into Pirates of the Caribbean.  Although I may want to try some of the other restaurants in the future, this is such a great one to relax from the heat and crowds outside.
 
Ah, the Blue Bayou foyer.

• We watched the fireworks show.  It's so romantic to watch fireworks with a loverwife.

• We walked back to our hotel and rested up for one more Disney day.

Saturday:

• We grabbed some muffins and cereal from the continental breakfast and ate them on our way back over to the parks just in time for opening.  The passes I bought through work also worked perfectly and we had two park-hoppers in hand.

• As it was our nine-month anniversary, we picked up some free souvenir buttons at the entrance to Main Street and wore them proudly throughout the day.

• We hit a few popular rides at Disneyland before heading over to California Adventure.  We saw the Aladdin show, became honorary bugs, rode the non-swinging gondolas on the ferris wheel, rode California Screamin' (which may or may not have ruined me for a couple of hours afterward), saw the ongoing construction for the upcoming World of Color show in the lake, and took two turns on Midway Mania (my gun didn't work for the first time so my score was too embarrassing--they let us ride again right away, and it was much better.  That ride is so fun.).  Of course we also visited Soarin' Over California, the Tower of Terror, Monsters, Inc., the Muppets and our beloved Disney Animation building.
I think it's the most awesome seahorse in all the land.
 
I can't wait to get the new Julie Doll!
 
Thumb War!
 
Ooooh, I hope it's good!!!
 
 

• We went back over to Disneyland when we had finished at California Adventure and took our time rounding out some of the attractions we had missed and reriding some of our favorites.  The crowds were a little thicker, as it was Saturday, but we still managed to have pretty short waits and had no problem entertaining ourselves (sometimes people behind you in line don't realize they're in a public place and say the most amusing things).

• We were allowed our very own boat for a private anniversary cruise through "it's a small world."  It was very romantic.
 

 • We stood in line for Julie to have her first picture ever with a character, and who better than the mouse himself?  It's a very interesting and slightly shady process, going through his house at Toontown, but it was great.  Julie did very well when it came to her nerves at meeting such a famous personality.

Meeting the Mouse.
 
 As it should be!

• We stuck it out until closing at midnight, though at times we didn't think we would make it, and after midnight we finally trudged back to our hotel.

Sunday:

• We woke up semi-casually, made ready and headed out of Anaheim.

• We stopped just half an hour north to visit a friend I know from the Survivor podcast I listen to, which was great.  It's so funny how people meet other people these days.

• We had a blessedly uneventful drive home.  The ride back is always less exciting, what with less anticipation, and vacation fatigue in you, but we made it just fine, and of course had to immediately sit down and watch the Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains finale.  It was EXCELLENT.

So there you have it!  It was a great trip.  So, erm, sweetie...  when are we going back?

Monday, May 17, 2010

We're Back!

We made it home last night.  We were so sad to leave, but we had a great time.  Details and photos forthcoming.  In the meantime, enjoy this offering:


She wasted me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

1 Day and Counting...

When Disney announced their Give A Day-Get A Day promotion for 2010, where guests can volunteer at venues across the country for a free day at a Disney park, The Wife and I knew we had to get in on this.  We signed up and found there were opportunities of all kinds around here.  We signed up to usher for an event at the Scera theater, and discovered we did so none too soon, since just a few days later Disney announced their limit of one million volunteers and free passes had been reached and the promotion was over.  (Personally, I feel that if they were smart, they would extend the promotion and increase the number of tickets given away, since they will surely make their money back when those visitors come with their families and friends and stay longer than their free day, not to mention food and souvenir sales, as well as good old fashioned good feeling toward a corporation for a really nice handout.)  I still kind of worried that we hadn't signed up in time, and maybe our Scera representative wasn't informed that tickets were no longer available, but a short email later, we redeemed our passes, and sure enough, we now have free passes to Disneyland with our names printed nice and big along the top!


Not bad for an hour or our time on a weeknight welcoming visitors to see a community youth production of Les MisĂ©rables at the Scera!  Additionally, there is an ongoing promotion at my new job that qualifies employees for discounts on certain restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, flights and, yes, theme parks.  I was able to get a couple of passes for another day for a notable discount as well!  So now, almost nine months since our last visit, we are thrilled to be heading to sunny California for a much-needed and fairly inexpensive two-day Disney vacation!  (We'll also have time to do some shopping and visit the beach.)  It's made me so excited I had to illustrate it thusly:


It may seem silly, but we've seriously been pining for Disneyland for the last several months, and rearranging planned trips for the last several weeks, so the time has finally come.  And, since 101.9 has been completely reworked, I guess I won't have the option of stressing through their occasional Disney trivia/theme park pass giveaways (which I have done twice, calling 50 times, three times a day for 2-3 weeks, to no avail--I tell you, no one wanted those passes more than I did).  We decided it's less expensive and kind of fun to drive, so tomorrow morning early we'll be heading through southern Utah.  It's still been almost a decade since I lived and worked and grew to love Walt Disney World, but for the time being, I'm perfectly satisfied to visit the Mothership of Disney parks, and it's never been more of an enjoyable trip as it is with The Wife.

California, here we come!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Provo City 5K

Last Saturday Julie and I decided to get out May 5K right out of the way.  The annual Provo City Half-Marathon/Relay/5K was on 1 May, and we were sure the weather would be perfect for a Spring race, right?  Wrong!

The morning started out mild enough, and since we were running late we decided to drive the half-mile or so.  After a slight difficulty registering (they couldn't find Julie's number until we discovered that somehow she had been registered under her maiden name), we joined the surprisingly large crowd near the starting line.  The half-marathon runners left first, which diminished the crowd considerably.  The wind started to pick up a little, and the rain started to fall, but there was a good energy and it still wasn't too cold.  Around 375-400 5K runners took off a few minutes later.  The course was nice, fairly flat throughout, and seemed to go by pretty quickly, even when the rain continued to fall, then pour, then turn to snow and hail, and then it turned really cold.  I crossed the finish line in pretty good time (just about 20:17, 6:33/min) and Julie followed soon after, and then we began the waiting game.  It was a fun atmosphere (or it would have been if it had been a nicer day) with were free massages, booths with samples of energy drinks and snacks and free French toast from Magleby's, but we were shivering and just wanted to hear the results.  As much as I love the rain and snow, I don't remember ever (yes, ever!) having been that cold, teeth chattering and freezing to the bones!  They finally posted the results, and since neither of us were quite in the top 3 for our age group there seemed little reason to stick around for awards, even if they did happen to call our name for the raffle (which they never do) or throw a t-shirt in our direction (and they gave us really nice t-shirts anyway).  (For the record, I placed 17th overall, 4th in my age group.  I was surprised to find that the overall winner was also in my age group, at about just over 15:00.  No way I could keep up with that pace!)

We soon discovered, unfortunately, that our car, along with over a dozen others, had been towed in the duration of less than an hour that we had been parked, leaving a large number of us stranded without transportation, cell phone or wallet.  We were the lucky ones, living relatively close, though at that temperature the walk home seemed much longer.  I was furious, quite sure they had simply been laying in wait (early on a Saturday morning when both the company whose lot we had parked in, as well as the towing company were not even operating anyway) because they knew there was a race going on, and felt taken advantage of, but we worked it out--I gave my piece to the towers and the manager, paid their exorbitant fee and drove away with Julie's car.  They sure made their money on a day they're allegedly not even open for business...  (This editorial by Eric Snider helped me to feel better about the whole situation...)  We spent the rest of the day resting and trying to restore our internal body temperature.  I swear I can still feel the cold in my bones.

So, it was kind of a rough morning, all things considered.  It's always nice to have a morning run, and it's good to get our May run finished, especially since the May weekends are starting to fill up... Details to follow.

We were unable to take pictures at the race, since our camera was in the car and by the time picture taking would have taken place, the car was gone.  It seemed kind of fitting that such a bizarre and scattered experience should not be thoroughly and officially documented, but I did manage to find a fairly good photo from the race photographers.  No way I was going to pay for it, but here's the thumbnail, which I think is also kind of fitting.

Heck, it even has the website on it.  That guy behind me was trailing me the whole time, but I was not about to let him pass me by.  Hopefully you can see how very wet and cold I am.  I just love crossing that finish line.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Arts!

A major part of the equipment the company sent me for my new home office was a glorious new (expensive) tablet.  Unlike other tablets, where you draw on the tablet and it corresponds to the screen ahead of you, this tablet actually IS the screen, and you draw right on it. 
 
This thing is... amazing.  It is also really great for producing completely digital art.  You can adjust your settings in Photoshop and other such programs and the stylus is pressure sensitive, so it's just like drawing on paper.  I had had problems trying to draw and paint using a stylus previously, but that turns out to have been primarily because I didn't realize that the tablet I was using was kind of... inadequate.

SO, I have decided to finally share some new artwork right here on my blog!  These are just a few samples of things I've been doing as I've been growing accustomed to my new equipment and programs.  Enjoy!  

Naturally, my first project was Jasmine, which I tried last fall to much disappointment.  This one turned out much more to my liking.
 
Then, of course, came the Boy Who Lived...

And of course I decided I was finally confident enough with the equipment to do a tribute to my muse!  This one was started early on, but I just worked on it here and there for the last several days.  It's not perfect, but it has the feeling of her.

Then Julie and I had a little art party where we took turns coming up with a random idea and we both had to draw it.  It can be a challenge to come up with interesting and original ideas, but the results can be well worth it.  (I'll leave it up to Julie to post her versions at her own discretion.)  Observe:

First, we each had to draw the adorable and tiny redheaded girl we saw racing around on her scooter when we went to Classic Skating last weekend.

 

Then Julie requested we draw any kind of sea creature:


 
Then I wanted each of us to draw a character inspired by the movie we were watching, which happened to be Napoleon Dynamite:


And finally, Julie suggested we each draw ourselves as a character from Avatar.  Now, as most of you know, I have little to no love for this movie (way too long, kind of boring, visually interesting at times, but it seems to be showing off and trying to make up for bland characters and a blatantly unoriginal story), but the idea for this drawing was kind of intriguing, and two days later finally turned into this finished product, of which I was actually pretty proud.  It's basically a reflection of how I would feel if I were forced to live the way of the Na'Vi.
I call it, "OMG, it glows.  My life is so boring."


And now, to give you just an idea of the kind of graphics I do for work, here are a couple of samples, to be used in training presentations for school administrative programs.  I don't know exactly what copyright laws apply, but, you know, don't use these for anything or whatever.  If you need any drawings done, just ask me and I'll do them for you anyway, no need to use these old things!

And there you have it!  Thumbs-up from us on this moste excellente product!  We call it Steerforth.
(This graphic: Drawing by me, coloring by Julie)