California Here We Come Part 1: Heaven Is A City Much Like San Francisco

Hey everyone! So I’m nearly a month back from my trip to Northern California, my first time on the west coast, and just an absolutely transformative experience, and full of learning and family bonding etc.

So, I figured, let’s write about it!

The trip started on February 22, when I left work at lunch time and headed to Newark Airport for my first cross country flight. I’ve flown to Vegas, but I had a Layover then, so I was nervous about the length. It wound up not being bad at all. I didn’t sleep, but I watched Bohemian Rhapsody and A Few Good Men, so that was pretty cool.

After I arrived, I grabbed my bags and hopped in an Uber to the Sheraton at Fisherman’s Warf, where Mom, Mary, Dad and I were staying. The hotel was nice, a chain in a tourist area, so a little bland, but nice, clean, the room was big and the breakfast buffet was sufficient the next morning.

The only thing I didn’t totally love about San Francisco is that the town shuts down relatively early. Even the wharf, most restaurants shut their kitchens at nine. (Even in the tourist no mans land of  Midtown Manhattan you can get a burger at midnight!) Since I didn’t even LAND until 8, this was a struggle, but we wound up at The Tonga Room, a tiki bar in the basemant of the Fairmont Hotel.

It was the kind of “secret touristy” kind of thing that I’ve always loved, plus I’ll always take Asian fusion food and a rum drink.

We had a great time, and I lost my phone, but I was exhausted and figured that I’d be able to get it back. I’d recommend the Tonga Room for sure. It’s a big place, and there’s live music, so it was pretty great. Also it was nice to see the Fairmount. I have a certain soft spot for big old hotels. (Can’t imagine why!)

In the morning, we had plans to take the Love Bus tour, but first I had to retrieve my phone, so Dad and I grabbed an Uber over to the Fairmount to get it. That was quick, and easy and we had a chatty fun Uber driver.

BY the time we were back at the Sheraton, Mary and Mom were having breakfast, but we still had a bunch of time before our plan for the day, so we mostly just sat around the hotel room, before wandering down to the corner of fisherman’s wharf, where we would be picking up The Love Tour.

Dad found the tour online, basically a painted VW bus picks you up and you get driven around different San Francisco neighborhoods and taken to a few really good photo spots.

I very much enjoyed the tour and it seems like everywhere in that city has the most amazing view you’ve ever seen.

After the tour we went to lunch. I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant, because it was great. My dad found it. (Dad was in the driver’s seat of this whole trip, which was hard for me, normally the trip planner. Really hard.)

After lunch we gathered our things at the hotel and got on a ferry to Napa County. There was a bar on the ferry, so Mary and I obviously befriended the bar tender which was great, because it got us to the top pours on our wine! (YAY!)

The ferry went from Fisherman’s Wharf to Vallejo, and our house was in Fairfield. We got an uber, (SO MUCH UBER this trip!) and got to the house. After unpacking, another Uber took us to a shopping center where we ate a Thai restaurant and then bought snacks and stuff at Safeway. I got a pumpkin curry that was delicious but waayyyy too spicy for me. Well, just the curry and chicken were, when I actually got a bite of the pumpkin it cut the spice perfectly, but there wasn’t a lot of actual pumpkin pieces in it.

We were all completely wiped at this point, jet lag being what it is, and being on our feet most of the day. So we basically just went back to the house and crashed. Just, completely passed out.

Next up, we start our day drinking, light eating journey through wine country. It’s amazing.

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My Top 10 Random Spots In Disney World

So, I spent this weekend pricing and doing some Disney research. I’m not planning a full on trip in the next year, but I have decided that I’m going to do a weekend, (taking either Friday or Monday off from work) to see Toy Story Land and see Illuminations one last time since it’s likely going away soon.

But I’ve been trying to avoid reading and researching much to try to off set that urge I get to just book a trip and head off. (For one, I can’t afford it, for another I have other travel plans for 2019…)

But during this research I started thinking about the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. (8 in the last five.) (Again, I totally don’t have a problem…) and the park exploration and the random spots that I’ve found and loved in the resort in that time. Some of these are weird out of the way spots, others are really really obvious, and others only make sense if you’re me.

10. The Waiting Areas At The Jungle Cruise: Skipper Canteen

I love the Skipper Canteen, I think it’s a wonderful restaurant with an even more wonderful menu, and fun service filled with puns. But my favorite part of eating here has very little to do with the meal and is actually while you’re waiting for your table. There are two spots that you wind up waiting, the first is the porch, where large rocking chairs sit beneath giant fans. The second is actually inside, where a few tufted chairs and a water cooler, filled with cold h2o and various fruits await you, plus a letter from Henrietta Falls and a portrait of Doctor Albert Falls hang on the wall. Both are quiet and relaxing and phase you into the great themeing of your dinner perfectly.

9. Outside Patio At Backlot Express

I actually love everything about Backlot Express, it’s a big ass quick service restaurant with a basic but well executed menu and  lots of air conditioned seating (as a quick reminder this is where I ate Star Wars themed Chicken and Waffles, and got my BB-8 souvenir cup.)  But I especially love taking some time to eat your lunch on the patio here, in view of the At-At at Star Tours and watching the Jedi Training show. It’s a nice little moment of Star Wars themed joy, which is always appreciated, when you’re me.

8. Any of The Side Gardens In Pandora

Like half this list is going to be spots in Animal Kingdom, just FYI. But wandering around Pandora, at any time of the day, but especially at night, it’s worth wandering into weird corners and seeing the plant life. But be sure to follow the trails, because if you don’t do that, you never find this particular spot.

7. Top of The Stairs In The Canada Pavillion

I think that Canada might be the most underrated of the World Showcase Pavillions, but there’s a spot right up at the top of the stairs, that looks over a waterfall and has some benches and it feels like you’re far away from the chaos of the park below you. It’s also the spot of my favorite picture of Mary, maybe ever?

6. The Rose Gallery At Be Our Guest

To be honest, there are not going to be many Magic Kingdom spots here, because I very very rarely stop to smell the roses in that park. (This is also proof that I rarely spend ENOUGH time in Magic Kingdom), but I love The Rose Gallery, if all of Be Our Guest were just this room, it would still be spectacular. (The West Wing and The Ballroom are also spectular and it makes the whole place magical) I love the music box, and the “paintings” and banquette tables. It’s the only room that really feels like a French bistro. And fun fact, I wrote the scene where Lefty and Marina dance for the first time while eating my Croque Monsieur here.

5. The Patio At Spice Road Table

Spice Road Table is my favorite restaurant at Disney World, and sitting on the patio, drinking Sangria and eating hummus fries while watching Illuminations is probably my favorite thing to do while at Disney World. (Besides ride The Haunted Mansion) It’s a thing I gently manipulate everyone who joins me at Disney into sharing at least one part of this experience. (no one has been disappointed..btw…)

4. The Porch At The Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge might be my favorite bar in the parks. (Not on property, we’ll get there) and sitting on the porch, with a beer, (while Mom and Kristi pussied out and drank tea…) is easily one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had. It’s just a solid and beautiful space, with a great view and excellent drinks and a pretty good menu. Although it changes a lot and the fish tacos that I adored are now gone…but still, grab a Night Monkey (this is a rum drink that also has espresso in it!) or a Safari Amber and watch the water good past.

3. The Terrace At California Grill

Watching Wishes at California Grill was one of my top ten favorite moments of my big Disney year, but it’s also a beautiful spot, with an incredible view no matter what, and to quote Gonzo, I’m going to go back there someday.

2. The Aviary On The Mahrajah Jungle Trek

To explain the incredible moment of magic that was walking into this room right after feeding time when Juli, Dom and I were there is impossible. It was so incredible. And the other times I’ve walked the Trek, this is still a beautiful space full of gorgeous creatures.

1. The Fireplace Chairs At River Roost

I’ve now stayed at Port Orleans Riverside twice, which makes it my most stayed at Disney Resort, and I will likely stay there again. I like the rooms, and the food court and the proximity to Disney Springs, but I really really love River Roost lounge and those big leather arm chairs by the fireplace where Tommy and I sat, laughing about our adventures while drinking wine remain my favorite place in the whole resort.

Cosplay Corner: Dapper Day Disneybound Figment

OK, so this is truly the last you’ll hear about this Disney trip, and it’s not about the trip quite so much as one of my outfits on it.

Hooray!

Anyway, planning Dapper Bounds is easily my favorite part of Dapper Day weekends. (To the point that I’m considering going down for Fall again…if I can swing it…just because of the Animal Kingdom outing…swoon)

And while my Figment bound is an achievement in both ‘bounding and just in general Disney Park nerdery, as Figment be crazy obscure, y’all, I was mostly happy with how nice it looked and how comfortable it was.

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The dress is a cotton poly blend, purchased from Amazon, which is also where the belt came from. The crinoline, which is bright orange and probably won’t have any other uses…came from Wish.

Seriously, Wish.com, it’s been incredible to me these past few costume seasons.

I wore my hair in my now kind of signature (whatever, let me have this delusion) Usagi style pigtail buns, as it’s gets my, too long for it’s own good (but I love it) hair off my neck, and gave a nice nod to Figment’s horns. I added the bows for cuteness. I also wore my saddle shoes. (For my effusive ode to saddle shoes, see my Cinderella ‘bound post)

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Coming up in Cosplay Corner…A Han Solo casual cosplay, the return of Wonder Girl, Ren Faire prep, and a possible jaunt of the Enterprise. Who’s excited?

Revenge Of Dapper Day: Favorites

It’s time for favorites! You guys, seriously, I’m so fortunate, but in reality, this one was hard this time. Only because so much has become old hat for me, that the standouts stand out even more than usual! Seriously, I can’t believe that I have “routines” at Disney world now. I’m grateful for it, but it’s weird.

Ride:

I think Frozen gets the cake this time. If only for repitition. That I rode it three times within a day feels completely surreal. Also, I just love it so much. Because I rode it so many times, getting to really focus on Sven, he who is my favorite Animatronic, was a delight. Also, when I went on it with Mike and Megan, we took a really good pic.

Show: 

This was tough. “Happily Ever After” finally left it’s impression. And obviously, I will always and forever love “Illuminations,” but I think I have to give it to the floor show at The Edison. There’s the dancers, and the band and acrobats, and it’s really, really special. If you’re of age, give it a shot.

Meal: 

Biergarten. For sure. While it’s hard to dispute me devouring half a lobster in under 20 minutes due to not eating food on an MK day (not my greatest decision) I can’t get in the way of excellent German food, a liter of Heffewiezen, a baby grabbing at said liters of beer, and children dancing to German music.

Also seriously, the food. The pork schnitzel. HOLY CRAP. The warm potato salad, YES! The spatzel, the best I’ve ever had (sorry Uncle Mark!) and obviously the apple streudel. I mean obviously. 

Drink:

I DRANK A LITER OF HEFFEWEIZEN! Though the Martinis at the Edison are a very close second.

Snack:

This isn’t even mine. I didn’t  even snack much. (#costumeseasoniscoming and all…) But, I have to tell this story and I forgot about it while I was writing up my Animal Kingdom trip report. Mike was basically running a fever the whole time we were there. But this did not stop him from while we were sitting on line for Safari, turning me and saying, “hey is there someplace here that I can get a Dole Whip, or do I have to go to Magic Kingdom?” I replied, “Oh no, you can for sure get one here, you can even get it on a rum float!” He sighed, “I’m not feeling up to that, but that sounds AWESOME for next trip.” Before we left the park, Mike got his Dole Whip and Megan got a Mickey Bar (I’d already had my Mickey Bar at Magic Kingdom on Saturday) So that wins for favorite snack.

So that’s what’s happening there. I’m going again for a weekend this summer (still working on a date and plans! But it’s looking like mid July) I’ll get everything lined up for that soon. As for life here. We’re about to dive into the heart of movie season, with costume season nipping at it’s heels, I’m pushing through the end of Don Quioxote, which means, I’ll be picking up the new Trials of Apollo.

See you real soon!

Cosplay Corner: Cinderella Dapper Day Disney Bound

Since my decision to go to Spring Dapper Day was relatively short notice. (Within 60 days, so short by Disney World standards!) I was a bit worried about my dapper attire, but not overly worried, since vintage and vintage style clothes are kind of my thing.

Truth be told, I’d probably never wear true vintage to Dapper Day, I’d be far too nervous about tears, stains and other damage. Plus, I tend to be more comfortable in reproduction, and sucking in and wearing a full girdle for a wasp waisted 50’s dress at the Magic Kingdom just seems kinda dumb.

Anyway, my Magic Kingdom outfit was a done deal, as my Easter dress this year was a lovely 50’s looking light blue lace sundress, that needed very little extra to become a Cinderella bound.

The key was in the shoes which were great, and a huge hit, but not quite as comfortable as they should be.

They’re sparkly jellies with wedges. I found them on Wish.com, which is also, incidentally where I got the dress. And the red dress I wore on Friday night to Disney Springs…and both of my crinolines…I really love that site. They actually didn’t beat up my feet too bad, but just didn’t have the support I needed for a whole day at the park. So, I switched to saddle shoes for the afternoon/evening.

If you’re into vintage clothes and events, I really can’t recommend a pair of saddle shoes enough. You can find them online at Amazon, or sometimes even at DSW, and they’re super comfortable, go with most vintage looks, and always get a great reaction. (My pair were pilfered from one of Mom’s productions of Bye Bye Birdie…shhhh….)

I also wore my Black Canary choker and tossed my hair in a bun (my preferred MK hairstyle anyway, especially with it’s length these days…) and voila!

Sadly, because of flights and drinks and eating schedules, I didn’t quite make it to Midnight, but I think I did my girl proud.

Revenge Of Dapper Day 4/30: It’s A Jungle Out There

You know you’re getting old when the third day of your long weekend excursion, everyone’s sick and wiped out, but you soldier on and have a good day anyway.

I was feeling a bit hung over, though not too bad, Mike had caught a killer cold, and Megan was in great shape, when Megan and I headed to Animal Kingdom to get on Flight of Passage during Extra Magic Hour.

The ride is great, but because of my hangover, I hadn’t eaten, and you know, I threw up. It was awful, and it took about an hour to recover, but Animal Kingdom has lots to look at and wander and see during that recovery time. We also met Flick!

Then Mike met up with us and we waiting on line for a while for Na’Vi River Journey, but decided to bail and just do other stuff instead. We wound up doing the Safari, Everest and Kali, as well as lunch at Nomad Lounge. So, all in all, a pretty good day before Megan and Mike had to head for their plane.

I picked up a Tower of Terror fast pass and hopped on a bus to Studios, where I happened to arrive just as The March Of The First Order began. This really is such a cool fun experience. Then I headed to meet Star Lord and Groot, because, you know, I needed to know they were OK. (SOB)

I still had some time before the FP came up so I headed to Star Tours and then grabbed an ice cream for my walk over to Tower of Terror, which I rode, and then decided I was done. It was after 4, so I hopped on a bus to Springs, and then went to Homecomin’, didn’t eat nearly enough of that delicious chicken I loved so much last year and then hopped on the boat back to Riverside, before grabbing a Lyft to the airport.

I was completely wiped out you guys, I had no energy, and was deeply frustrated because only 1 security line was operating. But I got to the gate in plenty of time, slept for most of my flight, and then was happily flopped in my bed by 1 AM.

It was a great weekend, but I’ve come to the conclusion that these “Fit it all in” long weekends just aren’t sustainable. I still plan on doing weekend trips, but I think from now on I’ll stick to one park on them (maybe 2) and not do parks on arrival or departure days. (Or fly at 7PM instead of 10, and only do a morning).

Up next, we’ll talk favorites. No hotel review, because I’d stayed in the hotel already. (Update, I still love it. 10 out of 10, will stay again.)

Revenge Of Dapper Day 4/29: A Dream Can Be A Dream Come True

I don’t know why I ever even tell myself that I’m going to go to Studios for Extra Magic Hour on Sunday. I never wind up doing it. It just doesn’t happen. This time, I was actually ready, but missed the bus and I decided rather than rush it when the next bus came, I’d take my time, get some breakfast and rope drop at Epcot.

This wound up being a much better choice, in the long run, I think. While waiting at the turnstiles I made some friends (YAY!) with two girls who were bounding as Rey and Kylo Ren, we parted ways quickly, but I was happy to have talked to them. Once we got in to the doors, I reconnected with them and there was again, a bunch of chatting, giggling and explaining of dapper ware. We wound up riding Soarin together, before I was off to Norway, ready to redeem my Frozen 9:30 fast pass.

There wasn’t much of a line, so I decided to wait for it on standby and then ride again with the fast pass. This worked awesomely, and by 10 I’d ridden the ride twice.

I had a bunch of time to kill, since I was waiting to meet up with Michael and Megan, and with our friend Nick, and his brother in law and his girlfriend (We had quite a crew), so I decided to wander around a bit. I stopped for photopass pictures, I met Baymax, I rode Spaceship Earth & Imagination (had to, you know, the bound..) Then I heard from Nick, and we met up with him and his baby daughter Eva. (His son Matty was sick, so Matty and his wife Jen stayed home). We rode Nemo, which was Eva’s first Disney ride. (She’s not even 1, she was such a trooper all day.) We then met up with Nick’s brother in law Mike and Mike’s girlfriend Gabby, headed to Mexico to get La Cava Margaritas, before Mike and Megan finally got to the park.

So, we were supposed to eat at Biergarten at 2, but by the time we’d met up with everyone, it was closer to 3. (Notes on a theme) Luckily, we still got our table. The German buffet was delicious, the music was really fun, and I heartily reccomend this restaurant for larger groups. (We were seven including baby…) especially if you like meat. Pork in particular.

Then we just got to wandering in World Showcase, stopping for drinks in Italy, France and The UK, before the locals decided to split. We took some group pictures in front of Spaceship Earth, and then Mike, Megan and I decided to ride it.

I teased Mike that this felt exceptionally like when we were kids and our dad always took us on Spaceship Earth in the evening before the fireworks. He nodded, “Dad, really loves this ride.” After our trip through time (I should note both times I rode, no breakdowns. HOORAY!) Then we decided to go for Margaritas (TWICE IN ONE DAY! BLESS!) then Mike said he wanted to try for Frozen.

Wait was about a half hour, and we got right on. (3 times, I rode Frozen 3 times this day, if you’re keeping track.) Then we headed to Morocco to check in for our Spice Road Table reservation. We settled at a table, ordered Hummus Fries, (YESSSS) Rasberrie Brie, Fish Croquettes and a pitcher of Sangria, and watched Illuminations. It was lovely. As always.

Next stop was The Beach Club to grab a Minnie Van to Springs, where we had drinks at Enzo’s Hideaway and then Raglan Road before heading back to the room and basically pass out.

Stay tuned for Animal Kingdom, light Studios, and a quick AF trip home!