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Friday Update: 11/14/08

Greetings from…HOME! We are finally back home after a long, but FUN, trip to California! We got in a little late last night and finally settled in to bed about midnight. Matt was worried I’d still be on California time and wouldn’t be able to sleep…but I don’t think I moved all night and slept in just fine! I think I never really was ON California time…I was always ready to go to sleep at like NINE! LOSER, I know!

Saturday we arrived in Anaheim early in the afternoon…but our bodies were dragging. Our flight had been changed and we had to leave at SIX AM…BLECK! We were up at three to make it to the airport around five. Of course we had to fly through Chicago and had a 3 hour layover there…double BLECK. I just hate flying out of my way to get to my destination…but there wasn’t much we could do when they rerouted our flights from Denver to Chicago. Anywhoo…we got checked in at the hotel, looked around, took a few pictures off the balcony, and then crashed. We ended up snoozing for an hour or so. I was so tired and could not seem to get my second wind…I had just enough oomph to unpack the bag and that was about it. We ordered room service and just vegged in the room that night.

Sunday morning we woke up refreshed and ready for our California/Ocean day! We had signed up for a whale watching cruise off Newport Beach and were both pretty stoked about it. After breakfast we got a call that the cruise was cancelled due to high winds. Well, at the hotel it wasn’t the slightest bit windy so we were pretty perturbed. Determined to see, touch, and experience the ocean we decided to take a cab down to A beach! The closest beach to our hotel is Huntington Beach…aka Surf City, USA. So we happily headed down there. On the way there we had a very interesting conversation with a cabbie who was, I’m fairly certain, completely delusional. I think he heard we were from Iowa and started spinning a yarn that he thought for sure we’d believe. He talked mostly about his retirement home that he’s building…on Lake Tahoe…with Star Trek doors that have sensors in the ceiling and open automatically, a 100 inch flat screen TV that rises from the floor at the foot of his bed, a wet bar with bud and bud light on tap, an ice cream bar with any flavor you desire, a popcorn machine, an underground tunnel from the house to the work shop…it went on and on, each description more ridiculous than the last. But hey, he got us where we needed to go…after all, he grew up in Huntington Beach.

Once we got to the beach we quickly realized that the high wind situation was in fact, true! Weird. Something about Santa Ana winds…hmm, guess they might know what they’re talking about. We were glad we had our sweatshirts with us as it definitely felt 20 degrees cooler than it was at the hotel. We walked down the pier…and when I say walked, I mean trudged, head lowered pushing, lunging, thrusting forward against what I’m pretty sure were hurricane force winds! Ok, so maybe they weren’t THAT strong…but believe me when I say I’ve never experienced anything like it and we complain a lot around here about the super windy days. We got nothing on those Santa Ana winds…nada, zip, zilch. Trust me on this.

None the less, we moved forward down the pier, stopping periodically to duck behind the little shops to get out of the wind temporarily and to take some pictures, of course! At the end of the pier is a 50’s style diner called Ruby’s. They are pretty popular on the piers out there, apparently, and it’s easy to see why. The staff was super friendly, the food was fantastic diner fare, and the atmosphere was fun and relaxed…all while being surrounded by ocean views. We shared some onion rings and fries and a big double vanilla malt – MMM!

After our stop at Ruby’s we headed down to the beach level, where they have a really great paved walking, biking path that stretches for miles in either direction. I just have to mention that the accessibilities in California far exceeded my expectations. On the pier there was a group of restrooms, including a family restroom! Inside Ruby’s, they had an elevator to take disabled patrons to their upper level! At the end of the pier was an elevator to take people down to the beach level!
It was so easy for us to go everywhere we wanted to go…well, except on the beach itself! Matt sat at the edge of the beach while I made my way through the sandstorm to the water’s edge. I was able to dip my toes in the water and soak in all the ocean views, just as I had wanted to. While it wasn’t the same as cruising up the coast line watching marine life, it was still great to step in the ocean, feel the sand between my toes,
watch surfers make their way out to ride the waves, and stop at a couple shops for souvenirs. All in all, it was a great day…gritty, sandy, tangled beach hair aside! Sunday night we walked to a restaurant not far from our hotel with Pam, my co-worker. She had just flown in that night and after our full beach day, we were all a little tuckered and didn’t want to wander far.

The conference kept me busy during the day Monday-Wednesday, so Matt hung out in the room while I was away. He was in love with the big flat screen TV and enjoyed lounging around watching it and reading his magazines. Tuesday evening Pam, Matt and I walked down to the Anaheim Gardenwalk, a new shopping/dining area not too far from the hotel. We ate on the patio at Roy’s Hawaiian fusion which might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Macadamia nut crusted Mahi-Mahi with a lobster butter sauce, served over potatoes and asparagus! MMM! I also loved their lobster pot stickers! And of course, we all indulged ourselves with some dessert! It was a great cool evening and we relished the idea of eating outside in November! After dinner, we waddled through the rest of the Gardenwalk, and then made our way back to the hotel.

Wednesday I was finished up with the conference at 3:00 so after a quick shower, we headed out to Downtown Disney. It was a little bit further to walk, but after all the delicious (and SO nutritious) food I’d been eating all week, a little walk sounded good to me. We made our way over, wandered around the shops a bit, Matt got some cotton candy (one of his favorites), and we ate dinner at Naples, the Italian/Pizza restaurant there. We had great BBQ chicken pizza and enjoyed eating INSIDE, away from the crazy Disney music they pump through all the speakers outside. There is only so much we can take of today’s pop ‘stars’ singing renditions of Disney songs. If it hadn’t been for the music we would have happily dined outside enjoying the cool night air!

Thursday we took our time getting ready, ate a nice breakfast at the hotel and said good bye to sunny California. Driving home last night in the cold rain, it was kind of a depressing contrast to the weather we had left behind…but curling up in our own bed last night felt like heaven! We are glad to have had the fun trip and are now happy to be back in our own little neck of the woods…ready for a nice, relaxing weekend in the house we love, love, love! While California is certainly nice, warm, and sunny...to this Iowa couple, there's no place better to live than right here!!

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