Parks are awesome: the natural and the man-made

So, it’s really cold and rainy in Sydney and as a result, I’m finding if hard to reflect on our time in two great parks – Yosemite National Park and Disneyland. Yes, Disneyland is a park, a fun park!
Where to start? Well, where did I leave off? Oh, I think it was doing the RV limbo through Connecticut en route to NYC. What’s the RV limbo? That’s when you drive your RV under bridges with very low clearances and hold you breath, hoping that you don’t lose the top off the van!
Once we dropped off the RV (all in one piece, thankfully!) we trained it to NYC. Thanks to hotels.com we found a great hotel right near Penn Station. We even got cookies in the afternoon! We got in just after lunch so we had plenty of time to hang out in the city we love. Lee wanted to get a tattoo, so we decided to walk to downtown Manhattan – only about 30 blocks, lol. We went down Broadway, which was awesome because it kind of slices across Manhattan and gives you insight into the vast differences between New Yorkers and where they live. We cruised through NoHo, SoHo and China Town. Such differences but all do cool. I really do love NYC. Sadly the tattoo place was super expensive, so we gave it a miss. I did manage to buy 6 Thor comics for $2 from a street vendor. Epic. That night we met up with our Twitter mates Shani Hartley and John Goh, both happened to be in town too. We took them to our fav pizza place, Luigi’s and then we walked down Broadway at night, through the crowds of Times Square. Good night, indeed.

The next morning we got up super early and headed to JFK airport to catch our 7am flight to LA. The flight was fantastic – I’m a big fan of Delta. I got to watch both Thor movies! Sadly Balin left his hat on the plane, goodbye cat hat! We picked up our hire car – an SUV – and started driving North-East towards Yosemite. It was so hot, we were surprised by the humidity and the boys were thrilled that our hotel had a pool. Next morning we drove the very stunning drive through the giant sequoias to Yosemite National Park… one of our most favourite places in the world!

This trip we chose to stay in the park – highly recommended – as last year we stayed outside if it and the drive in each day was exhausting. Our first night we stayed at the Curry Village tents (these are permanent tents with canvas sides but wooden floors, heating and beds). It was nice, but we couldn’t have a campfire and were very happy when we were allowed to move to the HouseKeeping tents – three concrete walls and a canvas ‘door’. You have to hire bedding – $2 a night, but you get your own campfire and table. Perfect. The campground hugs the Merced River, even more perfect!

On the second day of our stay we slept in, went for a swim and drove up to Glacier Point to do the Sentinel Dome walk – it took us way up above Yosemite Valley. The views are incomparable. Next day we got up early and made our way to the stables – to meet our mules! Last year Baz asked to ride the mules, but it was too expensive. This year I promised myself we’d make it a reality, and so we did! It was insane fun! Our mules were all characters : Balin’s was 35 years old and super slow, Keenan’s was young and eager and pushy, Lee’s was cruisy and mine was a bitch, lol. She kept stopping to eat miss and leaves even though she wasn’t meant to. I loved her. The ride was great, only two hours but definitely enough to make my bum sore! I highly recommend the mule tour! That day we so did the valley floor tour on the open air truck. The guide was cool, he had great stories to tell and was very passionate about Yosemite. One tip, wear sunscreen! We all got very burnt! That night we watched the Conversations with John Muir show, where one actor performed the role of Muir. It was very moving. I loved it and so did Lee. Balin keeps repeating ons of Muir’s mottos, ‘Eat apples’, lol. Saying goodbye to Yosemite was hard for us all. There’s no point trying to put the place into words… you’ve just got to go there. It’ll change you.

The big drive back to LA was punctuated by our visit to the Citadel Outlets… we all needed clothes and we did some damage to the bank account. Hotels.com served us well(ish) by finding us a cheap room in LA… sadly it was a smoking room and we all smelled like pack a day smokers by the morning, lol. After returning the car to Alamo, we got to LAX and picked up a shuttle to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland! The shuttle was a scam, it arrived early, a small van with ‘Disneyland Express’ roughly scrawled on the front… he wasn’t the real deal and charged us $120! Luckily the good people at the Disney hotel sorted us out and gave us $120 credit to our room. Phew! We stayed ‘on property’ at the Paradise Pier Hotel and it was MAGICAL! So close to the parks and every little detail in the place was Disneyed… right down to the Tinkerbell toiletries! The boys were beside themselves! As soon as we could we hit Disneyland – it’s just seriously the coolest place. Yeah, it was summer and insanely busy, but that just adds to the atmosphere of fun! We got heaps of rides in, loving the Thunder Railroad roller coaster and waiting well over an hour to ride on the Cars Racers – well worth it! Next morning we entered Disneyland an hour before the general public – magic entry cos we were staying at a Disney hotel – and managed to go on 8 rides before breakfast! It was our son’s birthday – Keenan turned 13 – so we indulged and did a ‘character breakfast’! Totally worth it! Keenan chose the Chip & Dale breakfast and I’m glad he did – less cheesey and the buffet was insane! So much good food that I nearly burst! The characters all cans for photos and we all left feeling very magical indeed. After more rides we indulged further – lunch at Blue Bayou, the restaurant you float past on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! It was Lee’s childhood dream to eat there and it didn’t disappoint! It’s surprisingly quiet in there… the atmosphere is perfect. All of us enjoyed it immensely! We didn’t leave the park until 11pm… so that was 16 hours in Disneyland. I doubt I need to explain how exhausted we were, but alas we had another 7am early entry the next day! Yup, Disney adventures are exhausting but totally, totally epic and I’m a proud mum that my boys have experienced it. I don’t care what anyone says about it, Disneyland is AMAZING!!

What else to say now except that the flights home were great and now I’m done writing this, I guess I’ll have to face reality and start planning for the next term of teaching. I guess that also means this blog will return to its usual focus, my failings in the classroom, lol. Thanks for indulging in my holiday posts… hope you enjoyed them!

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2 thoughts on “Parks are awesome: the natural and the man-made

  1. Thanks for sharing your epic journey! I think you forgot something – your boys getting dressed up as Jedi! That would be FREAKING AWESOME! May the force be with them. 🙂

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