Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Usy-bay eek-way?

Things have been pretty busy at work lately, just trying to get stuff done and move forward onto the next project. "My" (ha ha) conference starts tomorrow, and the past couple of days have been very long, (hours per day are supposed to be in the double digits, right?) but I think everything has come together. Scratch, I hope everything has come together! In theory, I probably don't have to be at the conference all day Wed, Thu, Fri, and Sat, but I have control issues and don't like other people doing things I have started. Especially if something does go wrong, I will not be there to defend myself/fix it, and don't want people thinking I'm an idiot.

I had fun picking out the menu for the events. The first important thing I did was enquire if strawberry shortcake was still in season. It was. Excellent. I also noticed there were cookies on the menu. Also excellent. Then I ordered coffee and figure I'll just get everyone through by dosing out caffeine highs. An excellent strategy.

This year in an effort to be a better person I am volunteering to be a program advisor for the Junior Achievement Company Program. Rob is my co-bloke and between his experience and my beauty, we will be rockin' the cp boat, yo.

That's all. I should be in bed. Actually, I should have been in bed awhile ago. Interesting.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

LA the Three

In the interest of preserving memories, I am aiming to conclude my three-part series of exciting vacation adventures. I feel this is critical, primarily for me, as when I was watching my parents vacation video of New Orleans I realised that my memories of the trip are a bit hazy. Why did I not write down the names of places we ate? Why did I not write down briefly some interesting facts I learned? Alas, no use crying over spilled milk (unless it was the last glass of milk in the ENTIRE WORLD).

After Kerri and I ate pizza, we parted ways with Erin and bounced off towards the "thrill" rides. I like them because somehow their kinetic energy is transfered to me in EXCITED energy! First we went on the Maliboomer, an attraction that even this nerdy theme park girl could not remember the name of. We weren't sure if it was a good idea to go on this directly after pizza, but it was, because it was so much fun! It's basically a reverse, theme-less Tower of Terror. You get shot up, and descend with less force. We then giggled our way to California Screamin', which I also love to bits and pieces. I don't really know why... Maybe it's the carnie music, the wind in the face, the launch (!!), or the total package, but I quite like it - better than Space Mountain even. We then, umm, secretly went on the ride again since the line was so short! I'm drawing a bit of a blank, but I believe we departed at this point and headed over to Disneyland. I was *quite* excited, along with the others. It was nice to see a big, fake castle again :)

Disneyland was PACKED - it almost reminded me of MK at Xmas. I believe it had to do with the walkways starting to be roped off for the parade, the narrow walkways (compared to WDW), and the abundance of AP holders who hang out at DL every night. Heh. And ps, I enjoy using an excessive amount of accronyms. It's only appropriate. I believe the first attraction we headed for was Pirates of the Carribean. I was quite impressed that the line was only about 15 mins long! We rode it, and partway during the ride I stated that Disneyland is the equivalent of a local mall for teenagers. I'm convinced parents just drop them off mid afternoon and come and pick them up around midnight. Someone sitting in front of us nodded and laughed. After Pirates, we hopped off to It's a Small World. Maybe I'm getting confused, but I think I like the one in WDW better. I find the one in DL looks like it needs some work in parts. Unless my brain is getting spotty, in IASW in MK, the water goes right up to the displays, where as I believe in DL the water is getting in a boarded canal (for lack of a better term) in which the boat travels. As well, in spots you would look to the right and see the attraction, but looking to the left would yield a black wall with glitter flowers pasted on it. Meh? Maybe it's like this at MK as well, but I don't think so. Ah well, there were some different scenes and I did enjoy it overall. Erin, however, is one of those people who hates the ride >=)

After the happiest cruise that ever sailed, it was firework time! I was ridiculously excited!! I'm sorry, but I have never seen a firework display that rivals Disney's. EVER. I've seen pretty good ones (Edinburgh) but Disney's are presented so well. The music, the lasers, the story, etc. The budget definitely helps, of course ;) I loved them. At DL Tinkerbell just keeps flying back and forth for a little while, where as in MK she just "flies" from the Castle down to Tomorrowland. Instead of rambling, here is a link to the fireworks narrated by Julie Andrews with great vocal clips of Walt Disney inserted. Anyway, the children singing at the beginning still give me watery eyes and an enormous smile. I still remember the first time I saw Wishes at MK. It was the first weekend we were there, the day we finished Traditions. I remember Dave (eventually "Server Dave" =P ) saying how great it was when it ended and that no one could not feel happy after watching it. I actually like the DL ones a bit better because they are less focused on the movies and feature the park itself. Sometimes I feel like being in the parks too much is like ODing on Disney movies. Anyway, who couldn't appreciate a Star Wars laser fight that takes place DURING a fireworks display?

So the fireworks eventually ended and I wanted to watch them again. And run up and hug the castle. I refrained though. The crowds were still pretty heavy so we diddled in shops for a bit and watched Disneyland - The First 50 Magical Years which I loved to bits and pieces. A short film about Disneyland starring Steve Martin AND Donald Duck? Yes, please!

I think we left at this point and headed to Downtown Disney. I took the looooong walk to the medicine stand (really a magazine stand with random pharmaceutical items) and spent $10 on a bottle of cough syrup that would generally retail for $4.50 at Walgreens. However, it was one of the best $10 I spend in my LIFE - even though the kid working the stand was an idiot and said they didn't sell cough syrup. ("Umm, isn't that it right there?" "Oh, maybe... Yes. Heh.")

Then met up with the others, and we took the shuttle back to the hotel and craaashed.

Up again! We were at DL for opening. Again, took the shuttle over. We went through the gates immediately. I think there was an early entry that morning for resort guests (?? - not sure) so people were already in the parks, but we were still roped off. We snuck into the shops on Main Street to get closer to rope drop. I figure for each person I pass, that is one less person I have to stand behind! The rope dropped, we (and other smart folk) filed out of the shops and took off for Nemo's Submarine Voyage, heading through Fantasyland rather than Tomorrowland. Holy freaking queue. Despite being there mere minutes after rope drop, the queue was still about 45 minutes. The castmembers can't even tell how long the wait will be because the queue itself is so intertwind and lengthy, wrapping around the lagoon. Kerri and I amused ourselves in line and I think Erin thought we were... slightly off. We eventually made it to the ride, and I enjoyed it, although I couldn't justify waiting hours for it. It had some similarities to the Nemo ride at Epcot, but it feels a little more "immersed" since you are actually IN the water, rather than looking obviously from the other side of glass.

Afterwards we went Kerri and I went to Space Mountain for fast passes and then... ummm... I can't remember. We must have done something though? Right, looking at my pictures leads me to believe that Kerri and I went on the Matterhorn. It was fun, and kind of freaked me out. Older rollercoasters tend to do that. We then met up with Erin and rode the Alice in Wonderland Ride. It was, well, what you would expect from an Alice darkride. Then Kerri and I scuttered back to Tomorrowland and went on Space Mountain using our Fastpasses thus having a minimal wait. I believe it's definitely darker than it's MK counterpart, and the starry sky has more of a '3-D' feel to it. And it scares the piss out of me. I think it's due to the extreme darkness and I find myself hunched over in fear I'm going to knock my head off a steal frame somewhere. See trauma A: getting hit with a BASEBALL CAP of the Rock 'n Roller Coaster in the DARK and practically suffering from a broken nose. So yes, I shuddered my way through Space Mountain.

I believe at this point we met up with Erin again at the foot of the monorail (which actually picks guests up INSIDE the park!) and went to the Disneyland Hotel for our character brunch. Definitely NOT a highlight of the trip! It was Goofy's Kitchen, and apparently you only go to meet Goofy if it was your birthday. The food was good, but the characters kept skipping our tables. Our server wasn't really around, so we couldn't tell him. We mentioned this to a character attendant that came to talk to us, but she wasn't concerned. She asked if we had met Donald Duck when coming in. We said no, and she encouraged us to stop and get our picture with him when we left. Well, he wasn't there. Anyway, I ate pizza and ridiculous amounts of canteloupe and pineapple so that was good. I definitely would not repeat the Goofy's Kitchen experience. I dunno, I just wasn't impressed with the overall experience.

We returned to Disneyland via monorail and hit up the other half of the park after taking pictures of the Castle and watching a brief, random Mary Poppins shows that suddenly appeared in front of the castle.

We then went to Tom Sawyer's Island / "Pirate's Lair", pretty much just to meet Captain Jack Sparrow. We couldn't find him, but after exploring caves and what not I saw an area that looked... suspcious. My castmembers flags went up, I could tell it was a photo op set up! I saw a tall fence that had a door "Cast Members Only". My flags got taller. I tried peaking through the cracks but couldn't see anything. Then, Kerri or Erin (sorry ladies, can't remember) looked through and saw him!!! We were quite excited and spied for a bit while he was backstage. Suddenly, unknown to us, Sailing Ship Columbia went by and fired a canon and we jumped about 30 ft in the air in surprise at the nose. We poked around, killed time, and giggled.

THEN HE SAUNTERED OUT. It was a good day. He talked to a couple of kids, then the photos began. I was planning on being all cool and possibly flirting/teasing a wee bit (I know - I'm a moron) but instead got rather ga-ga and stupidly star struck. I think I mumbled something about him having a nice ring and he stated that he had stolen it from a gypsy. Erin was up next. As they were posing for photos I said, "Erin, your shirt is to clean for you to be a pirate!"

Erin: Oh, but I can get dirty.

And I died laughing. I also died some more upon seeing Cpt. Sparrow's reaction... I don't think he knew what to say! He actually said to Kerri when she went up for a photo, "Well, that was awkward."

Afterwards, we were videoing commentary about the event and a couple walked by as we were recapping and said to Erin, "Yeah, he was definitely looking down your shirt!"

And, for a third time, I died. Such great memories! :)

We then went back to Critter Country and went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, mostly because it was there. We also met Eeryoe and Winnie the Pooh and stopped for photos. They are soft, so I like hugging them; however, I want pictures with more interesting characters. They are EVERYWHERE so I feel like I already have their photos 600 or so times. I think we also got fastpasses for Splash Mountain at this point? Regardless we continued towards Adventureland. Went to the Tiki Room, rode Jungle Cruise, and Kerri and I went on the Indianna Jones Ride. Loved it!! We then met up with Erin. I think at this point we returned to Splash Mountain. Umm, I like the MK one better. I just find the audioanamatronics don't look so worn, and ride is a bit slower making it last longer and giving me more time to hum along to the songs. Kerri and I went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (which always makes me think of my mum and Keri Shields) and did indeed enjoy the wildest ride in the wilderness. We then met up with Erin at Pinnochio. We road that and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. And, I believe, that was the end. Sad. Actually, really sad now that I think about it... Crap. We left to return to DCA for one last adventure on California Screamin. We also went on Soarin', and Kerri bought a hat and jumper. Crap, it's almost like my trip just ended again and I'm bummed again :( Tear. Soarin' is a good ride to end on, however, it's relaxing, impressive, and always makes me smile, especially the smell of the orange groves.

Whoops, my bad, we actually did return to DL to go to the photopass place. I feel like we MUST have done something else though, perhaps wander in shops?

Oh yes, and I missed it above, but at some point Kerri and I went to Toontown. Hmm. We also saw a bit of the Jedi training thing where I was infatuated with the hot Jedi Master. Probably because he had a light saber. Umm, I guess I like fictional characters.

After we left DL (sad) we went to Downtown Disney. Kerri bought stuff, and we went to HOB to eat. Not gonna lie, I was rather drained. 7:00am - 12:00am makes for a pretty long, busy day. We walked back to our hotel, watched some video, packed, and whined about not wanting to go home.


On Monday we finished packing, had some free brekkie, booked airport transportation and went to a mall since we didn't have very much time to do anything of greatness. Getting a cab back from the mall turned out to be a MASSIVE hassle and Erin and Kerri almost missed their shuttle ride to the airport. I continued my day of exploring and, gasp, ventured away from the Disneyland area. I went to Target, must to the envy of Kerri. (It's a weird Canadian in the US thing for us and Target. I can't explain.) I stocked up on stuff that I missed, such as peanut butter chocolate chip chewy reduced sugar granola bars that are like crack and I want them ALL THE TIME, and stuff that is cheaper in the US, such as my facewash that is about half the price as on PEI. Wankers. I also went to a grocery stores and bought random boring stuff like an apple, orange and banana, but also a cantelope that cost only $.50! I could get used to California.

I then returned to Disneyland Resort area as I wanted to look at the hotels and figure out where the closest liquor store was. I received that critical piece of information and started to walk there. I realised about half-way there that if I continued my journey I *may* miss my shuttle. So I freaking booted it back to the hotel and got there JUST as my shuttle pulled in. Seriously, I'm suprised my flip-flops didn't snap into a thousand pieces at the rate I was going.

Arrive at airport. Drink massive quantities of cough syrup since I can't take it on the plane with me. Go through long security line. Read magazines and books at shops. Eat pizza and salad from Wolfgang Pucks. Buy cough drops. Board plane. Fall asleep about thirty seconds after plane takes off. Eventually wake up and land in Toronto. Guy working customs thinks I'm hungover, but really my cough syrup and Targer cold pills screw me up and make me retardedly drowsy. Plus, umm, I had just taken the red-eye flight and it was apparently 5:30am in Toronto. Please be kind to me. Thank you.

Get to Halifax. Drive to Ch'town (which took almost six hours due to me being a moron and getting confused and thinking I went the wrong way [I didn't though], stopping to eat, and stopping to sleep), arrived at parents to fetch my car, tried to stay awake so I would be able to sleep that night, then can't fall asleep and go to work the next day like a zombie. But a happy-I-went-to-Cali-and-saw-my-friends zombie. That's a good kind of zombie to be :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Woooo, I shall continue my wee LA story. I left off on Friday.. but in telling the story and the actual story. Heh.

We took a cab from the pharmacy, where I had invested in cold pills, and the others in bandaids, confectionary, and wine, back to our hotel. We zonked out for a wee bit and debated what to do. We "freshened up" and then went for a wander about Santa Monica down to the pier. Quite an event. Saw a couple rather dodgy folks/activities, and wasn't overly impressed. We didn't go on any rides, despite the fact I adore rides. Really though, we would be spending a good chunk of Saturday and all of Sunday on rides, so none of us felt it was necessary. We walked around a bit, half looking around and half looking for a spot to grab a drink. We were all dragging a bit, so retired back to the hotel to sleep / cough excessively while trying to sleep.

The next morning we split all headed to the shopping area one last time to run into those stores we had missed, or had seen things that it turned out we really "needed" (really wanted) something. However, the stores didn't open until 10:00, and we were out and ready at about 9:15. Ah well, there was a lovely farmers market filled with outdoor stalls. I made a wise investment in delicious strawberries and peaches, did some speed shopping in a wee british shop, and a couple of clothing/shoe stores we had skipped earlier. After we made our final purchases we, gasp, actually ventured to the beach. It was absolutely beautiful!! The water wasn't as warm as I thought it would be, but we didn't have time to swim anyway. We half played in the water (as much as one can when wearing clothes) and then pretty much sprinted up to our hotel to meet our drive to Anaheim. The drive to Anaheim didn't take quite as long as I expected (a little over 45 mins) and traffic was quite smooth. We really didn't run into any heavy traffic during our time, I was pretty impressed. We were dropped off at our hotel, and I laughed while watching Kerri and Erin lug their massive lugage up the stairs. To rub a bit of salt in their wounds (not literally, since they actually did have wounds all over their feet from our walking adventures) the front desk lady asked me if we needed help. I said no >=D (Sorry ladies, I don't think I told you this... but it was only one flight and you were half-way up by then. Plus it was hilarious.) We sat around in our room for about 35 minutes and then took the complimentary shuttle to Disneyland. Turns out we really didn't need the complimentary shuttle as the walk to the maingate was only ten minutes!

So obviously us little three former castmembers squealed our way through the parks. This would also be the point where I get very detailed.

First we went to California Adventure. I still felt a bit castmember special since we had our not-for-sale passes and go in for free. First up we went into a merch shop as Kerri needed some sort of Disney head gear for the day. After a bit too long in the shops, we started to do the important things. (Jen is not so much a fan of the merch shops.) We grabbed fastpasses for Soarin' and then took off for whatever ride was closest - Grizzy River Rapids (or something like that). Kind of a standard water raft ride... We got wet, we smiles, we laughed, we stuffed our bags under our shirts to keep our stuff dry, etc. Why the ride doesn't have the "dry bag area" in the middle of the rafts like at Animal Kingdom is beyond me... They are practially carbon copies of each other. We then proceeded to the next closest attraction - Brother Bear play in the forest something wweeee kids play bounce bounce boooooing! It was basically a random play area for children and childish adults. (Cue Kerri and Jen bouncing excessively rope bridge things that made me think of Sand Spit.) We then... did something. I remember stopping so Kerri could buy something... Mickey Mouse ice cream, perhaps? I believe at this point we went back to Soarin' and soared over California. It's still such an impressive ride, and people still clap at the end of it! Then Erin proceeded to stand in an eternal line for the official food of Disney - chicken strips and french fries. The line didn't really move at all, and Kerri and Erin were concerned about missing the High School Musical 2 pep rally / summer vacation sing-a-long show. I watched a bit of it, then wandered off to the toilet and take pictures. Afterwards, Erin got her precious chicken strips. We then poked along to grab fast passes for Tower of Terror, and then to the Aladdin musical, which I quite liked. I also pretty much left a lung on the floor in the theatre as about ten minutes before the end I started hacking like a cat and scampered away to the back of the theatre and basically shook through the rest of the performance trying to swallow coughs.

Ahh, Tower of Terror. I cannot say enough good things about this ride. I love it to bits and pieces!!! The DCA one certainly lacks the atmosphere presented at the Studios by not having the queue wrap through the gardens. The ride is a bit different in that the elevator does not move forward into the "drop shaft" or whatever it is. It also has a different heat-thermal screen thing in which you see yourself and the other passengers, and then you disinegrate (sp?). Then you drop and bounce and scream and love it. Also in the queue for unintentional entertainment, Kerri went to lean against a railing and pretty much fell through because it turned out to be the swinging entrance to an exit ramp. Cue Jen dieing from laughter (after ensuring she was not hurt, of course). After the AMAZING ride, we met up with Erin and rode Monsters Inc. It was fine, but I wasn't blown away by it. C-ticket, for the fellow nerds who know what I'm talking about. The other two sauntered off to watch Muppet Vision, which I do like but have seen about 604 times, and I wandered off to first aid. My first time at a first aid station in any theme park!! Or anywhere, really. I needed cough syrup like maaaad. The nurse could not give me any, but told me where I could buy some (far away in Downtown Disney, unfortunately,) but did give me some cough drops which, to me, were worth more than gold!! We met up again, and proceeding to our next food quest: Disney pizza. Sadly, I was a bit disapointed. DLR does pizza by the slice, WDW does it as mini personal pizzas. WDW definitely wins the pizza challenge. We parted ways again as thrill rides were next up on the itinerary.

WAIT!! At some point before this, I believe on the walk to the pizza spot, I got ran over by an ECV. Seriously. I was pointing off and looking to the right trying to show the others something and a man in an ECV ran over both of my feet. It quite hurt, but I was moreso flabbergasted that SOMEONE IN AN ECV CLEARLY RAN OVER MY FEET!!!!

I feel that is a good spot to end my story for the night. Tomorrow I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the padres. I have never cooked a turkey dinner before. Luckily Dominoes will likely be open for back-up ;) I'm just getting visions from the movie Christmas Vacation when they do the first cut of the turkey, and it basically cracks over and shrivles like chrushing paper machee. That'll be my turkey!! Not turkey related, but at an extended family event about a month ago I saw someone who looked almost EXACTLY like the older Aunt in that movie - the one who pledges her alligiance to the flag when saying grace. I pretty much died laughing and had to point it out to Papa and a couple of other family members. We weren't very good at keeping straight faces afterwards.

La fin.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ooooh, I am a sleepy one this evening. I feel as though I stayed up til 4:30 and it's 7:30 and I'm just waking up. The past couple of days I have felt ridiculously run down and exhausted all day. Well, for me anyway. To just want to go straight to bed after work isn't very Jen-ish. So I don't do it, but then I fall into my usual routine of having trouble falling asleep, and waking up periodically during the night wondering what time it is. I'm sure that's not the real reason I wake up, but I always look at the clock right away so I'm making assumptions.

I guess I haven't blogged in awhile... No biggie, the Earth is still turning and I'm still here! My adventure to LA with Erin and Kerri was fantastic, and I loved every minute of it! I left Wednesday night at about 11:30pm. It wasn't the best drive to Halifax as it was rather windy, but after I hit the rotary in NB it was smooth sailing. However, I was rather paranoid about hitting a moose in NB. It was actually probably the most nervous I was the entire trip! The drive over was rather unadventurerous. I slept in the car park the Tim Horton's by the park 'n fly for about a half hour. I didn't as much on the plane as I had hoped, and felt rather groggy when I was sitting on the bus to Santa Monica. I met Erin and Kerri at our hotel (The Fairmont Miramar - we were having a 48-hour period of being classy ladies). We then hopped and shopped about the 3rd Street Promenade area. Kerri and I giggled our way through the $15 store (all items were $15 or less) while Erin disapproved of the poor quality clothing. Around 5:00 we all felt like our feet weight 600 lbs so we ventured back to the hotel to nap. I woke up about 45-minutes later feeling like my head was going to explode due to a cold. Luckily, my head didn't explode! Thank God, it would had been quite messy - not to mention I would be missing a head. We primped and then headed to West Hollywood for our dinner reservation at Koi, apparently a new "hot spot". We arrived, and were greeted by the paparatzi at the door. Sadly, they didn't seem too interested in us. I wanted to take a picture of them, but didn't at risk of looking too much like a tourist. We were greeted by a large man with a list. Were we on the list? Yes, yes we were. Sometimes you actually do need to plan ahead! We waited about 35-minutes to be seated (not too bad - the place was packed) and then had a lovely seat on the back patio area. It was a Japanese restaurant, so I had "real" sushi for the first time - and it was absolutely spectacular!! At first I tried some of Erin's (spicy tuna roll, perhaps??) and it was quite good. I had a salad with, umm, some kind of spicy dressing that was quite good. My sushi dish was bay scallop roll, and yuuuuuuuuuuum. I think I ate almost the whole thing despite being full. But it was just soooo good. The whole thing was accompanied by a peach martini that I gave a full thumbs up.

While we had been waiting to be seated earlier in the night we saw Jennifer Coolidge, aka Stifler's Mom from the American Pie movies. I didn't really recognize her, but Kerri and Erin noticed her quite quickly. That was our "big" star sighting.

The next morning Erin and I hopped off for a quick exploration/brekkie while Kerri slept off her martinis ;) We then took a bus into Hollywood, then the metro up to Burbank/Universal City. There, we waited for a bus to take us to the Warner Bros. Studios. Then we waited some more. After waiting, we waited some more. Eventually we trucked up a giant hill (yes - I considered it giant despite living in Edinburgh but 16 months!) to a hotel and hopped in a cab. Thirteen-dollars later we were at the studios! We booked ourselves on a tour to depart at 1:30. We had a little over an hour to kill, so we hussled off to the Disney Studios/headquarters and looked sadly in through the gates, hoping some American blokes would take pity on us, marry us, thus giving us green cards to work in the States. (Disney could also create some sort of Canadian head quarters, that would be acceptable as well. Perhaps easier, from my perspective.) Sadly, we eventually left the area still single, and not a step closer to obtaining that elusive green card. Maybe next year.

The Warner Bros tour was a couple of hours long. It was okay, but I wouldn't do it again. Maybe I just don't watch enough TV or movies anymore... We saw some of the exterior sets, got to go through a museum of memrobilia (lots of Harry Potter stuff!!!!!!!!!) and went to visit the re-located, former Central Perk set from Friends.

After the tour we returned to Hollywood - the nice part. Huuuuuge difference between the nice part and the slummy parts! The nice part is about, oh, three blocks, and the rest is filled with crappy gift shops and, ahem, "adult novelty" shops. Classy. We did the tourist thing and bummed around the Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, and the various shops in the area. I pulled a Jennifer and immersed myself in the Virgin Megastore for about six days. We also grabbed a quick bit at Mickey's Ice Cream Shoppe Sprinkles Happy Food Poof Restaurant or something like that. We then walked for a bit hoping to get to the Beverley Centre so I could spend my life-long savings at H&M, but alas, the walk was too far, it was getting dark, and the other girls had OPEN WOUNDS/blisters all over their feet. I, in my well broken in sneakers, could have walked for 25 more kilometres ;)

Aaaaand, tired. The end.