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The Best Trips Don't Go Smoothly

But The REAL Adventure Is How You Overcome The Obstacles

By Natasja RosePublished about a month ago 6 min read
Guess Where We Are?

Last Christmas, I celebrated a year in my new job by ending the five-year-hiatus on visiting the USA.

It had been almost a decade since I'd been over there for Christmas, between COVID-19, finances, and going over in August to coincide with a Festival. Now that I have a steady job that pays an actual living wage, and my books were doing remarkably well, I decided that it was time to venture overseas again. The previous year's New Zealand trip went well, so it was time to venture further afield.

I haven't fit comfortably in Economy since I was a teenager, and Lyndal will proclaim that she never fit comfortably in Economy once she outgrew the need for a booster seat.

Now that I'm closer to fifty than twenty-five, and after a decade working in a physically demanding field, Lyndal and I decided to shell out for Premium seats. It took a lot of saving; Premium Economy is at least double the cost of Economy, but I don't regret it.

Waiting to Board

It made a BIG difference.

I could actually stretch my legs out for the first time since hitting my first teenage growth spurt, *mumble mumble* years ago! I didn't need to wiggle to get my butt into the seat! While I can sleep pretty much anywhere (shift-work will do that to you), the extra recline was nice.

We flew Air New Zealand, which usually has good food, even in Cattle Class, but the cutlery was nicer, and unlike economy, there wasn't 30 other rows ahead of you, so you got fed in pretty good time.

Dad picked us up at the airport and dropped us at the Grand Legacy Hotel, a few hundred yards and across the road from Disneyland.

We had Dennys for dinner, because the Hotel restaurant was booked for a Corporate Christmas Event, and fell into bed.

No Comment on the number of churros eaten over the course of our stay...

Our first stop was a few days in Anaheim, California, because Disneyland.

Particularly because the last time Lyndal had been in Los Angeles, California Adventure Park was still a month away from opening, so Lyndal got all the pre-opening hype, but didn't actually get to see it.

We very carefully timed the Theme Park section of our visit for the last few days of the school term, when the parks wouldn't be quite as crowded as the first days of the Christmas Holidays.

So, Parks during the day, Shows at night, then escape to San Diego to avoid the actual holiday crowds.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men...

I'm surprised my phone camera got this good of a shot, actually, even if it is a bit blurry

Day 1 was Disneyland, after breakfast at Denny's, since it was literally on the way, and less expensive than the other options.

We made a list over bacon and eggs, sorting the rides into 'must see', and 'you can't pay me to go on that' (mostly the more extreme rollercoasters), and 'want, but won't cry if we miss out'.

We also had to plan for breaks. Lyndal has mobility issues, and keeping up with my Healthcare PowerWalk is a chore even for the fully mobile.

We did get to most of the rides we wanted, despite three different instances of mechanical issues right as we neared the front of the lines.

How to keep myself occupied during long queues... Lyndal suggested adding the butterfly when I finished it and we were still in line.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day, Lyndal had strained her knee. We limped back to the hotel to take advantage of the ice machine and review our plans for the next day, before our dinner outing to Medieval Times.

Medieval times is a unique kind of Dinner-and-a-Show. It's Medieval-Themed, obviously, with displays of falconry, horsemanship, and jousting, interspaced with a semi-interactive play, to link the displays together.

We planned it for just the two of us, because Dad had put a firm hold on attending after the fifth time I dragged him to see it.

Lyndal isn't as into History as I am, but she is a massive Theatre Nerd, and a closet Horse Girl, so it was an enjoyable evening.

Next morning, Lyndal's knee was worse, so we took our time going to California Adventure Park. We only ended up staying half the day, partly because it was mostly roller coasters (of which neither of us are big fans), and wound up returning to the hotel for Ice-and-Elevate before we went to the Pirate Dinner Adventure.

(Being December, the show was Christmas themed. The pirates had forced one of their crew to be good all year, in order to trap Santa and Mrs Claus. Yes, it was exactly as cheesy as it sounds, but hilarious and a lot of fun.)

Day 3, Dad was supposed to pick us up, go to Universal Studios, then head down to San Diego.

Instead, we woke up to a text that he'd tested positive for COVID-19, necessitating a hasty change of plans, after my initial panicking.

(I was a frontline worker during the Pandemic, and lost several patients to COVID. Dad was almost 70, and no longer in robust health. Sue me.)

We'd stay in LA an extra day, before going to the Oceanside B&B stay Dad had won in a raffle for three more days. Originally, my Dad and Stepmother would have joined us, but now it provided a handy Quarantine arrangement.

Being the first day of the Christmas Holidays, and a weekend to book, of course the Disney-Adjacent hotels were booked solid, so extending our stay at the Grand Legacy was out of the question.

A quick search, and we found the Clementine Motel, which was on the bus route to Disney. Booking on short notice set us back about $1,000 for two nights, but at least we had somewhere to leave our bags.

We only had a half-day at Universal Studios, after all the hassle, but we got to do the things we wanted.

Disneyland Round 2 went better than expected. Lyndal had been resistant to getting a mobility scooter (Disney does accessibility really well), partly out of pride, and partly from thinking someone else might need it more.

My own background as a Disability Carer, and therefore the voice of experience, helped convince her that she did need it, even if it meant alarms going off extra-early to get one.

Once Lyndal got over being frightened of the controls, she took to it like a pro, and I got to walk at my normal pace. Disability access to several of the rides with longer lines was a bonus, and we got to ride Space Mountain twice!

The more important thing to note was Lyndal's pride in getting over that mental hurdle and making things easier on herself, something she's struggled with a LOT in the past. Admitting you need help is always the first step.

Balboa Park, San Diego

My stepmother picked us up the following morning for Brunch and the drive to Oceanside.

We spent the three days there mostly relaxing and recovering from our hectic pace in Anaheim. One night we went to the movies, another day we took a train to San Diego and took the trolley around the sights (all we really had time for).

Dad was still testing Positive at that point, so we wound up at the Intercontinental in San Diego until the 24th.

We spent a day at Balboa Park, visiting Museums and seeing the Musical of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (we nabbed the last two seats of the night). Another day was spent in Old Town San Diego. The final day, we went to San Diego Zoo, where Lyndal didn't even need prompting to hire a mobility scooter, and therefore had a much easier time on the hills than I did...

Dad and Pat joined us for that one, and since I wasn't spending Christmas in a hotel room, we finally joined them at their house on the 24th. Dad was still testing very faintly positive, but we got to spend Christmas together, instead of over Zoom.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical

We called home on Christmas, and tried not to be annoyed that our families failed to pick up the first two attempts.

We exchanged gifts with Dad and Pat in our pyjamas, enjoyed the day, and attempted an outdoor Meat Fondue, with mixed results.

On the 29th, I held my first Solo Author Event. While only a few were able to attend, I counted it a success.

On the 30th, our final full day in America, Dad - finally COVID-free - took us on a day out. We went to the Reading Room at the Intercontinental, which is accessed by pulling a book and opening a hidden door.

Yes, I squealed with delight. No, I'm not ashamed, and we spent a couple of hours reading together quietly, before driving around the other sights.

On the 31st, we had to be at San Diego Airport at 10:00, even though the LAX-SYD flight didn't leave until 9:55 PM. Luckily, Dad had Airline Lounge passes, so we spent several hours relaxing and snacking in comfort.

We'd picked up a case of Sniffles, but the Pharmacy sold single-dose Nyquil, which knocked us out for the flight home.

travel tipsfemale travelfamily traveldiycouples travelamericaairlines

About the Creator

Natasja Rose

I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).

I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.

I live in Sydney, Australia

Follow me on Facebook or Medium if you like my work!

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Comments (1)

  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    The title brought to mind several of my own trips and I hae to agree. I enjoyed the story very much, although I have to admit that Disneyland simply isn't on my bucket list. That said, I'm glad you made it there and had the adventure, too!

Natasja RoseWritten by Natasja Rose

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