July's End

We drove to Los Angeles tonight to meet with Sofie and Romi and say goodbye to them. It’s hard to believe that they got here on July 8th–it seems like yesterday.

They left us, as I mentioned, on Wednesday and headed for Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. They’ll fly out of LAX tomorrow morning and so we drove down to meet them and have dinner. I guess I’m a bit too weary for witty prose. We ate at the Warehouse, a restaurant that’s been in Marina Del Rey for more than 30 years. My parents used to take me there when my dad worked in Santa Monica back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In the mid-80’s, I took Sue there when we were dating. I remember one night when I picked her up at LAX when she came home from Hawaii visiting Aunt Laurie who was in the Army then.

It was rather interesting to take my daughter there along with our Belgians. Sadly Peanut’s behavior was pretty awful. This has been happening a good deal lately. Going to restaurants with her is near impossible as she is almost always no fun to be around. She says she doesn’t want to eat and then pesters and whines when all eyes, ears and mouths are not focused on her. It’s maddening. And, I suppose, fairly normal for a 9 year old.

July ends tonight and the last month of summer begins. Before this month is out, I’ll be preparing for a new school year and attempting to keep the writing jobs going just as strong. I have no desire to slow down there. If anything, I am going to spend a few days at the end of August organizing myself a little more than usual so I don’t have to do it on the fly and can concentrate on the writing more.

June ended a bit rough–I had a difficult time launching into summer. July came and San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and then Sofie and Romi and all moved a bit better. Writing picked up, but so did relaxation and quiet. August, the dying month of summer, has a few surprises in store, though. We’ll do a good trip to the Central Coast, maybe even some camping and we’ll focus a lot on home and the possibility of our new addition, the daughter we’re adopting soon.

July is over-but its memory is long, sweet and wonderful. Here’s to many more just like it.

Surprises

My friend Mark Malloy all but dared me to “out” the wine shop I was writing about last night. His point was a fair one–if I’m going to write about it, have the courage to name it so that the owners can, perhaps, right their ship as it were.

Well, it’s too late for that. I learned tonight that the Essential Wine Company of Camarillo will indeed be going out of business. Their wines are going for half off as early as tomorrow-so, if you’re in the area, you might want to stop by.

Now, I lament when I any business goes out of business. And there is no doubt that the recession added to Essentials lackluster showing. However, there are a lot of wine bars and wine shops that are thriving right now and so, in the end, excuses aren’t appropriate here. The bottom line is that while, as I said-the owners seem like completely nice, decent and kind people–their shop was overpriced, the wines-with the exception of the library section-were OK, though not stunning and the food was, well….boring. That’s a shame and it is, of course, my opinion. But apparently, it became a widespread one.

It was a daddy-daughter day for the most part as Peanut and I, along with her friend Page, saw Ramona and Beezus. Shannon had asked me to see the movie when the advertisements first hit. She had two reasons: 1) She’d read the book in third grade and liked it and 2) There isn’t a bigger Selena Gomez fan than my daughter.

Now, a lot of the movies that Peanut and I see, I like. Some more than others, yes–but I like kids’ movies by and large for any number of reasons. I’m a sap for hopeful and positive philosophy stories and I really love animation. The advent of Pixar to my life is a never-ending source of joy, for example. But I confess, I wasn’t big on seeing this one. I felt like I’d seen my share of sappy tween films (College Road Trip was a prime example. Whew!), but I committed because I like taking Peanut to movies and what the heck?

The film, however, took me in a direction I didn’t expect. The story arc was much simpler and far different from normal American tween movies. There was nothing terribly unbelievable in this one. Even the suspension of disbelief parts were rather mild, most of them revolving around Ramona’s big imagination. But the plot wasn’t about extraordinary feats of human courage or the vitality of the human spirit. It was a story about the simple joys of being a family and all of the stress that can entail.

Ms. Gomez, by the way, was tremendous. I’m rather thinking that this was a calculated move for her career. Her star is rising just now in the tween world and she’s selling cd’s as well as making movies and TV shows. But her characters, while well executed, are largely alike. She tends to play a snarky, bratty kid with a good heart. Her characters are lovable rebels with a bit more rebel than lovable, usually. That’s even true in her music which is filled with lyrics about rising against the opinions of “everyone else.”

In Ramona and Beezus, however, she plays the oldest of three children who has a stellar reputation at school and is a “good girl.” She’s also a bit innocent and not terribly comfortable with who she is just yet, like most teenagers. Far from unbelievable, Ms. Gomez pulls the role off with ease. She brings a warmth and even a bit of a depth to it that are completely believable and honest.

Joey King
, from here in Ventura County, plays Ramona, from who’s point of view the story is told, and she’s tremendous. Ramona is 9 years and 3 months old, as she says, and I have one of those–she sat next to me in the theater. Ms. King nailed the part without sentimentality but with plenty of sympathy.

John Corbett played dad and he was his usual warm self. I’ve been a fan of his since he played the enigmatic Chris in Northern Exposure. He’s a fine actor and a lot of the action revolves around him in the story. He too is believable and honest.

The film is tightly directed, simply written and wrought so well that you cannot help but enjoy it. I found myself shedding a tear or two when the family cat, Picky Picky….um……shuffles off this mortal coil. And I hate cats.

Onward, gentles.

DownTime

A brief-ish post, gentles, as I prepare for a story I need to write. The last couple of days have been fairly busy, though not impossible–but for whatever reason, I am deep tired. I’ve been exercising a lot and I attribute much of it to that.

Sue, Laurie and I attended a small wine and food gathering for a Breast Cancer Avon Walk fundraiser and it was a nice adult’s night out. Peanut had one of her favorite babysitters and when that happens, she behaves quite well. She ate a full dinner and had a good time playing games and talking with MacKenzie. The secrets to middle-aged married life include finding good babysitters. This is essential if you want any long-term happiness.

The wine bar itself will go nameless for now. I’m still uncertain as to what the reaction would be locally if I spewed out negativity. It must be stated that the owners seem tremendously nice people, concerned about their customers, hiring knowledgeable folks and doing a good job of keeping a neat, clean wine-bar. That said, the wine selections are, well…tepid. The prices are exorbitant and the food, while tasty, is also a trite expensive and portions are consistently inconsistent. We had a bruschetta plate with four crostini, topped with fresh tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil–a fairly easy dish to make and this was executed well. The crostini were large and the toppings weren’t skimpy and that cost something like $9 and change.

But then, there was the marinated mozzarella balls with tomato and basil for $12.00 and change–and for that, you got 4 cherry tomatoes on a skewer with a basil leaf and a marinated (balsamic, I think) mozzarella ball no bigger than the cherry tomato. Maddening. That’s the only adjective I have right now.

A glass of Pint Noir from a boutique winery was $9.75 and while the wine was OK, it wasn’t $9.75 OK and the pour was just shy of classy. A large burgundy glass, but filled less than a third full. Now, a normal pour is a third. But for around 10 bucks, you expect a little more than the simple 4 ounce pour and that too was maddening.

But again-we were there for a cause and that was the driving purpose behind it all. So, I’d do that part again–but when it comes to the food and wine part? Not very impressive at all. It’s a shame, too.

Ah well. My conversations are running out. I’m off to bed in a few. Peace…

One Foot in Front of Another…

The Belgians texted me this afternoon that they’d arrived in Las Vegas safe and sound. They got up this morning and were a little noisier than usual which woke me–and Peanut, too. That’s no problem–no worry. We miss them now that they’re gone. Shannon came into our room at 7:30 this morning asking if she could get up–she’d gone to bed at 10:30 last night. I said, “well-if you do, you’ll have to go to bed earlier tonight. Not enough sleep for you…” So, she went back to bed.

Three and a half hours later, I walked into her room after having walked the dog while Sue got ready for work, doing my morning web-surf and correspondence and getting in a workout on the treadmill. She was still fast asleep, but my presence, the morning–near afternoon–sun and the dog following me in woke her. She didn’t have any idea how late it was and saying she was hungry, we toddled off to Subway for lunch.

We’ll get to see the girls one more time on Saturday night when we join them down in Los Angeles, near the airport at their hotel, for dinner. It’ll be a proper good-bye then and it will draw an end to Mid-summer.

August, of course, is the overtime game, the month where it’s still summer–but fall is in the air, even when it’s hot out, and the days get shorter.

For those of us in education, it’s half vacation, half preparation for the fall. The joyous blissful ignorance of July and late June are a memory and they recede in the rear view mirror like so much traffic. But August brings an urgent sense of the present, of the now. Two months until Halloween, three until Thanksgiving, four until Christmas. My family starts talking about the winter plans–who will be going to who’s house and what is everyone doing?

Still, because of my writing schedule, I’m actually really looking forward to August. I’ve got a few stories lined up and I’m doing some more query letters as well. Things are looking good and the only dark spot on the horizon is that I need to start preparing for the school year–particularly the school newspaper’s agenda. We made a curriculum change at the end of last year and we now need to follow through and implement the changes.

So, a bit on the plate over the next month. We need one more mini-vacation to properly draw an end to it all. In June, as summer began, I said that something was in the air. There was a palpable sense of change and the feeling that life was sweetening, becoming more razor-sharp. Well, it did just that in many ways, culminating with the Lake Tahoe trip and the New York Times contract. But that feeling, that sense of change, is back.

And it’s a good, strong and happy feeling–even if my feet still hurt.

My friend John Frost who runs the great Disney Blog (full disclosure, I’ve written for him), is doing a Crowd Funding for his book project called Dispatch from Disneyland. John’s a fine author and his book is really an interesting idea. But, he needs a bit of help with publishing. Crowd funding is all or nothing. Either the crowd funds the project, or you don’t get charged individually. There’s no risk of it not working. Either John gets his funding, or no one gets charged. Please consider a donation? Thanks-

Onward.

On a Summer Night

Tonight is Sofie and Romi’s last official night with us. They’ve been here since July 8 and it has gone by so very fast. They’ll leave early in the AM for Las Vegas to wind up their “American tour” and take a quick run down to the Grand Canyon while out in the desert. Then, they’ll return to LAX on Saturday where we’ll join them for one last dinner together before they leave Sunday morning for Belgium.

It’s been beyond wonderful to see Sofie, to meet Romi and have them be part of our home here for the past month. The days all felt like vacation days for the most part and the memories we created from Universal Studios to Disneyland to just swimming in Aunt Laurie’s pool or fixing dinner together–all was as it was meant to be-warm, friendly and peaceful. Tonight, the girls made potato croquettes while I bbq’d ribs on the grill and Sue whipped up a batch of cole slaw. It was Sofie’s 21st birthday and she requested ribs and so we put our cultures together and had what the girls referred to as a “good Belgian dish” with our barbecue and the result was comfort food plus.

Making the croquettes was a laborious task and the girls didn’t quite know what they were getting into. 4 steps and an hour into the preparation, Sue began to fry them and the girls took a break. We’d spent the early afternoon at the Ladyface Alehouse drinking a pint, while Sofie ordered a mojito, and enjoying a leisurely lunch. Vacation time, you know–even small labors require breaks and even naps.

All of this is taking place against the backdrop of again saying good-bye. It won’t be as hard this time. We knew it was to be a short trip, not a year-long excursion. But, it will be harder, too. The girls are part of the family, now. We’ll visit Belgium someday–and not just because we want to see Belgium, but because we have dear and close friends there–and their families, who we’ll want to see again.

Summer is really more than a season, isn’t it? It’s a feeling and a state of mind. It’s a religious dogma and a renewal unlike others during the rolling year. It’s not the weather, it’s not that school’s out–certainly not for most adults–it’s not that kids are running through the neighborhood. It’s all of that and the added bonus that it repeats itself once a year, as an opportunity to keep getting it right. It’s a chance to relive the past–and to remake the future all at one time and it’s the connection to childhood understanding that there were better days-but they can be better again, too.

Hearts

I’ve fallen asleep here on the couch no less than two times this evening. It may have actually been three, I am unsure. It was unintentional, though I knew going to bed this morning at 1:00 and waking at 7:00 would do me no real good. I had to be in Santa Paula to interview a designer about a new space he’d created at the Santa Paula Airpark. Phenomenal, too. I won’t give anything away, here–but I have a lot more work to do. More interviews, more discussions. Today seemed preliminary.

Then, it was off to meet with our social worker for the adoption process. She met with me this morning, we took a lunch break after two hours, then Sue went in for another two hours. It was grueling for both of us. Why?

It felt as though for two hours, we were being asked to reveal the deepest, tenderest parts of our hearts–but not by someone who wanted to share in them, to revel in them–but by someone who wanted to analyze them. It was an odd feeling and Julia, the young social worker at the helm, was very expert in her abilities. It felt like a simple conversation, but it was not just that. It was an exploration of who we are at our core, our childhoods, our adolescence and our adulthood–our romantic lives, our careers, our parental habits–why we love each other instead of someone else. All of it was so deeply personal, but again–not personal as in sharing with a friend, though Julia was and is very friendly–personal like therapy, only without the “resolution” portion of the appointment.

I came home to do a half hour workout, a rather intense one actually, thinking it would allow me to vent a bit of my angst on the day’s activities–and it did that. But afterward…

…I’m exhausted.

So, we ate hot dogs and sweet potato fries for dinner and I began to lament that I didn’t get more interviewing done on the hangar space and I traded a few e-mails with some editors, a few friends and ignored most phone calls with the exception of my brother. I quaffed a couple of beers and I sat here thinking I was going to go mindless in front of the TV. Didn’t work out that way. The good news is, I’m awake now….

For another couple of minutes.

Warm, Wonderful Days of summer

It’s not quite enough to have the weekend when I’m working–but I can’t really call it work. I’m covering a food and wine festival known as A Taste of Camarillo today. This little burg of ours has, over the years, created one of the more successful fundraisers in the area and it attracts quality food and wine purveyors from up and down the state. I will grant you, though, that it’s not really a “taste of Camarillo.” It’s more like “A taste of great restaurants and wine and beer purveyors from up and down the state who’ve come to Camarillo.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

These morning posts are becoming habit, though I don’t imagine for long. It’s just that the evenings have been full with Sofie and Romi here. We keep pretty busy whether playing games or just talking until Peanut heads up to bed (somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 PM). Today, Peanut has an all day birthday party to attend–and by all day, I mean….ALL DAY. We drop her off at 10:00 AM and we don’t see her again until after 9:00 tonight. Whew….

Tomorrow is our first meeting with a social worker for the adoption process. Should be exciting, scary and fun all at once. Bottom line? Simple: we love being a family and we want to grow it. We have a small window of time and having another child is simply not possible. So–we adopt.

I find myself lamenting the Midsummer’s end. August approaches and so, then, does the fall. School actually starts later than normal this year–but I am so enjoying being a full-time writer and reporter that the allure of the classroom is waning for me–especially since last year’s Shakespeare class was a pinnacle experience. I’m sure that there will be other great classes–but those kids were special and I rather miss them.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the summer days–the coolish temperatures (sorry summer-sufferers) and the busy and diverse schedule of events. Sofie and Romi will head out to Las Vegas this week and that will culminate their time with us. We will see them just before they go home from Los Angeles as we’ll go down to their airport hotel and have dinner together to say good-bye. July has been a wealth of family and friends, fun activities, rewarding and refreshing work–and, of course, rat-trapping.

We’ve seen the little buggers out on the wall. Sofie and I saw a couple last night. I’ve set the traps, but they’re avoiding them which is bothersome. They’re either smart or lucky, not sure which. It’s a little un-nerving having rats out back. I’d rather just get rid of them. Scoop went at them last night, but he’s asleep now. I think he might be worn out on their trail. He worked them pretty hard last night–scared a couple out into the open.

Sigh.

Well-such is the balance of summer.

An Obligatory Friday Summer Post

Peanut’s summer workshop, day-camp thingy ends today. The past three weeks, she has been a marine biologist, a dancer, learned about how to handle money and made products (bookmarks) to sell to unwitting family and friends and made all manner of arts and crafts resulting in about a zillion God’s eyes laying about the house.

And she’s enjoyed every minute of it.

Friday it is and it’s deserved. Don’t know why I’m posting this morning as I’ll want to post tonight, too–and I may. But I have a story to write tonight and we’re going out to Ventura to visit friends. Coming home late, of course, and then we’ll see how much spark is left in the plugs.

Three rats have met their demise in my backyard this past week. I’ve set three more traps as well. One died by poison (yes, I can be particularly cruel when needs be), the other two by the good old fashioned Pennsylvania rat traps. Things’ll slice your hand off if you aren’t careful. Well, OK-not quite. But they do have some ummph. One little bugger, who wasn’t so little, was bent over backwards like a book-cover. I took a kind of perverse glee in it. No offense to the rodent-Americans among you, but I hate the little vermin and it is no end of frustration to me that my daughter has a pet one. Outside, I’m killing them in large numbers, inside, we’re pampering one with a home, water and regular feed. It’s like a Russian mafia thing. Kill ’em all–except that one.

Sigh.

Scoop the wonderdog is at my side. I walked him three miles yesterday which is fairly normal, but I’m sidelined a bit by a heel spur. Nasty thing–plantar fascitis, a very painful but hopefully temporary flare up causing me to limp badly and have trouble with just getting up the stairs. Don’t laugh. You’ll have it one day, too. The podiatrist who saw me and x-rayed the foot said, “See that thing right there,” pointing to the very obvious calcification on my heel bone. “You could hang a coat on that thing…” And then I paid him.

Sigh. Again.

Took Sue out for breakfast this morning. Saw a friend of ours who is a paramedic and his partner was a former student of mine. Of course, this was all the more awkward because said former student was beckoned to my home when my wife had a bad reaction to some prescription medication and some chardonnay. I’ll leave it at that. Actually-Sue will have me leave it at that. I’d tell you the whole thing if I knew I wouldn’t get slapped.

A happy Friday to all, gentles. Peace.

New Normal

I learned today that the NY Times, for whom I now officially work as a freelance writer does not allow me to make story pitches. The Times has always decided what the news is and now is no different. So, if they find a story worth covering in my area, I’ll get a contact and be told to go to it. Until then, I’m uh…well? Here I am.

I’m not all that upset, really. The feather in the cap for me was being asked to sign a contract. It felt good and they wouldn’t have me do it if they didn’t think they’d use me some day. Meantime, in typical freelancer fashion, I’m hunting quite aggressively. The more gigs-the better.

When summer started, some may recall, I couldn’t get into it. It was hard to unwind from the school year and I at one point despaired of unwinding at all. I have, of course, unwound now and feel good about the rhythm of the summer. It’s actually been a great summer, and though Peanut referred to last summer as “the best ever,” I bet if I ask her to compare, she’d agree that this summer is better still. Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Creative Arts Workshop, camping, lots of play-time, Sofie and Romi visiting, it’s really been a family-driven, memory building time.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping quite busy with assignments and Sue and I are preparing for the eventuality of adopting a second child which takes up more space in my heart and mind these days. This is partly because I’m having trouble imagining it and partly because it’s simply a huge, even astronomical leap.

Sue only works out of the house one day a week, but that one day is a brutal day and it’s getting more so. The nursing home for which she consults was purchased by a new company and contrary to the previous doofuses, these people know what they’re doing. The result is, they need more from Sue and they want her to focus more on those things. This requires energy that she may or may not have. The important thing she is coming to is that our new daughter will require 100 percent of us all the time–and she’ll be on point, as they say. I’ll be at work during the school year plus keeping the freelance career going and that means long days. Someone is going to have to be here to handle the inevitable needs of a kindergarten aged child who has attachment and relationship issues.

This, of course, has meant that Sue has had to consider giving up this client. She has other clients, but none of them require so much of her time and, of course, none of them pay her as much money to do so–same hourly, but not as many hours. There are many decisions ahead.

So, today is that kind of day-and it’s a blessing. Think about that–the dilemmas we face all circle around providing a child with a home and growing our family, giving more love and creating a “new normal” to coin the phrase.

Onward…

Disneyland in July

Sunday was a brilliant day. Up around 7 and out the door before 9 down to Disneyland with Sofie and Romi. It was an incredibly wonderful experience. The heat wave broke cleanly and nicely and it never got much above 85 degrees in Anaheim. There was a cool breeze, too. If you stood in the sun for a while, it was warm, but not bad–not intolerable and certainly not overwhelming.

The crowds were thin, too, for Disneyland. They picked up as the day went on but again, nothing intolerable. In fact, the most crowded experience we had was getting on Toy Story Mania in California Adventure at 9:30 at night. It was our last ride of the day and the wait was half an hour long. That was about it for big crowds. We walked on nearly everything except the Peter Pan ride and that always perplexes me. The ride is a kid’s ride that lasts about 2 minutes total. The wait Sunday was about half an hour. Half an hour–for two minutes. Quite the trade off. But, we love it, so we do it.

We did have a bit of a misadventure, however. Sofie and Romi expressed interest in the Finding Nemo submarines. This is the old Undersea Submarine Voyage that has been re-branded with the Pixar Finding Nemo mark. You climb aboard the submarine and you’re suddenly in the oceans around Australia with a scientific crew studying life. It’s here you encounter Nemo, Marlin, Dory and all the gang in a rather well done set of vignettes throughout caves on the “ocean floor.” It feels for all the world like you are underwater and in a way, you are. The boat never actually dives, but the cabin is indeed under the water and the windows allow you to see into the undersea world.

Well….

In the middle of the ride, our submarine suddenly stopped and the lights around us went out except for a couple of underwater lamps near the cave scene where we had stopped. Mind you, the submarine itself is an interesting vehicle. You board it from the roof through an open hatch, walk down the stairs and into a folding seat with a window in front of you. It’s not abundantly comfortable, but it’s air-conditioned and it serves the purpose. It is also quite cramped, quite small. When your mind is fixed on what’s happening in the scenes outside the boat, it’s fine. You don’t think about it. But when the boat stops, the lights are out and no one is talking in an official capacity, it’s un-nerving. Like being aboard an airplane in bad turbulence when the Captain’s only words are: “Flight attendants take your seats.”

Now, I’m bad in these situations. Very bad. I am prone to claustrophobic panic attacks and have been known to go whole hog into them, mostly when I was younger. But even now, on occasions such as this, I find it very hard to keep my cool and when it happened, and our “captain,” the guy who operates the boat, wasn’t saying anything, I found myself fidgety and a bit panicked. That feeling was growing when Romi hit her boiling point.

It turns out Romi too is prone to claustrophobia and panic and she was in the throes of a good one. She began crying and shaking rather uncontrollably and so I turned my attention on her. I went into “daddy” mode, of which I am capable on occasion, and it allowed me to quell my own panic. I didn’t have time to panic–I had to help Romi calm down. Sofie, meanwhile, was calm and cool and she was trying to help Romi to “breathe” and be still. That didn’t work so well.

I got the “captain’s” attention and explained to him that Romi was having a rough time. He hadn’t really been thinking about what was happening to those of us in the cabin as his vantage point was different. The “captain’s” or drivers of these subs stand up on a bench that is the same height as where we all sit. They rise up into the “bridge” and they have a window that sees above the waterline and everything in front of them. I assume that he was simply thinking–“we’re stopped. We’ll go in a minute. No big deal.”

When he saw what we were dealing with–Romi and some other folks becoming pretty uncomfortable, he explained the situation. A red light had illuminated where a green one was supposed to be and all the boats came to a stop. My guess is, he didn’t want to explain that too fully because doing so would reveal “behind the scenes” of the Disney Magic. I’m actually sympathetic to that. Disney wouldn’t be Disney if it said, “hey, come on in and see how we make the ghosts in the Haunted Mansions and the Pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean.” The suspension of disbelief is one of the joys of the place.

The “captain” popped the hatch nearest Romi and I and he allowed us to open it and look out. This gave me a great deal of comfort, but it didn’t calm Romi as much as I would have liked. Still, it had some small palliative effect which was good. We got back down in the cabin, pulled the hatch closed and sat for a few more minutes. The “captain” then kept us pretty well updated and we were underway about five minutes later.

All at the ride were very apologetic. They gave us a pass that we could use in our entire party allowing us front of the line status on whatever ride we chose (we used it on Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye) and they were kind. I have no complaints.

Romi got off the sub and pronounced, “I don’t like that ride so much anymore…” and away we went to watch Peanut in the Jedi Training course where she battled Darth Maul. My little Padawan.

The rest of the day was truly grand and we had a great time. I got a rare chance for some “me-time” as the girls went off on Star Tours and Space Mountain. These are two rides I no longer care to do partly because they tend to be pretty rough on my back and partly because in both, I get sick to my stomach. Doesn’t happen on any other rides–just those two. So, while they journeyed to outer space, I went back in time and rode the Disneyland Railroad around the entire park. I’m a train nut, so that was a good time. Struck up a couple of conversations, enjoyed the evening breeze that was settling in and just watched folks coming and going. Grand.

Dinner at Naples in Downtown Disney. Balloon-guy Jesse made a crown for Princess Peanut…

Of course, the Queen had to assert her authority as well…

We did go over to the new World of Color show, but we could not really get a good spot to see it. You need to obtain a fast pass that allows preferred seating and so we walked around it on our way to Toy Story’s Midway Mania. It’s a beautiful show indeed.

Everything was just beautiful and Disneyland was a smash success, even after being trapped aboard the Nautilus. What’s adventure without a little misadventure anyway?