Day 3 and Counting

Under the Sea with Ariel first, then Tiki Room with our dancing granddaughters. Such fun. It’s a Small World next, but with audio and video today. You’re welcome.

Day 3 started pretty much the same as Day 2, except I took a picture of the breakfast.

Daniel, Grace and Kathy braved Splash Mountain and barely got wet. Life isn’t always fair.

The Jungle Cruise was followed by the Story of the Lion King, an excellent live production. We sat outside on the steps at the beginning but had to move as it was too hot and loud for the girls. Highly recommend the show. The singer/dancers were outstanding.

We toured many jungles on both Africa and South America on The Jungle Ride and something really caught Frances and Vivian’s attention. Probably the bad jokes of the tour guide.

Unluckily (?) the girls needed a nap so the grandparents also retired, but to some shaded chaise lounges by the pool where, purely by coincidence, they bring margaritas directly to you chairs.

After a very good dinner at Naples in Downtown Disney we tried Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, which Grace loves. This was followed by more Tiki Room and It’s a Small World, before the Electric Parade and Fireworks.

Whew!! Another long day. Another wonderful day!!

Celebration – Day 2

What a great beginning. We are staying at the Hilton Convention Center, Anaheim, which is a short RideArt shuttle bus ride to Disneyland, (or slightly more expensive Uber ride, but still less than $10 including tip.)

Our hotel has a continental breakfast included for Hilton Honors members. It is an excellent selection of pastries, cereals and fresh fruit. Definitely going back tomorrow.

We made it to the Star Wars area of the park. The set was amazing. Spaceships , bazaars, bars were all “authentic” looking Star Wars. Sadly, there is only one ride with a very long wait time. However, it is certainly worth the walk through the incredible sets. Incidentally, my hat is from Camp Sangamon in Pittsfield Vermont. It is owned by friends of mine and both of our sons spent and loved several summers camping, learning and growing there.

With all the times I have visited Disney I cannot believe I have never ridden the car racers at Radiator Springs Racers. I have always loved the scenery the imagineers created for this attraction. It may be the most beautiful and impressive part of Disney, next to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, of course. Along with being so impressive, the ride was tremendous as well.

After what may have been the best hamburger I have ever had at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. It’s in Downtown Disney and worth the walk. While we are talking food, Tortilla Joe’s makes a mean Mexican dinner.

We spent some time visiting with Disney Characters, Goofy, Minnie and Mickie, Grace loves all the characters. We rode the little kids rides, Dumbo, the carousel, rocket ships, THEN went on the big people’s rides, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain. Well, lets just say it was a full day.

Speaking of full, our last ride was a repeat of Splash Mountain. I truly believe that Disney added a feature, perhaps just for repeat riders, where they have hidden buckets of water that are dumped on riders during one of the dark flume drops. NEVER have we all been so soaked as we were on that ride. Usually the riders in spot 1&2 are the victims. This time, everyone was soaked. I mean soaked. And we never laughed so hard either. It was a great time and is a great attraction.

The Celebration Continues – Day 1

In our family the celebration of a birthday requires far more than a single day. If you remember, we celebrated the one year anniversary of Vivian’s birth exactly 365 days after she was born. We then attempted another celebration with more family and friends a few days later, but that was delayed due to the typical baby maladies that occur from time to time.

Meanwhile we celebrated with the traditional Hawaiian custom of a Luau, in our case at Papa Mike’s in Maui. A few days after returning to the mainland we held the family and friend’s celebration at her house. I am so thankful I was able to make the cake. I really do enjoy baking, especially for the kids and grandkids.

Now, we are in the happiest place on earth, also one of the most tiring, to perhaps close this chapter on Vivian’s first year.

We dropped Rosie off at Lucky Dog sleep away camp. (That’s what we call it so she doesn’t get upset with us.) It used to be she would cry and try to jump back in the car, now she doesn’t even look at us, but runs over to her friends. No goodbye, not even a look over her shoulder. Aw well, they do grow up, don’t they?

Her favorite pals, Mookie and Tucker were overjoyed to see her. Everyone crowded around Rosie to say hello and welcome back. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Rosie is the white one.) Even the Lucky Dog’s cat had to come over to welcome Rosie back

We had an uneventful flight to Long Beach CA and a quick Uber ride to our hotel. Once we dropped off our luggage, no rest for the wicked weary grandparents, Mike, Kathy, Fran and I met our grandchildren, and their parents of course, at their hotel and entered the happiest place on earth.

Here is the obligatory Sleeping Beauty Castle Photo. Don’t worry, there will be more to come.

When you think of children and Disney what two rides come to mind first? Well, in our case its “A Small World” and the “Tiki Room.” Both are beautifully designed for little children, namely those who do not meet the height restrictions of some of the more daring rides. Also, they have music, lights and characters the girls love.

Being kind, (this is Day 1 after all) this is an exterior photo of It’s a Small World. No doubt interior video will follow over the next few days.

Just like her sister Grace, Vivian’s loves the Tiki Birds. I could probably post a very similar video from two years ago.

So the first Disney day ends, I cannot wait for the second to begin!!

The Last Afternoon

Upon returning to Mike’s house after our final trip up the mountain we crossed the street to look at the ocean.

The waves looked larger up the coast, but it was still a pretty view. Sea turtles climb through the surf to lay eggs along this stretch of beach. You can watch them, from a distance, when it’s low tide, and dawn or dusk, none of which was occurring when we were there.

Then we retired back to Mike’s “crows nest” or upper deck to sit, relax and enjoy the view. Maui has been hot all summer, including during our stay, but we thought the breeze might mitigate the heat. Oh well, can’t win them all.

I was able to write most of the Lavender Farm post before the wind drove us back to Mike’s guest house next to the pool. Oh, the sacrifices we make!

Of course, “Last Afternoon’s” aren’t complete without a final Shave Ice. The line was typically long (about 30 minutes) but well worth the wait.

My flavors of choice today were vanilla, blueberry and red raspberry, rather than my favorite blue raspberry. If nothing else, I am a devotee of variety.

While I am not happy about having to leave Maui, I am excited to pick Rosie up at The Lucky Dog, her sleep away camp while I am gone. Hopefully, although sad to leave all her friends, she will be excited when she sees me!

It’s Another Day… Day Tripper, Yeah

Another day, our last full day, and we took another day trip, again up the mountain, Mt. Haleakalā, that is. Back to Kula again, but this time a little higher on the mountain. We went to visit the Ali`i Kula Lavender farm.

The farm was created, as the story goes, accidentally, by Ali’i Chang, a Master Horticulturalist and Agriculture Artist after he retired from Alii Gardens in 1976 in Nahiku near Hana, HI.

He was given a lavender plant and being the consummate gardener, duly planted it before leaving for an extended trip around the world. Upon returning the lavender did what it does and thrived in the Kula, HI environment. The rest, as they say, is history.

We opted for the 30 minute walking tour, rather than the longer cart tour. In hindsight, this was a great choice. Our guide, Sean, was knowledgeable, informative and fun. She gave each participant clippings of the various lavenders to inspect, feel and smell.

The views of the valley between the older volcanic West Maui Mountains (Mauna Kahalawai) and the newer Haleakalā confirm the nickname “The Valley Isle.”

The farm is dotted with antiques, old farm equipment, windmills and several Buddha statues in homage to Mr. Ali’i Chang’s Buddhist faith.

Also prominent throughout the farm are Jackson or “three-horned” Chameleons. We did’t see any until another visitor walked up to our group with one on his hand.

Knowing Grace loves lizards, Fran asked the young man is we could take some pictures, and he happily obliged.

The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a short ride up the mountain, which, had a large swath of the valley not been burned in a huge grass fire earlier this summer, would have been a very pretty ride. The views from the road are spectacular. An added benefit is the temperature was nearly 15 degrees cooler, which was a welcome respite from the summer heat of the valley.

Billy Goat Gruff

Our visit included hand feeding some young does alfalfa. They behave and actually look a bit like dogs, which helped the granddaughters as they love dogs. It turns our goats also like little girls dresses, but were gently discouraged to stick with the alfalfa.

Talk about a varied day! I went from million year old lava fields this morning to the Surfing Goat Dairy this afternoon. This dairy has about 141 goats including 2 bucks. The rest are does (pronounced with a long O rather than like duhz.)

We then toured the milking station where the process was explained in some detail. It was interesting how they rotate the breeding times to keep a certain number of does on a rotating schedule producing milk all year. Each does receives a two month vacation each year to relax and recharge her body.

On the way to the tasting gazebo our guide pointed out the pasteurization tanks where the milk is heated using the flash method to 165 degrees for fifteen minutes before cooling to below 50 deg. This kills the bad bacteria and keeps the harmless lactic acid bacteria viable. If the milk is not kept cool the lactic acid bacteria will multiply and sour the milk.

In the tasting gazebo our guide offered us several sample of goat cheese. Two of the methods that goat cheese is preserved are in olive oil or wax. We sampled cheese preserved in wax and it definitely had the usual goat cheese consistency and sharp/bitterness. The addition of a little olive oil smoothed the flavor. It was delicious. We also tried a number of other cheeses and cheese spreads which were almost like yogurt. Anyone who fancies goat cheese should visit this award winning dairy. Well worth the relatively short drive up the mountain.

Lava Cakes, or Lava Fields

A few miles south of Kihei, on Maui, are the Lava Fields – Kings Trail. This amazing place was formed by two volcanic eruptions that sent hot lava slowly oozing down each side of Haleakala and the West Maui mountains.

There are very few places on earth where you can see lava flows that occurred over a million years ago.

It is a protected area and the access road is purposely left rough and rugged to control speed. Also, there are numerous limited or no sight areas, again demanding cautious driving.

Dottering Oldsters

As we walked down toward the surf a nice young man, probably in his 40’s warned us the wet rocks were slippery. What a nice thing to say to two obviously dottering oldsters. I should have responded with a “Why, thank you sonny.” But at my advanced age I didn’t think of it until just now.

With all that it is not a place to miss.