Christmas in California
The kids came to Southern California to spend Christmas with the folks.
We played for three solid days and nights at the amusement parks of
Anaheim: Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Disney's California Adventure.
|Disneyland is still the king of California's parks. The
theme rides take you to far away places and times, eliciting both dreams
and memories. We got there at the crack of dawn (6:30 a.m. to be exact)
and had the park to ourselves for most of the morning. One of the first
stops we made was the Alice in Wonderland teapot ride. I remembered
pictures of Nikita Kruschev riding this attraction in the 60's, the same
man who promised that the Soviet Union would bury America. Who would have
thought that 40 years later Disney sweatshirts would be "Made in Russia,"
just another third-world country? Nearby were all the kiddy rides, where
Mike and Matt fly through the air on elephant wings.|
||Cherie, Matt, and Mike squint into the sun in Frontier Land and
wish that Dad had left his camera at home. |
|The kids break out of jail in Toon Town...
||...After which Mike promptly calls the cops to collect on the
|Maybe the best new ride there is the Indiana Jones
attraction. You walk what seems like miles through a jungle and cave and
catch a jeep that takes you on a thrilling non-stop adventure. Nope, don't
have a picture of it, you'll have to take our word. But in the same area,
Cherie and Mike climbed a jungle tree house ladder to get a better view of
||Matt is ready to roll on the Frontier Land roller
coaster. So is Cherie, sort of. (Actually, I almost broke her ribs
on this ride when I slammed my elbow into her on one of the turns.
"This," she swears, "will be my last roller coaster ride with
|Mike and Matt take the plunge down a waterfall on a water
ride. Yep, it was a cold day. And yep, they got wet. A hot cup of coffee
helped, but didn't do much for the saggy, baggy pant butts.
||An excited little girl and her father watch the Disney Christmas light
parade. It was here that I saw Cherie's true mettle. The crowds were lined
up four and five deep along the winding parade route through the park. But
not where we stood. It was exactly one deep there—Cherie saw to that. She
chased away anyone silly enough to try to block our view of the bands,
floats, and dancers, nearly coming to blows with another stubborn lady.
But we had knock-out views of the parade, and Cherie and the kids
exclaimed it was the best one they'd ever seen.|
|The first day in Anaheim we went to Knotts Berry Farm. It
was a rainy Friday, and the place was almost deserted. Great for jumping
on any ride, any time. Even I went on the monster wooden roller coaster,
the Ghost Rider. When we crested the first hill I figured out how it got
||Ghosts from the past haunt Knott's Berry Farm, whic has a western theme
through much of the attraction. An old steam engine pulls a circa-1880
passenger coach through the park, and you've got to watch out for train
robbers—particulary those who've come back to life from their sordid,
|We stayed at Disney's Grand Californian hotel,
conveniently located adjacent to both Disneyland and California Adventure.
It was a beautiful luxury hotel with a huge fireplace, an atrium with the
tallest indoor tree I've ever seen, and large, beautifully furnished
rooms. The view from our balcony included the pool area and the rides of
||Up closer, a view of the roller coaster and ferris wheel. The coaster
was awesome (Cherie and I didn't go on it—her ribs were too sore); it went
from 0 to 60 in a nano-second. We watched carloads of people brace
themselves at the beginning of the ride, ready to whosh into space at
incredible speed. I was thinking I certainly wasn't brave enough to do it,
but then I saw a 60 or 70-something woman calmly seated on one of the
cars. "Hey," I thought, "if she can do it so easily, certainly I can."
What incredible cool she had for someone about to be launched, I marveled.
Then it happened. The car shot out of the gate and the look of ageless
serenity turned to absolute terror in the blink of an eye. Cherie and I
doubled over in laughter at the instantaneous transformation of Jeckle to
|Another awesome ride we didn't go on—the Mount Grisley
water ride. This was as close as we got to getting wet. The kids said it
||Matt, left, and Mike compare their sizes to those of Tom Cruise's feet
and hands (at Mann's Chinese theater)...and find him lacking (maybe Nicole
did too). We spent an evening in Hollywood and Los Angeles, and couldn't
wait to get back to the cleanliness of San Diego. Hollywood Boulevard is
shabby; downtown L.A. at night looked like a cardboard shack third world
city. Mike's police scanner reported two shootings, a domestic fight, and
a hold-up within five minutes. But Matt was fascinated. He hadn't seen
anything so unseemly in all his tender years. |
||My favorites, aside from Marilyn Monroe's spiked
heel prints, were Bogey's and Arnold's impressions.
||Rounding out their visit here, the kids visited Wild Animal Park at
night, where the buildings and trees were decked out for the
|Matt tried his hand at whale watching from the shores of
Point Loma. (Nope, didn't see a spout.)
||On Christmas Eve we brought bundles of firewood to the beach and after
watching the sun set into the Pacific, lit a bonfire and exchanged gift by
the light of the fire.|
|Fortunately we had the fire to keep us warm, and a beach
bum (not pictured, that's actually Mike on the right) to keep us company
on Christmas Eve. It was a wonderful, unforgetable Christmas for the
family. The best that California has to offer.