As far as Laura and I can remember this summer was the very first time that we took an extended (more than 2 or 3 days) family vacation without visiting our parents. With my parents living in Florida and Laura’s living in Colorado, by necessity our family vacation each year has been to one set of parents or another. We have no regrets about that. Time with our parents is important. But this vacation was special. After both Youth and Adult Conference, we spent an extra week in California with just the four of us.
We spent one full day at Knott’s Soak City in Palm Springs. You know how little I enjoy water, but I have to admit that even I enjoyed this relaxing day of going down water slides and floating on inner tubes. We also took time while in Palm Springs to go see the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 movie and rode the aerial tram to the top of the mountain.
From there we went to the Anaheim/Los Angeles area for 5 days. We spent way too much money, but the memories were, as the commercial says, priceless. Our first day was spent shopping at Downtown Disney followed by a full day at Universal Studios Hollywood. This was a great theme park. The best part was the 45-minute tour to the outdoor sets where some of the greatest movies of all time have been filmed. I can’t even begin to tell how amazing it was to see how Hollywood uses illusion to make movies that look like reality. They took us into one set where you thought you were in a downtown subway. Then, suddenly an earthquake hit. I have never experienced any earthquake, let alone a catastrophic quake. They made it happen why we were there. AMAZING! The tour ended by taking us to a scene that was used in the recent movie War of the Worlds. This was where they filmed the major airliner that crashed into a neighborhood. I have never seen anything that looked so real but in reality was simply a high-priced illusion.
We spent the next day driving up coastal route 1 and ending up at Huntington Beach. This was followed by a full day at Disneyland. Walt Disney called this wonderful park “The Happiest Place on Earth.” He may have just been right. Even as teenagers and adults, we were lost in the wonder of a fantasy world that makes everyone seem like a child again. I couldn’t help but spend the day with my mind going down nostalgia lane to when my kids were little. Joy loved The Little Mermaid. In fact, she still does. Joy also loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The first time we went with my parents to Disney World in Florida, Joy was quite young. I’ll never forget the look on her face when at the end of the day she saw Belle come outside the Magic Castle and dance and sing with the Beast. Watching my little Joy stand in amazement as she watched her animated heroine was unforgettable. For Jonathan, it was The Lion King. While Laura gave piano lessons, he and I would act out this cartoon movie over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Each time he got to be mighty Simba and I had to be the evil Scar.
Our final day we shopped at the Block in Orange and then caught a ballgame at Dodger’s Stadium. With my kids growing older and coming closer and closer to the day when they will both be out on their own, the memories of this vacation were worth more than gold!