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Tag Archives: Disneyland

The Cost of Food (or What I Do When I Get Home From Vacation)

A week of vacation.  A week of eating and paying for food prepared by others.  It always happens.  By the time I get home I don’t want to see the inside of a restaurant for a hell of a long time.

We spent a ridiculous amount of money on food on this trip.  It was the dinners that killed us.  For three days in a row, we left the theme park and ate at one of the Downtown Disneyland restaurants for a break from the crowds.  Yes, we could have stayed in the park and saved a lot of money compared to those restaurants, but there’s only so much amusement park food one can take.

For five people, three of whom were non-drinking minors, we spent over $150 every night on dinner.  I’m still baffled by that.  The first night we ate at a Mexican restaurant, the name of which I’ve forgotten.  My oldest asked for a recommendation between the carne asada and another plate.  The server suggested the carne asada.  I asked if I should have the carne asada or the chili relleno and tamale combo plate.  She replied that the carne asada was her absolute favorite on the menu.  So, we had two orders of carne asada at $20 a plate.  Let’s just say this … if you’re ever in Downtown Disneyland and go to the Mexican restaurant (just remembered the name – Tortilla Jo’s) don’t get the carne asada.  The kid and I have taken to ordering this at just about every Mexican restaurant we go to, and we go to a lot.  This was the worst I’ve ever had and it was easily twice as expensive as it should have been.

The next night we went to The Rainforest Cafe.  Another $150+ down the tubes.  But, I found my dream occupation.  I want to be one of the elephants at The Rainforest Cafe.

The final night we ate at Naples, an Italian restaurant that served very good pizza, but it’s pizza and we still spent over $150 for just five of us.

We got home Friday at 5:30.  I was tempted to get some fast food or Chinese or something to skip the need to cook, but I didn’t.  I haven’t stopped cooking since.  That night, it was white trash tacos.

Last night, it was well …

At Naples, we ordered a margherita pizza.  It was excellent.  They seemed to use fresh mozzarella on all of their pizzas.  I was inspired to try a margherita pizza at home again.  I made the mozzarella.  Made the sauce you’re supposed to use for a margherita.  Made the pizza and put basil from my garden on in the last minute or two of baking.  There’s something wrong with my mozzarella.  It just doesn’t melt the way cheese is supposed to on a pizza.  It stays kind of clumpy.  I’ll have to keep working on it.

Getting back to a more traditional kind of American pie…

This morning it was bacon and homemade chocolate pancakes.  For years, I used Krusteaz.  Than a few years ago, I decided I needed to make homemade pancakes and used the Better Homes recipe, but was never very thrilled with the outcome.  The pancakes were too thin.  So, I went in search of a fluffy pancake recipe.  Apparently, it’s all in use of buttermilk.

Here’s the recipe:

3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk with 2 TBSP of white vinegar)

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 TBSP sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 TBSP melted butter.

Combine the dry ingredients.  Mix the wet ingredients (milk, egg, and butter) and then whisk into the dry ingredients.  Do not whisk until smooth, the batter should be thick and lumpy.  Add in mini-chocolate chips.  How much?  That’s entirely up to you.

Find a buttered griddle and you’ve got some very good fluffy pancakes.


Tonight, we’ll be enjoying steak on the barbecue and baked macaroni and cheese.

Overcoming Fear

In my post 100 Things About Me there is a theme that lurks not so quietly throughout the piece.  It is fear and how fear has ruled my life — both motivating me and holding me back.

It’s interesting that the people around me don’t know this about me.  I asked my mother last night if she knew just how fearful I was as a child.  I asked her if she knew how afraid I was to fall asleep at night because of the witch outside my window, the man laying under my bed ready to snatch my hand if I hung it over the side of my bed, of the ogre in the closet, of the snakes at the end of the bed, of the intruder who would break in and kill us all, of the fire that would leave our house in ashes.  She didn’t have a clue.  I guess I hid my fears well.

In recent years, I’ve started to overcome what fears I can.  I held a snake last year.  Not once, but twice. I dove headfirst into a pool for the first time a few years ago and manage to do it every now and then ever since.

When I was a kid we went to Fairy Tale Town and Funderland frequently.  Funderland is a little amusement park in Land Park in Sacramento.  Little kid rides.  I don’t know how old I was, but one day I went with my siblings on the roller coaster there.  Yes, it achieves a maximum speed of 8 miles per hour and has a massive 8 foot drop.  And, they had to stop it early so I could get off.  Since that day, I never went on another roller coaster and have stayed away from all of those midway rides that spin you around in circles and go sideways and upside down.  When I was twelve or thirteen and my family went to Great America in Santa Clara County, I spent the day riding the old-fashioned cars, while everybody else played loosely with their lives.  I was fine with that.  Nobody ever died on the cars.  Fear is a powerful thing.

I’ve been to Disneyland four times in my life.  Never been on any of the roller coasters there.  Oh sure, it’s because the line is too long.  Right.  Right?

This week was my fifth trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.  I did not want to go.  We have a visitor from Illinois.  I wanted to take her to Yosemite.  Or Santa Cruz.  Or Lake Tahoe.  We went to Disneyland instead.  We spent two days at Disneyland and one day at California Adventure.  I thought it was going to be horrible.  It’s June.  School is out.  There were going to be masses of people there, the lines would be horrible.

An odd thing happened on my way to misery.  It wasn’t so bad.  The longest line I had to wait in was 45 minutes.  We only used fast passes twice.  One for the new ride in Cars Land.  And, one for Splash Mountain.

Yes, that’s me in the tie-dye shirt, having an incredible time.  But, first a few introductions.  The first person is the oldest Princely Midget.  The second is our visitor, screaming in terror.  The third is the younger Princely Midget, pretending to sleep through the fall.  And, then there’s me.

This week I overcame another fear.  By the end of the three days, I had ridden Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain, and the Matterhorn.  I lived to tell the tale and had a great time doing it.

No, I did not go on California Screamin’, although by the end of the third day, I was ready to do it.  Just didn’t get back to California Adventure.  And, no, I did not go on Tower of Terror.  I have to hold on to some fears, don’t I?  For instance, that night-time fear stays with me still.  Don’t know how to overcome that one.  There’s still a witch outside the window and a man under the bed.

An Unexpected Moment

For several years, my cousin (actually, she’s something like a second cousin, twice removed, or something like that — I’ll never claim to understand the degrees of kinship) has talked about sending her daughter out for a visit.  Never happened, until now.  She flew out last Thursday and we began a California jaunt — to points along the coast and then on to Disneyland.

I dreaded the idea of Disneyland.  I offered her Yosemite, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe before being asked if I had inquired about her interested in the Happiest Place on Earth.  In a word … UGH!!!!!!!!!! … really?  Disneyland?  Haven’t I done my penance with respect to this place?  Two trips with our kids.  Must I participate in a third?

Well, actually, it turned out much better than expected, after Twelfth cousin, seventy times removed expressed her strong interest in Disneyland.  But, that’s a story for a different post in the next few days.

Today’s post is about Oak and Gorski.  Imagine if you will, the end of a second day at Disneyland/California Adventure.  Feet are rioting.  Groin is beyond rioting.  I had walked more than I wanted to, but had a great time doing it.  After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disneyland, the rest of the family ducked into a store to shop, while I made my way slowly back towards the amusement parks.

First, there was the drummer.  Well, talented, but limited because of his dependence on recorded music to do his thing.  Elsewhere, there was a saxophone player.  I like me some sax, but not that night.

What caught my attention was these two guys, standing and signing.

A guitar player.

A cello player!  Let me repeat that   !!!!

These two guys sang such incredible harmonies, great lyrics, the sound of the cello.  After the hustle and bustle of two days in Disneyland and California Adventure, the lines, the crowds, the exhaustion of walking for two days straight, these two guys — Ken Oak and Ed Gorski — provide the perfect antidote.  If I could have, I would have sat and listened until they packed their instruments up and walked away.  Just incredible music.

I will be forever thankful to them for being where they were when they were.

And, yes, I’ve now added the cello to the list of instruments I must try at some point.  Such a beautiful, soulful sound.

Vacation Thoughts

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