It’s been a couple months since it happened so it’s time. My Pepere has passed away. The stubborn man fought death for many years as he defied the odds. He proved a strong will and love can keep a heart beating. For as long as I knew him he was a kind and jolly man… though you didn’t want to make him mad. Then he’d turn into Donald Duck for a small period of time. However, he always forgave those he loved. He didn’t say that phrase all to often, but you felt it through the warmth he emanated. Whether it was playing cards, singing along to Irish songs, listening to his stories, watching a movie together, going out to eat, or simply talking about nothing; one would feel a smile spread across their face. Heck if he had a beard I’m sure he could have convinced everyone he was Santa Claus. After all he did have a habit of grabbing random presents for people around him. I’ll miss having these moments with him, but I can always treasure the times I had with him. He was there for my wedding, my graduation, my first house, most of my performances, holidays, and many more events. Supporting me in every interest I had by asking about it and being there when he could physically manage it. And even though I’m sad to say goodbye, I know he’s no longer in pain. See you later Pep, and though you don’t like to say it back all the time… I love you.
I do believe it’s been about a year since my last travel post. Let’s fix that shall we? For my wife’s and I’s one year anniversary we wanted to travel to somewhere new. Of course there was a slight factor which could alter our plans called COVID. So we had to find somewhere which wasn’t half shut down, didn’t mind visitors, and wasn’t on an off season. Out of the country wasn’t an option since we both forgot to acquire passports. No big deal, we wanted to visit all over the US. Both of us had charted most of the East coast which gave my wife an idea. She suggested we tried the West coast. Off we went searching as the clicking of keys filled the air. After a good amount of research we decided on LA. With a skeleton plan in place, we were ready for the week. To start was a plane ride… a six hour long travel time. We were prepared for the flight, but not for the turbulence. At one leg of the journey we hit a particularly bad part which sickened almost everyone on board. As soon as the jostling, bumping, and vibrating stopped there was a line for the bathroom. Thank goodness those were mostly sound proof. The only reason I made it through was the complimentary movies they had for us. Focus on the story… focus on the story. My chant seemed to have worked. Once we landed it was off to the car rental place… sorta. See where we had rented didn’t have a bus which went directly to it. Nor did it explain on our reservation. Through quick searching, asking a rude bus worker, and thinking we eventually found our bus. They kindly dropped us off for a shuttle to take us to our destination. Absolutely packed was the business with only two desk workers. Yet at home employees did our transaction… strange. The car given to us was an Elantra instead of the Sonic I reserved. The digital features proved useful but the body feature didn’t. See a Sonic has a relatively short hood, and almost all parking lots had a huge dip before going onto the roads. Now, I didn’t know about this part, but I’m cautious of this phenomenon everywhere. The scraping throughout the week was nerve wracking. Yet at the end of it all there was no damage. Though thinking about it now the low skirt of a Sonic could have been a problem. Guess I know why I’m not a mechanic. Anyways, we finally arrive at the hotel and thought we would try to walk around. But oh did our bodies feel heavy and our energy drained. However there was on part going strong… our stomachs. They complained with groaning and grumbling. Throwing a tantrum by rumbling. We had to give in. Away we went down the street to a bustling buffet. Strangely we were sat with others at a long table. It didn’t matter, both parties kept to themselves. Honestly, we assumed the busy atmosphere meant good food. This guess was proven wrong by the somewhat bland food. Yet there were some polished dishes among the rubble. The chip like food served with duck sauce hit a particularly good spot. Satisfied, the rest of our bodies demanded sleep and we obliged.
The next morning came as we adjusted to the time change. Surprisingly we woke up somewhat early. Off we went to reach our destination of Disneyland. After some trouble getting there, we arrived and parked on the Donald Duck level. From there the journey of a thousand steps began. A long stretch of road was the first trial before reaching the park. Once we arrived at the actual park we headed to the California Adventure Park. Oogie Boogie cackled and welcomed us over the intercom. As we entered, there was a realization I hadn’t made a concrete plan for the day. We didn’t think there would be a problem to get on all the rides. But soon the one hour wait times proved we wouldn’t make it to all of them. My brilliant wife figured out how to solve this dilemma. The park’s app showed us estimated wait times and which places did mobile ordering. It made the process much more efficient. Anyways, our first ride of the day became my wife’s favorite, the Incredicoaster. With Dash’s speed we darted off to catch Jack Jack. Many twists and turns dodged many of the baby’s powers. It was such a rush. The smell of churros filled the air and made our hunger awaken. We were off to Radiator Springs. My goodness it felt like we walked right into this world. Flo’s cafe was our first stop on our road trip. Parking ourselves on the gas pumps, my wife went to pickup the food. She returned with her burger and my lunch. It was a sweet buffalo chicken on top of French fries and drizzled with ranch. To cool any moments of blazing infernos, a Neapolitan shake was ordered with my meal. This was a real treat. The chicken had a full breasted meat which just enhanced the flavor. Whenever the heat was too much, I enjoyed my sweet treat. Filled up with gas we were ready to head to the races. Radiator Springs Racers was our next destination. This was my favorite ride in the California Adventure Park. The fun story line, unique features, awesome animatronics, and high speed race made this such a joy. Grabbing popcorn from the Cozy Cone, we smiled at the cute upside down cone container the snack came in. This we enjoyed while waiting in line for Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. We watched many dances until our time in the car. The ride works by getting into one of Luigi’s relatives. Other riders do the same before the song begins. Then the cars dance around each other in different formations as they twirl about. We bopped around to the beat during the whole routine. Now, I’ll fast forward through the rest of the day. There were many ride we went on throughout the day. While waiting to ride them, my wife diligently got us into the digital queue for Web Slingers. Our time to go into line arrived as we eagerly made our way. We were called upon to web sling and web sling we did. Defeating our enemies with a job well done we continued through our day. Our final ride of the day was Soarin’ Around the World. The many different sounds, sights, smells, and feelings made our travels around the globe very realistic. Plus we liked our introductory flight attendant who explained the ride. (It’s a celebrity we didn’t expect.) Such a grand finale to were given at the end we all cheered on the attraction. It was now time for our journey back to the hotel… oh yeah right. See at this point our legs were getting sore. You remember how I said there was a long stretch of road just to get into the park? Yeah that wasn’t as fun the second time around. We managed somehow to stumble back to the car and make our way to the hotel. Sleep overtook us in seconds after hitting the bed.
Morning came with just a bit of soreness. We had to pace ourselves at Disneyland Main Park. First was that walking milestone to reach the entrance. There we were greeted by Pumpkin versions of classic Disney characters of Mickey and the gang. Inside we walked over to Main Street. A couple of fun vehicles came by for us to snap a pic before heading our way straight to Fantasy Land. See our goal was to ride attractions exclusive to Disneyland. Most of these were located in that area. After a couple of them, we grabbed some of those alluring churros to eat. We shouldn’t have waited so long. Crisp, fluffy, and blasted with cinnamon sugar were approved by our tasted buds. We went through a couple of fun attractions before our stomach needed a bigger feast. We decided to settle in at the Red Rose Tavern for one thing… The Grey Stuff. And believe me it was delicious. We made our way to the Matterhorn and survived our encounter with the Abominable Snowman by just a hair. Yet that would prove not the most exciting ride of the day. On our journey through the park, we ended up glancing to our lefts. To our surprise, the Indiana Jones ride had no wait time. With a spring in our step, we booked it through the creepy queue to climb into the ride. It took five minutes instead of two hours to get on. Eagerly we buckled ourselves in for your expedition. Over lava, dodging snakes, out running boulders, and navigating rocky terrain made this my favorite ride in the main park. Of course afterwards we went through another adventure with Jack Sparrow. Once at world’s end, we trekked across the park to conquer Space Mountain. Upon strapping into our seats we were unsure how fast the ride would be. Soon enough we figured it out by the blurring lights and giddy laughs which escaped our mouths. This becoming my wife’s favorite ride at the main park. It had been much later in the day at this point. Food was necessary. Luckily right below the mountain was Pizza Planet. I decided to order a weird pizza slice. I can’t even remember what was on it. Though the good taste was still there. My wife’s great timing made it where we snuck a few rides in before arriving to the digitally queued Star Wars: Rise of Resistance. It was an immersive experience. One honestly feels like your taking part in a Star Wars adventure; narrowly escaping troopers and blowing stuff up. Our finale of the night was watching the Halloween light show. Oh do those villains know how to throw a party. They danced along the sides of buildings and set the sky ablaze as their voices rang out. Each taking the bandstand and setting the stage for their number. Even the Matterhorn couldn’t escape their grasp. With such an ending, we called it day and headed back.
Now, one must understand Disneyland is a lot of walking. So when we awoke Wednesday our legs were screaming. Yet, we couldn’t ignore the call of adventure. We were slow to arise out of bed. Our driving factor hunger was just the kick we need to start. This time we ordered from Farmer Boys which served farm to table food. Very delicious and just the way to start the day, especially when we rang the bell on our way out the door. Off we went to see the stars… and by that I meant the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As we set off, we noticed multiple celebrities earned more than one star. It wasn’t until much later would we figure it out. Each one has a symbol above the name. This indicates which field they earned the star in. Even more interesting was not all the celebrities were human. Some were cartoon characters like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, and Kermit the Frog. This was rather entertaining, extending this trend to the Chinese Theater where Donald Duck had placed his feathers and webbed feet in the cement. Yes, we were acting very much like tourists. So add the cherry on top we went to a selfie museum. We laughed hard at the wacky photos we took that day. It was around time for supper at this point. So we stopped into degree twenty five. I think this was supposed to be a trendy bar. I had a weird type of flavored chicken which was both spicy and sweet. This I barely managed the spice with a shake. After our meal we continued on the walk when we were stopped. Apparently a VIP was going to one of the businesses. This was one of the few times we saw the LAPD. They were setting up barricades and a crew rolled out a red carpet. Interesting to say the least. We passed to make it to the hotel where we promptly didn’t move for the rest of the day.
Our next journey came in the morning as we went to Warner Brothers’ Studios. Here we had a studio tour for us to partake in. We were eager to begin as we sat in a screening room. This gave the introductory video to the studio. Our next step was to board the tram to see the lot. First we were led to a section which was used to film the Music Man. I loved this musical and it really felt like you were there in River City, Iowa. The next step was at another melodious movie stop known as Hudson Street Orphanage. Those who recognized it will know it’s from Annie. It’s a hard knock life in this beat up looking building. Keeping upon the theme. we saw the rises where the cast of Rent sang the song with the same name. Coincidently, another famous scene was shot in this alley way. It involves a certain upside down kiss with a web crawler whose oh so friendly. Soon we were off to the closed sets. These were less exciting since those were… well closed. The only one we did glimpse into worth mentioning was Young Sheldon; a show my wife watches and enjoys. The guided part of the tour was over as we walked into the old Friends studio. We perked up at Perk Place before continuing. The next part of the tour had two parts. The first was the sets of Friends and the Big Bang Theory. Here my wife and I took varying pictures with funny photographers who encouraged our touristy ways. After this energizing phase, we moved to the more technical side of how movies are made. We got to design costumes and a Batmobile at first. Then came effects of varying kind. A hobbit table was set for us to see the importance of perspective. I became the size of a tall wizard while my wife was as small as a hobbit. Keeping the them of Lord of the Rings, motion capture technology was on display. Those who don’t know, it was this movie which made the technique more broadly used. We became Dobby in several stages. The first layer was simple dots which mirrored the joints in the body. Next the basic 3D model for the character before the final layer which brought the polished look. Our elfish double copied every move we made, including the YMCA. I couldn’t resist. The sound stage was next as they displayed how sound is layered in movies. They chose to show off the unique methods used in Gravity. In this picture, they used the actual radio coms astronauts communicate with. Another feature was the way they hear sound in space. See there’s no air which was necessary for those kind of waves to travel. Instead, one hears through their feet. A similar effect can be found while underwater. The education didn’t stop once we exited the stage. Next, we were able to practice doing sound sound dubbing and voice over. Here we did so in the Harry Potter scene where he celebrated his first Hogwarts Christmas. Strange to say the least when little Harry had a very deep, adult voice rise out of his tiny frame. This was the end of this particular part but another half awaited us. Another tram awaited us to be taken to a studio filled with superheroes and magic. Props, costumes, and activities from varying DC comics and Harry Potter movies were displayed inside. Now I’m not a fan of the cinematic DC universe, but it was cool to be in the Batcave. Inside were the Batmobile, Batwing, the Tumbler, Batarangs, utility belt, and Batsuit. My wife’s and I’s interests peaked when we found ourselves in the Harry Potter exhibit. There the flying car from the second book/movie stayed over head to greet us. We found out fortyish of the same car were made for the film Chamber of Secrets. It grabbed our attention so much we almost missed the signed copy of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice right by the entrance. As a fantasy writer, it was a delight to see a signature of someone I admire. Hopefully I can meet her one day as an established author and thank her for the extraordinary story which brought my wife and I together. Anyways we partook in many activities including interacting with creatures, making potions, wand choreography, pulling mandrakes, peeking at the Marauder’s Map, and sorted into our houses. The hat guessed my wife correct, but not mine. “Briefly” we perused the gift shop before heading out to Santa Monica. Once parked, we made our way onto the pier. Unfortunately, that day the amusement park was closed. They failed to post this online. Frustrated but not defeated, we enjoyed many of what the place had to offer. First was food at Pier Burger. My mouth enjoyed a burger which melted with flavor. Toasted bun and the best secret sauce found in LA. This last ingredient tasted like a mix of thousand island and ketchup. Such a tasty combo. To add to this amazing flavor was the drink paired with it called a Purple Cow. A special kind of grape soda mixed with vanilla ice cream made the unique float. Our next stop was the arcade. Here we played beaten up games, particularly enjoying air hockey with lots of laughter. Funnel cake allured us as we each ordered our own. Though this proved unwise due to the large size of our treats. Yet we tried to finish it best we could while watching the trapeze school practice. As they flipped in the air a sudden goal came to my head. I wanted to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean. So we stopped at our car to drop off a few items. A woman came over asking if we had seen anything. Apparently their car had been broken into due to a bag left on the seat. The thief only snatched a bag full of kid’s clothes. We expected with a police station on the pier they would have reacted quickly to the call. Yet even after we went towards the beach not a single cop could be found. The sun set so prettily on the horizon as the ocean glittered. It’s rays had an alluring warmth which filled my being. This had to be shared with my wife in the form of a kiss. Invigorated my playful side as a jogged to the water. I pulled the legs of my pants up to dip my feet in. The first wave barely touched me. This wasn’t satisfying enough. So I took a couple more steps in… which proved to be foolish. For the ocean had a sense of humor as it swelled higher and soaked me up to my knees. However I did laugh at the other joke it played by getting my wife’s feet wet. Again we chuckled in our little moments. It was a great ending to our day as we washed our feet before climbing into the car.
The next day was the hottest. Coincidentally, we were heading to the zoo this day. A great combo right? The drive there was pleasant with the most greenery we had seen all week. Nature was the them of the day. Now this zoo was massive… so I’ll only cover a few. Swimming seals greeted us at the door. Around and around they swam a dance of the whirlpool. Australian animals gave us a view of an interesting species of birds. Remember Zazu from The Lion King? See he has a cousin… a much larger one which you may think at first glance was an animatronic or puppet. But nope it was a real bird. The next section involved animals from Africa. A big blubbery pair of hippos were being quite active. They look so cute and playful as they swam about. Though one should know hippopotamuses were one of the most dangerous and deadly animals you can encounter in the wild. After all, they fight with crocodiles for territory. So convert the aw and tension for the reptiles towards these creatures too. We caught our breath near the giraffes with their young at the only food place on the half we were on. The rest were all closed for some reason; we figured COVID or short staffed. Either way it was foolish. The scorching sun beating down without readily available liquid was making our journey difficult. Nevertheless we made our way through the orangutan enclosure. There the family was climbing up the ropes and obstacle course like environment in the trees. The youngest was sliding down the tallest rope with the adults standing close by to ensure safety. This playful spirit was shared among some Asian monkeys who inspired the Monkey King. We observed the youngest bothering the others (what a shocker). Playfully tagging the others at first and chasing them around. It got too rough when it decided to hang by one of the adult’s tails. Then the biggest monkey (we assumed the alpha) came over and howled at the kid… who promptly stopped its mischief. We had the opportunity to see some animals I’ve never seen in person like a snow leopard, binturong, and harpy eagle. It was a good day, but exhausting. We tried to cool off with Dole pineapple ice cream and liquids, but proved ineffective. Thus we were forced to retire to the air conditioned hotel room. The last venture out into the LA streets was to grab food from Which Wich. If I were to describe the place, I’d say a much better version of Subway with a grill. It hit just the right spot as we devoured it back in our den.
All that was left was the journey home. A late plane made our original plan obsolete. For we originally had a layover in Chicago where we were planning to have the famous deep dish pizza. However our new layover was in Philly… blech. I’ve only flown a couple times, but I already have a least liked airport. Philadelphia doesn’t have enough seats for its passengers in the terminals and rude employees. We were lucky not to have a full flight and it being a slow day. It took longer to do so, but we were finally home. The vacation was fun and LA has tons of places to see and do. It felt so good to travel again. I highly suggest if you visit to try burgers here (especially Pier Burger). No matter where we went they just tasted better than anywhere else we have tried. Kind of like how pizza is the best in New York City. Don’t be shocked by homelessness in the California city. Tents line up some of the sidewalks. Generally, they leave people alone so it wasn’t that big of a deal. As with any city just be cautious when walking around at night and take your time while driving. I think if I was to go again, I’d do so with a bigger group and when more of the movie studio tours were open. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip. It truly was a blast and just writing about it put a smile on my face.
I have found myself in the past week fighting a forest. You might ask what would I be doing in a forest? Well… it may not be as it seems. My terrain is actually a yard which is mine. As of the past couple months I have purchased my first home with my wife. And the yard… well let’s just say it was left in pretty bad condition when we started. Slowly, the transformation has begun. Where once was all but undergrowth and vines is now something that looks maintained. No longer do snaking vines try to choke my deck. They have been cut down to their den to thrive in a different burrow. Hidden “treasures” of beer and other waste have been removed. Yet there is still so much to do. Once this taming has been done, I can focus on the fun part… Setting up and decorating the outside. So many plans I have in mind. The question is what ones to follow through with. That I’ll let you all know when I’ve gotten it a little more set. Sorry for the brief blog. but it has taken a lot out of me as of late. Hoping you’re taking good care and remember to trim your forests as well.
Some of you may have noticed that my posts are not the most polished of works. This is actually on purpose for a couple of reasons. One, I want my readers to experience my raw emotion when I write a post; nothing to hide my feelings as I weave my tapestry. Hear the clicking and clacking of the keyboard as it grows faster with anger or tentatively slower with an aching heart. If I get even a flicker of any kind of emotion from another person from my stories, I feel giddy and can’t help but smile. Second, it is to show others where a writer begins. Every great author had to start somewhere and many struggled at first to get that first book published. But it is also important to show that they were not all fantastic writers at first. They had to learn the skills of the trade before becoming the great story tellers they were meant to be. Which brings me to my third reason, humility. I want to look back on these posts and remind myself not to get too big for my britches. Honestly, I believe that I will find great success in my future and do not want to lose myself in that achievement. So here my first thoughts shall be scribbled down, you hear that future me? Do. not. forget. yourself. Money does not buy you happiness and everyone is equal.
Oh exciting news everyone. I have decided to go into self-publishing as I have ran into a sum of money as of late. Once that comes in I can start that process. Further postings will keep you up on my adventures on this new frontier.
Finally decided to make my Youtube channel that I have been debating on making for a while now. The first video has been posted and I hope you all enjoy it. The link to the video can be found below. Warning the sound quality is not as good as I would have hoped.