Every year Cal plays either USC or UCLA in Los Angeles. Ever since I've been a Cal fan, I've almost always made this trip. Plus, because it was was so much fun last year, I included plans to visit Disneyland the next day. In addition, my best friend Andy and his wife Michelle wanted to come along to the park (he had a free passport). As if that wasn't enough, Cindy announced plans to coordinate a group gathering at the Mary Poppins Practically Perfect Tea on that Sunday. Still, there's more to this trip then a visit to Disneyland. I also wanted to meet an on-line friend in person for the first time.
Liz, my on-line friend whom I had never met, and I started exchanging e-mail and instant messages in August and we became friends. At the beginning of October, she asked if I was interested in joining her and her friends at the Harp Inn (a pub) in Costa Mesa. I said "yes"; besides the appeal of meeting someone for the first time, I had read her stories about experiences at the Harp, and wanted to visit this place. So, I was really looking forward to this trip. But first, something happened before I left.
Back when I was a student at Cal, I was a member of Rally Committee, a club of spirited Cal students. Since I live in Berkeley, I've managed to keep in contact with them. On Thursday I was driving home near campus and saw a group of students gathered with packed bags in a parking lot; I figured "oh...they must be students leaving early for the UCla game"
After I drove by, I noticed one of them in my rear-view mirror madly waving her hands back and forth. I thought "Hey is that Maya? (who was last year's Chair of Rally Comm)"
I found a parking spot and walked over to say "hello"; it was Maya, and this was the first group of Rally Comm members who were going to LA. I ended up chatting with some folks for a while, and then I noticed that it was near sunset.
During the last week of October, the sun, as viewed from the base of the Campanile (or Sather Tower), sets in the Golden Gate (behind the bridge); So I decided to walk to the Campanile and watch the sunset. It actually set just a little to the north of the gate that day but it was the first decent sunset we had that week (previous ones had been fogged out).
As I was watching the sunset, I decided to pull out the one cigar I had in my backpack; I had bought it as a "victory cigar" for the Cal-USC game last month. Since Cal had not won that game, and not won since then, it had remained unsmoked. Oh well, I lit up and started to smoke. It was pleasant to sit on the steps to the campanile, watch the sunset, and smoke my cigar...though I couldn't finish the cigar.
Instead of tossing it though, I went to a statue on campus of Coach Lynn O "Pappy" Waldorf, who had coached the Bears in the 40s and 50s. (The statue is a life size bronze of "Pappy".) During the dedication of the statue, several of his players had said that one thing missing was a cigar. It so happens that the index and middle finger on Pappy's left hand are just far apart enough to slide a cigar between them. so, I gave pappy my unfinished cigar as an offering.
Friday was uneventful. I ended up IMing with Liz in preparation to meet her at the Harp the next next evening. We had to cut our conversation short, because Liz wanted to wake up in time to videotape In Concert, which was featuring U2. In the Bay Area, In Concert airs Saturday night/Sunday morning at 1 AM, so I programmed my VCR to get it too.
On Saturday morning, I awoke to my alarm, and the first thing I heard consciously was the KFOG DJ announcing "and now some U2 for everyone who's waking up". I then heard the familiar opening strains of "Where the Streets have no Name", which is probably my favorite U2 song. I couldn't help but think that somehow this was a good omen.
Because of work, and the desire to save myself from spending an extra day for the rental car, I decided to fly on Southwest Airlines from Oakland to Burbank on Saturday morning instead of Friday night. My best friend Andy and his wife Michelle made the same flight arrangements that I had. To top that, our friend Cathy was also on our flight down.
Cathy (who is attending all of the Cal football games this year) and I drove to the airport together. Cathy was a bit miffed that I had dragged her out of bed early to get a low boarding number. To add insult to injury, when we got in line, she was ahead of me, but my gate agent processed me faster. I ended up with number 30 (the last of the first boarding group) and she ended up with 31. I then got to be frustrated, for when I spotted Andy and Michelle there (which meant it wouldn't have mattered, they could have saved seats for us) I soon realized I had forgotten to pack some photos which I was supposed to bring along with me. Oh well, soon, more Cal fans showed up -- Dan Rosler and a few other friends. He even brought bagels! I felt much better after that.
While waiting for our plane to arrive, we saw California One, which is a Southwest 737 decorated as the California flag. We would have loved ot of that was our aircraft, but no such luck. Soon our plane arrived, and it was time to board. I was hoping that we'd all end up in a lovely lounge area. Because Burbank uses outdoor stairways, I said "Let's go for one of the back lounges." Unfortunately, our plane was a 737-500, which doesn't have rear lounges. Dan ended up grabbing one of the middle lounges, but there wasn't any room for us. We ended up sitting in the back anyway.
Other than some winds during takeoff and landing, the flight down was quite uneventful. When we flew over the Santa Cruz Mountains, I waved to my friends Kim, Lillian, and Kelley who live in Boulder Creek (somehow I doubt they noticed). The view was pretty nice. Cathy and I sat on the left hand side of the plane and had a great view of the San Andreas Fault and points east. Soon we landed and we quickly got to the rental car counter. Everything went nice and smooth until we got to the car itself...just like last year, I ended up with a red car. Oh well, we won last year, so maybe this was good.
Getting to the Rose Bowl from Burbank Airport was no trouble at all. I was worried that with the game starting at 12:30, we might not enough time to participate in the pre-game activities. Boy was I wrong! We were some of the first folks to show up at the tailgate. The Alumni Association had a nice Mexican Buffet for lunch. This was perfect for me because I had not eaten breakfast, and expecting to have a light dinner. I had a chance to talk with a few alumni at the tailgate, and had a good time. The best part though was when our friend (and current USC Law student) Witt Ashbrook showed up. Witt brought along some flyers which he had posted on the USC campus announcing the arrival of The Great Guru OSKI who would be bringing his miraculous special message of enduring hope you personally at the Rose Bowl for just $6 (Oski is Cal's mascot, and with a coupon from Vons Supermarkets, you could attend the game for $6). He also included a list of the Esoteric Teachings of the great guru Oski:
After that, well, came the game. The highlight of the game was watching the Cal Band perform. In fact, the game itself was pretty dull, and watching Cal lose just seemed a way to pass the afternoon. After the game we were lucky enough to run into Witt again, and then our friend Tim Castro. We chatted a bit, and then made our way to Dori and Larry's home in Northridge.
Cathy needed to get some money from the back, so we stopped at a Vons supermarket in Northridge which is actually located near Dori and Larry's original apartment. Funny but we had some problems at the back. First, the ATM didn't spit out any money or a receipt. Cathy wanted to make sure that she wasn't charged, so she stood in the teller's line. The teller had other problems to deal with. First, some woman wanted to cash a check, but the teller said that she needed an account. The woman said that she had some special type of account (I think it was a credit card account) and decided to call customer service. The next customer was a kid who wanted to close out his account. It turns out that he was unable to do this because he was overdrawn (doh!). Finally Cathy got to the teller, who confirmed that Cathy was not charged. Cathy asked to withdraw the cash by hand anyway, and the teller complied.
By stopping at the bank, I made sure that Dori and Larry would get back to Northridge before us...this was important because I had forgotten to bring my copy of their house key along with me (I had left it next to the photos I was supposed to bring). Michelle was quite pleased when we finally got there. Unfortunately, she was not feeling well.
Normally I too would have stayed at Dori and Larry's, but Cathy had pointed out an odd coincidence. During our last two trips to LA, we had experienced earthquakes. However, when each of us visited by ourselves, there was no earthquake. Cathy was asking me if we should risk sleeping in the same house again. Fortunately for her I had my plans to go to the Harp. Because I wanted to be at the park early the next morning, I had decided to spend the night at the Travelodge at the Park across from Disneyland. I figured I rather spend two hours sleeping than driving (I was in enough sleep debt from teaching all week as it was). That I helped avoid an earthquake was just a bonus. Just before I left, Dori gave me an extra key and said "Don't lose this!"
The drive to the hotel was o.k...I got a nice view of the sun setting behind the LA skyline. Traffic was a bit heavy, so after checking it at the hotel and quickly freshening up, I drove to the Harp. Liz's directions were perfect, so I guess the scanned photo of me with Goofy (thanks Judi) which I had e-mailed her, must not have put her off. I walked in and the first table I looked at was the one closest to the stage; sitting at it were two attractive blondes who I figured to be Liz and her friend Emerald (who, if you read Liz's stories is the "Breaker of hearts and revealer of tattoos". I walked up and said "Hello. Liz?" Liz said "Sean?" After we finished the introductions, Emerald let me sit opposite Liz so we could chat (or so they could whisper in each others ears ;)
Soon, a waitress came by, and I ordered Guiness (which I knew was going to be good) and Potato Soup (which Liz had recommended in a previous IM session). I can't tell you what else is on the Harp's menu, because I didn't look at it. As I said before, just having Guiness on tap scores points in my book. The potato soup was also creamy and tasty (though in a different way then Guinness is) and I thanked Liz for recommending it. I didn't scope out the entire pub, but it has a full bar, 4 rows of about 5 tables each (one row has high tables) in the main area, an outdoor area with seating, and a side area which I didn't look at.
Enough about the place itself. After the initial introductions (in which I got to see, albeit once and only briefly, Emerald's tattoo) it was time for me to give Liz a belated birthday present (it was a few weeks earlier). The present had three parts to it. First, a Mickey's Hidden Treasure:
An explanation. Back in September, the AMS Character Warehouse sale made a stop in the Bay Area, and the members of ba-add (the Bay Area/Northern California alt.disney.disneyland readers) scheduled a meet to browse the sale. Two of the items for sale were "Minnie's" and "Mickey's Hidden Treasures" which have a bar of scented soap and a shower mitt. The Minnie shower mitt wad her dressed up as princess and had bubble-gum scented soap while Mickey was dressed up as a pirate and had tangerine scented soap. When Judi saw the pirate Mickey she asked, "could you imagine a boatload of a.d.ders with these?" I said "yes". Both of us bought one for ourselves and a few extras (I also bought a Minnie, since Judi said "Imagine her at the Wench Auction").
But back to the story. I decided to give this to Liz, because I wanted to include a real hidden treasure in the box -- the second part of the gift. I had taped a broadcast of the Sarajevo U2 PopMart concert -- which KFOG had broadcast in September (believe it or not, using my VCR, since I couldn't tape it by hand). For some reason, this concert was not aired in LA. Since Liz is a big U2 fan, I copied my recording onto a couple of cassette tapes which I then hid inside the Mickey's Hidden Treasure Box.
The third part of the gift was a cigar (which, I also knew Liz would enjoy). The cigar was a Napa Nicaraguan, which the tobacconist suggested would go well with Guiness. I ended up buying three -- one for Liz, one for myself, and one for whoever else would be there. It turns out that Emerald smokes cigarettes, so the third cigar waited for the next guest. After I finished eating my soup, Liz suggested that we light our stogies so that they would be finished before the band finished. Both of us were pleased with cigars. They had a very nice flavor that was not overpowering for our guiness. I have since thanked the tobacconist who suggested these.
While we were smoking, we noticed some other goings on. (We were at a great table to do this; it was right next to the dance floor, the stage, and close to the loo. Liz says it's the best table in the house, and I agree.) First, a bachelorette party showed up. The sucker--I mean bride to be, was wearing her veil and a white tee shirt with gummi rings hanging on it. The tee shirt had folks' signatures along with advice for the bride, who was getting married in a week. The most interesting part of the evening was when one man who was signing some advice decided to eat one of the gummi rings, without using his hands. He chose the gummi ring over her left breast. She did not object. By the end of the evening, the veil was hanging on the bar, the tee shirt was devoid of gummis, and the tee shirt was filled with advice and signatures.
Another thing we noticed was a group of guys who were all dressed in Dockers clothing and sporting similar haircuts. I had learned that one of the traditions of ladies nights at the Harp was to give nicknames to people (for example, if you read some of Liz's, you'll get to read about Blarney, Swammi, and Mustang Sally). Anyway, These guys earned the nickname The Clones. One clone in particular attracted our attention: this guy who, when dancing, would constantly crack an imaginary whip. Late into the evening we were talking about the guy and I said "You mean 'whip-it boy' over there." But more about him later.
As we were enjoying our cigars, members of The Fenians (the band for the night), started to show up. Terry, the band's leader, came to our table and chatted a little bit. We found out that there was going to be a special Hallowe'en party since it would celebrate the Fenians one year anniversary of performing at the Harp. Liz and Emerald were quite happy about that because they had cool ideas for what to dress as for Hallowe'en: Liz said she would be a banshee and Emerald would be the Devil in a Blue Dress (which prompted me to comment that Emerald has sort of a devilish look to her face). I can't wait to see photos and find out how their costumes worked out.
Liz had also prepared me for the band's performance, by informing me that a couple of songs required audience participation. For example, during the song "Finnegan's Wake", when the line "and she called for her lunch" is sung, everyone yells out "Lunch!" and later, when a line about ducking a flying wiskey bottle is sung, everyone tosses paper balls at the band (as Liz was telling me this, she gathered several napkins, made a paper ball, and wrote "Hi Fenians" on it). Just before the band was ready to perform, Emerald's friend Ryan showed up. Ryan commented on Liz and I smoking our stogies, and he mentioned that he doesn't smoke, so the extra cigar wasn't for hime either. We didn't get that much time to chat, because the Fenians launched into their first set. They rocked! Their first two sets were Irish music some of which is featured on their soundclips page and their remaining sets were rock-and-roll covers (Liz requested some U2 by holding up a napkin with "U2" written on it. Terry said "We'll get to it Liz.").
During the second set, they played "Seven Drunken Nights" in which the men in the audience get to shout "Hey Wife!" and the women scream back "What do you want you drunken shite?" The band then judges which group yelled the loudest. Well, since I hadn't yelled that much during the game, I had no problem yelling, and for some reason, neither did the rest of the men in the audience. On the otherhand, it seemed like Liz and Emerald were the only women interested in yelling back. As we got further into the song, more women started to participate (I'd have thought that the bride would have been working on getting some practice here, but I guess not). By the last verse, the women were as loud as the men. Oh well, the men emerged victorious this time, who knows what will happen next time. During other songs, people hit the dance floor. Actually the first couple to hit floor started to dance almost as a song was ending, prompting Terry to say "And the lesson here is to start dancing at the beginning of the song."
I didn't do a lot of dancing -- part of it is because if there was a song that I would equate to me on the dance floor, it would be Frank Zappa's "Dancing Fool", and the other part was because I was feeling the effects of not getting all that much sleep during the week. (Oh well, for the latter problem, I'm going to have try this again when I haven't been teaching all week, and for the former, the next set of UC Ballroom Dancers sessions starts in January) This isn't to say that I didn't dance...because i did. The first time was in the middle of "Drunken Sailor" I couldn't help it...my feet kept tapping and said jump out onto the dance floor and join Liz, Emerald, and Ryan. Another time was when "Mustang Sally" joined us and motioned us to the dance floor. That was fun too, and during "Brick House" she even said that she liked one of my dance moves (well gawrshh). I was a little less nervous on the dance floor after that. But there was more to the night then dancing.
At the table next to ours, we had another "revealer of tattoos. This time it was a guy who had several tattoos on his arm. Emerald started chatting with him, and he ended up revealing a long tattoo that was on his right side. (It was either a snake or a dragon.) I couldn't help but laugh. Of course this turned into an it's a small world story for Emerald, since she and this guy had a mutual acquaintance.
Before the night was over, however, Ryan wanted to see the "breaker of hearts" side of Emerald. He tried to convince Emerald to talk to "whip-it boy". I added my encouragement too and then Liz as well with our argument being that this guy needed to be put in his place. Emerald would have no part of it. Oh well.
As the evening wound down, the Fenians finally complied with Liz's request to play some U2 -- they launched into "Pride (In the name of Love)" and we all hit the dance floor. Appropriately enough it was their final song for the evening. We kinda joked that with the time change, couldn't the bar stay open for one more hour. Actually, I was ready to get some sleep. We said goodbye, and since nobody had smoked it, I let Liz keep the third cigar. She said that she'd smoke it on Halloween. I wish I could be there, but that's how things go. I will return to The Harp.
As I drove back to Anaheim, I had this thoughts. It seems that Orange County is my place to meet net-friends face-to-face for the first time. In the past I had met Judi Lane and Karen O'Mara, both of whom are good friends. Now I've met Liz, and I hope this trend of good friendship continues. That was a nice thought to end the day with. When I got back to the hotel room, it was just before 2 AM. When 2 AM arrived, I turned my clock and watch back to 1 AM to celebrate the end of Daylight savings time.
I awoke at 7 AM (and I was grateful for the extra hour of sleep; it enabled me to get the most sleep I had gotten all week), took a shower and got dressed. Since I was joining a few other a.d.ders at the Practically Perfect Tea at 3 PM, I decided to dress up for the day. Rather than wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt, I put on a long sleeved shirt, slacks, suspenders, and a mickey mouse tie.
Just before 8, I hopped in my car and drove from the Travelodge at the park (on Katella across from the Simba lot) over to the park. After the line of cars stood still for about 5 or 10 minutes, I was through the gates and directed to a spot in Donald (while I have parked in Bambi twice before, this was my first time in Donald).
The lines of people did not seem that long, and I stood in front of the gate just to the left of the center double gate so I could get some good photos of the Disneyland band marching in before the gates opened. Unfortunately, the band didn't show up. The gates opened, and most folks calmly walked into Main Street USA. I was pleasantly surprised to hear an announcement encouraging guests to visit The Walt Disney Story featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Another pleasant surprise was the pumpkins set about Town Square. Very nice. You'd almost think that they were going to have a Hallowe'en event.
I knew that a couple of other a.d.ders from the Bay Area (Mike Louie and Grace) were going to be in the park and were going to try for the Fantasmic Buffet. I walked up to the rope and looked for them, but didn't see them. So, I decided to get something for breakfast. After deciding that I wasn't hungry enough to eat at Carnation, I entered the Blue Ribbon Bakery, and much to my surprise, I bumped into Judi Lane. Neither of us were that hungry, so we split a "very sticky sticky bun" which went well with my coffee and orange juice (almost a Berkeley Breakfast of Champions, which would have included a bagel instead of a sticky bun).
Since Judi was on her own, and I wasn't meeting anyone until the noon meet, we hung out and hit a few rides. It had been a while since I had been on any of the Fantasyland rides, so that was our first stop. The lines were still short, and we entered the queue for Peter Pan's Flight after having to negotiate around some parked strollers. Soon we noticed a problem -- the line wasn't moving and people were not exiting the ride. After a few minutes, things started up again, and we got up to the covered are of the queue when all of sudden the announcement was made that Peter Pan's flight was having problems and that they were closing down for at least 15 minutes. Drat!
Well, the lines for Snow White's Scary (but incomplete) Adventures and Pinocchio's Daring Journey were quite short. There were even a few "gee, I never noticed that befores" for both of us. Judi never new about the apple in front of Snow White until I placed my hand over it and she heard the evil queen's cackle. Then on Pinocchio, I had never noticed that at the end, Pinocchio is STILL a wooden puppet instead of a real boy.
After a caboose ride on Casey Jr., our next stop was the Mad Tea Party. We decided that we both wanted to get our cup to spin as fast as possible. We even debated which direction would be the most effective way to spin your cup (clockwise or counter-clockwise). When I ride it by myself, I usually pull the wheel clockwise. When we entered the loading area, we watched the various cups to see which one was spinning fastest while trying to account for the number of people spinning. It looked like one of turquoise ones was spinning the fastest, so we tried it out. We got it to spin well, but not really fast. More research was needed.
Our next stop was Sleeping Beauty's Castle. We took a close look at the newly added frescoes in the foyer. Both are nice enhancements to the castle foyer. One depicts the prince battling Maleficent, and the other shows the prince reviving Aurora with a kiss. Since I wanted to catch the 11 AM classic princess story telling, we had enough time to wander through the walkthrough. The walkthrough has one of my favorite spots in the park...the "Once Upon a Dream" room with the flickering chandelier. I wonder how many couples have considered stopping in that room and dancing to "Once Upon a Dream" just as Briar Rose is dancing with the animals.
As regular readers of my trip reports know, the classic princess storytelling is one of my favorite features at DL. We decided to enter the toyshop from the moat side rather than the courtyard (since the moat entrance is the end of the shop where they do the story telling). After we left the walkthrough, we saw Beast standing in the passageway leading from the courtyard to the gardens. Beast was standing perfectly still as if he was a statue (though he had one of his paws on the wall) I had heard about characters doing this before, but I had never seen it happen before. He stood there for a few minutes until some kids came up to him for autographs.
We arrived early enough to get some good seats for the storytelling. This time we didn't get Justin as the assistant storyteller, so I was a little disappointed, but the CM still did a pretty good job. We got to hear Belle tell her own story. I had heard this story before, yet it was told a little differently. The kids were still asked to participate, and they really got into saying what food was at the late night feast the Belle went through. Her assistant did a great job playing all of the other parts. One thing I've noticed is that the past few times each of the princesses has told her own story, rather than just any classic fairy tale (I had heard Little Red Riding Hood and The Frog Prince during my first couple of visits). I'll have to ask if this is how it will be from now on.
Since I was gussied up for the tea, I wanted to get a photo with Mickey. So our next stop was Toon Town. I've really grown to appreciate Toon Town, though I wish that the effort that had gone into Mickey's house and Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin had been made on Minnie's House and Donald's boat. Anyway, seeing Mickey was a treat. We were the last folks in a group to see Sorcerer Mickey. This meant that we got to take several photos. Both Judi and I had individual photos which were taken with our own cameras, and then we had a photo of both of us taken with my camera and the professional camera. Judi kept the professional slip. For some reason I thought that the shot would be a good one. (You be the judge. Click the appropriate link for Mickey and me, Mickey and Judi, or Mickey with both Judi and me)
After a quick ride on Gadget's Go Coaster, we made our way towards the hub. It was near the time for the meet, but as we were passing by the Mad Tea Party, we decided we still had time to continue our quest to find the fastest tea cup. This time we saw one cup with a father and son. The father was doing all of the spinning and got the cup going very fast. We made a bee-line for that cup, which was blue with spades on the side. I think we found the best cup, because things were still spinning after the ride stopped. (Oh yeah, we spun the wheel counter-clockwise too.)
Next it was off to the hub, where a few a.d.ders had gathered for the noon meet. My best friend Andy and his wife Michelle were supposed to meet me there as well, but they didn't show up. A quick check of my voice mail revealed that neither was feeling well, so they had decided not to come into the park (Andy must have left the message while I was in one of the ride buildings). This meant that we had two extra spots for the Practically Perfect Tea, which ended up going to Kaz and Judi.
After some conversation, everyone went to the Plaza Inn for lunch, save Mike and Grace, who had reservations at the Blue Bayou, and Doobie and Rebekah, who wanted go buy the new Disney Trivia game. Some of us who were going to the tea decided to not eat and save tables for everyone else. Well, actually, I ended up getting a Mickey pretzel from Coke Corner when Adrienne Krock and I made a run to get drinks for the other people holding tables. The CM at Coke Corner overfilled one of the drinks I had to carry back, and so I had to walk very carefully to avoid spilling any Coke on my shirt and pants. I was successful.
While we were eating, Doobie and Rebekah returned with the trivia game (which they had bought at the Gallery). The game looks pretty cool. As the Hercules Victory Parade was getting ready to start, they went over to Rods to play the game. The rest of us want to ride Pirates and also watch the parade. First a high school band marched by. Then Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto rode by and told us to visit toon town. Then finally the HVP came by. Adrienne started dancing around and singing along with the muses, while most everyone else chatted. We all cheered when we saw that the Pain and Panic Roller Coaster was working perfectly. After the parade finished passing, we all went to Pirates of the Caribbean.
Earlier I had mentioned Pirate Mickey and Wench (ok, Princess) Minnie shower mitts. Judi and I remembered to bring ours and some extras to the park, and while we were in the queue, we handed put our extras. Our group managed to take over an entire boat, which was good so that we wouldn't disrupt any other guests. Well, not quite. We waved at the couples along the river dining at the Blue Bayou. One of the couples was Mike and Grace. Throughout the rest of the ride, we waved our shower mitts at the security cameras and the other pirates. When we got to the Wench Auction, I put on the Minnie mitt and had her imitate the bride being auctioned off ("Shift yer cargo dearrie, show 'em your larboard side"). Finally we waved at all of the guests in line and the CMs handling the unloading. They had a good laugh and thanked us.
We then had to dash to the tea. But first, Judi and I stopped at Pieces of Eight for the advice of Fortune Red. The last time I had been in the park, Fortune Red had been taken away to be repaired. I was happy to see that he had returned. Fortune Red had this to say to me:
A old an' trusted shipmate will offer advice regardin' a salty venture. Ye be inclined to chart a safe course an' vary it nary a point. Ye be suspect o' surface glitter an' frown on speculation. Aye, but here be a thought, matey. Arrange to meet yer old shipmate here in the jolly atmosphere o' Disneyland -- lend a ear to his suggestions -- o'erhaul the odds. Har! There could be more in it fer ye than meets the ruddy eye. Mark well me words, matey: Ye'll ne'er catch a fish with a naked hook.
We then took off to catch the others. We weren't sure which way they had gone, so we went to the tram. It turns out that we had passed up most of them because Cindy, Dodie, and Adrienne wanted to change into something more elegant for the tea. Well, when the photos go up on my web site, I'll let you be the judge as to which of them gussied up the most.
The tea room at the Pacific is on the second floor and seats 50 people mostly at small tables. The tea began with everyone being seated. 14 of us were spread out in 4 different tables that formed a line from one corner of the rectangular room to center of the other long wall of the room:
At each setting was a plate with an apple pillow and orange scone with sweet cream and raspberry jam. The cream and jam formed a Mickey. Our CM, Pam, came around and asked us to select our tea. The choices were English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Black Current, Hot Cinnamon Spice, Lemon Verbena (herbal), Green Tea (Sencha), Peach Fruit, and Decaffeinated Orange Pekoe. I chose the Earl Grey (No, I did not say "Tea, Earl Grey, hot").
Pam, our CM, snapped some photos of us and Adrienne and I wandered from table to table to snap photos of everyone else. It would have been nice if everyone could have been closer together, but we manged to stage conversations, and others did wander about. Plus, as someone in the room pointed out, it enabled one to come up with juicy rumors. On e other observation was from John Frost, who noted that Pam's "accent" seemed to come and go. I responded by saying, "Well, so did Dick Van Dyke's in the movie."
Soon, our tea arrived, and after some slight difficulties (Kevin's cup had a crack in it plus he had the wrong tea) we were all sipping tea (with our pinkies extended of course). Actually there was one other difficulty. Kaz and John's table didn't have tongs for the sugar cubes, so Kaz took ours. She then wandered over to the big table, and took their sugar cube tongs to give to us. Finally, she went to Cindy and Glenn's table, and took their tongs for the big table. Kaz repeated this later, when she and John ran out of milk.
While we were sipping our tea, the CMs rang a bell, and in came Mary Poppins, dressed in her traveling coat with her carpet bag and umbrella. She welcomed us by singing "A Spoon Full of Sugar" and then wandered about the room. All of the children were on the far side of the room from us, and so we had feared that Mary would spend most of her time there. Fortunately she came over to meet us big kids too. When she was visiting, Adrienne requested that Mary bring along Mrs. Banks so that they could sing Sister Suffragette since it contains her favorite line ("Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group, they're rather stupid.") which she and Judi sang several times as if they wanted to rub it in. Mary said that she would think about but that she had to go sing a song about Burt. She then went back to the center of the room, sang "Chim Chim Cher-ee" (she even put "soot" on her part of her face to look more like a sweep) and went backstage.
In the meantime we had finger sandwiches: cucumber and watercress and cilantro on a small roll, ham & cheese on white, sun-dried tomato and cream cheese and basil on wheat, shrimp and apple on wheat, and turkey and berry on white. All were very good (well, the ham and cheese was not as good as the others). Kids can get a smaller selection of less exotic sandwiches (ham and cheese in addition to peanut butter and jelly).
Then Mary Poppins reappeared, in the white dress which she wore during the "Jolly Holiday" sequence. She reminded us that Jane and Michael had requested (in their advertisement) to bring sweets, and so the CM servers had plates of sweets with them (though one lost her balance and almost dropped a plate). She then launched into the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious though she left out the line which Kevin could have filled in. It would have gone like this:
Mary: "But better use it carefully or it could change your life" Kevin: "For example" Mary: "Yes" Kevin: "One night I said it to me girl, and now me girl's me wife...oh and a lovely thing she is too."
Anyway, after the song, we ate our "Truly Scrumptious" sweets (oops, sorry, wrong movie, even though the Sherman brothers did that song too). Meanwhile, Mary went over to a couch at one corner of the room, and guests were escorted over to have photos taken with her. A selection of men's and ladies' hats and feather boas were available for guests to wear in the photo. Of course, being a.d.d, most of the guys donned the ladies hats and the feather boas. I wore a boa, but I also had top hat on. We'll have to see how this one turns out. Then most of the ladies wore the men's hats, though none of them fit Kaz (I liked it when she put on the top hat which completely covered her head and face). I want to see the photos of the ladies with Mary too.
After that, it was time to settle the bill and go. Annual Passholder and Cast Member discounts can be applied (I didn't ask about MKC). All in all, I highly recommend this activity if you have the time. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
On the way back to the park, we decided to stop and look at the infamous orange tree. This wasn't much of a quest, as you can find it next to the Japanese style bungalows on the hotel grounds. At this point the group just splintered apart, and Adrienne, Kevin, Judi, Jeff, and I made it back to the monorail.
We got to ride monorail purple (I had seen monorail blue running earlier, I was kind of surprised by that.) A family beat us to the front, so we rode in the first car. The sun had just set, and so I wanted to go on Storybookland which I had not ridden at night since January. The line for SBL was a little long, so we opted to ride the Jungle Cruise instead.
Our skipper was ok. he didn't tell any new jokes, though he did tell an unapproved one -- he pointed out that the lions were Simba and Nalla from the Lion King (tsk tsk tsk).
We then stopped at the Little Red Wagon for dinner. Our corn dogs were wonderfully hot. After a scrumptious meal like that, I had to compliment it with my Fantasia Ice Cream fix. mmmmm.
We then went back to Storybookland, where the line was shorter, but also closed off. The CM said that they were having problems with the lights and wanted to make sure that everything was working properly. We decided to go on to Toon Town and look for the hidden playboy bunny on the Car-Toon Spin. While this quest was unsuccessful, we had fun riding anyway. I'll try again next time.
We then went back to Storybookland, which was up, but again the line was too long. Adrienne then mentioned that she had never seen the Eeyore sign in the Indy queue or "Bones". So, I had my flashlight, and pointed out the sign. Then she and everyone else rode in the back while I had a seat up front for our journey through the temple. From my vantage point I could tell that Adrienne had spotted Bones. The ride was fun as always, and I was happy to see that the first bug lamp was working again and that we got the correct spiel at the end.
As we exited the ride, we stopped and waved at a passing Jungle Cruise boat. I had just enough time to slip on my Pirate Mickey shower mitt, and got him to wave too! The folks on the boat seemed to enjoy it. Sometime though, I'd love get a bunch of folks dress up as the attacking natives.
Adrienne, Kevin, and Jeff had time for one more ride, so we went back to Storybookland. Adrienne mentioned that she knew one of the Storybookland guides. Unfortunately, it turned out that she had worked the day shift. Still, we had a grand time on the good ship Belle with our CM Caroline. We made jokes with her about "sticking to the approved script" and "watch out for folks with video cameras". The highlight was when we passed by the Casey Jr. Caroline said "And now the most dangerous part of our journey. We're passing a bunch of wild animals being loaded into the Casey Jr. train to Dumbo's Circus. But don't worry, these animals won't bite, so it's ok to wave at them." So we all started waving, and then I pulled out my Pirate Mickey shower mitt again, and had Mickey wave. Caroline just lost it at that point. She had to stop the boat to get her composure back to continue the next spiel. At the end of the ride, when she pointed out King Triton's Grotto, we said "No! That's 'Never-Neverland'. Because you never never take us there." She laughed some more and thanked us. Caroline gets my Cast Member gold star for the trip.
As Judi and I bid adieu to Adrienne, Kevin, and Jeff, we decided to go to Big Thunder Mountain for the quest to find the hidden Mickey in the gold vein. We sat in row 15 and were able to look at the goat. The hidden mickey is oh so subtle. I noticed the ears first and just a faint outline of a head. Judi didn't see it at all. We would have gone again, but it was almost time for Fantasmic.
I had no idea where Cindy and everyone else were going to watch Fantasmic from. Cindy had mentioned that she didn't want to watch it from the center, but she didn't want to watch it from the backside spot either. I decided to check in two spots: the pump house dock, and the Keel Boat Landing. If they weren't there, I was going to watch from the backside spot. When I reached the pump house dock, I saw some folks standing there to watch the show. I warned them that they would not be able to see much from there and asked if they had seen the show before. They said that they had not. I advised them to go to the Keel Boat Landing area for a better view. You would think that DL would at least put up a sign warning folks that they can't see Fantasmic from the Pump House Dock.
We wandered past the hoards of people gathered in New Orleans Square. It seemed extra crowded for Fantasmic, until I reached the Keel Boat Landing area, which wasn't terribly crowded. Andrew "Lt. D'Amato" Rich, Glenn, Dodie, and Cindy were there. (I stayed with them while Judi went off to watch from backside spot.) They said that the CMs told them the Landing was closed because the area wasn't crowded, (a first for me...I wondered if this was a reaction to Fantasmic 3-D, even though it hasn't taken place for several months now). Actually it was good that the dock was closed, because during the performance, the wind was blowing from Tom Sawyer Island to the landing. Fireworks fallout came down very close to the landing. It was then that I saw my second first -- the spotlights on Mickey are star shaped...I had never noticed that before. The show itself was good, as always, and it was near the end that I got my third first -- I saw a duck bite the dust during the show. It was flying by when the roman candle barrage started, and all of a sudden, it stopped flying, and fell into the rivers of America. It must have been hit by some fireworks shrapnel.
Judi came back after the end of Fantasmic, and mentioned that she opted to ride Splash Mountain instead. We still had time before the finale. So Judi and I went back to Fantasyland. The line for Pan was still too long, so we took a trip to Hell instead. It was a little chilly, so Mr. Toad's Wild Ride hit the spot perfectly. As we exited Toad, we saw Cindy, Dodie, Glenn, and Andrew, who said they were going on to Alice. We followed them onto the ride. They then dashed for Rods. I thought we had time for one more ride (and we did). While the line for Pan was still long, there was almost no line for Dumbo. We caught that instead, and ran into another a.d.der. Dumbo was fun.
Just as we exited, it was time to go...but not quite. Rod still had the tap number, ball game, and finale to do. Rebekah got to the clapper for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and she did a great job. For the finale, Bruce Bergman handed out American flags to wave during Stars and Stripes Forever (good job).
After the finale, it was time for the traditional Snow White's Coin Toss. As we were walking to the wishing well, Cindy said "Listen, what do hear?" "the sounds of the park" "Ok, what don't you hear" "The sounds of leaf blowers and vacuums." Ahhh, it was nice to hear the park again. At the wishing well, I did my second good deed. A friend of mine who could not make the trip asked me to make a wish; so I tossed two coins and made two wishes. When I tossed my friend's coin, it hit metal, while my coin didn't hit metal. We'll have to see which wish comes true to see if there is a correlation.
After the coin toss, Judi and I decided to check and see what our photo with Mickey looked like. We said good-bye to everyone else, and went to the photo shop. We had thought that the photo would be a good one, and we weren't disappointed. We liked the photos enough to buy both of them (you get an 8x10 for $12, a 6x8 for $10, or both for $20 and again, discounts can be applied). We'll have to compare them to what I get from my camera later.
We then again bumped into the gang, this time at the porch. I showed the photo around, and folks said that it looked good. We then made our way to Town Square, where I got to do another good deed. A couple wanted their photo taken next to one of pumpkin displays. Maybe they thought I was a CM since I was still dressed up for the tea, but I took their photo anyway. I hope it turned out ok.
Finally, it was time to go. Sure we could have waited longer until they told us to leave, but I had an hour's drive ahead of me. I ended up getting to The Hoffmans' in Northridge at about midnight (see, I didn't lose the key!). It was a long day, but it was fun.
The next day we had an uneventful flight home. Soon I was back in Berkeley, and back to work (oh boy). Only one last thing to do, and that was check the VCR. I had good news and bad news. The bad news was that my VCR's clock did not automatically adjust for the end of Daylight Savings Time (which meant my recordings of the Simpsons, Vault Disney, and the Ink and Paint Club didn't work), but the good news was that the In Concert broadcast with U2 took place before the time change, so it was taped!
Anyway, this was another great trip. Thanks go to:
Liz, for inviting me to the evening the Harp. I had a blast. It was great to finally meet you and see that you are as nice in person as you are on-line. Hopefully we'll get a chance to hang out when I visit again, and that when that happens, I won't be in sleep debt.
Emerald "breaker of hearts and revealer of tattoos", Ryan, "Mustang Sally", The Fenians, and the staff of The Harp, for making my Saturday night more enjoyable. Hopefully I'll see you all soon too.
Cindy, for organizing the Practically Perfect Tea.
Judi, Adrienne, Kevin, and Jeff for helping make my Disney day a fun one.
Dori, Larry, and Daniel for putting me up for the evening.
Andy, Michelle, and Cathy for being fun traveling and game companions (I hope you feel better next time Andy and Michelle).
The Bears and the Bruins, for giving me an excuse to visit southern California.
And of course, to all of you who did not give up reading and got this far.