Open New Doors

After much soul-searching, I decided to go.

Husband dear had gotten out of the hospital only a week earlier, so leaving him for four days seemed irresponsible.  However, he said he was fine, not fine, but recovering, and we would lose quite a bit of money if we canceled, so we did it. My two daughters and their sons and I went to Disneyland.

I told husband dear we were giving him a Vision Quest. He could eat when he wanted (Hey, I cooked and froze meals), sleep when he wanted, let the dogs out when they wanted…

The youngest grandson asked, “Is this an adventure or a vacation?”

I had told him that an adventure is where all hell is likely to turn loose, a vacation is like lying on the beach basking in the sun, 

After a ride to the airport, a flight, shuttle one, shuttle two, shuttle three, a ride for an hour through L.A. traffic and then arriving at our hotel hungry, and with no restaurants open gave him cause for pause.

An In ‘N Out Burger restaurant came to the rescue, a night’s sleep revived us, and in the morning–after sharing one bathroom with five people–were off to The Park—that is my daughter’s most favorite place in the world—Disneyland.

Ten years ago:

Right off, we Soared Over the World as that ride was right beside us when we walked from the Paradise Pier Hotel, through the Grand Californian Hotel, and right into California land. (See, we know some secrets.)

I will never see Victoria Falls as I did while Soaring Over the World—miles of water in a veil of white pour over both precipices of the gorge that makes up Victoria Falls and before the mist has cleared you are about to touch the tip of the twinkling Eiffel Tower, followed by barely missing the capstone of the Great Pyramid. 

As you soar, you sit in seats with your feet dangling over the edge. The entire apparatus raises up and hovers over a theater dome where you swear your feet will dip into the water as a Great Orca Whale throws his entire body out of the water, making you duck from the splash.

 (I read that an Imagineer used tinker toys to mock up the apparatus.)

We came upon Splash Mountain as it stood at the ready with hardly any people in line. After a 45 degree plunge down a 52- foot waterfall, our adrenaline was high, our pants were soaked, and we were happy. Water didn’t flow on our heads, but poured in both sides of our plunging log—well, on two of us anyway.

I walked around in wet pants perfectly comfortable, the temperature was perfect, the sun was glorious—I love southern California–and shortly I was dry.

We raved all day about how beautiful it was, and that the number of people in the park was just right. (It was Thursday.) Daughter number two said she loved the feel of the air, and that night, after a shower, I wondered why my skin was pulsating. Oh yes, it hasn’t seen the sun for a while, and we are closer to the equator than in Oregon. (Hey, Oregon, I love you too.)

Now, it is three days later, and we’re going home, but not until this evening. We had two-day tickets to the park that ended last night. But Downtown Disney is open to everyone, and there are restaurants and shops. In a Starbucks shop where we found a fun Virtual reality Chalkboard where you can draw with your finger.
I want one.

The baby from “Celebrate Today.”

I’m up before the group, drinking coffee in the restaurant sitting area. On my cup is this quote: “We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things.”–Walt Disney

Do new things, yes, every trip to Disneyland is new. I’ve been to the park probably 50 times over 50 years. Lest you think we are outrageously extravagant, we lived in Southern California until my kids were college age. When you live in California, you can get a season pass for about the price of two park visits, and as I remember, at a discount. That way, you can go as often as you want. No more beating yourself up trying to cram everything in one or two, even three days.

We lived in San Diego, so a drive to Disneyland only took about an hour straight up I-5, and going with good friends and their little boy was at least a yearly occurrence. Daughter number two even went to Disneyland for her high school senior skip day, where the kids rented a wheelchair and took turns riding in it. And, of course, if any of the kin visited us, where did we go? Disneyland.

Now, we have passed the torch to the Grandsons. And grandson number two said that on the terror scale, Splash Mountain was on the top of the list Yep, it sets you up for the day.

Perhaps that’s similar to Tony Robbins’ technique of blasting his audience with music and getting them on their feet, screaming and jumping. It sets them up for fun. It gets the adrenalin pumping. No more droll lectures there.

During that the first day, with emotions running wild, some kids scowling, some exuberant, it set me thinking of how life, experiences, interactions, conversations, anger and laughter, flow and interact. Is life an adventure or a vacation? 


While on the the plane from Oregon to California, I had read The 5 Secrets to Making a Good Blog. Today I will probably break all of them, well, except this might be a long blog. That’s one secret rule I break regularly. Write Good Content, they say. Well, I didn’t mean to write crap, but sometimes I do. Sorry. I don’t intend to.

Answer Questions. I’m like Johnny Carson’s Carmac the Magnificent, his alter ego magician. Johnny would answer the questions before his sidekick Ed McMahon would read them.

Readers don’t tell me what they want, so I’m winging it and writing whatever I want.

Brand yourself, they say I don’t want a red-hot iron applied to my backside, but I do wonder how I’m recognized, and I know I need to be clear,  I can’t have, “Jo with the burning butt,” as a logo.

Oh, oh, what I had been reading was Five Crippling Blogging Mistakes. For you bloggers, here they are:

Inconsistency Boring Content Short Posts Adding Irreverent information. “A blog should be highly informative.”

Well, ask me where a Disney attraction is, and chances are I will come close. However, don’t ask me where all the hidden Mickey’s are.  I haven’t found them.

I had to tell you about our location, and much of what’s happened since the last blog post, as it explains why my blogs aren’t hitting exactly on Thursdays—although no one has complained. A worker in the hotel came by as I was writing this, and praised me for writing longhand. “Remember,” she said, “how letters would come written in that beautiful cursive?”

I guess calligraphers will have to keep that legacy alive.

Believe it or not, but all five of us ended up not touching a computer for five days. That was a first for the boys once they got hooked to the keyboard and the screen. 

After reading about how to blog, thoughts bounced around in my head—such as the phenomenon of following the crowd, having someone tell you what to do, and the way you ought to do it. If the crowd hits a wall, and we’re following, we’ll hit it too. Watch out!

Indeed, study, learn all you can about your craft, but then follow your own compass.

I’m more apt to follow horse trainer Pat Parelli’s advice. “Whatever everybody else is doing, do the opposite.”

Would you have imagined that people would be wandering around looking like a creature from a far distant galaxy and proclaiming, “May the force be with you?” 

Sorry, Harrison Ford, I love you, and Indiana Jones is perhaps my favorite movie, but let’s face it the original Star Wars characters were rather cardboard. And the actors themselves didn’t take the script too seriously, 

But George Lucas did.

See where it got him.

At California Land, we came upon this statue of the young Walt Disney.

The plaque behind it read:

Bottom line
: “I went to Hollywood, arriving there with just forty dollars. It was a big day the day I got on that Santa Fe California Limited. I was just free and happy.” –Walt Disney

See where it got him.

I look around at Disneyland, and everyplace my eye lands is exquisite. Rides are great—done that. After rides, you can move on to the next level, observing the splendor, the artistry, the attention to detail, the layering of design, the placement of all attractions so that they fit together with perfect composition. I heard that Disney noticed that the carousel was not framed perfectly, as seen through the gate of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, so he asked his builders to center it.

Disneyland is a horticultural paradise. Flowers always, plants from all over the world are living and thriving within a 100-acre park in Southern California.

I sat in awe of this man-made mountain that is the background to The Cars ride. Rocks, even, had been stacked up at the bottom of the cliff as though they had fallen there. If you think there are no jobs for artists, look at that bluff. Although, I wouldn’t want to build it. And how in the world did they do it? 

All through the Disney experience emotions ran hot, cold, and indifferent. You know what they say, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

The new ride at Star Wars “Rise of the Resistance,” required an app and to be in the park at 7 AM to get a ticket, so none of our group went on it. 
Daughter and grandson number one went on the Millennium Falcon ride twice. Daughter number 2 said it made her nauseous, and I passed.

The happiest place on earth, Disney called it. It’s an emersion into a world where the outside does not intrude—unless, of course, you bring it in.
Oh oh, someone’s going to be unhappy, I just got a text that our 9:30 PM plane has been moved to 10:40. 

Nine texts later, a night spent in a hotel courtesy of American Airlines, and a plane scheduled to leave at 10:30 AM gets us up slightly after we hit the sheets.  Whoops, another text, flight changed to 12:30 PM. Another to 1:07 PM.

What in the heck is happening? Someone said that it was the weather and air traffic. Maybe Disneyland doesn’t want us to leave. 

We did board at 1:07 PM  We’re flying. At 1:00 AM last night, the crew declared a shift stop and walked off the airplane. 

That’s traveling with Jo.

Aboard the airplane, I ruminate over the past few days. I think about the many tee-shirts with positive sayings that rode on people’s chests. I realize how much people want to think of good things, not bad. I see how they want to believe in magic. People will spend big bucks to feel good, to be at a place where the outside world falls away, and where they do not hear the rabble of the marketplace.

We want to believe that a man who began with 40 dollars in his pocket, and who was saved by bankruptcy, can go on to create an empire. An amusement park? Don’t be ridiculous. We know about amusement parks, they come rolling into town on a truck, are set up overnight, and throw pitches at you the following day. Not at Disneyland. Disney took a concept and ran with it, creating a world of wonder. 

One tee-shirt says, “I live Fantasyland.” Another:  “I was raised by trolls.” A couple walking toward me each wore white tee shirts, one said: “He’s my Mickey,” the other, “She’s my Minnie.”

“Dream,” rides on one chest, “Imagine,” on another.

“Imagine what we wouldn’t have today if Walt Disney gave up and quit after he filed bankruptcy back in the 1920s?”

P.S. If pictures are worth 1,000 words, I hit a long blog today. And in trying to find the 5th blogging suggestion,  I hit this by “Dean Fieck. “The 7 Secrets of Running a Wildly Popular Blog.”

1. Have a conversation

2. Lighten up.

3. Be yourself

4. Be nice

5. Get over yourself

6. Help people

7. Stop trying so hard.

Thanks, Dean

Carved on the wall of the Grand Californian. Hotel.

I loved the simplicity and movement of this drawing.


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