Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Vacation Trip!

We are back! We flew out on July 13 to California. Disneyland, here we come!

We were all so excited to finally be at Disneyland. It seemed like the day to leave would never come, and now it's hard to believe that we are back home already. Our rooms at Disney were gorgeous.

See the huge headboard in the back behind both beds? The fireworks and stars could light up over the castle and played, "When you wish..." -- how neat is that?

Kenny and the kids got 3 day park hopper passes; and the very next day, they were off to Disney. They were concentrating on rides mostly:

"Best... ride... ever!" This is a direct quote from Kyle regarding:

Everyone also really enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster's ride. Kenny was the reigning champ, much to the kids' chagrin.

They also got to take their picture with a few characters, see a few more, and even get to ride in the front of the tram with the driver.

(I was so jealous they got to see Phineas & Ferb! They are my favorites, and I never got to see them!)

At the beginning, while they were off having fun... I was busy at convention. I finally got to show off all my hard work and teach my class.

(The top three boards were provided by corporate; the bottom three were mine.)

I was glad to have the teaching portion of convention done on the first day, and I was able to go to Disneyland a couple of evenings too.

We all got our picture taken with Mickey, saw the amazing firework show over Sleeping Beauty's castle, and thoroughly enjoyed the astounding World of Color show.

I think in an effort to keep Kyle sort of "busy", Kenny let him snap as many pictures as he liked with the small digital camera. There were A LOT of weird shots; many of them were too blurry to keep. But there were a few gems in there:

As hard as it was to believe, it was time to leave the magical world of Disney. Here is the kids reluctantly leaving our beautiful hotel.

We did a little shopping and exploring at Downtown Disney before we took off and got some nice t-shirts and mementos to remember Disneyland! You can't go wrong with a Darth Vader made out of legos!

After Disneyland, we drove to the California coast. We couldn't be this close to the Pacific Ocean and not let the kids dip their toes! It was actually quite breezy, not all that hot either, and the water was freezing. So we didn't stay very long, just walked in the water a bit and enjoyed the view. (Actually, we ended up staying JUST long enough for Kyle to fall in, get wet, and have to change.)

Afterwards, we took off for Las Vegas! Yikes! What a drive. We ended up getting in REALLY late, and the kids and I were exhausted. Our room was really nice, way up on the top floor.

In the morning, we checked out our beautiful view from the top. Nice, huh?

Then we set off to do a little sight-seeing. The kids were spoiled from the beautiful, balmy weather at Disney (where we even needed light jackets in the evening). The extremely hot weather made for one cranky little boy who did NOT really care to see much of anything if it involved walking out in the heat. We only hit a few highlights:

Checking out the Bellagio, Caeser's Palace, and the Venetian. We even rode a gondola! We were only staying in Las Vegas two nights, so since the enthusiasm for sight-seeing was pretty low... we just headed back to the room. Our nice, very big, flat screen television never did work the ENTIRE time we were there. If we wanted to watch any television, we were limited to the bathroom. Crazy, huh? See the television there in the bottom right of the mirror?

After leaving Vegas, we headed out to the chocolate factory and then Hoover Dam.

Mmmmmmmmm! The factory didn't seem to have much working, so we didn't stay too long and headed out to the dam.

Kenny got all of us the "Hoover Dam tour" which included a 1 hour guided tour, movie on how it was made, admission to the Visitor Center and Powerplant and Dam Passageways. It was actually really neat!

We got to crawl in through passageways, one which led to an outer vent on the dam. We were peeking out of this vent:

Kenny took a picture of himself and then the view from the vent as best as he could by sticking the camera out and snapping a picture.

Afterwards, we checked out the outside too. Apparently, the toes are supposed to bring "good luck" so they are shiny from being constantly touched.

Then, we were off for the final leg of our trip in Palm Springs! This was the most relaxing part of our trip. Just sleeping in, swimming most of the day, eating out, hitting a couple of movies, no firm schedule... so nice!

Our lunchtime view one day:

We saw the final Harry Potter movie. In 3D and on a HUGE screen... simply awesome! As we were leaving, they were taking down the big display that we just took the kids picture with before the movie. Whew. Guess we did that at the right time! We also saw Transformers 3, in 3D -- most definitely a lot of action!

And that's it! Somehow our 10 days were coming to a close, and it was time to head home. Everyone was not ready to leave!

And our flight home, well, let's just say that it left A LOT to be desired. We were already originally scheduled to be getting home around 1-2 in the morning (which I definitely wasn’t looking forward to). Then when we arrived at the airport, we had an hour delay. We’ve been checking it throughout the day and everything seemed to be on time; it apparently went up after we got through security. Then as we just got to Chicago, there was a big storm. So they were circling a bit, seeing if it would let up… lots and LOTS of lightning off in the distance. Apparently not, so we got diverted to Indianapolis, so they could refuel and see what to do next. They refueled, we never got off the plane, and then we went back to Chicago. We didn’t get home until like 9:00 in the morning our time. Knocked us all out!!!

Definitely a rough ending to a great trip, but after wading through mountains of laundry... we're almost back to normal and dreading the start of school! YIKES!

Ken, Dani, Dee & Kyle