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Vacation car! Most people over about 45 years pointed with delight at this display. The kids were all, "Uh, Dad, what's so great about that old car?"

Vacation car! Most people over about 45 years pointed with delight at this display. The kids were all, “Uh, Dad, what’s so great about that old car?”

We celebrated two things last week: Tara’s graduation from High School (with High Honors, I might add with pride), and – as it turned out serendipitously – Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary.

This amazing theme park was opened on July 17, 1955.  Our trip to Disneyland was planned sometime around September of 2014, and neither of us knew that in the meantime, the big 6-0 would pop up, resulting in massive park renovations, updates of old shows, and all-around spit-and-polish.

A 60th anniversary is the “diamond” anniversary, and thus the park heartily embraced the jeweled theme (glittering diamonds could be found on castle spires, on T-shirts, on signposts, on Mickey Ears), as well as lots of icy blues (in fabric banners, in cupcake frosting, in the flowers planted, in logos).

It's A Small World - familiar to anyone who has ever been here.

It’s A Small World – familiar to anyone who has ever been here.

Lamp post over Casey Jr. Circus Train ride, another 1955 original, named after the train in Dumbo.

Lamp post over Casey Jr. Circus Train ride, another 1955 original, named after the train in Dumbo.

The Mad Tea Party's tea cups have been spinning since opening day in 1955, bringing us six decades of motion sickness.

The Mad Tea Party’s tea cups have been spinning since opening day in 1955, bringing us six decades of motion sickness.

As longtime readers know, I visited for the first time in my life just last year, in March. At the time we felt as though half the park was closed for repairs, and we cursed our bad luck. On this visit, we not only realized why so many renovations happened last year, but we also were able to see and experience all the new stuff!

There are a remarkable number of rides and attractions from 1955 (and those installed in 1958) that are still running today, and those are my particular favourites. I’ll admit, however, that not much can beat the thrill of a modern rollercoaster, or the dazzle of movies shown onto a towering fountain spray of water. And I can honestly say I’d be happy to hanglide in Soarin’ Over California or board a spaceship on Star Tours once a week for a year, because the wonder of flight combined with a sense of realism in those two rides is indescribably exciting.

Goofy walks with a fan through Toon Town.

Goofy walks with a fan through Toon Town.

Blue banners and sparkly spires to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary.

Blue banners and sparkly spires commemorate the Diamond Anniversary.

Metal bonnet over a shop in the New Orleans district.

Metal bonnet over a shop in the New Orleans district.

A larger-than-life ringmaster holds up a tent in Disney California Adventure Park.

A larger-than-life ringmaster holds up a tent in Disney California Adventure Park.

Fabulous rollercoaster above the water in Disney California Adventure Park.

Tara looks out at the fabulous rollercoaster and Ferris wheel above the water in Disney California Adventure Park.

I found a lot of joy this week in observing people find their bliss. Kids went out of their minds with happiness to see their favourite characters, and parents were gleeful when watching their kids interact with the characters. Adults would start to get testy (the crowds, the heat, the lines, the noise), and then suddenly smile and relax as though a voice in their head had just said, “Cool it. You’re at Disneyland.” Teenagers wore completely ridiculous outfits and were proud to be a part of it all. Elderly people walked very slowly and looked for shady spots, and I never saw someone acting impatient with them. Staff went out of their way to get people using wheelchairs into rides. We saw a Disney employee in a wheelchair, and Tara was helped at one store by a Disney employee with Down’s Syndrome.

We are now home, a little sunburned, still recovering our sleep, and still happy.

magical moment

It’s a magical moment for two little girls (the older one got hold of the princess’s hand a few moments later). And then, look at Mom in the back ground.

The Queen

The Queen says to the little girl, “Of course you want me to sign it, because then it will have some value.”
When it was Tara’s turn, their Mickey Mouse pen ran out of ink. “That’s what you get for trying to use a rat to write with,” sneered The Queen. She walked over to a nearby tourist woman, snatched a pen out of her hand, and said, “I’ll be using this.” It was brilliant.

We caught some really great shows. Some on the streets, and some on stage, like this one, featuring King Louie from one of my most beloved Disney movies: The Jungle Book.

We caught some really great shows. Some on the streets, and some on stage, like this one, featuring King Louie from one of my most beloved Disney movies: The Jungle Book.

Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog

Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog

These dancers leapt through the air, launched from stylized surfboards in a piece from Lilo and Stitch, another of my top 5 Disney movie faves.

These dancers leapt through the air, launched from stylized surfboards in a piece from Lilo and Stitch, another of my top 5 Disney movie faves.

Just like last year, I was impressed with the attention to detail in creating realistic scenes to entertain and educate. At the Redwook Creek Challenge, we explored a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout tower.

Just like last year, I was impressed with the attention to detail in creating realistic scenes to entertain and educate. At the Redwook Creek Challenge, we explored a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout tower.

A real U.S. Forest Service jeep was parked outside Eureka Mine No. 2 entrance, at Grizzly River Run (an innertube ride on river rapids).

A real U.S. Forest Service jeep was parked outside Eureka Mine No. 2 entrance, at Grizzly River Run (an inner tube ride on river rapids).

Multiple artist workspaces are installed throughout the parks, and frequently have real Disney artists at work.

Multiple artist work spaces are installed throughout the parks, and frequently have real Disney artists at work.

Captain Hook and Tara were both in good spirits, flashing their hooks.

Captain Hook (despite his rather nasty reputation) and Tara were both in good spirits, flashing their hooks.

Peter Pan has adoring fans. Just catch a load of the face on this girl as she realizes who is walking toward her.

Peter Pan has adoring fans. Just catch a load of the face on this girl as she realizes who is walking toward her.

Oswald (who inspired Mickey) greets his fans.

Oswald (who inspired Mickey) greets his fans.

There's a big Goofy. And a Disney character too!

There’s a big Goofy. And a Disney character too!

Tara and I stand with Mickey and Walt, in front of the iconic Disney castle.

Tara and I stand with Mickey and Walt, in front of the iconic Disney castle.

I am doing a little housecleaning today, and skimmed through my Disney photos to see what I have not showed you yet. There are a few more images I wanted to share. I was following a theme before, grouping all my photos under one topic. For this one, I just want to make sure I hit what’s left. Things that caught my eye during my very first trip to Disneyland, that I haven’t showed you already.

If you missed the earlier photos, check out the side panel to the left of your screen, and go down to where it says “I already said,” and click the arrow next to “select month.” Choose April 2014 from the drop down menu and scroll down. There are lots of photos. But of course I still have more!

I love shots from airplanes. This one shows the California coastline as we headed south to begin our journey.

I love shots from airplanes. This one shows the California coastline as we headed south to begin our journey.

If you hold still at any moment, and look around, you will see bubbles floating through the scene. It's magical.

If you hold still at any moment in the park, and look around, you will see bubbles floating through the scene. It’s magical.

A peaceful and traditional ride through the park could be had with a horse and buggy.

A peaceful and traditional ride through the park could be had with a horse and buggy.

Another traditional trip around the park is on the train, with an underground section revealing scenes of the Grand Canyon and taking riders back through time with animated dinosaurs.

Another traditional trip around the park is on the train, with an underground section revealing scenes of the Grand Canyon and taking riders back through time with animated dinosaurs.

A rare moment of sunshine during our trip lit up the Matterhorn while we were standing in line for Space Mountain.

A rare moment of sunshine during our trip lit up the Matterhorn while we were standing in line for Space Mountain.

Unexpected street shows would pop up when you least expected it. Performers in period costumes with actual singing and dancing talent would entertain anyone standing nearby.

Unexpected street shows would pop up anywhere. Performers in period costumes with actual singing and dancing talent would entertain anyone standing nearby.

I liked the way this photo turned out, of a lantern against the sky.

I liked the way this photo turned out, of a lantern against the sky.

Look at this big beautiful paddle wheel riverboat. Hard to believe this scene is in an amusement park.

Look at this big beautiful paddle wheel riverboat. Hard to believe this scene is in an amusement park.

Daring adventurers get ready for a giant drop on Splash Mountain.

Daring adventurers get ready for a giant drop on Splash Mountain.

This one was pretty scary, when the elevator went crazy and just ...DROPPED.

This one was pretty scary, when the elevator went crazy and just …DROPPED.

The inside of the Tower of Terror is really convincing and remarkable. I have a dozen photos of the dusty abandoned hotel with layers of cobwebs and dust.

Inside of the Tower of Terror is convincing and remarkable. I have a dozen photos of the dusty abandoned hotel lobby with layers of cobwebs and dust.

Big Thunder Mountain railroad has been reopened and is really exciting, including an accidental TNT explosion as part of the ride!

Big Thunder Mountain railroad has been reopened and is really exciting, including an accidental TNT explosion as part of the ride!

The place is a whole new level of wonderful at night.

The place is a whole new level of wonderful at night.

Standing in line was frequently entertaining because the lines ran through spectacular otherworldly scenes.

Standing in line was frequently entertaining because the lines ran through spectacular otherworldly scenes.

We were entertained by this droid who chattered and made fun of us.

We were entertained by this droid who chattered and made fun of us while he worked.

At the front of every line is a sign telling you how long to expect to stand in line. I wondered how they kept track of that till one of us was handed this tag which we were to present to an attendant once we completed the line.

At the front of every line is a sign telling you how long to expect to stand in line. I wondered how they kept track of that till one of us was handed this tag.

Lines. We stood in so many lines. The lines wrapped around and up and down stairs, in and out of buildings.

Lines. We stood in so many lines. The lines wrapped around and up and down stairs, in and out of buildings.

Here's the line inside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, wrapping through what looks like an authentic basement boiler room.

Here’s the line inside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, wrapping through what looks like an authentic basement boiler room.

Another shot I like, as the rollercoaster flashes overhead above Toy Story Midway Mania!

Another shot I like, as the rollercoaster flashes overhead above Toy Story Midway Mania!

I just loved the Tiki Room. It was completely throwback and such silly fun.

I just loved the Tiki Room. It was completely throwback and such silly fun.

Strollers. If you've ever been there, you know what I'm talking about.

Strollers. If you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about.

Downtown Disney was a completely fun and unexpected outdoor mall. Entertaining and Disney-themed.

Downtown Disney was a fun outdoor mall. Entertaining and Disney-themed.

Skippers of the Jungle Cruise

Skippers of the Jungle Cruise

Taylor, our most favouritest skipper of them all. We loved her so much we asked for an autograph!

Taylor, our most favouritest skipper of them all. We loved her so much we asked for an autograph!

Oh my, my. I realized when the kids began shooting at this booth that I had failed my kid and had not passed on a critical Idaho skill! I had to teach her how to hold a rifle, and she's 16 years old. I'm so embarrassed. This is after some coaching, but still... I need to get this kid to a range.

Oh my, my. I realized when the kids began shooting at this booth that I had failed to pass on a critical Idaho skill! She’s 16 years old and I had to teach her how to hold a rifle. I’m so embarrassed. This photo is after some coaching.

 

Um...ok. Is it safe to go inside?

Um…ok. Is it safe to go inside?

View of the park from our Hilton room. You can see the backdrop to Cars Land, and the Tower of Terror.

View of the park from our Hilton room. You can see the backdrop to Cars Land, and the Tower of Terror. There’s the Matterhorn, too, if you look carefully.

Alright, that’s about enough. I could go on but I want to discard this image folder from my desktop and finish the tidying. I hope it’s been fun to visit Disney one last time with me.

Update: Maybe not the very last time. My Tara is begging already for another Disney trip as her high school graduation gift next year. (She’s graduating in a year, can you believe it?!) So by the time the memories have faded, we may head south again and make some more.

 

 

Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe at Trees of Mystery in northern California

Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe at Trees of Mystery in northern California

Arno and I take the opportunity every other holiday to have grown-up time, since every other holiday the kids are gone. His boys were with their mother, and Miss Tara was scheduled to be with her dad, so we planned to have Christmas at a Bed & Breakfast on the Oregon coast. Since it was somewhat close to Tara’s dad on the North Coast of California, we decided to take her south and then sightsee up the coast to our B&B.

Sunset over highway 199 between Grants Pass and Crescent City

Sunset over highway 199 between Grants Pass and Crescent City

It’s a beautiful drive and we were treated with views of Christmas lights all the way. Mother Nature didn’t want to be outdone and gave us a gorgeous sunset to drive through.

Fishing boats lit up off the northern California coast, called "the North Coast" by locals.

Fishing boats lit up off the northern California coast, called “the North Coast” and “the Lost Coast” by locals.

I couldn’t resist a vista stop once we reached the coast at Crescent City, and I was able to get a shot of the busy sea, filled with fishermen.

We delivered Tara safely to her dad’s house and found a hotel. The next morning we visited with my lovely friend Margaret, who met us for breakfast in Arcata. Then we took Highway 101 north and began our coast vacation.

Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center

Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center

Roosevelt Elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Roosevelt Elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

elk pose

elk pose

Yes, the elk might be at somewhat of a disadvantage if hunting were allowed here beside highway 101

Yes, the elk might be at somewhat of a disadvantage if hunting were allowed here beside highway 101

At Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick, CA, we talked with a Ranger and learned about a back road through  Jedediah Smith State Park. We realized that by taking scenic routes, we could get up close and personal with the trees, but not spend too much time hiking through the woods and make ourselves late for check in at the B&B. Before we reached the redwoods, however, we were distracted by a group of Roosevelt Elk grazing near the highway.

My Arno, the climber

My Arno, the climber, clambers up Big Tree. Well-named, this Coast Redwood is 304 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter.

First we took the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which is a portion of the old highway 101. We wandered a few trails and were aptly humbled by the immense redwood trees. The Coast Redwoods are narrower and a little taller than the Giant Sequoias found in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the California-Nevada border.

The trails allow visitors to experience this spectacular old-growth rainforest from the inside. Yes, rainforest! Some of these areas have an average of 100-150 inches of rain in a season. As you can see from the photos, even sunny days do not penetrate to the surface very well. Green growth carpets and drapes all things in the forest. We spotted mossy shelves hosting ferns and small huckleberry shrubs as much as twenty feet up the trunks of some of these trees. The trail is spongy from the layers below it. Step off the trail, and one sinks into the moss and lichens and fungus and – I must assume – millions of tiny insects. When a tree falls, or is burned by fire, the tree is not dead. Rather, it becomes the host of new trees. We saw many “smaller” trees growing from the enormous hulks of past giants. Smaller was in quotes, because the baby growth are often trees that would seem huge in my back yard, and only seem small because the others in the redwood forest are much larger.

The trail winds through old growth redwood rain forest

The trail winds through old growth redwood rain forest

Coast Redwoods soar up above the green forest floor

Coast Redwoods soar up above the green forest floor

We found our way next to Howland Hill Road. It is a narrow dirt road through the center of another section of old growth redwood forest. The trees growing snug up against the road bank dwarfed the Volvo wagon.

Itty bitty car in the trees along Howland Hill Road

Itty bitty car in the trees along Howland Hill Road

Arno inside the cut trunk of a tree beside the road.

Arno inside the cut trunk of a tree beside the road.

Once we left the forest it was time to stop dawdling. We were still in California, and our bed that evening was half way up the Oregon coast. So we focused on heading north, even though we took the time to stop at a few more beaches and breathe the sea air. Finally, the sky turned black, and it began to rain, and that was very helpful in keeping us inside the car, and traveling north. We checked in on time and were so tired we skipped dinner and went to bed.

Read about our adventures on Day two here.

This attractive gentleman stayed close, with the hopes that I would share my lunch with him.

This attractive gentleman stayed close, with the hopes that I would share my lunch with him.

Wind filled the air with mist and gave a dreamy quality to the seaside sunset

Wind filled the air with mist and gave a dreamy quality to the seaside sunset

did I mention that he likes to climb?

did I mention that he likes to climb?

Arno on top of a rock at a southern Oregon beach

Arno on top of a rock at a southern Oregon beach

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