Reconnecting with Nature at Yosemite National Park

I've often said that Yosemite is my favorite place on earth. Yes, I know that's something of an exaggeration, because home is where the heart is and wherever my family is has to be my favorite place, but as far as scenery goes, it's definitely my favorite.

But for someone whose favorite place it supposedly is, I haven't exactly been visiting it much. I used to visit around once a year until The Pea was born. After I became a mom, I think we visited the place two or three times, and we haven't been at all for the last 10 years.  A visit was well overdue. We took a short trip to Yosemite this summer, and I was reminded all over again why I say it's my favorite place.

Tips for Road Tripping with a (Neurotic) Dog

Ever since The Pea went of to college, we have been taking road trips to visit her in Santa Barbara. Tim has been on many of those trips. Why take him along? For one thing, it was a great chance for The Pea to see him. Second, we know that spending time in a kennel stresses Tim out, so we try to avoid it unless we are traveling somewhere by plane. Third, kennels are expensive! Fourth, the only kennel that will take Tim is 40 miles in the *opposite* direction from Santa Barbara, so dropping him off before a road trip just makes the road trip longer (unless we are willing to pay for an extra day in the kennels).

As with many things, road trips and Tim don't get along very well. Being removed from his comfortable routine is just the beginning. Enduring a long car ride, staying in an unfamiliar hotel, constantly being exposed to strangers, being left in a car, are all things he hates.  Here are some ways we help minimize his anxiety and make the trip pleasant for him:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (FINALLY!)

I have wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ever since it first opened in 2016 in London's West End. That year it opened, I tried so hard to get tickets, but it was always sold out. When it opened on Broadway in 2018, I wanted to fly to New York to watch it, but could never make it happen due to cost and family/work commitments (plus, it was always sold out).

Then it opened in San Francisco in 2019, but tickets were harder to get than ever. Then COVID happened, so I forgot all about things like theater.  Fast forward to 2022. I don't know what made me revisit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I decided to finally go for it. I took the boys and we watched it at the Curran Theatre, and boy was it worth the wait.

Dreaming of Newport Beach

If I ever win the lotto, I'm definitely buying a place in Newport Beach. We visited Newport Beach for the first time when dropping Jammy off at UC Irvine, and it has quickly become the seaside town of my dreams.  

Family Time at Disneyland

I recently did a search on my Google Photos account and discovered that I have over 8,000 photos taken at the Disneyland Resort!  The boys were 5 and The Pea was 7 on their first visit, so we have been going there for 15 years. Gosh, we have had some great times at the Happiest Place on Earth. Once they get older, it gets more and more difficult to organize a trip with the kids. Their schedules are all over the place, it gets more expensive (gosh, teenage boys do eat a lot!), and quite frankly, they'd rather visit with their own friends than their parents!  

So when the opportunity arises to go back to the Disneyland Resort with the entire family, you don't think twice, you just take it.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland

If you are a Star Wars fan (and who isn't??), you simply must visit Star Wars Land at Disneyland or Disney World! The level of attention to detail is simply amazing, and just walking around the place is an experience. You really feel like you have stepped into a galaxy far, far away. Every little corner is crammed with machinery, landscaping, equipment, and characters from the movies.

DIY Mickey Ears Safari Hat

We're going to Disneyland and I'm so excited! We don't get to go as often as we did in years past, so every visit is a blessing... and an occasion to plan Disney-themed outfits! For this visit, I'm going with a Jungle Cruise theme: khaki shorts, collared short-sleeved shirt, and sun hat. But of course it has to be a Mickey ears hat! Check out my Mickey ears "safari" hat. I took an old hat and sewed some Mickey ears on them. To make the Mickey ears, I traced my Minnie ears onto cardboard and onto 4 pieces of black velvet cloth with about 1/2 inch allowance. Then I sewed the cloth together, turned the ears inside out, stuffed the cardboard circles into the ears to stiffen them, stuffed the ears with stuffing, then sewed them shut. Easy peasy! Okay, maybe not so easy. But with patience and a bit of sewing know-how, anyone can sew Mickey ears onto a hat. Jungle Cruise, here I come!

Tim and his clones

Today on our walk we met a dog who could have been Tim's sibling! Same color fur, same curly tail, around the same size. 

Fifty is Nifty

Holy cow, where has the time gone? Growing old is weird. Your skin sags and your hair turns grey and your vision blurs and your joints start to ache. But in your mind, you're the same as you always were, and you think the same thoughts that you did when you were 40, 30, 20, 10.  I've never been big on birthdays, but there is something about this half-century mark that does make people stop and take stock of their life. I have to say, I like where I am, and I like who I am. Here's to everyone, at whatever age, who has finally grown into their own skin and learned to love themselves!

Madonna Inn and the famous restroom I never got to see

image credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you probably know that I am obsessed with themed restrooms. Doing one's business is boring stuff, so I appreciate any effort made to lighten the atmosphere or provide some amusement or distraction. Usually I confine my rave reviews to Disney-themed restrooms; however, the restrooms at the Madonna Inn are so unique and special, they deserve a post of their own.  

The Madonna Inn is one of those well-known places that no-one really understands why they are well-known, until they visit. Given that The Pea has been studying at UCSB for almost 4 years and we drive past the Madonna Inn each time we visit, I wonder why we haven't dropped by sooner. It's right off the 101 freeway in San Luis Obispo, perfect for a bathroom or coffee break (or both). 

The outrageous, kitschy pink decor, the gigantic bakery cakes, the yummy diner food in the restaurant, the lavish souvenir shops, all make this place worth a visit. 

Madonna Inn

But it's the restrooms that have really captivated people's attention.