Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

A couple weeks ago, my sister and her friend came to California for their spring break. While I didn’t get to participate in their full week of LA festivities, we DID spend the first weekend of their visit at Disneyland in full-on tourist mode.

Jen’s friend had never been to California or any Disney parks, so for the first time in pretty much forever (and especially since my CP days when I learned how to run around the parks like a crazy person) we did Disney the super touristy way. And it was SO. MUCH. FUN.


We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel (which has recently finished a huge remodel) on Saturday night so we could make the most of our two days at the parks- including the Extra Magic Hour you get when staying on property.


This turned out to be a HUGE blessing, since not only is it a great hotel, but it down poured most of Saturday and it was really helpful to have a place to go dry off and recharge in the middle of the afternoon. (We seriously used the hair dryer on our clothes and filled to tub with hot water to warm our frozen feet.)

The rain chased most of the crowds away, so we actually ended up seeing most of both parks.


Surprisingly, there weren’t long lines for Splash Mt on a rainy day

Sunday, we started off the day with some Fantasyland rides and then The Plaza Inn character breakfast with Minnie and friends! I love character meals and it had been way way too long since the last time I’d been to one. Nothing says breakfast like Mickey waffles!!


Max loooooved us

Finally, since it was Jen’s birthday, and Jessa’s first visit, I took the opportunity to use a Disney service I’d never tried before- their gift basket service! I called a couple of days in advance of our arrival and they brought the (somewhat customizable) baskets right to our hotel room!


We had a great weekend- it was so fun taking things a little slower and taking part in some of the things we tend to skip when we’re dashing around the park at light-speed ­čÖé

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One of the last things we did while my parents were in town was to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was only about a 45-minute drive up to Simi Valley, where the museum/library is located, and was a GREAT way to spend a fairly-dreary overcast day.

I’d never been to a Presidential library before, so I can’t speak to how this one compares to others, but the Reagan library is very well laid-out and has some great interactive elements and unique memorabilia.

First, the views from where the Library sits are fantastic.


The museum walks through Ronald Reagan’s life from birth to death; has some extra exhibits devoted to The White House and his presidency; and has a room dedicated to Nancy’s early life, and her interests as the First Lady.


Probably some delicious recipes in here...

They recreated the Oval Office, with replicas of the furniture the Reagan’s used.


Nancy’s room included many of the iconic outfits she worn as First Lady:


That ┬áincluded this dazzler… (worn as a joke)


One of the most unique aspects of the museum is that it includes the ACTUAL Air Force One that the Reagan’s flew on. They were able to include it because they were upgrading planes and weren’t going to be using it anymore anyway — Reagan was actually the one who ordered new planes to be built and used…but they weren’t completed before the end of his terms!

You can walk through the plane, but alas, are not allowed to take pictures. They have a typewriter sitting at one of the desks on the plane — apparently they have had to explain to multiple elementary school students exactly what a typewriter is and why it was used. That was mind-boggling to me, as I actually owned a typewriter in middle school, and played with my grandfather’s as a kid. I really shouldn’t be surprised, given how fast technology moves lately, but I definitely was.


I took this picture of a picture (as ridiculous as that sounds) because they are in front of Ashford Castle in Ireland, which is where my family stayed during part of our visit back when I was in high school. This photo was in the large room holding Air Force One, as the room was dedicated to Reagan’s foreign travel during his presidency.


One of the interactive-ish elements to the museum was in the room dedicated to Reagan’s love of horses and his ranch.


You could go horseback riding with Reagan!


One of the last rooms of the museum had a mini in-depth replica of the White House – it travels so it’s actually up-to-date decoration wise, and includes decorations that the Obama family have implemented in their personal quarters.


Overall, I would highly recommend a trip up to visit if you’re in the Southern California area and looking for an engaging afternoon activity.


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“Pullitzer and Hearst they think they got us, do they got us? No!” — Newsies


Be still my media-history-and-disney-musical-loving heart. The last major visit of our short Carmel trip before heading home was to a glorious place just north of Los Angeles (in San Simeon) called Hearst Castle.

There are ZEBRAS there (but we didn’t get to see any.)


They kept bears here in the heyday


Some of the wildlife still on property

More importantly Hearst Castle is the lifelong project of Mr. William Randolph Hearst — the newspaper/media mogul of the 20s-40s who was the real-life inspiration for the movie Citizen Kane.


Hearst Castle is also the inspiration for Xanadu in the movie.


Mr. Hearst is also the bad guy in the musical Newsies — the true life story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 (in song!)


But back to the estate…

The castle is built on land that Hearst’s parents purchased in 1865 — his mother was completely against his plans to build a lavish home on the land. So he waited until she died and then did it anyway. Construction on the castle estate started in 1919…and continued for the next twenty-eight years until William Hearst got sick in 1947 and halted work on the grounds.


Everything behind us (waaaay in the distance) is part of the estate


According to our very informative tour guide, Mr. Hearst had a huge shopping addiction, which explained why there were SO many knickknacks (very expensive, one-of-a-kind knickknacks…) on the property. There were SO many gorgeous marble statues. His shopping was actually so out of control that he had to send his employees out to buy things for him — if an art seller or antique dealer knew it was Mr. Hearst looking for a piece, they would automatically TRIPLE their prices!


The entire property sits at the very top of a hill, and is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. It consists of the main house Casa Grande:


Casa Grande


The main parlor -- and Charlie Chaplin hang out spot


This solid silver lamp belonged to Hearst's mother


A lot of European inspiration...


The formal dining room (seated 22!)


A fan of Heinz ketchup, I see.


Overstated opulence...and paper napkins


His personal movie theater



I've always wanted a chair like this


And three “smaller” (a relative term) guest houses:


Inside Casa del Sol -- the medium sized guest house


Lovely fashion choices of the time


GORGEOUS ceilings


Delicate details everywhere

There’s also an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool.


Neptune Pool


The tile of the indoor pool is made of pure gold.


The estate also has its own airfield, which was used by entertainment and political persons. Getting an invite to Hearst Castle could propel a Hollywood career to superstardom — frequent guests included Charlie Chaplin (whom guests nicknamed the court jester, he was there so often), the Marx Brothers and Clark Gable.

Hearst Castle is now a California State Park and a historic landmark, which is why large pieces of the property are open to tours.

We were on the entry level tour — it gives a great overview of the estate. I’m considering going back sometime between April and October for a garden tour since all the tours are so reasonably priced.┬áIt’s a really great place for film buffs and historians alike,┬áand I highly recommend it if you’re in the area!

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