Slog. Our trip west started with a rush and finished with a hard slog through airports and bitter winds. First, though, we had one more day in Disneyland.
Actually, it started much better than that. It was our early admission day, so we got to Fantasyland figuring we'd get to hit a bunch of rides right away. That's not quite how it worked out. The line for Mr. Toad was really long before the park officially opened. We never did get on the Peter Pan ride, though we met the man-child in the flesh. Little Sister Hammer refused to ride any attraction where she found the entrance music objectionable. None of the rides scared her too badly, but ominous music really did her in.
I was rather disappointed by our trip through Fantasyland. I thought we'd hit more than we did. Then Ms. Hammer forced us all to It's a Small World when I really wanted to get to Toon Town for the Roger Rabbit ride before that line got long.
It's a Small World was about as annoying as every adult complains. The music is an incessant assault on sanity. The kids liked it that. I was full of bad karma as we stepped off the ride, which really puts the lie to the charlatans behind the Secret.
Before we exited the attraction area, we were stopped by two friendly ladies. Maybe not the kind of friendly ladies I was thinking of during our drive down Hollywood with a certain Los Angeles-based filmmaker, but friendly nevertheless. I'm a busy professional. As a matter of habit, I was prepared to push straight through.
That would have been a huge blunder. The ladies were passing out all-access fast passes for both parks. The only thing better would have been permission to whack people in the back of the head with a foam paddle as we raced past them in line. Sadly, that was not forthcoming.
Splash Mountain was closed. We'd been on Space Mountain once before. The grown up rides at the California Adventure Park were out. Other than that, we hit every major attraction in record time.
Faces were painted, thrills were had, children were conned into fun experiences. Little Sis and I saw the fireworks from the Astro Blaster. Big Sister and Ms. Hammer took the Star Tour one extra time. Ms. Hammer even made a reservation at a pretty decent restaurant in the park so we had fresh food for the first time in 3 days. Good thinking, that.
(Here's a DL diet, by the way. Go to Disneyland. Eat as much crap as you want. Strap a 30 pound child to your shoulders or back and walk for 15 miles a day. Guaranteed to drop pounds.)
The real adventure came at 2 the next morning. We had a 6:30 flight out of LA, so we were supposed to be at the airport by 4:30. I planned to get to LAX at 4:00, figuring something would eat up some time -- checking out of the hotel, getting gas, returning the rental car, or waiting for the shuttle to the terminal. Everything went as smoothly as possible, so we ended up at the airport at 4:00 on the dot.
Too bad no Northwest employees were there to check bags. In fact, no one was there to check bags. We stood in line for 30 minutes until some personnel showed up. Came time to show our ID and Little Sis had to pee. Ms. took Little Sis to pee, so she ended up boarding the plane without ever being carded. Crack security system, that.
The homebound flight was much better than the outbound flight. We were sitting together, which was a plus. The kids loved the turbulence. Little Sis provoke 2 rows of laughter by exclaiming "That was awesome!" after one bout of bouncing. (She went on to amuse the people around her with a spirited argument between her shoes.)
That's really what I took away from the vacation -- the recognition that I'm a goddam lucky dad. The kids are impossibly different. Little Sister Hammer is a freakin' sunbeam. She draws people to her and lights people up. Whether it's the boy who just wants to pat her head during the parade or the people on the plane who can't help but giggle with her. Big Sister Hammer is off the charts in her own way. She can read anything. She might not know what any of the words in a sentence mean, but she can read any word she's ever heard. Probably a few she's only imagined.
One of my favorite BSH moments was waiting in line the first day. We were playing a game, taking turns naming animals that started with the last letter of the previous animal. We got deep into the game and BSH had to come up with an N. N is tough. I've been known to break out the Nilgiri Thar, because they are featured in the Minnesota Zoo. With all the obvious Ns gone, BSH came up with Narwhal. That wasn't my favorite moment. The lady behind us in line interrupted to say, "How does a little girl like you know what a narwhal is?". That wasn't my favorite moment, either. My favorite moment came just after, when I realized how utterly unsurprised I was that Big Sister knew what a narwhal was. I don't take her gifts for granted -- but I am acquainted with them.
The lines were long, Big Sister wouldn't speak to me for an hour after Space Mountain and 20 minutes after Indiana Jones, the kids weren't overflowing with gratitude, the other guests were obnoxious, and everything was ridiculously overpriced. But I had a great vacation.