Grandma’s 103rd Birthday in Seattle

8 November 2017

A 2 hour airport delay means shepherd’s pie & bangers & mash meals at the SJC airport Britannia Arms with a teal margarita, sticky toffee pudding, and a friendly Lab from Germany, then finally in the air with a pretty pink moonrise over the clouds. Safely in Seattle now for Grandma’s 103rd birthday party tomorrow!

Happy 103rd Birthday to Grandma! Another great house party with mimosas plus bakery quiche & several cakes all courtesy of of cousin Stephen! Loved the toddler birthday card modified with an extra century, the Scrabble tiles card, and the world record plaque for most buckets of weeds…haha!

We visited Grandma at rehab today so I played piano for a small audience in the lobby and Mom sang with me for a couple songs. :)

Fun afternoon with my Peterson cousins!

We should have brought the giant birthday balloons to rehab yesterday in the van…haha!Southwest SeaTac’s Halloween decorations are still up with a cute Seattle skyline painted on a real pumpkin, and both our San Jose and Sacramento flights are at the same gate…haha! Goodbye to Seattle but we will see Grandma again for Christmas!

Midsummer Scream & the Queen Mary

3 August 2017

In July my Halloween Scream Team spent the weekend on The Queen Mary ship hotel in Long Beach while we attended the Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival! We also took a couple paranormal investigation tours onboard the “haunted” ship, so the full report is over on Britta Blvd where my other Halloween and party stuff lives…

http://brittablvd.com/blog/2017/08/midsummer-scream-for-halloween-2017/

MS2017-ScreamTeamMy Eerie Elegance Halloween Scream Team decided to take a road trip to a new Halloween festival in Long Beach! This was only the second year for Midsummer Scream, but we had seen good reviews of last year and we had a great time. Interesting panels, good instructional demonstrations, lots of inspiration, I had fun wearing a pinup girl style spiderweb dress I barely finished before driving down plus a graveyard skirt mashup outfit, but we actually didn’t buy anything since I had just received my new Hot Wire Foam Factory electric knife set and foam MS2017-IMG_1431coat products the night before for my birthday! It was fantastic to be able to quiz the company owners and see products in use! Since the costume ball was on board the Queen Mary, we decided to stay the weekend there in the vintage ship hotel and also attend a couple of their ghost hunter tours, with me wearing my Madame Leota dress with crystal ball earrings for Dining with the Spirits…and I thought for sure something gory would win the costume contest at the party packed full of hundreds of people, but guess what?!? Keep reading for the whole story and photos

 

 

 

 

Weekend Camping in Yosemite…with snow in June!

14 June 2017

We knew we wanted to camp in Yosemite, and later in summer or September is always so warm for me, we thought we’d try for June, which meant getting online before 7am in January when the campsites become available 5 months ahead. We were trying for North Pines but half that campsite was closed for possible flooding, wise since we drove through and several sites were indeed still flooded mid-June! We ended up with the last spot in Upper Pines next to the bathroom & dumpster, but we still had a great time…who knew after such a gorgeous hiking day to Nevada Falls that it would SNOW in JUNE?!?

 

Friday June 9th

We made it to Yosemite just at sunset, and I had to bring my own rock from home, but I have finally made egg in a hole on a rock on a campfire and it was perfect! 😃 red wine, Brie fondue with crackers, sweet potato salad, and s’mores rounded out tonight’s campfire cooking. Hiking tomorrow since there’s a chance of SNOW on Sunday! 😳❄️☃

Saturday June 10th

Tons more photos and videos later, just a quickie post now since not enough signal…almost 10 miles in 8 hours today starting at 4035 ft above sea level climbing up to 5607 ft at the top of Nevada Falls and back down, walking through a bonus snowmelt waterfall, drenched by mist from Nevada Falls, and the Vernal Falls Mist Trail was truly epic even with double rainbows “all the way!” Glen is already asleep in front of the fire after dinner and I’m pooped too! Rain and/or snow forecasted for tomorrow so we will hang around the Yosemite Valley floor checking out as many waterfalls as possible…good night!

Here is the full album of our 10-mile 2000ft up & down Saturday hike on the John Muir Trail to Nevada Falls & Mist Trail along Vernal Falls. Truly epic amounts of water were amazing to see!

Sunday June 11th

It was already raining before 10am at our campsite, and tiny hail or sleet in the valley with clouds all around the peaks, but we decided to drive to Glacier Point anyway. By 5000 ft up we were driving though snow flurries and some snow was still on the ground! When we got to Glacier Point we laughed since we couldn’t see anything through the clouds, but we stayed long enough for enough clouds to blow away and back again to have some stellar views after all! We could see our full hike to both waterfalls and even zoom my iPhone through Glen’s binoculars to see people at the top of Vernal Falls! Halfdome was never completely clear since the clouds stuck to its face, but I got to pet a gorgeous adorable friendly Malamute dog! We found new tshirts for each of us at the gift shop, and then it started snowing again!

As we headed downhill from Glacier Point, the weather started to clear, so Tunnel View was absolutely stunning! We got drenched in the mist of Bridalveil Falls, got moody and sunny photos of Halfdome, and walked to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls where we stood in more waterfall mist. Definitely a difference when you’re already chilly from snowy weather rather than overheated from a sunny hike! Glad we had a clear afternoon since more rain due this evening, plus maybe even snow again by 5am…

Thankfully the canopy we set up this morning kept our table and wood dry, and it was clear long enough this evening to start a roaring fire and cook dinner, but by dessert the rain started winning so we moved the canopy to the fire’s edge, and waited out the rain. After all our cleanup we moved the canopy over our tent since it might snow by 5am! Sure glad we have wool socks, fleece, and down comforters in our little tent since it’s already 37F! Isn’t it almost midsummer? 😉

Monday June 12th

Two deer strolled right through our Upper Pines campsite Sunday morning right by me! Before we needed the rain fly over the tent, we could see Glacier Point through our tent window, but Halfdome was through the trees over the bathrooms. At least running water, mirrors, and flush toilets were much better than the San Simeon portapotties! It was an annoying campsite because so many people kept walking right through our site to the bathrooms or dumpster, but at least we were actually camping in Yosemite Valley, which is an online crapshoot 5 months in advance! It was really cold last night, but thankfully it was dry enough this morning by the time we got up that we had an easier time packing, but we will still need to set up the tent at home to dry out completely.

We checked out from our campsite, spotted other people taking my wildflowers on front of Halfdome photo, were amazed at a giant log perched on a rock midrver, and spent about 30 minutes looking for parking by Yosemite Village…even Monday traffic was crazy! We saw a little of the visitors center, then walked to the hotel for our fancy lunch reservation. The trademark name issue is still under dispute so most signs have been updated to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, but the paper maps and some trail signs still say The Ahwahnee.

To end our camping weekend we splurged with a sit-down meal in the grand dining room of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, originally the Ahwahnee Hotel. They asked if we wanted to sit in the area where Queen Elizabeth sat, so of course we said yes! Sadly you can barely see Yosemite Falls through the giant window anymore because of a young tree growing and covering the view, so I took a photo of the painting showing what the view used to be. It was a lovely lunch and a delicious dessert!

Since we left later on Friday than we hoped, we took Hwy 140 into Yosemite since Google Maps claimed it was almost an hour less due to rush hour traffic leaving the Bay Area. I’d never driven that way so I missed my traditional first valley view vista point, plus there’s no big park entrance sign, so we already had planned to take Hwy 120 home. Good thing since Hwy 140 was closed today due to a new rockslide! We got the photos I wanted, and Glen wanted to start a travel sticker collection on the car carrier, so we ceremonially put on our first sticker at the big entrance sign! We made it all the way home by 10:30pm but are exhausted, so full unpacking will be tomorrow. Good night!

Orlando 2017 – hitting the highlights

10 May 2017

Glen had his company conference in Orlando again, so I met him for an extended weekend of just hitting the highlights with one day for the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, plus a couple days of DisneyWorld so we could add a 3rd Disney park to our list for 2017! We stayed at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village with a savannah view so got to see animals from our balcony!

Wednesday May 3rd

Already one flight down, now on my way to Orlando to meet Glen for Universal & DisneyWorld!

First stop in Orlando was the new Dress Shop at Disney Springs, where I was absolutely delighted to find TWO adorable dresses that fit me!!! Boy was I lucky since the Haunted Mansion dress was _only_ available in my size and the non-Disney purple & aqua Madame-Leota-inspired one was only my size and a small! I would have bought the purple bat bag if it was a little larger. Glen was very patient to indulge me and help with zippers. 😉 Now I can be a different Haunted Mansion princess both days at Disney!

We enjoyed our evening at Disney Springs, including pizza, ice cream, window shopping, and hats! 😉

Thursday May 4th

90F and muggy today so first priority were Wizarding World photos in Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade & Hogwarts before I melted in my new outfit! My wand still works and the first spells I tried were the two unmapped spells – proud I remembered the gestures! Bonus was that the staff loved my outfit so much that they put us in the Hogwarts fast line! Drawback is I skipped half of inside Hogwarts where I was hoping for photos! 😉

We got soaked on Jurassic Park, rode Kong Skull Island (which had impressive animatronics & 3D video but almost nothing to do with the movie), had a hilarious velociraptor encounter, and back for Honeydukes snacks at air-conditioned Hogs Head pub. Now boarding the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley for the rest of Universal Studios…

We were being teased about “glamping” vs camping…haha!

Sure glad we saw the dragon flames two years ago since we never saw flames today! We saw Kreacher peek out of Grimmauld Place, Madame Malkin’s has a projector dress & plaid deerstalker witches hats, Gringotts and the Mummy are still fantastic rides, and Simpsons nachos were pretty tasty!

The new Jimmy Fallon ride “Race Through New York” was cute, but my favorite parts were the pre-show with the barbershop pop songs and classroom instruments! 😀

Good thing we strolled through the Monster Cafe this morning since it had closed by the time we were leaving! The electrical lab display was new but most of the rest was the same as earlier trips. We did find one store with some fun shirts and toys, but nothing usable for Haunted Hollywood this year. 😉

Friday May 5th

Hooray, we saw animals from our double balcony at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village, and zebras fom the lobby! We couldn’t book until 33 days ago so the only savannah view room left was a suite, so we have two TVs and two bathrooms! Now for Disney parks today & tomorrow!

First park was aqua-themed Hollywood Studios with the original and best Tower of Terror & Star Tours before lunch! I’ve gotten so many comments on my new purple dress, and I discovered it even has nice, deep POCKETS!!!

Glen hadn’t seen the drive in restaurant so glad we could get in and get the drivers seat and glowing cocktails! Love the cheesy movie loops and snack bar ads!

Glen had never seen the Great Movie Ride (Wicked Witch animatronic = Halloween goals!), and I LOVE the Toy Story Mania line more than the ride. 😉 We saw a little of the Star Wars show, and now it’s time for EPCOT…

No special edition Elsa Magic bands at our hotel or Hollywood Studios, so we went to Guest Relations so they could look up which stores actually have them…score! Spaceship Earth now asks you questions and puts your photos in a silly future story…they sent us to the Great Wall of China! Hahaha…

Not only is it Margarita Friday but it’s Cinco de Mayo so we went to the Mexico pavilion to stand in a long line for a margarita-to-go at Cava de Tequila! Sure would be nice to eat at the restaurant someday but we couldn’t get reservations. At least I got the chance to ride the ride this time. :)

Longest ride line today was for Test Track, but we got to design a car so guess what color I picked. Haha!

We both survived the intense orange team for Mission: Space without getting sick, and can you tell which Japanese floating gate is in Japan vs which is in EPCOT? 😉

Earlier today Glen said, “You want to meet Anna & Elsa for photos, don’t you.” I said if the line was reasonable then definitely, and we decided reasonable would be 45 minutes or less. Our Fast Pass for the Frozen ride wasn’t until 6:50pm, and when we finished Mission: Space, the Disney app said the Royal Sommerhus line was only 20 minutes! Not only did we not wait very long, the house decor is adorably Norwegian, and Glen stole the show when he told Anna he likes her better than her sister, so she had to repeat it to Elsa! He has been emphatic how Anna should get more respect as the true hero, so he asked if she would do her hero pose from the end of the movie. She said he could do it for her…nailed it! 😉

The first thing I did when we booked our hotel over a month ago was to get a FastPass for Frozen Ever After since we heard the stand by times were often still over an hour. We were so impressed with the state-of-the-art effects that we skipped the fireworks show and came back at closing to see it again!

The lefse was all gone on my 2012 trip, and I always wanted to try it, so we had our chance to split one. Glen has already tasted my mom’s lefse twice now, and I prefer her much thinner and more tender lefse! The giant troll is still there in the gift shop, but most of the space has been taken over by Frozen merchandise. 😉

We needed some protein for dinner, and we got inside the Oktoberfest hall just in time for the last music show! I love how they sneak in pickled herring salad on the buffet even though that’s more Scandinavian than German. We shared a flight of German wines that were refreshing and enjoyed the kids bouncing around to the fun traditional music. :)

We left EPCOT and two monorails later with the tail end of fireworks, we still had an hour of fun at the Magic Kingdom, so we started with Pirates of the Caribbean!

Our third Disney resort in three months, and our third park today, but no Haunted Mansion until tonight! We ran around front to get on again once more before the park closed, then a nice Haunted Mansion cast member helped us take photos outside! A couple castle photos and a bus ride after over 9 miles and over 22,000 steps means we are pooped! Animal Kingdom and more Magic Kingdom tomorrow…

Saturday May 6th

We decided we needed more sleep, we saw lots of animals out our window this morning, plus some more out the lobby verandas, so we skipped Animal Kingdom for just a quick breakfast at the main lodge, and we are on our way to the Magic Kingdom all day!

First stop was our FastPass for Enchanted Tales with Belle, an adorable interactive show for kids with more really impressive state-of-the-art effects! The new Fantasyland has a whole Beauty & the Beast area now, but boy is it packed with people today!

Sure glad we had a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion since the line was well over an hour!

We enjoyed sitting down inside for lunch in Liberty Square. Glad we had our last FastPass for Splash Mountain! I was trying to stay looking nice for dinner with the Beast tonight, but I still got soaked!

Delicious Dole Whip achieved, an adorable kids pirate lesson show with Jack Sparrow, and a Magic Band treasure map to win FastPasses for Pirates! Good thing since there are no digital FP available the Pirates for the rest of the day!

By the time we got to Tomorrowland, Space Mountain was closed, so since neither of us had ever ridden the PeopleMover we decided to try it. We couldn’t believe the super-long line would only be a 10 minute wait, but it was, and was “surprisingly entertaining” like the cast member said. 😉 When Space Mountain reopened it claimed a 2-hour line, but thankfully we were through in just over a hour…woohoo!

We made it back to Liberty Square with just enough time to shop before our 8:10 Haunted Mansion FastPass! We had already eyed our favorites in the morning, and after being spotted as superfans with Glen told he was “late for work” we were shown their two ghosts in bottles. The Hatbox Ghost shirt was teal and the printed dress adorable, but the coolest had to be the custom lenticular changing “spirit photography” portraits where they spookify you onsite! 😁

Be Our Guest was a fun as we hoped! The decor is amazing, including the West Wing with the floating rotating rose that drops petals between lightning flashes. Glen requested the photo of us dancing in the ballroom by our table! The Grey Stuff was indeed delicious, along with the charcuterie plate, seafood pasta & braised beef with our wine pairings. My big camera was freaking out, then the cast member I gave it to left when I was meeting the Beast, so I might just buy a Disney photo or two!

After dinner at the Beast’s Castle we had just enough time to get in the Haunted Mansion line so Glen could finally play with the interactive gravestones! We were on the ride for our 5th time this trip during closing of our last day, fitting that our hitchhiking ghost held up a sign saying “California here were come!”

Not quite as many steps as yesterday, but still too exhausted tonight and we have a super-early wake up call to fly home tomorrow! I’ll let you guess what our last ride was… 😉

Sunday May 7th

After about 4 hours sleep, we were up before dawn to get to the airport home, then Glen’s flight was delayed so I spent all afternoon by myself hauling my crap to the curb until he finally arrived, thankfully even with his luggage…long day and back to work tomorrow! At least the kitties have already forgiven me for being gone. 😉

Cambria Camping with Wildflower Superbloom & Hearst Castle

1 May 2017

Back in January Glen had planned a late-April Cambria camping weekend with special Hearst Castle tickets, but when April arrived and I saw so many photos of the Southern California “superbloom” in Carizzo Plain National Monument, we added that on our way to Cambria camping. Even though 2017 has been a record rainfall year, the bathrooms were still closed for drought reasons at San Simeon Creek Campground, so camping was even trickier than we had hoped. 😉

 

Friday April 21st

The peak superbloom at Carizzo Plain was a week ago, but the “average” bloom was still very pretty! So glad we could go the extra distance on our way to our weekend camping trip!

We set up our campsite in time to stroll along the beach at sunset before a delicious seafood dinner in Cambria!

Saturday April 22nd

We slept well in our tent and were up early to cook a yummy breakfast! Now for more fun at the coast today!

Current status…Glen had never set up his teal & gold hammock before! My first hammock experience and it was easy & comfy!

We got lucky with a chili cookoff in downtown Cambria, so we had a tasty lunch of 12 chilis! We saw the original glass prisms from the local lighthouse, it’s a lovely day, the shops are cute, and I found an antique teal hat to add to my collection!

Both wine tasting flights completed and two bottles purchased for campfire dinners tonight & tomorrow! Next stop, the special evening Hearst Castle tour with period costumes…

Hearst Castle has special evening tours only in spring & fall with guests in period attire, especially in the evening sunlight. It was really fun to see them sprinkled around rooms, patios and even dressing rooms and tennis courts! More Hearst Castle tours tomorrow…

Successful campfire cooking tonight with sautéed mushrooms, corn on the cob, toasted sandwiches, and pies with homemade strawberry filling, but can’t get cozy by the fire when the metal firepit cans are so tall…darn!

Sunday April 23rd

Another delicious breakfast with bacon, scrambled eggs, and French toast! Glen invested in a portable shower and changing tent so he enjoyed 8 gallons of hot water this morning! I tease him that he is glamping, not camping, but I have to admit using my full queen air mattress, real sheets, & down comforters inside the tent is much comfier than sleeping bags and hard ground. 😉

Four different tours in over five hours straight at Hearst Castle today, and we probably still didn’t see everything…whew!

Elephant seal beach then searching for moonstones near Moonstone Beach…but boy was it freezing with the wind blowing so hard!

Whole wheat coconut oil homemade bisquick started as an epic fail of stickiness but ended up a success by sausage pig in blanket #2! Green beans, sweet potato salad, wine, & s’mores rounded out tonight’s campfire menu. Sure wish we could reach the fire better since it is super chilly tonight! At least the wind died down since this afternoon!

Monday April 24th

Breakfast burritos with leftover sweet potato salad & mushroom hash for our last camping breakfast. Goodbye San Simeon Creek Campground! Hope your water is back on for sinks & toilets before we visit again!

We ate a quick picnic then walked the extremely windy Bluff Trail at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, with stunning flowers & beach cliffs, ground squirrels popping up then hiding from turkey vultures, then since the loop back wasn’t as windy, we cooled down in the wind by showing off our new shirts. 😉

Home again! Here are some more souvenirs from our fun weekend at the Central Coast! Moonstones and shells from Moonstone Beach, Hearst Castle 2003 shot glass compared to 2017 shot glass, antique teal hat, and sparkly aqua bracelet.

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