Thursday, February 17, 2011

California Dreamin'...

So I guess I should blog a little about my trip to California. I apologise in advance if this becomes garbled, incomplete, or otherwise a mess. It's just a few random - possibly vague - thoughts from the trip. Pictures are still being editted and if I think about it later I may share more photos than what I do here, but for now... this is what you get.

The wedding went really well. There was a tad bit of confusion, but for the most part it was good. The two Hailles were so cute as they gripped each other's hand and walked down the aisle. I was worried Haille Rae would stop when the crowd all went "awwwwww" when they got a glimpse of the flower girls but all she did was grip Hailee Elizabeth's hand tighter. They made it down stopped in front of Gaylord and looked up like "okay, now what." I waved them over to their moms and they sat down.

The photography was okay. I wasn't too happy with the rules that teh church gave - but this is a church that has a gay wedding coordinator, no joke, so it was eye opening in lots of ways. I had a lot of stone faced guys to work with, too, so I feel a lot of the posed shots (and there are way too many of those) look more like prison line ups.

Thank God I had the 100-400mm lens because I was standing in the back of the church the entire ceremony. Because when God is invited in (um, WHAT?) the photographer has to stay away. Because God doesn't like photographers (I guess, because that's the only reason I can think of for disallowing it). Apparently photographers are also distracting and noisy. Um, yeah, more so than the kids in the audience, oh, that's right, they had to be quiet or go away too. Whatever. Give me a good ol' Southern Baptist hitchin' and BBQ any day! LOL Lutherans, I tell ya!

Rules aside, Judy looked fab, and it was a happy fun time. The reception was fun. The Hailles spent the entire night on the dance floor. The food was REALLY good.. and I got to see my cousins and aunt and uncle rock it out on the dance floor (and my mom... in her bridesmaid dress... epic). When Billie Jean started playing my mom busted out her Michael Jackson floor moppin moves. Oh dear.

Mom left for home the day after, she needed to be home for Duane's 16th birthday, Jake and Jillian also left that night. I got to spend the next couple of days with my aunt Becca and uncle Rick. I hadn't ever really spent a lot of time with them, especially not as an adult, and I loved my time there. Aunt Becca is so much fun, and Uncle Rick keeps it real. I got to know them in a way I'd never been able to before, and it really put my heart and mind at ease about how the family looks at me. But, those feelings will come at another time in another blog. Let's just say there were a lot of... guarded emotions that are starting to bubble up. Hurt that I didn't realize was as deep as it was has come to teh surface and I'm still fighting to regain control of the emotions.

Needless to say, the foursome of Rick, Becca, Jake and Jillian were a Godsend in so many ways. Even after we made it to Disney.

The day before Disney we took Haille and Juanita on a tour of Nevada City and Grass Valley. I love the old mining town feel of the two, and I took a lot of pictures of my favorite spots. The Mansion at the Empire Mine is my absolute favorite place to photograph. I wish Judy and Gaylord had done some pre-wedding photos there, but alas it was not meant to be. Actually, I kinda wish they'd had the wedding there, too.

The weather was great for walking around, and Haille was surprisingly interested in everything, which was great. I was afraid she'd get bored in a hurry. She loved exploring the Mine, and only got scared when we went down the mine shaft (which they told us they are planning to expand as soon as they can get more funding from somewhere - seeing as how California is broke).

Disney... well... I had a lot of high hopes that were quickly dashed. And it wasn't Uncle Walt's fault. I wish we could have done it differently. Hindsight being what it was. I wish we'd stuck with the plan. I wish we'd taken a break midday like we promised. I wish we'd had more time to do some things, and I wish... well... A dream is a wish your heart makes.

There were magical moments. Seeing Haille the last night dance with Goofy and scratch Pluto's ear is exactly what we had hoped for when we planned the trip. Seeing her dressed up like a princess was magical... and listening to her scream and laugh in delight as we went through teh Matterhorn... and get excited that the same ghost sat with us each time we rode Haunted Mansion was special.

I'd love to take her again. I really would... but I'd want to do it the way I do Disney. With planning. And input. And I don't know.. naps. LOL.

Thank God for my best friend, she helped me through my frustration. We've decided Disneyland is our trip for 2012. Yes, I know I said no more Disney until 2014... but I don't feel that I did Disney right - or at all, even though there are pictures to say otherwise - this last time. I need to go back to Disneyland and really feel the magic and feel Uncle Walt... so August 2012 here we come! (I hope, I gotta get back to nationals that year too).

Jillian came to Disney with us one day - after we, once again, changed plans five hundred times and went to Hollywood for the morning. So we didn't get to do a whole lot with her at Disney, but it was a welcome relief. I love me some cousin time. One of my favorite parts was when we ditched the family and went back to the car so that I could change into dry warm clothes for teh evening. And then we spent a lot of time chatting while we sat holding spots for Fantasmic for the family while they watched the fireworks from the hub.

The next day when everyone went to the beach I met up with my friend Mackenzie at the parks. It was a great day to just get away and we had fun (or, at least I did!). We hit all of the rides I'd missed previously, and then she made sure I saw Aladdin. Which is, by far, the most amazing production I've seen in the parks... aside from Fantasmic in Disney World. It was just wow. Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom comes close, but Aladdin is seamless and reminds me more of Lion King on Broadway in the way they interpret the story.

This was also the final day that the family was all in California, so I said good bye to Mackenzie and met up with the fam for dinner at Goofy's Kitchen. The magic finally hit everyone as Haille spent an amazing 2.5 hours hanging with the characters and having a blast. Goofy's Kitchen tops Chef Mickey's in food AND character interaction. Though, the characters are a bit random (we had Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, Minnie... and Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. Not sure how that works).

I had the next day all to myself after I moved from the hotel we all stayed at to the Anaheim Plaaza I headed for the park. First stop was the Carnation Cafe (okay, I lied first stop was Donald Duck) where I had my Mickey Waffle. All of a sudden it was DISNEY. I met Oscar who has been there since the park openned. He's the longest working employee Disney has. He autographed my menu and I got my picture with him. LOVED my experience with him. Great guy. Hope to meet him next year.

I spent most of my day taking pictures. I love Disney for that one reason, you can never get enough photographs. I haven't even started editing them all. I spent most of the day at Disneyland, but did pop over to California Adventure to catch another showing of the Aladdin Musical Spectacular. Genie is freaking awesome.

I also took a break and walked over to the Garden Walk and had me some Johnny Rockets. Then it was back to my hotel room where I grabbed my tripod and headed back to the park. I spent the hours before closing taking long exposures of just about everything. Again, haven't even started editing those. Before leaving I did my ritual of going to the partners statue when no one else was there and thanked Uncle Walt. I know, it's totally cheesey, but as I told Haille when she asked who that statue was with Mickey, without Uncle Walt, magic wouldn't exist. He built that park, it was his. I walked in his footsteps, I paid homage to his window... I don't worship the man, but I do admire and look up to him. He inspired this nation, and is one of the last true innovators we've had.

So that's the basic rundown. Pictures will have to come later, I am tired and I have to work in the morning.

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