California, Disney, Great Friends

Isn’t that nice of them to put an R out for my arrival! Ps. Don’t I look skinny in this picture?!

I haven’t posted for several weeks because last week I went on a trip to Southern California.  This trip was made possible by the fact I had a free ticket for which I had volunteered my seat for last year (more on that later).  Plus, my dear friend Emily Whitman agreed to be my host and let me stay in her home.  It was a wonderful trip- the perfect get-away after 2 months of relentless overtime at work!

The trip started last Monday the 22nd.  Through planning on Emily’s part we coordinated our flights so we both arrived at the airport minutes from each other.  She was coming back from visiting her mother in Texas and I of course was coming from Utah.  I admire the energy Emily had after a long day of travel.  Plus, she was such a good hostess even though she was probably exhausted from having been on vacation (I swear it takes me a week to recover!).  Her mother, Maria, also flew back with her and she was kind enough to give me her room during my stay.  Maria has a lovely home with lots of space and a very homey feel.  I can’t say enough about how accommodating and kind they were to me.

After our day for travel we relaxed and had a couple of leisurely days in the Temecula area.  On Wednesday we went to downtown Temecula where I particularly enjoyed all of the fun gourmet food stores.  We went to a root beer store (I had birch beer for the first time since living in Maryland- that brought back memories!), nut shop, cheese shop, jerky store, olive oil bar and a candy shop!  Since my entire trip was so cheap I indulged and bought some amazing vanilla and fig balsamic vinegar.  I’ve already made a salad with it and it is delicious!  They have so few independent shops like the ones in Temecula in Utah that it was a nice treat and a fun afternoon.  (my camera was out of batteries but Emily took some photos that I will post when I get them).

On Thursday and Friday Maria was kind enough to watch Emily’s little one, Jackson, so myself, Emily, and her husband Derek could go to Disneyland.  They had a special Southern California 2fer ticket where for $80 you get 2 parks in 2 days.  This is not a park hopper, so you can only do one park each day.  However, this worked out fine for us- doing California Adventure Thursday and Magic Kingdom Friday.  It was the perfect time of year to go to Disneyland.  The weather was gorgeous and the crowds manageable.  I think we only waited longer than 20 minutes once for the new Toy Story ride.

Going into the trip I wondered if I would feel a like a bit of a third wheel being a single with a couple.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Emily and Derek are such an awesome couple.  They are funny, interesting and good conversationalists.  I did not feel excluded at all.  It’s always a good experience as a singlite to watch  couples and see how they interact and gel.   Emily and Derek are very thoughtful and are always making one-another laugh.  Along with my sister Megan and her husband Seth, Emily and Derek go on the list of my favorite couples.  They also always had a smile on their face- even when waiting for me (I’m a slow walker!).

The park itself was great.  I know that some of my liberal friends feel disdain for Disney and its brand of corporate cheese it sells to children.  While I admit this is true, I still enjoy it.  I love Disney films and love Disneyland. It’s hard to even explain why.  I just think it is fun!  I even like all of the schlock cheese of  Main Street and Sleeping Beauty’s castle (I found out Sleeping Beauty’s castle is in Disneyland and Cinderella’s Castle is in Disney World).  I guess I must admit to being pretty mainstream- I love Disney and shop at big box stores like Walmart, Target and Costco.

Anyway, we had a great trip.  We were very thrifty and only ate one thing at the park- the Dole Whips at the Tiki Room.  We had to eat these because the only other place you can get them is at the Dole Plantation which is about 5 minutes from my beloved Hawaii house! (Plus, amazingly enough they were a great deal $2.79 each!).   The rest of the food at the park was exorbitantly priced.  $6.99 for a hot dog! Oh my!  Most of the time we packed a lunch and ate breakfast at the hotel.  We did go to Tony Roma’s across from the park on Friday for dinner. 

On Friday I had the treat of meeting up with my friend Melissa Noyes.  I have not seen her since July because she is a first year law student at LaVern law school in Ontario, California.  Since I was flying out of Ontario (and Emily had a baby shower on Saturday- I know the woman never sleeps!) I stayed at Melissa’s house Friday night.  Even though it was just one night it was a lot of fun to catch up with an old friend.  Melissa was my MTC companion and we have remained close ever since.  She is working so hard in law school, and I really admire her dedication to her studies.  She seemed happy and as well-adjusted as a first year law student might hope to be! I’m very excited for this June and July she is coming back to Utah for an internship with the Provo Courthouse!  It will be so much fun to have another friend close by.  (By the way, Emily and Derek might be moving to Provo so Derek can go to BYU.  We will see!  I hope they do!).

This trip was perfect in many ways.  It was very inexpensive, fun, relaxing and full of great friends. I don’t know what I did in the pre-earth life to deserve such wonderful friends.  I’m particularly grateful for the friends that have lasted the longest.  As a single person my world feels constantly in flux.  There isn’t that solid companion that others enjoy.  It is a sad reality that some, maybe most, friends come and go quite quickly.  The friends that last are worth more to me than they will ever know.  Thank you to all such people in my life and particularly thanks to Emily, Derek, Maria and Melissa for making my trip so much fun! You’all are the best!

So, I almost forgot to mention the exciting news about the plane flight.  On my way home I was able to volunteer my seat again!  This means that the following has happened:

2008- Got a free ticket to Hawaii off of my grandparents mileage plus- It was a gift for my graduation.

2009 (January)- Used the free ticket and volunteer twice on my flight home from my cruise.  That means 2 free ticket.

2009 (October)- Used one of the free tickets to visit Megan for the roommate reunion.

2010 (February)- Used last free ticket to go to Southern Cali, got another free ticket.

2010- Where will I go? and can I keep the free tickets alive!  This is now my 5th free ticket from United!  Wahoo! Plus, I volunteered for Delta once in 2008 but they don’t tend to over-book like United does.  I think I am the only person who is happy when I have a connection because it gives me more opportunity to volunteer and get free tickets.  Plus, connections usually happen at hubs which ups your chance at volunteering. I should write a book- How to Never Pay for Travel!

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