Hello L.A.

So before the end of the year came around, I had Arbitration for my accident. I knew that after that, I was going to need a break. Good or bad outcome, it was going to be a stressful day and I would need something to take my mind off everything.

So the day after we arbitrated, I hopped a plane to Burbank to see Turtle.

When I landed, I went outside and greeted the sun. Oh yeah, California is WARM! I waited and waited and Turtle took forever (just kidding). Once we were on the road, we put on the GLEE: Christmas album, even though to her it didn't feel like Christmas. It was 67 degrees outside after all.

As we were driving, we decided to get brunch. I said, "I want to eat at a hole-in-the-wall dive." So we looked for a bit, and then found "Tom's #7," which from the outside appeared to be an old school burger joint. Inside it was a mexican restaurant completely staffed and patronized by non-whites. Fantastic. I got a pastrami quesadilla, because why not? Pastrami. In a quesadilla.

We went back to her place and ate, then busted out what would keep us occupied for most of the trip: Kingdom Hearts. Turtle LOVES LOVES LOVES Disney, so this seemed an apt game to share with her after her Zelda exploits.

That night Rinska came over for pizza and scattergories. It was an intense game, with each of us trying to psych one another out while coming up with the best double-point word. There were some pretty good ones, and creative answers to boot. Turtle totes held her own too. The game broke down somewhere in the sharing of round 2, because Turtle's love interest came up and then updates needed shared, which quickly evolved into speculation and debate regarding the man's intentions. This discussion lasted a good 30 or 40 minutes. We got going again and decided to cap the game because Rinska had to go. I completely fell apart the last round and she solidly whomped me. My entire second half of the sheet was empty. Most disconcerting was the fact that NONE OF US could think of a "Book Title" starting with the EASY letter R. I mean, seriously?!? These are all the titles I've come up with subsequently:

-Rakkety Tam
-Return of the King
-Rainbow Six
-River God
-(A) Raisin in the Sun (don't know if that one would count)

Should have been a cakewalk. Then they took pity since that round I scored like 4 points, leaving Rinska 2 ahead, when I'd be solidly leading the whole time; and we decided to play just one more. I vaulted forward to reclaim my spot on top of the carnage pile by scoring a commanding 14 points in one round, to Rinska's 11. Go letter G. :)

As night fell, Turtle and I cracked open the first in the next series we intend to conquer (and my #1 favorite series of all time), Dragonwing, of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Death Gate Cycle. SOOOO excited for her to read these with me.

Thursday we got up early and drove to get my friends Jules, who is interning at Disneyland, for some park hopping. We started our day with some eats at River Belle Terrace, then got in line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. It reminded me so much of the Pirate ride at Cedar Point that's closed now. :(

After that we jumped on the Big Thunder Railroad. Then it was time for a jaunt on the Carousel, because, why not?

Then we decided to be revisit our childhoods and road the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, followed by the Peter Pan ride and the infamous Tea Cups where we spun really, really, really fast. Next we hit up Space Mountain for a classic ride. It was funny to me, having been to Disney World many times before (but never Disney Land) how my memories jostled one another and got mixed up with my present. Because I distinctly remembered being "here" before as we were going places/riding rides, though I had never been in Disney Land in my life. It was kinda trippy.

We did the Astro Blasters ride and I racked up a good 60,000+ points, before we were beat enough for lunch. We tried to get into the cafe in the Pirates ride, but they were full, so we opted for Cafe Orleans instead and had yummy cheese-filled croissant things with powdered sugar. Delish.

To work off our calories, we got in line for the Matterhorn, before deciding maybe we wanted to go to another park. So we did. We waited in line for one of Turtle's favorite rides, Soarin', first. It was pretty cool. We got fast-passes for Tower of Terror, then we visited the Animation Academy to find out things like which disney character we were. I was given Flik, the ant from It's a Bug's Life, though I don't remember why they said so.

Tower of Terror was next. I didn't remember it dropping and going back up that many times, so I was pleasantly surprised. And since it was dark, I could scream my little heart out and not care :) Next, we opted for California Screamin', where I screamed (again) because I could and for fun. Next I wanted to ride the swings, telling them about how my brothers and I would try and kick the trees at Cedar Point.

Then we went to Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre. I had a whole package of Milk Duds and got sick afterward. That was a fun little ride. When we got out, we were pretty much done there so we went back to the other park. We fast-passed Indiana Jones (but didn't end up using it, because we got tired), and then there wasn't really a line for the Matterhorn so we jumped on that. I screamed as long and loud as I could just to see how long I could go. Pretty fun.

Then we did the Haunted Mansion, another of Turtle's favorites. It was so awesome to watch her geeking over rides we were getting on, because all I could think about was how those worlds were coming up in Kingdom Hearts. (So I'm a nerd,... I admit it).

Then we rounded out the evening with the Christmas version of It's A Small World, where upon our exit we got to watch some of the fireworks going off elsewhere. We decided we didn't really want to ride anything else, so we had dinner in Downtown Disney at the Naples Cafe, then shopped our hearts out at the World of Disney Store before heading home. We didn't stay all the way til closing, but we were beat.

The next day we slept in (though Turtle says we got up at 7:48am, which is not sleeping in, but I don't know), and resumed our playing of Kingdom Hearts. We did that until we went and got sushi at a little joint named the Bonsai Bar. Then we read for a bit, until Stephkins told us she was singing at a bar, and I decided I wanted to go. So we went and saw her and some of her friends singing and performing and it was SO AWESOME TO SEE HER.

Saturday morning we met up with Stephers for lunch at a thai place. I ordered the chicken stuffed into a chicken, because, why not? Then more playing. We spent hours, Turtle wanted to finish so badly!

We finally crashed and slept for like 4 hours, before resuming our finish attempt Sunday morning. We met up with Stephkins again for brunch, followed by Frisbee with the gays.

Yes. Frisbee with the gays. I told Turtle when I was planning the trip that I was missing like 4 workouts, and so I wanted to play Ultimate while I was there. So she found us "gay frisbee." I said, "They have gay frisbee?!" Turtle: "It's L.A. We have gay everything." Touche.

So we went to this park and found these two guys to throw with, because we thought they were there for that (they weren't, they were just tossing). Then we found the right group. When I went to put on my cleats, I realized I'd lost a sock. So Turtle went to look for it... and found it in the car. Oops.

Gay Frisbee was true to every stereotype you can think of for gay people. It was the HOTTEST MESS I have ever seen. I mean, just wow. On the flip-side, it may have been the best frisbee of my life. I owned them all. I told my team: "Throw it, I will catch it. Like if you're in trouble, just put it in the air and I will get it." And I did. There were some blocks I got where I basically put my hand up and that was all I had to do to stop the throw. Ridiculous. We lost our second game because my team wouldn't play defense. Nothing I can do about that. :/ So I wanted to play a third. We stayed way later than we probably should have, so then it was a scramble to get me to the airport. I checked in in my sweaty frisbee clothes before changing in the restroom into more "plane appropriate" attire. After all, I was heading back to the cold.

We did finish Kingdom Hearts and got about 15 chapters into Dragon Wing. And saw Jules and Stephkins 3x. And played Ultimate and scattergories with Rinska. It was a very successful vacation.

See you again soon L.A.!


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