Thursday, January 31, 2013

Carlsbad, CA Sunsets

I really can't get enough of the sunsets just outside of our door every day. When I get tired of this tiny basement apartment I just turn around and enjoy the view. I am stunned each and every day. What an amazing place to live!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Potato Chip Rock" aka Mt. Woodson Trail at Lake Poway, CA

We finally made it to "Potato Chip Rock" this afternoon.  After a late start, we made our way up the steep climb speckled with beautiful views along the way despite the clouds.

Upon finally reaching the top we wondered how to actually get up on top of the rock to have our pictures taken. As we pondered a guy near by showed us how it was done (jumping from one rock to the next or scrambling up the rock).  Sam went first as I was very timid about jumping over the gap between the two rocks.  Sam assisted me over when it was my turn.  I wasn't too nervous while up on the rock itself, however almost had a panic attack on the way back down.  I didn't feel I had the upper body strength to push/pull myself back up onto the other rock so I opted for what looked like the easier route: scrambling down the rock.  I managed to get 1/3 of the way down before lodging my knee between the two rocks.  Sam noticed I was taking a while and came down to inspect.  At this point I was starting to panic because my knee was really stuck and I envisioned my bones having to break in order to get dislodged from between the rocks.  With Sam's help I was eventually able to wriggle loose.

Needless to say, if I do this hike again I will not be doing the photo opt on top of the Potato Chip Rock.

Tips for this hike:  I suggest bringing plenty of water, a snack or two, a jacket (it was cold up top in the wind!), a camera. I also suggest leaving in the morning.  We started out around 1:30 and got back to the parking lot around 5:15 PM.  The park closes at sunset, which is still early this time of year.  I was nervous that we wouldn't make it back down in time.


Sam and I finally made it to DisneyLand! I was worried he wouldn't have a good time because he was under the impression Disney is just for kids. Thankfully he changed his mind after a fun filled packed day at the park.

We arrived shortly after the park opened and headed straight to Tomorrowland for Fast Passes for Star Tours and Space Mountain. We enjoyed both rides, however I'm not sure I need to see Star Tours each time I go.  I did like that there are slightly different versions of the film/ride.  Space Mountain is a roller coaster in the dark.  We also enjoyed this ride, however the first time we rode it we were not adjusted to the darkness and it was pretty scary not being able to see where we were headed.  The second time, for whatever reason our eyes had adjusted and we could make out the general direction we were going in (this seemed to make it more enjoyable for us).

Sam is a big Toy Story fan, so we also rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  This ride is aimed for the little kiddies, but we had a blast shooting our guns at the targets. A trick for this ride is you can spin your car around in order to get a better angle for shooting your blaster.  We didn't realize this until half way through the ride.  At the end of the ride, your picture is displayed along with your score.  You are then able to email the picture to yourself. At other theme parks you would be forced to buy the picture, you wouldn't get it for free. I thought it was a nice touch to be able to quickly email yourself your picture.  We were impressed.

After Tomorrowland we went to Adventureland.  We were not eligible to get a Fast Past for Indiana Jones  Adventure yet, so we rode the Jungle Cruise.  We had a very cheesy captain on the boat (which we enjoyed!).  This would be a great ride for the whole family.  You cruise around the "river" passing by animals and native people while the captain tells jokes.  This is another ride that I would not feel compelled to go on every time I visit the park. We did get a Fast Pass for Indiana Jones Adventure, however when we returned later in the day the ride had closed.  We were disappointed we did not get to go on this popular ride and will be making this our first stop on our next trip.

From Adventureland we went from one part of the park to the next and back again.  I don't remember the order, so I will break it down based on each section of the park.  Unfortunately by the time we made it to Mickey's Toontown it was closed.  This will be our second stop on our next visit.

New Orleans Square really did remind me of Beale Street.  Except it was better because it's DisneyLand and there wasn't x-rated things making me cringe.  Pirates of the Caribbean is located here. This is another ride where you ride along the river and pass by different scenery.  The animated characters were so lifelike; the detail was amazing.  Sam and I were both impressed with the intricate details we noticed on this ride.  The Haunted Mansion is also located here.  You can get a Fast Pass for this ride, which I didn't realize until we walked by.  This ride can cram a lot of people in at once so it normally goes pretty fast anyway.  Since it was just after Christmas, the theme was Jack Skellington's Christmas Town (Nightmare before Christmas).  I'm not overly fond of the Halloween Town/Christmas Town movies, but I did enjoy the ride which again had attention to detail throughout.  This is another ride that I wouldn't mind not going on every trip to DisneyLand, however I would like to see what it looks like after Christmas.  Will it still be Jack themed? There is a little window called Mint Julep that serves beignets also in New Orleans Square. A friend of mine told me they were fantastic, however we didn't get to try them on this trip.

Critter Country is home to Splash Mountain and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  Splash Mountain was fun and would be a blast in the warmer months as a nice way to cool off.  The animations of this ride do not compare to the others.  We were not impressed with the animations or songs, but the story line was cute.  I love Winnie the Pooh, so I enjoyed the ride.  This is another great ride that small children can enjoy.  There were also Winnie the Pooh characters here that you could wait in line to have your picture taken. I will probably be doing this next time.  I love Pooh Bear!

The only ride we rode in Frontierland was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This was my favorite coaster in the park.  I thought it was the most thrilling and really enjoyed it.

Stepping through Sleeping Beauty's Castle brings you to Fantasyland.  Here we did the teacups because let's face it, its a classic.  We spun ourselves silly on this ride!  Right next to it is the mad hatter hat shop.  I loved looking at all the hats and really couldn't narrow it down as to which one to get.  I'm hoping that I can pick one next time so I can sport it for future trips (I also want something I can use a running costume for a Halloween or Disney race).  Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is also located here and is a must.  I loved reading the books when I was younger, so for me this brings me back to childhood.  During this ride you "drive" your car through the town and experience a "wild ride."  There is a great photo op in a classic car right outside. It's a Small World is also located in Fantasy Land.  It was all decorated for Christmas which I enjoyed, however by the end of the ride Sam was sick of the song.  I'd like to go on this one again after the Christmas season is over to see the regular version of the ride. I may have to go solo unless Sam has amnesia regarding how much he disliked the song afterwards.

If you think Disney is magical during the day, just wait until you visit it at night!  We watched Sleeping Beauty's Castle get covered with "snow" and lights, the fireworks and the Fantasmic light show. We also rode Matterhorn Bobsleds at night which is a really cool way to see the park lit up in the dark.

At some point during the day we started pin trading.  This is a huge sub-culture of Disney fans that I am only beginning to learn about.  I started off with a lanyard and 4 pins, giving 1 or 2 to Sam to trade (he got a lanyard as well).  In the shop that I bought the initial pins and lanyard they had a few pins to trade.  One of them was an Eyeore Taurus pin.  I couldn't pass this up, so I traded there and decided maybe I'd collect Winnie the Pooh characters.  Once the sun went down we were cold, so we went back to the car to get our jackets.  On the tram ride to the parking structure, I met a "pin collector."  She had a binder FULL of pins.  It was amazing.  She taught me about "hidden mickey pins."  These pins are only released to cast members and can not be purchased, however you can trade with cast members to get them.  It seems new ones are leased throughout the year and may vary from DisneyLand and DisneyWorld.  It has been fun looking up the pins to see what year and which park they are from.

As far as food goes we ate lunch at a mexican restaurant in Adventureland I believe.  The food was okay, not sure I would go back.  For dinner we had a corndog from The Little Red Wagon Corndogs.  They are fantastic!  You know, as long as you don't think about what is actually in a corn dog.  These were the best ever!  It is located at the end of Main Street on the right (near the Camera Shop).

Speaking of Main Street, there are so many shops to explore there and this is a great place to watch a parade.  Town Hall is also located here as well as a movie theatre featuring Disney shorts.

Some general tips: We spoke to a cast member regarding Fast Passes.  In DisneyWorld they are enforcing the time frame on these passes, this is not YET true for DisneyLand.  Definitely ask about this during the beginning of your trip so you know how to adequately plan your day/s in the park.  The idea is you can only get one pass for a certain time period, so get your first pass as soon as you enter the park, then get each subsequent pass as soon as your next time period begins. Then you only use the pass when the wait is long (don't waste your trip to the front of the line on a short line). Parades and other shows are good times to hop in rides because there will be packs of people sitting and watching these events.

Obviously we missed several rides on our first Disney trip despite being there for almost all of the hours of the park. We are looking forward to going back to see the things we missed and do our favorites again.

Oh, did I mention we got annual passes?  This means we can go back (during the week) as many times as we want AND we get to check out California Adventure!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ra Sushi, San Diego, CA

When Sam came to visit San Diego with some buddies 6 or so years ago he went to Ra Sushi for the first time.  He's been talking about it ever since.

Not only do they have creative sushi, they also have great deals.  Happy hour is Monday through Saturday from 3-7 PM.  There are great deals on sushi, apps, and drinks.  There is also "reverse happy hour" Monday through Thursday nights from 10 PM to midnight.  Are you signed up for birthday specials that really aren't that great or you forget to use?  Ra does a half birthday special good for the month of your half birthday.  Wanna know what the deal is? $20!!! Crazy right? We had 3 different sushi rolls and a green tea and ended up paying about $2.

What should you order? Sam's favorite is the Viva Las Vegas Roll. Your server will also give great suggestions. Foursquare user? See if there any specials at your local Ra. At the San Diego Ra the special is a FREE miso soup or edamame for your check-in.

I would strongly suggest you check it out (get on the half birthday list and go for happy hour!). There are several locations across the country: several locations in SoCal and Arizona, Las Vegas, a Kansas location, 3 locations in Florida, Texas and Illinois, as well as one in both Baltimore and Atlanta. So, find your nearest Ra and get your sushi on!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Knockout Burger, Carlsbad, CA

Grabbed a quick bite to-go from Knockout Burger this evening to take home to watch the Redskins loose (sad, but true, I know).  I had the BBQ Bacon Burger and my husband had the Ranch Burger. We got 1/4 pounders, which was the perfect size for me, however Sam is going to get a double next time.  The fries were lightly seasoned which I liked. Our to-go bag was packed with ketchup, napkins, etc.  I was very impressed with the friendly and personable service. Both Sam and I are excited to go back and try something else on the menu.  As usual, I was too excited about eating my food to take a picture first.  I will try to work on this.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sushi Taisho, Carlsbad, CA

Earlier this week my husband and I went out for sushi.  We looked around for specials and noted a place close by had a happy hour so we thought we would check it out.

Sushi Taisho is located in Carlsbad Village.  It is a small restaurant with a sushi bar and maybe half a dozen tables.  They have happy hour from 3 to 6 pm daily which includes 50% off sushi as well as beer, sake and appetizer specials.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was the smell.  It smells funky. It smells like the dirty floors or drains at the deli I worked at in college.  If you can get over the smell (I didn't until the food arrived) then you will enjoy your meal here.

We ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll, Crunchy Roll (tempura shrimp, krab, avocado, cucumber with crunchies and eel sauce on top), Umi Roll (tempura shrimp and cucumber with avocado and tuna on top), and the Paradise Roll (shrimp and spicy tuna inside with avocado and eel sauce on top). We enjoyed everything and it was definitely too much food for the two of us, but we managed to pack it all away anyway.  The sizes of the rolls were good and there was a nice variety of sauces and flavors in the rolls we choose.  Our favorites were the Crunchy Roll and the Paradise Roll.  With taxes and tip, this meal ended up under $35.

I look forward to going back to try more.  During happy hour.  I don't think it would be worth it to pay full price.

I just hope they get rid of that funky smell. . .

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

To Do in DisneyLand


  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Fantasmic!
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds 
  •  Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Fantasy Land (lines are long)
    • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
    • Peter Pan
  • New Orleans Square
    • Mint Julep Bar: beignets 
California Adventure
  • California Screamin'
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Soarin' 
  • Toy Story Mania (so worth the lines!)
  • Tower of Terror
  • ALL of Cars Land
MUST DO: look up events for the day/s you are there- MUST see the fireworks.  Make a list of "must do's" and see what else you can fit in.  You won't be able to do everything in the Park in one day. 

Suggested to bring meals or eat on the go from quick service food vendors so as not to waste time sitting down to eat.  

For the best experience, it was suggested to stay on the DisneyLand resort to get the full Disney experience. 

These suggestions were given to me by a close friend.  I can not wait to check out the Park/s soon!