Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Away We Go!

Scanners, Crowds, and Bedbugs - Oh My!

Is it just me, or is the traveling public on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown?

When I talk to friends about travel, many openly tell me "it just isn't worth it anymore".

When I press them, they recite the usual stuff: TSA screeners are rude, planes are even more uncomfortable, hidden costs abound, hotel bedbugs are ready for a meal, and terrorists lurk behind every corner.

Sadly, that may all be true.

And as I sit here in the Salt Lake City airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year, I sort of find myself questioning my travel addiction.

Then boom! My e-mail pings with my weekly edition of the Travelzoo Top 20. In there I find a 12 day Mediterranean Cruise on Celebrity at about $62 a day, round trips to Ireland at less than $400 RT, and cirque shows in Vegas at $47. 

I start immediately thinking, hmmm.........Mediterranean cruise eh?

Then I look around the airport waiting area and see a tired college kid in a knit cap obviously going home for Mom's Turkey Dinner, service people going somewhere (my prayers go with them), high schoolers playing grab ass, little kids with light up sneakers, and someone's grandparents looking strangely excited - yet perplexed.

And it all comes home why I travel.

I love being out of my comfort zone. If I get stuck in a record storm, well it will be another page for the scrap book. 

I love people watching. I know that for every rude person I meet, I will meet two wonderful people. I love the chance to strike up conversations with people I otherwise never would have met.

So, while there may be an increasing number of really good reasons for rational people to stay home, none can outweigh my wanderlust.

Just beyond that hill, just over that mountain, and just one street over is something I've never seen and people I've never met.

Pardon me while I go off and plan my next trip.

Happy Thanksgiving from Roadboy!

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just When I Thought I Was Getting Old

The Magic of Disneyland

When I was a kid, nothing in this world topped a trip to Disneyland. It was simply the end all, be all. We waited impatiently each year when Disney's Sunday night television show would take an entire episode to describe all the new attractions that were under development and would soon be open. 

Direct from the New York World's fair we got a moving and speaking President Lincoln, dinosaurs and It's a Small World. Later we got the amazing Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. The place just outdid itself and raised the bar higher and higher. There were just never enough "E" tickets in my ticket book. Funny how everyone of a certain age nods in complete understanding when you say something is an "E" ticket. We know that it has to be awesome. 

Disneyland was always expensive and it was picky. If your hair was long, you didn't get in. If you were Kruschev, you didn't get in. If you took off your shoes or shirt, you were quickly hustled out. 

I only got to go there twice from the time I was little till I reached high school. Then in high school I got to go with the youth group from church and again for Disney's Grad Night.

Since then I've delighted in taking friends, loved ones, and finally my own kids to Disneyland over and over.

Perhaps I over did it. A few years ago I realized I was totally burned out on the place. It seemed like nothing much was changing, yet Eisner kept the prices climbing. 

And a little piece of me died.

This week I went back to Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland, and California Adventure and something wonderful happened. I'm not sure how to put my finger on it, but the magic was back.

First off Knotts still has the most amazing breakfast and chicken dinner in So Cal. All served by spunky 60+ year old waitresses that probably knew the Knotts personally. If you say "may I have this or that?", they are likely to put a hand on their hip and ask rhetorically "I don't know can you?"

I love that. 

And the hot biscuits. Well I just have to stop there or I'll cry.

Then we went to California Adventure and there was real palpable change in the air. Most of the good stuff like Soarin over California was spiffy as ever, but at night the Hollywood District was transformed into a dazzling and laser pulsing land called ElecTRONica (to tie into the upcoming update of the Tron movie.) Kids were tossing glow in the dark frisbees and adults were walking around sipping drinks with glowing ice cubes.


The new "Cars" area is well underway and the Tower of Terror has been reworked with more ups (and downs) than ever.

But the over-the-top best thing was the "World of Color" water show. Damn! It was amazing. It was the Bellagio fountain on steroids with a little added fire, and color, and high def music thrown in. Don't miss it.

World of Color

The Fountain In Action

In Disneyland itself things were all gussied up for Halloween. Just amazing. 

I'm convinced the food has really improved. Even the shops had better products in them. Clearly, the recession has made the Disney folks go back and recommit themselves to delivering quality again.

Even the little stuff was fun. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln is thankfully out of mothballs (we need his wisdom more than ever). And as a tribute to Michael Jackson, now 25 years later, Captain EO is back shaking the theater that was built for it.

The Phantasm Show was great, but the fireworks show is now simply one of the best in the world. Computer driven pyrotechnics sequenced perfectly with music and good old Tinkerbell flying as she's never flown before.

If you have avoided Disneyland for awhile. Go again. Plan at least two days (never in summer!!!) and make sure you can see the World of Color one night and the fireworks and Phantasm the other.

The kid in me came back a little. 

Felt good.

Roadboys Travel's © 2010