We're leaving soon on our vacation to Southern California. My husband is an expert trip planner, but I think even he would admit that this one snuck up on him. I know, it should technically be "sneaked up on him". But "sneaked" sounds awkward, and so I say "snuck", but I have to clarify that I use it knowingly in case I die in a California earthquake and one of my last blog posts on record contained an improperly conjugated verb, because I cannot leave that kind of legacy.
(Last-minute trip planning drives me to extreme caffeine consumption, can you tell?)
But back to my point: this trip came out of nowhere. We've had it on our calendar for months, but life has been unusually fast-paced lately. I'm not feeling as prepared as I normally do when we forge ahead on a big trip. Also, all our other big vacations have been in parts of the country we know. We don't know a thing about California. We red-staters tend to think of California as That Big Giant Place With The Earthquakes And All The Blondes And Smog And Crazy Real Estate Prices And Movies Which Chip Away At Our Nation's Moral Fabric. It's a bit of a mystery.
Here's what I do know:
We're driving from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. It's a long drive (about 21 hours each way), but it's a simple one:
1. Get on I-40.
2. Turn right.
3. At the Pacific Ocean, stop.
Even I can't mess up that.
We'll need to make excellent time on our way out there (the fact that I just wrote that sentence means that we are now certain to face motion sickness, bladder issues, and car trouble). We're attending a specific sporting event that has my husband and sons enthralled to the point of packing face paint. We'll be moving quickly on the way out there, but once we arrive, we plan to slow our pace. We'll go watch the mega sporting event, and then we'll spend a day or two relaxing on the beach. We won't even try to resist the gravitational pull of Disneyland, spending a couple of days there in the middle in our trip. I suspect that the day my four-year-old daughter meets Sleeping Beauty may henceforth be known in family lore as The Shriek Heard 'Round the World.
We plan to do the Hollywood thing, visiting Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and maybe a studio tour. And we'll do it all while dodging all the collapsing buildings, a result of The Big One, which, it appears, shall surely occur during the week my family visits the West Coast.
(Have I mentioned my irrational fear of earthquakes? It's crazy, I know, especially considering that I've been known to stand on the front porch during a tornado. But I'd rather face swirly, deathly clouds over swirly, deathly soil any day. I'm afraid I may have seen too many bad 1970's disaster flicks. As a result, I'd prefer not to sleep anywhere near the San Andreas Fault, nor will I board a giant ship with Shelly Winters.)
And now, ten paragraphs later, the point of this post. While we have the general skeleton of the trip planned, we may be winging it on a few details. I'm hoping there's a SoCal expert or two out there who might be willing to weigh in on a few questions I still have. Namely:
1. Is two days enough for Disneyland and California Adventure? What are your favorite, can't-miss rides and attractions there?
2. In an effort not to squeeze in too much, we're skipping San Diego. Is that foolish? Is San Diego so excellent that it's worth a little calendar-squeezing?
3. What's your favorite LA-area beach for a family to visit?
4. Are any of the Hollywood studio tours especially great for kids? Most of the ones we've found don't allow kids under age 8, which rules us out. Are you aware of any exceptions?
Any expert advice you could give would be much appreciated. In the meantime, I'll be waiting right here, making my list for the house-sitters, finishing up the laundry, and shopping for earthquake-resistant helmets for the kids.