The Baxter California Adventure

I never thought it would happen, but Darren and I just got back from a sunny, warm trip to California. It is unusual for us to do something so extravagant, but a good-sized tax return and some friends willing to house us – savings us a few hundred bucks, which we did end up accidentally spending but I’ll get to that later – provided us with the perfect opportunity.

This idea was actually born the night before Christmas Eve, when some of Darren’s internet pals came over for drinks. Paul and Aleecia are from Eagan, but moved to Orange County last year after Paul got a sweeeet new job. Come out and visit us and we’ll go to Disneyland, they said. And so we did.


We took off ass-early on Tuesday morning. Our flight was scheduled to depart MSP at 6am, and we ended up leaving home at around 4:30. Yikes. But our flight was delayed by 45 minutes. The result of this was that instead of having a 1.25 hour layover in Denver, we got there at 8:09 and were not allowed on our 8:15 flight because the doors had already been closed. We headed to the service counter, where we were told that the next flight to LAX was at 5pm and it was standby only. There was an overbooked flight to Santa Ana at 6 that we had no chance of getting on. If we wanted to fly into LA, we would likely have to wait until the next morning. Noooope. But! There was a flight heading to San Diego at 12;35 pm with seats available. We got tickets for the SAN flight and I called Priceline to cancel the rental car I had booked at LAX. Thankfully I should be getting a refund on that in a few days. Then I booked a new car for pickup in SAN, set it up to be returned to LAX on Sunday (this morning, that is), and after a quick lunch we settled in for what had become a four hour layover.

Except our flight to SAN was delayed and it ended up being a six hour layover. Thankfully Denver airport’s free wifi is strong enough for Netflix.

So. On Tuesday, we had originally been set to land in Los Angeles at 9:40 am. Instead, we arrived in San Diego at about 4:30 pm. I have to say though that driving up the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset was pretty amazing. We got to Paul and Al’s at about 6, ate some dinner, and just hung out. I think this was the night that Al introduced us to the Trailer Park Boys, which is turns out is hilarious.

Wednesday was Disneyland.

disney 1

We did all the important rides: Space Mountain (twice), Star Tours, Indiana Jones (also twice), teacups, It’s A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and many more. A+, would go again and ride Space Mountain over and over.

disney 2

Unfortunately, as we were getting on the shuttle to the parking lot that evening, Darren realized our car keys were missing. Paul drove to the park so we weren’t about to be stranded but obviously we had a problem. We filed a report with lost and found and hoped for the best. We stopped for liquor and In-N-Out on the way back and felt a little better.

I got a call the next morning that our keys had been found. Yay! Paul and Al both had to work, so Darren and I had a lazy day. There was Netflix, Wii, food delivery, and hot tub time. That evening after Al got off work, we all met Paul for a tour of Blizzard (the aforementioned sweet job they left MN for), and got some excellent ramen for dinner before going back to Disney to pick up our keys.

outside Blizzard HQ

outside Blizzard HQ

We got to the park as they were closing and I had to sprint to lost and found because they were closing the last window as we got there. But we left with our keys, so all was well.

Friday was beach day. It was just me and Darren all day, as Paul and Al worked again and then had plans that evening. The two of us drove out to Laguna Beach for ocean time and some tacos.

l beach

The water was quite cold, but item number 1 on my 30 by 30 list was to swim in the ocean so I braved it.

l beach 2

And here’s a link to a short video of me getting body checked by a wave (it happens at the very beginning).

After some time in the water we went out in search of tacos. We found some delicious ones at La Sirena Grill. Eventually we made our way back to the apartment for more laziness/Wii/hot tub/food delivery time. When Paul and Al returned home, we had some drinks and played more Wii.

Saturday morning started out lazy. Al worked, so Paul, Darren, and I hung around and played some old-school Nintendo games before finally making our way out to go hiking. The trail was back toward Laguna Beach and it was great. It started out uphill, which was rough, but we were rewarded with amazing views and an eventual downhill trek back.


Now here’s where things get shitty. Paul and Al’s apartment complex doesn’t have visitor parking after 10pm, and we forgot to move the car the night before. So we got back from hiking and discovered our stupid rental car had been towed, and the towing place was back where we had just come from. More driving and $325 later, we had the car back and we were angry (also Darren did some research and it turns out the complex had broken CA state law by not informing local law enforcement that they’d had the car towed). But at the end of the day, it’s not really worth doing anything but sucking it up and paying for our mistake. Ugh.

We went out for some great sushi, which made us feel better. After dinner we spent some more time relaxing. Another one of Darren and Paul’s gaming buddies had sent cigars, so three of us smoked out on the balcony and talked about nerd stuff. Al is also a huge nerd and would’ve partaken, but she had gone to bed.

After very little sleep, we left for LAX at about 7:15 this morning. Other than a short delay in Denver due to a quick plane repair, we made it home without incident.

This trip was obviously full of ridiculous snafus, but the good absolutely outweighed the bad. California is so beautiful and the weather was beyond perfect. Plus Paul and Aleecia are awesome, generous hosts and I only hope we have a change to show them the same hospitality in the future.


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