It amazes me how I can go out and kiteboard for 10 hours on the lake and feel totally energized, yet every day after theme parking with Orion in 2006 I was always totally exhausted. It must take a lot of energy to ride that many roller coasters. How can a 6 year old out-endurance me is a complete mystery.
The first night we got in and drove to LA to hit Disney and stayed in a nice hotel, which cost a bizillion dollars. I decided to go to Target and buy a couple of pillows and an air-mattress and Orion and I spent the rest of the vacation sleeping in the back of the minivan. He loved it and it was way cheaper than spending $100-200 a night for just a bed to sleep in. Disney was great, so we spent 2 days there instead of one. There were actually two separate theme parks. You could easily do both in one day and see pretty much everything. Orion was very brave and went some pretty crazy rides, included the Twilight Zone tower of terror which flew pretty fast up 200 feet then opened up the elevator doors and dropped you really quick. Orion really liked the moderate roller coasters that didn’t have loops in them. He was a real sport and we rode many ride again and again and again until I felt like I had been run through a blender. The high point of the trip was getting stuck in it’s a small world after all for about an hour. Most of the parks we hit on the weekdays, which meant no lines, the zoos, and water parks we hit on the weekends.
After 2 days at Disney we hit Universal Studios, which seemed to have countless Mexican security guards everywhere who were always telling Orion and I we were doing something wrong. At first it was pretty amusing but after a while it became pretty disconcerting. I spent a lot of time thinking about Mexican immigrants because of the protests that were going on while we were in LA. It was funny when a Mexican security guard who was probably an illegal alien was tapping on the window of the van when we were sleeping telling us “Hey man you can’t stay here you have to go home.” Later I thought to myself, yeah right I have to go home. The thing that amazes me about illegal aliens is how everyone seems to exploit them. Their employers exploit them by paying them crap wages and the Federal government exploits them by taking their taxes with the W-2s and not allowing them to apply for a refund (since they are illegal aliens no refunds). In McDonalds there built in check cashing places that charge obscene fees to cash paychecks for people who can’t have bank accounts (since they’re not Americans).
Universal was really fun and Orion really liked the Jurassic park boat ride when the huge T-rex jumps out at you! There was a show called “Waterworld” which was really quite good. About ¾ of the way through the live performance they send this huge plane crashing over the wall, which frankly surprised the crap out of me. Then in the typical Hollywood style the plane explodes about 20 feet away from you. There was lots of great pyrotechnics and there were explosions everywhere. The most fun he had though was playing in the simple little water fountain before the park opened. He got totally soaked and we had to go back to the car and change his clothes before we went into the park.
After Universal we drove further north to hit the Six Flags resort. Six Flags was one of the biggest rollercoaster parks in the world, in fact it probably was the biggest with 18 pretty insane coasters. Orion rode 3 of the tamer ones and there was some pretty fun water rides as well. I accidentally stepped on a very large lizard, almost a foot long that was sitting in the middle of the trail. We carefully moved it to the side and Orion was very concerned for quite some time about the health of the lizard, so we went back to check on it but it had left. Orion’s favorite roller coaster was the Ninja, which hung down from the track and swung back and forth.
On Sat we hit the Six Flags water park across the street. It was totally insanely big with lots of fun rides. We got harassed about wearing the wetsuits so we wore normal clothes on the outside of our wetsuits so we could ride the rides. It was really fun but there were only 3 or 4 rides we could ride together and Orion was too scared to ride the slides by himself.
After the Waterpark we hit the Sandiego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park on the same day. The San-Diego zoo was really nice, the nicest I had ever seen and the Animal Park was fun too. Orion like the lorikeet feeding (small parakeets) and was really scared and thrilled to have a live lorikeet sitting on his arm. Orion really liked the baby hippos and the Crocidiles, which were right next to each other.
The next morning we hit the beach waiting for Legoland to open. Orion had a blast running back and forth in the tide squealing like a little monkey for a long, long time. Visiting Legoland was a childhood dream of mine and was the main reason I wanted to go on this trip. We were not disappointed. There was some really fun rides and lots of great projects with Lego. Orion really liked the Mars Exploration project, though we had to lie and say hw was 3 years older than he was to get in. Orion is pretty fluent with Mindstorms Lego programming even at 6 years old, in fact I’ve preordered the next Mindstorms kit which comes out right before his birthday, which is even cooler with ultrasonic sensors, and motors with built-in rotation sensors and lots of other cool stuff. I can hardly wait till we get it, but don’t tell him I want it to be a surprise. There was the Volvo driving school, which allowed the kids to drive around in little cars all by themselves with stop signs and red lights and everything. Orion really enjoyed that, there was a cool fire truck ride where you had to pump the fire truck then put out a fire and pump the truck back. Orion and I won that even though we were in last place in the beginning.
That night we revisited the beach and played till dark then walked around the suburbs a bit. The next morning we hit Sea World, which was insanely fun. They had a manta ray feeding area where we spent most of the day petting and feeding the manta rays. They are so cool, they suck the food up like a vacuum and are very friendly and like to be petted. We also got to feed and pet the dolphins and Orion loved the dolphin and killer whale shows. We got totally soaked by the dolphins and just had a grand time.
The flight back we missed our last connection and were stranded in NJ overnight. Orion was really in great spirits and they couldn’t find our bags so the airline put us up in a hotel, which was nice. When we got to the hotel they were fully booked but we got a room with a pull out couch bed. Orion was so great through everything. His spirit seemed totally unfazed by all the calamity around him yet everyone else in the airport were going crazy and yelling at airport customer service and baggage claim people. It was ridiculous. We had to wait for 2.5 hours in the baggage claim area while they tried to find our bags and we had a totally great time even though Orion got harassed 2 or 3 times by security guards for having fun. He is my fun teacher and so often I only need to sit and watch Orion to see the right way for me to deal with all the calamities in life. Just smile and have fun, which is the reason we are here, not to work or be unhappy all the time. Looking at the pictures and remembering the good times I had with Orion on this trip will put a smile on my face for a long time to come. As we got to the hotel and I told them “I’ll take whatever you got” they gave us a room with just a couch. As Orion and I pulled off the cushions to sleep on the floor he said
“Oh look Papa its a pull-out bed. These are so fun.”
It’s great to be a dad. Everyone should take the time to breed.