Thursday, January 26, 2012 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Our trip to the inaugural Tinkerbell Half Marathon began early on Thursday morning. We drove from home to Elmira to catch the 6:00 Delta flight, which took us through Detroit on onto San Diego. We flew in (and out of) San Diego for this trip because both flights and cars were cheaper going this route, plus we like San Diego and it gave us an excuse to spend a night there at the end of the trip.
After landing in San Diego and taking the shuttle to Alamo to pick up our car, we made a slight detour before heading north. Jill found a great little hole in the wall called ‘Oscar’s’ in Pacific Beach (near where we stayed when Mike came with us to San Diego previously). We stopped there for lunch and had some great tacos! After lunch, it was up I-5 to Anaheim! Our first stop was to check into our hotel – the Best Western Pacifico on Katella Ave. It made sense to do this since it was literally a two block walk to the Disney parks! Jill did a great job situating us close to property while paying a lot less than if we actually stayed on property. After dropping stuff of in the room (and changing into a pair of shorts!) we were off to the parks. Being a Thursday, we found the parks to be pretty empty (which wouldn’t hold true for the entire weekend, hence us wanting to get on everything today). We hit Disneyland first, going straight to Space Mountain – barely a line there! From there we hit Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Jill’s fave, and no longer available in Florida!). Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio’s Wild Ride (another not in Florida ride), and the Haunted Mansion were on the list as well. Figuring we had done what we wanted to do at Disneyland, and wanting to grab a beer as well, we went across the street to Disney’s California Adventure. The entire main entry area of DCA is under construction, as well as the entire back of the park (for Cars Land), so getting around was a bit difficult. We had some libations, went on a few of the rides, and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We had wanted to try Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian for some time, but on previous trips we just weren’t able to make it happen. This time around though we finally got a chance. Billed as the west coast equivalent to our ‘California Grill’, although we found it wasn’t, it was still a good meal with great service and a nice ambiance. I had osso bucca which was very good, and Jill had ohno, which was good as well. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.
Friday rolled around, and our first order of business was to go to the expo and get Jill’s stuff for the race, as well as peruse through the vendors there. The ‘Official Merchandise’ area was a madhouse, but we were able to grab up a couple of race related items (including a nice race jacket and a Dooney and Bourke purse for Jill!). We also bought a ChEar Squad gold package for me so I could get an even better vantage point to watch Jill race! Dropped our stuff off at the hotel afterwards, then we were off to the parks again to use the second day on our three day park hopper! We found the parks to be a bit more crowded this time around, but we were able to go on the Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain, and Indiana Jones at Disneyland (as well as get a Dole whip!), and at DCA we went on Soarin’ Over California, a sentimental favorite of mine since the first time we ever rode Soarin’ was here in Cali, before they even built the one in Florida, and for that trip in ’04 one of the main reasons we went was to ride this ride. Our first ‘carb up’ came on Friday night, and as always Jill found a great little spot for us to do that. Carolina’s Italian Restaurant was just what we were looking for, with hugs portions, great service, and a great atmosphere! I had shrimp marinara, and Jill has baked ziti, both of which were very good. Back to the hotel after dinner.
We woke up early on Saturday morning to trek up to Bakersfield. We had signed up for the Bakersfield Track Club Half Marathon, giving me an opportunity to do some running this weekend. A nice, small race, run by the local club, a total of about 250 runners in all. The course was flat, and ran a bike/run path along a dry river bed. At the end, besides the medal, you got a tri-tip steak sub, chips, fruit, and a drink. Plus every entrant was given a very nice long sleeve tech shirt – all for $35. You can’t beat that! After the race, we headed back to Anaheim along I-5. As usual, we hit quite a bit of traffic coming through L.A., so it was mid-afternoon by the time we got back. We went over to DowntownDisney to wander around a bit, and grabbed some food at Tortilla Jo’s. We went back to the room for a bit, did some work, and then headed out to have dinner – carb up night #2! Jill found another great little hole in the wall Italian place, this time it was Rufino’s.
Sunday morning we were up early again, this time for the main goal of our trip – so Jill could run in the inaugural Tinkerbell Half Marathon! She had signed up for this race right after registration opened, and had been looking forward to it ever since! There were 11,020 women (and 920 men) in the race for it’s first time out. The start line was right along Disneyland Drive, in front of the Grand Californian. I was able to see Jill at the start, again at mile 4 in Downtown Disney (in front of the AMC Theaters) and at the finish line where the ChEar Squad had bleachers set up! Good race, great bling! Jill also completed the ‘Coast to Coast Challenge’ with this race by running one Disney race on each coast in 2012! Post race, we came back to the room and showered up and then went back to the parks! Jill had a celebratory beer from the stand out back, we had a small snack type lunch thing from the Cove, and wandered through both parks. As we had anticipated, it was horribly crowded at both parks, so we didn’t really get on many rides (actually, we didn’t ride anything at Disneyland). We did get a few shots of Jill with her medals, which was really our main point of going in.
On Sunday night, we went to Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner! We don’t usually do the chain thing, but we like Joe’s a lot and there aren’t any by us in the northeast, so we try to take advantage of the ones we find!
Monday morning we woke up and packed up, ready to head south for our final night in SoCal. Before leaving, we went to Downtown Disney one more time and had lunch at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. We had eaten here in the past, and the food is always good. I had chicken and waffles, and Jill had the Louisiana Sautéed Seafood Salad. Full up, we said goodbye to the West Coast Mouse and made our way back to San Diego. Made a quick stop at Qualcomm Stadium to buy something for Mike in the Chargers team store, before making our way to Old Town and our hotel for the night. Hacienda Hotel Old Town was a place we had always wanted to stay in past trips, and finally were able to this time around. We situated just above the main drag in Old Town, we took full advantage of its location and not having to drive! After looking through a few of the shops in Old Town, we finally settled in at the bar at Cafe Coyote. Lo and behold, whilst there, this location was actually on an episode of Heat Seekers on the Food Network! It was pretty cool! Had a very good bartender who gave us samples of the hot sauce featured on the show, and also 'bought' us a shot of tequila! (I could get used to tequila, just sayin'). After a few drinks, we stumbled, I mean, went next door to the Old Town Mexican Cafe for dinner. This was our third trip here, and on a future trip we will probably sample one of the other establishments in Old Town instead of returning here. The food didn't have the 'wow' factor we remembered from our first trip, so its time to try somewhere else. After dinner we made our way back up the hill to crash out for the night.
Tuesday was back to New York day. Returned the car to Alamo, took the shuttle to the airport and boarded our Delta flights back to Elmira, via Detroit. Stopped at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Horseheads for dinner before making the rest of the drive home, arriving here around 11:30.