On the final day of 2013, we had no need to wake early; our Disney days were over and we were on our own timeline. We slept until eight and went downstairs to eat, learning that the restaurant is much busier later in the morning. I was surprised. It was full of families, and I saw some families putting food (like full apples, oranges, and bananas) into Ziploc bags and taking it with them after they ate. Being in the hospitality industry, that drives me a little bit – okay, a lot – crazy!
We made the decision that it would be less expensive and much more convenient for us to rent a vehicle for our last two days in California. Our flight on the 2nd was scheduled to leave after midnight, and we’d have to check out and deal with our things at 11am that morning. We knew we wanted to tour Hollywood and go to the coast, so it seemed logical. We made some calls, and found we could rent a van, but we would have to pick it up and drop it off at the airport. The kids had their own money still to spend, so we decided I would take them to Downtown Disney while D’Arcy to a shuttle to LAX to pick up a vehicle; we would meet up again in the afternoon.
Santa had brought Sarah & Olivia some Disney themed fake fingernails, so Olivia put those on and we set out walking the 3.5km to Downtown Disney. The kids were in great spirits and the girls were cartwheeling on the sidewalks. We had a text from D’Arcy saying the traffic was a bit nuts and the shuttle he was on was playing “Finding Nemo”.
At Downtown Disney, we went in to the World of Disney store. Each had their own money to choose to spend as they wished. I stayed with the girls, and we set up a meeting time and place with Evan & Alex before separating to shop. Sarah & Olivia each wanted to get something for their cousin, Neil. Neil has been looking after Olivia’s guinea pig, Caroline, while she was away, and is in Sarah’s class at school so they are very close. They looked around the whole store, making note of what things he might like. They are very thoughtful shoppers. After an hour in the store, Olivia chose to buy Neil a glow-in-the-dark set of cards, and an Ariel wig for herself to go with the costume Santa brought her. Sarah chose to buy Neil a keychain that she could put his name on, and a three person locket “Best” “Friends” “Forever” for herself, and her friends Chloe & Lily. Evan bought himself the basic Disneyland mouse ear hat, and Alex didn’t find anything he felt was worth spending his money on. There were a couple things he had his eye on, but figured if he bought them he would have buyer’s remorse. I bought one thing – a Mickey Mouse Christmas tree ornament to hang on our tree next year; our vacation tradition.
Olivia kept dropping plastic press-on nails and handing them to me to look after. As we started walking back home towards our hotel, D’Arcy sent me a message saying that he was close and to keep an eye out for him. We had only walked about a block when we heard him beep at us, and we crossed the street to hop in to the SUV.
At the hotel, I heated up the leftovers from the night before, made small salads, and put out some apples and carrots so we could have a late lunch/early supper before heading to the Pacific Ocean! If there’s anything I’ve learned about traveling with kids, it’s that there is little complaining if their bellies are full!
At the recommendation of the guest service agent at the front desk of the hotel, we went to Huntington Beach, located about a 45 minute drive from our hotel. It was beautiful and expansive and we arrived just before the sun was setting. The six of us all got our feet in the ocean and played in the soft, cold sand. After the sun went down, we walked up to the end of the pier and back. On the pier, we saw a family catch and release a baby sting ray. What a way to send off the old year!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the grocery store for some food and champagne, thinking everything would be closed the following day the way it is in Nova Scotia. We bought a bottle of Californian Barefoot Sparkling Wine for $6.95 as we have a tradition that whoever stays awake until midnight gets to take part in a champagne toast. (Just sips for the kids.) We discovered limited edition pumpkin cream cheese so bought some, as well as more nibblies for the evening. Our plan was to go back to the hotel and play games until midnight.
When we got to the hotel, it was almost midnight at home, four hours ahead. We counted down to the AST New Year, sent some greetings on Facebook, and then the six of us went to the hot tub. We had intended to be back in our room to watch the ball drop in Times Square, but were having too much fun at the pool, and it was long over when we got back up stairs. On our way in, the front desk gave the girls hats and noise makers, and D’Arcy a complimentary bottle of sparkling cider.
The kids started making toast with the pumpkin cream cheese and we never did get the other food out. Olivia fell asleep on the pull-out couch with her food on a plate in her lap. By 10pm, all of us with the exception of Alex had dozed off where we were! I woke up in time for anti-climactic countdown on Pacific Coast – all they do is replay the NYC segment! I was expecting that there would be a Pacific Coast celebration of their own.
D’Arcy & I each had a sip of sparkling wine, but the boys didn’t want any and the girls were still sleeping. We went to bed thankful for our many blessings this past year, and looking forward to the year ahead of us.