California Dreamin... or not so much

Trip Start Oct 13, 2004
Trip End Jun 21, 2005

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, October 17, 2004

He Said:
Well we came, we saw, we walked, we rode, we waited in line and by the end we couldn't wait to leave. Two days of Disney was more than enough and so by the third day we'd all pretty much had enough of the Mouse and his various Disney pals. There are some great rides, my personal favorite was the California Screamer Roller Coaster, and the kids had a great time. It was fun to watch the Magic of Walt Disney delight our kids as they were mesmerized by the rides, the characters, the sights and the sounds of Disney. My personal family highlight was actually seeing Kayla burst forth in tears of joy upon figuring out we were going to Disneyland. It really is a place for kids and those who are kids at heart. By the end though we'd had enough of walking the park, wading through people (and the crowds were light), waiting in line (Fast Passes Help A LOT) and seeing a good chunk of the people walking around in a completely joyless state. This is supposed to be FUN right? You'd never know it looking into the faces of many of these people. Yet another of society's hopes for happiness and fulfillment comes up feeling empty and shallow. That is really too bad because Disneyland is a fun place but for our family 2 days was more than enough.
She Said:
With a mandatory launch from LA, how could we possibly depart without a stopping in Disneyland while traveling with a 4 & 7 year old. They were so thrilled with the surprise, K was particularly driven to tears of joy. Their excitement escalated when Jeff (their 19 year old step brother) arrived at our hotel the 1st nite.

I'm not going to get into the issues I have with the blatant commercialism of the Disney marketing machine (after all one of the icons of North American marketing - Microsoft - is paying for this trip :-)) Suffice to say, in our travels we work very hard to avoid the trappings of tourism and commercialism and 4 days in LA confirmed why. The kids had fun, the parks weren't too busy and there was lots to do, but in relation to meeting the spiritual objective of our trip, it was sadly lacking.

Everywhere, everyone seemed to be on a miserable quest of some sort - few people even smiling. Where is that famed "Magic of Disney"? Upon reflection however, I realize that this really was an excellent start to our trip for this IS the culture we promote and seemingly adhere to in NA - more, bigger, better, escapism, secularism, fantasy.

What an amazing contrast this start provides for us and the children as we venture around the world over the next 8 months seeing such diverse will be eye-opening for us all, I'm sure.

Craving something deeper and more meaningful, we looked for a church. The Crystal Cathedral was close to our hotel and as we drove up, I became very judgmental "are even the churches here Disney?" I fumed looking at this huge monolith of a structure completely built of glass. My fears abated as the message was titled "Living a Future with Hope" and was about not wasting your tomorrows. How appropriate - I live with Stage 4 cancer, and because of that I am on this trip, not wasting time. I am Seizing the day, Loving my family, and Making memories. Giving my fears and worries to God, so I can live a life based on hope and freedom. Living a life full of hopeful optimism!

California Highlight: Meeting with Jeff and attending the Medieval Feast and Jousting Tournament. Fav Ride Splash Mountain, River Raft and Indiana Jones.

Kid's Said:
Highlight: Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain¡K.pretty much all the rides except Tower of Terror.

Our last meal in North America was at McDonalds on Sunset Blvd. where we shared the restaurant with a homeless guy who very politely begged people for their left overs. I was struck by the stark contrasts of LA, big money, glitz, mansions, and boundless dreams coexisting with abject poverty, crime, card board shacks, shattered dreams and despair. I guess that contrast will be my lasting impression of LA LA Land. That said, I wonder if this is not an extreme Microcosm of the Macrocosm that is North American Society as a whole. Are we all not somewhere on the spectrum between boundless dreams and despair? Mark
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