We went to Disneyland this weekend. It was the trip of a lifetime. I hope there will be others -- trips of a lifetime and Disney excursions -- and I hope this one stays up there amongst both lists.
Coming down, Poppop drove the whole way and there was SNOW in what’s known as the “grapevine.” So we did not go the inland route, but followed down the 101 toward Los Angeles. We did not see the snow, but we’d see it on the way back.
Altogether, including a Mickey D’s stop and some sushi well outside L.A. – maybe even before Oxnard -- it was fourteen hours. For me Oxnard was made famous by Ill Repute as the "Land of No Toilets." They had a ”gold vinyl” release of their record “What Happens Next/Oxnard - Land Of No Toilets.” We drove through Oxnard, needed a toilet and found no useful exits. I'm not sure if that’s what Ill Repute meant. But it sure felt true on this trip.
Big driving in California is still so weird for me, because I do not know California and it is so gosh darn amazingly beautiful. The brown grass, the golden grass. I will never forget the cross country trip Karen and I took together to move to California some seven years ago and the first I saw this golden brown grass. We’d read Capote’s In Cold Blood together for a book group only month before. I always remember vividly the way Capote talks about the grass of the west like a lion’s fur.
L’il E’s been inventorying the Disney catalog since for longer than many of us can remember. And maybe that’s sad; cuz the boy ain’t even three. But he has a keen memory, a pretty profound sense for narrative and the ability to understand drama.
Now sure, maybe I am projecting, but it does seem like one of those Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter type things.
His grandmother was worried that the size and scale of things outside of the boobtube might disconcert him. The first thing he did when he saw the first large-scale Mickey repro was to try and untie the bow, to topple the package, to bring Mickey down to him. His cousin joined in.
The rides did not freak him out. In fact, he had a great time. We took the advice and counsel of Disney veteran Allyson Lazar and headed straight for Peter Pan, then Snow White. Then we did Dumbo and Emil saw Buzz Lightyear, “in person.”
The drive down was a really great thing for two reasons: I hadn’t been on a long, crowded family drive for some thirty years and I finally got a round to reading the most recent compiled essays by David Sedaris entitled When You Are Engulfed in Flames.
Thanks to Karen's sister, we rented a Kia minivan. I slept most of the way, which is what I was really looking forward to.
The new Sedaris is a very serious book that clearly displays his increased talents as an essayist and social theorist. His story telling has limped a bit and he confesses to stopping drinking and smoking at the very end. But he has honed his craft so that each essay shimmers unexpectedly like a Kincaid.
When it was over, it was over. Li'l E's face-painted cousin was done. I waited outside the French Quarter with Karen's sister and the boys, while other folks took in The Haunted House as the sun went down. A small dixieland jazz band played Christmas songs.
Oh, there's much more to be told. And the next day we saw the snow that has kept us from the pass the two days earlier. We had an inkling of that snow from the view in Santa Barbara we'd seen two days earlier on the way down -- where, from the highway, you can see from ocean to mountainous, sometimes snow-covered peak. California's something else.