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That One Place Everyone is so Excited About: Disneyland

When my first child was old enough to understand words and look at pictures, I began showing her images of Hawaii and calling them Disneyland. I did this in hopes that when her peers and surrounding adults would inevitably begin celebrating and pushing this fabled “land”, she would be under the impression they loved Honolulu and that she would imagine herself there… not Anaheim. img_7173

Because I would rather spend all of my money taking my child to the North Shore than some manufactured place with people dressed up as cartoon characters. I figure both places are about as equally expensive (truth), so I might as well trick my children into making me happy.

As with most preconceived notions of parenting, my plan failed.

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Upon realizing that in large part due to current proximity, my children and spouse would full-on demand a Disneyland visit, I full-on planned to send them along without me. Yes I love my family and truly enjoy watching them be happy, but I am not sure my being there to see it is worth $200.

Do you know how much prosciutto I can buy for $200?

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I understand that the things I have typed so far, already qualify me for some sort of firing squad. I do not intend to be sacrilegious, seditious, or even traitorous, I just don’t want to spend $800 for my family to see someone dressed up as Snow White.

Everyone tells me it isn’t just that. But it is in fact also that.img_7204

Let me attempt to be objective about this. I will admit that:

The production value of everything they do is far above and beyond whatever “par” is.

The rides, especially roller coasters, are fun.

There is at any given time and in any given place, something to do or see.

The crowd management systems and procedures are surprisingly effective, and do in fact minimize the horrors of waiting forever behind hordes of everyone to do something fun for a brief moment.

The food while not being cheap, is not bad.

My wife and children loved the place almost more than they love me. They might strike the word almost. I added it to make myself feel better.img_7210

So, having admitted all of that let me list what Disney is not:

Near the beach.

Affordable.

An actual kingdom.

The Devil.

Heaven.

As good as Six Flags.

 

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Happy New Year

So long 2016. Happy New Year.img_2305

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Tis’ the Season for Festive Foolishness

I advocate for leading a life of sophistication and collected calm. Anything rowdy or without deeper meaning is to be avoided. As the kids might say, I keep it classy.sammytree

For example, I support the attendance of dinner parties where one can commune with thought leaders and sophisticates. Mingling with those who elevate thought and decorum is the best use of one’s evenings.img_2419

There may be occasions where physical exertion is appropriate, but dignity should predominate. If an outing is to happen, one need not lower one’s self. img_2985

Music is an important part of creating an atmosphere of celebratory sophistication. Many of the great symphonies and orchestras perform the classics during this holiday season as a service toward the elevation of humanity.img_3341

When dining one should not overindulge. Moderation takes a back seat only to presentation. Please remember that seating arrangements and plating are what truly makes a dining experience “fine”.tghl2098

There is at this time of year a tradition of gift giving. I reservedly participate but remind us all that the appropriate response should always be quiet reserve and calm.kujg1621

I like to think of myself as an example of intellectualism and decorum. The world needs more of this. There is far too much noise and irreverence. I am above such things and would that this were true for us all.img_3490

Yes. A paragon of elevation am I. And as such, I bid you all a happy new year.xqcy1470

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Harley Farms Goat Cheese: mancation IV

So there is this “thing” called the California Cheese Trail. I imagined it as a sort of cheddar brick road leading to a wizard who can instantly age Gouda. It isn’t. It is much more like the string of California Missions that the Spanish set up, except instead of Catholic churches and priests, it is herds and artisans. I should note that both are beautiful and have use for tasteless wafers.img_2141

It was raining when we arrived at Harley Farms outside Pescadero. We had never heard of Pescadero either. The rain was fortunate for us as it served to scare away all the people with sense and other places to be, so we had the place all to ourselves. If you want the place all to yourself you may have to plan ahead. Like a year in advance. The place is all booked from now till forever.

There is a reason why.img_1648

The first reason is that these animals make great cheese. It is the kind of cheese that inspires a bunch of poor planning lunks to quickly buy a Styrofoam gas station cooler to try to preserve this beautiful food through a long weekend. The goat cheese/chocolate cheesecake did not go in the cooler. We ate it before we left the parking lot.img_1631

The second reason to go is the dining. The party wasn’t for us and they wouldn’t tell us what they were serving that night. In fact, they never tell anyone what they will be serving. The surprise is part of the experience. It is a new menu every night (which is hard to fact check if they never tell you in advance what they are serving) and if the food is only half as good as the fromage, it will be worth it.img_2139

But again, the place is booked from now till forever so good luck.img_1654

cheeseplate

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Royal Presidio Chapel, San Carlos Cathedral

Five months after some colonists tussled with England in the Boston Massacre, Spain set up permanent shop in California. A Catholic priest and the Spanish governor picked a spot right next to a Native American town called Tamo.img_2303Tamo isn’t there any more but the cathedral is. It stands tall as California’s oldest brick building. Within a year the priest moved his mission down closer to the bay where there were more native people to convert. There weren’t enough natives up on the hill where the Spanish were building the presidio that were willing to help. Go figure.img_1511The tour guides there today are more than helpful. Volunteers devoted to sharing a place full of meaning an beauty. The Cathedral is that for sure.img_2301There has been quite a bit of work to restore the original Spanish Capital of Alta California. The place burned down once after an incident with a salute cannon. I tried but failed to find out who was being saluted when the cannon committed arson. The tour guide claimed not to know. I bet that guy from the Da Vinci Code does.img_1519The cathedral is still being used, and has always been used, as a church. Long before Kennedy became America’s first Catholic president, even before America had a president, there were Catholics coming here on Sunday.img_1525

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Big Sur: mancation IV

It is easy to find- hit the west coast somewhere around Los Angeles, then go north. Sand and palm trees will eventually turn into cliffs covered in succulents. That is Big Sur.img_1495There aren’t many people there, at least not by California standards. There are camp grounds, small resorts, and the coast. Mostly, almost completely, there is the coast.

That is why people go there.

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I went there because I had never been and I needed to go somewhere.

It is the right kind of place for that. It is unincorporated, protected, and gorgeous.I am happily none of those things. Mostly I am hungry and just a touch bored.

Big Sur is also the right kind of place for that.

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More specifically, the Maiden Publick House, a pub right behind the River Inn is the kind of place where you can go pretend like you are in Brooklyn in 2008… which is pretending to be Appalachia in 1920. But just like believing and clapping makes Tinker Bell real, being a talented musician who is giving it your all, makes this music great.

I snickered a little when the bearded man wearing Carhart overalls finished his drink at the bar and joined the band. It was like someone had watched too many Lumineers videos, or maybe the Avett Brothers-but they were good. I liked it. A lot. img_1459

I am sure there is some sort of line that when crossed, things like authenticity or performance become the same, but I don’t know where that is so I just try to enjoy stuff. img_1477

Stuff like elephant seals.

These giant things without legs flop around and make an incredibly loud noise when they tip their head back letting this big trunk like nose drop down inside their throat. img_1409

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Sea of Sweet: I have no idea what that stuff is but it works

So there is this place in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (yes that is an actual place), where all diets go to die.I would describe it as a middle eastern creperie that specializes in calories. Like, Olympic levels of calories.img_8538

The place looks harmless, like some suburban strip mall afterthought, but do not be fooled. The Nutella double chocolate Twix crepe will send you to a joyful early grave.

But that is just for the average “I want extra helpings of the sugar I know” palate. They have other stuff too. For instance, if you want to overdose in calories derived from things that should otherwise be healthy, you can indulge in any one of their fruit cocktails.img_0134

This thing took ten days to build, not because they are slow, but because the guy behind the counter just kept stuffing things into that glass.

Then there is this stuff I had never heard about called “ashta”. I would describe it as something in between heavy cream and cottage cheese. Apparently it can be turned into ice cream, like a less-sweet vanilla, and then be piled on top of a crepe then sprinkled with rose water, then dusted with pistachio and then drowned in honey, then devoured by me.img_8602

I saw behind the counter they have baklava, and dates, and every combination of phyllo dough stuffed with sweet stuff imaginable and I want all of it.

It is a bad thing that I found this place. Curse you JJ. Curse you.

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