Every year ever since I could remember, my family & I would go to California. Due to obvious reasons in 2020, we weren’t able to go. I know, I’m spoiled for being upset about it. To be honest, though, I’m thankful we didn’t have the opportunity to go last year because A) I needed to be humbled & B) it made going this year that much more enjoyable & appreciated! We always drive because it’s only 4–6 hours depending on traffic. I drove with my sister & her fiancé…probably about an hour or so away from the beach, they played 20 questions. 5 minutes later they were arguing about if “hot dog” was an easy one to guess or not. They tried again, & then went on about if “shark” was an easy guess or not. & also if the other person was asking the right questions & how they would’ve known what to ask if the other was giving wrong hints. Road trips with them are an entertainment in itself.
After the silence that was left to the rest of the trip, & the hot dog/shark fiasco was over, we went to a Panera Bread about 5 minutes from Huntington beach. I love Panera Bread anywhere at anytime, so I don’t have much commentary on the food other than it’s delicious! My favorite currently, though, is the Asian Sesame salad, but with Caesar dressing not the vinaigrette & don’t even get me started on their macaroni! Before I start drooling on my laptop…we, of course, went to Huntington Beach! I love it there & the day we went was beyond perfect. I didn’t get into the water that day, mainly just read & let myself relax without guilt, which was far needed for a while now! I saw a group of seagulls come together to plan an attack on a bag of Cheetos that was left open next to a woman sleeping…they had succeeded in the retrieving, but not retreating & keeping. I love a good live drama. On the back wall made of sand, there was a wooden (I think it was wood, I don’t know) thing that looked like cubbies. Within each cubby opening, there was holes dug into the sand wall. Countless squirrels popped in & out of these holes; it looked like an apartment complex for squirrels. To be quite honest with you, I’d give it all up to be a squirrel living on the beach.
Walking into the hotel truly warmed my heart…I can’t express enough how excitedly ready I am to start my real travelling journey! The hotel we stayed at was Ayres, I give it a 9/10. The area was easy to maneuver, there was much to do around, only 15–20 minutes from the beach, the staff was friendly, & the breakfast they offered was great! I never seen a hotel serve breakfast as they have either. The only downside was having to pay for parking. Once the rest of my family arrived & we cleaned all the sand off & out of us, we set out to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I loved the area it was in & the walk to the restaurant was beautiful. I loved being able to enjoy the moment of great weather & just simply existing & being able to just marvel. I’ve been to a Bubba Gump restaurant before, but it was at Universal Studios. Overall, I absolutely love the atmosphere & not just because Forrest Gump is my all time favorite movie! I wish I could remember our server’s name because he was the sweetest & amazing! I am not a big seafood person, so I ordered the Texas Chicken Sandwich (10/10).
The next day, we went to Knott’s Berry Farm. Something that I didn’t like from the beginning is that they aren’t really organized with checking bags. It was confusing & unsettling to know people were getting into the park without having a checked bag. I want to start off by saying that I did have a great time at Knott’s Berry Farm, but what stands out most in my memory is what I wasn’t too fond of… I’m sure this is at every theme park, but seriously….almost $5 for a bottle of water?! Speaking of, on the Knott’s Berry Farm website, it says you can’t bring outside snacks (water)/etc., but they don’t even check bags properly & I saw countless people with their own snacks! I wish I knew of this improper bag checking beforehand because I also believe that Knott’s Berry Farm doesn’t have that many great food options. To be fair, though, I am a picky eater. I ended up paying $7 for a box of fries & it looked as if I barely ate any. You get what you par for, that’s for sure; there was so many! You know what I love? The cheese fries at SeaWorld! Another thing…you have to pay extra for fast passes. Disneyland gives free fast passes…think what you will with that information. They installed a new ride called Jaguar. To get onto the ride you have to wait in line in a temple-like area. Inside it is barely lit up & there was no air movement. The further we became into the line, the more narrow the walls became. I was 5 seconds away from a crying panic attack from not being able to breathe, I had to get out of line. I really wanted to get on that ride, but I would’ve lost it if I stayed any longer…something needs to change there. I absolutely loved the log ride, though! Just as Disneyland’s there was “spooky” music to enhance anticipation for the drop that was yet to come. Prior, I haven’t remembered Knott’s Berry Farm’s log ride, so a panic attack was definitely brewing as the ride went on. In the end, though, it was worth persevering (as if I had a choice.) The last ride we got on (at night) was Ghost Rider…2 hours of waiting later, my family was getting anxious & was ready to jump out of line. We didn’t, of course; the ride was finally right in our faces! Before I go on with this ride, I have to mention that the last time we went to Knott’s Berry Farm was in early/mid 2015. Apparently in late 2015- early 2016, they renovated & upgraded the ride, which we had no knowledge of. The way I remember Ghost Rider was fun with slight drops & being jolted around. When people ahead of us got on, I heard the ride speed off with everyone screaming…I didn’t think much of it then. When we finally got on, as before, the ride jolted off rather quickly (definitely faster than I remembered.) I sat next to my brother & as the ride began going “uphill,” he said, “don’t scream, okay?” We like to challenge each other, so we agreed not to scream or you’d lose. The ride kept going up, & up, & up; I saw the whole park & then some (something I also didn’t remember the last time I rode it.) I looked straight ahead seeing the first cart fall vanishing within a split second…instantly, I screamed & lost the bet. I don’t want to ruin the ride for you if you have yet to experience the new upgraded Ghost Rider, so I will just put it like this: when the ride was over, I turned around laughing when I saw my sister’s fiancé reacting in utter shock, then I saw my younger sister (who was sitting behind my brother) wide-eyed & blank faced. I stopped laughing when I saw her this way…& she cried. After 2 hours of waiting in line, we all left the park in shaken terror. Truth be told, I’d do it again, though.
After being terrorized at a children’s theme park, we all went to the beach the next day (Huntington.) Regardless of it being a cloudier day, I still had a great time! I read some more, boogie boarded, which, by the way, maybe I’m getting too old to do so, but when I’m done boarding, I feel like someone has kicked me in the head. Nothing that a little Advil can’t fix, though! We bought a new boogie board by someone walking around selling them…my dad broke it about 20 minutes later. There was also people selling fruit & cute handmade anklets along the shore. I also made my first ever sandcastle, which I’ve always wanted to do! It was ugly, but I still loved it (my older sister’s was better…show off!) Later, my sister, her fiancé, my brother, & I rode bikes along the sand; I never realized it, but I feel like Huntington Beach is a classier Venice Beach. If you’ve been to Venice Beach, you know what I’m talking about! After biking, we got food from Jack’s. I didn’t have my glasses or contacts & struggled to read the menu. The worker was kind enough to read it to me & help me. It took about roughly 20–25 minutes just to order a salad because he was confused that I didn’t want a lot of toppings that came on it. I ordered a chicken teriyaki salad…teriyaki on salad?! I wish I thought of that sooner, it was sooo good! In the nicest way, the worker that helped me was like if Napoleon Dynamite & Hyde from That 70’s Show had a baby. After being [probably] the most annoyingly picky/difficult customer, we took our food back to our set-up & picnicked on the beach! Pure joy doesn’t get any better than that for me. Around 4-ish, it began to get cold fast, so we packed up & had a pizza party in our hotel rooms. We got pizza from a place called Pizza Boy (10/10.) I only ate the Hawaiian, but it was amazing! Next to our hotel was the baseball stadium & I guess they had a game that night & won. Later in the night (roughly 10-ish,) fireworks went off for quite some time. They were so beautiful, with a grand finale; the perfect way to end a perfect trip!
The next day, we ate our hotel breakfast & packed up to leave, sadly. Me & my sister got a luggage cart & I rode on it in the elevator & in the parking lot (something I’ve also always wanted to do because of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.) It felt like it took longer to get home, probably because I was tired of driving & was anxious to see my pup! Being away from home for a bit definitely made me appreciate more of the most mundane things at home…it felt good to have something to miss. Overall, the trip was a success & I am thankful for the time I had those past few days.