Some months run together. But once I moved back to California I definitely appreciated April far more than I had when living in Michigan. The seasons are pretty clear-cut in Michigan. Sun, rain, sleet, snow and repeat as necessary. California tends to do sun to drizzle to humid to sun. Not in that order, but in random shuffles according to some odd toss of the climatic dice. We have lovely newscasters and weather folks who point at the maps and spout ideas, but far too often they are off base and sheepish by the five o'clock funnies.
We got some nasty heat waves dashing in and out of our state during the month of April, with some major windstorms and a few tense fires to kick it all up a notch. It was not just a bit of the Santa Ana winds blowing in and dry heat washing over us all on the coastline for a day or two, but blistering record-breaking temperatures -- stuff that made the meteorologists yank out their hundred years of records to compare.
Putting my every day work woes aside, I picked a few random days to enjoy what California has to offer. My first trip in April was out to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. One of my friends had a pass and we headed out during the first heat wave of April. I hadn't been there in a dozen or so years. Since that visit they have done some major remodeling. The monorail that ran around the park with viewing of all the animals in the park has been replaced by a new Journey into Africa.
It's far shorter than the old monorail trip and they really didn't slow down long enough to do much in the way of photography. I snagged a few pictures I liked but wasn't overly impressed. The tour was less than a half hour and jerky with the constant stops and starts. The guide wasn't very informative, but I knew enough about the park I wasn't going to stress about it. My friend and I began the walk. No longer do you just sit in the monorail and see the various animals but now you climb up and down the hills to snap pictures. I saw everything from the condors to the lions by hiking up and down the hills. The heat wave didn't help much but I would recommend the trip. The only thing that struck me as totally odd was the Roar and Snore. It was a campsite at the top of a hill where folks pay serious coinage to sleep in the park after dark. Nothing about that seemed to be restul in the least, and hearing carnivores roar and snarl in the dark of the night isn't something I am ever going to pay to experience.
The main purpose of the trip was to see the butterfly exhibit and the orchids. I was under the illusion that they would be in the same location. Instead I went into the Hidden Jungle to find they'd cranked up the heat and humidity while letting a bunch of butterflies flit about while birds swooped. I assumed they researched the birds in the huge aviary and they didn't munch on butterflies, but I was still looking for wings on the ground. One huge butterfly decided my scalp was worthy of perching but thankfully not for too long. I didn't wear perfume, bright colors or anything that supposedly would attract them. Guess I was still worth a taste. Butterflies taste through their feet. Yeah, I know. Yuck, I had one entwined on my locks for a good five or so minutes. Luckily I wasn't the gal who never lost her butterfly during the entire half hour she was in the cage.
Fun part of the journey into the butterfly exhibit was that they walked us through the exhibit for Madagascar hissing cockroaches, milk snakes, tarantulas and other exotics. That wasn't what I thought should lead up to butterflies.
I had thought the orchids would be there, too but
they were tucked in front of the baby nursery in the zoo. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of orchids put into the small space but steadfastly snapped digital pictures as best I could. A few gals with heavy hands on their spray bottles diminished the scent with bad cologne but the orchids were still a visual delight.
In memory of the insane fires from last year they presented three shadow boxes with orchid arrays reflecting the wildfires. Once piece incorporated melted metal. I didn't know if it was actually from the October fires or something manufactured but nevertheless it still rang true.
Lions, tigers and butterflies along with pelicans, flamingos and gorillas all helped make the trip enjoyable. I went home with a few hundred pictures on my camera to commemorate the day. I'd go again, but skip the tour until they work out the kinks.
My next trip was a guilty pleasure that had been put off since last summer. I am native Californian thus Disneyland has been a fun spot for as long as I can recall. Have a bad day at work -- drive up to Disneyland and dance to the bands under the moonlight. Too much stress at college -- take mental health day and go ride Pirate of the Caribbean and sing with the pirates. You get the picture.
One trip cancelled due to pain, the next, those fires in October during which I was evacuated from my home, and over winter I was busy training new help at the office. I found out I was going to be replacing my assistant again so I quickly took a day off and went to Disneyland. They've changed the Pirates of the Caribbean and added some Johnny Depp inspired Jack Sparrows. The Haunted House has been painted and given a few new bits. Soaring over California in California Adventure was lovely as always. I tried to hit the basics. This time I had lunch in the Blue Bayou. I ate nearly half of the Monte Cristo sandwich while dining on linens and sipping iced water (not mint juleps). One of the workers had been there at Disneyland for over thirty years. She remembered when the Monte Cristo was under two dollars. It's well over twenty now but still a tasty treat.
Tom Sawyer's Island now has the Pirates Lair. I will make it over there next time. From the shore I could see they have a Jack Sparrow persona who frolics and banters with the guests. Disneyland always has been a special place for me. It's one of those parks in which you can do relaxing stuff or take exciting rides depending on your moods. If you get time to explore this park make sure to check out the plants. They have some of the most amazing sets of flower gardens interwoven in the park. Lush flowers and the colors in the flowerbeds were amazing as well as the perfumed air from the blooms.
My final jaunt for April was a whirlwind trip to West Los Angeles over by Venice to get cake pans and decorating items for my folks' fiftieth anniversary later this year. My neighbor knew of a great shop, Gloria's Cakes and Candies Supplies. I found things I hadn't seen in a dozen years in stores or online. We also had side trips to a few other spots on the way home. Penzeys Spices located in a strip mall off Hawthorne Boulevard was worth the detour. There is only one store in California and most folks go online and order the spices available. I savored the scents and greedily read the placards for information. I didn't intend to purchase anything, but I walked out with a delightful amount of spices and recipes along with some mixes. They are extremely reasonable. Their spices are fresh and recipes good. I have already tried their Green Goddess mixture. I admit to adding more to the recipes once I got home, but I was pleased.
The Fabric Barn was a treasure trove. It's off in Long Beach on a main drag and has little to do with fabric. My neighbor was unable to explain the store properly but once there, I was thrilled. Things I hadn't found at Gloria's Cakes & Candies Supply earlier, I was able to find at the Fabric Barn. This is not a place to wander into without a list of necessary items. The large building has ribbons, fabric, knick-knacks, gift boxes, craft items and so much more. Anyone who needs to decorate a table or large event would find something there easily. The staff was great about helping and even as busy as they were they still took the time to look for the most obscure treasure. We drove home happy with our shopping.
So all in all it was a good April for me doing new things.