Chapter 2: Post 9 — The Family Goes West

The seven thousand mile journey had been an exciting one. The trip had taken a week with a few days each in California and Hawaii. Larry had cousins in Los Angeles so there was more family to visit there, and a long-promised trip to Disneyland finally came true.

For children who had been thrilled with free cereal at the Kellogg’s factory, Disneyland was an experience they could barely imagine. The day was hot and sticky as they wandered through the theme park, gawking at costumed characters and hearing songs from all their favorite films. With “It’s a Small World” on a loop in their heads, the whole family boarded the boats for the Jungle Cruise.

Drifting along the placid river, the girls were laughing as they tried to spot the elusive animals hiding in the greenery. Suddenly the calm was shattered by a large splash as a gigantic hippo reared up and roared. The passengers squealed in delight as the guide dramatically stood up in the boat and fired six blank shots, but the giggles were quickly overpowered by a hysterical wail that pierced the jungle. Karen panicked, believing semi-aquatic, animatronic mammals were going to devour her whole. The guide tried to reassure her but could not be heard over the noise. Guests at the park wondered if cannibalism had been introduced at Walt’s popular attraction because of the non-stop, bloodcurdling screaming coming from one of the boats. Many were relieved, and then impressed, by the lung capacity of the curly-haired moppet who shrieked non-stop until she was finally removed by her embarrassed parents, one of them muttering something about holding her head under the water to help calm her down.

The whole family agreed that a land-based attraction might be a good idea. The sun was intense at the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house as they got in a line that stretched toward Tomorrowland. The older girls were big fans of the Disney movie it was based on and insisted on waiting. After standing in line for 45 minutes, Larry wandered off to fetch ice cream to help cool things down. Jean was still comforting Karen, who appeared to be emotionally scarred by her encounter with the robot hippo. By the time he returned, the rest of the family were just a few Tommy Kirk fans away from the entrance. Larry handed out the dripping, no-longer frozen bars and as the girls took their first bites of the seldom-allowed treats, a castaway cast member about to admit them said “Hi folks! There is no food allowed in the tree house! You can either discard your snacks or step out of line to the back!”

There was a pause as each girl struggled with her expectation of what exactly constituted a vacation, and then said in unison “We’ll keep the ice cream!”

“Are you kidding me?!” Jean sputtered. ”We’ve been standing in line longer than the Robinson family was actually stranded!” Larry took note of his humidity-challenged wife and solved the dilemma by calmly grabbing each bar from the girl’s sticky fingers and tossing them in the garbage. “They’re finished. C’mon kids, let’s go climb a tree.”

The climate and the scenery in Hawaii are all that was said about it. Waikiki Beach is just a little skinny bit of beach bordered by extremely expensive hotels and occupied by various shades of people, depending on when they arrived and how long they laid on the beach and how big of a bathing suit they were wearing. The girls were happy because our hotel had a pool at it and what’s an ocean in comparison?


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