4 min read

Nausicaä of the Disneyland of the Joshua Trees

Nausicaä of the Disneyland of the Joshua Trees
Generated with Midjourney.

Welcome to the March 2024 edition of...
What I'm Into, What I'm Up To

What I'm Into AND What I'm Up To

  • Place: Southern California — where I'm writing this to you from!

    I'm at a nice-but-not-nice-enough-to-be-this-expensive hotel in the City of Angels, tired from a week of very full days traveling around with three kids, trying to keep us all sane.

    We have been to Disneyland, which I hate to even mention, but it has been my wife's dream to see the original Disney park for a very long time and we finally achieved that dream as a family. So check that one off the list for the Greens.

    I won't bore you with all the details, but I will say the food is better, generally, at Disneyland than Disney World, and where there were rides that had counterparts on both coasts, the Disneyland versions won out in all cases (in my humble opinion). Autopia, especially, was so much better than Tommorowland Speedway and Radiator Springs Racers was so so much better than Test Track. Star Wars Galaxy's Edge was exactly the same, as far as we could tell, but the Marvel area—Avenger's Campus—was fantastic. And San Fransokyo Square, based on the future-fusion urban setting of Big Hero 6, did not have rides but was really cool for eating. If it were free to get in and close by, I would eat there all the time.

    After Disney, we spent time with friends in San Bernardino, looked for (and found) one of my childhood homes in the town of Crestline in the mountains above San Bernardino, then drove further up to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, where we found snow to play in, then down to Pioneertown, where they used to film westerns in the olden days, then to 29 Palms for the night and Joshua Tree Park the next day.

    Even though we had seen plenty of photos and videos of Joshua Tree, there was something magical about wandering through and climbing up a little of it in real life. Being in a place like that felt so unfamiliar and low-grade uncomfortable—I think it was the lack of real trees. The joshua trees were everywhere, but they're not technically trees and they don't grow tall or wide or provide any shade, really. The lack of trees was a bit unsettling.

    Then onto Huntington Beach for a few days where the kids and I had fun while Wendy was at a work thing, which was the reason we were out in California to begin with—also because it just happened to coincide with the kids' spring break.

    Now, we're exploring L.A. for a few days, then back home.

    We went up to Griffith Park Observatory one night to see the city at sunset and the exhibits in the observatory, then drove up the coast and saw some more friends the next day (hi Jon). Today we did some hiking to get a break from spending so much time in the rental car, then a train museum, then more driving around to see the things you're supposed to see when you're a tourist in L.A—Hollywood and the Sunset Strip and downtown L.A.

    The amazing thing about traveling with kids is seeing how much awe they find in things they're not used to—mountain views, snow in March, desert landscapes, old trains and old machines, a koi pond in a hotel lobby, hotel gyms, hotel breakfasts, Cybertrucks, houses on hillsides, our friends' VR goggles. It helps remind me as a jaded adult how exciting travel really is, and how incredible the world around us seems when it's not the part of the world that's normally around us.

    I love the west coast, but people aren't joking when they say Southern California is expensive and the traffic is terrible. My friends Jon and Tess said it's better to vacation in California than to live here. And from what I can tell, if you're going to vacation here, the best way to do it is in an RV because we have seen RVs parked around almost all of the most beautiful places we've been to so far. You couldn't afford to stay there even if there were a place to stay, but feel free to park your RV and enjoy the one-of-a-kind view from the comfort of your movable home. I think we might have to try that sometime.

Honorable Mention

  • Books: Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, the graphic novel series by Hayao Miyazaki — oh man, if you are into...
    a) the 1984 animated film of the same name by Studio Ghibli (and I can't imagine why you wouldn't be),
    b) post-apocalyptic but hopeful sci-fi/fantasy,
    c) manga or comic books or graphic novels of any kind,
    d) fantastically executed storytelling through illustrated art,
    e) giant bugs that destroy anything in their path,
    ...do yourself a favor and check out the books that gave birth to the classic film.

    I'm only on book two (of seven—borrowed from our local library, natch), but it's already obvious there's a deeper story than what the film is able to convey in its hour-and-a-half runtime. Even in black and white still frames, Miyazaki's art is so fantastic and the story is overflowing with interesting ideas and themes—it's been called anime's answer to Dune and I think that's pretty spot-on. There are so many similarities. Hopefully I can get all the California sand out of this copy before I return it.

That's all for this month, friends! See you next time.