The wildfires in Hollywood and Montecito started sometime early Saturday. By lunchtime, the sky was full of thick brown smoke and ash was raining down on the walks outside. It didn't affect our work at all, though most of us had headaches by the afternoon due to the amount of smoke in the air. It was supposed to be 90 degrees that day, with 70+ mph winds. It didn't feel that hot, but it's possible that the slightly cooler weather was attributed to the smoky blanket that obscured the sunlight.
The Disney parks were completely covered, and when we went to California Adventure the next day, most of the indoor areas still smelled heavily of smoke. In the picture below, just to the right of Hollywood's Tower of Terror ride at California Adventure, you can see the orange glow that the fire reflected up into the smoke.
It's sad that such a tragedy had to occur, but in it's own way the smoke created an eerie kind of beauty. Below is a picture of the Anaheim Convention Center Arena... I have another meeting in February 2009 in that Arena.
I loved looking out at the Arena at night. I could see it well from my hotel room. I also got a great view of the Disney parks...
About 30 corporate employees went down to help out with the event. We all stayed at the Hilton Anaheim, which is probably one of the nicer hotels in Anaheim, excepting Disney's Grand California Hotel. I'd forgotten how many palm trees there are in southern California... and how pretty they are!
After four long, hard days of work, our company treated us to a short day at one of the Disney parks. Most of us went in to California Adventure. I think my favorite rides are Soaring Over California (I get really nostalgic... this ride is just a peaceful, happy ride!) and the Bugs' Life show. It's much smaller than Disneyland, but has a lot of really beautiful areas - including the backside of the GRR (Grizzly River Rapids); the waterfall there looks like something in the high Uintas!
I spent most of my day hanging out with my friends Roberth and Brandon. We had some good times touring the Mission and Boudins factorys - there was also some pretty serious competition on the new Toy Story ride... highly recommended!
Right before we left to go catch our airport shuttle at the hotel, we decided to do a little last-minute shopping. At one of the stores we stopped in we ran into Woody from Toy Story; he was working the cash-register scanners. Woody got his hands on a tape gun, and began holding people up with it. Brandon, unfortunately, got shot by the tape gun... but I succeeded in swiping the gun! (Truth: Woody did not nicely hand me be tape gun and motion for me to use it against him. Well... maybe...)
I wasn't going to buy anything... I'm going to Disneyworld with my family in a few days and I didn't think that I needed anything from California too. But then I saw this painting, by Joe Yakovetic and for some reason it really hit me. I love it! He has some others that are amazing too! I really love his Sleeping Beauty painting (see if you can find Philip kissing Aurora in the clouds... it's way cool!).
This is the wave fountain in the main courtyard at California Adventure. I'm a sucker for fountains and waterfalls and this one is really pretty.
The trip was a lot of fun, but I think everyone was really happy to be going home and sleeping in their own beds that night. The whole trip was also a learning experience for me - not just as far as event planning goes, but on the whole I learned a lot of things about people, about myself, and about how much I really miss certain parts of California and really don't miss a lot of others. I'm excited to have more opportunities to see different things as I travel with work... it's kind of a life-long dream, to travel and see new things, and I know that every trip will be a new adventure!