disneyland_red.jpg Disneyland is 50 years old! And, oh, how I wish Jon and I could be down there right now. No two people in the world love being in the "happiest place on earth" more than we do. But, instead of yearning for what simply cannot be, I think I'll celebrate my love affair with Disneyland... the one I've had since I fell in love with my Jon.

This month is the two-year-anniversary of our first trip together to Anaheim. Let the memories commence!

disneyland_01_015.jpg On a whim we grabbed our stuff and drove down together in Jon's little red Jetta (I miss that car!). As we pulled into the parking garage that night, Jon's face lit up. He was so excited! So happy! I cannot describe our first tram ride into the park. But I'll try. The rain-heavy air cloaked us, swirled softly around our brand new love. This picture shows us on the only time we've ever done "It's A Small World". We were soaking wet, annoyed by the stupid little song, but ecstatic to simply be in our own private heaven.

dl 003.jpg With a whopping success in May, it took very little coaxing for us to return the next month. June of 2003 brought us down with Jon's family and the Talbots. Hmmmmm, some of you wonder, how did Audrey talk Jon into being goofy and into wearing a hat?! (None of your business, nudge nudge, wink wink...) Indiana Jon and I had quite the time once again. This trip reinforced our love of the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. You gotta love a restaurant that has gorillas and elephants as entertainment! Sing it! "Jungle love is driving me mad, it's making me crazy, crazy!"

dsc02819-copy_edited.jpg In September we had our own summer of the monkies. I was soon to be off to Davis, putting 80 miles between us where there had only been 3 miles at most before. We weren't looking forward to that. So, on a very hot September weekend we took our show on the road, adopted two cute spider monkies (Chloe and Jack Sparrow the Monkey... no, not letting Jon name our children). And yes, we did wear them around our necks, joined at their velcroed feet. And yes, we got plenty of "Awwwww, how adorable"s and "Aren't they sweet togethers" and "Man, get a room"s, too.

DSC03275.jpg Then I got a surprise. Two months after that trip we went on another. Our shortest to date. And I didn't know a thing about it. Jon proposed to me on a Saturday afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. And, as if that wasn't fantastic enough, and as if the beautiful Tiffany diamond ring wasn't over-the-top fabulous, he then whisked me away on a surprise trip to Disneyland to celebrate our engagement. After dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (which serves the best bruschette on the planet!) we stopped at Sephora where I got my makeup done. That's why I'm practically unrecognizable in the photo. But our joy is definitely evident. We were in the park all of six hours and flew home in time for church in the morning.

dsc03654_edited.jpg Christmas just wouldn't be complete without a visit to Disneyland done up holiday style. I'd never seen it that way before. Romance could so easily be defined by the sight of Small World done up in thousands of brightly colored lights, the backdrop of this photo. We took it just after experiencing the snow on Main Street to the soft, creamy tune of Christmas carols. So beautiful. And lots of mistletoe everywhere! We all won.

disneyland_05_23_2004 003.jpg For the next few months we were busy with school, work and all the wedding plans. Finally in May of 2004 we happened upon the perfect excuse to run off one more time. My journalism professor wanted a "travel story". Okie dokie! Thus we were off to cover the opening of the new "Tower of Terror" ride in California adventure. Crazy ride! We actually waited in line for that one (whereas we have become experts at "doing the park", utilizing the fast pass system and knowing which times of the day are best to see certain attractions... we're almost never in line for more than 20 minutes). Needless to say... I got an A on that assignment.

honeymoon 575.jpg In August we were married. Yay! And the day after our wedding we flew down to Disneyland again to celebrate together as man and wife. But one day there on the way to Florida just didn't seem like enough. On our way back after being in Orlando for 10 days we stopped in at the park for an afternoon, doing all things we hadn't done yet. I know what you're thinking. After so many visits how could there possibly be one inch of the park we hadn't explored? On short trips we make sure to hit the classics (Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise). Our priorities might baffle some, for instance we always have hotdogs for lunch at the Carnation Cafe on the corner of Main Street while listening to a ragtime pianist burst out with musical joy! It's the best. So, what did we do on that day of firsts? The Golden Horseshoe saloon had a comedic floorshow. We rode the Mark Twain around the river, dropped in at Tom Sawyer's island and we went on several of the rides in the storybook area of the park (Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, etc.). Even now, though, we can't say we've done it all. There's still Club 33, and Space Mountain once it's reopened in June.

DSC08139.jpg After our first Christmas as newlyweds had come and gone without even a hint of Disney adventure, we knew something had to be done. We couldn't miss the Youds' infamous New Year's party... but we could drive down on the day before New Year's Eve and party for a bit in Mickeytown, USA. Another quick trip, always awesome! DSC08153.jpg And rainy. So we were ponchoed much of the time. Thus I have included two pictures from this trip. One of us together and... a personal favorite of my darling blue-eyed boy in his poncho. Meep meep! Sorry, this inside joke must be inserted here to make my husband smile when he reads this later.

disneyland_04_15_2005 036.jpg How long could we stay away? Until Jon's birthday in April and not one second longer. I surprised him after work, picked him up and we were off once more. Perfect weather welcomed us to Anaheim. And, as Disneyland was preparing for its own birthday celebration, we got to see Cinderella's castle done up in all its pink, purple and gold glory. Here I am enjoying spring, our eighth month of marriage, my husband's birthday and, of course, my favorite place in the world.

So that is a catalog of our 9 Disney adventures as a couple. If and when I find old shots of us as kids at the park... wow, will you all be in for a treat! Me in stretch pants and big t-shirts tied at the hip with those cheap plastic buckles, Jon with his socks pulled up to his knees while wearing short shorts! Our folks in all their big-haired, eighties style glory! (And I'll even throw in a couple of my adorable little brothers, just for good measure.) But for now, that's the way our cookie crumbled.

And we lived happily every after.