The Time I Got Lost Twice In California as an 8 Year Old

Every kid’s dream vacation is going to Disneyland. And that’s exactly where I got to go when I was 8 years old. We didn’t go on a ton of trips when I was younger, but this was the one I remember the most. And not because of all the fun that I had. I mean, yeah, I’m sure I had a ton of fun on that trip, but that’s not what I remember most.

I have two siblings, an older brother who is mentally challenged, and a sister who’s younger than me by about 5 years. This may not seem interesting, but it’ll make more sense later. My family decided to drive to California to go on this magical trip to Disneyland and to visit some cousins of my dad’s who lived close to the beach. I don’t particularly remember the drive, but I do remember it being incredibly long. Driving from Salt Lake City, Utah to Anaheim, California is a long ways, especially for a kid.

We made several stops for gas along the way. One particular stop, in the middle of Nevada and the desert, I got out to go to the bathroom. When I came back out of the gas station, my parent’s car was gone. Like, it had literally just disappeared. They had left the station without me. For what seemed like hours, but was really only a few minutes, I panicked. I had no idea what to do. After about 5 minutes of standing in the parking lot of this random little gas station, I remember the feeling of relief washing over me as I watched my parent’s drive back up and yell at me to get in the car. That was the first time I got lost on this little trip.

Second time, here we come.

We made it to California without any more mishaps. We hung out with my dad’s cousins at the beach one day, and it was incredibly fun. I can’t swim worth crap, but I remember playing in the ocean and feeling the wind and the smell of the sea. That was when I first fell in love with the ocean, and I’ve loved it ever since.

We then went on to spend a couple days at the most magical place on Earth: Disneyland! I haven’t been back there since this trip, but it definitely left a lasting impression on me. I remember standing in line for Splash Mountain for what seemed like an hour. When we got to the top, I chickened out and my dad was incredibly frustrated with me because I refused to go on the ride. That was super fun. We then made our way to Indiana Jones. That terrified me. Then came Pirates of the Caribbean. I didn’t want to go on that one, but was basically forced into it. It ended up being my favorite ride there. After we got off, my parents wanted to go in a different direction. I had other ideas. I wanted to go on Pirates again. So I stepped away from my parents to wander back to the ride. So here comes the SECOND TIME in like 3 days that I got separated from my family. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, you know how crazy busy it is. And if you’ve ever lost a child before, you can probably imagine the panic that my parents went through. They had an 11 year old severely mentally challenged kid and a crazy busy 3.5 year old toddler in tow. They weren’t supposed to be worried about me! I was the good, people pleasing, never get into trouble middle child!

While my panicking parents were looking for me, I got picked up by a security guard. He took me to their little lost children area. And this was my favorite part of the trip. You see, I had never had a churro before. And if you’ve ever been to Disneyland, you’ll know how delicious their churros are. The security guard gave me a churro to snack on while we were waiting for my parents to come find me. And oh boy was it good. I have loved churros ever since. It was probably one of the best highlights of my childhood: being rewarded with something so delicious for purposely separating myself from my parents. Children are terrors, and now that I have my own, I fully realize this.

I don’t remember much else about that trip, apart from going to Universal Studios, riding the brand new Jurassic Park ride (scary as heck by the way), and meeting Beetlejuice, one of my all time favorite movie characters as a kid. I have lots of memories from when I was a kid, but this one is definitely one of the ones that sticks out the most. I would love to hear about your favorite childhood memory in the comments below!

Picture of my super cute family about 13 years after this Disneyland trip.

Picture of my super cute family about 13 years after this Disneyland trip.