California Adventure – VidCon 2014

20140625_200756

The last 3 days of our California vacation were spent taking the kiddos to VidCon. For those who don’t know, VidCon is the year’s largest convention for artists that publish videos and entertain on YouTube.  YouTube has become a modern day phenomenon.  My kids, for example, don’t hardly even watch regular TV anymore.  They watch YouTube!  Going to VidCon for them is like one of us going to the Academy Awards and mingling with the celebrities.

We really didn’t know what to expect on the first day so we just got up early and headed out. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot not too far into the convention center parking garage.  When we walked up to the doors, the crowd was ridiculous.  A line winded around the building and curved about 1 million times.  Doors had not even opened yet and there were at least 3000 people in front of us. I got on Facebook from my phone and read tons of angry comments from fed up parents who had spent lots of time and money just to sit in line and have their kids cry because the disorganization led to them missing a signing or picture with their favorite YouTuber.

We really didn’t have a plan in place so when they opened the doors to the arena, we ran inside to watch the opening celebration.

20140626_151915

It was actually pretty fun and really set the tone for the rest of the convention.  Inside the convention hall, it was pure madness.  Everyone trying to figure out how the process worked to line up for signings and autographs was pure hell.  I felt as if I was in a teenage mosh pit.

20140626_112513

20140626_134643

Since we did this over a year ago, my memory is a little spotty on what exactly we did our first day so here are some pictures to help me remember:

20140628_135306

Tyler Oakley

20140626_133635

20140626_165223

That guy from HGTV

20140627_152332

20140627_170952

20140627_161740

The mobbing of a guy who does videos on Vine

20140627_172300

20140627_172346

The only YouTubers that my husband and I watch are the ShayTards.  I’m amazed that one video of Shay Butler romping around like a dork in a unitard has turned his family into millionaires over the course of 5 years.  They have over a million subscribers and their company Maker Studios – was just bought out last year by Disney for over 500 million dollars.  Talk about success!  I was bummed I wasn’t able to go to their signing on the first day because of the crowds.  We did get to meet them but more on that later.

The next day my daughter wanted to meet one of her favorites, Joey Graceffa.  This kid is a beautiful boy, no wonder the line we waited in was 6 hours long.  Yes,  SIX HOURS. At least the end result was worth it:

20140627_135656

20140627_135653
20140627_135647

His was a traditional signing, so that meant no pictures.  Just a high five and a handshake.  We made up for that earlier this year when Joey came to our area to do a book signing.  My daughter finally got her picture!

While we were standing in that 6 hour line, my husband texts me this picture:

IMG_2465

Apparently Shay Butler was waking through the center and was nice enough to take a selfie with my husband.  Ugh, I was jealous!

My son went on his own little adventure and attended a few YouTuber panels.  During one, he was able to get a picture with Chris Hardwick aka. The Nerdist…aka…that guy who hosts the Talking Dead on AMC.  Yep, that’s me being jealous again!

IMG_5803

The last day we were there, I was able to get into the ShayTards family panel.  That was a ton of fun.  I was able to ask them a question over the mic – I think I asked Collette how she stays so calm, being the mother of 5 children and the wife of Shay!

20140628_100319

 20140628_102705

20140628_104237

While I was at the panel, my daughter got more pictures with a few of her faves:

IMG_3196

Alfie from Pointless Blog

IMG_9888

The hilarious Tobuscus

Finally on our last afternoon the ShayTards called a pop up signing for those who didn’t get to see them on the first day due to the crowds.  We waited about 1.5 hr and had a great meet.

20140628_161752

20140628_161738

20140628_161719

20140628_165556

Overall VidCon was certainly an experience.  It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and I know the kids enjoyed themselves.  I’m not sure that we would do it again, but maybe….

Advertisements

California Adventure Day Four

Day four was our last day in the LA area before heading to Anaheim for VidCon.  I didn’t have much planned for us besides visiting the Griffith Observatory.  The Observatory is a cross between a museum and a planetarium – with an awesome view.  It sits atop Mount Hollywood and you can see for miles. Best part about it – admission is free!

The weather was perfect and we got there early before the first planetarium show started so we had plenty of time to roam around the grounds and get some great pictures.

20140624_112938

20140624_112944

20140624_112026

Hollywood sign view

View up from a long trail behind the building

View up from a long trail behind the building

IMG_1125

IMG_1130

IMG_1140

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 101

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 110

The fight scene from “Rebel Without a Cause” was filmed on the front steps

Here’s our walk around the building:

 

The inside was just as impressive as the outside.

20140624_120357

Murals on the wall

20140624_120406

20140624_120958

Ceiling of the entry way

We got tickets for two planetarium shows.  Channeling my inner nerd, I was beyond excited about this because I think the last time I was in a planetarium, I was in sixth grade!  The shows were really neat.  The guy who was narrating them looked and sounded just like he actor in the Cadillac commercials.  You know the one who says we parked a car on the moon and left the keys in it?  Yeah, that guy.

Lunch was at the on site cafe and after we successfully pissed off everyone behind us in line by ordering 3 burritos (one lady making them) we sat outside.  Here is where I experienced something I don’t think I will ever forget.  I had to use the restroom and entering the door before me was a lady with a baby and a boy who couldn’t have been more than 5.  They went into the large stall with the baby changer.  We were the only ones in there.  I hear the lady talking to the boy and she’s using the F word in every sentence, just casually like it was no big deal.  Then the boy said something as a whisper which I couldn’t hear to which she replied LOUDLY ” I don’t give a F! What the F is she gonna do?  I’ll tear her F-ing head off and feed it to her for lunch!” At this point I hope to God she’s not talking about me and decide I’d better finish up and get the hell out of there.  This lady had some serious issues to be cussing in front of a young boy like that.  Later on during lunch I see her leaving with another lady and I assume that is who she was talking about.

Our lunch view before the bathroom horror show

Our lunch view before the bathroom horror show

From lunch we decide we’ve seen everything and decide to make our way back to the car.  About halfway there, my daughter asked…what about the gift shop?  So we headed back and checked that out.  To the left of the gift shop was another exhibit area that we didn’t even know existed.  It was an entire area devoted to space and the planets.  I could feel my inner nerd tingling again so we had to go in.

20140624_155213

20140624_155528

Not sure what this was

20140624_155445

 

 

20140624_155409

After seeing the last few sights of the observatory it was time to head back.  We had been there all day, as it was now almost 4pm!  Time flies when you’re having fun.  We had to drive to Anaheim to check into our hotel for VidCon.  The LA traffic was horrid and a 30 mile ride took us about 4 hours!  We made a pit stop at the iconic Randy’s Donuts near the airport.

That's one big donut!

That’s one big donut!

20140624_173731

The donut itself…not that impressive unfortunately!  Finally made our way into Anaheim and downed some crabs at Joe’s Crab Shack before calling it a night!

Day Five – Disneyland and VidCon registration!

 

 

 

California Adventure Day Three

I know, I’m a few days late on this.  The weekend was busy and I just didn’t have the energy!

Day three was our Long Beach / Queen Mary day.  I love all things paranormal and had heard of the “ghosts” aboard the ship.  I booked our tickets for entry onto the ship which included the Ghosts and Legends “tour”.  We got there early and entered the ship – the “tour” began at 11am.  I keep saying “tour” with quotation marks because it was not really a tour.  More about this after a few pictures:

Our Clan

Our Clan

BIG Boat!

BIG Boat!

I was really excited about the Ghosts and Legends “tour” until they started talking about special effects.  Whaaaat?  Noooo! I wanted to experience the underbelly of the boat (the old swimming pool, the boiler room) in all of its original glory.  Instead we got a staged Disney-like version of a haunted tour with special effects, sounds, lights etc… which really distracted from the history of those areas.  I was really disappointed.  I’m sure if there are really spirits living down there, they are pretty pissed off!

After that mess, we explored the common areas of the boat.  Outside was really beautiful and most of it has been restored to make it look good but most everything is original  The deck was quite impressive:

Ahoy Matey!

Ahoy Matey!

 

Thinking she's Kate Winslet.  Where Leo?

Thinking she’s Kate Winslet. Where Leo?

 

An old gun

An old gun

 

20140623_114629

Hello?

Hello?

After the deck we looked around inside a bit before lunch.

Creepy old hallway

Creepy old hallway

 

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 073

Original controls

Of course by this time everyone was starving so good thing the Queen Mary is also a hotel with a restaurant on board.  Lunch was pricey but good and it was nice to rest our feet for a bit.  Overall, I would say that the Queen Mary is a very over-rated tourist attraction.  It would be nice to spend a nite or two on board but I really felt like I spent over $200 to walk around a hotel for a few hours.  Good to see once, but we won’t be doing it again.

Our son had been bugging us about going to Venice beach because he’s into skateboarding and there was a skatepark he had heard about there.  I was a bit apprehensive because according to Tripadvisor – Venice Beach is a s***-hole.  We got there quickly and after paying another gazillion dollars to park our car, we checked the place out.  Yep – Venice Beach definitely does have a certain “flavor”.  Somewhere in between 10- days- without -a -shower body odor, soured milk and dog poo.  No it did not smell good and no I would never eat at any of the places that line the boardwalk.  But, it didn’t feel unsafe as many of the Tripadvisor posters had mentioned.  We were there in the middle of the day so I’m sure that added to the comfort factor.

 

The skate park was really cool however and we spent some time watching kids with some pretty great skills on their boards.  One boy couldn’t have been more than 8 years old and he was killing it in the bowl (like a big empty swimming pool).  Being a mom I was tense every time he would drop in and fly out but he had it totally under control.  Mark my words, we will see this kid again some day – X Games, Olympics…something.  He was amazing. I don’t know if you can see him real good in this short video but he’s the one with the long blond hair. There are a few more clips on my YouTube channel.


We walked down the boardwalk a bit, bought my son a retro-style skateboard at the skate shop and then headed back up the coast.

The kids wanted to see surfers so we drove into Malibu to spend some time at Surfrider beach. The water was coooold!  I don’t know how some of those surfers could be out there without wet suits on.

20140623_172357

20140623_172348

20140623_172341

The seagulls in Malibu must eat really good because they are giants.  I’ve never seen such huge seagulls!

20140623_180101

20140623_180105

 

We watched this one gull stalk a lady’s bag of Fritos as she was sunning.  He would wait until she closed her eyes…then creep over and try to steal the bag.  She was getting quite frustrated and thought it would be a good idea to hide the Fritos in her bag.  Not deterred in the least…that was one determined gull!  He waited for her to close her eyes and then went for the bag.  This went on for a while and I couldn’t help but laugh and cheer the gull on!  Who brings Fritos to the beach anyway and not share??

The offending seagull

The offending, Frito loving seagull

We stayed in Malibu until the sun went down and began our drive back into Thousand Oaks.  We ended the night with a dinner at the local Olive Garden.

Next up…The Griffith Observatory and lovely CA traffic!

 

California Adventure Day Two

This day I had planned for us to go into the Hollywood area and do some sight seeing.  We got up early and after a nice (and free) breakfast in the hotel we headed out to Hollywood.  On the way there we drove through the ta-ta area of Beverly Hills:

 

Arriving into Hollywood, we parked right across from Hollywood High school:

20140622_093352

 

First on the agenda was the Hollywood Museum but they weren’t going to open for about an hour so we wandered down Sunset and came across the coolest store ever built:

20140622_101548

It was certainly the biggest candy store I had ever seen and there were a couple of really cool rooms that had different themes.  My favorite:

20140622_100240

Disclaimer: No humans were harmed in the making of this blog

Warning!

Warning!

 

Being the Walking Dead fan that I am, I had to check out the goods:

20140622_100307

I don’t even know how they were able to collect this and put it in a jar…

20140622_100253

Now we know, zombie brains are small

20140622_100235

Paying homage to the best show ever

20140622_100230

Might be a good disguise in the event of the zombie apocalypse…

The boys made a pit stop:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 036

The “gross” room

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 039

When you gotta go you gotta go

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 037

The best ideas are thought up while in this position….

There was even a gas station inside:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 043

 

And a Wonka section of course:

 

Holy Wonka!

Holy Wonka!

And this creepy baby thing:

No thanks!

No thanks!

By the time we were done navigating our way through the largest candy store ever, the Hollywood Museum opened up.

20140622_093540

 

Marilyn guards the front door

Marilyn guards the front door

 

Apparently this was the old Max Factor building where the stars like Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe would go to get made up before a shoot.  It is filled with years and years of movie memorabilia – which was a big hit for our move loving family.  It was three floors full of movie making goodness.  Here are some of my favorites:

20140622_103825

Costumes from Sweeny Todd

20140622_104648

We all know this guy

20140622_104847

Effie’s dress from the Hunger Games

20140622_105819

I’m dating myself here, but this is Pee-Wee’s bicycle from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

20140622_111006

Prop for the long distance shots of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”

20140622_103757

Dexter!!

We spent a good two hours in here at least, it was well worth every minute!  The museum is connected to Mel’s Diner so after we were done we got a jump on the lunch crowd and got a table.

20140622_093419 Food was good.  Expensive but good. By the time we left there were about 50 people waiting to get in.  Mel’s is kind of a Hollywood icon I guess.

Next on our “tour” was Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Which I think is now Egyptian or something because it says so.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 053

This is where they used to roll out the red carpet

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 050

See, I wasn’t kidding

Of course we had to take the obligatory tourist photos in front of the building:

20140622_094918

Note my USA jersey…it was game day vs. Portugal

20140622_094858

20140622_094603

20140622_094549

 

And of course checked out the footprints:

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 020

I took a million of these pictures so here’s two

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 016

 

For those of you just itching to see about a hundred stars on the walk of fame –  I took this just for you:

 

Walking back down Sunset you can see the Hollywood Sign

20140622_102005

See, it’s waaaaay back there

After our Hollywood romp, my husband was growing restless because we had passed lunch and the USA game was approaching…yet we didn’t know where we would stop and watch it.  We decided to go down to Santa Monica and see if we could find a place.

Parking at the Santa Monica Pier was interesting.  After paying another gazillion dollars for a few hours access, we drove into this little parking garage, wedged our minivan into the smallest spot possible between another car and a brick wall – and handed our keys over to the valet who said “you pick up your car over there” and pointed across the street at yet another parking garage.

The pier was packed!  I’ve never seen so many people crammed into one space (well, I see that later in the trip but that’s another day).  Here’s our walk from the parking area down to the boardwalk:

The water was freezing so the hopes my kids had of swimming did not become reality (they are used to FL beaches).  We didn’t do the amusement park area but walked all the way down to the end.

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 062

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 060

2014 California & Honolulu vacation 058

20140622_134057

20140622_134051

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

At some point my son’s flip flop had a blow out (no he didn’t step on a pop top thank goodness) and we had to buy a new pair.  One pair of $8 Santa Monica flip flops coming right up!  I’ve never seen a kid get so mad at shoes before.  I’m thankful that little shop was there!

By this time, I had another man in my life getting a bit grumpy.  Game was about to start and nowhere in sight to watch it.  We had surrendered to the fact we would have to load up the WatchESPN app on the iphone and listen to it on the drive back but then I saw a little restaurant across the way.  I said “what about there?” There was a sign out front that read “Watch World Cup Here!” It was about 10 minutes until kickoff and as we walked through the door the owner greeted us with “Are you here to watch the game or eat?” We responded in unison “Watch the game”.

He seated us right in front of the big screen TV!  To our surprise there was not many people in there yet.  A few at the bar, but there were 6 of us and the table was for…get this – exactly 6 people!  God really wanted us to be able to watch this game.  Over the course of those 2 hours, even though we had eaten lunch just a few hours before, we ate…and ate…and ate….and watched the USA tie Portugal. *sigh* By the end of the game the place was hoppin but we made our exit.  The food was excellent and the hosts gracious.  We can’t thank them enough for such a great time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Intense

With full bellies we waddled back to our car…which was again, across the street…and made our way out of town.  Somewhere along the way someone in the car  thought it would be a good idea to take Mulholland Dr up the mountain in a quest to reach the Hollywood sign.  I think it might have been the driver…my husband.  Before long we were literally hanging off the edge of the mountain (ok not literally but it felt like it) and I was holding back my stomach from spontaneously leaping out of my body completely on it’s own accord.  We have to be getting closer….we have to be…were the words we were repeating, as we could see the sign but couldn’t quite get there.  As we drove higher and higher….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nothing but a steep drop off to the side of the car!

Needless to say we never made it.  We followed every tour bus we saw until finally we asked this guy how to get to the base of the sign.  The directions went something like this “Take that street until it curves right, then left…take a right and then at the next curve take a left…take another left…then go a little ways and take a right…then another left and an immediate left…yada yada” My husband was just nodding his head.  I was thinking “Are you serious right now??” We decided to just make due with the overlook area and saw it from a distance:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was as close as we were gonna get

Making our way back down Mulholland (thank goodness) we ran into a traffic jam because something was going on at the Hollywood Bowl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure who it was that drew such a crowd

By the time we got back into Thousand Oaks, where our hotel was we were tired.  Because we stuffed ourselves silly while at Santa Monica…I can’t even remember if we had dinner that night!  I don’t think we did.  I think we all go back and crashed.  My kids are still giving me grief that we didn’t make it all the way to the sign!

Day three coming next….The Queen Mary and Malibu!

California Adventure Day One

On the agenda: Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and Anaheim.

We scored some tickets on Virgin America at a good price from DFW to LAX.  Our flight was leaving at around 145pm so after getting the animals all squared away at home and a lunch at the airport before the flight, we were up up and away!  Let me tell you, we loved Virgin America.  We are American Airlines flyers usually and there’s nothing special about AA.  But on Virgin, all the seats are a black leather type of material, there is 5 times more leg room than AA flights and every seat has it’s own TV/entertainment system where you can watch movies, listen to music, watch LIVE satellite TV and even order food and drinks from.  The cabin has what they call “mood lighting” with a purple hue.  The satellite TV came in handy because we wanted to keep up on the World Cup and was able to watch a game while flying.  My husband was in heaven!

World Cup at 30k feet!

World Cup at 30k feet!

The flight was good, minus some minor turbulence (I do not like flying) and after the mile long walk and a bus ride, we met my parents at the car rental center.  The drive to Thousand Oaks, where the hotel was, was uneventful and only took about an hour despite LA traffic.  This was probably the lightest traffic of the trip.

20140621_165525

 

Got settled into the Hampton Inn Thousand Oaks (which was really nice) and headed out for a bite to eat at Carl’s Jr.  We have a few of those here in DFW but my husband and kids made it seem like their burgers are made of rainbows and unicorns….add extra sunshine and diamonds for being a Carl’s Jr. in California! I’m a vegetarian so I just have to take their word for it.

It was an early night because everyone was pooped so we enjoyed the rest of the evening at the hotel.  Day two – Hollywood, Beverly Hills and a drive on the side of a mountain!

Anybody out there?

Happy Thursday to my followers!  It’s been a whirlwind here and we just returned last week from our 8 day vacation to beautiful Southern California!  I finally got all the videos uploaded and the pictures saved and will start my trip report tonight. I’m not sure if I want to post it all at once or day by day, I’d hate to bore anyone to death!

I was just posting to see who is still out there reading this craziness…if you are then thank you!  I’m the worst at maintaining my blog but I’m trying to get better.  My husband is even toying with the idea of vlogging at some point – you can say he was inspried during our VidCon experience.  Boy is that a story!  But that’s to follow soon…..

In the meantime here’s a little taste:

Stay tuned!

 

Let’s Not Call Them Resolutions

2011-year-resolution-400x400I’ve been lurking around WordPress and have seen so many blogs with posts regarding New Years resolutions.  I don’t believe in resolutions.  We make these up on the first day of every year just to be forgotten quickly afterwards as one settles back into the humdrum or daily life.  I mean, we rattle these off while still on holiday vacation from work, drunk off champagne and high from sugar cookies and hot chocolate.  Why wouldn’t we think we could rule the world in the upcoming year?  The second week of January arrives, we get busy and complacent and most of us are like “Aw, F-it….at least it was a good idea!”

What is the actual meaning of the word “Resolution”?  This is what google told me:

res·o·lu·tion

ˌrezəˈlo͞oSHən/
noun
  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
    “she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”
  2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
    “the peaceful resolution of all disputes”

If you notice – the definition actually has a negative connotation.  It has to do with deciding to not do something or resolves around the basis of problems.  .

So, let’s not call them resolutions.  Let’s call them accomplishments….let’s call them goals. What’s the difference?  Goals and accomplishments are positive things.  They don’t have to be about solving a problem or resolving not to do something.  Goals and accomplishments are about doing something new, something worthy….something fulfilling.  They don’t have to be world-changing.  Hell, they don’t even have to be life changing but if I can reach at least one realistic goal that I set for myself in 2014, no matter how small or insignificant, then it will be a good year.

After all of this thought, I actually only have a couple of goals I would like to reach this year.  There’s no need to have a long list and the fewer I have, the more time and effort I can dedicate to reaching each one. I’ll share my list with you and at this time in 2015 you can ask me how I did.

1. Start and maintain a food blog.  I’m always telling my mother she has so many recipes that it would take years and years to possibly make everything she is an expert at making.  She makes a lot of things from scratch and even the things she uses recipes for – she changes and tweaks into something of her own.  Why let these jewels go without sharing?  When I was young, we didn’t have internet, blogs, Facebook, twitter etc. She would write the recipes down and hand them to people.  Now there’s a new world out there for letting everyone else know what a great cook and baker she is and I intend on doing it.  So, after a bit of research and time – this year, I will launch a food only blog and make it official.

cooking-clipart24-cooking-clip-art-cooking-clip-art-5-----best-clip-art-blog-zlh6dqh7

2. Move the family into a bigger house.  We’ve been renting a really nice home for going on 6 years now and we have the world’s best landlords.  They never bug us, never raised the rent, never pop up unannounced, fix anything that breaks and even send us a Christmas gift every year without fail.  But with two kids that were only 10 and 8 when we moved in – who are now teenagers – we’ve outgrown it three times over.  Since the kids have made several friends who live in the area,  the front door mimics the madness of Grand Central at times and it would be really nice to have some extra room where my husband and I can retreat to and actually watch a full length movie or our favorite TV show without being interrupted.  Our lease isn’t up until the fall and I say this every year, but we will move this year.  

images

3. Take a “different” summer vacation. This is one is already in motion.  We have been visiting some area of Florida for every single year except for 2012 when we went to Hawaii.  Even then, it was the same type of vacation…we hung out on the beach for a week.  This is what we do.  Beach, theme park, beach, theme park, beach, theme park on and on…  We wanted to do something different in 2014.  Go somewhere we have never been and do something we have never done.  So California is on the agenda this year thanks to my social media loving children who asked to attend VidCon, the annual convention for YouTube-ers.  We will combine the 3 day convention with a four day driving tour of Los Angeles, Malibu, Hollywood and wherever the road leads us.  It should definitely be an adventure and we are really looking forward to it.

hollywood

That is it for now.  Three goals, three very realistic and tangible goals for my 2014.  I knew way before Dec 31 what my plans were and this is a big reason why I started blogging here again.  It’s always fun to share the ride with others and have a way to document it along the way.  Maybe several will go along with me on this journey, maybe nobody will but sharing it makes me accountable.  I hope you will visit often and see where it goes.  I look forward to good things coming in 2014!