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.

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Hollywood sign view

View up from a long trail behind the building

View up from a long trail behind the building

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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.

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Murals on the wall

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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.

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Not sure what this was

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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Now we know, zombie brains are small

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Paying homage to the best show ever

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

The boys made a pit stop:

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The “gross” room

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When you gotta go you gotta go

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

There was even a gas station inside:

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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.

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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:

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Costumes from Sweeny Todd

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We all know this guy

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Effie’s dress from the Hunger Games

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

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

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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.

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This is where they used to roll out the red carpet

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See, I wasn’t kidding

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

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

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And of course checked out the footprints:

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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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….

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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:

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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!

Daily Prompt: Enchantment

When I saw the daily prompt today I thought, that will be easy! What expresses the meaning of “Enchantment” more than a beautiful night picture of the illuminated Cinderella’s castle from Disney World?  And, since we have been there so many times I have a plethora of pictures to choose from on my computer.

However, as I was going through my pictures I came accross this picture.  Taken over the summer, it is basic, not enhanced and just not very beautiful.  Even so, this is the one that expresses the meaning of “Enchantment” to me.  Why?

Because as soon as you walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom and start making your way down Main Street USA in the early morning hours with hundreds of other families….a midst all the excitement and smiles…you are transported to a magical land.  One where the cares and struggles of the “real” world are tossed away and your only reason for being there is FUN.  My two kids…now in their early teen years, hormone ridden where every day is an emotional crap shoot…suddenly changed back to their childlike, carefree and happy selves.  My daughter skipped her way towards the castle.  I caught my son singing “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” and actually walking close to his sister.  I was overcome with emotion and had to snap this picture.  It embodies the true meaning of “Enchantment” to me.  Thank you Walt.

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Lazy Sunday

Happy Sunday friends!  Hope you are getting some relaxation in today.  I woke up late and found myself addicted to this show “The Haunted” on the Destination America channel.  That’s some creepy stuff!  The lady on the show said “then the voice said…you are all gonna die…” and at that exact moment my dogs leaped up and started barking crazy while running around the house.  I thought to myself….that’s it, I better find something constructive to do!  So instead of tackling this mountain of laundry I need to do, here I am writing a blog post.

I wasn’t sure what to write about today because not much has been going on but I thought I might tell you about the couple of “adventures” we have planned for the fam within the next upcoming months.  My husband and I couldn’t go to long without our Vegas fix so we have another trip planned in May too celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.  We scored a great deal on a room at the Mirage with our players club benefits.  I’m sure I’ll have a fun trip report to post when we get back.  Could this possibly be the trip where we win the BIG ONE?  I guess we shall see….

Then, in June we are spending our family vacation at Disney World once again.  This will make our 7th or 8th trip since 2003. It could possibly be our last for a while since the kids are getting older and I see visions of exuberant expenses due to having two teenagers so I seriously doubt we will be able to afford it after this year.  Not to mention, Disney’s prices have gone up and their discounts have gone down.  A sign of the times I guess.

I just recently started working for an upscale hotel chain.  We have an awesome hotel in downtown Boston.  Because of my son’s love for the Xbox game Assassin’s Creed where the setting is in the old Paul Revere days of Boston’s history, we are planning a weekend in August to show him the sights.  I’m most looking forward to eating at Faneuil Hall and staying at this hotel that is supposedly haunted….

Lastly (so far) In September, Mumford and Sons are coming to a city in Oklahoma about 3 hours from here for a stopover on their “Gentlemen of the Road” tour.  I will be attending this 1.5 day music festival with my niece and I will be camping for the first time in my life.  I would camp out in the middle of the arctic tundra with no clothes on for a chance to see Mumford and Sons live but I won’t lie and say I’m looking forward to that part of it….it will be an experience.  I’m still trying to find out how I can keep my electronics charged the whole time so I can have pictures and video to share when we get back.

So there you have it.  The Dockfam travel schedule for this year.  I’ll be sure to take lots of pics and if you go ahead and add me on Instagram and YouTube, you will see my pics and videos there.  I put all of our vacation videos on YouTube and I’m trying to be better about Instagram sharing.  And if you add me, I will follow you back.

Have a great lazy Sunday and I’ll be back soon!