Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lifelong friends together in California!

It's impossible to pinpoint the exact date I met Pam and Lynn, but I think once you've been friends over 30 years, it's safe to label them "lifelong" friends. I'm confident we will be friends forever. Living in three different states, it's not always easy for the three of us to meet in the same place, but in February we were able to do just that for a few days. Lynn arrived in California first and was rested when Pam arrived. We collected Pam from the airport and went directly to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, part of the park service.  

The rangers at the visitor center let us know that there is a western town just down the road where TV shows and movies are still filmed. It's called Paramount Ranch Western Town - appropriate and now you know who built it.  A fun spot to wander around. 

The Huntington Library in Pasadena has an odd name. It is not a lending library, but does have some old manuscripts on display. Mostly, it is a gorgeous botanical garden. We joined a free walking tour - sadly, I didn't retain what I was told. I'll have to go again!

We saw lots of interesting plants that were new to me.

The tour lasted longer than the advertised 90 minutes and eventually we excused ourselves. Our appointment at tea had arrived. Some things are more important!

Scones, savories and sweets. All pretty and delicious. 

The Japanese garden was lovely. I particularly liked seeing the display of bonsai trees. So many varieties I'd never seen before. 

perfect with cherry blossoms in bloom
Pam with Gutenberg Bible

We didn't spend a lot of time in the galleries, but enough to see some of the highlights. 

We found this amusing - the California state flag waves, but the US flag sags. Hmm. What does that signify?    

Tom joined us for a wildlife watching boat excursion in the Channel Islands National Park. We didn't dock at any of the islands, but circled Anacapa Island looking at its rocky shores and keeping our eyes open for animals.

It was fun to watch the dolphins playing so close to the boat - they loved the wake we left behind.

dolpins with oil rig in the distance

approaching Anacapa Island

Although they do look dead, the seals are just lounging on the beach. The elephant seals are huge and in the back.  

People on our boat spotted a whale and we saw a bit of the blow. Too bad no big wave of the tail! 

whale blow on the right

back of a shy whale

If you take one of the boats that docks there, you are able to hike to the lighthouse. Maybe another time.
lots and lots of birds and the white stuff that they leave behind

oil rig

back on dry land
walking around Ventura after the boat ride
 After Pam left, Lynn joined Tom and I for an afternoon at the opera. 

on the red carpet

We also had a day to wander around Santa Monica. 

Palisades Park

birds of paradise

There were so many beach volleyball nets! Just a few are in the picture.  Too bad no one was playing. Santa Monica's pier is in the distance.

it's always breezy at the ocean
No matter where we are or what we do, Lynn, Pam and I find fun times. I look forward to more.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sarah visits California

Since Sarah works as a server and is also a student, her opportunity to travel is limited. After the year-end holidays were over and before the next semester began was her opportune moment. Her goal was some R&R and also some fun in sunny California. I think we accomplished the goal. 

Once I learned the Aquarium of the Pacific had a penguin exhibit, that became a must destination.  


The touch tank was full of color - makes them look fake, but they're not. 

how many Nemos and Dorys do you see?
I never knew there were so many kinds and sizes of sea horses.

fun photo - we held out our hands and penguins were added digitally
Going for massages seemed like a good way to prepare for a hectic weekend at Disneyland! We hadn't been to this park in many years. There were plenty of new things to try (Toy Story Mania, Monsters Inc and Radiator Springs) and several old favorites (Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Fantasmic). 

pretty by night, too

NYC taxis in Roger Rabbit ride
Tom has been a fan of Toy Story (and Woody) since the beginning. We didn't go inside the Lego store, but loved the Woody and Buzz display.

We spotted several characters in the parks without going out of our way. No need for autographs this time. I like Russell, from Up, even if no one was dressed like him.

Sarah with Oswald who preceded Mickey

Tom was willing to have his picture taken, but wasn't going closer to Woody. 

The Little Mermaid ride was new to us, but a must. It was the first movie that Sarah adored and watched as often as we allowed.  


The "toy" soldiers got out of their jeep and put on a very funny show. 

fun shooting game
Minnie in California Adventure

Mickey, the star of the show
Minnie in Disneyland

It wasn't as warm as we would have liked and was exhausting, but we enjoyed our Disney experience anyway.

Taking advantage of location, we also toured Warner Brothers Studios.  We were greeted by Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. 

The water tower no longer actually holds water, but it is still a very recognizable part of Warner Brothers.

For Harry Potter fans, there was a nice display of props from some of the movies. Evidently, they weren't all filmed at Universal Studios.


We were each "sorted" by the sorting hat.  


The plaque for Stage 25 lists movies and TV shows that have been filmed there.  The last on the list is "The Big Bang Theory" which is still a favorite of mine. We were able to go inside and see the sets where the filming takes place, but no photos were allowed there. 


what it looks like during filming

There are loads of props available - which of the  street lights fits your scene?  

There was also a large Batman display.  


set where visitors could reenact scenes from "Friends"

Ellen and if I could just get tickets to her show!
At the end of the tour, there was a chance to sit on a prop in front of a green screen. Later, the background was added and we were able to buy the photo.

Since we have plenty of counter space and kitchen equipment, Sarah suggested we have a baking day. She chose the recipes and we made a danish with flaky crust. It was filled with layers of cream cheese, lemon curd and raspberry. It was a lot of work, but delicious. 

Right before taking her to the airport for her flight home, we remembered to get a group photo. 

Next time she comes, I'll know my way around the area better.