DesignerCon – Anaheim Convention Center

This past weekend, Audrey and I attended the popular DesignerCon art and designer convention at the Anaheim Convention Center. The scene there was the typical nerd, geek, artist, laid-back Southern Californian in jeans and t-shirt.

It felt so much larger than we had anticipated, even though we knew there were over 500 vendors. Total walking time was over 4 1/2 hours, without breaking for lunch, and we did not stop at every booth. It reminded me a little bit of ComicCon, Etsy, and the L.A. Art Show. Tickets were a bit steep, around $30 per adult, with children 12 and under getting in for free. Parking at the convention center was busy and cost $16 for the day. It was fun and great to see many different types of products on sale. We ended up buying a glow-in-the-dark ghost enamel pin and a pair of ghost earrings for Audrey.

Jack Black! He’s a DesignerCon fan, too.

Walt Disney Concert Hall Dreams Exhibition

It’s the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 100-year anniversary celebration and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (WDCH) is exploding with images and colors on its exterior walls.  The exhibition is called WDCH Dreams and is a public art installation for only this week, ending October 6, with a season-long exhibition inside the Ira Gershwin Gallery.   Read more about this event on their web page and view the stunning videos they have posted there.  The patterns projected onto the building’s exterior is a complicated interpretation of almost 45 terabytes of data from the digital archives of the LA Philharmonic.

The event is free but you will have to pay for parking if you want to see it up close.  There is a parking lot right across from the Disney Concert Hall which, on the night we went, charged $9 to park.  The parking lot has a stairway up to the top and from there, you are looking directly across at the exterior walls where the images are being projected along with the audio recordings.  You can also walk across the street to be in front of the concert hall, but viewing the projections up close for long may give you a stiff neck.

Little Tokyo is less than 10 minutes away, so it’s a great place to grab dinner and then go see the installation.  It plays every half hour and lasts about 15 minutes.  The nice thing is, in between each performance, the images continue to project even if there is no audio.

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Eiswelt Gelato – Little Saigon

Eiswelt Gelato is a small gelato place in Little Saigon and it’s cuteness overload when you order one of their gelato creations. The gelato comes in exotic flavors such as taro coconut, thai iced tea, and honeydew, and the gelato scoops are shaped like pandas, chickens, teddy bears, and even Pikachu. This is Audrey’s favorite place for gelato and I must admit, the flavors are true to their names. There are so many flavors I want to try that we’ll be back again and again.

Watkins Glen State Park and the Gorges Trail

We just got back from an absolutely wonderful trip to New York. Although there were numerous sights and activities to write about, one of the highlights of our trip was the visit to upstate New York, to the Finger Lakes region, where there are numerous parks and waterfalls to visit.

We stayed in Ithaca for one night and drove to Watkins Glen State Park for a day hike. The park is stunning, a picturesque scene at just about every turn. We found it relatively easy to hike, unlike trips we’ve done in California where hiking one or two miles yielded no luck in finding waterfalls or even streams of water, for that matter, due to how dry it is here.

For a day use charge of eight dollars, I parked the car in a lot at the South entrance and we walked in about five minutes and immediately saw a sign for Gorges Trail. Following the posted directions, we entered the gorge via a suspension bridge. Once we crossed the suspension bridge, the walk is easy to do if you don’t mind stairs. It’s a long narrow oval trail, walking first on one side of the trail and then crossing over to walk along the other side.

You get a great view from the suspension bridge, but there are other bridges that also offer beautiful viewpoints.

I don’t recall the name of the first large waterfall we encountered, where we could walk behind the water, but you’ll definitely get sprayed on if you stand behind this waterfall. The path is somewhat narrow so single file lines walking in each direction is required.

The falls spilled over and into the shape of a heart, at least, it looks like a heart to me.

The trail has numerous steps to go up and down, but we did not find them tiring. The weather was perfect, and there was a lot of shade so it was mostly cool during our walk.

I love the stone bridges.

Our favorite waterfall was Rainbow Falls. We did not see the rainbows, but reportedly, if you stand under the falls in the late afternoon, the sunlight would shine on the water, causing rainbows to appear.

There are so many other stunning pictures from the park and too many to post in this blog, but this is a must-see park if you’re in upstate New York.

The Most Patriotic Beach Town in America

Happy Fourth of July from Huntington Beach!  This beach town is the place to go if you love the red, white and blue of Independence Day and want to mingle with your friends at the restaurants and bars.

The day starts off each year with a parade down Main Street, Huntington Beach.  I am not a morning person so never make it to this event.  Today, we biked down to the beach from our house, a round trip of about 10 miles, with a bit of walking in-between.  What is it that I enjoy seeing the most?  No, not the VW buses, but the colorful bikes the locals decorate for this holiday.

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Downtown is not a place to be driving when it’s this crowded, if you’re on a learner’s permit, it’s best to stay away.  The pedestrians rule the road.

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There is a home decorating contest each year so visitors are treated to festively adorned homes on the Main Street path.  Parties spill out onto the sidewalks and bikers are everywhere on the road.

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The pier lights up with fireworks after 9pm, but we decided not to ride home in the dark as traffic can be crazy after the fireworks finish.  As we were getting ready to leave, I found out I had a flat tire and had to walk the bike part way home until my man and Audrey were able to get the car and come back for me.

The VW Graveyard

I have an insane obsession with Volkswagen buses and one day, when I retire, I’m going to purchase one and drive around the country in it.

Last weekend, I saw an article about the VW “graveyard” in Victorville, California, and upon more googling, found a VW junkyard in Lake Elsinore, about an hour from my home. The place is called Interstate Used Parts and what they have listed on their website is just a small portion of what’s in their lot.

Having nothing better to do on a Saturday and wanting to go for a drive and a hike, we decided to visit the junkyard on our way to Mount San Jacinto State Park and Idyllwild.

For some people, this junkyard may not seem interesting and everything too rusty. However, I was thrilled to see all the VW parts and shells of VW buses in such a large lot. I had no idea such a place existed within driving distance.

I took a number of pictures of the buses as I’m seriously contemplating if I should purchase one and pull my dad into a renovation project with me.

I thought the pink one in the photo above or the blue one in the photo below had some potential.

No…definitely not the two-tone bus pictured below, missing half of a side. My dad would probably roll his eyes and ask me if I was crazy.

There was an abundance of VW bugs and Karmann Ghias available. I really like the Karmann Ghias and it’s also Audrey’s and my man’s favorite car model from Volkswagen. It’s just too small for road tripping.

At the time of this writing, the ballpark cost for a bus is around $3,500. If it has a sun roof, the price would go up. I’m sure putting a new engine into it and fixing the shell and the paint job will cost me over $10,000. Oh, well, at least a girl can dream.

Hurray for Hollywood

Audrey and I decided to spend a day as tourists in Hollywood and went to Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Museum one Saturday a few months back. It’s always a crowded and bizarre place to be, with lots of energy and crazy sights, and not to be missed if you’re visiting from out of town.

Hollywood Blvd. is a mix of old tourist shops that has been there for years, alongside the newer stores and the mall at Hollywood and Highland. The best place to park is at Hollywood and Highland, in the underground lot to the mall. From the street level of the mall, you are within walking distance to many places such as the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Hollywood Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, the famous Roosevelt Hotel, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and El Capitan Theater. Some of these deserve their own posting one day, but for now, I’ve included photos of the general area and the places we had time to visit in one day. Just get out there and wander along the boulevard, it’s hard to miss the sights!

If you’re a junky for souvenirs, there are plenty of stores with lots of items in an affordable price range. Make your mom happy and buy her an Oscar for “Best Mom”.

Did I say “bizarre”?  That baby is a bit bizarre and looks like he should have his own horror movie.

Ahh, yes, we love Trump and his beautiful hair.

The exterior of the mall is quite grand, but it’s too bad the shops are all franchise names and not unique boutiques.

Matching hair and balloons…

Everyone needs a picture of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, or should I say, TCL Chinese Theater.

Many famous people have been to the Roosevelt Hotel.

I thought Chewbacca captured the essence of Hollywood Blvd. perfectly.  The guy was actually looking down at a cell phone and had flipped his mask up, but it looked like he was leaning back and sleeping on the job when I first saw him.  Well, maybe he’s not sleeping on the job, but he’s SITTING on the job!

El Capitan has many memories for me.  We took Audrey to a number of popular releases here, where they have pre-show entertainment, movie displays, and sometimes a 4-D experience during the show.

We paid about $25/person to go into the Hollywood museum, and frankly, it was a bit smaller than I had expected.  (Correction: I looked it up and the price is $15/per person or cheaper.) However, the basement made up for the cost, as that was where we were really scared by the display and actually, I had a really hard time convincing Audrey to pass the Jason (Friday the 13th) mannequin.  She thought he looked so real that perhaps someone was inside waiting to grab you for a scare.

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Fun, totally bizarre, unique, interesting, and always the ultimate tourist spot in Hollywood for locals and visitors alike.

The Nethercutt Museum and Collection

I don’t think I’m really a car aficionado, but I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Nethercutt Collection, an antique cars and musical instruments museum. That combination sounds a little unusual, doesn’t it?

It’s located in Sylmar, which is under an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles. I’ve never been to Sylmar before, and actually, I’m not really sure if there’s much else to the city other than this spectacular museum. In order to visit, you must call ahead and reserve a spot for one of their scheduled tours as there is a limit to how many people they can take for each tour. Check their website for information and times. Best of all, it’s FREE! There is free parking as well, without all the hassle and crowds of Los Angeles.

There are two sides to the museum. One side is the guided tour through the Nethercutt Collection and ends with a grand display of the Wurlitzer Theater pipe organ in the music room. The other side is the museum of more antique vehicles which you can browse through at your leisure.

The first room we entered had some very nice cars on display, but the next room our guide took us to was absolutely stunning. It was amazing that they allowed the visitors to stand right next to the polished cars and peek in and take pictures. If I owned just one of those cars, I’d be fearful of getting scratches on it!

I loved looking at the details on the vehicles and the intricate, finely crafted hood ornaments and head lamps.

I’ll take one of these Thunderbirds, please.

Scattered throughout the tour were antique mechanical musical instruments which were also quite interesting. We ended the tour with a beautiful performance in the theater, watching the light show and listening to the Wurlitzer pipe organ.

If You’re Nuts about Coconuts

You’ll love this little drinks and dessert place called “all coco“. It’s located in the Union Market at The District at Tustin. Everything is made of coconut or contains coconut. The customer service is very generous with giving out samples. I tried the coconut water, the soft serve and the coconut waffle, and enjoyed it all. The taste of coconut was light and fresh, not fake and sugary. There’s a variety of items to choose from but unfortunately, on the day we were there, they had run out of the ice cream.

We ordered the coco affogato, one with expresso and one with Thai tea. It was good but not great. I liked the coconut waffle better and also would’ve preferred the ice cream over the soft serve.

It’s a cute place that’s quite popular and is a good option for healthy desserts since coconuts offer many beneficial nutrients.

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

I’ve been living in California for over 20 years and have never hiked to the Hollywood sign. I’ve seen it from a distance many times, but recently, Audrey and I got it in our heads that we really ought to take a hike up close to the sign, maybe so we could burn off the calories we gained attending Cookie Con and all the fudge we ate.

Luckily, it was in the low 70’s and a little on the breezy side when we started our hike. On a Sunday afternoon, it was relatively easy to find parking on Canyon Dr. at the entrance to Griffith Park. I imagine it gets more busy during the spring and summer months, although it’s not a hike I’d want to do in the heat and sun.

I wanted to see Bronson Caves (the site of where they shot the Bat cave from the original Batman television series), but we opted to go straight up to the Hollywood sign and by the time we were done, we were too lazy to hike to the cave.

It was a long hike. Well, maybe not for you avid hikers who do miles and miles at a time, but for us, it was a hot and dusty walk uphill. We saw some skateboarders doing stunts at the foot of the hill.

It started out nice and shady, I was so excited that the path was green and had trees!

That did not last too long, and soon we were climbing up a dry and dusty hill with hardly any shade.

Halfway up, you could see how far you’ve gone. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m going to have to go back down the same distance and I can’t Uber it back to the car.”

I was really happy when we reached the point where we could see most of the sign.

We opted to go out on a narrow path to get pictures of the front of the sign when we were almost there, rather than walking all the way up and standing behind the sign. After all, who really wants to see the back of the Hollywood sign?

Surprisingly, Audrey made it down hill twice as fast as she did up hill. I think she must’ve stopped for a break every 15 minutes or so on the way up, but I could barely keep up with her going down. I think it was the lure of an ice cold boba milk tea drink that we had promised her we’d stop for on the way home that made her move so fast. The view from different points of the hike was nice, but a bit smoggy that day. Luckily, we could still see the Griffith Observatory in the distance. That’s another destination I highly recommend visiting.

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