Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Place to Take your Picture with the Hollywood Sign

Confession- Up until a couple weeks ago, I had lived in California pretty much all my life and never did the Hollywood thing.  You know, the whole Hollywood and Highland, Walk of Fame, Mann’s Chinese Theater, hope to spot a celebrity and then take your picture next to the Hollywood Sign thing.  I guess growing up so close to Hollywood, it just didn’t seem that big of a deal.  My uncle was an actor, I went to school with child actors, and attended the same church as Kirk and Candace Cameron.  I was a jaded Southern California kid.

I am sure there was a time, probably in my pre-pubescent years, when going to Hollywood would have been a huge thrill, but my parents never took me.  It just wasn’t what you did.   Hollywood was for tourists and I was a local.   I think so many of us fall into that trap.  We have traveled all over the country yet we haven’t ever really explored what tourists come to see in our own neck of the woods.

This summer, my 11 and 13 year old niece and nephew came out from Texas to spend a week in California and they wanted to see Hollywood!  I got on the computer and did some research.  If we were going to sit in traffic for God knows how long on a Saturday afternoon, we had better do this right.  I knew one thing for sure- we were going to get a fabulous picture in front of the Hollywood Sign!

After spending a few hours walking amongst the mass of tourists on Hollywood Blvd, we traveled into the foothills and towards the entrance to the Mt Lee hiking trail, which takes you as close to the Hollywood Sign as you can legally get.  The roads up in the Hollywood Hills are notoriously narrow and windy.  There was more than one occasion in which one car had to pull over so another car can pass (so leave your motorhomes and trailers at home). It wasn’t long before we reached roads end and were so close to the sign I felt like we could touch it!

I admit, I was excited.  I mean we were at the world famous Hollywood Sign taking our picture!  We started snapping photos and suddenly the camera stopped snapping. WE WERE OUT OF BATTERY! No! No! No! We traveled all this way and we had to get a picture. Luckily, my husband had his Blackberry with him so we asked another tourist to take a family photo of us all. Yes, the resolution isn’t the best and I could have hoped for better lighting, but we had our proof!

August 2010


Next year, when my niece and nephew come back out to California, we are going back to that dang sign. We will hike the Mt Lee Trail and take in all those amazing views of the LA Basin. Oh, and don’t worry- I am charging my camera, bringing a reserve battery, and we are getting that perfect picture with the Hollywood Sign!

If you want to get that perfect picture with the Hollywood Sign then follow these directions to the best spot to take your picture in all of Hollywood: From Hollwood Blvd and Highland head east on Hollywood Blvd until you reach N. Gower Street. Left on N. Gower, then Right on Franklin Ave. A couple blocks later, take a left on N. Beachwood Drive. Follow this for a bit and laugh at the people stopped to take their Hollywood Sign pictures because yours are going to be so much better! Take a left onto Ledgewood Drive and start winding up the canyon. Soon you will come to a bit of a complicated intersection of a few different residential streets. This is where you will make a right onto the very narrow and windy Deronda Drive. Follow this to the end and find someplace to park alongside the road.  You have arrived!

 Playing along with Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thurdsay.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Children’s Fishing Festival at Snowcreek Resort in Mammoth Lakes

I love the idea of fishing. Sitting peacefully on a boat somewhere in the middle of a lake, taking in the sights and smells of nature while waiting for the big one to take a bite. I even think casting a fly over and over while waist high in a river sounds like a great time. Its the whole killing a fish concept that I can’t get past.

I know. I’m a hypocrite. I eat meat every day  and can’t see myself giving up my carnivorous habits any time soon.  Truth is- I can’t kill anything.  The other day I actually fished a bee out of the pool so it wouldn’t drown.  So when the Snowcreek Resort invited my family up for their annual Children’s Fishing Festival, I was a it apprehensive.  I knew I would be doing my children a disservice if I didn’t let them participate in a classic outdoor activity and I certainly didn’t want to miss and opportunity to head up to Mammoth for the weekend.  I took a deep breath, promised myself I would survive, and signed the kids up.  This was the Children’s Fishing Festival after all, how painful could it be?

July 201010

As we headed up Highway 395, my kids were extremely excited about the next day’s fishing endeavor. Over and over they reminded me that they wanted to catch a fish, kill it, and eat it. Great. So I guess catch and release was out of the question.

We arrived at the Children’s Fishing Festival at the Snowcreek Ponds and I was surprised to see just how popular it was.  The street was lined with minivans and SUV’s.  We checked in and were handed our poles, which are loaned to all children during the festival, free of charge.  We were also given a little dixie cup filled with stinky orange goop, which I could only assume was the bait. I looked at my husband and asked “Do you know how to cast a line?” “Nope. I don’t fish. Do you have a clue?” “Nope.” So now what?

Luckily, there were plenty of volunteers scattered around the shore who were happy to help us clueless (and slightly embarrassed) city folk.  They truly were a wealth of knowledge and before long we were baiting and casting with the best of them.

July 201011

Truth be told, we didn’t really trust our kids with the whole casting portion of the fishing experience. There were way too many people in the area and the last thing I wanted was to hook some innocent bystander in the eye.  Luckily, the kids did a great job and were pros at slowly bringing the line back in and waiting for a bite.

Before long, Mari had a tug on her line!  I helped her slowly bring the fish in and the volunteer caught it with his net so he could remove the hook. I asked Mari if she wanted to throw it back. She looked at me like I was crazy! No way. That sucker was hers.  “I want to eat it!” she told me with a face full of beaming pride.  Paul and I shuddered at the sight of the fish flopping in her plastic bag.  I felt like I was going to throw up.  I thought back to the time I had to smile and pretend I was enjoying my time on a ski lift for the sake of my children even thought I was absolutely scared out of my mind. If I could handle that, I could handle this.


We took the fish over to be gutted (puke) and then returned to see if Ben had had any luck. Just as we returned, he got a bite!  He pulled in the biggest fish of the day.  The entire pond erupted with cheers and the volunteer pried the hook out of the fish's mouth.  The fish, however, was not going down that easy. He jumped right out of the net and back into the pond.  I was quite pleased.  Ben was not.  He wanted his dang fish back!


We stood on the shore and cast and recast, hoping to catch something. After an hour of no luck, we convinced Ben to opt our of the fishing and go for some ice cream instead.  I felt better knowing we had only sacrificed one life for the enjoyment of our children that day.

Mari didn’t stop talking about her fish for the next three days. She checked on it in our condo’s freezer about 7 times a day and reminded us that she was going to eat it.  We ended up buying a cheap cooler to get the dang fish back down the mountain and into our freezer where it has taken up permanent residence.  I can’t bring myself to cook the thing.  It just stares at me with those eyes….

Truth be told, I am so glad we took the kids fishing.  They really enjoyed it and except for the whole dead fish part, us adults had alot of fun as well.  We decided that we could definitely start doing the catch and release fishing more often (if we can convince the kids of the release portion of the activity) and are very grateful for the knowledge and experience the people at Snowcreek gave our family.

If you want to take your kids out for a fishing adventure, be sure to check out the Children’s Fishing Festival in Mammoth next July. Its so much fun and children of all ages are welcome to attend.  I highly recommend Mammoth as a family friendly summer destination and Snowcreek Resort as a great place for families to visit (be sure to read my full review of Snowcreek Resort on Trekaroo here).


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wild Rivers- Fun For All Ages!

We are a family who loves a good water park. Give me a water slide over a roller coaster any day of the week (weather cooperating) and I am one soaking wet but extremely happy camper.  Even though they can’t swim just yet, my kids are always happy to be splashing somewhere, whether it be the beach, the water park, or a bathtub.  Lucky for us, we live close to a water park that has something for the whole family- Wild Rivers in Irvine.

Wild Rivers big shot

This year is the first year that I have felt like I could handle my kids in a water park situation and actually enjoy myself.  We took the kids to a couple different water parks in Texas (because it was melt your face off hot outside) when they were around 18 months old and it was just too much.  One little slip in 18 inches of water or spray from a rouge water cannon and it was breakdown city.  This time was much different.  The kids were happy to splash around in the kiddie areas and didn’t need their hands held the entire time which meant I could relax and have fun as well.

When we arrived at the park I figured there would be one area of the park that was toddler friendly and the rest would be dedicated to the older kids. Wrong! There were many different areas of the park that were perfect for non-swimmers.  We started in a little pool that was about as deep as a bathtub and had a tiny slide and then slowly progressed our way up to bigger slides (designed for kids 54 inches and smaller) and the lazy river.  By the end of the day, the kids were sliding down the kiddie water slides like professionals! It was great to see them gain some water confidence and learn that a splash of water in the face won’t cause them to melt.

I also had my 11 and 13 year old niece and nephew with me which meant my husband and I got to switch off and go on the big slides with the big kids. Woot! Woot! I did notice that the lines got longer as the afternoon progressed (so try to hit up the more popular rides early), so during the heavy periods we chose to stick to the lazy river, wave pool, and water basketball court. 

Wild Rivers lazy river

Not to be outdone by a pre-teen, I braved a slide which essentially mimicked a toilet. It was a pitch black tube slide that ended in a swirling bowl which poured out into a nine foot pool and it scared the ever loving daylights out of me! But in a good way.

By the end of the day, we still hadn’t had a chance to try out all the slides but still felt like it was a very fun day at the water park. My only complaint was the weather. We have had a very cool summer which doesn’t go very well with warm weather activities.  Luckily, Wild Rivers has warming pools which provided relief when things got a bit too chilly.

Wild Rivers Slides

If you are in live in the Orange County area or are visiting during the summer, I would check out Wild Rivers.  Its a great spot for a warm summer day and there truly is something for families with children of all different ages. If you would like to read my full review of Wild Rivers on Trekaroo, click here.

Playing along with Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays. Click the link and see who else has joined in the fun!