Random Quote:

Chris Wheeler: "The skies are getting a little darker. Oh wait, its nighttime."


SoCal Vacation 
Alright, now that I'm a month behind in my blog entries, it's time to get started! Anyway, I've been so busy this past month, it's been a really great summer!!

In late June my family came over to Southern California to visit me and tour the area. I took a week off from work to run around with them from Santa Monica, to Hollywood and Burbank, down to San Diego and Tijuana, then finally to Newport.

The first day we spent in my local area -- Venice and Santa Monica. Most of this wasn't new to me, but it gave my parents and especially sister (who dreams of this area) a nice tour of the area.

We started in cloudy Santa Monica. Now note that it's very common here to be cloudy in the morning, but it never rains. In fact, I saw a few drops on my way home from San Diego this past weekend, but I haven't seen real rain since early March.

This is a weekday, around late morning so it's uncrowded:

We drove through Beverly Hills, past the ridiculously expensive stores:

And then we drove to Hollywood. These are the footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theater, these were brand new:

Tom's hero:

"I'll admit, I am a Michael Bolton fan!" Oh wait, this star doesn't recognize Office Space?

The BET awards were getting ready for a show that night. I guess the BET stars by night are security guards by day (kidding!!):

And finally we get to my star -- yes, that's right folks. I have my own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame! I'm just that awesome:

Don't believe me? Well you'll just have to come to Hollywood to see for yourself.

the next day, we went to Universal Studios. I lost my Boeing hat on the Jurassic Park ride (grr! Should have listened to the ride operators). And we did the usual -- saw everything we could, went on the studio tour, etc. A couple photos from the studio tour:

I sat on the other side of the tram this time, so I could see different stuff like the other side of the War of the Worlds set:

And Universal was building one of their sets for National Treasure 2 (filmed at night). The movie is coming out sometime next year I believe:

And we stayed for the awesome pyrotechnics show of Waterworld:

The next day we went up to the Griffith Observatory, to check out their museum and amazing Planetarium:

This is practically as close as you can get to the Hollywood sign:

The smog here never ceases to amaze me:

Griffith in proximity to the Hollywood sign:

If anyone gets a chance to come to Hollywood, I highly recommend the Griffith Observatory -- the Planetarium is great and the views are sensational. There is a shuttle which takes you all the way there from Hollywood & Highland (no car accessibility). The museum is very elementary but still worthwhile at least one time.

The next stop on our Hollywood tour was a VIP Tour of the WB! Now, I am not particularly interested in the shows that were featured on the tour (such as Two and a Half Men, Cold Case, Friends, Harry Potter), but the depth and scope of the tour was great!

We tour around in these little extended golf carts:

Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck greet us at the entrance:

This is the "lake" used to apparently film a good number of movie and TV commercial scenes. For example: the Budweiser frogs:

And the BatMobile:

The set from "Friends":

This tour was very special -- we got to see various set construction and background scene painting areas, reel rooms and printing rooms, and plenty of backlots and "sound stages" -- which I learned just refers to the fact that the stage is soundproof, not that just sound is recorded there.

Trying to imitate Bugs, but I didn't have a hat!

After the tour we headed back to Marina Del Rey so I could pick up my golf clubs, and we went to a great restaurant on the marina called Tony P's. Here is the view from our table!

After this, we head down to San diego. This post is getting too long, in my next post (which I will do tonight, I promise), I'll show you San diego, Tijuana, and the rest of my trip.

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