Friday, December 30, 2016

Automotive Art

 Just about everyone has there idea of what art should be. For some art is a painting of a simple woman that lacks a proper smile while for others a sculpture of a guy deep in thought. Perhaps photography is your art of choice. But what if you were to take everything appealing about those artistic variants and meld them together? What would you get? Well the fine arts crowd may not agree with me (and they probably wouldn't be reading this article anyway) but I would say the result would clearly be the automobile.
  Yes the automobile. That thing you rely on everyday to get you to work, the grocery store and soccer practice. They come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of comfort  and styles. Some are low slung and quick and others are large, boxy and carry a large family. Despite their differences they all started with an idea that was put to paper as a sketch. From a sketch a clay mold is sculpted, shaved and molded into what will become an automakers next big thing. Some of these automobiles will fade into history with little thought from anyone. But some will live on forever, coveted by car enthusiasts for all time. So what happens to these special cars? Well a select few will make it into someone's collection and for an even smaller number they will make it into a museum and one of these museums can be found on the west side of Los Angeles, California and it's called the Petersen's Automotive Museum.
   If the name Petersen sounds familiar it's probably because you've read one of their multiple magazines. "Hot Rod," "4 Wheel and Off Road" and "Bowhunting" magazines are just a few examples of what Petersen's has brought us which is interesting enough but at the auto museum you get to see these feature worthy cars in person. From the dawn of automobiles to the cream of the crop they're here under one roof. A few of our favorites were the 1915 Ford Model T, a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, and my daughter's favorite the 2015 MClaren P1. Yeah she's got expensive taste. But there's so much more to see here. Custom built cars from Boyd Coddington and Chip Foose are on display and are true pieces of art.The detail and skill that went into building these cars is amazing.
  If movie cars are your thing then you would be excited to see some true icons at the P.A.M. The Ford Thunderbird from Thelma and Louise is here as well as the Plymouth Fury known as "Christine" from the film of the same name. Thanks to Stephen King's novel and the film we'll never look at this car the same way again. The Delorean from Back To The Future is also there and just a few feet from it is the Batmobile from 1989's Batman film. For fans of these films it's fun to see them in person for sure.
  During our visit they had a large display of Bugatti display that opened my eyes to their history. I had only heard the Bugatti name a few years ago and had no idea where they had come from so I was truly surprised to see displays of not only cars but art work as well. Jewelry, furniture and even musical instruments from the Bugatti family are  carefully displayed among their cars. Of course the car everyone wants to see is the Chiron. With nearly 1500 horsepower and a 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds the Chiron is definitely one of the most exciting cars on display at the Petersen's Automotive Museum.
  As is the case in any museum there is something here for every taste. Classics and moderns, customs and electrics, primitive to technological marvels all in the same building. If you get bored in this museum then you just don't love cars. If you've never thought of the automobile as a work of art I hope a visit to Petersen's Automotive Museum changes your mind. I would set aside three hours to explore the building and a friendly heads up you won't be able to take any bags or backpacks through the museum so you'll have to leave them in the car or check them at the security desk. Don't forget your camera though you won't want to leave without pictures. To learn more check out their website  https://petersen.org/ . And to get a quick peak you can check out our Quick Trip video below.

Brandan




Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Gifts That Promote Travel

  Christmas has come and gone and now we're all looking forward to the new year. I'm sure some of you got exactly what you wanted under your tree while some of you didn't but that's okay because it's the thought that counts. At least that's what I'm told anyway.
  When it comes to what the children want I would go out on a limb and say that a common gift requests parents hear about from children have something to do with some type of electronic device. "Mom, I want an... insert apple device of your choice here." Or, "Santa I want a video game." I'm sure you get the picture. Well it's been no different around our house this year and to the kids' surprise we refused to give them electronic devices this year. No we decided that we needed to cut the cords and get a little more exercise into our daily lives. We wanted our best gift to not only get them off the couch and out of the house but we wanted it to fit in with some of out travel as well. So what was this magical gift? Golf clubs.
  Yes golf clubs. It's a game that I love and have wanted to share with them for years and it seems now is the time to finally do it. But what does golf have to do with travel? Well if you're a golfer you already know the answer but for those of you that aren't here is my opinion. Golf courses have been nestled into some of the most beautiful sites the world had to offer. Think of Pebble Beach in California, Augusta National, Georgia, Royal Birkdale, England or almost anywhere in Hawaii. Yes friend, golf travel is a thing and I'm going to introduce it to the family. 
  It will take some time to get them ready (and me for that matter) because as anyone that's taken a swing will know, golf isn't easy. It is however extremely fun and there is nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass in the morning as you walk through some of the most picturesque vistas around. I have visited some great courses with awesome scenery and it would be criminal not to share those locations with my family. 
  Yes it's wishful thinking that my children will love the game of golf as much as I do but it's important for me to at least introduce them to the game now because I wish I had started playing earlier in life. Either way I'm going to continue to dream about visiting golf courses across America and Scotland with friends and family. By the way, with all the practice I'll be getting with the kids it will make it easy for me to make sure the boys in my "grown up" foursome will have to work a little harder in 2017 to beat me. Heh, heh, heh. See you on Friday, folks.

Brandan 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Adventures In Gold Panning

  Our adventures take us to all kinds of places. Sometimes we find ourselves breathing cool, crisp mountain air with only the sound of trees swaying in the wind while at other times we find ourselves in a crowd of noisy people waiting in line for a roller coaster. But we do like to find a little local flare when we get to our locations and it seems that an odd trend has emerged over the years. 
  You see, you don't travel to as many old mining towns as we do and not try your hand at a little gold panning. It just isn't right. Trust me. So we have stopped into these little tourist traps in Alaska and two different locations in Montana.
 So how do they work? They all seem to be the same. You purchase a bag of dirt and they supply the tools to pan it. Of course the bags are "salted" which means every bag has some gold flakes and other stones placed in the dirt for the customer to find and while that may be thought of as cheating but if you want people to keep visiting your operation they had better find something in that bag of dirt. It's the experience you're buying and that's the way you should look at it. Anyone can experience what it's like to pan for gold without having to experience the repeated failure that is the reality of panning for gold. There's no cold river water to chill your feet and all the large chunks of rocks have already been classified prior to your own panning. 
  Now you're not going to get rich playing with the "salted" bags but you'll get enough to make a good souvenir and for some it may even become a gateway activity that could provoke future purchases of gold pans and metal detectors so do this at your own risk but if it gets you out of the house then it's a win, right?
  This may not be something that interests everyone but if you find yourself in a small town and have an hour to kill then I say go for it. It actually is fun to gently wash the sand away to reveal that tiny, shiny metal. 
  We here at Route To Adventure want to wish all of you a very merry Christmas and as always stay safe in your travels.

Brandan

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feeling The Christmas Spirit

  I'm sure most of you have noticed that it is now less than a week before Christmas. Some of you are still trying to find that perfect gift for that special someone while others have been done shopping for weeks and are now ready to relax for the holiday. Yes shopping can be stressful and at times it can even damper our spirits to the point that we may dread the holiday season. However, if we forget the stresses of shopping it's possible to find the beauty of Christmas and you won't have to travel far to enjoy it. In fact it's so easy to see you'd be hard pressed to miss it.
  Yes we all have that one neighbor that has spent his entire life waiting to emulate Clark Griswald (am I aging myself with this reference?) Yup, he's spent an entire months salary on colorful lights and Santa Clause cut outs complete with reindeer and has now plastered them throughout his yard. Now you have to close all the window blinds in the house just to sleep at night. The electrical hum emanating from the house reminds you of the substation down the street and you decide to keep the kids indoors just in case the radiation is harmful.
 Now the lights are flashing and dancing in strange configurations that don't make a lot of sense.  A sign he just put up in front of house tells you to tune your radio to 87.3 or something and out of curiosity you do to find out why. Because music! Yup the strange flashing light show is dancing to the music on the radio. You're not sure if it's cool or not but it doesn't matter because you're trying to figure out how the heck he got his own radio station. But cancer causing radiation and dancing lights are the least of the problems because if you build it, they will come and now they're here. Cars. Not just one but a line of them that bring traffic to a crawl as they follow one another bumper to bumper into your cul-de-sac with cameras and cocoa expelling "oohs" and "aahs" for hours on end and blocking your driveway when all you want to do is go to pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.
 Now glaring at him from your front window you imagine strangling him with his own Santa scarf. In your mind you'd be the neighborhood hero. The man that put an end to the "holiday hell house." Yep everyone would be singing your praises even as the cops loaded you in the backseat of their squad car with hands clasped in irons. At that thought you stop and realize that you've completely missed the point of the holiday. You know you've acted like a jerk all month and ignored your own family and responsibilities. You are the Grinch in Whoville and while your heart isn't going to grow three sizes there is a slight change that overcomes you. That guys house is beautiful and although it's over the top it has brought joy to all those who have come from far and wide to view it. In a way it will bring joy to you too. A sly smile crosses your face as you revel in the thought of the enormous power bill waiting in that son of gun's mailbox.
  Well I had a little fun at some people's expense today but be aware that I do see the beauty in Christmas lights and encourage those that choose to set them up to continue doing so every year. We here at Route To Adventure wish you all a warm and merry Christmas. 

Brandan        

Friday, December 16, 2016

Getting Down In Grafton

  The passage of time helps us forget the painful, the funny and the best of our memories. Paired with Mother Nature time will also erase the evidence of our own history. The speed at which the effects of time can reclaim nature's space is actually quite impressive. Photos of places like Chernobyl or the Titanic wreck site remind us of how fragile mankind's creations really are. But when the right people come along a rusting classic car can return to it's former glory days and crumbling buildings can be brought back from near collapse to fresh, museum quality exhibits. The Grafton ghost town is an example of this.
   Grafton is hidden by the small town of Rockville, Utah just south of Zion's National Park. It was founded in 1859 by Mormon settlers for the purpose of growing cotton and was originally called Wheeler. Nature interfered with the town on more than one occasion in the form of flooding which at one time washed most of Wheeler away. The town was moved and renamed Grafton but the floods continued and the threat of attacks by Native Americans eventually led to the downfall of the town.
  Today the town is famous from Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Arizona Kid among many others. Grafton is also considered by some to be the most photographed ghost town in the United States. 
  Of course none of this would be possible without the restoration of the town. In 1997 the Grafton Heritage Partnership began improvements on the few remaining buildings, farmland and cemetery in an effort to preserve the site. Thanks to the GHP we were able to visit the site to take photos for ourselves and to enjoy an afternoon with a little local history. Despite being under 24 hour surveillance and just a short distance from Rockville you still get the feeling of isolation and the lack of noises feeds the sense of loneliness and an occasional tumbleweed passing by will send you over the edge. 
  After letting the creepy feelings pass you can settle in and enjoy how peaceful the setting really is and get to photographing and exploring. The doors to the buildings are locked but that isn't a reason not to visit. A peak in the window allows you to see the work that has been done to revitalize the structures. Had this work not been done there may not be anything here but fallen blocks and foundations to be forgotten by people and reclaimed by nature but for now this historic site is in good hands.

Brandan 
       

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Walk of Western Stars

   The dust has cleared, the gun barrels have cooled and the outlaws are behind bars or maybe six feet under. Either way the hero has mounted his horse, tipped his hat and is riding off into the sunset while "The End" creeps on the screen and the audience applauds another fun filled adventure movie set in the "Old West." 
  The now classic western films were extremely popular during the 1930's and well into the 1970's and produced names like John Ford, Roy Rodgers and John Wayne. At one time these were some of the biggest names in Hollywood but the years pass, times change and with it the stars fade away. But there is a place where the history of these western film stars is not only documented but honored in a big way. 
  Main Street in Newhall, California is lined with bronze plaques bordered with terrazzo and each one has the name of a western star. Here Jack Palance, Steve McQueen and Sam Elliot will forever be remembered in true Hollywood fashion. 
   Annually since 1981 the city has added new names to the walk during the Cowboy Festival held in April. We didn't have the opportunity to attend the 2016 event because we were in the middle of moving in but I think we'll be able to make an appearance next spring. If you think you'd like to see the Walk of Western Stars or if you want to attend the Cowboy Festival check out the sites below and we'll see you back here on Friday!

Brandan

www.cowboyfestival.org

 http://oldtownnewhall.com/about-old-town-newhall/walk-of-western-stars/

Friday, December 9, 2016

Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

Christmas season is here!  The lights, the sounds and the excitement bursting though the air.  Kids are rewriting their lists and making sure we know what they want to see under the tree.  Families are planning parties and sending cards.  There is music in the air every place you go.  This entire month is bursting with joy and I love it.  




This post is going to give you a small sneak peak at Thanksgiving Points Luminaria  and I will probably ramble on about sappy things holiday related.  I'm feeling the spirit and all the feels that go along with it.  At Thanksgiving Point they do things big.  The Museum of Ancient Life has one of the largest displays of mounted dinosaurs in the world.  If they do dinosaurs like that you can expect everything else to be done as grand as well.  



Luminaria is a walk through light display that will leave you in awe.  Its a mile walk through lights, hot cocoa and fire pits to warm your hands or roast a marshmallow for a s'more.  Tickets are about $20 a person so it can add up for a family.  Members get a discount and also people with groups of 20 or more.  If you really want an experience you can spend $149 and get the Weekender Package that includes a hotel room, a bottomless cup of cocoa and some other swag to remember your visit. 


The Grand Allee has 8000 lights covering the hill.  Each one making a tiny piece of a big picture.  The tree they decorated is 120 feel tall.  Each are only a small piece of what they have to show.  Music is in the air as you walk from experience to experience.  Its impossible not to crack a smile as you look at what they have done to deck these halls. 


Thanksgiving Point was a ten minute drive from our home in Saratoga Springs, Utah.  When we were ready to see something besides the walls of our house we could pop over and be amazed.  Its not as easy today now that we are 660 miles from the place.  These pictures were sent to us by my parents Steve and Teressa Rich who are great at helping us keep up on our home state loves.  They snapped these pictures with their cell phones as they walked through.  Enjoy these like we have and next year we can all plan to walk through together.  

I love that we all carry these little super computers in our pockets so that we can snap pictures and send them to our loved ones.  Snap a picture today and send it to someone you care about. Its easy to forget how blessed we really are. 

What are the cant miss Christmas destinations near you?  We would love to hear about them.



Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and make the most of your moments.  

🎔 Misty









Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Knott's Land of Fried Chicken and Roller Coasters

  When it comes to theme parks Southern California would be king. We have visited Disney and Universal on multiple occasions throughout the years. But there is another popular park that we seem to have neglected and for no real reason in particular. So what is this park? Knott's Berry Farm of course.
  Spread across 160 acres in Buena Park, CA, Knott's Berry Farm began as a berry farm by Walter Knott's family in 1920. They sold a variety of jam's, jellies, and pies from a roadside stand. The fruit stand grew into a fried chicken restaurant in 1934 that was so popular that the family built attractions on the property to keep the patrons entertained. Today Knott's Berry Farm still has a restaurant, still sells fruity jams and has 40 rides to entertain the masses.
  With family in from out of town we decided that we should stop in and check out the farm to see what we thought. Well we were surprised to say the least. I liked the western theme of Ghost Town where you feel like you're walking through an old western town. Here we found multiple little booths selling different types of trinkets similar to what you would find at a local farmer's market which complements the history of the land and it at least makes you feel like you're supporting the little guy even if you might not be. 
  Have you ever wanted to see a glass blower in action? Well get over to Knott's, they have one giving demonstrations every day. I would have never thought that I would see something like that in a theme park but it was a pleasant surprise to see those skills on display. They also had a wood carver who's tool of choice is a chain saw. Yup, horsepower and wood chips. What's not to love? 
  Ghost Rider, Xcelerator and Boomerang are headliners as far as the roller coasters go at Knott's and of the three we got to ride one. Yes the down side of theme parks can be the crowds which I didn't expect to be so bad since Summer is over but I was way wrong. Since it's the holiday's and it was a Saturday it seemed that everyone had the same idea about visiting the park on the same day. It happens which is a bit of a let down for those that flew in from the middle of the country but we made the best of it and we still got to ride plenty of rides and had a fun day together. The good news for us is that we can go back and try again to see more of the park and to experience it in it's entirety on another day.
  Although some of us seem to like Disneyland a little more than we should around here, Knott's Berry Farm is a nice break from the norm and is worth a visit if you're looking for something just a little different. To learn more you can visit their web site at https://www.knotts.com/ and we'll see you back here on Friday. Have a good week!

Brandan


Friday, December 2, 2016

One Year On

    Happy birthday! Or is it happy anniversary? Either way December 1st marked one year from launch day and we've had an adventurous year to say the least. We made a big (temporary) move to California thanks to the day job, which has opened up our travel opportunities and we have made to some great destinations.
  2016 was the 50th anniversary of the Easter Jeep Safari, an event that is near and dear to us. For the last 23 years we've attended this event and we don't look to be slowing down. What can we say? It's in our blood. 
  We've had many chances to visit Southern California's theme parks which the kid's love. Mickey and his friends are always there to wash away the home sickness that on occasion tends to sneak in to their minds now and again.
    We also had an epic road trip that took us through Nevada and California that took us to historic ghost towns and gave us the chance to cross off a bucket list off road trail. The Rubicon trail tested our vehicles and our endurance as we traversed it's lengthy path. It was a trip that we'll cherish in our memories and has raised the bar on our future adventures. 
  We also visited Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. These two places contain some of the most beautiful scenery that you can possibly imagine. I've never been shy about my love of Yellowstone and like Moab, I'll continue to visit this place as often as I can. 
  I thank those of you who have found us and continue to read this blog. We'll be continuing to bring you our adventures throughout the next year wherever they may be. We have a few big trips planned that we'll reveal later on in the coming months and we have a lot of smaller trips that we'll cover as they happen. Don't forget to visit our YouTube channel as we continue to roll out more videos for a more visual side of our trips. Have a great weekend and we'll see you next week. 

Thank you for a great year.

Brandan 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making Space Fun Again: Kennedy Space Center

  We've all had those trips that we were excited about taking. Children are giddy when taken to Disneyland while some people look forward to sitting on the beach under an umbrella with a beverage of their choice. I would also feel safe to say that most of us plan to do or see more than one thing while they were on vacation otherwise the trip would feel stale. If you relate to that I would ask you if you had ever had an instance where one of those events or sites turned out to be the unexpected highlight of your trip? This happened to me while we were going on a cruise to the Caribbean and I can't begin to tell you how surprised I was. 
 Our cruise left on a Sunday and as a safety factor we chose to get into town early so we allowed time on Saturday to visit Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Like many Americans I was confused, saddened and understanding at the announcement of the retirement of the shuttle program and I do still have strong feelings about it but that's not what this blog is about. I felt that since the shuttle program was going away the same fate would soon follow for the rest of NASA and we would be left with museums and memories of the golden age of space exploration. In a way I was correct. We'll always have some great exhibits housed in museums to visit with our kids. I was very wrong, however, about NASA fading away and after visiting Kennedy Space Center I left more excited about the space program then I have been at any point in my life. 
   The KSC complex has enough to see that I won't be able to cover it all in this blog post but when you visit, and I strongly suggest you do so, you will experience every aspect of mankind's history of space exploration.
 The Rocket Garden grabs your attention as soon as you walk on site. How can it not? There are massive rockets standing before you in all their glory answering any questions you had about how big these things are. Spoiler, some of them are massive. There are displays that go in depth about the space race, early astronauts, and our love affair with science fiction but the two highlights that I want to mention are the bus tour and Shuttle Atlantis.
  I would compare the bus tour to Universal Studios' Back Lot Tour. The bus takes you through the heart of KSC where you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the launch pads where rockets and shuttles began their journey's to space. You pass the assembly building where shuttles were attached to the fuel tank and rocket boosters and where they would be set atop the "crawler" prior to making agonizing slow (1mph) creep to the launch pads. By the way, the crawler is the largest piece of that a man can drive that I've ever seen in my life. Ship's are bigger but ocean dwellers don't count here.
  The highlight of the bus tour is the Saturn V rocket hangar. Your visit starts out with a reenactment of what mission control experienced during the Apollo missions which is pretty intense. It's amazing what lights and speakers can do to make you feel like you were really there. Once the theatrics are over the doors are opened to the main hangar where an actual Saturn V rocket is lying on it's side and disassembled so that visitors can see how the rocket sections were tied together during launch. Assembled this thing is 363 ft. long and seeing it in person makes you proud of mankind's accomplishments. Space suites, moon rovers and tools are also on display to tell the story of what it took to get to and work on the moon in visual detail.
 Hands down my favorite display in the entire KSC complex was getting to see the shuttle Atlantis. Despite all the signage I honestly had no idea that I was about to walk into a room with Atlantis. It's rare for me to not do some form of research prior to a trip but in this case it was a blessing. I felt like a little kid when the veil was lifted and I was literally just feet away from an orbiter. The display allows you to look inside the cargo bay doors with the Canada arm stretched across the room and you can count each black tile on the the bottom of the shuttle from the floor below if you were so inclined to do so. I really wanted to climb inside and think about floating over Earth but I had to settle for the children's version that sits adjacent to Atlantis but I guess I can deal with that. The kids thought it was cool to see this stuff but I don't think they really grasped the importance of what they were seeing which I can understand considering they didn't live through the peak of the shuttle program but some day I hope they'll get it.
  Despite being saddened by the shuttle program ending our visit opened my eyes to the future of American space exploration. Once I realized that this is only a transition phase similar to what took place while moving from rockets to shuttles I got excited about NASA and space travel again. So what if we don't have a replacement shuttle yet, we still have rockets that are launched on a regular basis which anyone can witness if you're lucky enough to be there on a launch day and now there is more of an open market with independent companies building exotic and mind blowing machines that will help pave the way for the future of space travel. Every day we're one day closer to commercial space travel (scary, actually) and I'm convinced that someday man will walk on the surface of Mars, a feat that still seems more like science fiction rather than reality.
  The Kennedy Space Center ended up being my favorite part of my cruise vacation and it took place before I even set eyes on the stupid ship. Seriously, I could have jumped right back on a plane bound for Utah and I would have considered it a successful trip. If you would like to learn more about what you can see at KSC check out their web site at https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Bird Brain

  When traveling I like to see new things like most people do. I also enjoy photographing my experiences so that I can relive them anytime I want and also to continue proving to my mother in law that I am the superior photographer, which by the way is no contest. I love to photograph historical landmarks, buildings and breathtaking vistas during magic hour. Of course a perk of traveling is seeing local wildlife that can't be found where you're from. These animals can be exotic or they may be ordinary, some may be wild while others may be domesticated but to you they are special so you photograph them.        This is what I find myself doing on each trip especially if I'm going to Yellowstone National Park or somewhere else that is known for wildlife. But what I've discovered while going through my photos is that there seems to be an overabundance of birds.
  It isn't intentional. I mean, I like birds and all, they're really fun to hunt but I hadn't really looked at them as a focus of photography, yet here they are popping up in every folder on my hard drive. I have photos of pelicans from Florida, grouse from Bodie, blue birds form Yosemite and Flamingos from Sea World. I found a sneaky wood pecker at Silver Lake in Utah as well as some ducks. Everywhere I look I see birds and it doesn't make sense. Yes it surprises me but it doesn't disappoint me. Through photography I have learned something about myself and that is, I seem to find birds to be an interesting subject. I like taking pictures and it doesn't matter what it is because taking photos is fun and is a creative outlet but somewhere in my brain when I see one of these feathered creatures my inner wildlife photographer tries to capture them in a perfect shot.
   My primary purpose of travel is to see interesting things which means I'm not able to set aside the proper time to needed to get the greatest landscape photos during "magic hour" but it seems that the birds find me when they want to be photographed. Are all of these photos great? Maybe not but I'm not selling them. The birds and I seem to come together at very interesting times which make the photos even more special like the Bodie grouse that wandered out for me and my daughter during a wind and rain storm. Had the wind not picked up I'm sure they would have remained hidden in the sage brush and we would have never seen them. On a trip to Yellowstone we had gotten up and entered the park at around 6 am and I don't even remember what the main purpose was but we ended up pulling over next to the Madison River with a thick fog hovering around us and we were able to snap some photos of geese fording the river. In that case I didn't have the proper zoom lens on the camera but there wasn't really time to change so I settled for what I got. Is it a great photo? No but I enjoy it because it reminds me of standing on the Madison River with my daughter who was four years old at the time.
  Is there a point to my little story? Maybe. I found it interesting that I've learned to appreciate something that I had no intention of ever paying attention to. Through the lens I've found beauty in unexpected places and while I don't think that bird photography will ever be a primary objective of my travel photography I don't think it hurts it either. So to you, dear reader, I implore you to always have a camera with you while you travel and don't be afraid to snap a photo of whatever catches your eye because it may just teach you something about yourself.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Holiday Travel

  I've come realize that with each year that passes time seems to go by faster than the previous year. I guess if you take into account that when you only get 3 waking hours of time at home a day and the pressures of relentless work schedules with no hope of pleasing your client time isn't going to really stop for you. It is usually around this time of year, one week before Thanksgiving, that one starts to ask, "Where did the year go?" Or maybe the constant countdown of shopping days until Christmas has you asking those close to you, "Didn't we just get done with Christmas?"
  Of course with the arrival of the holidays the question arises of who's going where and who's bringing what. For us these questions have been easy. Our families have lived within twenty miles of each other for all of our lives and we gave up on trying to visit everyone we wanted to spend time with on Thanksgiving a long time ago. It was just too difficult to do and we ended up eating way to much food. So we have Thanksgiving at our home each year with an open door policy for anyone that wants to visit. On good years my friend and I like to get up early and head out to the desert to sling some lead at tin cans for a couple of hours which helps ease frustrations and is over all just a blast. Pun intended. This year, however, is a different story.
  My brother is in Chicago. My friends and family are in Salt Lake and we're in California with no way out this year. So no shooting this year, buddy. We'll try again next year. It's a new experience for us and I have to say that it's a bit of an adjustment. So what are we to do? The same thing we always do. We're here and anyone's welcome. We won't see everyone this year but we'll be happy to see our parents at least and I'm hoping that next year we'll be able to make it home for at least one holiday so that we can start easing ourselves back home permanently but that's too far away to get exited about right now so we'll just not think about that right now.
  I admit that it makes me wonder if traveling for the holiday's would be something worth trying, though. Why do I continue to sit at home and spend half the day cooking and lounging around each year? Probably because I like to do those things but that seems to be getting boring. Would I find Thanksgiving just as enjoyable if I were on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Maybe. Would I enjoy myself at Disneyland? Absolutely not. Thanksgiving week is the busiest time in the park and I promise you that I wouldn't be caught dead withing ten miles of that place during the holidays but some people don't seem to care so I'll let them enjoy each others company.
  Maybe it would be worth checking out Australia. The weather warms up down under while we cool off so it only makes sense to visit while the weather is in our favor right? Kangaroos, crocodiles and sunshine what more could you ask for? I suppose if Australia is too far to go there is always Florida. We exchange kangaroos for old people and alligators rather than crocodiles but the weather is still nice. Folks from Florida don't have fun accents like he Aussies but them's the breaks.
  For now the thought of traveling during the holidays is just that, a thought. I'm still happy being at home with my family while I vegetate for a few days. Sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered but I'm learning that I'm open to more ideas as I get older and there's no telling what I'll come up with next. I will think of all of you that are traveling this year to see your families. I'll think of heavy traffic coming in and out of Los Angeles and the horrible, long lines and no place to sit at the airports across the country. I will think of you lugging around your luggage while trying to keep an eye on that one child of yours that likes to wander off when you aren't looking. Yes I'll think of all of this and smile knowing that I'm sitting at home stress free and enjoying the constant sunshine that Southern California has to offer. Yup, staying home doesn't seem so bad when it comes right to it.
  Good luck to all of you who will be traveling next week. Let your travels be fun and safe. We'll be here to occupy a few minutes of your time if the need arises. Have a good weekend and we'll see you next week.

Brandan

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sneak Peeks and Stage Shows of Disneyland.

Its always another day in paradise.  Realizing that it is another day in paradise is the trick.  Disneyland is a magical place I absolutely love if I wasn't to obvious about that, but even Disney days aren't perfect.  Sometimes its 95 degrees in hot and humid Southern California and that 70 minute wait to ride Radiator Springs Racers just might break you.  Sometimes there are a million people squished into the space you're standing and you are wondering how many more they can fit until the park hits capacity.  Sometimes you go to a theme park seven times in a ten day period and your feet are screaming at you to sit a minute.  We decided to explore our magical place as if there wasn't a ride to be had and we were not disappointed.

Ever since Disney took over Marvel I have been so excited to see what they might do to the parks.  If I can be completely honest, the Twilight zone Tower of Terror being turned to the Guardians of the Galaxy was not my idea of a great first step.  I get that there are things decided in meetings that we don't know the details too.  I also get that we are talking about Disney and that I'm sure they will do a great job.  They are killing one of my favorite steps into an imaginary place and replacing it with something I am not as excited for.  I've heard rumors that they might be transforming most of the corner around the ride into a Marvel themed area but nothing solid enough to get excited about.  It has been super cool to see the Iron Man suit over in Innoventions.  It was also really cool to see the suit Benedict Cumberbatch wore in Doctor Strange.

Next to the Monsters Inc. ride is a sneak peak of Doctor Strange in the theater where they used to have the Muppet's show.  As you walk in to the wait area this suit is on display.  Our little gal thought this was the coolest thing ever.  We loved the Sherlock series so she was a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch.  To see the suit he actually wore was such a treat for this little fan.  Of course its all in 3D so they hand you a set of glasses to be fully immersed in their story.  It startled me a little bit when the walls moved as part of the story.  Attention to detail is their thing but having screens down the sides of the theaters as well was an extra special touch.  I realize that the movie is out in the theaters already but we haven't yet watched it so this was all a surprise for us.  It was also air conditioned in the theater which was awesome.

If you are a frozen fan, or a stage show fan, or a human being then I have heard that the Frozen stage show at the Hyperion Theater is the must see show of a lifetime.  I cant tell you how great it is though because I cant seem to get in line early enough.  They first time we tried it was cutting it to close to catching a plane.  The second time we tried the 45 minutes early we got in line was not enough.  It seems that if you really want to see the show you should line up around and hour early and still you might not make it in depending on crowds.  We have our plans in place to make a trip to the park just for this show so I will return and report later.            



Where It's Tough to be a Bug played there is a sneak peek to Moana.  While I am excited to see this movie and I was in awe of the sneak peek, It's Tough to be a Bug is coming back right?!?! I hope so.  The preview was awesome with full effects.  You are immersed into the story complete with 3D glasses, splashes of ocean waves, little critters running under your bum, bursts of fog and a tale of bravery and magic.  I'm seriously excited to see this movie now.

Great Moments with Mr Lincoln is another show that cant be missed.  Walt saw the power in the story of this man and his love for his country.  Its chilling to see Mr Lincoln stand before you in this amazing show.  Seriously, Go see this!  And while you are there take time to look around the wait area to see how Disneyland took shape.  We tend to walk past this as we rush down Main Street to the fun but its so so good.  Also on Main Street is the Main Street Cinema.  Here you can see six of Disney's early films in a small dark open floored theater.  Its closely across the street from Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor.  I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life but it seems to me that the location of these two places is meant to be a treat and seat, well a seat on the floor but still.  Disneyland has a lot of things to see and do that aren't all about the rides.  The rides are awesome though so don't skip any of those.  Just don't pick the Mad Hatters Tea Cups too soon after your ice cream.  

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.  J. R. R. Tolkien

Misty


Friday, November 11, 2016

The Whaley House

   I'm taking us back to San Diego once more to discuss one of the more special buildings of Old Town, San Diego. Many buildings come and go, their histories lost to time but in some cases a building's history is so special that it becomes a beloved landmark. These buildings are the one's that land on historic registries which help protect them for multiple generations to enjoy. The Whaley House is one of those buildings.
  What started out as a granary became Thomas Whaley's dream home. He designed the two story home himself and construction was completed in 1857. At one time the granary was used as a courtroom for San Diego County and the upper floor's front bedroom was converted into a small theater with a stage and seating for 150 people. After being in this room on a few occasions I'm here to tell you that I sure as heck wouldn't be one of those 150. There simply isn't enough space to squeeze that many people in there. I suppose fire code was a little different (non existent) back then.

  As you can see the Whaley House was never just a family dwelling. From courthouse, general store and a theater the house was reinvented to serve the community as needed and based on that history alone I would say it built a storied reputation. But the house is known for one other, maybe controversial, detail. It's haunted.
  Yeah, I know Halloween is over but you can't talk about the Whaley House without talking about ghosts and two of my top 10 favorite topics of conversation are hauntings and history.   To be honest I would have included the Whaley House in our October posts except that we chose to visit the last weekend of the month and time just ran out. What do you do?
  Many paranormal teams have visited the Whaley House with many of them coming away with very interesting photos and audio recordings. The home has been featured on multiple television shows, one of them even rated the Whaley House as America's most haunted house. This was my third visit to the house and each time I did a different type of tour none of which gave me any type of evidence of ghostly activity. But don't think I'm implying that this place isn't haunted. I just haven't been lucky enough to catch anything yet. My eleven year old daughter and my Dad both saw a strange shadow hovering over the stage while we listened to our tour guide tell the history of the 150 people cramming into the room. I'm bummed I didn't see it but if both of them saw it then something was there. I guess I'll just have to keep going back.
  Who's still home? Thomas and Anna Whaley have been seen in the house and the yard. In fact, one of best stories I've heard is when Anna Whaley appeared to Regis Philbin. Other unknown spirits seem to hang around the house. Whether they were former residents that had rented the home or family friends checking in on the place are questions that will never be answered.
  The most famous ghost surrounding the property is that of "Yankee" Jim. Convicted of attempted grand larceny, James Robinson was hung on the property prior to the construction of the house. His execution was not a smooth one. In fact, it was difficult to watch according to the history books. Rather than a quick snap of the neck he ended up slowly strangling to death. Thomas Whaley happened to be a witness at the hanging and still decided to purchase the property and built the house directly over the site. It is believed that the large arch in the first floor living room is in the same location as Jim Robinson's gallows.
  You have the option of taking a self guided tour during the day or a guided tour after 5 pm. We opted for a 7:30 pm tour which ended up being a popular time slot. Our large group fit just fine while we were in the court house portion of the house but be we all quickly became close friends as we toured the rest of the home. Let's face it, no house is ever really designed to become a museum but it surely wasn't a thought during the 1800's. While it was tight it was still a fun tour that made sure to hit the highlights of the families history as well as making sure to meld in the ghost stories which in my opinion keeps everyone paying attention and teaches them something as well. As an unexpected surprise the Ghostbusters and Ecto-1 were paying a visit on the night we were there which a thrill for my kid's. Being the car guy that I am I was more interested in the car which was a very well done recreation. I obviously wasn't the only one who like the car because the crowds around it kept me from getting a clear photo of it. Oh, well. Kudos to them and the Whaley House for having them.
  The Whaley House is one of those special places that I try to always visit when I'm in the San Diego area and it's a very popular attraction for tourists year round. It's possible to visit the house thanks to the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO.) They have been the caretakers of the Whaley House since the year 2000 and have spent these years painstakingly restoring the home by using old photos and records. To see more on their story check out their web site  http://whaleyhouse.org/aboutus.htm.
Of course studying the history is fun but not as much fun as visiting for yourself. I'm told the weather is always beautiful down in San Diego so if you're looking for a nice winter getaway you should head on down there and don't forget to pay attention to your peripheral vision. You never know who may be watching. By the way, if you're lucky enough you might get to meet the Ghostbusters. Just sayin. See you next week.

Brandan