During June 2012, we packed up and headed west for our annual family vacation. We drove to New Orleans, LA. In New Orleans, we caught an Amtrak train to Los Angeles. The train ride was about 46 hours long. Amtrak was sold out of sleeper rooms, so we had to sleep at our chair. The train ride was very interesting. We saw many sights as we passed through Texas, Arizona and Nevada. The train stopped in San Antonio for about two hours (around 11 p.m.). We used that time to walk around and stretch a bit. Overall, we enjoyed the train ride, but were ready to get off after two days.
We arrived early in LA early June 13th. I thought our car rental was through Hertz. Probably because I recently rented Brian a car through Hertz. Hertz didn’t open on time (8 am), but Budget Car Rental was open on time. We waited almost an hour for Hertz to finally open. When Hertz opened, they were unable to find the reservation under my name. That was when I realized that I reserved a car through Budget. No harm though, since Budget didn’t have our vehicle ready for another 15 minutes.
Our first stop was the Reagan Presidential Library. The library was very nice. We enjoyed it more than the JFK Library. The library had Air Force One on display. Air Force One was the actual aircraft used through George W. Bush. We were able to walk through the aircraft. Outside was Reagan’s grave and an actual section from the Berlin Wall. I bought mom a replica of the Berlin Wall for watching Forrest. Mom was born in Berlin.
After our visit to the presidential library, we checked into our house. For our time in Los Angeles, we stayed in a house in Hollywood. On the second day, Susan and I went to a taping of the Tonight Show. Penelope Cruz and Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars were on the Tonight Show. Susan and I sat in the first row for the taping. After the Tonight Show, we went to the Broadway show, Addams Family. The show was held in the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The photograph to the right is Brian and Aaron right before the Broadway show.
On our third day we went to the Grove, which was a shopping district. While there we saw a taping of the television show, Extra. Afterward, we went to the Kodak Theater to watch the Cirque Du Soleil show, Iris. Before the show, we visited the famous Chinese Theater. To the left is a photograph of Susan and Brian with the hats they bought near the Kodak Theater.
After the Iris show we went to the Griffith Observatory. The Observatory was on top of one of the mountains. There were two high powered telescopes to use to look at space. The night we went, it was overcast and the telescopes were closed. We enjoyed an Imax movie though. Also, we went through the various informational displays. To the right is a photograph at the Griffith Observatory, with the Hollywood sign behind us. Notice the cloud cover that is visible.
On Saturday morning, we woke up very early and went to the studios of Warner Brothers. We did the VIP studio tour. We got to see the outdoor sets that have been used in many movies and television shows. We saw where Ellen’s offices were. We got to go inside two sound studios. The tour was very nice. We went through a museum that contained numerous outfits and props that have been used in famous movies. The boys highlight was probably the cars they had on display that were used in various films. Here is Brian and Aaron next to the Batmobile.
After the studio tour, we went to the Peterson Automotive Museum. The Museum was three stories and very impressive. There were many rare cars. Brian begged us to go there. I was impressed with the rare Apple matchbox car from the movie “Cars.” After two floors of “no touch” area, the third floor had various cars and experiments that guests could touch. Here is a photograph of Brian and I sitting in an antique car. An interesting fact was that the intersection in front of this museum was where the Notorious B.I.G. was murdered.
On Sunday, we went to Venice Beach. I started the day at the beach by running six miles. After the run, Susan and I rented a tandem bike and the boys rented bicycles as well. We rode on the bikes from Venice Beach through Santa Monica. The round trip bike ride was about 12 miles. After the bike ride, we walked along Venice Beach. The photograph below is Brian watching one of the street shows. Brian was actually a prop in one of the shows. The boys had some money they wanted to shop with. Almost every block there were “medical marijuana” shops that were yelling trying to get customers. That was pretty annoying. The water was too cold to go swimming. Surfers in wet suits were pretty much the only ones in the water. Since it was Father’s Day, I picked where to eat. I asked Susan to pick up some take out Thai food while I relaxed at the house after the long day.
On our last day in Los Angeles, we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. This was our second visit to a Six Flags as a family. We arrived just as the park was opening. We had just enough time to ride every major ride once. We rode one ride twice. Susan surprised everyone by riding all of the rides with us. The boys named Six Flags Magic Mountain as their favorite amusement park that they have visited. After leaving the park, we stopped at Red Lobster, which was right outside of the gates, for a later dinner. The photograph below is Brian and Aaron waiting to ride one of the rides.
On Tuesday, we woke up, packed and departed for LAX Airport. The car rental return was the largest operation we had ever seen. Car rental companies lined the streets. Budget Car rental had about 12 lanes to drive into. We then caught our direct flight to New Orleans. On a side note, New Orleans did not have an available terminal for us. We had to wait on the runway for about 20 minutes for a terminal to open.
Click on any of the photographs to view the entire gallery.