Hanging In Hollywood

Hanging In Hollywood

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Hollywood. Where do I begin? Should I start with the fact that I didn’t see anyone famous that I would have liked to? Or something a bit less unfortunate like the fact that we got a tour of the Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers studios? Or that I got a gold top Epiphone Les Paul at a store on Sunset Boulevard? Or, maybe I should just start at the beginning.
    I don’t think many people expect to see a truck with a Maine license plate pulling a thirty foot fifth wheel through the middle of Hollywood. We were going to stay with some friends who manage an apartment building in the Hollywood Hills. They said that they had a space next to the building where we could park the R.V. It took a little while but we eventually managed to get it backed into the said space.

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    One of the first things we did when we stayed there was get a tour of the Paramount Pictures studios. Now our friend knew someone who worked there and we were able to get a free, private tour. I don’t know about you, but in my book that fits under the “awesome” column. Now we don’t watch that much television, so I didn’t recognize many of the sets we got to go on. I did recognize the set for the Dr. Phil show. I have never seen the show but I have heard of it before. We saw Jane Lynch, but I don’t really know who she is because I don’t watch Glee. Mercy recognized her from a movie she likes. At the end we saw the bench where some of Forrest Gump was filmed.

Paramount (2)Paramount (19)
  

 A few days later we got a tour of Warner Brothers Studios. It wasn’t a private tour like the one at Paramount but was great nonetheless. We saw the set of Two and a Half Men. I’ve only seen the show once but I recognized it immediately. During another part of the tour there was a room with vehicles from a bunch of movies. Every Batmobile, the flying car from Harry Potter, and some others that I didn’t recognize. There was also a whole warehouse full of props that are still used. One that I recognized was One-Eyed Willie’s skeleton from The Goonies. We saw a prop that was used on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. It was a lamp that was on the Black Pearl. We actually found out that our tour guide was an extra in the movie. Towards the end of the tour we stopped at a museum with the original costumes from countless movies and television shows. There were the costumes worn by actors from the Batman movies, the Harry Potter movies and many others. We also saw two of the cast members from The Big Bang Theory. But again, I don’t watch the show so I didn’t recognize them at all. My parents were excited to be on the set of Friends, another show that I have never seen.

Warner Bros (8)

Warner Bros (27)Warner Bros (28)
    One night when we were walking down Hollywood Boulevard, we saw… drumroll please, Emma Stone and Russell Brand. Unfortunately it was only from a distance. I would have liked to see them up close… especially Emma Stone. They were at the premiere of Gangster Squad, but I’m not sure if Russell brand was in that movie so I don’t exactly know why he was there. Not that it really matters though. There was a guy standing behind us who kept trying to get Russell to wave to him, and when Russell didn’t, the guy yelled: “You sucked in Arthur!”

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    One of the last things we did while we were there was go to the Hollywood Wax Museum. They had wax figures of so many movie characters and celebrities. There was one of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Michael Jackson, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones from Men in Black, Davy Jones, Darth Vader, Yoda, even the aliens from Aliens Versus Predator. That’s just to name a few.

Hollywood Wax Museum (4)Hollywood Wax Museum (13)Hollywood Wax Museum (18)
    Later that night, we went to a music store and I bought a gold top Epiphone Les Paul. It was in great condition for a used guitar, and the price was $399. I was told that if it was brand new it would be have been $699. Apparently the store wanted to get rid of it so they lowered the price to $340 and offered a free case! Sold! I can even brag that I bought it on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

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    Well I can definitely say that it was one of my favorite places to stay. I would also like to thank our friends for letting us stay next to their apartment building and driving us around. I don’t say names in any of my blog posts but you guys know who you are. Don’t tell my parents, but I’m giving you bragging rights.  

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Reflections

Reflections

River

We have been on the road for almost a year now. In trying to find the right word to describe it, I chose: interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been having the time of my life. I will admit though that parts of the trip are hard. Living in a small space with three other people can get very frustrating at times. Especially when I have to share a room with Mercy who RARELY picks up after herself! It drives me crazy! I also miss all of my friends and family back home, but it’s not like I’ll never see them again.
In spite of all the hardships, I am having a great time. We have seen and done so many things that some people unfortunately never will. I don’t think that I could just choose one part of the trip to be my favorite because it has all been so awesome. A few of the most memorable experiences were hiking in the Grand Canyon, seeing the Carlsbad Caverns, and watching a wolf chow on a dead elk in Yellowstone. It was not all woods, caves and canyons though. I also had a great time at Universal in Orlando, Florida. We also saw Smash Mouth in Tillamook, Oregon. Then there was BurntWoodsStock. See my mom’s post: “Summertime,” for more information on that. Yes, sometimes it is hard, and sometimes I am in a bad mood. But all the good things far outweigh those occasional less than fun times. If I was asked if I ever regret going on this trip, I would not hesitate for a second before giving you my answer. Which is: no.

Hangin’ with Smash Mouth guitarist Mike Krompass
Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project

EMP museum

Being in the Northwest, we  decided to visit Seattle, Washington. One of the main reasons being that Mercy wanted to go to the Space Needle. While we were there we went to the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. Most of the exhibits were based on musicians from Seattle, but some were not. We managed to get a home school discount which saved us about fifty dollars. The museum has exhibits mostly on music and film. The first exhibit we went to was about Nirvana. It featured in-depth explanations of how Nirvana basically revolutionized punk rock. There were copies of fan letters, some of the band members’ personal belongings and even the remnants of a guitar smashed by Kurt Cobain.

Nirvana

I do have to say, my favorite music exhibit was the one about AC/DC. It has photos, posters, instruments, and even some of Angus Young’s costumes like his school uniform and ‘Super Ang’ costume. We also went into the Sound Lab. It is an area filled with instruments in sound proof rooms that allow people to take a virtual lesson on that particular instrument, or just jam with other people. There was also a guitar gallery which displayed all kinds of guitars from the late 1700’s to the present. I was amazed by what some of them looked like. There was also an exhibit about Jimi Hendrix, but I didn’t go in because I’m don’t really know enough about him to really be interested.

 Angus

My favorite part of the whole museum was the exhibit about the movie Avatar. If you have seen the movie you should know what everything I’m talking about is. I was amazed by the 3D models of structures and even a 13 foot tall model of an AMP Suit used by the soldiers in the movie. They also had examples of the clothing size worn by Jake Sully’s Avatar. There was a station where you could learn phrases from the Na’vi language, and an area where you could act out a scene from the movie using motion capture. You would stand in a small area and follow the prompts that showed up on the floor as the computer tracked your movements.

Avatar

Aside from Avatar, there was a whole other area filled with science fiction movie exhibits. They had the hilt of Darth Vader’s lightsaber from The Empire strikes back, a few of the guns used in Men In Black, and even the costume worn by Christopher Reeve in one of the Superman movies. They also had an area with exhibits on horror movies, which I didn’t spend that much time in. This museum was what I enjoyed most about Seattle and I would recommend it to anyone who is spending time there.

Vader's Lightsaber Superman

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

   

We spent the past week in Yellowstone National Park. It is one of the places that I have been looking forward to for the whole trip. Combining its breathtaking landscape and all the wildlife including bears, wolves, elk and bison, it is one of my favorite places we have been to.

Yellowstone

The first few nights we stayed in a campground by a river. The only campsite that we liked was on a slight hill and we had to extend the front landing gears on the RV almost as far as they would go to make it level. But aside from this (and the flies) it was a nice campground.

Pebble Creek Campground

After we got settled in we decided to drive up to one of the many visitor centers. Along the way, we saw countless bison in the fields and even on the road. We even saw one of the last animals I was expecting to see on our first day: a grizzly bear. On the way back we also saw a black bear. Here are some of the differences between the two types of bears. Unlike the black bear, the grizzly has a hump on it’s shoulder. The grizzly has smaller ears and its face appears more “dished-in.”
    A few hours later, we learned of an area near our campground where people often saw wolves. When we got there we saw a very large crowd. looking through binoculars and telescopes. We met a woman who monitors wildlife activity in the park who let us look through the telescope she set up (which is much stronger than our binoculars). She even took a short video through the lens with Mercy’s Ipod. There were two wolves there from the Lamar Canyon Pack. One was the 06 Alpha Female (called 06 because she was born in 2006). and the other was the brother of the alpha male. The female was chomping on the carcass of a dead elk which we learned was killed the night before. While she was eating, the male appeared to be keeping watch. When I looked at him through the telescope he seemed to be staring right at me. The female, we learned was one of the strongest of the pack and she could have killed the elk by herself! Most of the elk had already been eaten and you could see most of its bones, and some skin.
    The next day as we were driving out of the campground to explore more of the park, we saw another black bear. It was noticeably close to our campsite! We had to wait until the bear left before we were able to leave. That same night my mom found a pair of elk antlers near our campsite. During our stay in the park we saw a total of four bears! Three black and one grizzly. and three wolves.

Look what I foundOld FaithfulThe next day we left the campground and stayed at another one just outside of the park. While we stayed there, we went to watch a geyser called “Old Faithful” erupt.  There ware a lot of geysers and hot springs in that area of the park. This is because the park is on a volcano.  Almost everywhere in that area I saw signs that said the ground is unsafe to walk on because it could crack and release extreme heat, which is why they had put up wooden walkways instead. Hot SpringWhenever we walked by a hot spring, the steam smelled like spaghetti in a pot of boiling water. One of my favorite hydrothermal features we saw were mud pots. It was basically a pit of boiling mud.Mud Pots

Okay, here is the most frustrating parts of our visit to Yellowstone.  On Wednesday we went to see Grand Teton National Park, which is very close to Yellowstone. We were only planning on doing a day trip there so we left the RV at the campground. We arrive at one of the visitor centers, watch the presentation in the amphitheater do everything else we do at visitor centers. We are about to drive somewhere else in the park when the truck won’t start! This was very surprising due to the fact that we had just gotten a new battery. We figured we would just need a jump start but not even that would work. We had to call a towing company and wait five hours for a truck to arrive. We left Daisy in the truck while we all crammed into the cab. It was a good thing we brought the dog because we realized we would need to spend the night. We were able to get a room at Motel 6. The next morning we found out what the problem with the truck was and had to get the starter replaced. Aside from that “slight” inconvenience, Yellowstone was one of my favorite places so far.


No More Deserts

No More Deserts

   

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

I remember before we left on our trip that I was looking forward to seeing the Southwest. One of the main reasons was the Grand Canyon. Now, I think I’ve seen enough. I was looking forward to spending a few WEEKS out here. NOT a few MONTHS. We stayed in the hot, dry desert since the beginning of April! I get the fact that I’m lucky to be doing this but I honestly couldn’t stay out there any longer. Sure there were really cool places. I loved the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Zion
Zion

The rock formations were amazing, but eventually everything seemed the same. Deserts, rocks, and canyons. I hadn’t seen rain for months. I’d been out there so long that nothing was special anymore. I remember one day when it was around 115 degrees!
But now we are finally out of the dry, dusty desert. I never could have imagined how glad I was to see something green besides a cactus. Don’t get me wrong, the national parks we stayed at were great, but I could never live in Arizona, New Mexico, or Utah. When we got out of the desert and I saw trees and bodies of water, I was so relieved. A few days ago we were staying at a state park were there are waterfalls. Now we are in Rocky Mountain National Park. Finally, everywhere I look there is not dust, dirt, and rock. I like it that way. 

Deep in the Caves

Deep in the Caves

While we were staying in New Mexico I was told that we were going to go to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. My parents had told me a lot about it and I couldn’t wait to go. I must say it was one of my favorite places we have been so far. I can’t even recall how many times I said the words: “This is so awesome!” Unfortunately we did not see any bats. We were not there during the right time of year, but that didn’t stop me from wearing a Batman shirt. The last time my parents were there 20 years ago my dad said he also wore a Batman shirt. What a coincidence right? My dad even brought a Batman action figure!

It reminded me of the Mines of Moria from the Lord of the Rings more than the bat cave. The caverns are a huge cave system that goes more than 800 feet underground. The hike down into the caverns was a path that just went deeper and deeper. There were huge stalagmites and stalactites everywhere. There were a lot of small pools. The largest room was 8.2 acres. And the hike around it is one mile long. It takes about an hour and thirty minutes to hike all the way around it. This big room (it is actually called “The Big Room,” very original) is somewhat in the shape of a cross. During the walk around this room we saw a cave called the “Bottomless Pit.” It just goes straight down, however, it is not bottomless. There are two ways that people can get to the bottom. There is the natural entrance, which is about a mile long hike. Then there are the elevators. We took the hike down but we took the elevator up. It was very long for an elevator ride. Even though we did not see any bats, the caves themselves were still awesome.

Good Times in Texas

Good Times in Texas

We are currently at a state park in Texas and a few weeks ago we spent the night in a town called Stockyard Stations in Fort Worth. It is a real historic cowboy town with a lot of stores that sell western clothing and items. I bought a $40 hat at one of them and saw some hats that cost $900! There was also a maze that was featured on The Amazing Race. It was a lot harder than I thought and it took me 15 minutes to complete it, but it took Mercy 28.

I could easily picture what it looked like back then; everyone walking around carrying revolvers.

Twice a day they herd cattle called Longhorns down the street. Their horn span is about six feet, I’m not even that tall! There was also a famous gunfight that was going to be reenacted in a few days but we couldn’t stay that long. I was really disappointed about that, but the live rodeo we saw the night before the Superbowl made up for it. It was at the Cowtown Coliseum, site of  the world’s first indoor rodeo. Let me just tell you, I would go to a rodeo over a football game any day. I think they are much more entertaining. They did things like bull riding, cattle roping, and barrel racing. The rodeo clowns were funny, but I don’t think I would want their job, which is trying to get the bull to go after them. The bull riding was my favorite part. It’s hard to believe how they actually hang on, I don’t think I could. Some of the people in the rodeo are only older than me by a few years. There was even someone there who was younger than me.

That night we stayed at a parking lot that allowed overnight parking. There were a lot of people who were part of the rodeo also staying there. It was different, but fun, and I hope to see some more places like that.