Saturday, January 3, 2009

Final CA thoughts…

I don’t know where to begin as there is so much I have left out in previous postings. I’ve already touched on Christmas Day and dinner, the trip to Universal Studios on the 26th, and how wonderfully generous Jenny’s parents were. Maybe I need to fill in some more of the blanks and then finish up the week. I wish I could remember the names of the many wonderful restaurants they treated me to, but I cannot.

Tuesday (12/23): Shaun and Jenny picked me up at the airport and took me to her parents’ house. I visited a bit with Tina and then we left for lunch. When we returned from lunch, Shaun, Jenny, Wesley, Cindy, and I went to Disney California Adventures. We were all pretty cold so Jenny, Cindy, and I bought jackets. We met the rest of the crew at the restaurant around 7:30. After we returned to the house, Thomas and Tina went to the store to get the items I mentioned earlier.

Wednesday (12/24): Thomas and Tina kept Alexander while we went to the Bowers Museum and to the Science Museum (kind of like Exploration Place in Wichita). The gift shop in the Bowers Museum was really fascinating. That’s where Wesley and Cindy bought the wallet and coin purse they gave me for Christmas. There were a lot of things there that I would have loved to take home for Ron. There were several items that I knew Amy, Keith, and I would also be interested in but I refrained. Christmas Eve dinner was at May’s Garden and was excellent, excellent food.

Thursday (12/25): Christmas morning we lazed around the house and opened presents. It was a very nice and relaxing morning. After lunch, we went to the Chinese Bakery and Chinese Market. Amazing things! I bought a few items but I sure wish I’d bought more, especially of the chocolate cookies and biscotti. Thursday night we drove around a ritzy part of town and admired the Christmas light displays. One house had the Keebler Elves “decorating” their house and yard. It was adorable. We had Jack in the Box burgers and fries for dinner. No one was really very hungry so that worked out well.

Friday (12/26): Universal Studios. When we left Irvine and headed for Universal, the weather seemed very nice. I took both of my jackets but really didn’t figure I’d need the heavier one. Boy was I ever wrong. It was cold but the wind made it feel even colder. We took the back lot tour first and it probably lasted at least 30 minutes (maybe even closer to 45 minutes). We experienced some wind, some rain, and some fire – all special effects that are used in the films and TV series. It was very interesting. We visited the “Who” village and witnessed the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. Wisteria Lane (Desperate Housewives) was very beautiful. The foliage and flowers were just perfect – just like good “fake” stuff should be! The Bates Motel was “open” for business but we witnessed Norman Bates trying to cover-up an earlier murder so we got out of there fast. Many of the places were props and towns that have been used in many films. One town square was the setting for a scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I took a picture of what used to be the town square in the Back to the Future movie series (it was destroyed in the Universal Studios fire in 2007), and I took a picture of the hilltop range where the helicopters flew in the Mash series.
Shows/Movies filmed there –
Old Mexico set: Big Fat Liar, The Mexican, and The Three Amigos
The War of the Worlds
Bruce Almighty
Meet the Fockers
Spider-Man 2
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Back to the Future
The Sting
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Jurassic Park
Apollo 13
The Color Purple
Cast Away
To Kill a Mockingbird
When Harry Met Sally
A Beautiful Mind
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Beverly Hills 90210
The Italian Job
Desperate Housewives
The Fast and the Furious: Extreme Close-Up
The Blues Brothers
Austin Powers
The Ghost Whisperer
Crossing Jordan
CSI (the original)
King Kong

I experienced what an 8.5 magnitude earthquake would feel like. It was not quite what I expected.

Saturday (12/27): Disneyland. What can you say about Disneyland at Christmastime? It was beautiful, cold, and very crowded. The lines to ride anything were terribly long so we only managed to ride a couple of things. We did dinner at the Grand Californian hotel, which is spectacular. While it was good, dinner was overrated and overpriced. I feel bad that it was such an expensive trip for Thomas and Tina.

Sunday (12/28): Tiramisu cake, lunch at fish grill, and flight home. Egg custards – yummy! Tina had gone to the Chinese bakery and picked up a dozen of the egg custards for me to bring home. I ate one in the Denver airport between flights. It was so good. (I have one left as of today.) The flight home was uneventful although I managed to lose the dragon’s fruit somewhere in the Denver airport or on the plane. Jenny had her mom mail some more to me. LOL, I’m the only one who likes them. I’ve offered them to Ron, Amy, Rex, Stacey, Charles, and the girls. No one wanted to eat any. I will offer the rest of them to Keith and see what he says. He’s more “Asian” than the rest of us in his tastes (he loves Chinese dumplings and knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned them).

All in all, it was a terrific trip and I’m very glad I was given the opportunity to go. Jenny’s parents and siblings are wonderful people and it was a privilege to be able to spend time with them and their friend, Kim. I hope the family is able to come here to visit in April (or whenever they can) so I can attempt to show them some of the same considerations.

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