Universal Studios and Whose Live Anyway?

On Thursday, I had finally recovered enough from my stupid bug/cold/whatever to hit Universal Studios. We had a relaxed start to the day, leaving home around 7:45 to arrive at Universal a little after 9am. I decided to shell out for front gate parking, figuring that there’d be enough walking around without a hike before we even got to the gate!

Because I am a giant nerd, we decided to start in Hogsmeade. Y’all, Hogsmeade is real shops. It was the greatest thing ever. Our first ride was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was an incredible 3D dark ride—I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s going, Harry Potter fan or not. After this, we did Flight of the Hippogriff which I didn’t really like. After wandering through the Hogsmeade shops for a while longer, it was on to the Revenge of the Mummy ride, which I loved! After this was Transformers 3D, which broke down… twice.

It was getting pretty hot by this stage, so we jumped on Jurassic Park, which is a water ride. That well and truly cooled us down! By now it was lunchtime, so we grabbed some lunch in Moe’s Tavern before getting on the Studio Tour.

Y’all, the Studio Tour was so, so great. It was an hour long, took us all around the studio, and we got to see some incredible special effects—including a simulated flash flood!

Once the tour was over, we had just enough time to rush to the next WaterWorld show, which… wow. It was performed by people whose main careers are stunt doubles, and it made for a visually incredible spectacle—people backflipping off 20-foot platforms into the water, setting things on fire… absolutely mind-blowing.

Once this was over we were pretty much done for the day. We picked up a couple of Harry Potter souvenirs (of course), including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans for my cousins which made us very popular when we got home!

***

On Friday, we went to Whose Live Anyway? in Thousand Oaks. I am a massive drama/improv/comedy nerd (Josh and I met when I was doing a standup comedy gig!) from way back and have been watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? since long before it was appropriate for me. So a chance to see Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, and Jeff Davis (as well as Joel Murray, who’s not a WLIIA alum), with the inimitable Bob Derkach on piano, perform live? Hell to the yes!

I got balcony seats, far enough away to avoid being picked on. This was a very wise move. The show ran for ninety minutes and it was absolutely hysterical. Lots of singing games (to be expected with Jeff Davis in the lineup) and lots of lots of Trump jokes. Ryan Stiles had twisted his ankle so was hobbling around the stage like an old man the whole night, which also led to a few jokes. All in all, an incredible experience—I’m so glad we went along!

Big Bear Lake, part deux

This is fast becoming an annual pilgrimage… and I’m okay with that!

Because I was still feeling a bit grotty on Friday, we stayed at home on Friday night and made s’mores. Y’all, s’mores are STICKY. And they get everywhere. And they’re amazing.

Saturday morning we hit the road, arriving in Big Bear just in time for lunch at El Jacalito in the same booth we sat in last time we went. Once we were stuffed full of proper Mexican food, we quickly unloaded the car at the cabin before heading down to the boat.

The Americans kept telling us it was too cold to go tubing. It was approximately 5 billion degrees with a slight breeze. So, naturally, Josh decided to jump on the tube as we zoomed around the lake. He lasted quite a while before finally wiping out, actually! The lake is beautiful, although I’d probably appreciate it more if I wasn’t in the throes of a low-key panic attack the entire time (I am terrified of water).

Sunday we went up the mountain to 8,200 feet in the Scenic Sky Chair. The views were breathtaking and the food was pretty spectacular too. Although, Josh and I did get pretty horrifically sunburned while we were up there… oops.

Midday Monday was time for home and a relaxing jacuzzi. All in all, it was a beautiful peaceful break and I’m so glad I managed to get well enough to enjoy it!

Someone’s got the flu, flu, flu…

Okay, it’s probably just a cold, but that’s less catchy.

Yes, the reason for the radio silence over the last few days isn’t because we’ve been out having amazing adventures, but rather because I’ve been sneezing, coughing, and throwing up for the last three solid days. YAY.

I think I’m over the worst of it, but I’d really like this to go away right now please. We were supposed to be heading up to Big Bear Lake this afternoon, but it’ll probably be tomorrow instead.

California Dreamin’

Let me extol to you all the gloriousness, the magic, that is Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch.

Josh is one of those lucky people that can sleep anywhere. On the train, in the car on the way to work, and yep, even on a plane in economy. Sitting up, no problem. Outside noise, no problem. He’s asleep in minutes.

I, on the other hand, cannot fall asleep unless I’m lying down. Can’t do it. Last time we flew to the US, by the time we arrived I was running on about 40 hours with no sleep.

So when we found out the SkyCouch was only an extra $400 each way (total, not per person), I signed us the hell up. And I am in love.

It’s about 5’1″ long, which is fine for me as long as I bend my knees a bit, but Josh is quite a bit taller than that. So he sat in the window seat (can sleep anywhere, remember?) and I stretched out with my head on the aisle end and feet in his lap. And, oh my gosh y’all, I actually slept. I mean, yeah, I woke up every time I tried to roll over because it was a bit of a mission, but overall? I slept (or at least dozed heavily) for nearly eight hours. Which meant that I wasn’t a complete zombie by the time we got off the plane.

Even sitting on the runway for 45 minutes after we landed waiting for a gate was okay (though I felt sorry for the people who were connecting to another flight). Customs and immigration was basically painless (apart from the guy who seemed very confused that New Zealand was eligible for ESTA and therefore to use the electronic gates), and then we found out the whole family had come to meet us at the airport! Which was so awesome.

All in all, I think 3pm is a much more humane time to land than 6:30am like we did last time. By the time we got back to Stevenson Ranch and settled in, it was dinner time. Then just enough time for a wine and The Bachelor before crashing out in bed around 9:30pm. I woke up at 7am and feel basically adjusted. (It’s 10:42am and Josh is still asleep, so we’ll see how he goes…)

We’ll be picking up our rental car this afternoon! The temperature will be hovering around 39C until Thursday, so we don’t have many plans yet apart from sitting under the air conditioning and crying. When it cools down to a more humane temperature, it will be adventure time!

Los Angeles and Madison’s Birthday

Los Angeles and Madison’s Birthday

My lovely cousin turned nine, and for her birthday she wanted to have lunch at American Girl.

When Lori told me we were going to have lunch at a doll shop, my reaction was kind of, “Okay… cool?” I was not prepared for this experience, at all. It is very serious business, lunch at American Girl! However, the food was surprisingly delicious and they made a huge fuss of Madison for her birthday, which was awesome.

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Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake

The day after Hallowe’en, we hit the road to the cabin at Big Bear Lake. It’s about two and a half hours from Paul and Lori’s house and we hit the road at just the right time, arriving in the village just when we were all starting to get peckish for lunch. We swung into El Jacalito for our first true Mexican food experience, and it did not disappoint. It was absolutely delicious (and the margarita was pretty delicious too!)

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