Monthly Archives: July 2002

Photos Up Now!

All six rolls of film I shot on vacation are now availible online check them out and leave some comments… Ben’s California 2002 Photos!

First Pictures From California

I’ve been really busy since getting back, catching up with people and work. The first batch of photos from the trip has come back, these are just prints so I’m only posting a few, many more will come after my digitally processed prints come back in the next few days. This will have to do for now though. Check Out Our California Vacation

Home Again, Home Again

Friday July 26, 2002 – I got up about eight fifteen this morning and we left the hotel without breakfast by nine intending to make it home today. Our first movie of the day was chosen by Josie who selected On the Line which has a couple of the ‘NSYNC kids in it. I found the entire movie highly amusing. We finished up our tape on the building of the transcontinental railroad and stopped for lunch once we got into Iowa a little bit. When we got close to Des Moines my Dad let my Mom take over driving and I started watching our final movie Antitrust. This is a movie I really like, as good as the story is I also get a good kick out of the fun they poke at Microsoft. After we finished that I listened to some music and read more in my CWNA book. After a while everyone else started watching two Gilmore Girl’s episodes but I continued with my reading and music. Once we got to Albert Lea, MN we stopped for some gas and ice cream cones and I took over driving. This is at least the second road trip where I’ve driven the final stretch home and I enjoy doing it, getting into familiar territory again and steadily progressing toward home finally pulling into the driveway after two weeks away, collecting and sorting the mail from neighbors and resorting life to some sort of normalcy. Don’t get me wrong I love exploring the country and taking a vacation but it makes you appreciate even more the beauty of home. It was another great trip for our family and we should have some great pictures and this great story to tell everyone soon! I’ll be sure to post those pictures here once I get them back so keep checking for updates, don’t know how many real logs I’ll get a chance to post before I head back to school, but I’ll try. –Ben

from the mountains to the valleys to the plains

Thursday July 25, 2002 – I got up today about eight in the morning; we didn’t really have a breakfast at the hotel and were on our way by nine towards Denver. We stopped for brunch after about two hours. The views along the interstate in Colorado are really breathtaking. Streams and rivers run with the interstate winding between the rocky peaks of the mountains. In some places massive tunnels were bored through the mountains to allow for speedy passage on the interstate. The mountains here are covered in trees like none of the others we’ve seen on this trip. We continued to listen to our tape about the building of the transcontinental railroad which was even more fascinating considering the great mountains right in front of us. We watched Ocean’s 11 first and then after another break Anna watched Bed of Roses which I thought was a good story although it might have been cast better. Once we got near Denver the mountains disappeared and gave way to great plains as we turned North on interstate 76 we also changed drivers Mom taking over for Papa. Once we got to North Platte, NE we stopped for dinner and had some great authentic Nebraska steaks. After dinner we changed drivers to me and continued along interstate 80 East, the same route we drove out two weeks ago. In Nebraska after dinner we hit our first serious rain on the trip, there were a number of thunderstorms rolling across the plains tonight and we hit them one after another as we pressed on, aiming for Grand Island, about 100 miles from Lincoln, NE. I enjoy driving at night and in the rain so it didn’t bother me at all, though I think it made Papa just a bit anxious. While I drove through the rain and just contemplated life everyone in the back was watching The Final Countdown. We made it to Grand Island and found a hotel taking the last two available rooms for the six of us and are preparing to finish the trek home tomorrow morning.

Bountiful Destert

Wednesday July 24, 2002 – Today was a day for early rising, we got up at 5:30 to make sure we could head out by seven. We ate a continental breakfast in the hotel, packed the car and were on the road just after seven. The traffic around LA was surprisingly good and within a reasonable amount of time we were headed towards Las Vegas. We exited the freeway in Vegas and drove down the strip and through the older downtown sections of the city. Western California was desert landscape; the land was dry but covered in a variety of low shrubs that resist drought. While driving through western California and Nevada Anna watched Harry Potter. In my continued defiance of this marketing blitz I listened to music and read my CWNA study guide which is a certification I hope to have by the end of the summer. After the movie was done we continued to listen to a tape we had started earlier in the day which is a book on tape about the building of the transcontinental railroad, I found this a very interesting tape. We stopped in Mesquite, NV, just before the Arizona border, for lunch and having yet to try a Jack in the Box restaurant we decided to stop there for lunch. I think we found it about the same as any other fast food restaurant. After lunch I took over driving and took us through just the northwest corner of Arizona and then into southern Utah. Southern Utah is very different than northern Utah was. The landscape covered by rock here, but not the kind of desolate land southern Wyoming had. Here the rocks vary in color and there is a variety of low shrubs covering the hillsides that aren’t sheer. Many of the colors in the canyons, passes, and rock outcroppings here are beautiful. As I drove through the mountain passes in this part of Utah I was continually amazed by the beauty that this desert could hold. We made our way to Green River, UT near the Colorado border where we stopped for dinner at a truck stop; the food was welcome after our travels across nearly 700 miles of the country. We decided that we should press on to Grand Junction, CO where there are a number of hotels where we could try and find lodging for the night. After checking a few hotels we were able to find some rooms where we’re spending the night, tomorrow we don’t have a set destination yet but we plan to be on the road by nine so I should probably be getting to sleep because we lost an hour today as well.

The Warner Brothers

Tuesday July 22, 2002 – We got up about eight today and had a small continental breakfast in the café adjoining the hotel. We were soon packed and headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway to Beverly Hills, CA where Josie got out and took some pictures of Rodeo Drive. After a brief stop there we continued on to Hollywood, CA where we parked and got out and looked at the sidewalk prints in front of the Chinese Theater, I took a picture of Sean Connery’s prints. We walked a few blocks to a Hollywood history museum where we got to walk through some of the original Star Trek set and the Cheers set as well as look at a variety of movie and TV props from many eras. We didn’t stick around there too long because we had to grab some lunch quickly and head to Warner Brothers Studio for a 3:00 VIP studio tour. We arrived and got our passes, rode a shuttle to the tour office and watched a brief history of the Warner Brothers Studios. After that we got to walk through a Warner Brothers on site museum that had artifacts out on display without cases from all sorts of classic Warner Brother’s films and actors as well as a Harry Potter artifacts exhibit. After we finished looking at the exhibits they took us around to a few of the soundstages seeing the Friends set as well as some of the Gillmore Girls interior set. We were unable to see the West Wing set because they had started taping today. We also got to see a number of their exterior sets, which we were able to take pictures of. Many of these have been reused for a number of pictures from The Music Man to Gillmore Girls, Batman, ER and more. We also got a close up look at their old west set and Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood. After our tour finished we found our hotel and just rested for a bit before finding a local rib place for dinner. We had a great time at dinner, probably one of our best, the atmosphere was perfect and their was a house magician to entertain us while our food was being prepared. Now we’re getting ready for bed because we want to try and avoid the traffic into LA tomorrow morning when we have to start heading for home. After a bit of discussion it seems like we’re planning to get home sometime Friday evening or night as opposed to Saturday, this means some longer days and not seeing a whole lot on the way back, but it’s going to be good to be home again.

Malibu Sun

Monday July 22, 2002 – We got up a little later today. After packing up Papa and I went to wash the car at a manual car wash which I haven’t done before and got quite a thrill from doing, puts you more in touch with the car I’d say. Afterwards we picked up Mom, Josie and Noah from downtown San Louis Obispo and checked out of the hotel, picking up Anna there. We all headed out to the Apple Farm restaurant for breakfast which was a charming place and had pretty good breakfast food and bakery items as well. After we looked around, and Mom shopped, there we headed back south on US 101 to Malibu which took quite a while even though the mileage wasn’t that far. Along the way I chose to watch Gone In 60 Seconds which takes place in California. When we got to Malibu we checked into our hotel and changed into swimsuits to head down to the beach. Noah and Josie really went out and played in the waves but the rest of us did get a little wet watching, we just didn’t go all the way in. After we finished playing at the beach for a while Noah and Josie went for a swim at the hotel and the rest of us took showers while Papa explored the town a little bit. After we all got cleaned up we went out for dinner to a local Italian place, they didn’t have the best food but the atmosphere was great. Tomorrow we need to get started a bit earlier we’re planning to see the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank and drive around Hollywood a bit before we spend the night in Burbank. Well I should be going because we do want to get started earlier than we have been tomorrow.

come on everybody let’s ride on the beach

Sunday July 21, 2002 – We got up today around 8:30 and had a mini-continental breakfast in the hotel before packing up and heading south along US 101 to San Louis Obispo. It was a relatively short drive and after a snack in the car we arrived in San Louis Obispo and stopped at the Chamber of Commerce. We picked up some brochures on things to do in the area, most of which took place in Grover Beach, down 101 about 15 minutes. It took us a while to find the right beach but when we did we encountered a nice seaside town with lots to do. Everyone except Mom was interested in riding ATVs on the sand dunes so we found one of the local rental shops, got our gear and headed down onto the state beach where we got our ATVs and instruction. Unlike our east coast beach experiences here they had us drive right on the beach and park in the sand, in fact Mom got the suburban stuck in the sand and had to get some help getting it out when she got a bit too far off the beaten track, it was definitely a new experience. We spent an hour cruising about up and down over the sand dunes; I think it’s a great way to see the dunes compared to our experiences climbing them in Indiana. At four our one hour rental was up and we returned our ATVs the owner of the rental company was nice enough to take a family photo of us on them first though. When we went back to the shop to return our equipment and pick up our deposit we asked where the best place for some Mexican food in town was and they recommended Old Juan’s Cantina which was a great spot for us and served us some pretty good Mexican in a fairly authentic atmosphere. Mom and Josie had horseback riding (on the beach) reservations for 5:30 so we hustled and got them to Pacific Dunes Ranch where they got set for a two hour ride that they said they really enjoyed, although it did make them a bit sore. While they were riding we drove back to San Louis Obispo and checked into the hotel, then drove back to pick them up. We stopped at Marie Calendar’s to get a pie for desert, they had no seating left so we were able to agree on chocolate cream and bought a whole pie which we all ate once we got back to the hotel. I was not personally impressed with the pie, I much preferred Baker’s Square French Silk. We were all pretty tired from the beach riding so we all got to sleep fairly quickly and planned to sleep in a bit the next day before heading down to Malibu.

Pebble Town

Saturday July 20, 2002 – Today was a pretty uneventful day. We got up about 8:30 and had a light breakfast at the hotel and headed toward Carmel, CA. We got to Carmel earlier than we had anticipated because we didn’t spend the extra half-day in Santa Cruz. We first stopped to take the 17 Mile drive around the Pebble Beach area which was quite a scenic drive that highlighted some of the Northern California coastline. We headed down to Carmel for an hour and a half; it’s a quaint though expensive seaside town. I think although it would be a great place to go for a fall-like romantic weekend, it’s really not the place for a family. After walking around town there for a while and getting a snack at the local bakery we decided to head further down the coast to San Luis Obispo and cancel our reservations in Salinas. Unfortunately, after driving about an hour and a half down highway one on the coast we found out we were unable to cancel our reservations in Salinas so we had to drive all the way back up the coast to Salinas. We arrive in Salinas just in time to go to church. After church we checked into our hotel for the night and got some dinner at Margie’s Diner which had enormous portions and some great home cooked food. We got back to the hotel where Noah and Josie took a swim and then we all watched the end of Diamonds Are Forever on ABC. Tomorrow we’re driving farther down the coast to San Luis Obispo where we’re planning to spend the night, since I haven’t heard what time we’re getting up yet I should probably think about heading to bed soon. I think I’ve decided that other than the redwood forests and San Francisco the Northern Coastline of California is not the best place for families as most of the beauty is found in the scenic drives and walking around small seaside towns, not things that the youngest people appreciate so much.

See the little pufferbellies

Friday July 19, 2002 – We got up around 8:30 and had breakfast in the room today, packed up and headed south. Along the way we stopped at the Intel museum to see exhibits on the making of chips as well as some of the Intel corporate history. For a corporate museum it was actually quite well done and put together. After we finished there we continued to drive south along the coast to the Winchester Mystery house in San Jose. There are a number of theories circulating about this strange house built by an heir to the Winchester Rifle Company, but it is an enormous house with some very interesting architectural details and beautiful grounds. We took a guided tour of 110 of the 160 rooms there which I found enjoyable, even though we didn’t spot any of the supposed ghosts that haunt the mansion. We ate lunch in San Jose and then continued south to the Big River Roaring Camp where there is a historical narrow gauge railway up into the mountains and back down. We got to ride on this historical steam train through the coastal redwoods of the region; it was an experience I really enjoyed and a great way to see these magnificent trees. After we finished this hour long excursion we drove the rest of the way to our destination for the night of Santa Cruz, CA. After checking into the hotel we headed down to the boardwalk and beach area of this small seaside town where Josie played briefly in the cold ocean as the rest of us watched on and then we continued to walk along the boardwalk ending up riding the traditional wooden boardwalk rollercoaster that afforded fantastic views of the bay from the top. Later in the evening after it got dark and we had our picnic dinner in the room, four of us went back and rode a second time which was a totally different experience with all the lights of the pier and boardwalk turned on. We got back and all watched the end of In The Line of Fire which was on TV and then we all headed to bed although tomorrow doesn’t look like it’ll be a long drive through Monterey to Salinas where we’re spending the night.