Monthly Archives: July 2014

Universal Studios Hollywood

IMG_5384Today, Denise and I got a chance to go to Universal Studios Hollywood with the EF group, and accompanied by our very good friend, Georg Hoglo.  Since we enjoy movies, and are quite familiar with the movies produced through Universal, we looked forward for a fun day out.  Doing Universal Studios also marks the last of the major theme parks in Southern California that we have visited, after Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Knotts Berry Farm.  Since there are no amusement parks of note in New Zealand (sorry Kiwi’s, Rainbow’s End does not count), it has been a fantastic opportunity to experience these awesome parks over the last three years.

IMG_5527Situated near central LA in North Hollywood, Universal Studios began life as a bunch of movie studios situated on a 230-acre piece of land.  In 1915, owner Carl Laemmle opened the studios to the public, as a way of making a few extra dollars.  For an admission charge of 25 cents, people could come in, sit on the hillside and watch movies being filmed.  Over time, Universal Studios has grown, and continues to grow in order to accommodate the popularity of the park, while still operating as a working movie studio.

The first thing we did after arriving was the very popular Studio Tour.
This tour is essentially an hour-long tour on an open tram, whereby IMG_5513visitors are driven through working backlots of real Hollywood movie studios, as well as seeing some sets from a few of the more well-known movies, such as Jaws, War of the Worlds, and Psycho.  Recently added to this tour is a fantastic 360 3-D attraction, whereby you experience some of the heart-pounding action from Peter Jackson’s King Kong movie up-close and personal.

Throughout the day, we made our way throughout the entire park, and managed to get on most of the rides, and attractions, including the very entertaining live IMG_5538WaterWorld show. Based on the movie starring Kevin Costner, WaterWorld contained lots of action, stunts, jet-ski tricks and a bunch of pyrotechnics, during the 20-minute show.  We really enjoyed this, and especially seeing all the public sitting in the “Soak Section,” get absolutely drenched. Although, we too got soaked on the Jurassic Park ride.

IMG_5540The weather was almost perfect for walking around a theme park, in that is was cloudy for some of the day, yet still a very comfortable 85-90 degrees (26-29 degrees Celsius).  Towards the end of the day, we took a walk through Citywalk, which is an area just outside the main gates, and which contains dozens of stores, places to eat, and a seven-story IMAX theater complex and concert venue. We had a great day out and what better way to end the day, than with a Double Chili Cheeseburger from Tommy’s. We are really going to  miss LA. We have had an absolute blast.



Men’s Fishing Charter

IMG_5343This weekend, the men at Placerita Baptist Church chartered a fishing boat, and Mark was blessed to be able to go along on the trip, thanks to the generosity of one of the men at the church.  It was welcome respite from the studying, reading and writing seminary papers.

IMG_5371The day started early, since the boat was leaving from Newport Landing, which is based, as you can imagine, at Newport Beach, CA.  Newport is truly a seaside oasis in Southern California, with beautiful beaches, amazing houses, a 3 mile long boardwalk, lots of things to see and do, and the most perfect weather.  However, since Newport Beach is one and a half hours drive from Santa Clarita, coupled with the unpredictability of the LA freeways, an early start was necessary.

IMG_5304There was about 30 in the party, and all met up and gathered at Newport Landing to get the necessary equipment, such as rods, tackle, and a California fishing license.  From there, we boarded the Aggressor, and headed out, right on 7AM.  Immediately the crew had the grill going, so most men had breakfast burritos to fuel a day of hauling in tons of fish.  Well, that was the hope anyway.

IMG_5316We headed out for about an hour and a half, to somewhere, at a guess, between Catalina Island and the mainland.  But along the way, we stopped by a barge to pick up live bait.  Once anchored, we were in a fairly shallow part of the water, about 150 feet, but it didn’t take long before we were catching a lot of sculpin.  I had never heard of them, but they are essentially a bottom-dweller fish.  The sculpin weren’t huge, and we only kept the ones that were at least 10 inches long.  The biggest one caught was about 3-4 pounds.

IMG_5335After some time there, and grilled burgers for lunch, we set off again for some deeper water and on the search for Bass.  We had a neat encounter with a big pod of dolphins, who had decided to swim toward us and then swim both alongside and under the boat.  We anchored again and fished for some Sea Bass, which we managed to get, along with some Mackerel, Barracuda, and an odd colored fish called Sheephead.  This time, more fish were chucked back than was kept.

The crew filleted the fish for us as we traveled back to the landing.  It was a long but really fun day, so we traveled back home tired, sunburnt and eager to get the freshly-caught fish on the pan.