Monthly Archives: September 2014

Randsburg, CA

randsburgThis past weekend we took a drive out into the middle of the Mojave desert with our good friends, Dan and Julie Hovey, to visit a living ghost town called Randsburg.  The town is off the beaten path, about 2 1/2 hour drive north of LA, and just off the historic 395 highway.  It sits between Death Valley and the bottom end of the Sierra Nevada.  In fact, Randsburg is one of the few living ghost towns that still remains in California, and not surprisingly, the town is less busy during the week, where it resembles an actual ghost town, but is more lively during the weekends.

IMG_5874Randsburg was established in 1895 when gold was discovered in the surrounding mountains, by three men: John Singleton, Charlie Burcham, and F. M. Mooers,  and even today, it still bears some of the buildings that were built in to the late 1890’s.  One of the oldest buildings in Randsburg is the Post office which was built in 1896.

IMG_5901Since the town is in the middle of the desert, Randsburg is more preferrable in the Fall when the weather cools off, than it is in the heat of the summer months.  It is it is popular for historians interested in the gold history of California, as well as being a common destination point for off-road vehicles and dirt bikes.  In fact the Navy Seals do some training there in order to become acclimated to real desert conditions in the event of a deployment.

IMG_5875The Randsburg General Store, which has been running continuously since 1896, is a good place to meet, to have a meal and to wash down your burger with an old-fashioned phosphate soda. The General Store is known for its long counter and stools, which are all original to 1904, and which is also the same year that the soda fountain arrived.  The main street, called Butte Avenue, also features a real western saloon, which is still active today, a couple small inns, a museum and several antique stores.



The Karate Kid (1984) Filming Locations, Part 2

Yesterday, we took the morning to visit a couple more filming locations of the classic 1984 movie, The Karate Kid.  You can find Part 1 of  our visits here.

In the previous post, I mentioned that there was actually two separate filming locations for the Cobra Kai dojo.  In Part 1, I discussed one location, and yesterday we visited the second dojo location, which is found in the center of LA.

IMG_5852This is the corner of Wilshire Blvd which was the dojo, opposite to where Daniel and his mother were having a meal.  This is how it looks today (unfortunately, and going from memory, I did not get quite the right angle – Gah!).


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This is the same corner of Wiltshire Blvd as it appears in the movie.





In the movie, the restaurant in which they were eating was called, “The Orient Express,” and this is what is looks like today.  It is now called “Express Restaurant and Club.”




We found the Golf n’ Stuff in Norwalk, LA.  Amazingly, much of it is still intact, including the mini-putt golf and bumper boats.  Here is a shot of the car park area today.


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Here is how the same car park looked in the movie. The glaring difference is the removal of the water slide since. You can just make out the electricity tower to the right


This is the main entrance today.  This arcade is now closed on weekdays, so we could not go in and see what it looks like inside.



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Here is how it appeared in the movie.



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And again in a later scene.







Even the main sign at the front of the park is still there.




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This is a glimpse of the same sign in the movie.



Tahoe Revisited

IMG_5754Last week, we returned to Lake Tahoe in Northern California.  We were there last year when Denise’s parents visited last summer, but going to Tahoe is like Mecca for Denise, since she is such a huge fan of the TV show, Bonanza, and because Tahoe was the fictional setting for the show.  Bonanza aside, Tahoe is a beautiful place to visit, and was once again made possible due to the generosity of our good friends and next-door neighbors in our apartment building.

IMG_5763For this trip, we were accompanied by one of the youth group leaders at Placerita Baptist Church, Amanda Hovey, who has been instrumental in discipling, and loving on both Victoria and Maddy during our time here.  We are very thankful for Amanda and were blessed to have her join us for the week, and for us to get to know her a little better.  It sure made the week more fun!  Amanda did ultimately triumph as Yahtzee champ, with a phenomenal score of 626, but I am sure we will get a chance to seek revenge!

IMG_4485On the first full day in Tahoe, we went back to Virginia City, which is a favorite of ours to visit.  On this return trip, we wanted to do the Stage Coach ride, but this was closed for the season, so we did one of the trolley tours instead.  This was particularly informational, and gave us a better understanding of the history of the town, as well as introducing us to some of the historic buildings we missed last time.  As a bonus, we saw several groups of wild horses grazing on the outskirts of the town.

IMG_4537Throughout the rest week, we mostly relaxed, and hiked around the parts of the lake that we had not managed to see in our previous visit.  A day spent at Round Hill Pines Beach at Zephyr Cove, which is on the south-eastern side of the lake was a highlight.  A popular resort for weddings and other gatherings, Round Hill Pines beach is a beautiful, golden beach, that had good amenities and facilities. Complete with a tiki-bar, it had that sense of a real resort.  The beach itself consisted more of very small IMG_5756pebbles rather than sand, so it wasn’t conducive for making sandcastles, but it also meant that you didn’t carry home half of the beach’s sand in your gear and blankets. The water was not quite as cold as we expected, and was wonderfully clean and very clear.  Although it has now been outlawed, we were allowed to do some crabbing on the rocks along the small jetty, with the proviso that we returned all that we caught.  We managed to catch a couple dozen crawdads, which are essentially fresh-water crayfish.  The kids loved this and really got into it!

IMG_5833Two further highlights of the week, were the mile-long hike down to the Vikingsholm castle at Emerald Bay, as well as introducing Amanda to a little more NZ culture.  For this, we made damper over the grill.  Often the main food for bushmen, hunters and campers who spent days, or even weeks in remote bush, the damper turned out great, and we had fun cooking it.  A visit to the historic town of Truckee rounded out a fun week, despite the fact that we failed in another attempt to spot a bear.