Monday, February 20, 2017

CA Adventures Happen On Every Corner

                                                                              Day 1
     Okay, so I'm kind of breaking my own rule here by blogging when I'm not even abroad, but this trip was too funny. (Plus, why did I make that stupid rule anyway? Oh, I think it was because I'm already out of control with journaling.) ANYWAY

     The morning dawned a bit too bright and early considering Lori and I had both stayed up till 1:30 am chatting with our friends.  But 8 am rolled around a little too cheerfully, and I had to remind myself that I was going on vacation instead of going to work to get myself out of bed. Lin dropped Lori and I off at the airport, and the adventure began!  Just kidding, I slept the whole flight, obviously. We ran into a girl from our West Jordan ward at the Provo airport, so that was fun.

She told us all about Ireland and got us pumped for our trip in April, but that's another story.  The plane was delayed both taking off and after landing, but it worked out well enough for us because our only plans were to go to the beach today.
     When we landed in CA we were greeted with the biggest rainstorm CA has seen in 20 years, so that was fantastic (except for the tiny hiccough of us not bringing umbrellas, raincoats, or ponchos.)
     Luckily, we were able to get an Uber driver from the airport, and I fell asleep again on the drive to our place.
    We got dropped off easily enough. The difficult part was connecting with our host family for our Airbnb.  After standing in the rain for a few minutes we decided it might be more prudent to go across the street and look for an umbrella. Of course, umbrella shopping turned into buying hot cocoa, buying Chinese food for
dinner, getting groceries for the weekend, and buying ponchos and an umbrella.  By that point we decided that once we made it into our house we weren't leaving again tonight.  No need to go to the beach when we went swimming while crossing the intersection.

     The silver lining is that we met a really friendly lady at the bus stop we were taking cover at and she gave us a good sushi recommendation and took a picture for us.

     Finally, we met up with our host and made it into the apartment and out of the rain!  Surprise #1: they were Russian and spoke only basic English-just enough to get their point across, but not enough to keep us from wondering if we really understood or not.  Surprise #2: our room was the living room and our bed was the couch.  Surprise #3: With us, there were 7 people staying in their apartment and it only had 2 bedrooms plus the living room. We unpacked and made ourselves at home as best we could and then borrowed the dryer because everything in our backpacks was soaked.

     Ok, I lied earlier. We THOUGHT we didn't want to leave the house again, but the temptation of the apartment hot tub was too strong to resist (and that was before we realized our privacy extended to a couch.)  At least until our host took us on a 7 minute walk through the rain and cold in our swimsuits. Was the 60 minutes of swimming and hot tubbing ultimately worth it? I'm still trying to decide.   Imagine two girls in their swimsuits fording a river of icy water that went up to our knees.  At this point I was definitely questioning our decision to come hot tubbing at all as I was sure that the river just then cancelled any calming/warm feelings we'd gained.  The worst part was that we realized we had gone the wrong way.  The idea of wading the river again without a raft was too much, but, after some impressive gymnastics, we ended up finding another route.  After shivering our way to the building we thought was ours  we ran into a nice man/boy who held the door to the elevator for us.  I don't think we had even finished saying 'thank you' before the door's had closed and trapped us inside.  I always thought it would be kind of romantic to be trapped on an elevator with a cute guy, but reality seems to enjoy mocking my romantic daydreams.  First of all, how can anything romantic happen when there are 2 girls and only 1 guy? I may only teach fourth grade Math, but I know that the ratio is off there.  I also didn't picture the moment happening as my roommate and I are creating our own puddle on the elevator floor while standing awkwardly in our suits. (This guy probably thought we were crazy for going swimming while it was raining, and I was starting to agree with him.) The most inconvenient part of the situation was when he pulled out his cell phone there was no signal. Why is that the only part that matched a movie? It seemed like a bad time to ask and see if we could take a "we're trapped in the elevator together" selfie so we futilely tried to open the door and press the emergency button.  He was a nice guy, but when those doors finally opened Lori and I booked it upstairs-determined, this time, to stay put until the morning. The most exciting thing we did after that was watch Harry Potter 6. We've been marathoning them in honor of our trip to Universal.

                                                                  Day 2

     Opening my eyes this morning seemed like a monumental achievement, even with Harry Potter world tempting me to get out of bed.  The downside to rain, turns out, is when your shoes get soaked and they're still not dry the next morning when you need to wear them all day long.  Our solution: wrap up your socks! It worked like a charm. I'll be inventing water proof socks soon.

We were out of the apart-ment a little after 9 am and on our way to HARRY POTTER WORLD!  Good surprise #1: Our apartment was
a 20 minute walk to Universal Studios! Score 1 for the Russians.  The weather was still gloomy and damp, which was awesome!

1-I love rain. 2-Apparently CA don't because there were hardly any lines! When there were lines we took Kristen's advice and rode in the single rider line because then you didn't even have to wait. Honestly, the whole day was amazing.
We nerded out in HP world for the entire morning. This pretty much sums up my feelings for the day.
and rode (and re-rode) rides until we could quote them.
A hot butterbeer is just the thing on a rainy day, so we bought 2 each from the 3 Broomsticks.

I tried to not buy a HP journal, but, ultimately, told myself that I'm an adult and if I want to be obsessed with journals then I darn well have the money for it.

(I couldn't justify the chocolate frog and fizzing whizbees as easily, but I bought those as well.)

 I told myself it was okay to splurge since we packed our lunches we saved a bunch of money by not buying park meals.

                                                                                                   The rest of the day was a splash.
We saw some cute boys who were totally decked out in the roles and so we had to take pictures with them. What we really should have done though was invite them to spend the day with us. Come on, two cute, obviously nerdy boys at a theme park without girls? We should have been all over that-we weren't.

We stayed at the park until closing time and you could tell there weren't a lot of people around because the park workers remembered us as we visited the different places.  We practically became best friends with the people on the Harry Potter ride because we rode it about 10 times.

We saw all the shows for Hogsmeade like the Hogwarts Choir and the Triwizard introduction. It was pretty sweet. (Ok, sorry. I'm sick of trying to get these videos to work, so this is just a youtube clip of what we saw, but it was so fun!)


We also exhausted The Mummy as it was one of the few actual roller coasters in the park. But this was no mere roller coaster. It happened in the dark and we even went backwards for the last third of the ride.  It was amazing.  We would know. We rode it about 5 times. 

(This picture is kind of irrelevant, except that it made me laugh every time I saw it!)

Some highlights from today were getting to talk to Donkey after doing the Shrek 4D adventure. 

We bought Dippin Dots (because they're theme park treats) even though we were wet and slightly cold. 

We met Optimus Prime and Bumblebee after the Transformers ride. 
 He said that he "expects this to be my new profile picture. #rollout"

We bought a giant Simpsons donut, and here's a picture so you can fully appreciate the undertaking of eating this monstrosity.  Oh and when we rode the Simpsons ride we were with another couple who asked if wanted to have a dance party while waiting. There wasn't anything to say but 'obviously' so that happened while we waited.

Honestly, the whole day was just magical, and all day I couldn't help but think "I can't believe we came here to just have fun all day."       We were exhausted when we went home, but that didn't stop us from watching HP 7 Part 1!

                                    Day 3
Again, we got lucky because there was a ward within 2 miles of our house, so Lori and I made it to an 11 AM church, before heading out to explore Hollywood.  Today was just as fun, but maybe slightly more random than yesterday. The first thing we did was introduce Lori to the metro because she had never ridden on one before.

 After rectifying that situation we got off at Hollywood and Highland which is a
happening place. First, we walked around until we could find a decent view of the Hollywood sign because what trip would be complete without it?

Then we found this Methodist church which looked really pretty so we tried to go in. Sadly, it was locked up so we couldn't look around.  Luckily, the guy who was locking it up saw us and offered to let us have a few minutes inside while he finished doing his rounds. So Lori and I had a private self-guided tour of this beautiful church.

 We stumbled upon some kind of Chinese event happening in a shopping center. They called it "Hangzhou in Hollywood" and it was awesome.  All you really need to know is that Lori and I danced with some Chinese ladies on stage in front of a bunch of people and failed to get a video of it. We also made a 10 second video (click on the link if you want to see our debut) to enter a drawing to go to China.  (The blue suited MC guy was in charge of the announcing for the event. He started dancing by me and the whole time we were cracking up and asking each other "what's going on?")

 Since I missed out on the opportunity to get a video I asked them to take pictures with us at the end. What I wasn't expecting was the other 20 Chinese people who came and started taking pictures too.  I've only been away from China for 2 years, and I've already forgotten their proclivity for photos of strangers.

 We continued down Holly-wood boulevard after that where I immediately ran into some Japanese boys doing names in calligraphy. So I stopped to talk to them and get my name done. Then we saw some people break dancing on a street corner, a man with a 10 foot yellow snake, and Batman and Pikachu on the street. Honestly, there was so much going on that it was hard to keep up.


I think Lori and I walked up and down both sides of that street 2 or 3 times just trying to take everything in.  We saw some of the Hollywood stars, and Lori said that Angelina Jolie drove by in her pink car.  I think I would have been more impressed had I known who that is. Oh well.  We did see some pretty big names that even I knew on the walkway.


We ran into more Japanese people where everyone has their handprints on the ground.  I must have a problem. There I was in Hollywood for the first time, and I couldn't stop myself from talking to anyone who spoke Japanese.  Anyway, pictures.

You might wonder how I end up talking to all these different groups. Very naturally.  I do it very naturally.

When Lori and I went into Dolby Theater we had a scare when we thought we saw Donald Trump. It was hard to get a good enough creeper shot to really show the comparison, but it was close enough it required a second glance and the realization that there were no security guards around.

We also found this statue in honor of the Oscars and had a big fight over who gets to keep it.

We ate these delicious
street dogs for lunch because why not?

We went back home kind of early because we had to get up at 3:30 for our flight, but we decided to try the sushi place our Friday Friend had recommended before turning in for the night. Now if this was a movie who do you imagine we would run into at the restaurant?  Our sushi recommending Friday Friend herself! Turns out she's besties with almost all of the staff (who were Korean even though it was a Japanese restaurant) and so she took care of us the whole meal even though she doesn't really work there.  She was so friendly that she told us we could stay with her and her four cats if we did come back.  She thought our Russian couch airbnb was so ridiculous that she was frustrated with herself for not offering her empty room the first time we met her at the bus stop. (Right because what was she thinking not offering her spare room to two girls that she'd met 5 minutes before! :) )  But like I said, she took good care of us, and even bought us dessert at the restaurant.

Waking up at 3:30 am and not knowing if anyone would pick up our Uber drive was kind of stressful as mornings go, but still, I didn't have to go to work today so what a great day!

             Well, until Ireland!