American football – hotdogs and tailgate parties

Well, I never, ever thought I would get to an actual American football (Gridiron) game in the USA. I have been watching it for 20 years in Australia, one game at a time with the broadcasting of the Superbowl…it has taken me that long to understand the rules!

I never thought I would be able to get tickets but Judy spoke to a lady who said just to turn up at the ground. The ground was Candlestick Park and the home of the San Francisco 49ers. Well we turned up and got tickets ($129 each in a good location). All around the ground was parking with many people at their cars with the “tailgate” down and a BBQ and a right royal feast. It was like an AFL Grand Final, but they do this every game. The game had all the hype with cheerleaders, the national anthem, celebration of heroes, fireworks and a jet flyover. The pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River was there to get a persoanlly named 49ers jersey. It was a great game with the 49ers winning 20-3. The American guy next to me answered all my questions that I had stored up over the years. Funny thing was Judy sat next to 3 people who were from Brisbane…a small world.

San Francisco – what a view

Here we are in San Francisco at our next vacation house which has a great view. It is also really neat as it has a black and white decor which suits my Collingwood side and also has plenty of geeky gadgets. When we arrived the owner was here to meet us and he travelled here on his Segway. If you don’t know what it is click here, they are pretty awesome.

I spent our first day here having a rest as we had been keeping a pretty hectic schedule prior to this. Judy and the boys returned the hire car and went shopping near the airport.

So far we have checked out the parks near the house and took a walk to the amazing Golden Gate Park which has a museum, art gallery and botanical gardens lakes etc. All were closed as it was Thanksgiving Day.

Our plans are to go Downtown and do some shopping, take a trip to Alcatraz, visit some museums/art galleries and attend Glide Memorial Church. Still plenty to do.

Hooroo Los Angeles

We went to Disneyland for a second day and boy, was it crowded. It was the first day of Thanksgiving week and looked like all of America took the Monday off for a long weekend! The queues were all around 30-60 minutes wait time. It was a bit frustrating but we had to go with the flow (literally) and managed to get on all the rides we wanted to experience.

Today we drove to San Francisco which was an experience in itself. Judy did much of the driving as I get a bit frazzled in traffic at the best of times. Driving on the “wrong” side and the size and speed of the freeways was a little disconcering. I surprised myself by doing the last leg which was driving over the Bay Bridge and through SF to our vacation house.

The house is great with all the mod cons, all the gadgets and a fantastic view. Now all we have to do is master the hills….

Disneyland – Walt’s dream a reality

I never ever thought I would get to see Disneyland in person. I had read Walt’s life story and was impressed with his vision for a fun place for families. What can I say? It is amazing in every respect.

We visited the Disney California Adventure Park first which was next door. It was really good with thrilling rides and plenty to see and do. It was then off to Disneyland which was great in every detail. It was so clean and the staff so friendly and helpful.

We were there at dark and all lit up it was so beautiful. We watched the fireworks display with the Fantasyland Castle in the background. It was really spectacular. Next it was off to Frontiertland to see another spectacular called Fantasmic – a music and light show using the river. A quick ride on the Pirates of the Carribean and then home about midnight.

We are back again tomorrow to see as much as we can. So much to see and do. They say it can take 5 days to see it all. We don’t have that long, but we will give it a shake.

Universal Studios – What will be remembered?

I couldn’t help but ponder (when travelling on the Starway escalator) what would I remember about my visit to Universal Studios in years to come. We had experienced the Simpsons 4D Thrill Ride, Terminator 3D and the tour of the Universal Studios backlots. These attractions had the special effects, the special glasses, the vibrating seats, the water spray on the face, the wind at the back of the head etc etc. Great wizardry and all combined to give a great experience. But what would stand the test of time in my memories? Possibly just the fun day shared together.

Even before having the rides I had to consider whether I should attempt them at all. I easily passed the height restrictions but the next on the list was a caution for those who have heart problems. I felt I should be fine, and I was. Possibly my hardest moment, physically, was when I tackled the stairs rather than use the long escalator. I watch Tim and Judy take the stairs as we were rushing to get to the last performance of Waterworld for the day. I was beginning to regret the move when my heart and lungs were screaming and the legs were nearly gone when I reached the top. It took many minutes to recover!

Come to think of it, what we will really remember is the difficulty travelling to and from Universal Studios. The trip home was about an hour taxi ride ($70.00) and then an hour bus ride ($6.00). Going past Hollywood there was traffic and crowds everywhere…it was the Premier of Ninja Assassins. There was red carpet, cameras, fans screaming and even ninjas all around the Kodak Theatre which is the scene for the Academy Awards.

Another little memory of our eye opening trip.

LA – muscles on Venice Beach

My family have arrived and our first trip was to visit Venice Beach which is only 5 blocks away. Wow what a place. Hippies, art, drug culture, recreation and muscles all in the one place.

Back in my 20s when I was in my prime I had a bodybuilding phase (don’t laugh) whereby I ran the Total Tracy Complex at Shepp High and managed the gymnasium. I would read all the bodybuilding books and mags and would read of Arnold Schwarzenegger and also Muscle Beach in LA. And here it was on Venice Beach. Brought back memories.

Plenty of evidence here of the poor and needy and those down on their luck. Plenty of references to drugs and also legal (???) advertising of it for medicinal purposes!

They had one section of the carpark roped off with security all over the place and looked like there was a film being shot. When we walked past one of the signs said they were shooting part of an episode of NCIS.

Walking back to our house we stumbled upon the Venice Canals and the housing built along its banks. What a beautiful spot.

Los Angeles Day 1 – From gangs to university

Visited the Los Angeles Big Picture school today. I was the only caucasian there! The student population is 92% Hispanic and 8% African American. An very interesting school as they are part of a large high school that has 2,300 students!! The BP school is totally separate but they share a cafeteria at different times. The large school has all sorts of problems with students and one day there were 100 police out the front of the school as students were rioting! The BP school is calm and has only had 2 fights in 4 years! I interviewed one othe students who was in a gang which was part of his family culture. After getting out of juvenile prison he came to this school and now wants to go on to Universtity. Amazing story.