Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rides at Santa Cruz Boardwalk

For Memorial Day, William and I went down to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with many others- it was PACKED. Thus, we only went on a few of the rides- all of the ones that are unique to the Boardwalk. William let me choose all of the three rides we went on- since he had been there before- and I only chose one that he really did not like at all. It was the Cave Train Adventure and it was a poor attempt to try to be like Disneyland by having cute displays with dinosaurs and cave people. They should have just stuck to the animals because the people looked really scary and kind of creepy- not cute. The funniest part though was when we first entered the ride, there was this giant stuffed bear that had some of its metal exposed and it totally looked like something out of the terminator movie we had seen earlier that day. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed so we don't have any evidence of the terminator bear unless you ride the ride. The next ride we went on was the Tornado which is like the teacups but adds another element of spinning around in the air. I have not been so dizzy in a long time- I couldn't even walk off the ride straight. I needed William to assist me and it took me awhile to get my bearings back. William would make it go really, really fast and then he would stop for awhile. I had thought that he was just being kind to me but it turns out he was starting to get a little sick as well going that fast! The final ride was the cliff hanger where you lie down like you are hang gliding and then the ride spins you around- it was really fun and relaxing, especially after the Tornado- and was the only ride we've ever seen like that. It was enjoyable to ride these few rides, but most of them were like the rides at Lagoon and so I didn't feel it was worth it to spend the extra money.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Adams National Historical Park

I read the book "John Adams" by David McCullough and LOVED it and I finally had the time to watch the HBO mini-series after finishing my dissertation. They did an INCREDIBLE job with the mini-series- the acting and sets were just amazing. I absolutely LOVED it. I also recommend watching how they created the series- they made several complete sets to film. I found it fascinating to watch part of the interview with David McCullough where I was shocked to find out that he still does ALL of his writing by TYPEWRITER. WOW. I guess that it is from all of that patience that he was able to write two pulitzer prize winning books.

I made it my goal that while we were in Boston for my graduation that I would visit the Adams National Historic Site. We picked William's mom up from the airport and immediately headed out to the site where we made it just in time for the last trolley tour. The trolley with William and my mother in law Lynne was part of the tour in that it picked us up from the visitor center, took us to the two different sites, and then back to the center- which was nice since we didn't have to get lost in Quincy trying to find these places.

The first stop was the birthplace of John Adams (the oldest presidential birthplace in the U.S.)

And the birthplace of his son, John Quincy Adams.

The second stop was at "Peace field," their later mansion house.

They had the most beautiful wisteria growing along the side of the house

and an intricate weather vane.

Many of the original artifacts from Adams' day are kept inside of this house, whereas the birthplaces contain mostly replicas of period pieces.

However, my favorite part of the tour was the Stone Library. Just look at how charming it is from the outside. It currently houses the library of John Quincy Adams-over 14,000 volumes. As many of you know, I have a long love of libraries- particularly my 2nd floor home of the HBLL at BYU- so that is something I want for sure in a home is a great library.

I actually saw the library of John Adams a few years ago at the Boston Public Library. I have now been to 3 presidential birthplaces (I went to JFK's birthplace in Brookline several years ago) and seen 3 presidential libraries (I have also been to the JFK museum and library several times).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paul Blart Mall Cop

Paul Blart is HILARIOUS!! We rented the movie and it was one of the funniest movies we have ever seen. Run out and rent it right now. There is a composite video of Paul Blart doing these Segway trips and they put it on his dating profile- I haven't laughed that hard in ages. During the movie, we saw that the mall had a Legal Seafoods and a Rainforest Cafe and we thought it looked familiar- it turns out that it was the Burlington Mall just outside of Boston where we had stayed just a week before for my graduation!! They actually filmed while the mall was open. We watched the deleted scenes and one of them should have made it into the film. Blart has hypoglycemia and so he always carries around Pixie sticks for an added sugar burst. Well, this one kid asks for the Pixie stick in his pocket and he says "Sorry- its for medicinal purposes." This is definitely one of our new all time favorites.

Terminator Salvation

Well, it wasn't "salvation" for me. Even Christian Bale couldn't save it for me. And with so much death, it was hard to again visualize the "salvation." I have actually never seen any of the other terminator movies but William really wanted to see this one so we went. It was SUPER violent- more than I really like. I don't recommend it and even William said that it is one that we should have rented.

Angels and Demons

This was my FAVORITE book of the Dan Brown series when I read it several years ago so I was actually looking forward to the movie and I was not disappointed. I LOVED it! The whole movie was incredible- Tom Hanks was great as Langdon and Ewan McGregor was the perfect Camerlengo. I had been to Rome and the Vatican City and Ron Howard captured the beauty and mystery of these locations. I actually want to go back now and see a few of the churches that I missed that last time. We watched the "Illuminating Angels and Demons" on hulu afterwards where you learn that most of the "information" presented in his book is actually fiction based on some components of truth. Thus, it is definitely a work of fiction that is super entertaining. And the movie does great justice to the work.

Star Trek

William and I went and saw Star Trek opening weekend and we are probably among the minority when we say that it wasn't our favorite. We were somewhat disappointed by the film. I was not a big original Trekkie but I did enjoy the Next Generation (NG). I thought that the acting in NG was brilliant so I was expecting that level of quality in this new Star Trek. Instead, I thought the the primary actors (Kirk, Spock, etc) were not the best actors. That majorly disappointed me because I was not able to connect with them at all. I thought that Scotty was great, as well as the Klingons and the other minor characters so that helped to save it for me. The special effects and sets were incredible- very well done- so I was overall quite impressed with those aspects of the film. We also thought that parallel universe part was quite strange and didn't really make sense to us. All in all, it was a good film- it just didn't quite live up to our expectations.


The summer movie season officially started for us at the beginning of the month with Wolverine, one of the X-Men Origins movies. I thought that it was a great action flick- I have seen X-Men 3 but neither of the other two and I definitely need to catch up on the ones that I missed. It was impressive to see the natural claws and then have them form into the metal ones. It was a good way to start off the movie season.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I went to Alcatraz several years ago with my family when I was 14. I was fascinated by the stories that they told on the audio tour of the Birdman, Al Capone, and the multiple break out attempts. I was thrilled to go back again a few weeks ago when my friend from college, Jeremiah and his wife Janai, were in the bay area for the weekend.
Welcome to the Rock

I loved that they had "The Rock" with Sean Connery playing in the gift shop. Speaking of the gift shop, they had this great magnet that I bought highlighting one of the main rules of the prison, which will be the "regulation" of our house: "You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege."

Despite my having been there before, I learned several new things. Originally, the island was a fort but as threats decreased, they realized that it would be a good location for maximum security prison. I also had not realized that FAMILIES of the guards lived on the island and planted gardens and played games. Afterward, there was a period where the island was trying to be reclaimed by Native Americans. That explained why the words "Indians Welcome" were painted above the penitentiary sign.

They had a new introductory video about Alcatraz that was very well done. They had changed the audio tour since I last went and I was disappointed that they didn't spend more time discussing in detail some of the criminals housed in Alcatraz as that was my favorite part. However, I was even more disappointed when my audio guide BROKE halfway through the tour!! Major bummer- but at least I had William to help sum up the parts that I missed.

I LOVE the show Prison Break and I had not realized just how many similarities exist between the partially "successful" breakout and the show. My experience was seriously enhanced from watching all of those episodes.

I could not believe that the prisoners were able to make a bar spreader like this, as well as pretty detailed plaster casts of their faces. Talk about utilizing everyday items

But, some prisoners actually were allowed knit while in their cell. I like the pink yarn to emphasize this

These are the marks of where the grenades hit when they tried to quell the riots.

I thought that it was ironic that all of the "seedy" characters got placed on "C-D Street"

William and I were glad that we didn't have to permanently stay in the black boxes with no light.

We could not believe the number of seagulls around. We saw these two fighting and they even kept fighting despite falling off the roof to the ground.

The seagulls had no fear- they even came right up to us.

Images of the items surrounding the main prison

We had such a great time with our friends and happy that we all managed to escape from the rock together.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Its been a month since I actually went to Legoland in California and I apologize for the major delays in posting- I just had to ensure that my graduation would actually happen. My sister Sarah and I had a fun time at LEGOLAND, although I will warn you that its not a place that you go to "ride rides"- the rides are pretty much geared for young children. But, the lego displays and how they incorporate them into the rides and all throughout the park were definitely worth the admission.

Granny Smith Apple Fries- with cinnamon whipped cream to dip them in. Why haven't this deliciousness become more widespread- it is so good.

This is where the magic happens- the Lego workshop- where they assemble all of the displays in the park. However, sadly, they were on break when we visited. Sarah now has a new aspiration of becoming a constructor.

Agghh- I've been eaten by a Lego shark- good thing it didn't leave a mark.

Agghh- its a lego mummy- but with arm's that look like my sister's
Sarah managed to escape from the jaws of this lego lion- good thing he doesn't like to chew.

No, its not candy but legos that you can buy individually. And look at all of these great colors.

The thing about being at Legoland and seeing all of these amazing creations is that it produces the desire to assemble some Lego creations yourself. My creation is the pink and white diamond and Sarah's is the orange on the right. I think that she definitely has a career ahead of her.

This is one of the original molds that they used to produce Legos. They now have an automated process

I loved the section that they had of famous art Legoized.

Here is a close up of what these paintings look like with the individual lego blocks.

Miniland USA was beyond impressive- it would be worth the entrance fee just to see these displays.

Yet, they manage to maintain a sense of humor- like the q tip cleaning out the ear of Mt. Rushmore.
And they even have international Legoized monuments

and legoized animals

As well as the distances of how far it is to various destinations around the world in terms of various measurements, including one for number of blocks of Legos. Its 3,011,743,250 bricks to Legoland Windsor.