Category Archives: Experiences

Odesza at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall

IMG_8973Odesza is one of my favorite electronic music groups so when I saw that they were coming to Los Angeles and I had a chance to see them at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall I couldn’t resist. I bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale and then patiently waited months as the time passed. While I waited I listened to their beats on Youtube and Songza constantly feeling inspired by the rhythm of their music.

Katie and I arrived at the theater early, waited in line, and quickly made our way to the entrance. We were searched with metal detectors and then allowed into the auditorium where we made our way to what looked like a huge basketball court. There was an upper balcony level for VIP.

I had never been to a concert quite like this before. You could say it was like a mini rave. It was obvious that people were drinking as they had booths set up on the edges of the floor, but I’m sure others were also smoking weed as the smell of it lofted through the air around them.

As the DJ spun to get everyone into the mood we explored the merchandise booth and bought a really cool sweatshirt. Then we headed to the floor and tried to see how close we could get. The DJ was followed by some singer, I’m not sure who he was, but he was ok and we continued to move closer as the time got closer and closer to when Odesza would be on stage. Eventually, we stopped moving forward in the crowd when we were only about 5 rows of people back. From that point on it was a mind set to hold our ground as people tried to scurry and weave around us to get closer.

Once Odesza came on stage everything seemed to settle as everyone drifted off into the musical hypnosis. They played an entire set with a huge screen behind them playing videos and intricate designs behind them. Two of my absolute favorite songs were played that night, Memories That You Call (feat. Monsoonsiren) and Say My Name (feat. Zyra). When they played them I was in heaven, melting into the music as it streamed through my ears and into my entire body.

They wrapped up their set with fireworks sparkling upon them and then everything went black. The audience’s constant cheering encouraged them back to the stage for an encore. Where they played a few more songs and ended things with streamers falling from the ceiling’s rafters.

The concert ended pretty late and with our ears ringing we made our way back to the car. The experience was supreme and if you like electronic music Odesza is a group that you should be sure to see at least once.

Ryn Weaver with Astr and HolyChild at Belasco Theatre

IMG_8971Ryn Weaver is an American indie popsinger-songwriter who I first learned of in 2014. Earlier this year, I saw that I could have a chance to see her in concert on Goldstar. I jumped at the chance and bought two tickets immediately.  She was to perform at the Belasco Theatre and with my tickets in my hand I patiently waited for the night to arrive.

Finally, Saturday was upon me and Katie and we drove down to downtown Los Angeles. We found a lot to park in not too far from the theatre and walked to the entrance. Now you have to understand, every time I told anyone I was going to see Ryn Weaver they would look at me confused asking, “Who is she?” so I wasn’t surprised to see no line and an extremely empty room as we walked into the theatre. We were pretty early and there were probably about 20 people waiting for the show to start.

Katie and I made our way past the merchandise booth and got some food at the theatre bar while we waited. When we were finished the first of the opening acts had started, ASTR. ASTR is a boy girl duo based out of New York known for their song “Operate” and new single  “Activate Me“. I hadn’t really heard of them before, but their techno style of music was a great way to start to pump up the crowd.

The night continued with the second opening band known as HolyChild from Los Angeles. By then the crowd had thickened a bit, but still wasn’t more than about 40 people. I hadn’t really heard of HolyChild before either, but the music was relatively good. The two instrument players were really good and the drummer was amazing. I really liked 2 of their newly released songs, “Running Behind” and “Money All Around“.

Finally it was time for Ryn Weaver to perform. I loved how intimate the theatre space was with probably less than 100 people there to see her. It was nice to be able to get as close as we wanted to the stage without having a big struggle to get thru or past other people. There really wasn’t a bad spot in the house though. She sang a bunch of songs that I didn’t know the words to but had heard a few times before. As the night began to come to an end she finally sang the few I was waiting to hear her sing and that I was prepared to sing along with, “The Fool“, and my all time favorites, “Promises” and “OctaHate” her June 2014 single that got her to where she is today.

By the end of the night I was in total bliss, my ears ringing with happy tunes that I completely enjoyed rocking out to. Ryn’s energy was amazing, as was the crowd’s. It was like she just understood everyone in the room. By the end of the night everyone was singing and dancing and it was just a great all around positive vibe. When she comes back to LA I will definitely be  going to see her again. So go listen to Ryn Weaver. Who knows, you might really enjoy her music.

Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns

IMG_8973Close to Halloween Katie and I went to the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns in Arcadia, CA, just a short drive from Los Angeles. I bought the tickets off Goldstar for about $20 each. Even thought I was super excited to see what it was all about we waited until the weekend right before Halloween to attend the event.

We arrived at the Santa Anita Race Track and followed the signs to the main entrance. Just before the numbered time entrance lines were a few fun booths. One had pumpkin beer and snacks, another had a green screen picture taking booth where they could put different backgrounds behind you, and another was a guy painting and carving pumpkins. There were even some fun statues made out of pumpkins that people had lined up to take pictures with as well.

After checking out each booth we headed over to where our line entrance was and were let in right away as our group time had already gone through. We pasted a few small jack o’lanterns and then arrived at the main event.

First we walked through an under the sea section with jelly fish, star fish, Spong Bob, an octopus and a school of fish. Next was a safari section with lions, tigers, antelope, giraffes, and many other animals. After that was a Love section and then Sesame Street characters. A little farther were some Dinosaurs and across from those were Minions. Then there were cars followed by horses and emoticons. The short walk ended with a huge Japanese Dragon. All of these main features consisted of multiple pumpkins with different sections of the animal or car or etc carved on each pumpkin. They were then place together to create the whole picture.

As we made our way down the rope lined road in front of each section were smaller carvings individual jack o’lanterns and painted pumpkins that included Star Wars, Inside Out characters, Nightmare Before Christmas and many more. These had amazing detail and looked just like the real things.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

My favorite displays were the Dinosaurs, Under the Sea, and Safari. It was cool to see a new way of carving pumpkins that put small individual pieces and built up to larger artwork. I loved how they created a whole scene, not just small fractions of the environment.

As we exited the walk we headed back over to the carving station to watch Joseph Yakovetic carve some more pumpkins. Within the short amount of time we took to walk through the event he had finished his painted pumpkin and had created an outline of The Bride of Frankenstein’s face. He spoke a little about how he carves his pumpkins and ways to preserve them to last longer.

Overall, The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns event was a lot of fun. It was cool to see the different pumpkins. I do think the walk was very short but I still had a good time. I think people of all ages would enjoy checking this even out at least one year, but I could see it getting boring after going multiple years.

Lindsey Stirling at the Greek Theatre

IMG_8973I often get emails from Goldstar, a website that tells Los Angeles residents what events are happening and upcoming in the area. One day I saw that Lindsey Stirling, a violinist that plays electronic beats, was playing at the Greek Theatre. I have known of Lindsey Stirling for almost 2 years now, absolutely love her music, and think she is amazing. Right then I decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I had to go see her on stage. I purchased two tickets and patiently waited until the day finally arrived.

Katie and I got there early, found our seats and waited for the show to start. The night was started off with two opening acts I had never heard of before. Olivia Somerlyn was first up, singing her hit Parachute and new single OXO. We laughed and sang along with our new dance moves. Olivia was followed by Lights who’s music started  on the complete other end of the spectrum of what I had expected the night to expose. It was loud, hard and heavy but soon fell into what was anticipated with Running with the Boys.

Finally it was time for Lindsey Stirling to perform on her Music Box Tour. I thought she was awesome. She played all her songs and every single song that is a favorite of mine had a beautiful backdrop or some other element that was fascinating to watch. She entertained us while having so much fun on stage herself. You could tell that she was really enjoying what she was doing.

The sets for each song were phenomenal.  Moon Trance had a mini cemetery set up with dancers that followed her every move and she fought them off and controlled them with her music. Shadows had big silk screens with her shadows on them that matched her dance movements as she played and danced throughout the song. Elements had a boarder and a silk screen that you could partially see though to the stage where it rained, burned, and blew wind to the extremes. Shatter Me had silk screens with snow globes on them that some of the dancers stood inside with her until the song broke them all free. Transcendence was started with a video interlude about the song and ended with her explaining her recent struggles and how she is so grateful to finally be able to play on stages like the ones on her tour.

As the night continued she would let us in on little pieces of information, such as she couldn’t decide on which video game song to play so she combined them all together in one long song that encompassed Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim, and Halo. She also let us know that it was the last night of the tour. She ended the night with a rock song where one of her guitar players and her fight until they come together and create beautiful music together. The vibe of the night was just awe-inspiring and I was so glad and grateful to be a part of it.

Just when we thought she was finished, but I was secretly hoping she wasn’t, she came back out on stage and played an encore of Phantom of the Opera music mashup. She played all the common songs from Think of Me to The Phantom of the Opera. She played a small portion of each song in order from start to finish. The whole show was so good and left me feeling refreshed, relaxed, and excited to be alive for another day.

Meet Jamba at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

IMG_8973Before heading back to Los Angeles from San Diego, Katie and I were looking for something that would only take us a few hours in the morning to check out. We decided to stop by San Diego’s Safari Park Zoo. We had found a groupon which only added to our excitement to see what the park was all about.

The park is located outside of San Diego in Escondido, CA and is open anywhere from 9am-5pm to 9am-7pm depending on the season. There are many safari passes you can add onto your general admissions pass. Everything from the Caravan Safari to the Behind-The-Scenes Safari to the VIP Ultimate Safari. These range from about $80 up to $599/person. Some focus on just one animal while others give you a general overview. There is even one that you can customize to meet your specific needs. We decided to skip the add on this time and just explore the park by foot.

We arrived around 11am and made our way directly to the entrance. We showed our groupon on our iPhones and were immediately let in through the gates. Lucky for us, the zoo was not as busy as I had expected it to be. Maybe it was because it was a Monday and a lot of schools first week back, but I was very happy about it.

We started out up the trail and made our first stop at the gift shop to purchase some Safari Park pennies. Then we followed the path and came across the first Animal Ambassador Stage. On the stage was a small bird with a trainer that was asking him to do different behaviors such as pick out the red block, jump onto her hand, and make different bird chirps. She rewarded him with seeds after each behavior. After the short session and talking about the bird and his feathers and such, they had to leave. She reminded the audience about the other animal encounters throughout the park and left the stage.

We continued down the Safari Walkways and came to the tigers enclosure, Tiger Trail. I believe one of the volunteers told us that there were 5 tigers living in the exhibit. We saw one by the house, another right by the fence and two around a corner. They were so beautiful. We followed the walkway to the condor’s area. They had 3 that were all tagged as part of the Condor Recovery Program. Numbers 525, 35, and 607. One was rescued from the wild after having a broken wing while the other two that were born in captivity.

All throughout the park there were volunteers and employees that were extremely helpful and friendly. Some were able to direct us in the right location of the different animal exhibits. Others had specific animals that they were extremely knowledgeable about. Sometimes we listened to other guests questions and answers and sometimes we asked our own questions. As we continued through the park, we caught the end of the bird show. Turkey’s ran around the stage uncontrollably and then an eagle soared over the stadium.

We headed out of the stadium and came across another Animal Encounter at a different Animal Ambassador Stage. As one employee came out to speak to us about the animal, a trainer came out with Jamba the Zoo Safari Park’s blind fossa from Madagascar. Since he is blind, they are less concerned about him harming one of the guests, plus we aren’t on his lists of things to eat. They allowed him to come pretty close so everyone can get a good look.

Fossas are cat-like animals and are the largest carnivore on the island. Jamba would never survive in the wild so the park adopted him. He is one of their main animal ambassadors helping guests to learn all about his kind, even though there is not much known about his kind.

As one employee spoke to us about the facts they do know about Jamba, the trainer kept him engaged with her. She had his favorite toy, a ball on a rope and played with him with it. After he finally caught it we could hear him growl. This growl was the same noise he would make in the wild after making a kill. He was so happy. The trainer also showed us how he climbs trees similar to a cat, up and down going forward. His ankles can rotate way more than ours can. After each time he did something she asked him to do she would reward him with a big chunk of meat. She would toss it so it would slap against the ground so he would know where it landed. She even tossed some into his water bowl with a big splash.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

Jamba was cool and soon it was time to move onto see one of his favorite animals to feast on in Madagascar, the lemur. The park allowed you to walk through the enclosure to get a better look, but unfortunately when we went they were all hiding and sleeping where we could not see them. One of the employees mentioned to come back around 4pm, but we weren’t staying that late.

We continued on through the park and saw the gorillas, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, and elephants, plus many other birds and animals. With only have a half day to explore we realized we could have easily spent a whole day at the park. Unfortunately too soon it was time for us to leave.

The park is definitely fun for all ages, young and old alike. With a different set up than most zoos, the Safari Park seems more spacious and gives you a chance to see the animal living in a habitat much like it’s natural one in the wild. There are animals from all over the world and something for everyone to see. Take a safari park tour or walk the park on your own, either way you are bound to have a great time.

Del Mar Race Track

IMG_8973While in San Diego, Katie and I headed over to the Del Mar Race Track to meet up with her family that we were staying with in La Jolla. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club which opened in 1937 is where the famous Seabiscuit-Ligaroti match race was held on August 12, 1938. After a crazy race, Seabiscuit under George (The Iceman) Woolf beat Ligaroti and Noel (Spec) Richardson by a nose.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club runs races all summer and fall. This summer they ran from July 16th to September 7th. Each weekend there are 10 races on Sunday starting at about 2:00pm with the last one running at about 6:40pm. Depending on the race there can be anywhere between 7 to 14 horses racing.

We found parking for $10 and made our way toward the entrance which was a little tricky to figure out. We paid our $6 each and arrived inside the event right next to a beautiful fountain. We made our way to the race picture painted tunnel which brings you under the track and to the center where her family was watching the races already in progress.

We found Jim and Sheri and their friends at one of the first picnic tables right by the race track. We watched a race and they they explained the simple way to  bet, $2 on race number, horse number to place, show, or win. We each put $2 on a horse the for the next race. There was about 30 minutes between each race which allowed you to decide if you wanted to place a bet or as the people at the race would say, “slap a bet down,” before each race.

All of my horses kept coming in 4th, just out of the running for me to win anything back and I lost about $8 before I decided I wasn’t going to play anymore. However, one of Katie’s horses won 2nd which got her $4 back making her loss only $2 total.

We took a walk around the inside of the race track and stopped at an ice cream booth. It was the best ice cream I had in a long time. Maybe it was just that the day was so hot I needed ice cream to cool down, I’m not really sure, but it was perfectly sweet and absolutely amazing. We continued to explore and found a bunch of children playing on blow-up slides and even having a race track instructed water balloon toss.  I was surprised to see how many people bring their children to the race track. I had always thought of it as an upper class adult only experience, but at the Del Mar Race Track it wasn’t like that at all. Then again, I didn’t get to experience the bleachers. It could be completely different over there.

We made our way back to the race track to watch the rest of the races. This time we were a lot closer. The race began and it was a little different than all the rest. As the horses came around the first bend one of them bumped into another and next thing everyone knew one of the jockeys was on the ground. He was ok and was able to scramble off the track before they came around a second time, but the crowd was filled with ohs and eeks when he hit the ground.  His horse continued to run around the track all by itself, like it didn’t even realize that its jockey had fallen off. The helpers eventually caught up with it and stopped it without having a hard time. It kind of makes me wonder, what are these horses taught in order to allow them to run the race even though they have left their jockey lying on the ground behind them. Maybe it’s just a herd instinct.

We stayed until all the races were over. They each had a different starting point and they would move the gate in between each race to the new starting position. As the sun got lower there were a few races that started right in front of us. We were able to watch them load the racers into the gate, start out of the gate, and come racing by pretty close, their feet roaring over the ground as they passed us.

With one last race to run we packed up our stuff and headed out to our cars. As gunshot started the final race we realized that none of us came away a winner that day. We weren’t upset, it was still a fun and exciting day and I was just happy to have experienced something new and different.

Can iFLY?

IMG_8971I saw this deal on groupon for indoor skydiving at iFLY that I just couldn’t pass up. It came with instructions on how to fly, 1 minute of flying time, and 2 pictures to remember the experience. I quickly asked Katie if she would like to join me and we bought two deals. I couldn’t wait to schedule a time and within the up coming weeks I booked a time for both of us on a Sunday a little after noon.

Sunday finally arrived and Katie and I headed over to iFLY Hollywood, the indoor skydiving facility which is located behind the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal Studios CityWalk. iFLY has many other locations around the USA and even the world. Before we even had checked in we had a chance to see what was in store for us. As we approached we could see an instructor teaching his students to fly. Some stayed low while others went very high. The students ranged drastically. There was an older man that must have been in his 70’s or 80’s and a child about 4 years old. This is something that can be enjoyed at any age.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

We eventually went to the registration desk and checked in. The girl found our names and gave us our wrist bracelets. We were very early so we took a few minutes to watch the instructor put on a little performance and watch next group start their flights. We then walked around and explored CityWalk a bit.

2pm finally rolled around and we met our group and instructor, Jason, and headed into the debriefing/instruction room. There we watched a short video about what we were going to experience and how to fly. The video was amazing with people performing stunts upside-down and backwards, single and in groups of four or five. They were all having a great time. Then Jason came into join us and review the video. For body position it is best to fly with your arms out in front of you at eye level slightly bent, legs shoulder width apart slightly bend, back level, and head up. He told us about the hand signals we would need to know during our flight to help us get into the right position. Pointing up towards his chin meant raise your chin, two fingers bent in meant bend your legs, two fingers out straight meant straighten your legs, and a thumbs up meant doing great. He reminded us that small movements in the tunnel would change things dramatically so if we got any of those signals we should move slowly.

Next we headed to the locker room. Katie and I grabbed a locker and we put away anything that might fly loose during our flight which included our camera and phones. Jason had told us that it is no fun when something gets loose in the tunnel and whips past your face or hits your body. Then we got our full-body jumpsuits, earplugs and protective glasses. Lastly, we put on our helmets and then we were ready to fly.

We all walked to the tunnel outside. We walked in the side entrance to a seating area and took our seats to the left and right of the main tunnel door. There was a guy at the side entrance that took our pictures and controlled the wind speed at our instructor, Jason’s, request. Jason reviewed the hand signals one last time and then started at the far side of the benches. Most of our group had decided to spend the extra $10 to go high and we had hoped that there would be enough time at the end to decide if we wanted to give it another try for an additional $20. Katie and I had a price of $15 for that due to the groupon deal.

It was finally my turn and at the last minute I decided that I wanted to go high. I let Jason know by pointing to the sky and he nodded. I put my arms over my head and leaned into the 800 hp vertical wind tunnel that generates a wall-to-wall cushion of air. Jason caught me and guided me to the center of the tunnel as the air rushed past me. There he took a few moments guiding me into the correct position and then let go and I was flying on my own. The wind was pushing so hard that it was difficult to tell how much he had to help and correct, but after asking about it later I was told that there wasn’t much correction at all.

After what I’m guessing was a half minute or less, I forgot to look at the time clock I was so focused on what I was doing, Jason gave the signal to up the wind speed. He wrapped his arm around my legs and held onto one of my arms and up we went. The force of the wind grew considerably as we rose and fell weightlessly several times. By the third time I had drool coming out of my mouth and I giggled to myself about how Jason had said to keep your mouth closed. I just couldn’t help it. It was too much fun not to smile. But by the second to last time we rose and fell the rush of the wind was starting to make it difficult to breath through my nose. Probably something to do with my sinuses. I was glad my mouth was open and we were coming to the end.

The wind died down on Jason’s request and we sank to the bottom of the tunnel where he put his feet down and guided me out of the tunnel. I grabbed onto the edges of the door with my hands and lifted my feet toward my stomach so they would land on the edge. My one minute was over just like that. Everyone clapped, I got a few high fives and then it was Katie’s turn.

Katie did just as well as I did. She went high and her one minute was over within the same short time frame. We sat and watched the last couple people from our group. There were a few people that did amazing, where the instructor barely had to touch them, particularly this one early teenage boy and young mother in our group. There were others where the instructor was constantly readjusting and fixing, it often seemed to be the very big guy or very tall guy. I wonder if size matters on something like this.

Jason asked if anyone wanted to go again and one girl from our group took him up on the offer. She did great and we all watched. Then we followed Jason back into the locker room where we gave back our equipment and grabbed our own belongings from our lockers. Jason gave everyone a certificate where he marked how they did on their flight. Katie and I both got the majority of them checked off. He told us that next we would work on learning to move forward and backwards by bending and straightening our legs.

We left with smiles on our faces thinking about how this was not an average day. I mean really, when have you been able to fly in a wind tunnel? It was so much fun that I even thought about doing it again sometime. I only wish the normal pricing was a little bit cheaper because it is a little expensive. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for another groupon though.

5K Night Nation Run

IMG_8973On groupon there are a ton of 5K runs. I had decided that I wanted to give one a try so I reached out to a bunch of my friends as soon as I saw that the Night Nation Run 5K was on groupon. A few of my friends quickly jumped on the chance and we signed up for what looked like one of the most fun 5Ks in the area.

As the day approached I reached out to my friends again. Turned out we were all planning on taking our own cars to Pomona, CA. Katie and me in our car, Arpy and her 2 friends in their car, Caroline and her friend in another car, and Nich and Bob in their own car. The day came and Katie and I headed out. I was a little worried we wouldn’t get there in time and that we wouldn’t be able to find everyone. Luckily, we got there with plenty of time to spare. We were one of the first cars let into the parking lot and we were the first of our group to arrive. We parked our car, got our bibs, shirts, and glow sticks and started to explore the area.

As we waited we learned that the event itself was linked to Stand Up 2 Cancer. They were selling t-shirts, tank tops, and all different accessories to help support the cause. We moved to the main area, surrounded by food and drink stands. We took some time to get some free stuff at the booths around the edges and even took our first Night Nation Run selfie.  As we patiently waited we made our way to the stage and enjoyed the pre-party DJ. We danced, jumped, and just took in the moment not caring about anything at all.

Eventually, Caroline and her friend showed up, got their bibs and headed straight to the start line. Katie and I tried to decide which to do, wait for Arpy and Nich or get in line. We finally chose to wait as they sounded like they were going to be there very soon. The run started and we watched everyone run out of the start line and through the beginning of the course. We made our way back to the registration where it would be easier for our friends to find us.

Arpy and Nich were taking forever so we changed our minds and started our run. We snuck in from the parking lot and walked the course stopping along the way at every small DJ station and any Selfie photo booth we saw. We slowly making our way to the end, taking our time since as Arpy said that her group was running and would catch up to us.

Arpy never caught up to us, Caroline rushed through the course, and Nich never made it out of the party zone. By the time we got to the end where the main party was, it was over. I was sad to see it end and couldn’t help wondering why they hadn’t made the party longer. It just seemed too short to me and I was semi upset we had missed the main event even though we were the first ones to arrive. Next time, I’m not waiting for anyone.

On a side note Katie and I got some amazing pictures of the pre-party and at the photo booths throughout the course. I know if we had just ran straight through we would have missed the black light booth for sure. It was fun to just have some free time to hang out with Katie and gather as many glow sticks from the ground that I could possibly find. I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat, maybe even their next event in Los Angeles on October 24th.

Flying High with Jetpack America

IMG_8973For Christmas my parents bought me an amazing gift of flying at Jetpack America. They have locations in Newport Beach, San Diego, and Las Vegas. I decided that Newport Beach or San Diego would be closest and that I should go to one of those. I waited through the winter for spring when the ocean water would start to warm up a bit. I finally booked my flight at the last minute with only a few weeks left in May before my Groupon expired.

I called Jetpack America’s office and booked my flight. I was told to arrive an hour before my flight for my debriefing and to bring my bathing suit, a wetsuit if I had one, a towel, sunscreen, and anything else I thought I might need after going in the water. They sent me an online waiver and directions to the parking below the building next door.

The day of my flight arrived and I was super excited. I grabbed my bag and checked to see if there was anything else last minute I might need. I headed to Newport Beach, parked, and finally found the place right in the marina. I walked into the shop a little anxious and was warmly welcomed. I showed the guy at the front my Groupon and was quickly guided to their debriefing area that had already started with some other flyers going on a flight sooner than mine.

They finished their debriefing and left for their flight. The girl then showed me and another guy a video and started our tutorial about the controls of the jetpack. We practiced sitting in the jetpack, holding the controls level and tilting to the left and right. The controls are very sensitive and you barely needed to move the controls to turn, only need a millimeter of change in the positioning moves the jetpack in any direction you wish. The controls are not super light though so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold them up for the entire 15 mins, which would affect my flight for sure.

After our tutorial we headed down to the dock. Unfortantely they don’t allow you to bring your phone, but since I went second I had an opportunity to see how they strap you in, safety features of how to get out, where you fly, and the slight movements you need to make in order to make the turns by watching the guy go. 20 minutes later it was my turn to get strapped in and give it a try.

With my lifejacket,  wetsuit, and 30lb jetpack all on and ready to go I timidly jumped off the dock and into the water. I practiced a few times of righting myself, since when the pack is not in motion it floats and pushes you under the water, and then I was ready to fly. I spun myself around and the jetski crew member there to help me pushed on the throttle for my first chance at getting out of the water.

As he pushed on the throttle I kept my arms level with the water. We started low allowing my legs to drag through the water so that I could get the feel of the controls. It was hard to keep them level and my left arm kept dropping a little which made me turn left. I struggled to make it right and eventually got them level. As time went by my crew member pushed me higher and higher. I got out of control a bit and the crew member cut the power. I fell back into the water with a big splash, righted myself and was ready to give it another try.

By the end of my flight I was getting pretty high, hovering above about 20 ft above the water. It was scary, exciting, crazy and nerve wracking. The higher you go the more sensitive the controls become and the harder it is to keep yourself level. As my time winded down and the traffic in the marina picked up I had to zigzag my way back to the dock through all the boats. It was insane how many obstacles there were in my path, but I made it safely practicing my left and right turns and going straight above the water.

When I reached the dock I sat back in my jetpack and unbuckled the straps. I swam to the dock and another crew member helped me up. I walked up the dock and back to the shop. I dried off, changed into my clothes, got my diploma and said goodbye to the crew.

The crew at Newport Beach’s Jetpack America was absolutely amazing. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and supportive throughout my entire experience. Flying was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but it’s something that anyone can do as strength does not matter. It’s more finesse. Even kids can try it with the younger ones tandem riding to get there first thrills.

Jetpack flying was definitely a great experience and unlike anything else. I’ll never forget looking down at the water below me as I rose higher and higher. I know with practice and more flying time it will become easier and easier and more and more fun as I take complete control of running the jetpack, both steering and throttle, and begin to learn different tricks, such as the submarine, spinning, and diving.

Stellar Jays, Bats, Sunsets, & a Rustic Ski Lodge at Mt. Pinos

IMG_8973My friend Katie and I headed up to the cabin in Mt. Pinos for the weekend and what an experience it was. Mt. Pinos is about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, in the Los Padres National Forest. It is off Route 5 past Pyramid Lake. In the summer it the average temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s while in the winter it gets a lot of snow. Luckily, we were there in the spring, but it was still very hot.

We left late on a Saturday evening, stopping for a pizza as we got close. As the sunset and the last of the light left the sky the bats came out. It was my first experience seeing so many of them feed I was extremely excited. Walking up and into the pizza shop I kept spinning around trying to see them all and hoping I wouldn’t miss any. The following night I was in for a surprise and was able to watch them for at least half an hour as they had their lavish dinner. They flew sporadically through the sky zipping back and forth and up and down. It was so interesting to watch, I sat there completely captivated by their every move. As each one disappeared I found myself yearning for another to come swooshing past until the last of the light was gone and their feast was complete.

We got our pizza and some beer and finished our drive to the cabin. We arrived very late and struggled to find our way bringing in our stuff in the dark. We settled in and called it a night soon after, making sure to be well rested for our next morning.

We awoke the next morning and it was quite chilly. We headed upstairs, started a fire and put seeds in the bird feeder on the balcony. Soon there were so many Stellar Jays that it was hard to count them. They were gorgeous with their blue and black feathers and their pointy heads. I asked Katie if she ever let them feed from her hand and she said that she hadn’t, but her friend had. I decided to give it a try. I was so nervous the bird might miss and get my finger so I held real still with a peanut in the palm of my hand completely flat. I tried to watch out of the corner of my eye as the bird sized me up to see if I was a threat or going to trap it. It slowly got closer, keeping an eye on me and eventually decided to trust me enough to snatch the peanut. It was so quick I almost missed it as it swooped in and barely even touched me. I can’t tell if it was his wing or the air that I felt on my finger tips it was so fast. The next day I tried again and this time the bird was much slower and one of his friends also took one from my hand too. I can only imagine that if I could do this for a few months straight I could have that bird sitting calmly on my finger tips.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

We made french toast with cinnamon raisin bread that was delicious and topped it with blueberries. The following day we smashed bananas into the egg mix and covered the bread which made the french toast even better. I thought it was so delicious that when I got home I recommended all my friends try it sometime. So next time your home has eggs, milk, cinnamon raisin bread, and bananas in it make some.

We decided to go out for a drive so I could see the area. We checked out the country club and then drove over to Mt. Able where there’s an old ski lodge at a campground. The ski lodge is no longer open. It is all locked up and closed down, but it was interesting to explore the area a bit. With what looks like an old fire pit where people used to stand to get warm, the big lodge, a smaller building which might have been where they rented equipment and another smaller building where people might have changed there was a lot to explore. Oh, and the pine cones were huge! Like the size of my entire hand, all over the ground everywhere. While I was there I couldn’t help wonder what happened and why the ski lodge closed down. I tried to google it when I got home, but I couldn’t find anything about it on any relevant websites.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

We headed back to the cabin and stopped for a moment to take some pictures of one of the strangest things I’ve seen. The trees on the side of the road were standing with half of their root exposed due to the erosion of the dirt from underneath them and down the side of the mountain. Since we were stopped anyway we  hung around to watch the sunset as well. It was stunning as you can see in the pictures below. So beautiful full of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. We headed to get something to eat but everything was closed so we went back to the cabin, came up with leftovers and then called it a night.

The following day we decided to go on a short hike on a trail not too far down the road from the cabin. We walked to the end of the road and reached the trailhead. The trail was a narrow dirt path with rocks lining the edges making it very distinguishable between the rest of the woods. The trail was surrounded with plant life which also helped and right along a creek. The water was moving extremely slow in the creek which is a great breeding ground for bugs but meant that if we stopped even for a few seconds they were all over us trying to get a taste. We quickly followed the creek until we came to a huge tree laying on it’s side. It looked like someone had been in the area and chopped a bunch of them down and just left them to rot. On our way back I found a huge walking stick with these really cool bug made grooves in it. My plan was to cut it down, remove the extra wood sticking out at the branch sites and paint it with something to make it even smoother. I carried the stick all the way back to the cabin and we tied it into the back of Katie’s truck. It was so big it stuck out the back. I can’t wait to see what the finished project is gonna look like.

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

IMG_8971       IMG_8971

We got back to the cabin, cleaned up the place and then headed home. What a great weekend it was. So many new things to see and try. Who would have thought going to the cabin at Mt. Pinos would allow you to feed Stellar Jays, see bats feed in the night sky, explore an old ski lodge and hiking trail, have amazing french toast and see one of the most beautiful sunsets ever.