Category Archives: Los Angeles

Places near Los Angeles

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.

Swept by Fire at The Corriganville Movie Ranch

IMG_8973Early in November Katie and I headed over to Simi Valley to see Corriganville Movie Ranch. What was once a thriving western movie set in the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s caught fire in the 1970’s, seeing it’s last film crew in 1976. Today Corriganville Movie Ranch is a public park with various concrete and brick foundations as the only remains of a once magnificent set.

Inside the park is a short, .5mile interpretive trail that tells about the different sights along the path. We first came across the remains of a lake which was used in many Western movies and an overhang that looked out into it. You can even see where they would shoot any underwater shots down by what looks like a dried up dam now. The lake is completely dry and looks like there hasn’t been any water for years.

We crossed the bridge that ran over the lake and soon reached a rock that was often used in films as the entrance to the valley. It can be seen in the 1951 movie Jungle Manhunt. Our next stop was at Trail Blazer Cave, seen in Dracula and Billy the Kid. It’s actually a clever fake cave according to the sign. We scurried up looking for the cave, but only found a ver small cave that I’m sure isn’t the one they used in the films. Next time we’ll have to see if we can find the real one.

We continued on and soon came to the remains of the Corriganville Movie Ranch. The town had many different names in Hollywood such as Dodge City, Mineral City, Tombstone, and Lone Ranger Ranch. However, it was known as Silvertown to many visitors. As we read the signs around the edges, I tried to imagine what the set looked like back when film crews were running through the streets. The pictures helped a bit, but the town was really big and with just the foundations left it was hard to tell where the stables, jails, saloons, and banks were. In the 1950’s and 60’s people could visit the ranch on weekends for only one dollar and experience live western music, stagecoach rides, pony rides, and boating on the now dry lake. They could also watch stuntman shows, see movie and TV actors signing autographs and posing for pictures on the real western street movie sets. It’s sad to realize that all of those things will never happen again here due to the fires that ran through the area in the 1970’s.

Corriganville Movie Ranch is a fun short walk and history lesson for people of all ages. Every one will enjoy exploring the area and trying to guess what it used to look like back when the set was being used every day.

Maruya’s Ramen Noodles

IMG_8973After seeing Ryn Weaver in concert Katie and I headed to Little Tokyo in Downtown to get some ramen noodles. Katie had been to this little place called Maruya  before with friends and family and wanted to show it to me.

It took us a while to find it, but when we did we were seated immediately. We took a few minutes to look at the menu and then each ordered a soup which came with a salad and some sushi. It was relatively cheap for the amount of food we got and we weren’t able to finish it all so we took most of it home.

The food came super fast and it was amazing. The salmon sushi cuts were delicious and just melted in your mouth. The soup had the perfect amount of saltiness from the pork and the noodles were just the right size. I couldn’t have complained about anything if I tried.

If you’re ever in Downtown Los Angeles and looking for a great place to get some ramen definitely go to Maruya. You will be so satisfied and pleased that you went you might decide to never go anywhere else for ramen ever again.

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.

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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.

Lobster Rolls at The Local Peasant

IMG_8973One Monday early evening while Katie and I were watching her friend’s house we decided to make the short walk to The Local Peasant a bar next door for something to eat. While I had been to the one in Sherman Oaks, Katie had been the only one to have been to the Woodland Hills one before. With no sign letting us know that we were in the right spot except for a tiny menu at the front entrance Katie and I arrived. The weather in Woodland Hills that day was relatively cool so we sat down outside on their patio in a corner booth.

The outside was pretty busy, but inside it was quite empty. We got a menu and a menu for the special of the night which read that Mondays were Lobster Roll Nights. How exciting! I couldn’t pass up a lobster roll so I ordered the lobster roll while Katie ordered a Peasant Burger with cheddar cheese.

Our food came and the burger was good, but the lobster roll was absolutely delicious. It had a bit of spice and dill taste in it and I was super pleased with it. So pleased that I can’t wait to go back on another Monday night and get it again. The burger came with fried egg and onions and was one of the best burgers I had in a while.

Next time you’re in Woodland Hills and looking for a local spot to get dinner or a drink check out The Local Peasant. The calm environment mixed with the scrumptious food is worth giving it a try. They even have some gluten-free and vegan options on their menu.

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.

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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.