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Old 06-25-2012, 10:48 AM   #76
OhioStateBuckeye
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Day 7: Joshua Tree Preserve








An exhibit!! Stop the car!!


















This was the trail we were on, it was pretty easy to walk


We parked the car by a short trail and got all our water and things packed up in my new backpack I bought at REI (it reminded me of Shaun White and I love him). Then we were off. The one thing I can tell you about this place that the pictures don't adequately show is the absolute quiet and stillness of the place. If we stood still you could not hear one thing, which is a pretty
incredible thing. I don't think most people realize the background noises that go on around them. The only other time I'd heard quiet like this was on a tour of a cave with my parents, the guide told us all to be as quiet as possible and turned his flashlight off, talk about sensory deprivation.





















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Old 06-25-2012, 10:49 AM   #77
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Day 7: Joshua Tree Preserve

Anyway, we hiked for about a mile then turned back because the sun was starting to go down. We made it back to the car and drove the short distance to our campsite. There were about 15 campsites and only 5 other occupants. I made sure to walk by them all and say hello (I have a weird theory that people are more likely to come to your rescue if they are familiar with you, don't ask what kind of rescue I was worried of needing, I think I was thinking of just any general need of rescuing).

And yes, we were car camping, not backpacking.



We had a pretty nice little set up, I feel we got the best campsite. We had a picnic table and a fire pit (grr Brian you told me we couldn't start fires in the park, I love camp fires) and a nice open clear area for the tent.






We also had some big rocks and then a wonderful view out into the desert. Brian quickly got the tent set up (always travel with an Eagle Scout) and we cooked our beef stroganoff dinner, which was pretty tasty. I made a last trip to the bathroom and we settled down on a big rock to watch the stars come out.











I am really sad we didn't get any good pictures of this. I am from a real small town in Pennsylvania, so I am used to seeing a lot of stars. But I'll admit it, the stars here beat my home stars. We laid on the rock for a while, then Brian started to get worried about scorpions and snakes so we retired to the tent. We were going to wake up later to look at more stars when it got darker, but I was never able to wake up because I was out like a light. I think I got an A+ for my first real night sleeping outside (I'm not counting nights I'd spend in the backyard when I was young, these would usually include coming inside around 3 am).

It was a pretty warm night, though not uncomfortable because there was no humidity.

UP NEXT: early morning hike in Joshua Tree and our surprise detour!

QUOTEABLE QUOTES: None today

LOWLIGHTS OF DAY 7: the price tag of all our 'camping' equipment. I say 'camping' in quotes because its impossible to shop in a Target and only buy the things you came for.

HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY 7: all of Joshua Tree! And especially the stars.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:23 AM   #78
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Monday morning I was awake and refreshed when there was only the slightest hint of grey in the sky.











I really wanted to get started on our longer hike, first I wanted to beat the heat and second I was just excited to go. I woke Brian up and we (he) quickly broke down camp. I climbed on some rocks and then we were off! There was one other campsite who had just begun to stir as we were driving off.


The bathroom at the campsite. These little buildings were just absolutely swarmed in bees. Even though I grew up in the countryside I have never gone to the bathroom outside (nice to know, huh?). I wasn't going to ruin my streak now so I just put my sweatshirt on, went inside and hoped for the best. No stings!!







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Old 06-25-2012, 11:24 AM   #79
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We had a nice, relaxing drive through the rest of the park, we stopped at all the exhibits and even drove down a gravel path to get a closer look at some mountains. At the end of the path we looked at a sign and were thinking you were only supposed to take off road vehicles down the path, and not something like our little Rio, but oh well we made it just fine. I think we may have passed one other car the whole time. We also ate a nice Luna bar for breakfast while we were driving.


















An old mine that was really far away on a hillside



























We got to our trail around 7, there was a big ranger station next to it but they weren't at work yet. We passed a huge rattlesnake on the road on the way to the trail start.



Here is where Brian and I had a difference of opinion. He was driving, and drove around the snake. My thought at the time was that he probably should have ran over the snake, seeing as it was dangerous. I remember when I was on a trip to Africa with my dad and sister we were driving down a highway and there was a huge black mamba stretched all the way across the highway, and our professional hunter made sure to run over it without a second thought before they are very deadly snakes. So my first instinct was that we should have ran over the rattlesnake. On second thought, I am sure not running over it was the right thing to do, since it is, after all, a nature preserve and we were in the animal's natural habitat. I just thought it was a strange divergence of feelings on the topic and felt like writing about it.

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Old 06-26-2012, 10:01 AM   #80
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Day 8: Joshua Tree

We parked at the oasis and started our hike. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, I'll just add a few points. The weather really didn't feel hot at all, even though I knew there were very high temperatures when we were there, probably in the high 80s. We went a little off the trail once to scale a small mountain/hill, which was actually pretty fun.














You could see some of the dampness of the oasis if you scuffed the sand a bit.


Suns up, reckon its time to move out.


You ready for picture overload?!?












These steps were the worst part of the hike for me. I will get sick and dizzy and pass out if there is the right combination of humidity and who knows how many other factors (I've been checked out by a lot of hospitals and they can't really pin it down). Anyway, these stairs almost did it, they went on for a while. But after them I was perfectly fine.






































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Old 06-26-2012, 10:16 AM   #81
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Day 8: Joshua Tree






Then we came upon an old mine





























































We saw a lot of little sized lizards during our walk, but this guy was huge! He had one of those head circle things that I always associate with velociraptors...luckily he had no interest in eating us


disclaimer: not what we saw. phew.


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Old 06-26-2012, 10:17 AM   #82
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Day 8: Joshua Tree



































Huh, this grows in the desert?!








We were back to the car around 9:30, a lot of other hikers/sightseers were just now showing up in the parking lot (I am very proud of our early rising hah).




It was about a 15 minute drive to the opposite end of the preserve than we'd come in at.









Before we say bye to Joshua Tree I have some panoramic shots.












Then we were on our way!


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Old 06-26-2012, 10:22 AM   #83
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Day 8: Universal Studios Redo!

Now comes the surprise detour of the trip. We decided since we had the $77 2 day ticket for Universal that we should go back and try to ride Transformers. So we took a different route back from the desert and ended up back in Hollywood. Ah Hollywood, I've drove back and forth to you so many times in such a short time.






saw this billboard everywhere

We did stop at a Del Taco for lunch on the way because I wanted to try it out. Brian said when he lived there it was worse than Taco Bell (he loves Mexican food and thinks Taco Bell is the devil). He said it definitely was better this time around, and I learned an important lesson. I can't eat tacos while driving. I can't eat anything while driving, really, actually, I can't eat anything at all without a huge mess. My friends always make fun of me and say that I store food in my hair for later. I thought it was on par with Taco Bell, I don't have the most refined palate so I probably just couldn't tell haha.


Wooo Game of Thrones bench!!


WB Water Tower (I was pretty such I saw Wacko)


Heart Care Bears

Oh my gosh, what a difference! Now that we weren't there on a weekend, City Walk was deserted and so was the whole park!







Transformers was open to everyone and we walked right on.



O-M-G!! Transformers is the best ride I have ever been on. Put Spiderman and Forbidden Journey together and its still not as good as Transformers! Its a motion ride that has a car like the Spiderman car, you are riding inside a transformer who is trying to get the All Spark to safety. Your transformer battles and runs down city streets and you get to interact with Optimus, Bumblebee, Starscream and tons more. It is just an amazing ride, we probably should have gone on it more than twice.











The queue was really nicely done but I could barely stop to look as we were racing through.

I got a bumblebee tshirt in the gift shop I was so impressed with the ride.

We then walked right onto the Mummy.





I forget the one in Florida, and I'm not sure if they are the same or not but
we were totally surprised by the slow start and then the immediate jump kick in speed. In fact, Brian had the funniest ride photo ever, and if it hadn't been $30 I would have totally bought it. His eyes looked like they were popping out of his head, it was amazingly funny. We couldn't snap a redneck ride photo of it either because the attendants were standing right there. I wish I had that picture.


Instead of the awesome picture you can look at this one instead.

We also walked onto Jurassic Park, which I think was exactly the same as Universal Florida.





We went back to the upper level,



we still wanted to see the Animal Show and one other show, neither of the times were showing anytime soon (Universal Hollywood has a some of the show times that are reserved for pass holder only, so its good to check the time guide at the start of the day).
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:24 AM   #84
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Day 8: Universal Studios Redo!


I loved the design of this poster


Brian's favorite Doctor Suess book was the Lorax, so I forced him to get this picture


Oh Spongebob, as he was walking to his meeting place his little shorts were billowing up and blowing around his legs...either his air conditioning unit was working overtime or I don't know what was going on. Only you, Spongebob




Too true


Oh those eyes! I somehow managed to resist and did not purchase a Puss in Boots, also, side note, we watched that movie a few weeks ago and thought it was hilarious, a lot better than the recent Shreks anyway.






I also made Brian pose by this horse, since he likes horses

That's about how the days' pictures went...
Rachel: Brian, you like that! Pose with it!
Brian: I don't really need my picture with...
Rachel: I said pose with it!! Stop ruining the vacation!!





We slowly made our way out


cool little wave pool at one of the shops





then we stopped at a popcorn shop in City Walk for some barbecue popcorn, which was delicious!!



Even though we only stopped at Universal for a short time, I thought it would have been worth it just to ride Transformers once, such an amazing ride.



We decided that while we were still in the area we should knock off a few of the other extras we had wanted to do in Hollywood.


What in the world...

We got to drive past what I think of as the main part of Hollywood again (Grauman's Theatre, Kodak Theatre, those couple blocks).


I wish you could take tours of the Muppet Studios. Brian also loves the Muppets, luckily for him I did not demand that he tuck and roll out of the car for a photo opportunity.

About a ten minute drive past that area we found Pink's Hot Dogs. Apparently Pink's gets a lot of press and they had pictures up showing all the celebrities that like to eat there. They have queue lines set up on the sidewalk so we parked the car at a meter and got in line. The line was only about 15 minutes. All the hot dog choices had clever names. I got the Lord of the Rings Dog which had bbq sauce and onion rings, it was very good, but I ate all the onion rings separate. They were just too big to eat while on the hot dog. They have a nice area set up behind the stand with tables and shade.

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Old 06-26-2012, 10:27 AM   #85
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Day 8: Last time at Hollywood (I swear) and San Diego

After our hot dogs we got back in the car and drove down the street another 5 or so minutes and found La Brea Tar Pits. We had to pay $7 to park in their lot (not happy about that, it was $7 after 4 pm, before 4 you paid by the hour, we arrived at 4:08 or so). We decided not to go in the museum since it closed at 5:30, the cashier did tell me we could get in half price at 4:30, but we decided to just walk around outside instead.


Wait...direwolves were real?!?! Game of Thrones reference again










Poor baby mastodon, that is totally a scene out of a Disney movie:

Dad nooooo! Then the baby ends up facing trials and tribulations and meets his one true love and then accepts his rightful place as Lion Ki...er. Yeah.




I loved the city buildings right behind something I've always thought of as so prehistoric






Tar pit for insects





There is the one pretty big lake that has the statues around it, then there are some smaller pits all over. There were even a few in the parking lot that were roped off. I thought the most interesting thing was the ongoing dig, you can stand outside the fence and watch and interact with the diggers. They have a whiteboard that is updated with all their finds, and a link to the website that says you can even set up a time to volunteer and help with the dig.








Don't worry bud, I won't let the tar pits get ya.


Come on people...these are tar pits, not trash cans. I guess to some the whole world is a giant trash can.


I thought it was interesting to see this, but not interesting enough to want to see it again.

Finally we were on our way out of Hollywood/LA for the last time (truthfully). We took the coastal highway again on our way to SD.















It was a very pretty drive, and I was super jealous of all the nice houses that got to border the beach.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:33 AM   #86
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Day 8: San Diego

We arrived at Loew's Coronado Hotel around 8 pm. This was the hotel I'd been saving up for by staying at places like the Super 8 at Disneyland.

To be truthful, I really wanted the Hotel del Coronado, but I just couldn't justify $300 a night.

I got a good deal, they were renovating the lobby so it was closed off and I saved 25% a night! So my rates were approximately $130 a night, there was supposed to be a parking fee of $10 but it never showed up on the bill.

The temporary check in desk was near the hotel market place (had a tiny coffee shop and bakery and other little items). The two front desk employees were super cheerful and I think they could tell how excited we were to be there because...we got a free upgrade!! I acted suitably (or maybe more than was warranted) excited and we parked the car in their conveniently located garage (the garage had elevators that went straight
up into the hallways) and were off to check out our room!! It was as amazing as I thought, huge, and had a great view of the bay!!










Loved the shelf over the bathtub, I want one for my house







We ordered a pizza from Donatos (I don't really love their pizza, but it was the only place we could find that delivered). We each had our own box and ate in bed while we watched POTC On Stranger Tides (we are extremely classy, if you did not already know this).



UP NEXT: We go to the SD Safari Park and then hit up Old Town!! We were
supposed to go to Old Town this night and then go on a horseback
trail ride at night on Monday, but I guess that'll have to be saved
for next trip!


QUOTEABLE QUOTES: I don't think there were any quoteable quotes for these later days, at least I don't remember any. Very sad.

LOWLIGHTS OF DAY 8: all the driving back and forth. I reeeeally need to plan the next one better so we stay in the same area.

HIGHLIGHTS OF DAY 8: the amazing hotel room!! so so so nice and the view is lovely and we have a balcony!! And definitely the Transformers ride, so sweet.
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:10 PM   #87
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Are you SERIOUS?! You did all that stuff in one day?! That's amazing!

Thank you so much for the JTNP pics and report. Like I said before, I LOVE Joshua Tree.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:50 AM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khiori View Post
Are you SERIOUS?! You did all that stuff in one day?! That's amazing!

Thank you so much for the JTNP pics and report. Like I said before, I LOVE Joshua Tree.
hi Khiori hows it goin?

And yeah, I don't really know how to relax on vacation. I really love to see new things and explore, so I will feel bad if I feel like I didn't get to see something that would have been awesome.

Joshua Tree was super nice, we really enjoyed it and probably could have spent another night at least.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:02 AM   #89
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Joshua Tree: Bonus Content!

I very much liked my new vinylmation, Jack Sparrow -

Captain.

Whats that Jack?

That'd be Captain Jack Sparrow.


Ah, you are right. Ok, I very much liked my new vinylmation, Captain Jack Sparrow, so I decided to let him write a little report on his
experiences in the Joshua Tree Preserve.

So without further ado, here is Captain Jack Sparrow.




You can put me down now, Rachel, savvy?


There now, much better.

So then, I am going to give you Captain Jack Sparrow's tips on how to survive a trip to the desert!


Number 1: Pack rum

Where is the rum?



Number 2: Obtain a suitable traveling companion to do all your heavy lifting



Number 3: Try to avoid walking the plank. Yes, there are planks even in the desert



Number 4: Avoid nasty crawling...things



Number 5: Seek shelter for the night



I prefer a good hammock




Number 6: Stay hydrated



Why is the rum gone?!

Number 7: Seek out the treasure



Number 8: obtain suitable transport out of said desert as quickly as possible



Now show me that horizon
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:33 AM   #90
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Day 9: San Diego Safari Park

Here are some daytime views from the balcony:







Tuesday was another sleep in day for us...nah, I'm totally joking of course we were up and ready to go around 7 am. Today's plan involved us going to the San Diego zoo and safari park, however, a few hours into the morning we realized we could never do both in one day so we decided to just concentrate on the Safari Park. I think we would have rather gone to the zoo, but I had purchased our tickets from that really awesome half off deal from Living Social (San Diego zoo/safari park tickets are exxpensive, geez).

We had some leftover pizza for breakfast and then we were on our way. For a long time. Brian forgot how far outside of the city the safari park was, so it took us about twice as long as we'd expected to get there.

We arrived about half an hour after the park had opened (it opened at 9) and we headed straight for the safari tram ride. We had gone back and forth on paying more for one of the more elaborate safari options, but it was just too much money.

We got on the first tram that pulled in and had our own row.

I feel like I should warn everyone, I am about to become a pretty big snob. I've been to Africa before and been on a real safari, I've been on WDW's Kilimanjaro Safari ride...that said, I did not enjoy this particular safari ride.

I like how KS makes it seem like you are actually driving through the African wilderness. This ride...oh look, there are some pretty big fences, I can see almost the entire layout of the 'safari' and a lot of the animals weren't even that close. You don't even go through the safari, you drive along the outskirts.

I do realize that this is to give the animals more peace, and I have read that them having this large of an area has equaled great success in breeding programs for a lot of animals that never wanted to 'get it on' in zoos before. Having said that...I was still disappointed. I wanted a more immersive experience.


Look! an awesome assortment of sweet african animals...behind a chain link fence






I love these guys, in Africa we nicknamed them 'bullseye butts'












This is the park's oldest rhino, our guide said she spends most of her time napping






Watching the giraffe drink was very cool




That safari jeep is in trooouble


When this shot was taken, there were about 20 people crowded around the small window and most
of them were little kids that were there with a school group. I am not sure if the lion was upset
at how many people where there or what, but he glared at us for a good couple of minutes, then he
turned around and peed all over the window. It was pretty darn funny, and of course Brian took a
picture, but I will not post it here


Look at that face. The lions were definitely the most entertaining animals of our trip




Here are all the giraffes...walking in the opposite direction of the feeding platform. Jerks.


There is a tiger in there, I promise

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