Saturday, September 17, 2022

September 2022 California Trip Bucket List Results

We have been home for a few days and I'm slowly recovering from post California trip exhaustion.  It was a busy trip.  I've never walked more in my life and I was physically and mentally worn out once I got home.  Now that I've laid low sitting on the couch for a few days, I am starting to feel like my usual perky self again!

As you guys know, it was a huge deal to get my Mom on an airplane to take this trip with us.  Ever since I found out she was coming, there were things I knew we had to do for her.  She's always talked about dipping her toe in the Pacific Ocean and seeing the Hollywood sign.  Eliot and I spent hours planning an epic family vacation.  And our trip planning precision was evident with the giant master list I made with all of the details regarding our trip... from reservations, to confirmation numbers and our schedule.

It's no surprise that I was exhausted when we got home.  Thankfully, most of the trip went without a hitch.  There was a bit of car trouble with Eliot's and my Jeep Patriot breaking down on the way down to the airport in New Hampshire, and then there was the flat tire on our way from Anaheim to Hollywood... but after a bit of juggling some things around and shifting gears, everything worked out in the end!

Today, I wanted to share the results of one of my bucket lists with you!  We had a lot of non-Disneyland and non-D23 Expo things that we also wanted to do while on this trip.  

So let's see how all of those goals turned out!


1.) Visit the Funko Hollywood Store

We weren't sure if this would work out when our Hollywood day got all mixed up.  By the time we got into town, the line for the Funko Store was very long and it was close to closing.  (We weren't even sure that we'd get in.)  Thankfully, we were able to go later in the week!  I really enjoyed checking out the new Stitch Shoppe outfits!

2.) Visit the Disney Studio Store

Eliot and I weren't able to do this during our March trip and I really wanted to go there again.  I'm so happy that we had time to visit this trip!  Jeremy and my parents also enjoyed checking the store out.  Eliot and I also bought a few Disney pins!

3.) Get an Ice Cream at the Disney Studio Store

While visiting the Disney Studio Store, Mom, Dad and I all got something to eat... well, kind of.  We had just eaten at the Hard Rock Cafe only a little bit earlier in the evening, so I wasn't really hungry for a large ice cream.  Instead, I got a delicious chocolate milk shake and Mom and Dad both got root beer floats.

4.) See the Hollywood Sign

We got to see more of the Hollywood Sign this trip than we ever have.  Not only did we see it from Hollywood, but we also saw it from our tour bus and from Griffith Park!

5.) See Hollywood Boulevard

We spent a lot of time on Hollywood Boulevard doing all sorts of touristy things!

6.) See Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

We did walk by the Grauman's Chinese Theatre and we took a few photos of it!

7.) See the Walk of Fame

We spent a lot of time on the Walk of Fame this trip.  We drove by it a few times.  We walked on it a lot.  In fact, I saw more stars this trip than I ever have!

8.) Find Stars on Walk of Fame

I wanted to find a few stars on the Walk of Fame.  While we didn't find all of the ones that I had originally wanted to, we did find most of them.  A lot of the Disney ones are right near the Disney Studio Store and El Capitan Theater.

9.) Go to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Eliot and I went to the wax museum in Las Vegas when we went to celebrate his 21st birthday years ago.  We had a lot of fun there and I thought this would be a fun addition to our trip.  My Mom kept joking that she might see a celebrity since we were flying home through LAX, and I figured that was a small chance.  Instead, I thought the wax museum would be a fun way to see a lot of them!  We had a great time!

10.) Take a Bus Tour

I'm so thankful that this worked out.  When we got a flat tire on the way into Hollywood, it was clear that we were going to be late for our tour.  Eliot called and asked them to push it back, but we ended up missing that time as well.  Thankfully, they were able to reschedule us to a different day later that week and we ended up getting to go!  It was a lot of fun and great to see all of the Hollywood landmarks!


11.) Check out S. Preston Art at the GardenWalk Anaheim

Eliot and I met S. Preston a few years ago when the San Jose Sharks hosted the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend.  (It's a long story, but we befriended him at his booth at the Fan Expo event.)  I follow him on social media and found out that he opened a gallery at the GardenWalk in Anaheim.  We desperately wanted to go this past March, but it just didn't work out.  This trip, we only had two evenings when his gallery was open that we could go, but we made sure to prioritize it and I'm so glad we did.  Eliot and I got a chance to talk with him, see an upcoming design and we even bought a few things!

12.) Go to the Beach

My Mom has always talked about dipping her toe in the Pacific Ocean.  Now that she's had all of her foot surgeries, that's not exactly as feasible as it once was.  But I still wanted to take her to the ocean so she could say that she'd seen it!  I even reached down to touch the Pacific Ocean while we were there since I never have before!

13.) See a California Sunset

After we saw the spectacular sunset on the way to the airport back in March, I knew that would be the perfect addition to our trip.  So on our first night in California, Eliot and I packed everyone back into the van to ride over to Sunset Beach.  I couldn't find a parking spot in time for us to actually see the sun setting behind the nearby mountains, but we were able to see the most stunning after effects in the clouds!

14.) Go Swimming at our Hotel

Even with our jam-packed trip schedule, we made time to go swimming in the pool at our hotel.  The pool was bigger than I was expecting it to be, and we inadvertently timed it perfectly.  We went in the middle of our California Adventure day, and no one else was in the pool for most of the time we were in it!  (We had it to ourselves for at least 20 minutes!)  It was a great way to relax and unwind after all of the walking we had done at Disneyland... especially since we were in a heatwave!

15.) Drive Around Disneyland Resort Area

This was probably the first thing that I checked off of any of my bucket lists since we had to drive past Disneyland in order to get to our hotel.  Like I suspected, Mom and Dad were stunned at how the parks were literally right in the middle of the city.  We've explained it many times, but until you see it, you can't really wrap your head around it!


California Highway

There were a few other unexpected experiences... both good and bad that we had this trip.  The worst and most terrifying (by far!) was when our rental car got a flat tire in the middle of I-5 between Anaheim and LA.  Thankfully, I knew enough to pull over in the safest spot I could... which still wasn't ideal.  Cars rushed by us at 80+ miles an hour and the rental van was literally shaking back and forth when 18-wheelers drove by.  I won't get into the details here... but let's just say that I'm incredibly thankful we're all safe after that not-so-pleasant part of our trip!  (Yes, that's really how close they were!)

Griffith Park 

We weren't sure if we'd have time for this particular adventure, but I'm so glad we were able to get there.  This might be the silver lining to the car breaking down and that whole fiasco.  When we missed our bus tour, I wanted to make sure Mom still got to see the Hollywood Sign so Eliot and I navigated the way to Griffith Park and up to the Observatory where we heard that was the best place to view the sign...

LA Overlook

What we weren't expecting, was that we'd also have a spectacular view of Downtown LA.  Like, this was "the" place to get an incredible view of the sign and LA.

Hard Rock Cafe

We were starved by the time we left Griffith Park, so we ended up having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe right on Hollywood Boulevard once we got parked and settled.  I didn't even realize there was a Hard Rock right there, but it was a great place to relax and fuel up after our breakdown fiasco and adventure to Griffith Park.

See Hogwarts Castle and Universal Hollywood

When we were finally able to take our Hollywood bus tour, our driver took us to another overlook where you could see Universal Hollywood and Hogwarts Castle!  Eliot and I have never been to the Universal park in LA, so it was cool to see it off in the distance!

Griffith Park Afterthoughts 

Finally, it wasn't until we were at Disneyland that it suddenly clicked to me that when we went to Griffith Park to see the Hollywood Sign, it was the Griffith Park where Walt Disney dreamed of Disneyland while his daughters were riding the carousel.  It has an entirely new special meaning to me now.  While we didn't see the carousel while there, we were in the same park and it kind of makes the entire California trip feel full circle!

Boom!  And that is how you complete an entire bucket list!  Woo-hoo!!!  There were a few times when I wasn't sure if we were going to make it.  Flat tires and tight schedules aside, I completed everything on my September 2022 California Trip Bucket List!!! 

I'm so glad we got to spend some time in Hollywood during this trip too.  Eliot and I have been to Hollywood twice, but we've never really spent a good amount of time there.  I feel like we actually had the Hollywood experience this trip.  And I know that my parents both really enjoyed it... especially the bus tour!

Overall, it was an amazing trip... and this was only a small part of it!  Check back for the results of my Disneyland and D23 Expo Bucket Lists!  °o°

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