Monthly Archives: November 2018

Palm Springs CA & Yuma AZ Nov 25, 2018

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we drove east to Palm Springs. We were anticipating heavy holiday traffic so we left earlier than usual. The traffic heading east wasn’t bad. But notice all the traffic heading west towards Los Angeles. It was backed up for many miles. We always know we are getting close to Palm Springs when we see lots of wind turbines and road signs with names like Gene Autry and Bob Hope. 20181125_11045220181125_11064920181125_11125020181125_112012

We loved our campground with the beautiful tall swaying palm trees. 20181125_132503

Everything was perfect until we saw the paper in our welcome packet warning us of rattlesnakes. Fortunately in the eight days we were there we didn’t see any. 20181125_123649

We really enjoyed Palm Springs even though it has lots of traffic.

On our first trip to Walmart a big roadrunner was wandering around the parking lot, oblivious to all the cars and people. IMG_20181203_143735

After spending three months in the spring and three months in the fall, or a total of half the year in California, on December 7 we left California and entered Arizona. We now pay about a dollar less for a gallon of gas and no longer need to pay can deposits. 20181127_161419

Our destination was Yuma, AZ where we will spend most of the winter. We have spent several winters in Yuma over the past six years so it feels very familiar to us. There is a very large snowbird population here in Yuma and it is a large sprawling city with three Walmarts, the usual large anchor stores found at malls and many restaurants. 

We pretty much picked up where we left off last winter with Bill rejoining the Yuma Amateur Radio group with their weekly breakfast meetups and monthly meetings. We went back to the Yuma Methodist Church where the pastor remembered us and we have some snowbird friends.

Our first week back we had our yearly physicals and blood-work. Always good to get that done. We drove the very short distance over the border to Los Algodones in Baja, Mexico where we rewarded ourselves with great tacos and nachos and of course big margaritas. They make their margaritas pretty strong! 20181207_123801

We are currently still in Yuma until mid January when we leave to spend three weeks in Quartzsite. We are signed up to enjoy Christmas dinner here in the RV park with other snowbirds. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.


Aguanga, CA Nov 18, 2018

After a fabulous stay in the Los Angeles area we headed south and east to the Jojoba Hills RV Park in Aguanga, CA near Temecula. Along the way we passed some interesting rock formations. 20181118_11525020181118_11530820181118_115332

Our main reason for visiting Jojoba Hills was to meet up with our friends Bob and Sharon. Back in 2014 we traveled with them as part of an RV caravan down to Mexico. We last saw them in the fall of 2016.  Whenever we see them we pick right back up where we left off like we saw them yesterday. 20181120_15092420181120_150843

We had a lovely campsite at Jojoba Hills and one day Bob and Sharon gave us a tour of the park and all the facilities available there.  20181123_15184920181123_15213220181123_15174820181123_152014

On Thanksgiving Day we enjoyed a wonderful community Thanksgiving dinner. IMG_20181122_163305IMG_20181122_163336

While we were there Bill celebrated his 65th birthday on Thanksgiving Day and Bob and Sharon came by for a little celebration. 20181121_15595420181121_155357IMG_20181121_160346

One day Bob drove us into Temecula to give us a tour of the town. On the way back we stopped at an metal sculpture area where all kinds of amazing sculptures are for sale. Sculptors are by Ricardo Breceda. We also found a geocache there! IMG_20181122_124916IMG_20181122_12493420181122_12444220181122_124601IMG_20181122_124600IMG_20181122_12461420181122_124733IMG_20181122_125005-EFFECTSIMG_20181122_12520120181122_12542920181122_12552520181122_131322

Bill’s cousin Sandra and her husband Ed live about fifteen miles away in Warner Springs. Sandra’s family was having their Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday and invited us. Wow! Two Thanksgiving dinners in one week! Always wonderful to spend time with family! 20181124_154441

Our week at Jojoba Hills passed too quickly.

Next up: Palm Desert, CA

Los Angeles, CA Part 3, Nov 16, 2018

Continuing with our Los Angeles adventures, on Thursday we drove to nearby Castaic and had a nice visit with Bill’s cousin George and his wife Cindy. 20181114_154732IMG_20181115_145111

Friday was a very busy day. We drove back into LA to tour Griffith Observatory. Even on a weekday the Observatory parking lot was full and we had to park at the bottom of the hill and ride a shuttle bus back and forth. 


On the road to the top is this tunnel. It has been used in many Hollywood films.

Between the traffic getting into the city and waiting twenty minutes for the bus each way, we didn’t have time for a planetarium show. But we really did enjoy walking around inside, seeing all the exhibits and watching a movie about the Observatory narrated by Leonard Nimoy.


A large rotating Moon and a Moon rock exhibit


The outside views were pretty amazing too even though it was a hazy day. No doubt all the wildfires didn’t help.  We had views of the Los Angeles area, the Hollywood sign and the Pacific Ocean far in the distance. IMG_20181116_133421IMG_20181116_144641IMG_20181116_145003


The afternoon sun reflecting off the Pacific Ocean

The Observatory first opened in 1935 and has free admission in accordance with the will of Griffith J. Griffith who was the Observatory’s benefactor. IMG_20181116_134035IMG_20181116_134728IMG_20181116_134746IMG_20181116_134805


Mural on the ceiling in the main entrance

The planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation during WWII.  In the 1960’s it was used to train Apollo astronauts for the first lunar missions. In 2002 the Observatory underwent a four year $93 million renovation in which the building was actually jacked up so an underground floor could be added. 

In 1955 the Observatory became an emblem of Los Angeles when scenes from the James Dean movie “Rebel Without A Cause” was filmed there. A bust of Dean is located on the Observatory grounds. Many many films and TV shows have been filmed here as well.

We really enjoyed our visit and it is definitely on our must return list.

The reason we couldn’t stay longer at the Griffith Observatory is because we had tickets to see the taping of “The Conners”, formerly “Roseanne” at the Warner Brothers Studio.  We actually had tickets for the previous Friday and even though we arrived two hours early with general admission tickets, we were turned away after waiting an hour and a half. They had a lot of VIP guests and the seats filled up quickly. They always way over book to ensure a full audience.   We were disappointed, aggravated but would not be deterred. I emailed my high school friend and asked if she could use her contacts and get us VIP tickets for the following Friday. It seems VIP tickets is the only way to be sure to get in. She said she would see what she could do. A few days later we had VIP tickets and a pass for VIP parking right on the studio lot. We could see the signs where Sara Gilbert and others parked right near us! Unfortunately just like “Last Man Standing “, absolutely no pictures are allowed. We didn’t even want to chance taking our phones out in the studio parking lot to take pictures. No sense getting thrown off the lot after getting this far! But we did manage to snap this picture from the street before we passed through security. 20181109_155821

Whereas “Last Man Standing “ took two and a half hours to tape, “The Conners” took three and a half hours. Since they took us into the studio an hour before taping, it was a long evening. But just like the other taping, they gave us pizza and candy. Katey Sagal had a guest appearance on the show. It was all a great experience and I am glad we were able to get in this time with VIP treatment. Thanks again, Miriam!

Our last day in the area we drove a short distance from our campground to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. We were attracted to the area because of all the movies and TV shows filmed here beginning in 1935 and including movies such as “Planets of the Apes, Star Trek IV, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, Conquest of Cochise, One Million B.C., The Flintstones, and The Ten Commandments”, as well as TV shows such as “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Battlestar Galactica, Big Bang Theory, Bonanza, Gunsmoke” and the list goes on and on.  IMG_4476IMG_4478IMG_4481IMG_4490

A prominent rock formation is nicknamed “Kirk’s Rock” since so many Star Trek movies and TV shows have been filmed here. Also commercials for Taco Bell, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America were shot here as well. IMG_4483IMG_4486IMG_4487

While we were there some young adults were filming some kind of crazy scenes. They appeared to most likely be some college kids working on a group project. IMG_4489

The rock formations formed about 25 million years ago due to uplift along the San Andreas Fault and rapid erosion. The area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 because it was a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples around 450 B.C. The Homesteading Act of 1862 made the land available to homesteaders and many of them made money renting the area out as filming locations and they put up tourist cabins to capitalize on the star power. Some of the landowners used lumber and nails from old movie sets to build homes. California’s first gold rush began less than fifteen miles from here. And yet it wasn’t gold, but the discovery of borax which provided wealth to the area. IMG_20181117_105512

This area is so rich in filming history. One day as we were driving back from LA one of the roads near our campground was closed due to filming being done. We could see all the filming equipment and trucks as we drove by. IMG_20181116_112010

Despite the scary wildfires and wind, we had a great time while in this area. There is so much to do in the Los Angeles area we have a long list of places to go and things to see next time.

Next up: we move further south to Jojoba Hills near Temecula to see friends

Los Angeles, CA Part 2, Nov 14, 2018

Our time in Acton continued with an eye and ear on the wildfire news as we made several more trips into Los Angeles.

Bill turns 65 on Thanksgiving Day and for his birthday gift he chose to take a VIP Tour of Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood. The only problem was the tour began at 9:30 AM which meant we would be making the drive from Acton into Los Angeles during rush hour traffic. Well, nothing we could do about that and the traffic was just as bad as you may have heard. It took us over two hours to go the forty miles, not to mention the wear and tear on my nerves! 20181114_090429

The VIP tour included exclusive access to private areas of Paramount Studios including Special Effects, the Sign Shop, Prop Warehouse, the Film Archives facilities and a tour of a sound stage. A gourmet lunch on the studio lot was also provided. 20181114_09383720181114_10393320181114_10365920181114_100651IMG_20181114_123528


1986 Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home

Our tour began with some history of the studio including Adolph Zukor, the founding father of Paramount Pictures. Zukor was an orphan who immigrated in 1899 from Hungary. He came alone with a small amount of cash sewn in his pocket. Zukor noted the success of Cecil B. DeMille’s movie, “The Squaw Man” in 1913, the first film shot in Hollywood. In 1916 Zukor contracted 22 actors and actresses, including Mary Pickford. At a time when most actors made seven thousand dollars a year, her record breaking contract was for $10,000 per week or $520,000 per year!  Zukor became known as “The Architect of Hollywood “ and his “Studio System” business design, which kept the production, distribution and exhibition within one company, became a model for other studios. He was the chairman of Paramount for 47 years. IMG_20181114_090835IMG_20181114_090839-EFFECTS

Over the years Paramount Studios grew, including the 1967 purchase of Desilu Productions from Lucille Ball, which was the biggest independent studio in Hollywood. Today the Studio sits on a 65 acre lot at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Desilu pioneered television syndication which today is a multi billion dollar industry. Desilu Studios, under Lucy and Desi, produced “Star Trek”, “Hogan’s Heroes”, “The Untouchables”, “The Andy Griffith Show”, “The Lucy Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show “.  IMG_20181114_091010IMG_20181114_091027IMG_20181114_104016

Our tour guide said when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced, she got Desilu Productions and Desi got all the royalties from “I Love Lucy”. They both did well but I think Desi made the better deal!

Our tour guide said Lucy received criticism from the media for leaving her children too much, so she had an exact replica of her house built on the Studio lot. The press never knew if she and her children were on the set or at home. IMG_20181114_135717

Paramount Pictures won the very first Academy Award in 1929 for the Best Picture of 1927-1928, “Wings”. From the 1930’s until 1967, a short cartoon was shown before each movie Bimbo Dog and Betty Boop, Superman, Popeye the Sailor and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Cecil B. DeMille was considered one of Paramount’s founding fathers with his epic films such as “The Ten Commandments” and “Cleopatra”. In 1934, Mae West became America’s first sex symbol. Her famous innuendos caught the attention of The Production Code Administration who began to enforce censorship. This evolved into the rating system today such as G, PG, PG-13, and R. West became the second wealthiest person in America by 1934, which I guess proves the saying “sex sells”!

From 1920 to 1960 Alfred Hitchcock, the “Master of Suspense”, worked on the Paramount lot. He built an authentic city on Paramount’s Stage 18 for his masterpiece “Rear Window”. Our guide told us Hitchcock was always going over budget and the Studio was always trying to reign him in. 20181114_091032

From 1940 to 1962 Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made seven films for Paramount. Bing Crosby has not one, but three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 20181114_140405IMG_20181114_135708

From 1949 to 1956, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were big hits for Paramount.

Bill had his picture taken with a box of candy exactly where Forrest Gump sat. 20181114_091403IMG_20181114_101118

We also saw where the patio scene from “Top Gun” was filmed. IMG_20181114_105812

Lyle Waggoner (Carol Burnett Show) loved his trailer on the studio lot. His trailer business of over 800 trailers are built to accommodate makeup, wardrobe, etc for filming locations. As we passed by on our golf cart tour we could often peak in the open doors to see makeup tables, chairs and mirrors waiting for the stars. 20181114_111335

In case you are wondering, no we didn’t see any starsIMG_20181114_131507

And more props! IMG_20181114_104451IMG_20181114_14054120181114_141547


2016 Star Trek Beyond – Yorktown Public Transporter


There are two gates into Paramount Studios. The Bronson Gate is from 1928 and the Melrose Gate is newer. Our tour guide told us the story of how when Charles Dennis Buchinsky came to try out for an acting role he quickly decided he needed a last name that didn’t sound Eastern European and possibly Communist. He looked out the window and saw the Bronson gate. From that point on he became known as Charles Bronson!


1928 Bronson Gate



We had a wonderful time at Paramount Studios. Happy early birthday Bill! IMG_20181114_095335

As we drove around the studio we saw stage wall boards where the previous filming is listed. IMG_20181114_095543IMG_20181114_105454IMG_20181114_133608

Next up:  One more blog about our Los Angeles adventures

Los Angeles, CA, Part 1, Nov 5, 2018

We just finished a two week stay at an RV park in Acton, California where the winds and threat of wildfires were a constant worry. Acton is located about forty miles northeast of Los Angeles.  The Santa Ana winds were fierce, blowing dust and dirt which left us with itchy eyes and everything covered in dust. We kept a very close eye on the California wildfires and thankfully we remained safe. We had an emergency plan and stayed ready to leave quickly if we got the word. My dear friend in Paradise lost her home and everything they owned in the fire. Sara and I taught together in Charlottesville many years ago. Bill and I visited Sara and her sweet family in Paradise just seven months ago. Now the entire town is gone and the citizens are trying to pick up the pieces. The fires in Paradise and Malibu made us nervous, watchful and diligent.

In spite of all this we did manage to get into Los Angeles for some fun. One day we drove in to see a taping of the TV show “Last Man Standing” at CBS Studios in Studio City. (Even though it is shown on Fox television, it is filmed at CBS Studios). During the drive we could see smoke from the Malibu fires in the distance. 


Smoke that is 25 Miles Away

Since the taping wasn’t until 6:00 P.M. we had time to first go by Forest Lawn Cemetery at Hollywood Hills. The cemetery is huge with different sections, including an area with a statue of George Washington and a replica of the Old North Church in Boston. IMG_20181109_142517IMG_20181109_151807

We found the plaque describing the statue particularly interesting. It said, “Washington wears the uniform of the army he had led through six bitter years of war. In the midst of battle his fearless example inspired his men.  When hunger stalked his weary troops he shared their lot. When his own officers betrayed him he fought on so that generals from nations across the sea came one by one to serve him proudly.  And at last God granted his prayers for victory and peace. The seated figures represent the forces that shaped his life: oppression, revolution, victory and the return to peace symbolized by Cincinnatus, the citizen soldier. The portrait busts are those of Washington’s finest generals: The Marquis De Lafayette, Benjamin Lincoln, Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox.”

A large mural of historical events along a back wall said “God Gave Us Liberty. People Who Forsake God Lose Their Liberty”. IMG_20181109_144104a

Many famous people are buried there but we had limited time so we only had time to find a few headstones. Among them was Gene Autry, Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher who are buried together, Stan Laurel, Liberace, John Ritter and Telly Savalas. If you are interested in what any of these grave markers look like we are posting those pictures at the end of this blog. 

After grabbing a quick early dinner we headed to the studio. Four years ago we went to a taping of “Last Man Standing” and a high school friend of mine was a writer on the show. She was able to get us VIP tickets with great seats, and even though she is no longer a writer on the show, I contacted her and once again she got us VIP tickets. Even though it is only a thirty minute show, the taping took two and a half hours since each scene was shot at least twice. In recognition of the very early dinner we had before the show, halfway through the taping they served everyone in the audience a slice of pizza! Unfortunately they do not allow cell phones or cameras in the studio so we have no pictures to share. It was a fun experience and since it was 9:00 P.M. by the time we got on the road toward home, the worst of the rush hour had passed!

Another day we drove back into Los Angeles and visited the Autry Museum of the American West. IMG_20181113_141141IMG_20181113_141257

The museum explores the history of the American West. It has more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts including the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant in the United States. 20181113_151811IMG_20181113_151802

Admission to the museum is free the second Tuesday of each month and we were lucky to visit on that day. Of particular interest to Bill was the extensive gun collection, though not as extensive as the one at the Cody Museum in Cody, Wyoming. IMG_20181113_143957a20181113_14443620181113_144535IMG_20181113_145804IMG_20181113_145959a


1837 Colt Pocket Model Single Action Revolver – Featured a hidden trigger that appeared when cocked


1873 Colt Single Action Army Revolver


Gene Autry Revolver

Many Colt revolvers were especially engraved for presidents. The pistol below was made for President Reagan. 


We really liked a mural called “Spirits of the West” with famous people such as Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Marshall Dillon, Teddy Roosevelt, Gene Autry, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne to name just a few. IMG_20181113_152228IMG_20181113_152256IMG_20181113_152341IMG_20181113_152249


John Wayne and Gene Autry


Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

We also visited Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, a small cemetery tucked into a corner of a busy urban area. The cemetery is so hidden from view it is hard to find and we actually had to ask a local where the entrance was located. There we found the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Don Knotts, Eddie Albert, Eva Gabor, Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, Carroll O’Connor, Walter Matthau, Burt Lancaster, Bob Crane, Peter Falk, Florence Henderson, Jim Backus and Brian Keith. We were really struck by the simplicity of most of these graves of very famous people. We especially loved Don Knotts headstone! IMG_20181113_122258

Once again the pictures are at the bottom of the blog. IMG_20181101_182408

Next up: more sightseeing fun in the LA area

Forest Lawn Cemetery at Hollywood Hills:


Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park: