Mafia Christmas in California!

A Lunsford Christmas tradition is traveling somewhere, anywhere during the holidays.  Some years, we have planned big trips and other years we settle for small ones close to home but we try to keep the spirit of travel alive during the holiday season.  This year, we took a family vote and the decision was to forego gifts and take a holiday trip to California.  None of us had ever really been to California, outside of a business trip, and we thought traveling somewhere sunny and warm would be just the trick to lift our winter blahs.  I won’t bore with you all the mundane details of our 10 day trip but thought I would give you some highlights and share our top moments from Christmas Vacation. We also were able to find a few geocaches along the way.

 

Our favorite part of the vacation was the San Diego Zoo. We will do a separate post for that one next week.

 

All in all, we had a fabulous time at the San Diego Zoo.  It definitely made for a special Christmas Day and one that we won’t soon forget!

 

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

We had never visited a Presidential library but I knew this was somewhere I wanted to visit after seeing images of the Reagan Library on television.  We took advantage of a rainy LA day and decided to make the drive to Simi Valley to enjoy the indoor museum.  I can only imagine how stunning the views were on the drive up as the clouds and rain hampered our view.  Thankfully, as soon as we pulled in to the library, the rain ended allowing us to take in the beauty of the area.  Stunning is all I can say! This was definitely one of the most beautiful and serene places I have ever visited.

We were able to learn more about President Reagan’s early years including getting his start by broadcasting Cubs’ games.  We also got to revisit some of the historical events etched in our memories as children of the 1980’s all the while teaching Miley some presidential history.  We even got to walk through a retired Airforce One and come face to face with a piece of the Berlin wall.  It was worth every bit of that 2 hour drive in the rain and definitely a high light of the trip.

 

 

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Miley giving her Inaugural Address
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The view from inside the museum looking out over the mountains with the rainbow that appeared following the rain
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The other side of the large rainbow that surrounded the library
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Miley with AirForce One
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The Berlin Wall
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One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited especially at sunset

San Diego Bay/USS Midway

Family vacations are amazing but usually at some point during the course of our trips Memfis and I like to steal a few minutes away just for the two of us.  We managed to do just  that on Christmas Morning when we ventured out of our hotel to grab some coffee.  Instead of walking back to the hotel immediately, we decided to stroll along the water walk through Seaport Village and down to the USS Midway.

It was a beautiful morning in San Diego.  Since it was Christmas, there wasn’t the usual hustle and bustle of tourists along the walk but simply a few folks just enjoying the day.  The sounds of water crashing against the rocks and the warmth of the sun was so calming and peaceful.  It might have been one of my favorite moments of our 10 day trip!

We continued along the water towards the USS Midway when we saw the Unconditional Surrender in the distance.  The statue is one of a series of statues resembling the iconic VJ Day in Times Square photo in which a WWII Sailor grabbed and kissed a woman in a white dress upon hearing of America’s victory over Japan.  To say this statue is large would be an understatement.  It is HUGE and fitting to be situated next to the USS Midway.

A walk along San Diego Bay was a fabulous way to being our vacation and the perfect way to end our time in San Diego as well.  San Diego is a beautiful city with great people and somewhere to which I would definitely return.

 

In-n-out Burger/Madame Toussad Wax Museum

What does one do when visiting California? Eat at In-n-Out Burger of course! While we weren’t necessarily excited about standing in a long line for fast food, we did feel it was the right thing to do since former Californians always mention that In-n-Out is one of the things they miss most from their homeland.  Upon arriving in Hollywood, we looked for the nearest restaurant and found one on Sunset Blvd.  It doesn’t get more California than that!

The drive-thru was throughout the parking lot and almost to the street so I decided to take one for the team and brave the crowds inside the restaurant to get this coveted burger.  Burgers and shakes for four were quickly in my hands and delivered to the Mafia who decided to wait in the car.  Not expecting much, we dove into the burgers figuring they would be similar to the kind of greasy burgers one finds at any run of the mill fast food joint.  Boy were we wrong! I am not sure if we were just starving or if this truly was one heck of a burger but either way we were all four more than satisfied and already declaring we would be back before leaving California.  This makes our highlight list primarily because we figured the hype was overrated but found out it was indeed not overrated at all!

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A Darn Good Burger

After In-n-Out, we did the obligatory walk down the Walk of Fame quickly pointing out stars of celebrities we recognized.  It was then we spotted the Madame Toussad Wax Museum.  I immediately thought the idea of visiting the museum was a little hokey and creepy all at the same time but Memfis was adamant that he wanted to see those wax figures.

Much to my surprise, we had a blast! The figures were so life-like that we expected at any minute for one of the celebrities to actually jump out and scare us all silly resulting in a hysterical video that would somehow end up an episode of Fallon or Kimmel.  We probably spent almost two hours in the museum posing and laughing with the wax figures.  It was a not planned, spur of the moment decision to check out Madame Toussad’s and one that all four of us ranked as one of the top moments from our Christmas vacation.

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Memfis with the REAL Godfather

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Hollywood

We started this vacation with a bang at the San Diego Zoo and ended with an equal bang at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Let me start by saying that we are generally not theme park people.  Long lines and exorbitant admission fees are just not my idea of a good time.  However, when your 9 year old is obsessed with Harry Potter, you make the sacrifice and become the parent of the year in her eyes when you take her to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I have never seen her so excited about anything EVER and honestly I immediately got it after walking in the park.  I really did feel like I was in some faraway land full of wizards and sorcery lurking around every corner.

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