Sunday, August 19, 2007

Well, I'm back home again. Which is great, as I was really missing Cowboy for the last few days of our week apart, although tonight he's at work and I'm missing him again and suffering from the post-vacation blues. Anyway, here's a day-by-day rundown of the California half of my vacation:

I landed at LAX on Friday, where DKoren picked me up, and we headed off to the Pink Palace, aka a Days Inn in Santa Monica. There we met up with our fellow Reconites, four of them newbies and the other six veterans like us (aka they were at last year's Recon.) They threw a Combat!-themed baby shower for me that night -- you wouldn't believe how much camo baby stuff they managed to find! And we played this fun new board game that DKoren created. It's based on "the baby episode," aka "One More for the Road," and basically follows the path of the ep, with places where you have to answer trivia questions about the ep and others where something from the ep happens and you can get penalized or rewarded (eg "Doc revives baby, go ahead one space" or "Stroback gets killed by a mine, go back to start.") It was highly fun, and I actually won by the skin of my teeth :-D

On Saturday, we went to Franklin Canyon, where parts of many eps were filmed, and guess who met up with us there for a little while? Pierre Jalbert, aka Caje! He lives not too far away and is friends with a couple of us Reconites, and they asked if he'd come meet the rest of us, and he did! Totally unexpected and awesome. He's waaaay cool, still all trim and wiry even tho he's in his 80s. Told us several fun stories about behind-the-scenes stuff from Combat! and let us take our pictures with him, etc. When I get a chance, aka when I get them developed and scanned in to my computer, I'll try to post some pics from the whole week.

Anyway, after Pierre left, we went on a tour of Franklin locations led by none other than Dodger and Green Recruit! We used to call Dodger "Mr. E-head" which stood for "Mr. Encyclopedia-Head" -- he has an amazing knowledge of WWII history. Then for lunch, we had real MREs! And they weren't bad! And I'm not just saying that because I'm pregnant and hungry a lot, hee.

On Sunday, we drove to a couple of cemeteries and visited the ashes of Rick Jason (aka Lt. Hanley) and the grave of Vic Morrow (aka Sgt. Saunders). We tried to go to the beach, but it was just too crowded, so we went back to the Pink Palace and played C! Trivial Pursuit instead.

And on Monday, we all left. DKoren and I headed up into the hills above Hollywood to see if we could find Rudolf Valentino's home, Falcon Lair. We found it all right, at the top of a steep, narrow, twisty road. I shudder to think of Rudy with his terrible eyesight driving up and down that thing in his big cars. Anyway, I took some dvd footage of the gateposts, which are still the originals with the name on them, although the great wrought-iron gates of Rudy's time have been replaced by black board ones you can't see through. So then Deb took my photo by the gateposts, but I must have gotten to close to them, because this crabby bald man came running out from around the corner and yelled, "This is private property! You're setting off alarms!" We'd seen what we wanted to see anyway, so we left, although I'm pretty sure that a sign posted on the fence beside the gates that says "No Trespassing" means that you can't go beyond that fence, not that you can't stand in the road outside the gates. Especially since the road was not marked "Private Drive" (and there were lots of other houses on the same road). Whatever.

Anyway, we drove out to Paramount Ranch next, where they've filmed lots and lots of westerns, and also where they filmed the town for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The church is gone, though the bridge near it is still there, and the tree where Grace had her outdoor cafe is there too. But we didn't get to look at all the buildings and walk down the streets like we wanted to because some small production was actually filming there! But we got to eat our lunch on a picnic bench under a tree a ways away from the action and watch them a little, so that was exciting. From there, we headed up to DKoren's new house, which she just bought and isn't yet unpacked in. We ate supper at her sister's house, which is right next door.

On Tuesday, we went digital-camera hunting, moved some of DKoren's stuff into the house from her yard, and hung out with her family next door.

On Wednesday, we drove up into the Sierra to visit DKoren's parents. We made a bunch of cool stops along the way. First, we tried to find this vineyard that was used as a set in a C! ep, but alas, it's been refaced and renovated and turned into a business complex. From there, we drove out into the Mojave Desert, which DKoren kept calling "boring" and "ugly," but which I thought was really pretty in a rugged way, and a nice relief from the ultra-populated cities we'd been in up to then. You're supposed to have really awesome views of the mountains as you drive up into them, but because of the huge fire over in Santa Barbara, we could barely see the mountains because they were obscured by a thick haze of smoke. But that's okay. I got to see some cool lava flows and cinder cones along the way.

Our next stop was Red Rock Canyon, where they filmed lots of old westerns, both movies and TV shows. We walked around a little, but it was too hot to go exploring much. I think I got some nifty pics tho.

From there, we headed to a western film museum in the town of Lone Pine. Lots and lots and lots of things are filmed around Lone Pine, from western (The Lone Ranger and tons more) to film noir (Bad Day at Black Rock) to action (Gladiator). The museum is full of things like hats worn by John Wayne and Steve McQueen and Dean Martin, costumes, movie posters, etc.

Next we stopped at the Alabama Hills, where they film a lot of westerns and sci-fi stuff. They're totally amazing hills -- some of them are all rough and jagged and westerny, and some are really alien, all rounded and burbly. Hard to describe -- I'll post some pics soon. One of the most famous things they filmed there was the 1930 Cary Grant movie Gunga Din.

After stopping at DKoren's parents' house, her mom drove us out to the Laws Museum, which was originally a town built for the Steve McQueen western Nevada Smith and is now a museum full of all kinds of cool antiques and a big train.

From the museum, we headed up to Hot Creek, where the main set for the John Wayne movie North to Alaska was once built. DKoren's mom is really into geology and geothermal activity, and Hot Creek has been changing and growing progressively hotter and more active, so she likes to go there and see how things are changing. The path we walked on there was only about a mile above active volcanic lava, and the pavement cracks and splits over time because the earth moves. We also stopped by this pretty (and deliciously cold!) lake called Convict's Lake on our way back to her home.

On Thursday, DKoren and I drove back down to San Bernardino. We stopped at this tiny little restaurant in the town of Aberdeen -- whenever John Wayne was shooting a movie around there, he would insist on eating at that restaurant because he really loved their food, especially their beans. Alas, the owners of the restaurant were on vacation this same week too, so it was closed :-( Which means I will have to go back again, right? We also stopped at Manzanar, which was a Japanese Relocation Camp during WWII. Not much is left of it except some foundation slabs and stones, but they have a nice air-conditioned museum, and it looks like they're restoring one of the housing unit things too.

We got back to San Bernardino on Thursday afternoon, only to have the power go out about half an hour after we arrived. YUCK. No air-conditioning, no fans -- I was not a happy person. We ended up going out for supper, and when we came back, the power had returned, so I was able to finish doing some laundry and packing, and we watched a couple movies, one a Bobby Darin western and the other a Dana Andrews/Hoagy Carmichael drama.

Friday, I flew out of the Santa Ana John Wayne airport, had a layover in Phoenix, ended up in Chicago, and took a bus to WI, where Cowboy picked me up. I've spent the last couple days unpacking and trying to switch back to 3rd shift. I have to go back to work tomorrow night and I really don't want to, but that's life, I guess.

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