Easter and a 12th Birthday

Trip Start Apr 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

There are many reasons why one might choose to visit one church instead of another. This Easter Sunday we chose to worship at the First Christian Church of Monrovia http://www.fccofmonrovia.zoomshare.com/ because its service was the earliest at 9.30 am and we had a date with the Easter Bunny at 11. The service was a real treat, a black gospel singalong with 7 song leaders (beautiful voices) and bilingual sermon in English and Spanish. The congregation was a real mix of people, who were all enthusiastic and welcoming. The preacher was still going when we sneaked out at 11 to grab the kids and head for the hills. When we arrived in Hidden Valley we met our host Leslee and daughter Alanna and son Devin who had returned especially for the Hidden Valley Easter Egg hunt (and probably check that their home was still standing).

The neighbours were really friendly and made us feel like we were old friends. The kids had a great time racing from house to house collecting eggs. The oldies enjoyed a pleasant repast and compared notes about life in LA and Australia. We learnt that Hidden Valley is a true nature lover's paradise. Not only do black bears occasionally raid the trash cans but mountain lions (aka cougars) have been known to attack and kill the sweet little deer that eat the plants in people's gardens. Seriously. Then the locals ask how we can live in Australia with all those dangerous animals...

The kids were less than enthusiastic when Mum and Dad dragged them out that afternoon for a stroll in Monrovia Canyon Park which is literally over the hill from Hidden Valley http://www.yelp.com/biz/monrovia-canyon-park-monrovia. Perhaps it was the fact that the park is not only home to black bears and mountain lion, but also to rattlesnakes and poison oak. Anyway, we are pleased to report that the mission was completed without any sightings of dangerous animals.

Monday 13th April was a special day for Melanie - her 12th birthday! And what better place to celebrate a birthday than Universal Studios www.universalstudioshollywood.com.
We arrived just as the gates were opening at 9 am and stayed for a full 9 hours. Universal Studios is part of Universal City and combines film studios with a theme park. It was fabulous for our family and we did just about everything - rides, shows, studio tour and more. The kids waited patiently while the oldies did 3 scary rides (Jurassic Park, Revenge of the Mummy & House of Horrors) and we all enjoyed The Simpsons Ride and Shrek 4D. Backdraft was a hot show about firefighters, Waterworld was pretty wet and firey but we stayed dry under our ponchos.

Jasmine got a star role in the Special Effects show controlling a robot, Mel and Jaz both got up on stage and danced in the Blues Brothers show, and all 3 kids got soaking wet in the Curious George Soak. We all enjoyed the Studio Tour where we went around real filmsets and had a look at some old ones too. The kids loved the Animal Actors so much we went a second time. We had afternoon tea at Mel's Diner in the park and dinner at a nice Chinese Restaurant in Universal City Walk just outside
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sarabanda on

What an Adventure!
Happy Birthday Melanie and thank you to the whole gang for letting us envious armchair travellers share in your adventures!
Here's to the Runaway Vacationers in the USA (I enjoyed Melanie and Jasmine's recounts - and now would love to hear from Hannah)
Aunty (Sarabanda)

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