Copyright 2013 Melissa Reyes http://mizmeliz.com
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Are Museums Fun? 5 Hot Spots I Visited this Summer in Los Angeles

I did not go out of town for a summer vacation this year, but I did have the chance to visit some of L.A.’s hottest destinations!  Here are some highlights of my “staycation adventures” . . .  5 Summer Hot Spots in Los Angeles:

Click on the name of each attraction to go directly to their website.

number 1The Getty Center, Los Angeles

I went to the Getty Center earlier this year for a Social Media Event.  On that day, my husband and I vowed to return and explore the amazing venue at length. My family remembered this when it came to making plans for Mother’s Day. It was a perfect idea. (Yes, it was a scorching hot day on Mother’s Day in L.A., thus the summer had officially begun for us!)photo credit Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com

The Getty Center is a great place to spend the day with the family, take in some local culture and have a nice meal.  We decided to join the Architectural Design Tour and the Garden Tour on this trip.  It was a lot of walking, but it gave a full scope of the history of the building of the Getty Center and the design of the grounds and gardens.  The same docent lead both tours.  She was quite knowledgeable and personable.

After going on both tours, we still had plenty of time to eat lunch at the cafe and visit some of the exhibits. All of my kids enjoyed the outing. They are teenagers, so I wasn’t expecting too much from them, but I found myself out of steam before they were! I have one son who isn’t into museums and reading as much, but he went along to be a good sport and spend time with the family.  I thought he wasn’t getting much out of it and would look back at it as torture, but recently he was able to recall terms that the docent explained to us in the tour.  I was so impressed that he was paying attention and retained that information even after a few months.  We put our youngest child in charge of taking pictures and that kept him busy and interested.  Our oldest is about to go to college and is studying architectural engineering – so this techie, artsy, place known for its innovative architecture was certainly the perfect destination for him!

See the mosaic gallery of pictures from my day at the Getty Center at the bottom of this post. 

number 2Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I found out through my Blog Venture buddy, Mary of Along Comes Mary, that admission to LACMA is free on holiday Mondays.  We wanted to go together on Memorial Day, but since that didn’t work out my husband and I made a date of it.  I visited LACMA a few years ago and saw the Tim Burton Exhibit.  That was something I will never forget.  I was so impressed with Tim Burton’s early childhood drawings and how those characters ended up coming to life in some of my favorite movies.  I have talked about the experience so many times that my husband was intrigued.  Besides going to the Getty Center, we haven’t been to many local museums together.  It is something we love to do in other cities while on vacation – why not enjoy some of the best museums in the world that happen to be in our own area!

It turned out to be the perfect date.  On a holiday Monday, there was very little traffic and for the price of parking, we enjoyed a few hours at the museum looking at the established and long-term exhibits.  Since contemporary and modern art is usually very high-tech and scientific, it was right up my husband’s alley.  I think his favorite part was the huge elevator, but he enjoyed most of the rooms.  While I enjoy sitting and looking at paintings and sculptures or people watching, my hubby likes to read all of the information posted about each artifact and view every documentary on the screens.  He can go for hours taking in all of this information systematically.  I like to soak it all in and look at the things that attract me.

We vowed to return to LACMA again because there was much more than we could see in a few hours.  However, personally I would not have enjoyed being there for too much longer.  I would rather return another day.  I would definitely benefit from becoming a member there!

number 3California Science Center

Since we had such a great time at the Getty Center on Mother’s Day and LACMA on Memorial Day, we thought we would try another outing with the kids on Father’s Day.  We decided on the California Science Center because my husband had been wanting to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor since it arrived in L.A.

This was an amazing experience!  The California Science Center has some wonderful exhibits and is free all the time.  It is home to the IMAX Theater and  the Space Shuttle Experience.  Both require tickets in advance which you can get online.  I enjoyed looking at the Space Shuttle and it was particularly meaningful to me since it was Father’s Day and it brought back fond memories of my dad.  He worked in the aerospace industry and was involved in early contracts for the Space Shuttle.  It was his pride and joy to have had a part in American history and he would have loved to have seen that exhibit.  I know he was proud of us for going there.

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I am not as in to seeing science exhibits as much as I am art and architecture, so I bottomed out rather quickly at this one.  My son, who was just ‘along for the ride,’ and I hung out together in the gift shop and at the cafe while the others fully immersed themselves in the experience.  When my youngest got bored, the three of us went outside and waited near the butterfly garden.  It was a beautiful day and if I had realized that there was a lovely park there, I might have brought a picnic, a blanket and a football for the boys.

There is so much to do in Exposition Park, you can definitely make a day of it.  Adjacent to the California Science Center is the Natural History Museum. . . we may be back for the next holiday!

number 4Griffith Observatory

For my sister-in-law’s birthday my brother planned a lovely afternoon at Griffith Observatory.  I am still not sure if he was riding our coat-tails on the idea of visiting our local attractions or if it was purely coincidence.  Nonetheless, I was excited by the notion of visiting another favorite L.A. destination.

We met at the Merry-go-round at Griffith Park and devoured the luscious pies that my brother had brought in his ice chest.  There are lots of picnic tables and large grassy areas by the tennis courts.  There is a little snack bar where the kids bought drinks and popcorn.  The majestic antique Merry-go-round is a Los Angeles treasure and tickets to ride it are only a few bucks. Parking is free at Griffith Park and it is just a little drive around the mountain from the Merry-go-Round to the parking area for the observatory.

photo credit Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com
The Majestic Merry-go-round at Griffith Park

The Griffith Observatory has been renovated since I was last there and I was impressed with the newest additions.  I was also relieved that the old favorites still remain and can be shared with future generations.  There is so much to see and do at the Griffith Observatory.  We explored the telescopes and the science and space exhibits.  Along the outside perimeter are plenty of photo spots to take pictures of the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica mountains, panoramic views of the city and the observatory building itself.

Inside there are two theaters, the newest being the Leonard Nimoy theater and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Admission to the observatory is free, but tickets for the planetarium shows are $3-$7 and must be purchased at the ticket counter at the observatory.  We saw a show at each of the theaters during our visit.  The free show that we saw at the Nimoy theater was fun (funny) and informative.

number 5The Getty Villa, Malibu

For my birthday I decided to take the family to the Getty Villa in Malibu.  Well, I suppose they took me – since it was my birthday! I was there once as a child and I only remember a few details.  The thing that impressed me the most was the feeling of being worlds away, as if I were transported through time and space to a special point in history.  The Getty Villa was closed for a long time and since they built the Getty Center, I did not know what happened to it.  It has been renovated and is simply breathtaking!  I still got that feeling that I was transported to a special place and it was even better than I remembered it!

The villa itself is a beautiful specimen of architecture and design.  It houses an enormous collection of antiquities, sculptures and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome.  Anyone interested in history, mythology, art, design, archaeology or anthropology will love this museum and educational center.

There is a special procedure to follow in order to gain entry to this iconic California landmark and I observed it being strictly followed.  Admission is free to the museum but reservations must be made in advance to park there.  The fee for parking is $15 per car and each person in the car must have a printed “timed entry” ticket.  The nice thing about this procedure is the ease in finding a parking space upon arrival.  Even though we went on a busy summer weekend afternoon, I did not have the feeling that is was crowded.

We explored all the exhibits and wandered the villa and the grounds in a few hours.  It was fun and beautiful.  There are lots (way more than I expected) and lots of nude statues, so be prepared if you have children with you or that makes you uncomfortable.

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Plan to have extra time if you like to take pictures, there are so many things to photograph including many of the artifacts.  I took pictures of everything, even the tiled flooring.  It was different in every room and I loved taking shots of it.  Can you imagine?  Centuries old art all around me and I am taking photos of the floor!  It was fun! I did get in trouble for trying to get a shot of the visiting exhibit from Sicily – that apparently is a big no-no.  But they allow you to photograph practically everything else.

The kids are a little burned out on the “museum” thing.  But my husband and I have found it to be the perfect date for us.  We plan on going to the Reagan Library next!

So, what do you think? Are museums fun?  Have you been to any of these places while visiting Los Angeles?  Which is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions for other adventures in the area?  

Disclosure:  I love sharing my experiences and happily opted to post this piece for fun.  I do not represent any of the venues nor was I asked to write about them.

Number photo credit:  Image credit: wikki / 123RF Stock Photo

 

 

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Everything Miz Meliz, Movie Reviews

The Movie EPIC Opens Soon: Win Free Passes from @MizMeliz

Sign up to see a FREE Screening THIS SATURDAY at 10 AM in Burbank, just email MizBizEvents@Gmail.com for details.

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What is Epic? EPIC is a 3D CG adventure comedy that reveals a fantastical world unlike any other. From the creators of ICE AGE and RIO, EPIC tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world…and ours.

I have a special offer for you to see a screening on behalf of 20th Century Fox and their upcoming 3D animated feature EPIC. You can attend a special family screening of the movie on Saturday May, 18th.

If you would like to attend the special family screening of EPIC on May 18th at 10 AM in Burbank, leave a comment telling me what is your favorite animated film and send me an email to mizbizevents@gmail.com letting me know how many passes you need for your family.  I will send a reply email with all the details to qualified winners.  I will need the exact names of all attendees prior to the date of the screening by WEDNESDAY, MAY 15th.

Check it out!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6Nwdpa5PcU
Website: http://www.epicthemovie.com/

Note:  You must live in the local area and provide your own transportation to the theater.  These passes do not guarantee admission to the film.  It is important to show up 45 minutes before the start of the screening to ensure VIP seating.  Space is limited.  I will post a message when all passes have been given away.  Only the names of the limited eligible winners will be placed on the guest list.

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive

Continued from . . . What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a “Road Trip State of Mind” . . .

Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation

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Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you hear the click of the seat belt as you are getting seated on a roller coaster ride?  You know, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Will it be fun? Will it make me sick? Will it be worth it? Will it be. . . . oh . . . here we goooooo! And it starts. It is exciting.  Every breathtaking turn and each heart stopping plummet makes you smile from ear to ear.  Your screams are screams of delight! And when it is over, you wonder if you will have time to take the ride again.  You realize it was just a few minutes of joy.  And now, it’s over.  What’s next?  Well – this was nothing like that!

It started slowly, after hours and hours of driving through dirt dry desert terrain and long twisty mountain roads with nothing to see but a giant blue dome overhead and the far off promise of a horizon in the distance.  I kept thinking that in the near future we will get to our destination.  We will be sleeping in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight and in the morning we will be touring the campus that my oldest son might be calling home before long.  This might just be the first time I drive this road.  It might be the first of many times.  I was thinking about that when we started to drive up a long steady incline, through the foothills of a large mountain range stretched out before us.  It was like the long tall ascent of a big rollercoaster and the car felt like it was being pulled by cables, slow and steady, and I couldn’t see what was at the top.  My excitement was building.  I felt somewhat breathless.  That was probably my body adjusting to the altitude.  I took some slow steady breaths.  I drank some water.  I looked over the railing to the land below, and I saw a vineyard.  It seemed so out-of-place.  The only thing that looked alive and colorful was the sign for the vineyard, and the buildings, and billboards around the area.  Everything else was dry with just the hint that it had all survived the winter months and may be dormant just before Spring bursts through the vines.  I took note of the place, Grande River Vineyards, and considered it might be thriving the next time I come through here, perhaps in the Fall.  It might be worth a stop if we had time.  I closed my eyes for a while.  I repeated my mantra to myself, “I will be sleeping in Fort Collins tonight and I will wake to a new day!”

At this point my husband was driving.  He had taken over at the last gas station where we had stopped to fuel up and stretch.  I planned to drive longer, but he offered and I didn’t refuse.  I figured I could rest and then take over again in a few hours.  The next four hours of driving proved to be another testament of my husband’s stoic character.  Over the years he has been my rock.  He has the ability to stay calm and persevere through the most difficult times.  I have seen him run into a  burning building to fetch beloved items for my elderly aunt and give mouth to mouth and revive our newborn son – there is no doubt that he is an angel and a hero!  He has to be patient, calm and understanding with me!  I get nervous and I worry a lot. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the past.  I have had bouts of vertigo.  I love driving curvy roads that I am familiar with, but I get nervous and sometimes dizzy when driving through canyons where there are steep cliffs or long tunnels.  But I have learned to trust him and his abilities and boy was I glad he was driving at this point in time!

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We are Southern California city drivers.  We are used to rush hour traffic and freeways.  I shared my husband’s concerns of the hazards of driving in a snow storm with no chains, battling poor visibility, and dealing with the dreaded black ice.  This is the reason I pushed the kids to leave early that morning.  I wanted to get through this mountain range before nightfall.  I wanted to get to Fort Collins in time for dinner and a jacuzzi.  But it was about 6 PM and all I could see was mountains ahead and it was getting cold, cloudy and dark.

Driving Through the Rocky Mountains Was a Wild Ride through the State of Fear

We travelled from Henderson, Nevada through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that day.  A total of 819 miles.  The estimated driving time was exactly 12 hours.  When we stopped for lunch in Green River, Utah, it was sometime around 1 PM.  We had 400 miles to go driving along Interstate 70 through the majestic Rocky Mountains.  We had already marveled at the breathtaking and gorgeous mountains and rock formations that we saw as we drove by Arches National Park and the Colorado National Monument areas. None of it was quite as exhilarating and exciting as driving along side the Colorado River through Aspen and Vail.  The curving roads around mountain peaks, the steady ascent into higher and higher elevations, the river rushing past us, the quaint snow villages with their elegant homes and lush chalet style cabins, all of it was straight out of the Travel Channel!

Throughout the entire trip, my very techie family referred to Siri on their iPhones whenever my husband would ask a question.  Where is the nearest burger joint?  Where is the nearest gas station?  “I wonder how cold it is outside?” My hubby would tease.  Even though he could see that number get lower and lower on the dashboard thermometer, one of the boys would ask, “Siri, what is the temperature outside right now?”  “It’s 38 degrees right now.”  Siri would answer. We knew the forecast in Vail was snow.  The weather was at the freezing point, there were dark clouds over head, and we were going up steep mountain roads.  It began snowing as soon as we reached the summit of the mountain in Vail.

At first they were just pretty flurries of snow flakes hitting the windshield.  We still had a light glow from the sky behind us and the mountainside looked so pretty with the tall fir trees lining the slopes covered with fresh snow.  Ahead it was dark and looming.  There seemed to be fewer cars on the road and at some points we were all alone.  As the snow started to fall all around us, I was surprisingly calm.  A part of me (I will admit, a huge part of me!) was all, “Yeah! I knew it would snow, take that Hertz! My husband knew what he was doing when he reserved this vehicle.” We were prepared for this moment.  Did we know what we were doing exactly?  Heck no!  But we had our safe roadworthy brand new Chevy Traverse All Wheel Drive and we were damned well going to need it for the next several miles. The rest of me was holding on for dear life and praying the Rosary in my head as my husband tried not to show any sign of fear lest he freak me out.  The next hour of my life was spent singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables with my sons in the back seats watching the original Superman on the DVD player with headphones on while I thought positive loving calm beautiful thoughts of kittens and puppies.

We followed another SUV with a Colorado license plate rather closely due to the very poor visibility.  I figured they must be experienced driving through this area.  My husband knows everything about cars and how to drive them and he is very skilled with using the proper gears and shifting at the right time . . . etcetera, so on and so forth.  He knew what he was doing.  But I felt his stress and concern.  It wasn’t terribly dangerous or frightening and we were very lucky that the snow although it was sticking to the ground, was not wet or icy.  We did not see any accidents or stalled vehicles.  It was just slow going through heavy snow over the highest point of the mountain and then a very long slow descent down down down on a curvy road until we made it to the bottom.  It felt like skiing down a black diamond run that you ended up on by accident when you are first learning to ski or snowboard.  There is only one way down.  We took our time and made it.  We were incredibly encouraging to each other through it all.  The boys were quietly enjoying their movie even though I interrupted them often with, “Did you see that? Look over there!”

Always the Adventuress, I loved every moment of this trip.  My teen-aged sons rolled their eyes.  To them, it was like you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.  Overall it was impressive to them and they enjoyed it.  But I was taking it all in like I would enjoy a bouquet of flowers admiring each flower for its individual beauty and scent.  I loved that gorgeous drive and I hope to go back again, someday!

I will post even more about the trip, the college visits, the food, and what happened next in the coming days when we arrive in New Mexico. 

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Everything Miz Meliz

What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a Road Trip State of Mind

What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”

photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Let’s go on a road trip!

First, don’t mess with me! I am determined to make sure everyone has a good time and is comfortable. And I mean it! Hopefully, everyone ends up having a reasonably good time and no one gets hurt. Second, like most things in life, going on a vacation is a journey. Obviously! But it is a process. There is a beginning, middle and end. I have some experience at this, so I planned it all out and it went pretty well. Lastly, even though our lives were never truly at risk, any trip is about survival. Especially when a perfectly normal family unit is going to be cooped up for hours on end in close quarters. Here is how we all survived. . .

THREE TIPS that helped me to enjoy a road trip through SIX STATES in SEVEN DAYS with FOUR BOYS:

#1 Do everything you can to drive a big, comfortable, and reliable vehicle.

#2 Pack lots of water bottles, snacks, medicine and chocolate.

#3 Have a plan to make it fun, for yourself.

“Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind.”
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Yeah, we drove over 2500 miles in seven days. It was pretty hard at times and we had a blast at times. It was worth it, but it took a lot of planning and forethought to survive it. I would like to share with you why we actually needed to do it, how we actually ended up doing it, and why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it – at least once in your life! I believe in living life fully and making each moment count. I like to celebrate the milestones and create memorable events for my family. I became determined to take the task of visiting colleges and turn it into a vacation.

In the Beginning, I Found Myself in a State of Dilemma

We live in California and we wanted to take our oldest son to see three universities that he has been accepted to for the Fall. Two of the Universities are in Colorado and one is in New Mexico. We had a week off for Spring Break and a little savings to use for a trip. The money we had saved was not enough for all of us to travel by air and stay in hotels at all three locations, so we had to make some choices. I looked at it from many angles. I could afford to send my son to visit the schools if either my husband or I went with him, flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico and flew back from there. That was not only a hassle, but how would we decide who would go with him? Our first dilemma.

I soon realized that all five of us could go on the trip if we drove and stayed with relatives for most of the time. Since we have four drivers and lots of relatives in these areas, I thought – “Great, problem solved!” The best part being that we would get to see some of our beloved relatives and we were overdue for a trip to one of our favorite places to visit! I thought it would be a good experience for the younger boys to visit these colleges and see what they have in store for them down the road. Then I realized we don’t have a reliable vehicle that all of us would be comfortable in for many hours at a time. That’s the second dilemma.

I did a web search of hotels, rental cars, and driving distances and figured out a way we could manage this trip. I reached out to my relatives and confirmed that all five of us could stay with my cousin in New Mexico for three nights, the longest part of the vacation. My son and I coordinated the visits with the three schools and I worked out a schedule from there. I priced out the rental cars online and found a pretty good deal with one and my husband chose the type of vehicle he wanted to drive for the trip. I found some amazing hotels with great reviews in the vicinity of the two schools we were visiting in Colorado, and got awesome deals since I was booking far in advance and online.

I put together an itinerary, got someone to feed the cats and watch the house, and I set to work on creating a memorable experience for our family. It wasn’t until the day we left on the trip that I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
This says it all!

On the First Day, I was in a State of Despair

I know that sounds dramatic, but it certainly was an urgent and desperate situation! The whole trip I planned depended on the perfect vehicle. It had to be spacious and it had to be reliable. I have three teen-aged boys and my husband and I aren’t exactly “compact” so it needed to be comfortable. Since we are on a tight budget it needed to be affordable. We were going to be driving over the Rocky Mountains and snow was predicted on the days we were going to be there, so it needed to be an all wheel drive vehicle. Mostly, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my family to be comfortable. I wanted to make my husband and kids happy. They weren’t as excited as I was about taking this road trip!

I thought I found the solution when I went through Hertz. I did, but it was a very difficult and disappointing ordeal. The main reason it became so harrowing is the poor customer service we received when we went to pick up the vehicle. The car I reserved was not available and the substitute was not at all acceptable. I called twice in advance to see if the vehicle I reserved would be there and both times was told that it or a comparable vehicle would be there when I arrived at my appointed time. It turned out that the staff did nothing to honor that commitment. They accepted what they believed to be the closest thing and never bothered to notify me. When we arrived, my husband and I waited forty-five minutes before anyone could even help us and then we found out about the mini-van. My stress is beginning to elevate now just thinking about it. If it had not been that important to my husband, we would have driven that mini-van through the blizzard we hit in Vail, Colorado. But instead, I stuck my heels in the ground, we made some calls, we delayed our departure and we exchanged it at a different Hertz location within the vicinity. It took some work, actual work, on the part of the employees at Hertz, but they were in fact able to provide the vehicle that I reserved. I think it was a surprise even to them! We ended up in a brand new, just off the lot, the window sticker still attached, Chevy Traverse LT AWD. Exactly what I had reserved.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Crazy Car Rental Experience

I won’t go into details about the employees at Hertz and I would never name names, but they could stand to learn a lot about customer service, respect, common sense, courtesy and compassion, none of which was observed at either of the locations I had to interact with.

I must say that it all turned out okay in the end. The District Manager at Hertz did a lot to make it work out for us, but it is important to note that I had to really work hard to get what I wanted and I was not satisfied with my overall customer experience. Since Hertz claims their goal is “to provide the best customer experience possible”, they seriously failed to meet it. Eventually they discounted the rental, but I had to go through the corporate office by getting their attention on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/Hertz) and publicly proclaiming my dissatisfaction. If you know me, you know how extremely difficult it was for me to do that. I am probably the most positive person you will ever meet and it saddened me to complain. I was of course happy to get a discount, but what I am still waiting for is an apology and I would like to see the management take responsibility and show me how they plan to improve the service at my local office before I will ever consider returning to or recommending Hertz again. Service and reliability are extremely important to me. It was particularly challenging to remain calm and upbeat during this experience and it was vital that I didn’t get upset at the beginning of the trip. I had to use restraint to show my kids how I could take care of things without totally freaking out! I put myself under a lot of pressure to make this trip great and this was the very first step.

When we finally drove away and I was on the road for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post at the freeway on ramp. I wondered if that was an omen. At that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed that it would only get better from there. Thank God that was the worst of it!

If you like to read about travel disasters and conquests, visit this blog: http://elliott.org/ I will keep you posted on what I now call the “Hertz State of Despair.” I will recommend them if I ever get a note of apology and some clear perspective on how they plan to meet their goal of providing a positive experience for their customers.

That First Night, I Slept Soundly in a State of Relief

It was late. We were about four hours behind schedule. I had originally hoped to have time to have dinner with my mother-in-law in Henderson, Nevada on our first night. The boys were looking forward to hanging out with their cousin. My husband planned to meet up with his brother. None of that happened, but we were welcomed by my husband’s mother close to midnight when we finally arrived on her doorstep. Even though we said not to go to any trouble, she had of course cooked for us! She warmed up the food and laid it out on the table and we sat down to eat as if it were the normal dinner time. I knew if we weren’t there, she would be sound asleep! We felt at home and I relaxed for the first time in over 24 hours! We were safe and warm and comfortable.

The boys were aggravated when I told them that I wanted to leave at 5 AM. My husband was annoyed when he realized that we still had a 14-16 hour drive ahead of us the next day. No one understood that the first night was a mere “lay-over” and “rest stop” for what was to be the longest and most difficult, yet most beautiful and exciting part of our drive.

I planned that first night to be easy and carefree. I could depend on my mother-in-law and she came through with flying colors! This is a beautiful person who knows how to make the people she cares about feel special. If we needed it, wanted it, dreamed of it, she had it for us. I am not kidding! Sneezing? Is it allergies? She had a package of medicine for us to take. Forgot your tooth-brush? Here is a brand new one. Need snacks and drinks for the road? I bought extra. I made cookies. Take them. We hardly had room, but she filled the rental car with the essentials (most things I had thought of and packed already, but we graciously accepted anyway.) A roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex. Even a pretty outfit for me to wear on Easter! She loves to give me clothes! I will probably be like that someday with my daughters-in-law! She got up early and made breakfast for us. She was at the door to see us off and wish us well.

At the moment we were about to take off, I really wanted to bring her with me! I needed another woman to balance out the hormones in the car. I could feel it already. It was going to be a bumpy ride! Me against the boys. They are easy going and good kids, but I am sensitive to their little remarks. I am a people pleaser and they never seem satisfied. If I plan ham, they want turkey. If I plan turkey, they want ham. You get it. They are gracious and sweet, but given a 50/50 chance to get things right, I always make the wrong guess. And there are three of them! The odds are stacked against me! Is that all in my head? If you ask any one of them or my husband, they will tell you, “Yes.” But think about it. Even logically, I knew that I needed to be at my most calm, best and easy going self to survive this trip. I think this is the first time ever I wished my mother-in-law was with me! I certainly wouldn’t have wished this experience on anyone else. No girlfriend could have taken it. I know I am in a “special mom place” when I am in the mother hen role. Since I no longer have my sister or my mom around to back me up, the only one who could have pulled it off was my MIL. Yet, would I come out alive after a trip with her and her grandchildren and son? Thankfully, I will never know for sure! But packed to the gills with chocolate, drinks, and allergy medicine, I knew I had everything I needed to make it through. Only five more states to go!

The Second Day I discovered myself in a State of Awe and Wonderment

We quickly drove through the dry barren desert area of Nevada and into Arizona in the first few hours of the drive. We spent most of the day driving through Utah. None of us had ever been through this part of Utah before. In fact, only my second son and myself had ever been to Utah. I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City once and my son had been to Park City with another family last Summer. So, this was very new and exciting. Driving through this part of the country is amazing and difficult to describe, but I will do my best.

We were truly in awe. The trek through Arizona was like being in the movie Cars. There is no doubt that the movie and the ride at California Adventure is based on someone’s travels on the very roads we were on. The rugged terrain, the mountains, cliffs and gulleys were crazy gorgeous, colorful, jagged, rocky and out of this world. It was a curvy, dangerous, and fun road to drive!

Everything seemed to smooth out when we entered Utah. The terrain was calm and the mountains were smooth and the lightly dusted mountain tops in the distance were soft and serene. It looked like someone had gone through moments before with powdered sugar and sifted it on the tops of the mountains that looked like giant mounds of lemon cookies. Then I began to notice that the shrubs and trees were getting bigger and the mountains were getting closer. We drove through them and it was no big deal. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. If this is the snow I had heard about, then we are doing great!” Little did I know!

The terrain changed drastically through this part of Utah. We saw every different kind of mountain that I could have ever imagined on this leg of the trip. They were all different sizes, shapes and colors. It felt like we went back in time. I imagined the dinosaurs walking over those giant rocks. I felt like we were on a different planet. The bright reds and coppers of the soil and the layers of rock jutting out of the ground at disturbing angles made me think of earthquakes and volcanoes. I had nothing but my imagination to keep me occupied during the long hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. For hours we saw nothing but mountains and sky. It was breathtaking. They are majestic. They are mystifying. They are high! The elevation grew with every mile. We are used to being at sea level! Before we knew it we were at the mile high mark. Over 5000 feet. And with each mile it got colder. I told the boys to bring jackets, none of us brought anything heavier than a sweatshirt! I think we had one coat between the five of us!

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We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at Green River, Utah. There was not much green and I didn’t see a river. It was dry and barren and barely anything in sight for miles. There was a stretch of road that was slightly inhabited. We stopped at a burger joint that would be worthy of a spot on the show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had green chile burgers and tater tots. It was delicious! I had a soft serve chocolate ice cream. We rested and the boys played ball in the parking lot. (Dirt road on the side of the building.) The boys play lacrosse and the locals were in awe having never seen such a thing. They were a hit!

As we made our way through Utah, we continued to see the most amazing views of mountains and scenery! Everything got bigger and bigger and I felt small as we zipped by in our “little” car. As we started to drive up through the mountains, around each turn I would notice we were driving higher and higher and there were more and more mountains. It seemed we would never get to the “top”. Around each bend there were more and bigger mountains to climb. Until we got to a point that seemed to be at the base of another set of mountains. Welcome to Colorado, the sign said! We were almost at our destination for the day! The time had changed and we realized we gained an hour. Were we an hour closer? No. In fact with the long stop for lunch and the time change, the time estimated for arrival to Fort Collins, Colorado was 9:00 PM.

When we finally did arrive in Fort Collins, with the time change accounted for, we had been travelling for 17 hours. technically that was just the first day! The boys weren’t too happy with me that first night! I haven’t even gotten to the part about the snow storm!

Read more about the trip in the next installment at Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive.  Follow this blog to be notified when new posts are published or subscribe to the newsletter. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know. Heck, leave a comment anyway! I love to hear from you!

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Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Do you Instagram? Follow Miz Meliz @mizmelissa and See Beautiful Vacation Pictures!

I love Instagram!  I feel really connected with people when I know they are following my adventures.  With Instagram I can post a picture, improve the way it looks by adding a filter and a frame, write a caption, include a hashtag, share it instantly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr, and even check in via Foursquare.

New Mexico
New Mexico

On my recent Spring Break Vacation, I asked my friends to follow me on Instagram @mizmelissa for daily updates.  I went on a road trip with my family and we made lots of stops.  We drove over 2500 miles in one week.  We drove through beautiful terrain and I saw some of the most exquisite views of the sky that I have ever seen.  All the pictures I took were with my iPhone and mostly through the window of the passenger seat! I think my pics came out pretty good and I enjoyed sharing them!

I called my trip Six States in Seven Days and I will chronicle my travels in my next few posts.  The trip was amazing for many reasons.  It was a great break from routine and get away with my family.  I planned meet ups with family and friends that I haven’t seen in years.  The main objective and reason for the trip was to visit the universities that my son had been accepted to and help him make a decision on where to attend in the Fall.  It was probably the last family road trip vacation I take with my three sons.  This vacation was also a great way to test my social media skills and have an adventure!

If you want to see the 25 pictures that I posted on Instagram during my trip either click  HERE and see them on my Instagram page, or you can search for the hashtag #mizmeliz. If you like what you see, I hope you follow me to see more fun and gorgeous photos. Let me know your Instagram name so I can follow you!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

The High of the Social Media Buzz #GettySocial

I must say I am still on a high from my so-called social media life!

I do love being a blogger, and I love living in Los Angeles. Many of my readers are my friends and have asked me why I get to do fun things and how I find out about them. My answer is usually, “Social Media.” ” I found out online.” “I heard about it on Facebook.” “I just got lucky, I guess.” It’s true, I hear about events or get invited to them many times because of my role as a blogger. I am asked to review something or Tweet about it. This is often in return for free food, a goody bag, or a movie pass. Mostly I would Tweet or Blog about it anyway because I like to share my experiences. I love to write about what is happening in my life. Of course that would include my activities. As I hope I have proven, it is possible to create your own adventures. Anyone can make an adventure out of any outing. Just make it fun and enjoy yourself!

Now and then I find myself in a somewhat surreal position.

Last weekend, my hubby and I attended an event that took place at The Getty Museum. I did hear about this in my So Cal Lady Blogger Group from PR Pro (Hot Shot and friend) Ana Lydia Monaco. It was a special event about and for the influence of social media put together by Ted Nguyen, Lana Layne, Laura Bittler, and Beverly Macy, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beverly-macy/social-la-is-hot-influenc_b_2712137.html For more pictures and a unique look at the event see my friend from So Cal Lady Blogger’s, Marcie Taylor’s Storify: http://storify.com/marciemarketing/getting-social-at-the-getty

All the attendees were asked to use the “hashtag” #GettySocial which makes it so nice to search for all things related to the event on Instagram and Twitter. Take a look, you will find participants and instigators alike hamming it up and enjoying the fruits of their labor. . . you will even find a jingle a la @youtoocanbeguru Bridget Willard!

The highlight for us was hearing the guest speaker, an admired Hollywood business owner, Nic Adler of The Roxy.

Even more exciting was getting to meet him and talk with him. On our way there we discussed what we would ask him if we had the opportunity. He was so approachable and easy to talk with that we soon found ourselves forgetting our prepared questions and just talking about our favorite bands. We talked about how fast tickets sell out these days and Nic gave me a great piece of advice. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before, but it is a great way to use what I consider to be an integral part of social media – Google Alerts! Just set an alert and get an email every time that topic hits the news. Problem solved! Another feature that I discovered . . . You can personalize the freakin’ news in “your world!” http://youtu.be/JmxL5BlVzZQ Just make your own News Channels. Why not?

How do you modify and personalize your Google Platform? Have you been building your own Social Community?

Tweet me @MizMeliz!

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

A Fun Spontaneous Road Trip #BlogVenture

I had such a wonderful adventure over the weekend!! I shared it with my So Cal Lady Blogger friend, Mary, from Along Comes Mary. She just posted this fantastic and detailed overview of our experience! I asked Mary if it was okay to invite you over to her blog to check it out. So, c’mon now! Don’t be shy! All you have to do is click on the link and you will get the skinny on our super fun trip to San Francisco! Enjoy! Please let me know what you think!

Along Comes Mary....

Step it upSF2
Grab your phone
Get your suitcase
There is no time to waste
A big adventure awaits
(Tori Amos, 500 Miles)

Did you miss me?! I have been AWOL for afew days. It was not planned, but what happens when one of your friends from SoCal Lady Bloggers, Melissa of Miz Meliz, is searching for a partner in crime to drive up the coast with in order to attend the book launch party for Evan of Better Man Project? Well, if you’re me, & in need of a getaway, you say YES. We left last Friday & returned Sunday, but within that time frame, we: Got pea soup, wine tasted in Solvang, searched for garlic ice cream, got amazing food in the Castro district, saw Golden Gate Bridge, Went to The Walt Disney Family Museum, The Snow White Exhibit, met up with Susan Cooper from Finding…

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