Looking Forward to Fall Entertainment
Aug 30th, 2010 by Jessica

I like the Fall season for many reasons.  School has started up again, the weather is finally cooling off, and lots of my favorite television shows return at last.  It’s also the time for fun things like my birthday, Halloween and preparations for the Holiday season – also one of my favorite times of the year!

Modern Family on ABC

Modern Family on ABC

Modern Family is one of my favorite shows for a great laugh.  It’s on ABC starting September 22nd.  The show follows three families with the same patriarch who are anything but traditional.  There’s the father who started over with his trophy wife and her son.  Then there’s the daughter whose goofy tribe causes havoc with everything they do.  Her kids are fantastic – the dorky typical son, the smarty pants daughter and of course the necessary beautiful stupid one.  All of this combines with the other son, whose relationship with his husband and their adopted daughter create hilarity in every episode.  This show is nothing short of comedic genius.  It’s truly laugh-out-loud funny. 

Other shows I also enjoy are bundled right along with Modern Family.  The Middle was hysterical, but I haven’t seen any advertising for a Season 2 so it would figure that one of my favorites would disappear.  Cougar Town is coming back for sure, and it cracks me up to no end.  It’s a bit more cheesy than other shows, but what it lacks in substance it makes up for in pure fun. 

Dancing With The Stars on ABC

Dancing With The Stars on ABC

A few years back my mother-in-law got me into watching Dancing With The Stars.  I started watching during season 7 or 8, and have followed the show closer than she has ever since.   Season 11 begins on September 20th this year on ABC.  It started as a way to have something in common with her, and now it has grown into one of my favorite shows.  Typically I fast-foward through the drama and skits, and just watch the dancing.  It’s definitely a show that must be fully recorded on the DVR before I start watching it, but I really do like watching the dancing parts.

Anyone who knows me at all will tell you how much I am completely head over heels for Rock Band on the Xbox 360.  We have spent countless days, weeks, even months playing RB, RB2, Lego RB and Beatles RB.  We have spent thousands – literally thousands of dollars – playing and enjoying this fantastic line of games and all of the instrument peripherals.  We have hundreds of songs in our downloadable content library (DLC).  We have worn instruments out and replaced them more often than I’ve replaced shoes in the last 3 years.  I LOVE ROCK BAND.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why I love Rock Band so much.  I think it comes down to the idea of playing cooperatively in a game that encourages me to sing at the top of my lungs and bang on drums, guitar or bass at the same time.  Ever since we got our hands on the very first RB kit, since the very first song we played when we first put the instruments together and plugged them in, I have been asking the same question: “Where’s my keyboard?”

Rock Band 3 Keyboard

Rock Band 3 Keyboard

Rock Band 3 has finally answered my question.  They are releasing a keyboard peripheral to be used with the newest game, due out on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.  Not only do we already have the keyboard and game combo pre-ordered (since July 16th, no less) but we’ve already taken that day off work for vacation.  I also plan to hit the midnight launch at the local Wal-Mart and play all night long!  (The pre-order is just in case we can’t find a keyboard in-town on the day of release.)

I am so very, VERY excited!!!

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Feeding the Animals
Aug 30th, 2010 by Jessica

I like to feed animals – literally!  Whenever we run across a petting zoo or a koi pond or any opportunity for me to feed the animals, you can bet I’ll stop and put a quarter in the machine.  I’ve always enjoyed it for some strange reason.  Here are a few times in recent memory when I took advantage of this weird fascination.

Feeding the Ostrich, Northern Arizona, August 2005

Feeding the Ostrich, Northern Arizona, August 2005

Feeding the Ducks, San Diego Wild Animal Park, March 2007

Feeding the Ducks, San Diego Wild Animal Park, March 2007

Feeding the Hippos, San Diego Wild Animal Park, March 2007

Feeding the Hippos, San Diego Wild Animal Park, March 2007

Feeding the Koi, Hawaii, September 2004

Feeding the Koi, Hawaii, September 2004

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Scary Elvis at Yvonne’s Cafe
Aug 28th, 2010 by Jessica

Scary Elvis at Yvonne's Cafe

Scary Elvis at Yvonne's Cafe

One of my favorite lunch diners in Arizona is called Yvonne’s Cafe in Tempe.  They have a fantastic atmosphere with tons of Coke memorabilia, nice comfy tables and booths and a great wait staff. Whether you want the blue plate special or the grilled cheese and fries, it seems that it is always served fast and hot with a smile.

Their small restrooms have one stall each, with the men’s being decked out in Marilyn Monroe paraphernelia (according to my husband, of course) and the women’s with Elvis Presley pieces.  There’s even a picture of Elvis hanging inside the bathroom stall of his entry into the Army, standing in a line of average men in his tightie whities and raising his arms in the air for a physical.  It’s kind of disturbing.

Every time I walk into the women’s restroom, I jump at the sight of the Elvis cardboard cutout behind the door.  Every single time.  I know he’s there, but it’s placed in such a way that you truly think you’re opening the door into someone.  The space is small and he’s so big, and his expression is perfect for the spot.  He gets me every time!

I call him, “Scary Elvis.”  He always scares me more than I scare him!

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California Road Trip Recap
Jul 27th, 2010 by Jessica

At the beginning of July 2010, we were supposed to be on a flight to London for a 3-week whirlwind tour of Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and England. Unfortunately in April, I found out that I was restricted from flying due to a pituitary tumor which may have ruptured in my head. We regrettably canceled the trip, got our money back thanks to travel insurance, and decided instead to embark by car to explore the great state of California. What follows is a recap of our adventures with Bumblebee, our transforming trip mascot.

Friday 7/2/10

We left Gilbert around 6:30am for our drive towards Los Angeles. Along the way, we stopped to see the Robotic Dinosaurs and had lunch at Bob’s Twin Kitchen, a crazy little dive with great food in Indio. Once in the LA area, we visited the McDonald’s Museum which has a vast array of Happy Meal toys, product advertisements and fun memorabilia. We stopped at several Toys R Us and Kmart locations which we continued doing throughout the whole trip, shopping for elusive Transformers for Andrew’s immense collection. On one of these stops we aquired our travel mascot and transforming companion known as Battle Axe Bumblebee. We stopped at the Graber Olive House and purchased some canned olives for later. Then it was a quick visit to the Nethercutt Museum to photograph a 1930 Cord for my DaD, who is really interested in model cars at the moment. Dinner in Santa Clarita was at Rattler’s BBQ which was tasty, but not worth the expense. Our hotel was the Courtyard in Valencia which was occupied by hundreds of college kids going to Six Flags. The fire alarm kept going off time and time again which I was not thrilled about. To escape the noise we went swimming for a while in the hotel’s nice pool and hot tub.

Saturday 7/3

Breakfast was at Eggs ‘n Things in Santa Clarita – voted best breakfast ever by Andrew. He loved his omelette and free crepe. We then got stuck in an I-5 traffic disaster for over an hour due to tanker truck falling over and catching fire across the freeway. Eventually we made it through and stopped at Murray’s Farms, a quaint little family farm with delicious cherries and concord grapes. We picked up some orange honey for Bee. It was here that we paid the highest price for gas during the entire trip at $3.79 per gallon. We had lunch in Kettleman City at a crazy busy Taco Bell. Then it was time for the Super Secret Surprise stop – something I planned that Andrew was unaware of. We stopped off to see a giant Bumblebee statue on private property in Lemoore, California. We spoke with the homeowner whose son made the statue and placed it on her farm. After some pictures and a donation of $20 to their effort, we were back on the road again. The next stop was Chukchansi Casino where we won $10 for Bee! Then we drove up to Mariposa, through crazy landscapes including surreal meadows and winding roads. We stopped in to see the California Mining & Mineral museum but they were closing in 10 minutes, so let us run through it really fast. We checked into Comfort Inn in Mariposa, a family business with no customer service skill where “1st floor” includes stairs anyway. The place had uncomfortable beds, but given the alternatives, it is still probably the best place to stay in Mariposa. Dinner was at the Happy Burger Diner with the best damn garlic fries in the universe, great food, great burgers, grilled cheese, tater tots and onion rings. YUM!

Sunday 7/4

Breakfast this morning was at a small diner called the Sugar Pine in Mariposa. It was good, but nothing to write home about. We then made the 75 minute drive into Yosemite National Park. Somehow we were able to find parking immediately and hopped on the shuttle to the visitor center. We walked to the Ahwanee for brunch reservations, and arrived at 10:00 for our 10:30 brunch. We sat on the couch outside the restaurant for a few minutes to cool off and dry a bit before heading in for food. Brunch at Ahwanee was pretty terrible – the brunch buffet was $55 each so we passed on that, getting standard menu items and spending a total of $50 for terrible food. We then took the shuttle from Ahwanee to Yosemite Lodge and picked up our tickets for the 12:00pm Valley Floor tour. We took pictures of the Yosemite waterfall from outside the visitor center while waiting for tour which boarded at 11:45am. It took us through the valley on regular roads, with two short stops between narration. The first was at a meadow by the river and the second was outside Tunnel View, but we did not go through the tunnel. We saw Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitan and more on the 2-hr tour Valley Floor tour. After the tour, we walked to lower Yosemite Falls and took pictures in the mist. We skipped the full shuttle buses and instead walked to parking the area. On the way, we walked across a beautiful windy meadow and stopped to take glamor shots of Bee. We left Yosemite after making a PB&J sandwich to tide me over for the long ride ahead. From there we headed northwest, driving through crazy windy road landscapes through mountains and meadows to Stockton. We tried to eat at Angelina’s Spaghetti House but they were closed for 4th of July, so instead of checked into the Courtyard in Stockton. Thoe hotel was under construction but had extremely comfortable rooms and very easy parking. Dinner was at Olive Garden in Stockton, where I had the delicious Parmesan Polento Encrusted Steak. Andrew had the same with chicken, and both were yummy!

Monday 7/5

We slept in a bit and got started late at 8:00am. Breakfast was fantastic at America Waffles in Stockton. We drove into Sacramento and tried to visit the Hayes Antique Truck Museum but they weren’t open yet, even though it was after 10am (their posted opening time). Instead we drove back into Sacramento and went to the California Automotive Museum, where the docent let me behind ropes to capture photos and video of the GM EV1 and 1932 Lincoln for DaD. The docent was really nice and photocopied information about the Lincoln for DaD, too, without even asking. We passed by Jamie’s Bar and Grill and decided not to eat there, opting instead for lunch at Whitey’s Jolly Kone in West Sacramento. This dive had great food cheap, and is worth the wait and the outdoor seating. We took a pic of Bee with sign, and the Sacramento Bee newspaper stand just for fun. We drove from there to see the giant Coke cup, where Bee managed to sip some from the straw with some crafty camera angles. Bee lost $20 at Colusa Casino in Colusa, California before heading over to visit the National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico. We drove all over downtown Chico, a cute boutique town with lots of shops. Then Bee won $20 at Win-River Casino and he was happy again! Dinner was at Lumberjack’s in Redding – super good top sirloin which came with a whole loaf of bread as a side. We checked into the brand new Fairfield Inn in Redding which had been open 5 weeks.

Tuesday 7/6

When arising on this morning we found a cockroach on the camera bag. When I approached the front desk to tell them about it as a courtesy, the manager replied, “Oh yeah I know. We’re totally infested with them. The hotel had a delay in opening and we’ve fumigated twice but they just won’t die.” Lovely. I suppose it should be standard procedure to ask the hotel if they are infested with cockroaches before making a reservation. My bad! Breakfast in Redding was at the Gold Street Cafe where they make real sun tea outside like a real country place. The food was great! We visited the Sundial Bridge and Turtle Bay Exploration Park before shopping for a bit at Kohl’s, Target, and Toys R Us. From Sacramento we drove up to Dunsmuir but the burger stand wasn’t open yet, so we moved on to Mt. Shasta City. We stopped at visitor center to look at brochures and found one for the Lavender Fields at the base of Mt. Shasta. After a 45-minute drive and a dirt path up the hill, we were stunned to find an absolutely gorgeous lavender field with the most picturesque snow-covered Mt. Shasta we could ever have imagined. We enjoyed the fresh air and cut some lavender, and took lots of pictures of Bee in the field. From there we drove to Oregon and had a quick lunch at Abby’s Incredible Pizza in Medford which was okay (better than we expected). We went shopping in Medford looking for Transformers at Kohl’s and Toys R Us before stopping at Barnes and Noble so Andrew picked up some books to read from the Scott Pilgrim series. We got some Calamine lotion at Target for Andrew’s mosquito bites, then drove on through the southern Oregon region to Crescent City. We checked into Arbor Beach Inn in Crescent City. The place was motel style but had a great cable channel lineup with 80 channels, fantastic high speed internet wireless access and decent rooms. I was quite impressed with it – Anchor Beach Inn ended up being one of the best places we stayed at. They even had a laundry room and an in door jacuzzi. We ate a quick dinner at Burger King and got some Twilight (Eclipse) kids meal toys just for fun.

Wednesday 7/7

Breakfast in Crescent City was Denny’s before we headed up to walk the Simpson Reed Grove trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We walked through it once with the rented Canon 10-22mm wide angle lens I had from Tempe Camera, which captured some amazing shots of the Redwoods. We stopped off at the Hiouchi visitor center for postcards and discovered some of the park roads were closed for grading that week. We ate at the Hiouchi cafe for lunch which was grilled cheese and tuna melt, then drove back and walked the Simpson Reed Grove trail again with my 3D lens. We also walked the Peterson Memorial Trail portion at the back of Simpson Reed and got a few new shots back there. Since we could not drive Howland Hills Road in the Stout Grove due to grading and construction, instead we drove up to Brookings, Oregon for some sightseeing. Our stop at Lone Ranch Beach proved to be a beautiful one and we got lots of nice shots here with Bee on the rocks and in the water. We went back into the town of Brookings for dinner at O’Hollerans – steak, prawns, and the king salmon special were pretty good! Then we drove north to Mack Arch in the Boardman State Scenic Corridor for more photos. We visited several other stops on the way south as the mist/fog rolled in and got very heavy along the coast. Along the way we stopped at a 1.5 story Fred Meyer grocery store where I bought some scratcher lottery tickets and won $5. Then we returned to Crescent City for the evening.

Thursday 7/8

For breakfast we ate at the Apple Peddler which wasn’t that good. Then we drove south in Del Norte State Park to the first overlook which was fogged over. We drove back to our room for a bathroom since they were hard to come by, then returned back on the road south for adventure. The drive was steep and very foggy. We tried to stop at a few overlooks but everything was fogged over. We drove the entire Coastal Drive but there wasn’t much to see along the way. We drove the Scenic Drive to Prairie Creek Visitor Center and had a small picnic lunch with Bee at the visitor center. We drove to Big Tree and took some photos while walking Circle Trail. Then we visited and drove through Tour Thru Tree, and Bee transformed to drive through it as well. It was very funny, except another tourist almost squashed Bee because he wasn’t looking. Andrew drove my Envoy through the tree while I video taped it, and I nearly hyperventilated because I didn’t actually expect him to try and drive my baby through that tree. He BARELY made it. We left the Tour Thru Tree and went to the Trees of Mystery, a kitchy tourist trap costing $14 per person. We hiked around for a bit and got to the “summit” which is 105 feet above the parking lot (woo!). Andrew rode the Sky Trail with Bee and took more pictures as I went back down for an ice cream cone. The gigantic statues of Paul Bunyan with his ox Babe were “talking” to visitors via a loudspeaker and some strategic cameras. I watched as “Paul” commented to visitors and tried to get them to do cartwheels and buy him ice cream. After Andrew and Bee returned from their Sky Trail adventure, we drove back into town and did laundry at the Inn. Dinner was at the Charter House where we had a steak and seafood combo which wasn’t that great. The wait was really long and they were crazy busy, as it’s the only nice restaurant in Crescent City.

Friday 7/9

We checked out of Anchor Beach Inn and had breakfast at Gold Harvest Cafe. We then made a visit to Ocean World where we signed up for their kitchy tour. I got to hold starfish and pet two sharks before we watched their little sea lion show. The kids on the tour seemed to love it, and I would recommend it if you have the time and want to pet a shark! We then left Crescent City and drove south to the Avenue of the Giants, stopping to visit the One Log House along the way. We got the code from the cashier and paid our $1 each, then Bee punched in “today’s code” and we checked out the cabin. It too was kitchy, but fun to get pics of Bee in. We had lunch in Eureka at Hurricane Kate’s, a trendy little pizza joint with too much trend and not enough good food. We took our time walking around town of Eureka eating ice cream cones and stopping at little shops along the way. Once back on the road we began our crazy drive down Highway 1 South from Leggett. Dinner was at Jenny’s Giant Hamburger in Fort Bragg – another tiny dive with cheap food. We checked into the Best Western in Fort Bragg for the night.

Saturday 7/10

This morning we checked out the Muir beach overlook on our drive to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge. Bee enjoyed his view out the front window and we snapped lots of pictures of him on the bridge. Once in town we checked into the Courtyard Fishermans Wharf and had dinner Lucy’s Diner in Ghiradelli square. We bought chocolate (of course!) in the madhouse that was Ghiradelli Chocolates. Since Andrew and I had lived in the San Francisco area in the summer of 1998 together, we had already done pretty much everything there is to do in the city related to tourism. We walked out on the pier towards Alcatraz and took some novelty pictures of Bee, then walked back to the hotel with some Cold Stone in hand.

Sunday 7/11

In the morning we drove to the Mission district and had breakfast St Francis Fountain, which I was none to thrilled with at all. We stood in line across the street and secured six Dynamo Donuts for breakfast the following morning before driving to Golden Gate Park to visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden. We walked around for a while but I was not impressed, so we headed back to go to the California State Institute of the Arts. When we arrived they were having a fire alarm and the building had been evacuated. We decided to leave there and drove north over the Golden Gate bridge. We were trying to meet up with my friend Bryan who lives in San Francisco but that didn’t work out since he had plans already and couldn’t get away. We went Toys R Us hopping all over the surrounding areas. Since we found ourselves in Danville, we decided to try and find the Blackhawk Collection which I had an appointment at the following morning to photograph a car for my DaD. Along the way we discovered there is also a Blackhawk Museum we didn’t know about! We stopped there and I got on the phone with DaD to describe all the cars to him and find out which ones he wanted pictures of. I got the shots he wanted, then struck up a conversation with the Librarian in the gift shop who pulled books with information for DaD on the cars he wanted. I purchased one of them for DaD as a birthday gift. We drove from Danville to Campbell and visited the home we stayed in while interning at HP in 1997 and 1998. We ate dinner at A Bellagio in Campbell which was pretty bad. Then we drove back into San Francisco and got in line at Humphrey Slocomb for ice cream! Unfortunately for us, the New York Times had just featured an article about the place so the lines were longer than usual. I was able to get Tahitian Vanilla, while Andrew enjoyed his Peach ice cream with Frosted Peanuts. We took the long route back to the hotel up the entire stretch of Embarcadero Street before retiring for the evening.

Monday 7/12

We got up early and ate the donuts from Dynamo which were dynamite and delicious! Then we packed up our car again and left San Francisco to visit the Blackhawk Collection in Danville. After a quick stop at the Bagel Shop in Danville, we arrived at the Blackhawk Collection which is in a private gated community and under 24 hour police surveillance. This place houses some of the most expensive cars for sale in California, and I was lucky enough to photograph a 1929 Stutz Jones Special Indy race car for my DaD. The staff at Blackhawk were very nice to us and we appreciate their hospitality very much. We left there so as not to take up too much of their time, and drove towards Santa Cruz hitting Toys R Us locations along the way. We had lunch at a mall food court before hitting the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk and arcade where Andrew got to play actual arcade games. We paid $11 to park in a full lot and had to wait for a spot which was not very fun. I got a postcard of old cars from an old time arcade machine and sent to Dad with a leftover postcard stamp in my wallet. We left Santa Cruz and drove Highway 1 to San Simeon, stopping at Pea Soup Anderson’s in Buellton and the Loleta Cheese Factory along the way. Dinner was at an unexpected roadside stop with a fancy restaurant on Highway 1 which had terrible service and if possible, even worse food. We checked into San Simeon Lodge for the evening.

Tuesday 7/13

Breakfast was at San Simeon Lodge restaurant before we checked out and headed over to Hearst Castle. We got our tour tickets and sat down to watch the 8:15am showing of the Hearst movie. Once complete, we hopped directly on the bus to drive up the hill and to the castle for our standard 1 hr 45 min tour. Andrew had seen it before when he was much younger, but this was my first visit. Neither of us were impressed, I suppose because the things at Hearst are “modeled after” things we had already seen in Europe for real. I guess we are completely spoiled like that. It was pretty, but not as pretty as the “real things” were. We left San Simeon and drove toward LA stopping at Santa Monica Pier for an original Hot Dog on a Stick. Lunch was quick at McDonald’s before doing some more Toys R Us hopping and hitting up some of the Recycle Bookstore locations for more of DaD’s birthday gifts. We stopped off for some Spudnuts before checking into what must be one of the shittiest hotels in the LA area: The Beverly Laurel Hotel. This place was absolutely terrible. The parking was horrible, and the check-in staff jammed my credit card in their machine and made me wait 20+ minutes for them to pry it open. We didn’t trust the elevator not to break down so we had to cart our luggage up a flight up stairs to our “ground level” room. The bathroom door didn’t even shut, and the bathroom tiles had been painted over with so many layers you could practically leave a thumbprint in it if you pressed down a little bit. By far, this was the worst place we stayed during this entire trip, and it still cost $140 for a single night. It was horrible. The only redeeming quality is the diner downstairs called the Hollywood Swingers, which allowed adults 13-59 to order from the kid’s menu with a $3.00 surcharge. What a concept!

Wednesday 7/14

We woke up and ate our Spudnuts for breakfast, which were might tasty. Then we took off toward downtown Los Angeles to visit Berger Beads. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the owner to show up and open the store, but this place was amazing. They had all kinds of beads and notions I had never seen before. I picked up a few fun items and then we headed over to Galco’s for a soda fix. Just $86 worth of soda later (we stocked up – way up!) we were on our way to the Petersen Automotive Museum to photograph a few more cars for DaD. They didn’t allow me to bring in my tripod so I got what I could with the flash. We got to see a few new additions to the museum displays such as the original Grease Lightening and the actual Batmobile! Those were really neat to see. We had lunch at the Johnny Rockets inside the Petersen, then hopped on the road one last time towards home. We stopped at Mom and Dad’s for a quick visit on our way through Chandler, then grabbed a Hungry Howie’s pizza and landed at home to see our four kitties at last.

It was a fun, exhausting, adventuresome trip and we’re glad we went! Someday though, I’d still like to visit Paris like we were supposed to in the first place.

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What to expect at a taping of The Price Is Right
Jul 26th, 2010 by Jessica

On April 26, 2010 my husband and I attended the 12:20pm taping of The Price is Right with Drew Carey in CBS Television City outside of Los Angeles, California.  The show aired on May 19, 2010 on CBS and we were sitting dead center behind Contestant’s Row, shown in almost every shot of the audience that aired during the episode.

For those who plan to be in the audience (or possibly be a contestant) on The Price Is Right, I present you with this list of things to expect when you get to CBS Television City.  I wrote this list not to be an accurate representation of what you will absolutely experience, but to share our single experience with those just as naive as we were when we got our tickets to the show.

I must preface this with the fact that we have only been to one single taping, and have never been in the audience of any other game shows.  This is our first and only experience, described by the true newbies that we were.

The following is a recap of what we discovered along the way during our day as an audience member on The Price is Right.

  • Capacity: The Price is Right theater holds 320 people, and there are 9 contestants chosen for each show.  At our taping, they only accepted the first 195 people from the line, and the rest of the audience members were from groups.  There are four types of tickets available: mail order, internet, studio and groups.  I requested tickets 6 months in advance and we received ticket numbers 60/61, which means absolutely NOTHING except you have a chance to get in the audience if you plan ahead – way ahead!
  • Order of Arrival LineOrder of Arrival Line (pre-6:00AM): The first person arrives in the Order of Arrival (OOA) line around 10pm the night before.  At 3:45am we were numbers 52 and 53 in the OOA line.  The photo shows first hundred or so people in the line at about 4:00am.  Bring chairs for the night wait in the OOA line because you can easily go put them back in your car before you come back to get in line for the show.  After you receive your OOA pass at 6:00am, which is given out for both shows simultaneously, you can leave and return at 8:30am for the 12:20pm taping or at 12:30pm for the 4:20pm taping.  There are restrooms in the Farmer’s Market near the front of the Grove.  Do not expect to arrive after 6:00am and get on the show.  They give out more tickets than they have seats BY FAR and it won’t happen.  Get there as early as possible and bring a chair and blanket.
  • Shade: All lines from here on out should be in full shade/covered.
  • Bathrooms: The Exxon station bathroom opens at 4:30am and is for paying customers only.  The Grove shopping center bathroom by the parking garage doesn’t open until 10:30am.
  • Parking: Parking costs $24 at the Grove Shopping Center, payable by credit card at their automated machine.
  • Breakfast: There is a diner at the front of the Grove in the Farmer’s market that is open 24 hours.  Get there first and you will get a seat and be able to order before the rest of the line arrives.
  • What to Bring to Line #1: Driver’s License, Social Security Card, a pen or two, and your cell phone if you don’t mind checking it during Line #3.  If you are easily bored, feel free to bring your cell phone or iPod and check it in later at the security checkpoint around 2 hours from this point.  If you forget your Social Security Card, upon winning you will be able to provide the card within 30 days to claim your prize.  Restrooms, a snack bar, a gift shop and vending machines are available to you during your stay in Line #1.
  • What NOT to Bring: Hats of any kind.  You can’t wear them on the show.  No cameras allowed either.
  • Order of Arrival Passes and Original Tickets

    Order of Arrival Passes and Original Tickets

    Line #1: With OOA pass in hand, return at your scheduled time to get in the first of three lines.  There is no point in getting there early, because you will be lined up in order of arrival.  There is plenty of seating available, however they clear benches #1 and #2 first so I suggest sitting on bench #5 for the long haul.  Make absolutely sure you are NOT LATE to this line, or you will be automatically booted from the audience and miss your chance to be on the show.  Audience members are called in groups of 30 to get in numerical order based on your OOA pass number.  You will be provided with a Contestant Number at this time, which will NOT match your OOA number.  First you get a green tag with contestant number that you write your name and SSN on, followed by a white bio card.  The bio card will be used to help select contestants, so make it good!  You must wear your contestant number on your shirt attached to your name tag until you get into the theater.  Our OOA numbers were 52/53 and our Contestant Numbers were 47/48, because five people ahead of us didn’t show up to Line #1 in time and got booted.  Fair warning!  After everyone is lined up, they set up a temporary photo green screen and each group has their picture taken.  They are later found online and you can buy a copy for $24 on their website.

  • A note about Custom T-shirts: A majority of contestants, maybe 80%, wore t-shirts that were made custom for the show.  The name tag you are given is large and must be worn on your LEFT side, so take that into consideration when making your custom t-shirts.  Most of the people we saw had t-shirts you couldn’t even read once they put their name tags on.  It was a wasted effort.
  • On to Line #2: Continuing on in the same Contestant Number order you were given in Line #1, in Line #2 you give up your ticket and have your photograph taken individually.  You then wait for over an hour while everyone is processed.  There is time to go back and use the restroom or purchase snacks/souvenirs, because you can no longer lose your place in line (unless you disappear).  The producer of the show (Stan) will come out and interview 12 contestants at a time.  THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO GET ON THE SHOW!  You must impress the producer enough to make him want to choose you.  He, and only he, chooses who gets on the show, from this short group interview.  Be excited, crazy, happy and profess your love for all things Price is Right.  Now is your chance!
  • On to Security Checkpoint: After your interview with the producer, you get in line for security.  Now is when you must forfeit all cell phones and electronics to the check-in.  This is about 2 hours into the 4-hour line process (having started the lines at 8:30am, for us it was about 10:30am).
  • On to Line #3: More waiting.  Restrooms and drinking fountains are available.  In this line, you are presented with a full episode of the Price is Right followed by a Gag Reel of crazy contestants to get you in the mood for the show.  At this time you are handed a souvenir card to affix your name tag to after the show is over.  At this point you can go back to Line #1’s area and purchase snacks and souvenirs if you want, which most people chose to do.  The last call for the bathroom will be made about 10 minutes prior to entering the theater, at which time dozens of people decide to get up and go to the bathroom.  I suggest beating the line and going before last call, or you might not have a chance.
  • Into the Theater: At about 12:00pm for the 12:20pm taping, you are let into the theater in order of Contestant Number.  You must walk up 2 flights up stairs to get there.  The seats are filled from front row center, through the center section, then stage left and stage right.  As Contestants #47/48, we were third row dead center and were on television for almost the entire show!  If you are in a large group, reserved seats are designated for you to sit with your group near the back of the theater.  The stage hand will come out and start scanning the crowd, looking for the predetermined contestants and marking them down on his paperwork.  If you are close enough, shortly you can see the chosen Contestants marked on a sheet on the primary camera rig, circled on a map of the theater.  We knew right away we weren’t chosen to “come on down.”
  • Inside the Theater: Club music and YMCA were playing when we entered, and everyone was dancing and screaming.  No hats are allowed, no bags on your lap, and name tag must be clearly visible.  The chairs are pretty tiny, and the audience is insane and wildly cheering.  It is very loud, you can’t hear Drew Carey or the announcer, and the Pages have your name on cue cards so you know whether your name was called to come down.  The show is essentially taped live with commercial breaks of 2:20 each.  Drew comes down to talk to the audience between shots.  The announcer talks to the audience before the show and towards the end to garner excitement for the Showcase Showdown.  Red lights will indicate when a camera is on, and stage hands will let you know to stand up and scream.  Your hands will hurt from clapping so much!  Almost everything was blocked/obscured by cameras and rigs, so expect not to be able to see much on the stage.  They hide the Wheel before bringing it out, and it has huge metal handles on the left side for people to grab and spin that you can’t see on TV.  You are only supposed to stand up when they tell you to, otherwise stay seated.
  • After the Show: A random audience member is drawn to win a small prizes like the PIR video game and $100 gift card.  After you exit theater, you can get your cell phones back if you checked them in.  You are expected to leave the cbs lot straight from the theater onto Fairfax avenue.
  • Summary: Don’t go to necessarily enjoy the show – go to get ON the show, or for the fun of being on TV.  It’s a neat experience but you must realize that you can’t really enjoy the show live – save that for watching in your living room.
Price is Right

Price is Right

I hope this helps at least a few folks who have no idea what to expect when they get tickets to a taping of The Price is Right.  I wish we knew then what we know now about how things really work, how long you wait in line, and what you can and can’t do.

I hope you get to “come on down” if you attend a taping!  Cheers, and good luck!

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Video Archive: Skyventure in Eloy
Feb 27th, 2010 by Jessica

Our whole family and some friends went indoor skydiving at Skyventure in Eloy, Arizona in August 2008. The trip was made in honor of Amy’s birthday. This is a compilation video of the photographs I took of the adventure.

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Gallagher at Celebrity Theatre
Nov 15th, 2009 by Jessica

Gallagher at Celebrity Theatre

Gallagher Smashing Away

Gallagher – the half-naked Energizer bunny!  That’s the best way I can describe this show.  I saw him back in 1991 in Saginaw, but he was nothing today like he was back then.

The first two hours of the show were spent completing his comedy routine.  He has quite an agenda, and a lot to say about alternative lifestyles, American culture and divorce.  It was a bit much to take at times, but overall pretty funny.

Then, he started smashing.

Pumpkin in a can, Silk chocolate soy milk, Hershey’s strawberry syrup, mustard, lettuce, flour, ketchup, birthday cake…  Watermelons (of course) and much, much more.  The smashing and crashing went on for a half hour before he concluded the show by bringing half the audience on stage to smash away.  It was nuts!

Andrew was the brave man with the camera during the show.  I was hiding behind plastic bags!

See more pictures from Gallagher on Flickr.

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Tour of University of Phoenix Stadium
Nov 15th, 2009 by Jessica

University of Phoenix Stadium Tour

UofP Stadium, Glendale, AZ

On Saturday, November 14th, Andrew and I took a tour of University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  This is the home of the Arizona Cardinals football franchise.  It’s another one of those things we had been saying, “We should do that” for a long time now.  Well, we finally did.

Having already completed the Chase Field tour (Diamondbacks baseball) we figured it would be more of the same.  We were right – but this tour wasn’t as much fun as Chase Field.  Unfortunately for us, the Seattle Seahawks had already arrived for Sunday’s game so we were unable to tour the locker rooms.

University of Phoenix Stadium Tour

Inside UofP Cardinal Stadium

We spent a whole lot of time listening to the tour guide as we stopped at various spots around the main concourse.  After a long while, we went down to the service corrider for a whopping two seconds and then he said we had to leave.  We then went upstairs to the Loft level and saw the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority Loft.  Lofts are a fancy way of saying Suites.

University of Phoenix Stadium Tour

Cardinal's Player Entrance onto the Field

We were allowed into the Press Room which was pretty neat.  We got to sit where all of the press sits during the game, and check out the amazing views through the glass of the entire stadium.  And… that was about it.  90-minute tour over.

See more pictures of the University of Phoenix Stadium Tour on Flickr.

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Tour of Chase Field
Oct 24th, 2009 by Jessica

Jessica in the Diamondbacks Dugout

Jessica in the D'backs Dugout

On October 24, 2009 Andrew and I took the Light Rail downtown to go on a tour of Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It’s one of those things we kept saying we should do for years, but never seemed to get around to doing.

The tour was only $6 which I felt was quite a bargain for what we got to see and do.  We started by rounding the field and learning lots of fun facts about the Dbacks and the field in general.  We got to see the pool, and then headed downstairs to the visitor locker room.  We visited a suite and learned more about the team, then got to go into the Diamondbacks dugout!  It was a whole lot of fun, and I’m glad we finally went.

See more pictures of the tour on Flickr.

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Another Kitchy Vegas Trip
Sep 25th, 2009 by Jessica

It has been almost two years since Andrew and I went to Vegas.  That’s a record for us!  We thought it was about time we got back up there.  Since we’ve seen almost every show in town and been to every casino, it’s hard for us to find new things to do.

This time, we decided to stay at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino.  What a DUMP.  For real – it was a dump.  Dirty walls and carpeting, old fixtures, paint chipping off the doors.  For some strange reason, their rooms have a glass window allowing you to look directly into the bathroom from the bedroom area.  Disgusting!  Who wants to watch someone on the toilet?  Uggh.  I will never stay there again.

We were stretching it with the entertainment this time.  We decided to go see Comedy Pet Theatre – a very kitchy show with cats and dogs.  Mostly dogs.  The performer tells a one-sided story of how he got kicked out of the circus and decided to take his pet show on the road.  The little kids in front of us loved it, but Andrew and I were pretty bored.  We wish he had done more with the cats.  One thing to say about the performer though is his cats clearly loved him.  Every time he walked by one, it would stretch out to greet him and want to be petted – he has a very good relationship with his pets.  That was nice to see.

We went to the Pinball Hall of Fame to find a tournament in progress.  It was absolutely packed with people!  We couldn’t even get in on any of the machines to play.  After another Cactus Cooler from the vending machine, we decided it was best to leave.

It seems Vegas has pretty much lost its charm for us these days.  We used to go 3-4 times per year, but with nothing new in town and no exciting acts to see, it’s hard to justify the drive and the expense of a high class strip hotel

Room at Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino

"Suite" at the Rio Las Vegas

Room at Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino

Living Area with old TV

Room at Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino

Window View from Bedroom into Bathroom

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