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Because Missing Out Is Never Fun!

Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show - 02/16/13 - 02/17/13

When Rick Steve talks, people listen!

Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show
Santa Clara, CA

Attending the Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show is like inviting the Travel Channel, Food Network and PBS into your own living room - and they all bring brochures and tons of candy.

Whether you're an avid traveler, fan of cook-off competitions, hoarder of freebies, or someone looking for hidden treasures in your own backyard, you'll find what you need here.  Dozens of informational booths will help you plan your next year's worth of vacations, and guest speakers such as Rick Steves offer tips on how to make the most out of your experiences. Watch as chefs whip up their favorite dishes and compete in culinary competitions, or take a more hands-on approach by hopping on a Segway or whizzing by on a zipline.

Stick around for the raffles - you may win a trip to Berlin, Turkey or the Falkland Islands.  Then, go to the Falkland Islands booth to find out where the heck that is in the first place.

The Brady Bunch House

Nine people in one house and only the maid
gets a room to herself.  Hmm...
The Brady Bunch House
Los Angeles, CA

My inner stalker couldn't wait to find this destination during my last visit to Los Angeles.  I'll refrain from listing the actual address here so the owner(s) can't blame me when you linger too long with your telephoto lens.

The Brady Bunch was the rerun show to watch if (1) you were stuck indoors during summers in the 1980s and (2) your grandfather/babysitter had cable television.  At precisely 1:35pm each  weekday, I'd be parked in front of a 50-pound cube-shaped television tuned to TBS, and my world would stop.  My attention hung on every word spoken by six kids who shared a bathroom with no visible toilet.

Fast forward two decades and change, and I found myself parked in front of the very home used in the sitcom's exterior shots.  No, the show was not filmed inside this one-story abode.  First of all, how many shows are actually filmed inside real homes?  Second of all, the show clearly featured a two-story home with an attic!  Third, I'm going to assume this backyard isn't lined with astroturf.

I parked around the corner and waited for the homeowner to finish watering her front lawn before snapping a few shots.  This may not have been on my bucket list, but it brought back a flood of childhood memories and provided an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. Groovy.

Madonna Inn

Last night I dreamt of San Pedro...in a blue,
round, king-sized bed.

Madonna Inn
San Luis Obispo, CA

Whether you're a chick whose favorite color is pink, or a dude who enjoys pissing directly into waterfalls, the Madonna Inn has something for everyone.

What began as a 12-room inn during the late 1950s has now expanded to over 100 unique rooms.  On second thought, "unique" may be a bit of an understatement.  Peruse the inn's website and you'll find each guest room is tricked out with distinct themes you may never find anywhere else.  Consider the Buffalo Room, bathed in green carpeting and wall coverings, complete with a bed made from tree branches and its very own buffalo head (naturally).  Channel your inner Bruce Lee inside the Oriental Fantasy or your inner Betty Rubble as you enjoy the waterfall in your Caveman Room.

Got kids?  Enjoy the Old Mill, featuring a water wheel which "propels animated figurines in and out of the miniature mill structure".  It's like a page out of Disneyland's "It's a Small World" ride...but this time, without the annoying song.

Moon Amtrak / Metrolink - 07/14/12

All aboard!

Moon Amtrak / Metrolink
Laguna Niguel, CA

I was once mooned at a tailgate party prior to a Jimmy Buffet concert.  Maybe that's how they pick up chicks in Columbus, Ohio...who knows.  I distinctly remember it was a father and son team.  The son was in fairly decent shape, his derriere was tan, and he seemed just happy to be there.  His father, on the other hand, was a hot, drunken mess, with a butt that was not only flabby, but had the added bonus of being hairy and pasty white.

Unfortunately, I will never be able to get that image out of my head (probably because I took a photo of it).

Allow me to introduce you to an event that may scar you for life as well: Moon Amtrak (and Metrolink).

Once a year, individuals participate in roughly 16 hours of enthusiastic mooning action.  The curious come to witness this crazy event which actually occurs without any official organizers or sponsors.  The Orange County Sheriff's Department keeps the peace.

Ride Amtrak or Metrolink towards the Mugs Away Saloon in Laguna Niguel.  Those who are nuts for butts will be lining up along the chain link fence near the tracks.

While decorating butts is allowed, mooners are discouraged from consuming alcohol or urinating in public during this event.  I mean, come on, people.  This is a classy event, okay?

Bubblegum Alley

Stick 'em up!

San Luis Obispo, CA

It's happened to all of us.  Who hasn't innocently taken a seat at a restaurant, library, picnic table or strip club, only to find (somehow) that the previous patron has left behind the gift that keeps on giving - a wad of freshly-chewed gum - underneath the table?

I can't remember how many times this has happened to me.  By the way, ONCE is too many times.

If getting up and disposing of your Hubba Bubba in a humane fashion is far too complicated for you, consider alternative oral fixation (I mean Tic Tacs.  Yeah, Tic Tacs!).

At least San Luis Obispo's Bubblegum Alley provides a safe haven for those insistent upon placing their lifeless wads on the closest surface available.  In fact, it encourages it.  The 70x15-foot wall features roughly four decades of gum and other decorative objects used to create "art".  It's been featured in TV shows and newspapers around the world.

Come out, gnaw on some Chewels, slam it on, and enjoy.  Go ahead and take pictures, but lean against the walls at your own risk.

The Magic Castle

Properly parallel parking on a hill will be your first trick.

The Magic Castle
Hollywood, CA

A large part of the mystique surrounding The Magic Castle is how to gain entrance in the first place!

Home of the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. and its thousands of members, the Castle is an exclusive club which promotes the art of magic and preserves its long history.  Only members and guests of those members are allowed admission.  Magicians from all over the world descend upon the Castle to amaze audiences, often over elegant meals served in a Victorian setting.

Members enjoy access to numerous resources such as books, videos and periodicals as well as the opportunity to participate in lectures given by experts in the field.  If you're simply a fan of the magical arts, you can become an Associate Member.  Think you're the next David Copperfield?  Prove it by applying for Magician Membership, and you'll be interviewed by a committee and asked to demonstrate a ten-minute routine in an area of magic of their choosing.

Hot shots who fail miserably will likely choose a disappearing act as their final trick.

Sky High Sports

Lung capacity, meet your match!

Sky High Sports
Various Locations, CA

Walking in, I halfway expected to hear a constant loop of the Pointer Sisters. Or Van Halen.  Or Kriss Kross.  Or House of Pain.  You know what I mean.

At Sky High Sports, kids and adults alike are literally bouncing off the walls...and floors, too.  Organized activities such as Dodgeball Tournaments are available, or you can choose to free-bounce at an hourly rate.  Better yet, why not plan a child's birthday here, where kids can tire themselves so quickly, the effects of that sugary birthday cake are all but diminished?  OK, maybe that sounds too easy.

The popular AIRobics class is an insane way to maximize caloric burn in 50 minutes.  Think jumping is a piece of cake?  Six laps around a trampoline course can be quite humbling.  Ever-moving surfaces challenge your core muscle groups, making the simplest push-ups, sit-ups and jump squats a notch more difficult.  Don't even get me started on the relay races!

Insider's tip: snack, jump, THEN go for that big breakfast.  Consider the ramifications otherwise.

The Prince and Michael Experience - 04/07/12

I want one of these!
The Prince and Michael Experience
San Francisco, CA

I'd like to meet the geniuses behind this event who thought that two DJs battling via Prince and Michael Jackson classics, rare tracks and remixes would attract a crowd.  No, really.  They're geniuses.

"Experience" partygoers have celebrated the music of Prince and MJ for nearly a decade.  These events, held in multiple cities, pay homage to two of the greatest musicians of the 80s, also known as the greatest decade in music history to everyone in my household, including my dog.

Will "Say, Say, Say" be featured?  Probably.  "Batdance"?  One can only dream.

One Log House

Check out this guy's giant log!
Garberville, CA

Clearly, this Humboldt County attraction was built by a man, as is evident by the minimalist design and lack of walk-in closets.

However, the ingenuity in design is quite impressive, given that it was created in pre-IKEA times...and out of a single redwood log.

Not for the claustrophobic, this residence has everything you need to maintain a frugal lifestyle with a few small luxuries.  Inside this enormous 2100-year old hollowed-out log you'll find a kitchen, solo breakfast nook, two (!) beds with headboard shelving, a couch and a dining table for two.

What's missing?  A toilet, shower and ventilation!  Not exactly the place to bring a date back to at the end of the night.

City of 10,000 Buddhas

(Please silence all cell phones.)
The City of 10,000 Buddhas
Ukiah, CA

The City of 10,000 Buddhas reminds me of my great-grandmother's basement...except that it's above-ground and the walls are lined with thousands of spectacular Buddha statues instead of countless jars of unrecognizable home-canned fruit, circa WWII.

The City boasts a university, secondary and elementary schools and a gift shop.  Students constantly sweep the streets to maintain a pristine environment.  Be sure to adhere to the 15 MPH speed limit to minimize the exhaust inhaled by students, staff and wildlife such as deer and peacocks that roam freely around campus.

The main attraction is most certainly the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas, a behemoth of a space lined floor to ceiling with Buddha statues from large to small.  Believers and atheists alike can appreciate the spectacle that includes magnificent altars, hundreds of kneelers, musical instruments and artwork of all sorts depicting the spiritual teacher.

If it's all too overwhelming for you, sit back and enjoy some Sweet and Sour Tofu or Broccoli with Cashews at Jyun Kang, the restaurant located right on campus.  Vegetarianism never tasted so heavenly.

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