May 13, 2024

Photo Essay: Saturday Night at the Los Angeles County Fair

For some reason, I let 10 years go by after my first visit to the Los Angeles County Fair in 2012. (That year, I actually went twice—for the fair itself and then for the Demolition Derby.)

And when I went back to Fairplex in Pomona a decade later—in 2022, after the event had shifted from September to May—it rained. And I didn't have a great time. 

This year, I returned to the fair because I had a ticket to Pat Benatar's Grandstand concert—and that gave me the chance to explore the grounds for the first time at night.

May 11, 2024

Photo Essay: The Sphere Has Landed in Vegas—And What An Experience It is

Las Vegas may have changed a lot since my first visit in the 1990s—and I may feel nostalgic for a version of Vegas I never actually got to experience—but I still love to visit the place, as ever-changing as it may be, even just to admire its audacity. 

The latest addition to the Vegas skyline is the Sphere—the world's largest spherical structure with the world's largest screen, which opened in September 2023 after five years of construction. 

May 06, 2024

Photo Essay: L.A. Circus, A Prop House Providing Everything Under the Big Top to Hollywood and Beyond

It takes a lot to surprise me. Especially after living in LA for 13 years and seriously exploring Southern California for about 16 years. 

 So I was thrilled to be introduced to a place I'd never heard of—LA Circus in Riverside, California—and have the chance to tour it with the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation. 

April 21, 2024

Photo Essay: Warner Brothers Adds the TCM Classics Film Tour to Its Studio Backlot Experience

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the media preview of the TCM Classic Films Tour, a brand-new experience offered by Warner Brothers Studio Tours focusing on the movie studio and backlot's heritage of legacy films (as opposed to current productions). 


April 18, 2024

Photo Essay: Mascots, Memories, and Americana at the Roadside America Museum

I hadn't been to Texas ever on vacation—and the few times I'd gone on business trips (to Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin), I hadn't had a lot of time to go touring anywhere. 

So I wanted to take advantage of my eclipse trip to see a few of the sights of North Texas, for I may not pass that way again. 

We were staying in Whitney, about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas—which turned out to be kind of a difficult spot to call a taxi or shuttle to the airport. But fortunately, the nearby town of Hillsboro had a rideshare driver willing to make the trek—which meant I had just enough time to squeeze in the town's Roadside America Museum before heading back home.

It's located in a 100-year-old former Ford dealership building, where its owner Carroll Estes (no relation to the Estes Dairy Farm) will open the doors for you and give you a tour if you ring him up on the cell phone number posted out front.

April 12, 2024

There Goes the Sun (Behind the Moon)

Upon the last total eclipse of the sun that was visible over the United States, in 2017, I convinced myself that I didn't need to see it. That I didn't even want to see it. 

So, I stayed in LA and enjoyed the partial eclipse

But, truth be told, once it was over, I felt like I'd missed out. 

"I'll go see the one in 2024," I said to myself and all my friends. "Maybe I'll go to Mexico."

So as this year's total solar eclipse approached, I felt like I had to stay true to my word. Especially when I realized there wouldn't be another one appearing above the U.S. for another 20 years (and who knows what kind of condition I'll be in at that age??). 

The same concerns I had seven years ago still rang true. Was it really worth the time and expense to travel for a few minutes of darkness? What if it was cloudy and I wouldn't be able to see anything anyway?

At some point, I just had to bite the bullet and commit to the trip—not to Mexico on my own, but to North Texas for a family reunion not of my own kin, but a chosen family that invited me to join them in the path of totality. 

April 08, 2024

Photo Essay: A Texas Superbloom of Bluebonnets in April

Had I known how spectacular the Bluebonnet Trail was in Ennis, Texas, it would've been on my bucket list

Even after I'd landed at DFW—and been looking out of the backseat window of my rideshare cars driving around to my various destinations—I hadn't yet realized what a big thing bluebonnets are in Texas, where all six species of them have served as the state flower since 1971.

April 07, 2024

Photo Essay: Getting Unreal at Meow Wolf's Dallas Area Installation (Grapevine, Texas)

After having enjoyed Meow Wolf's OmegaMart in Las Vegas, I was curious to check out its fourth installation, The Real Unreal, after flying into Dallas this weekend. 

It opened in July 2023 in a former Bed, Bath and Beyond at the Grapevine Mall—but you soon forget that as you step through the doors of a brick home set piece in a nighttime setting, all aglow with the warmth of family life and home and hearth. (This ties into Meow Wolf's first installation, in Santa Fe—and many other parts of this Dallas edition connect to elements from Santa Fe, Vegas, and Denver.)

April 01, 2024

It's Been a Rough Year (And It's Only April)

I fell in public today, messily, spilling popcorn all over an already-wet or -greasy polished floor at the movie theater, wailing in pain and sobbing.

An older gentleman (well, older than me) named Rick asked my name and tried to comfort me as the woman he was with tracked down some ice.

"It's been a rough year," I told him.

"And it's only April," he said.

I started off 2024 with a big hole in my head, empty spaces left behind from the molars that had been extracted last November. 

March 31, 2024

Photo Essay: Little House on the Prairie 50th Anniversary Cast Reunion and Festival Weekend (Simi Valley, CA)

I first caught wind of the 50th anniversary of Little House in the Prairie, which debuted on television in March 1974, via an announcement from one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder accounts I follow—about an event in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. 

Great, I thought. I've got to head back. (I'd already visited once in 2007, and I still had other LHOTP sites to check off my list.)

But then the best-case scenario came about: A cast reunion was being planned where the series began, in Simi Valley, California. And although traffic could make that an hour-and-a-half trip from my home, the TV version of Walnut Grove is a lot closer than the real Walnut Grove.

So, that is how I spent last weekend—taking every cheesy photo that opportunities would provide, wearing my bonnet the whole time.