Last year was a real doozy for everyone, everywhere. There were some great things that happened; Giant Pandas, Humpback Whales, Manatees and Sea Turtles are no longer endangered! Leo FINALLY won an Oscar! The Ice Bucket Challenge helped fund the scientists who found the gene for ALS! Woohoo!!
Your favorite adventurers had some pretty epic awesome this last year, too! Let’s not forget our incredible trip to Nerd Mecca, our personal guided tour of Jet Propulsion Labs, and our trips to various beaches! We even took our mews Matilda Pants to the beach!
Along the way we made some pretty incredible new friends, and we certainly learned a lot. Some of the nicest people we encountered on our adventures were (but certainly not limited to)…..
Harvest Hosts – Kim and Don are incredible people. We were gifted a membership with them, but were unable to use it. They not only refunded the gift to the buyer, but they also gave us “Does Not Expire” membership status! If you are on the road, and looking for a unique and awesome adventure, be sure to check out what Harvest Hosts has to offer!
Royal Prestige – Before we hit the road, we bought a full set of these amazing pots and pans! This set was going to last us the rest of our lives, if we took proper care of them. They have a great layaway program, and we were able to make payments until we were finally able to purchase the set. Granted, the set was expensive, but worth it. Of course the thieves new the set was nice, too, and they took every last piece. Even the salad shooter. Over $3000 worth of cooking items. After some convincing from the Head of our Fan Club, we emailed Royal Prestige to see what could be done. They were VERY generous and offered to sell us another set for 50% off. While we are not financially able to take them up on this offer, it was very kind of them. If you are looking for the best set of pots, pans, and cooktops in the world (and worth their weight for RVing), please check these guys out!
Geeks Who Drink – Our Brother from Another Mother works as a QuizMaster, and is a Quiz God with GWD. When our RV was first stolen, he started a GoFundMe for us that literally saved our lives. He sent it out to everyone he knew at GWD, which is a lot of folks, and through their donations we were able to find places to stay, eat, and keep the Mews healthy. We also made a couple life long friends in the process! We can’t wait to see everyone at the annual GeekBowl in Seattle, and give HUGE hugs to our Brother From Another Mother, as well as our new favorite Quiz Mistress, and our favorite Wedding Crashers from Texas!
There was, of course, the whole business of our RV, and everything we owned, being stolen or destroyed. Then dealing with “Outdoor Planet” (We aren’t allowed to say who they are, but you know who they are), then Outdoor Plant “losing” our trailer…not to mention that it took them OVER SIX MONTHS to repair damages from the theft. That is a long time to be homeless. So, while we waited, and waited, and waited some more, we set up an AwesomeSauce Headquarters in sunny California!
During the course of the RVpocolypse, we drained all our resources. From hotel rooms and Air BnB’s, to traveling up and down California a few times – and back and forth to Vegas a few times, to eating, taking Mews to the vet a few times (turns out stress can really do a number on pets), to the adventurers getting sick (stress can also really do a number on people)…then getting a “Brick and Mortar” HQ. When you have no job, and no real rental history for a few months, getting a rental can be very difficult. We had first and last months rent, and a security deposit, which helped A LOT. That, and a very understanding and cool landlord, got us into a very cool house. A nice fenced yard for a Mews to meander, filled with hummingbirds, oranges, and a few bugs we have never seen before. After that we set up gas, electric, and internet. All with down payments.
Then there was the task of getting some furniture. We needed a bed for sleeping, chairs for sitting, and a table for eating (not to eat the table..but to eat at! Silly). Our table doubles as desk, our chairs function as chairs, stepladders, and cat bed holders. We also needed to get some clothes! After a few trips to all the thrift stores, and one trip to a new mattress place, we were able to function in our house.
To make a long story short (too late), we went through all of our monies dealing with the RV, the legal stuff, and getting back on our feet.
Fear not! Some other highlights of 2016 was that Awesome K was able to get a couple of interesting jobs! He was a food inspector for items going to the South Pole, he served a new culture of people in “Little Saigon,” finally landing a regular gig doing what he loves, dealing cards! He is now a dealer at a Four Diamond Triple A rated casino resort! Fancy-schmancy! Saucy G FINALLY started really working on her novel writing, and has gotten a great start on a few stories. Even the Mews are back to work, with Archer head of Agriculture, Matilda is Head of the Neighborhood Watch, and Lana continues to work in Security while dabbling in being a Cat Food Critic. We also welcomed a new Mews to our Team! The incredible and marvelous Castielanova Bagginsess Pants, or Cass for short. He is working closely with his idol and mentor, Archer, and learning all there is to know about being an Adventure Cat.
Our final bit of excitement in 2016 was FINALLY bringing the RV back home! We were able to drive her from Vegas in late December, and she was home in time for Christmas!
Have you ever dreamed of a house filled with mysterious secret passages, doors to other worlds, ghosts, and a history that is almost beyond belief? Do you wish there was a place with sprawling gardens, gorgeous arches, and more rooms than you could shake a stick at? Wish no longer, this magical house on the edge of reality exists, and you can visit it any time you want!
The house, of course, is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.
There is nothing like this incredible mansion anywhere else in the world, and has something for everyone. The Duo has dreamed of visiting the house for as long as we could remember, so when we were gifted a year longSkeleton Key Club membership, we jumped right out of our skins! Not literally, of course, skin sort of jumps with you, but you get the idea. We couldn’t wait to get to San Jose to see the house in person, and who better to go with us than AwesomeSauce members, The Doctors of Awesome! The Doctors Awesome are our Brother-From-Another-Mother The Quiz Doctor, and his amazing and brilliant wife, The Brain Doctor. We headed out from our HQ to the Mystery House.
The Winchester Mystery House was built by Sarah Winchester, wife of the Winchester Rifle heir, “William Wirt Winchester, son of Oliver Fisher Winchester, Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut and manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle.” – http://winchestermysteryhouse.com/sarahwinchester.cfm. After the death of her husband, and their small baby, Sarah did what any rational woman would do, she consulted a medium in an attempt to contact the love of her life. She, however, received a very different message. The medium told her to head west, ALL THE WAY West, and start building a house, and never, ever stop. The house was to appease, and perhaps trap, the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifles, and construction was to continue 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, forever. If construction ever stopped, Sarah would suffer and die. Being a woman of INCREDIBLE means, 2,777 shares in the Winchester company, and a thriving fruit business, Sarah was bringing in $1,000 a day, with no taxes. $1,000 A DAY. That is a ton of money now, imagine what that was in the 1800’s! Or, plug it into an inflation calculator, like we did, and it comes to roughly $24,000. $24,000 a day.
With her incredible daily income, Sarah moved from Boston to San Jose, bought a tiny unfinished farm house, and started building. Not only did she hire workers for her ethereal project, she housed them and fed them, and paid them twice what the going rate was. If they didn’t want to live on the property, she would buy them housing in the nearby town. So, free room and board, plus twice the daily rate of pay, it is no wonder she was well liked by her staff – so well liked it is said that some of them remain on the property to this day, working and tending the garden. Construction proceeded as instructed by the medium, and even the ghosts themselves told Sarah how to proceed, through seances and spirit boards. One of the rooms constructed was dedicated to communication with the ghosts, and is one of the most interesting rooms in the house – with an entrance, but no exit. That isn’t a riddle, the door you enter from you cannot leave through, as it only opens one way and locks behind you. You have to leave through one of a few secret passages in the walls, this was to keep Sarah from being followed by the spirits, confusing them so that they couldn’t track her down in the house. This is just one of many secrets in the house.
So far the current caretakers of the house have found 160 rooms. We say so far, because there are rumors that there are more, yet undiscovered rooms in the house. “At the time of her death, the unrelenting construction had rambled over six acres. The Sprawling mansion contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, and 6 kitchens. Carpenters even left nails half driven when they learned of Mrs. Winchester’s death.”-http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/sarahwinchester.cfmAs far as they know so far, that is. Construction halted after Sarah passed away in her sleep on September 5, 1922, and it wasn’t until 1973 that construction started again. The house is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and every day there is construction and repair happening on the house. The house requires 20,000 gallons of paint to cover the exterior, and as soon as painters have finished, they have to start from the beginning again!
The house is open daily for tours, and they often have special tours available, like haunted candlelit tours in the dark, or the Spirit of the Holidays during the winter. We couldn’t WAIT to get inside, and with our fancy Skeleton Key Club Membership, we get to tour the house for free! So of course we took the deluxe tour, featuring inside and outside tours. We brought The Doctors, getting them discounted tickets with our membership, which is awesome, and we headed into the sprawling Queen Ann Victorian mansion built for ghosts.
We grabbed our tickets and met in the courtyard next to the little cafe. Yes, you can come, sit, and spend a day at the Mystery House without taking a tour, if you felt so inclined. If our HQ was closer, we would be there right now! We met our tour guide, and proceeded into the house. We would love to share with you pictures we took from inside the property, but there is currently a movie being made about the house, and photos of the interior are proprietary. We aren’t even sure we are allowed to tell you how incredible it was, but we will do our best. The House lives up to all the hype, being grand, gorgeous, and mysterious.
We were treated to sights of staircases the ended in the ceiling, a staircase leading down that ended in a staircase leading up again, doors to windows, windows to doors, and doors leading to oblivion. One door on the second (or was it the third? Fourth?) floor leads you to outside, with no landing, just a nasty drop to your demise, or a bad owwie at the very least. Don’t worry, you can’t accidentally step out the door, it is clearly marked now. The house was ahead of it’s time in many ways, with indoor plumbing, hot water, and electricity. One of the first rooms on our tour was a huge bathroom and shower, luxurious by today’s standards and mind boggling for the 1800’s. The bathroom, one of 13, has 13 sinkholes in the sink…just one of the many times the number 13 sneaks it’s way into the house.
Remember when we mentioned that Sarah continued to commune with the dead, getting advice on how to proceed with the construction? One of the rooms on our tour was this small room, with the story that “When Mrs. Winchester set out for her Séance Room, it might well have discouraged the ghost of the Indian or even of a bloodhound, to follow her. After traversing an interminable labyrinth of rooms and hallways, suddenly she would push a button, a panel would fly back and she would step quickly from one apartment into another, and unless the pursuing ghost was watchful and quick, he would lose her. Then she opened a window in that apartment and climbed out, not into the open air, but onto the top of a flight of steps that took her down one story only to meet another flight that brought her right back up to the same level again, all inside the house. This was supposed to be very discomforting to evil spirits who are said to be naturally suspicious of traps.” We entered the room through the entrance with no exit, and left through one of the secret passages, whether or not we were followed is still a mystery.
On the second part of our tour we were shown the grounds, and learned more about the practical side of the house. During her time there, Sarah had sprawling orchards of plums, walnuts, and apricots. She ran a successful fruit business, only adding to her bajillion dollars from the Winchester shares. The gardens are incredible, with four fountains, and some of the most beautiful roses in the world. Trees from all over the globe, and Mrs. Winchester’s favorite, daisies. The grounds boast 13 palm trees lining the old driveway to the carriage house and car garage. Sarah Winchester was one of the first people in San Jose to have a car, and a photo of her in the car is one of only two pictures with the heiress.
Our tour guides through the house and the grounds were remarkable! They could answer any questions, had a vast knowledge of the house and history, and were truly in love with their jobs. It was wonderful to see the caring that the guides showed, still in awe of this remarkable house and gardens. It’s hard not to be in awe of such a grand haunted estate with such a rich history.
Adventure Pro Tips:
Be sure to check ahead of time to verify hours and tour times. As of this writing, tickets could be purchased online 24 hours in advance, and at the box office day of.
We STRONGLY recommend the Grand Estate tour, touring the mansion and the gardens. This tour, however, is roughly 2 hours long. While well worth it, it is best to plan ahead. Wear comfortable shoes, and be ready for some walking! If you don’t want to do the walking tour, there is an audio tour. Children 5 and Under are not allowed behind the scenes for safety reasons.
There is, of course, a gift shop! In the gift shop there is not one, not two, but three penny squish machines! If you want a great souvenir that only costs .51 cents, be sure to bring some change and squish a penny! Squished pennies are a fun keepsake, and most places have at least one squisher.
Have fun! This is the only house like this in the world!
SOLID 4 of a Kind (Quads). This is an exceptional tour, and well worth the drive, and the dollars. It can be a little steep if you are not a member, and not everyone enjoys walking through history for two hours. We loved it, and we are sure you will, too.
We took November off to focus on NaNoWrimo and writing a novel (or starting several), and are finally back to share with you all of our adventures!
“But you have been gone a lot longer….”
“month. Where have…”
NaNoWriMo was successful, in that we are now “in the habit” of writing, which is great news for you! Blog posts! Snippets of Saucy G’s books! So much excitement!
Let’s start by CATching up on what has been going on here at AwesomeSauce HQ.
The last time you heard from us, Awesome K had attempted to go get the RV from Camping World Las Vegas, and was met with a “missing” trailer. Well, there is no update there. The trailer is gone, never to be seen again, and we still don’t have the RV. Awesome K is hoping to go pick it up in the next couple of weeks, but we are skeptical.
HQ has had some big changes, though! We had a company meeting, and it was decided that we were one Mews short. We interviewed many qualified and wonderful candidates, narrowing it down to a few exceptional potentials. It was only after we consulted The Universe that we were able to find, and hire, our latest Mews!
Please give a warm welcome to Castiel Baggins! Cass, also known as Cassieopealliow, Mr Kitty Cat Cass, Baby Kitty, Toasted Marshmallow, Mr Baby Pants, and, of course, Cassanova. Just look at him!
Cass is currently interning under Archer Funnyfoot in Public Relations, and is cross training in Human Relations. We have not yet determined which department he will head, as we are waiting for him to get a little more comfortable being here at HQ.
Earlier we mentioned NaNoWriMo. What is that, you ask? “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” – NaNoWriMo.org. It is a chance for budding novelists, and seasoned pros, to sit down and start a new challenge. The goal is to start a brand new novel, and write at least 1600 words a day. That will get you to the 50,000 word goal, and it gets you into the habit of sitting and writing every day. Of course you can write more or less words per day, the end goal is the same.
Saucy G sat down for her first NaNoWriMo attempt, and did pretty darned well! While she didn’t hit her 50,000 word goal, she got darn close with 30,000! She also got a great start on a memoir (which is rebellious for NaNoWriMo), and a modest start on her first novel. We will feature snippets from both from time to time, so keep an eye out for a Saucy G Original (SGO)!
We have a few adventures to catch you up on, like San Francisco, LA, and, of course, the Winchester Mystery House…plus some sweet stuff in the future, like Napa, Seattle, and a few other awesome surprises!
That is a lot of stuff to do! We better get to it!
The world is filled with beautiful poems, quotes, songs, and images of the ocean. Nothing anyone says, nothing anyone sings, will ever capture the wild and true beauty of the sea. The way the air fills your lungs, salty, cleansing. The way the sand feels in your toes, soft and rough, smooth and sinking. The water when it rolls over you, washing away life and replacing it with infinity. There is nothing so marvelous, so captivating, so healing as the ocean.
If you have never been to an ocean, please – if you go on no other adventures in this life – go to the ocean. Go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Let the tide roll over your toes. It will roll right into your very core, and you will be forever changed.
The Duo needed an ocean fix, so they headed to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Santa Monica!
Granted, this is VERY touristy, so if you are looking for something that is a lot more beach, and a lot less people, WORRY NOT! One of our stops was at Carlsbad Beach, and it was glorious. A long stretch of beach, not a lot of people, and very impressive waves. There is parking near the beach, and an easy path to walk down to get close to the water. This is an excellent beach for having a relax, going surfing, or going for a gorgeous beachfront walk.
During our stay in Southern California, or SoCal, we went to Santa Monica twice, and both times were AWESOME! The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous spots in the world, featuring roller coasters, live performers, incredible food, fun shops, an aquarium, fishing, swimming, surfing, the LAST STOP of Route 66… the list goes on and on! One of the shops, the Oatman Rock Shop, claims to be the oldest shop on the pier! Worth a look sea…er…see if you want to pick up some fun 60’s style stuffs. On both our trips, we ate lunch at the delectable Albright. It was soooo good the first time, we went back on our second trip. If you love clam chowder you NEED to try the bread bowl they have. A delicious delectable delight, you won’t be disappointed! The prices were reasonable, the beers were cold, and the atmosphere was awesome!
Walking along the pier is an experience in itself. You never know who, or what, you are going to see performing on the pier! While we were there we saw face painters, jugglers, temporary tattoos, a singing goth 60’s gigolo, and “Rock and Roll Jesus” singing Sublime songs, just to name a few. The acts change periodically throughout the day, and no two days are the same!
Taking up a large section in the middle of the pier is Pacific Park, featuring roller coasters, a full boardwalk, and Awesome K’s favorite – funnel cake. Funnel cake as large as your head. Seriously. While we did enjoy the funnel cake, we did not get a chance to ride any of the rides, or play any of the games. However, if you are looking for a boardwalk adventure, this is the place!
Just a short walk away from the Pier is one of the most well known beaches in the world, Muscle Beach! This is where anyone who was anyone went to work out. Today you can still find plenty of outdoor exercise areas, as well as volleyball pits, bicycle rentals, and some of the best people watching out there! There were a handful of people working on their fitness, which was neat to watch. We would have joined them, but we were still sticky from the funnel cake – which that statement alone should tell you how often we would work out on the beach.
Do you love Geocaching? Of course you do! So does Saucy G (poor Awesome K can’t seem to get into it)! While cruising the beach, there were some super sweet caches to be had. One that bumped it’s way into her Top Five Favorite Caches was “Lord of the Rings.” Not only is this a fun play on words – as the exercise rings are close by, but this was the first one involving a secret code! If you are a geocacher, and are looking for a fun – albeit easy – cache, be sure to check out the caches around Santa Monica and Muscle Beach. “What is Geocaching” you ask?! Oh adventurer, you are in for a real treat now! Geocaching is an adventure all of its own! Our words won’t do it justice, but the basics are that there are real hidden “caches” all over the world, and one in space, that are hidden for you to find. They are EVERYWHERE, and range in difficulty from 1 to 5 based on the terrain, and the type of container it is. All the caches have a log book for you to sign, and some have hidden treasures in them! If you have a smartphone, you can download a free app that helps you on your hunt – turning it into a GPS as well as your traveling log book. If you have questions, feel free to ask us, or check out these fun videos on YouTube “Geocaching Basics” and “Etiquette“, but like we said – your best resource for your new favorite hobby will be the website. Best of all, it is completely free!
Other not to be missed attractions on/near the Pier is the Loof Hippodrome Carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The Carousel is located inside, near the Soda Jerks, and is said to be one of the oldest around. We can’t back that statement up with facts, but it sounds cool. It IS on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is the #3 Historic Landmark in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium can be found sort of under the pier, just follow the signs. It is NOT in the Soda Jerks hall, which one might be lead to believe. Just head down the stairs behind the Jerks, and you should see signs for the Aquarium. It is pretty neat inside, with lots of interactive areas letting you pet and love on Santa Monica sea life! Just be gentle, and listen to the guides as they help you meet some of the locals. The main goal of the Aquarium is to Save the Bay, and help bring awareness to what trash, water wasting, and other nasties can do to our sea friends. While we were there we met some other fun Santa Monica locals, animals! A local wildlife rescue was visiting, and brought with them some of their friends to help bring awareness to who, and what, live around us! It is a neat little aquarium, and worth a visit, and help us all HEAL THE BAY!
One of our beach days was dedicated to hanging out on the beach and swimming. No sight seeing, no stress, just beach. It was exactly what we needed! We packed up some waters, a couple little snacks, our towels, and we were off! There may be no better way to unwind than by sitting by the waves. It was a little crowded, even for a Tuesday, but we did go in July, so there’s that. It was still really easy to find a spot, even getting there at noon! We were right near the water, no one in front of us, and we had plenty of room to relax. There seem to be “two beaches” at Santa Monica, one to the left of the pier, and one to the right. It seemed like to the right of the pier was WAY busier than the left side, so we opted to relax on the left.
Our relax day was so wonderful! Everyone, at least once in their lives (but hopefully A LOT more then just once) gets a relaxing beach day. Awesome K brought along his own castle building kit, but opted to give it to a little girl instead. He sat, read, and relaxed in his chair while Saucy G spent pretty much the entire day in the water. One of her most favorite things is to swim, although she is no Simone Manuel! Saucy G did her best to stay afloat, and even rode a small wave or two! One of her next goals is to become a certified diver, like her Old Man before her (the Incredible Old Man was one of the first ever certified diving instructors in Los Angeles!), or at least be able to go diving. The Old Man was, in fact, a Super Hero, so diving like him might be impossible – but that is a totally different EPIC story!
If you are in Southern California, be ready to spend at least one day, if not two, at Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beaches. There is a reason they are some of the most famous beaches in the world! Enjoy your walk on the Pier, get some great food, stick your toes in the ocean, and breathe in that wonderful ocean air. Take a minute to look, really LOOK at the ocean. Hear the waves. Feel the salt in the air. You’ll be glad you did!
Adventure Pro Tips:
1. Never go outside without sunscreen! This is especially true at the beach. Whether or not you get in the water (although if you are not at least wading in the water you are a silly person), reapply the sunscreen throughout the day. Nothing ruins a great day at the beach like finding out you look like one of the lobsters!
2. BRING PLENTY OF WATER! It is easy to get dehydrated while playing, and swimming in the salt can suck a lot of moisture out. Be sure to keep your insides as wet as your outsides get.
3. Forgot your umbrella? While we were there, we saw a few people walking the beaches selling umbrellas, sand castle kits, and body boards. The prices seemed reasonable, so we bought an umbrella for the day. Whether you buy one there, or bring one with, a beach umbrella is a must! That little bit of extra shade keeps you cool, and keeps you from burning. Please still follow tip number 1, though.
4. While we didn’t see any nefarious business, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Make sure to keep you purse/wallet/monies someplace safe. Our chairs came with hidden pockets for wallets, which was handy. We recommend either leaving valuables at home, or only bringing enough with you for beach day. No need to be swimming with stacks of cash, fish don’t accept that, or credit cards. Just keep it safely secured, and you should be fine. This article has some great ideas for keeping your valuables safe while you build your tribute to Game of Thrones out of sand!
5. Going to Santa Monica Pier and can’t find parking? Pier parking full, and the only other advertised parking is for $40? Don’t get sand in your socks, we found the spot for you! This site helps you find the parking, and lets you know the costs up front…but if you are like Saucy G that info means nothing to you without a picture, so here ya go!
If you take Ocean Ave south east-ish (middle bottom on the right of the picture), past The Lobster, you can turn right onto a road that takes you to the huge parking lot. The parking is cheap, and it is right on the beach! Don’t get scammed! You can also turn right on Seaside Terrace, turn right on Appian way, and that will get you there. The two times we went we parked here, saving us time, money, and a lot of hassle.
6. While walking the Pier it may be tempting to hunt for Poke` whatevers, or to stare at your phone in some other fashion. You are at the BEACH! There are wild and crazy things happening around you! Please look up and look around, it’s worth it! Yes, there are Pokes to be caught, and eggs to be hatched, but try not to walk into or over other people in the process.
7. Bring two pairs of shoes. Flip flops and sneakers. That way you don’t get sand in your sneakers, and you don’t get burns from your flip flops. Or just wear sandals, but make sure they are comfortable. Walking in warm sands can be difficult, and hot! The $15 flip flops sold on the pier are worth it in a pinch, but not very comfortable.
8. The beach on the south side of the pier, or left of the pier, is the less crowded for a beach day. You are not as close to the parking lot, but it is a VERY easy walk under the pier, and there is a lot more room!
9. Did we mention sunscreen?
10. Funnel. Cake. One serving is enough for at least two people, so save your pennies and just get the one. Did we mention bringing water? Anything and everything on the pier will be priced for tourists, so plan ahead and bring your own bottle of water.
AwesomeSauce Rating: Full House. There was a distinct lack of kittens, and we are pretty sure that Santa Monica beaches are not animal friendly, so no swimming puppies either. The prices can be a bit high, and it can be a wee crowded, but what does one expect of a main tourist spot in the middle of summer? Honestly, this place is amazing, and everyone should check it out at least once, maybe twice. Muscle Beach is a sand dollar throws away, and if you play your cards right, your trip could be free! Nothing beats the ocean, and walking on the sand in the surf. THIS needs to be done by everyone as much as possible.
Groupon may be one of the best tools in any travelers arsenal. Not only can you find amazing deals on just about everything, you can also find tickets to events and attractions you might not have otherwise known about!
One night we were chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool, when we started cruising Groupon for something to do…
That’s when we saw it. A MidSummer Scream! A convention for horror, Halloween, and everything in between. Ghosts! Horror movies! Haunted Houses! REAL Haunted Houses! ALL HALLOWEEN ALL THE TIME! So, of course we had to go to that!
We opted to go on the final day (remember, the final day of a convention or show is the best day, you get the best deals!), for the deals, and for the panel discussions. We were able to find a schedule online, and saw that one of discussions was going to be about the Winchester Mystery House! Saucy G has ALWAYS wanted to go there, hearing legends of it from her parents, and Awesome K had always wanted to go. He spent a lot of time in that area growing up, but never made it to the house.
HOLY CRAZY PANEL, BATMAN! That discussion was AMAZING! We got to see pictures that no one else has seen, we learned the history of the house, and Sarah Winchester, AND we got some super sweet insider info! We learned about a few psychics who have come through the house, a couple of ghost hunters and their adventures, and we got to hear about a particularly interesting seance that happened in the house recently, performed by James Van Praagh! The best part was at the end, everyone who attended the panel was gifted a YEAR LONG MEMBERSHIP to the new Skeleton Key Club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, ALL the exclamation points are needed). Now the Duo can go to the Winchester Mystery House ALL THE TIME! FOR FREE! Plus discounts on the gift shop (which is, of course, filled with all sorts of fun stuff), as well as discounts on tickets for friends! So, if you want to go to the coolest house ever built AND have an adventure with the DUO, now you can!
After the panel, at the Winchester Mystery House booth, they were selling shadow boxes that contained actual relics from the house! The only had a few, and they were WAY out of our budget, but they were incredible! One in particular had blue tile, some crown molding, and a piece of wallpaper, all original from the House, for around $400. Saucy G may kick herself for the rest of forever for not getting that. Such a gorgeous box, an amazing bit of history, and it might even be haunted! If you happen across a this shadow box, let Saucy G know, she might be able to scrape up some cash. Or trade you. Or beg and cry at you. That sounds fun, right?
After enjoying our incredible panel, we hit the floor at the Midsummer Scream!
The entire show floor was covered in a fog. Screams echoed through the halls. A zombie shuffled by, a bag brimming with delights from the underworld. Slender Man stood tall and opposing, while a couple of rotting nurses took a selfie with him. It was perfect! The only way this event/day could get better would be haunted kittens.
This was the first annual event, so the show floor was not as jam packed as it could have been, but what was there was quality stuff. In addition to the Winchester Mystery House, there were several exhibitors and panels about haunted houses, make up artistry, and how to get into the horror business professionally. One entire section was made into a haunted house, but we might have been too scared to go in. From all the screaming, it seemed pretty awesome, though. There was an area where you could have Halloween effects and makeup done, which also looked AMAZING! A lot of booths were mini room escapes, promoting their larger attractions (like the game on your phone, but in real life. We NEED to do that one time). There were also a lot of booths dedicated to paranormal investigations, a horror museum, a vlog about scary baking (which we are following, because she is a delight), all sorts of cool and kooky things to purchase, and…..HAUNTED KITTENS! KITTENS!!!
Ok, so the kittens PROBABLY aren’t haunted, but as we all know, kittens and cats DO keep bad demons away from your house, so everyone should have at least two (for demon hunting, and to keep each other company). The actual booth was dedicated to cat and kitten adoption, and awareness of the perils of being a black cat*. Saucy G MIGHT have lost her mind a little bit, kittens and horror all mixed together like this. IT WAS EPIC! And this was just on SUNDAY! (This is also the reason there aren’t a lot of pictures taken by the duo. Too much awesome makes for a forgetful photographer).
We didn’t go Saturday, but we wish we could have (Long Beach was a little far from Altadena, AND we didn’t really know about it until it was too late to plan ahead)! On Saturday night there was a Halloween Ball, with only the greatest band of all time….OINGO BOINGO! OINGO….BOINGO!
All in all it was probably one of the coolest events we have ever been to, other than Nerd Mecca of course. Although it is definitely on par with Nerd Mecca…this had all horror all the time, goth makeup, and haunted kittens. It is really hard to top kittens. If you are in the Long Beach area, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this screaming good time next summer! Don’t forget to check for discount tickets on Groupon! (This blog was not sponsored by Groupon, but if they do sponsorships, let us know).
AwesomeSauce Rating:Royal Flush. There were kittens! Horror icons! We won year long admission to the Winchester Mystery House! It does not get better than this, unless we went to the Fest for free. Or got paid. Seriously, this event was one of the best ever in the forever ever, and you NEED to check it out next time! We will be there!
Don’t live near Long Beach, but are dying for some devilish delights of your own? Fear not! Click HERE for a list of some horrifying haunts coming to your area!
*Black cats are the hardest to get adopted, due in part to the stigma and superstitions behind them. During the month of October, it is especially dangerous to be a black cat, as they are often targeted for some nasty tricks. There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer as to why they are less likely to be adopted. In fact, in some cultures, black cats bring about the best of luck!
We, Awesome K and Saucy G, were sitting around, minding our own business one Saturday evening in Altadena/Pasadena. Nothing much was going on. Then BAM! WHAMO! KABOOM! A figure descended from the Heavens! This magnificent creature from the Ether bestowed upon us TWO FREE TICKETS TO COMIC CON!!!!
For those of you who are unsure as to what just happened, let us attempt to explain. The San Diego Comic Con is sort of a Nerd Mecca. For 46 years, the San Diego Comic Con has brought together everyone in the comics industry for a mega convention. It has gotten exponentially larger over recent years – and has started to include movies, TV shows, books, and all things that are considered “nerdy” or “geeky” or just straight up AWESOME! Everything from video games, to Game of Thrones, to Emily the Strange, to Lego’s. All the things that this Saucy G LOVES. ALL. Comic Con is often the place to premier new and cool stuff, as well as a place to meet the stars of your favorite Nerd-dom, and to get your hands on all sorts of rare and exclusive swag. To be able to go to this epic event is a quest for many a nerd/geek/gamer/comic-lover/etc. The San Diego Comic Con is the King of All Cons. All other Comic Cons (Denver, Salt Lake, etc), aspire to be the San Diego Comic Con. Hence the “Nerd Mecca.”
Tickets to get in, however, are often expensive, and often sell out almost instantly! We didn’t plan ahead, and when we found ourselves in SoCal (Southern California, or SoCal as the cool kids call it) during Comic Con, we knew we were out of luck. That is, until the Nerdy Angel arrived and handed us two free passes (please refer to the above photo)! Not only were we getting in free, we were getting in an hour early! We could have a quick look around before the throngs of people came crashing through the doors.
Comic Con is HUGE! In recent years it has become too large for the Convention Center that it is in, and has started spilling into the streets and local businesses, which is awesome. If you were a business owner near the San Diego Convention Center, Comic Con has to be the equivalent to the retail Black Friday – for a week straight. It must be especially awesome to have a company come to you and rent your ENTIRE BUSINESS for the week of the Con. We saw one restaurant completely taken over, and turned into a hub for an upcoming TV show. One local hotel lobby was turned into the Hall of Faces from Game of Thrones! Every where you looked in San Diego, there was something related to Comic Con, and it was glorious.
Inside the main convention center there was a TON of stuff to see. If you are ever planning on going to Comic Con, you really should at least go for two days. One day to take it all in, one day to really focus on what you want to focus on. Honestly, your best bet, even it if is the most expensive, is to go all four days. A day to take it in, a couple days to catch all the different events and panels, and finally a day for shopping. We always recommend shopping on the last day of an event, as most of the dealers are VERY willing to make deals in order to not pack and haul out as much stuff. Don’t be afraid to ask for a Last Day Discount! Planning ahead for something like Comic Con is a must. Many exhibitors will have “exclusive” free gifts, or items only for sale at the Con, or other rare items, and if that is something you want in your collection – having a game plan going in is a must. (Click Here—->cci2016_exhib_hall_map <—For a Map)
We, however, were just excited to be able to go! We didn’t really have any plan at all, except to see everything we could.
Like wide eyed children on Christmas morning, we journeyed up and down the aisles in sheer awe and wonderment.There was SO MUCH TO SEE!
Meandering was a little difficult, as other people had VERY serious agendas. It got a little intense at a few instances, with people pushing and some yelling. It resembled Black Friday in this regard, too, with people pushing and shoving and doing whatever they needed to in order to get “the thing” that they were after. Again, plan ahead people.
Some of the highlights of the Con were the hidden gems we found. Tucked in between two larger booths was a small table with two ladies surrounded by art. The artist, one of the two ladies, was modestly describing her work. We picked up some small postcard size pieces of art (we are going to order larger pieces some day, when we have a place for art), got her autograph on each one, and made a real connection with an amazing artist!
Another amazing exhibitor was the Steam Crow Monster Scouts! If you ever run into a Monster Scout we HIGHLY encourage you to chat with them, get the back story, and learn more about this awesome community. Awesome K and I are both learning how to be scouts, and are hoping to earn some badges soon. Yes. Badges. Real life badges. This is a real scout group focused on the love of monsters! It is pretty amazing. They have camp outs, activities, and all sorts of amazing things. AND YOU CAN EARN REAL LIFE BADGES! Saucy G is obsessed with earning achievements, finding a real life achievement earning opportunity, in one of our favorite fields (monsters), is beyond awesome! Please pop on over and learn about becoming a Monster Scout!
Saucy G loves horror movies. The cheesier the better. She had an extensive horror movie collection that The Thief stole from the RV, and is often something that stings the most. A couple of the booths at Comic Con were HORROR MOVIES! Troma made an appearance, which was a delight to see, but the real gem was Full Moon Horror. If you haven’t seen the first Puppet Master movie, featuring William Hickey, you should. You are in for a real treat! That is, of course, if you like horror movies. Like most horror series, they eventually get…a little..ah…crazy. Crazy, cheesy, fun. The guys at the Full Moon booth heard the sad story of Saucy G’s movie collection getting stolen, and gave her a HUGE DISCOUNT on their movies! She ended up with the Puppet Master movie collection on BluRay, two plush dolls, and two bobble heads! AMAZING! Thank you again, Full Moon, you really made a horror movie fan’s week with your generosity!
SAM AND MAX! Saucy G was too Starstruck to tell him how much he impacted her youth
There were also HUGE spaces for the “larger” favorites. DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, Game of Thrones, Star Wars…Too many to name. One of our favorites was the “American Gods” booth. “American Gods” is one of Saucy G’s favorite books, written by one of her favorite authors – Neil Gaiman. “American Gods” was picked up by Starz, and we can’t wait! We waiting in what was actually a pretty short line, comparatively, to get a picture and an exclusive key chain. While in line we were treated to the teaser trailer that was released for Comic Con, which was pretty awesome!
We saw some of the costumes for the upcoming “Rogue One, a Star Wars Story,” which was pretty amazing. Wandering around, we ran into the Walking Dead, which was a little scary, but awesome.
Going upstairs and into a different part of the convention hall, sort of by accident, we found where there were all the autographs happening! Stan Lee was setting up to start signing autographs – but tickets to it had sold out WAY WAY WAY in advance – we aren’t kidding about planning ahead. Like, months ahead. In a booth at the end of an empty line was a beautiful woman, signing a couple of autographs, sort of no big deal. It was the talented and wonderful Nichelle Nicols of Star Trek fame. Saucy G REALLY wanted to go say hi, and say what a huge inspiration Nichelle was in her childhood, but she chickened out. If you are out there Nichelle, and happen to have read this, know that you are loved and that there is a nerdy girl out there who thinks you are the bees knees – but was too star struck to stop by your signing.
So classy, so lovely. If only Saucy G wasn’t as wusspuss
All in all, it was a mind blowingly amazing day. Saucy G is still in shock a little that it happened! It is hard to remember everything we saw and did, there was so much, and we ended up walking about 10 miles total that day! We are sure that we have forgotten something, so this may get edit updates as we think of things we saw and did. Truly one of the best adventures ever. Ever. In the Forever Ever!
Let us leave you with a few closing tips…
PLAN AHEAD! Tickets go on sale at the beginning of the year, ish, so if you want to go be sure to find out exactly when they go on sale, and be ready to buy. THIS PAGE should update as it gets closer to ticket time. Also, be sure to get the list of speakers, events, and signings in advance, so you know what to do and where to be, and when.
Be Ready to Walk! No joke. Wear comfortable shoes, and be ready to walk all over the place. We aren’t joking in that we walked about ten miles that day, and that was just one day!
Save your pennies! If there is a booth selling stuffs, and you can hold out until closing day, do. MOST booths and exhibitors will make deals with you on closing day. Although, it never hurts to ask for deals earlier in the show, too. Worst case they say no, and you pay full price. Best case you get a sweet deal!
BRING YOUR CAMERA! Everyone has a camera in their phones, but don’t forget you have it, either! You never know when you might see a star on the exhibitor floor! Or if you just want to take a sweet picture of your favorite exhibitors booth. Be sure to ask, however, if photos are ok – some booths have exclusive stuff for Comic Con eyes only. You also don’t want to miss all the AMAZING costumes people are wearing! Again, ask if it is ok if you take a picture – remember these are still real people. Most will say yes, and most will probably pose for a cool shot!
Have fun! Remember, this is the coolest event ever. Stay positive, have fun, and remember that other people are there to have fun, too. Try to not yell at people, or get snippy and rude. Be nice, have fun!
ROYAL FLUSH! Are you silly? What else would it be? Spades Royal Flush, with a jackpot bonus. A Royal Flush, while playing with kittens, eating your favorite foods (and they won’t make you gain weight} while listening to your favorite jams, hanging out with your favorite people. Mecca. Royal Flush Mecca.
A HUGE HUGE HUGE THANK YOU to Morgan and the Team at Diamond Select Toys for giving us the best day ever. This was on of the best days of Saucy G’s life, easily top 10. Thank you thank you, a thousand times thank you! It means so much to us to be a part of the show this year. THANK YOU DIAMOND SELECT TOYS!