the campas

the campas

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Welcome to EARTH!" -Independence Day 2015

Independence Day 2015 was one for the books!  And if you don't get my title, then you have never watched Independence Day with Brian and heard his spot-on Will Smith impression.  And that's a terrible shame.

The 4th of July is usually spent in Huntington Beach, the single greatest place to celebrate the 4th, but this year it was my Grandma's turn to use the condo, so we were all in our separate cities.  Shame.  BUT it ended up being a great day!

We started out nice n' early by driving out to La Verne to see their cute little hometown parade, which was actually quite impressive.  

We even witnessed a police officer proposing to his girlfriend, which brought many tears to Nancy's eyes.

After the parade, we went back to the Campa Casa and watched hot dog eating contests while we swam and ate yummy food.

I took a nap because I had to work at 3am, and after I woke up ,we got ready, and drove to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  

The Rose Bowl is home to the largest fireworks show in California called "Americafest."  CBS2/KCAL9 is one of the main sponsors, so I got free tickets from work.  Plus one of the anchors I work with was a host.  So we had to go!

It ended up being amazing.  The theme was celebrating when Elvis met the Beatles in LA (what the random?) which meant a great Elvis impersonator and Beatles tribute band, put together by George Harrison's sister.

The music was fab!  We knew all the songs and sang along with the crowd.

After the music, we were treated to quite the incredible fireworks show.  So many fireworks and so much great music.  It was incredible!  I was so happy.

Since people were doing fireworks illegally all night, I didn't get ANY sleep before my 3am shift.  It was rough, lemme tell ya.  But so worth it to celebrate this great nation and our freedoms with some of the people I love most.  GBA. ###

Weekend with Mom! June 26/27

A few weeks ago, Lizzie and my mom came up for the weekend because Lizzie's good friend from Freshman year was giving her farewell talk in Moorpark.  Since a few of Lizzie's friends were staying at the condo in HB, my mom opted to stay at Erika's in Pasadena.  I sure am glad she did!

I saw Lizzie, her friend Ruth, and my mom Thursday for a quick lunch at Dog Haus before I had to go to sleep before an overnight shift.  Blah.

After my overnight shift ended, I took a nap Friday morning then met up with my mom and Erika.  Erika suggested a city hike near Griffith Park in LA that we did.  It was great!  Lots of stairs, but a great view and pretty Frank Lloyd Wright house.

After our first walk, we walked down to Los Feliz and saw yet another Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Hollyhock House, which we paid to go inside.  It was beautiful!

Later that night, Brian came home and my mom took us out to eat at 800 Degrees Pizza in downtown Pasadena.  Then we did some shopping at GAP, and had gelato at the Stick Station, a new favorite spot.  We also spent a great deal of time discussing how beautiful it was when Obama sang "Amazing Grace" at the Charleston Massacre Memorial. This was a big news day in general. The supreme court upheld legalized same sex marriage, they shot one of the upstate new york escaped prisoners, and the memorial.  I love big news days when I am NOT working haha.

I picked my mom up early on Saturday morning and we did a session at the LA Temple.  I love doing sessions with my mom because well, she's my mom, and she brings lots of life savers!  Nom!

When we were done, we drove to Santa Monica and walked around the pier.  It was a weirdly cold and cloudy day, and started raining after we got off the pier.  We darted inside a Nordstroms and had lunch at a little cafe there.

After our lunch, we walked about 2 miles to get donuts at a well known place.  We will walk long distances for donuts.  They were tasty, and we bonded with a cute little Asian girl who had just gotten new Rollerblades and wanted to discuss it in great detail.  On our way back a freak on stilts disguised as a very convincing tree scared the living daylights out of us.  Even more frustrating is we worked very hard to avoid him on our way there.  That story is as confusing as it sounds.

After that we drove back to Pasadena and went to the store.  Then my mom helped me make literally hundreds of cookies for my sharing time in primary the next day.  I really did need her help, and it was fun to bake together! The cookies were so good and we made so many, I think everyone member of my ward had one.  Check out the recipe here.

I love that I get to see my mom frequently!  This was a great weekend with her and I am so glad we were able to spend some one on one time together in beautiful SoCal.

Hayes', Harry, and Humidity. FLORIDA 2015!

So, the first Hayes family trip with 2 extra guys has come and gone, and I would say it was a major success!! 
When my mom was visiting Pasadena a few months ago, she dropped the fact that her and my dad were planning a trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando Florida.  I literally fell over when she told me and Brian had to catch me, and I am not even being dramatic when I say that.  She made me solemnly swear to not tell Lizzie (did you catch my HP reference heheh) in case it didn't happen, and that was da hardest thing OF MY LIFE.  The sisters and I LOVE HARRY POTTER.  We are the Harry Potter generation, as in Harry Potter was my same age growing up and we went to almost every book and movie midnight released.  Harry Potter defined my childhood.

SO, spoiler alert, the trip did happen (obvi) and it was even better than my wildest dreams imagined.

Brian and I left from LAX on Wednesday, June 3rd.  We flew straight to Orlando.  One of the fun things about that trip was, just a couple days before, I chopped about 6 inches off my hair.  I didn't tell anyone in my family!  After we landed, everyone drove to the airport in the rented minivan to pick us up, and saw my hair for the first time.  I think they were all sufficiently surprised haha. Bye bye, hair!

On Thursday morning, despite not sleeping very much and being on West coast time, we got up bright and early for Harry Potter World!  Brian, and my mom walked to a nearby Burger King to get us some breakfast sandwiches.  I got maybe 4 hours of sleep but who cares when ur at HP world!? We all got ready, then walked over to the park!  The DoubleTree where we were staying was literally across the street and about a 15 minute walk away.  It as perfect! My mom, hating theme parks and all, decided to not go, but she walked us over to the entrance of the park.
To say we were all bursting with excitement is a slight understatement!  We couldn't contain ourselves!
At a bathroom break in Dr. Suess land right before we entered Harry Potter World:

Arriving at HOGSMEADE!!!

I dreamt about this moment for so long:

As soon as we entered the photos started and they never stopped.

After a verrryyyy spontaneous decision to ride a scary roller coaster ride that vaguely has to do with the Goblet of Fire dragon chase (major regrets, it was terrifying), we met up with my dad and Brian again who sat that one out and got  BUTTER BEER.
I remember one time before a book debut we attempted to make Butter Beer at the condo.  It was disgusting.  It tasted like pure carbonated butter. bleh.  So all this time I assumed Butter Beer at Harry Potter world would taste like that.  What a blessed surprise to be so wrong.  It was SO GOOD.  I don't know what magical drugs and potions they use to make it, but I was impressed beyond belief.  I even bought a commemorative BB mug as my souvenir.

This place looks just like Hogsmeade.  Unreal.

One of the best experiences was going into Olivander's wand shop and watching a little show they do with a wand maker who (very convincingly) acts out what it's like to get your wand.  He chose a random boy from the little crowd in the store and had him come up and HE LOOKED SO MUCH LIKE A LITTLE HARRY POTTER I SHED ACTUAL TEARS.  It was amazing.  The boy did spells and books went off the shelf and flowers wilted, then when he finds his wands, a big rush of air went over him and it was amazing and I cried the end.  (it was just like that iconic scene in the first movie if that explanation didn't quite make sense haha).

After that, Lizzie went to buy her own wand.  As she picked one out and we were about to buy it, the wand maker came over and informed her that wasn't her wand.  He grabbed her am and started asking her questions about herself and telling her things about herself that were actually spot on.  He suggested a different wand, and when Lizzie took it, she said "this is my wand." HAHA  it was classic.  I was eating it all up.


Before riding a little roller coaster that was super boring:

Harry Potter world is inside Universal Studios Orland, just as one of the lands.  So after a few hours in HP World, we ventured over to Jurassic Park, where I was peer pressured into riding the raft ride.  Luckily I broke the rules and stole Brian's hat at the last minute and preserved my hairstyle which almost got soaking wet.

We went back to HP to eat at the 3 Broomsticks.  It was quite a line, but the food was actually so good!  I had a salad with some little pasty's.  Yum!

HP World is all about the beverages:

We stood in a super hot and long line to ride the Hogwarts Express over the Diagon Alley.  This was one of the highlights of the day.  It was such a realistic experience!  You sit in a real train and the windows have TV Screens that make it look like you are actually going from Hogsmeade back to London.  It was so cool!

The Kings Cross station you ride to is SO realistic.  They did such a great job!

Ok so, I loved Hogsmeade, I really did.  But it did NOT compare to Diagon Alley.  As soon as you step through a wall that goes from the little area resembling London into Diagon, it takes your breath away.  The way the buildings look, the music, the way you can't see any other part of the park, the giant dragon on Gringott's Bank.  It was all so incredible.  

Haha poor Brian literally didn't get any of the references.  He needs to read the books, dang it!

Fred and George's magic shop was cool but so tiny.  I didn't really get to spend a lot of time in there since it was so packed.

This is the wall you step through as you enter:

Every so often, the dragon would start to make noise and then blow a huge fireball that could be felt from so far away!  It was so scary and dramatic.

This is the little London area outside Diagon.  It was really cool how they actually made it look a lot like London!

ATTN: THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER HAS THEEEE BEST ICE CREAM IN ALL THE LAND!  But seriously guys, this ice cream is nom x's 100.  I had like 4 cones during our trip.  Don't you judge me!

Salted Caramel Blondie Ice Cream is Lyfe:

They also built Knockturn Alley (the area for dark wizards in Diagon Alley) which was just as creepy and dark as you would picture it.  And oddly enough there were a lot of genuinely creepy people in there.  Except Lizzie, she just wanted a picture with her favorite character: Bellatrix Lestrange.

I love this picture of us in Hagrid's motorcycle because you can spot Brian in the background just chilling and listening to his sports podcasts hahahah.

They had SO many stores you could go in and buy all sorts of things in.  They had a quidditch store, robe store, school supply store, pet store, and so many others.  It was fun to just walk around them all.

Haha Lizzie made this for me on Snapchat and I love it.  Except I'm a witch not a wizard dang it.

We ended the first night around 9 by walking back to the hotel and watching an NBA playoff game while eating pizza.  We were all so tired but had to fill mom in on all the fun times.  I can't even begin to name all the little memories and moments we had that day.  We were so happy to be there, in a place honestly I never thought I'd get to see.  And just knowing we'd get to go back and see even more later made it all better!

Lizzie and I ended the night by taking a quick dip in the pool and hot tub.  Then we all went to bed before another long and fun day.

We started the day nice and early by getting our suits on and driving out to Cocoa Beach for a kayak adventure!

Mom had found this guy online who does Kayak tours around the water in Cocoa Beach (more of a bay nature tour than an ocean tour) and it was so fun!  Our guide was quite the character.  He had been kayaking around that area since he was a little boy and was so tan and so grumpy when you asked questions haha but he was a great guide and helped us get around and see a lot!

Becky and Nate were terrible at kayaking TBH:

The highlight of the outing was seeing a manatee up close!  Our guide said we'd probably see one, and I didn't believe him.  Then sure enough, he spotted a little manatee nose popping up near a drain to get fresh water.  We were all freaking out!  We decided manatees are like the seals of the east coast.  We had never seen one so close and were all so impressed!

We also had to do some serious kayaking through thick brush and narrow waterways.  Bless my husband, he told me to sit back and relax while he did it all.  I was happy to comply.  

The whole group.  So cute!

After a long kayak adventure, we hurried off to Cape Canaveral to experience NASA and the space program. 

Cape Canaveral is HUGE.  And not very crowded.  It wasn't what I was expecting.  It's really it's own kind of theme park, with numerous things to see and do.  And an abundance of patriotic and inspirational videos.  But we shall get to that.  :)

We ate a quick lunch at a little cafe and then rode a shuttle to see the launch site of many mission.  side note: i wish astronauts wives club aired BEFORE this little journey, but no matter.

We watched a really cool demonstration where the recreate a launch and then the room SHAKES like crazy when it's time for liftoff.  it's all very patriotic and dramatic, two things i love.

There were tons of weird vultures with their wings spread out outside.  still no idea what that's all about.

Another inspirational presentation.  This one about landing on the moon:

This is us trying to take a kissing selfie to send to Noelle who was recovering in the hospital after surgery.  It was a major fail.

They had a fake ISS you could crawl through to see how small it is.  It was hilarious, they had a clear tube you crawl through that goes over the main area.  I guess Becky and Nate saw me scooting my rear across the clear plastic.  Awesome.  I'm sure that was a galactic view.

Astronaut pics!!

It was a great trip to the Space Center!  Such a cool place to walk around.  I wish I could have seen it during the hay day of the 1960's space race.

One the way home we hit a crazy rain storm.  The lull of the rain and the overwhelming amount of space knowing I had just obtained put me right to sleep.  When I woke up we were on our way to go pick up a box of donuts for free donut day!  Oh hooray!

These donuts weren't actually free, but that didn't stop us from snarfing them down.

Later that night, we went out to dinner at TGI Friday's.  It was kind of a spontaneous late dinner, but ended up being so fun.  Mom and dad dropped the news they had just sold their heavy equipment school.  When my dad said "we have something we want to tell you all" I immediately thought they were going to tell us they were having a baby.  I guess that just shows how many times that same phrase has been said to me.  hahah!

We ended up getting a bunch of dessert to celebrate 10 years since Brian was baptized!!  I felt bad I forgot after talking about it so much, but it was great to celebrate such a mementos occasion with everyone in the family.  I am still grateful every day for that decision.


We started our day out by attempting to eat at "The Waffle House," an old waffle breakfast chain that Aunt Blythe used to work for.  The place was tiny and too crowded, so after about 15 minutes of waiting, we gave up on that dream and went across the street to iHop.  You just can't go wrong with iHop!

After breakfast, we went to an old plantation/garden/mansion place similar to Huntington Gardens.  There was so much to see and it was beautiful and so GREEN!  We strolled the grounds and enjoyed the trees and flowers.  I even took a picture where Becky looks like Eve:

Spanish moss!  A sure sign of the south!

Sitting in a rocking chair with a real coke.  Could life ever get any better than this!?

After a quick drive around downtown, we went back to the hotel.  Becky, Nate, Lizzie, and I all went back over the Universal Studios to get more Harry Potter time in!  My dad and Brian joined us later.

Trying to get into Grimmauld Place:

Lizzie firmly believes Brian and I are gryfiindors.  Lizzie is the sorting hat of the Hayes family.

When we were walking down Diagon Alley, we got slammed with a random rain storm.  It was so powerful and short-lived, but really cleared out the area!

After Brian found us, we ate at the Leaky Cauldron, another restraunt we wanted to try.  Well, we really only got drinks and some snacks, but it was still fun to just sit there and soak it in.

Then, we wanted to ride the Hogwarts Express the OTHER way, from Diagon to Hogsmeade, so we went and walked through Platform 9 and 3/4, which wasn't that fun and really hard to get a picture of haha.

What WAS really cool was how similar Kings Cross was to the real one, and how they sold actual British Candy there.  We had to fork over all our money to get some, of course!

Later that night, Becky and Nate left and Dad joined us.  We stayed and watched Kelli Pickler for a few minutes during their free concert.

When we were over that, we went and rode Escape from Gringotts again, where we got stuck!  Our car stopped for about 10 minutes, but because of that we were allowed to ride it again right after.  #worthit.  We finished our night by dancing out of the park to "New York New York" and "Sweet Caroline."  So much fun!


On Sunday, we went to Sacrament Meeting at a local ward.  It was right across the street from the Orlando Temple, so we drove there after church and walked around and took pictures.

When we got back to church, we packed up, and Lizzie and I and Brian walked back over the the park.  We still had another day on our tickets, and we wanted to get some souvenirs and walk around some more.  Of course our first stop was that divine ice cream shop.  Probably our fourth cone of the trip!

We visited Gringott's and exchanged our Muggle money for Wizard money!!

It was a HOT and muggy day, and once we got there we realized we really had done everything there is to do...twice.  So we called everyone up and told them we were probably done.  Then they had the great idea to scratch our other plans and head to GATOR LAND!  yes!  We literally ran out of the park and hopped in the van.

here are some pics Brian snapped of us sadly saying goodbye to such a magical land:

So if you ever go to Florida, I don't care how much it costs, GO TO GATORLAND!  It was so fun. There were SOOOO many gators everywhere!  Hundreds and hundreds of huge gators just chilling with nothing more than a rope net separating you from them.

The best part was the gator wrestling show, where crazy guys with death wishes wrestle actual gators and balance their heads on their mouths.  It was intense and very entertaining.  They act scared, but I'm sure they do this 15 times a day.

We walked through a swamp area nature walk things and saw 2 actual snakes.  Eeek.  We also saw a few rare albino gators. So cool!

Gatorland was the perfect way to end our Florida trip!!  We were all happy we went.

After fully seeing the gators, we got back into the van and drove to the airport.  :(  We returned our car, then walked into the terminal when Lizzie suddenly realized she left her expensive and fancy wand in the car!  Lizzie and I ran back to the van, found in, then somehow made it back in time for us all to catch our flights. We all said goodbye to each other and went our separate ways to Vegas, DC, and LA.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we were all so happy we spent quality time together.

My overall impression of Florida was that it is very humid and hot, but a great place to visit.  If you even remotely care about Harry Potter and are in the area, go to Universal Studios!  They have done a remarkable job making the land similar to the books, and it really is a magical experience.  I look forward to going again, hopefully after I've brainwashed our kids into loving the books so they can experience the joys of HP World just like I did.  

Thanks for a fun trip mom and dad!