I planned my most recent trip by using the internet (as I have always done) and thought people not experienced in trip planning might learn something (or just be highly amused) by seeing how much fun it is. Click here to see how I did it. So, did my trip plans work? I'll tell you how it went!
We started out early Sunday morning, right on time (a minor miracle). Our directions were to lead us right to the Museum of Science and Industry. Unfortunately the ramp to the 405 freeway (a necessary part of our route) was closed. I frantically searched the back of the car for a map of Los Angeles as we sailed on down the freeway, and finally found it buried under the seat. We were able to find another way to get to the general area, but now had no instructions to the museum itself. After driving in circles for a bit I convinced my hubby to stop and get directions. We quickly reached the museum after getting directions.
We had to pay to park, but were told that we would be refunded our $5.00 if we purchased an annual pass for the museum. The Museum was incredible! I don't want to ruin the surprises in case you ever get there, but I rode a high wire bicycle, my kids made slime, we saw some incredible experments, and saw tons of great hands-on displays. The only downside I would remark on is that some of the displays were lacking full explanations. This museum also has an IMAX theater. We were planning on viewing the IMAX movie, but the kids were tired and so were mom and dad. We decided to leave it for another day, and left for the campground.
Our directions led us right to the campground. The entrance station assigned us a campsite. I generally like to choose a site, but was too tired to argue. I asked for a map of the park and was told that I would have to purchase it for $1.00. It turned out that the map was practically useless. We later discovered a posted map near the campground restrooms that was much more legible, so if you visit this park don't buy the map!
The campground was nothing special. Not terribly level, little privacy, and wasps everywere - but we found a nice place to pitch our tent. Our (then) five year old was really scared of the wasps at first, but learned that they wouldn't bother him if he held still while they checked him out.
We had read that the tv show M*A*S*H* had been filmed here, and it was quite clear by the view from our site. We could see the mountain that the helecopter flew around in the intro to the show.
As evening came on we decided to take a little hike. We grabbed a flashlight and our cheezy park map and set out. We passed groups of people heading back to camp as we walked, and everyone was wearing swimming suits. We followed the path and saw we were walking along a creek. As the sun set in the sky, we saw bats flying above. Then my five year old screamed at the top of his lungs! We looked around and saw a huge terrantula. Blake was still a bit rattled, but we all followed the spider down the trail for a bit. Blake's screams stirred up the coyotes in the surrounding hills, and their calls followed us on our walk back to the campsite.
The directions (and street signs) lead us to the zoo. Our Santa Barbara Zoo pass covered admission fees - but a sign posted at the gate stated that they would be accepting other zoo's passes as 50% off admission prices in January of 2002.
We took a zoo map and started off. The zoo was large and quite lush. The foliage was beautiful, and this zoo had many animals our local zoo did not. Unfortunately we had a medical appointment, so we were only able to see about a third of the zoo before we left. We were planning on returning after the medical appointment.
We were able to find the Medical Plaza easily, but what a mess! It was right in the center of downtown. The traffic was terrible and although we had left the zoo an hour early we arrived five minutes late for our appointment. The appointment took so long we were not able to return to the zoo, and we didn't get any medical results either - so we drove back to the campsite tired and disappointed.
We packed up camp and set off for the museum. There was a problem with the directions and we got incredibly lost! We finally stopped to ask for directions, and the person told us how to get to museum row (assuming that this was where our museum was). After following the man's directions were were more lost than ever. We stopped for directions again and got it right this time. We finally reached the museum.
This museum was quite close to the Museum of Science and Industry (yes, and we still got lost!), so we decided to go to the IMAX theater. It was the first time in a theater for the three year old, and the first IMAX trip for our family. Our whole family absolutely loved it! The quality of the images and the composition was wonderful. Our only complaint was the volume! The sound was so loud that the three year old and five year old had their hands clapped over their ears. Unbelievably, the 11 month old slept right through it all. Next time we go to an IMAX theater we will bring earplugs.
After leaving the theater we walked back to the Natural History Museum. Our three year old adores dinosaurs and was thrilled to see two large statues of these creatures outside the entrance. We went in and started to explore. The museum was showing a special collection of dinoaur eggs, so we went there first. The information there was facinating. The museum offered many hands-on exibits and the boys were thrilled. Only one problem - a big one! The last room of the display was a dinosaur gift shop - and there was no way to avoid going through. My five year old was cooperative and left with Daddy, but the three year old was terrible! I had to carry him out screaming, kicking, and punching (He's normally a nice kid, but you can only expect so much when dinosaurs are involved). After wrestling with him for about 40 minutes we were all exhausted and our family took a lunch break. We finished exploring the first floor but everyone was just shot!
We wandered back to the car and went on our way. We took a wrong turn someplace but still wound up on the right freeway on our way home. We got caught in rush hour traffic but the kids looked at the museum brochures happily and then fell asleep. Our trip home was slow but uneventful.
A few mistakes were made, but they were all human error (me, in otherwords). I overplanned our time so we didn't get to see all that we had wanted to. One good note: I had initially thought of camping at Castaic Lake State Park, but chose Malibu Creek instead. We heard on the radio that there was a wild fire at Castaic - so I chose right! LOL We must return to Los Angeles in another month or so - maybe we won't get lost this time! One more note: while all of the travel errors this time were my own, I have since found flaws with internet map service directions - they are small errors - like slipping or adding a didget to a highway number - but are quite irritating during travel. Double check everything you get online with maps!