Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

My Only Regret: Thunderdome Rules

I want to take a moment to confess my one and only regret. Deep breaths. Here it is:

I regret not implementing Thunderdome rules in the classroom.

Classic 80's cinema

Classic 80’s cinema

“Woah, wait a minute there, crazy!” You are probably screaming at your computer screen at this very second. “I love the film as much as the next person, but I don’t think parents would be too pleased if you made kids fight each other to death under a steel cage!”

To that I’d say, “Yeah, obviously.” Then after quieting you down, I could continue.

More often than not, when certain kids were getting rowdy, I’d be forced to remind them who run English town in a fashion that made me think of this scene from the film every time.

Who. Run. English Town?

You know who.

Say it.

Amanda Teacher.

Say it, loud!

Amanda Teacher.

Amanda Teacher, what?

Amanda Teacher runs English Town.

Honestly, I like the Thunderdome laws. It’s more than just “two men enter, one man leave” you know. There’s “Bust a deal, face the wheel,” in which the person who busted the deal (hereafter referred to as “bustee” must spin a wheel (ya don’t say) to find the punishment. In the film, Max landed on Gulag (and I don’t think they knew what that word really meant.) To make it socially appropriate, my wheel would consist of punishments such as: write lines, sing a song, stand up for twenty minutes, etc. The standard punishments already implemented in the classrooms over there. Hell, if I’m feeling generous (and I am) and I’m a gambler (also true) I may even have a thin sliver that says something like “you got lucky” and they don’t have to do anything. Of course, the entire class would chant “bust a deal face the wheel” as the bustee walks up to and spins said wheel.

But alas! That time has passed and I don’t see myself returning to teaching anytime soon. I can’t believe I let this one slip through my fingers.


Pacific Coast Highway.


Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway, runs damn near the entire length of California, but there is one stretch in particular that is famously a test of fortitude. The twisty two lane length of road from just south of Carmel to San Simeon is the longest ninety miles you’ll see in the US, especially around Big Sur. It scares people, and rightly so, as the rains annually wash away parts of it down sheer cliff drops into the rocky sea. Every time I’ve taken it you always end up losing people who have to pull over for awhile to gather themselves. I love this highway.


Carmel Mission


Bixby Bridge










Welcome to Ragged Point! You made it!


IMG_6171 Wild zebras of Hearst Castle

Elephant seals are in season at San Simeon

Cannery Row


Cannery Row

Haven’t been to Monterey since…2004? Anyway, it’s been a long while. I first read Cannery Row (Steinbeck) in the 4th grade and it’s been one of my favorite books since (As well as being my favorite of Steinbeck’s until East of Eden usurped it a few years ago).


Doc’s Marine Biology Lab


Palace Flophouse

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Do You Know The Way To San Jose

Friday evening the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted an after hours wine tasting event for members, so early in the morning we set out north to play tourist on the way.

First, I had a little detour north of SLO to revisit what I’ve been told is an old Mercury mine. Years ago in high school I had a marine biology teacher who crafted a photo scavenger hunt for extra credit that extended up and down the coast and featured geological sites among other things. This was one of them, and I try to stop in time to time, but to get there you pretty much commit to having to drive far up the 101 to turn around.


Further up the way is Mission San Miguel, which I hadn’t been to since the California missions unit we all do in the 4th grade.


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Further up the way is the next in line at Soledad, which is…the smallest, I think? Anyway, the docent seemed surprised to actually see anyone since it’s quite off the beaten path.


And, after seeing a billboard for the Winchester Mystery House I decided to do a little detour to San Jose since I hadn’t done it in over a decade. I ended up getting a private tour since it was pretty quite on an early Friday afternoon. Worth it!


Tourist In The Homeland

Continuing on my theme of pretending to be a tourist in my homeland, now that I’m back from my lengthy sojourn in Asia:

We had tickets for The Book of Mormon musical at the Pantages, and decided to make a weekend out of it. There were some things, in spite of growing up here, that I had never done in L.A. It was high time I did something about that.


The Getty Villa is up on a hill Malibu side. It’s not the easiest thing to get to, especially if you’re heading southbound. You have to plan in advance because you need to have a parking reservation in order to get in. The museum itself is free, however.

The Villa is modeled after the Villa of Papyri in Herculaneum (Pompeii) and is dedicated to Greco-Roman classical pieces.

Lansdowne Herakles


Philippe’s has been an staple since 1908 and reportedly the birthplace of the French dip. Also, the mustard is inanely delicious. Would recommend.


The Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard has been a big deal since it opened in 1927, and was the first location of the Oscars. It’s been frequented by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe. The latter of which had her first pictures as an actress taken on the diving board poolside at the cabana rooms were added on later. That’s where we stayed.

That section was delightfully retro in a modern sense.

Well worth a visit. I’d done the Pig N’ Whistle in high school, but never made it to this one. Most locals never have. Guess it’s like living in New York and never going to the Statue of Liberty.


The Getty Center along the 405 would rival the National Gallery in London. It’s a big deal, and has works from the masters, including Van Gogh’s Lilly’s. Presently, there’s a special exhibition on fourteenth century Florentine illuminations and panels.

Santa Barbara

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I love Santa Barbara immensely, and I enjoy being a tourist in my stomping grounds. Today I went over via the mountains, which on a clear day, hasĀ  panoramic views of the ocean, the islands, and lake Cachuma on the other side. As it was raining earlier, the mountains were blanketed in clouds which gave it a really cool effect. Topped off the trip with a visit to the mission and the pier.

La Purisima


I like La Purisima Mission a lot. It’s the only one that they don’t currently use a church so it has a more authentic old time feel to it. I happened to swing by int he midst of a Santa Anna, so it was hot and dusty as all shit.

Just how I like it.

We filmed a Western short there when I was taking a film production class at a community college while in High School. I was going through a pretty solid spaghetti western phase then. I guess it’s not really a phase, as I still am.

The chapel traditionally scared the shit out of me. It’s cold and dark, and whenever you go it’s always empty. The floor in the back is warped from an underground stream, which probably doesn’t help. And there’s a guy buried in there. Father Payeras. Granted it’s one grave compared to the many that hang around churches in Europe, but those places are still crawling with the living.

It’s supposed to be haunted as all shit, too. I suppose that helps.