Our first full day in Waikiki and Chris had some family members arriving, so I left her to meet and greet them and I sat on the balcony and watched the surfers before hitting the shops.


Last time we were in Oahu this shopping centre was a market.  Now they’ve built the whole indoor/outdoor centre around the existing trees – it’s quite lovely.


A couple of items were purchased, and a few, like this lovely bag that I loved, had to stay in the shop.  It it doesn’t fit in the suitcase, it can’t come home with me, so if there are any shop owners in WA who might like to think about stocking this bag (Nic @IvyVibe) just sayin’ you’d have a ready made purchaser.


We met up with some members of Chris’ family, including her brother Peter, his wife Kay and their two adorable boys Noah and Wes who I have been bumping into all across the United States!  They were there in Miami when ML and I first landed… they were there on our first couple of nights in New York… they caught up with Jodie and me in San Fran and so it seemed fitting that they be there on my last couple of nights in Hawaii.  I don’t want to use the word stalkers, but if the stalking shoe fits….. 😉

They were staying down the beach a little bit.


At the bottom of their hotel was this sign – it’s my official clubhouse!


This morning we hit the Botanical Gardens which was really interesting… lots of beautiful flowers and amazingly HUGE trees…

It’s hard to get a good photo though when somebody wanders into your shot.


This tree is 125 years old apparently.


It was so tall and would have been awesome to climb if I were a little younger and more skilled at climbing.


This tree grew sausages.  I’m not sure how they’d go on a bit of bread with tomato sauce though.


After the gardens we hit the shops at the Ala Moana Centre which has everything from Target to Cartier (darl).  There is even a Tesla show room.

This was my favourite sight at the centre today.


After dinner I said my goodbyes to the cousins and Chris and I headed into one more shop before going home to do the final pack.  This place is a real retro American diner.  It was fantastic.  There was even a lady there seating people with a Pink Ladies jacket on…. it’s possible she was one of the original Pink Ladies from the first Grease movie.

So, now I’m all packed up and ready to hit the road (or the air) in the morning.  My luggage packed up to be a lot lighter than I anticipated which is a good thing – no more broken back muscles pulling cases up the stairs (while your sister films it and laughs at your efforts)

I can’t quite believe that the trip is finished.  It certainly feels like I’ve been travelling for as long as I have, but I could keep going.  Having said that, I am looking forward to seeing my beautiful lady friends on my return to Perth and then my lovely family in Broome.

A big thank you goes to ML who was the initiator and the driving force behind this journey; My sister, Jodie for making the trip over and sharing the train ride and the amazing scenery with me; My cousin, Chris for exploring Kauai and Oahu with me and to my other cousins, Peter and Kay for popping up at nearly every stop I made, sharing stories and exchanging travel tips over some lovely meals and giving me a chance to get to know Noah and Wes a lot more…. AND – let’s not forget how this whole trip started, back in April – the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast with Madds and my Team Australia buddies – that seems like it could have been the 2014 Games it seems so long ago!

You are all lovely and this trip wouldn’t have been the same without any single one of you, so thank you.

One last thank you goes to you – my Shell Collection readers who have been following along with me.  This blog is not only a place for me to store my memories, but is written with you in mind to enjoy, so I certainly hope you have done just that.

Now it’s time for me to go to sleep because I have to be up tomorrow at the crack!

Until next time……

The Hula Hula Highway

Farewell to Mary Beth and to her cozy cottage… we had a bit of rain overnight and this morning these lovely chaps came out to see us off and help us with our luggage. These were by far the biggest snails I have ever seen and their shells were quite lovely.


They were being so helpful on the steps that I thought I’d move them into the garden in case they got squished.


We stopped at Haleiwa Bowls for brekky…


Chris had this divine looking bowl…


And I had one of these numbers…. Delish!


I thought it would be easier to hold and drink whilst I drove, but it was a lot thicker than anticipated, so we headed to the beach down the road to eat/drink our breakfast and since it was low tide we had a little walk along the beach and collected a bit of sea glass while we were at it.  Chris found this lovely frangipani and it came of the journey with us, tucked neatly in the air-conditioning vent – it lasted most of the day offering a wonderful aroma each time we blasted the air con.


We stopped off at the turtle beach in the hop that we might see some turtles…. but it was low tide and we deduced that they perhaps wait until it’s high tide so they don’t have to walk over the rocks to get to the sand… we also weren’t sure if turtles have a laying season… it seems that we didn’t really know much about turtles except that they sometimes come up onto this beach – except for today.


I’d think walking up these rocks on your tummy when you only have flippers to pull you along would be awkward and painful.


Next stop was Waimea Bay to check out the surf…. but when we drove around the bend, there were 2 sail boats moored there in the flat calm water – which gives the indication that there was no swell, therefore no surf.  So we moved on up the coast to Pipeline, which was also looking pretty flat…


… except for the odd wave and about 3 surfers trying their best.


Then we were on the road again heading around the island, stopping at little beaches like this when we could.


This is Chris in her happy place…


For good sea glass collecting, one needs a beach with stones and a bit of surf pushing the waves back and forth – bringing in the goods with each wave…. like this glass marble in this photo – that I only noticed when I looked at the photo.  I didn’t see it at the time – damn it!


We did find some lovely pieces though.


Down the coast a little bit and we came to the Chinaman’s Hat.


We were trying to be tricky with our photography and do a bit of panoramic work where one person appears twice in the shot, but somehow this happened…


Here’s another version of how that shot can work…


This side of the island can get a bit blustery so these poor palms get shunted from one side…


Our next bit of master photo trickery is trying to make it look like I was putting the hat on my head – the problem here was that because the glare made it impossible to see what was on the screen – so I think it worked perfectly considering….


There are a couple of little towns on the east coast and it would have been remiss of us not to visit them and have a look around the shops….  Here is Chris modelling the outfit that will be worn by Miss Hawaii in the Miss America Pageant.  Miss Hawaii wants world peace and her perfect date is the 4th of July.


The plan for the afternoon was to head over to Waikiki, drop Chris and the luggage off at our hotel, then I would drop the car off and walk back.  It wasn’t too far away from what we could tell.  I got Chris to set the GPS for me before I drove away, but as I turned onto the street the GPS lady said “You have reached your destination.”  Confused, I took the next turn and tried to find somewhere to pull off the road to enter in the details again, but they took me straight back to the same place – out the front of a hotel with no driveway or a place to stop.  I thought the entrance must be on the other side.  So around the block I went again navigating the one way streets, but all I could see was 4 big tour buses and nowhere for me to stop or pull in.  I was becoming increasingly concerned as I had no WIFI and I knew Chris was waiting for me in the foyer with all the bags.  Around I went again, this time noticing the entrance to the Hyatt was on the side of the building rather than the back, but I was in the wrong lane to pull in there, so around again and this time I made it into drive way.  “Is this the Hertz drop off?” I asked a helpful chap.  “No, but you’re soooo close”, he answered as if he was willing me to get me to guess the location…. but he gave fantastic instructions and away I went again – it turns out that I had passed the driveway to the underground garage with the tiny “Hertz” sign, but it was blocked by 4 big buses!  This whole journey should have taken about 5 minutes, but I turned up back at the hotel over an hour later….. Hertz will be getting a stern letter from me regarding perhaps putting the correct address of their drop off points on their paperwork and website or maybe Theresa could have just given me a map showing me where the drop off was rather than regaling me with stories of her almost international netball career!

Poor Chris had made it up to our room, but had already been down stairs out on the street in search of her long lost cousin.  She was about to go back down to look again when I appeared in the lift being talking at by a Russian lady – in Russian, my obvious confusion and shrugged shoulders did not deter her from babbling on in Russian… I was tired, dishevelled and in need of a drink and a debrief.  The Russian lady walked ahead of us to her room and waved at me before closing her door.  I think we are best friends now – I’m not sure. Chris immediately ordered the drinks and I got to talking about my ordeal…. I was not expecting any of the event of this afternoon.


Just being by the ocean had a wonderful calming effect and once the story had been told, we were able to laugh about it.  What a drama!


Here’s the first of our lovely Waikiki sunsets…


We popped downstairs to the Hula grill for dinner for a small bite including this pineapple creme brûlée.  As our dessert arrived a man who was standing in between our table and the one next to us chatting to the next table’s occupants – he bent over to make chatting easier, but his butt was about 5cms from Chris.  We waited a bit thinking he would realise and move, but he was not aware of his surroundings.  I said, “Excuse me sir, would you like a seat?” motioning to the bench seat next to me.  He said, “Oh, no thank you, I’m fine.”  To which I replied, “That’s great that you’re fine, but your buttocks is nearly joining us for dessert.” He laughed at the word ‘buttocks’, apologised and sat down to finish his conversation.  Eating dessert is so much more relaxing and enjoyable when you don’t have the threat of a stranger’s arse touching it!


Then it was home to get ready for tomorrow.  Chris has a large portion of her family arriving tomorrow, so she needs to be at the ready early…. I say ‘she’ cause I’m going to the beach!

Seas the day!

Early start this morning as we had to get up, get to the airport, return the hire car, wait for the shuttle to take us to the terminal for our 8.10am flight.  I’ll have you all know that we were there in plenty of time, which is not surprising really, because Chris is a seasoned early riser and likes to get up and get going.

The flight was about 5 minutes long (we’d only just got up when we started our landing!) so we were on Oahu before 9am.  Another hire car and just let me tell you all about Theresa, the lady who served me at the hire car counter.  She enjoys netball.  So much so that her mother told her that it was becoming an obsession and that she should quit and move to Hawaii from Jamaica where she was set to become the youngest international netball player, until her mum stepped in.  Theresa resented her mother for about a year because the people here in Hawaii haven’t even heard of netball.  She also let me know about the care packages that you can have sent to you from Jamaica and if you spend more than $45, the shipping is free…. I’m not sure what you get in the care package.  And just in case you were as interested as I plainly was, let me tell you about the haunted house in Jamaica….. oh, you’re not interested?  When I hadn’t said anything, Theresa told me that I must have thought she was crazy, but when I assured her that I didn’t think that, I was just interested in picking up my car, so said, “Yeah, right – you think I’m crazy.”  If I’m honest, Theresa was a little crazy, but then again she might not get a lot of personal communication time at the car hire office at the Honolulu airport, so I let her talk it out.

Our first stop was Sand Island.  This probably isn’t on a lot of tourist brochures because it’s at the back of the industrial and shipping area, but Chris had read that there was sea glass to be found there…. and she was right – we hit the sea glass jackpot!


From this beach we watched a number of planes come in for landing and take off…. we heard this one plane before we saw it.  It took off in an upward direction – straight up, like a rocket and then made a sharp right turn and was off on its journey.

IMG_9171 copy

Here’s a close up…. something tells me that it wasn’t a passenger plane otherwise all the luggage would have ended up in the overhead compartment of row 43!


With our ziplock bags full to the brim with jellyban shaped sea glass, we headed up the highway to the North Shore.


Last time Chris and I were here in Hawaii with ML, Chris introduced us to the Kono pulled pork wrap – it’s pulled pork, rice, pineapple bbq sauce, avocado & sour cream all wrapped up in a flour tortilla – delicious!…. so this was our lunch destination.  If you get the pig logo tattooed on your body, you eat at Kono’s for free for life!  We thought about it.


Next we said “Aloha” to all the new little shops in Haleiwa.  Things certainly have changed since we were last here!


All of the shops look a little bit like this – like they’ve been there forever, even the new ones.


It’s ok, nobody was prosecuted.


Here are some of the lovely things on sale…. they do love a wooden sign here in Hawaii.

But… this was the funniest thing I saw today.


There is a phenomenon here in Hawaii – shaved ice with a flavoured topping.  That is what these people are lining up for – and they weren’t the only ones – this line did not shorten the whole time we were in town.


We were smart cookies though – we walked to the next block and bought one from there. They were quite delicious and very refreshing on a hot day.

About 3 o’clock and were due to meet up with Mary-Beth our Airbnb host…. We had the address and popped it in the GPS – Mary-Beth also sent me a pic of the GPS’d location.  However, when we arrived, and pulled onto the dirt road, there were no numbers on the few houses and we didn’t have wifi to check what the house looked like or access Mary-Beth’s phone number – also the houses that did have numbers, all had the SAME number!!!!  We drove up and down through what could only be described as “Deliverance Street” – seriously you could hear the sound of duelling banjos coming from the junk filled front yards.

There was a general consensus that we wouldn’t be staying in any of these houses and then discussion ensued as to what would be our next move.  We faffed around with trying to get our wifi to work until we gave up and drove to the new McDonalds carpark to use theirs…. we poo poo’ed the development of a McDonalds in the North Shore on the drive in, but were very grateful for the free wifi…

We got in touch with Mary-Beth who agreed to meet us up on the main road so we could follow her to the house, which turned out to the be very sweet house nowhere near Deliverance Street and was only 2 houses in from the main road.

Once we unpacked the car we drove up the coast a bit to find a beach and have a swim… we found this lovely street with very flash beach front houses that had a public beach access laneway…


which lead down to a lovely beach, but the shallows were all rock/reef.


So we drove back to the town beach where we saw a huge turtle frolicking in the shallows… You’ll just have to take my word for it.


Beach swim done – it was lovely to be in the ocean again… then it was time for a quiet beverage on the verandah.  We couldn’t find any wine glasses in the kitchen, so Chris had to drink her wine straight from the bottle – we’re stayin’ classy up here on the North Shore!

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…

Day 3 in Kauai and I’m quite enjoying this lovely island.  We certainly haven’t had the weather you’d expect in Hawaii, but to be honest, the cloudy skies, cool breeze and softer temps have been welcomed.

On this small island over the past three days we have covered Hanalei and the north shore, the south coast and Waimea Canyon and today was all about the rest of the east coast and a bit of the middle.  Kauai is quite volcano-y and mountainous, so there’s only so much you can get to.

We chose the Smith Family Fern Grove Tour – run by 9 members of the Smith Family.


You’ve got from right to left: Uncle (who was the story teller), his sister, his son (who lead the band and did most of the talking) and the captain’s wife (this was all a guess) The Captain’s wife wasn’t too fussed on interacting with the guests, but she warmed up as the cruise went on and she had a great voice.  The rest of the family included Nanna, who stayed on shore organising things, Uncle’s daughter who had hair down to her buttocks – she was one of the dancers, a random cousin who did some hula dancing and clearly hated having to get up so early to hula for people and the 9th member of the family was an American chap who helped the Captain.  Again – these were all guesses.


We cruised along the Wailua River while the Captain gave his talk about the history of the area.  We passed this spot which is where the scene in Raider’s of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford was running to get on the sea plane was filmed.


Then within about 20 minutes we were at the Fern Grotto jetty.  Uncle’s sister s.l.o.w.l.y. walked us up the path.  Every now and then she would stop and wait for people to catch up – we were all half an arms distance from the person in front and behind, so there was nowhere for people to catch up to and the whole walk from boat to grotto would have taken an average walker 2-3 minutes to walk – tops – including a toilet break!.  Then she stopped to show us where the toilets were and started talking about how it was a better idea to go to the toilet in the toilets rather than behind a bush because people all have cameras and that would be embarrassing, so please use the toilets provided….. this explaination as to why we should use the toilets rather than squat behind a bush went on for a good 5 minutes.  Then the directions turned to asking people to please stay on the path rather than walking in the mud because people have fallen in the mud before and people have taken photos of them….. honestly, thank goodness we were right at the toilets otherwise we would have wet ourselves laughing at the obsurdity of it all!


It was quite lovely walking through the lushness of the tropical rainforest.  Then we got to the grotto which was amazing.  Years ago when Uncle’s grandfather used to run the tour you used to be able to get up into the cave, but since then there have been a few hurricanes which did a fair bit of damage, so now the caves are closed and this was as close as you can get.  Apparently back in the day the ferns were so long and full that you used to walk into the cave through a curtain of ferns, but the growth that is there now is all new since the last hurricane in the early 90s.


Uncle set himself up to commentate our viewing and once we’d taken our photos he settled in to tell us some stories about the area… like how some famous woman (I didn’t know her) visited the grotto and decided that she must get married there, so 7 months later she bought the fiancé back and they were the first people to be married in the cave which started a trend of weddings there for people from all over the world…. however the locals don’t want to get married in a cave – according to Uncle, they much prefer to go to Vegas!


My favourite movie of all time – Blue Hawaii staring Mr Elvis A Presley was filmed in Kauai at the Coco Palms Resort, but this was wiped out in the same hurricane – Iniki in 1992.  The famous scene where guests are called to dinner with the blow of the conch shell was something that happened in real life – every night at 7.30pm for 40 years unti the hurrican hit.


Then the family grabbed their guitars and ukuleles and played the Hawaiian Wedding Song – also made famous by Elvis in the movie.  You’ll notice the cousin at the front who doesn’t join in the singing…. in fact, my bet is that she’s questioning why she got up this morning.

We were then given about 15 minutes to wander back to the boat at our own pace taking in the beautiful flowers…

Uncle was sitting on a railing guiding people in the right direction in case they ventured the wrong way and did the small loop walk again.  I stopped there with him whilst Chris visited the facilities.  “You played the Hawaiian Wedding Song beautifully”, I said to Uncle. “Thanks”, he replied.  “Blue Hawaii is my all time favourite movie”, I shared with him.  “Is it?” he says, not really inquiring.  Then we stood in awkward silence until Chris returned.

My saviour!


There are other ways you can get to the grotto – you can kayak, stand up paddle board, rent your own boat or do the tour….I think we chose the driest option.


So then it was back on the boat for some more Hawaiian music and some audience participation hula lessons.


The tour was great.  Chris and I were imagining who would play each role if this were the Brown Family Tour…. and we couldn’t quite keep a straight face when working out who in our family was going to be the hula dancers…. anyone what to put their hand up?

There are two other waterfalls on the island and we were determined to visit both of them today…. This one is just on off the main road, so nice and easy.


And then you cross the road to this view…. that is the river we were just on.  Home base to the left and fern grotto to the right.


Who knew that Kauai was one of the world’s wettest spots?  Well it is at the top of this peak anyway…


Then we were on the road again bound for waterfall number 3 (number one was a the grotto – only small, but it still counts)


And here she be!  That’s pretty speccy, isn’t it?


Well done Kauai for turning on all the beautiful nature today. Mahalo!

I sea glass

There is one beach on Kauai – aptly named “Glass Beach” where you can find sea glass and it was definitely marked on our map for today.


We got up at the crack so we could get to the beach (45 mins away) right at low tide (at 6.30am!!!!) You do the maths!


There were quite a few treasures to be found on this beach which is right next to an old landfill by the sea from the 1950s.  Apparently it takes 10-30 years for the ocean to create each glass frosted jellybean like pebble.  Maybe the proximity of the landfill is why this little fella didn’t make it?


It was such a beautiful day and we had the beach all to ourselves.


Chris even found our breakfast! Ew!


And I fashioned a new look for my toes – the beauty of this look is that you get to take most of it with you in the car.


After about 2 hours filling our little zip lock bags and washing out take away coffee cups to use as a vessel for future finds we manoeuvred around the coast to the next beach which was beautiful, but not as profitable.


A bit further onwards and we came across the historical town of Hanapepe.


It was like a typical old country town with wide streets and old buildings with the original facades.


This town has a suspension swing bridge which I had no intention of walking on – these things freak me out!


Chris walked a little way out but then people from the other side started crossing which made the bridge swing and she quickly turned around and headed back to solid ground.


Don’t swing the bridge!


The little town is lovely and has so much history…. This shop is open all hours and could you please leave your thongs at the door – although with the state of my feet after the beach, it might be best if we left them on!


Here’s a little walk around town.

Who is this little Niihau Shell?


Ahhh, the Frange…


Our next route was up to the lookout over Waimia Canyon….

Yep, that’s a letterbox a the first lookout stop.


The view back over the ocean.  Such pretty colours.


“Hey Shell – give us a smile.  Now look out over the ocean….. um, the ocean is behind you.”

And here’s the canyon!


Waimia River close up.


Last stop of the day was to Koloa for lunch… this was another sweet little town with tourist shops and cafes.  This little fella and his buddy came to join us for lunch and posed quite happily for these shots.


Chris did all the driving today (and yesterday…. and will be again tomorrow) and she did an amazing job.  It was a gorgeous drive back out to the main road through all the trees which reminded us of that road between Margaret River and Yallingup in WA.


Home to clean and sort all the sea glass.

Again – some of these photos belong to Chris – and I thank her for the loan.

Puff the Magic Dragon

So last night I landed in Kauai via Ohua and my lovely cousin Chris (some of you may remember her from other adventures such as “Kiki in the Greek Islands” and “You can take the girl out of Gero”) was waiting for me at baggage claim with a lei at the ready.  She had arrived in Hawaii a week earlier and had explored Maui and a bit of Ohua and arrived in Kauai this morning.


I got in quite late, so after a bit of chatter and catching up, we were lights out and eyes shut.  We don’t have aircon in our room, but it was lovely sleeping with the door open and listening to the waves and the rain.We’re staying on the east coast at a place called Kapaà and though this would be central to explore the rest of the island.  The rain still hadn’t moved on, so this morning we had this view one minute…

Then this about 2.5 seconds later… The women doing yoga had scattered.

Our mission on the leg of the journey is to scour the beaches for all the sea glass we can find.  With a small break in the rain we took the opportunity to get down to the beach in front of our hotel to do a spot of searching….

We were happily doing a bit of collecting when the rain hit again…. we sought shelter under these waterproof trees, but it was still a little chilly.

Time to hit the road and today we’re heading north to the land of Hanalei.  Some of you might recognise the name from the song made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary in the early 60s…

Some people thought that it was a song was about smoking the marijuana…. all the signs were there – the word “paper’ (as in Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers; the words ‘puff’ and ‘dragon’ was interpreted as ‘taking a puff’ or ‘draggin’ – meaning to inhale smoke.  Both authors of the song said, “No it’s not!” and that case was quickly closed.

I don’t know…. you tell me.

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puffs gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’are they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Dragons live forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Written by: Leonard Lipton & Peter Yarrow
Performed by: Peter, Paul & Mary

For some reason Kauai is overrun with chooks.  They are everywhere – all different types.  They seem to just run free in the wilderness… and in the supermarket car park.  We pulled into a scene lookout today and were witness to this scene – three chooks were standing, evenly spaced, staring at the wall while the two chooks at either end looked to be keeping guard over them while this little light brown one was pacing, probably giving some sort of speech about his political beliefs and how all chooks need to fall in line if they are to continue to roam free on the island. It was quite surreal.


We drove down some lovely roads trying to get off the main road whenever we could…


One such road lead us to this beach…


It was covered with coconuts and driftwood…


There was a massive storm here in April and a lot of the roads were washed away – this was probably one of them.  It’s down to one lane.


A bit further north was the Kilauea Lighthouse and wildlife refuge.


We stopped off at every little beach we could along the way…


In search of lovely sea glass…



No sea glass here…


We finally made it to Hanalei and found out that the road beyond the town was also washed away in the storms.  Only local traffic are allowed through there – which meant, not us… so we hung around town for some lunch and some retail therapy.


We did manage to find our way down to Hanalei Bay, but the overcast day didn’t make it look as gorgeous as it really is.


Looking back in the other direction was a little better.  It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do…


One the way back we stopped off at some lookout points…. apparently Jurassic Park was filmed here in the islands – I bet one of the scenes was here.  Here’s a website with all the movies that have been filmed here:  Avatar… Tropic Thunder… The Thorn Birds!


This is looking back down Hanalei Bay


And I guess if you quint a little bit, the mountains do look a little bit like a dragon… sort of.


With all the driftwood here you’d never have to fear being stranded on the island…. a makeshift boat is only a tube of glue and a ball of string away.


And if you ever need to make sound effects like that of a cantering horse…..


5,039 miles away from home (well it’s actually 10,800km from my home if we want to be semi accurate)


And let that be a lesson to all you other sharks out there….


 I can’t work out which one suits me better….

Some of the photos in today’s blog post are the work of Chris Dobson – she knows which ones she took.

That’s all folks!

Ever since I was 12 years old when my Mum & Dad went to LA on a trip, I’ve wanted to go to Universal Studios.  I remember looking through their old chemist printed photos of Jaws coming out of the water and thought it was just amazing.

Well this time I going to get to go myself…. but as I read more and more about what was on offer at Universal the more I thought – ‘you know what, I don’t need to go there.’  You see, I’m not into rides and I’m not too keen on the Fast and the Furious franchise (never having seen any of the 13 films), I’ve also seen the Water World show once before at Sea World and I’d already done the Warner Bros Harry Potter experience in London…. so the only thing that was left to see was the Jaws thing and that didn’t appear like it had changed since 1982.

So I hummed and harred about what I would do, but then decided on the Warner Bros Studio Tour.


I didn’t actually realise that so many shows were made on the WB lots – Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Murphy Brown, Gilmore Girls, Full House and now Fuller House and of course The Ellen Show.  Then there are movies such as My Fair Lady, Rebel Without a Cause, Gravity, Harry Potter and then most of the super hero stuff.

The tour took us around the back lots where some of the shows had their stages set up and also the street scapes where they shoot the outside scenes.

You have Patsy’s Pies from Shameless…


A generic City Hall building…


Stage 25 is where the Big Bang Theory is filmed.  We weren’t allowed to take any photos in there, but the two apartments were set up as well as the foyer area where the lift and stairs are.  They shoot over 5 days – day 1 the cases do a table read, day 2 they do a run through, day 3 they do a rehearsal where the lawyers attend so they can see if there is any content in the script that might offend/contradict any of their sponsors… for eg: they couldn’t eat a pizza and get food poisoning, then go to a commercial for Pizza Hut – so some jokes are rewritten if they don’t fit in with the sponsors.  This is a reason that they are always eating Chinese or Thai food on the show because those restaurants are generally not advertising on TV.  Then day 4 they have a technical rehearsal with an audience where they test out the jokes and if there are no laughs, they rewrite the jokes until they do laugh…. then day 5 they film in front of a new audience.


Can’t think which show this book shop is from, but it looks familiar…


Remember the episode in Friends where Ross became “Red Ross” in order to impress his girlfriend/wife, Emily by playing Rugby?  This is where it happened.


These A frames covered in bushes are used to block other buildings…


Here’s the ‘town square’ – the gazebo is on wheels, so it can be moved out and some other monument put there to depict a new town.


Some houses.  I think these are from Gilmore Girls – I never watched it, so I’m not sure but there was a girl on our tour who we dubbed “Gilmore Girl” because she knew everything about the show and thought that she was on a private tour with the guide.


So this house looks like this on one side….


….. and it looks like this on the other side!


Rose Wood – this was actually used in the dance scene at Rydell High in Grease.


Phil’s Bar from Murphy Brown.  Apparently they are bringing this show back.  I don’t know why writers can’t come up with new ideas.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean I loved Murphy Brown…. back in the 80s, but come on.


The house from Full House and now, Fuller House.


This is called New York Street where they film the scenes meant to be in New York.


Then we were taken to the Harry Potter/Fantastical Beasts & Justice League costume displays.  I know Wonder Woman and obviously Superman, but I’m not to familiar with the rest of the League….

Some of the facades in the street scapes were just painted on which to the naked eye looked obvious, but when viewed through a camera, it looked 3D… I think the 2 men standing there were real, but in a magical place like this, you can’t be too sure.


When a popular show finally finishes their run – like Friends, the stage gets a plaque celebrating the show.  Ellen’s show is recorded in Studio 1 and she already has her plaque.  Apparently when The Big Bang Theory finishes, they’ll get one too.


Then we were driven through The Mill which is where the sets are made….


Want to see the Batman cars?  There was a young chap (about 18) on our tour travelling with his Mum and brother.  He was offered the chance to switch on the bat signal, so as Mum was holding up the phone to film it, he made an excellent production of running in from the side and shouting “Batman – where are you?  We need you!” and flicked the switch.  Our group applauded him as his mother said, “I don’t think I pressed record.”

Next was the interactive area with costumes and green screens and audio talks, etc…..  It was the first time I saw Ellen the whole day – I think she may have been avoiding me.


This area paid tribute to the writers and editors and storyboard drawers, etc….

Piles of screenplays…


Penelope Pittstop…


Storyboards showing how a show like Shameless follows its story lines for each character….

There were costumes from Ocean’s 8…

Then it was time to line up and have your photo taken on the Friend’s couch…


There were the old time classics…

And the new technical green screen types of movies…

Here we have Phoebe’s guitar from Friends, a real life Oscar and one of the Warner brother’s hardback script collections…

These are some of the items that you can buy in the gift shop…

The Friends’s door (you can’t actually buy the whole door, but this was a cupboard in the gift shop – you can buy a fridge magnet of the frame though… which I did)


A magnetic set of Sheldon dress ups…


Or a complete set of robes from each house of Hogwarts… there were a number of kids walking around in these robes (I wasn’t one of them….. or was I?)


Then you can purchase the wand of your favourite character.


There was one last chance to purchase a beverage at Central Perk…



Then you were shuttled back to the main gate.  The whole tour was great, but there was a definite rush to it, with a so much to see, so little time vibe about it.  I didn’t see a single famous person and we were told if we did spot one we’re meant to treat them like an animal in the wild – don’t approach them and don’t make eye contact or sudden movements.

Next to our apartment is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle House – there is a line up every day to get in there and today was no different…. however what was a little different was this group of people – there were huddled together around a chap and they all had their hands on him and they were chanting…. were they praying for a table to become available at Roscoes?


And then my time in LA had come to an abrupt end.  I had a fantastic Uber driver who happily chatted all the way to the airport and eagerly helped me with ALL my cases.  Thank you Emmanual from El Savador.

See you mainland USA – it’s been great.


Aloha Hawaii….. it’s down there somewhere.