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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Livin’ the LA Lifestyle! California and the Canyons

LA - California and the Canyons

Hello Family and Friends of California and the Canyons!

We left Ventura Saturday morning and headed straight for Universal Studios! The Transformers ride and the Simpsons ride were definite favorites among the group.  After an afternoon of rides and attractions we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for a great meal before spending some time exploring City Walk. This area outside of the park was bustling with activity and glowing with bright lights from the store signs and outdoor decorations. Many of the girls made a stop at Yogurtland, a delicious self-serve frozen yogurt parlor! After leaving our first stop, we headed to UCLA to check into our dorms for a real campus experience!

Our second day in Los Angeles, we celebrated trip member Julianna’s sweet 16 birthday! We spent the morning at Venice beach exploring the boardwalk and made a stop at the high school where the movie Grease was filmed!! In the afternoon, we took some time to take advantage of the amazing facilities at UCLA and split into groups so that everyone could enjoy their favorite activity. Oli, Julia H, Danny, Julia L, Jordan K, Ilan, Jessica H, and Amanda P joined staff member Mary on a campus tour and made stops at many exciting stops including the campus’ original quad and the Bruins Bear statue. Ethan proved he was a leader on the basketball court while many others enjoyed the athletic center and swimming pool. We finished the evening with dinner and a show at a comedy club where we listened to almost a dozen different comedians! Jordan L and Josh K laughed through the entire show and infected the entire trip with their enthusiasm. The entertainment was great and many of the trip members were able to meet comedians whom they had recognized from TV or movies.

The next morning we headed to the Museum of Tolerance where we took a few hours to reflect on instances of injustice and hate in our world. Our trip members had fantastic questions for our animator Matt and really took advantage of the opportunity to learn from his experiences and knowledge.

Next we spent some time exploring the Los Angeles Farmers Market and the Grove. Steven and Dylan found a great vendor that sold beef dips and sat down to enjoy a hearty meal while Daniel and Danny made a stop at the Sugar Mountain to stock up on some sweet treats. While visiting the Top Shop a group of girls spotted a television personality and were able to get some photos with her! Emily and Logan quickly updated their instagrams with the exciting pictures! That wasn’t the only celebrity spotting, however. Many of the trip members also witnessed Mario Lopez conducting an interview on Entertainment Extra!!

Our next stop was Rodeo Drive, where we enjoyed window shopping and many of the girls made a trip to the nail parlor to get their fingernails painted in style! Aly chose a beautiful pale blue and Jessica F sported a light purple.

We spent the evening exploring the area of the stars, beginning with the Mann’s Chinese Theater where we found the handprints and walk of fame stars of our favorite performers. Jordan L captured a great picture with Steven Spielberg’s star! We finished the evening with dinner and roaming in Hollywood and the Highlands where we had an opportunity to pose with the famous Hollywood sign as the backdrop!!! Many of our trip members including Devin, Daniel, Andrew, and Jordan K, ate at the famous California Pizza Kitchen.

We finished the evening with a trip to Diddy Riese where we celebrated our trip member Charlie’s sixteenth birthday with some famous ice cream sandwiches! Jack mastered the perfect selection with cinnamon sugar cookies and cookies and cream ice cream squished between.

This morning we spent some time giving back to the community by visiting the L.A. food bank and sorting food into boxes for senior citizens in need. Shayne got us excited for the activity with some great morning music on our ride over. Collectively, we filled over 960 boxes of food and taped them up to be ready or delivery. Paige was one of the first trip members on the assembly line, making cardboard boxes. Trip members added good to the boxes as they made their way down the line. David, Hannah, and Rachel were key players in keeping the line moving and packing the boxes neatly. To finish off the process, Daniel, Jordan K, and Steven made an awesome team taping the boxes and stacking them on the skids. We are so proud of the efforts of all of our trip members in giving back through this activity.

After we finished our community service project, we headed to Disneyland for the afternoon and evening. Nataliya, Jessica F, Ellie, and Emma L explored many of the rides including the Toy Story themed ride. At the end of the evening we watched the fireworks as a group and marveled at the beautiful display lighting up the sky behind Cinderella’s castle. We were all captured by the show, especially Marissa who was really taken back by the experience! We had a great day today reconnecting with our inner children and enjoying our favorite Disney characters. It was a great finale to our time in Los Angeles!

LA - California and the Canyons

Until next time…

Mary, Rebecca, Paige, Sam, Owen, and Jenn

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