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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

SoCal is So Fun! – California & The Canyons

Our adventures in SoCal have been incredible so far!

After the best breakfast buffet you can imagine at the UCLA cafeteria, we started the morning off at the Museum of Tolerance with our lovely tour guide Diana. She taught us a lot about current issues involving tolerance and prejudice. The interactive tour really engaged the Trip Members – it was an eye-opening experience.

For lunch we headed over to the famous Farmers Market which offered every type of cuisine.  It was cool to explore the narrow passage ways and discover different foods and yummy treats from New Orleans, Brazil, India and more.

The next stop was Rodeo Drive. We were all looking forward to some celebrity sightings – but alas, it seemed to be a quiet afternoon.  David, Harris, and Adrian went with AJ to test out some new cologne. Drew, Grant, Matt G, Josh G, Josh L, and Jake enjoyed the Nike store.

Our action-packed day continued at Hollywood!  We got the opportunity to see stars on the Walk of Fame, match hand and footprints at the Chinese Theatre, see the Jimmy Kimmel studio, view the famous Hollywood sign, and walk through Hollywood & Highland where American Idol is filmed and the Oscars are held.

As a special treat, we capped off the evening at Diddy Riese in the UCLA village.  This is a famous ice cream parlor whereby you choose two freshly baked cookies to create an ice cream sandwich delight!  To our surprise, the street was closed down due to the premier of the movie Red 2.  So we ordered our ice cream treats and walked over to the opening night party hoping we’d be allowed in – we weren’t.  David tried hard, but security didn’t believe his claimed celebrity status.  Nonetheless it was still an exciting time.

The next day we spent a wonderful morning strolling along the boardwalk at Venice Beach.  It was such a cool experience to explore the shops, observe the street performers, and find some fun food for lunch.  Josh G, Jake, and Matt found a basketball game to join in on.  Emily, Rachel, Julia got temporary henna tattoos. Ariane, Ariela, Sam and Tracy strolled along the beach checking out the unique shops.

We then returned to UCLA to take advantage of the fantastic facilities. Adrian, Harris and David had a really good workout in the weight room, while Amanda, Drew, Laura and Margaux went for a nice jog around campus. Trip Leader AJ was very impressed with the runners and the pace that they were running at.  Some trip members chose to relax by the pool and had fun jumping off the diving boards.

Our day was not over yet!  We all freshened up after our afternoon activities and headed off to the exclusive Improv comedy club which was hysterical.

To celebrate our final day in the city of Angels we visited the happiest place in the world: Disneyland! The trip members loved the space mountain ride; the feel of riding through space at very quick speeds thrilled them. Indiana Jones was also great and had a very realistic feel to it, while Splash Mountain was a blast with a few small drops followed by a big one that got everyone wet. After dark, the trip members experienced the magic of Disney as they viewed the incredible fireworks display all together.

After leaving LA, we traveled to San Diego and caught some waves on the beautiful San Elijo beach. For many, it was the first time the trip members have ever tried surfing. The instructors helped them be able to ride through waves and glide through the water. Josh L was pretty outstanding and made surfing look easy out there.

We also checked out famous San Diego Zoo, and started our exploration of the park with a double decker bus ride which allowed us the opportunity to see all the animals. The giraffes, elephants, lions and zebras were some of the trip members’ favorites. Another animal that fascinated everyone was the tiger, which the tour guide mentioned was only seen on 10% of the tours.

Later on that day, we had a blast playing laser tag. When the guide was explaining the rules, the trip members had several questions for him. This became an ongoing joke on the trip, as their curiosity became very humorous. Jake really wanted to know about the 4 different types of powerups that one can get.  We then enjoyed two thrilling rounds of laser tag. Tracy was very impressive and finished in 1st and 2nd in both rounds. Natalie, David, and Grant also enjoyed a lot of success and were able to tag many of the trip members while only being tagged a limited amount of time.

That night, the staff surprised the trip members with a dance party on the bus. They finally experienced the disco-tech atmosphere that they had been asking for. The group enjoyed the music and had fun partying it up with one another.

After our dance party, we had a farewell activity for the trip members who were signed up for the first two weeks of our journey.  We played a game of strings in which the trip members and staff chose someone who they met on the trip who made their experience that much better. They then shared their happy memories in front of the whole group. It was really nice to see how the trip members integrated with one another and how close they became throughout the trip.

We have now left San Diego and are off to enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas!!

California & The Canyons at the beach

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