In the Rafters

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Hello Adventurers!

One of the most filmed at locations in all of Southern California is Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch in the Newhall section of Santa Clarita. Countless films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos have been shot on the property since its inception back in 1959. One of the most recognizable structures is the Golden Oak Hall which is a huge wooden hall with a stage and tons of ornate wood carvings on everything from the great front entrance to the pillars that keep the building standing. If you’re up to climbing the rickety ladders the view from the rafters is pretty great as well! This ranch is closed to the public and only available to film crews and scouts, but you can catch hundreds of movies that feature the expansive grounds!

Old Terminal

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The Ontario Airport has been an often filming location for quite some time. While the airport is still active, there is a closed terminal that lays empty just waiting for the next film crew to take it over. This stuck-in-the-past terminal has doubled recently as Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport in Argo as well as 1960’s LAX in Saving Mr. Banks. Moneyball, The Hangover Pt. 2, Due Date, Mission Impossible 3, among countless others have also shot at this airport!

As seen on screen in: Saving Mr. Banks (2013), Argo (2012), Moneyball (2011), The Hangover Pt. 2 (2011), Due Date (2010), Mission Impossible 3 (2006), and countless others.

Corporate Violence

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The Arts District is covered with beautiful sanctioned murals as well as tons of unsanctioned graffiti that really gives the neighborhood its charm. The old warehouses, lofts, and abandoned properties are blank canvases that are constantly changing hands between street artists. Some of the big names getting up around the neighborhood are JR, Retna, and plenty of others including Shepard Fairey which did this political stencil!

Show the Curve

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Los Angeles has plenty of world-famous and beautiful streets that are travelled by thousands of people every day. But perhaps some of the most picturesque roads are closed to the public and only open to film crews. Tejon Ranch, which is located waaay up in the Grapevine has twisty turny roads that zigzag around the whole property. This particular S-curve once wetted down makes for an amazing backdrop with the rolling hills behind it and a sheer cliff drop-off in front.

E. T.

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Working my way through the AFI Top 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!

#24 — E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Lake Views

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Southern California is one of the few areas where you can surf, skateboard, and ski all in the same day. During the summer months the mountains above San Bernadino have great camping grounds, hiking trails, and pristine lakes. Then, during the winter months the hills are covered in snow and the ski resorts open up to the onslaught of weekend warriors. Lake Gregory is one of the smaller and lesser known lakes in the area but still has amazing views of the tree-covered hillside that surrounds it.

Randy’s Donuts

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LA has its fair share of donut shops but none is more famous than Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood. This walk up or drive-thru landmark is most known for the gigantic donut on the roof that overlooks the 405. Besides being known for its fried dough, it has also appeared in several movies including Iron Man 2 in which Tony Stark (Robert Downy, Jr.) relaxes in the middle hole while scarfing down some sugary delights. If you’re in the mood for donuts day or night Randy’s is perfect because its open 24-hours!

Bell of Friendship

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The LA harbor has tons of awesome finds just begging for the picking. Angels Gate Park houses the Korean Bell of Friendship which was given to America on the bicentennial from the Republic of Korea to symbolize the friendship between the two nations. This massive bronze bell is hanging inside the Belfry of Friendship and sits atop a hill overlooking the Pacific. Along with the bell, which is a cultural-historic landmark, the park has big grass fields, basketball courts, and a playground. Instead of having a normal clapper, it’s rung by hitting it with a huge wooden log. The bell is rung only five times a year; on New Year’s Eve, Korean American Day (Jan 13), the 4th of July, Korean Liberation Day (Aug 15), and every September in celebration of Constitution Week. It was also rung on September 11, 2002 to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.

Art in the Streets

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Several years ago the Little Tokyo section of Downtown LA was overrun with visitors lining up to view the very first museum curated graffiti exhibit known simply as Art in the Streets. The controversial exhibit highlighted some of the top names in the game including Space Invader, Retna, Shepard Fairey, Risk, ROA, JR, Os Gemeos, and Banksy among tons of others! Due to the exhibit, the whole neighborhood got absolutely slammed with graffiti and caused a lot of residents and shop owners to complain and boycott the museum. It was also supposed to be a traveling exhibit which would visit other museums around the world, but that too was cancelled, at least for the time being. Right in front of the entrance was this steamroller with a flattened Yogi Bear trapped underneath. It was made complete with a huge blood splatter under the front wheel which stretched for probably around 15 feet or so. Not a bad way to be introduced to the exhibit!

Sunset Boulevard

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Working my way through the AFI Top 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!

#16 — Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Fog Free City

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San Francisco is a gorgeous city but a lot of the time the bridges and skyline are hidden behind thick layers of fog. But, if you’re lucky (or if you check the weather report), you may show up on a fogless day in the foggy city. If that’s the case, you’ll most likely have to put up with countless tourists but once you see the views from the Embarcadero, it makes everything worth while!

Sideways Tree

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The Buellton area played home to the 2004 rom-com Sideways in which two buds take a tour through the Central Cali wine country to celebrate on of their upcoming nuptials. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Jack purposely drives Miles’ car into a tree in order to cover up the true story of his broken nose to his fiancee. Even though the film was lensed just ten years ago, the area has changed quite a bit. During filming the tree Jack crashes in to was surrounded by open fields, but now a self-storage building occupies the land. Thankfully though, in a rare case, the developers left the beautiful tree standing and built around it instead!

As seen on screen in: Sideways (2004)

Chateau Montelena

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Everybody knows about Napa Valley and the surrounding wine county in Northern California, but it wasn’t always like that. No too long ago the wine world was dominated by France and most connoisseurs didn’t give California wines a second thought. That all changed in 1976 when Chateau Montelena’s chardonnay won a blind taste test in Paris. The vineyard that produced that wine is known as Chateau Montelena and can be found just a short drive north of Napa in the small town of Calistoga. Now Chateau Montelena is open for tastings where you can sample some of their delicious wines and enjoy a walk through the gorgeous grounds including Jade Lake where you can reserve a picnic area for a nice lunch!

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After you enjoy some nice wines you can wander through the halls where they proudly display the winning bottle from the 1976 Paris Tasting! Also, while you’re at it, pick up a copy of the film Bottle Shock which showcases the events leading up to the historical blind tasting that put Napa wines in the lime light for the world to see! Oh, the DVDs are also signed by the real Bo Barrett who is played by Chris Pine in the film!

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As seen on screen in: Bottle Shock (2008)

RIP Mr. Williams

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It was a sad day for the world when we lost Robin Williams. Whether you were a fan of his or not you can’t deny the mark he left on the comedy world and American pop culture in general. While I was up visiting family in the Bay Area I made a point to visit the comedy legend’s last residence to pay some respects. I won’t post the exact address (for obvious reasons), but I will say his old stomping grounds is a beautiful area which goes to show that material possessions can’t lead to true happiness. Rest in peace Mr. Williams!