Nuns and Making Movies

Universal City Travel Blog

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We were all dead tired so sleeping in was pretty easy. We checked out of the hotel about 11 AM, with Universal Studios as our ultimate goal. But first, we had to make a pit stop. My Aunt Mary Ann lives in Alhambra, CA, which is reasonably close, but not really on the way to Universal City. We only had today left in Los Angeles, so if we were going to visit, this was the time. And we were going to visit. There are several reasons. First, she is family and it would just be wrong not to drop by when you are so close. Second, my Mom would not be happy if we didn’t make time to see her sister. Finally, my Aunt Mary Ann is known as Sister Stephanie, and has been for the past 20 plus years. You should not disappoint a nun.

So we drove up to Alhambra and made our way to the convent. (Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Is that scary enough for you?) This was our first time meeting a group of nuns; even though I was raised Catholic and Sister Stephanie had visited us many times before, in Colorado. We weren’t sure how to act or pious to pretend to be. (I was keeping a close eye out for thunder clouds) My Aunt is very easy to talk to and isn’t intimidating at all. But having no one else to compare her to, except TV, we were a touch uneasy about how to act around the other sisters.  I went as far as to tell Dennis and Carrie that they were now married, as it was sure to come up in conversation that they were living together.

We were invited to have lunch with them, and as we were all hungry we did. The other sisters basically left us alone to visit with my aunt, and we did just that while we ate. We caught up on family stuff, told her all about our trip so far, and she got to meet Jolene. We had a very nice lunch and got a tour of the grounds. We stayed for about two hours, but as it was now coming up on 3 PM, we had to get going if we were going to get to see much of Universal Studios. So we made our good byes and promised to visit again. No lightening strikes, so I guess all went well.

We got to Universal about 4 PM and made our way to the Wild West Stunt Show that was to start at 4:15. We really enjoyed it. It was a combination stunt and comedy show. The people performing are actual stuntmen/stuntwomen and make the fights and falls look easy. How falling from more than two stories can be made to look easy, I will never know, but they did. It was a fairly quick show lasting about 20 minutes or so.

Our next stop was called the Animal Actors Show, and was just what the title suggests, a show with trained animals. It was fun. They started by bringing out a parrot and having it retrieve a dollar bill from an audience members hand. When that was done, they brought out a large condor and joked that the guy in the audience should whip out that dollar again. But, this bird was trained to “soar” in front of a powerful fan. The show continued along that trail. There was a very smart dog, a cat, and a pig, who as he exited the stage pulled on a cord that revealed a sign that said “Boycott Bacon” We all enjoyed it.

We were starting to get hungry again, as it was now around 5 PM, so we sat down and ate. While we enjoyed our meal, Frankenstein wandered by. They have several movie characters that wander the park. This Frankenstein was well done, and very tall. Jolene was not anxious to get her picture taken with this celebrity. But we did get some video of him.

The Miami Vice show was starting soon, so we went and grabbed seats in that arena. This is another stunt show. It is set on a Caribbean island, and Crockett and Tubbs have to fight the bad guys. Lots of gunplay, plenty of falls, and a ton of action. There was a Jet Ski chase and an escape using a mine car. The finally involved a helicopter that was attached to a crane. It was fast paced, and exciting. Jolene liked this one too. She wasn’t scared or frightened at all.

The last thing we did for the day was take the Back Lot tour. This is really the highlight of day for me, and most people. They put you on a tram and take you around and show you various places that have been used for TV or film. The same little boy of water that served as the seaside village in Jaws, was also the Pacific Ocean for McHale’s Navy. Jaws, himself, made an appearance. First he towed some poor fisherman under the water, and then came out of the water and almost ate us. Or not. It was still cool to see it up close. Our tram stumbled into New York City where King Kong was wreaking havoc on this city. We drove across a bridge that began to fall apart around us. We happened into a flash flood and then had the waters of a river parted for us, so we could drive through it. There was a portion of the tour where Robert Wagner talked to us (on video) about film making, and we were rescued from the Cylons by Captain Apollo of Battlestar Galactica fame.

 This was actually a fairly long tour, lasting close to an hour when it was all said and done. By time we were done, it was nearly 10 PM and the park would be shutting down soon. It didn’t matter; we were tired, and had seen everything we wanted to. Plus we had a two hour drive in front of us, and needed to get a move on. So that is what we did. It had been a very full two days in LA. We were looking forward to doing a bit of nothing tomorrow.

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photo by: cotton_foam