Santa Monica, CA & Studio City, CA / 2016-07-04

530 AM in Pacific Coast Time is still early.  We started our day at this early hour and had the family awake and moving by 6 AM to be able to leave by 630.  We were close and got out the door at 640.  Some of this did not go over well with Weston, who was still clearly tired, and Caitlyn, who said she was not feeling well.  We headed west toward the Santa Monica Pier because Brooke had registered me for a 5K race.  We made it to the check in desk with about 5 minutes to spare before gun start and I bounded out into the line while Brooke stayed in the car to console a now clearly car sick Caitlyn and let a sleeping Weston sleep.  The race was a nice, flat course along the bike/walk path on Santa Monica Beach, past the famous pier and Muscle Beach.  But, it was also past many homeless and unkept people as well.  I did fairly well, breaking 27 minutes for this 5K for the first time in quite a while.

In mid-stride!

When I returned with my medal and some snacks, Caitlyn had just calmed down from being car sick and the family was still in the car.  We made our way into Santa Monica around the closed streets (for the Fourth of July parade) to a CVS for some medicine.  Here, and on the rest of our drive, we continued to encounter the homelessness problem that this area has.

We decided not to stay in this area for the parade and headed back to the town home to finish getting ready and make our way to a nearby neighborhood parade and block party.  It was located in the nice, tree lined neighborhood of Footbridge Square.  We had come across the flyers advertising the event only because we had driven through the neighborhood previously checking out the primary residence of Brooke’s favorite celebrity, Mark McGrath.

Brooke with Mark McGrath, though not on this trip!
Flyer in Footbridge Square Neighborhood

We had planned on walking to the event, but time constraints meant that we needed to drive, park conspicuously on another road and then walk up.  We didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves, but we did want to appear as normal as possible so that we would not get called out for “crashing” the block party.  We were blown away at the attendance, as it was packed with families of all ages, lots of young kids and families too.

Signing of National Anthem before “Parade”

This area, as most of California, is a very expensive place to live and we wondered how these families, most of whom did not look well off, afforded to live in such a place.  We witnessed the singing of the National Anthem and then the Firetruck led the way for the parade route throughout the streets of the neighborhood.  We followed in the parade until it stopped for the block party.  This was a great local event!  It was especially setup for kids with sidewalk chalk, hula hoops and water balloons.  The kids were allowed to explore the fire truck as well.  We also loved the food trucks that were serving the party, with a great burger food truck called PattyWagon yelp_icon and a Kona Ice.  We spent over two hours at this block party before finally walking back to our car and heading back to the town home.


It was time for some rest and relaxation as I caught up on writing and budgeting, while Brooke took a nap and the kids played with their toys.  We wanted everyone rested to be able to stay awake for the event tonight and the fireworks.  After a few hours of this, we began to get ready for the CBS Radford Studio 4th of July Block Party.  This was one of the few times we purchased tickets for our entire family to attend something.  We had been using Emily’s 4th Grade National Parks Pass or our MOSI reciprocal pass as much as we could to save money.  We loaded into the car and headed over.  We quickly learned that it may have been easier to walk because the parking garage was further down the street than expected and security was tight.  By tight, I mean that they stopped every car, had us open the trunk for a look, took a bomb/drug sniffing dog around the vehicle and looked inside.  It was like we were coming back in from Mexico!  We parked in the garage and went through security checks again with our cooler and bag, and through the metal detectors.  We were unsure if this made us feel safer or scared.  We entered the studio lot and explored through what was accessible, which included the building fronts to many of the studios, the New York Street and Central Park.  We watched an absolutely awful and awkward magic show and then got as close as we could to where they film Big Brother.  It was very blocked off, but we took a few photos and attempted to listen in.  Then, we headed over to the Kids Zone for some bounce houses and another access point / view of the Big Brother studio.  Here, they were even more tight with security and would not allow pictures to be taken.

Not much to see other than the sign!

The kids bounced and slid, and we explored some more before deciding to beat the crowds and head back to our town home before the fireworks.  All the kids were still awake and happy, so this made a ton of sense.  We got back into the car and drove back, then headed up to the rooftop with our food attempting to get a view of the fireworks.  We were able to see most of the fireworks from our own rooftop, plus fireworks from another nearby event.

Watching Fireworks from atop our vacation town home

We all ate while up on the breezy and slightly chilly rooftop as the fireworks display came to its finale.  Another whirlwind day, so we headed quickly to bed.

This is day 14 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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