Hello Friends and Family,

Mexico and California, 1972, Part 4

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Still at Universal Studios, we took in and very much enjoyed the Stuntman show. These guys know how to "take a bullet" or so it seems — then fly through the air and land on the roof they were standing on...

...or even fall off the roof — and somehow manage to be unscathed (most of the time).

Nearby, on this outdoor "sound stage", volunteers from the audience become actors in a drama where a bad guy (also from the audience) holds up a bar — "Nobody move and nobody gets hurt", the bad guy says. Meanwhile, the camera operator is capturing all the action from a perfect vantage point.

On the other side of the sound stage, two cops are riding in their patrol car to the rescue. Note the small camera pointed through the rectangular hole in the box just outside the windshield. Behind the officers, passing scenery is projected onto a screen to make it look like the officers are riding through town to capture the bad guy.

After the "take", video engineers paste the various shots together, in storyline sequence, then the resulting video was projected so we could see the finished product. Pretty impressive actually. And all this technology has just gotten better in the intervening years — kids can do it on their smartphones.

The next free day, Chuck and I visited Knott's Berry Farm. Interestingly, KBF actually started as a real berry farm and Chicken Dinner Restaurant. You can see the attractions from 1972 listed on the entrance sign — by now, they have probably installed a bigger sign. From their website, "Knott’s Berry Farm offers a unique combination of world-class thrill rides with traditional family favorite attractions and shows. A day at Knott’s Berry Farm means taking on mammoth coasters, as well as witnessing an Old West shoot-out and enjoying a hug from the world’s most loveable beagle – Snoopy! At Knott’s, fun is always in season, with dozens of thrilling rides, shows, and attractions in four exciting themed areas."

Here we see their real steam locomotive in the Knott’s Berry Farm Ghost Town which they consider the heart and soul of the Park.

This is the waiting area for the Calico River Rapids...

...which ends with the big slide down the water shoot. Lots of screaming heard here.

This area also hosts a water trough where intrepid prospectors can pan for gold. According to my sources, "gold panning usually turns up only minor gold dust that is usually collected as a souvenir in small clear tubes by hobbyists." But I'll bet it's fun for a short while — don't know if I would want to do that all day in the hot California sun, day after day after day.

I have visited Knott's Berry Farm several times over the years and it has evolved into a major theme park with more than five million visitors each year.

And what visit to the Los Angeles area would be complete without a visit to Malibu — home to Hollywood celebrities. Signs around the city proclaim "21 miles of scenic beauty", referring to the incorporated city limits. This day we got to see the equally famous marine layer — which normally burns off later in the day.

The Pacific Ocean is really the star of this terrific location — waves for surfing or just crashing on the rocks — it's all good!

Last for today is the La Brea Tar Pits. For us out-of-towners, our first look suggested another Disneyesque creation to help folks imagine what this area may have looked like 10–20,000 years ago, dating from the last glacial period. In fact, this is a natural formation — the only artistic license was taken to add a figure of a mammoth that has, unfortunately, gotten himself stuck in the tar. In reality, such would likely result in the death of the mammoth and even some prey animals who would look at this situation as an easy meal. And yes, the tar floating on the surface of the water is real — per Wikipedia, "Natural asphalt (also called asphaltum, bitumen, pitch, or tar—brea in Spanish) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years. The tar is often covered with dust, leaves, or water. Over many centuries, the tar preserved the bones of trapped animals."

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com