Trip Report Five: Malibu Creek State Park, Candy, Hollywood, and El Capitan

Back in February, I planned a surprise weekend for my wife for her birthday. It was nice, but it didn’t go exactly as planned so I deemed it a failure! A few weeks later, I decided to try again. I started planning a followup surprise weekend, but something happened and I had to cancel it. Foiled again! Welp… you know what they say… third time’s a charm!

They’re right! The third time was the charm.

Super Secret Birthday Weekend Attempt Number Three was a success! Here’s what we did…

Friday: April 12, 2013

First stop on the trip was Sonic!

Heather and her Grilled Cheese

Heather was not pleased with her Sonic Grilled Cheese… not at all…

The slices of bread were applied oppositely. Heather and her OCD were not okay with this.

Texaco on the Arizona California border

My favorite gas station on the way to California!

We got to our motel in Calabasas around 11pm. It was crappy and the bed sucked, but we were only staying there for a night so we dealt with it.

Good Night Inn in Calabasas

Good Night Inn in Calabasas

Saturday: April 13, 2013

We stayed in Calabasas because of its proximity to the Malibu Creek State Park.

CSPF Earth Day Cleanup

California State Parks Foundation Earth Day Cleanup

Why’d we need to stay so close to Malibu Creek? Because we signed up to help clean it up!

The California State Parks Foundation sponsored an Earth Day event at a bunch of different state parks in California on the same day. I chose Malibu Creek because I had never been there and it looked pretty. It was a fantastic decision.

Heather at Malibu Creek State Park on Earth Day

Heather loves saving the planet!!!

We got to the park at about 8:30am and signed up for a trash pick up hike. There were other activities available like painting and weed pulling, but this was our first volunteer event so we decided to take it a bit easy.

Malibu Creek State Park View



Century Lake and its Dam

Serene Century Lake…


Malibu Creek State Park Mountains

Malibu Creek SP is so dang beautiful!

We went out in a group of about 10 and had 2 really well informed and super friendly Malibu Creek docents with us. They were constantly pointing out interesting plants and giving all kinds of cool facts about the park.

Crags Country Club Foundation in Malibu Creek State Park

Crags Country Club foundation! History!

What I found most fascinating about Malibu Creek was the Crags Country Club. Well… the foundations of the Crags Country Club. It’s not there anymore. Here’s the country club’s history, courtesy of the Malibu Creek Docents:

Seeking a rural setting in which to enjoy the outdoors, a group of wealthy Los Angeles businessmen formed the Crags Country Club in 1900 and bought 2,000 acres along Malibu Creek that would later become Malibu Creek State Park.

Around 1903, the club constructed a 50-foot high dam, creating a seven-acre lake that attracted waterfowl and was stocked with trout giving club members a private duck hunting and fishing preserve. This dam and lake would later be named Century Dam and Century Lake by 20th Century Fox Studios after they bought the property.

The club built a three-level, 7,500 square foot lodge In Bavarian Alps architecture. The main floor had three fireplaces, a commercial kitchen, a large main lobby game room with tables and chairs for games and conversation, a dance floor and dressing rooms for those who used the tennis court and pool. Upstairs were ten bedrooms, each with their own dressing room.

So what happened to this grand club? Because of the steep costs of joining the club, only the financially established could be members. The average member age was likely over 50 and over the years, their long trips from the city to the club were less frequent. Today’s 45 minute trip took almost two hours on the dirt and gravel roads. Without new, younger members paying dues, the club began to decline, fell into disrepair and closed in 1936.

The foundation of the grand lodge remains today above Malibu Creek. The iron rings embedded in the foundation used by members to tie up their horses are still there along with plenty of ghosts from a more glamourous time.

I don’t know about you, but this sorta stuff just fascinates me!

Scary Tree in Malibu Creek State Park

Kinda the scariest tree ever…

Anyhoo. The cleanup lasted about 2 hours. It was just really fun and the park is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the kind of place where you could easily spend a full day just exploring and relaxing and taking it all in.

When we were done and got back, we were given some Chipotle burritos and a whole bunch of thank yous. I really can’t stress enough how lovely the whole experience was. The people were great, the park was awe-inspiring, and cleaning up nature makes ya feel pretty darn good.

Even though we would have loved to hang out at the park for a while longer, we had things to do!

Next stop was Subway in Malibu for some lunch. It was good.

Because Subway is always good.

After that, we took the PCH down to Hollywood. It was time to check into the hotel.

Hollywood Roosevelt

Historic. Haunted. Fancy.

Heyo! Look at that snazzy hotel!

That’s right… we stayed at the historic (and haunted!) Hollywood Roosevelt. It’s a pretty fancy hotel so when we arrived at the valet (31 bucks a night!? WTF?) we were a bit out of place due to the fact that we had spent the whole morning picking up trash and hadn’t changed. Oh well!

Deal with it, rich people.

Hollywood Roosevelt Room

Our room at the Hollywood Roosevelt

The room was small, but swanky. Definitely a good place for hip, young Angelenos to stay.

View from Hollywood Roosevelt

View from our room at the Hollywood Roosevelt

I had never been to Hollywood before, so I was super excited! Heather had been before, so she knew how dirty and gross it actually is and was therefore not excited.


Chocolate Lab at Sweet!

Chocolate Lab at Sweet!

Boom! Candy! Let the excitement begin!

Yes. We went to Sweet! It’s this insanely big and over the top candy store in the Hollywood and Highland shopping center. We bought a lot of candy. There’s even this totally rad candy bar making station where you can design your own custom candy bar! They were expensive, but we bought four. Totally worth it. Mine was white chocolate and caramel with Heath bar and M&M’s.

View of Hollywood Boulevard

Our dinnertime view of Hollywood Boulevard

After spending way too much money on candy, we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest.

Once well rested, we went back down to Hollywood Blvd and got ourselves some Wetzels Pretzels! We took our super healthy dinner up to a nice little table with a view of the street so we could watch the horrifyingly disfigured Disney characters terrify tourists from a distance. It was relaxing, but Hollywood smells like ass.

For dessert, we went across the street to the Disney Soda Fountain for some sorbet.

Mickey Mouse Vault

Super cool Mickey vault at Disney’s Soda Fountain and Studio Store

After finishing our dessert and buying some pins from the Studio Store, we went next door to the El Capitan theater to go see Oz The Great and Powerful.

This was our first time seeing a movie at El Capitan and it blew us away!

El Capitan Organist

Lovely pre-show organ mini concert thingy at El Capitan

Seeing a movie at that theater is an entire experience of its own. And we didn’t even get the full experience. Apparently, there was a magic show pre-show going on for a while, but it had stopped the week before we were there. You do pay a premium for the added Disney magic, but it’s something you really outta check out at least once.

After the movie, we just went back to the hotel and went to bed. Well… kinda. Remember how I mentioned that the Roosevelt would be great for young hipsters? Yeah? Well… apparently it really is. There was a party in a room close to us that was the louded, drunkest hotel room party I have ever heard. I mean… just constant screaming and laughing. We actually didn’t mind it, but it did ruin our beauty sleep a bit. Whatever… people having fun is awesome. Good for them.

Sunday: April 14, 2013

Scientology Building in Hollywood

Oh hai, evil cult!

Before we went and got some breakfast at a cute little hipster breakfast cafe, we strolled through the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Hollywood Farmers Market

Busy Sunday morning at the Hollywood Farmers Market

It was huge! So much stuff! Yikes! We’re used to the Gilbert Farmer’s Market which is roughly 1/20th the size of this one. We didn’t buy anything, but it would be rad to live close to a market like this and be able to have such a massive variety to choose from on a weekly basis.

After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to check out.

On our way out of California, we made two last stops.

The first was at a CVS. And guess what! We randomly happened upon the freaking Golden Gate CVS for a second time! I talked about how rad this particular CVS is back in my third trip report.

Golden Gate CVS

Randomly ended up at my favorite CVS again!

Basically, it was a fancy theater a long time ago and then it was abandoned and then it was turned into a CVS. Weird and awesome.

The second was a visit to see some friends… specifically Nicole and Donnie and Shannon and Travis and their awesome little dog. We had a nice time chatting and then we left.

Back to Arizona. Ugh.

About Adam Willis

I'm just a guy who really likes California. I live in Arizona for now, but will be moving over there as soon as possible. Also. I love you. Smile!

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