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Lethbridge Twinning Society

Trip to Culver City, 2002

Twelve days
of Culver City 2002

One the first day of Culver City 2002...

We were 47 in number, all anxious and waiting in the early morning sun at the Fair view Safeway Parking lot. The Tot-em Transportation Charter Bus, sparkling clean had arrived on time, it was too late to turn back now......we were going to do it! Doug had come to see us off, and we would see him again in Culver City as he and Mayor Bob were flying due to time restraints. Yes, we boarded the bus and our driver, "Captain Al" fired up the engine and we were off, exactly on schedule at 07:00 AM, June 30, 2002.

As President of the Lethbridge Twinning Society, Harold welcomed all aboard, explained the "rules of the road" and made some introductions. The main rule of the road was: " Have fun!" (This rule turned out to be the easiest rule to follow!) Bob, the Director for Culver City was introduced as was Alderman Dar Heatherington and her family, and our designated "Safety Officer" Stephen. It was explained that members would provide commentary for certain segments of the trip, and this would give an opportunity for everyone to get involved.

We became familiar with the motor coach we would be traveling in, Captain Al assured us that the air conditioner was in fine working order! The coach had colour TV monitors placed throughout the bus, these would play our video cassettes for us. Also there was a feature that a camera at the front of the bus would show the road ahead on the monitors.

We made our way south, soon arriving at the Coutts, Duty Free store where we stopped and some did some "medicinal" shopping. Continuing on, we proceeded to US Customs. US Customs directed us to an examination area where we were told that everyone had to get off the bus and take all their carry on baggage with them. Everything was okay, except we left behind some fruit and vegetables, (Those "were" nice cherries Dar!)

Soon we were speeding down Inter-State highway 15 and our first commentary was being offered by Lesley.

After our lunch break in Helena, Montana, Stephen took over the microphone and provided the commentary that brought us into our hotel for the night at Idaho Falls, Idaho. Carol, Maisie, Dolores, Leslie and Lucy had organized a Canada Day Celebration along with a welcome gathering. A special "Canada Day Cake" had been ordered which was waiting for us on arrival. The "wine and cheese" party lasted into the evening while the youngsters (supervised by Dave) were setting off some fireworks that had been bought at the local store.

Although it had been a long bus ride, everyone was in good spirits. Many ventured from the hotel to the surrounding stores and restaurants, some took the opportunity to enjoy the pool!

On the second day of Culver City 2002...

Carol and Maisie had organized a wonderful Canada Day celebration. There were "Canada Day" tee shirts for everyone! These had been distributed the night before and everyone wore their shirt this morning. After our free continental breakfast, we gathered outside the hotel. Captain Al had brought the motor coach up front and we stood in front and sang, "Oh Canada". Once on the road, Allison provided commentary. Carol introduced a number of interesting "Canada Trivia" games and members were encouraged to come up and tell about where their ancestors had come from and how it came to be that they arrived in Canada. Our stop in Salt Lake City for lunch was very interesting. Allison had selected the downtown area for our break, and we parked right outside the Mormon Temple. There was a mall across the street that had a food court, everyone went there for lunch. We were not alone, it turned out that there was a convention in town, a rather interesting convention, it was a convention of "International Midgets". There were 1,500 of them and most of them in the mall having lunch where we were. This was a case of "reverse discrimination" we (the tall people) were the minority! Before we left on the road, the bus was searched for any stole away midgets.. Finding none (other than our own 3 year old Lane) we continued on our way to Las Vegas. This time Bryan took the microphone in hand and provided commentary along the way. Felix provided details on what he called "strategic slot machine playing" while Igor demonstrated Thai massage techniques. It didn't seem too long before we arrived in Las Vegas and to our hotel, the Excalibur. We assembled as a group and enjoyed the wonderful buffet meal. Even though it had been a long day, many of our group were attracted to the bright lights of the near by hotels and casinos. Some found the amenities of the Excalibur hotel to be very satisfying, the pool, the gift shops, the free shows.....Felix found the slot machines!

On the third day of Culver City 2002...

Waking up to 90 degree weather is next to unbelievable but listening to the weather forecasts of 125 degrees is even more incredible! The forecasts were not correct......it reached 130 degrees! Our day began with everyone realizing that food in Las Vegas is no longer inexpensive..... the rooms did not have coffee makers and going down to the hotel restaurant for a coffee found us digging for $2.00 U.S for a cup! Breakfasts ranged in the price of $6.00 U.S. However there was a breakfast buffet..... and if you shelled out the $8.95 you enjoyed an incredible feast that kept you going until midnight! (Except if you were involved some strenuous activities.. like pulling the slot machine handles.... right Felix?)

The show literally got on the road at 1:00 PM when captain Al brought the bus around and we began our tour of the major hotels and casinos of Las Vegas. Some of our members found the Hilton's "Star Trek" Experience to be the highlight..... Cheryl, Dolores and Bryan...while others got sold on the Stratosphere Hotel and the ride to the tower and the "Big Shot" ride! Circus Circus and the floor show suited many just fine. All and all, despite the heat and seemingly high prices for everything a good time was had by all! ( Carol had found current coupons that helped us out with some of our attractions.) Arriving back at the Excalibur in the evening for dinner, and then back out for a late night visit to the famous "Freemont Street Experience". Arriving back to the Excalibur at around mid-night most of us were exhausted....a combination of heat, excitement and a lot of walking! HOWEVER....... this did not stop us from visiting the casino for just a little while longer.

On the fourth day of Culver City 2002...

We bid farewell to the "Castle Resort" as Bob hosted us enroute to our destination.... Culver City. We had planned on a visit to the Hover Dam, however threats of a terrorist attack there convinced us that we should call this stop off this time. The temperatures soared as we traveled through Death Valley, however by the time we had reached Baker, California, (where that huge thermometer was) it had cooled down to 102! Thank goodness that our air conditioner on the coach worked well! Everyone was anxious about reaching Culver City, the cell phone kept us in close contact with our hosts, and we arrived in Culver City right as scheduled. As captain Al brought the bus within sight of the Culver City, City Hall, we were relieved that we had arrived....... that was at least until out of no-where a police cruiser, lights flashing and siren whaling.... pulled the bus over.... and right in front of City Hall! Captain Al, began wondering what he had done wrong, and cautiously opened the bus door to allow entry of one rather officious looking policeman! The captain of the Culver City Police Department acted quickly, he advised us that he had a warrant out for our arrest... we were all being arrested, the charge "Disgraceful gambling in Las Vegas!" in fact the officer told us that our gambling was so bad that it had been upgraded to a Inter-State violation! We thought that this was quite the welcome and a well planned event...but it never ended there.... this policeman was serious, we were being arrested. By now he had reinforcements who were along side the coach, and we were directed to get off the coach and line up on the sidewalk two abreast.... we were being taken to jail! As we got off the coach, there was no choice but to line up, the assisting police officers ensured were did not go anywhere. In the distance we saw our "friends" and "gracious hosts"..... Pierre Joujon-Roche and members of the Culver City Sister City Committee... and who was that fellow standing beside him..... it was our very own Mayor Bob and Doug! Mayor Bob, being the good Mayor that he is tried to intervene and effect our release, to no avail... he was told he did not have any jurisdiction in Culver City! What was to come of us???? We were ushered down the street, man, woman and child into a waiting cell. It was not over yet....the door was closed and the definite "clang" was heard as the lock took hold! A Police photographer came and took pictures of the newly captured "criminals". What a way to spend three days in Culver City some thought! Paul Jacobs, husband of Joy Jacobs the director responsible for Lethbridge, Alberta spoke up, he is an attorney ( be it known a bankruptcy lawyer ) never the less an attorney, and he negotiated terms of our release. We were released on good behavior to his charge and care! Thank you Paul! The Culver group quickly restored our trust by inviting us to a reception and served us food while host families were introduced to their guests. We were all presented with welcome gifts, and then given a tour of the City Hall. After this unforgettable welcome greeting, it was off to our host families for the night.

On the fifth day of Culver City 2002...

After a wonderful evening of getting aquatinted with our hosts or just renewing friendships (for those who made previous visits) we were ready to tackle the day. We met at the "Filmstrip Fountain" at 9:00 AM. On invitation of the Mayor of Culver City, Carol Gross, we attended at the Culver City Fire Hall for a press conference of Herb J. Wesson Jr. (Speaker of the Assembly). This was the inauguration of the "California Memorial License Plate". In this moving event, Speaker Wesson presented the first official license plate to Brad Burlingame, who's brother Charles Burlingame was Captain aboard American Airlines Flight 77, the plane terrorists crashed into the pentagon building on September 11. Sheila Ornedo, widow of Ruben Ornedo who was also killed on Flight 77, received a commemorative plate from the Speaker, along with their daughter Robin, who is eligible to receive on of the scholarships provided by proceeds from the sale of the plates. ( Robin is the daughter of the late Ruben Ornedo and had not yet been born at the time of the crash of Flight 77)

After the presentations, many of us had tears in our eyes from this moving, "History Making" event.

*****The Lethbridge Twinning Society intends on purchasing a California Memorial License Plate to show our support! If we are able to obtain one, it shall be proudly displayed in the cabinet at the Culver City Community Room in City Hall.********

We proceeded to our motor coach and Captain Al moved us along to Marina Del Rey where we were treated to a cruise of the Bay. The humor of the Captain of the boat kept the excursion interesting as he pointed out various yachts and properties. We were amazed at the value of properties. On the cruise, we saw California Sea Lions in the bay area. For those who remember the "Beech Boys" an interesting trivia is that the Drummer of the Beech Boys actually jumped off his yacht in Marina Del Rey and drowned. ( Early 1980's) With no mishaps, we docked and proceeded down the wharf area to our lunch venue at Shanghai Reds. In full view of the Bay we enjoyed a wonderful lunch.

Then it was off for a tour of Hollywood, traffic was bumper to bumper and lanes upon lanes of traffic filtered into down town Los Angeles. We arrived at the famous "Chinese Theater" where we walked among the stars. Some found there favorite stars hand prints and signature engraved in the sidewalk blocks. The shops in the area were filled with movie memorabilia. Every possible notion to attack the tourist dollar existed! There were movie star look alikes from present and years past willing to pose with you for a picture, this would only cost $5.00! Salesman stopped you on the street to slap a hand bill in your hand and offering to take you on excursions to view movie stars homes in Beverly Hills. The rumour that Glen and Johan attempted to write their names on the sidewalk has absolutely no truth!

As moved along, we drove down Rodeo Street, and had a view of the "Hollywood" sign nestled in the hills.

We arrived back in Culver City just in time to attend at the Alexander's home for a down home style hootenanny! The food, song, dance and spirits all flowed freely and liberally at this block party that was attended by over a hundred people! Soon it was time to head across the street to the park where thousands were gathering for the 37th Annual Independence Day Display as hosted by the Culver City Exchange Club. It was with great honor that our Society was announced as being in attendance! Marisa had the honor and privilege of singing "Oh Canada" at the opening ceremony! Mayor Bob had an opportunity to address the gathering from the podium. The program and the fireworks that followed were spectacular! As the fireworks exploded, it appeared as though each one exceeded the preceding in grander! The grand finale was most impressive, the fireworks display depicting Niagara Falls amazed us!

What a day we had! A true solemn event to celebrate "Independence Day" with our neighbors to the South!

On the sixth day of Culver City 2000...

Once again, our day began at 9:00 AM at "Filmstrip Fountain" this time we departed for tour of Culver City as hosted by Culver City Historian, Julie Lugo Cerra. Julie provided a commentary as we drove the motor coach around the Culver City attractions. The Sony Studios were closed for the holidays, however Julie supplied information on recent movies and shows being produced at this time. Men in Black II, along with Mr. Deeds had just been released. Julie and her family have been residents of Culver City for many years. Julie depicts knowledge and enthusiasm as she describes the City so dear to her heart.

Our next stop was to the Fox Hills Shopping Mall. This was an opportunity to compare styles and prices and to find that special souvenir! We enjoyed our time at the mall, and we were again off on the motor coach, this time to Lindberg Park for a picnic. The food was great, and our hosts thought of everything..... there we a supply of soccer balls that provided entertainment for the youngsters who began playing a game of "foot-baseball" on the large baseball diamond. George Bellows had the opportunity of supplying some guitar music and song, "Stompin" Tom Conner style! The Executive of the Culver City Sister City Committee and the Executive of the Lethbridge Twinning Society had an opportunity to sit at a quite picnic bench and do some brain storming and planning for future relations between our two associations.

After the picnic, we traveled to the John Paul Getty Museum. What a treat that was. The weather was grand, and this made the tour of the Getty even more pleasant as we moved from pavilion to pavilion. For some of us, this was our first opportunity of visiting a Museum of any stature, and we were impressed! Time was not on our side, as we had to return to Culver City all too soon. The Getty Museum definitely being a stellar point of our visit.

The Farewell dinner held at the Lethbridge Garden Room of the Vets Auditorium began with a stand up hors d'oeuvre mingling. As hosts arrived together with their guests there was an opportunity to informally share our experiences. When we were called to order we were served the most delicious Mexican meal ever! Fresh and tasty, and so plentiful! We ate and enjoyed conversations at our respective tables. Then a group of eight "Mariachi" musicians in full Mexican costume arrived and began entertaining us. Their skillful playing and variety in music was a treat we will not forget. Pierre Jourjon-Roche initiated the program, and speeches and gifts were exchanged. Natalie Shaby (nee Reimer) came to the podium and provided information on how the twinning relationship between Culver City and Lethbridge actually began. Mayor Bob got up and had one last time to provide dig on how the Canadian Men's and Women's hockey team kicked butt in the Salt Lake City Olympics! Pierre Jourjon-Roche explained a project that we might engage, that is to have a mural painted on the opposing wall of the Lethbridge Garden Room. This mural to depict Lethbridge in some form and fashion, this to compliment the existing mural on the opposite wall which depicts Culver City! Pierre also expressed other possibilities that would strengthen our twinning relationship, and provide for new opportunities for both Culver City and Lethbridge. One interesting consideration being a joint visit to one of our respective twin cities, Timashevsk, Russia being a possibility! Harold, on behalf of the Lethbridge Twinning Society welcomed these potential prospects, and quoted Julie Lugo Cerra from earlier in the day, "If you fail to plan than you plan to fail". Harold stressed that the youth are vital to our societies and focus in every aspect should be made in this regard. Harold sincerely thanked the support of the executive of the Lethbridge Twinning Society in particular Bob, the Director for Culver City.

Harold also congratulated the Culver City Sister City Committee for their excellent program and events that they treated us to. Bob made an official presentation Joy Jacobs the Director to Lethbridge. The gift was a parchment drawing of the Lethbridge Suspension Train Bridge. Bob went on to extend gratitude to Doug from the Lethbridge Convention Visitors Bureau for joining us in Culver City. Bob closed by welcoming Culver City to Lethbridge for an exchange visit.

Chad was very excited over his new skate board, what a deal he made buying it! He impressed Richie and Jason who watched as Chad showed off some ramps and olleys!

On the seventh day of Culver City 2002...

All good things do come to an end...... unfortunately. At 08:00 AM we assembled once again at the Filmstrip Fountain, this time to bid farewell to our gracious hosts. One last opportunity for some photos, hugs and well wishing. Alderman Dar Heatherington gave a farewell address on behalf of the City of Lethbridge while Bob made last comments. Bryan presented Pierre Jourjon-Roche with a "Mosquito defense kit" to prepare him for next visit to Lethbridge! A number of our members had planned a visit to Catalina Island, this was accommodated by Pierre Jourjon-Roche who provided transportation for them to the boat departure dock at Long Beach. As captain Al pulled the bus out of the tight parking space with professional accuracy, we headed down the road, one last glimpse of the Culver City Hall and the Sony Studios. We were soon on Interstate 405 and our next stop was the "Mouse House"....Disney Land.

The day proved very exciting for both those going to Catalina Island as well as the Disney Land gang! Looking past the costs, one can not help but appreciate the services and entertainment that was provided at both venues. The Cinderella Parade on Disney Land Main Street took a little twist, Greg , Kendall, Warren, Kyle, Marisa, Alexander and Bryan had been selected to don costumes and participate in the parade! They officially dubbed the honor of being "Mouseketeers" and presented with commemorative Disneyland pins to recognize the occasion.

By the time the day was over, everyone put on miles and miles....... and the bed at the Holiday Inn, Buena Park was most inviting! Those members who took the Catalina Island trip reported a wonderful cruise to the Island, and an enjoyable visit. They all returned back to the hotel in the early evening and enjoyed a leisurely dinner before retiring for the night.

On the eighth day of Culver City 2002...

Ah yes, there were some early risers...... others took it easy, relaxed and enjoyed the amenities of the beautiful Holiday Inn, Buena Park. For the early risers it was off to the Crystal Cathedral! We attended the special Memorial Day Service, with the Rev. Robert Schuler in attendance. The Cathedral is spectacular, as the service began, two huge portions of the front area automatically swung open to the outside, allowing the fresh sea breeze to enter in, also on the outside, two huge fountains began to flow! The Service featured the honoring of many military and ex-military who were in attendance. Draped along the front of the Cathedral was the largest United States flag in the world. As the orchestra played, the sounds reverberated though out the wonderfully acoustic Cathedral.

As the service ended, we were met by the remainder of our members, and we continued onward towards our destination, San Diego. Carol provided commentary as we traveled the short distance to our hotel, the National City, Comfort Inn. We quickly checked into our rooms and grabbed a quick lunch and it was time to head off.

This time we traveled by trolley to San Ysidro. The trolley stopped across the street from the bridge heading to Tijuana, Mexico. ( Or as the locals refer to it. T.J.) Shopping, bargaining, and the sights, sounds and smells of Tijuana were so different. Some found special souvenirs, while others found some tasty food and cheap beers. ( Felix stated that all he wanted was a salad and a glass of water! ) Our walk back across the bridge to the USA found us in a massive line up, as a result we were delayed. Some confusion as to where everyone was ended without incident and we all returned back to our hotel safe and sound.

The pool and hot tub at the hotel were refreshing and provided late night relaxation for many.

On the ninth day of Culver City 2002...

We enjoyed a varied day, some ventured a trolley trip into the heart of "Old Town" San Diego where they enjoyed the magic of the Gas Lamp Quarter. Others visited the San Diego Zoo while some went on to the San Diego Sea World. Regardless of the activity chosen, everyone commented that they had a wonderful day. Many pictures had been taken, and at Sea World, Bob and Doc had a close encounter with some whales... they didn't exactly have a "whale of a time" but they did get soaking wet! The sun had given more glow than some had wished for and they suffered sun burns. Jeanne and Felix advised that they had mastered the trolley and felt quite comfortable traveling about San Diego.

To top off the visit to San Diego, some departed on a evening dinner cruise off the coast of San Diego! They advised that the sun set was terrific, and that they had seen many interesting vessels including some large Military Naval Vessels.

For others, it was time to kick back at the hotel, some did up laundry and there was the regular pool crowd who soaked up in the pool and hot tub.

On the tenth day of Culver City 2002...

With our early 08:00 AM departure from San Diego, George provided the commentary as we motored off to San Juan Capistrano. Although we did not enter the actual mission, San Juan Capistrano we observed the the mission was undergoing extensive restoration. Did anyone see the swallows? George continued his commentary as we resumed our trip. Like clock work (and a little assistance from our on board cell phone) we met Igor Stern and his family at the prearranged pickup location near San Bernadino, California! Once again we were off, and our next stop were the "Factory Outlet Stores" of Barstow, California. Some commented that the stop was too short, some said it was too long... anyway, after an hour we were on our way to the famous, Peggy Sue's 50's Diner at Yermo, California. Here, Sue ( Not "Peggy Sue" ) boarded our coach and welcomed us to the unusual diner, she also advised us that Doc would get a complimentary meal!

The meal at Peggy Sue's was indeed unique! Milkshakes served in the old time fountain glasses were topped off by waitresses wearing bright blue uniforms complete with frilly aprons and wimple caps!

When we boarded the motor coach Glen continued with the commentary and it was not too long after that we arrived at our hotel at Mesquite, Nevada.

On arrival at the hotel we were provided with some coupon books, and some of our members soon capitalized on the offers......... Stephen and his family went for supper, Stephen had a huge T-bone steak, potatoe and all the fixings.... not to mention a shrimp cocktail..... Stephen said that with the coupons all this was costing about $6.00!.... and there was also a free beer coupon!!!

Some of our member actually had some luck (Vince!!!!) at the slot machines...... (but not Felix).

On the eleventh day of Culver City 2002...

Off to another early start, breakfast buffets for many our our group, and what a wonderful buffet it was! We began to load the bus and Felix was still loading the slot machines....... as he watched his last quarters vanish into the heartless, non-rewarding machines it was definitely time to leave. Dave and his family took the commentary and did a fine job. Maisie assumed her position as "Official Bingo Caller".

Many games were played, and many member won valuable prizes, including the coveted "Silver plated bottle openers". We had altered our schedule somewhat to make up for some lost time due to road construction. This brought us into a sleepy Utah town where we found a Denny's Restaurant . Across the way a Subway. The Denny's was unlike any other Denny's ......in the world! We found that our orders really didn't mean too much, regardless of what you ordered when your meal finally arrived.... like 45 minutes later, you just ate it otherwise the coach would be leaving and you had not had your lunch! You may have ordered a cheeseburger and were served pot roast! It was an interesting experience!

Vince provided commentary that took us to our hotel in Pocatello, Idaho, the Ramada. That evening we enjoyed our farewell dinner which consisted of sixteen pizzas! A well deserved expression of our gratitude was extended to Captain Al.

On the twelfth day of Culver City 2002...

This was a long day, 930 KM! Lucy provided commentary with a interesting video and information on her home town back in Russia, Kaliningrad.

We motored along and many of us were tired and took the opportunity to snooze...while others watched yet another episode of "Mr. Bean"..... just how many of those darn Bean videos were there??????

We stopped at the "Calf A" in Dell, Montana. This was an old school house tucked away a mile or so off Interstate I-15. The BEST home cooked pies and fresh coffee served out of campfire style coffee pots. Real cream in the coffee that was served in non matching mugs and silver ware that was decades old. The price for pie and coffee was $3.00 and that was with or without ice-cream on the pie!... Probably our best and tastiest treat of the whole trip! (The "Calf A" happened to be featured on the "Knowledge Network" TV program, and Stephen had seen it, they suggested it might be a neat place to stop.......and it was, thanks Stephen!) We took the owner's of the "Calf A" by surprise, the capacity of the "Calf A" was 28 and it had been the very first "Bus Tour Group" that they had ever stop there.

** On the wall in the "Calf A" was a framed letter that certainly appeared to be authentic...... it was a letter signed by Abraham Lincoln.... many thought that if it was truly an original....it should be in a much more secure location!

We cruised into Helena for lunch......somehow Captain Al had made up time and we were practically back on schedule again!

Doc assumed the microphone and provided us with commentary back to Coutts. He shared some real to life experiences that unfolded in the area we were traveling. A quick stop at the Sweetgrass Duty Free Store then we arrived at Coutts, Customs.

"Bon jour!" Chief Customs Inspector Dave greeted us, and effortlessly we were back in Canada, but not before Inspector Dave had presented some of the younger children with "Junior Customs Inspector" badges!

We arrived back in Lethbridge at 7:30 PM and our first stop was at the Fair view Safeway where we bid farewell to half of our group. Anxious family members and friends met the group and helped load up baggage. The stories had already begun......the hot weather, the excellent guests in Culver, the winnings/losses at Las Vegas!......

It was not long before we then arrived on the west side where the rest of us unloaded. It was over, close to 60 hours on the bus......eight different hotels, three nights in Culver City.....new friends.......good restaurant food and bad restaurant food....cheap souvenirs from Mexico.....sun burns....tons of pictures......and one fantastic bus driver, Captain Al!

Was it a success? ABSOLUTELY..... the delegation from Lethbridge proved to be excellent Ambassadors and there would not be any other group that could have done it as good as we did! Congratulations to one and all, we done Lethbridge and our Society proud!