Reaching My Limit on Camping in Malibu & an Impromptu Day in LA

My childhood should have prepared me for this cross-country road trip. Vacations were important to my parents, so every year we would drive to places like Daytona Beach, Virginia Beach, Bar Harbor, and Rehoboth Beach from upstate New York ((that memorable trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was one of the rare times my parents sprung for a hotel and it was only because of the immense heat and bugs in our pop-up camper)). Those vacations meant long car rides and camping for our family of five, so I knew what to expect from a road trip down the coast. Yet I still found myself fed up with living out of a tent & car as we approached Southern California.

From Big Sur, we drove south to Malibu. Most people associate Malibu with massive, celeb-owned or rental beach homes. Psssht. We passed up that kind of luxury for the opportunity of two more nights of camping at Leo Carrillo State Park yay ((not))! Arriving post-labor day, the campground was mostly empty and quiet. Not exactly on the beach like we anticipated, however there was a short pedestrian walkway that takes you underneath the highway to the nearby beach where we watched the sunset.


The next morning in Malibu, we explored the park’s hiking trail and quickly learned just how out of shape we had become. Maybe it was just the heat? I am certain I actually walked much faster than my normal snail pace due to the fact that I was terrified we would come across a snake, but luckily we made it up to the vista and back on Willow Creek trail without any incident.


^^you may be wondering who brings a double chocolate muffin as his hiking fuel: see below photo

^^my muffin loving hubby

^^gorgeous view of the ocean at the trail vista

We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the gorgeous Malibu sunshine; first in a courtyard near coffee shops and cafes where we had lunch while borrowing wifi to catch up on things; second laying in the soft, golden sand at Zuma Beach.

I noticed myself feeling a bit down during our time in Malibu. I think I had reached my limit of sleeping on an air bed, in a tent, with limited showers. I was ready to sleep in a nice comfy bed, paint my nails and feel like a girly girl again. I am a Pisces through and through, so spending time at the beach helped me to start pulling out of that funk. The warm sunshine and sound of the ocean is such therapy, so I truly loved that afternoon at Zuma.


This may sound strange, but I really did not have a desire to see LA on this road trip. Actually, I have never been desperate to visit LA, period. Of course I indulge in television shows which are based in LA, and I know practially every single celebrity by face and name. I am sure it is a unique place with great weather year-round. However, there’s much more to see during a cross-country road trip, so we did not have any plans for time in LA. But as we approached Malibu, and since we would be driving through LA to get to San Diego, there was one small thing in LA I decided to add to the itinerary…snag tickets to be in the audience during a taping of my favorite show.

Since the Oprah show ended a few years back, I was forced to find a new favorite tv show. I settled for one that made me laugh out loud at the tv on a regular basis. Anything Chelsea Handler is selling, I am buying. I think she is the boss. I’ve read her books and watch her nightly show, ‘Chelsea Lately,’ any chance I get. Even when we ditched cable to save some money the last couple months in our house in Seattle, I would catch up via videos on her YouTube channel. People either love her or hate her, and I happen to love her. Since this is the trip of a lifetime, why not add a few super enjoyable ((and free!)) adventures I have always wanted to experience? While we were borrowing wifi at a cafe in Malibu, I searched online for tickets to her show and just minutes after I filled out the brief online form, they appeared in my inbox. That was easy.

I wish I had taken photos of Andrew and I that last morning at the campground before we packed up and drove into LA. We transformed from campers who live out of their car to tv show audience presentable humans. This was no small feat, largely in part to the fact that the campground shower was FREEZING COLD. We printed the show tickets at a Santa Monica Kinkos/FedEx for $4 and off we went for LA.

Being the staunch rule follower that I am, every single possession except for lip gloss and my ID was left in the car ((including my cell phone)) before we lined up for the show at Universal Studios, just as instructed on the printed tickets. I made sure Andrew did the same. As I looked around us and noticed everyone else taking photos and texting friends from their their cell phones, I thought to myself ‘either these people have been here before and know how this works, or they do not follow rules very well. Does anyone follow rules anymore?’ Turns out, show security just ensures cell phones are turned off once you enter the Chelsea Lately stage. All that time I could have been obsessively checking Facebook, Instagram, or live tweeting the occasion! Dang. And it is definitely a lot of waiting around – first in line and then in your audience seats waiting for what ends up being a very short time of witnessing the actual taping of the show. No matter your place in line outside the stage, they seat you in the audience based on your appearance…meaning young, pretty blonde-haired girls in the front. So very LA, yes? ((so I guess we must have looked somewhat decent that day, as we ended up in the fifth row of about 20. Take that, freezing cold campground shower!)) This show is a well-oiled machine. They do not shoot retakes. What you see on the 11pm show is what you witness from the taping. I pictured the stage to be a lot bigger, but it is actually quite small…must just be the magic of camera lenses! Although I was disappointed Chelsea did not interact with her audience, I laughed my butt off and it was a lot of fun. I actually think her unfriendly-seeming demeanor is just part of her shtick. We enjoyed it enough to stay for a second taping since they were shooting two that day. I think Andrew was so pleased to see me so happy after I was a camping party pooper the previous couple of nights, he would have stayed for three or four tapings if I asked!

After the second taping, we walked back to the car, took our one photo proving we were there, and hit the road, destined for San Diego. The combination of a fun day at the studios being an audience member for my favorite show, and knowing a fabulous hotel room awaited us that evening brought a huge smile to my face all the way from LA to San Diego.


What television show would you most like to be an audience member of?

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