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  • Writer's picture Jana

Hollywood Lore and Fast Cars! A Birthday Celebration Perfectly Befitting a boy of Fifteen.

Garin turned 15 last week! Last year we were in Hawaii for his birthday, which fell over Spring Break. How do you top that? You don't.

Since I knew I couldn't top his Hawaiian paradise birthday, I had to at least figure out how to make his 15th birthday special for him. This was no easy feat given that we had covered a lot of ground in Los Angeles recently with our Spring Break travel plans canceled. With his birthday on the heels of Spring Break, I had to get creative to come up with something unique and exciting for Garin and the kids that we hadn't already done.

I am happy to report that I pulled it off. The weekend prior to his birthday was fun-filled with outings and delicious meals. The weather was picture-perfect, as an added bonus. On his actual birthday, April 18, which was a school night, we had our traditional family dinner, which was a lot of fun and enjoyed by all.

On Saturday we started our celebratory weekend with a tour of the Warner Brothers Studio Lot in Burbank. I was able to find something we had never done before, which, given our voracious appetite for activities in LA, was miraculous.

We were impressed with the quality of the tour at Warner Brothers. There was a lot to see and do. Our tour guide was animated and made the tour great fun. We visited the back lot where there were sets from many familiar shows and movies, both old and new. We also visited a working soundstage for the show All American, which was fascinating. Friends, Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones had a large presence on the lot. There were also many great old-time costumes from movies such as My Fair Lady and Casablanca, to name a few. We even got to hold a real Oscar, weighing in at eight pounds! No wonder all the winners comment on its hefty weight. Check out the tour here:

After the tour, we returned to our new favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner, Don Cuco, which happened to be a few blocks away from the studio. It was a great day and start to Garin's celebration.

On Sunday, we were up bright and early to start our day at the Petersen Automotive Museum, always a favorite! Although we have visited the museum previously, there are several new exhibits we had not seen, all of which we were eager to see.

The first exhibit we visited was the brand-new Porsche exhibit, which opened that very day and will run for a year. The exhibit was phenomenal, with a broad range of cars to ogle at and lots of fascinating information to read. I learned a lot, not only about the Porsche company but also about the rise of sports cars in the United States in the early days, particularly in Southern California. where they were most popular, not surprisingly. The cars on display were impeccable and stunning. One of my favorites, no surprise, was the Porsche featured in Top Gun Maverick, recently. The car was set with a backdrop of the movie, as well as information on the black Speedster that was featured in the original Top Gun movie and driven by Charlie Blackwood, Maverick's love interest. Check out the exhibit here:

Next, we moved on to Hypercars 2, The Allure of the Extreme, exhibit. This is how the Petersen Museum describes a hypercar, " The definition is elusive and debatable. Metrics frequently associated with the hypercar include excessive top speed, upwards of 200 miles per hour; an abundance of horsepower, approaching or surpassing 1,000; rarity, with less than a few hundred units produced; and a price tag exceeding one million dollars. But none of these things alone, or even combined, definitively make a vehicle a hypercar. There is also an exotic look and a bespoke luxury that can bring the moniker to bear on an automobile." All I know is that they were really cool, with some pricetags in excess of $6 million! Check out this exhibit here:

Before a lunch break, we headed to the exhibit, Inside Tesla, Supercharging the Electric Revolution. This exhibit was completely different from the two previous exhibits but equally fascinating. This exhibit delved into the history of electric cars in our country, eventually showing how Tesla made the industry what it is today. The exhibit also offered fascinating glimpses into the future of electric vehicles (Tesla's futuristic pickup truck and semi-truck prototypes were both on display) Check out the exhibit here:

I captured Catherine in front of the life-size prototype of the futuristic Tesla Semi-truck cab, which was parked at the entrance to the Museum. How cool is that?

With the weather so perfect, we opted to exit the museum for lunch. We walked the block or so to LACMA (Los Angeles Country Museum of Art) to eat lunch at Ray's and Stark Bar, which we always enjoy. Gourmet pizzas and salads were just what we needed to refuel our tanks before heading back to the Petersen for the afternoon to finish our visit, at the much coveted, Vault.

I have wanted to tour The Vault for as long as I can remember. However, they don't allow young children, due to the rarity of the cars, so this was our first opportunity to visit. We were so excited! The Vault features 250 cars spanning 120 years of automotive history and was well worth the wait! We saw Fred Astaire's stunning bespoke Rolls Royce, a real Pope mobile, the Silver Cloud Rolls Royce that drove Bobby Kennedy to the Ambassador Hotel on that fateful evening in June of 1968, Nikita Kruschev's official limousine, the bright yellow VW bus from Little Miss Sunshine (one of my favorite movies), the aqua Thunderbird from Thelma and Louise, and so much more. I could have spent the entire day lingering over these cars. Check out the exhibit here:

Garin chose a science theme this year for his birthday. Very apropos, Garin! He also chose pizza for dinner, which let me off the hook for cooking that evening. Nice gesture, Garin! Although, I still made a delicious and authentic homemade Ceasar salad (with freshly cooked warm croutons and anchovy dressing) to accompany the two gourmet pizzas (Pesto marinated Japanese eggplant and goat cheese; and the San Remo with fresh tomatoes, garlic, fontina cheese, and spicy shrimp). The dessert was a Black Forest cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. Garin received lots of great cards, gifts, and cash. He was a happy boy!

Here is Garin's official 15th-year birthday portrait, which he was kind enough to sit for the day after the celebrations had concluded. Thank you, Garin! May you always be such a good sport.

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