Proud Bird Restaurant

by Wendy Purdy

Do you love planes? Do your kids love planes? Would they enjoy an up-close view of planes landing at or taking off from Los Angeles International Airport? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, have I got a restaurant for you: Proud Bird...just down the street from Los Angeles Air Force Base.

Plane display

I would definitely classify the Proud Bird as a theme restaurant. In addition to the fantastic view of the LAX runways, it offers a large outdoor display area featuring different types of aircraft. Holly and I closely inspected several of them. Signs stationed around the area instruct you not to climb on the planes.

Inside the Restaurant

The back of the restaurant features floor-to-ceiling glass windows so you can watch the LAX traffic while you eat. Outdoor patio seating is also available. In addition to the main dining area, the restaurant contains a bar section and rooms that can be rented for special events. Perhaps the best interior features, though, are the numerous displays recounting aviation and space history. I didn't have time to look at all the displays, but the Tuskegee Airmen and Space X sections were very interesting.

The Food

It seems a little odd to write about a restaurant and talk about the food near the end. So, I will repeat that the food, at least for me, is not the main draw. Proud Bird operates in a "food court" arrangement. You can order several different types of food divided between two stations. You place your order and receive a buzzer that will alert you when the food is ready. Personally, I ordered the chicken and waffles. The chicken was tasty, but the waffles were a tad cold. Since the butter was also cold, I faced quite the dilemma in spreading it appropriately. The folks in the group who ordered barbecue enjoyed their selections, and Holly reported that her pizza was good.


Jalama Beach

by Wendy Purdy

Although I shun swimming in the frigid Pacific Ocean, I do enjoy visiting beaches to relax, listen to the waves and breathe some fresh air. The girls and I found a wonderful secluded beach in Santa Barbara County, near Lompoc, where we found it easy to accomplish all these goals: Jalama Beach.

While the girls trekked down the sand seeking treasure for their big red bucket, I opted to just relax in a chair and read a good book. The waves were fairly active that day, so a handful of surfers entertained us as well. We stayed on the beach itself for about two hours, just enjoying the respite from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Scroll through our beach gallery and then continue reading about the "World-Famous Jalama Burger."

Jalama Beach Store

After we gathered our gear, we visited the Jalama Beach Store for lunch. Because of the on-site campground, this store offers a wide range of products. Many people, though, order food at the small cafe inside, which prides itself on the "World Famous Jalama Burger." I couldn't pass that by, of course, so I ordered this while the girls selected other items. We chose to eat in the "indoor deck" and continued to enjoy the fantastic view.

Making your way

Why does Jalama Beach remain so secluded? Possibly because people must traverse a 14-mile two-lane, narrow, winding, hilly road in order to reach it. If you decide to visit, I suggest you use the restroom and don your "patience pants" before you embark on the journey. A great probability exists that you will find yourself behind a recreational vehicle at some point (as we did on our return trip). The road does not contain any stretch conducive to passing. So, if you are in a hurry and need to be somewhere at a certain time, I suggest you plan accordingly or delay your visit to another day. As mentioned before, we saw RV and regular campsites, as well as a few cabins, available for folks who want to spend more than one day at this beautiful location.

Solvang, California

by Wendy Purdy

When Stephen recently visited Vandenberg Air Force Base on a business trip, the girls and I grasped the opportunity to escape Los Angeles for a few days. We used the base's temporary living facility for lodging and explored several sites in the area. Of course, we knew we needed to visit Solvang as Christmas was just a few weeks away, and this town contains many unique shops.

With only the morning to explore, we accepted the fact that we needed to confine our wanderings to a small area. We parked on Alisal Road and strolled around that road and a couple of blocks of Copenhagen Drive.

The town's Danish heritage greatly influences the architecture and spirit of the town. As the girls noted, it truly feels as though you are walking around in a fairy tale. Watch the slide show below for a taste of the atmosphere....

We did manage to purchase a few items, for others as well as ourselves. Our favorite stops included Rasmussen's, The Copenhagen House, H and P Vinhus and Ingeborg's. I don't want to spoil anyone's Christmas surprise, so I will display photos of some other intriguing items we saw here:

Of course, all this shopping requires energy. Dining options abound, but we limited our consumption to a couple of snacks as we expected to eat a large dinner that evening.

Our first treat came from the Solvang Bakery, where Holly and I shared a cream cheese Danish and Taylor selected a gingerbread man. We also ordered from their varied selection of hot drinks.

When we finished our shopping, we visited the Solvang Restaurant to share some aebleskivers and Danish sausage. We finished the sausage at the restaurant, but we took a few of the pastries back to our lodging. They warmed nicely in the microwave when we wanted a quick snack later in our trip.

Upon returning to our vehicle, we discovered the nice shopkeeper at H and P Vinhus had left a surprise for the girls: two Advent calendars that included a treat for each day leading up to Christmas.

With our shopping completed, we decided to drive to the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art. The museum features several permanent exhibits about Solvang's history, including a fantastic diorama of the town from the past. The art gallery contains rotating exhibits. When we visited, it displayed Christmas card art by Eyvind Earle. The girls and I thought his style seemed familiar...then we discovered he painted the diorama backgrounds in Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty no wonder!! We've seen those a few dozen times.

To our surprise and delight...we received a reminder of an excellent book we read in the course of our studies, "The Wheel on the School." Set in Denmark, of course, the book tells the adventures of a group of children who seek to bring good luck to their town by luring some storks to build a nest on the school roof. Our trip came full "circle" as we started with fairy tales and ended with one of our favorite school stories.






Clever Squirrel

by Wendy Purdy

Those clever squirrels always find a way. Holly painted a bird feeder and proudly placed it in our backyard. Of course, the birds never had a chance.

George F. Canyon Nature Center and Preserve

by Wendy Purdy

The PurdyCool gang recently participated in a free interpretive nature walk at the George F. Canyon Nature Center and Preserve. The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy sponsors these walks the second Saturday of each month at various locations around the area. Hikers on this trail can park either at the nature center itself or in a lot next to the trailhead.

Our guided walk began at 9 a.m., so after signing in with event organizers, we proceeded down the trail with our guide, Russ. This particular trail was about 1.5 miles total in an "out and back" layout (meaning you walk to the end and then double-back to the beginning.) I would estimate 75 percent of the trail was an easy, flat hike, with the remaining 25 percent on a moderate incline (uphill on the "out" portion...downhill on the "back").

On the "out" portion of the trip, Russ stopped frequently to teach us about various plants, rocks, animals and canyon history. Of course, leave it to me to ask about a dangerous plant along the trail: the castor oil plant. We also saw some of the peninsula's rare Catalina Schist ...a very pretty turquoise rock. We walked fairly steadily on the "back" portion of the trip, usually only stopping when one of the participants wanted to ask a question.

Our hike lasted almost two hours. After it finished, we decided to visit the small nature center. The main portion of the building includes a few live critter exhibits, a large insect collection in pull-out drawers and a couple of microscopes with slides for exploration. Restrooms with really cute murals are also available.

The nature center is located at 27305 Palos Verdes Dr. East in Rolling Hills Estates. Basically, it's at the intersection of Palos Verdes Drives North and East. Hours at the nature center are 1-4 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. According to its brochure, the center also offers first Saturday family hikes (free, 9 a.m.). fourth Wednesday bird walks (free, 8:30 a.m.) and monthly full moon hikes ($12/person, ages 9 and up). For more information on this center and other peninsula trails, visit the Pals Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy page at



By Wendy Purdy

Stephen and I recently dined at 3BBQ, a new Mongolian BBQ place at 29050 S. Western Ave. (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.). Overall, we enjoyed our experience and plan to return. The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily.

Across from the south end of the Terraces

Across from the south end of the Terraces

If you plan to eat at the restaurant, the procedure might seem a little confusing at first. On the day we visited, the host seated us at a table and presented an order slip for us to complete. Since we both wanted to order the single lunch bowl along with water, the slip was easy for us to decipher. However, if you plan to order different items from the menu, or one of the many drink selections, you might need some assistance.

After completing our slip, we began building our BBQ bowls. Numerous meats, vegetables and sauces are available for customizing your bowl. Noodles are also included on the bar in case you want these along with the included steamed rice.

Tip: The bowls are narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. So, I placed my noodles and vegetables in the bowl first, and then the meat. The weight of the meat compresses the veggies, and the additional surface area at the top allows you to pile on a few additional pieces of meat.

Delicate balancing act

Delicate balancing act

After you complete your BBQ masterpiece, you hand your bowl over to the expert chef, who grills everything on a large, flat, super-hot surface. Along with the steamed rice, you also receive a spring roll and a small serving of hot-and-sour soup with your bowl.

Almost ready....

Almost ready....

If the quality of food and service remain at today's level or even higher, I suspect this restaurant will enter our regular rotation of local eateries.

Rise Baking: Banana Pudding with Vanilla Cake

by Wendy Purdy

Holly decided to order a baking box with some of her birthday money. I decided to place this video on "Family Fireplace" because it was a true group endeavor. Holly baked the dessert, Mom served as videographer, Taylor completed the editing, and Daddy ate the dessert. HAHA!! We all shared the dessert. Holly loves to watch the Great British Baking Show and thought this Rise Baking box would give her a good introduction to the baking world.

Kitchen Invasion - Marvel Loot Crate

by Wendy Purdy

Loot Crate offers a bi-monthly subscription box that features items from the Marvel Universe. As it happens, this month's box contained items that the whole family will use while cooking and eating. We are not deep into reading the comics, so we were not familiar with some of the characters included in this box. However, since all the items are useful and not just display pieces, this fact did not matter so much.

El Capitan Theater and Ghirardelli

by Wendy Purdy

The PurdyCool gang recently journeyed to the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood to watch a 4D presentation of a favorite flick: "The Nightmare Before Christmas." After parking in the Hollywood and Highland garage (for which the El Capitan validates), we spent a few minutes perusing the "Walk of Fame" while waiting for the theater doors to open.

Holly and Taylor...ready for the show

Holly and Taylor...ready for the show

This theater, owned by Disney, often serves as the site for their movie premieres. It also offers special exhibits and events featuring both new and old movies. However, one cast member told us this annual showing of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is the only "4D" movie currently in rotation. So, what makes the presentation 4D? Unlike some of the 4D offerings in the parks, you don't have to worry about squirting water, stinging benches or interesting odors. The 4D effects in this show mostly relate to special lighting and fog effects employed in the theater. (Be sure and check out Sally's innovative method of stealing popcorn in the poster below.)

As we settled into our front-row balcony seats, we received a surprise when a Wurlitzer organ slowly rose to the stage in front of the screen. The organist then treated us to a concert featuring both traditional Disney and Halloween tunes. We ordered our tickets on-line and chose the VIP option that included a commemorative bucket of popcorn and a drink, so we proceeded to enjoy these while listening to the music.

Of course, we all enjoyed watching one of our favorite movies on the big screen. Since we attended the earliest showing on a Thursday, the theater was not at all crowded. Thus, we did not feel too shy about singing along with the film's musical numbers. When the movie ended, we decided to follow our popcorn lunch with a treat at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain located next door.

This Ghirardelli location seems to have an identical menu to the location in California Adventure. Through the years, we've managed to enjoy several different treats. Stephen and Taylor have settled on favorite sundaes, while I am still on a quest to eat my way through the menu. Holly, who perhaps has a better grip on her ice cream limitations than the rest of us, usually just gets a scoop of cookies and cream. Just in case you are wondering, though, here's some more detailed information on our sundaes:

*Midnight Reverie: Chocolate ice cream, handmade dark chocolate hot fudge, mini semisweet chocolate chips, whipped cream and an Intense Dark 72% Twilight Delight chocolate.

*Mint Bliss: Mint chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream, topped with handmade dark chocolate hot fudge, whipped cream and an Intense Dark 72% Twilight Delight chocolate.

*Cookie Bits Sundae: Vanilla ice cream nestled between cookies and cream ice cream, smothered with handmade hot fudge. Topped with whipped cream, chocolate chip cookie crumbles and two milk chocolate caramel minis.

After we finished our ice cream, we were stuffed and ready to go home.

Big Bear Lake, California

by Wendy Purdy

The PurdyCool gang recently visited Big Bear Lake, Calif., in conjunction with several members of our church family from Ocean View Baptist Church in San Pedro, Calif. While the girls "roughed it" with their fellow junior high students at the Serrano Campground, Stephen and I chose to pursue separate accommodations and dining experiences while joining the group for a few activities.


Castle Rock

Several adults and junior high students trekked to the top of local landmark "Castle Rock." Though not a particularly long hike, the rapid altitude increase provided a sufficient challenge. I was certainly glad we made the attempt before the heat of the day arrived. If you decide to make this hike, I suggest wearing shoes with extremely good traction and packing plenty of water.

Around the Lake

Big Bear Lake seems to be shrinking; I can only assume due to the drought conditions in this area of California. Even though we've never visited before, it was clear the lake has receded drastically (the houses with unintentional "dry docks" gave us one clue). However, plenty of opportunities still exist for fun in the water. We joined our church family on the "beach" next to the Carol Morrison Public Launch Ramp. Taylor and Holly swam and paddled around in a kayak while Stephen and I relaxed in the shade and watched. The next day, Stephen and I walked down a trail next to the Serrano Campground and found ourselves in an obvious dried-up area of lake bed. We noted some unusual finds: lost tennis shoes, fishing equipment and fish skeletons (which brought back fond memories of the first instance we really spent time together).

The Village

Big Bear Village contains a few square blocks of shops, restaurants and entertainment establishments. Stephen and I spent a couple of hours wandering the area on our own and returned later with the church group. You could spend quite a bit of money, COULD just catch a whole lot of Pokemon....the place is lousy with PokeStops and people seemed to constantly place lures on them.

Our friends Aly, Bethany and Emily Kilduff join Holly in posing with the horse-drawn carriage available for hire in The Village.

Our friends Aly, Bethany and Emily Kilduff join Holly in posing with the horse-drawn carriage available for hire in The Village.


Stephen and I visited four restaurants for breakfast and dinner during the course of our stay. We enjoyed the food at each, but the two breakfast places definitely took top honors. If you would like to watch an in-depth report on these establishments, please click and watch the YouTube review video. Featured restaurants are Grizzly Manor, The Pines, North Shore Cafe and Big Bear Lake Brewing Company.


As mentioned earlier, Stephen and I chose to forego sleeping on the ground and opted for a tad more comfortable situation. We decided to stay in one of "Cathy's Cottages." Our particular room featured a king-size bed, jetted bathtub, a fireplace and plenty of space. Just a note of warning: The rooms do not include air conditioning. With the cool mountain air, the window and ceiling fans were more than sufficient for our needs.

Overall, we enjoyed our trip and wouldn't mind visiting again if the opportunity arises. Winter sports enthusiasts might want to look into the activities available during the colder part of the year. I imagine we will restrict any future visits to those times we know the winding mountain road leading to the lake will be passable.




Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Barbecue

by Wendy Purdy

As "Texas folks" living in Southern California, we sometimes develop a craving for one of the Lone Star State's major food groups. Of course, barbecue often tops that list. Since our favorite BBQ food truck seems to have disappeared, I was excited to read an article about Texas-style BBQ places in the Los Angeles area. We were able to eat at one of these restaurants, Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas Barbecue, during a recent road trip. You can find information on hours, location and menu at the joint's Web site here.

We filmed an on-site review:


Now...for a more in-depth look at our dishes:

Beef Brisket and Texas Style Hot Links with Baked Beans and French Fries

Beef Brisket and Texas Style Hot Links with Baked Beans and French Fries

Stephen enjoyed the entire dish...with the exception of the sausage. He found the flavor leaning more toward a traditional German sausage than the hot links he's used to eating at Texas BBQ joints.

Sliced Beef Brisket Sandwich with Macaroni Salad

Sliced Beef Brisket Sandwich with Macaroni Salad

Wendy's meal was a little smaller, but definitely filling. The sandwich featured a nice, spongy bread and decent brisket. The macaroni salad was also tasty, but she was so full from the sandwich she only ate a few bites.

Beef ribs "a la carte"

Beef ribs "a la carte"

Beef ribs are a rare find in the area, so the girls decided to share five between them. Of course, they couldn't eat them all, so Stephen gave them a little help. Taylor said they were pretty good.

As a general rule, barbecue in California is more expensive than barbecue in Texas, so be prepared to pay a little more than you might expect if you are visiting from out-of-state. Overall, if you are in the Van Nuys area and have a craving for barbecue, Dr. Hogly Wogly's is worth a visit.

Autopia at Disneyland

by Wendy Purdy

Join the PurdyCool gang on a time-lapse tour around Disneyland's Autopia attraction. This amusing, fun-for-all-ages ride also provides a hint of history as well, since it opened along with the park back in 1955. On this particular trip, the Purdy Girls ended up with the dull brown sedan, while the Purdy Parents obtained a red-hot sports car!! HAHA!!

Dragons and Star Wars - March 2016 Awesome Pack

By Wendy Purdy

We finally received our March Awesome Pack. The company did contact us to let us know to expect a delay due to shipping problems on its end. Anyway, this month's pack was worth the wait. We've already played the Dragonwood game and enjoyed it immensely. Also, the girls wore their new pins to Disneyland on our last trip.