I can't say that enough. So much fun, and it was fantastic meeting everyone that I've been going to school with for the last two years online!
It's a bit surreal meeting everyone, you are use to seeing them in this tiny box from their web cam, then in real life you almost doubt if you really think that's the person you think it is! But it was great putting real faces to the tiny avatars!
The Graduation weekend started on Friday, July 10th, which Animation Mentor held a open house and a job fair! Open house was a lot of fun, it was really cool to see where a lot of the magic takes place to make such a great school run!! The students will sometime have "Office hour visits" on the school through the web cam, but it was really nice to meet the people behind the scenes that have been helping us out over the years! Saturday was the big day; graduation, then celebration time! And Sunday was the AM BBQ!!
The graduation ceremony was awesome, classes 11 & 12, I think a total of... at least 120 students?? More?. I think it was AM's biggest classes to graduate thus far. AM had a special guest speaker for the grads, which was Dave Burgess!! Super cool guy! I remember attending Siggraph last year and he was at one of the panels speaking. Also ran into him at DreamWorks when I visited!
I arrived in San Fran on the 8th along with my friends Emanuel Almer, Ana Cunha and her friend Dianna. E (Emanuel) traveled from Austria and the girls traveled up from Brazil! We had set up a 17 day vacation from graduation. The couple days before the AM festivities kicked off we toured around SF!! Trying food out, E was able to have steak and eggs for breakfast for the first time (which we ended up getting for 4-5 days in a row!! mmmmm) We had an Alcatraz tour which was pretty fun, walked around China Town!
I wound up making a new partner in crime while I was visiting SF!! Bridget is her name and walkin' is her game - haha :P. When I travel I love to just walk, and see where my feet will take me. It's so much fun because it's usually during these times you find some of the best experiences. Apart of the old cliche, it's about the journey not the destination. Turns out Bridget loves doing that too! So after the BBQ on Sunday she took me on a tour of the city, we walked about 7-8 miles I think? Maybe? Not sure, but it was one hell of a work out! . I was crazy enough to run up a few of the steepest streets while I was out there.
So after a great time in SF, me and the gang (Emanuel, Ana, and Di) set off to drive the coast to LA! We stopped at quite a few places on are way down, first up was Monterey; we caught the sunset there! super pretty btw.
Continued on to: Carmel Beach, Big Sur, ((we stopped to check out some Elephant Seals relaxing)) Pismo Beach, then stopped over at Santa Barbara (caught another sunset!!) Then we made it into Santa Monica/ Venice area, which is where we stayed for about a week!
While we were out there we played at the beach, visited Blur Studios, and DreamWorks, I was able to meet up with one of the best Mentors EVER! Mark Pudleiner, had some sushi with him. I had the great pleasure of learning from Mark in Class 1 and Class 5. At DreamWorks Ana and I met are class 6 mentor Sean Sexton!! Again one of the best mentors to have and his class was fantastic. At graduation I was able to meet up with Jay Jackson and he was my class 4 mentor! I unfortunately missed Michelle Meeker she was my class 2 Mentor!!
While out at the beach in Venice, Emanuel and I worked out at Muscle Beach!! We are both into fitness and have both wanted to visit. That was a lot of fun, but a bit extreme in the heat! :D
We ended up extending are stay in LA an extra day and I was able to drive up to Ventura and see an old friend and mentor of mine! Emanuel came up with me and we went sailing! It was my first time ever going sailing and I loved it, I ended up taking over the reigns and sailed us around the Pacific for a while. Once we came back into port, Emanuel and I went Kayaking!! And that was a blast! We ended up seeing a dolphin and some sea lions. E, was hoping to see a shark, but no luck! :( lol.
The following day the gang and I went to DISNEYLAND!!!! SO, so cool! I hadn't been there since I was a lil fella, maybe 2 years old? But I felt like a 6 year old all over again!! E and I ran all over that place. We purchased the park hopper pass and we went on just about every ride in California Adventure! Then about afternoon time we ran over to Disneyland! We didn't get to go on as many rides but we took as many photos with the characters as we could! We were hell bent on getting a photo with Mickey so we waited about an hour to do so.
FYI for anyone that will be going to Disney MUST, this is a BIG MUST: ride Indiana Jones ride and do the Toy Story Mania ride. Coolest experience!!
After LA, we hit the road again to Vegas! Vegas baby, VEGAS! lol. Vegas is definitely a place you go for just a couple days and that's it. While we were in Vegas, E and I won some money and we went on a Helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon!! I had never gambled before and I think E and I both got lucky!!
I use to be terrified of heights, like looking out the window from a building would start to make me feel uneasy. So maybe a couple years ago, the thought of a helicopter ride would be like "NO WAY!!" But I enjoyed the hell out of it. We flew over the Hoover Damn, then landed near the Colorado River for some refreshments then headed back home. But if anyone reading this gets the chance to go on a helicopter they should!!
It's very hard for me to point my finger on, what was the best part of my trip. It feels like I had many "cherries on top" for each day. Always something new. For San Fran it was finally meeting everyone and seeing the city non-tourist style. The coast drive in itself was incredible, visiting the studios, body surfing, playing in the sand, sailing, Disneyland, and the helicopter ride! Hell the whole freaking trip was phenomenal!
And it was very needed, last couple years have been rough, and I've had my nose down going 150% Rarely being outside or just spending time away from a computer. (which I do NOT recommend lol get some sun)
It was fantastic meeting everyone from AM, I wish everyone the best!! And to Emanuel, Ana, and Di thanks for a memorable trip!
--If you want to see more photos, add me on facebook!