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That’s Amazing! Huell Howser Archives

Today’s episode “That’s Amazing! Huell Howser Archives” is on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Today we visit the Chapman University exhibit of the archives of broadcaster Huell Howser, of “California’s Gold” PBS fame. If you don’t recall the name, you’ll probably remember the face: iconic sunglasses perched on a pleasant tan visage, cheerful smile (with perfect teeth), all solidly topped by steely (and precisely) cropped hair. There’s that linebacker build, those muscular arms and barrel chest, clad in a Polo or button-down short-sleeved shirt and a pair of chinos (or shorts). He looked like he should be playing football on a beach somewhere in Southern California. You know. HUELL HOWSER. Ok. Well, then, the voice will jolt you back to memory lane…you didn’t expect it when you saw him, but as soon as you heard his Grand Ol’ Opry Nashville roots “That’s amazing!” catchphrase, you couldn’t help be settle down for a homestyle good time as Huell presented – with all his heart and soul – his latest find somewhere in the state of California.

Kym finds Huell’s catchphrase. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s in California you would have to work pretty hard to miss seeing a Huell Howser human interest piece. At one point his shows aired 6 nights a week on KCET, with over a million viewers, including overseas military via the American Forces Radio and Television Services. If you weren’t learning about the next hidden gem in “California’s Gold” you could be “Visiting…With Huell Howser,” taking a “Road Trip With Huell Howser,” learn about all the county fairs, parks, and vast coastline in “California’s Golden Fairs,” “California’s Golden Parks,” and, you guessed it, “California’s Golden Coast.” Huell may have originally hailed from Nashville, TN, and even worked in New York for CBS and CNN for awhile…but when he landed in Los Angeles, CA, in 1980, broadcast gold was made. Forever.

The world became a bit less bright, and definitely less amazing on 7 January 2013 when 67 year old Huell succumbed to the prostate cancer he’d been privately battling. After he was diagnosed with cancer, he began making arrangements to leave over 5,000 videos of raw and edited footage as well as show notes, personal papers, knickknacks, mementos, books, art and furniture to Chapman University in Orange, CA, which was finalized in 2012. He never got to see the exhibit as it is today, which he originally intended to just be a donation for digital archival purposes. He had no idea his death would lead hundreds of loyal fans searching for his much-needed goodness to traipse into the Chapman University library, disrupting students’ studies to view the lobby displays of his legacy. University top-brass took note and (thankfully) dedicated a permanent archival exhibit just one floor down in what is now known as the California’s Gold Exhibit and Huell Howser Archives.

So. That’s where we went Saturday (Leap Day!) with our trusty Tascom digital recorder. Oh… yeah. Well, Kris hasn’t learned the ins and outs of recording on the fly with the digi handheld. So, sound quality is a bit…meh, BUT! It’s real, it’s raw…just like our morning walk episode, you’ll feel like you’re right there with us as we descend the echoey stairs in search of the archive only to discover Huell’s AMAZING industrial found art…seriously. Probably the best thing we learned that day – and there were a LOT of a-ha moments – was that the man saw beauty in EVERYTHING. He took junkyard scraps and transformed them into gallery-quality art pieces and functional furniture that he kept in all his houses (yep, plural…including a Volcano Rock House).

Walking through the door of room B11, the first thing you notice is the prominent “THAT’S AMAZING!” photo of Huell greeting you. At your feet, the black floor contains a large white outline of the state of California with labels overlapping each other pinpointing name after name after name AFTER NAME of alllllll the towns Huell visited and showcased over the years.

That 70’s Huell with Porky the Pig and family. This is the segment that started the magic back in Nashville.

Along the wall is a timeline mural and in the center of the room are thick columns – all of this covered with photos and blurbs about all the wild, whimsical and wonderful characters Huell met along the way. You can see what his office looked like – right down to the hand-drawn calendar, and the homemade coffee mug used as a pen holder. And right there right in front of you is The Camera. Yep, the one Luis Fuerte used to film all the episodes of “California’s Gold.” In the Artifact Room there are displays of personal items from childhood (Boy Scouts handbook, a miniature pop gun), broadcasting gear such as his camera bag from his early days in Nashville, favorite baseball hats (the SPAM hat is the best), art and findings from his travels, a boatload of books, and even an original John Romita hand-drawn comic of Huell meeting Stan Lee.

And because we’re kind of getting the hang of this interview stuff, we took advantage of being the only visitors left in the room, and asked the resident pro, John Carlo, Archivist, if we could pick his brain and man, he was a wealth of knowledge. So BONUS! You don’t have to listen to us gab for 45 minutes like we usually do. If you visit the archives, DEFINITELY see if John is available to chat you up.

So, folks, if you remember Huell fondly, we hope you enjoy this episode. Yes, we realize we did a poor imitation of Huell’s accent too many times (KRIS), but rest assured, we did it out of pure joy and love for the man, never, ever as ridicule. And of course, we unironically say, “That’s Amazing!” all throughout the episode because the archives truly are…amazing.

It’s fitting that the man who spent 30+ years highlighting little-known, quirky treasures up and down the state of California would inspire exactly the kind of place he avidly searched for and shared with the world. We can almost hear Huell walking down those stairs, stopping often with Southern-boy giddiness, asking Luis, “did you get that?” as he wanders and wonders through the three-room hidden gem showcasing his life.

If you’re local or visiting Southern California, you can’t miss a visit to Old Orange. If you want to visit the archives (Yes. Yes you do.) they are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. You might want to call ahead just in case to be sure the archive isn’t closed for a special event. Large groups can call ahead to make arrangements with the archivist. The displays rotate some items every few months, so multiple visits are totally necessary.

Leatherby Libraries building, Chapman University, Orange, CA.

Chapman University is just north of the circle (The Plaza) on Glassell. You can park in the lower level of the parking garage off Walnut street (at the time of this writing you can get 4 hours for $3) or you can find a spot in one of the many parking lots in the area (and another new parking structure off Chapman near Ruby’s). That means you can enjoy the neighborhood as you make your way to the school. Just be very careful if you want to try your luck parking on the street. There’s some funky rules about who can park where, and if you park in the wrong place without a parking permit, the fine will set you back over $30 (uh…last time Kris checked, about 6 years ago that was the going price for not paying attention to her surroundings…so it’s likely the fines have gone up). Just watch for the signs. Leatherby Libraries (yep, not library, it’s plural) is right next to the field. To access the archives, take the stairs or the elevator to the basement (not gloomy whatsoever…true story) and you’ll find yourself face to face with that smiling photo of Huell.

When you’re finished with those archives, be sure to check out the Center for American War Letters Archives display near the entrance to the Huell Howser Archives. Each month they highlight the service of a soldier, sailor, marine or homefront warrior, displaying letters and other personal ephemera. The actual archives room has the same hours as the Huell Howser Archives, and their entrance is to the immediate left of the stairway.

To rejuvenate after you visit with Huell, Old Orange is chock full of delicious restaurants, antique stores and small shops selling art, pottery, home goods, comic books, vintage clothes, and toys. There’s even TWO Starbucks.

We urge you to visit the archives. And we urge you to watch reruns of Huell’s shows. This world needs more Huells…we need more unabashed joy in the adventure of discovery and human connection.

Today’s episode is released twice: in audio-only mp3 format AND in an image-enhanced mp4 format. Not all podcast apps support enhanced podcasts (Spotify, for instance), and we discovered if we only release an enhanced episode, it’s not that the images don’t show up, the entire episode won’t publish to that platform! So…two versions it is. If you are interested in viewing the images while listening, you can go to your app store and download Apple Podcasts, Overcast, or Pocketcast. We’re not sure if Google Play or Stitcher support enhanced shows, so let us know if you listen on those platforms and can view the photos.

As an added bonus, here’s some of the images we share on the episode today:

The anteroom of the Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
The memento cabinet housing some of Huell’s favorite gifts and mementos.
The camera used to film “California’s Gold”. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell’s tape viewing desk. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell shoveling sauerkraut. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell’s Herald’s of Peace Torch, 1996 Olympics, Los Angeles, CA. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell, Nita the Elephant, and Charlie. This was Huell’s favorite segment in all his years of broadcasting. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell got Simpsonized. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
John Romita’s personalized drawing of Huell and Stan Lee. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Huell’s 1957 copy of the Boy Scouts Handbook for Boys. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
A fine example of the industrial art Huell loved. Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.
Some of Huell’s books and mementos in the artifacts room of the Huell Howser Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, Orange, CA.

Check out The Mugly Truth Podcast’s episode “That’s Amazing! Huell Howser Archives, regular and enhanced versions, on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2020 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2020. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com.

All photos are courtesy Kym Wagner and Kris Core. All rights reserved.

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So You Think You Know Christmas

Today’s episode “So You Think You Know Christmas” is on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

We’re back at it! This week we come fully loaded with a stocking-full of questions to test your knowledge of Christmas. From obscure historic mandates to current trends, we have enough trivia to make you the king or queen of your next holiday gathering. Throw out any of these ice-breakers and you’re sure to have everyone’s attention. We even tried to keep this one relatively PG(13) so it might be ok to include grandma, grandpa, and the little-ish ones. Go on. You know you want to play along.

Once you’ve got your fill of all the fun facts in today’s episode, come on back here and click the links to find even more. You’ll end out the year feeling like you have a PhD in Holidayology.

Have fun, enjoy learning some things you might not have known before, and please definitely comment below or contact us through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (links below) to let us know how you did! Better yet, let us know if you have more to add.

Thank you for joining us. Check out The Mugly Truth Podcast’s episode “So You Think You Know Christmas“ on  iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2019 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2019. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com.

Featured Photo of Santa Claus by cottonbro on Pexels.com.

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San Juan Capistrano: History & Hauntings

Today’s episode “San Juan Capistrano: History & Hauntings” is on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Happy First Day of October everyone! Can you believe Fall is here? Football games are in full swing, baseball is winding up, leaves are turning…even in wacky Southern California we have had glimpses of Fall weather here and there. We’re ringing in the eerie days of October bright and early for you with today’s episode. We met up with our favorite local ghost tour company, Haunted Orange County, for another fun evening filled with rich history and lots of haunted stories replete with bandits, banshees and faceless monks. Our amazing guide, Charles (you’ll remember him from last year’s episode “Haunted Orange“) was in splendid guide mode as we walked through the quaint and über-historic town of San Juan Capistrano.

If you don’t live in this area, chances are you may still have heard about San Juan Capistrano. It’s famous for two things: 1) Mission San Juan Capistrano and 2) the swallows returning to town every year in March. If you live in Orange County – or even Southern California – something’s for certain: you either took a school tour of the Mission in elementary school and/or you had to do some kind of report on the Missions of California that probably included some form of construction project you proudly (or not) carried into your classroom to display along all the other renditions of Missions of our lovely state.

Let the adventures begin! Haunted Orange County’s Ghost Walk Tour of San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

Having lived in Orange County, CA, all our lives, we never thought beyond the Mission when San Juan Capistrano is mentioned. Pity, that. It’s a fantastic town so full of history we could do a month or two of podcasts on downtown alone. We are grateful to Charles and Haunted Orange County for helping us see beyond the mission walls.

We showed up for our tour about an hour early and tried to get a “quick” bite to eat at Trevor’s by the Tracks restaurant. We waited in line for almost 10 minutes before hearing the hostess tell the couple ahead of us there was an hour wait for first available. Rats. While there are other less crowded restaurants in the same space, we trotted ourselves over to our old stand-by: Starbucks. After coffee and a sous vide egg bites (YUM), we headed back to the meeting point, checked in with Charles and after the (very loud) train pulled away, we crossed the tracks into another world. In fact, this is the interval sound effect we used in this episode. It was very exciting to experience the train pulling in and then departing. The energy of people going places…travelling…IT’S SO COOL!

Hummingbird House Cafe, San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

If you haven’t been to Los Rios District of San Juan Capistrano, and you’re in the area, you must make this part of your adventure. Park in the parking structure next to the tracks (or in some of the other lots across the main street near the park), and as you walk toward the tracks, notice the tiny building which used to be the home of a very stubborn young woman.(Charles told this story, but you’ll have to hear it from him in person, since we only include highlights of his tour in today’s episode). It is now the Hummingbird House Cafe (Kris can attest to their delicious food from previous trips). As you cross the tracks, feel yourself melt into the past in this magical, relaxing street (which happens to be a working residential street so do watch out for cars which seem very incongruous in this setting). This street is the longest-occupied residential street in California, with houses dating back to the 1700’s. The oldest continual residence since then – lived in by the same family – is the Rios Adobe, now home and law office to Mr. Stephen Rios, Esquire. It is also, according to Charles, quite haunted.

Rios House. This home is still occupied by direct descendents of the Rios family who have lived here continuously since 1700s. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

Turning to your right, there are many little homes converted to businesses – mostly cafes and colorful shops bursting with trinkets and artsy wares, and a tea house if you want to get your high tea on. But be sure to visit the Montanez Adobe with it’s lovely butterfly sanctuary out front. It’s not a walk-in tour, so you’ll have to call the museum ahead of time to go inside. Even if you can’t tour the interior, there are benches all around for you to sit and marvel at the peaceful loveliness of the garden.

The beautiful garden and butterfly sanctuary of the Montanez Adobe in the Rios District of San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy Kris Core.
Ramos House Restaurant; the “newest” house Charles talked about on his tour. Built in the 1800s – and vurrrrrrry haunted, as told by Charles in today’s episode.
View down Ramos Street in San Juan Capistrano. This is the longest-continuously occupied street in California. People have been in residence here since the 1700s.

Next to the Rios Adobe is Old Mr. Tree, a gigantic ancient pepper tree. If you look up, you’ll see a skull or two hanging from the branches (can you spot one in the photo?). To the left is a coffee shop called Hidden House Coffee; when we went back the next day for photos and a walkabout, the joint was hoppin’! If you don’t mind a bit of a wait, you can grab a bite and a cup of coffee before heading over to the Zoomars Petting Zoo.

The Old Mr. Tree of Ramos Street.

You don’t have to go into the petting zoo…you can walk along the outer edge and get a nice visual (and sniff) of the animals they have inside: chickens, emus, llamas (alpacas?), goats, horses…there’s more, we’re sure. Right now they are decorated for Halloween, and will be having their Pumpkinpalooza event all October, so if you have littles, take them on down! Haunted Orange County is also hosting a Sugar Skull Workshop on October 19, so sign up soon because they sell out fast.

Do the emu dance at the San Juan Capistrano Petting Zoo. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

Although Charles told us a story about a local “la llarona” (a child killing banshee, basically) who is said to wander the creek at the end of the path near the zoo, he assured us it’s all just an urban myth. (No, the movie is not about this la llarona legend. We don’t think it is anyway…)

Our tour took us past the petting zoo to the O’Neill Museum. This is the oldest wooden structure in the area, built in the 1870s by saloon owner Jose Dolores Garcia as a gift for his wife Refugio Yorba. Garcia was murdered, and his despondent wife sold the home to a Mr. Albert Pryor, and then it passed to the Cornwall family who donated the home to the Historical Society of San Juan Capistrano in the 1970s. The home was moved across the train tracks to its present location and is open to the public for a very fair requested donation of $1. To walk through this tiny home and see the furnishings (and the wallpaper incarnations), the artwork, and just feel the atmosphere and energy of the past within its walls is a must-do on your visit to the district. For Halloween, the Society is conducting their own Ghosts and Legends Tours on Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26, 2019. Please check the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society website for this and other events year ’round. We include Charles’ story of Mr. Garcia’s murder, and the hauntings of the building in today’s episode (including Mr. Pryor rocking in a rocking chair on the porch. As you can see below, there’s no rocking chair there…)

Exterior of San Juan Capistrano Historical Society O’Neill Museum. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

One of the highlights of the ghost tour, and of our day trip, was visiting the “second jail cell” of San Juan Capistrano. It’s literally an iron-work cage sitting in front of one of the museum’s buildings on property, and is open for anyone to go inside and get a feel for the eerie. Charles spoke of suicides and other horrible events related to this tiny little holding cell, and honestly, when we tried to get a photo of Kym going into the cell that night, the photos were streaked with all kinds of what looks like backscatter. Oddly enough, there was no wind or breeze, there were no bugs, no flurries, no mist to speak of that evening, not even people hurrying in and out of the frame of the camera. Yet every photo had issues with the quality. When visiting the next day, we both went inside the cage together but all we felt was cramped. But hey, look for yourself and see what you think:

Kym ready to go to jail. This was the clearest photo Kris got that night. Photo courtesy Kris Core.
Strange mist when taking photo of haunted jail cell at night. There was no wind, were no insects, no pollen, no mist and no one walking in front of the camera, or anything in the air that night. Yet every photo had these weird streaks. What do you think it is? Photo courtesy Kris Core.
Next day, Kym’s still ready to go to jail. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

On our night tour, we went to the El Adobe Restaurant for more haunted stories. Passers-by leaving the restaurant kept saying how delicious the food is and so the next day we tried to go to lunch, but we were too early as the El Adobe was closed (it was just past 11 am). Disappointed at first, we were pleasantly uplifted by the offerings of Ellie’s Table across the street. At first glance it looked to be just a bakery and coffee shop, but they had a full menu and their display cases were packed with some nicely colorful and tasty looking premade sandwiches, salads, and of course baked amazingness. We each ordered an eggwhite burrito and cappuccino and sat on the terrace outside to eat. Coincidentally the restaurant was once the home of “Judge” Egan (who wasn’t really a judge) and was part of the tour (we realized once we sat down). In today’s episode, we share Charles’ story of the “Judge’s” not-so-legal construction endeavours. It’s a beautiful house (THE FLOORING!), shady history and all, and is definitely a nice eatery with reasonable prices.

We ended both tours in the same spot…in front of the majestic Mission San Juan Capistrano. We include Charles’ touching story of Father John O’Sullivan in our episode. O’Sullivan is credited with “saving” the mission, as he was responsible for creating the look of the campus as we see it today – taking it from ruins back to its (humble) glory. The Mission had been passed along for many years from governments to (rich) private owners where it fell into disrepair. Thankfully, Abraham Lincoln returned all missions to the Catholic church shortly before he was assassinated; if it wasn’t for President Lincoln, and then Father O’Sullivan, it’s likely we would only have blocks of masonry to study, rather than the beautiful heritage site we can explore now. Charles also talks about the earthquake that killed parishioners attending mass in the cathedral, and of the young woman who’s death caused a mysterious tolling of the mission bells, even though no one knew she had died, and no one had been in the bell tower when the bells pealed their mournful goodbye to their loyal servant.

The Mission in 1889, prior to restoration. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Father O’Sullivan on the grounds of the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
View of part of the original wall of Mission San Juan Capistrano from the street – part of this structure collapsed in an earthquake killing over 40 people attending mass at the time. Photo courtesy Kris Core.

If you can’t tell, we love San Juan Capistrano. There are many shops, restaurants, and parks to visit. We highly recommend you spend at last a day there, walking in Los Rios district, enjoying the local park, perusing the antique shops, and definitely visit the mission. You could even cross the 5 freeway and search out the private (and closed) cemetery Charles spoke of in the episode…we know where it is and we may just have to go back to see if we can sneak a peek somehow. Until then, we’ll have our photos, our memories, and definitely this episode to tide us over.

Many thanks again to Charles Spratley of Haunted Orange County. Charles has been conducting tours for 18 years; he is a history aficionado – his love of all things paranormal, antique, and teaching comes through on every tour. He’s our favorite guide and we hope to join him in future events! Be sure to take some cash to tip him at the end of the night. It’s well worth it.

Keep your eye on hauntedoc.com for additional tours (Black Star Canyon is on our radar!!!). You can also keep an eye out for similar events at https://www.santaanahistory.com/.

So. If you haven’t already listened, check out “San Juan Capistrano: History & Hauntings” episode on  iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2019 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2019. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com.

Featured Photo of Mission San Juan Capistrano courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
All other photos on this page courtesy of Kristen Core, all rights reserved.
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Queen Mary Ship Revisited

Today’s episode “Queen Mary Ship Revisited” is on  iTunes/Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercastLibsynPocket CastStitcher or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Today we talk about Kris’ family overnight stay on The Queen Mary with her daughters for her birthday! If you listened to our April 8, 2019 “Ahoy There Queen Mary!” episode, you’ll know Kym and her fiancé stayed in the Eisenhower Suite. While Kym had no overt experiences with ghosts, she did feel a heightened sense of awareness of the presence of certain, ah, energies in the historic room. So Kris and Kym compare notes as Kris recounts their adventures, starting with the Aquarium of the Pacific, eating a great lunch at Louisiana Charlie’s in Shoreline Village, and finally checking into – and “sleeping” overnight on – the legendary Queen Mary ship. So. Exciting. And yes. There was a ghost sighting.

But FIRST! Shoutout to Venture Pal daypack! A few episodes ago Kym shared about her awesome daypack that she uses when she takes her dogs for walks in our local regional park. So her gift to Kris was…TADA!…a Venture Pal daypack to use for her trip! Kris was really excited to see how much she could pack in the nifty backpack, and, let’s just say all the essentials fit: toiletries, night clothes, shoes, change of clothes, and coffee pot. Yes. Because Kris also listened to “Ahoy There Queen Mary!” (ahem) she already knew her stateroom didn’t come with a coffee pot. The Venture Pal daypack had more than enough space for everything she needed. Many thanks to Kym for the awesome birthday present. If you’re interested in buying one for yourself, check out all the lovely colors to choose from here.

Everything that Kris fit into her Venture Pal backpack (cat not included). Photo courtesy of Kris Core.

First stop was Aquarium of the Pacific (discounted tickets highly recommended!) where Kris and the girls pet rays, fed Lorakeets, squeed at the otters, and Hayley made a new friend in the tank walkthrough.

Once checked into the Queen Mary, Kris and the kids walked the stateroom hallway alllll the way down to room A171. If you view the Queen Mary Hotel website, all the photos show staterooms with inviting wood paneled walls, built-ins and all the vintage ship vibes you could ask for. Unfortunately, the “family room” A171 – which was quite large with two queen beds – doesn’t resemble those photos in the least. Those paneled rooms probably cost about a hundred bucks more a night, so ‘s’all good. It did come with two working portholes with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Long Beach city and harbor. While the room was quite in need of TLC (and more outlets), it wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t a true 1930’s stateroom on the Queen Mary experience, but the beds were passable and the bathroom was cute. The ghost lady was nice too.

The day was spent exploring the ship, and pretty much every door Kris came across, she tried to open. And if it opened, Kris went in, snoo…checking out wherever they were (the most favorite spot was the Verandah Grill event room. We aren’t sure they were supposed to be in there, but hey, THE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED!). Even spending all afternoon walking around the mid-renovation decks (and getting lost more than once), they still weren’t able to see everything there was to see. Probably the creepiest point on their self-guided exploration was the Isolation Ward. And the best part of their adventure? Watching the sunset together. Absolutely beautiful.

Probably the most enticing part of staying on The Queen Mary is the history. There is no other hotel in the world with the legendary stories that The Queen Mary has. Originally a luxury cruise ship, she then transformed into the fastest World War II troop ship ever (the enemies could never get her in range to shoot her down), back to a luxury liner, and then as a tourist attraction in Long Beach harbor since the late 60’s. For a great recap of her history and some really poignant personal stories, a must-see on the ship is the film in the small viewing room on the Promenade Deck between the shops and the Observation Lounge. Bring kleenex. And a sweater. There’s a lot of goodness in that documentary and worth sitting for the entire thing (though it is on a loop, so you can go back any time). Also worth checking out is the ship model gallery and The Shipyard room which houses the world’s largest Lego® model of the Queen Mary. Complete with tiny Lego® passengers. No. Not Lego® Batman. Kris would have paid more money to see a tiny Batman somewhere on board that thing. Someone has to make that happen.

And everywhere you go, on every deck, you will see original features in the Art Deco style: lighting fixtures, wood paneling, railings, etched glass, molded metal door handles, all harkening back to the days when the cost of first class passage equaled the price of a new home. Many fixtures and displays have plaques (and sometimes photos showing original use), which are totally Instagram-worthy and totally worth searching out. In fact, probably THE MOST picture-posing 5-star spot on the ship has to be in the Verandah Grill where murals painted by Doris Zinkeisen are still displayed (the largest one, “Entertainment,” is featured below).

If you’re a history buff, architecture geek, or just enjoy master craftsmanship, bring a good camera and capture the elegance and beauty of another era (Kris just had her iPhone…good enough to provide all these shots, so we accept). For some glory-days photos, check this link out.

And of course, after retiring to bed, Kris and the girls were sidelined by a spectral visitor in the middle of the night. The story is worth the listen, so if you want to know all about the ghost of room A171, you’ll have to hear it in our podcast episode! Let’s just say when two teenagers agree on something, you need to take it seriously. And Kris’ teenagers agreed they each saw a ghost in their stateroom (at different times), so you decide. We’re going with “yup, highly likely!”.

The next day Kris and the girls (tiredly) ended their trip with a very expensive – but very good – breakfast in the needing-a-carpet-renovation-stat Promenade Cafe. Before heading home they decided to take the Haunted Encounters tour. Their guide was funny and knowledgable (if a bit scruffy), and provided some interesting facts and historical insight, recounting many of the well-known ghost stories making the paranormal rounds (Door-13 crewman, Jackie in the pool, Winston Churchill, Room B340, etc.) as well as some Kris hadn’t heard before (the lady in white in the third class lounge, the stairs of death in third class (Poor poor people. Tsk.), screams heard near the tippy-pointy front of the ship (know by experts and most of the population on Earth as the bow) (creep factor: 20/10 btw), oh, and the hall of death. Yeah, that’s the narrow passage you walk through as you enter the Revenant Room for the Aidan Sinclair show “Illusions of the Passed” where you can see photo after photo after photo of the people who have died on the Queen Mary. Hint: There’s a lot. Kris asked if the Eisenhower room was haunted (if the Churchill suite is, why wouldn’t the Eisenhower be?) but there was no definitive answer. If you want to find out for yourself, be our guest. WE won’t pay for it, and technically you’d be the Queen Mary’s guest…but..anyway…nevermind.

Even with the shortcomings of the actual room Kris stayed in, both Kym and Kris HIGHLY recommend staying on the Queen Mary. The ship is in need of some serious (and mechanically necessary) repairs that go beyond cosmetic facelifting, but if you can set aside your expectations of what you think your room should look like (again, if you pay discount you get discount, eh Expedia?), and can overlook some of the surface flaws – if you truly think about the ship and where she has been, what she’s done, WHO she has transported both as luxury liner and warship, it’s a no-brainer. Look underneath, look past (literally and figuratively) and allow the magic and majesty of what the Queen Mary was and still is to set in. Stay in a barebones room if you have to, or splurge for the wood paneling and built ins. Lug a cooler of snacks, or be a big spender in Sir Winston’s or the Promenade Cafe or the on-board Starbucks (they’re expensive everywhere, tbh)…whatever your budget, it’s worth it. You don’t even have to believe in ghosts. But if you DO, and you REALLY want to find a ghost with a professional, there’s a tour for THAT, with real paranormal investigating (oh hai…a bit of friendly advice: If you’re staying on the ship overnight to do your own investigation in your stateroom, the family in the room next to you can hear you talking, opening your bag of chips and generally be paranormal investigating assholes. The walls are paper thin. Be chill.)

Kris will definitely go back again. And maybe this time drop the Benjamins for the wood paneling.

Oh. Don’t forget your coffee pot. AND a fan. You know, small portholes.

Oh yeah…almost forgot. The weird high pitched sound Kris and the girls heard in their room after Hayley saw the ghost, THIS is the what Kris was trying to describe.

Check out our “Queen Mary Ship Revisited” episode on  iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2019 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2019. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com.
All photos courtesy of Kris Core. All rights reserved.
Episodes

Waiter? Fact-Check Please!

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Today’s episode is a veritable hot-topic pie. We revisit last week’s episode by talking even more about powerful women in history as well as women today making history. We discuss the merits of California’s anti-plastic straw law, gush about Daylight Saving Time, marvel over the migration of millions of monarch butterflies, and update our stories on Coco Chanel and Jane Fonda with facts. Gasp. Then we “rrrrrrrrrrrrrr” hard-right turn into a full rant and FREAKING rave over the Lori Laughlin/Felicity Huffman/college admissions scandal (so much so Kris runs out of air mid-sentence). Then we wrap it all up with a spoonful of St. Patrick’s Day trivia. All the while wondering about the large amount of construction taking place below us during the entire episode. Question of the day: IS the construction downstairs actually the cover-up of a murder scene? You’ll just have to listen to find out. But first? Kym quacks us up with a mom-joke.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
These ducks are gonna drop a beat right here.

Links and more information about what we talk about in today’s episode:

  • Investigative journalist Hal Vaughan’s biography about Coco Chanel, Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, can be found here and here. The New Yorker article interviewing Mr. Vaughn about the book can be found here. In that article, Mr. Vaughan states that Chanel was backed by the powerful Wertheimer family, which helped her reestablish her business in France after World War II.
  • The coffee Kris mentions is: Death Wish Coffee and we dare anybody to try it first and let us know what you think because Kris is a scaredy-cat (but may still have to try it anyway).
  • The Washington Post article about Jane Fonda can be found here and another article here and quotes from Ms. Fonda about those events here in a Snopes article.
  • A must-read Forbes article about the college admissions scandal with 30 facts that SHOULD highly disturb you can be found here. Some of the truly disgusting facts? Parents of high school students allegedly paid about $25 million total to help their children get admitted to various colleges and universities and the alleged scheme has been ongoing since 2011. Among those who have been charged: 33 are parents, 13 are coaches and associates of ring-leader William “Rick” Singer (based in Newport Beach, California) businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators. Schools impacted by the scandal are: Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Boston University, Northeastern, UCLA, USC, University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest. GRRRR with a capital GRRRRRR!
  • Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate-change activist you should be watching, is 16 years old. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Chloe-Mei Espinosa, the anti-plastic straw advocate from Southern California and another powerhouse you should be watching, is 12 years old. More information can be found here, here, and here.
  • Yes. Kris understands a spade on a deck of cards and a shamrock do NOT look alike. A club on a deck of cards and a shamrock do. #facepalm #hangheadlow.

Check out our “Waiter? Fact-Check Please!” episode on  iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2019 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2019. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com.
Photos courtesy of WordPress free library.