Saturday, November 7, 2009

California: Home Sweet Home

I grew up in Anaheim, California, just about one mile from Disneyland. Summer nights, we'd go out and stand at the end of the driveway and watch the fireworks. Back then, they went off at 9 pm. Nowadays, I'm closer to five miles from Disneyland, and I can hear the fireworks... 9:30 pm, almost every night.

I'm glad I live in California, but I'm a bit surprised that I do.

Somewhere in my mid-teens I concluded that all the world wasn't like Orange County. Disneyland is called "The happiest place on earth." The track of homes I grew up in each had a tile on the front porch that said, "Enchanted Homes." Somehow, it didn't seem quite real -- not quite true. I was all about truth... so I decided to do some traveling when the chance came.

My first big trip (not counting childhood trips to Iowa, Arizona and Washington) was a month long road trip up the West coast. I was in my first or second year of college. It was summer and a guy I kind of knew from high school was looking for someone to join him on a road trip. He had the car. We bought a large, four man tent, and started up the coast. We worked the state parks all the way up into British Columbia, Canada.

We met lots of interesting people, saw some beautiful places, and spent two days in Legget, California waiting for a new radiator. Good times. I also remembering driving back into the LA area during a smoggy rush hour. And you know what? We were glad to be "home."

My next road trip was a year or two later. I took a year off of college. My friend Craig and I drove my Fiat as far as Council Bluff, Iowa. That's where the engine died. We had hiked the Grand Canyon, camped in the Rockies, and sang at the top of our lungs to Chuck Berry on the open road.

I had enough money to fix the car and head home, or... sell the car and hitch-hike the rest of the way. I opted for "sell the car." We wish we'd done it sooner. Our first 8 or 9 rides were like a traveling party. Not only did people give us rides, they took us into their homes. (Yes, we did spend one night under some bushes along the river, but... hey.) In Pennsylvania, the people who had picked us up, lent us their tent and they slept in their van because it was raining. I still remember seeing several deer standing on a slope leading to a fog covered river the next morning. Good times.

Our trip ended in Long Island where Craig had lived until he was ten. Later, we hitched down to Cape Cod (Chatham) where we spent a couple of weeks with some high school buddies. Our only "appointment" on the trip was a Halloween party in Norwood, Mass. In Norwood, we almost rented a house with some girls I knew from California. I had worked at 31 Flavors with one of them. At the last minute, our plans fell through. I decided to take the bus home (a three day, mind-numbing trip) while Craig traveled to Vermont where he nearly starved due to a lack of jobs. (No snow.)

Once I got home, in late November, I remember putting on a light jacket, my flip-flops, and taking a walk in the park. Ahhh... California.

The last big road trip of my youth was a month long trek from Anaheim to Orlando to Nova Scotia to Spokane (and the World's Fair.) The trip went full circle back to Anaheim. That too was a trip to remember. Many places, many people, many states.

After all this exploration, one would think I might have ended up somewhere else. I really thought I would, and I did, sort of. I moved five miles north to Fullerton.

What happened? After all my wanderings I got reacquainted with God. One day I prayed, "O Lord, I'll live anywhere you want me to live." Within six months I found a new home... five miles north. I've been here ever since.

For years I simply thought God had a good sense of humor. Now, I think He just had good sense.

Over the last decade, my wife and I have traveled in many of the US states as well. We did a month long road trip from Fullerton to Mason City, Iowa. We took the southern route on the way there, and the northern route on the way back. We saw the sights of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, (Nebraska), and Iowa. We followed the Lewis and Clark trail west after visiting Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, eventually hitting the Pacific Coast at the Columbia River. Then we took Highway One south, all the way to San Francisco visiting the Oregon Coast, the coastal Redwoods, and Mendicino. We traveled the 101 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, then 30 miles south to Fullerton.

Each place had its own charms, but our own home and locale seems to have a magic which captures us more and more each time we return.

I think Joni Mitchell, a Canadian, captured some of the magic in her song: California. (Enjoy!)

Capistrano Beach and Laguna Beach: The End

Here's some final pictures of last weekend's mini-vacation.

The train is Amtrak's Coaster. Between LA and San Diego in straddles the coast and affords many picturesque views.

The van and picnic table are at Capistrano State Beach. Just a couple of couples enjoying the sun and fun.

The volleyball courts, basketball courts, and such are pictures taken out the car window as we traveled north on PCH through Laguana Beach on the drive home. Late Fall at the beach in So Cal means less people, but still plenty to see and do.

This week-end we're back at home. The lawns are still growing, but at a slower pace. I'm going to get to wear one of my long-sleeved work shirts! (It's cool enough.)

Life in So Cal. It has it's perks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capistrano Collage Continued

Capistrano Beach is kind of like an airport: lots to see.

The ocean view offers flocks of seagulls, pelicans fishing, and people walking.

Turn around and watch the joggers, the bikers, and even an occasional train.

It's enough to inspire a person to hang out, relax, and watch the world go by. All this plus the sounds and smells of the beach. (Did I mention 73 degree weather?)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Capistrano Beach: November in So Cal

I noted in an earlier post that I had pictures to prove what a lovely weekend I enjoyed with my wife over the Halloween weekend. Here's a few more of them:

The first picture is a view up the coast towards Dana Point. Doheny State Beach is in the foreground. Dana Point is a small town with a beautiful marina. The place is named for Richard Dana who wrote of California when there was no San Franscisco. Local ranchers used to throw cowhides over the cliffs to be picked up by boats bound for the East Coast shoe factories. Dana's book, Two Years Before the Mast, chronicles his adventures. Times change, the ocean, not so much.

At Doheny State Beach you can camp right on the beach's edge. (You can also rent bikes, including the family riders shown in a previous post.)

The second picture shows a pedestrian crossing Highway One from to our timeshare from the beach. The bluff in the background backed up against our patio. Rather than a beach view, we had a bluff view. We smelled the sage, watched birds coast along on the updrafts, and contemplated the shifting light as it climbed the cliff in the afternoon.

The water is a bit chilly: mid-50's -- wet suit weather for serious surfers. This is a lifeguard station, abandoned during the fall and winter... but come April... the summer season begins!

The next-to-last shot for this post is a double-wide outhouse. Disabled access? I couldn't tell you.

Californian's are funny (and patriotic). The final shot is a puppy-guard-dog. Grrr!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Father and Son -- Cat Stevens

Back in the 70's I was a college student. I had a few favorite recording artists and Cat Stevens was one of them.

One of his songs that resonated with me was Father and Son. Now, revisiting the song and its powerful message, I find my self more closely linked to the father. (But I understand the son -- I've been that boy.)

For your listening pleasure:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween SoCal Getaway

Back in late June, I booked a few weekend getaways. The first one just ended. It was sweet.

My wife and I headed out Friday afternoon after boarding the dog. (Poor Heidi.)

The drive was a short one, a mere 30 miles to the south. Last year, we discovered that the less known beach communities between San Diego and Los Angeles are quite nice.

Capistrano Beach was our destination: two nights, three days. We stayed in a one bed-room timeshare just across Highway One from the Pacific Ocean. Our room faced the cliff, not the beach, but that was okay. It was quieter and free from the early morning sun.

We were unplugged, sort of. We didn't bring our laptop. We interacted... for days!

That was my plan. Quality time as a couple. Dinners in. Walks on the beach. Cribbage, gin rummy, and conversation. But the reality?

Just as planned! (And I have some pictures to prove it.)

What may amaze those of you unfamiliar with Southern California is how nice the weather is. We had plenty of sunshine and mid-70s. You'll see jacketless people on bikes! Runners in running shorts! On the drive home we took PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). At Laguna's main beach there were sand volleyball games in progress. Drivers had their convertibles open.

The resort we stayed at averages 100% occupancy: year-round.

We missed the Trick-or-Treaters. Oh well. My youngest "child" is 23. The grandkids live in Illinois. What were my options? Stay-at-home and hand out candy to several dozen kids or schedule a week-end Halloween SoCal Getaway?

You know what I did! (And Thanksgiving is just around the corner!)