Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another Visit with Panchi

Leaving the car in Alpine was a great idea.  I got two visits with Panchi!  This one was much shorter than the first, but it was just as good.  We had dinner and a quick summary of our trip north.  We even got to see both Emery and Allyson.  They have such busy lives, it's a rarity for me to see both of them at the same time.  Here's proof!

Monday, May 30, 2011

LA - El Pueblo

I was exhausted after our day walking around the Getty so we didn't wander very far from our hotel the next day. 

Lucky for us, the hotel was only a block away from Olvera Street:  home of everything Mexican.  Since it is just across the street from the train station, we've visited the area many times and even have a favorite restaurant, La Golondrina.  Our lunch was just this side of Mexican ambrosia.

We love the flowers,

weird trees,

music, spontaneous dancing,



the food, and the rows and rows of things to see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and buy.

We stayed until the very last minute, soaking up the unique ambiance, but then it was time to get across the street to Union Station. 
Time to head for Texas!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Darndest Thing

We took the bus back from the museum to our hotel except that the bus didn't exactly go to our hotel.  We had quite a little hike from the bus stop and on the way, we saw a huge group of nicely dressed young folks standing in line, obviously waiting for the doors of SOMETHING to open.  (Later, I learned it was prom night for a Catholic school.) 

I was busy admiring the coiffures and the dresses when this car drove up and lowered itself to the ground; a couple exited and went to the end of the line; the car readjusted itself and drove off. 

After a full day at a fabulous museum, I found the darnest thing I'd seen all day on an LA street.

LA - J Paul Getty Museum

Our trip from Seattle to Los Angles on the Coast Starlight was the best!  We had great companions.  Everyone was in a good mood.  The food was delicious and the service was better than it's ever been. 
Because of scheduling, we had almost two days in LA.  What to do?
First, a visit to a world class museum, The J Paul Getty.  It was everything I thought it would be. 
The buildings themselves belong in an architectural museum . . .
And then there is the art . . .

Sometimes the art was as much in the observer as the observed . . .

and the special exhibit on Paris . . . wow!

and the gardens . . .

and the views . . .
it was all fabulous!
We could have stayed another four hours, or perhaps even another four days and not seen it all.
Yeah!  I'd like to go back!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Quick Trip to Alaska

If a friend meets you at the train station miles from his home at midnight, he is a true friend.  When that same friend takes you back to the train station a week later at midnight, he is the truest friend imagineable.  Don, you are my hero!

The most remarkable thing about the train ride that next day were the beautiful mountain photo ops I had.

We spent the following night in Seattle and flew to Anchorage the next day for a quick five day visit with Donna.  No misunderstanding, there was business to attend, but my primary reason for making the trip to Alaska instead of sending Stanley by himself was the opportunity to see Donna.  As always, she did everything she could to make us feel welcome, and we poured about as much visiting into our five days as possible. 

Some of the tasks accomplished were:
A review of the cabin and what still needs to be done.  It is still one of the loveliest spots on earth.

We met with our realtor.
We met with the accountant and did our taxes.
We had a delightful dinner with Budd and Delight, and had an opportunity to talk with them about the cabin.
I had a fine time with my teaching buddies at the Fancy Moose in Anchorage. 
Stanley marked the location of some native orchids so that Kay could gather seed later to send to an orchid enthusiast in Germany.
We made a visit to the Palmer visitor center.  There were new interpretive posters and the gardens appeared to be in good order.
Aside from that, we were content to visit with Budd, Delight, Kay, Kathleen, Mike, and Donna. 
And just to be in that beautiful place called Wolverine Mountain.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sacramento Weather

Hells bells, it's hailing! 
 And this is a reclining rainbow.  Rather artistic, but weird!   This was a first for me!  Anyone have an explanation?
For the record, we had some stormy days and some sunshine.  At the time, I might have wished for less rain and more sun, but it would sure be nice to have some of that rain here in Mexico.  Rain, no hail!


It's easy to know you have a true friend when he is willing to meet you at the train station, miles from his home at midnight.  Don was there on time with a smile!

Day One - We started our visit with a bang!  An afternoon with Todd Taylor at the Sugar Mill in Clarksburg.  Todd makes the Zinfandel wine that Stanley and I think is about as good as it gets and he shared all his secrets with us that afternoon.  What a treat!

It was hard to plan any outing that would live up to the visit with Todd, but Don and Trish kept trying.  Here are some highlights:
A visit to one of my favorite retail garden shops
 The farmer's market

A drive through Gold Country, right past Sutter's Mill
 Lunch in Auburn.  What a great place for a sandwich and beer.  The view is outstanding.
 A visit to Molly's garden.  It's pretty much unlike any garden I know.  Thanks, Molly, for sharing with us.  You are a jewel!
And, then there were the wine tastings.  Harny Lane may be my new favorite Lodi winery.

This, however, is my new favorite Lodi wine maker.  It isn't every day that the wine maker plays classical music for his clients, but that's what we found at Heritage Oak.  Not only that, but the wine was excellent!

Of course, at the Lodi Visitor Center everyone is treated like family. 

We went house shopping in Walnut Grove.  The place was too much of a project for us to consider, but the little Chinese town of Locke made the trip worthwhile. 
And saving the best for last was my visit with Bobbie, one of my dearest Alaskan treasures.

The outings were wonderful, but the quiet times were just as good:  shopping at those wonderful grocery stores, cooking with Don, newspaper devouring in the mornings, and wine drinking at night.  It was a beautiful visit.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

San Diego CA

By the time we reached Los Angeles, our train delay was about five hours. The good news was our arrival time was just thirty minutes before the next train to San Diego. As usual, these things work out!

Jesse was there to pick us up; we went directly to the Q for housing. We were treated like royalty. Then off to inspect Jesse’s helicopter. I managed – with help – to get my old leg up and over the gear shift thingie for a little pretend flying.
The complexity of the this machine is mind-boggling! Way too many switches, and knobs, and gauges. And I reached this opinion with the computer screens completely blank. I can only imagine how it looks with all that added to the mix. What I view as dangerous and brimming with mind-bending complexity, he views as an adventure which requires knowledge and reasonable risk.

After the helicopter tour, we had dinner and called it a day!
The next morning, Jesse had to work, I knew I couldn’t walk very far, and it was chilly – all factors we took into consideration when making our decision to go on a city tour of San Diego. It was a good decision!
Jesse picked us up and delivered us to the tour headquarters in Old Town where we boarded our trolley.  Old Town was so Mexican it was like being on the other side of the river.
We saw at least a little of almost every part of the city. I didn’t take many pictures from the trolley and the ones I took were not very good, but we saw a lot. I did get reasonably good photos of boats and some beautiful plantings.

We stopped along the way for lunch across the street from the famous Del Hotel.
To say the least, the architecture in San Diego is creative. It was fun just trying to imagine what the architects were thinking as they designed some of the buildings.
When Jesse retrieved us, he had a plan: we were going to La Jolla for dinner. First thing: the restaurant he had chosen with great care was closed. So . . . we wandered the beach. What fun!
First, of course there were the birds!
Then, the seals and sea lions!

Then, the people watching the birds, seals, and sea lions!

 We drove around La Jolla, in and out of neighborhoods, down to the beach, back up the hill! I did not see one single front yard that was not spectacular! And no two the same! It was an absolute delight!  Most amazing of all was the phlox.  Some yards were covered with it; in other places it cascaded down cliffs - WOW!

Up, up, up, a very high hill to the Soledad Cross which is now a memorial to all United States service men and women. To read about the history of the cross and the controversy which surrounds it, click here.
I had a bit of fun with the whole like father/like son thing. Does anyone else see a strong resemblance?
Then, it was off to the Glider Port.
Jesse was totally hyped about the beautiful sunset we were to see, but alas, it was not to be. Clouds moved in along the horizon at the last minute and these photos capture all the sunset that wasn’t.
We finished the day off with appetizers at a wine bar in Little Italy.
The next morning, Jesse dropped us off at the train station to meet a very early and on-time train at 6:10. With no trouble, we were in LA in plenty of time to catch the Coast Starlight to Sacramento. Back in our little sleeper compartment, it was like coming home. Did I mention that I love to ride the train?