Posts Tagged ‘California’

I said I would post again SOON.  Ahem.  (Twelve days without posting in Bloggerland is like twelve weeks in the real world).  But you know how it is; things come up, complications arise, blah blah blah.  The main thing is, everything and everybody is OK.  We’ve had some sunny days and some cloudy days, but overall it’s pretty darn gorgeous here in Southern California.

Without further ado, here’s some proof:

Sea lions on a buoy in Newport Beach, taking a break from scuttling people's boats

Sweet Pea wants you to know that Dog Beach in Huntington Beach is a really great place to let your dog be a dog:

Where's the stick?

Here's the stick!

Here's the stick again...shorter, the more we play...

...and here's a surfer...

...and here's an oil drill rig platform... 🙂

Actually, the platforms look pretty cool at night, lit up like ships in the ocean.  There are only a couple of them left, but Huntington Beach still has vestiges of the long-gone oil boom.  As you walk down the streets near the beach, you’ll pass the occasional million-dollar house with a fenced-off sand lot next to it containing a little drill rig, perched like a grasshopper in a small field.

Parks are nice places to hang out, too, and you never know who you’re going to meet:

"I like a nice drink of nectar first thing in the morning. Tall decaf, please."

But the end of the day provided this shot:

Palm tree sunset in the park

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Hmmm….let’s see:

Decisions, decisions ...

I know one thing for certain — nothing is certain!  🙂   But we are in southern California, and I suspect the next post will be about Huntington Beach.  Meanwhile, the day is overcast but nice, Sweet Pea has had her walk, and all is right with our little world…

A quiet lake is a pleasant place to linger...

Just for the heck of it, one last shot of Santa Cruz for Mats: http://www.matsljunggren.com/

View from Gilbert's FireFish Grill Restaurant on the wharf

Oh, and one last thing about visiting Santa Cruz:  There are locals who think it’s cute to post fake signs to mislead visitors.  Clearly, these are people who haven’t been beaten up nearly often enough in their lives!  Follow your maps, ignore random signage, and all will be well.  🙂

I’ll post again SOON.  (How can it possibly be February 7 already?)

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I’m having some technical difficulties with my computer, so this post will be briefer than usual — sorry.  (Or maybe that’s a good thing!)

I showed you a photo last time of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, located on West Cliff Drive next to the famous surfing spot called Steamer Lane.  It was the first museum anywhere dedicated to the sport.  It is also a memorial to the founders’ 18-year-old surfer son, who challenged the waves nearby and lost.

Mark Abbott's ashes and personal artifacts are behind a locked gate in the museum

If you’re in Santa Cruz, it’s worth a stop, even if you’re not a surfer.  The tiny museum packs in a great overview of surfing’s history, the local heroes, classic surfboards, artwork, ephemera, photos and videos, and the niche seen in the photo above, on the right as you enter.

Afterward, take a walk around Lighthouse Point and Lighthouse Field.  This bronze statue is nearby:

"To Honor Surfing"

The cliffs dropping off to the ocean are pretty dramatic.

Wonder why I couldn't keep a straight horizon line that day? Was the wine at lunch involved? 🙂

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I’m pretty sure when God needed money, He’d borrow it from William Randolph Hearst’s family.  For example, when Hearst went to Harvard, his mom had an entire suite remodeled for him in the dorm.  See what you learn when you listen to the tour guide?  🙂

There are numerous tours you can take when you visit Hearst Castle, each focusing on a different area of the huge compound.  All of them begin with a bus ride up to La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill).  As your bus slowly zigzags up the steep road, you can’t imagine being one of the workmen responsible for safely hauling priceless ancient architectural artifacts up the hill.  Hearst started collecting when he was ten years old, and much of what he collected throughout his lifetime ended up atop this hill in San Simeon.

There are lovely views through Moorish arches along this walkway

His architect, Julia Morgan, incorporated his collection by assembling the disparate pieces like a 3-D puzzle and turning them into a home — though to call the Hearst Castle compound a home stretches my imagination to the breaking point.

Thousands of bits and bobs of ancient art everywhere....

I wonder if Julia Morgan regarded Hearst as the perfect client with unlimited money to spend, or a nightmare?  He’d have something constructed, change his mind, have it ripped out, and have her begin that section again.  The compound was never finished, but not for lack of trying by his army of highly-skilled artisans.

Done and redone, and redone...

Hearst did have his quirks.  No unmarried houseguest couples were allowed to share a bedroom.  (Hearst’s wife never lived at the compound, only his mistress Marion Davies, and he and Marion had separate rooms).  Meals served in the sumptuous dining room hung with priceless ancient tapestries were accompanied by ketchup bottles and paper napkins.

The guest suite bathrooms were state-of-the-art; they had things called “showers” and the maids and butlers would instruct the guests on how to use them.  🙂   One often-returning houseguest was a famous gossip columnist who got stories nobody else in her business ever did.  How?  She stayed in a round jewel box of a guest bedroom under the water tower.  It had a balcony that ran 360 degrees around it, and all conversation, no matter how quiet, would drift up to her balcony.

There are lots of quirky, interesting stories, especially about the rich, famous and influential guests who stayed there.  If you get the chance, take a tour or two, and be sure to watch the movie “Building The Dream” at the visitor’s center.  The beaches nearby are nice places to hang out, too:

Nature's art

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You’ll have to forgive me for not posting the past few days.  We’ve been so busy lately upgrading the house and yard.  I think the refinished pool looks exceptionally nice:

Should I have had a diving board installed?

Of course, you can’t just upgrade the pool.  You need to upgrade the landscaping too, or the effect just isn’t quite right:

I'm thinking of hiring another twenty gardeners to maintain the plants...

Naturally, there was quite a bit of renovation to be done to our three-bedroom ranch house as well.  How do you like our new guest room ceiling?

I love it, but I must admit, it's tricky to dust

Though we wanted to make sure our houseguests felt cared for, we didn’t want to neglect ourselves.  Steve and I splurged a bit, and squared ourselves away in our redecorated home office:

Our shared home office/library. In a three-bedroom home, you have to make some sacrifices.

The master bedroom turned out quite well, I think:

Who knew I could get workmanship like this from the guys outside Home Depot?

Okay, okay, I’m lying.  We actually had a fourth bedroom added on for Sweet Pea. I keep part of my extensive wardrobe in her room.  She has more closet space than she needs, since she doesn’t even own a doggie sweater, much less evening wear:

Sweet Pea needed a new bed as well

Okay, okay, I’m still lying.  Hearst Castle in San Simeon (about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco) is a mind-boggling place to tour.  Publisher/tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s charming little love nest he shared with gorgeous actress Marion Davies is part of the California State Parks system, and a National Historic Landmark.  More photos to come in the next post…


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I hope your holidays were fun!  We have sketchy plans to travel back east this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing the places we go and the things we see on this blog.

However, right now I feel like posting what I’ve been looking at close to home lately.  It’s almost 80 degrees here and gorgeous, so without further ado, this is what I look at when I’m walking the dog:

Bougainvillea at Mile Square Park

I like this view of the golf course

And speaking of walking Sweet Pea, here’s one of her favorite things to do at the park:

There are plenty of gazanias for a happy dog to roll in

Walking around Balboa Island was lovely, too:

Bare feet in the sand feel so good...

The holidays flew by so fast!  🙂  (This one’s for you, Katie!)


I hope 2012 brings you all enough — enough of what you need, enough of what you want, and enough of whatever makes you happy!


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The mission in Carmel has a lovely garden.  We zoomed in just a bit before they were closing:

Carmel mission garden gate

Wandering around with no particular agenda is my favorite way to travel.  Time was a bit constrained here, but a lot of prettiness can be absorbed in a short time:

I love the bright colors against the muted stucco and rock

The mission itself is lovely, and we were able to spend a bit of time in the interior of the church.  Look at that ceiling:

Inside the Carmel mission church


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Let’s start off this post with another storybook photo:

The air was soft with mist, and the front garden looked so pretty

The trouble with photographing Carmel houses…it’s like eating potato chips.  You can’t stop at one!

Yet another charming old Carmel house -- I promise I'll stop now

Think I’ll switch to a photo of a Carmel resident who neither golfs nor drives a Lexus, but does enjoy dining alfresco:

The houses are only one part of the prettiness equation.  You have to add  trees, shrubs, flowers and the ocean nearby to achieve Carmel’s total beauty.

These fuschia blossoms were stunning

Don’t you want to sit here with a glass of wine and a book?


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I love aquariums.  There’s something fascinating about getting that window into another world that intersects with ours, teeming with creatures who have lives of their own.  When I’m looking at them, I can’t help thinking — what are they thinking when they’re looking through the glass at us?

Anyhow, I love ’em all — Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; but let me give special credit to the place whose people figured out how to grow a giant kelp forest in an aquarium and keep it alive — the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They figured out that giant kelp need water surging back and forth to imitate the ocean’s wave action, so they installed a huge pump to do just that.  Voila!  A living kelp forest in a three-story tank!  Divers feed the creatures:

There’s a crowd in the auditorium watching the crowd in the aquarium 🙂

Oystermen may not be too crazy about these voracious little guys, but c’mon…how cute is he?

Sea otters appeal to the puppies-and-kittens chunk of my brain

Of course, they’re not the only cute things at the aquarium.  Many of these penguins from various parts of the southern hemisphere were rescued from the brink of death:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the aquarium, and there's a long waiting list

For beauty, elegant lines and downright weirdness combined, it’s hard to beat flamingos:

The birds that inspired millions of kitschy plastic lawn ornaments

Yes, they do get that color from eating brine shrimp, packed with beta carotene.  Eat nothing but carrots for a while and see what happens to you!  🙂

Next time: the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sea dragons…


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Hooray!  I found my Monterey SanDisk, and now I don’t know — should I start with the wonderful aquarium, or show you the view where we stayed?  Okay.  View first:

The view of Monterey Bay marina from the Northern Lite's back door

What you can’t see in this photo is the London Bridge pub a short stroll south where the bartenders know how to pull a decent pint of Guinness.  The outdoor patio is dog-friendly, too.  A short stroll north is Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with tourist-trap restaurants and bars, and touts in front trying to hustle you inside.  It reminded me of chewing gum sellers in Ensenada hustling cruise ship passengers.

If you keep walking north along Fishermen’s Shoreline Park, you’ll see this fountain:

From a distance, it looks like a dandelion puff...

...but you can see the flock of birds when you get closer

I’m going to need a couple of days to show you the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium further down Cannery Row, but for now I’m closing with this:

Dusk falling -- a nice time to stroll on a beach...

...like Municipal Beach nearby


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