Saturday, July 26, 2008

Travel Journal: San Diego July 18-24

I'm finding that of all my posts, I enjoy re-reading my travel journals the most. Bits and pieces of a vacation seem to escape my memory over time (by time I mean a matter of weeks or even days....)

So I'm going to travel journal this vacation as well. Laura's 20's party was the key event, but other lovely moments bracketed that day.

The three hour flight from Houston is usually pretty mundane, but as soon as the pilot mentions they are beginning their initial descent in to San Diego, I usually look out the window and try to start identifying local landmarks. The wind farm was something new to me this trip.

The it Marina, or Hodges, or ....???? It is dammed at one end, and at varying times is either quite low or brimming. (Update: B. says it is neither, it is either San Vincente or El Capitan, with San Vincente being most likely. And that if it had been Lake Marina it would be spelled Lake Marino. What can I say...he was an East County boy and would know these things better than I who dwelled west of the 5....insider joke there.....)

(Another update from our friendly Swedish heliocopter instructor Janitha, who comments:
As an aviator, I use lakes as easy identified waypoints. So of course I had to pull up an old chart from San Diego and take a look at your lake. By following the approach course in to Lindberg field, the lake you flew over is most likely Barrett Lake. El Capitan Reservoir is too far north of the approach course. Sorry east county boy... ;-) (And the real name is Lake Morena, I saw it on the chart as well.)

The wispy fog clouds over the bare undulating landscape tells me that San Diego will be experiencing the typical overcast sky. The hotter it is inland, the deeper the cloud banks will be on the coast. It is a basic weather pattern fact that eludes most visitors to San Diego; they arrive at the coast expecting a sunny sparkling week at the beach and are often dismayed to discover that even in deep summer the beach may never really clear up.

After a bit of time with Mom and Dad, Laura came over and we walked the three blocks to the beach at the foot of Vallecitos, in La Jolla Shores.
When I was growing up, the beach routinely had about ten to twenty people on it on week days; my family and two other neighboring families usually made up about 16 of those folks.
Today the beach is packed with people as far as the eye can see.
After the long flight it felt good to just walk a bit around the neighborhood. As a kid I used to enjoy peeling the soft skin like bark from this kind of tree.

I was thrilled to see a few Jacaranda blooms on a few of the Jacaranda trees. The tree usually blooms in June, and is covered with the periwinkle blue blossoms, which are supported by grey barked branches; the green leaves fill in later. It is a signature tree for San Diego; entire streets are lined with Jacaranda trees and if one Googles Jacaranda the results tend to mention San Diego as a place that has a lot of the trees.

The other tree that blooms around town is a Tipuana Tipu. We had one in the back yard of the house we raised our kids in. Rumor had it that Kate Sessions, (a local horticulturist in the late 1800's) imported the trees from South America, and if we had one in our yard, a HUGE one by the 1980's, it was most likely a housewarming gift to the homeowners from someone who knew her, as she died in 1940. We were the only ones in the neighborhood with a Tipu tree, so it must have been planted deliberately.

A small Tipu tree.
Laura and I compared notes on our childhood adventures with lantana. We both had stripped the blossoms of the individual flowerettes and used them as a confetti to toss about, or to pretend a wedding recessional. I suppose most Southern California girls have similar memories, and the sharp scent of lantana brings the memories to mind again quickly.

This was a new flower to me. I like it!

A newer house in the neighborhood, or at least possibly a remodeled house. I don't recall it growing up when it was against code to build a two story house. Now the property values are so high all the little beach houses are being torn down and mega houses constructed. My complaint: they block the lovely sea breezes!

I don't recall this house either, but it is a nice use of the typical Spanish style architecture of the area, and of course red tile roofs are just SO Southern California. Naturally visitors think they are romantic, while those of us who have been surrounded by such growing up tend to prefer shingled cottages for our own romantic dream houses.
(or at least I do....and I was thrilled when Bernie created a shingled sided weaving studio for me in our garden in our home in San Diego years ago.)

Always a struggle to spell; always a bright spot in the So. Cal landscape.
It comes in so many colors ranging from white to pink to coral to red and purples. The blossom petals feel like dried tissue paper, and the spent blossoms blow around on the slightest breeze. The people next door to my parents have planted a hedge of bougainvillea around the high wall around their house, and the ABUNDANT flowers tend to all blow into our yard.
This drives my dad absolutely batty; he is a dedicated neat nick.
His solution: Sweeps the blossoms into a box and dumps it over the neighbor's fence into their front yard. This has been going on for years. The neighbors are artist and apparently never step outside of their house anyway.
I'm sure behind the wall is now a nicely decomposed pile of blossoms that serves to enrich their soil.

An "original" sized house a few doors up from my parent's house. I would never had thought of painting the house grey, and then the door orange to compliment the tile roof. The orange terricota sun and garden brick walk way just pulls the whole scheme together perfectly.
I like the low maintenance landscaping too.

There are several kinds of Australian Eucalyptus trees blooming on our street. Another childhood memory: On a hot July day I'd walk to the little corner store and buy either a banana or root beer flavored popsicle with my allowance. As I sucked on the cold treat walking home I would be forced to share with the bees that flew buzzing to me from the tree blossoms.

There were always a lot of blossoms and a TON of bees!

This was a huge tree even back in the 1960's; I wonder how old it is now.

The flowers would be spent and pods would form; they seemed to regularly get harvested and sprayed with a metallic paint, then sprinkled with glitter to make Christmas decorations.
We girls would pick the buds and use them as lipstick tubes!

I only remember red and orange Eucalyptus flowers as a kid; but the newer pretty pink ones are gorgeous!
Dad had a "naked lady" out in the garden; the flower also known as belladona lily. The house the kids grew up in had a side walkway that was lined with the bulbs. Every year the stalk would rise up out of the dirt and bloom on Laura's birthday. After the flower was spent, the green strappy leaves would come up, and by autumn the leaves would dry up and wilt away, leaving no trace of the lily in the soil.

Each July the breeze through the side walkway was scented with the sweet lemony fragrance of the Naked Ladies.

A gerbera daisy in Dad's garden.

A cascade of fuchia blossoms drew hummingbirds constantly. Mom, Dad and I enjoyed sitting in the cool garden (BUG FREE! HUMIDITY FREE! ) and watched the cat watch the hummers in the garden.

Kangaroo paws were blooming everywhere in the area. They come in either red or yellow, and grow to be a nice full four to five foot tall shrub. I never remember seeing them when I was a child; I have to wonder who introduced them to the area.

A crinkly little five spot flower bloomed at the park above the beach. Another "new to me" flower in the neighborhood.

It was so nice to be in La Jolla again, and to eat outside and visit with my folks and Laura.
Later we looked through an old costume box; I'll post a few pictures from that later.
Laura and I shared the guest room; the next day we got up and headed to Solana Beach.
I'll post those pictures tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

House for Sale, California Style

I'm back from San Diego now, and I have loads of great pictures to share, but not enough time or energy at the moment to post them just yet.
It was a great trip, with visits to the seashore, art galleries, gardens, and of course the actual 30th birthday party.

So until I can get the rest of the pictures ready, here's something to make you shake your head and wonder about what is real and what is not. What exactly should a quarter of million dollar house look like anyway?

As you know if you read my post about putting our house on the market, our house is priced at $269,000. So when Laura and I were driving to the La Mesa/Spring Valley area of San Diego, we had to stop and take a picture of what you could buy there for ten thousand dollars less than my house in Texas.

A cute neat little house.
Here's the front.

Here's the side and the garage....

Now let's check out the neighborhood.....the house next door for instance.


And this IS the neighborhood.
I know...never buy the best house in the neighborhood, so I guess this particular house is a no go!

I'll be back later with pretty pictures, I promise.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Farewell to the Twenties!

Surprise! I'm in San Diego right now.
The reason?
To visit family (I haven't been "home" in over a year and a half), but mostly to celebrate Laura turning 30!

Before we can celebrate her turning thirty next Tuesday, (July 22nd) we first must say farewell to her twenties.

If you've ever read Laura's blog "It's good to be me!" you know that she knows how to throw a party for a friend like you would not believe.

Now it was time for a party for herself.

First off was a four hour brunch at a local restaurant on the edge of small air field.

The 94th Aero Squadron restaurant has a WWI theme, which is pretty close to being 1920.

Here's the front of the restaurant.
Next you invite all your friends to come join you through out the 20's style dress.
Laura's aunt made her dress; Laura's friend Margo (in the black outfit behind Laura) made her own outfit. The normally brunette Margo helped Laura plan the event, and she herself had just had her 30th party with the theme "Paint the Town Red.

The girl with the purple boa is named Heather. She graduated from UT Arlington with Laura, and now the two of them both work for San Diego Hospice, Heather in pediatric and Laura in hospital liaison.
Both of them love life and celebrate life daily.
That's Heather's husband David next to her; he is in medical research. Laura was part of their wedding last fall.
Crystal is next to me in the cloche; you might remember her from the blog where I asked people to vote on which hat she should wear to a wedding.
She is now totally hooked on hats.
Smart girl!

Mom and Dad and I rented our costumes. I really loved Mom's; Dad's got a load of comments, and the fact he carried that pick ax around was a hoot.

It was a champagne brunch, and boy did we enjoy the bubbly.

Later two other friends from work dropped by too.
I liked Mom's headache band's feather. Very classy!

After brunch the party moved down to the beach area, to Mission Beach. The Mustang convertible was rented by the girls as a surprise to Laura.

Crystal was our getaway driver.
The Big Dipper rollercoaster in Mission Beach was built in 1926, so of course taking a ride on it had to be part of saying farewell to one's 20's.
My parent's rode it back when they were kids....
Amazingly, we got parking right up in front!
And folks had told us it just couldn't be done on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon.
Yup, that's Laura up there with her arms up.

I like merry-go-rounds, so we saddled up for a spin there too.

Yes, we got "spoken to" about staying seated.
We are always in trouble, but it is worth it to have fun.

It was quite gratifying to be driving around in a muscle car convertible while in costume.
Laura enjoyed yelling out that it was her birthday at every corner we drove around.

After the amusement park we headed downtown to the Courtyard Marriott hotel. It is built inside an old bank that opened in 1928; the bank vault is still there, and can be toured!

Love the old style building.
Even the ceiling was great!

At the hotel more guests arrived. A gangster....

And his moll.

Surrounded by candies created in the 1920s, we played a four hour long Murder Mystery Game.
It turned out that Laura was the player who did the dastardly deed!
The whole day was the perfect way to say good bye to one's 20's.
Laura really had a great time during those years: she graduated from college, started her nursing career, visited all 50 states, lived in Hawaii, Santa Barbara, Philadelphia, LA, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake, San Diego, and Houston, bought a brand new car, traveled to Scotland, Mexico, Canada, and Sweden, wrote a novel, jumped out of an airplane, got engaged, planned a wedding, then ditched the guy just in the nick of time.
Those were some really crazy years.
Can't wait to see what she does in her thirties.
Whatever it is, I'm with her and behind her all the way.
I've put more pictures of the day in a slide show that you can enjoy by clicking here.
Wish you could of been here too!