Monday, January 11, 2016
Time to head home! I was in for one more treat. I got up early and drove to Fresno, where I would board a plane. I had been to the Fresno Airport many years ago, and it wasn't too interesting. That has changed. There are huge faux sequoias in the lobby and some very nice restaurants. I had a good breakfast and then got on a plane to Phoenix and then to National Airport. Some people call it Reagan, but I prefer to call it National. It was a great trip, but I was happy to get home.
The day after Thanksgiving was a beautiful day and Jenifer had a beach she wanted to show us. Jeff drove his new car and we set off for Avila. It is a very charming beach town and wasn't too crowded. We had a little trouble getting a parking space, but found one. People were on the beach, but I think it was a little too cold for swimming. Some young kids were chasing waves.
We walked out as far as we could on the pier and I took the picture above looking back at the town. I also took this nice picture of Erik and Jen on the beach walkway:
We stopped for a coffee and then headed to Templeton to go to a hamburger joint there and to see the new James Bond movie, "Spectre." The tickets were pretty much sold out. We got in, but didn't sit all together. That was OK.
We went back to the house, snacked on leftovers, watched tv and I made a little painting of a silver creamer and sugar bowl. There were silver pieces all over the house, and it gave it a kind of homey feel. I wanted to leave it as a "thank you." This is the painting:
It was done with an Elegant Writer, which I always enjoy. It is a black pen, but when water is applied, it bleeds in a kind of unpredictable way. I hope the owners enjoyed
We were looking forward to a relaxing day with a big Thanksgiving dinner and time to watch the football games on tv. The family room was nice, with lots of room and a big tv. Take a look at that leather chair and the sofa.
We actually didn't do much. Dinner was good and then we played a game of "Trailer Park Wars." I didn't take any pictures. We didn't even get out of the house!
The highlight of this day was checking into the "Paso Vine House. It was much nicer than I expected. It is very comfy and cozy and had everything that we needed. For example, this is what the utensils drawer looked like:
While I was making a list for the grocery store, I noticed a man in the yard--it turns out it was Jeff. I went out and told him I had already opened the house. We relaxed for a few minutes and then went to the store to get something for tonight's dinner and Thanksgiving tomorrow. We had fun shopping, but it was crowded.
Back at the house, we heard from Jen and Erik that they would be late and we should go ahead and eat without them. They got there pretty soon, though, and we all settled in for tomorrow.
I decided that I would try to stay at Jenifer's little house rather than at the Best Western. Jen had told me how to get in, but it didn't work. I met Sally for lunch at Bib Bubba's Barbeque, which was right by the Best Western. She looked great and I learned she was just getting ready to move to Wyoming.
She had a lot to do, but felt like it she could help me get in Jen's place. We were successful and so I went back and checked out of Best Western. We had a big hug and she went back to her packing.
I went to the grocery store to get some food for dinner and a magazine. At Jen's place, I worked on some little paintings and caught up on my e-mail. Kind of a quiet day.
My plan was to go to Benicia and then go back to the Coast south of San Francisco. I left Mill Valley as expected and drove across what is called the Back Bay Road to Benicia. The weather continued to be lovely and so I drove out onto a manmade spit that has a view back at the town of Benicia. It is a nice view, and a little sentimental for me, since I used to live there--well, up on the hill with a waterview toward Martinez and the Carquinez Bridge.
This is the view along the spit and toward the Carquinez Bridge, which is a little dim in this picture:
This is the view along the spit and toward the Carquinez Bridge, which is a little dim in this picture:
All was going well until I started to get back into the rental car and it was locked. The keys were on the inside. I am not sure why it locked. At least I did have my phone and so I could call AAA for help to get back into the car. Of course, I didn't have my wallet and so I didn't have my membership number. It took a few phone calls, but I finally got everything straightened out and the person who I was talking to had NO idea where Benicia was. She finally got it on the map and dispatched some help. I went into the Benicia Main Street office to wait. It is a repurposed railway station, and quite nice.
I had forgotten that there were so many palm trees! The guy came fairly quickly and it took him about 90 seconds to open the car. I was off again. While crossing the bridge, I was listening to the radio and heard that Highway 1 (down the California Coast) had been closed because a truck had overturned. It is two-lane almost all the way. I decided just to go to Paso Robles down Highway 101. It worked out fine, and I ended up in Paso Robles in time for dinner. I had tried to reserve a room on-line at the Best Western, but my reservation hadn't gone through. There were lots of fire crews there for training, but I did get a room. I had dinner, connected with my sister-in-law Sally Reynolds and took it easy for the rest of the night. I had planned on staying in Cambria, on the Coast, but didn't take that route, so would have some extra time in Paso Robles.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
I had told Sheryl that I needed to go to the Beach, so we set out for Stinson Beach. I miss the West Coast beaches. It was a lovely, sunny day and, even though it was a Sunday, not too crowded. I took this great picture of Sheryl. I think it captures how fun-loving and pretty she is.
I also took this sand shadow selfie, which is kind of interesting. We walked up and down the beach and enjoyed the kids and dogs who seem to totally immerse themselves in enjoying the beach.
We went back by going up high on Mount Tamalpais, and paused for this great view, looking back to Stinson Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
We came back to Mill Valley in time for a memorial service for Maya Goodwin, who Sheryl knew through The Redwoods, where Maya lived. It was a nice Buddhist service, with a Red Tara meditation at the beginning. I was totally unfamiliar with Red Tara, but enjoyed the peacefulness of the repetition of the teachings. After that, we enjoyed refreshments and looked at Maya's art. Many of her paintings were displayed, and this was my favorite:
We then re-convened and everyone said something about their memories of this special woman. Since I didn't actually know her, I had to admit that I was meeting her through the friends and family present there. It was interesting to know that she had been married to Sam Francis,a well-known abstract impressionist artist, and they lived in Paris. I wonder if, in different times, her work might have been seen as important (or more important) as his. It certainly is as interesting...at least, to me.
Friday, January 8, 2016
After Virginia's party yesterday, I was given a bouquet to take to my parents' grave in Fair Oaks. I was going to take them after I left Virginia's house, but I learned that the cemetery closed at 4 pm. So I went to the cemetery first thing in the morning before driving to Mill Valley to see my friend Sheryl. Sheryl and I have been friends since the sixties in San Francisco. We always have a lot of fun together.
Sheryl cooked a terrific dinner that included Atlantic cod. I again took some time to just "be" with a friend and make time to catch up on news of each others' families. That was very nice. We took some "selfies," and drank too much wine. Actually the wine came before the selfies.....which is why I am not posting them here.
It was pleasant to settle into her cozy cottage looking forward to some adventures tomorrow.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
November 20 was a big day. There was a big, very nice party at the Cattle Rustler's Restaurant for Virginia's 91st birthday. I was surprised when I saw one of my paintings there. It is a painting I did of Virginia several years ago when she was a principle and Isador Cohen Elementary School. She displays it in her home and I have made cards from it and also coasters. Someone brought the painting in for the party and I was very honored to see it there. The picture above is Virginia with it at the party. Here's a better picture of the painting:
It was great and was attended by family and friends, including some who are also Isador Cohen retirees.
After the luncheon, we went to Virginia's house for an after-party. That was fun, too.
I went back to Kathy's house and we had leftovers and just chatted. I loved that.
Today was a day to just relax! Hooray! I had lunch with my brother Russell at the Elephant Bar Restaurant. The food was good and we had a nice visit.
I also got my hair styled at the Sanctuary Salon and Spa, which was across the street at Birdcage Walk.
I drove by my family's house on Orangewood Drive in Fair Oaks. We sold it after my father died, but it still looks nice from the outside. I took the picture from the street because I was a little nervous about actually going on the property.
I went back to Kathy's apartment and we went out to dinner at Mimi's Cafe. I wanted to go by Uber, but Uber is not as good in her area as it is in DC. We waited a long time and then the driver called and said he was tied up in traffic. Kathy ended up driving. We again had a great visit and just enjoyed relaxing together.
I left Susanville early, but not too early. I was going to go over Donner Summit and I didn't want to go when it was icy. No need to worry. There was lots of snow, but the road was clear. I stopped at the Summit rest stop and took this picture of a little lake that is behind the rest stop building. It is on the wrong side of the highway to get a picture of Donner Lake. It was pretty anyway, and so clear.
When I arrived in Sacramento, I did a couple of errands before going to my friend Kathy's apartment. She recently adopted a rescue cat, named Graziella, who I got to know during my visit. She was shy at first, but eventually realized she could trust me.
Kathy thought Grazie was a male because of her tabby coloring. Most tabbies are male. However, when Kathy took Grazie to the vet, she found out she had a female cat. Very nice and very pretty
Kathy made a great spaghetti dinner and we just caught up on news about each other and our families. .
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
I got up early, had a nice breakfast with Sandy and Aunt Ardye and headed for Susanville to see another cousin, Becky. The drive was beautiful. It had recently snowed around Mt. Lassen, but the roads were clear. The picture above shows how Susanville looks when you come in from the North. When I got to Becky's house, we had some time to look at old family movies. That was very nice. Her mother was my mother's sister and we were close growing up as we were all in the Sacramento area.
Becky organized a family get-together at Matzatlan Restaurant where we were joined by Katie and her family and Matt and Marisa. Everyone looked great. We missed Travis and his family and also Bucky, but we had a great time eating Mexican food and catching up on news. Here's a picture of Riley and Katie:
and one of Becky with Zachary:
It was fun that Becky got us together!
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
I felt that this was going to be a challenging day. I had refused to drive in San Francisco, but wanted a car to drive around Northern and Central California to see family and friends. In advance, I reserved a car in Vallejo because I thought it would be fun to take the ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo, but the rental car office was quite a distance from the ferry dock. It was Enterprise, and they say they will pick you up....but I was skeptical. I left the Royal Pacific by Uber. Above is the last picture from my balcony and you can just see the Coast Range mountains. I have always loved that building with the balconies and the dome that is in the upper center of the picture. I think it is a private residence...wow!
At the Ferry Building, I bought my ticket but had to wait awhile until the next ferry crossing to Vallejo. No problem. It was beautiful on the waterfront and I felt like I was just "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."
When the ferry did come, it was not crowded at all and everything is much nicer than it was when I took the ferry to work in the Financial District from Vallejo and back. We made a stop at Pier 41 and had another view of downtown and then Fisherman's Wharf. On the way to Vallejo, I was excited to see East Brother Light Station. It is a bed and breakfast place that is on a tiny island between San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay. The ferry goes right by it. It looks charming, but I have never gone there.
I called Enterprise when I got to Vallejo and the guy came pretty quickly to take me to the rental office. I got my little car and headed off to Anderson. I got there for my cousin Sandy's birthday and her daughter Amie was there. I hadn't seen her in a very long time. We had a fun time catching up and I a good visit with my Aunt Ardye, who is 91. I only regret that I didn't take any pictures.
Friday, January 1, 2016
On the last day my brother Jeff was here for a Christmas visit, we decided to go to Congressional Cemetery. He had never been there, and I think he enjoyed seeing it. The weather was pretty good, so we spent about an hour walking around. One of the more interesting gravesites is that of former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. It is surrounded by a fence. It includes other members of his family.
A very interesting tidbit is that the grave of Clyde Tolson is very close, although not next to Hoover's. Tolson was Hoover's second in command and they did everything together, including vacations and dinners. Of course, that has led to speculation that they had a sexual relationship. I don't think anyone knows for sure, but Tolson was the beneficiary of Hoover's estate. Tolson's gravesite is very modest:
We didn't know it at the time, but visiting Hoover's grave kind of set the tone for the day.
After breakfast at a neighborhood place, The Banana Cafe, we headed to the Newseum by Metro. One of the featured exhibits is "Inside Today's FBI." So, we got another dose of the FBI. This exhibit is definitely worth seeing. Jeff was particularly interested in the exhibit that included the cabin of the Unabomber Ted Kozkinski.
We came home and had a simple dinner at my house and watched "Sixty Minutes." Amazingly, the topics covered were about mobsters. I didn't know that in advance. There was a piece on Whitey Bolger and how the FBI tracked him down. Then one about the fall of the Gambino crime family, including John Gotti, Jr; I was really impressed with the story about a Cuban American FBI agent who posed as an Italian and infiltrated La Cosa Nostra. His cover was really never exposed, but when he witnessed one mob guy bash another with a candlestick in Bloomingdale's, he didn't jump in and continue the violence. The FBI was worried about him, and pulled him off the case. However, they had enough evidence by that time to arrest Greg DePalma and 31 others. He doesn't seem to be worried about the publicity and whether the mobsters will come after him.
Jeff and I sat back and reflected that we had experienced a real "FBI Day."