Monday, January 30, 2006

Off Season

We did pretty good today at our 'new job' of getting some exercise. We walked a 5 mile trail with some good ups and downs. It was about a half mile from our motorhome to the trailhead, so we did 6 miles all total. We only saw one other couple on the whole hike. This is clearly OFF season here. Yet, the weather is perfect. I'd say the temperature was 68 and the sun was shining. It was beautiful. Our destination was the dam that creates Lake Cachuma. The best part is that we didn't have to drive anywhere to get to this beautiful hike. We just walked out our door, and limped back to that same welcoming home door! And, what a view we have here. I *told* you it is off-season:

Wine Country

If you've been reading our blog for any length of time, you know we like wine! When we first started RVing, we learned how easily things break in this lifestyle, so we left our wine glasses with my Mom and we bought some nice plastic ones. They really were nice, and they really were pretty, but we just couldn't drink wine out of them! So, we have glass wine glasses, and we break them ... regularly. Instead of bemoaning the loss of a glass when we break it, we rejoice because it gives us an excuse to go to another winery, taste their wine and buy a glass! We've been running low on wine glasses. Y'think there are any wineries we could visit in California? We traveled up the coast to Santa Barbara before heading inland and uphill to our destination. Here's the first view of Lake Cachuma where there is a campground. We are near a town called Solvang, and that brought memories of watching a movie with our friend Emily. The movie is called Sideways, and it is required viewing for every wine lover. The movie is mentioned in the tour guide magazine, but the only reference we saw to it in town (Los Olivos) was this: There's lots more wine-tasting places here now. It would take a month to visit them all. This wine-tasting was at Epiphany Isn't that a great word? Apparently, getting into the wine-making business was an epiphany for Eli Parker who is Fess Parker's son. You Do remember Fess Parker don't you? Think coonskin cap! We had a great time chatting with these folks. And, the wine wasn't bad either :-). Notice the award-winning bottle. We bought the Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon ... and a glass of course. We also went to Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country for some tasting. But, they had something different. In addition to wines - you could taste beers from around the world. We couldn't resist. They were really good, and one was very different. From Germany, it's called a Schlenkerla Smokebeer. And, the smoke flavor is very prominent. Apparently it's brewed in a region that there is not enough sunshine to dry the hops, so they smoke them. This should be the drink of choice at any barbecue! We also took a little detour down this beatiful drive to a Lavendar farm. What a day!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reagan Presidential Library

Our visit to the Reagan Presidential Library yesterday wasn't as thought provoking as Nixon's the day before. I think that was primarily due to being overwhelmed by the physical splendor of the place. It sits on a hilltop overlooking spectacular hills and vineyards. I felt like we were at Hearst Castle! This was a president with a sense of humor! I don't know this for a fact, but I'll bet he commissioned this portrait himself. It's made completely of jelly beans. If you were around back then, you remember that he was known for always having a jar of jelly beans on his desk. The high point, of course, was Air Force One. This is the actual plane that served as the flying whitehouse for Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. It was just installed in the museum last October. They had to dissassemle it and reassemble to get it here. You weren't allowed to take any pictures inside.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Richard M Nixon Library and Birthplace

I just love history. Learning. As I get older, 'history' has become times that I lived through, making it even more interesting. What is recorded, what I remember, and what is true. Three very different versions of history! The Nixon library is located in Yorba Linda - just east of Anaheim and Disneyland. It's a beautiful area and we found a very nice RV park at Featherly Regional Park. According to Wikipedia (I love wikipedia!) Richard Nixon won his first election by appealing to what he called the "silent majority" of socially conservative Americans who disliked the "hippie" counterculture and anti-war demonstrators. At that time, I was in college and I *was* one of those "hippie counterculture and anti-war demonstrators". My memory of Nixon is one of a dishonest politician who sent thousands of young men to die in Vietnam and Cambodia and who left office justly beaten and in disgrace. My only remaining memorobilia from that period is this from my tshirt quilt: Not exactly the image presented at the Nixon library! I am a believer in looking at the positive side of things, and I know that my experiences in college were one-sided on the other side, but it sure makes me take all of what you read as 'history' with a grain of salt. Just like 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder', I'd say that history is in the pen of the writer. It was a very thought-provoking day to say the least. One very interesting exhibit was a wall of Time Magazine covers. Nixon was on the cover of over 50 Time Magazines - more than any other person. I had no idea he was named Time's 'Man of the year' not once, but twice: 1971 and 1972! The library itself is very impressive and beautiful. Bully!

Southern California Coast

Driving north from San Diego, you can see why so many people like Southern California. Perfect weather. Gorgeous views. We were surprised to see so much open land in this prime real estate. Southern Florida, by contrast, is solid, uninterrupted city. We learned that the open space is Camp Pendleton. It takes a marine base these days to protect the environment! At the north end of Pendleton we see city again. Beautiful homes on the top of hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Camelot. I wonder what these houses sell for? But, isn't it always the case, there's a dark side to Camelot.

Friday, January 27, 2006

More San Diego

What fun to play tourist for a while. The main tourist attraction I'd heard of in San Diego is Balboa Park. But, I thought it was all a zoo. No - it's many acres of property with all sorts of stuff. Just walking around looking at the awesome architecture is worth the trip. The park includes 16 museums. There is normally an entrance fee for each museum, but, on Tuesdays, they take turns being free. This Tuesday, the Aerospace Museum was free. Cool. Also the sports museum was free, so we got to check out the history of surfing! John knew a lot about this. He grew up in San Diego and did a lot of surfing. The movie Endless Summer was part of the exhibit. That's still a great movie. The next day we finally went kayaking. We planned to do this every day, but it's been a little chilly - usually mid 40s in the morning. Then it gets breezy in the afternoon. But this was Lynne, John and Ryan's last day so we got brave. We're leaving today to head north to San Luis Obispo. Since we're in the tourist mode, we're planning to visit the Nixon Presidential library and the Reagan Library on the way. The Reagan library recently added Air Force One to the exhibits. Gotta see that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Being Tourists in San Diego

As I mentioned before, Lynne and John are here for Josh's (John's son) wedding. Here they are with Ryan (Lynne's son) getting ready to go to the wedding. They clean up rather nicely doncha think? So there are lots of family and friends here as well. And, John grew up in San Diego, so he likes playing tour guide. We were more than happy to join in. Here's our group having Sunday Brunch in Old Town. Patrick really enjoyed the Mariachis! The bougainvillea here is spectacular! Then we went to San Diego harbor where the Midway aircraft carrier has been turned into a museum. Here's John and Jim (aka 'the twins') getting excited about our visit. I bet these kayakers feel small. Isn't this a nice statue for a military memorial park? Jim loves everything aeronautical. We had great views of the bay from the bridge. Yesterday, we visited the ocean at Mission Beach. It's beautiful, but I can't say inviting. That water is probably 58 degrees!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Walking in San Diego's Mission Bay

I am determined to get some exercise into our lifestyle. It's just not healthy to sit around as much as we do - but that's what computer work mostly entails. Right now, in San Diego, we are staying at Mission Bay RV Park, and it is at one end of a long public park - perfect for walking. Jim looked at the geocaching website and saw one on Fiesta island, but, he says, "I think that's too far to walk." I said, no, that's just what we should do - walk a long ways. Not strenuous, just long - good for us. I figured it was about 5-6 miles (round trip) and would take us about 2 hours. Well, by the time we got back, 3 hours had passed and close to 9 miles. I was limping! Maybe Jim was right? But, I wasn't going to let him know that! He said, "You always start out by overdoing it." No way, I said, "We've got to push ourselves, how else are we going to improve our condition?" Anyway, we survived, and even did it again today. It is a beautiful walk. There was swing music playing and all these people dancing! And, lots of people flying kites.