Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day in San Diego and our Fourth Mission

Yesterday Dan and I drove down to San Diego to spend Memorial Day with cousin James. Conveniently, Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala (California's First Mission) was right on our route. So we stopped to pay our dues (and admission fees).

Checking out the Hut

Dan got to sit on the original (and only remaining) wall of the Mission

Father Junipero Serra
 After a quick stroll through the garden, church, and museum we headed off to meet James at his place in Point Loma.

James lives in a great neighborhood a mere two blocks from the Harbor so after hanging out we headed out to Mitch's seafood where we assessed the local fresh catches on the chalkboard and made our orders. We ate overlooking the water where we saw a sea lion swimming around in the Harbor. Then we took a walk to Shelter Island and tried to see if anyone would invite us to join their BBQs (no one did).

After getting back to James' bachelor pad we headed out to La Jolla to check out Mt. Soledad, a Veteran's Memorial at the top of La Jolla that offers great 360 degree views of San Diego.

James and Dan enjoying the view
 At the base of the memorial family or friends have dedicated spaces to honor or memorialize their loved ones who are veterans.

Muriel A. Thompson, a Corporal in the Marines, struck me as a woman ahead of her times!

The views were great from the top, but as you can see, San Diego was pretty socked in on Memorial Day.

Gray Day in San Diego
 After heading back down the windy roads of La Jolla we headed to Ellen Browning Scripps Park (yes, the same Ellen Browning Scripps who established the college where I work) and walked along the cliffs until we found some sea lions. James spotted a sea lion pup who was nursing! We stood watching this little pup nurse for quite some time before we headed back to James' place for our Memorial Day dinner.

Nursing sea lion pup
Chef James cooked up a tasty meal of veggie dogs, mango-jalepeno dogs (two thumbs up), pasta salad with veggies, old fashioneds (featuring his homemade brandied cherries!), and cherry pie a la mode to finish things off (doesn't get more patriotic than that!).

We had such a great time visiting with James - thanks for hosting us, cuz! Until next time . . .

Monday, May 22, 2017

California Adventure

We recently went to California Adventure on a "Hey, it's alright" rated crowd tracker day. And guess what? The crowds were alright. We had a fantastic time walking the park and riding all the rides. Dan's favorite ride was Soarin' Around the World:

Random Family from the Internet having fun on Soarin'
This ride is pretty great because it has fans that create a wind effect for when you're flying around the world and the wind also emits scents such as jasmine when you fly over the Taj Mahal.

My favorite was the roller coaster, California Screamin':

Mary and Dan in front of Mickey's Ferris Wheel and California Screamin'
We also rode the Cars race coaster, Radiator Springs Racers, a couple of times:
Pretty cool fake red rocks, huh?
 We passed by Ariel's Grotto and I had to snap a pic for Kevin A. (Ariel was his all-time favorite Disney character as a kid if I remember correctly).
Ariel's Grotto
 We didn't get any tattoos at the boardwalk, but it's nice to know that it's an option if we want to get a Minnie or Mickey tat next time we're there:

After we got off the swings we serendipitously came across a parade - yay! As longtime readers will know, there is a special place in my heart for a good parade, as seen documented here, here, and here.

The GI Joes were dancing in formation

Dancing JellyFish? Yah, we saw that too
Probably the most impressive parade participant was the woman who did a constant gymnastics bar routine while dressed as a cowgirl. Whew - we got tired just watching her!

Dan has not been to Northern California yet, but we did get a good taste of NorCal when we went through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.There was part of a real tree that was older than the state of California which included tidbits about the history of the state. Dan took an interest in this display:
Dan dissects California Adventures version of California History
 Sadly, earlier this year one of the state's great giant sequoia trees, The Pioneer Cabin Tree, in Calaveras Big Trees State Park fell over. But alas, dear readers, don't worry, Dan was still able to walk through a replica of this terrific tree at California Adventures.

Dan was mad when he found out this was a fake tree 
To really get the full Northern California experience we also went on the Bakery Tour hosted by Boudin Bakery (the original sourdough manufacturers in San Fran). We were treated to sourdough samples and then we walked through the bread factory as the bakers made the famous sourdough (and yes, they even shape some of the loaves into Mickey Mouse - this is Disney after all).

Do you see the Mickey Bread on the top rack?

A baker hard at work
The day was capped off by a fun dancing fountain extravaganza put on to Disney hits, and sung by Disney employees (and maybe helped by the crowd).

Dancing Fountains

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Visitor and Back to Joshua Tree

Earlier this month Peter was in town attending some presentations by students at Keck Graduate Institute here in Claremont. He came by the house and then we went out for our favorite Indian food and then gave him a tour of the Claremont Colleges.

Peter and I on the roof of Kravis at CMC
Then to celebrate classes being done we took a camping trip to Joshua Tree with our friends Zach and Jérôme. We had a great hike in the park up to an old abandoned gold mine

Abandoned Gold Mine
 We looked out over the great Salton Sea where we could see all the way down to Mexico.

Dan at the Overlook
 We also all found a spirit tree that we felt at one with.

Zach and his spirit tree

Dan finds a cool tree

Mary does yoga with her tree

Jérôme finds a tree he likes
 We had a fantastic campsite in Indian Cove and we enjoyed hanging out by the fire, talking, and make s'mores.
Our campsite
 There were lots of rocks to climb and Dan got busy climbing:
Dan climbing rocks