Monday, August 17, 2009

'My Cailfornia Adventure' or 'Why There's No Place Like Home'

Ok..I finally have found a few moments to tell all of you how my little vacation went. Let me first say to my lovely California hosts that I truly appreciated your hospitality and I am very grateful for all you did for me to ensure that I had a good time. Thank you all so much.

Tell a native Californian to meet you at 3rd and Fairfax and they know exactly the location you are referring to...The La Farmers Market. This is an archival photo of how it looked in 1934. It was started by E. B. Gilmore. As the photo shows, it was a very rustic set-up of vendors selling their wares under simple canvas tents. Customers parked on a dirt lot with chalk marked parking slots. It became popular very quickly. things have changed! I took this photo to show you how the Market has changed and boy...what a change it is! Chic world class designer boutiques and restaurants galore. They still have a tented area, however I found most of those shops were filled with a lot of 'made in China'
touristy stuff. It was fun to see and great for people watching..however not my idea of a true farmers market. The 1934 version looked like much more fun. Ah...progress!

My sister in law Wendy's former neighbor raises exotic birds and one day while visiting, a friend of his stopped by with three baby flamingos. How cool is that!!! We got to hold them and play with these beauties. They were pretty young and did not have their famous pink color yet. That comes from the algae and crustaceans they eat. They were very downy and they felt just like microfiber fleece. I wanted to smuggle one home to Virginia, however I am sure he would have put me over the allowed 50lb free baggage limit on Jet Blue.

These little guys were so very friendly and did not mind us molesting them at all...alright we did get a little smothering. But come on how often do you get to hold a flamingo!!!

One day we took a ride out to the Coachella Valley via I 10 freeway to view the incredible Palms Springs Windmill Farm. The view of over 4,000 working windmills in this high desert locale was like being on another planet. They looked like giant robots on the march. Transformers have nothing on these monsters of energy. The San Gorgonio Pass is one of two of the most consistently windy places on earth (South Africa having the other). The clean power these windmills produce is enough to power all of Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley...amazing!

The mother ship has landed!!! While at the Windmill Farm my sister in law spotted this fabulous Saguaro Cactus. We had to trespass to get this photo, but it was worth the possibility of Saguaro Cactus prison time..He.He. Did you know it can take up to 75 years to develop one 'arm'? Birds such as woodpeckers like to build their homesinside these cactus..notice the holes on the right lower side. These nests can eventually kill the cactus. They sport creamy white night blooming flowers and ruby colored fruit and are pollinated by bats. It is against the law to destroy these gentle giants. They are truly a thing of beauty and awe. Just don't trip and fall into one while trying to take a good photo....OUCH!!!!!

Since the home I stayed in was in the San Bernardino Mtns, I could not skip the chance to ride over to Lake Arrowhead. Again the road is very room for error. The views are spectacular..very other worldly and very brown. This little patch of green was very rare and you can still see remnants of their last forest fire in '08'. At this point I was about 6,000 ft up. Not a good time to discover you have a fear of heights ;-)...I don't, thank the lord.

Lake Arrowhead was serene and to my surprise, very uncrowded, . There was a small shopping area with some cute boutiques and apparently tourist love to buy anything with pinecones and bears as that was the theme everywhere. I did have some fabulous fish tacos (Californians eat a lot of tacos).

I have always wanted to drive on one of those desert roads with nothing ahead and nothing around in the movie, 'Thelma and Louise'. Our drive to Las Vegas took me pretty close to that experience. The 15 takes you straight from San Bernardino to Las Vegas. Yes...I said THE 15...Californians put the word 'THE' before all of their freeways...The 10, THE 210, THE 330..and so on. If you want to be branded an outsider, just try telling someone you took I 210 to get to their home...a red flag that you do not belong! Ok....back to the Vegas drive. I took a photo of the inside auto thermometer as proof of the incredibly hot temp outside the car. For most of the trip to Vegas it read between 99-114 degrees.....Oh..but they are quick to tell you it is a DRY heat! Wet heat or dry heat...112 is freakin HOT!!!!!! It is very deceiving because you do not really sweat and you don't realize you are fried until you get in the shower at night. Even with sunscreen, I got way too much sun.

This was the scenery all the way to driving on the moon...a very hot moon!

Nothing but straight road for three and one half hours. I noticed no street lamps and decided this has to be one scary dark road to break down on at night. You really want to be sure you car is in good shape and you are gassed up. Ever see the movie ' The Hills Have Eyes' ? I will keep driving..thank you very much.

After what seemed like forever, we finally pulled in to Las Vegas, Nevada. A little oasis in the middle of the desert. We stayed at the beautiful Bellagio Hotel and Casino right on the strip. It was gorgeous and one of the main attractions in Vegas happens right in front of this fabulous hotel. The world famous Bellagio Dancing Waters is a stunning thing of beauty. Remember the final scene in Ocean's Eleven? I could have spent the whole time just watching this spectacle over and over, without ever tiring of it's show . Check out this YouTube video to see the waters dance to Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli...wonderful! ( ) The view from my room was pretty great..I gave up trying to count how many pools, public and private, they had. In addition to the ones you can see, they have many private pools with adjoining suites. As soon as I win the Lottery, that's were I'm going...private pool!

This blog is not big enough to include all you can see or do in Las Vegas. One of the not to be missed things to do in Vegas is to see one of the many Cirque de Soleil performances. I had tickets for 'KA' at the Mirage Hotel. The show was out of this world fabulous!!! It was well worth the $70.00 ticket price and our seats were really great. Of course I could not leave Vegas without seeing the famous 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. My pretty niece Katelyn, on the left, posed with her friend Michelle under this historic landmark. After three days we were back in the car and headed out through the Mojave desert again, where I saw a real mirage (not the hotel kind) of a body of water...too cool!

Something else I had on my list of 'things-to-do' in California, was a day at the beach. My sister-in-law took me to Huntington Beach. The day was picture perfect and the beach was fairly crowded. I am not really an all day at the beach kind of my stay there was a little too long for my liking. Even with sunscreen, I got too much sun and ended up with a burn. I am happy to say that although I got pretty red, it turned straight to a peeling! Hooray...I am attending a wedding in a few days and was afraid my dress would be accessorized with peeling dry skin..gross.
My final few days went by in a whirlwind..lots of driving and lots of taco eating (did I say they eat a lot of tacos?). I did have one final adventure in California. My flight was departing at 10:25 am so we left the mountain in plenty of time for an on time check-in at the Long Beach airport. While doing about 70 mi. per hour in the middle lane of I10 (yeah..I know, I am not from Ca.) we had a blowout of the rear left tire! about scary..tractor trailors on both sides zooming past us. Thanks to the calm and clear thinking of my sister-in-law, Wendy, we made it safely to the very small right shoulder. Luckily Wendy has AAA and a towing service was with us in about 25 minutes. How that man changed our tire on the traffic side of the car is a mystery to me. He had about 5 inches between himself and the whizzing tractor about nerves of steel. After thanking him profusely, we made it to the airport with 3 minutes to spare! Hooray for small old fashioned airports!
Well friends, here I am back home now and going from the brown of Los Angeles to the green of Virginia was like Dorothy opening the door to Lollypop Land and seeing everything in color again. There truly is no place like home! Until next time, be kind and stay creative .


Bits of Fiber said...

Ahhhhh, how I do miss California. Well, maybe not all of it but certain things I do miss. Cirque Du Soleil is fantastic. We've been to a couple of their shows, loved every one of them. I found a lady who makes some of their felted outfits, unbelievable! Now that would be my dream job, besides the one I have now at Wegmans of course. Welcome back my dear, sounds like you had a ball and oh my goodness those baby flamingo's are adorable! Cheers, Chantal

Tweed Delights said...

What a fabulous holiday - thanks for a great insight into sunny California! I love the desert photos especially - pretty cool :)

It's always nice to come home though - welcome back to Blogland :D

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds wonderful! As a matter of fact I was on my way to California three weeks ago when I was suddenly detained by security at the airport and removed from the premises causing me to miss my flight. Seems another world traveler took exception to the tee shirt I was wearing that my dear mother gave me!

I didn’t get to go to California but I did stop on the drive home at a Mexican restaurant just off The 95 for a couple tacos. I then decided to stop by my brother-in-laws house on the way home, which, by the way, is not exactly the Bellagio, and we enjoyed a cold one from our nylon lawn chairs while watching the grass sprinkler rotate to Ringo Starr’s “Goodnight Vienna”.

Well before it got too late and after tripping over the pink flamingo yard ornaments, I headed home thinking about what could have been, if only that lady at the airport with the fancy flowerdy handbag didn’t take exception to me expressing my thoughts through my summer wardrobe.

Maybe next year I’ll be eating fish tacos while stranded alongside The 110. But one thing I do know….when I go to the airport, I’ll be sure to wear my shirt inside-out!

.....The Martian

haptree said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing trip! We always call our roads 'the' whatever too here in the UK, funny how different we all are to each other, but at least we have the universal blogosphere!

janet said...

If you are wondering about The Martians comments about the famous sure to read the post prior to this one titled 'I'm Home'...too funny ;-)

Kelly Ann said...

As I was reading about your wonderful vacation and you wrote the 15 I laughed out loud, made the dogs jump, then I read your next sentence..yes everyone out there says The #..that is too funny. I took the 15 from CA to Vegas at night in 1991, very dark and yes alittle scary. Welcome home!

Aik said...

What a wonderful post! The photos look pretty good too! <3

I'm having a giveaway on my blog right now!

Patsy said...

Your trip sounds very fun. Great pics and stories. Glad your home, safe and sound. Have a blessed day!!!

Wanda said...

Enjoyed reading of your trip...I know how beautiful Virginia is, my parents were from there, so I clearly get how beautiful the "Green" was for you.

Julia Guthrie said...

Wow, what amazing pictures! That scenery is spectacular. And yes, I have seen 'when hills have eyes' would freak me out a bit too! hehehe

quiltcat said...

Thanks for telling about your California vacation...sounds wonderful! (you don't mention visiting any quilt shops or antique shops however...were you ill?? *faux concerned look*)

janet said...

Hey Quiltcat...I did leave that part out. I went 3,000 miles and the two purchases I made were 4 yards of fabric(at a quilt shop) and an apron at the Rose Bowl Flea Market! My husband just shook his head ;-)

Pallas said...

I came across this post about California and had to laugh about us calling the roads The 10 etc. Well, we used to call them all by name - The San Bernardino Frwy (The 10), The Hollywood Frwy ( The 101),The Newport Freeway (The 55), The Garden Grove Frwy (The 22) etc.

To confuse the issue even further, when the freeway went into another part of the state, the name would change (The 10 would change from the San Bernardino Frwy and become the Santa Monica Frwy etc.) Some reference is still made to the names by signs or voice.

Make a visit sometime in the Winter when we aren't so brown, and the mountains have snow caps.

Nice blog, I'll be back to visit it.

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