Thursday, March 31, 2016

Palm Springs, CA

Moreno Valley and the Redlands
We had a quick change of plans yesterday when we discovered that our lease ended on March 31, not April 1.  Because of that we added Palm Springs as an additional stop on our way home.  This route took us through Moreno Valley and the Redlands with beautiful views of the hills and mountains of California.  As we entered Palm Springs we spotted the visitor's center and entrance to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  The tram car rotates as it rises 2 1/2 miles along the Chino Canyon to Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  Here we had expansive views of the valley below and of Palm Springs.  
Tram Ride

Tram Ride with Palm Springs in the valley

Palm Springs viewed from Mt. San Jacinto
Following that spectacular introduction to Palm Springs we headed for our hotel and headed and headed until we realized we were in Palm Desert, not Palm Springs. Palm Desert was beautiful and we were not disappointed.  The downtown is quite swanky with an outdoor mall that would rival Rodeo Drive where we had pizza.  

A few more pictures are at flickr.

Adios Imperial Beach

Sweetness is very sad today because she has to pack all those winter clothes for the trip home.  She would much rather be on the beach.  Yes, tomorrow we end our stay in Imperial Beach.  It has been a very delightful and uplifting time.  We are melancholy but looking forward to the trip home.  It was wonderful to spend time with Kathy, Phil and Lola, and to see Bonnie and Duncan.  Staying for 2 months helped us to feel as if we lived in the area.  The people at the fitness center I joined we so welcoming and friendly.  Lee, our fearless leader, was attentive and shared his Sunday hikes with us.  

Imperial Beach Fitness Center, Silver Sneakers
Our days and nights were filled with the rumble of the Pacific Ocean. We finally stuck our toes in on the last day.
Wayne, Christy and the Pacific
If you have about 30 minutes to spare flickr has 60 days of recorded sunsets.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Point Loma, San Diego Serenade*

Point Loma looking across San Diego Bay
Point Loma is a seaside community of San Diego and also the peninsula that hangs out around Coronado Island and helps form San Diego Bay.   We can see the Point from our condo as a distant gray form from which giant freighters and cruise ships emerge.  It is historically important as the landing place where the first European expedition came ashore in present day California.  Loma is the Spanish word for hill, and, indeed it is quite a hill.   At 422 feet, the end point gave fabulous views of downtown San Diego, Coronado Island and even a teeny little speck of our condo and Mexico.  The winds were quite strong but warmed us as we walked up the hill to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.  Also on the Point stands the Cabrillo National Monument.  Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to see San Diego Bay.
Wayne on Point Loma with Downtown San Diego and San Diego Bay
There are 2 major military bases, a university, and a national cemetery which hugs both sides of the Peninsula.
Point Loma National Cemetery.
At the suggestion of a friend from my gym, we ate at Mitch's Seafood, a funky little restaurant sitting on the docks.  Since we are trying to see how many tacos we can eat in 2 months, we obviously ordered octopus tacos.  They were as good as it gets and were enhanced by a great seat overlooking the bay.  It reminded us of eating with the pelicans on the dock at Cortez Bait and Seafood in Florida.
Tacos at Mitch's Seafood, Point Loma
San Diego Serenade, Tom Waits

Saturday, March 19, 2016

When The Swallows Return to Capistrano*

Swallow Nests
March 19th is St Joseph's Day, and the day every year that the swallows return to Capistrano.  Only...NOT.  It seems that since 2014 they have elected to fly 60 miles north to the swanky private Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills.  I guess if I could hang (pun, get it?) with Greg Norman I would, too. We discovered this abomination of tradition before leaving, but decided to go anyway to check out the Mission.  We did find some of the mud nests but aren't sure if they are manmade since that has been one attempt to persuade the feathered friends to return.  If you can zoom in on the picture above you will see those nests sans the swallows.  The second kink in the day was that we forgot it was Saturday. As such it took 2 1/2 hours in stop and go California traffic to go 80 miles.  The return trip was only tiny bit shorter.  

This Mission is one of several Franciscan sites founded by Franciscan Junipero Serra.  It houses the oldest in-use building in California, the Serra Chapel.  On the grounds are the remains of a large stone church.  Built in the late 1700s of stone with vaulted domes, the church was unlike the other Missions' adobe churches.  In 1812 the church was destroyed by an earthquake.  
Church Ruins of Mission San Juan Capistrano
The grounds are filled with beautiful flowers, and plenty of artifacts; historical information abounds in the small rooms.  Submerged oil and tanning vats were discovered recently while digging to repair a broken water main.  This discovery illustrates the extent of the Franciscans' hide tanning and tallow production. The first wine in Alta California was produced from the Mission's grapes, criolla. Until about 1850 this grape represented the entirety of California's viticulture. Despite the absence of the swallows and the horrendous traffic, we had a great day. Anything we do here is fun because, well.. it is so damn nice in Southern California!!!
Beautiful Ground of Mission San Juan Capistrano

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mo Better Mole*

Pollo Mole at Cantina Mayahuel, San Diego
Yesterday's New Bedford Standard Times ran a story in their food section about San Diego.  The food section journalist was visiting here and reported on wonderful mole she had in University Heights.  Since we were headed into town for another Balboa Park visit, we hit Cantina Mayahuel for lunch.  We opted to try both of their moles over a chicken cutlet.  The darker sauce is smoky with chocolate undertones.  The red sauce is fiery hot.  We both blended the 2 after a bit. I think homemade mole is in our future.  I told the waiter about the news article; turns out his girl friend is from Falmouth.  The outdoor patio was sunny and music filled the air. 
Cantina Mayahuel
Our third visit to Balboa park proved as lovely as the prior two.  This trip's goal was to see the Natural History Museum's show Birds as Art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris.  The show was perfectly place in the 3rd floor gallery with glass ceiling.  Please take a look at Morris' vibrant, textured photographs.  
Balboa Park, Natural History Museum, Arthur Morris Birds as Art
Before leaving the park, we took time to stroll through and around the Botanical Building with its lagoon and lilly pond.  As always, the koi delighted me.  I must mention also that there are always buskers and other street performers filling the air with music and laughter.  At the lagoon a gentleman was masterfully playing a classical guitar piece.  
Botanical Building, Balboa Park
Over-shadowing the Koi, Balboa Park Botanical Building Lilly Pond

*La Cumbia Del Mole performed by Lila Downs

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anza Borrego Desert*

Anza Borrego Desert
Today we drove northeast to visit Borrego Springs and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  The desert is part of the larger Colorado Desert of southern California, which is part of the even larger Sonoran Desert where the beautiful saguaro cactus grow. Anza Borrego is named for an 18th century Spanish explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza, and for the Spanish word borrego meaning big horn sheep, which live here. It was about a 2 hour drive through the interesting and beautiful Cleveland Forest which began as pretty rocky landscape comprised mostly of chaparral. As we entered the Cuyamaca Mountains within the Forest, we noticed many, many large dead trees; dead so long they were silver and shiny. We later discovered the area was the site of the largest wild fire in California history, the 2003 Cedar Fire. This fire burned 280,000 acres and killed 15 people. 

In the midst of the Cuyamaca Mountains and the Cedar Fire area stands a little gold rush town, Julian. Amazingly, it survived the fire.  We had heard of the Julian pies, so naturally had to stop.  Practically all of the buildings were built ca 1870 during the gold rush.  At some point a Johnny Appleseed bought in and planted a wagon load of apple trees.  And, thus, the famous Julian apple pie was born.  
Julian, CA featuring our pie stop cafe.
The approach to Borrego Springs is breath-taking with steep roads that overlook deep and wide valleys.  The town was surprisingly populated and green with palm trees.  It was 85 degrees and sunny.  The road to the Park headquarters passes the Galleta Meadows where there are 130 metal sculptures inspired by creatures that roamed the desert millions of years ago.  The artist, Richard Breceda, was commissioned by Denis Avery, the land owner, to create the sculptures.  
Galleta Meadows Mastodon
The spring flowers are blooming the in the desert.  They are sometimes subtle, small, low to the ground and not immediately evidenced.  Others are large and bold such as the indigo shrub and the ocotillo cactus.  On our drive back we passed through the Laguna Mountains where we reached an altitude of 4500+ feet.  At one point it seemed we were on a mesa where rivers, large trees a lake and green, green grass grew.  All of here has been a geological delight. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Purple Haze*

Imperial Beach, CA
Today has been one of dramatic weather creating large waves, high winds, hail and rain.  Everyone at my fitness center was happy that rain was here.  The storm would kick up, blowing furniture around. Then, within minutes the skies would clear and the winds would subside just to begin all over again. This revolving weather has gone on all day.  Enjoy the videos and pictures.  

And, finally, the end of the day.