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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Goodbye to Malibu

Today was our last day in Malibu.  We said goodbye to Darla after a hearty breakfast, then turned our focus to getting some chores done in anticipation of our move to Temecula tomorrow and our upcoming trip to visit Matt, Weina, little William and puppy Bubu.

Once our chores were finished, we had a chance to enjoy the brilliant sunshine of this gorgeous day.  The water was calm, only a slight breeze, and the temperatures were mild.  We sat out near the edge of the campground cliff to enjoy the sunset.  Here the setting sun is spraying the palm trees with gold:

Here's a photo of Kathy basking in the setting sun, with some colorful clouds in the background:

We caught the sun in Kathy's sunglasses just before it dipped below the horizon.  In the distance, some buildings shone in the reflected light:

Here is how the sun itself looked as it disappeared behind Malibu Point:

The palm trees reached out to the colorful horizon:

Soon it was dark, and the colors of the campground started to show, including the Christmas decorations the campground staff had sprinkled over the office this weekend.  We didn't catch the name of the fellow waiting on the bench in front of the office:

So now it's dark and we're finishing the evening, thinking about our move tomorrow, reflecting on this wonderful stay with so much time spent with family and friends.  Goodnight, folks.  See you in a day or so.

Thanksgiving with Jackie and Darla

Hi Blog.  We spent Thanksgiving at our friend Jackie's house in North Hills, California.  Our friend, Darla, drove down from Riverside, California, to pick us up.  Traffic was terrible, so we didn't get there until after 5:00 p.m.  However, we were just in time to get the full effect of Christmas lights.

Jackie and her roomate, Maura, worked overtime to get the decorations up before Thanksgiving, so we could enjoy them during dinner.  Here is Kathy bonding with Snoopy and Woodstock.

The buffet table was full of all the traditional Thanksgiving treats - turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, yams, corn casserole and mashed potatoes.  However, Kathy only had eyes for Jackie's world famous seven layer dip.

Darla drove us back to the RV and spent the night.  After breakfast we took a long walk on the Malibu Beach.  Jackie joined us around 3:00.  We made plans to go to one of our favorite restaurants in Malibu - Gladstone's.  Unfortunately, the original owners of Gladestone's sold out and the new owners have taken the restaurant in a new direction.  Gone were the peanut shells on the floor, the singing waiters and the tin foil origami wrapped leftovers.  However, Dave bonded with our waiter and we managed to get our bread wrapped to go in tin foil.

Back at the RV, Darla and Luckie got a chance to bond.

The cats miss Darla, but they will get one more chance to see her next Saturday.  Now, time to wrap some Christmas presents.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Pre-Thanksgiving Visit with Nick and Alex

On Wednesday, we drove to Pasadena to spend the afternoon and evening with David's college friend, Nick Warner and Nick's fiance Alex.  They live in a beautiful, immaculate 1940's home, whose furnishings are a perfect blend of Nick's Russian and Chinese materials and Alex's tastes in Mexican art and decoration.

After we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at their house, Nick drove us to The Huntington, the world-renowned library, art museum and gardens.  A complete visit would have taken days, so we had to satisfy ourselves with some highlights.

First on the list was the Japanese Garden, which was built by The Huntington's benefactor, Henry E. Huntington, as a birthday gift for his wife.  It is quite beautiful, and most striking for its design of plantings to complement the rolling terrain.  Here is a photo (pardon the poor exposure) of Nick, Kathy and Alex as we entered the garden:

The bridge in the gardens was conceived by a Japanese architect based on traditional Chinese bridge designs:

The garden had numerous little peaceful corners, including this small pond with statuary and many large koi crusing its borders looking for handouts:

We performed a quick drive-by touring of the art museum.  Most people know of the Thomas Gainsborough painting, "Blue Boy" and the painting,"Pinkie," by Sir Thomas Lawrence, which hang in the gallery facing each other at opposite ends of one room.  Dave couldn't resist asking Kathy to pose with the young whipper-snapper:

One of Nick's favorite area in The Huntington is the cactus garden.  We captured a photograph of Nick and Alex with one of the many beautiful flowering cactuses and succulents:

We finished up our visit with a quick preview of the current exhibit on Father Junipero Serra.  We wished we could have returned to study it in more depth because he played such a big role in the early history of California.

Having returned from The Huntington, we decided to have dinner at one of their favorite local Italian restaurants, Tarantino's Pizzeria, which had relatively inexpensive, but VERY tasty Italian food for all palates.  A glass of wine, some scrumptious garlic rolls, and our favorite dishes supported a couple of hours of conversation and friendship.  We chatted about our wonderful day with them for the entire ride home to our RV campground.

Wild Wedding Rumpus!

Hi Blog! I know:  It's been days and days since last we chatted, but a lot has been going on.  It all started back on Wednesday, November 20th, when we had the Malibu Cab Company take us to the airport.  Our cabbie, Danny, an actor when he's not cabbing around, regaled us with stories on the way to the airport about all his famous Malibu clients - Pierce Brosnan, Cher and Sir Anthony Hopkins (just to name a few). Danny's claim to fame was as an extra on the TV series - Moonlighting, with Bruce Willis.  Apparently, Bruce was not a nice guy to work with, so Danny says.

After getting dropped off at the Radisson LAX, we settled in and had an early dinner. We tried to watch a movie, but no sooner did we start it then the TV signal kept freezing.  Since we were already ready for bed, we just gave up, asked for a refund and went to sleep.  We should have seen this as an omen of things to come.

Our wake up call on Thursday for our flight to Philadelphia was 3:45 a.m.  We took the hotel shuttle bus to the airport.  The rumpus started with us getting separated at security.  Dave scored a TSA PreCheck on his boarding pass, which is like a "Get Our of Jail Free" card.  So, he was able to go to the front of the security line, not take his shoes off, etc.  However, it caused me nothing but consternation because I couldn't follow him. We got separated and he ended up waiting for me to come through the regular security line.  Apparently, to move more people through security lines, they are randomly giving frequent fliers "PreCheck" status.  So, if you plan on flying in the near future, make sure you check your boarding pass.  You could end up with the golden ticket.

The flight went without incident.  It was weird flying back to Philadelphia and having to pick up a rental car.  Never done that before.  However, like most airports, they make it pretty easy.  We took the Hertz shuttle and got dropped off at the Gold Card Desk.  However, our names were not on the board.  After an energetic discussion with the desk clerk, we finally got our car.  Apparently, if you book your car through the airline website and put in your Gold Card Number, they don't treat it like a Gold Card reservations.  You are supposed to call Gold Card directly, get a real, live human being (see if that happens) and ask them to put you on the Gold Card list.  We never heard of this before, so if you plan to rent a car and you are a Hertz Gold Card Member, make sure you call Gold Card directly to make sure your reservations are in their computer.

We had a long list of things to accomplish back in the Philly area, but the most important (aside from T.O. and Michelle's wedding and seeing Katie and Justin and all the family) was to have dinner at Lai Lai Gardens!  Back in 2007, Matt and Weina introduced us to Szechuan food and we are now hooked on the hot and spicy delicacies that come from this region of China.  We slept well that night!

On Friday, "WE" had a number of chores to accomplish - get Kathy a new Driver's License, get Kathy's thyroid checked and get Kathy's nails polished.  So, WE took off early, got everything done and treated ourselves to our second favorite restaurant - Tiffin - for some authentic Indian food.  Again, thanks Matt and Weina for discovering this place!

We returned to the hotel to get ready for the rehearsal dinner.  We got a chance to meet up with family, where else, in the hotel bar.  Here are the parents of the groom - Eileen and Tom.

Here is the sister of the groom and her fiance - Jen and Drew.

Kathy got a chance to catch up with Tom's sister, Mary Beth.  They hadn't seen each other for like 20 years, since Mary Beth moved to Oregon.

After a little pre-gaming, it was off to the rehearsal dinner at Bacco, a local Italian restaurant.  Here are the bride and groom, Michelle and T.O., as they are about to cut the groom cake (note the Phillies cap on the cake; the cap was made entirely of frosting!).  It was a Friday night and the restaurant was packed.  They had to shush the house band, so they could thank their wedding party.

Here we are - Kathy is sporting the new outfit that she got when she went shopping with Dave's sister, Leslie, in Bend, Oregon (thanks again, Les!).  After eating, drinking and making merry, the wedding party headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.  Saturday was going to be a big day.

On Saturday morning, we meet up with Katie and Justin for a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove out to West Chester to visit our most favorite book store - Baldwin's Book Barn.  The barn is 5 stories tall and filled with the most wonderful used books.  As you make your way up and down the rickety steps, do be careful. You don't want to step on one of the three cats that roam the rooms of the barn.  They sometimes like to curl up for a nap right in the stairwell.

After scoring a few books, we stopped for lunch at Iron Hill Brewery and headed back to the hotel to prepare for the wedding.  But, before changing, we made a detour to the pool for a quick swim with our nephew, "R".

Here we are, all dressed up and ready to dance the night away at the wedding.

The wedding and the reception were held in the same ballroom.  During the wedding ceremony, several of the groomsmen sang a cappella.  Most of the guys in the wedding party were singers, either in choirs or a cappella groups.  They have each sung at each others weddings.  How cute is that!

We took a number of videos, but thought this was the best.  Here are the bridge and groom (click this link to see them in action): Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Miller!

After the introductions, it was time to eat, drink and make more merry.  At our table, was Kathy's brother, Steve, his wife, Lea Ann, and their son, "R."  Next to Steve, is Kathy's sister, Sue and her fiance, Dave.  Next to Kathy are Katie and Justin.

Meet the Millers - Drew and Jen, Aunt Betty, Tom's parents, Tom, Eileen and Kathy's sister, Barb.  Next to Barb is Aunt Jane.  Mary Beth was in the photo, to the left of Drew, but David is a little inept with the new Droid phone camera, so he lost her:

We tracked down Sue's daughter, Vicki and her boyfriend, Chris.

Here is one last photo of Katie and Justin - just because they are so cute!

The singing and dancing went on for most of the night.  Here is a video of the four McNee Sisters getting down with their bad selves.  And who can forget the inimitable R cutting the rug???

While we were warm and snug inside the hotel, a light dusting of snow had fallen.  With hugs all around, we bid various family members adieu.

On Sunday morning, we meet Katie and Justin for brunch before going our separate ways.  We made a stop at Eileen and Tom's house to pick up our mail on the way to the airport.  Eileen surprised us with a birthday cake for Kathy.  We made it back to LA without incident.  Whew - what a weekend!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Malibu Beach Walk

Hi Blog.  Today is Tuesday, November 19th - move day.  We drove the rig south from Ventura to Malibu along Route 1 - Pacific Coast Highway.  The drive was only about 48 miles and took us a little over an hour.  We were driving real slow so that we could enjoy the ocean views (that, and we couldn't check in before 12:30, so there was no rush). The Malibu Beach RV Park sits up on a hillside overlooking the ocean.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to play on the hillside.

As soon as we had the rig set up, we set off down to the beach stopping every once in a while to smell the flowers.

It was only about 4:30, but already the sun was behind the clouds.

The sand on the beach was very smooth.  As the waves went back out, they left very artistic patterns in the sand.

There were several rock outcrops along the beach.  Here Kathy jumps up on one to explore some tide pools.

All of the pools had anemones of different colors.  Here is one that is turquoise.

Just next door was a colony of sea stars (a/k/a starfish).  Although sea stars live underwater and are commonly called "starfish," they are not fish. They do not have gills, scales, or fins like fish do and they move quite differently from fish. While fish propel themselves with their tails, sea stars have tiny tube feet to help them move along.

The sun managed to peek out again from under the cloud bank.

Here is a picture of my favorite sea star.

The setting sun cast a yellow glow on the shore birds hunting for dinner.

We started walking back toward camp and got a chance to examine some of the ocean-front properties. Just in case you were thinking of buying one, the condos go for 2.5 million and the houses are listed for $8 million.  That's $26,000 a month for an interest only mortgage.

And for all that cabbage, you get sunsets like this.  However, we pay about $50.00 a night and get the same sunset.

Go figure.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adios a Ventura

Sadly, today is our last day in Ventura.  As beach towns go, it's quite pretty.  Because it's off-season, there weren't many crowds.  Our RV park was extremely well located, being within walking distance of a pretty downtown and a grocery store, and within bicycling distance of nearly everything.  We had miles of bike trails all directions - up and down the coast, and inland to Ojai.  The beach was right next door, as was an interesting wetland and nature preserve.  Plus, we had a chance to visit with Connie and Karen, one of our sets of RV friends.

We decided to end this visit by offering some photos of the beach that lies just beyond our front yard.

Here's a photo of our favorite mysterious decorated beach structure, at high tide with the waves lapping about it:

The waves were active and splashed up on the rocky shore.  Looking north, the foam and rocks make a striking picture:

As we watched the waves lap upon the rocks, we were surprised to hear the rounded rocks clacking against each other as the waves pulled back from the beach.  We decided that a video would be dramatic, so here it is.

Looking inland, the wetland and grasses made a colorful foreground to a train trestle and the local hills:

Because of the clouds, the beach itself made a dramatic photo in shades of grey:

Kathy spotted a seal pup sporting in the shallow water right beside us, and we caught a snapshot of him before he dove and swam away:

Seal pups weren't the only ones enjoying the lively waves.  Here's the ubiquitous surfer, lazily paddling out to get in position for a wave or two:

In the estuary, the shore birds were lazing about.  In this shot, downtown Ventura, and the lush greenery along its beach promenade, are in the background:

One more of the estuary with the hills behind.  Note the blue skies inland to the east, contrasted with the slate grey, cloudy skies over the ocean in the photo further above:

We seem to have encountered a bird convention.  At least they must have been of a feather and flocking together:

Walking back to the RV park from the Ventura beach promenade, we crossed the railroad tracks and thought to record this little icon:

The rest of today was spent in chores, errands, planning and logistics.  So, Ventura, these are our goodbye notes.  Next stop is Malibu, with a flight to Tom O's and Michelle's wedding, and then Thanksgiving with Jackie and Darla.