Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thursday, March 1, through Tuesday, March 20, 2012: At Soledad Canyon:
The 139-mile trip to the Thousand Trails preserve in Soledad Canyon, at Acton, California, was a piece of cake, as usual. We had considered delaying the trip for one day due to some wind alerts. We decided, though, that the winds were due in areas on only the edges of which we would go, so we got an early start and had only brief winds of any consequence. We set up in our favorite site, B46, and spent the rest of the day unwinding. That night, we had Chinese food from a local place---Wences Bistro---owned by a local Latino who does a great job serving (strangely) Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food.

We are at Soledad primarily to have the easiest access to Los Angeles, so we can see a bunch of family and old friends before we head out on our next substantial trips out of the area.

On Friday, Becky had lunch at the Green Street restaurant in Pasadena with Tom Trine,

an old friend from her banking days. Tom recently lost his wife to a wholly unexpected heart attack. Sad.

On Saturday, we dropped off the dogs and headed to Becky’s dad’s home for a brief visit and ended up taking him on a field trip to drive by our old house and his old house---both in Pasadena (and to get some gas in his car).

We followed that by heading to Manhattan Beach to attend the “First Saturday” party at the home of Diane Chierichetti and Paul Basile.

We had already conned them into letting us spend the night, so we had a wonderful, unrestricted time at the party. Among the guests were Barbara Coad and Chris and Alan Buckelew. Alan is the CEO of the Princess Cruise line. Because Princess and its affiliates (Carnival and Costa Concordia) have had some unfortunate incidents lately, known worldwide, involving Alan in some serious damage control, we were careful not to ask Alan about any current events. It was refreshing (probably for all of us) not to talk business with him. We did, though, tell him we enjoyed our Princess Cruise in Asia last November.

It was fun seeing all of them---and, as usual, Paul made a delicious dinner.

On Sunday, we headed to Surfside, a gated community on the beach just south of Seal Beach, to visit Nora and Brian Straight, old friends we hadn’t seen in several years.

Brian built their home there ten years ago. It is a dazzling place sited right on the beach, in the first row (of three rows) of houses in the small community. Their son Ivan, who was one day short of his 19th birthday, was there. Their other son, Adrian, is at school at UC Santa Barbara, so he was absent. We had a great time catching up on our respective lives since we were last together---six years ago at Ivan‘s bar mitzvah, we recalled.

We spent Sunday night at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA, having takeout sushi from the nearby Ralph’s market, and relaxing after the busy weekend. I had an appointment Monday morning with Dr. Michael Burton in Los Feliz to get some prescription renewals. Dr. Burton was my regular doctor when we lived in the area (until 1998) and it was nice to see him again. While in the area, we called Judie Carson (a long-time friend and former neighbor) and ended up having lunch (sushi again) at En Sushi on Hillhurst Avenue with Judie and her grandson, Henry.

Tuesday, we really unwound.

On Wednesday, we met Don and Elaine LaMarr at their home in La Canada, and went with them to dinner at Cafe Sole near their home.

I had linguini arrabiatta, as usual. And it was very tasty, as usual. Don and Elaine are old Junior Chamber buddies of Becky's. (Factoid: On our first date, on December 3, 1982, Becky and I stumbled into the LaMarrs at the Carl's Jr. in Mojave, on our way to a ski weekend at Mammoth Mountain.) Don is days away from retiring, and they have planned a long, cross-country road trip (by car, not by RV, but we're sure they will eventually succumb to the joys of RVing). Welcome to the nomadic lifestyle.

Thursday was Becky's family's day to meet with Bill's doctor for an update on his progress. As it turned out, the results of a battery of tests---which were to be the subject of the meeting---did not get to the doctor's office in time, so the meeting was not as fruitful as anticipated. But lunch at the Brookside Golf Club with the gang was a hit, according to Becky.

Saturday began with dropping off Daisy and Ramsey at the local kennel so we could spend Saturday night at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA. We leisurely headed for LA, stopping in Studio City to have our truck washed for the first time in months,

and---about a mile from downtown---realized that we had not put my suitcase in the truck. We had to turn around and head back to Soledad Canyon, a 100-mile roundtrip, and race back to get ready for dinner and the show we had planned. Dinner was to be at Ammo, a restaurant in Hollywood (on Highland Avenue, north of Santa Monica Boulevard) recommended by Honoria Vivell. According to Becky, the place had a dress code, and, since we were going to the Pantages Theater later, I was to wear "hard" shoes, which was a change from my daily tennis shoes. I dutifully packed my shoes, but, when we unpacked at the Jonathan Club, I realized I had forgotten to pack any appropriate socks. The alternative choices were to wear my tennis shoes, gym socks with my hard shoes, or my hard shoes with no socks at all.

The decision was no socks with my hard shoes. I thought I looked like a hick. I later found out that style was very hot currently. Lucky for me. The dinner was superb, by the way.

After dinner we headed for the theater to see William Shatner's one-man show "Shatner's World, We Just Live in It."

He spends an uninterrupted two hours on stage just talking about his life. Mostly funny, sometimes serious. Some video clips and pictures. It was very entertaining. Footnote: As a sign of his immense popularity, he got a standing ovation when he first entered the stage.

We returned to the Jonathan Club to sleep after a long day. We lost an hour because Daylight Savings Time began at 2:00 AM Sunday morning. We had a 10:00 AM meeting time at Becky's dad's house for a field trip, so we couldn't sleep in. We arrived on time, and Barbara Coad joined the three of us for a trip to the Huntington Library. I had heard of the place for years, but had never been there. Wow!!! It's a marvelous collection of museums and gardens, on 208 acres in the center of a beautiful residential neighborhood in upscale San Marino. It had been the home of Henry Huntington, a railroad mogul who passed away in 1927. His home is one of the museums. He built a second museum on the property before he died. And a few more were added later. The highlight for us was the magnificent Chinese Garden.

We all remarked how it reminded us of one we saw in Shanghai last November. We had lunch at the cafe adjacent to the Chinese Garden.

By late afternoon Sunday we were exhausted, so we picked up the dogs and crashed for the evening.

On Monday, we had lunch at Mimis Café in Valencia with Mark Brown, a long-time friend, fellow attorney, occasional client, and one-time employee of my old law firm.

We hadn’t seen him since he and his significant other, Pat Thomas, visited us at Zion NP in July of 2004. (Pat was visiting her mother in Maryland, or she would have joined us.) It was fun seeing him again and catching up.

On Tuesday, we rested. (Thank you.)

On Wednesday, Becky had lunch in Sherman Oaks with Shelley Gibson and Aileen Garrigues, friends of hers from her banking days,

while I shepherded the dogs. Exhausting. On Thursday, Becky returned to Los Angeles to have a facial and haircut. I, of course, stayed back to keep the dogs happy. Exhausting, again.

Friday was a busy day, starting with Becky seeing her chiropractor, Mark Adachi, while I met with Wendy and John, her sister and brother, and Bill, her father, to meet with Bill’s doctor to get (again) the results of his series of tests. Again, the written results were not yet available, but Dr. Chien gave us the oral report.

Then we all met for lunch at the La Fiesta Grande restaurant in Pasadena,

followed by a trip to Costco in Santa Clarita by Becky and me, to load up---and to cash our annual refund check from American Express.

While in the doctor's office, we were given a brochure advertising the fancy device that had been used for the tests. In my usual "word nerd" fashion, I read the brochure critically, noting typos and other errors (not understanding the medical jargon, of course). When I got back to our trailer, I sent an email to the company pointing out the errors and suggesting that they might want to update their brochure. Within 15 minutes, I received a response from the doctor who owns the testing company saying they were just days away from updating the brochure due to some technical improvements in the equipment, and thanking me for my input. I think he was appreciative.

Saturday brought rain, all day long, and some miserable walks with two very wet dogs. But we survived. Becky also took Ramsey to a shot clinic to start on a rattlesnake-prevention regimen. (The vet thought it wouldn't matter with Daisy since she's so old anyway. How rude!) The rest of the weekend and Monday were uneventful, except for a couple of shopping sprees at Costco and other chic establishments. Another project for Monday was to create a poster map of our 2012 Spring and Summer Trip. Becky presented this to her Dad so that he would be able to follow our seven month journey of over 12,000 miles---from Southern California through the Canadian border provinces. We will be travelling as far east as Montreal in Canada and as far east as Niagara Falls in the United States.

We had extended our stay for two days so Becky could attend a welcome home party
in Studio City on Tuesday for Shelley Thompson, a buddy from banking days, who just returned to LA from a stint as Vice-Chair at The Bank of Hawaii in Honolulu. The party was at the Studio City home of Mary Bankston, another banking buddy.

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