Southern California

AZ Route 10Right now in Arizona it’s monsoon season (short bursts of rain versus longer soaks) in both Arizona and California.  After about 93 straight days of no rain in the Phoenix area, the forecast called for scattered showers the day we hit the trail.  Fortunately we encountered mostly cloud cover the whole way, with two sprinkles that didn’t even wet the road.  Emmett and I shared the driving, which at least breaks some of the monotony.  Long stretches of similar geography can be daunting, especially if the road is familiar from past journeys.  On the other hand, you get to notice nuances of change along the way, as well as discovering if your landmarks have changed.  Of course there is always the speculation about the other automobile travelers sharing the road – families, loners, friends, business drivers – passing them on one stretch, losing them at a rest stop and then catching up again.  Funny what you can learn about people’s driving habits from simple observation.

Soon boredom and a short attention span lead to the anticipation of a meal, especially if all you grabbed before the mad dash out of the house was a cookie and vitamins.  Having grown up on the east coast, both Emmett and I love diners.  In Palm Springs, which is a good halfway point, we love to go to Manhattan in the Desert, which is about as authentic as you can get outside of the east coast. I am sure I walked away from there about two pounds heavier than when I walked in.

SoCal Beach Sunset 2If you ever wondered why people live from hand to mouth at jobs that they have to sit in traffic for hours to get to work, here is a small picture that justifies the effort.  Redondo Beach, California, as the sun is ready to plunge into the sea.  In a manner of speaking, that is.  Restaurants with this type of view charge four times the amount the food is worth, and people pay it without even thinking.  And sometimes they do that without a window seat.  This view (and many more like it) is a nature show unfolding, and sure gives you that zen feeling of contentment (until you get the bill).   Our first night on the road, and it was a nice reward for that long drive from the heat of Arizona to the California Coast.

Paris in a CupBoth Emmett and I lived in Southern California for fifteen years (there’s a kismet story on how we met, but that is for another time).  During my tenure at McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, I hung out with a group of teaphiles and we hit most of the tea shops in Orange and LA county.  Most of us have taken different paths, but my great pal Joanie was up for a jaunt at a new place she discovered, Paris in a Cup, in Old Town Orange, on the circle.  So while Emmett worked on getting seven pars at Glen Ivy, Joanie and I hit the teapots and enjoyed the scones and sandwiches while catching up.

Seal Beach Pier ViewSeal Beach is another place where Emmett and I have had a lot of fun.  The pier is always going through one transformation or other.  It was also the destination point for many a bike ride and a late breakfast at Kinda La Haina’s, which is no longer there.  (New names for old restaurants don’t count in my book.) One of our favorite late afternoon activities was walking along Electric Avenue, catching the pier, and reeling in a fresh grilled fish sandwich at O’Malley’s on Main.  Can you believe that the fireplace was on?  I was in heaven.  Emmett stuck with the fish and I branched out and got the lamb stew.  Thank goodness for tradition, in any event.

Huntington Library SundialSo little time, so many places to try and revisit.  It wasn’t all going to happen.  Huntington Library, is another must stop destination for us.  We maintain our membership for our annual visits.  Over the years they have added more acres to the walk, and there is always more construction.  Lucky for us the roses were in great shape.  Revisiting the Cottage Door by Gainsborough was on exhibit, as well as Useful Hours, an exhibit on needlework and textiles. After a leisurely two hour walk about the grounds, it was on to visiting with our friends the Fuller’s and the Stillion’s over a tasty salmon and steak grilled meal.  We never go to bed hungry, in case you haven’t noticed!

One Year Old!My great nephew turned one year old on July 15th, so a celebration was in order!  Both sides of the family gathered in Wilderness Park in Downey for BBQ and cake on a perfectly beautiful day.  A graceful heron watched carefully over the ducks that treaded the lake.  Softballs were thrown back and forth, kids played while adults traded stories and casted a constant watchful eye or two on the kids.  We finally had some time to get acquainted with Jennelle’s side of the family.  And it was a good feeling to see all three Cocco siblings – Jonathan, Gregory and Carolyn – together.

Borthers and Sister

Johnnie Reb's, Bellfower, CADuring our fifteen years in SoCal, there are many restaurant favorites that we’ve come to count on for certain dishes.  Although some are still standing, there are many have come and gone.  There is the issue of whether the menu is the same as you loved it, or if it’s moved on to different tastes based on the current demographics.  Thank goodness Johnnie Reb’s is doing well and even expanding.  I have never had fried green tomatoes as good as theirs (except maybe in Meridian, Mississippi).  My guess is that they are fried in bacon grease. But there was no better place to wrap up the SoCal segment as we continued on the road north.

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