Wednesday, April 4, 2012

San Antonio to the Pacific Coast Highway

1/26/2012 San Antonio, Tx The Alamo is a lot smaller than you would expect. When Brenda saw it she said “They really were brave to make a stand there. You could almost jump over the walls.” The Riverwalk is a lovely place. It was originally a run down part of town and the city was going to fill in that offshoot of the San Antonio River. But citizens banded together and turned it in to a major attraction. Mariachi bands play all along the Riverwalk as well as at the Mexican Marketplace. The picture is with 2 members of Flor de Jalisco, a seven girl Mariachi band. The Mission Trail runs through San Antonio. The picture is of Mission Concepcion which dates back to 1731. Our GPS died when we were in downtown San Antonio. You don't realize how dependent you get, especially on a trip like this. We were staying about ten miles out and only had a vague idea of how to get to our motel. We finally found it but it was tense for a while. We got a better charging chord and that solved the problem.

1/30/2012 South Padre Island, TX Finally – a beach! As far south as you can go in Texas. Pictures are a view from our room and the heated pool with waterfall at Isla Grand Resort. Our room key stopped working three days in a row and they wound up changing out the lock. To compensate they gave us a $50 restaurant credit so we hit the Mexican and Seafood Buffets. We mainly hung out on the beach here but one day they had a kite festival with participants from all over the country. There were some amazing synchronized multi kite presentations (to the music “Stairway to Heaven”).

2/7/2012 Sun City, AZ It took a day and a half to reach Sun City during which time we learned that west Texas is basically a big pile of rocks and some windmills. Another Texas surprise to Brenda was crossing the Rio Grande River (“I thought Grande meant big. Drum Creek behind our house is wider.”) At least it did have water. Most of the “rivers” west of there only had weeds. We were happy to visit friends Barb and Doug who winter in Sun City. I like the lawns they have there - color coordinated rocks. Water is expensive and the dry climate would require lots of it for grass. Doug and Barb took us on a tour of Sun City, Phoenix and surrounding areas (and I mean all the surrounding areas). We were looking for the nationally renown Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix but our GPS gave us erroneous directions. We drove in large circles most of the day and accidentally stumbled upon it just a few minutes before it closed. Oh well - something to look forward to next time.

2/9/2012 San Diego, CA We finally put our toes in the Pacific Ocean – but only briefly since it was really cold. The idea for this cross country trip germinated from an invite to stay with Parrothead friends Jeff and Debb who had recently transferred from Virginia to San Diego with the Coast Guard. We went whale watching with them and saw several gray whales and dolphins in the ocean and sea lions in the harbor. On the way back I got to steer the 85' sailboat. We also toured a Russian Sub, the 1863 sailing ship “Star of India”, and the 1898 beautifully restored steam ferry “Berkeley”. A herd of harbor seals hangs out (relatively motionless) at a cove at La Jolla. They are a protected species so their population is rapidly increasing. Another benefit of going to San Diego was visiting a good friend of mine whom I hadn't seen since high school. Chick and his wife Debbie invited us to their home and took us to lunch at a roof top restaurant in La Jolla. They told us about Torrey Pines State Reserve so we went hiking there. The trails were very picturesque, leading down, down, down to a beach with high cliffs. 

2/14/2012 Los Angeles, CA The first night we went to see a studio filming of Tim Allen's “Last Man Standing”. They do it in about 3 hours after rehearsing the week before. They used 5 different sets across the studio. The best part was a comedian named Ron Pearson who did stand up and audience interaction between filming sequences. He was a riot. The next day we drove as far as you can to the Hollywood sign. There's a horse riding stable there and a trail that goes up, up ,up to the sign. It was drizzling when we started so we didn't overheat but we definitely got our exercise that day. We drove back through some exclusive neighborhoods perched in the Hollywood Hills. The streets were very narrow and winding. The houses were mostly not touching land except through supports into the mountain. The Hollywood walk of Fame is many blocks long. You have to pay a $25,000 maintenance fee to be on it so we decided not to pursue it. As you can see from the picture, Rodney Dangerfield still “don't get no respect”. All the other stars were in fine shape but his had a big gouge knocked out of it (maybe his $25,000 check bounced). In front of Grauman's Chinese Theater we found some of our favorite stars hand/footprints.

2/16/2012 San Simeon, CA The Hearst Castle is a captivating place. The house and grounds are amazing. The picture shows La Casa Grande, the Main Gathering Hall, the outdoor Neptune Pool (there is an indoor Roman Pool) and the bedroom of Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst's life-long mistress. But beyond the Castle, the life and times of Hearst and Davies are unique in history – a time more like a movie than real life. The roaring twenties, the advent of talkies, the birth of Hollywood and the Hearst empire of newspapers and magazines are a spell binding story chronicled in Hearst's biography The Chief. Hearst was a voracious art collector and the Castle was actually designed and sized to match the art items he wanted to decorate it with. He had warehouses in New York and California where his art acquisitions were stored. He was never particularly upset if a guest broke a Ming Dynasty vase. He would just have another one sent from a warehouse. The Castle was donated to California in 1957 and the 630,000+ yearly visitors actually return a profit for the state.

2/17/2012 Pacific Coast Highway, CA The pictures say it all. Nothing but gorgeous sights wherever you look. The first picture was taken in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We hiked down to this famous waterfall that lands on the beach. Before 1982 it fell into the sea but a massive mud slide filled the cove (and wiped out the PCH at that point for a year). We also hiked up the mountain stream that fed the water fall and saw other waterfalls and giant redwoods. I must offer credit to Brenda for driving the entire way (I think she was concerned about me siteseeing as I drove.) Some parts of it are pretty scary and several times the road was alternating one way due to maintenance on deteriorated sections.