Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Looking for Ideas

It's very difficult for a hermit to maintain a blog. Everything I write about has to come from my memory or my imagination, sometimes both.

So, it's back to the old memory, and the best vacation I ever had. You might think that my once-in-a-lifetime trip to the UK would be at the top of my list, but no. It was a simple little trip to California, many years ago.

My new son-in-law was fresh out of Air Force ROTC, and my daughter had received her degree and they were sent to Sacramento, California for their first post. This was as far away as my daughter had been from my overprotective gaze. So, since they were scheduled to be at Mather AFB for at least two to three years, I started saving for a visit.

It was to be the first vacation I'd had in over ten years. Finally, with what I'd managed to save and a credit card with room on it, Jay and I went to Springfield the night before we were to leave. We had dinner at the Olive Garden. I don't remember what entree I ordered, but I do remember my drink was the best Manhattan I ever tasted. OK, two Manhattans, but who's counting?

We boarded the plan early the next morning, then, after a heart-stopping race to change planes in Denver, for which I was definitely wearing the wrong shoes, we staggered onto the plane, hearts pounding and gasping for breath, to discover that our seats weren't together. Since the plane had waited as long as possible for us, the flight attendant said, "Oh, just sit anywhere." So, we found seats together and I wondered, "If this plane goes down, and they have to sort out the passengers to identify them, and we're not in our assigned seats what then?"

We finally landed safe and sound in Sacramento, and there was Kell, waiting for us. Thus began our whirlwind tour of northern California. We saw San Francisco, with the Bay tour that circled Alcatraz and spent time in the touristy shops on Pier 39, then on to Monterey. We spent four hours in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and could have stayed at least another four. Next morning, we drove to Carmel, wound down 17 Mile Drive and went to Pebble Beach, where we browsed in the Pro Shop and tried to look like we belonged there, fooling no one. Back in Carmel, we had lunch at Clint Eastwood's restaurant, but he wasn't there. Drat. All the time we were in Monterey and Carmel, I felt like the Joad family must have felt when they reached California.

Another day, we went to Napa Valley for wine tasting. On the way back, Kell and I sat in the back seat and giggled all the way back to Sacramento. Al had to work most week days, so Kell, Jay and I went to Reno alone midweek, and spent one night there. We saw dozens of little old ladies in sneakers zipping back and forth across the street from one casino to another, with their plastic cups full of coins. I told Jay that would be me in ten years.

While we were in Reno, Jay pointed out some hookers and then got embarrassed when I spun around to look at them. What? I had never seen hookers before.

All too soon, it was time to come back to Harrison. And, of course, I embarrassed them once again, when I couldn't hold back the tears at the airport. So sue me. I'm not good at good-byes.

Northern California was a beautiful place, unlike any other. And, the people sure do know how to market it. I must admit, I got just a little tired of hearing about Father Junipero Serra, although I had to admire the way he got around and built all those missions.

But, the thing that impressed me the most, I think, was the way they name their trees and turn them into tourist attractions. The Lone Cypress was impressive. But, here's where their marketing skills came in: They even named one place where a tree used to be, and tourists flocked there to look at an indented place in the ground and read the plaque that gave the history of the tree that was no longer there.

When we got back to Springfield, the weather was hot, humid, oppressive, as always in late spring. I felt as though I was stepping back into reality, and it was a reality I didn't like very much. We started planning, then and there, for the next year's trip out to Lala Land.


Annie said...

Your search for subjects led to a perfect one as far as I'm concerned. You brought back so many memories of a trip I took to most of the same area you speak about. I learned why everyone sings high praises of San Francisco for I really did leave my heart there. Yes, there's lots of magic in California.

susan said...

I love traveling and exploring new places. This is a great story!

Next time you need ideas, dig out some old photos and tell us about them. (I happen to have a box of old photos and no clue who those people are..so it would be win-win if you did this)

dc said...

Love your story, I lived in Carson City Nv. for several years but only made it over the "hill" once and got the Carmel tour and "looked" into the Hogs Breath Inn, is that what Eastwoods resturant is called? But we had a wonderful dinner at one of the mission places there. The aquarium was wonderful too. So see you brought back my memories too. I was impressed with how clean everything was. Coming from the midwest like you, we see all the road litter!! Which I just hate and would like to spank everyone who throws trash out!!

Kell said...

I remember drinking too much wine at a winery near the aquarium and having to go back to the hotel for a nap. Oh well. I remember all the other good stuff, too, though! Like driving around SF looking for the Purple Onion. That was a fun trip.

Jay said...

I think getting lost in SF was a lot of fun.

But, when I sitll remember exactly how I felt the moment I saw Monterey. What an awesome place.

Tink said...

I love your memories AND your imagination. So you don't have to worry about me getting bored. I love that you turned around to look at the hookers. I probably would have too. :)

aquaken said...

Loved your reminiscences of the trip. (You sure don't WRITE like a hermit!)

You can refresh your memories of the aquarium, and probably a few other places you saw, with live web cams. I work at the aquarium, and we have several cams, both inside the exhibits and pointing out to Monterey Bay itself. There's a link on the home page, at www.mbayaq.org.

Betty said...

Annie: I'd love to go back some day.

Susan: I still have to learn how to manage photos. But, I will.

dc: Yes, everything was very clean. That was nice, too.

Kell: I remember that winery. We sat and sipped our wine and looked out the big windows at the ocean. That's the place where I first heard of Enya. Great vibes!

Jay: Remember finding "The Purple Onion" and "The Hungry i"? And the strip club right next door?

Tink: See my comment to Jay. I ogled the strip club, too, as Al sped up.

aquaken: Thanks for visiting. I have been to the aquarium website many times.

Ellie said...

Memories are best when shared

patsy said...

since i have been ill i have not been by but read all your post today and enjoyed everyone. i don't believe the tale about charles and his bride he had pined after her too many years to want to change her. i always felt like he was a victim of his mother and the state in his marriage coice, diana was very good at getting the camera and the puplic opinion on her side. i think she was just a foolish girl that married a dream and found a night mare.

her indoors said...

oh that sounded a great trip, i cant wait till next year and i can visit san francisco for myself.
would love to hear about your trip to england sometime please

Betty said...

Ellie, you are so right.

Patsy: I think she at least ended up in a nightmare.

her indoors: I'd love to tell you about my trip. I'll work on the blog for sometime next week.

Cazzie!!! said...

That sounds like such a fine trip, how marvellous!!!
Here, in alot of our little country townships, we have what we call "Avenue of Honour". It is usually a main street that is framed by gorgeous humungous trees that have plaques on them of names of fallen soldiers from the WW1 and WW2. Alot of the soldiers did come from country towns, and it is such a marvellous tribute to them.

Betty said...

Cazzie: My grandmother's brother, Peter Loy, went from England to Australia in about 1914 or '15 and served in the 20th Infantry Battallion, 1st Australian Imperial Force in WWI. I don't think he died in the war, but haven't been able to trace him since then.

Joy Des Jardins said...

You've summed up in your first paragraph what I often feel Betty. But...this was a very nice post....and you always manage to make them distinctively YOU....amusing, funny and interesting.

Newt said...

I agree with Joy, you are always funny and interesting no matter what you write about. I think you could tell us about your morning and we would enjoy it. As in, I got up, I made coffee, I read the paper. You have a gift my darling of putting amazing thoughts and images in print. Keep up whatever it is you're doing. We love it.

Betty said...

Well, my goodness, Joy and Newt, thank you. And, Newt, how did you know that's what I do first thing in the morning?