Sunday, August 05, 2012

Visiting in California

Getting behind on my blogging....

Julie and I made a trip to California this past week. Our first stop was in Laguna Beach to visit Jim and Carmella Saunders, great friends and neighbors from back in Raleigh.  Jim's company has a condo which is primarily used for business, but provides an occasional place to vacation.
As you can see, the view from the condo doesn't suck.  There's something wonderful about being on the ocean where you can hear the waves and feel the breeze.  You have to like the weather along the California beaches: highs in the mid 70s and lows around 60.
The Saunders have two beautiful daughters, Alexandra (right) and Brianna (left).  They were kind enough to let us steal their bedroom for our visit.
Another terrible evening, as viewed from our condo.
It wouldn't be California without some odd people.  These folks were having a very lethargic, easy going protest.  The sign?  "Give me liberty or give me hemp!"  Huh?  Does that mean give me liberty or I'm going off to smoke some dope?  Perhaps give me liberty, or by the way, can I bum a joint?
Julie and I went for a walk around Laguna Beach.  We decided this was the least walkable town we have ever been in.  First, every neighborhood and apartment complex is fenced and gated.  I think Jim had it right when he said "these are to keep the other rich people from coming in and stealing something." Second, sidewalks seem to seem to be few and far between.  Thank God they have a free transit system.  I would hate to have to walk on the main road to get to the Main St area.

We found a place to walk up into the hills, but this sign was a serious warning, especially with Julie's foot hurting.
Right around the corner from that sign, they were excavating a lot to build a new house.  Think this is a steep lot?  That's a full sized piece of heavy equipment up there.  I would love to see the house when they are done.  The garage is going in at street level where the dirt ramp is on the right.  The house will have not one, but two elevators.
These are the ladies sitting on the back of our whale watching boat.  It was a little chilly out on the water, but the weather was great for mammal spotting.
The picture sucks, but that is a blue whale.  We saw them a number of times but we were a good ways off and all I had was a pocket camera.  They say a blue whale is as big as 40 elephants.  I believe it!
In addition to the whales, we had some excellent, close-up views of dolphin.  They were swimming around our boat and would cruise along right in front of us.  Unfortunately, a big wave a swamped all of us on the front of the catamaran and my little lens had salty water on it.  I could wipe it off with my shirt, but it also had salty water on it.

By the time I got the camera cleaned up, we were on our way back to port.  No more dolphins but we did see some sun bathing seals.
On Friday night we caught a show called The Pageant of the Masters.  This was a very unique art exhibition and if you are near Laguna Beach in the summer, you should definitely go.  They combined painting and humans on the stage to "copy" some of the works of the master painters.  It's very hard to describe, but essentially the humans are so well integrated into the look and feel of the painting, it is almost impossible to know for sure whether they are live or a painting. Click on the link above for a better description.

From Laguna, we rode an hour north to Santa Monica. After some shopping and people watching, Julie and I said goodbye to Jim and Carm and went to visit with another friend from Raleigh, Liz Hervatic. It was Liz's birthday, so we celebrated with Liz's fiance Karen, her sister Cindy, and Cindy's boyfriend.  I popped back to Park City the next morning, and Julie stayed another two days to visit.

California is such and interesting place.  The beaches are gorgeous, but the water is frigid.  The temperatures are incredibly comfortable, but every morning starts with a blanket of fog.  The scenery is gorgeous, but because of that, traffic is bad and housing prices make Park City look like an affordable housing project.  So far I think it has to stay in my list of great places to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there, or have to pay taxes there.

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