Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thanks Roy!

My friend Roy from MadTown came by this evening, en route to bringing his son Craig to Camp Pendelton. I am fortunate that he also brought me a little sampler from America's Beer-er-Dairyland. A sixer of Spotted Cow (ambrosia - the drink of the gods) and 12 cans of Leinies (the elixir of life).

We took him and Craig to Pizza Port. All is well.

Thanks again Roy, don't be a stranger!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Down at the Jetty

Last Friday Allie, Celeste and I enjoyed a dinner picnic at South Ponto beach with some neighbor friends. One of Celeste's new favorite things to do out there is to explore the jetties and look for critters.

She and her friend Keaton found one small crab and some odd waterbugs. Also this cool small opening among the granite boulders.
As the weather gets warmer and as we get more and more evening daylight, I expect this to become a new tradition.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Field Trip - Catalina Island & Avalon, Day 2

Day 2 of our Catalina trip entailed more island exploring. Only one tour planned - of the Casino. Prior to the Casino, we walked around and saw...
Catalina Island Yacht Club (c. 1924)

Descanso Beach

the pigeons that like potato chips

The Casino, seen in the left corner below, is probably the most iconic building on the island.
Built in 1929, the Casino is an excellent example of Art Deco architecture.
deco tile mermaid, above the entrance

It's "Casino" in the traditional definition of the term - a place for recreation. The main level houses the 1,150 seat Avalon Theater - the first-ever theater designed specifically for sound movies.
Since the theater was designed for sound, the acoustics are impressive. Our docent did not need any amplification for us to hear him from the stage. What was even more impressive were the paintings. Unfortunately the pix do not do justice.
After a brief short film, we marched up the Wrigley Field-inspired ramps to the ballroom. It's the world's largest circular ballroom with a 180' diameter dance floor. However, it wasn't very picturesque during our visit as they had chairs and plywood down - remnants from the previous weekend's Gospel Fest. The light fixture was pretty amazing though.

this sucker is about 30' in diameter

cool fish-themed bar (original 1929 paintings)

Catalina is also known for its decorative tile. Wrigley set up the industry in order to give the locals a home-grown industry to help keep them busy during the slower seasons. There's plenty of it in Avalon.
my grrrls

Towards the evening we made our way back over to the dock for the boat trip home. But not before Celeste & I scrambled up to check out a mini cave.
Note to mom and dad - thanks again for everything!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Field Trip - San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park

Since we're members of the San Diego Zoo and don't have to pay admission, we trekked out to Escondido on Saturday morning to spend a half day at their impressive Wild Animal Park.

The Wild Animal Park is an 1800 acre wildlife sanctuary and houses over 3500 animals, most of which are from the African and Asian continents. Sadly I left the point-and-shoot camera's memory card at home, so I had to settle for using the iPhone's camera. Oh, and we only had a half day planned - and with half of the park closed until 2 PM due to moving some animals around, we're sure to make a return visit. Let the pix roll...
Victoria crowned pigeon

Celeste can't resist hatching from shells

Hungry lorikeet slurping a $3 cup of nectar

petting a cheetah (or some spotted critter)

pettin' a 24 year-old python


Allie in front of a yellow-tufted mullet

And all followed up by Allie's favorite part of most field trips - a picnic in the van.


mmm... Allie's homemade enchiladas, two kinds - regular and mole (right).
And even better than normal as she decided to grill the chicken instead of boil it. The Mexi rice (in the back) has been a staple for the last sixteen years with some refinements along the way. But the best part of this - leftovers. Mole enchiladas for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Field Trip - Catalina Island & Avalon, Day 1

My parents were out here about a week and a half ago and stayed with us for 8 days. When they lived in Southern California 40 years ago, they too took every chance they could to explore. However, one of the places that they did not get to hit was Santa Catalina Island. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to visit the island with them.

The third largest of the Channel Islands of California and located about 22 miles from Los Angeles, Catalina is the only Channel Island with any significant civilian development. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to visit it with them.
Islander Express (pictured in Avalon)

We took the Islander Express from Dana Point. A sleek 97' monohull design that cruises along at 30 knots. Sadly about halfway into the 90 minute trip, Celeste started feeling ill. That followed Allie's feeling ill by about a half an hour. Thankfully the seasickness wore off for both rather quickly after being on solid ground. Next time maybe they should hit the Dramamine instead of the wristbands.
Celeste was able to get comfy (prior to the seasickness)

Avalon's harbor
The Casino (toured the next day)

We checked in, ate lunch and wandered the quiet streets of Avalon. Being the total car nerd that I am, I enjoyed the transportation choices that many of the town's 3500 permanent residents chose.

Gas powered golf carts and Japanese "kei" trucks abound. And some of the golf carts were hardly recognizable as golf carts due to their custom body kits.

1933 Ford-style
golf cart rush hour?

"Kei"-class truck

golf cart tow truck for towing golf carts (duh!)

The "regular" vehicles were mostly left unlocked with the keys in the ignitions. Even this rare never-offered-in-the-US VW T3 Transporter.
Then again, if you stole it, where would you take it?

At two o'clock we headed out on the Island's Skyline Drive tour. This two hour tour took us from Avalon up to the island's "Airport in the Sky" and back. Celeste and I sat up in the front row "roller coaster" seats and had a stunning - if bumpy vantage point.
Control Tower, Airport in the Sky
Wm. Wrigley house is the big white one on the hill (slightly right of center)

After touring the island on the tractor trailer rig, we found the only mini golf course on the island.
The course was quaint and old-school. No modern fiberglass or plastic obstacles to putt thru. Just a lot of astroturf covering concrete ramps and berms and plenty of options into which to putt.
miniature golf makes Celeste happy!

What's the only thing possibly more fun than mini golf? Jumping on hotel beds! Celeste may be mediocre at golf but she's a superstar jumper.
After a good dinner we called it a night. More to follow...

Something I Learned Today

That my wife has started blogging. Actually I learned this a couple of weeks ago.

Check it out h e r e.

Presto Chango Floor

Our kitchen floor prior to our Catalina Island trip:
warping wood

Our kitchen floor after our Catalina Island trip:
granny tile

Not exactly our first pick in tile (or second, third, fourth, fifth, etc.), but hey, the price was right and we didn't have to do much more than move a shelf and some furniture out of the way. Sometimes it's good to be a renter...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Down On The Street

As most of you four readers know, I just love the vintage iron roaming the streets of San Diego County. Especially the old imports and VW vans.

This '68 - '69 "bay window" T2 station wagon lives in the neighborhood and is often seen moving under its own power (albeit slowly - and noisily). Still I like the weathered look...

...and the surf stickers. Just enough patina to scare the neighbors. Put a fresh 1776 or 1885cc engine in there and throw your surfboards on the roof for runs down to Ponto.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tastes Like Home

So I was in the mood for some Leinie's a couple of weeks ago and trucked up to the Oceanside BevMo to see if I could find some of the classic Wisconsin brew.

Well, I was sort of successful.
No Leinie's original, but they did have Sunset Wheat, a great summer beer. For a whopping $8.99 (plus CRV of course) per six pack.

Still I enjoyed it with a lemon - and out of a New Glarus pint glass. Now if only Spotted Cow was available outside of America's Dairyland...