Our California vacation was terrific. We arrived at the Orange County Airport without incident and immediately pointed the rental car south toward Danny’s house.
Danny welcomed us (literally) with open arms. He really knows how to treat his guests and quickly spirited us off to the local neighborhood yarn shop (and he’s not even a knitter!), record store (where we all bought new cds), and coffee shop (where the barista gave me a very tasty raspberry steamer). David arrived home, and he and Danny whisked us off to a fabulous veg-friendly Mexican restaurant where I had an avocado enchilada and amazing tofu tacquitos. We finished the evening with a trip to a bakery where we all picked out desserts that we were ultimately too full and too tired to eat.
Friday dawned sunny and clear (Danny claims there are other kinds of days in San Diego, but not many) and after lounging the morning away on Danny and David’s deck with their two cats, Duke and Kady, we suited up and headed to Coronado, a nearby island with ultra-clean beaches. Poor David tolerated our need for sun and surf with a pile of magazines to read and heaps of anti-sun clothing. Danny, Rudi, and I stripped down to bathing suits, applied sunscreen (really — this will be important later on), and tumbled down onto beach towels with books. Rudi was the first to hit the water, quickly followed by Danny, and later me. We body surfed with a very polite 8 year-old until we were tired and our (or, at least, my) bathing suits were filled with sand from being buffeted around by the waves. Back to the towels. More reading ensued. Rudi went back to the water. I finished my book and followed. Back at the towels later on, I added more sunscreen to my face and, at Danny’s urging to my arms. Soon we packed up and headed back home.
At home it quickly became obvious that Danny, Rudi, and I ought to have reapplied sunscreen or we applied it poorly to begin with. Danny and I forgot behind our knees. I had a very red back of a thigh. Rudi’s torso was pink. Our clothes were filled with sand. But, man, had we had a blast!
We concluded the evening with the previous night’s dessert followed by a San Diego Padres game against the Seattle Mariners. Danny and David are good sports and were willing to take us to a game after we expressed interest in seeing one. (I harbor love for former Mets Mike Cameron and Mike Piazza.) The Padres’ stadium is a nice one and has lots of food options, even if they will cost you a small nation’s annual GRP for one night’s worth of food and drink. The Padres obliged our attendance by first giving us beach blankets and then a great game. For a while it looked distinctly possible that the Mariners would prevail, but thanks to poor pitching from Seattle, a couple nice bloopers from the Padres, and several heart-in-mouth defensive plays, the right team prevailed.
We finished the night with Danny reading me Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer. He started it while I was knitting, continued while I wound a ball of yarn, and finished it while I was curled up on the couch floating in and out of Dream Land. It has been a long time since I’ve had a bedtime story read to me and is one of my favorite memories of the trip.
The next morning we had breakfast at The Big Kitchen, a great little eatery in Danny’s neighborhood. Run by Judy, who stopped by our table several times and who greeted everyone who walked in with a smile, The Big Kitchen is a liberal hole-in-the-wall brunch place designed to appeal to anyone with similar sentiments. Then time to depart neared and then it was upon us and then we were gone…
Heading north to Seal Beach, we stopped first at REI to pick up wedding presents for Elodie and Jeremy and then by a bike shop to arrange for Rudi’s loaner bike.
Elodie and Jeremy picked out a beautiful setting for their wedding: Cal State-Long Beach’s Japanese Garden. A huge pond full of koi takes up the center of the garden. An arched bridge sits at the far end, and it was here that the ceremony took place. It was a blend of cultures — and Elodie was stunning as a bride. (I can’t believe she’s all grown up! I remember her first week at college so clearly!) We caught up with two other Wesleyan folks and shared dinner with them and got the chance to say hi to Elodie and to meet Jeremy. We ate cake. We danced. We danced lots. (I like dancing.) Then we went back to the hotel and crashed.
Sunday morning Rudi headed off to ride with Jeff while I lounged around Seal Beach. I brought breakfast back to the hotel room and ate while knitting and watching England eke out a win over Ecuador (Beckham bent it). Then I went for a swim in the pool, located in the courtyard at the center of the hotel, before heading down to explore the shore. I saw no seals (save the statue on the pier), but I did see sailboats peeking in and out of the fog and kids playing in the waves and people fishing on the pier.
Rudi returned home and after a shower we headed north to see my brother Josh. We hadn’t seen his new place and found it to be very clean and breezy and beachy and him. He even has a peach tree (with delicious peaches) and an orange tree (which I didn’t taste and thus can’t attest to) in his backyard! He showed us pictures of the dog he’s hoping to adopt and we sat and chatted for a few hours. Then he took us out to an Asian-fusion restaurant, where I had the first fried rice I’ve had in many years. God, was it tasty.
We stopped at Seal Beach on the way back to the hotel so Rudi could see it. We walked the pier and watched a surprising number of people frolic on the sand below us. (It was midnight, after all.)
The next morning we packed up and headed back south to the airport. I picked up a book at one of those multi-purpose shops because I really wasn’t digging the one I’d brought along (the penalties of bringing only one book with you) and read it the whole flight home.
By the time we got home (the weather in D.C. kept us on the ground for an extended period in St. Louis), we were tired but so glad we’d gone. It was an awesome vacation and gave us the chance to see folks we hadn’t seen in way too long. Yes, it could have been longer, and, yes, it could have ended in a drier fashion, but it really was a fantastic five days.