Taking a Break, and Universal Studios Hollywood – Days 7 thru 10

Wednesday we took a break from running all over the place doing stuff. It started well with most of us not getting up until 9-10 am, or thereabouts. I made coffee (pretty good coffee, too) and let Diane sleep in until 1100 or so. Then, at 1215 I drove the girls south to Del Mar so Ceiarra could meet her Aunt Penny for the first time. Lunch and a visit was included in the trip.

After meeting their host, a very nice lady, I went back to Carlsbad and helped Diane do the laundry. Then we just sat around doing nothing until 1600 when I was summoned back Del Mar for the pick up.

Safely back in Carlsbad I continued to rest, preparing for the journey north and back towards home.

Thursday was a short drive to the Embassy Suites in Glendale which was the closest city to Universal Studios that had a room we felt was reasonably priced. Everything else was ridiculous. Glendale is only about two freeway and 8 miles from Universal and it only takes 45 minutes to make the trip one-way. We booked the room for two days so the girls could spend the entire day there on Friday, the first day that the new Harry Potter ride opened. We got up early, ate our complimentary breakfast, and had the girls at the Universal entrance right at 0900 when they opened. We turned them loose on the masses and returned to our room where we spent the day planning the segments of our trip home. We also watched the Oregon State Beavers lose their first baseball game since April. They played LSU and would have advanced to the championship game with a win. Now they have to play LSU again tomorrow for that honor. Dang. After the loss we left the hotel in search of sustenance which we found right next door at Conrad’s Family Restaurant. Diane had a hamburger and I had a Denver omelette. Both were very good.

Just before we were finished eating Lydia texted to report that she and Ceiarra were 30 minutes away from needing a ride back to the hotel. We delayed that a bit because we had to finish eating then had to go back to the hotel for the truck. It was way too far to walk both ways.

The girls were stranded in an ice cream cone line when we first arrived at the entrance so we had to exit and make another run at it. They weren’t there the 2nd time, either, but finally appeared on the 3rd time around. It was all good. They reportedly had a marvelous time and didn’t spend all their money.

That’s pretty much the day in a nut shell. Tomorrow we head north to Travis AFB where I reserved two rooms at the Air Force Inn.

I didn’t take any photos today so don’t have any new ones to share. So, I’ll just show you a couple of old ones when Lydia, our High School Graduate, was really short and liked spaghetti.

 

San Diego Zoo, NAS North Island – Day 6

Tuesday was a day at the zoo, then a trip to NAS North Island on Coronado. The San Diego Zoo was one of the “must do’s” on the girl’s list. Since Diane and I knew it would involve miles of walking, we opted out and just got tickets for our girls, letting them run willy nilly amongst the animals.

After they entered the zoo Diane and I just wandered around smartly, from shady spot to shady spot, enjoying the beauty of Balboa Park. First, however, we took a short trip on the Balboa Railroad …

I almost forgot about the most amazing event of the day that happened when we drove into the parking lot and, amazingly, found a spot literally 5 cars from the main zoo entrance. One in a million, right?

The brown pickup is us and the entrance is just a short ways to the left of where we parked. Pretty cool.

Here are some photos of the things we visited … all manner of artistic folks inhabit these spaces. Very creative people.

Then we found the Botanical Garden building. Very unique, with lots of pretty stuff inside.

We walked around outside some more and rested when the moment called.

After the girls saw everything at the zoo, we went to the beach on the beach on Naval Air Station North Island. The beach went to is next to the Navy Lodge on the base. It’s a huge beach right on the Pacific, just a little north of the Hotel Del Coronado.

When we arrived at the beach we noticed that there was a pleasure boat trapped on the beach and submerged in the sand. The top part was still attached but by the time we left the surf had torn it apart and pieces were floating all over the place. Folks closer to the boat were dragging things ashore to get them out of the way and the girls moved quite a few until it became hazardous due to the amount of debris.

Then we helped Diane get vertical …

… the swimmers rinsed off almost all of the sand …

… we drove back across the San Diego – Coronado Bridge

… past the 32nd Street Naval Base

… and back up the freeway to Marbrisa in Carlsbad.

That’s it for this day.

Sea World on Monday – Day 5

Seaworld in San Diego is a fun place to visit. Diane and I hadn’t been there since the early 80’s. The big change was that Shamu wasn’t there anymore, but they have several replacements and the shows are always pretty terrific.

And they had some pretty fish to look at …

… and tons of flamingos …

The short story of this day is that Diane and I walked about 8 miles while the girls ran and played on everything they could find. They had a great time while Diane and I got lots and lots of exercise.

That ends Day 5

Happy Birthday Cedric, and Days 1 thru 3

Cedric turned 20 years on the 13th. I started this tribute on the 12th then events surrounding tasks necessary for us to vacate our premises jumped the line and took precedence. More on that, later.

Our Sailor is currently in the middle of the Pacific Ocean headed west for a 6-8 month trip on the USS Nimitz. We don’t know specifically where the ship is going, but for most events happening on that side of the world, the ship only has to get close. He’s in a very safe place. This is his first cruise and it’s going to be educational for him. We just hope he stays safe. When the notion strikes send good thoughts his way for a safe journey for him and all his shipmates.

Last Tuesday Diane got her third cast. Another pink one. For the first couple of days she yearned for the old cast. It’s better now and she’s doing great. So far she’s driven most of the way on this trip, just like normal.

On Wednesday we gathered up Lydia and Ceiarra for a trip south. The weather was perfect … around 61, no rain … and there was excitement about the days ahead.

The first leg of this trip ended in Medford for our first night. When we head south, Medford is almost always our choice for the first stop. Before that, however, we stopped in Albany for lunch with Jack and Wynette. They were making their way north from Arizona and we were very happy to have an opportunity to spend some time with them. Lunch was good and we had a great visit. Then we parted and continued on our separate ways with well wishes for safe journeys.

At the Medford sleeping facility, a lite supper of nachos and wine or beer. I had nachos, as did the other three, and Diane had a glass of wine. All complimentary. What a deal. They weren’t bad, but sometime in the night I had an epic Montezuma event. Therefore, I figured that I probably shouldn’t have eaten the nachos. Or maybe it was the pulled pork they had for the meat. Or the liquid cheese. Hard telling. Regardless, I’m fine now and it’s behind me, literally. I’m healed.

We got up at a reasonable time, about 0830, had breakfast in the hotel, another complimentary meal, re-stowed all the stuff we brought from home, and headed south. Like all of our trips, we packed a lot of stuff. In the past, that was a problem because of space, but now we’re traveling in a pickup so there’s tons of room for pretty much anything Diane wanted to bring. So, she did.

Thankfully, having two healthy teenage girls along simplifies the on and off load process. They can carry some pretty heavy stuff. That’s really handy. Before leaving, Diane requested that I devise a way for “stuff” to keep from sliding around in the back so I did. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of Sterilite (made in the USA) containers the pretty much filled the back of the truck. I got them all in place, so they wouldn’t slide around, then removed those that were in spaces required for suitcases. In all, we have 7 pieces of luggage, six of which reside in the back of the truck. There are also 8 Sterilite containers. Nothing slides around. Using the containers makes getting “stuff” inside our rooms easier than when we used garbage bags. It’s less embarrassing for Diane, too.

Yesterday, on our way to Beale AFB, we stopped for a buffet lunch at the Rolling Hills Casino near Corning, California off of I-5. It was very good. If you go there, get their club card first. Having the card gets you the buffet for half price. We didn’t have a club card. We paid full price. It’s OK.

At Beale we had a 3 bedroom home for the night which was unique. It was formally base housing and quite nice. The girls each had their own room as did Diane and I. After checking in, Diane and the girls returned the 10 miles back to the base exchange to look for teen age swimming suits, and something for dinner. I stayed home to guard stuff. There were no suitable swimming suits so the girls had to wear their old ones which are, reportedly, too small. They went to the pool anyway. While they played in the pool, Diane got dinner and brought it back to the room. I ate the rigatoni carbonara she gave me with gusto. The girls got chicken chunks. Just before 8 pm Diane went back to the pool for the girls and brought them back to the house for supper. I’d already eaten my pasta and would have enjoyed it more with buttered bread, but Diane couldn’t find any butter at the store. So, she got some Nutella. I tasted it, and it’s not bad, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put chocolate spread on a perfectly good piece of white bread to eat with my pasta. So, no bread, which is OK. I’m diabetic, you know, and the pasta was more than enough carbs for me. Bread wasn’t necessary.

The next morning, Friday, Diane had two pieces of toast slathered with Nutella but I couldn’t even do that. I just ate a piece of dry toast. It was pretty good. I also had a bowl of Honeynut Cheerios.

While eating breakfast, we started watching “Magnificent Beasts” that Lydia got from Red Box at some obscure town on the way. The stop was necessary because she wanted to return the ones she brought from home before 9 pm so she wouldn’t be charged another $1. She found the Red Box Drop by searching on her phone.

At 1045 am I called the front desk to find out when we had to check out. They told me 1100. So, everyone went to work packing up all the containers and getting them to the truck before we were charged for another day. It was close, but we did it. Then we were on the way south. Again.

From Beale AFB we took US 99 from I-80. It’s a crappy road most of the way, but it’s more interesting than I-5. More places to stop, too. As a diversion, Ceiarra allowed Lydia to glue new, long finger nails to her fingers. I have proof.

Ceiarra wasn’t a fan of long nails but she allowed it to happen and they look quite nice.

The plan was to make a pass through Modesto to see the house Lydia and family lived in 13 years ago. Before that, however, we stopped at a handy Panda Express for lunch on Briggsmore Ave.

You can see C’s long nails in the photo below.

It was very good. Diane had enough food that she saved enough for supper this evening. I’m going to eat more Cheerios. I really like those things.

NAS Lemoore is our stop for tonight. I booked two rooms at the Navy Lodge because they don’t have rooms that can accommodate 4 adults. Around 2000 (8 pm) the girls came to our room with their ‘old’ Red Box DVDs wanting to return them before the 9pm deadline. There’s an RB on base so it wasn’t difficult. In case you need to go there, it’s over by the Jet Mart.

After turning in the movies I asked them if they had eaten supper – Lydia had left overs from Panda Express, but C didn’t so they thought it might be good to go grazing through the Jet Mart for fun stuff to eat. We came away with a stunning variety of non-nutritional food, as well as some that qualified as ‘good for you’. I’ll try to remember what we came away with …

  • Frozen croissant breakfast sandwiches
  • Frozen entrees
  • Chips & cheese
  • Raspberries
  • Margarine (me)
  • Half & Half (me)
  • Drinks of some sort
  • Candy bars

The plan was for them to have something to eat while they watched the two movies they rented when they turned the old ones in. That should have kept them going until midnight, easy. Since it’s only 0830 on this fin Saturday morning, we won’t know how that worked out for at least another hour because they are asleep in the next room. I suspect I’ll have to rouse them so we can get checked out in time for our mad dash on this last leg of the trip that will take us through the heart of Los Angeles. We could go around, but thought having the experience of LA traffic should not be missed, for the girls’ experience, of course. There will be more on that this evening. Maybe

So there we are. Up. To. Date.

I leave you with a selfie, and a photo for our lovely daughter who is an avid Minions fan …

One of the HUGE things I failed to mention is the weather. We’re having some, and it’s really hot. Apparently we timed this trip just right so we could experience the hottest temperatures southern California has ever seen. The thermometer in the truck registered between 95 and 100 all day yesterday and weather alerts kept showing up reporting severe heat ahead. Nifty. Last night, when I took the girls to the Jet Mart, it was still 91 out there. We checked the weather at home and learned it was 60 and raining there.

Even with all this heat, we were gratified to see that all the canals are full of water down here, the valley is green with all manner of vegetables, fruit, and absolutely zillions of grape vines. All are healthy looking. And, the big one for us, Shasta Lake was full to the brim. In years past we were saddened to see the moorages high and dry, but this time it all looks good.

The Toenail Place Door, Graduation, and a Rock Hound

This afternoon Diane had a strange request that I found to be perfectly OK, considering her condition. If you read this stuff, you already know that she broke her arm. Part of the joy of doing that is that she was the recipient of pain medication. Initially, she found that it didn’t do much for the pain until she got a new cast that didn’t cover the back of her hand which was the most swollen portion of her anatomy as a result of her mishap. So, a while before coming up with her request, she ingested half a pill to help mitigate the pain she induced during the course of the day.

She paused her program, “Madam Secretary”, I think, and said “I have a favor to ask.”

“Absolutely,” I replied, as I do for all of her requests. That’s true and she will confirm if necessary.

“I can’t drive right now and I would like you to drive me down to the toenail place so I can look at the door, after my show is done, and after Ziva comes back.”

Ziva had been gone for most of an hour already even though I had gone to each exit of the house and whistled about every 15 minutes or so. Eventually she always comes back, but there’s always the fear that she managed to get herself run over. This evening she managed to return before Diane’s show finished so she did good.

Regarding Diane’s favor request, all I could do was say, “Ooookay. I would love to drive you down to the toenail place so you can look at the door.” I knew why, but it was still an oddly formed request. You see, we’re heading south on vacation soon and she wanted to get her toenails whittled down a bit, and probably get them polished. Looking at the door would reveal when they opened their door in the morning so she would know when to be there. We discovered that they open at 10 which is perfect because I have an appointment to get my remaining teeth cleaned at 9 so she said I could meet her at the toenail place and get mine done with her. What a treat. I’m going to be excited all night and will probably have dreams about which color I should get. It won’t really matter because I never go barefooted any more. Even so, I think it might be fun to have pretty toes for a while. I’ll take a picture.

For now, however, I have other pictures to share. The big event of the weekend was Lydia’s graduation from High School. Yes, they let her graduate. Gave her a diploma and everything.

Here she is marching up the aisle with her good friend, Lexi. Oddly enough, we were sitting with Lexi’s family. It wasn’t planned.

Here they are in the front row. I had to walk out in front of everyone to get this photo. I’m sure Lydia was very happy that I didn’t fall down and embarrass her. I think that’s reason she’s smiling, not because she’s happy that she’s actually graduating.

And, here’s the proof. Even though her last name is Walters, she was the 14th graduate to get her diploma. I actually don’t think that’s fair because tradition is that you get them in alphabetical order.

Here’s the happy girl …

After church today we went to a party at Lydia’s friend Ceiarra’s house. She lives just across the street from Diane’s Mom, Jean, so it was a short trip. It was Ceiarra’s graduation party and it was a good one. Ceiarra and Lydia are the two who are going on a trip to California with Diane and me next week. When people ask me where we’re taking them, I say, “Camp Pendleton”. That’s probably true, but we won’t just drop them off as I suggested. It will just be a visit.

Here’re the party girls … Kayla, Lydia, Ceiarra, and Hannah,

They had a lot of fun. They are all soccer jocks and plan to play together at Portland Community College in the fall.

We delivered a box of strawberries and a card to Lydia from our friend Barb. Lydia loves strawberries and promptly opened them and dove in. She shared, too.

And, finally, here’s Ony, Jeff’s dog, with another rock for her pile. She picks one up every time she’s taken for a walk.

Funny dog.

That’s it for today. It’s early but I need get to bed because I have to visit my dental hygienist in the morning.

Then, the toes!

 

60+ to 80+, a broken lawnmower, and other Stuff.

Yup! That’s what happened. The temps turned on a dime from a high of 60 something to 80 something. The weather things I’ve looked at show 81 for today, but our thermometers registered 86. Now, my challenge is to get my lawn mower cleaned up before the rain comes back day after tomorrow.

I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it may as well. I thought I heard that we’ve had more than 141 days of measurable rain this year so far, a record. That’s kind of tricky, I think, because there have only been 123 days registered in 2017.

Could be I have no idea what I’m talking about which is not news. I rarely do. But, it’s fun trying to make sense of what I think I hear. Diane’s solution for that is for me to wear my hearing aid, but that takes all the fun out of it.

Now, the lawn mower … it’s the one that Floyd and Nancy bought for the church. Just recently it decided to not start so I tried to get people to dig out all the small engine repair people they know so we can take advantage of the good weather. Thankfully, Howard mowed the church yard so all we need to do is clean up the cut grass. Having the mower run would help.

Well, I didn’t get any valid offers of help, except from Don, so I went to school on YouTube and figured out how to do it myself. Armed with my new-found knowledge I took my tools to the church, rolled the mower out, yanked the engine out off the frame (with Howard’s help),

and dismantled the engine down to a bunch of little parts, just like I learned on YouTube.

Doing so revealed that the bad part is exactly the one I expected it to be based on my recent education, a dysfunctional cam shaft …

It looks nice and almost new, but there’s a part broken that helps get the engine past the first compression point during the start process. It was in little pieces in the bottom of the crank case. Now I have to get a new one and figure out how to get everything back together again. I need to do that fast because I’ll forget where all those screws and bolts go in a few days. That’s all it takes. I’ll take a photo of any success I might have. If I fail, you’ll never hear about this again.

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday … leftover meat loaf. It was really good.

I think there’s about a pound of meat there, but it’s all protein, something I can eat a lot of. Keeps my B-12 levels up there in the stratosphere.

Here’s our trailer while I’m check to ensure the lights work before we left Devil’s Lake State Park for the trip home.

While we were enjoying ourselves at the beach, the bamboo took advantage of our absence and reached for the sky. Might have to trim it down a little.

This afternoon Lydia’s softball team had a double-header with Parkrose. Lydia pitched 4 innings of the first game and played 2nd base the last 3 innings of the 2nd game. It was a lot of fun. They lost the 1st game 3-2 and won the 2nd one 8-4. It was a good day. One of the highlights was when Jennifer was trying to talk with Lydia over the cement block wall of the dugout, but couldn’t hear her. So, she did this …

She had sneakers on so didn’t slip, but it’s something she would have raised heck about had one of the kids, or me, done this. Just so you know, she extracted herself from this precarious position without injury. Made me proud. It was a good day.

It’s time for me to head to bed, after I let the dogs out to bark at something and pee in the tall grass out front. Ozzie just had a $37 haircut but that doesn’t stop him from plowing through the grass in search of a spot where one of the big dogs may have relieved themselves. He’s predictable, and doesn’t care about hygiene at all.

Good nite.

Prom and a Party

Yesterday was Prom Night for St. Helens High School kids, the time of year when girls get new dresses and boys get new ideas because of the new dresses. Every year the cycle repeats. This year our Lydia, a senior, chose to observe this special event by avoiding the boy/girl drama by going with 9 of her friends. She did, however, invite her brother, Jeran, a Junior, and the family’s foreign exchange student, Ahmed, who is from Pakistan. So, it was 10 girls and two boys who were, I have no doubt, the envy of every other boy who attended. Avoiding the dating drama for most of her High School career has allowed her to focus on school work and sports. For her, and her friends, the drama is something that can wait because it will always be there.

So, here’s the crowd who reportedly had a terrific time. I only know a few of their names so will have to make something up for those I don’t know. On the left is Jeran, then a cute little red-headed girl in a white dress, a cute blonde in a purple dress, Maryssa, Lexi, a cute brunette in an aqua dress, Fiona, Lydia, a cute girl in a jacket, Ceierra, another cute girl in a white dress, and Ahmed. Good looking bookends for ten lovely young ladies. This photo was taken in front of the Midway Veterinarian Hospital in Warren, Oregon where Jennifer works. She’s Mom to Jeran, Lydia, Ahmed, and some times Ceierra, and had to work so they blessed her with a drive-by on their way to Portland. How cool is that?

 

Ahmed, Lydia, Jeran

Jeran , Lydia, Ahmed

I can’t go through those names again so refer back to the first photo …

We’re proud of our young adults and the values they embrace. In case any of you are wondering where those last three photos were taken, it was at Cathedral Park, which is under the eastern end of the St. Johns Bridge, which spans the Willamette River, which courses through down town Portland. Another interesting thing about Cathedral Park is that it’s where the Library resides in the TV Series, “The Librarians”. Watching that show gives folks an opportunity to see bits and pieces of Portland. “Grim” gives you more but, sadly, that show ended recently.

This afternoon, after church, we had a party at the house for Baylee who is going to be celebrating her birthday on April 30th. We had the party today because Diane and I won’t be home and we wanted to have fun, too. It was a simple affair with a herd of little girls running all over the house having a great time. There is one little guy, Donny, in the front row next to Baylee, but he wasn’t there for the festivities, just the photo-op.

They had a piñata, a Hello Kitty piñata, that took them a long time to destroy because I was in charge of the rope. Everyone had a good time and had a chance to take a whack at it, even the big kids. Here’s what was left of it. It was on the stake for just a short time before a short person grabbed it and made a gallant effort to destroy it by hand.

This is Eilena, a little girl Lydia babysits who many folks thinks is her daughter, which she finds adorable. Eilena (I’m guessing at the spelling) is like a Lydia Mini-me. I had to take this photo because Eilena managed to get cupcake frosting all over her face without ever attempting to take a bite of the cupcake. She dipped her fingers in the frosting one hand at a time, cleaning the fingers of one hand while the other was dipping up a little more frosting. Economy of motion. Smart kid.

Here’s Baylee, Gilligan, and Jerrie on their way home after the party. I think the smiles are a good indication that things went well. The candy didn’t hurt at all in swaying that good feeling to the positive side.

Here’s Lydia and Ceierra with that cute red-head in the white dress at Cathedral Park.

This is Gilligan and Abba resting with Ziva … in the very wet grass, that I haven’t been able to mow, because it’s so wet. Did I mention the grass is wet?

And, finally, here’s a rainbow Diane and I saw yesterday. We don’t often get rainbows where we can capture both ends. Quite festive.

Now it’s getting late and time for us to head to bed. I have ‘tasks’ tomorrow and need to be alert.

Bless you all.