Thru LA to Carlsbad – Day 4

Days 4 thru 7 are so full of stuff, and I have lots of photos, that I’m going to break it up so you won’t get totally bored. That, and I have 47 photos to share that total 118 MB of data. Too much for one post. So, I’m going with Day 4 now.

That would be the day we finally arrived in Carlsbad and got checked in to our rooms. This time, instead of a three bedroom house, like we had at NAS Lemoore, we had a two bedroom condo. Well, actually, it’s a one bedroom condo with a studio adjoining. Perfect for the four of us. The girls had their own space with a bath, and we had ours. Yes, perfect.

Getting to the room from Lemoore, however, was a serious challenge because we made it a point to drive through Los Angeles so the girls could experience the traffic. They weren’t disappointed, but I’m sure they wish we’d chosen a speedier route. Yes, it was a dumb thing to do, but we only had to do it once, right? Right.

As it turned out, Diane gave up driving before we reached the infamous Grapevine over the hills into the LA area. So, I had the honor. What fun. Additionally, I wound up driving all the way to Carlsbad, a  v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w. t.r.i.p. Really. And, it took most of the day. No, it took all day. We arrived over two hours later than the original arrival time computed by our GPS lady before leaving Lemoore.

Once over the Grapevine, and into the city, the speed dropped to around 0-20 mph and that’s the way it was for the duration, all the way to Carlsbad. That’s a stretch of about 100 miles. It was brutal; 4-6 lanes (each way) of vehicles cruising along at a little over walking speed most of the time.

But, we made it. Yes we did.

Our accommodations here at Marbrisa Resort are on the ground floor. The girls’ room has a small patio that is about 10 feet from the gate into the pool area, right next to the hot tub. Perfect, right? They certainly think so. They have four pools to play in.

Somewhere during that grueling day, we stopped for lunch at a Panda Express where I pigged out on a bunch of shrimp which resulted in this …

The dreaded Gout. It hurt, and I limped a lot, but it didn’t stop me from keeping up with the crowd. When we had a chance, we went to the commissary at Camp Pendleton and got the most horrible cherry juice in the world which Diane made me drink to help resolve the gout problem. I managed to gag down a glass but that was it. Nasty stuff, and I kinda used to like cherry juice. Next time I get gout I will just live with it until it’s gone.

Today is Wednesday. I’ll fill you in on Monday and Tuesday next. I’ll leave you with a photo of “my girls” waiting for a table at an eating establishment somewhere on the West Coast, South of Los Angeles. Might be the Green Dragon in Carlsbad.

Here’s what we ate …

That’s it.


Four-twenty. Kind of a benign combination of numbers but they cover a wide range of associations. For instance, a lot of famous folks were born on 4.20, a few of which are:

  • Adolph Hitler in 1889
  • Jessica Lange in 1949
  • Luther Vandross in 1951
  • George Takei in 1937
  • Ryan O’Neal in 1941
  • Crispin Glover in 1964
  • Carmen Electra in 1972

Then there’s significant events, of which there are mass quantities. Here are a few:

  • 1939 Ted Williams for his 1st hit, a double.
  • 1948 NYC doubles subway fare, from 5 cents to 10 cents.
  • 1949 Jockey Bill Shoemaker wins his 1st race.
  • 1951 US performs atmospheric nuclear test at Enewetak
  • 1962 Neil Armstrong takes X-15 to 63,250 mph.
  • 1967 US Surveyor 3 lands on the Moon.
  • 1981 The final performance of TV show “Soap” airs.
  • 1986 Michael Jordan set NBA playoff record with 63 points.

Lots of stuff happened before 1939, of course, but I didn’t recognize any of it. Probably because I wasn’t paying attention in History class.

Another “important” 420 association is in the wonderful world of Marijuana. 420 became a kind of code word amongst those who dabbled in the the early 70’s world of pot. The link above will provide you way more information that you really need about 420 origins and what it means.

Now, about the one all the media missed, and one you will not find with a Google search, is, without a doubt, the most important one in modern history. On that day in 1968 I was permanently joined with my high school Sweetheart. Two days ago marked our 49th anniversary. Whatever else happened on 4.20, the one in 1968 will always be the most important.

In case you’re wondering, we celebrated our 49th by me leaving Diane alone all morning while I attended Coffee With The Guys at the Kozy, then an American Legion Officer’s meeting, followed by a trip to the Christian Church to get food from the Lion’s club that we deliver to the high school every Thursday. I would have delivered them, but they were finally too heavy for me to cart any distance, so I went home to get our hand truck. Diane was up by then and said she’d help me and that we should just continue on over to Park Rose for Lydia’s soft ball game. We did that. We made it all the way to Portland, in the rain, before Lydia texted to let us know the game had been cancelled. So, we enjoyed a 49th anniversary lunch at Home Town Buffet, $20 for both of us,

then spent an unproductive visit to the nearby Habitat for Humanity Restore Store. Empty handed, we hung our heads low and made our way back to St. Helens where we stopped by Lewis TKD to see about martial arts lessons for Baylee. Turned out the TKD Master, and owner of the facility, was a Marine and we had a lot to talk about. He and Baylee get along nicely.

We got Baylee there at 5:00 pm to get registered and she spent the next 1.5 hours trying to knock people down. She’s a quick study and will do well. There will be more on this in the future.

I’m a lucky guy.


Jeran Went Shopping !!

Yesterday, Diane and I took Jeran shopping for shoes. He’s going to be 17 on Tuesday the 11th and we figured it was about time he had some. Oh, he’s had lots of shoes over the years but they don’t last long because his feet just kept growing. Considering that he’s around 6’3″ you would think he’d have fairly large feet, but he only wears a 10 1/2.  Go figure. His older brother, Cedric, has him beat with shoe size and he’s a bit shorter.

You’d think taking Jeran shopping, for anything, would be a big deal, but it is. He hasn’t liked shopping, for anything, for a long time. That’s apparently changed. Or, maybe it was the lunch stop at Olive Garden that swayed his decision. We tried to convince him that Home Town Buffet was the best place ever, but he fixated on Olive Garden. That turned out very nicely because I had the absolute best shrimp carbonara ever. Jeran had cheese raviolis and Diane just had soup and salad. In addition, we devoured 12 bread sticks and 6 glasses of raspberry ice tea. It was a terrific lunch.

On the way to Portland we stopped at Fred Meyer just for fun to check out their shoes so Jeran would have a reference point in case we couldn’t find anything at DSW. With my help, it took about 3 minutes to find some perfectly suitable shoes at Freddie’s, but we couldn’t leave right away because Diane was stuck in another part of the store. Finally she finished whatever she was doing and we were on our way.

Lunch was first, or course, since it was … well … lunchtime. It just made sense. We chose the Olive Garden in Hillsboro because we knew where it was. After spending about 30 seconds with the menu, all of us were ready to order. I just had to get a ruling on the chicken & shrimp carbonara to see if I could get the shrimp & shrimp carbonara. Out waitress, Misha, said sure since there was actually a menu item for shrimp carbonara. I know, I usually get chicken because it’s one of my favorite animals to ingest, but shrimp win the day when available.

After the meal, we headed for DSW and the dreaded shopping. This is the store. It’s located in a small strip mall right next to Jack & Wynette’s favorite Asian food restaurant. We at there with them once, and I was awesome. Terrific folks own and operate it.

This is the women’s side of the store. Diane is back there someplace looking at the free shoes. Instead, she found a pair that we had to pay for. She reported that they are extremely comfortable so it’s worth it that she has comfortable kicks.

These are the men’s shelves. Based on our astute observations, Jeran and I determined that they apparently sell more women’s shoes than men’s. That was OK, by us. That’s Jeran in the white hoody, checking his phone for something. He wouldn’t tell me what, so I figured it must have been one of his girl friends. He’ll deny that, but I bet it’s true.

This is what Jeran used to look like. He’s the one on the left. With him are his older sister, Lydia, who recently turned 18, and Cedric, who is currently serving his country aboard the USS Nimitz CVN-68. As you may have guessed, they are all much taller, now. It’s true.

When he was in the seventh grade, Jeran had some emotional problems that required an unusual amount of surgery, counseling, and patience to resolve.

Thankfully, he had good doctors who were able to restore his boyish good looks allowing him to go back to school where he is currently in the 11th grade. That’s what he tells you if you ask what grade he’s in. Not, “I’m a junior,” but “I’m in the 11th grade.” Here’s what he looks like now. He’s the only child wearing glasses. Lydia has connects and Cedric will never need glasses. He’s got 20-10 vision. The transformation is amazing, don’t you think?

While shopping Jeran was fixated on the price tags, not the shoes so I had to talk to him about that. I explained that we were there to get him some good, comfortable shoes and he wasn’t to concern himself with price. He asked how much he could spend and I told him $700. I knew he wouldn’t believe me, but it worked to get him actually looking at the shoes and he picked out a couple pair of very nice shoes … one for casual, one for dress.

He got these for dress …

                                               and these for casual …Quite spiffy choices, we thought.

I got new shows, too, and a new belt. Now my pants won’t fall off.

On the way home we stopped at Freddies again to pick up Diane’s ring. She left it to be appraised and thought it might be a good idea to get it back. She left Jeran and me in the truck, with the windows up, and it was sunny out. It didn’t take long for it to heat up inside to the point where Jeran started removing his clothes. I had to remove one layer, too. We thought maybe she did this on purpose for some reason, but we hadn’t done anything wrong. Then I noticed the keys hanging in the ignition. Jeran was sitting in front so he turned the ignition on so we could roll down our windows. In that manner we kept the police from arresting Diane for leaving her children in a hot car while she shopped.

Today we went to church the brought Diane’s Mom, Jean, back home as we always do on Sunday. We watched movies and ate popcorn. I share this photo so you can see the laser-like focus Ziva had on every bite Mom took. Ziva knew that if she stared long enough, she’d get a kernel or two. She got more than that and eventually convinced the other two dogs to join in on the guilt trip. It’s quite effective.

That’s all I have for today. Hope everyone had a great Palm Sunday.



Only 362 shopping days left till Christmas

Today was a bit different from the day before yesterday because we actually got dressed and left the house. Day before we spent all day in our jammies and just watched Hallmark Christmas movies all day long.

Yesterday was an indoor day, too, but for a different reason. It was time to move our Christmas tree outside into the rain so it could get a good watering until we’re ready to stick it in the ground. Then we moved furniture around so we could clean up all the popcorn and candy from under Diane’s chair. That was actually quite a surprise because she really likes popcorn and it’s hard to believe she dropped any on the floor. But she did, and the dogs didn’t find it. That’s odd, too, because they all like popcorn more than people do and nothing says on the floor for long.

Moving the furniture involved moving pretty much everything to a different location, including the TV, and turning the carpet 90 degrees so the dogs could lay comfortably in front of the fireplace. That, led to the need to actually light the fireplace, something we haven’t done for a long, long time. Thankfully it came on and worked just great. Ziva’s a happy camper.


It didn’t take long for Panzie to roust Ziva and take over. Actually, they take turns. They stay right in front of the fire until their eyes dry out, then move to a cooler location until they can blink. It’s a constant cycle. Little Ozzie sneaks in there once in a while, but not often.


Another interesting thing that happened yesterday was that we lost one of our new butcher knives, the blue one. We looked absolutely everywhere for it but couldn’t find it. It almost kept me awake last night, but not quite. I did spend a considerable amount of time looking for it before going to bed.

Then, this morning, thinking one of us (me) may have tossed the knife in the trash, for some reason, Diane dug around in it for a while to no avail. No knives in the trash. On her way back in the house she asked me if it might be in with the fudge.

Click! went the light and I had a clear view of the knife laying alongside the uncut fudge after I had cut a bunch of pieces for Diane’s Mom, Jean. Once again, Diane solved the mystery. She’s really good at that. Solving mysteries.

After all that hard work yesterday Diane had plans to relax a little and take Mom shopping for a new coat at Penny’s in Longview. I had planned to stay home and work on a couple of projects I have on my list. The main one is to remove the hair from the tub drain in Diane’s bathroom. It has an interesting contraption that plugs the drain for a bath, and it collects the hair. Consequently, when Diane showers, the water kinda starts filling the tub allowing her to soak her feet during the shower. She doesn’t like that.

Then someone mentioned having lunch at Sizzler. Upon being made aware of the lunch decision, I made a command decision that the bathtub hair could wait until tomorrow. Normally my command decisions are subject to review, but fortunately this one passed without comment.

The main reason for the shopping trip was to replace the coat Diane got for Mom that was a bit too tight. Fortunately, it fit Lydia just right so she inherited the coat. What a deal.

Finding the proper coat was much easier with the recipient present so we were at Sizzler in no time. I ate 8 chicken wings, two tacos, a soup bowl of ice cream, and a healthy salad. And a lemonade.

We’ve been home for a while now and Diane’s letting me watch a bowl game – Utah against Indiana. It’s tied 17-17 at the half. I’m not normally a Utah fan, but they are a PAC-12 team so kinda need to wish them well.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the tub hair. Might even show you a picture.

Day 17 – Fort Lee Lodge & Other Stuff

Not a lot to write about today because we didn’t do much. Still, I’ll see how far I can stretch this with nothing to say.

We got up earlier than normal, before 9 am, so I took a trip to the main floor for a look at the area where they serve a continental breakfast for folks staying at the Lodge. I think I already mentioned that this place is like a very large Holiday Inn and is, in fact, affiliated with Holiday Inn. If you’ve stayed at one of those you will know that they have a very nice breakfast room. Well, think about that for a second, then expand the room to about 100 x 100 and you’ll get a sense of what this one is like. Seriously, it’s that big. OK, maybe it’s only 100 x 75. Still big.

To the left of the door there is a curving self-serve area with boiled eggs, waffles, french toast, yogurt, milk machines, oatmeal, grits, fruit, toasters, and what looks like an omelet bar that was closed when I got there, that’s about 80 feet long. Around the corner in the seating area, the BIG seating area, is a table with a vast array of coffee pots and things you can put in coffee cups to make it taste better. I was so amazed with this room that I just got a couple of cups of coffee and took them right back up to the room and convinced Diane she needed to put some underwear on and come down with me to look at it.

She did. She was amazed, too. We both ate but I made a bad choice and got french toast and actually put syrup on it. This resulted in an elevated BS level that needed attention with some exercise and water. So, we went outside and walked around the hotel. It took about 15 minutes to do that. I drank a bottle of water on the way. This made my stomach settle down and by BS level was down indicating it was going the right direction. Here’s a bicycle we saw during our walk. It’s been there for a long time. We think it’s probably a loaner bike because we saw more just like it at other bike racks around the base.


Then Diane decided it was time to visit the commissary to get things to last through the storm, just in case it decided to slam us, too. I already had 8 boiled eggs, from the hotel cafeteria, so egg salad was on the menu. Just needed mustard to make it really good.

While at the commissary, we continued our exercise by walking up and down every isle in the place. We went at a moderate pace, just slow enough to keep from sweating.

There were so many bags of food I had to use the luggage cart to get them to our room. Diane put things away while I took the cart back to the lobby. By the time I returned it was pretty much cleaned up and ready for me to make that egg salad.

I used four eggs which gave us enough for four sandwiches. Since we only ate one each, there’s more for tomorrow. Before I ate, however, I checked my BS again. It was down to 90 and I could tell it was time to eat. I may have salivated a little bit while make the egg salad, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t salivate on the eggs. I’m guessing, of course, because it would’ve blended right in and there was no way to tell for sure. So far, Diane hasn’t displayed any symptoms of sickness of any kind so think I’m good here. Until she reads this. Then it’s lights out and means I’ll get to eat the remainder of the egg salad all by myself. Unless Cedric wants some, of course. We should be picking him up for a day of hanging out, visiting, exploring, and napping. Here’s an off topic photo Cedric sent this afternoon of him in his cooking class uniform.


This afternoon, when Diane couldn’t find anything interesting on TV, she lay down on the bed and took a very loud nap. I, on the other hand, stayed in the living room portion and watched a movie – “The Fifth Wave”. On my iPad. We don’t know how to watch movies on our TV. Besides, all the channels are analog, not digital. It’s still a good picture, though, so can’t fault them for that. The majority of folks staying here are Army officers, new and old, who are, I believe, affiliated with the Logistics University adjacent to the Lodge.

When the movie was almost over Cedric texted me and we started going back and forth, carrying on a conversation. We didn’t know at the time that the text link he used also included his Mom. I was very thankful that we kept it clean because she surprised us both when she chimed in and commented that while she was gone taking her Mom’s Mom, Jean, to the doctor, she received 87 texts. Neither of us had any idea we had carried on that much.

Now it’s 2230 here and we’re getting updates from Jennifer about the soccer game going on in St. Helens. Our girls were winning 3-0 against Milwaukee. Our girls are 7-2 going in to this game and are ranked 4th in the state. They are doing extremely well. I’m told the Milwaukee girls aren’t taking the beating very well and have started with dirty tactics.

Here’s a pre-game photo that Jennifer took …


It’s Pink day. Since Lydia’s a goalie she dresses differently than the rest of the team so she didn’t have pink socks. Just pink paint on her face.

Jennie sent the next photo with the comment, “She’s wearing pants.” First time this year. Normally she wears shorts. But, she said it’s raining buckets at home now and I suspect pants would feel pretty good. But I think pants feel pretty good any time of the year.


Time to quit.

Day 15 – JBAB Anacostia

I didn’t do anything today except help Diane with the laundry. By help I mean I just did whatever she told me to do, of course. After that, she went to the exchange all by herself. I stayed in the room and watched a movie and two episodes of Quantico. I just love our Xfinity because we can watch recorded shows on our DVR from anywhere in the world.

A may have had a nap, too.

Later …

Ahmed, Off to Chicago, A Wedding, Lydia’s Eye, & Golf

I just learned that Steph Curry, 2-time NBA MVP has endorsed Hillary as his choice for president.

I don’t know about you, but this is exactly the kind of validation I’ve been looking for to help me make an informed decision about the upcoming election.  Though I didn’t know it, I’ve apparently been waiting for a very young, multi-millionaire sports figure to share his favorite candidate with the world so we can all make the correct choice.

Now my research is complete.

Yesterday we had to get up at 0430 so we could leave by 0530 to have Ahmed to the Cinema 7 at Eastport Plaza by 0630 for a bus that didn’t arrive until 0700. He and all of the exchange students were going to the Pendleton Roundup for their first rodeo. Pretty exciting stuff. It was fun watching all of these kids from all over the world mix and mingle as the good friends they have become, and it made me wish, again, for a more peaceful world where adults could do the same thing. Sadly, when some of us get older power becomes a narcotic-like addiction for a small minority that poisons of the large majority. Why is it, do you suppose, that we allow that to happen? It’s really sad. Everyone of us can look to our exchange students for the example necessary to change the world. That is, of course, an opinion. Ahmed will be back next Tuesday to resume his new life as a temporary Oregonian and will probably be wearing a cowboy hat.

After Ahmed boarded the bus, the rest of us, Daniel, Jennifer, Jeran, Diane, and I, sought sanctuary in a nearby eatery for sustenance. Seems like it was a iHop, but I just can’t remember. When we finished eating we learned that Jeran didn’t see the need for a jacket of any kind for their trip to Chicago for Cedric’s boot camp graduation. That required a trip to a nearby Wal*Mart for resolution.

Then we were off to the airport so they could catch their flight to Chicago so they could see this regal looking guy:


Then Diane and I returned home in time for me to join my friends, Larry, Larry, and Howard for coffee at the Kozy. It’s always fun at coffee. You should join us sometime.

After coffee I don’t recall doing anything of significance the rest of the morning, so I must have had a nap. That’s become an afternoon routine for us, it seems, whether we plan it or not. We just nod off for a short period of time, not to exceed 2 hours. The nap was necessary because we had to journey to the  McMiniman Road House on Cornelius Pass road to attend a wedding for Jessica and Reece. Jessica is Jewel’s daughter, the one who flew in from Perth, Australia for that purpose. With her intended, Reece. He flew in, too. As did a contingent of his family. The wedding was very nice. The bride was extremely emotional and happy. The groom was solid throughout and walked out with a look of triumphant satisfaction on his face.


Jewel, I probably need not say, but will anyway, was a basket case. Over the top happy for her Jessica and Reece. So, we were, too.

While we were doing all that, Lydia was on a bus to Hermiston, Oregon to play another soccer game against another 6A school. All by herself. And the rest of the team, of course. She said it took 4.5 hours to get back home but it was a happy trip because they won 2-1. They scored their second goal with 6 seconds remaining on the game clock. Good timing. After Lydia got home she went blind in her left eye when taking out her contacts due to an apparent scratch on her cornea. I know how severely painful that can be from personal experience. Since she was home alone, Jennifer asked if we could look in a check her out, so I did. I did it because Lydia also has a nasty cold which Diane would catch in a heartbeat by getting near her. So, it was up to me. I took her to a local eye doc who said the main problem was a bad infection for which she prescribed drops. I got them, dropped a drop in Lyd’s eye then left her to rest in the dark house while I fried up some eggs (over easy) for her. I checked on her again this afternoon and found her in far better spirits. She can open her eye a little now, and she said it’s better already. Still, the drops must go in and she’s taking care of it as directed. While there visiting, I heated up a can of beef vegetable soup for her to ensure she ingesting something. We chatted for a long time while she worked on it. Then I had to leave, giving her strict instruction to text me “911” should she need me for anything. Then she melted my little heart, the way she always does, when she hugged me good nite and said, “I love you Papa.” Before I left I patched up her eye so she wouldn’t have to hold a rag on it all the time.


This morning I was forced to get up early in order to go golfing with the West brothers. I don’t know why it is that I always seem to go golfing with brothers. Unless, of course, I go golfing with Jim. He has brothers but has yet to invite any of them to golf with us. That would be OK. I did pretty good and will definitely be going out with those guys again because I beat them both. I suspect, however, that should we play on a regular basis that we will all fall into alignment and golf  at the same level. Since we’re going to be gone for a while, I suggested that they hook up with the Peal brothers to in my absence. Turns out their next day on the course will be this coming Tuesday, the day we fly east.

Now it’s time to quit. My eyes burn.