Category Archives: Travel in USA

Visiting places in USA

Early 2018

Hello to all and hope 2018 has been treating you well.  We haven’t made any big trips so far.  There have been 3 small excursions:  3 nights at the Edgewater Hotel & Casino in Laughlin, NV (Jim won some money!); 4 days with cousin Dale and Diana in Stockton, CA with a day-trip to Murphy’s, CA and Ironstone Winery; and a 4 day cruise on the Carnival Imagination (didn’t get off the ship in Catalina or Ensenada, MX).

Weather wise, it has been Southern California’s usual roller-coaster of high and low temperatures (freezing last night), with only 3 inches of rain in 2018.  We also had an earthquake of 4.0 with the epicenter very near us.  It woke me with a big jolt.  Jim thought I had a bad dream and shook the bed all by myself.  Wrong!

As usual in the beginning of the year, we try to see as many of the award nominated movies as we can.  We really enjoyed “The Greatest Showman,” “Three Billboards in Ebbing, MO,” “The Post,” and “Darkest Hour.”

Our time has been filled with Pickleball play and events, Ukulele and Guitar jams, and making reservations for our big trip coming up in April.  We have scheduled hotels, transportation (planes, ship and trains) and an apartment in Torremolinos, Spain.  Jim’s sister JoAnn and husband John are joining us there for 2 weeks.

There has been another health issue for Jim; a minor one.  He had surgery a week ago for Squamous cancer on his left cheek.  They used the MoHs technique and took out a section about the size of a dime.  It is healing well and he has not had pain.  Considering his complexion and all the “pre-cancer” spots he has had, it is surprising that this is the first surgical removal.

Our grandchildren are growing up so so fast (aren’t they all?)  Jerica, our Sweet Sixteen year old continues to excel in both vocal and instrumental (trombone) music.  She has added Speech Meets to her repertoire!  So proud of her growing self-confidence.  The youngest, Lauren, at 11 is in Student Government (also showing great self-confidence), playing percussion (including the bells) in band, and still taking piano lessons. Just recently she entered the scary world of orthodontia, by getting braces on her teeth.  It seemed young to us, but good to fix them asap.

Looks like the rest of February and most of March will be the same, but Jim may find some small trip for us; he’s always looking.  Our best to all.



More Visits with Relatives in Louisiana and Texas

On Saturday, November 18 we visited with Jim’s 3 nieces (sister Pat’s daughters) and some grandnieces in Marksville, LA.  His other sister, JoAnn and husband John joined us there.  Tamra, Dawn and Kim grew up in Marksville, but only Kim still lives there.  We visited, partied and ate in her large outside patio.  It was great to see them all again.

The next day, we drove to JoAnn’s home in Spring, Texas and spent the next few days there, including Thanksgiving.  Her son-in-law Keith came from Atlanta and the 2 of them cooked up a great feast.  We were joined by a couple of friends for the dinner.  The weather was beautiful in both Louisiana and Texas, as you can see from the last photo.  We drove home November 24 -27 and are staying here for the rest of the holidays.  We enjoyed driving our 2017 Red Velvet Chrysler Pacifica minivan on this 5 week, 6000 mile trip (and yes, Jim drove every mile!)

For those who wondered about our home and the fires:  We so far have been very lucky.  There have been fires North West of LA, south of us and even to the east.  But we haven’t even had any smoke.  We feel so badly for all of those who had and to evacuate and especially those who lost their homes and businesses.  We have had the strong winds, dry air and are surrounded by dry underbrush, so are also vulnerable.  We would love to have some rain (it actually looked like some today, 12/16).

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to all.

Arkansas Time Share

For six days, in between relative visits in Indiana and Louisiana, we had a timeshare condo in Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.  It is north of Little Rock and in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.  The area was very beautiful with lakes, rivers, hills and woods.  Most of the fall colors were gone and the leaves were falling constantly, but it there were still plenty of trees with foliage.  Our condo was 2 BR/2BA and quite large and comfortable.  This was a nice leisurely time to relax with out driving very many miles and to be by ourselves.  We took day trips to the local towns; rented movies and played our instruments- ukulele and guitar.  We even found a makeshift Pickleball court for one day of play.  There was a fully equipped kitchen, so we did quite a bit of cooking, which we both enjoy.  Next we went to Louisiana to visit with nieces and grandnieces.

Relative Road Trip

On October 23, we left Southern California in our new Chrysler Pacifica minivan (purchased in August) and headed east to visit family in many states.  It started with daughter Jina, husband Steve and grandchidren.  On the first night we attended Jerica’s vocal concert.  It was very enjoyable and they did a great job.  Then Saturday she was in an Honor Band at Doane University, also very good.  We stayed 5 nights with them.  Lauren and Cheryl played ukuleles together, there was a lot of card playing and cooking of good meals by Jina, Jim and Cheryl.  The weather was mostly mild, but there were snow flurries on the last day.

Our next visits were in Indiana.  First in Indianapolis, we met 2 of Cheryl’s high school friends for dinner.  Went to see her niece in Muncie one afternoon and spent a day with brother John and wife Donna, back in Indianapolis.  There were some beautiful fall colors in Indiana.  Then we drove to Newburgh/Evansville to spend time with brother Ben, Angie and family.  It had been 5 years since we had been in Indiana and they have not come to California to see us!

While in Evansville area we took a side trip to Owensboro, KY to visit the International Blue Grass Music Museum.  It was fun to see the history of Blue Grass in more detail and listen to the music.

We headed to The Land Between the Lakes after leaving Indiana.  First stop for lunch was in Grand River, KY at Patti’s Cafe.  Already decorated for Christmas in Big Style!  That night we stayed in Paris, TN and next in Memphis, TN.  We then went to our RCI timeshare in Arkansas, more on that later.

August & September, 2017

Since returning from our road trip with the Granddaughters, we have spent most of our time at home; playing Pickleball, Ukulele/Guitar and visiting with friends.  I, Cheryl, am learning to play Pickleball with my left hand since my shoulder continues to give me trouble.  The orthopedic specialist said that shoulder replacement is in my future, but if I am careful and use my left arm more, I can put that off for a while.  I’ve had cortisone shots and use pain creams, etc, so it is manageable.

Finally at the end of August, the extreme heat became too much, so we left for four days to the Central Coast:  Morro Bay, San Simeon and Pismo Beach.  It was much cooler (40 degree difference one day) and foggy some days.  We love this beautiful area.  Went to Cayucos, Cambria and to see the Elephant Seals north of San Simeon.  The coast highway is still blocked a few miles north of there by the massive mudslide this spring.  It will be another year before it opens.

This week, Jim’s sister came to Carlsbad, CA, from Houston with her husband John (his birthday was 9/12) and 2 friends.  We spent 2 days with them, touring that area, Sand Diego (Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument and downtown Gas-lamp area) and Temecula (Old Town and wineries.)

Our Sagos continue to show beautiful growth, the female looks even more “pregnant” with her large “flower head”, the male has new growth and the “pups” are thriving.

So sad to hear about the terrible destruction by both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  JoAnn and John came through ok in Northwest Houston.  Also Cheryl’s family in Tampa and Orlando, FL did not have the flooding or wind damage that was predicted.  But the Caribbean Islands will be hurting for a long time.  We have visited many of them; especially love St. Marteen, St Thomas and St. John.  Our best to all who have been so affected in all the areas, including earthquake in Mexico.  We hope that you are among the fortunate.

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Anacortes, WA with Joe and Sheri

Joe and Sheri Rowe picked us up at the Cruise Terminal in Seattle on May 31.  They live part time in Corona, CA (our neighbors) and the rest in Anacortes, WA.   Their home is on a hill overlooking the Puget Sound and the house and views are beautiful.  We spent 3 days with them and, despite cold and some rain, had some fun touring Anacortes, the surrounding area, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, via ferry.  June was a little early for good weather, but one day we did get some sunshine and a pretty sunset!  Thanks to them for a great end to our travels; flew home June 3.

Alaska and B.C. Canada on the Sojourn

Our first port after crossing the Bering Sea was Kodiak, Alaska; our first time there.  The only Kodiak brown bear that we saw was in the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.  We did see many bald eagles, but didn’t see close enough to photograph.  We walked around the town and enjoyed being on terra ferma.

After a day at Sea, we docked in Juneau; our 3rd time to visit this city.  Again, it was cloudy and cold with some rain.  We were 1 of 3 cruise ships in port with Carnival Legend, HOL Vaandam.  We decided to visit the famous Red Dog Saloon; and were pleasantly surprised.  The interior is a throwback to the gold rush days with lots of memorabilia, saw dust on the floor, a piano player doing old songs and ladies in saloon girl costumes.  We tried their clam chowder which has smoked salmon in it and it was some of the best we have had.

Our last land day in Alaska was Skagway.  It was beautiful, sunny, but cold and windy.  Our plan was to take the tram to the top for views, but it was too foggy up there and didn’t like the wind; so just walked around.  I think the wind is what set off my cold, which started that night.  We also heard some sad news from home, one of our best and longest known friends was dying.  We thought about her, family and friends, all day and made many phone calls.  Wish we could have been in 2 places.

One of our favorite parts of our cruise in Alaska, in 2016 was Glacier Bay National park and it did not disappoint us this time.  The weather stayed clear and the Margerie Glacier calved for us.  We love the scenery, but were sad because we heard that JoAnn Brown had died.  Just as we learned that, we arrived at Margerie and champagne was handed out.  We toasted to her and dedicated that beautiful scene to her.

The next day was warm and sunny for our cruise through the Canadian Inside Passage.  In the afternoon, we were able to be on deck without coats and there was a fun Deck Party.  Good timing!  The next day, in Victoria, B.C., the cold and rain came back, but we had a nice visit with our snowbird friends, Don and Wanda.

The next day, the cruise ended in Seattle, Washington.  A fun 21 days!

Cheryl’s BD, Morro Bay and more Flowers

For my birthday, we decided to take a short road trip to visit the Central CA coast at Morro Bay and Pismo Beach and then continue east to see the “Super Bloom” in the central valley.  We saw some lovely scenery, ate some good seafood, and enjoyed more of the fantastic wildflower display that happened in 2017.

We spent the first night, April 5 in Morro Bay.  On the 6th, my birthday we toured that area.  Montana del Oro State Park was new to us and worth the drive.  We also found a cultivated bush with purple cone shaped flowers, that we really loved.  Had to stop at a nursery to get the name, “Pride of Madera” (knew they looked familiar, we’ve been there) or Echium.

One of our favorite spots in Morro Bay is Giovanni’s Cafe.  It’s right by the bay and close to the Morro Rock.  We ate outside with a quart of fantastic clam chowder and a bottle of some decent white wine.  Very nice Birthday lunch!!  Then we drove to San Luis Obispo and enjoyed a driving tour of Cal Poly.  We stayed that night in Pismo Beach and went to another place that we knew, Scotty’s Bar and Grill.  Good food and drink.

Scotty's Bar and Grill

Birthday dinner at Scotty’s in Pismo Beach

On Friday, the 7th, we headed east on CA 58 to find the Central Valley “Super Blooms”.  They were definitely that.  Hills and fields full of flowers in many shades.  Botanists say that the seeds for all these plants had been laying dormant throughout all the drought years.  Then, since 2017 was very rainy, they all burst forth at once.  The recommended spot was Carrizo Plain National Monument, also new to us.  Really awesome.

After an overnight in Bakersfield, on April 8th we went further east to Tehachapi and then south on Willow Springs Road; on the way to the Poppy Preserve near Lancaster.  We saw many Joshua trees and more Wind Turbines than the I-10 corridor near Palm Springs.  They also had many solar panels; great to see natural power being harvested.  As we got closer to Lancaster, we started seeing many Poppy fields around Ave. I and 110th St.  Golden California Poppies mixed with blue/purple phacelia along with goldfield were all around us.  So glad that we were able to see this display on our way home!

We arrived home to find one of my most beautiful Iris’s had bloomed!

Beautiful Iris

Lavender and pink with orange, Iris

Visit with Aussie Friends

Some good friends from Australia, who we met cruising came to visit March 3 -6.  Marty and Janine had been traveling in USA, Canada and Europe for over a year.  They mostly toured on a motorbike (the bumblebee, because it was yellow) with a very cute camper trailer.  However, they also took 4 cruises and flew to a few of their destinations.  So adventuresome!

We picked them up at LAX, Friday night and they spent 3 nights with us.  Before hand, we had discussed what to see in So California.  Since we have had winter rains and lots of warm weather, we knew the wildflowers should be good.  So, the first day, we headed to Anza Borrega State Park, where there are many varieties.  We were a little early, but able to see quite a few.  However, the traffic, being a Saturday, was horrendous; took double the time to get there.  We enjoyed the scenery and visited the metal sculpture’s open-air shop that we had found with granddaughters, last summer.  Ricardo Breceda is really a very talented artist and has hundreds of animals, western motifs and more.  Check him out at  It turned out that the best wildflowers were near our home, I posted the pictures of poppies a few days ago.

National Park display

Cacti in bloom at Visitor’s Center

On Sunday, we went to Joshua Tree National Park.  They had requested this visit and we love going there.  We took our daughter there many times and later she and husband, and then grandson lived nearby in Twenty-Nine Palms.  It was very windy, so we didn’t do the whole loop of the Park road, but got to see the Jumbo Rocks, which are amazing.

On our last day with them, we visited Huntington Beach and walked the Pier.  This is one of our favorite things to do and they were glad to experience it on their last day in the USA.