You wouldn't think that my favorite part of visiting Southern California would have been just driving around it, but in fact, I think it was. And we had a whole two days to do just that!
And it would seem, in that endeavor, that having the aid of 2 GPS equipted iPhones on board would have been of some convenience.
I could have made that trip from Disneyland to home in my sleep, which in fact I did, many, many times during my years of Disney-dom. But it still looked completely different! Nothing familiar at all!... except for that hard to miss, straight shot north. That is, until we reached Whittier Blvd and turned right off of Beach... and then hung a fast left onto Hacienda. If my mom or sisters are reading this they'll most likely already be smelling the avacados and orange groves... I swear, it could have still been the 70's! Every landmark left unchanged, including that house on the left (with the junky yard?) just as you round that first bend to the right?.. (looks like they've cleaned it up a bit over the years though.)
I think I've probably driven that road more than any other in my life (on many stormy nights and foggy mornings even) and yet I was ever so grateful that Aaron was driving this time around because when we got to that hairpin turn right near the top of the hill?... I had to close my eyes for a sec. I guess I would say that the only thing that has majorly changed at all over that two-mile hilly trevail was the appearance (out of the blue) of the most humongous, sprawling Buddhist Temple I have ever seen!... ( ok, it's the only one I have ever seen) just as we crested over the hill making our way down into my old native homeland. But everything else looked pretty much the same... except for the store fronts, of course, which were pretty much all etched in Chinese.
But almost home!
And as we turned left onto La Subida Drive the memories began flooding in.
"Just a little further, keep going..."
"It's up there, just one mile exactly."
"That is where so and so lived!..."
"And I remember such and such there!..."
"Ok... now, see that school yard?..."
...well it's gonna be the very first house, just past it, on the right."
"Ok, we're coming up to it...
"Just a little bit further and...
REALLY? (I know! I had to click on it to enlarge it too!)
Whitney: "Are you sure this is it?"
Me: "Yes, I swear! Or at least this is exactly where my house was the last time that I lived in it for 20 years...
I mean, I remember having to crawl through that sliding window (which now appears to be the front door) and into the kitchen sink more times than I'd like to admit, but that's probably not the most courteous way to welcome guests! And where did that big tree come from? And is my bedroom somehow... way bigger now? Etc. Etc. I guess you'd have to had "been there" to appreciate my complete shock and surprise. As for the Southwestern architecture in this mostly predominantly Asian community? I guess that made just about as much sense to me as anything else.
The next surreal moment was catching Dennis Carrol in his driveway working on his car. I did the math... and by counting three houses down realized that I was, in fact, not in error. We chatted for a few minutes and it was practically as if we had been chatting just yesterday, except with a couple more kids in tow.
Next stop Shadybend.
Turnbull Canyon road and it's landscape has pretty much stayed the same too. Thank goodness for small favors!
We passed the High School where I spent those many, many years... all angst free of course :)... And Whitney's pre-school, where she got her smart start... and we thought of Papa.
It was quite shocking and sad to see the burned out and gutted remains of the once beautiful Saint John Vianny Church. SO sad! The coincidental thing is how much I've been thinking so much about this since I got home and wondering what had happened and they finally caught this guy just four days ago. It's been over a year! Unreal. My old LDS church building, just to the south of it, still stands.
Anyway, here is my awesome condo of regrouping. Or my "Along the Way Station" as I like to call it.
I never thought, when I first moved in, that it would ever feel like home. But it did. It was. I remember all the birthday parties under that little patio awning and my little garden just behind that fence and the carpeted garage... and I can picture the living room just inside that front door and the kitchen beyond just as if it were yesterday. I remember the kids doing cartwheels out on that tiny little front lawn.. and the day that Mark installed that Belwith door-knocker, peep hole. Some of my sweetest and most precious pictures and videos of my children were taken in this place. And I remember strolling thru it on that day I moved out in July of 1990, with tears running down my face and saying "Goodbye House" :( It had served it's purpose well, I guess. *sigh*
There's nothing like keeping up a tradition. And so that's what we did next. Kentucky Fried Chicken... check. Stimson Park... check. Except that now it's "Steinmetz" park. But still, again, we didn't need the GPS in order to find it...
And it's still pretty much the same except different. Different in that my babies aren't babies any more...
The recreational equipment has been upgraded. But other than that, the demographics seem pretty much the same.
And now, diligent reader, I realize this is getting a little lengthy and that you're probably already getting tired, to which I can completely relate, so I'll spare all the details of our short but sweet evening stroll around Downtown Disney which ended, thankfully, just before the boys got really, really tired. The fireworks that I was able to see from my bedroom window seemed spectacular!
It wouldn't have been much of a trip to SO CA, without visiting the place where my beautiful healthy skin would eventually meet it's demise.
I think the only thing I regret more than all those years my skin spent on this beach... was the fact that this time around the Snack Shacks were not yet open for the season! So I'm hoping they have those Huntington Beach tortilla chips and cheese things in Heaven because I'm just not sure I'll ever get back here again I seriously need to meet up with a little cardboard basket of them at least ONCE again at some point during my existance. Right Carol?
I just love this place! I don't believe there has never been another singular place on God's planet that has ever made me feel quite as happy and alive as this 8.5 mile expanse of sun and sand. Its nickname is "Surf City" and it was the backdrop to the movie "Endless Summer." And the fact that I have never surfed even once in my life or the that my summers always ended WAY to soon should in no way be taken into consideration in your being convinced of my love for it.
And in weighing the sunrises vs. the sunsets, having been given the incredible opportunity to have witnessed both, I think I'll take the sunsets any day. Primarily because sunrises just come WAY too early in the morning for me and the sunsets are just so much more laid back.. ya know? At any rate, we were out there at right about noon. So a totally moot point I suppose anyway...
Anyway, enjoy the pictures!
We were only there for a really short time, but still. There's just something about that salty air...
It's Always Hard Leaving A Place Better Than You Found It!
But somehow we managed.
All of those un-kidfriendly trinkets and treasures, put back in a flash! Of course, the owners will have to refill the candy dish!
I don't know about you, but I'm really ready to be headed back home, sort of.
Everest, however, was a complete pistol the entire plane ride home. In fact, come to think of it, I'm really amazed how we even managed to sneak him through security.
But the trip overall? Awesome!
Such wonderful memories that I will cherish and remember forever!
And yet it's still so great to be back home!