We packed up and flew to California, my brother Mike and nephew Racin picking us up in San Francisco. We had a late meal at Cattlemen’s. It was delicious, but we were tired, as it was midnight for our jet-lagged bodies. The next day we went out to the ranch and looked around. I noticed a lot of owl pellets out in the barn that I’d want to get later. We found some tubs of stuff from Mom and Dad’s former trailer, and we packed those up for later shipping back home. We saw my niece Kristen and her sons Jordan and Kaden. We ate lunch at the local Mexican place, El Gallito, which has been there for years. My burrito was heavenly. We visited my Dad at his new place, Cortona, which is an assisted living facility. It’s very nice, and was outfitted with a lot of Dad’s stuff from home. It was a nice visit. We went back to Mike’s to nap away our food coma. That evening we went to the Cornfest in Brentwood. It was held in a dusty field, rather than the old park (which no longer exists–brilliant move, city fathers). Stacey and I enjoyed seeing the old fire trucks.
Saturday there was a 50th birthday party for me at my sister Marlene’s house. She went on with the show in spite of the fact that her son Tim had just been in a bad motorcycle accident and was hospitalized. The party was a great family get-together, with almost everyone showing up. The kids swam in the pool, the adults drank beer, and we took a lot of pictures. The vines and flowers on Marlene’s fence make a perfect background. I got some gag gifts and some genuine ones. The tables were decorated in plastic insects. I felt right at home. We had a hearty meal, of course.
|Lovely cousins at my birthday party, From California 2012|
Sunday was the Portuguese Festa at the Flor Do Oakley hall. We saw the end of the parade and reunited with some cousins that I don’t see often. I hadn’t seen Edward since he was about 10, and had never met his wife or child. The sopas were outstanding, just as I remembered. Savannah liked them this time. She bought a bunch of Portugal/Azores themed stuff from the vendor. We stayed kind of late for the auction, but didn’t buy anything. After another food coma, we went to Cold Stone for dessert. Yum. Wish we had one here in Canton.
Monday we went rafting on the Stanislaus River. I’d heard about this since grade school, but never had done it. It was Stacey, Savannah, Racin and I on this outing. The water was crystal clear, and cold–50 F from the hypolimnion of Lake Tulloch. There were lots of hawks and other birds on the trip downstream, and we could see many trout, some large, right below us. There wasn’t a lot of current, but with practice we were able to manage the paddling. I now know I much prefer a kayak to a raft. We made the take-out ahead of schedule, and drove the short bit to Oakdale to see Grandma Eva. I hope I’m as agile of mind and body when I reach 93. Actually, I might be happy just to make 93! She shared some recipes with Stacey, and told some stories from the old days, such as the time she went to the Azores. Back at Mike and Cindy’s we ate sopas with Marlene and Melissa.
|Rafting trip on the Stanislaus River, From California 2012|
Tuesday morning we ran errands. I wanted to have all the old 8-mm home movies digitized. We dropped them off at a place in Concord that was conveniently close to my former teacher Myra. We took her out to lunch at a Chinese place, as it was her birthday. We caught up on a lot of news and enjoyed good food. I hadn’t seen her in about 30 years. It was great to reconnect with someone who was such an influence on my life. From there we went north to Fairfield and the Jelly Belly Factory. It was more fun than I expected, and they converted me. I like Jelly Bellies now! I actually tried a “Skunk Stink” flavored bean. Not bad. They had two Jelly Belly themed motorcycles in the lobby that I really liked. Stacey and I are always talking about our imaginary house in Florida. At this point Mike said, “What would you rather have, and imaginary house in Florida, or two real motorcycles!” It was pretty funny, but I guess you had to be there. It was a short drive to my brother Mark’s house in Vacaville. Ours was something of a surprise visit. When his wife Alex came home, I said, in my best redneck accent, “The relatives from Muzzeruh are here! We heard you got a cement pond!” We had a fine dinner and some great conversation. We were able to talk more in detail than we had been at my party.
|Burrowing owl in Oakley, From California 2012|
Wednesday we went back to the ranch, and I picked up a large batch of owl pellets. Mike gave Jordan another baptism in the cattle trough, which is something of a family tradition. We went to visit Dad again, then had lunch with Marlene at Red Robin. We did a bit of shopping, then went to ship off our tubs to Missouri. UPS wanted $75 to send one tub, which far exceeded the value of the contents. Time for a new plan.
|Black widow in the old milk barn, From California 2012|
Thursday morning we took all the tubs to the post office and shipped them for about $30 each, which was reasonable. Mike drove out to San Francisco while I navigated (with help from an old GPS). Of course, there was road construction right next to the Exploratorium that forced us onto Highway 101 North. I thought we were going to have to go over the Golden Gate Bridge. Luckily, we were able to get off on the last exit and navigate back. The Exploratorium is really designed for children, but we had some fun. There were lots of optical illusions I took photos of. We went to Pier 39 afterward for shopping therapy. I bought Stacey a nightgown that says, “I’m crabby in the morning.” It has a crab graphic on the front. After a nightmare navigation through downtown San Francisco we made it to the airport on time. Stacey had left her Swiss army knife in her purse and was busted going through security. They confiscated the knife. Dang.
|Floating water droplet at Exploratorium, From California 2012|
We flew the redeye with a brief layover in Phoenix. It was hard to sleep on the plane, of course. The drive home was uneventful, and we were overjoyed to see our dogs upon arriving home. Friday was spent largely sleeping and recovering. I didn’t get to functioning much until Saturday, when I mowed the lawn. We’re back in the groove of things again, but tomorrow I fly to Florida.
|The fam at Pier 39, From California 2012|
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