Post Debate Ditty

by Bob Sparrow

I regress to Morning News in Verse,

As it seems that things just can’t get worse;

After watching the debate

hillary                     And becoming irate,

            I wonder how it got so perverse.

                                        –

            I know I should just bite my tongue

            Ignoring the mud that’s been slung,

                  But there’s just no good choice,

No reason to rejoice,

                                It’s akin to two piles of dung.

From the long list we had to choose from

You’d have thought we’d come up with a plum,

But there’s no understanding

Our choice for commanding,

It’s either ‘the bitch’ or ‘the scum’.

trump

We can vote for the one who can’t email,

Who probably should now be in jail,

Who thanks the paparazzi

For going light on Benghazi,

         And for hiding the things that might ail.

And Trump’s just a rambling buffoon;

A self-centered, babbling tycoon

Whose manner is crude

And often times rude

And promises the wall in by June.

So where are the Reagans or Trumans,

Or anyone else that’s half human?

Instead we are stuck

With a couple of shmucks;

Hell, I’d settle for Alfred E. Newman.

No one’s voting because they are proud.

No one’s saying their choices out loud.

“We can’t have her win!”

“We can’t let him in!”

Is the only thing voters avow.

I’m embarrassed that American voices

Have come up with these two dreadful choices.

When all the ballots are in

And the new term begins

There’ll be no one who really rejoices.

As a nation we’re on our last nerve,

Electing a new leader to serve.

It won’t matter who’s hired

Or who ends up fired,

We’re getting just what we deserve.

hillary-and-trump

 

“Every nation gets the government it deserves”

                                                  Joseph de Maistre, French lawyer and philosopher (1753 – 1821)

 

Do we really deserve this?

 

The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

everest-khumbu-ice-fall

Dom crossing Khumbu Ice Fall on Mt. Everest

 

Charged with a most difficult task of following Suzanne’s eloquent reprise of her emotional account of Melissa Harrington Hughes’ 9/11 experience, and given that I have barely seen the outside of my home in the last six weeks, I submit a rather pedestrian look at updating some past blog stories.

Nepal Earthquake

Previous blog links:

     Emails from Nepal    http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3943

     Feeling the Nepal Earthquake Here at Home   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3893

nepal-earthquake

Kathmandu, Nepal earthquake

The rest of this story begins with an email from our trekking guide in the Himalayas, Dom, saying that he and his family (wife and two children) were still living in a tent due to their home being destroyed by the earthquake in April 2015 and asking for some help.  Patrick and I and several friends sent money to him back in May 2015, but due to the earthquake, the trekking business was not doing so well in Nepal so Dom had limited income opportunities.  I decided to ask our most-generous neighborhood if they wanted to help.  They responded in spades and I was able to send Dom over $1,000, which in Kathmandu is like a year’s income. Contributors commented on how nice it was to donate knowing that all the money was going to where it’s suppose to and that it is someone with a personal connection.  Dom was most grateful.  I asked him if he could send some pictures of his family and the surrounding area so that I could share them with the neighbors who contributed.  He did, including a picture of him on Mt. Everest, getting to Camp 4, which is over 26,000 feet in elevation.  He was attempting to summit Everest without oxygen, something only a handful of people have done.  He did not do it this time, but he said next time he will use oxygen and get to the top.  Thankfully Dom is back in business.

ramsL.A. and the NFL

Previous blog link:   Why L.A. Will Never Get an NFL Team                                http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3835

In April of last year I predicted that Los Angeles would never get an NFL team for a variety of reasons.  Whether L.A. actually got an NFL team was still up for debate after the Rams lost their season opener to the 49ers 28-0, but after a win against a tough Seattle team last Sunday, my prediction is now officially wrong.  It was worth it just to watch Pete Carroll go apoplectic on the sidelines.

Murder on the Road to Hana

Previous blog link:   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2595

sc

Capobianco – looks innocent to me!

I was driving by myself on the road to Hana, with no alibi, on the day Carly Scott was declared ‘missing’ in the area and subsequently found murdered.  I did pick up a strange female hitchhiker that day, but I swear I am not a person of interest!  Steven Capobianco, however is, in fact he has moved on from a ‘person of interest’ to being incarcerated and standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott.  He is also accused of setting her vehicle on fire.  Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The Maui trial has been on-going since June 27, 2016; yes, two-and-a-half months!  Evidence presented thus far implicates Capobianco as the murderer.  Stay tuned for final verdict.

Hip, Hip Away

Thanks again to all you well-wishers – the hip is great; played golf last week (score not important and it’s really none of your business); and walked 5 miles on Thursday. In no time I’ll be smelling those pine trees in the local mountains.

 

 

 

Home Alone!

by Bob Sparrow

walker

My companion, Al Walker

First I’d like to thank all of those who have wished me well and a speedy recovery; I am truly blessed to have so many great and caring friends!

No ifs, ands or even butts about it . . . rehab sucks! I know many of you readers have gone through what I’m going through now, but no one told me how frustrating, boring and mind-numbing this was going to be.

I was homebound for two weeks after surgery with just me and my aluminum walker, which in my desperate search for company, I named Al Walker. I actually named it Allie Walker, but Linda didn’t like the fact that I was spending so much time alone with this strange woman. She did admit that the walker had ‘nice wheels’, but she also pointed out that it had two balls. My argument that in today’s world that didn’t necessarily define the gender, didn’t get much traction.

I have over 125 TV channels, not counting subscription or pay-per-view options and still find that there is NOTHINGDays of our Lives on TV! I did find out that a few shows that were on when I was growing up ARE STILL ON!!! Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful are still making housewives sit down for an hour and listen to organ music and detergent ads while hoping that their favorite character doesn’t get mysteriously killed in the next episode. Not to worry, they will just as mysteriously reappear when their contract gets renegotiated, if they didn’t actually die.

Going into my post-surgery rehab, I thought I was fortunate to have the Olympics as well as the always-entertaining election year battles to fill my long sedentary days.

buffett for prez

Are we just ‘wasting away again’?

As far as politics go, it is clear that the agenda of each candidate, rather than telling us what their plans are for a better America, is to be totally focused on degrading their opponent. I’m calling this one the ‘Pinocchio Election’ – the one with the longest nose wins!  A sad state of affairs.  Recent statistics show that a large percentage of voters are not voting for a candidate, but rather they’re voting to try to keep the other candidate out. I even tuned into several interviews with Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, who doesn’t appear to even be the smartest person in the room when his running mate, William Weld is present, which is most of the time. I’m leaning towards writing in Jimmy Buffett, whose campaign slogan is, “Keep a song in your heart and a margarita in your hand.” That’s more positive than anything else I’ve heard from a candidate!

As for the Olympics, I love the athlete’s stories about their dedication and their overcoming adversity to become the ‘best in the world’. I enjoyed most of the telecasts, but how much volleyball and water polo can one watch? The answer is not as much as they televised. Additionally, by mid-Olympics I was a little embarrassed by the medal count that was constantly put in front of us; I was OK until we just got so far ahead that it was a little embarrassing and perhaps a bit jingoistic. If I’m the other countries, I’m calling us the ‘dumb jocks’ and pointing out that the U.S. is ranked 14th in the world in education, 17th in happiness, 23rd in gender equality, 24th in literacy and#1 115th in linguistic diversity. But we are still #1 in number of prisoners, wine consumption and breast augmentations.

OK, I just re-read this and it’s clear I need to find a mountain to climb and get some fresh air, but in the mean time if anyone needs any medical or mental help, I’m all caught up on Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil, and I may also be able to help with your legal problems with the knowledge I’ve garnered from Judge Judy.

Get me outta here!

 

Hip, Hip Away!

by Bob Sparrow

breath

I thought it was a Hookah Pipe

My research has turned up the fact that the very first successful hip replacement surgery was performed in 1960 and today, just in the United States, over 300,00 of them are done each year and there are over twice as many knee replacement surgeries. So a good number of my friends have had hip or knee replacements in the last few years and they have welcomed me into the ‘replacement club’; brother Jack has had both hips replaced. Others have asked me about my recent experience with my surgery because they see themselves as ‘replacement club’ candidates in the not-too-distant future. So I thought since the only place I’ll be visiting in the next month or two is my own house, on a walker, I don’t have a lot to write about other than my initiation into the ‘replacement club’.

At the pre-surgery meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Patel, I was told to have a restful weekend and be ready for surgery Monday morning. My snappy rejoinder was that I’d probably be sleeping through the whole process and suggested that he was the one who needed to have a restful weekend.  He wasn’t amused. Dr. Jay Patel received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his Medical Doctorate from Stanford University. So I was naturally concerned that my surgeon was a slacker.

drill

Black & Decker

I arrived at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine at 5:30 Monday morning; my pre-op routine included Dr. Patel scribbling his initials on my right hip with a Sharpie to insure they don’t replace the wrong one, which has happened, more than once!   Mine would be the first of 6 hip replacement surgeries that Dr. Patel would perform that day; each surgery taking about 60-90 minutes. I barely remember meeting the anesthesiologist and the next thing I knew I was waking up in post-op.  I did take the opportunity, or make the mistake, of watching a YouTube video on hip replacement. It looked like a construction site, with people wielding crowbars, ball pein hammers, jigsaws and power drills (Black & Decker I believe); I was surprised that everyone wasn’t wearing hard hats. The video is not for the squeamish.

After the surgery Dr. Patel came in to let me know that everything had gone very well and I asked him if I could see the piece of hip that he took out. He said that it had lots of bone spurs on it and he threw it in the ‘bone yard’. My request came from a suggestion from a friend and fellow golfer, Tom Metz, who has a great sense of humor and suggested I ask for a ‘doggie bag’ and bring the bone home for my dog to gnaw on. Yeah, he’s a little sick too.

butt

Margaritaville: “No, Mr. Sparrow you can’t go home that way!”

I must say that the staff at Hoag was unbelievable; not just professional, but I really got the sense that they enjoyed their work and did whatever it took to make my one-night stay there as comfortable as possible. They always had a smile on their face and enjoyed a good laugh. For example, I asked one of the attending nurses, Margarita Avalos (I called her ‘Margaritaville’ for ‘short’) when my catheter would be taken out. She looked at me with a very serious face and said, “Oh, it not so much when it will come out as how.” I asked what she meant, she said, “We take the end of the catheter and tie it to the door, then just slam the door.” Ouch!!!

Unlike the operation itself, I don’t get to sleep through the rehab, which is the not-so-fun part. Managing the pain is important along with doing the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist. The hardest part of rehab may be not drinking while on pain medication – and here I thought drinking was pain medication.

As part of my ‘exit interview’ they asked me when I get released was I going back to an abusive home. I didn’t think this was the time to bring up Linda’s and my heated discussion about who should take out the garbage. I will happily do it . . . now without a limp.

 

 

Summer Concerts . . . Some Are Too Big

by Bob Sparrow

u2

U2 Concert in Pasadena

As summer heads into the ‘dog days’ and recording artists wind up their very profitable summer concert schedules, I got to reading about concerts today and comparing them to concerts of yesteryear.

I discovered that back in 2009 the group U2 broke their own attendance record for the best-attended single concert performance when they performed at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to a sellout crowd of 97,014! They broke their old record of 86,145 set in 1987 at JFK stadium in Philadelphia. That Rose Bowl performance grossed $9.9 million, which was 2nd all time, only to the Three Tenors concert at Giant Stadium, New Jersey, which grossed $13.4 million. Pink Floyd was third, then the Rolling Stones with the Backstreet Boys (how did they get in there?) rounding out the top five.

rolling stones in concert

Mick Jagger one inch tall

The Rolling Stones are at the top of the list for most expensive concert ticket at $624 A PIECE! Surprisingly Fleetwood Mac is second with a price of $307 per ticket and Justin Timberlake is a close third at $293. These are actually ticket prices, scalpers can end up getting significantly more.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of the ‘big concert’ although I saw the Eagles at the Forum in Los Angels last year (their final tour since leader Glen Frey passed away in January of this year) But I find at these big concert venues, unless your seats are front and center, the performers look about a half an inch tall, so you end up watching the entire ‘live in person’ concert on the Jumbotron.

hungry i exterior

Exterior of the hungry i

I’m going to sound like the old geezer that I am here, but seeing top performing acts today is nothing like it was when I was growing up. I think back specifically to going into San Francisco’s North Beach to the ‘hungry i’ to see the Kingston Trio perform. This of course was back in the ‘folk scare era’, the acoustic age, when folk music and the Kingston Trio were really big and I was really into folk music in general and their music in particular. I was also a fan of the Limelighters, who I’d seen at the hungry i and Peter, Paul & Mary who, when they were scheduled to sing on a Friday night at the hungry i, came over to College of Marin, where I was going to school, and did a short mid-day performance at an assembly for us – not too many top acts would do that today!

For not not familiar with the odd-named hungry i, how it got its name is not really clear. Some say the ‘i’ was short for ‘intellectual’, other say it was for ‘id’, either way, the story goes that as they were painting the name over the door, the painter ran out of paint (and apparently capital letters), so all that appeared was ‘hungry i’, and so it stayed.

hungry i interior

The Kingston Trio at the hungry i

The hungry i was the spot to see all of the top folk and comedy acts of the day.  It was a brick-walled basement nightclub with a capacity of about 75 -100 people, all sitting a few feet from the slightly raised stage on one level, no balconies or other fancy seating.  John Philips, later of the Mamas & the Papa and his band, The Journeymen, were the house band. In the early days of the ‘i’, a young Barbra Streisand, who had never performed professionally in her life, begged to perform there for a single night promising that someday she would come back as a big star – I think she kept her promise!

And even though I did see, and I do mean see because I couldn’t hear, the Beatles perform in the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1964, my favorite all-time concert was the night I saw the Kingston Trio at the hungry i. It was a double date with my good friend Don, but for the life of me I can’t remember either of our dates. (I hope we talked to them at some point during the evening!)

album coverThe Trio walked right past our seats on the aisle as they took the stage. No electronics, no speakers, just three guys (plus their stand-up bass player, ‘Buckwheat’) singing and playing their guitars and banjo. It was like they were singing to us. They would interact with the audience throughout the concert, we could actually see the expressions on their face. If you ever get a chance to listen to a ‘live’ recording of an act from the hungry i, you won’t hear thunderous applause because there are so few people there, but it’s probably ‘Standing Room Only’.   And I know they didn’t set any records that night for top grossing performance – tickets were about $15

Later this year I will see Jimmy Buffett (yes, again!) at Irvine Meadows, at a large (15,000) amphitheater that will close its doors forever after his performance.  Even thought I love his concerts, I won’t feel that Jimmy will be talking or singing to me and he will only be about a quarter inch high on the Jumbotron. It will be enjoyable, but it won’t be the Kingston Trio at the hungry i.  I realize you can never go back, in fact the hungry i has moved down the street and is now a strip club.

 

 

Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear Lake?

 by Bob Sparrow

arrowhead queen

The Arrowhead Queen

There are two major mountain lakes in southern California, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, they are both in the San Bernardino National Forest about 25 miles apart. They’ve been sibling rivals since 1922, when a dam was built to form Lake Arrowhead. They are both man-made lakes, with the dam that formed Big Bear Lake constructed back in 1884.

Having grown up around Lake Tahoe, I have a deep appreciation for scenic mountain lakes, so have visited both of these local resorts on numerous occasions, Arrowhead more than Big Bear, primarily because it’s a little closer and esthetically more appealing to me. In fact I had not been to Big Bear in several years, until a few weeks ago, when I  visited my daughter, Dana’s mother-in-law’s place to check out the ‘new’ Big Bear. I say ‘new’ because over the last several years, Big Bear has made a concerted effort to up-grade its redheaded stepchild image, with considerable success I might add.

BigBearVillageWinter

The Village at Big Bear Lake in Winter

As I explored Big Bear, I imagined a discussion between these two alpine lakes going something like this . . .

Lake Arrowhead (LA): “It’s nice to see that you’re finally cleaning up your act.”

Big Bear (BB): “Yeah, well let’s see what you look like when you get to be 132 years old!”

LA: “Why do they even call you Big Bear anyway, there are no big bears around?”

BB: “There used to be lots of Grizzlies here until man hunted them into extinction; and by the way, they used to call you Little Bear Lake’

LA: “But I still have 14 miles of beautiful shoreline.”

BB: “I have 22, which is why you were called Little Bear!”

LA: “You used to have 22 not-as-beautiful-shoreline-as-mine, but it’s shrunk considerably with the drought.”

BB: “Same shoreline, just much more beach now for a population of just over 5,000 to enjoy.”

LA: “That’s nothing; I have a population of over 12,000.”

BB: “So you’re saying that it’s more crowded there than it is here?”

Celebrity-Homes1

Celebrity homes on Lake Arrowhead

LA: “If crowded means we’ve had more star’s homes here like Tom Selleck, Shirley Temple Black, Priscilla Presley, Brian Wilson, Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson, then yes, I guess we’re more crowded.”

BB: “Yeah, well we have the homes of Britney Spears, Mike Judge, who did the voices for Beavis and Butthead, Michael Richards, Krammer on Seinfeld, the metal band, Korn, and Richard Karn, who was the sidekick to Tim Allen in Home Improvement.

LA: “See, you have to explain who your ‘stars’ are; Michael Jackson needs no explanation.”

BB:Michael Jackson needs a lot of explanation, but that’s besides the point. So let’s stay in the show business genre, what movies have been shot there?”

LA: The Courtship of Miles Standish, The American President and Space Jam to name a few.”

Gone

“Frankly Scarlet . . .

BB: “Yeah, a few that are not very well known. Here’s some of mine you might remember: Heidi, Shane, Old Yeller and you may recall this one, Gone With the Wind. Case closed, let’s move on the skiing.”

LA: “We have great water skiing.”

BB: “You are a ‘private‘ lake and many activities are restricted to residents only. I have two marinas where the public can rent pontoon boats, go fishing, rent fishing equipment, take wakeboard or waterski rides, rent kayaks and canoes and ride a pirate ship.”

LA: “Well, the public can take a ride on my Arrowhead Queen and see all the spectacular celebrity homes around the lake.”

BB: “So what happens in the winter? How’s snow skiing at your elevation of 5,174?”

LA: “Well, we have Snow Valley fairly close by”

BB: “But it’s actually closer to me and I’m at 6,750 feet elevation; we also have Bear Mountain and Snow Summit at 8,200 feet elevation; so we are clearly the winter destination. Let’s move on, how’s your summer hiking trails?”

LA: “They’re awesome; I have Goat Trail, Little Bear Creek, Heaps Peak, Crab Creek, Little Green Valley and many more.”

pct

View of Big Bear Lake from Pacific Crest Trail

BB: “Not bad I guess, but I have Heart Rock, Vivian Creek, Castle Rock, Deep Creek Hot Springs, Big Falls, Cougar Crest and, oh yeah the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Mexico to Canada, runs right by me.”

LA: “Fine! Let’s talk about golf; do you have anything to compare to Arrowhead Golf and Country Club?”

BB: “No, not really, I’ll leave the country club set to you. I’ll admit you’re prettier than I am, but your ‘Village’ is looking fairly tired and my ‘Village’ is buzzing with new shops, restaurants and bars; summer or winter this is the place to be.”

LA: “But you said I’m still prettier right?”

Okay kids, enough! The fact is that neither one is a Lake Tahoe, but for my money, if you’re an adventurer, Big Bear Lake is probably your best destination in the summer and for sure in the winter, but if you just want to get to the mountains to enjoy some clean air and the scenery of a beautiful mountain lake, rent a home on Lake Arrowhead or stay lake-side at the luxurious Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa and take a cruise on the Arrowhead Queen.

 

A Birthday Tribute to Our Brother, the ‘Other’ Jack Sparrow

by Bob Sparrow

bar

Jack, blowing out not quite 75 candles

A party was held in our home last week to celebrate the 75th birthday of our brother, Jack Sparrow. He is not only my brother, but my best friend and has been since right after he broke my arm. I was 12, he was 14 and like most brothers we’d have an occasional difference of opinion; fights never lasted too long as he was much bigger and stronger than me, but I was of the opinion that it ‘wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it was the size of the fight in the dog’. Yeah, well that philosophy didn’t work out so well on this occasion when I thought I was going to land a big ‘haymaker’ right on his chin, when he put up his arm and blocked it. My forearm hurt for several days after and when I finally went to the doctor and had it x-rayed, my arm was found to be broken. That was our last fight.

Jack BB

6’4″ center at Novato High School

Later that same year, he entered high school and was a three-sport letterman for the next four years. Not just a letterman, he was good . . . real good. I idolized him, he was the best athlete I had ever seen and the great thing about it was he didn’t treat me like a ‘bothersome little brother’, he always had time to work with me to teach me to throw a baseball and football and shoot a basketball.

In his senior year he was 6’4” and 180 pounds – great size in 1959. Aside from getting good grades and being student body president, he stood out in every sport he played.  In basketball, at the center position, his turnaround jump shot from 15’ and in was an automatic. He was the top scorer and rebounder on the team and amongst the leaders in both categories in the league; he was a unanimous All-League selection. He received scholarship offers to play basketball at a number of West Coast schools.

He was the ace pitcher on the baseball team and an All-League selection, who lead his team to a league championship in his senior year. He had a great fastball and a wicked curve; he threw several one and two-hit ball games and was being talked to by major league scouts to continue his career in baseball.

Jack 3 QBs

College of Pacific quarterback

But his love was football. At quarterback he had a rifle arm, could run extremely well and was a great on-the-field leader of the team. In his four years of high school football, he lost only 4 games. Back in 1959 there was a North-South Shrine game, where top high school seniors from Northern California played against the top seniors from Southern California in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the summer following their senior year. Jack was selected to play in that game along with two other quarterbacks from the North, Daryle Lamonica, who was headed to Notre Dame and ultimately a great career with the Oakland Raiders, and Bill Munson, who was headed to Utah State and later drafted in the first round by the Rams and played 16 seasons in the NFL for various teams. Needless to say, it was a very tough competition for the starting quarterback spot. Guess who worked his ass off and was named the starting quarterback for the North? Yep, Capt. Jack; and they won the game!

I was a sophomore during Jack’s senior year and was in awe of the college football coaches and recruiters from all across the country who sat in our living room trying to convince Jack to go to their school. He ultimately chose College of Pacific in Stockton, the school his high school coach had attended and at the time, had a high-powered football program, headed by star running back Dick Bass, who went on to have an outstanding pro career with the Los Angeles Rams.

off shore

Off Shore Bar & Grill – Lake Tahoe

Tragically, Jack broke his neck playing in a game in his junior year in college, yet remarkably came back to play in his senior year. But the neck injury came back to haunt him after his senior year, when he took the physical at the San Francisco 49ers training camp and was told that the risk of re-injuring the neck was too great for him to pursue a career in football.

Jack went on to have an outstanding career in the restaurant management business, capped by owning his own restaurant, the Off Shore Bar & Grill, on the shores of north Lake Tahoe. After he and wife, Sharon, moved to Santa Maria, he was convinced by none other than Fess Parker himself, who became a good friend, to come to work at the Fess Parker Winery, where to this day he still enjoys working part-time in the tasting room.

3

Bob, Suzanne and Jack

Some 25-30 friends and family attended the party to help Jack celebrate his three-quarters of a century on the planet.  He enjoyed some good wine and a few gag gifts, but most of all he enjoyed the friends and family who had gathered on this beautiful southern California evening to wish him well.

You readers know what a awesome sister I have; I just feel so fortunate to have such great siblings – hat’s off to Mom and Dad, who at least got 2 out of 3 right!

 

The Coast of California

by Bob Sparrow

Borrowing a format from friend, fellow adventurer and blogger, Jeff Kane . . .

The music: Coast of California, a haunting melody sung by the Kingston Trio

The wine: Big Easy, a Syrah blend from central coast’s Fess Parker Winery

Hwy 1     I recently had the pleasure of experiencing 137 miles of the natural beauty of the California coastline. The occasion was a golf trip for a milestone birthday celebration for friend, Judy VanBoxmeer, put together by husband, John. It was an opportunity to make a drive I hadn’t made in over 35 years – up State Route 1.

State Route 1 is arguably the most scenic road in America.  It has several aliases: Pacific Coast Highway or PCH to the locals, Cabrillo Highway as well as just Highway 1.  It was built piecemeal in various stages, with the first section opening in the Big Sur region in the 1930s.  It stretches as far north as the little town of Leggett, CA, in Mendocino County and in the south it terminates in Orange County, which I will probably do as well.  Leggett is the home of some of the largest Redwood trees in the world, including the famous ‘Drive Through Tree’.  But we weren’t going as far north as Leggett, we were headed to a place called Pebble Beach – perhaps you’ve heard of it.

legget tree

Drive-Through-Tree

Hwy 1 and Hwy 101 join together just south of the college town of San Luis Obispo and then splits again just north of SLO with Hwy 101 staying inland and Hwy 1 heading for the coast where it meets up with the Pacific Ocean at Morro Bay. Over the next 94 miles to Big Sur, the road hugs the coastline in spectacular fashion, passing through the little towns of Harmony (pop. 18), Cambria, the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco; then, after you pass through San Simeon (pop. 462) you have to force yourself to turn away from the spectacular coastline and look high up on the mountains inland to see Hearst’s Castle – an adventure for another day.

bixb

Bixby Creek Bridge

From San Simeon to just below Big Sur, the road really traces the coastline closely. This drive is not for the timid or those prone to carsickness; it is a winding road with barely enough room for two cars to pass. During our trip the road was narrowed to just one lane three times, due to either the road having eroding below us or from rocks having slid from above. Thankfully there are numerous places to pull over and watch the sea lions sun bathing, the surf crashing against the cliffs or the sun sinking into the Pacific.

As we entered the Big Sur area, the road turned inland just a bit and we found ourselves deep in a forest surrounded by trees of every description, coast redwoods, bay laurel, white oak, fir, pine, as well as the endangered wild orchid. Although Big Sur is sparsely populated (about 1,000), its beauty and serenity attract a good number of musicians, writers and artists throughout the summer.

MoBP

Moon over Pebble Beach

As we leave Big Sur and cross over the iconic Bixby Bridge, we have about another 15 beautiful miles before we are greeted by the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea – southern gateway to the Monterey Peninsula.

As we sat down for dinner outside at ‘The Bench’ just off the 18th green at Pebble Beach on a beautiful evening, I was reminded that we were only a few days away from the ‘longest day of the year’ as the last group of golfers were just teeing off on the 18th hole at 8:55 p.m.

Our stay at the Inn at Spanish Bay started with a most beautiful day to play the Links at Spanish Bay, which is laid out along the coastline, and ended with the traditional kilted Scotsman coming over the dunes at day’s end playing his bagpipe. The following day we played Pebble Beach, fog was included at no extra cost, although it seemed like there were some extra costs in there somewhere!  It was not as beautiful a day, but . . . hey, it was Pebble Beach! There is no real need to discuss my golf scores on these fabulous courses; the pleasure was in the beauty. The pleasure was in the beauty. bagpiperThe pleasure was in the beauty!

Great scenery, great friends and great expense made for a fabulous trip. I believe that every Californian MUST take the Hwy 1 drive at least once in their life.

 

Below is an aerial video from YouTube you might enjoy (Thank you son, Jeff for helping with the IT).

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Are You Ready For Summer?

by Bob Sparrow

stonehengeWhile some people like to call Memorial Day the ‘unofficial start of Summer’, I like to call Memorial Day the official recognition of those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price for preserving our freedoms.  The ‘unofficial start of Summer’ when I was a kid started at about three o’clock on the last day of school – which was typically around the middle of June.  However, the ‘actual start of Summer’ in the Northern Hemisphere occurs this year next Monday, June 20th at exactly 9:34 a.m. PDT when the sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator, but you probably already knew that.  So during this last week of Spring I’m going to help you prepare for Summer.

As sister Suzanne explained last week, preparing for summer for those in Scottsdale means getting out of town.  But some of us, who actually have to live in the same house all year long, have to ready ourselves in other ways. To wit:

Summer Songs – Nothing says summer like a great summer song, so I’ve put this compilation of ‘A Baker’s Dozen Summer Oldies’ together, burned them onto a CD and will be listening to it all summer.  If you’d like a copy, send a self-addressed CD envelope to me and if your among the first 25 to do so, I’ll throw in some old Ginsu knifes that I’ve had lying around here for several years.

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer – Nat King Cole

A Summer Song – Chad & Jeremy

In the Summer Time – Mungo Jerry

Summertime – Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald

Summer Nights – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John

Summer (from Four Seasons) – Vivaldisongs-of-summer-660x265

Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts

Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams   

Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful

Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra

Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran

The Boys of Summer – Don Henley.         And for my friends in Michigan . . .

All Summer Long – Kid Rock

 Or you can just put on some Beach Boys.

Exercise – Remember the New Years’ resolution about losing that weight and really getting into shape?  Yes, round is a shape, but just a reminder that you have about 4½ months before you start nibbling on that Halloween candy and attending those holiday parties.  Now is the time, even if it’s just walking, to get out of the house.  What are you doing still sitting at your computer?  Go outside!!  You can finish this later.  It only goes downhill from here anyway.

Summer attire – No, you haven’t lost that weight and so you’re not buying that new wardrobe, but hey, it’s summer, buy some loose fitting Tommy Bahama or  Margaritaville stuff along with a pair of Sanuk ‘beer cozy’ flip flops – the most comfortable flip flops you’ll ever own! Find them at REI – you may even find other cool stuff there that will get you outside.

BBQ – Yes, you can still do your favorite chicken or ribs recipe, but make this summer the one that your bbqguests rave about your ‘new’ barbecuing skills.  Try some rack of lamb as well as grilling some fruit and vegetables – watermelon, pears, how about grilling some lettuce for a Caesar salad?  Corn and artichokes are awesome on the grill.  Be different this summer.  You can find a recipe for grilling almost anything on line.  Go crazy – you’ll thank me later.

Summer Blockbusters – I understand that it’s early, but so far it doesn’t look like Tinsel Town will bust too many blocks this summer. So far we have The Conjuring 2, Warcraft, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, X-Men Apocalypse; Alice Through the Looking Glass (featuring Johnny Depp wearing his wife-beaters).  Clearly Baby Boomers are no longer the ‘target market’.  Reruns of M.A.S.H. and The Twilight Zone may be of more interest.  You should be outside anyway!   
crowds

Travel – What about travel? you’re asking.  Summer used to be the time for those trips to the mountains, the beach, the national parks as that’s when our kids were out of school, but most of our reader’s kids have kids of their own, so I suggest that you stay away from those places and spend the summer planning to go there in late September or early October when the kids are back in school and the weather is still nice.  Beside, ‘summer gas’ is more expensive that ‘winter gas’.  What?!  Yes, the oil companies would have us believe that they are two different products, but we understand supply and demand economics.

Sunblock – If you take nothing else away from this blog (which is very likely), take this: being tan is no longer cool, it’s asunblock sign that you don’t understand actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.  I don’t either, but just put on sunblock!

Summer Quotes – I’ll leave you with some summer quotes.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability” – Sam Keen

“Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most  beautiful words in the English language” – Henry James

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco – Mark Twain”

“Some of the best memories are made in flip flops” ― Kellie Elmore

“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it . . . in summer school” ― Josh Stern

Enjoy your last days of Spring and next week, don’t forget the sunblock!

 

The Mission Inn – The End of a Perfect Day

by Bob Sparrow

(continued from Monday)

Will Rogers probably defined the Mission Inn best when he said, “It is the most unique hotel in America. It’s a monastery, a museum, a fine hotel, a home, a boardinghouse, a mission, an art gallery and an aviator’s shrine. It combines the best features of all of the above.”

chapel2

The Chapel and our Docent

The chapel at the Mission Inn is stunning and is a National Historic Landmark with two original stained glass windows by Lewis Tiffany, yes, that Tiffany, and an alter that is 25 feet tall and 16 feet across completely covered with three coats of 18-karat gold leaf. The ‘Garden of Bells’ has over 800 bells including one dating to 1247 described as the ‘oldest bell in Christendom’. In 1932, son Frank Miller, who had by then taken over for dad, C. C., put up a ‘Famous Flyers Wall’ recognizing over 150 notable aviators.

There are so many nooks, crannies, artifacts and stories that go with them that I couldn’t begin to cover them all here; those who have been there know what I mean and I’m not a good enough writer to describe it to those who haven’t – just go!

Our docent worked overtime as after our tour she took us to the Presidential Lounge and asked us to get an adult beverage and follow her to a roof-top terrace where we watched the sunset. She told us that a song popular at the beginning of the 20th century, was written by Carrie-Jacobs Bond, a hotel guest in 1909,  and was composed as she watched from the hotel as the sun set behind Mt. Rubidoux, just as we were doing. The song is called ‘The End of a Perfect Day’ and I think it accurately summed up my time there.

MI Xmas

The Mission Inn during the holidays

Most visitors like to go to the Mission Inn during the holidays when it is resplendent with nearly 4 million Christmas lights and 400 animated figures, but I’d never gone thinking that I hate crowds and Google has lots of pictures, but now, after seeing how amazing this place is, I can’t wait to see it over the holidays this year. Besides, I know there’s some secret tunnels and catacombs just waiting to be uncovered . . . that would make it ‘The End of a Perfect Day’.

Additional photos

Top of Mt. Rubidoux today and an Easter Sunrise Service back in the day

Sunrise                                        Mt. Rubidoux

 

Bridge over the Santa Ana River (If you don’t see any water, no need to adjust your glasses, it is now dry, so Riverside should be renamed ‘DryRiverBedside’)

River

On the left is the Chamber of Commerce photo of the view from Mt. Rubidoux, my photo is on the right

mt r cc  smog

Interior Stairwell and Chapel at night at the Mission Inn

MI Stairwell   chapel