Orange County on “Watch List,” John Wayne Airport

Orange County on “watch list” of counties that may go back under lock down greeted me this morning as I read the OC Register. If that happens, Disneyland won’t open, not even Downtown Disney. There go the birthday plans. But if the areas they are worried about are nursing homes, etc., why not just lock down those? Anyway….

Also, in the headlines, the Democrats are demanding a renaming of John Wayne airport.. As an Independent, I protest! I find this renaming of everything, wiping away of statues, reinventing history, etc., to be abominable. More of my childhood wiped out. Not only that, but my dad was a big fan of John Wayne (so unPC now, right? Sheesh!). I guess all of my childhood is now unPC, although we were thought to be heroes back in the day.

My dad was such a fan of John Wayne that he had “Wayne” legally added as his middle name because he wasn’t given a middle name at birth. Just “Johnny” was on his birth certificate. So after the official name change, he was “John Wayne Holmes.” His youngest brother, Steven, also thought of himself as John Wayne. He had this phrase posted on his FB account, “There’s only one John Wayne in this town.”  lol!

I’ve loved that the airport was renamed John Wayne, and I smile whenever I drive by the airport and see the name and the statue. It reminds me of my father, and he feels nearby. But that type of man is not allowed to exist any more. I’m not sure my dad would have worn a mask. Maybe he would have, I really didn’t know him that well to say. But I totally can’t picture my step dad wearing a mask. Nope, I’m sure he would have totally refused – lol!

It’s so easy to misconstrue what John Wayne or anybody in the past actually said or meant or why they said what they said. Life was different back then. That’s why you can’t judge the past by the present. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t understand it. Once you start down that path, there’s no end to what you might want to change or wipe out.

Sometimes I miss these days… my mother and I caught off guard by my grandmother. A peek into the real us.

Las Vegas Showgirls Wearing Masks

When I saw this photo, I’m pretty sure I must have flashed a huge smile. Showgirls in masks. Gotta love Las Vegas!

The governor of Nevada is starting to win me over, especially when he said how “Nevadans are independent people.” Oh yeah! But he also asked that we show our independent spirit by each donning a mask. lol!

I do wear a mask when I’m out in public, but I also don’t choose to go out in public very often. It was okay during church, but I really struggle when shopping. Like today, we went to a couple of furniture stores shopping around for a living room chair. Looking down at the tags, my glasses slip off my nose (that’s what your nose is for if you’re a glass-wearer – not masks), and when I shove them back on, they fog up. Really an unpleasant experience. So I get it the resistance not to wear them. But if it’s true wearing a mask is the difference between spreading “the Bob” and not spreading it, I’m pretty sure we must wear them.

On a side note, I was watching the Tracker Live show today where they were talking about theme park news, and then, of course, a little peek at Jackson, who is so cute! But must Jenn talk about his bodily functions all the time? And breast feeding?

It reminds me of when we’d drive to the Central Valley from Orange County to visit my step dad’s family. Inevitably, the men would go out to the front porch and talk while eventually, a few people would jump in the car to get some rock salt (I was usually in that car) to make some home made ice cream. The men would take turns with the crank, and the women would sit in the living room and talk about babies, ad nauseum.

I, of course, would be sitting with the men on the porch. Their conversations were much more interesting, even if only because they weren’t talking about babies. Ah, how I miss those days. Never thought I’d say that – lol – but the problem with everything being online today, especially today, is that you can’t just leave the conversation when the women (and now men, it seems) start chatting about their kids bodily functions, breast milk going sour, etc, etc.

You know, I did all of that as a kid, although back then babies were mostly bottle-fed. I helped raise my half-brother and half-sister. I heated the milk, fed them a bottle, Gerber’s baby food, burped them, changed diapers, emptied the “diaper pail.” (Now here I am talking about those same things I dislike hearing about – Ooops!)

Anyway, all I wanted to do was to grow up and be an adult. Progress. Move on. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the lifestyle working in Silicon Valley. Maybe that’s also why I enjoyed trips to Las Vegas from San Francisco. And maybe that’s why I, for the most part, love living in Las Vegas.

I miss having easy access to Disney and the beach (or at least, what used to be easy), but Vegas is where you can hang out without kids. Because even cruise ships are all about families it seems today. Cruising also used to be more about adults. You can’t even go to work and enjoy that same kid-free zone when they have “take your kid to work day.” lol!

(Okay, I absolutely adore kids at Disney, so don’t go all crazy on me. Time and place. Time and place.)

YUM!

Break it to Me Gently #Disneyland

The YouTube video I watched over coffee this morning was FreshBaked’s live show from last night. You can watch it here.

Basically, David and Liz and the people in the chat were discussing all the changes around Disney and Disneyland right now. When will Disneyland open, Splash Mountain’s redo, and other unPC rides. As I’ve said before, I don’t think we need to rewrite American history and erase the stories of the people who lived before us. When they do that, I feel like they’re also erasing me.

If you must take Disneyland away from me, please do it after I’m gone. Disneyland means more to me than a theme park. I was there when it was being built. I saw Walt. I lived 8 miles down the road. It’s home. It’s family. It’s compensation for my mother sending my father a “Dear John” letter for another man while my father was serving in Korea, preventing me from knowing my father until my late 40s. Talk about complications when you pop into your father’s life at that late date. Next month marks 2 years since he was gone from this earth. I miss him every day.

Taking Disneyland away from me is like losing my father all over again. This year I may get to celebrate my birthday at Downtown Disney, unless Governor Newsom takes that away from me, too.

I tried to substitute Walt Disney World for Disneyland when we moved to Florida 3 times, but my heart knew the difference. And if certain people have their way, that will be taken from me, too.

My heart can’t help but sing “Break it to Me Gently,” and, yes, I prefer Brenda Lee’s version over Juice Newton’s.

Oh, oh…break it, break it to me gently
Give me time, oh give me a little time to ease the pain
Love me just a little longer, cause I’ll never never love again
Cause I’ll never love again

 

“Dear Kitten” and Other Laguna Beach Fun

I’m watching Adam the Woo’s video for today, one in a series of local SoCal food locations offering take-out, pick-up, drive-thru, etc. Lo and behold, he’s at the first Taco Bell in Orange County in Laguna Beach.

Well, once again, the Woo is taking me back to my childhood and teen years. I even based a short story on Laguna Beach in Dear Kitten. Laguna Beach will be one of my first destinations sometimes this summer, hopefully, for my birthday.

Dear Kitten…

Dear Kitten, My Favorite Pussycat,

Love,
TomKat

Kitty Arness hasn’t been called “Kitten” since her college days. So when a chance encounter reunites her with an old love on Laguna Beach, she realizes she longs to be “Kitten” one more time.

Still hurting from the breakup all these years later, she must make a hard choice: to hold onto her pride or forgive and forget, especially when she reads the writing in the sand.

AVAILABLE NOW on amazon.com as a standalone or part of an anthology for your Kindle.

Father’s Day Brunch at Wine Bar George

From our Inbox:

WineBarGeorge

DadStack

Seven Layers of Awesome

Behold…The Dad Stack. Join us on Father’s Day for seven layers of French Toast, French Fries, Bacon, Sausage Gravy, Chicken Sausage, Skirt Steak and Sunny Side Up Eggs. See you June 16 for brunch?

Ah, Wine Bar George – no, we won’t be there for Father’s Day (although, we have other fun plans), but oh how we miss you! Just this time last year we were enjoying the “Rosé Tasting with Master Sommellier” event with you, George. So much fun – we hung out with you often. We were your first customers on your first full opening day. And you were the last place we went before our move back West. Thanks for the memories!

Our compensation is making reservations for special dining events for Rich’s birthday this summer at Disneyland! Woo hoo!

 

An Evening at Wilderness Lodge

We’ve been craving a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge for some time now. It would be a nice change from hoofing it around a hot park – air conditioning, peace, quiet, ah…

We each had a dirty Ketel One Vodka martini, the Oregon White Cheddar Chardonnay Cheese Fondue that comes with 3 pretzel breadsticks and grapes, and the Asian Sticky Wings. The Cheese Fondue is amazing and the wings are quite tasty, although tonight they were especially salty.

We noticed the famous Artist Point Mushroom Soup is on the lounge menu along with the Berry Cobbler (we’ve had the Cobbler in the lounge before), but we decided to save those two items for our final Artist Point dinner at the end of next month right before it becomes the silly Snow White Character dinner. I mean, did they have to convert it completely? How about special occasions or just until 8 pm or something like that?

 

We noticed Artist Point was quite busy last night so maybe it hasn’t been hurting or maybe everybody is just booking it now because they know time is running out but it seemed like there were many families with the stroller brigade crowding the restroom area. Obviously, Disney World is going after the family dollars above all else.

After our lovely little meal and drink, we walked the grounds and while it’s as beautiful and mostly peaceful as ever. We stopped with another couple to get some photos of a rabbit hiding in the flowerbed and took turns taking photos of each other.

Later on our way to what was once the Trout Pass Bar, we were almost run over by two New Yorkers when I paused for two seconds to take a photo. People seem to be storming over to Geyser Point – that place is always a madhouse these days – and the smores area is making it even more crowded.

Note: Rich is standing in front of where we last sat on stools and enjoyed a glass of wine before our last meal at Artist Point over Thanksgiving 2017. Sigh…

We did enjoy another lovely walk over to the cabins – wouldn’t we like to live there? Wow! Of course, we love Wilderness Lodge and in some ways really hate to see these changes impacting that peaceful experience it used to be. It’s sad that the Trout Pass Bar is now a nail salon – I mean, a nail salon by the pool? Seriously? Oh well, I may have to give it a try for old times’ sake.

It was such a beautiful night and we were wishing we were staying over, but, alas, it was soon time to go home. But first we had a quick look around the gift shop and then out to the parking lot to retrieve our car to begin the drive home via the Windermere townhome for old times’ sake. After all, when we lived there, Skipper, Lovey, and Buddy were still with us. It wasn’t such a bad life, now was it? 🙂

Back when the townhome community was new. The trees in front of the townhomes are so huge now, it makes the neighborhood seem much more crowded.

“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Five

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

We got up early, Rich brought us some coffees and pastries while I showered, and we made our way to the Theatre to wait for disembarkation. We were off the ship by about 7:15 a.m. We saw our friend April and her friend again and we chatted once again. She wished me “Happy Birthday” again – really fun girls!

We had so many ideas about what we might do this day since we were flying back to Florida until the next day. One popular idea was to go to Disneyland if we got off the ship early. Well, we were off early but we were exhausted so we drove to Newport Beach.

It was only 8:30 am but already all parked up. So we drove to Huntington Beach and had breakfast at Norm’s – where our favorite pancakes in the world awaited and the friendliest, hometown experience.

Then we went to Mass at one of our regular SoCal churches. We were blessed to have been part of a baptism. So far, we were really feeling at home again.

We also drove around some of our favorite neighborhoods and when our hotel wasn’t ready early like we’d requested, we drove to Corona del Mar, hoping to enjoy the beach there. Nope – parking full. We ended up taking the ferry to Balboa Island, although there was quite a line of cars ahead of us.

This was a favorite childhood hangout for my family, including my mother who used to hang out there as a teen. My novel, Letters on Balboa Island, was inspired by all that.

Exhausted from getting up early and driving around, we decided to park at our hotel and wait in the lobby for our room. They’d offered a pool view room but we waited for our water view room.

We ended up ordering room service – burgers and wine – and relaxed and sipped and watched the sun set over Balboa Bay where I used to go with my family to watch 4th of July fireworks!

Best Burger I’ve Ever Had

On Friday, we told Tampa no. It wasn’t working for us, although we were a bit disappointed we’d let the bird in hand go free. At least, we were relieved of some stress.

Saturday morning, I was just joining Rich for coffee downstairs when he told me he’d had another bite in his email but this time in SoCal. We were deliriously happy, as we always are before we take a close look at what it all entails. We’ll see what happens next.

So energized by the possibilities, we decided to head over to the Forum Shops at Caesar’s. It’s our California connection, maybe because we’d discovered it, including lunch at Spago, on our first trip to Las Vegas together when we were living in the San Francisco Bay Area – a very memorable occasion. Besides, Rich had just gotten a raise and a nice bonus, and we needed to celebrate.

We took the back way down Dean Martin Drive to Frank Sinatra Drive – lol! It had been several years since we’d been there so we had to get our bearings. We were happy to see that Caesar’s isn’t charging for parking yet or at least not in that lot or who knows what the story is about parking. It’s a crazy new trend here the locals are not happy about, and we’ve been avoiding Strip hotels for that reason. It’s the principle of the thing or maybe we’ve had our fill of Strip hotel properties.

We stepped into Caesar’s and were tempted to nose around a bit, but then we found the Forum Shops entrance, and took a nice long stroll down memory lane, and even stopped to watch the Atlantis Show (so Disney) we were surprised to see was still there. When we started to get hungry, we thought about Border Grill, although we prefer the one at Mandalay Bay overlooking the pools – it reminds us of Disney World.

We thought about Gordon Ramsay’s Pub and Grill that we’d spied just inside Caesar’s but we were drawn to Spago in the Forum Shops, reminding us of that special time over 20 years ago. We were seated “outside,” the service was just as spectacular as we’d remembered it, and while the menu had changed during that time, the food was just as James Beard worthy.

We shared:

Moonstone Oysters on the Half Shell*

Cocktail Sauce, Red Wine Mignonette

Rich’s entree:

House-Made Rigatoni Pasta

Fennel Sausage Bolognese Sauce, Herbed Ricotta

Kathy’s entree:

Grilled Prime Beef Burger*

Red Onion Marmalade, Aged White Cheddar, Bacon Aioli

The wine:

Sangiovese Rodano, Chianti Classico, Italy ’11

The oysters were the very best ever – amazing – it was a whole experience. The bread service was awesome – what can I say? Those breadsticks were mouth watering with out of this world seasoning.

With Lent approaching, I was craving beef. I thought about the Flat Iron Steak, but I’ve always wondered about those $18 burgers I’d heard about. It turned out to be a good choice. At $19, each bite was so tantalizing, that it was no longer a burger. Maybe it was the extra dollar. I could only eat half, but Rich did justice to the other half so nothing was wasted. His pasta was just as enjoyable as the burger.

We were too full for dessert, so we sat a bit and sipped on our wine. Then we took an after lunch stroll in Caesar’s and stopped in at the Payard Patisserie & Bistro and picked up a small box of chocolates for dessert at home. Scrumptious! Francois Payard was our chef at one of the “Sweet Sundays” at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival several years ago.

What we loved about Caesar’s is that as so many Strip hotels have gone young and contemporary, Caesar’s has some of that but it’s retained that classic Vegas feel and attracts people of all ages. We didn’t feel too old at all. We’re talking about staying over some weekend to explore further.

Speaking of a classic, I was happy to see that Cleopatra’s Barge was still there – I remember drinks and dancing there when I was still in my 20s.

spago

rich

kathy

oysters

pasta

burger

rich3

kathy2

In front of Cleopatra’s Barge so many years later:

kathy_cleopatra

 

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville Trip Report Wrap-Up

Okay, so that’s a wrap for another trip report! In the meantime, we need to figure out how to get our videos from my iPhone to Youtube without going through the WordPress App because we have now run out of space. The iPhone to YouTube stopped working after the last upgrade so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or I need to figure out how to fix it.

Another possibility is to upgrade our WordPress account for more storage and a few other handy tools. Another idea is to archive reports onto another blog to free up some room here. We’ll give it some thought and let you know how we’ve solved this problem.

Thanks for reading the report – we really appreciate the “likes” to let us know that you’re reading it.

Here are the direct links to each post:

Pre-Trip Report

Day 1, Travel Day

Day 2, Part 1: Tampa

Day 2, Part 2: Tampa

Day 3, Sea Critters and the Beach

Day 4, Part 1: A Bit of Hawaii

Day 4, Part 2: Disney Springs and Wilderness Lodge

Day 4, Part 3: Artist Point

Day 5, Wild Night in Orlando and Frenchy’s on Dunedin Causeway

Day 6, Part 1: Thanksgiving (Pool and Beach)

Day 6, Part 2: Thanksgiving (Dinner)

Day 6, Thanksgiving Extras (Private)

Day 7, Finale and Travel Day

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 7: The Finale and Travel Day

Today was travel day and we were trying to decide how to best spend it. Our flight wasn’t until 4:50 p.m. but we had to be out of the cottage by 10 a.m. I asked Rich if we should explore the Ruskin to Riverview area (they were building tons of new homes in the area) or do something that would leave a more positive impression because we already knew we weren’t that much in love with the Ruskin/Riverview areas.

Our other two possibilities was to hang out on the Causeway and enjoy the Gulf views for several hours or check out the Wesley Chapel area where several new shopping centers had been built since we’d lived in neighboring Land O Lakes. We chose to check out Ruskin/Riverview, including driving over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

I was awake until one thirty a.m. and slept for an hour. Then I finally went back to sleep until eight. Got up and had coffee and cereal. We finished packing and cleaning the room. We checked out out at ten am per the rules and drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Beautiful and thought we might be able to live here. Stopped at Ruskin and finally got to tour the Lennar New Jersey plan in Ruskin. We loved it but there was no community pool.

We were getting hungry so we stopped at Mickey Ds in Riverview. We both had colds by this time and a Big Mac would be the comfort food we would need. Then we drove to the airport.  We dropped off the rental car and stopped at RumFish for drinks. MaiTai for Rich and Ruby Snapper for me.

Then we went to the gate to wait. Rich got us a Pumpkin Latte at Starbucks and we boarded at 4:20. We left Tampa Airport at 5:50 EST and arrived about 25 minutes early at 7:30 PST. The trip home was terrible. We’re already not big fans of flying, especially these days, and Southwest was horrible. They only offer you Fritos or Cookies or Vending machine crackers and fake cheese for a 4.5 hour flight. We were exhausted and coughing our heads off the entire time. We did get the Exit row, which was nice for Rich’s legs, but those planes are notorious (we found out later) for having super uncomfortable seats in the exit rows. My butt was numb after about an hour.

We had a great vacation and it was exciting to see Florida again. We’re no closer to knowing whether we would accept an opportunity to move back there or not. I’m at an age where I really enjoy the comforts of home and feeling at home – I’m not as adventurous as I once was. So it would really be hard to move back again. Part of me wishes it wasn’t so and maybe it isn’t entirely, but for now, being home, especially when you’re sick, is exactly where I want to be.

We didn’t get to spend as much time in Orlando as we may have wanted to, and we didn’t get to Caddy’s on the Beach, which was at the top of our list. I guess we’ll just have to go back again.

So for now, it’s good-bye Tampa Bay – good-bye Sunshine Skyway Bridge – I hope we get to see you again.

 

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 6, Part 2: Thanksgiving

Originally, we had reservations at Columbia on Clearwater Beach for Thanksgiving. But we really didn’t want to be tied down and it seemed a bit formal for our taste. We just wanted to pop into a beach bar for Thanksgiving. But when we called around, most places were closed. In fact, every place we called was closed. But we’d seen a sign about somebody being open earlier in the week so we thought we’d just fake it.

We had our usual nap and when we awake, we figured it was time to head out to see where we could eat. We figured if all else failed, we’d pop into Walgreen’s and get some pasta – I was really craving that.

So we headed out and passed by this place called Toucan’s. People were sitting outside having a drink and the hostess standing in the open door asked if we’d like a seat. We thanked her and walked on by. And then we both realized at the same time how fun that looked so we walked back and asked if we could get some take-out. She said, “Sure. Just order at the bar.”

Well, the bar looked so fun, we decided to sit down and have a drink. Rich ordered up a Margarita for each of us, and we hung out there and enjoyed hanging out with families and couples and singles all having a great time eating, drinking, and watch sports on TV.

Eventually, we asked the bartender for a menu and the Linguini with Clams really stood out for us, so we ordered some takeout. On the way out, we stopped to enjoy our last sunset in Margaritaville. It was so gorgeous. We knew how much we’d be missing this.

We headed back to the resort, weak in the knees by the amazing aromas coming from that takeout box. We couldn’t wait to dig in. I poured us each a glass of wine and we had the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner. From the morning sunrise to the morning walk on the beach to the morning swimming in the pool to the Thanksgiving cocktails and seafood past, it was the perfect day! This is how we like to spend Thanksgiving.

Originally, we got the idea for this trip because we were reminiscing about that first Thanksgiving in Florida when we’d just arrived in Tampa Bay. That restaurant is no longer there in Dunedin, but we’d had such a fabulous time eating seafood on Thanksgiving that we wanted to make it our tradition. It’s been 10 years since that Thanksgiving, but we never forgot it and thought it would be such fun to try to re-create it in Florida one more time.

img_7683

img_7682

img_7681

img_7679

img_7685

img_7689

 

 

Thanksgiving in Margaritaville, Day 6, Part 1: Thanksgiving

I woke up at dawn feeling compelled to open the door, inhale the fresh Florida air, and watch the sun rise over the Bay. The emotional roller coaster ride continued each day and Florida wasn’t feeling quite as much like home as I’d hoped. In Tampa, we held out hope that maybe Orlando was our place. But in Orlando, I couldn’t wait to get back to Tampa. Does that mean the door is shut on living in Florida again?

And then that morning I woke up thinking, “I don’t think I can choose to never feel this again.”

So I quickly got dressed and walked over to the dock. A couple passed me and the woman said, “Happy Thanksgiving”, which was nice. I sat down and watched the sun rise and breathed in the wonderful Florida air that I had missed. The weather had been warming each day and it was feeling like the Florida I remembered.

I scurried back to the room to see if Rich was up because I didn’t want him to miss this. He was a little slower going but he did get up, made us some coffee, and we took it and a banana nut muffin back to the dock. We saw there enjoying the view, taking more pics and video.

After a while, we returned to the cottage to shower and get dressed and then walked to the beach. We walked all the way to the pier, down the pier, and then back down the beach. Along the way, I dipped my feet in the water – very nice! I love this!!

It was a glorious morning. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. I do think it’s a bit more stunning than my southern California beaches but it lacks that feeling of home that Newport and Huntington Beach give me. I think the California vs. Florida choice is the choice between adventure and home. I want both.

img_7668

img_7670

The day was really warming up so we returned to the resort and decided to sit out by the pool. One woman was out there when we arrived but she soon left. Well, here it was Thanksgiving morning and it was so nice out, we decided to change into our swimsuits. I think it reached close to 80 that day.

So, Rich went back first to change and when he returned, I changed. It was simply glorious outside! The pool was fabulous! This is the life!!

By Thanksgiving, it starts to get cold in Las Vegas, cold, meaning about 50 degrees during the day and maybe 39 or so overnight. We’d had a pretty warm fall late this year but on travel day, we had our first cold day. When we arrived in Florida, it was unusually cold but after a couple of days of that, it began to warm up and felt more like the Florida we know and love.

Another couple joined us out by the pool and we swam and enjoyed the sun and the warmth and the music. We sat out for awhile and then got back in for a final swim. Eventually, it was time for lunch. Rich remembers us having Beach Eats leftovers (and he has a very good memory), but I wrote that down for last night. I’m wondering if this was the day we had the Stouffer’s pizza we’d picked up at CVS – anyway, one or the other last night and one or the other today for lunch.