Aunt Hazel – Day 26

Day 26 – April 26, 2003 – Saturday

Aunt Hazel

We bid a fond farewell to San Diego early as we have sights to see before a reunion with family in Rancho Palos Verdes.


San Diego is simply incredibly beautiful.  We drove through the University of California at San Diego as we headed out of town.  We were lost, but it was nice to see the California university that is in such high demand by California students.  I’m sure the school is excellent, but it must be the location that makes it so popular.


We traveled historic Route 101 for as much as possible of the drive up the coast.


Breakfast consisted of a smoothie at Surfdog’s Java Hut in Encinitas and donuts at the Leucadia Donut Shop.  I met Edwin, Steve, and Charles at the donut shop because Charles commented on my beads as I passed.  Barbara has seen that we meet more people when I’m wearing the beads as they act like a magnet of sorts – some are drawn closer and some are pushed away.  We also met Diane; we aren’t sure what the story is with Diane, but the word is “Ya.”  She just kept saying “Ya.”


As we traveled up the coast, it was fun to see the joggers, bikers, and surfers taking in the gorgeous blue sky and cool air.  Even though the temperature gauge in the car read 61 degrees, we put the top down and felt like part of the scenery.  As we wound our way to Carlsbad, our memories took us back nearly 20 years when Barbara spent a week at the famous La Costa Health Spa.  It was an amazing experience and one that she would love to revisit!  I guess she’ll have to settle for a quick rub-down at the local Atlanta hair and nail place, as we couldn’t find La Costa for even a quick photo.


Oceanside had some cool buildings, but our schedule is tight today, so we couldn’t stop to explore.


Every now and then folks are lucky enough to wind up at the right place at the right time … with no preconceived plans or expectations.  This is exactly what happened as we rolled by Doheny Beach.  Off to the left, flanking the crashing waves and white sands, was a line-up of the most beautiful cars we’ve ever seen!  The Southern California Woodie Club was displaying their prized possessions for all the world to enjoy, and enjoy  we did.  There must have been 150 restored (and some not-restored) woodies of all makes and models.  Their owners were prominently stationed behind their vehicles, anxious to talk about their cars.  We met many interesting people, but we especially enjoyed meeting babies Stephanie and Maxine!  Stephanie was appreciating the beauty of the cars through her highly cool pink sunglasses.  Other folks included Elaine and Pat from the Woodie Club booth – proud owners of two of the nicest cars there!  I was definitely frothing at the mouth at the thought of owning one of these babies (woodies that is), but we needed to push on.  We refueled with hot dogs at the beachside stand, put the top down, played Beach Boys music in our minds, and hit the road.  It was definitely an “AH” experience!


We went to San Juan Capistrano – where the swallows return every year.  We didn’t see any swallows, and we didn’t even get a good photo of the mission.  In fact, we didn’t see a bird of any type; I was going to photograph the first bird we saw and call it a swallow.


Our drive met a new tempo as we realized that we were running late to arrive at Aunt Hazel and Uncle Pat’s home in Rancho Palos Verdes.  It had been a mere 38 years since I was last there, so we didn’t want to be late.  We took advantage of the carpool lane and rolled at top speed through the winding roads and hills to find sweet Aunt Hazel waiting on her driveway —  cell phone and camera in hand!  She even made a special sign to make it easy for us to find her.  It was wonderful to see her smiling face and the special welcome.  The DiSantos live on a gorgeous hill with panoramic views to Santa Monica and Long Beach.  The yard is filled with fruit trees they planted 37 years ago, and we are enjoying the world famous DiSanto tangerines as I write.  After Boz made the acquaintance of the stray kitty who has taken up residence in their patio/garden, we visited with Uncle Pat and their precious granddaughter, Celina.


I was really touched to see that Aunt Hazel is compiling a special “Round America Notebook” with printouts of the writing and photos from each day.  She had also gone through our Los Angeles area itinerary, and she had comments, recommendations, directions, and more to help us get the most of our time here.


Next was a special “Aunt Hazel Tour of the Peninsula,” something we would never have found in a book!  Aunt Hazel has a memory like a steel trap, and she demonstrated this throughout the drive.  She reminisced about my last visit to their home back in 1965, remembering that I loved the Baskin Robbins’ 31 Flavors, “trying” to learn to surf, and my strong desire to eat at Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant.  So, our first stop was Baskin Robbins, where Hazel insisted on treating us to cones of our choice.  I commented to the young man behind the counter, Ed, that I would return for another cone in 38 years at the age of 92, if Baskin Robbins can hang in there that long!


The Hazel Tour was something special.  She knew precisely where to stop the car so I could hop out and get a photo – often the tiniest of openings in a row of trees – the only spot where a photo could be taken.  As a loyal follower of the trip each day, she knew flags were important, and we saw several, including the largest we’ve yet encountered – 76-feet long!  She took us to the local King Neptune statue – not nearly as big as the one we saw in Panama City, but clearly the most erotic.  Sorry, but Bozzie won’t let me show the closeups on the web site.


The Wayfarer’s Chapel was really special.  This glass chapel in an incredible mountain-top setting was designed by Lloyd Wright.  One wedding after another is held there, and we met a number of wedding guests, including Erik and some other members of the United Samoan Organization in their highly cool classic Chevrolet Malibu Super Sports.  Cars are BIG in Southern California.


We were then reunited with cousins Tony and Joe.  My brother, sisters, and I had so much fun with them and their sister, Rosemarie, when we visited them on a family vacation in 1965.  They took us surfing, and I can still see myself holding their aqua blue surfboard as I stood on the beach.  That was the last time I stood, as I failed at ever getting up on the board in the water, but I was able to say that “I had been surfing at Redondo Beach, California.”  We went to a Dodgers baseball game on that visit.  We could see the fires burning during the Watts Riots in the summer of 1965.  We had our first-ever Baskin Robbins ice cream; the chain was new then, and 31 flavors of ice cream was the biggest deal I could remember happening.  Dad tried unsuccessfully to get franchise rights for Lubbock, Texas.  While the guys went to the game in 1965, the girls all went to Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant.  Aunt Hazel said I was upset to have missed this.  I suspect it was because I had not yet eaten Mexican food at that point in time.  Perhaps because of the miss on Arturo’s, I have rarely passed a Mexican restaurant since without stopping.  It’s my favorite food!  While I had no recollection of Arturo’s, Aunt Hazel remembered the story vividly, so there was no question where we would have dinner.  And Arturo’s was outstanding!  In business in the same location for over 50 years.  I’m afraid it may edge out Rosita’s for Best Mexican Food.


We were joined at dinner by Joe’s pregnant wife Shannon and her daughter, Chelsea.  Ava is due in June.  Tony’s children, Celina and Marco, also came along.  Chelsea, Celina, and Marco are really cute kids and exceptionally well mannered!  We had a great time talking and eating.  We vowed to stay in touch regularly now as our parents have done.


It was a wonderful reunion, and Bozzie Jane and I had a great time in Rancho Palos Verdes.  Special thanks to Aunt Hazel.  We love you!


We did not see the sun set today.  You can’t always chase sunsets.  We were doing something far more important — enjoying the company of family.  The lesson for the day is more a reminder of something we already know (as have been most of our lessons) — the importance of family.  Despite the many years that had passed, we immediately felt a special connection that you can only feel with family.  We have not stayed in touch with family and friends to the extent that we wished we had.  You have to really work at it, and we will work harder.



It’s 8:30 in the morning. 35143 65 degrees blue skies, scattered cumulus clouds

35164 we’re at the University of California in San Diego. It would just be a real shame to have to go to school here.

We’ve had a lovely tour of the campus. We, of course, didn’t want a tour but we did.

35175 9:18am 62 degrees It says it’s 101 miles to Los Angeles. We’re finally exiting at Via De La Viye where the hotel folks told us to turn left. They neglected to say drive about 100 miles and then turn left. The University of California at San Diego looks like as good a spot as you can pick to go to college.

We’re at 101 35177 9:22am.

We appear to be at Solana Beach 35178 9:24.

We just took a picture with yellow flowers, a beautiful water carta dot dash by dot dash the sea or whatever; it’s all hyphenated.

There are tons of jogger, bikers, and surfers here; lots of action. It’s Saturday morning so everybody’s out, dogs too.

We’re in Encenitas 35182 9:43 after we stopped at Surf Dogs Java Hut for a breakfast of delicious smoothies, one mango and one strawberry.

Lucadia 35183 9:46

We just saw the Coaster Train. Mom gets an ice cream.

We met Edwin, Stephen, and Charles at the doughnut shop and the “ya lady.”

35185 10:01 We’re in Carlsbad.

Oceanside 35192 10:14am

We took a picture of Neiman’s Restaurant built in 1887.

Carlsbad. We didn’t find La Costa but we did find the statue and Bozzie Jane is taking a photo of it.

We just saw a statue of Capt. John C. Frazier. He was the founder of the Springs Water around here and also the co-founder of Carlsbad by the Sea.

Oceanside. We took a picture of the 101 Café and a sign in their window.

35218 11:15 San Clemadine

Well we just returned from a wonderful surprise, the Dough Heeney ?? Woody Show on the side of the road. I met Stephanie, the child in sunglasses; Maxine, the child in the stroller; Pat and somebody else who owned Woody’s.

We were at Dough Heeney State Beach and Dana Point. 35226 12:29 as we leave the Woody show.

We’re trying to find Mission whatever Capestrano.

Mission via El Laguna Legal 35237

We just reached Laguna Hill 35241 1:05pm Pacific Daylight Time

35274 Costa Mesa

35282 Huntington Beach

35291 Long Beach

Harbor City 35309 2:19 we just got off the highway and are headed to Aunt April and Uncle Pat’s.

There is a big flag approximately 62×76 feet.

We took pictures of the USO cars, Eric, and the nice people from Michigan who came down for the wedding are Tom, Ann, Holly, and Craig.

Accidental Tourists – Day 4

Accidental Tourists

Day 4 – April 4, 2003 – Friday

We were Accidental Tourists.  It’s a new day, and we were determined to make it a better one!  We got off to an early start as it was going to take us a good while just to get back to Saint Augustine after our hotel-hunting-odyssey.

We met another nice American from Ohio as we gassed up – Rich McIntosh from Cleveland.  We’ve met more people from Ohio than from anywhere else.

Saint Augustine Florida - Entrance to the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine Florida.  Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 4.  2003-04-04. 
Entrance to the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine Florida.  Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 4.  2003-04-04.

Saint Augustine is a very interesting place.  Tremendous history and equally tremendous (aka overdone) tourist development.  It’s a pretty place with a striking black-and-white striped lighthouse.  We drove straight to the Fountain of Youth for a water fix.  We enjoyed learning about the history of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of America, which he named “Florida.”  Old Ponce and his team were Accidental Tourists too, as he was trying to find Bimini and the alleged Fountain of Youth.  Instead, he found what is now Saint Augustine and a spring.  Bozzie loved seeing the peacocks.


In the parking lot, we met an especially nice couple from Missouri, “Rocco” and his wife, and we met Dolph, who works at the Fountain of Youth.  They saw the signs on the car and asked all about the trip, and we enjoyed sharing a few stories and learning a little about them.

We then saw the other historical highlights in Saint Augustine – the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA, and the lighthouse.


We then drove Highway A1A through a variety of little towns down to Daytona Beach.  In Daytona, we enjoyed watching the stereotypical diner waitresses at the Starlite Diner where we had a cheeseburger and “Freedom” Fries.  We lived in Orlando for six years and have been to Daytona many times, so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have otherwise.  I enjoyed seeing the Drive-In Christian Church – a real church built on the grounds of a drive-in movie theatre where you can listen to the sermon on the window speaker in your car.  Accidental Tourists.We made a few other stops.  We met a nice lady, Pat, in a parking lot as she saw the sign on the car and told us how she wished she could go to all 50 states.


We passed through a lot of beach towns today, and we saw one little motel after another.  It is amazing that all of these little, old places can stay in business, but it is so great to see that they have.  Motels provide a real slice of Americana that it would be such a shame to lose.  We also saw a good number of roadside fruit stands today as well as a big souvenir store called Wings.

We arrived in Jensen Beach just as the sun was setting.  William, the desk clerk at the Marriott, DID have our reservation, so he became our newest hero.  In the elevator up to our room, we met a cute 10-year-old named Brianna.  William recommended Villa Parma for dinner, where we enjoyed very good Italian food and a delicious Chocolate Bomb Cake for dessert.  Our waitress, Nicole, was excellent, and we met Michael, a very friendly and talkative bus boy.  We also saw Brianna again and met her parents and her brother, Derrick.  Brianna and Derrick are both Olympic-caliber competitive swimmers.


We missed connecting with old friend, Craig Linton.  My Florida geography is bad as I thought he lived near Tampa, but he is apparently just down the road from where I sit in this hotel.  Our apologies to Craig and his wife!  We enjoyed many wonderful times with Craig when we lived in Orlando; we think of Craig and Guy Lombardo every New Years.


The main lesson we learned today is this:  There are more nice people than not-nice people; all you have to do is say hello.  We met delightful people today at a gas pump, in a parking lot, in restaurants, and in an elevator.  Accidental Tourists.


As we glanced at USA Today this morning, it warmed our hearts to read about Mohammad, the Iraqi man who made possible the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch.  We heard Sean Hannity on the radio suggest that perhaps now is the time to lose the hyphen-American.  No more “African-American,” “Asian-America,” etc.  That sounds like a great idea to us.  Let’s just all be Americans.  I’m certainly no political expert, but 9-11 saddened me and made me fear for our future.  I don’t know what all our country should do to protect us, but I feel it might be good to slam our borders close to shut.  While it is all of the people from so many countries who made America what it has been, I’m inclined to think that we should concentrate on protecting our homeland and our fellow Americans.  Since so much of the rest of the world seems so anti-American, keep them out.  We put locks on our doors and cars to safeguard our loved ones and our “stuff,” so let’s put a lock on America!  And let’s take a lot of the money that we spend on countries inhabited by those who don’t like us and get more people working to perfect a “Patriot-like” missile that will protect our homeland from nuclear attacks.

Missionaries with Bill Windsor after flat tire in Sanderson Texas - Round America 50-State Trip.  Day 18. 2003-04-18.

A number of things that we have done to make the trip go well are working as hoped, while others are not.  I can’t imagine how I will cope nearly as well during the stretches of the trip that Boz is back in Atlanta.  Thank heavens for the sunscreen as I now have an outstanding “golfer’s tan” with only the balding spot on the top of my head sporting a sunburn.  Our system of clothes is working really well; we have four bags – two bigger ones that hold a week’s worth of clothes that stay in the car, and then we each carry a day or two’s worth of clothes into our hotel each night in a smaller bag.  The next morning, our dirty clothes go into yet another bag ready for the weekly washing.  We brought the right amount of stuff.  Our tape recorder malfunctioned the night before the trip, so we took notes the first three days until we bought a new recorder.  It worked great today as we drove and flipped it on to record the towns we hit, mileage, thoughts, etc.

It is much harder than I thought, with the current schedule, to find the time at night to write as much as I would like and process the day’s photos.  We are taking large format photos, but I barely have the time to put a few small format photos on the website.  Now if I could just figure out how to drive and type on the computer at the same time….

For those of you like Aunt Hazel who are following us every day, I apologize for not having more photos online yet.  I hope to find the time during our two days in Miami.  Thursday put a real crimp in my plans as I had no Internet time that day.  I’ll note when additional photos have been added.