Posted tagged ‘California’

Hearst Castle

October 11, 2016

William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher born in 1863 and died in 1951. Mr Hearst built the nation’s largest newspaper chain. In 1919 he began work on what is now known as the Hearst Castle near San Simeon, CA on California’s central coast. The castle was designed from 1919 to 1947 by Julia Morgan of San Francisco. The castle was under construction right up until he died in 1951.

2016-10-07-12-07-39The estate covers 250,000 acres. The main house “Casa Grande'” sits on a hill at 1600′ in the Santa Lucia range and about 5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The castle is about 200 miles from San Francisco and 200 miles from Los Angeles. Mr Hearst has been quoted as saying:

I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.

The property is managed by the California State Parks and is open for public tours. Tours can be reserved on their website. When I was arranging our tour, I found out that they had “Accessible” tours for folks who might have difficulty with the many steps around the main mansion. I opted for this because of my difficulty climbing steep steps. Indeed, a customer service agent called me a few days after I made the reservation and asked whether I had any special needs (ie. wheel chair). I told him no wheel chair would be needed. What great service!

We rode in a golf cart up to a back entrance and Paula and I, plus two others had a pretty much private tour. One parks outside a visitor center and board a bus that takes you across many switchbacks as you climb to the castle. They had some chairs set aside for us along the tour if we get tired. Very thoughtful.

So back in the day, guests would take an overnight train either from LA or San Francisco to San Luis Obispo where Mr Hearst’s staff would pick them up at the train station and ride to the estate. Mr. Hearst also built an airstrip not far from the castle. Apparently, an invitation to the castle was very much in demand.2016-10-07-10-47-58

Among the many guests include the Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, James Stewart and Bob Hope.

Here’s a picture of the famous Neptune Pool. Unfortunately, the pool is under construction to retrofit the tiling. Click here to see a picture taken before the pool was drained for reconstruction.

Our tour started with the main kitchen. The kitchen was state of the art for the 1930’s. It had a real refrigerator. It kind of looks like an ice box, but you can tell by the compressor on top that it’s a refrigerator. Hearst had his own private power plant on his property. Here a few pictures of the kitchen.

After the kitchen comes the main dining room. Guests were expected to attend the formal dinner in the evening.  Mr Hearst would sit at the middle of the table. He would sit people that he thought would be interesting to him close to him. If Mr Hearst found a guest to be not interesting, they would be shifted down to the end of the table.

The size of the rooms were designed to allow the art works to fit. In the dining room, there were tapestries on both walls.

After dinner, films were shown in the movie theater. The guests had to wait for an hour (often grumbling about waiting). The delay was to allow the kitchen and wait staff to finish their work and join Mr Hearst in the theater.

What mansion would be without a room for games. There a billiards room and card table rooms.


Statues? They’ve got statues. Too many to show. Here are a few.

Finally, the tour ends at the indoor pool. The water is so calm, that you almost don’t see it. The reflection is incredible. There are two tennis courts on the roof of the indoor pool.

That’s about it. Exit through the gift shop. All of the pictures were taken with my iPhone 6 plus.





January 10, 2016

This post is intended for my friends on the east coast. It is raining in Los Angeles. It has been raining off and on for last couple of weeks. It’s been snowing in the mountains. This is good for us. That doesn’t mean that I like it.

So I am a “blow-in”. I moved to San Pedro in the summer of 2012. The term “blow-in” is a somewhat derogatory term used in many suburban towns in Massachusetts. A “blow-in” is some one who has blown in from somewhere else and insists that they know how things ought to be run.

The opposite of a “blow-in” is a “townie”. A townie is someone who has lived there all their life along with their parents and the parent’s parents. A townie has had the same teachers in school as their parents.

But I digress. Back to the subject at hand, rain. Up until last week, I hadn’t seen rain in the better part of a year. I had almost forgotten how to turn on my windshield wipers. I had to dig out the umbrella from the back of my Jeep.

One way, we can tell if we have had a rainy winter is that one can see green grass growing on the hillsides. The same grass will be golden brown by August. This rain probably won’t mean the end to the drought, but it will help.

As many of you have heard that our rain is due to El Nino this year. El Nino changes the jet stream such that low pressure systems that would normally turn left at the Pacific coast and head up to Washington and Oregon. Now the low’s head right for LA.

In Mass. one never sees  any old VW beetles. They have all rusted away. In LA, 30 year old beetles are common. No rain means no rust.

The other effect of the rain is mud. After the wild fires in the summer, all of the vegetation is gone. So when it rains in the winter, there is nothing to hold the earth in place. The end result is mud slides. A very nasty mess.

I will close with a humorous video I recently found on youtube about how LA people react to the news of rain.

Haggen’s Revisited

October 12, 2015

Haggens SignI had to do some grocery shopping today. Over the past few weeks we have pretty much switched over to shopping at “Ralph’s” but today I thought I would go back to Haggen’s to see how they’re doing as the chain works it’s way through bankruptcy court. Plus I thought I would like to say good bye to many of the people who work there who we have seen over the past few years.

I know that today is a holiday (Columbus Day) but still the store looked bleak. My first stop was Starbuck’s to get my grande iced coffee, no sweetener, leave room for cream. The Starbuck’s here is different because they remember our names and know pretty much what we will be ordering. Sometimes, I throw them  curve ball and ask for a venti (ie. large). We chatted a bit about the situation. They told us that the Starbuck’s on Western would cease operations on 10/24 or 10/31.

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I talked with my meat guy. Same sad story. I think he will land on his feet. He said that he already has a job in the meat dept. at Costco. So, I took the liberty of taking some pictures. First picture is of the meat department. Right now the display is barely half full. It will get worse. My meat guy said no more supply after next week, then everything goes on sale. Then on to the bread aisle. Not much there to speak of. Most of the local suppliers have stopped doing business with Haggen’s for fear of not getting paid. Can’t say that I blame them.

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On some of the aisles, they are trying to mask the lack of product. A mile wide and one inch deep. Here’s the soda aisle. At any rate, there in the final stages of shutting down or get bought by a competitor. Final date for closing will be 11/24. We’ll see how it turns out.

San Diego

September 21, 2015

So, we just got back from San Diego. Paula had signed up to attend the Assistance League National conference at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. I had a choice. Either I would stay at home and mind Mary K or I could go along and hang out while Miss Paula went to conference meetings all day. I chose the latter.

So we arranged for care givers for Mary from Wednesday until today. We hit the road for San Diego at about 11 am on Wednesday. Arrived by early afternoon and checked into the hotel. We got a room with a view of the Dole pineapple warehouse. The view out the other side of the bay was $20 more a night. Here’s a picture. The bridge in the background is the bridge to Coronado Island.

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View of the beautiful Dole warehouse.

So I brought all of my computing gear. Laptop, iPad and iPhone. We were invited to a cocktail party at a restaurant on Coronado serving snacks and wine. I was included in the festivities. I felt I could deal with that. We tool the ferry across the bay.

So on Thursday, I joined Paula for breakfast with the AL ladies. Nobody was checking tickets so I ate for free. I had a quiet day watching people wander by in the lobby. I eventually found the Starbucks and got myself suitably caffeinated.

Friday, more of the same. We had dinner at a restaurant on Coronado called the “Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill” I had an appetizer of Scallops. Very tasty. It went well with the two martinis.

On Saturday, I decided to upgrade my iPad and iPhone to iOS V9. I seemed to have a decent wi-fi connection. I had nothing better to do so why not? Not as fast as wi-fi at home but it would do. With that complete it was time for a nap. Eventually Paula returned from her day of drinking from the firehose.

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The Assistance League ladies from San Pedro-South Bay

She got to rest for a bit. Then off we went to the big closing banquet. My ticket was $125 Yikes!!! Was I the only one who thought the prices were outrageous. Food was good but not $125 good. Cash bar was pricey too. $12 for a mixed drink. The $12 got you just the generic “well” gin, nothing fancy.

So I had dinner. Eventually I got tired of sitting there. My hearing (or lack thereof) has gotten worse over the past few years. I have a lot of trouble hearing conversations in noisy environments even with hearing aids. So I excused myself and headed up stairs to our room.

So on Sunday we had planned on meeting our friends Ron & Thelma up in Del Mar Heights for brunch. Ron & Thelma’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren came to visit. Always ready to visit with the grand kids.

They asked me if I would play some kids tunes on their out of tune piano. I was happy to oblige. Actually, the tuning wasn’t that bad. It needed tuning  but I’ve played worse. So I got out my iPhone and did a bunch of kids tunes, like Old MacDonald, Itsy-Bitsy Spider. etc.

Once that was done, we headed on up the 5. It seems that no matter the time or day there will be heavy traffic.. Today was no different. Home by 3:30 pm.

It was a fun few days. We all had fun and a blessed respite from caring for Mary. Later.



Weekend Update

October 15, 2014

It’s been a bit crazy around here lately. This past Friday, our friend Andrea came to visit. Andrea is a college friend of Paula who lives up in Sacramento. [Andrea reads my blog, so I must be nice.] Paula and I headed up to LAX to pick her up at the South West terminal at about noon. LAX is a crazy place any time of day or night. Always heavy traffic.

Well Andrea eventually arrived and texted us at the cell phone lot. Seeing as it was noon and we hadn’t had lunch we headed to Hof’s Hut in Torrance. We had a coupon for a free meal that Paula received for her birthday. Then we headed to Trader Joe’s to shop for groceries for the weekend.

On Saturday, we planned to meet Ron & Thelma from San Diego. It’s about a two hour jaunt down to SD. We agreed to meet in the middle at the El Adobe Mexican Restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. SJC is just about half way between San Pedro and San Diego. We started off with margaritas all around.

Interesting factoid about El Adobe. It was President Richard Nixon’s favorite Mexican Restaurant. His residence is not too far away in San Clemente. President Nixon would be known to send a secret service guy to get take out.

We exchanged stories and pictures of our respective grand-children. Then I got a text message from our son Mike. It seems that Mary K had gotten a might bit confused. She woke up from a long nap and thought it was Sunday morning. And seeing as we weren’t there, she called Mike to see if she could get a ride to church. Sigh…

Ron had just gotten a new Honda Pilot. Seats eight. Plenty of room for the family. Mike and Theresa just got a new Honda Odyssey. Same reason. Both cars are nice looking rides. Maybe one of these days we will trade in the 2007 Jeep.

On Sunday, we all went to church, followed by a trip to the Gaffey Street Diner for some quality diner food. Gaffey Street was one of the places reviewed by Guy Fieri’s Food Network show. It’s one of our favorites. They just about know what I will order (Bacon and Eggs, Over Medium, Sour Dough Toast.) If I order something different the waitresses look at me funny.

Finally on Monday, we took Andrea back to LAX for her flight to Sacramento. We love to visit but love to see her leave so that I get my office space back. Our third bedroom is combination guest room and office. We told Andrea that we would prefer that she fly to Long Beach Airport. Much less stress than LAX. No lines, no traffic.

On Saturday, we will be making a quick trip to Visalia for the OES Grand Chapter Installation. Drive up on Saturday, back on Sunday.



– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

California Dreamin’

August 21, 2014

Okay, so everyone knows that I have been in California now for two years. So, what’s it like? What do you like about it? What do you not like?

So in no particular order, here’s my list:

Things I like about California:

  1. The weather. These days, I wear shorts most all of the time except for lodge and church. Same thing for socks. Come winter, I might have to go back to wearing long pants and socks. I still have an ice tool in the back of the Jeep that I haven’t used since we left MA. There are some winter gloves back there too. Ditto.
  2. I can buy beer, wine and liquor at the grocery store. None of the state run liquor stores here.
  3. I belong to the Masons and Eastern Star. Lodges and Chapters here are much more casual than the east coast variety. I seldom have to wear a tux. See number 1. I am truly thankful for our Masonic brothers and OES Sisters and brothers. We walked in the door two years ago and were welcomed as new found friends. It made the transition a lot easier.
  4. No Stairs – This is not so much do to California, but related to our living quarters. We live in a condo with no stairs. After knee replacement surgery and hip surgery it is nice to not have to deal with stairs.

Things that I don’t like about California:

  1. Speed Bumps. Every darn parking lot has speed bumps. Pain in the shocks.
  2. Traffic. You haven’t seen traffic until you’ve seen six lanes of bumper to bumper on the 405. Luckily for me, I don’t have to commute or deal with it very often.
  3. Price of Gas in LA. As of today, price of regular unleaded runs from $3.59 at Costco to $4.00 at local Shell station. Peak over the summer hit has high as $4.40.
  4. LAX. What a madhouse. Doesn’t matter what air line you pick, it’s a zoo. Worse around rush hour. Luckily I don’t need to fly very often. “The white zone is for loading and unloading passengers only”,  just spend and extra 30 second there and CHP will be on your ass to move.
  5. No Dunkin Donuts. (except for Barstow and San Diego). I’ve actually gotten used to Starbucks. Actually, the Starbuck’s at our local grocery store is pretty good. They know our names and know what I usually order. But alas, no chocolate glazed donuts. Bummer. (Like I need chocolate glazed donuts.) Starbuck’s is the only coffee place around here that knows how to make iced coffee properly. I hear that Dunkies is moving out west. Neil says they’re in SLC, but not yet in LA.
  6. No home made ice cream joints. Do a search for “home made ice cream” on YELP in Eastern MA and you get about 25 hits. Do the search in Los Angeles and you get hits but most are franchise joints. Not the same.
  7. Local News – One of the local news station (KNBC) spent 10-12 minutes of a 30 minute broadcast talking about a dog who was loose running along the 710 freeway. The KNBC news chopper was following the pooch running along the freeway along with the people stopping their cars in attempt to capture the pooch before it came to serious harm. This seems to be normal. They will follow a police chase when appropriate. Eventually someone caught the dog. Back to the usual stuff. Weather, sports, etc. This seems to be the normal way of doing local news. Blah blah blah.

Things that I neither like nor dislike. (ie. just different)

  1. Some grocery brands that you buy in New England, can’t be found here. eg. Pepperidge Farm Breads. I have yet to find an equivalent marble rye bread.
  2. Some brands have made it out here, like Cape Cod Potato Chips and Sam Adams Beer. For that we can be truly thankful.
  3. DMV – Dept of Motor Vehicles is pretty much the same everywhere. Try to do anything online. I loathe to actually go into the DMV. Same as in MA. Vehicle inspection is different. One has to do a “Smog Check” every two years. The smog check garages are hooked into the DMV computers. So if it passes, no problem. I still have the MA inspection sticker from 2011. The first time we had to register the Jeep and CA driver’s licenses it took all afternoon. Major PITA. No different than MA.

Picture of Harold & Mary from 1949

June 21, 2014

This morning Paula and I were digging through the piles of mail that Mary had saved over the past few months. (She hardly throws any thing out). We found and old photo of Harold and Mary taken in August 1949. It must have been some important occasion. They are all dressed up and the photo was taken by a professional photographer. There is not much to glean from the photo other than the date and location from the back of the folder. Harold and Mary would have been about 25 years when this picture was taken. Needless to say, Paula was at home with her grandma.



So here is the photo. Harold and Mary are seated on the left. I don’t know who the other two women are. I will ask Mary when I get a chance, but I doubt that she will remember.


So I wonder what the occasion was? It must have been important. It’s not a birthday or anniversary. I get the feeling that the Wilton Hotel was a pretty fancy place for dinner.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the Wilton Hotel that I found online.