2014 US trip: First days in California

23 02 2014

My apologies for any typos. I’m writing these posts on my tablet using the in-built keyboard and SwiftKey, and I still feel like I’m all thumbs.

My flight over was a bit unusual this time. There was quite a bit of turbulence about 8 hours into the flight and I got quite nauseous – mostly sweaty and clammy and very uncomfortable, so much so that it took about another 3 hours before I could put my seat back without feeling horrible.

After some 14 hours in the air we arrived into LAX on time, but right behind about 3 other flights, so the lines for immigration were really long. It took more than two hours to get through immigration, baggage claim and customs, then another hour to get my rental car and get on the road to my uncle’s place near Newport Beach, which was about another hour. I did a bit of shopping along the drive down – The Container Store mostly… OMG! what a place!

My uncle is now 90 and is quite frail though his mind is still pretty sharp. It was good to see him again, though it was sad to see the state of his health and once strong body. I stayed at his place overnight and will call in again for a few hours on the day I fly home.

I spent most of Saturday driving from Newport Beach to Monterey.  What I thought would take about 5 hours actually took about 7 or so. I stopped for about 30 minutes in Buellton to have some lunch and refuel, but the rest was driving time. I got to Monterey just on 6 pm.

The drought in California is very evident. Everything was incredibly brows and very dry. Huge trees are dead or dying. Pollution and blowing topsoil was everywhere. The only green I saw was in the irrigated fields.

I had dinner with an old friend last night. We laughed a lot and cried a bit. This was the first time I’ve seen her in several years, and in the past 18 months she’s lost her father, her son, had to put her mother into care, and is losing her husband to the bitter cruelty of Alzheimer’s. Too much tragedy for one person to bear alone. I cannot conceive of her pain. Oh, and she has an as yet undiagnosed shadow on her lung…

On a lighter note,  the meal was fantastic. We went to Hula’s Island Grill and shared edamame (OMG!), then she had the butterfish for her main meal while I had the Jawaiian jerk pork. The food was wonderful as was the De Paolo zinfandel we had with it. And with it being national margarita day, we shared a margarita too!

Tomorrow I catch up with other friends in Monterey, then start my ‘Empty Spools’ quilting week at Asilomar in the afternoon.

I’ll  try to post pictures if I can figure out how to do so with my tablet!


The wonderful, spicy endamame, with a gorgeous Zin to accompany it


Jawaiian Jerk Pork, with Johnny cakes, plantains, and lovely goodies in the rice



Grilled butterfish with a miso and mushroom sauce