It’s been about a week since we got back from California and I’ve been meaning to post on the last part of our time there.
Thursday, July 24th, was my brother’s 39th birthday. We visited his grave at Westminster Memorial Park and released balloons while singing Happy Birthday. My parents have done this every year since his death, but it was my first time being there. It was a nice thing to do for him, though I had trouble singing. I miss him so much, every day.
That afternoon, my mom and I sat on the beach for a while, several blocks north of the Huntington Beach pier. It was a bit windy and we watched two men doing something called “kitesurfing.” It’s an extreme sport involving (not surprisingly) kites and surfing. It looked very difficult and dangerous. But those guys seemed to be having no trouble at all.
On Friday, we drove up to Palos Verdes to visit my dad’s old boss from when he worked in Seal Beach in the ’70’s, Bill and his wife Maureen. We went to their house lots of times when I was growing up, though we hadn’t been there in many years. It’s a very beautiful area on a peninsula overlooking the Pacific and the hills are literally “rolling.” One of the roads we used is quite bumpy due to the constant shifting of the land. At one point, years ago, I think Bill and Maureen and their neighbors feared their entire neighborhood would slide into the ocean.
After a nice lunch at Bill and Maureen’s, we visited Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro, as seen above. It’s basically a very fancy Victorian house with a light on top. It stands on the tip of the peninsula marking the entrance to Los Angeles Harbor. The inside is only viewable by tour, so we went on one. It houses related artifacts and period furniture. My mom thought the guide was a bit of a dweeb (didn’t know much in her opinion) but we got to look out of the tower and were able to view Angel’s Gate Lighthouse, which is at the end of a long breakwater in the harbor itself. Apparently you CAN walk out to that one, but doing so risks arrest.
On Saturday my parents indulged me by devoting the day completely to visiting places I wanted to go to. We drove down to Mission San Juan Capistrano, the “Jewel of the California Missions” and, I think, the most famous historical site in Orange County. The grounds of the old mission were filled with lovely gardens. Beautiful flowers. I don’t know much about California’s history (I never went to school there) but the ruins of the old Church and the cemetery were interesting. The famous swallows return to the Mission in March, so we didn’t see anything of them, beyond a few displays. Oh well, some other time.
We decided it would be nicer to return to Huntington Beach via Pacific Coast Highway, instead of the freeway. This was convenient because it took us right past one of the museums I wanted to visit, the Laguna Art Museum. My parents didn’t care about going so they walked around Laguna Beach while I went to the museum. It was small and compact, so I saw everything in a short amount of time. The current special exhibition, In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor, was…strange and disturbing, although the imagery wasn’t all that shocking to me, considering that a lot of the music I listen to uses it. I really came to the museum to see the works of the California Impressionists and they had some nice ones on display. So I was satisfied.
The drive up PCH took us past the hospital where my siblings and I were born, Hoag Memorial in Newport Beach. That was a little on the strange side. My parents, of course, were constantly pointing out “new” stuff along the road, stuff that wasn’t there thirty years ago.
Sunday, July 27th, was our final full day in California. It was also the day of the Huntington Beach High School alumni picnic, one of the main reasons for our trip. Since I never went to anything but pre-school in H.B., I had no interest in the picnic whatsoever. So I contented myself to walking around downtown. I walked out on the pier again, caught a glimpse of the U.S. Open of Surfing. I also walked down to the “Ultimate Challenge” statue, at the intersection of PCH and Huntington St. It’s a bronze statue of a surfer catching a wave. Nude. My mom said that part made for a lot of controversy when it was unveiled in the 70’s. Ultimately, even with lunch, I couldn’t waste enough time wandering, so I was forced to help man the t-shirt table at the picnic with my aunt. It wasn’t all that bad, I guess.
It was a good trip. I fear I’m starting to seriously consider moving back out there. But not for a couple of years, I think…