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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


   We visit friends and family in the Golden State each summer.  Six weeks ago we were wandering between San Francisco and L.A.  

      We always drop in on our Santa Cruz buddy, Adam Steckley,
(That's Adam, me, and my 380 lb. son, Dylan, on a  catamaran. Note: Dylan's actually in great shape. When you stand closer to my camera, it doubles your weight)  Waving to the right is Francesca's brother, Antonio. He bought his house nearby for a dollar. More on that later.
  Adam left Miami a few years ago in search of adventure and  better surf.  He found it on Monterrey Bay and invited our family  to enjoy it on a 60-foot sailboat.

The next day we surfed Las Selva Beach.


 In my optimistic mind I thought I could still ride a wave. 

 (That's The Grove Guy with Dylan and Natalia)

When I paddled out into the the sixty degree water I learned the sad truth,  I'm not much of a surfer guy now. That's is me belly-boarding a four-foot monster.

In Santa Barbara, we ventured out to the Channel Islands with my brother-in-law, Mario. 

 We rowed ashore and explored the cave where they filmed a scene in "Peter Pan".

Two hours up the coast we found my beekeeping brother in St. Luis Obispo

Bruce has one dog, ten thousand bees and a few flies in the kitchen.

The three of us drove to Morro Bay for fish tacos.  This is the big rock that sits  offshore pretending to be a volcano.


   Resuming our coastal journey we watched 3000-pound elephant seals lolling on a warm beach.  They love flipping sand onto themselves.  I'm guessing it's their version of sun block, or, they love the way the wind blows it into tourists' faces.

     Most of coastal California has been protected from development.  You can drive for miles and miles and see nothing but the deep blue sea and incredible natural beauty. 
Don't try that in Florida.
We were on the Pacific Coast Highway heading to Big Sur.  I've been there a dozen times and I often think, "Why am I going there again? 


Then, I see this,

 You could go there ten dozen times and never fail to be amazed.  


We hiked past cows and down to the sea.  Humpback whales were breaching a half-mile out.

 When the 90-mile Big Sur spectacular ended we slipped past Monterey and into farm country. 
 At this produce stand I bought nine pink pumelos for three dollars. When you can find these delicacies in Miami, they're $4 each.



     Brother Antonio and his wife, Michelle, live in Watsonville, the town that produces most of our country's strawberries. The place is surrounded by berries, thousands of acres.    
Heading home from the farmers market


    When Antonio retired from teaching last year he found an even more demanding profession, grandfathering.

Here he is hanging out with grandson, Nicolas. 


   They are standing in front of the house he bought for a buck twenty years ago.
It used to be on the same street six blocks west, next to the Martinelli apple juice factory. 

  When the Martinelli plant needed to expand they had to either raze or move their family home.  They put a sign out front, "House for Sale, $1.00".  


Antonio and Michelle purchased it and moved it down the street.  Imagine finding that at a dollar store.

   Our next stop was a beach house south of Santa Cruz.  We soon discovered we were sharing it with mice.  We tried a "humane" trap that captures them alive. When that failed we went the old-fashioned way. Every time we heard a "thwack!" in the night we knew we had sent another mouse to heaven.


It's a lovely place.  The Pacific surf, just a quarter-mile away, lulled you to sleep at night.

 After a week on Monterey Bay we made our way back to San Francisco. 

 We toured Chinatown with Dylan, Natalia, and Grove friends, Terry and Cynthia.


 On Fisherman's Wharf we ran into more friends, Beyonce

and Johnny Depp.

   After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we made our way to Muir Woods.  We were humbled by huge trees.


   Back in Berkeley, we had to deal with a "family storage unit" in Francesca's sister's basement. We encountered a forest sculpture my dear wife had made in high school.  
   It was woodland wonderland complete with a tree, plants, and animals.  Delicate birds were still flying -hung by thread- forty years after they took wing.



    We took a nostalgic walk in Codornices Park, a block from where my wife grew up.  Entire families were zooming down its ancient concrete slide.  It's a shame we can't have one of these in Coconut Grove.  
    Shooting down is such a thrill.  It so simple, free, and so un-Disney but this time we past it up.  We enjoyed the smiles, the laughter, then headed home to Miami.

                                      You can slide there too.  Just pick up one of the
                                       cardboard "sliders", head up the stairs, and "whoosh"
                                        your way down. All ages are welcome.

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