My friend Marsha organized a girls night out — dinner at the Santa Ynez Kitchen followed by Jeff Bridges and his band performing at our local saloon . . . fun!
Today my sweetheart would have turned 62 . . . cheers to you darling for a life well lived and well loved.
"I love you as many times as there are stars in the heavens x infinity . . . and that's a lot!"
To celebrate, I joined friends Deborah and Katherine at the historic old stagecoach stop Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos for a pop-up wine pairing dinner — Rue Saint Dominique & Quóc Lô 1A — in collaboration with Les Marchands Wine Bar (Santa Barbara). The food was a brilliant fusion of east/west created by Mattei's chef Robbie Wilson and the French wines selected by Les Marchand master sommelier and co-owner Brian McClintic perfectly complemented each of the four courses. Rick would have loved it!
Today is Peetie's birthday — he turned five old in human years. As cute and puppy-like (just a whole lot bigger) than when we adopted him.
He and his brother Simba Ndogo had a lazy morning cuddling with me in bed, followed by a hearty breakfast, a bit of playtime, more cuddling as we caught up on Olympic events from the previous night, lunch, and a walk with his puppy friend Ginger to Nojoqui Falls.
After dinner and a visit from more friends, we three headed to Shining Sun Winery where Peetie and Simba listened from the car to a concert given by my friend Kathleen Sieck, who was backed by another friend Bear Erickson and John Ormond.
Guess I'm showing my age, but went into panic when I couldn't access my website . . . which I still cannot do for some inexplicable reason through my main computer. After spending fretful minutes e-chatting with Carley through the Weebly site, she confirmed that my website still exists. Whew!
Still want to know what happened so I can avoid a similar mistake, if that is what happened, in the future . . . especially when traveling and unable to spend the time trying to troubleshoot.
Up early this morning to meet our Catalina Island Conservancy guide and naturalist Cesar for a three-hour jeep exploration.
As warm as yesterday was, today there is a chill in the air from a front that is expected to bring rain tomorrow. Whew! Leaving Avalon we head up the switchbacked mountainside stopping for a photo op of Avalon and Hamilton Cove. Making our way towards Toyon Junction, we are told the Haypress Reservoir has not been so low — almost nonexistent — in many years. Our next stop are overlooks down towards Hen Rock and Moonstone Beach. When we reach the airport, we take a fortification break for hot chocolate and a large oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Next we head SW past Rancho Escondido, the new winery being planted by Santa Ynez Valley residents who own Rusack Vineyards — she is a granddaughter of the Wrigley family. Soon afterwards we are afforded views of beautiful Little Harbor, a place I'd love to come back to and camp. Leaving the main track we four-wheel drive up a draw in search of wildlife, but only see hawks soaring overhead. We pass an old stagecoach stop and view an bald eagle recovery project before heading back towards Avalon. The island is gorgeous and this quick glimpse makes me yearn for more!
Up early this morning. Following breakfast at the Promenade Cafe, Liv and I embark on a self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. Beginning on the "D" Deck, we wind our way throughout the bowels of the ship. The turbines, engines, pressure gauges, and miles of piping are all fascinating and eerie in what once might have been a dark, dank and noisy environment — far removed from the once opulent areas of the ship. Of particular note is the one propeller that has been left in place — striking in the blue water against the black hull of the ship. Next, we head to the upper decks to see the bridge, smoke stacks, captain's quarters, life boats, and Tea Room. We stroll each deck and climb the stairs to peer into the Sir Winston's Restaurant, which is lovely . . . perhaps even worth another a visit!
At 1 PM we are off to find the landing for the Catalina Express and the trimaran that will take us to Santa Catalina Island in just over 1 hour. The sea is generally calm with a bit of chop as we near the island. Settling back in the Commodore Lounge we toast over Bloody Marys this next portion of our adventure. Since neither of us have been here before, we are enchanted with our first views.
The Pavilion Hotel is situated right on Crescent Street across from the water. It is lovely with an outside patio and nicely landscape green areas for lounging. After settling in, we head off to the Catalina Island Conservancy office to arrange for a several hour jeep tour the following day. Then we explore the restaurants that have been recommended: Steve's Steakhouse, Bluewater Seafood Restaurant, The Lobster Shack, and the Avalon Grille. The latter restaurant is owned by the same folks who own our hotel and The Casino. While mulling over our choices, we walk along Crescent Street to the Casino to check on tour times. Then, back to the Avalon Grille for a complementary glass of champagne and rich crab and artichoke dip appetizer. The decor and ambiance are perfect as we leisurely watch the dusk turn to darkness. So relaxed, we opt to linger longer over a shared meal of perfectly grilled filet mignon with mushroom bordelaise & seasonal vegetables, followed by a rich, warm flourless chocolate cake with Cabernet-soaked berries . . . yummy!
A bit of window shopping before we head back to the hotel since we have an early morning rendezvous with our Conservancy naturalist.
My faux cousin Liv has been visiting for a few days. A cousin of a cousin through marriage, we have gotten to know each other quite well since 2000. Last year we travelled together for the first time to Cuba.
Since her arrival, we attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Outstanding Performance of the Year Award event honoring Cate Blanchett, visited niece Taylor at the Beckman Winery, and a Super Bowl party (briefly). Later in the week we will attend another Film Festival tribute . . . Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio will receive the Cinema Vanguard Award.
But today we're off to Yorba Linda to visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum — a "good cousin" gesture on my part as this was a "least favorite thing ever" to do! Honestly, I came away with no better feeling for our 37th president than expected, but also with a lingering question . . . how did someone who grew up Quaker become such a S.O.B. with no regard for honesty and integrity, and who would willingly throw a family member under the bus as a friend or an associate? The Library/Museum leaves this question unanswered, at least for me. Instead, it presents a man who grew up in humble beginnings and who rose through the ranks through the grace of good timing and some luck, who had a strong resolve and achieved much success . . . until Watergate. However, few of our lives are that simple and straightforward, and generally the seeds that express themselves later on in future behaviors/actions (e.g. mean-spiritedness, dishonesty, unwillingness to take responsibility for actions) lie dormant or are slowly nurtured just below the surface from an early age.
Afterwards, in the fading light of day, we make our way to Long Beach for a night's stay aboard the Queen Mary. Our room is on the "B" deck — 421 — shabby chic would be kind. It is comfortable and spacious enough for us two. Being a Monday, the Sir Winston's Restaurant is closed. Instead, we head to the Chelsea Chowder House & Bar where we are met with a refreshing herb infused vodka martini and lobster bisque and a large bowl steamed mussels. Yum. . . Dinner over, we stroll the Promenade Deck and begin our exploration of the ship — the shops, Observation Bar, and back to the Chelsea Bar for a night cap and chat with the bartender.
I am an artist and writer who aims to live life consciously and creatively with no "Plan B." My musings include experiences from my travels as well as those who inspire me.