Wednesday, August 30, 2006

southern california

We spent the second half of our trip visiting my sister and her husband in Southern California. They have a very large house overlooking the Pomona and inland valleys. The elevation of the valley floor is about 800 feet and rises to a height at their house of close to 3000 feet. The south side of the house overlooks the valley while from the other side looks up to the more than 8,800-foot Cucamonga Peak of the San Gabriel-San Bernardino Mountains. At night, the lights of the valley are gorgeous. During the day, at 3,000 feet, you can see over the inversion layer – the invisible barrier that keeps the smog trapped in the valley. The smog makes everything look hazy, a sort yellowish gray haze at that, while if you look across over the inversion layer it is crystal clear. You can see poking through the smog the peaks of mountains that are some forty miles away.

In the old days, that is before I was married, this area was nothing but vineyards as far south as you could see. If there were not vineyards, then it was just rocks, sand, and brush.

One day the four of us toured our old home town of Pomona. My brother-in-law and I talked like old men, constantly commenting on how everything has changed. We argued about where old landmarks, since torn down and built over, were supposed to be. I saw the house I grew up in, my grandmother’s house, the schools I attended, Puddingstone Park where I proposed to Sue. The City of Pomona has more than doubled in population in the past thirty-plus years to about 170,000. I do not remember there being much vacant land left to develop thirty years ago. Despite the development, a lot a good memories came back.

Sue and I also visited our alma mater, Cal Poly Pomona, as well as her home town of Whittier. We saw the house her grandfather made in the early 1920’s, where he lived for over sixty years, where her dad and Aunt Lois grew up. Whittier has changed much less than Pomona.

We met my nephew’s fiancĂ©. We also met the greatest dog ever, Jock. My nephew is quadriplegic and Jock is his service dog. Jock can fetch things if needed, including beer from the refrigerator. He takes requests for specific brands as well. Brian is helpless if he falls out of his wheelchair and Jock has come to his rescue many times. Jock lives to help and is miserable if not allowed to work. My sister has no grandchildren, but at the order “Go to Grandma,” Jock heads straight to her.

Another day we traveled to Catalina, an island twenty miles off the coast. It was the first time we had been back since our honeymoon. The boat that took us over even went by the Queen Mary, now a hotel and permanently moored in Long Beach harbor. We spent out wedding night there. On Catalina, we went by the Zane Grey house where we honeymooned 32 years ago. Still looks the same and still has the wonderful view of the city and harbor of Avalon.

We spent our last day at the mother of all outlet malls, Ontario Mills. My sister and Sue spent three hours in one store alone. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring a book so I was able to find an outside bench where I could read while enjoyably baking in the California heat. It was a win-win situation for everyone.

The thing that most impressed me about Southern California this trip was the mountains. I knew the San Gabriel-San Bernardino range was 5,000+ feet, with a number of peaks above 8,000 feet. I grew up looking at 10,000-foot Mount Baldy (officially Mt. San Antonio) out my bedroom window, at least when it was not too smoggy. However, I had forgotten how extensive and impressive-looking the mountains were.

We have pictures of my sister’s house as well as some of our touring.

I love California, but driving back home from the airport we both realized how even more beautiful the North Country is. There is no place I’d rather live.

Be blessed!

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