In which I give a summary of my vacation to California and how it ties into life and writing.

When Robot Guy gets restless, he wants to head to California and revisit our roots. Both of us were raised there (he was born in Michigan, but grew up in San Diego) and big parts of our families still live there. So we left home just before Labor Day to make the long drive to California. It’s about 11-13 hours in the car, depending on where and how often we stop.

Mind you I like California, but for me it’s not a vacation. Okay, I get a break from cooking (my mother or sister insist on doing all that, or we go to restaurants when we’re out), it’s definitely a chance of venue, and we always try to do a vacationy thing while we’re out there, but California is familiar. To me, a vacation is something new, and California is not that. It’s visiting relatives. We had planned on staying for eight days, and had something planned for everyday.

First was reconnecting with my family. We spent our first full day at my sister’s, in her pool, and in front of the TV. The TV is always on at her house (not a judgment, just a statement of fact). Besides which it was US Open time and my mother, who was also there, is a HUGE tennis fan. Next day was reconnecting with old friends,the man who served as Robot Guy’s Best Man and family. We walked around Hermosa Beach at the end of their weekend festival. Now if you know me, crowds are not my thing, and there was a crowd. But Robot Guy was able to play sand volleyball (just a little) and go body surfing before the lifeguards chased them out of the waves (The big surf caused by a passing hurricane was just coming to its end).

Tuesday was my daughter’s choice of Universal Studios Hollywood. IMG_0636I hadn’t been in decades–the last time I was there, I posed with a life-sized cardboard display of Tom Selleck in Magnum. It’s very different now. Oh, the tour of the studio still exists, but all the details that made it so interesting for movie buffs like I used to be are gone. They don’t point out Lucille Ball’s dressing room anymore (or just barely) and Hitchcock’s old cabana is now an office for some production company. I suppose young people today don’t know Hitchcock. I know I showed my kids PSYCHO and TO CATCH A THIEF as part of their education. But it was fun. The Jurassic Park Ride is a (wet) blast, the Mummy roller coaster is a lot of fun, and the Despicable Me ride is loads of 3D fun. They have some fine shows too. I had visited Universal in Orlando for Harry Potter World before the new expansion and enjoyed it, but was a little underwhelmed. I was raised on Disneyland, you know. I felt the same about Universal Studios Hollywood. They had limited hours now that “summer” is over, but it was the perfect amount of time. And I will have to go back. Why? Harry Potter World is being furiously built in California as I type this.

We drove down to San Diego to visit my father-in-law. Robot Guy and his dad drove around to see the old homesteads, while youngest and I caught a movie–Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (all I can say is it is definitely a Michael Bay film).

But the highlight of our trip was whale watching. We took a catamaran (I say “we”, but “we” did none of the sailing) from Dana Point for three hours on the ocean. I can think of a few words to describe the experience without hyperbole–incredible, amazing, awesome (in its try sense), inspirational, breathtaking. Blue whales have been spotted with some frequency off the coast, and we saw three. BLUE WHALES!

Blue Whale Fluke!
Blue Whale Fluke!

I never thought I’d see them in my lifetime. As a kid I was sure they’d be extinct by the time I reached adulthood. They’re making a comeback, folks.

Back of a blue whale.
Back of a blue whale.

It’s too soon to be complacent, but it does give one hope for the future (Maybe. A little). We also sailed among a huge pod of common dolphins. Watching them frolic in the water, you have to believe they are consciously having fun.  What a day.

We came home from our trip a day early to mow the lawn and do laundry. Besides, the dogs missed us. I got little writing done despite my best intentions (My dear agent: ignore the last sentence. I wrote so much!), and it took us that day to get back into the groove. So now it’s off to the mundane and comfortable. That’s not so bad either.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang

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