For the record

“Thank you for the adventure,” Cal Guy Jnr said after a walk in a wild place one day.  Was that before or after the accidental chocolate cake lunch…? An exact memory eludes…

First though, to record events and experiences in a chronological order.

Schools are out during Thanksgiving Week and a deal was struck: for a trip out to the Carlsbad Outlet Center the Captain would drive, Cal Gal would navigate the route and be a shopping guide, Cal Guy Jnr would keep the Captain company – and a lunch for four would be bought at Ruby’s Diner.  (This was on Tuesday 21st November.)

By no means was this a first time at a Ruby’s Diner (there are 17 Ruby restaurants now, 13 of them in California).  The place seemed unchanged: the red plastic seats, the serving staff in fifties outfits, the cardboard car models issued to keep hands busy and in this Carlsbad location there’s a model train that runs around overhead making it a distinctive setting.  Outside on a bench two Fall figures sat, replaced a week later by a different personage…  

A day later the car headed west again, this time on a return trip to the Mission at Oceanside .  Visited previously the Mission site (active Catholic church community, museum, grounds, cemetery, garden) is a calm oasis away from fast moving traffic.       Now here was a fact not noticed previously – that cochineal colouring (a red dye) comes from the parasite that lives on the opuntia cactus (prickly pear plant), seen here at the lavanderia (outside washing area).

Before leaving the Mission a fleet of cars carrying a funeral party arrived. Those attending all wore deepest black – and those who appeared to be Chief Mourners wore a white band around their foreheads, each band having a short white tail at the back. Whatever cultural custom it was (Vietnamese?) it was a reminder that California’s population comes from far and wide… (More awareness of that later).

It was the day before Thanksgiving and there was time after the Mission visit for a picnic lunch at a nearby beach. On a sunny late November afternoon there was a holiday atmosphere: there were swimmers and surfers, paddlers and sunbathers, groups with cool boxes and youngsters playing beach volleyball.  The warmth of the sun, the sparkle on the waves, the sound of happy voices and the wheel of gulls was a distinct reminder of a warm Saturday July afternoon on a south Pembrokeshire beach…

A decade or more ago at least one of the Cal Clan youngsters would emerge from school at the Thanksgiving Break bearing an art and craft piece which referred to pilgrims or turkeys – or both. What makes a Thanksgiving these days is a negotiated menu (not turkey or ham, but roast beef) televised American football throughout the evening (the San Francisco 49ers won 31 -13 against the Seattle Seahawks) and if Granny is in residence an hour or so of TV watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York.


There was no Black Friday retail scramble on the day after Thanksgiving, but an hour’s run north to the March Field Air Museum in Riverside County.   (Fancy living up here?:)

   Here inside the exhibition hall Santa had arrived by Blackbird…    In a corner a phone box indicated Londoners’ Blitz experience in World War II as well as the German experience during the Hamburg firestorm… A stroll around the extensive static aircraft display prompted questions, answers and tales recalled between three generations of aircraft fans…    The air base at March is in dry desert territory, conditions which are good for preserving aircraft in the open.

Boatwif found herself quite unsettled by this memorial sign to Dog and Handler Teams – can you see why…?

Next day’s trip (25th November) was to a coastal location south and west of San Marcos. This was for a visit to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This area, along with Santa Rosa Island, is the only place in the United States where Torrey Pine trees grow. There are lots of trails and overlooks (viewpoints) in the Reserve. While the Captain found a seat with a view Cal Guy Jnr led Boatwif higher and higher… smooth-faced rock surfaces, wind-eroded sandstone cliffs,   wind bent Torrey Pines, large spiky cacti,  blue Pacific views…  Very determined trail walkers can drop the 400 odd feet down to the beach    but then there is a steep climb back up. The balmy air, the sparkling coastal views, the array of rare plants and the possibility of danger made it an adventure indeed…!

With Cal Guy Jnr’s lunch clock ticking the walkers turned back – though not in time to find a lunch-serving restaurant, hence the large slab of chocolate cake!

Every trip to San Diego MUST include a trip south down to the glorious Balboa Park. Here Spanish colonial style buildings, 17 separate museums, several theatres, the Spanish Village Art Center,   the famous zoo and the outdoor Spreckels Organ vie for visitors’ attention.

Was Cal Gal’s last visit here as an elementary school pupil?   Back then in 2017 the Museum of Us was called The Museum of Man. It was good to wander into the Timken Museum of Art (what a splendid Christmas tree encircled by a toy train) and of course to the Spanish Village.

The people-watching on a Sunday was fascinating: two wedding groups trying to get the right light and shade; two young girls posing for a magazine shoot; a quinceañera (15 year old Mexican American girl); supporters for Ukraine; two musicians playing Jewish music; a pair of South American dancers; Muslims at prayer; evangelical Christians; day trippers in a tour bus, as well as the organ recital and Nutcracker audience (featured here:).

On the last day before flying back to the UK (28th November) precious time was spent beside Oceanside beach and Harbor. What a great place for a land-based Boatwif to do some boat-spotting…    Meanwhile surfers continued to ride the waves, seabirds scoured the shoreline while sealions argued and grumbled on their pontoon home.

Last freeway drive; last views of palm trees and Downtown high rises…

The aircraft took off, headed west over the ocean before climbing and turning inland over San Diego. I’ll be watching your flight tonight and tomorrow morning,” Cal Guy Jnr texted. Did he realise the flight was due to land at Heathrow at about 4am California time…?

Back to the UK the aircraft flew, lowering down over patchwork fields and the River Thames.


There were delays in getting parked at a stand and in being allowed to leave the aircraft.  And as the Californian acclimatised bodies stepped onto the airbridge between aeroplane and terminal building, UK’s icy external air temperatures were very apparent indeed!

Total air miles: 10,964

Happy memories: numerous

More UK locations mentioned:

  • I was born in Coventry
  • My sister lives in Sandy
  • My Dad grew up in Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.