Once again, Don, from the kindness of his heart, bought tickets to the Lorie Line Christmas Extravaganza for several people and once again, it was a lot of fun.

Lorie, based out of Minnesota, does these Christmas concerts each year, traveling to about 40 cities during the months of November and December. This concert, in St. Charles, was her second for 2011. She was then heading to Green Bay the next night. She also does books of piano arrangements which K. has always enjoyed.

One of the highlights of her concerts is when they ask the kids – ages 5-15 – to come up on stage and take part in one of the songs.  This year, the kid song provided some very funny laughs, especially from the 15yos that we personally know who, let’s just say, weren’t real excited about being on stage with a bunch of little kids – but they were good sports.

The other funny moment? When he asked the youngest “personal” boy “What’s your favorite football team?” and he answered “The Cubs!” (Maybe that’s the Cubs’ problem – they’re actually a football team.)

Anyhow, great fun.  Thanks, Don.


My first meal on this fantastic trip was at the Chowder House in North Pole Alaska. (Truly an indigenous experience.)

My last vacation meal (though not last meal of the trip) was at the Taco Truck in Turlock, California. (Truly another indigenous experience.)

And who should show up to eat with us? Tom and Marti! What are the CHANCES of that happening? (Ha! Ha!)

We then headed to Elk Grove (near Sacramento) for a fantastic conference!

On Sunday, I literally got up at 3 a.m., we headed to the airport and … home.

That was a trip of a lifetime – great memories for sure.


Actually it is my quest to see all things presidential that inspired my road trip with Cindy in the first place. I mentioned to her I wanted to go to the Reagan Library and she said she would go with me if I went to the Hearst Castle with her.

So we did. Well, we did the Presidential Library part, but not the Hearst Castle part being that it was foggy. Sorry, I mean it was marine layery and out of our way and was actually divided into four tours, so it would’ve cost more than $100.00 to see it. So, we skipped it – at least this time.

The library sits high above Simi Valley and had beautiful views over the mountain. The exhibits were informative with a lot of interactive displays. As people kept telling us as we headed down the coast, “You’ll like it no matter who you voted for.”

I think I’ll just post the pictures and add some captions.


Cindy and I also visited a garden in Thousand Oaks.  The place is so small and the entrance so hidden, that we missed it driving down the road and had to turn around, come back and look more closely.

They also have some weird rules about photography that you can’t take pictures unless you make reservations and not quite sure (when reading their website) what that means. Commercial? Wedding photos? Little kid taking pictures of birds (the dad wrote about how they kept being stopped).

So, to stay out of trouble, I won’t post pictures. The garden was nice, but small and had a courtyard with paintings of the California missions. We weren’t there more than 20 minutes or so.



Just some more pictures of our boat ride back to shore as the sun was going down – of course that ever present marine layer blocked a lot of the color – but the scenery was still breathtaking.

A few notes –

The sea lions crowded on back of the boat were actually causing danger. The people who lived in the boat (yes, live) feed them, but they weigh a lot (the sea lions, not the people) and there is a possibility of tipping.  Incidentally, it was fun watching the sea lions crowd each other and knock the other lions in the water.

When we got back to the marina, the captain gave us a tour of the boats/yachts and pointed out those which belonged to famous people – like the Wrigley family. Seeing the boats/yachts of famous people is fun for a few minutes, but I’d rather take pictures of dolphins and sea lions – or stuff of people I actually know.

And that was our sail on the Pacific.

We then headed back to our motel in Goleta, but were hungry so decided to find a place to eat. It was about 8:30 or so, not too late, but dark.  We decided on a place just up the road from where we were staying and had a very good tasting hamburger. (We hadn’t eaten much all day, so were very hungry.)

While we were eating, we noticed a couple police cars on in the road – and then more police gathered and by the time we got out the door, the road was completely closed. Cindy figured out a back way into the motel parking lot, so after we parked I went to the front desk to find out what was happening. Turns out an elderly lady was killed in a traffic accident the week before at the very same time and they were “reenacting” the events of the evening.  Hmmm …  Maybe police departments do this a lot. I’ve just never heard of it before or seen a road blocked for them to do it – especially a busy four-lane highway.


Our captain then said he’d take us over to where the dolphins hung out – although he couldn’t guarantee we’d actually see one. A lot of seagulls were flying around and he told us that was a good sign. The gulls follow the dolphins.

And then – sure enough – we saw a fin and for the next 15 minutes or so, the dolphins popped up here and there. Being that you would only see them for a second and then they’d once again disappear under the water, I had to take about 50 pictures to get one in sight!

Oh, and of course, we sailed pass Ty Warner’s house.

The evening continued to be both beautiful AND a lot of fun.