January 30, 2006

Down the Pacific Coast

Press HERE to see a slideshow from the West Coast.

On the Manzanita Bay
The Rugged Coast
An Oddity - The Amphibian Car
Eureka Victorian Mansion
Eureka's Old Town
Eureka's Pier
Maya and Ivy
Ivy, Grandpa, Bryn, Maya and Tianna
Bryn and Christina
Dam Whirlpool
Dorothy Blumenstein and Me
Morton Soerensen and Me
George Streckus
George with Betty
Jayna and Edda
Sanj, Kieran and Krista
In and Under
the Redwoods
Our Cabin in Big Sur
Warm and Cozy
Looking North Along the Coast
Looking South
The California Condor
Close UP Too
Fighting Sea Lions
and a Nursing Calf
Dain and Marleta
Marleta and Betty at the Getty

It has been entirely too long since I last wrote an entry. It almost becomes a problem for me, because there is so much to remember. I will try to recall everything that we have done and seen in the past three weeks, but it may well be very abbreviated. The pictures will have to tell much of the story. Remember that the pictures are all thumbnails; click on them and you will get a much larger and clearer picture.

We started by driving to the Oregon coast. It was raining as it had everyday, since arriving in Oregon. Betty's brother John was visiting friends and house sitting near Manzanita Bay. We arrived in the afternoon and stayed the evening. John's friend, Drew, dropped by with a vegetarian dinner for us. He was an interesting guy to meet. He was an ex-computer geek that dropped out and was living here in the forests of Oregon. The house had the normal amenities, however, the water pump was broken - so we were without running water.

The next morning John joined us in our journey down the coast. We drove in to Manzanita for a breakfast of coffee and carrot-cake. We took a stroll on the beach. We did not stay long on the beach because of the intermittent rain showers. From here we headed south, stopping occasionally to see the sights, get a bit to eat or to look at something odd. One place that we enjoyed stopping at was a cheese factory, where we loaded up on good cheese and smoked salmon. We stopped in Florence for the evening. Betty and I had dinner with Donald Walker and his partner. He is a distant cousin, who I interviewed in hopes of filling in missing details of my family tree. One of the things that I wanted to do on this trip was to work on my family tree research.

The next day we drove as far as Eureka. There were no serious problems along the way. It was still raining. We drove into Ferndale and wanted to drive around a scenic loop, but the fog scared us off. We continued south and drove through the redwood forest. We almost got stuck behind a landslide, but road crews had been working all day to clear the mud and rock. The valleys that we drove through were beautiful. The roads were good and we made good time. If the trees were not fir trees, they were leafless, often covered in thick green moss or the Spanish type moss that floated in the branches. It turned dark when we entered Sonoma County. It was about here that it quit raining. It was the first time in three weeks that it finally quit raining and it has not rained but once or twice since then. We kept on driving and in a couple of hours we were at John's apartment in Emeryville, which is a tiny city between Oakland and Berkeley.

The next day, a Sunday, I went to the Oakland Library, on the hunt for more info for Betty and my family. When the library closed, drove through some of Oakland's neighborhoods. Oakland is a lovely city. Most of the housing was built after 1920. Then we headed over to two old friends of ours, Bunny and Judy. Betty had not seen them in more than twenty years. They have two teenage boys in live in a nice section of Oakland. We ate dinner and talked until mid evening.

On Monday, the 16th of January, Betty, John and I drove to Chico, where his daughter Christina lives where her husband, Campbell Church, and their children Maya, Ivy and Bryn. Betty and I had not seen Christina in many years. It was a pleasure to get to know them and spend a day with the family.

On the way back to Oakland the next day, we drove to Napa. Along the way, we passed by nut tree orchards, flat farm lands, rolling hills and steep little canyons. We stopped at dam that had an interesting looking outlet that looked like a whirlpool. We had lunch in Napa and I did a bit of research at the county recorder's office. We arrived back in Oakland near dark. We joined John in meeting with a group of his friends for pizza, beer and good conversation.

The next day we drove up to Sebastopol, a small town a dozen miles west of Santa Rosa. This is where the sister of Betty's grandmother lived and raised a large family. We visited the local library to read old obituaries. And then we visited the graveyard where most of the Donnellys are interred. We stopped for a while in Santa Rosa then drove south, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and continuing through the San Francisco. Eventually we came to San Mateo, where Krista and Sanjiv live. Krista is the daughter of my sister, Gay Lynn. They have two wonderful children, Jayna and Kieran. Jayna is just six years old and Kieran is 18 months old. We spent the next several days at their house. Krista made a lovely Italian dinner.

The next day we drove some 200 miles to the southeast to Fowler. I wanted to interview Wilma Buckman. She was the granddaughter of Alice Moore Craven. Alice was the cousin of my great-grandfather, Orville Miller. Wilma is a charming woman, very sharp for an 80-year old woman. The interview was very fruitful. She filled in many details and gave me the address for a cousin, who lives in Los Angeles County. I wish that I had gotten a picture of her. We spent the evening in Fresno, which is a much larger city than I could have imagined with a half-a-million residents.

We headed back to San Meteo the next day. We stopped about half-way back to visit my grandmother's cousin, Dorothy Orr Blumenstein. We had a delight talk. She also filled me in on a lot of family detail. We stayed for a few hours then headed for San Francisco Bay. We stopped in Fremont to find Betty's second cousin, George Streckfus. While not in the best of health, he has a sharp mind. He is the first of the Donnelly line that we have talked to. We finally got back to San Mateo about five. Edda and her father Damon arrived at the house just as we did. Edda is Jayna's friend who lives in Seattle. Damon is good friends with Krista and Sanj. They came for Jayna's birthday party. We had some fabulous oriental food. They had sushi and we had cooked food. All was excellent.

The next day we had lunch with an old friend of mine, Morton Soerenson. He lived in the Twin Cities years ago. We visited him once when he lived in Boise. I thought it would be good for us to get together again. Last time I saw him his boys were boys. Now the oldest is out of high school and will be headed for college next year. I discovered that he and I share an interest in genealogy. One year we hope meet him at his summer home in Denmark. We watched movies with Sanj and Krista that night.

On Sunday, the 19th, we left about midday. We drove to the ocean by Half Moon Bay and then south until we reached Monterrey. We had hoped to visit their fantastic aquarium. But it was only going to be open another hour or so. So we passed. I guess we sculd have checked it out for that hour, but we knew we could never get through it in time - and the admission was $22 each. This might be the place where, as we drove south from Oregon, everything has gotten a little more expensive as each mile passed by.

North of the Big Sur River

The Hearst Castle

We continued south another two hours. We stopped for the night in Big Sur. The area is heavily forested. It is a popular place for campers and hikers. We rented a little cabin in the Redwoods. We watched a movie, In Good Company, on our laptop computer, because there was no television.

The coast line south of Big Sur was stunningly beautiful. It is has a wild flavor. We saw seals and California condors and elephant seals. We also stopped to see the Hearst Castle at San Simeon. An outrageous admittance fee of $20 each kept us from taking the tour. We pressed on and got to Malibu just as the sun was setting. An hour later we were at our son's apartment in Santa Monica. Marleta greet us, but Dain did not. He was in San Francisco on business.

During the days, I did quit a bit of family research in the past week. I did one in-person interviewed and two phone interviews. I spent a day in the vital statistics records office for Los Angeles County. I tried to find obituaries. Overall it has been difficult work here. The resources are scattered or non-existent. In the evenings we enjoy dinners out, first with Marleta and then with Marleta and Dain after he got back late Wednesday night. On Thursday we all went out for dinner along with David and Amelia Blevins and listened to a wonderful jazz concert. The singer was fabulous and her band was marvelous. On Saturday, I drove down to Huntington Beach and drove back up along the coast. I stopped to interview Isabelle Long. I got back after seven and Betty, Dain and Marleta were still out. I walked down the street and put our name in for a table at an excellent restaurant. That is a real nice thing about where Dain lives. Everything is just a block or two away. When they got back from their day at the Getty Center, we drank a bottle of good wine and walked over to the restaurant.

Yesterday, Sunday, Betty prepared a marvelous turkey dinner for us. She did all the prep work in the morning. Then we headed for Venice Beach. It is the next town down the coast. It is called Venice because of its dozen or so canals. It has a crazy, hippy, fun-loving atmosphere. The city has provided areas for all kinds of recreation and hobbies, not to mention the beautiful beach. There are areas for tennis and handball, for gymnastics and skateboarding and roller skating and basketball and even walls for graffiti painters.
We got back to their apartment about 3:30 and the turkey went promptly into the oven. It seemed like it took forever for the turkey to cook. David and Amelia joined us. The wine and the conversation was good, except Dain and David talked way too much shop. Amelia is a native Ecuador. The conversation about South America was great. The turkey was well worth the wait. It was a most enjoyable meal and a most enjoyable day.

Gardens at he Getty
Iron Trees
at the Getty
An Artistic Eye
The Iron Tree
Close Up
Dain and His Mom
Venice Canal
Venice Canal
Mural on Venice Beach
One of the Graffiti Walls
Beach and Pier
and Surf and Rocks
Kookie Shops
Skater's Rockin' and Rolling
Musicians and Music
and Sand Sculptures
Entertainers and Artists
Venice Beach

Tomorrow we will be going to Victorville to visit my aunt Tiny and her family. I will try to write one more time before heading to Mexico.

Posted by bill at January 30, 2006 08:48 PM

hello Bill and Betty

I enjoy the picture, thats greats.
from Argentina, Sandra

Posted by: sandra at February 11, 2006 08:02 PM