Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pismo Beach - From the Cinnamon Rolls to the Farmer's Market

Mountain climbing today - or rather a big hill. But the height of what you climb depends upon where you start. Today, we climbed what would then look like a very small hill but we began at 0’ and climbed to 1538’. I’m thinkin’ that’s pretty good for two old duffers.

When we awoke it was pea soup foggy out there. We ate breakfast but the fog did not break. We filled out packs with water, we got all our stuff ready and it was still foggy. Now the choice: hike a hill with 360 degree views on all sides and see nothing or not hike. Hmm. Well, ok, we can consider this just a hike without views. And we took off for the trailhead.

Our first stop was at the cinnamon shop for - coffee. But then we began to drool over the cinnamon rolls and rationalized that we had only had 1/2 yesterday, we could have 1/2 today. And we sat to eat and watch the people wandering the street wondering where their sunny day at the beach was.

Our drive started out inland where there were beautiful steep green hills but then we headed back towards the ocean and the fog socked in again. We arrived at the State Park where the hike was and we traveled through a ghostly forest of eucalyptus trees in the fog. Then we arrived at the Visitor Center near the ocean. We knew it was near the ocean since we could hear the waves crashing ashore and the fog horns off in the distance. Those were our clues. Here was our view.
The trail was neat - although we couldn’t see where it was leading. It was through very dense vegetation, about 4’ high. No bushwacking today and we were glad we had the legs on our pants. Though the trail was well-used, it had sections which were overgrown and would have scratched out legs. We kept climbing up, not ever being able to see the goal. We found a ridge line and kept hiking inexorably up. Every now and then we could see something which looked like a peak ahead of us but it was never the top of Valencia. It was a blind climb.

Finally, the fog broke a bit and we could see further ahead.
And, maybe the fog was a good friend in not letting us see the goal. Oh, my, it was a long ways up ahead of us. And we kept walking. As we neared the top, the fog began to break, the sun warmed us up and we could see much further. We were above the fog and we could see mountain tops poking out of the clouds. What a spectacular view. We could see the wildflower field below,
the coast line to the west,
the green hills to the east and we could hear someone on the hill singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. She must have been happy to reach the top.

What a neat hike: great trail, smashing views at the top and the Hallelujah Chorus as the background. What more could I ask for? We hiked down via a different trail. We hiked up via a craggy trail but the trail down was a dirt trail. Nice variety here in this park. When we got down, we ate our sandwiches and protein bars in the car since the fog had rolled back in and the air was a moist cold. Then we walked the Bluff Trail, which winds along the bluffs for about 2 miles. At times we could wind down to the beach and sit on the craggy rocks. The surf was getting higher and the waves were crashing in on the rocks. We then turned around and headed back to the the car. But with views like this, it was a beautiful descent.
This park has a lot to offer:

        thick woodlands to hike through,

        mountains to climb,

        sandy beach to stroll
and waves crashing onto rocky cliffs. And, then we looked back to see Mt. Valencia where we had hiked and also saw the gold flowers which gave the park its name: Montana de Oro - mountains of gold
Since it was about 5:30, we decided to stop at San Luis Obispo which has the ‘best farmers market in…’ - well they think it’s pretty good. Several music groups, 3 political parties, several palm readers, some bakeries and candy makers but lots of bar-b-cue and produce vendors. Tri-tip bar-b-cue is very popular here. But, when we walked in, there was a long line already formed and the market hadn’t even opened yet. We got to the end of the line (didn't want to miss out) and asked the couple in front of us what the line was for and why it was already so long. This was their first time here and they just got in line because everyone else was in line. With a line this long, they figured that it had to be good

We wandered down through the 4-block area and checked out everything that was for sale and picked a few places that we would get back to. Suddenly a whistle was blown and the market was off and running. Those people who had already picked what they wanted, paid, the vendor packaged it and passed it over. The game was on.

We watched the juggler for a while. Here he is juggling a bowling ball, a sharp machete and a flaming torch while standing on a 'folding chair'.
And then we made our mistake. Gary likes chili dogs and only gets them at a fair or a farmers’ market or whatever. And, at one end of the market tonight was a booth with chili dogs. Wow. Just for him. When we got it, we ate it but only because we had paid for it and did not waste food. The hot dog, even though the vendor had a grill was a plain boiled hot dog. The chili was soupy not thick, had lots of beans and had more of those little green things in it than we liked. And the bun - well, imagine soupy chili on it for 2 minutes and it had the consistency of flour and water. To say we were disappointed is putting it mildly. However, now we know why McClintocks had a 1/2 block long line and Lucia’s Famous Grill had - NO ONE

We walked back through the market and I bought some strawberries (huge, bursting with flavor),
Strawberries-4-2012-03-29-19-58.jpg RoadsideMarketOranges-1-2012-03-29-19-58.jpg
broccoli and cauliflower, a bag of oranges and a 5-pack of pitas which I’ll use for pizzas. When we got to the other end and saw the line for McClintocks, I decided that I’d rather have cold cereal at home. I was that tired.

We found the bathrooms - interesting bathrooms. It was an actual flush bathroom with a sink and soap for washing your hands. Perfect for a farmers market. Then we headed home. We left home at 9:00 am, it was now 8:00 pm and we had been going all day.

OH, yes, we’re tired tonight. We’re trying to squeeze 2 week’s worth of activities into 1.

9   1538’

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pismo Beach - On the Beach

We decided to take today off. Well, we thought we’d take a day to do taxes, laundry, finances, e-mails, blog, etc. How is this a day off? However, we were tired from going three days straight and even slept in - til 8:00. Whoo-ee. Breakfast and dishes and then I decided to walk to the closest grocery store for peanut butter and some fruits. Peanut butter? Why is that so important? And, here’s the confession - I fix peanut butter and jelly and lettuce on whole wheat bread sandwiches for our days adventuring. Not that I love pb and j, but I love keeping my time and money more. Meals out take too much time and too much money. I’d rather have our own lunch at a picnic table or on a rock while we’re hiking than eat out. And, finding a restaurant to eat at while out on the trail hiking is a tab bit difficult.

Carrying those groceries back was a bit difficult, since we didn’t want to squoosh the donuts in the bags.

We got back to our RV, dumped off the groceries and took off again. We figured that we were probably going to walk further anyway so why not continue on now while we were in the mood. And, besides, there’s that beach about a block away that we haven’t walked on yet.
We walked out on the beach and down as far as we could go but met a wide creek flowing into the ocean that was flowing pretty fast. Get wet, jump or go around. And, with a mighty bound, we found ourselves on the other side, walking up the hill into town.
Pismo Beach is a resort town, with shoppes, restaurants, small rental homes, small rental condos, RV parks, and did I mention the restaurants? Lots of people and this is only Wednesday. What willit be like this weekend? And, heavens, what will it be like in the summer? We had seen in a local magazine that there was a cinnamon roll coffee shop called the Great Western Cinnamon Roll Factory. We had planned to walk to it someday while we were in the area and - here we are. At its doorway. Ummm. Smell that coffee. SMELL THOSE ROLLS. Like a siren singing to sailors, the cinnamon roll shop drew us in and mysteriously we found ourselves with a cinnamon roll and 2 coffees sitting outside at a table watching the rest of the world pass by. We couldn’t help ourselves. The devil made us do it.
Now, we really have to walk - to earn that roll. But, it was a pleasant walk along the harbor, down the pier and among all the other tourists enjoying the sun and the surf. But all good things come to an end and we headed back to the RV to work on takes and bookkeeping. But now without one final shot of the pier.
In the evening, we noticed a strange phenomenon that those who live near the west coast probably are familiar with. The fog rolled in and we couldn’t see to the end of the RV park, much less the block to the ocean. But, an hour later, it rolled out and left us with a clear evening and a beautiful sunset. Here’s a picture of the dark fog hovering over us a moving out.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pismo Beach, CA - The Castle and the Seals

About 6 or 7 years ago, we drove down the coast of California along route 1. It was a beautiful drive. However, we took a pass on the Hearst Castle which is along the route and have always wanted to see it. It’s half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles at the small town of San Simeon, and It’s only an hour from where we are now. It’s not really a castle but a large estate which William Randolph Hearst built over many years.

Hearst’s father, U.S. Senator, George Hearst, using some inside information, bought 670,000 acres in California for only 20 - 40 cents per acre after he had received advanced notice that Geronimo had surrendered. The family built upon this original holding and used this land as a working ranch. They visited often and young William enjoyed every minute. However, the land and buildings remained rustic until 1919, when his mother died. He had preciously asked his mother if she would allow him to ‘improve’ upon the accommodations but she told a friend later that she hesitated because she was afraid that Will might get carried away.

And, he did. He began building in 1919 and hadn’t finished by the time he moved out due to ill health in 1947. He changed the plans then added to them then changed them again and then added some more. His first idea was to build a bungalow and he asked noted architect Julia Morgan to come up with ideas. His directions began with: ‘I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.’

In the end, besides featuring 3 ‘small’ homes on the property, the Hearst Castle had 165 rooms over 70,000 square feet with 38 bedrooms and 17 living rooms and ONE kitchen. Surrounding this were 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. He also had one of the largest private zoos in the world, a tennis court and a private theater. The estate supplied much of its own food with ranching, gardens and fruit trees. Morgan , being a licensed engineer also devised a gravity-based water system so that they could get water from a mountain 7 miles away.

He had the largest collection of ancient wooden ceilings and thus had to design the rooms to fit them. He covered all of the walls with tapestries and other works of art. The question always was whether he bought art to fill his home or built his home to fit in all his art. Most experts come down on the second. None the less, there is a lot to see in his ‘Castle.’

We arrived at the Visitor Center, showed the tickets we had purchased online and boarded the bus for the circuitous trip up the hill. And, what a winding path it was around the hills and canyons. We exited the bus at this cement wall - what an inauspicious beginning to the tour.
Then we climbed the steps, and stood in front of the main entry.
Unfortunately, we could not use this entry since the tire experts had recently restored the tile in it and wanted no more tourists to walk on it. So, we were taken around to a side entry and into this room, the sitting room where the guests gathered before going to dinner.
Then into the dining hall. Hearst sat in the middle of the long table and seated his newest guests next to him. You always knew who had been the longest at the Castle - they were sitting on the ends.
One guest said that if he had stayed one more week, he would have been sitting on the floor. For all his money and for all the ostentation of the home and its furnishings, Hearst put paper napkins on the table, ketchup, mustard, jams and jellies from the local grocer and served his guests on the most common pattern of the day - blue plates. Yet his guests dressed formally for dinner.
Invitations to his home were coveted in the 20’s and 30’s and he entertained the elite of the Hollywood and Washington set. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Dolores Del Rio, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests.

The tour took 1 hour and we covered the living room, the dining room and the movie theater. As we moved from the dining room to the theater, we saw a man using a Q-tip to clean one of the ceilings. The ceilings were painted Spanish ceilings and had faded with time. This ceiling was going to take 10 years to clean and cost $100,000.
They had some lame story about its being delicate but I could have cleaned it really quickly with a power sprayer and an RV brush for lots less. I guess they didn’t take bids. On the other hand, I’ve also pictured a ceiling which tool 7 years to clean and you can certainly note the difference
It was an amazing home and many people have different opinions of it. Some view it as opulence gone wild, some say it shows that money doesn’t buy good taste and others are in awe at its magnificence.
When we toured the grounds we saw the Neptune Pool which has a Roman portico which came from Rome.
As we were driving away from the Castle, we looked to the left and saw this herd. These are left over from Hearst’s private zoo. They just graze the fields with the cattle now.
After we had visited the castle we headed down the coast to Piedras Blancas where the elephant seals stay when they are in town. Actually, much of the time they are swimming near Alaska and in the northern Pacific but they always return here to give birth, molt and sun themselves. At this time of year, the young pups are lolling on the sand prior to learning how to swim. Although there was one big mama who was in a real snit and biting at each of the young pups as she lumbered past.
Males can grow to 14 - 16 feet and 5000 lbs while the females grow to 9 - 12’ and 1600 lbs. Below is a graph on the fence showing the relative sizes along with the size of a typical pup. Elephant seals form harems, in which the dominant male is surrounded by a group of females. On the periphery of the harem, other bulls wait in hopes of an opportunity to mate and assist the main bull in keeping away the less dominant males. Fights between males can be bloody affairs in which the combatants rear up and slam their bodies against each other, slashing with their large canine teeth. However, not all confrontations end in battle. However, some of this is for show.
Finally, we toured Cambria a real artsy, touristy town along the coast. We visited some of the art shops, walked the coastline trail and ate at a local restaurant. We also visited Nitt Witt ridge, a home designed by Art Beal. This is a fascinating juxtaposition with the Hearst Castle but is also reflective of one man’s vision. It’s just that the visions of these two men are different. For 50 years, Beal, who was the local trash collector and poet, built his hillside home out of bits of scrap he found in the trash. Beer cans, old toilets, stuffed deer, car rims, abalone shells, bits of piping, wood scraps, you name it, it’s here. It is now a State Historic Landmark and we wanted to tour it but it was closed this day.

Home then.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pismo Beach, CA - The Mission, The Bubblegum and the Ice Cream

We have visited several of the California missions in our travels and, since there is one about 12 miles from where we are now, we are heading over there to see it today. But, first there’s the small matter of breakfast and we know of a small restaurant about a block from the campground. We were wondering how the place paid its bills since we were the only ones there for a while but shortly in came about 4 other couples. Unfortunately, I prefer my food and coffee hot rather than tepid but tepid was how it all came. Maybe we’ll find another restaurant in the future.

The mission is the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa named for Saint Louis, Bishop of Tousouse, and is in - get this - San Luis Obispo, California or SLO as the locals call it. As you know, the mission system in California was established both for political and for religious reasons. The religious reasons are obvious but the Spanish also wanted to protect their lands in California in the face of Russion and British interest in them. Missions seemed to be the best cheapest answer to establishing Spanish presence and Father Junipero Serra set about to build a chain of missions from the the Mexican border to San Francisco and the mission in San Luis Obispo was one of them.
The mission was started in 1772, the fifth in the chain of missions, with the help of local tribes of the Chumash nation. The goal of all the missions was to turn the Indians into Christian citizens of the Spanish empire and the mission communities into self-governing towns. Mexico revolted and the Spanish were replaced by the Mexican government. Eventually, Mexico lost California to the expanding nation of America.

However, throughout this the mission remained and, through it was in private hands for a while and even served as a jail, it functioned as a parish church and the town grew up around it. It is still a Catholic Church for the town and, while we were there, the Catholic elementary school was practicing for the Easter ceremonies coming up soon.

Inside were beautiful painted stencils all around the sanctuary. Our docent told us later that they were painted by an artist from Hollywood who does work for Disney.
We walked around by ourselves for a bit and then took the docent guided tour led by one of the local bell ringers. Because we were the only ones on the tour, we got a pretty extensive tour of the church. When the guide asked if we would you like to see the choir loft we said yes. What a great view of the church below.
When he asked if we’d like to see the bell tower, we answered, heck yes. Here are 5 bells, each with a name and a pitch. Here is Carlos with a D pitch, 26.56” in diameter and a weight of 429 lbs.
When the guide asked if we would like to go up into the bell tower, we said yes again. Gary then asked how they rang the bells. The guild picked up 3 long straps, each attached to a bell,
backed up to show how he rang them and then gave us this little ditty that he says to himself to get the rhythm right.

        The beans are done
        The beans are done
        If you don’t come now
        You won’t get none.

Probably this has been used tby generations of bellringers to get the sound and rhythm right.

And, the organ with its pipes. We obviously got a very special tour. 
SanLouisObispoMissionTour-35-2012-03-26-20-14.jpg SanLouisObispoMissionTour-31-2012-03-26-20-14.jpg
After we toured the mission and its library, we headed over to Bubblegum Alley where the local college kids have been sticking their gum for ages. For about 50 years, the local students have been sticking their gum up here and, even though the city has tried to scrub the walls clean, the gum seems to mysteriously appear again. Might have something to do with the penny gum machine conveniently placed right around the corner.

We met a young family there who had bought some penny gum in the machine and were hard at work making it ready to add to the colorful art work in the alley. Here’s the young kid. He chewed his gum and stuck it up so fast that I didn’t even have time to get the camera ready. But he posed for me when I was ready. That yellow wad is his - it’s his wad and he’s stickin’ to it.
Because it’s a college town and off the beaten path, it’s quaint, well kept, has built a walking path along the river bank and is just a very pleasant town to walk through. It has an Apple store, it has a Barnes and Noble, a Costco, and tons of little shoppes selling art work and clothing and whatever. We walked around and found the Frank Lloyd Wright designed medical office
and several Craftsmen homes.

Not too far from the beach, surrounded by vineyards, it even has some hiking around it. Do I sound like the local Visitor’s Bureau? Well, we enjoyed the town a lot. On Thursday, we even journeyed back for the local farmer’s market.

Saw this item in the news. Certainly not an item we see often in Des Moines. I wonder what the pot delivery man was on.
On the way home, we stopped at Doc Bernstein’s Ice Cream shop. What a town institution. He makes his own right there, often taking customer suggestions. He admitted that the lager flavored ice cream was not his best and is not offered. Wednesday nights he tries out new combinations and on Tuesdays he has an all-you-can-eat ice cream night. WOW! Something to put on the calendar. However, we both knew how much we like ice cream and how much we always wan to get our money’s worth that we did not even chance going. We feared what we might do.

Here’s what we did get: I have a scoop of Raspberry Merlot Chocolate Chip and a scoop of S’mores. Gary has a scoop of chocolate chip and a scoop of Maple Walnut. This was enough for us.
Dinner and then a walk along the beach.

Acton, CA to Pismo Beach, CA - Rain on the Road

We’re on the road again, after 14 days here in Acton. Our next destination is Pismo Beach, 1/2 way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The weather forecast is for rain and we’re hoping that we miss it, though 90% chances sounds like we might be driving in rain at some time. We plan to start early however, hoping to get lots of our driving done before the rain starts.

Up early, breakfast and, as is usual when we want to get going early, Gary did not shave. He claims he looks ‘dangerous’ that way and who am I to disabuse him of that. Last night Gary had unhooked our utilities except for the electricity and we had hitched our car to the RV so all we had to do in the morning was to drive out. We got on the road by 8:30 and were at our first stop, the donut shop, by 9:00. Huge old fashioneds and mammoth long johns. And, what is the problem with that, asks the ‘dangerous’ one.

We were 1/3 of our way along when the rain hit. However it was a light steady rain which was fine to drive in. When we hit Ventura on the coast and turned right to begin our drive up the coast, it had stopped and, though not sunny, was merely overcast. Driving from Ventura north on route 101, we were right beside the beach and what a marvelous view. If you want a feeling of freedom just rolling down the highway this is your drive. The beach and ocean are to your left, the green hills and canyons are to your right.

I always seem to have a song playing in my head and today, as we were crusing along the ocean in Ventura, an old song by the group America popped in. I can sing the whole song but haven’t a clue what it’s about.

Ventura Highway

Chewing on a piece of grass walking down the road
Tell me, how long you gonna stay here Joe?
Some people say this town don't look good in snow
You don't care, I know

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You're gonna go, I know

'Cause the free wind is blowin' through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air

US 101, follows the coastline for quite a long ways. We could see oil derricks ghostly out in the ocean. Ever since the Santa Barbara spill, they have been closed but they remain on the horizon, rising up our of the sea. Then we turned inland and headed north towards Pismo Beach.
We arrived in our campground about 1:00 and, as Gary hooked up our utilities, I cleaned the RV (not that this is my favorite task but, when we travel, everything is stowed and it’s easy to clean) and got everything out for our stay here. And, then it began to rain, hard. Gary barely made it inside before the skies opened up. Great time for lunch and I reheated some left-over chili. Soon the rain let up a bit and Gary went out to clean the RV. Huh? Yep, there's my smart guy out in the rain washing the RV. Sure gives the rest of the RV park a warm and cozy feeling about the new people here. Yep, they'll probably skirt our RV and eye us carefully. 'Watch out for that crazy couple in site 134' they're whispering.
And, in the evening, we took a walk along the beach. Can’t let a day go by without an ocean fix.

Later I finished reading the book, The Help. What a good book. Usually my reading tends towards true stories, murder mysteries or history. In most cases, I know the ending before I start the book. In this case, I did not and it was a treat watching how the characters grew (or did not) and how the plot developed. Not only that, but I certainly learned more about relationships between the races in the 1950’s. Excellent book and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a ‘good read.’

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Acton, CA - Bushwacking

Last day for a hike in Acton and we’ve been looking at the hills in back of our RV park and wanting to climb them. Unfortunately, there are no specific trails for this, though there is a road going straight up one of the hills. So, here we are climbing a steep ATV path at a 30 degree angle at least. On rocks that slide backwards. I finally moved off the road about 3 feet and found better footing there. But, it’s still (huff puff) pretty steep (huff puff) and difficult going. The trail followed the ridgeline so, every time we reached the top of each smaller hill, there was another one in front of us.

Then the road ended but there was a faint trail that some hardy local souls had made so we followed that for a while. Until we had to clamber over rocks with bushes in our face. I called it quits and we headed down. But, not down the road way which I thought too steep. I looked the other way and found a softer less steep hill and we headed down that. At times I pretended I was on the bunny skiing slope and was doing my snowplow heading down the hill. At other times we made our own switchbacks. But it was loads easier than the headfirst roadway we had followed coming up.
Did we make it to the top? Heck, no. The trail was too narrow, scrambled over too many rocks, was brushy and just turning into less than a pleasant trip. Did we make it to the bottom? I sure hope so. But not after we had scrambled over some other smaller hills in the area. We had some great views down on the campground which was really the point of the hike. Oh, well, maybe the point of the hike was the hike with great views down onto the campground just an extra benefit. Does that make sense? And, if it does, you’re ahead of me.
We like to listen to the nightly national news but we find it at all different times depending upon which station we can get. We can only get ABC here in Acton and it has local news at: 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00. Finally, at 6:30 it has the national news with Diane Sawyer. 3 local news shows? In a row? Of course, that means that you get a real variety of local news.

One story we heard on the evening news today is that Walmart wants to put a Wally World in LA Chinatown. Chinatown? Huh? And even the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce wants it. I think that those merchants in Chinatown who support the Chamber are not getting their money’s worth.

And - there are only 7 Walmarts in LA. Imagine that.

A second thing that the local news highlighted was the reporter that they sent out to ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon to demonstrate the variety of activity available in the local area. Where else could you both ski and surf on the same day?

Of course, we could get satellite as many RV’ers have done. In fact, it’s quite common to see satellite dishes built in to the top of RV’s or set up in front of them. Since we listen to TV so seldom, we just use the antenna on our RV.

When Gary was younger and had been good and had gotten his homework all done, his parents would let him snack on breakfast cereal in the evenings. Well, now, he’s come full circle. He’s sitting across form me snacking on cold cereal. Of course, I’m doing the same thing. Does that mean that we have finally crossed the magical imaginary, all-in-the-mind, line into ‘old’?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Acton, CA - Breakfast and the Trip Back

We arose early on Tuesday morning so we could walk into town for breakfast and a walk around the harbor. We knew there was an RV park in the area and we wanted to check it out to see if we’d ever like to stay there. We walked along the waterfront as the sun was coming up. Look closely, this is probably the only sunrise picture I’ll ever put in here. I’m more of a sunset kind of person and think that sunrises are highly overrated.
Breakfast was at the Omelet Inn and was very good. We shared an omelet as usual and had an extra order of toast. Homemade wheat toast and it was delicious.
We wandered around and finally found the RV park. Very nice, clean and we’ll definitely keep it in mind.

Long Beach used to have a large naval base and, when it was closed, they made it into a park with several restaurants, marinas, condos, etc. There was also a nice memorial to the Sullivan brothers who all died in WWII on the same ship. 3 died instantly on the ship, one died shortly afterwards and the fifth lasted a few days in a lifeboat before the tragedy of losing his 4 brothers got to him and he went overboard and was never seen again.

When their father was told that there had been an accident, he asked which son had died and the answer was ‘all of them.’ Close relatives are not put on the same ship in the Navy as a consequence.
We then spent about 4 hours touring the ship with guides before we were on our own for the ‘self-guided’ tour.

However, we finally had to leave so we could get back to our RV in the dark. And, sure enough, we left at 5:00, just in time for a great Los Angeles tradition: drive time.

Actually the traffic moved very smoothly for the most part. We were pleasantly surprised. We did have one time when our GPS again told us that there was heavy traffic ahead but I looked at the map and realized that there were no other major highways coming in to ours with loads of traffic so we took a chance and ignored the GPS. Right decision and we kept sailing on home.