Sunday, September 20, 2009

Allan Family Summer Report 2009

Except for the customary first-day-of-fall heat wave, summer has run its course here in Lakewood. Some great plans were hatched in the spring, some saw their way to completion; others simply vanished into the ether. In any event it was a typically busy season. For some of us new frontiers were explored, and for others among us (namely me) there were the good times and some not-so-good.

Approaching this strictly chronologically, summer 2009 kicked off with Emily going off for a week in Bonsall (just north of San Diego) to horse camp. Rawhide Ranch is an interesting conglomeration of old west facades, swimming pools complete with water slide, teepees, covered wagons and every type of critter that man has domesticated to date. Oh yea, and horses, lots of horses. This was Emily’s first foray away from home, and she did real well. Thanks to all of you who sent her cards and letters that week! Her counselor was a petite blond girl from Northern Ireland, but I still maintained her accent mutated into a California “valley girl” drawl, despite what Rita thinks. Many of the counselors there seemed to be from abroad, I suppose there are few places to experience the “wild west” in the British Isles, or anywhere else, for that matter.

At the end of the week the camp holds a rodeo of sorts and every kid gets to strut their stuff. Emily came out with the last group on horseback, and did a great job of holding on while she galloped, trotted and much to my surprise, put the beast into reverse. She had a great week living the life of a ranch hand.

Each of the girls spent time this summer at the Skyland Girl Scout camp in the mountains near Idyllwild. Anne worked as a counselor/helper for one week, and joined Emily (and a lot of other girls) as a camper for a second week. They got to hang out with friends, and make some new ones. The week they were both gone was the same week I was in Portola, so Rita only had our dog Missy to talk to.

I spent a week in July up in northern California at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola working on the steam locomotive we are slowly restoring. At the beginning of that week one of my dear friends died unexpectedly, suffice to say that cast a bummer of a shadow on the rest of the work session. I felt a bit better when I was able to meet up with an old friend, Jim Blake, in from the east coast and tour him around our museum, he likes trains too, go figure! I also had lunch with another old friend, Rick Mugele, in nearby Quincy which was a nice break from locomotive work. At the very least we got some work done, and I enjoyed a break from the constant din of the I-605 freeway. That was pretty much the highlight of my summer.

Anne’s choice for a “specialty” camp this year was surfing. Rita found a day program with the City of Huntington Beach, which is fairly close to us. Anne found out that surfing 6 hours a day is actual exercise, so she had to take the Thursday of that week off to recover and recharge, but by Friday she was standing on the board and doing all the cool stuff surfer chicks do.

As a family we decided to go on a trip together this year, which we haven’t done in a very long time, if ever. Originally the destination was Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula to visit the little town of Forks, Washington, which was the filming location for one of the vampire movies the girls liked at the time. The prospect of sitting in the truck for extended periods didn’t appeal to the Anne or Emily so this week long trip was culled down to two and a half days on Catalina Island.

After talking Rita’s cousin Teresa into dog sitting, we were off to the Island. The town of Avalon, on Catalina, is a cute little town sort of stuck in the 1950’s, which was fine by me. Visiting Avalon is a bit like a visit to an older, gentler Los Angeles, so this town has always been on my “LA Bucket List” of things to do before we leave town for good. I have been to Catalina before, but only to Boy Scout camp as a youthful lad. The camp was way on the north end of the island, and if memory serves, the stay wasn’t always too pleasant.

Due to the lack of wave action on the leeward side of the Island, where Avalon is located, the girls weren’t too terribly interested in getting in the water, so we took advantage of some of the other amenities afforded us, like the newly refurbished miniature golf course, and a truck tour up Skyline Drive to the Airport in the Sky. Yes, they really call it that, even though it’s actually sitting on top of a mountain, not floating in the air like Cloud City in the Star Wars movies. False advertising. As close as we got to the water was a ride on the Glass Bottom Boat, which is a famous old attraction in Avalon. They drop buckets of food into the water so the fish come up to the boat. The skipper also told us which ones were the tastiest; I guess I will have to take his word for it. I don’t mind looking at fish, but eating them is another matter. The remainder of our time was spent browsing, eating and enjoying the air conditioning in our suite at the Atwater Hotel.

Shortly after our trip to Catalina, Rita and the girls, along with the rest of their Girl Scout troop camped out for a couple days on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Of course "camping" is a relative term given the accomodation was a Girl Scout troop house on the main drag adjacent to the beach. Luckily the gi-nourmous waves Newport was seeing subsided in time for the trip, and no water rescues were necessary this time. The girls led by one of the other troop moms put on a skit one evening as an appreciation for Rita, who has been ably leading this troop since the girls were at Daisy level.

We are back to the routine, both Anne and Emily are back to school in 8th and 6th grades, repectively. A sweltering end to an interesting summer. The Santana winds are due this week, which means yet another hellish heat wave. Many houses in Lakewood, including ours are sans air conditioning due to our close-ish proximity to the ocean, which doesn’t seem to mean much anymore. Perhaps as I get older I tolerate heat less. Perhaps I don’t tolerate many things as well I have in the past.
Thanks for visiting my rambling blog. FYI- Girl Scout sales of nuts and magazines is coming up, so you can look forward to hearing from us soon!