Chapter 30: Visitors from Florida

June, 2010

Weather Update

Hard to believe I'm writing this at the very beginning of July and the weather is COLD and WET. No tennis. No pickleball. No swimming, either. We're puzzled, and the natives say they've never seen it this way before. (Beginning to not believe the natives.)

Miscellaneous Visions

Here are a few pictures of the local flora. Color and sweet-smelling air is everywhere. Different plants bloom at different times, but always color somewhere, no matter the season. Purple seems to be the color of Spring. I don't knopw the name of the two plants on the left, but the rightmost is a jacaranda tree.

Many of the sub-communities (there are eight, within the whole village), have carrotwood trees that line the streets. Unfortunately, some of them have root systems that are causing bulges in driveways, so they are being removed. I had no idea what a carrot tree was or why it was called that, until I saw a stack of wood from one of them. You can see how the wood itself is a bright orange, like a carrot.

Before and AfterFlorida


Here's the latest picture of the upside-down tomatoes. There are finally lots of blossoms, so I assume the fruit is soon to come.

In the beginning. July 1.

The Florida Johnstons Arrive in California

Chip, Lisa, Thomas, and Ryan arrived at the Paradise RV Resort in Oceanside on Wednesday the 16th. Ken and I had moved the Moose from its spot in the lot, to a nice park that was a short walk to the beach, and convenient to freeways for other travel. They would spend 5 days in hotel Moose, and then head out for a drive to Colorado, to attend the wedding of Lisa's nephew.


Of course, the first stop for the boys would be LegoLand in Carlsbad, just a few minutes from here. We met them there. Naturally, everything is made of (very big) legos. See the huge statue behind Ken and the boys below.

Here are other statues in the early part of the park, all made with legos:

Remember chia pets?

There is a very special activity that Lisa signed the boys up for. It's a 45-minute program for using robots to accomplish tasks. The robot is already made as well as the various attachments. However, each of the four tasks had to be programmed and then run. If they mis-judged the number of lanes or distance, they had to re-program the robot.

Here is the table, divided into four parts, one for each child (Tommy and Ryan worked as a team). One of the robots is sitting on the right quadrant.

Tommy and Ryan are counting rows and then programming their robot. Tasks included picking up stones from various places and moving them to the tall containers. The third was to rescue an astronaut, pluck him up and put him in the middle. Then everyone gathered to use a punching attachment, sending the robots into the air, all at the same time. The boys were done early and were able to do some other things, like making their robot do a victory dance with music.

Their dad and grandfather look tense. Will they get it right? Yes, and without adult coaching.

Games and rides are a big part of legoland. This was a ride up, then a drop and bounce down.

This was pretty much like the teacup ride at Disney.

We left after lunch, so they could continue with the roller coasters and other rides. They went back the next day to the water park, which is inside LegoLand.

They all came back to our house for dinner and sitting on the porch.

Ryan liked grandpa Ken's hat.

The boys seemed to enjoy the RV park as well, spending time on the beach, and sleeping well at night. (Ryan, left, in red, loved to be "hit" by the big waves. Thomas is the guy in blue.) They spent Saturday with a boat tour of San Diego harbor, then back to the RV for another swim.

Father's Day

It was great to celebrate Father's Day with everyone. Eric and Andy came from L.A. Eric had never met his nephews, so that was a treat. Of course, Gabe and Tatum were there, too.

Ken wanted to set up a computer desk in the bedroom (the big screen in the den was giving him a crick in his neck). This was a good day to use the manpower at hand to get everything moved. When the work was done, they posed for a "job well done" picture.

Since pickleball has become our latest enjoyment, we wanted to show all interested parties how to play. And we did. You can see the level of focus and concentration on the young 'uns.

After pickleball, we had dinner together.

It was sad to see them leave. We had a really great time together. They would drive to Colorado, with a few stops on the way. Chip sent this one of the boys at Grand Canyon.

A Week Later, the Next Visitor: Barbara Glanz

My friend of 40 years — Barbara Glanz — is a speaker who has the distinction of the only person who has spoken on all seven continents (yes, including Antarctica). She was speaking at a large conference in San Diego, so I drove there to pick her up for a couple of days. We met at noon at her hotel, had lunch at Antony's, an old fish restaurant on the wharf, then toured the Midway aircraft carrier. At Antony's we met a pirate. Afterward we walked along the pier and saw a couple of the statues. You Sarasotans will recognize one of them (did you think the only one was in Sarasota?) It's the same size, as well.

I had become interested in the Midway, when by chance I heard an interview by Maureen Cavanaugh on KPBS radio, on April 29th. She was interviewing Admiral Laurence Chambers who captained the ship and was recalling the airlift from Saigon. Many people — including Vietnamese — were in San Diego celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Saigon airlift. The interview was riveting and the story of a Vietnamese man with his family, who landed a small plane on the deck, is particularly touching. Pushing helicopters overboard so the little plane could land is only one of the startling pieces to the story. You can listen to (or read) that interview at

View from the parking lot. Close up of the Communications equipment on top.

The flight deck. The anchor chains (HUGE).

A 1963 picture of the flight deck from the air.

Barb on deck. A pilot's outfit.

A radar airplane. Bunks for the sailors.

A jet airplane. Bunks for officers.

On Thursday we put Barbara to the test. She attended Ken's water aerobics class with him, and then went to my stretching class with me. We were going to play some pickle ball, but ran out of time. On the left, the class is lined up on the way doing some strength exercises. The pool uses salt water instead of chlorine. Afterwards Ken always warms up in the hot tub. Because we're close to facilities, it's easy to pop over the wall and head for the pool. This is Barb coming back from her swim.

Pickle ball again

Eric and Andy and friend Scott brought us some Pizza Port pizza for the 3rd of July and we treated Scott to a pickleball lesson. He picked it up right away. With my help, Scott and I lost 2 out of 3 sets to Ken and Andy.

That's it for now. July and August look to be a little slower.

Continue with Chapter 31.