Trip to San Diego and Las Vegas

April 24 through May 3, 2002

One of our favorite things to do when on vacation is to look at homes. We selected the area of Rancho Bernardo, California after doing some internet research. It was North of San Diego by 20 minutes, a little inland, and looked like about an hour drive from Los Angeles. Since Eric and Andy would be joining us, we wanted to be fairly close to the LA area. We stayed in a Marriott Residence Inn, which offered two-bedroom suites with a kitchen and living room.
Ken sitting at our kitchen table. His bedroom had a small balcony so he could smoke.
Ken often sat outside on a bench. Here he's practicing his blackjack on his hand-held machine.
This was the view from the hotel third floor over a neighborhood with mountains in the background.
Rancho Bernardo is a planned community and is immaculate. Every street is well tended. Areas with shopping centers never had signs on the street and the ones they had were 3 feet high or less. Each neighborhood is "attached" to a tennis club that acts as the association. Most homes we looked at had lovely views of valleys below and other mountains in the distance.
The amenities on the properties were spectacular. Everyone had a pool, of course. The one above right is typical California, looking like it was carved out of the surrounding rocks, and freeform. Several homes had tennis courts, as well, and as you can see below, some had separate guest cottages. The picture below and to the right is a lake that's part of a park solely for the use of Rancho Bernardo residents.
After two days of looking at homes, Eric and Andy joined us. Some time was spent in our suite talking, watching basketball, or surfing the internet. Some time was spent trying out new restaurants.
Each time we go to California I try to schedule a tennis "match" with son Andy. He's a terrific player and I will never beat him. He's kind enough to simply keep the ball in play for me, and I try to win a few points and run him around the court. As you can see he's got terrific form.
Losing is okay when you get a hug afterward.
Andy cooled off after the match.
On Sunday Eric, Andy and I went to a Wheaton Terrier breeder that Andy had selected for his new puppy. We were to visit with the litter and Andy would select a couple of pups for his own (the breeder would make the final choice).
There were actually two litters, but this one was a little older and would be ready to go home within a week. There are six here (one must have been out getting petted). Eric leaned over and all six wanted to be picked up. Wheaton Terriers are very friendly.
All the dogs found Andy's beard fascinating, and would chew on it. Perhaps it reminded them of "mother."
Here's Eric -- on the right -- with a full-grown Wheaton, who is a show dog. This was a male, and unrelated, I think, to the litter. He was full of energy and immediately leapt into Eric's arms.
This was one of Andy's choices and ultimately the one he ended up with. He is now home with Andy and is called Gabriel (after Peter Gabriel, naturally). Andy says the dogs lose the black hair as they get older, and end up totally blonde. What cute face! (the puppy, I mean.)

The boys stayed through supper on Sunday, then headed back to LA.

The next part of our advernture was to take place in Escondido, a town about 20 minutes North of Rancho Bernardo. I wanted to see a friend of mine, someone I hadn't seen in over 45 years. My long-time-ago friend Ruth and her sister Betty are twins. Their parents sent Ruth to my high school in Milwaukee for her junior year, so the girls could be a little independent from one another. We became friends and the Kornhauser family invited me to spend the summer in Escondido, where they owned and operated a 100-acre avacado ranch. It was the most memorable summer of my young life. So, it was with great joy I discovered that both Ruth and Betty are back in Escondido, living on the ranch their parents left them (Ruth says it is now 7 acres). They host groups for spiritual renewal, now calling the ranch Spirit Point.
Ruth, me, Betty and Betty's dog Teddy.

The totem pole sits on the property. It's difficult to read in this picture, but the plaque at the bottom lists the family tree. Betty has created a bell garden (wish I'd taken a picture of it), with lovely bells that she's collected over the years. If you want to see more about Spirit Point, you can visit their website at:

We didn't want to wear out our welcome (we definitely plan to go back to visit Ruth and Betty again), so we headed off for Las Vegas. We decided to make the San Diego/Las Vegas trip by car. I had never been through a desert before. This is the Mohave desert, and was fascinating. The hills, valleys, and mountains changed completely as we traveled.
There would be miles of desolation that looked like the picture on the left -- just small scrub and dirt. The all of a sudden there would be a small town like the one below. It looks almost like a movie set. The outside boundaries were so well defined by the desert plain.
The sky was so blue, and absolutely cloudless. Again, the picture to the left is a small group of trailers in the middle of nowhere.

The trees below looked like they had brushes at the end of each branch, made of pine needles.

I had always pictured the desert like the ones in movies -- with endless sand and sand dunes. We did see one area that was just plain sand with nothing growing in it.
Somewhere near the Nevada border we came to the stop above. We weren't asked to leave our car, nor did they look in the trunk. We were just waved on, but I suspect not everyone got through that way.
An unbelievable stop -- a Taco Bell right in the middle of the desert.
As we came into Nevada there would be the occasional casino.

Eric had told me to look for a giant thermometer, which you can see above. It was as big as the electric poles and was indicating an 86-degree temperature. Not bad for April.

Another casino. I'm not sure why anyone would drive all the way from Las Vegas to one of these "outposts."

Coming down a steep incline we saw Las Vegas in the distance. It looked close, but it was actually almost 30 minutes away. The air was so clear you could see for miles.

We stayed at the Venetian Hotel, which is lovely. One of the things to do there was to visit a Guggenheim Museum in the hotel, which was hosting a show called the "Art of the Motorcycle." One of the earliest cycles is on the left below. It was based on the old boneshaker bicycle. The one on the right is a chopper made during the 70's.
One evening we went to see the Danny Gans show at the Mirage, and had dinner there at a charming Asian restaurant. Our picture was taken, and of course we had to buy one.
What's a trip to Venice (e.g. Venetian), without a gondola ride? The fellow taking us on the ride sings a lovely Italian aria as you float past the shops along the way.

We enjoyed the trip and look forward to going back to Rancho Bernardo as well as Las Vegas.