Opportunity to answer those eternal and all-important questions came in the form of a very kind invitation from my employer. Flying J owns a private yacht (left over from the glory days), complete with Michele, a man who is a real live French Chef, and who can turn any Costco outing into a gourmet meal without even breaking a sweat. When my colleague, Fred Greener, and I finished selling the Bakersfield refinery in May (a critical part of the company's emergence from bankruptcy protection), our incredibly generous CEO asked us if we would like to pick a weekend and take our spouses on a cruise out of San Diego.
Well, that sounded nice, but it was very clear that Adrenaline Junky Danger Boy (aka Keegan) would NOT do well on an ocean going yacht (see the post before last), so we had to make a decision -- leave them all or not?
Oh, what the heck, right? Never up, never in. So we pulled the trigger--and almost didn't survive. Us that is. The kids were just fine. At least two of them didn't even want to see us when we got back. More fun to be with the cousins, don't ya know. So much for all that parental can't-let-my-children-suffer-one-whit-of-loneliness angst. Note to self: get over it already. Besides, the one who did miss us kept kissing us and saying "I missed you! I love you!" over and over again when we got back, so it was all worth it.
Anyway, after all that, thought you might want to see a few pics from our early summer experiment.
Here is the "FunRunner II". It was a good ride!
We woke up in the middle of Avalon Harbor in Catalina, which is visible, on a good day, from Long Beach. Below is my colleague Fred. Basically, if Fred is awake and within sight of water, it means there will be fishing. In fact, there may be fishing even if water is not in sight, but being this close proved irresistible. Notwithtstanding the many stories I have heard, it quickly became apparent that he only knew how to catch little ones. :-)
Actually, what they lacked in size, these Calico Bass made up for in quality (with help from Michele, of course). Fred has become one of my very close friends, so it is perfectly acceptable for me to tease him about fishing.
On that front, I have no idea how an Idaho farm boy/bedrock Conservative (As in Tea Party? We don't need no stinkin' Tea Party! Somebody give us a real revolution and overthrow the Government, dang it!), became fond of me, a lived-in-the-big-city-for-most-of-his-life guy, most recently of San Francisco, for Pete's sake (apart from considering my native charm and winning personality, of course). But I think perhaps it is because bankruptcy is like war -- once you have been in a foxhole with someone while everyone else is shooting your way, you become like family. Anyway, he is a dear friend and it was a lot of fun spending time with him and his family.
After a day of shopping and a very fine couples massage for Kathleen and I (no pics of that -- so sorry -- know how you really wanted those), we left Avalon harbor to head north and east along the Catalina Coast. It provided some natural scenery that is amazing when you consider how close to LA (and all those liberal California people) it is.
Brown pelicans are pretty darn ugly when sitting, but they are so graceful in flight that they have always been one of my favorite things to see on the California coast.
Here is where we moored, further up the coast, near a scout camp, of all things. It had a fine view of a very large cormorant rookery.
Kathleen conquered one of her greatest fears while there -- an open water swim. She Rocks.
On the way back the next day, we encountered a whole pod of dolphins. I was only able to snap a few pics, but I have to say that no matter how many times you see this, it is always magical.
As we entered San Diego Harbor, the Sea Lions, true to form, did their best not to greet us.
The harbor itself is full of man made wonders. In addition to nuclear submarines (so much bigger than I thought they would be) it contains several aircraft carriers, like the Midway, below (a 1960s era ship).
The Midway is completely dwarfed, however, by even bigger carriers, such as the Nimitz (68) and Carl Vinson (70) below. (The Ronald Reagan, also based here, was away on duty). It is hard to tell here, but those things are absolutely huge!
The harbor was also full of guided missle destroyers, cruisers, and others that stretched literally as far as the eye could see. It is pretty tough to float by all of this and not feel absolutely patriotic. God Bless our troops, sailors and airmen. We hold them to such high standards and give them such hard things to do, and they somehow manage to do it. Just amazing.
We finished off our trip with a quick visit to Cabrillo Point, I think the only national monument in California that we had not visited.
All in all, a very good trip. It was good enough, and non-traumatic enough, that we immediately began plotting our England adventure when we returned. More on that later!