The Retirees in the South East USA – visiting in LA on the way to Orlando Florida

Here we are again at the Brisbane Airport with the rest of Brisbane flying somewhere. It has become the “thing to do” – fly somewhere. Okay a little exaggeration but to see the number of people and the number of flights it surprising to think there is someone there to turn off the lights.

First stop LA – Los Angeles California where 1/5 of our family now calls home and another 1/5 lives in the north of the state. Kerry is excited about seeing the grandkids and I am too but not in the jump for joy type of excitement after all we did spend Xmas with them in Keystone.

We arrived after a terrible flight. Leaving Brisbane in the morning we arrive in LA the equivalent of 2.00 am but 6.00 am LA time – no sleep. Caught the Uber and travelled without hassles to to their place just in time to pick up the kids. 15 seconds of excitement and then back to normal for the older one. The younger one on the other hand was shy only later warming up to greet us. Understandable as we saw them at Xmas.

The rest of the time was spent recovering from the flight and baby sitting whilst the girls had two girls nights out. Lots of bed time reading to the boys.

Whilst the boys were at school we visited the remnants of the ranch from which the town of Irvine has been created. This included a reconstruction of the family home now known as the Irvine Katie Wheeler Library.

The history of the ranch began with James Irvine. He joined two others owning the property before becoming the sole owner of it in 1878.His 109,000-acre ranch stretched 23 miles from the Santa Ana River to the Pacific Ocean. After his death in 1886, his son James Irvine II (J.I.) became the successor of his father’s ranch. The ranch grew significantly and transformed into a successful, multifunctional ranch. J.I. added extra bunkhouses and employee housing on Foreman’s Row. Every building located on the Ranch represents an integral part of the growth, operation, and maintenance of the land. The Ranch stands as an important part of Orange County and California’s agricultural history and tells the story of a unique generation and tradition.

The Katie Wheeler Branch Library has recreated the exterior of the Irvine family home on its original site and adapted the structure to provide library services. The former agricultural headquarters offices have undergone stabilization and rehabilitation. They now serve as the headquarters of OC Parks.

We also visited Laguna Beach a short 20 min drive from Shadywood. This is a seaside resort city and artists’ retreat and an interesting little village of galleries cafes and shops beside the beach with only one road in and out. It is known for a mild year-round climate, scenic coves, environmental preservation, and an artist community.

Historically a territory of Paleoindians, the Tongva people and then Mexico, the location became part of the United States following the Mexican–American War. Laguna Beach was settled in the 1870s, officially founded in 1887 and, in 1927 its current government was incorporated as a city. The city has remained relatively isolated from urban encroachment by its surrounding hills, limited highway access, and a dedicated greenbelt. The Laguna Beach coastline is protected by 5.88 miles (9.46 km) of state marine reserve and an additional 1.21 miles (1.95 km) of state conservation area.

Annual large events include the Pageant of the Masters, Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival, Art-A-Fair, Bluewater Music Festival, and Kelpfest. Many creative, bohemian, and wealthy people have made Laguna Beach their home. They have added to the local culture by providing a theme for the small town. Laguna Beach was the southern California epi-centre of the ‘alternative’ hippie culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We visited twice – once for a special afternoon tea and unfortunately the older boy over estimated his ability to consume and contain a very large slice of rich chocolate cake causing quite the stir in the foyer and rest rooms. The occasion was repaired for the boys at least by a visit to a rocky headland below the restaurant; the site of the frightful event. The older one frolicked across the rocks which are separated by the fast-flowing stretch of water between him and Bird Rock (a sanctuary for sea birds as evidenced by the guano over the rock) and The younger one tried to follow with me hobbling due to my tennis incident. Meanwhile the responsible adults were indulging in one last wine far above us. Of course, they arrived, and the older boy returned from the brink whilst the younger one tried to copy with me holding on tight. We all travelled home as the girls were going out. As we returned to the car, we were surprised by a rabbit hopping along the garden path eating the roses oblivious to anyone else. Brave bunny!

Our second visit was us on our own to sight see around the village. We gave the Uber driver the instruction to drop us beside the French café with the delightful desserts and wonderful coffee, great views of the beach and a delightful deck catching the morning sun. As we walked around the village we stumbled upon the gallery (the name of which I forget) of some remarkable sculptures and figurines. Kerry was wanting to buy the USD$23,000 dancer sculpture so I distracted and lured her to the park outside the gallery where life-size statutes decorated a small public area.

We walked beyond the public space into a road lined with gum trees (yes the good old eucalypt decorates many public spaces here) to the Presbyterian Church of the community with it rose gardens tended by the volunteers of the local gardening club. We spent another hour wandering and I visited the local history society but it was closed – holidays.

Our 3 days passed very quickly and now we are on our way to Orlando.

The Retirees in Los Angeles – Grand-parenting

Our daughter Carly has created the event “Brisbane Fashion Month” to highlight fashion in and from the Sunshine State but in doing so has created a rod for her parents back and that is where grandparents become invaluable. Whether it is providing support with the project or support for her family, Kerry has ensured we were there.

This, believe it or not, explains why we were in Los Angeles babysitting. Carly and Vincent have moved to LA as part of Vincent’s career with Boeing, but you cannot host Brisbane Fashion Month from LA. So, for most of October, we have been living in LA grandparenting.

Now Carly and Vincent live in a pretty smick town called Irvine in Orange County. The town is a recent creation of urban sprawl (1970’s I believe). Wikipedia says “Irvine is an affluent city in Orange County, California, United States. It is a planned city; the Irvine Company started developing the area in the 1960s. Formally incorporated on December 28, 1971, the 66-square-mile (170 km2) city had a population of 212,375 as of the 2010 census; in 2016 the city’s population was 258,386.” Originally it was to be a planned city of 50,000 people around the University of California, but the fall of Saigon led to a large influx of Vietnamese and Asian immigrants.”

So, our days have been predictable and ordinary – rise about 6.00am, make breakfast and school lunches, walk the kids to school (they ride their scooters which we then carry home – 20 minutes there and back), go to school pick up the kids, go to the park for a picnic, then walk home (again the kids ride their scooters), homework, clean the lunch boxes, make the evening meal and go to bed (weather and other exceptions occurring to change the routine). On our first weekend in Irvine, we visited the Halloween function in the park. Hot dry and boring is all I can say to describe the afternoon. These pictures will give you an idea.

Our grandchildren William and Mathis dressed up for the occasion only to find themselves sweltering. The organisers controlled the crowds by issuing tickets for specified times so crowds were not a problem. But southern California was about to go through a week of sweltering weather. There were clowns and acrobats, cops on Segway, playgrounds Halloween pumpkins to select and incongruously some early war planes. We only lasted an hour before taking our pumpkins and running.

The following weekend, we had a three-day exception to our routing with a visit to Disneyland and California Park. We stayed outside of the parks and had a ten minute walk each day to the park and return which proved very taxing on the 3rd day with temperature in the 40s in the afternoon. The crowds were average, so we were not stuck in interminable queues and Vincent’s knowledge of the tricks around the parks made life easier. The kids loved all three days and particularly the hotel room with their bed in front of the TV.

Day one was the traditional Disneyland. The crowds were larger and the queues longer but we got to experience many of the rides, but William and Mathis were not familiar with the stories behind the rides.

Days 2 and 3 California Park (the parks are face to face). This is the modern park including Cars and A Bugs life and Star Wars. Far more meaning for the boys. The Halloween theme continued into the park and we to the Cars part of the park.

It pays to buy your Disney pass on line, use the fast track system and plan your rides. You can also take your own supplies of water and snacks. But the rides can be dangerous – I lost my Akubra on the Grissley River Ride and I am still waiting for Disney to post the remains to me. And at night it changes to a wonderland.