We survived Cali!

I am pleased to let everyone know that our trip to California was an enormous success. It is overwhelming to tell you that everything from the flight to the visit, to the house, to the flight home was for the most part smooth sailing.

For the most part… Why did I say that?

The first day

In hindsight, it was a funny day. In hindsight. We arrived in Newport Beach on Saturday afternoon. While the sun and beach were tremendous, parking was another matter. We had rented two large SUVs for our house of eleven. We missed the fine print on the garage dimensions. We did have a 2-car garage for use that you entered from a tiny alleyway. With a couple of engineers in tow, it became clear that these vehicles would not fit. Of course, we thought we would park on the street! Not on a Saturday.

Will it fit?

I am sure there was cursing and yelling while driving around the neighborhood for a solid 45 minutes before the decision was made, we simply needed smaller vehicles. We made a quick run back to the airport to “exchange” our vehicles. No problem. We got that done and headed back to the beach.

The Flat

Yes… A Flat on the rental car. Mine. I noticed the tire inflation light and as I came to a stop light I knew it was flat. Thankfully, Jonathan and Christopher were in the second vehicle and not too far behind me. We were lucky to be in an empty parking lot. After a little work to figure out how to release the spare tire, we were back on the road again.

Ignore the random spoon

I figured I would bring the car back in the morning to get a different vehicle.

However,… As soon as I got home, I started looking for my backpack. My nice black backpack with nearly everything in it. It was left in the original, black SUV. I tried calling multiple numbers and they said I could not reach the actual location. HOW my daughter Megan reached someone and managed to locate my bag I have no idea.

Clearly. They didn’t want me back on the road. Yeakeys and Andrew and Andrea made their way back to the airport for another car swap and to secure my bag.

We missed the sunset and managed to hang out and get settled into our house. With a batch of fresh cookies, we all settled into the California, no AC, lifestyle.

Day 2 – Beach day!

We had three properties rented between our families totaling 38 for the week. One was perfectly sitting on the beach. Early in the morning we got up and wandered to a local coffee shop to meet Andrew. This is where we learned that the median home price in Newport Beach was north of $4 Million. With our coffees in hand, we headed to walk down the beach and see what we could find. Michele will tell you that I intentionally spilled her coffee on the pier. 😎

We made our way back to our house to head to the beach house. Many of the family were already down at the waterline.

As we stepped on the beach it was then that I knew we were still in recovery mode. Michele was very unsteady to walk on the sand. Much of her strength and balance have dissipated during the months in treatment. She held on to our arms and we got down there. To say it was at least one football field length does not even describe the walk on the sand. When we got down there, we had this broken umbrella we found at the house we brought with us, and she managed to huddle there and visit with family.

Beach gathering

As the sun became hotter, we headed back to the house. Both of our feet were burning up on the sand. Unbelievably we found the sidewalk that lined a parking lot about twenty yards to our left was cooler than the sand. Thankfully, we made it back.

We did a lot of walking for the first day. Our house was a little shy of half a mile from the beach house. We made it back and quickly crashed out for the evening… Windows open to let the breeze go through the room.

The rest of the week

Vacations are great and go by quickly. Over the next couple of days we hung out at the beach. The weather was so great that you don’t want to leave.

Family is a reflection of the parents upbringing, transferred over time, that spreads traits to unique parts of each member. With ages ranging from 4 to 72 and multiple generations I can see hints of Ruth and TJ, Michele’s parents, in all of them.

The youngest generation loved playing in the sand. Digging holes and burying themselves. A tru reflection to days of old.

A sizable group set out to do whale watching. We saw plenty of dolphins and some xtra large tuna. The whales decided to hide. We had fun regardless. The dolphins alone were a treat.

Beverly Hills

The biggest planned day was for us all to get on a big bus and make our way into LA. The place is truly mythical. We stopped in Huntington Beach to shop at the worlds largest surf shop. We travelled into Hollywood to see the walk of stars and the Chinese theater.

We continued down to Beverly Hills to take a stroll on Rodeo Drive. It is truly a unique experience. Most people may never see a store with a line to enter (outside of Covid). We asked about a ring in Tiffany and Co and it was $475,000. The sales staff in these stores and the clothes they are dressed in and the banter they have with people “browsing” is interesting as well.

Of course there is the Rolls Royce parked on the street that is in this bright yellow. You realize that it is branded with the colors of the store it is parked in front of. Owner? Marketing? It was impressive no matter what.

In front of Bijon store
Just off Rodeo Dr

The Pier

If you have ever been to an amusement park on a pier over the ocean, then the Santa Monica Pier is the model. We arrived hungry and went to the easiest place to get to, Bubba Gumps. Yes… we have them all over. It was still good!

When we finished dinner, we had a chance to walk around the pier and experience the sunset. There have been so many days that sunsets and sunrises have eluded us. As the sun set behind the mountains on the other side of the water you can’t help but take a moment and absorb it.

Sunset at Santa Monica Pier

The Sun sets over hills and buildings in Texas. This is a different place.

The Drive back

I think we checked everyone’s blood pressure once or twice on a big Bus in LA. I am grateful that no-one thought of the idea of trying to drive individual cars into town. It would have been the most stressful nightmare ever. I got a neat time-lapse video from the front of the bus. The most memorable part was the Verret siblings placing bets on what the car was in front of the bus based on the tail lights. That and our safe return to the seaside was a great relief.

Farewell Dinner

Something from our business travels that is ingrained is a farewell party. We had secured a yacht for just the family to tour the inner harbor and have a nice dinner. The name of the Yacht was Mojo.

On many levels it was the most appropriate name to end our trip. For the Verret family, this was a huge success of a family reunion that TJ and Ruth would have been proud of. When generations start having kids and getting busy it can be hard to pull it together. But their example of reunions when they were alive were tattooed on the minds of a younger generation.

For Michele and I, it was a new beginning. Time for us to get our own MOJO back. It was a tough trip as Michele had to pace herself and take one day to just lay in bed and rest. The trip was going so well that when we got back from the Bus I believed we could walk home. Thankfully, others so how beat Michele was and insisted on giving us a ride to our house.

It has been a long time since our family took a vacation together. All of us together. We have had vacations with one or two of our children, but not all four. Everyone had their spouse or significant other along. It set a tone for our own family getaways in the future.

The family

For myself? The months preparing for this trip have been therapy. I have a passion for Travel so Milton and Linda knew who to call. We went through a number of potential locations to settle on Newport Beach (which was an excellent choice). We had to get EVERYONE going to make sure they had their airline tickets. The Bus (LA Coach) took a number of weeks to identify the best option and they were actually the cheapest! Need a bus in LA look up my comments on YELP. The Yacht selection and making sure we had the food choices and getting everyone there. It was all something to think about and work on while we traversed some of the hardest days of the treatments. I am happy.

Back home to PT and Doctors

We are not done with Doctors and hospitals yet. Next week, we meet with our Doctor to go over the maintenance plan. This last Monday, we had blood work and her numbers are not back to normal. We are looking forward to them being more normal in the weeks to come. Michele started physical therapy and is going to follow the program to regain her strength.

Her energy and fire in the heart are definitely back. Her physical strength will take time to regain normal. In time, this will come back as well.

I will update everyone next week when we know more about the maintenance cycle. Keep the prayers and thoughts coming our way. Each day builds upon the next.

Two palms standing strong

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