Southern California - December 22 - January 1, 2016

Again, we wanted to go someplace that was warm at Christmas time. Last year we went to Northern Florida. This year we thought it would be good to go back to California, after many years. As it turns out, all of the time we were in Southern California, it was warmer back in Houston! The high temperatures there were in the 50s and lows in the upper 30s, so coats we brought were given extensive use. But, after starting out with some rain, the weather was nice and clear the rest of of time there.

Our wanderings took us up the coast to as far as the Piedras Blancas Light Station, and as far south as San Juan Capistrano. It was a nice trip, and we got to do most of the things we planned, with a few extras thrown in.

The state tried to make us feel welcome by having a grass fire that closed down Highway 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway and made us detour through the mountains, along with a few thousand other driving companions. As well, they arranged a magnitude 4.4 earthquake east of Los Angeles -- we didn't feel anything on the coast.

It was a good trip and we enjoyed seeing CA again, but leaving it for TX was nice too.

[Tuesday] We got up very early and drove to IAH and flew to LAX on United. We rented a car at LAX and drove up US-101 and CA-1 to San Simeon. We checked into Pelican Inn for 2 nights. It's a wonderful place to stay, right across the road from the ocean.

 < Pelican Inn.

Click on the small photos to enlarge them.

[Wednesday] We spent the entire day at the Hearst Castle. We took three tours - Grand Rooms, Upstairs Rooms and Cottages & Kitchen.
In 1919, Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst hired San Francisco architect Julia Morgan to build a hilltop house on what he called his "ranch at San Simeon." Their collaboration on the project lasted from 1919 to 1947. Morgan designed this Mediterranean Revival estate and filled it with art and antiques from Hearst's vast collection. Hearst formally named the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" (The Enchanted Hill). Today, Hearst Castle is a California State Park, which, for more than 50 years, has shared the Castle's story with millions of visitors.

 < The Pacific rolling into San Simeon near our hotel.

 < Hearst Castle Visitor Center.  < The view from Hearst Castle.

 <  <  < Hearst Castle entrance.

 < Banquet room.  < Sitting room.  < Library.  < Hearst bedroom.

 < Another library.  < Indoor swimming pool.

[Thursday] We drove up CA-1 to Piedras Blancas Light Station and took a 2-hour tour of the station. The lady that conducted our group was excellent.
Afterwards, we drove back south on CA-1 to San Simeon and ate lunch at Sebastian's General Store. This is the oldest store building along the north coast of San Luis Obispo County. Built in 1852 at Whaling Point, 1/2 mile westward, it was moved in 1878 to its present location. Operated by the Sebastian family for 1/2 century, it is now owned and operated by J.C. & Louise Sebastian.
We dodged rain and drove back north to see the Elephant Seals birthing beach along the highway. Then we drove to San Luis Obisbo where we spent the night at San Luis Creek Lodge.

 <  <  <  <  <  < Piedras Blancas Light Station tour.

 < Sebastian's General Store.  < Elephant Seals along the beach.  < More beautiful coast.

[Friday] We started out in downtown and visited The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Built in 1772, this is the 5th in a chain of 21 missions stretching from San Diego to Sonoma. They were getting ready to start Christmas mass and we sat inside until they were almost ready to begin services.
We walked around the downtown, then we drove south on Hwy CA-1 to Pismo Beach and stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Grove.
Then we continued south past Vandenberg AFB and Lompac to Carpinteria, where we stayed at the Best Western Plus.

 < Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

 < San Luis Obispo street scene.

 <  < Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.

 <  <  < Along the CA coast.

[Saturday] Watching the news this morning in the restaurant at the hotel, we saw that US-101 and the coast highway CA-1 eastward were closed due to a fire in the mountains between here and Ventura, where we are going today. We detoured CA-150 and CA-33 around the fire and got back on US-101 south. We went to the Getty Villa and spent the day looking at the exhibits there. We took the architectural and the garden culinary tours.

 < Lake Casitas on Hwy 150 on our detour.

 <  <  <  <  <  < Getty Villa.

[Sunday] Today we spent the entire day at Ronald Reagan presidential library. The library contains many rooms detailing Reagan's presidency. Included in the exhibits is Air Force One Tail Number 27000, a Boeing 707. The airplane flew seven U.S. presidents - Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W.Bush, Clinton and W. Bush. At the end of the day, we drove to Brea and spent the night at the Embassy suites Hotel.

 <  <  <  <  < President Ronald Regan Library.

[Monday] We spent the morning at the Richard Nixon presidential library in Yorba Linda. The library was under reconstruction, so some areas were closed, but it was still worth the visit.
We then drove to Garden Grove and visited the Crystal Cathedral which is now called the Christ cathedral. The church was designed by Architect Philip Johnson and built by Robert Schuller in 1981 and used by his congregation until 2010, when his ministry went bankrupt and sold the campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for use as the diocese's new cathedral. The main arboretum is currently under renovation and scheduled to open in 2017. The campus is quite impressive.

President Richard Nixon Library.  < President Richard Nixon Library.

Christ Catedral. <  <  <  <  < Christ Catedral.

[Tuesday] Today we drove down to San Juan Capistrano and toured Mission San Juan Capistrano. First we went inside the new mission. Afterwards, we toured the old 1776 mission compound. You will remember that this is where the Cliff Swallows return every March 19th. They migrate 15,000 miles from Goya, Argentina in large groups.
Afterwards we drove down to Dana Point and walked down a number of stairs to the shore, and watched whales spouting in the air and surfers surfing in the rolling waves. We checked into the Dana Point Marina Inn for the night.

 <  < The new mission compound.

 <  <  <  < The old mission compound.

Pacific coast near Dana Point. < Pacific coast near Dana Point.  < The earthquake.  < Dana Point harbor.

[Wednesday] We drove from Dana Point up the beach and stopped along the way in various places like Laguna Beach. We ended up in Long Beach at the Queen Mary which is now a hotel. We spent the night at the Queen Mary. We ate supper at the Sir Winston Restaurant onboard. .

 < The Queen Mary.  < Shopping area.  < Outside deck.

 < Long hallway on our floor.  < Amateur Radio Room.  < Dining room.

 < View from one of our port holes.  < Samples of all the varieties of wood used inside.

 < QM Control room.

[Thursday] After spending the morning on the Queen Mary looking around, we drove up the coast from Long Beach through Rancho Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach up to our Hyatt Place hotel next to LAX airport.

 < Pacific coast north from Long Beach.  < Surprised to learn that LA has a good rail transit system.

[Friday] We checked out of the hotel and drove up CA-1 and Sepulveda Blvd through Beverly Hills and then to the Fox Car Rental, where we turned the car in and caught the shuttle bus to LAX. Our United flight left a little late but arrived in IAH ahead of time. We got back home about 10:45 PM.

This draws to a close our brief vacation to Southern California. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another travel adventure.

Goodbye for now,
Lawson & Kay

February 8, 2016

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.(1 Thes. 5:23-24 NASB)

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