photos - Dad's visit, Jun 2004
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Catching up with Pop in California

June 3-6, 2004 - California locales

So let's start with the fact that Wednesday, 4 Jun 04 was possibly the worst day I've had at work in a long time. I won't go into it here. But I had originally planned to drive to LA after work on Wednesday, but I nixed that as I was a tad out of sorts. Getting precious little sleep that night, I woke up early Thursday and headed on down to LA in the morning, hitting no traffic once again. Yay!!! I then bypassed the typical Duarte stopping point, as I wasn't going to see Mom this time. Yep, Dad and Pat had come into town to visit the Barnes' and to get out of Puerto Rico for a little while. And of course to see me! Duh! I drove down to Long Beach where they were staying on my Uncle Richard's boat. I guess that's one thing that they just couldn't get over. They had to stay on a boat. I don't get it, but I don't need to. They're on a boat, and they're happy. That's all that matters. So I'm pulling my car into the parking lot, and my dad is sitting at the top of the gangway that leads to the marina. He looks up as my car passes, and after giving it a look, he looks back down and continues reading, not acknowledging my presence at all. Hmmm.... that must be a good book, methinks. Anyways, I get out of the car and start talking loudly at him and he sorta gets shocked as he didn't know that it was me. He admits that he thought my car looked like a Mercedes and didn't believe it could be my car. I KNEW those chrome accents would pay off. Check em out if you don't believe me! Click here and here for shots of the smooth stylings my car has now. Anyways, I bring my stuff down to the boat as I'm going to be staying on the boat for the next two nights. We head immediately to lunch as I had been promised (In-N-Out was the original promise, but that would have to wait a little while) and go to the local Hof's Hut, which is a fantastic Denny's type restaurant but much better. Yum.....French Dips.... We then go to the Beach!!!!! I love that idea, as I definitely miss the ocean. Pat has ulterior motives though, as she is a jewelry designer who uses seaglass as her centerpieces in her work. It's quite attractive jewelry once she's finished with it, and even on the flight here, the flight attendant wanted to buy Pat's necklace she was wearing. Pat - start selling this stuff on the Web!!! So while we walked up and down the amazingly clean Huntington Beach, Pat was getting distraught. This beach turned out to be too clean for her tastes as there was no seaglass. But I enjoyed being down there and just chilling with them, talking and watching the waves break. And the waves were definitely breaking there. It was awesome. Afterwards, we chilled back on the boat, drank some alcoholic beverages (my first!!!) (okay, I lie) (I drink alcohol a lot - beer is good), and then after a little bit of rest, we went to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant called Enrique's, which apparently is quite popular as we had to wait for about half an hour just to get in the restaurant. Worth the wait, as I had some delectable carnitas. That is probably my favorite Mexican dish. As for Tex-Mex food, I love Carne Guisada the best, but I can't get that anywhere outside of Texas. Damn. We then went back and rested up for the next day's adventure.

Which was started off with an early morning hike to Henninger Flats in the San Gabriel Mountains. The three of us plus my Uncle Richard drove up REAL early to Altadena and got on the trailhead right at 7 in the morning. Meaning I woke up at 5:30. Ugh. Anyways, there is history to this place for me and my Dad, as he would frequently take me hiking here when I was closer to 10 years old and he lived in California still. That's a long time ago. Like 17 years ago. Ouch. So going back here was exciting and very cool, as I got to revisit a part of my life I hadn't experienced in a long time. Also interesting was how steep this freakin' trail was. It's a fire road now, so it's not like I'm brandishing a machete and fighting off pumas, but the road up is steep. And we were hoofing it pretty fast. By the time those three miles were behind us, I was feeling like I had just had a good workout. It was a good time doing it though, and the view was pretty good, although not nearly as good as if the Santa Ana winds had been blowing through and clearing out the smog. You can see the pictures of the hike below. We got back down the trail and made it back to Long Beach, where we FINALLY had In-N-Out. Even though these restaurants are here in Vegas, I don't go to them all that often. So I was totally jonesing for a Double Double. Yum. I need to work out just thinking about them. After that, the afternoon was a little free so I headed over to the movie theatre that was nearby. Seriously, where my Uncle's boat is at the center of all that is good in the universe. Hof's Hut, In-N-Out, Barnes and Noble, Albertson's, Tower Records/Good Guys, and a movie theatre are all within walking distance of his boat. I would never leave that square mile of real estate if I actually lived there. But back to the story. I went and saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and loved it. Even if I had to wait in a pre-boarding line for 45 minutes, as it was opening day and all. It was surprising to have to wait like I did, considering it was a 3 o'clock showing. Great movie, and I'll review it more thoroughly later. Highly recommended! Afterwards, I made it back to the boat and we chilled again for a while, and then we went to dinner at Hof's Hut. We then got some rest as a large drive lay ahead of us, as we were going up to Hanford, California the next day.

Hanford is north of Bakersfield, which itself is like 100 miles north of Los Angeles. It is also in the middle of the Central Valley of California, which is utterly flat and completely covered in farmland. It's where almost all the produce in the world seems to come from. So there's not much to see when driving, which I discovered that morning. Why were we going up to a seemingly out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere city? This was where my Uncle Steve and Aunt Gladys lived, and in addition to us coming up to see them, my Aunt Dana and Uncle Paul were coming down from the Chico area. This was going to be the first time most of my Barnes family would be all together since before my grandmother had died, which was 4 years ago. A lot of them had come down for my promotion ceremony last year, but Dana didn't. So this time I knew I'd get to see all my aunts and uncles, plus my dad. It promised to be very cool, and it was. I had missed seeing them, and the only drawback was that my cousins Richard and Wendy weren't there. So almost a complete reunion....but not quite. We all went out for Chinese food for dinner (a Barnes tradition) and then got some very good ice cream at a place that was no kidding only an ice cream parlor. Who knew these places still existed? As a point of reference note for years from now, this was also the day when former President Ronald Reagan died. A great president who suffered so much these past years - it really is a blessing that he's free from Alzheimers now.

The next day we had a farewell breakfast (I had Tri Tip and Eggs - now that's some good eatin') and then we were on our way. I wasn't driving back to LA though, so I had to say goodbye to my Dad and Pat as they were going back to LA. It was a great visit even if only for a few days. I am fairly sure I'll be heading down to Puerto Rico again for the December time period, but who knows? Roosevelt Roads NAS is on its way to being closed, and they are having to move the boat, at least they think they do. Who knows. Anyways, back to the story, I drove back to Vegas from Hanford, which involved cutting across from Bakersfield on the 58 and literally thru the middle of the Mojave Desert. It was interesting to do this drive for the first time, and I got to see some beautiful California country at the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas and then watch it evolve into the Desert. As I was driving by Mojave, I saw the airliner graveyard there from the freeway, which is quite surprising to see, yet also very cool to see as well. There's just tons and tons of giant jumbo jets just sitting out there cooking in the heat. I guess there is as good as place as any. Eventually you hit Barstow, and then it was just like the typical LA-Vegas run. But just tack on 2 more hours. 5 and a half hours later, I was back at home, getting my car washed. And here I am now. Typing away!


Pat and Dad at Huntington Beach

The Beach!!!!

Me and Dad

Oooh... diagonal picture of waves!

Chilling at the beach

Approaching the Henninger Flats trailhead

At the trailhead



View of the foothills and Eaton Canyon

The bridge over Eaton Canyon wash

Still low on the trail

Heading up the trail

Somewhere midway up with me and Pat

Sun is rising and we're getting higher (sts)

Higher view of the foothills

Even higher

Looking down at the trail

A seat at the edge of the world - how poetic

Even higher on the trail

Me and Sophie at the top! We made it to the Flats!

View from the sign

Dad and Uncle Richard are almost there

All of us are glad to be there.... now we just have to get back down

Dad and Pat

Inside the museum at the top. This is the porcelain cap display

A relief map of the hike

Beautiful trees...sigh

The view from Henninger

Sweaty nasty me at the top

Distant view of Henninger Flats

Back in Long Beach on the marina bridge

The main channel thru the marina

The Marina where the lodging was

California farmland north of Bakersfield

A rest stop. How exciting.

Pat, me and Steve


Dad and Dana

Pat, Gladys and Steve

Richard, Diane and Dad

Dana at Hong Kong restaurant

Steve and Gladys

The farewell breakfast at Ryan's restaurant. Good food.

Group shot!

Crows at a desert rest stop. They wouldn't shut up.

Farther back view

The view of the road ahead. Only 50 miles or so to Vegas at this point




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