My Books

Monday, June 5, 2017

California, here we come, Part Five

From San Diego, we took a trip inland on Hwy 8 to El Centro in the Imperial Valley and the Anza Borrego desert. For visitors from mountainous Switzerland, the desert has a special fascination. El Centro is also the place where part of the Polkinhorn family lives, so it was exciting for my Swiss family to meet them for the first time.

But first, we made another surprise visit to a dear member of the "Polkinhorn Clan," Harry Polkinhorn, in San Diego. He and I used to live in Switzerland and he knew my family there, but hadn't seen them in over twenty years. So, it was a wonderful surprise when we showed up unannounced.



Our trip east on Hwy 8 brought us through the mountains and into the Anza Borrego desert. I remember well how impressed  I was the first time I took this trip many years ago. The mysterious landscape and the purple/orange colors of the rocks never cease to fascinate me.





In El Centro, close to the Mexican border, we met a few other members of the Polkinhorn Clan, my ex-husbands brother and my sister-in-law and their daughter. It was a first get-together for everyone and we truly enjoyed it.


Rae Lynn, my sister-in-law, accompanied us into the desert to Yuma, Arizona. Yuma is a quaint city with a pleasant climate (it does get quite hot in summer), so in winter the town gets inundated with the so-called "Snowbirds." These are people from states such as Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and others (mainly retirees) who want to escape the brutal cold and spend the winter in sunny and warm Arizona. At this time of the year, not much is going but during winter, this is supposed to be quite an active place. By the way, it is alleged that Billy the Kid spent time in jail here. Yuma also has some excellent restaurants and funky bars.






















The next few photos show the inside of the restaurant we had lunch at. You'll see quite a few celebrities of the entertainment business and the famous civil rights leader!






One of the highlights of our journey into the desert were the sand dunes with their otherworldly ambience. They are simply breathtaking.









Thank you, Rae Lynn, Billy and Harry Polkinhorn, for your kind hospitality!

And a heartfelt thank you to my dear friends, Jeanie and Bernie Lauer Van Dam, and my Ladies Club (Martha, Relly, and Yasue) for making my family feel so welcome!
 


Unfortunately, everything has to come to an end. The two intense and wonderful weeks are over and soon it was time to say goodbye.


At the airport once again, this time to fly back.Bye and see you soon!


Back in Switzerland, where it was definitely a little colder. But home sweet home nevertheless.

Friday, June 2, 2017

California, here we come, Part Four

After our trip north, we drove back to Los Angeles, relaxed a few days in Santa Monica, and then went onward to San Diego and the surrounding areas.

We stayed in Pacific Beach in a motel right next to the beach. I used to live in San Diego many years ago, so this trip was kind of a "down memory lane" experience for me.




One thing that surprised us was the somewhat unpredictable climate during our trip. The hottest days we spent in ... believe it or not ... San Francisco, where it's usually fresh and windy. This time people who live there actually complained about the heat! San Diego, the most southern area, on the other hand, was fairly cool, even cold at times, and it rained one day.

We explored the interesting downtown area of San Diego with its harbor and the fascinating navy ships.










Had to think of Moby Dick when I saw this beauty!



The Midway, an impressive airplane carrier, was built during World War II. It launched right after the war. Standing next to one of those amazing ships is almost scary. Can't imagine what it must have felt to actually live and work on one of those monsters!


 



My nephew, Captain Rico Spiegel, getting outfitted for his next cruise!



















 
After a drive over the Coronado Bridge to Coronado Island, we explored the famous Hotel Colorado, definitely a place for the rich and those who don't mind to splurge! The architecture though was fascinating.



More to come. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 29, 2017

California, here we come! Part Three

From San Francisco, we drove south to the wine country of Paso Robles, which also happens to be the area where some of my novels in my The Wine Lover's Daughter series take place and where I did quite a lot of research.




This time, however, we explored another venue. We drove east along Hwy 42 to the James Dean Memorial, the place where the young actor (only 24 years old) was killed in a car accident with his Porsche. There is a nice inn right next to it with memorabilia and photos of the actor. At the same time, a group of classic car fans were there as well. My nephew who is both a James Dean and a classic car fan was very happy about this.






The Paso Robles area has a lot of fun restaurants and shops and my relatives realized soon enough that clothes and shoes were quite a bit cheaper here than in Switzerland. So they shopped till they dropped, then relaxed in a restaurant or at the pool.




The following day, we headed south again to Santa Monica, checked out Hollywood (a must), and then drove to San Diego for a few days.

More to follow.

Monday, May 22, 2017

California, here we come! Part Two

The next part of our trip was a visit to San Francisco and then a drive south to the Paso Robles wine country.


For my nephew, Rico, and great-nephew, Muriel, this was the first time they experienced the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Most people probably don't know this, but one of the builders of the bridge was the Swiss-American structural engineer, Othmar Amman, who was also responsible for the design of the George Washington Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, and the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City.


A different Swiss is responsible for the design of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in downtown San Francisco. Mario Botta, from the south of Switzerland, is known for his  fascinating public and private buildings all over the world.

In fact, quite a few Swiss people made their mark in California, one of them being John Sutter (original name Johann August Suter), 19th century settler and colonizer of California. He fled from bankruptcy and financial collapse, leaving his wife and children in Switzerland, and tried to start a new life in California. After gold was discovered on his land, a turbulent personal and public history developed, which ultimately led to his ruin. More about him here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Sutter.



I love the mixture of modern and old architecture in San Francisco, a Romanesque church in front of a ultra-modern building. Somehow, the old and the new coexist in peace here.

Onward: After letting the impressions of this magnificent city sink in, we drove south toward Paso Robles, the wine country, and the James Dean crash site memorial (the latter, a first for me too!). Stay tuned!