San Clemente, CA

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For those of us old enough to have been around during the presidency of Richard Nixon, we would recall that when the Nixons were able to take a break from Washington, they would head to San Clemente, CA, to “The Western White House”.  They owned an oceanfront estate there called “La Casa Pacifica”.  We weren’t able to stay at that particular property but we followed the Nixons model and took a short break in San Clemente, located about midway along the Pacific coast between LA and San Diego.

San Clemente, CA

We’ve driven past San Clemente many times, traveling on Interstate 5 to or from San Diego.  This time we wanted to take a couple of days to explore this beautiful town and the surrounding area.  We enjoyed some fresh Pacific seafood and some nice hikes.

One of our special outings was to Mission San Juan Capistrano.  Many people know of the “miracle” of the swallows that return to this town every year on March 19th.  The story behind this is that a pastor of the mission was walking through town when he saw one of the shopkeepers using a broom to swat away the birds that were nesting in the eves of his shop.  He considered the birds to be a nuisance and wanted to get rid of them.  The pastor said, “Come on swallows.  I’ll give you shelter.  Come to the Mission”.  Since then the birds have returned to the Mission every year.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was established on November 1, 1776.  This is one of the 21 missions that would ultimately be established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain and spread Christianity to the native peoples of California.  After 1812, the Mission began to decline.  Subsequently, it was sold at auction and was a private ranch property for 20 years.  Eventually, after California became a state, President Abraham Lincoln returned the property to the Catholic Church.  Today you can see the results from many years of preservation and restoration efforts.

Oakland, CA

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Next up on our mini-vacation to the San Francisco Bay Area was a quick stop in Oakland to visit with Valerie’s cousin, Marcy and her significant other, Marc.  They have an apartment near Jack London Square in Oakland.  This part of the city is very lively with lots of restaurants, breweries and other activities.  Their apartment is in one of the recently completed buildings nearby.

Waterfront at Jack London Square

We started our visit with a stroll around Jack London Square and they treated us to a wine tasting at Rosenblum Cellars, a winery right on the Oakland waterfront.  Afterward, we had a terrific brunch at Fat Lady restaurant.  In the evening we went to a nearby brewery that was having a comedy night with 5 local stand up comedians.

We started off our Sunday with a nice hike in nearby Redwood Regional Park.  This a huge park with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the hills east of Oakland.  There are some nice spots with good views to the west to Oakland and the San Francisco Bay beyond.  After working up a good appetite, we had brunch at one of their favorite spots, the Chop Bar which very recently moved to a new location which is just downstairs from their apartment.  Quite delicious.

Our time with Marcy was all too brief but filled with fun activities, food and beverages.

Next:  Oakley, CA

July in Lake Tahoe

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Lake Tahoe

We’ve had the great pleasure to spend all of July at Lake Tahoe, specifically, Zephyr Cove, NV, at the home of our friends, Steve and Wende.  Part of the time we were here alone pet sitting their two dogs and part of the time was with Steve, Wende and Brady.

Snow capped mountains, deep blue lake, clear skies and daily high temps of 80 degrees, plus or minus a couple of degrees.  It’s a near perfect combination.  We have taken many hikes and bicycle rides, shared a 4 hour ATV adventure through the mountains with Steve and Brady, spent a half day boating on Lake Tahoe and many enjoyable hours visiting with the family.  We even had the opportunity to attend the American Century Championship, an annual celebrity golf tournament featuring 60 to 70 sports and entertainment stars including, Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen, Steph Curry, Tony Romo, Charles Barkley, Justin Timberlake and many more.

South Lake Tahoe offers a wide variety of ways to spend a summer day from the beaches to the mountains.  There are all kinds of activities on and above the water and on the beaches.  The same can be said for the mountains.  The only downside is that weekends can be very busy, especially at the beaches.

We plan to stay here for the first 3 weeks of August as well, with the exception of a short side trip.