Sunday, July 16, 2006
I'm going home today. I'm a little sad that my vacation is coming to an end. My train leaves Irvine at 1:30, and I have to take two buses to get there. If I hurry and get checked out of my motel, I'll have a little bit of time to stop at Joann's which I saw yesterday while I was riding the bus. I look in the yellow pages and there are several Joann's listed, but I figure it's the one in Costa Mesa. I write down the address and phone number; I'll call later for the cross-street so I'll know where to get off the bus.
I get checked out and set out to find the Omelet restaurant around the corner that sounds interesting. Unfortunately when I get to the shopping center, there's only an empty space where the restaurant once was. Bummer. Okay, now what? I remember a Marie Callander's down the street somewhere, but I don't see it on the next block, so I give up. Once I get to Joann's I'll find somewhere to get breakfast.
I cross the street and wait for Bus 55. While I'm waiting I call Joann's and they tell me they're at Harbor and Wilson. I catch the bus and get off at the right bus stop. I look around for a breakfast restaurant, but I don't really see anything. Another bummer. Okay, so where's Joann's? I stop at one of the businesses and ask. It's in the corner across the parking lot. I'm still wondering about breakfast and I see a donut place. Not quite what I was in the mood for, so I start walking toward Joann's, hoping to find something better. I find Brandee's, a mom-and-pop kind of Starbucks. There are a couple of breakfast sandwiches, but not really what I have in mind. When I explain what I'm thinking of, the gal offers to make me a bacon, eggs and toast breakfast. How wonderful! I get an orange juice out of the cooler and sit down to wait for my meal.
After breakfast I'm off to Joann's. It's small, but that's okay. I head to the books, my favorite area. I'm hoping to take home a new quilting book this trip, to add to my library at home. I don't even care that much that I've forgotten my flyer with the 40% off coupon on it. But nothing really calls my name, so I leave empty-handed.
Out to the bus stop. The bus is ten minutes late and I'm starting to get nervous. I've got to transfer to a bus that comes once an hour and if I miss this one, the next bus will just barely get me to the train station on time. I'm wishing I'd caught an earlier Bus 55 so I wouldn't be stressed now. The bus finally comes and I ask the driver if I'll catch Bus 86 on time. He doesn't know. I don't feel any better. We get to the transfer point, the bus driver tells me where to catch Bus 86, I get on and the bus takes off immediately. That was close. Now I can relax.
It's a long ride out to the train station at Barranca and Ada in Irvine. Somewhere along the line I realize that nothing looks familiar. Then I figure out that it's a different bus, different route. Duhhhh. As we turn onto Ada, I tell the driver I want to get off at Barranca, but I don't know how far it is. The last thing I want to do is miss my stop and have to walk an extra half mile or something. The driver lets me off at the proper corner, across the street from the station.
I have an hour to kill before my train comes, so I sip a bottle of water from the snack cafe while I sit at one of the tables in the shade. On a hunch, I check at the Amtrak desk to see which track the train will come on. I'm glad I asked, because it's coming on the other side and I have to use the bridge to cross over to the correct side. It takes a couple of minutes to go up three stories, cross over and down three stories. If I hadn't checked ahead of time, I probably would have missed my train, because they stay in the station only for a few minutes. Whoo!
On the train to Los Angeles, then to the Amtrak bus to Bakersfield. There's only a half-hour layover between the train and bus. Forget about getting something to eat or using the bathroom, for fear of missing the bus. Once I find a seat on the bus I use the tiny on-bus restroom. I recommend you use the facility while the bus is still parked. When the bus is in motion, you may be knocked around like a pinball.
I sleep much of the way to Bakersfield, and I think most of the other passengers are doing the same. Once in Bakersfield I board the train and find a seat. It's dinner time so I head to the cafe car. There's quite a line and it takes about half an hour to get to the front. I get a hot dog, pretzels, apple juice and bottled water. I'll be home in a few hours.
Back in my hometown, my car is still at the station and in one piece. I drive the 20 minutes across town to my house. My Southern California Adventure is over.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
My destinations today: Piecemakers Country Store (quilt store) in Costa Mesa; movie at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa; Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach.
I don't bother with breakfast at the motel in order to get to Piecemakers. I catch Bus 55, buy an All Day Pass for $3.00, transfer to Bus 178; I get off at Adams and Harbor Blvd, according to map found at Piecemakers website. The address is 1720 Adams and I look for numbers in store windows to help me figure out which direction to walk. I see a mailman so I ask him where 1720 is; he tells me it's two blocks away. I've gotten off the bus too soon...oh, well. When I ask, he tells me I'm on the even side of the street, an important thing to know to save extra walking.
I am partly in search of the quilt store and partly trying to find a place to have breakfast. As usual, I keep my eyes peeled as I walk. I get to the end of the first block, and see a couple of restaurants in the shopping center across the street, but they sound like lunch and dinner places, not breakfast. I cross anyway, walk toward the grocery store, and pop my head into one of the businesses asking for restaurant advice. The woman tells me there's a Coco's Restaurant across the street and a Starbucks around the corner. I end up at Starbucks where I have a Frappucino and blueberry coffee cake.
I hit the pavement again and walk two blocks to Piecemakers Country Store (1720 Adams at Mesa Verde). The building is big and I can't wait to see what's inside. As it turns out this is more than a quilt store. You can buy supplies and take classes for other crafts here, but there are also rooms and rooms of country-style decorations for sale. Not only that, it has a little country cafe and I can imagine ladies meeting for lunch here. I buy a couple of pieces of fabric, follow the Yellow Brick Road to the antiques and clearance annex in the back, then go out to the corner to catch Bus 178 again. If you're in the Costa Mesa area, be sure to visit Piecemakers.
I've decided to skip Triangle Square for the movie, and I'll try to catch a flick at Fashion Island instead. I transfer to Bus 55 and ride to Fashion Island in Newport Beach. When I get there I pick up a brochure with a map of the mall, sit down to figure out the places I'd like to see and circle them on the map. Lunch is next, and I decide on P.F. Chang, an Asian restaurant, where I have a good view of the ocean.
ZGallerie -- my first visit, love it; need to check out locations near my home
Restoration Hardware -- bed and bath place, very nice
Bloomingdale's Home -- first visit to any Bloomie's, also nice
Gary's Island Home -- tropical style decorating, buy a notecard with painting of Laguna Beach's Main Beach where I was yesterday
Barnes and Noble -- bookstores are must-sees on my trips
I pick up a strawberry sorbetto at the gelato stand, then head to the free concert by one of the Righteous Brothers. I'm pretty far away from the stage but can hear pretty well. Some female country singer performs a few songs before the main event, and I get bored so I go in search of the movie theater. Generally I go to the movies only on vacation. I'm hoping to see The Devil Wears Prada, but it isn't playing at this theater and I'm not thrilled about anything that is playing here, so I decide to just go back to the motel.
It's still relatively early when I step off Bus 55, and I stop at Denny's on the corner where I have a grilled cheese sandwich and a soda. Then I head on back to the motel. I'll be going home tomorrow. I review my bus schedule, watch TV and go to sleep.
My destination today is Laguna Beach, my first time there. I have a ticket for tonight to Pageant of the Masters, a live show that re-creates famous paintings. The show starts at 8:30 and lasts 1.5 hours. That gives me about 45 minutes to get on the last bus out of Laguna Beach to Fashion Island in Newport Beach, where I'll have to take a taxi to get back to the motel. I've been assured that the theater is close to the bus stop. If I miss the bus, I'll have to take a taxi--megabucks for the 11-mile trip. As it is, I'm expecting to pay $20 for half that distance.
After continental breakfast at the motel I stop by the front desk to double check the taxi's phone number. Out to the bus stop to catch Bus 55 to Newport Transportation Center near Fashion Island. OCTA, the Orange County bus system, doesn't issue transfers. It costs $1.25 to ride each bus, but All-Day passes are $3.00; I buy one of those. When I get to the Transportation Center I transfer to Bus 1, going South to Laguna Beach.
I get off the bus in Laguna Beach at the Bus Station downtown. First order of business is to pick up my ticket so I board one of the free shuttles around town which goes to the Pageant. The driver assures me that it's an easy walk from the Pageant to the bus station--just 1.5 blocks--and I shouldn't have any problem tonight. Along the way to the pageant we pass Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Festival, two art exhibitions. I may check into those later.
I pick up my ticket at Will Call. Sure enough the walk back to the Bus Station is nothing. Now to discover the town. The area I'm concentrating on is small, just a few blocks square. I stroll up and down Broadway, Pacific Coast Highway, Ocean, Third, Forest and Beach Streets. There are plenty of art galleries, stores and restaurants to be found. The highlights are below.
Jamba Juice -- sip my Mango-a-go-go at Main Beach, just across Coast Highway
BJ's Brewery -- nice little restaurant where I have fish and chips for lunch; recommended by my friend Debbie
C'est La Vie Restaurant -- coffee and fruit tart on the balcony with great view of the ocean
Tivoli Too at Art-a-Fair -- enjoy iced tea near the beautiful, lush waterfall area
Hapi Sushi -- rainbow roll to go, ate at Main Beach
Cedar Creek Inn -- also recommended by friend Debbie, but looked too nice for the way I was dressed
Zinc Cafe and Sundried Tomato Cafe -- from Rachael Ray's $40 a Day; nice-looking, but I don't feel that I'm dressed well enough
Lumber Yard -- little mall, nice place to rest a while at the umbrella'd tables
Laguna Drugs -- lots of pretty decorative items
Thrift Shop -- near the Bus Station; bought turquoise pin for $2.50
Art For The Soul -- colorful, creative items
Wild Oats -- natural foods grocery store; good place to buy picnic items to eat at the beach
I love the ocean, but there are lots of people at this beach, and I miss the relative solitude of Pacifica, just below San Francisco. Nevertheless, I'm very happy to be here.
In the late afternoon I take a shuttle to check out Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Festival. I learn that Art-A-Fair gives free admission to people who have a ticket to the Pageant. Sawdust offers a $1 discount. I don't have time to see both, so I choose Art-A-Fair, a maze of booths displaying original art. I buy a watercolor notecard from one of the booths.
In the evening I catch a shuttle to the pageant. Once in, I look around at the art on display, then make my way up to my seat. I may have time to look at the art again after the show. The show takes place outdoors, and I'm glad I've brought my sweater. The show is enjoyable, certainly worth seeing. My favorite scenes are the statue and figurine pieces. I'm amazed at how much the people look like bronze, gold and porcelain. There's a live orchestra, which interests me since I'm a professional pianist.
When the show ends I look at my watch. It's 10:30! The show is out half an hour later than I was told. I've got 15 minutes to get to the bus station. The problem is that there are hundreds of people all trying to get out through one set of doors, I'm near the top of the theater, and my part of the line isn't moving. I'm starting to panic now. When the line finally moves I hurry as fast as I can, and get to the bus station at 10:45. The station is empty, and there's no way to tell if the bus has come yet. Thankfully Bus 1 shows up a few minutes later. What a relief! I call a cab to meet me at the Newport Transportation Center, but none shows up after half an hour. After a second call, the taxi finally comes and takes me to my motel. The taxi fare is about $15 and I give the driver a $5 tip.
I make my plans for tomorrow, watch TV and go to sleep.
Friday, July 14, 2006
I'm taking Amtrak to Southern California for a four-day vacation. It will be a long day, taking the train to Bakersfield, connecting bus to Los Angeles, another train to Irvine, and then two city buses to Costa Mesa. I've done my homework, know which city buses I need, and have printouts in hand.
On the train I meet George who is also going to Irvine. He will stay the night with a friend, then fly to Florida for a nine-day road trip with some buddies. It turns out that George travels by train often, as I do, and we share travel tips, stories and dreams with each other. George has never been to the Los Angeles train station, and my helpful hints only serve to make him a bit nervous, so we decide to stick together until we get to Irvine.
During the layover at Los Angeles, George and I get a sandwich special (sandwich, chips and soda) at the bagel cafe in the main waiting room, and eat at the nearby tables. Afterwards we take a little stroll outside, then sit in the pretty, peaceful courtyard near the bus parking. On the other side of the waiting room is another courtyard with a couple of fountains and lots of tables and umbrellas. We sit out there for a while, also. I've been through this train station many times, but never realized such a treasure existed. I know where I'll eat my lunch next time.
We get back on the train and shortly arrive at Irvine. I've got to figure out where the bus is, so George and I say a quick good-bye. We've already exchanged email addresses, and promise to keep in touch. I have to ask several people, but finally find out where to find Bus 211, and hurry out to the corner. I don't have to wait too long before the bus comes. The ride involves a transfer to bus 55, and 1.5 hours later I arrive within half a block of my motel at 17th and Superior in Costa Mesa. My research has paid off once again.
I check in, then call my son Robbie to tell him I arrived safely. There's a shopping center next to the motel, and I wonder if there's a grocery store, so I call the main desk to ask. There's no grocery store there, but there is one a couple of blocks away. I head out, find the grocery store and buy snacks. Then I have dinner at Outback Restaurant, dining outside on the patio. I'm all alone out there, and there isn't much to look at, just the traffic; but I relish the moment, enjoying the fact that I'm in Southern California. I relive the day's happenings and look forward to what the next three days will bring.
After dinner I go back to the motel, make plans for tomorrow, watch TV, then go to sleep.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I made the top for this quilt from my stash last fall. I was experimenting with several ideas in the design, and the quilt top was set aside be finished later, eventually to be given to a local children's center. As it turned out, the quilt became a fundraiser to benefit Al, a co-worker who retired from our office last week to be a missionary in India. For months I had wanted to do something to help raise money for Al's send-off, but I had several other projects in the works and didn't have time to make a new quilt from scratch. Then I remembered this quilt top, and finished the quilt in a couple of days. I spent $12 on backing and floss for tying; the quilt was raffled in the office, and raised $182! Some people donated cash without buying raffle tickets. All told, several hundred dollars was raised, which bought boxes and boxes of school supplies and little hygiene kits (toothbrush, toothpaste, band-aids, etc.). Al will take these with him to India. God bless you, Al!
Here are two quilts that were recently donated to a local school's Relay For Life team and raffled to raise funds for Relay For Life. The quilts are named Hydrangeas For Angela I and II, in memory of Angela Tomlinson, who died from cancer in 2002. Angela loved hydrangeas, and the quilts feature a beautiful hydrangea print in two colorways. Members of the online charity quilt group SayreLoveQuilt and local quilters contributed blocks in colors that coordinated with the hydrangea fabric. I sewed the quilts together.
Chris D. Richmond, Missouri
Lillian A. Merced, California
Jodean M. San Carlos, California
Julia S. Kalispell, Montana
Phyllis V. Turlock, California
Martha B. Houston, Texas
Debbie A. Modesto, California
Last October at the Pacific International Quilt Show in Santa Clara, I found a print that features all kinds of games like Chinese Checkers and Scrabble, just right for Lola. I chose the Card Trick block for the quilt and will use the game fabric as sashing or a border. Most of the blocks are done. Lola's birthday is this month, so I'm hoping to get the quilt to her before July is over. I can probably pull it off. I think I'll call the quilt "I Won!"
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
I had a pleasant ride to Poppy Fabrics (Broadway and Pleasant Valley), which was smaller than I had imagined, but a very nice store with lots of special fabrics like silks, linens and wools. This is not a quilt shop, but I found a couple of nice Paris-themed cottons and bought a yard or so of each. I'm planning to make quilts for myself from the fabric, one for my bedroom and another for cuddling up with while I watch TV. This was my first trip to Poppy Fabrics, and I'll definitely go back. My seamstress friend Kaye will want to come with me next time.
I caught Bus 51 back to BART. A nice lady invited me to sit with her in the front seat. As the ride progressed, the bus filled to capacity (sardines come to mind), and I thanked the lady several times for letting me sit with her. The bus driver was grumpy and funny at the same time. I laughed a lot. When I got off the bus I thanked him for the ride and said it was very entertaining. I must admit I was a little nervous about taking a bus in Oakland, but this was a nice experience.
Back on BART, I headed north, getting off at Downtown Berkeley. A pleasant walk of four blocks down Shattuck brought me to Stonemountain and Daughter. This is a not a quilt shop, either, but they have a large selection of cottons, many half off. I've been to this store several times, never leaving empty-handed. I bought a cute pink poodle-themed fabric and a couple of polka dot prints--a project for my new granddaughter Reghan, and my real reason for the trip.
I needed to kill some time to let the rush hour traffic thin out. It was dinner time but I wasn't that hungry so I got a Jamba Juice. I sat on a sidewalk bench while I sipped my Mango-a-go-go and watched the people and the traffic go by. Then I parked myself at Barnes and Noble and skimmed through a pile of books. An hour or so later I got back on BART and headed back to Pleasanton. It was just after 9:30 when I drove up to the sushi place in Tracy where I had hoped to eat, but it had just closed for the night. I settled for Olive Garden and had a nice dinner and dessert. All in all, a very nice trip.