Published: September 14th 2011September 14th 2011
Orange County, August 17-21, 2011
My brother was getting married in Orange County so we decided to make it a mini-vacation. I had enough mileage for the tickets and Dawn has a cousin in Los Alamitos who offered to have us stay there so it promised to be an nice and inexpensive trip.
The flights turned out to be non-stop but they were on American Eagle, not American like I thought. We flew out of Houston Intercontinental. Everything was fine until we landed at LAX airport. (I should have booked us into John Wayne airport but didn’t think of it.)
When we landed at LAX the plane went to a small terminal that looked like something temporary or a small town terminal, like maybe Abilene, except really crowded. After using the bathroom we had to ride a bus to the main terminal to get Dawn’s bag. The first bus filled up and we had to wait for the second one. When it left it drove down what seemed to be one of the runways with airplanes landing and taking off all around us.
After arriving at the terminal we went to baggage claim. None of the belts
were marked as to which flight they were handling but then we heard an announcement of a flight on one of the four belts so we figured we would soon hear our flight announced. After about ten minutes we wondered where everyone on our flight was and why it was taking so long for the bags to get here. I asked the woman who was announcing the flights and she said it would be on belt four. We waited a bit more and then while I was looking Dawn happened to see one of the employees taking her bag away on a cart so she stopped him and got the bag.
Needless to say we felt mistreated and urge everyone to NOT fly American Eagle into LAX, it was not a pleasant experience.
I had gotten a Dollar Rental Car and we boarded that bus for the ride to their facility. They were efficient and quickly got us a nice red Charger for our stay. Then we were off to find Dawn’s cousin’s house.
The area immediately around LAX is industrial and not very attractive like most big city airports, but Los Alamitos is a nice suburban
neighborhood near Seal Beach. We easily found the house and the hidden key to get in and got settled. Carmen and Tom have a beautiful place and they made us feel right at home. We are very grateful for their hospitality.
We had a nice dinner at Daphne’s, a nearby Greek restaurant, and then headed to Seal Beach for an evening walk. We were very surprised at how cool it was. Since we had not dressed warm enough we kept our visit short.
We were pleased to see a few electric car re-charging stations in the parking lot, however, none were in use. There is a long pier with a restaurant at the end, a Ruby’s Diner. There was a band and some well prepared spectators getting ready for a concert in a small grassy area next to the street. I say well prepared because everyone had their lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. It made think this is a regular event. There are some shops and restaurants lining the street.
The next day we met my brother Mike for lunch in Laguna Beach which is one of the many beautiful beach communities in Orange County. We
made a day of it just driving the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Alamitos down to Dana Point where the reception was going to be Saturday night.
We went to Las Brisas, a nice restaurant overlooking the beach. It was a bit pricy but good. We walked a bit along the street of shops and stopped at the Wyland Gallery and then at an ice cream place for a nice little treat.
As we drove Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) we couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the scenery was and how it seemed everyone must be rich. The homes are spectacular and the flowers are breathtaking, especially the bougainvillea It’s a wonderful drive, from Seal Beach to Dana Point and we highly recommend it.
Since the wedding and reception were quite a distance from where we were staying we decided to try to get a hotel closer to the Laguna Hills area. Using Priceline I got a $59 rate at the Doubletree at Macarthur and 405. It’s a very nice hotel and, of course, the cookies at check-in are great. We also managed to not have to pay parking. I think that was a mistake on their
part. It is normally $20/day.
The wedding rehearsal the next day was not until 6pm so we decided to take another drive, this time north on PCH. It turns out that it is not so nice going north from Seal Beach up to towards Los Angeles and it is not along the coast. But once you get past the port you get into the Rancho Palos Verdes area and that is very nice.
One of our first goals was to find an In-N-Out Burger restaurant for a bite to eat. It did not disappoint. Good and greasy burgers and fries!
We stopped at Redondo Beach and walked a bit. There’s plenty of parking right along the beach which is not true once you get up into Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach and the other rich beach communities just south of LAX.
There’s also good beach access from the walking trails that line the cliffs in Rancho Palos Verdes, another exclusive community that includes a Donald Trump development.
It looks like any of the beach communities mentioned, from Manhattan Beach to Dana Point would be great places to spend a few days.
The rehearsal at
the church was relatively painless. The church itself, Crossline Community Church, is large and like everything else in Orange County, beautiful. This was our first chance to meet Mike's soon to be wife, Marguerite, and her family. What a wonderful and beautiful family they are! A great addition to our own.
After rehearsal we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. The food and the conversation was great. We so rarely get to see each other it's always great to see everyone and catch up. My other brother, Bob, who was the best man, and his wife, Kathy were there from Benecia. Our cousin Tom and his wife Joan were there from San Jose or there abouts.
The next morning I went to a nearby 24 Hour Fitness while Dawn met with her cousin for breakfast. I also stopped at a nearby shopping plaza to pick up a white shirt for the wedding. There’s a big plaza along 405 near John Wayne airport that has Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, etc.
The wedding went off without a hitch. Everybody showed up, nobody tripped. The reception was at Cannon’s Seafood Grill in Dana Point. The room they had upstairs
with a spectacular view of the harbor. It was a small space and a bit crowded but a good time was had by all.
The next day we had our return flight to Houston which meant enduring the American Eagle experience at LAX all over again. Do anything to avoid it.
Our Orange County vacation was great and showed us that it can appear that all Americans are rich and in fact those that live in those fabulous homes in those beach communities are not suffering and never will. But mostly it was the beauty of the place and the fabulous weather that make it what it is.
There are more photos below