Back to California

Published: May 9th 2010
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Too soon, our long-planned and long-awaited vacation is over, and we have to return home. In some ways, we are tired of traveling and look forward to our own home and our own bed. On the other hand, the beauty and rhythm of the Hawaiian Islands has captured us and we really hate to leave. Sigh…..

This vacation experience has been so wonderful. I can’t even find the words for it. Great; wonderful; fantastic; beautiful………the words all seem to fall short. Each place was unique. Each place had its own set of pros and cons. Each place was such a neat experience. Foods, sights, sounds, people, scenery, weather, birds, experiences. Sometimes we were too hot, sometimes too cold. Lots of times we were tired and footsore. Sometimes we got lost. Some things were too expensive, and some things were a great bargain. Sometimes I got annoyed with people or situations, but not very often, and lots of times we entertained ourselves by people watching. Mostly, we marveled at the sights around us, and took lots of pictures. Really, I mean LOTS. About 5,000 pictures! How crazy is that? It has been really difficult to choose just a few pictures to post on the blog to represent what we saw in each place.

The people are so interesting. We heard so many different languages and accents, that we came to realize that everyone has an accent - it just depends where you are from. The word “accent” seems to imply that someone is different - from a different place. But different is relative. While traveling, we are the different ones. We got so that we could identify people by the way they speak. Being from somewhere else loses its stigma and becomes an interesting thing to find out when you chat with other people. I think our view of people has expanded - and “different” no longer applies. Yes, there are different languages and customs, and still some ways seem strange to me and even rude, but different cultures have different norms, so this trip has allowed us to observe and learn.

In retrospect, I think that I really loved Hawaii the most. The scenery, the climate, the beaches. Stores and food that is familiar. Cleanliness. We thought everything was so expensive when we first arrived there, but we were used to the prices in Mexico which were so much cheaper than anywhere else. Once we figured it out, the prices of food and gas were about the same as at home. In fact, gas on most of the islands, once we figured out the difference between gallons and litres, was actually cheaper than in Regina. On Molokai, gas was another 10 cents per gallon higher, and it worked out to be about the same price as at home! So it really wasn’t that expensive in Hawaii - just more than in Mexico, and you have to learn to shop sales and specials, just like at home.

So, back to reality. Steve’s Sister Barbara graciously gave up her bed and allowed us to take over her house again for a week. Thanks Barb! We visited with Steve’s three sons and granddaughter, and finally packed up all the rest of Steve’s stuff that had been stored in his son Steve’s garage for the last 5 years. I am sure that he is happy to have his garage back. Got the car out of hock - it had gone into a dealer for servicing while we were gone, and it cost a small fortune for them to change every belt, and polish every nut and bolt in the vehicle, the way dealers do when they get hold of you. That was a large unexpected cost, but I guess since we are now towing a heavy trailer all the way back to Canada, it might be good insurance. (For that price, we could have stayed another month in Hawaii. Sigh……….)

The desert air is dry and dusty, and we both instantly have our sinuses plug up with allergic reactions, and our skin gets dry and itchy. There were a couple of days of such high winds in the desert that they closed one of the highways leading out of Desert Hot Springs for a day. In the LA area, the air is brown, the freeways clogged. Pretty typical for here. We did see a neat looking cloud formation at sunset at Barb’s house in the desert that looked like a purple funnel cloud (but wasn’t - something about the way the air masses move and drags the clouds around). That was cool. It was all over the news the next day.

We went to Universal Studios for a day, which was fun. The 3-hour drive there and 3 hours back was not fun. Another day we drove through Joshua Tree National Park and saw a few different kinds of cactus, some of which were in bloom. This is a big deal for people around here, who go for drives to see the blooms which last for just a short time.

A Joshua tree is a type of yucca that grows ½ inch per year. It can grow into a tall, branched plant that resembles a tree, with the needles falling off the lower parts and the outer skin kind of scabbing over to look like bark, with the green needles in clumps on the ends of the “branches”. With the mountains in the background, they were kind of pretty, in a weird prickly sort of way. Cholla cactus looks like it would be furry, but it has spines with hooks on the ends, and people call them “jumping cactus” because it seems like the thorns jump out and get you as you walk by. The signs around them say DANGER, so they definitely aren’t furry! We saw salt flats, dry lake beds which fill up and leach the minerals out if the sand when it rains, then leaves them on the surface as the water dries up. We saw Amboy crater - a small black old volcanic cone in the desert on the old route 66. We saw jumbles of big rocks, one shaped like a skull. All the signs in the parks along the roads try to convince you how much life is in the desert, but it all looks dry and desolate to me. It sure does make me appreciate our green grass and trees back home though (when it’s not snowing).

As Papa used to say, fish and visitors stink after three days. We have already been at Barbara’s a week, so it is time to head home. We have decided to drive through Vegas and stay a couple of days there since I have never been there and Steve wanted to show me some things. Kevin texted me that it was snowing in Regina and I find that I suddenly am not in a hurry to get home. I am not ready to give up the shorts and flip flops! So, on to Vegas.

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