Laguna Beach - the Ultimate California Experience!

Published: May 14th 2018
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My son Will has wanted Linda and me to visit him in Laguna Beach CA ever since he moved there in September 2017. After a long winter in Colorado...cold but with little snow...I was ready! I found a low cost airfare from Denver to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana for the weekend of 4-7 May so the trip was on. I would drive to DIA and park there as Linda didn't think she could find her way home. Thusly, she would be without the car for the duration...Friday night to Monday night. I made sure she had enough food to last.

4 May 2018 Friday. I left home in Woodland Park midafternoon to catch a 7:20 PM United flight. It was good I gave myself extra time as the traffic through Denver to the airport was gridlocked...I took every alternate route I knew to get there. The flight was uneventful and Will picked me up at curbside at about 9 PM. After a quick hug his first question "Was I hungry?" to which I answered "Yes." We drove to downtown Laguna Beach, parked, and walked around town trying to decide where to eat. All restaurants are upscale and expensive compared to Colorado. We found a place with a minimum wait time. I had salmon...very tasty! We walked around town afterwards and had gelato for dessert. Then we went to the home where Will rents a room from an older woman who also owns a ranch and macadamia nut plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii. She only spends two to three months each year at her Laguna Beach home, so he mostly has the whole place to himself. He showed me around the house and then we turned in.

5 May 2018 Saturday. What a glorious day and what a view from his porch of the California coast from San Clemente to Newport Beach. While having breakfast on the porch overlooking this scenery, Will mentioned he had a girlfriend. I asked if she was ethnically Chinese...I had seen such a girl respond to one of his rare Facebook posts. It was a lucky guess, which had him wondering how I knew! He confirmed this, and told me her name is Sabrina. She is originally from southern China and came to the States and earned a Masters in Finance from Pepperdine University. He also mentioned that today was Sabrina's
Will tending to his garden.Will tending to his garden.Will tending to his garden.

He is quite concerned that an animal has been eating his plants.
birthday. I asked him to call her so that we could celebrate her special day. She agreed to join us about noon. So after breakfast Will took me on an introductory drive around Laguna Beach to see all the surfer dude shacks that were worth a million dollars, and larger homes that were worth many millions. We drove to a park and hiked up a hill where we could see miles up and down the coast and inland. Then it was time to return home to meet Sabrina.

In planning my weekend, after booking my flight I discovered that I would be in Southern California for Cinco de Mayo, so was looking forward to attending an authentic festival with mariachi bands and twirling Mexican dancers. The festivities were schedule from 2 - 6 PM so we had time for some touring and lunch. I wanted to visit the Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano, and perhaps see the swallows as they returned from their six thousand mile migration from Goya, Argentina. We headed there only to find that the swallows hadn't returned yet...probably somewhere over Central America. We enjoyed touring the mission which was blooming with flowers. San Juan Capistrano is on a pilgrim trail of Spanish missions. I bought a patch to add to my backpack for my next pilgrimage to Rome.

We didn't see any place to eat in San Juan Capistrano that interested us, and Will mentioned that one of his favorite restaurants was in San Clemente, where the festival was being held. So off we went for a fine lunch. We then went to the festival in a local park. This turned out to be more of a community event rather than a well advertised regional celebration. It turns out that even in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not really celebrated...not even a holiday. So after watching a dance and listening to a band we returned to the house; stopping on the way at a grocery store for cake, ice cream and candles.

We relaxed the rest of the afternoon, waiting for the sun to set. As it approached the sea, we drove to the beach to watch it set. For dinner we ate at Will's favorite Thai restaurant. Sabrina loves Thai food so that worked out well. We then returned to the house to celebrate her birthday with the cake and ice cream. We arranged to meet at their church the following morning for the 11 AM service.

6 May 2018 Sunday. Will mentioned that he had been attending the mariners' church. I was curious to see a church for seamen. We arrived shortly before 11 AM, and boy was I wrong. The Mariners Church, named after the street it was on, is one of the mega churches in Southern California. They have a 45 acre campus with everything for everyone. They have both been attending there with Will and Sabrina both in small groups. They also study the Bible together as she is a recent Christian. Soon Sabrina arrived and we entered the sanctuary which was like a rock concert with a worship team of a dozen or more, and with fog machines and strobe lights to enhance the effect of joyous celebration. The congregation was composed of every nationality truly integrated as they worshipped God. The preacher presented the Gospel with humorous references to the wedding of his youngest daughter the week before.

After the service we could have stayed for the barbeque, but decided to go to lunch with Sabrina to experience spicy Sichuan cooking. I have never been to a Sichuan restaurant before and did not recognize any of the pictures of the food on the menu. Fortunately, we had the perfect guide. Sabrina ordered the dishes which we carefully tried. She warned me not to eat the tiny black seeds as they would instantly numb my mouth. Of course, I inadvertently ate one, which did numb that side of my mouth. We ate until we were full, and we still had left overs. We suggested that Sabrina take them home.

Will was still trying to find Sabrina the perfect birthday gift, a Chinese tea set made of a special clay that absorbed the tea flavor over time. We arrange to meet Sabrina later at Will's place so that he and I could spend much of the afternoon going from Asia market to Asian market; and there are many in Orange County, but no one had the right tea set. We returned home in defeat, with Will searching Amazon and other websites. Sabrina joined us for dinner which was left overs from the previous day, including the rest of the birthday cake. Sabrina then had to leave as she had a job interview Monday morning.

7 May 2018 Monday. We had a leisurely morning with breakfast at a bagel shop near Will's office. We then walked to the beach and from one end to the other. I was amazed that Laguna Beach didn't have the problems that other cities in California had with homeless vagrants and drugs. Everything was immaculate. Let's just say that Orange County is the opposite of LA and San sanctuary here unless you are rich! I wouldn't mind living there if I could afford the housing! We then drove to the Ferrari dealer to look at the $200K cars; mostly to fill the time before Will returned to his office.

Will had arranged for his boss, Bill, to be there so that we might meet. Will met Bill while both were teaching English as a Second Language in Bangkok. Bill is an Intellectual Property lawyer who just wanted to get away from the job for awhile. Anyway he promised Will a job once he finished law school, and so it was. He lavished praise on Will's work; I couldn't disagree! Then he had to leave for an appointment.

Will and I joined Sabrina at a Starbucks at a nice mall...every mall in Orange County is nice! We talked about the interview and whether she should accept. They we strolled around the mall until it was time for them to drop me off at the airport. My flight to Denver and drive home were uneventful...just as I like it. I arrived home at midnight; the conclusion of a wonderful weekend. I'm ready to go back!

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Mariners ChurchMariners Church
Mariners Church

Outdoor lounge where one can listen to the service
Mariners ChurchMariners Church
Mariners Church

Umbrellas where one can sign up for various programs
Mariners ChurchMariners Church
Mariners Church

Barbeque being served after the service
Mariners ChurchMariners Church
Mariners Church

With members of Will's small group after the service
Mariners ChurchMariners Church
Mariners Church

With a train for the kiddies!
Will at the law officeWill at the law office
Will at the law office

This is also the law partners office, but they mostly work from home, as did Will for a year before he moved to Laguna Beach.
Sabrina shoppingSabrina shopping
Sabrina shopping

I don't think Will likes the perfume!

14th May 2018
Will having his Ferrari time

It is always good to set goals
What color will he pick?
14th May 2018
Will having his Ferrari time

Red...that what Ferraris were meant to be!
However, as a step towards that goal he's looking at a Mustang GT convertible. Perhaps white again. In the meantime, he needs to pay off student loan debt which is equal to the cost of a Ferrari.
14th May 2018

Sherlock Holmes
It was your great intuition that you figured out about Will and Sabrina :) Congratulations to both Will and Sabrina. It was a great short break for you Bob! [6=xxxx]
16th May 2018

When I was in middle school I wanted to be a detective...
My science project which displayed a trail of evidence leading to the perpetrator won grand prize. Only in 9th grade did my dream change to becoming a civil engineer. Yes, we had a great short break!
15th May 2018

What a great getaway
I followed the pictures on FaceBook, and had an idea of what the trip was like, so it was fun to read the behind the scenes of this. It looks and sounds like you all had a great time.
16th May 2018

Behind the scenes...
That's why I love gives the rest of the story. We had a great time! I'm really looking forward to walking the Via Francigena to Rome with Will this September.
22nd May 2018

So much to do in So Cal
I'm glad Will has landed in a wonderful place. I'm glad you got to meet his girlfriend. Love the view from breakfast. I lived in Orange County for 10 months last year and they do have homeless and vagrants.... they just hide them better. But yes it is the land of McMansion and Ferraris. Hopefully, Linda can go with you next time.
24th June 2018

Laguna Beach and Orange County
Wow, looks like a wonderful part of California. I've never been there, but it seems to have a lot of attractions and wonderful views! The Mariners Church experience must indeed have been different to what the name suggests!

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