What? A trip with no photos, Sheila, how can it be? Sometimes you get so caught up in the moment. There is no time for the camera and this is the truth. When you forget your camera, I think you are really living in the moment, which is something I rarely realize I am doing. Do you? I am just kidding about no photos, but not many because as I stated, living in the moment takes front and center.


The Oakland airport pick up at one airport and drop off at another is an expensive proposition. A much cheaper option saving us $369.00 is as follows:  You see, we flew into Oakland and wanted to pick up a car at the Oakland airport and drop the car off at the San Francisco airport. They charge big drop off fees if you secure a car from the airport, but drop the price considerably if you pick the car up at the city office. We took Bart bus from the airport, took the Bart train and departed at 19th , and then walked six of the longest blocks in the world.  It all sounded easy, sounded like a good travel experience and a good way to save quite a sizeable amount of change, so we did it. Dragging your bags down the main street of any town is the tough for a couple of old farts, plus we later found out we had been dragging our goods in a very tricky part of town. We found everyone to be friendly, helpful and accommodating. We got our car and took off North! I forgot to mention we took the Bart to pick up our car for $6.00, therefore, negating a $60.00 taxi ride. I tell you this not to show off that I am cheap, just travel happy, but actually  we got a taste of reality. Being an older individual necessitates perhaps for next time, a taxi ride!!


Benicia was our first stop to see J. and her new digs. If you want a mini mansion with an affordable price tag and you want to live in the Northern part of California, buy here in this neck of the woods.

The points of historical interest in Benicia are numerous and varied, and they came alive as we toured the area. We attended an old-fashioned ice cream social at the Benicia State Capitol and Historical Park at First and G Street.  We walked further on to visit the glass blowing shop, went in and out of the “What-Not Shop,” viewed the Clocktower, ate in several nice establishments I would repeat when we visit again. We enjoyed walking from the town, down to the water’s edge.  The old town at the time, I thought was the quintessential little northern California town until I saw more of them. They each have their charm and have earned the title of quintessential little Northern California town.  Seeing more towns along the way did not change the quaint, old world charm as it mixed with new mix in Benicia. We enjoyed our visit and were especially happy to see J. and her family so happy and working so well together.

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa has its charm as well. It seemed to me that there were several centers of town here. Each offered a different ambiance and each had it’s charisma and attraction as well. We attended a Bar Mitzvah in Santa Rosa with all meals paid for in advance.  The hotel we stayed in was so old world that our room had the same wallpaper I had in my room growing up. Exactly.  I do believe it was a reproduction, but all the same it was the exact pattern, lines curves flowers and color was matched to a tee. I made many childhood decisions looking at the flowers, lines and dots in that design. I was taken back to my room as a kid. I am very much the same in character and decision-making as I was then, only decidedly more mature and posses a much stronger determination as a person.  I think, I hope. The event was perfect in every respect. A great mix of people, a Bar Mitzvah family in earnest, a beautiful temple, lots of food and an abundance of love, and camaraderie. It was an honor to attend.

Brentwood: Rancho Ruby

Rancho Ruby in Brentwood, California

Brentwood is beautiful. There are two towns, one is the old town and one is the new. The new town has everything you need, want and more. Cousin D’s Rancho Ruby is situated in the Mt. Diablo Mountains with beautiful views and scenes all around it. D. has a beautiful home, full of family antiques, a turtle pond, dogs, two barns, and a grove of olive trees, and lots and lots of vistas that highlight mountain ranches and farms.  We ate, whiled away the afternoon with conversations, little mini journeys into the heart of the ranch and topped the evening off with a gigantic steak dinner. No, no, not D, she is a vegetarian.

Via San Ramon to San Bruno and Millbrae

Then, on to San Ramon to see properties of interest and a ride over the San Mateo Bridge to stay in San Bruno another lovely little Northern California town. The first thing we saw was the terrible devastation caused by the gas lines blowing up, catching so many families at their dinner tables in the hills of San Bruno. They have one or two homes beginning the rebuilding process, but slowing it down is the fact that they can’t decide who will pay for re-construction.

There is a special garden in San Bruno and it is due to the hard work and constant diligence of Cousin K. Even though it was raining, we were able to enjoy its beauty knowing that it grows more beautiful as the season progresses. Cousin L & K have a close relationship with Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco, a must visit when in the South San Francisco area. Many of the unique, exotic plants in K’s garden come from Flora’s. Take a look.

K & L's Garden in San Bruno


Skip at Flora Grubb's Garden enjoying the boxed cactus.


We visited Uncle M. at the Magnolia. Visiting the Magnolia Senior Living facility this time was different. If you want to read about the first time, the piece is called: As If Looking into a Distant Mirror.  This time the distance in possibilities has closed because I have passed along in age and stage. Not a great deal, but noticing the aging of the residents during the year has made a world of difference.  The residents I met on my earlier stay were walking along on their own, getting up and down, chatting, and their pain seemed at a minimum.  Although it is impossible to judge the pain one experiences for another, you can see physical signs of added pain quite plainly, and it is evident by the squints and grimaces on some of their faces when they sit or stand and the inching along when trying to go from place to place.  I noticed that many of the residents now bring pillow aids to put on their chairs making sitting more comfortable. For instance, last year there were only a few walkers and this year mostly all are using a walker, a wheel chair or some form of aided transportation.  The call to dinner and the opening of the dining room doors presents a line of people jamming the entry-way, made even more well-defined by the presence of the walkers.

After talking with several of the residents about the decline in their mobility, they say they don’t like it but have made peace with it, say this is a part of life, dream about their old homes, their independent lives and some even hope for a new romance, a change in the menu, a walk around the block and getting better so they can enjoy doing more things.

The next morning we headed for Tennessee.

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