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California Vacation 2009
This is the time of year we always fly out to visit with my sister, Andrea, and her husband, Jim. We revisited several places we have gone before. We have such a lovely time together.

This year, we stayed at Baywood Inn again at our favorite place, sort of a bed and breakfast.  

We didn't get to karaoke at the little bar there which was a bit disappoiinting, but hey!  There were awesome costumes, and mostly we just sat, had drinks and observed, and maybe sometimes gawked. Maybe nothing! We GAWKED! It was so much fun.

We can't go without visiting the elephant seals.

Due to the lack of water, it was sad to see where once there were crops, there were only brown fields.

One of the fun things we did in Fresno was to visit the world-renowned Underground Gardens of Artist-Builder Baldassare Forestiere. If you haven't been, you simply wouldn't believe what one man did.

For 40 years, Forestiere labored in his spare time, chipping and carving away at the unforgiving earth.  With only his farmer’s tools—picks, shovels,wheelbarrows, and a scraper pulled by his two mules, Dolly and Molly. No dynamite or modern mechanical methods were used.

Forestiere hand-carved in his spare time, a work unlike any this country had ever seen.

http://www.undergroundgardens.com/amazingfacts.html

http://www.forestiere-historicalcenter.com/Forestierebio.html

"To make something with lots of money, that is easy.  But to make something out of nothing -- that now, is something!"
            Baldassare Forestiere
Date(s): October 28  November 4,  2009. Album by Jacqueline. 1 - 256 of 256 Total. 1429 Visits.
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Farmer's Market
One of the lovliest you'll find and usually the first place we hit upon arriving.


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An unusual array of mushrooms.

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I would love to try some of these, but I wouldn't EVEN have any idea what to do with them.

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Table Mountain Casino

We had great fun donating a few dollars to the casino. We usually go there while Jim and Andrea work.


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One reason we love to come here is for their fabulous Ham Steak breakfast..and it's only $7.00. A word to the wise should you ever go there. They will let you share breakfast. Just remember that! And the coffee is terrific!
www.tmcasino.com


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Sister, Andrea. Isn't she beautiful?  She loves Spanky.

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Spanky's brother Butch.  They are 13 but he is forever a 5 year old.

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The avocado at the back of Jim and Andrea's property.  This avocado is a Suzanne, and other than the seed, you can eat the whole thing.

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There are three on the tree.  They still had some growing time to go.

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Butch and Spanky's green pepper bush.  They love those peppers. The peppers are part of their daily diet.  Isn't that funny!

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Spanky - the boss.

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Butchy is getting so gray, but he's a lovely boy.

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Bad hair day??

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No, it's old man cactus.

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The bosses.

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My honey of 43 years, 44 in January.

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Peggy works for Jim and Andrea.

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I love this.

"I hope you are having a good day.  If you are not having a good day, then start having a good day."

How simple can it be!


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The warehouse.

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Up on the rafters. Some game they're playing!! Reminds me of a "hamburger patty on the ceiling game" many, many years. Never did find out who threw it up there.  No one wants to fess up after all these years.

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The break/smoking area.

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Some of the copiers they sell.

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I don't know where this lovely fairy came from. It looks like it was drawn.

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I found these next few pictures scrolling on one of the computers in their office. Early 1960s. Had to have them, so I took pics as they scrolled by.

This is mama and brother, Stephens. He has his Navy uniform on, so I suppose this was either before Viet Nam, or perhaps he was home for  visit.

I just noticed that he and mama have similar smiles.


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Somewhere in Mexico at a banana plantation. I didn't get to go for some reason. Their guide to the left.  Mama, Andrea, Rebecca, Madeline, David, Sharon, and our son, Scott, in front. Don't see Stephens.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure he went on that trip.

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I love this picture.  
Somewhere in Mexico. Scott was about three.
I know it was before David and I married.


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Scott, probably around seven.

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We called ourselves "The Six Sisters and the Boy Next Door."

William Everett Milton was our director, and left to right, me, Andrea, Madeline, Sharon, Rebecca, and Frieda, our sister-in-law.  We were in a talent show. Seems we won.  Eventually we sang at KVIL radio station on Ron Chapman's show, and I believe KVIL was in North Park at that time.
We sang "Sing a Rainbow".  It was great for harmony.

Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue.
You can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, too.
Listen with your eyes,listen with your eyes, and hear everything you see.
You can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing along with me.


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One of our vacations.
Royal Gorge maybe?


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Sharon.

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Bullfight in Mexico City. That was both exciting, and scary.  Seemed to have a rather romantic flavor to the event at the time.  I don't believe I'd want to see another. We were told that when a bull is killed, it goes to an orphanage for food.

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David's and my wedding day.
January 29, 1966
My friend, Karen, was my maid of honor.


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There we are, the newlyweds.
We married January 29, 1966, in Wolfe City, Texas. It was cold and there was snow and ice on the ground. We honeymooned at The Lamplighter Inn in Dallas, and ate at Shakey's Pizza that night.


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My father-in-law Bill Spradling back left. Mother-in-law Nellie. I really miss him. He was a good, good man. We are fortunate to get to see her often.

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Scott. Fishing off a barge somewhere in Mexico City.
He is a beautiful child.


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We all know what this is.
Back then, if you had been married before, you couldn't wear white.
It was a lovely wedding, and I believe the whole thing cost about $250.


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Cathy, Scott, sister Rebecca and brother Stephens.

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Our Cathy.  Maybe about four.

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Me and Stephanie, September 1976.

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Our wedding photo.
Back row: David's brother, Richard, Brother Stone, Kenneth Dooley, Karen, Me, David, brother, David.


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Brother Stephens, excorting my pretty mama at David's and my  wedding.

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David and sister, Sharon.

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The entrance to Baldassare Forestiere's Underground Gardens.
Since David and I hadn't been there before, we had no idea the treat we were in for.


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"A 40-year labor of love . . Originally 10 acres underground . . Patterned after the ancient catacombs . ."

Forestiere built three  underground levels; the first level is about 10 feet deep, the second is about 22 feet deep, and the third is around 25 feet deep. The lower levels also act as the main drainage point for most of
the underground rooms and passageways.


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"Fruit-bearing trees and grapes growing beneath the surface . .
Three levels . . A rustic underground oasis of a by-gone era"


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Entryway.  I simply don't know how one person did all this.

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To the ballroom.

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To the ballroom.

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The ballroom. Baldassare hadn't completed this room before he died, and his brother completed it.

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This is where those that come for the tour sit during the introduction.  It's at one end of the ballroom.

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In the ballroom.

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These are all the tools that Baldassare used to dig his gardens. Nothing else.

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"By the time he was 44 years-old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres."

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And if you understand that the ground was/is hardpan - you will begin to know what a monumental task/accomplishment this was.

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Hardpan - "a cemented or compacted and often clayey layer in soil that is impenetrable by roots"

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Every inch he dug. carved out with simple tools.

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"Forestiere designed well-lit
courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life. This
network of rooms, grottos, and passageways once honeycombed almost 10
acres, and numbered nearly 100."


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As the years have passed, the family has had to shore up some of the rooms with concrete, for safety. They are working on a section of the gardens that we didn't see. I think we only saw about 20 of the 60 plus rooms. It's mind boggling.

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"Every twist and turn throughout this delightful underground maze brings a new beauty to behold."

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"The stonework, the scallop-shaped seats carved into the walls and passageways, and the lush greenery of trees and grapevines growing beneath the ground.."

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Trinity Courtyard (aka Central Patio) was built in a triangle with three planter wings cntaining three fruit trees, and three benches.  The center holds a very-old grapevine trained to have three main branches (photo at left).  This nearly 90 year-old vine is still bearing sweet purple grapes.

David and Andrea.


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Main Trinity Courtyard with Triangular Planter

Andrea and me.


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"Then Forestiere had an idea--could he get a tree to grow underground?"

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He began to experiment.  He built a planter from the hardpan chunks he dug out and filled it with soil he reconditioned".

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"A skylight was cut at the top of the experimental room, and the tree then planted."

Over the years the gardens had vandals and I believe they covered this skylight so the vandals couldn't get in.


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This is some of the fruit that still grows underground.  It's amazing.
"He found that with the right amount of sunlight, water, and care, his citrus tree would not only flourish, but would be protected from the frost."


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The Strawberry Tree

Baldassare planted numerous varieties of fruit-bearing trees and grapevines underground
including:  orange, lemon, grapefruit, sour orange,
sweet lemon, loquat, kumquat, quince, date, mulberry, carob,  pomegranate, strawberry, jujube, almond, and fig. Grape varieties included Alicante, Thompson,
Muscat, Grenache, Black Morocco, and Zinfandel.


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Most of the citrus trees he grafted bear three or more varieties of citrus fruit. One tree was grafted to bear seven varieties:  valencia, navel, and bittersweet oranges, ponderosa and sweet lemons, grapefruit,
and an Italian citron called cedro (pronounced chedro).


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90 year old grapevine photo next picture.

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Many trees and vines are between 65 and 90 years-old and still produce fruit!

This grapevine is 90+ years old.


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"He often worked at night by lantern to avoid the day’s heat, sometimes falling asleep at the very spot he was working on."

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ONLY family is allowed to do actual work on the underground property.

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This young woman was our guide. She loved her job and was extremely knowledgable. She made our tour a real pleasure.

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A funny thing happened. While at the gardens, our guide asked where everyone was fun. When we said Richardson, Texas, the woman in this picture turned to us. She knew exactly where Richardson was because her X-inlaws lived there.  Still do.

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"Forestiere once told a reporter in 1923 that the visions in his mind overwhelmed him."

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A devout Roman Catholic, Forestiere incorporated the biblical numbers symbolic of the Divine Creator throughout his diggings and plantings.  The
numbers three and seven are evident in many rooms, in tree grafts and planter shapes,
grapevine branches, and  flights of stairs.

The three vines growing out of the wall. .the quiet trinity.
He actually had places througout that represented the trinity.
I really like this picture .. the looks on their faces.


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The air moves gently thru the tunnels because of how he carved them. On hot days it is lovely and cool.

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What a lovely (underground) place to enjoy one's bath.

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And to think all of this is under ground.

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Some men see things as they are and say, why.

I dream things that never were and say why not.


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As the weather grew colder, he would go to his bed further back, his winter bed.

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This was his warm weather bed.

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I wonder what might be in those trunks. If our guide told us, I don't remember.

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This is a Superb Wedgewood stove.
I've tried to find out information about it but haven't been able to.

I wonder how he got it down there!


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One of many little alcoves.

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I think this is an amazing picture.

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This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.

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I could hardly believe it, but what you are seeing here above ground, are the canopys of the trees that Baldassare Forestiere planted underground!

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More canopys.

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More tree canopys of the underground gardens.

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Another of our favorite places to go in Fresno and where we first dared to try . . and to learn to love Sushi! - This picture is a bit fuzzy but you get the point.
www.yoshinorestaurant.com


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Our Chef.
You pay according to the size dish your food is prepared on.


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Everything came around on little boats.  I know this was something having to do with salmon which Jim loves. The salmon not so much for me, but the rest of it yummy!

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Love shrimp!

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This was a great beer.

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Just wonderful!

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Don't remember what was in it but for sure avocado.

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I like this neat picture.

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Clever David, taking a picture of us in the mirror on wall behind us.

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Harris Ranch
www.harrisranch.com

Jim and Andrea have stayed here a number of times and love it.  Their website even has recipes of the foods they cook.


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David, Andrea, and Jim

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I believe this is The Horseshoe Bar.  Absolutely adults only!!

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We stopped at this winery which was recommended to us.

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They were having a doxi gathering. I believe they were all rescue dogs.  Not sure.  But it was fun.

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They were surely cute. Wonder if they are mad at their humans for dressing them like this.

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This same winery had a lovely rose garden. Many different kinds.

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Could you tell it was Halloween!!

She was serving the wine in the tasting room. Great makeup!!


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Well . . hello there!

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Ladybugs all dressed in red
Strolling through the flowerbed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!

by Maria Fleming


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Another one of our favorite place to visit when in the area. We stopped here twice this year. First we bought avocados to eat in our room when we got there. The second time to get avocados to send to Becky.

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Normally, there is an abundance of hummingbirds at this plant.  Didn't see so many this year, though we could hear them. They love the avocado trees.

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On to Baywood.
This was mine and David's room.


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http://www.baywoodinn.com/activities.html

Where we stayed for two days, Baywood Inn. A two bedroom suite.  This was our third visit together. A really sweet place. When we leave, we always write in their guest book.

This was Jim and Andrea's room.


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That was fabulous cheese. I don't remember what kind .. not that it even mattered.

In part . . .

"And after all our daily work is done we enjoy simple cheese just for fun.
But remember the ancient custom of the house . . . leave behind a kernel for the nocturnal mouse."

C Jim Sitterly 2006


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We went to Old Docs in Fresno and asked for an inexpensive bottle of red and one of white wine. They are simply fabulous. Know their business. I believe this was under $10. Old Doc's. They've never let us down.

http://www.insiderpages.com/b/3711590041


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We had a feast. It just doesn't get much better than this.

"Here's to the corkscrew - a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly."
W.E.P. French


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This is a great bottle of wine, also from Old Doc's in Fresno.

When we returned home to Texas, I had one of the liquor stores order some for us.


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This is across from where we stayed.

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I believe this is the last day we were in Baywood, and it's a grand little coffee shop across from our B & B.

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I don't remember exactly what this was. Believe something with tri-tip, maybe potatos?? Tri-tip not as good as some I've had but still. Tri-tip is something else I learned to love while visiting Andrea and Jim. It's hard to find in Texas . . but if you are close to a Sprouts, they often have it. Sprouts has become one of my favorite places to frequent. A little plug for Sprouts . . they also have really good, reasonably priced wines. An amazing place.

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We love to sit out here, and watch what goes on.
It's very prayerful, serene, and yet often bustling with activity.


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It was fun watching this couple.

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They're off!!

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Hello there!!!

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Couldn't resist getting a picture of these fellas.

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One of our side trips.

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Population 18.

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In Harmony.
Young glass blower.


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I believe this was the Winery in Harmony, but for some reason I don't think we went in.

There are lovely winerys all over California, and we did our share of looking. '-D


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I believe this beautiful view was in back of the winery in Harmony.

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http://www.elephantseal.org/

The Piedras Blancas rookery.

The elephant seals are beautiful animals. The Docent told us that the big ones hadn't arrived yet, and the ones we see in these pictures would be about 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.  When the fully grown ones come in, they can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. They apparently rest and sleep a lot but they can move when needed and move fast!!!


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I would love to be here in January when the pups are born.
There are hundreds and hundreds of these magnificent animals, and the males can grow to nearly 5,000 pounds.


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You would be surprised how noisy they are.

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Andrea, just enjoying the view.

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You want to play let's hug?

They were having a grand time.


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Ragged Point Inn

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Here we are at Ragged Point.
Jim, Andrea, me.


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Jim, Andrea, my David

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Ragged Point - California
If you dare, there is a path that takes you to the bottom.  No way, no how! Nope! Not me! Oh no.

http://www.raggedpointinn.com/
http://glensplace.homestead.com/raggedpoint.html


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I "believe" this was at Ragged Point.

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Ragged Point
Awesome, stomach dropping view.


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God is truly great.

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Me

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Sisters
Andrea and me. I love this picture.


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2008 - we had just found out that sister, Sharon, had stage four breast cancer. At Pfeifer Beach, Big Sur, Calif., we decided to make a sand painting of her. We wanted to put a pink ribbon on her, and all we had was a paper cup, and red wine, with which we dyed the cup. Perfect!

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2008 - We held hands and prayed, and then left her painting to God and the sea.

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2008 - As we built, we took pictures.  This is what one of the pictures showed. Rather strange. I took it as a sign that her cancer would be gone.
Now, 2011, I know we were wrong.


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2008 - Andrea, daughter Becky, Andreas's Jim, me, and my David.

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2009 - Sharon made it another year, and so we begin again. This time at the beach at Morro Bay.

http://www.morrobay.org/cm/Home.html


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Morro Bay Rock.  We always call it brother David's rock because he loved it so after seeing it the first time.

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Made from things we picked up on the beach.

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We looked for just the perfect place for our painting, and we found it.

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We stopped some stranger, seems like there were three or four men, and asked him to take a picture of the four of us.

I find that most people are willing to help if you ask.


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That small rock in the background sort of looks like a ship.

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The United States Coast Guard USCG) maintains a 27 person National Security Base and Search and Rescue Station at Morro Bay Harbor to provide the Coast Guard services for the entire Central California Coast, including port safety coverage for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and Vandenberg Air Force Base and search and rescue.

http://www.morro-bay.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=168


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The Coast Guard motto is "Semper Paratus", Latin for "Always Ready" or "Always Prepared".

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I like this picture. They were waiting to leave when he walked out and kneeled.  I'm not sure if he was praying, resting, sleeping or what.

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In Morro Bay

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In Morro Bay

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Tobin James Cellars.

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Bar inside Tobin James Cellars.

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I was just thinking . . this is the same moon that my children in Richardson are seeing, and my family in Oklahoma, Arizona. I find that thought amazing.

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These little people were at one of the malls we go to in Fresno. I believe they are Margaret Hudson figures.

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David and I were at one of the malls, and heard this great music coming from somewhere. We found it and it was this small band of seniors playing and dancing. They play every Tuesday year around.

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This couple danced the whole time we sat and listened.  I believe he was 92 years old.  It was obvious they had been dancing together a long time.  What fun.

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Who says you can't have fun at any age?

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Andrea and Jim's house.
"2010 . . that old tree is now gone."
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Huge fern bed.  They also have artichoke plants that sometimes produce.

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Bird of Paradise bush.

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This bird had almost run its course, but it was still lovely. Jim said this had been one of their best years for this plant.

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http://www.moonstonegardens.com/

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Moonstone Gardens

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Moonstone Gardens

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The pier at Port San Luis (Avila Beach)

Olde Port Inn

http://www.avilabeachpier.com/avila/businesses/oldeportinn.html

We have been here at least two times and I love it.


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There is so much life here.

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The pelicans are wonderful.  Look at the wing span on this one. They aren't afraid of people at all.

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The wildlife is spectacular.

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More star fish.
I just love this picture. They must come in many colors. Just a piece of the world below that most of us will never see.


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This little child had just caught this starfish.  It's beautiful.

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Another winery.

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One of the wineries we visited.

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Another winery.

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Fresno Breakfast House

When in Fresno, we always eat breakfast here at least once.  They have several different kinds of Eggs Benedict. Once I had Eggs Benedict with artichokes. Great coffee.  Calm atmosphere.


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Fresno Breakfast House dining room.

 
   
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