Kitty is done with us

Olive the cat in the suitcase.
Every time I pack, this happens. Olive is done with our vacations.

We had a tiring but fun weekend. I’ve decided that a six-hour drive on Friday, followed by six-hours on Sunday to get home, is too much for me.

I don’t mind the long drives like we took to Santa Barbara in August. That’s because we stayed for awhile. My body had time to relax and recover.

We arrived in San Diego Friday with one hour to rest and get read for a 30-minute drive to the wedding venue. What saved us on the drive was listening to “The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham. It’s amazing how books on tape — or Audible — make the drives fly by.

I made the mistake of booking our hotel room in Santee, SC — instead of Santee, CA. Oops.

Who knew there was more than one Santee and they’d have hotels with the exact same name?

The highlight of our trip happened Saturday. We visited my husband’s aunt and uncle who live in Santee (hence the reason I booked a hotel there — or thought I did. Right town, wrong state.) His cousin surprised us and came too with her son from an hour away.

My husband’s uncle is 93 years old. The last time we saw him was August three years ago to celebrate his 90th birthday. Because of COVID and then moving we haven’t visited. I have to say he looks amazing. He’s full of energy. He drives, he shops, he cooks, he waits on his wife — my husband’s aunt. He makes the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten. Luciano (the uncle) came to the US from Italy when he was 30 years old after marrying my husband’s aunt. She met Luciano while she was the city planner of Rome.

After she graduated with a degree from Berkeley in the 1960s, she couldn’t get hired in the U.S. in her field because she was a woman. However, she did get hired in Italy, so she learned Italian and moved.

She’s a dynamo that I’ve always looked up to. Not only has she had an amazing career, she’s written and published at least 15 books. She’s a world traveler and had a series based on a travel agent/murder solver. If you’re interested, here’s a link to R. Ann Siracusa on Goodreads. My favorite book of hers is “Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears.”

If that’s not enough, she’s a grandmother who actively takes care of her grandchildren. And she quilts. She taught my daughter and I how to quilt.

Whew, I’m exhausted thinking about these inspiring relatives.

What relatives have motivated and inspired you? What’s your limit for drives on trips?

Why I deactivated facebook

Here I am at a wedding Friday with my new friend.

We drove five and a half hours to a wedding Friday. If it wasn’t for my dear friend’s daughter, I don’t think we would have made the trip after driving nine hours home from vacation the weekend before. But we did it. Yes! I’m tired!

I wore a bright print dress in blue, green and white. When we first walked into the wedding crowd, I spotted a woman wearing the same dress! I waved to her and she walked over and we laughed.

“You know it’s reversible,” she said.

I had never met this person before. She is related to the groom and I am friends with the bride’s family.

We were interrupted by our husbands who informed us it was time to take a seat for the ceremony.

The wedding was lovely. It was held outside near San Diego at Mt. Woodson’s Castle — a stone mansion built in the 1920s that’s now a wedding venue.

After the ceremony, I bolted to the bathroom and flipped my dress inside out. Now I was wearing black with white polkadots!

I saw my new friend and she said “You didn’t have to do that!” I asked my husband to take a picture of us. I wanted to share it with a high school friend who sold me the dress. I thought she’d get a kick out of how the reversible dress came to the rescue.

I posted the picture on Instagram and tagged her. It automatically posted on facebook.

One of my other high school friends commented on my pic in a very suggestive way. It was creepy. It made me want to take the photo down. Then I thought, I rarely use facebook, I’m reading all sorts of negative things about facebook in the news. Let’s be done with it!

That’s why I deactivated my account.

It’s not deleted. I can restart it any time. The only reason why I would do that is for the years and years of photos that are housed there. I may want to download them. Then delete it for good.

Do you use social media? Why or why not?

Sights from home and beyond

After spending the weekend in Riverside, Calif. and going to a wedding at a winery in Temecula, we noticed a few cacti in our yard in full bloom. We had rain the night before we left Arizona and apparently the rain continued through the weekend. I think that’s why we were treated to gorgeous blooms

hedge hog cactus with red bloms.
A hedge hog cactus in bloom in one of our planters.

Palm Springs Wind farm on Interstate 10
The wind farm outside of Palm Springs.

We drove past our old stomping grounds of Palm Springs on the freeway. I thought I’d feel nostalgic or sadness after living there for 28 years. But no, I was thinking “Thank goodness we got out of here!” That was a surprise. I was even happier to get back to Arizona and home.

downtown Riverside.
We stayed downtown Riverside in a hotel we used to stay at with our kids for swim meets. This is a shady street that is blocked off to cars and filled with restaurants and shops.

Riverside County Courthouse
There are beautiful buildings in downtown Riverside. This is the County Courthouse.
Sculptures outside a taco restaurant that was closed when we walked by. I definitely would have stopped if it was open. It’s called Tio’s Tacos.

The wedding venue was beautiful with gorgeous views of vineyards, rolling hills and mountains. We enjoyed the surprise of being seated with our children’s former teammate, family and swim coach. It’s fun to get together with people we spent so much time with years ago when swimming was a major focus in our lives.

Villa de Amore Temecula wedding venue
Villa de Amore, the wedding venue at a winery in Temecula, California.
Shannon with Maureen's sisters
One of my favorite photos from before the wedding. One of our kids’ swim teammates is photographed with the mother of the bride’s sisters, who flew to the wedding from Singapore.
bride and groom at wedding
The bride and groom before the pastor announced “husband and wife.” The bride was one of my kids’ swim teammates, too.
wedding friends
Sitting with our old friends from the swim team. It felt like a reunion and we talked about having one in the future.

It was a fun, busy weekend with most of the time spent driving. But I was happy to get back home to Arizona and my cat Olive.

How do you feel when you return home from a trip? Are you relieved to be back to your own home, or do you long for more vacation?

On the way to the wedding

Taco station interior in Riverside.
We were looking for breakfast burritos and ran across the “Taco Station.” Yes, that’s a real car.

We had a seven-hour drive to get our friend’s children’s wedding in Temecula, Calif. We left Friday afternoon and drove to Riverside to sleep for the night. Saturday morning we took a walk while the temps were in the 60s. It felt wonderful. We stayed downtown in a hotel we often stayed at for CIF (California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for California high school sports) for our son and daughter’s championship high school swim meets. It felt nostalgic. Memories surfaced about the hours spent in the hotel between prelims and finals. Our daughter would take ice baths after her morning swims and put her legs up against the wall while laying on her back. This was her way to recover and prepare for finals.

We were craving a breakfast burrito — probably because that was the staple breakfast at swim meets throughout Southern California — prepared by the hosting swim team.

We found one spot during our walk that was packed! So it had to be good. It’s called the Taco Station.

Taco Station fun interior based on filling stations.
Inside Taco Station in Riverside
The theme of Taco Station is a filling station. There was a ton of memorabilia from old filling stations.
We split this breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, sausage, potatoes. Delicious! We bought two burritos, but I’m grateful we didn’t eat them both! They were huge. We’ll have something to munch on during the seven-hour drive home. I don’t know when we’ll be back to stay in Riverside. It’s not on our bucket list, but if we do, we’ll be back to Taco Station.

The food looked amazing.
Outside view of Taco Station.

What are some of the fun, off-the-wall diners or restaurants have you discovered? Where were they and what type of food did they serve?