By Jim Bishop.
Just a year ago on this date life looked very different. This was to be the year to do my take on the California motto: “Eureka, I have found it”.
I turned 65 in the middle of 2020 and also lived in California for 40 years. To celebrate, a year of California adventure was planned with a trip to a different area of California each month. I planned to spend the year visiting iconic locations of the state. Many I’d visited before, but also many new ones. I planned to visit as many as possible of the 36 National Parks, Monuments, Preserves, Seashores, and Recreation areas. Along the way, I’d visit our large cities and small towns, as well as many of our wonderful state parks. I’d spend some time in the Bay Area, Northern California, our deserts and the Sierras. And of course, I’d visit as many gardens and wildflower spots as possible.
But, alas, it was not to be. Instead by February, it had become a year of stay at home projects. Tiling, grouting, painting, fixing things, building a shade cover, expanding the garden, and neighborhood walks. It hasn't been a total bust, I've finished countless projects I've been putting off for years. And I've explored many neighborhoods of San Diego on walks that I've always wondered about.
I was however, able to complete trips in January - in the Los Angeles area - and February - a bike tour of Death Valley with stops at Joshua Tree National Park and Palms Springs.
Here are some of the highlights of the January trip -
The year started at the most southwest place in California, Border Field State Park. Looking back on the visit, it would become somewhat emblematic of 2020. The week after our visit without warning the Border Patrol bulldozed the California native plants at Friendship Park Garden that was planted in 2007.
We concluded the day with a first time visit the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on the bay in Chula Vista
Just a year ago on the publish date of this article, January 2, 2020, I toured the Rose Parade floats. What could be more California-iconic than that?
The previous night I walked to Apple store from my hotel to buy a new iPhone 11 with 3 lenses. Turns out it was much further away than I expected. It also turned out it took a lot longer to upgrade my phone than I expected.
I borrowed Scott's Tesla for the trip. I quickly learned the next morning that I was unable to start the Tesla with the new phone. I also learned that cell phones don't work in underground garages. Several hours later, with lots of calls to Scott and trips up and down in the elevator, I was able to get my old phone working and was on my way.
I hadn't seen the new entrance garden to the Huntington. I guess I liked it even though they had to block part of it to keep people from falling into the water features. Everyone says they like it.
It is really difficult to figure out which photos to post of the Huntington since it is so easy to take 100's in just a few hours. It is even more difficult when you are trying out a new camera and take even more photos that usual trying out all the new features of the camera.
I hadn't visited the Huntington since the opening of the Chinese Garden several years ago. They were in the process of expanding it.
The next day, I was ready to leave Pasadena but not without a stop at one of the places I'd wanted to visit for years, Revival Antiques. It is a shrine to Spanish Colonial Revival lighting, furniture and accessories. After gardening, plants and tile, it rates high on my lists of interests.
After spending too much money on antique light fixtures, I headed for the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden. I don't think I had visited since 2012. In keeping with the theme of visiting California iconic places, I wanted to check out 'Lucky' Baldwin's Victorian house and lagoon that was used at the beginning of episodes of the TV show Fantasy Island. As 2020 luck would have it, it was closed and fenced off for maintenance.
That evening Scott took Amtrak to LA and we met at the 70's iconic Bonaventure Hotel with it's 4 glass towers and a revolving restaurant on top.
That evening we took in a concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Another First. It reminded me of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
The next morning we did a quick stop at the crowded Los Angeles Zoo.
In the afternoon, we headed to the La Brea Tar pits. Another Southern California iconic location that I'd never visited. I found it fascinating. It was difficult to imagine Los Angeles with large herbivores and carnivores. What a different place it has been before humans.
Next door to the Tar Pits is the Los Angeles Art Museum with a display of old street lights.
We ended the day in Santa Monica in our mid-century style hotel room overlooking Santa Monica Bay.
Today we visited the Getty Museum in Malibu. I'd been there a few years earlier and in the 1990s before it was remodelled. It was one of those unbelievably clear and warm California winter days. We were there slightly before opening time and had the museum almost entirely to ourselves until noon.
That afternoon we did a short hike up Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains.
That evening we strolled out the Santa Monica Pier to take in the sunset.
For our last day in the LA area we headed to the J. Paul Getty museum. There was a special exhibit of impressionist paintings.
I drove south around the Palos Verde Peninsula and stopped at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center where there was a small native garden and museum.
Heading south I stopped at one of the best designed and maintained small gardens in Southern California, Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar.
My final hotel was the Inn at Laguna Beach looking over the cliff park. I arrived in time to checkout the tidepools, stroll along the cliffs and watch the sunset behind Catalina Island.
The last stop before heading home to San Diego was the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Shortly after arriving home there was mention of a new virus in China that was highly contagious. It will be interesting look back next year at January 2021.