Sixty-six for Sixty Six, Part VI: California Turnstile


February 8, 2017, Santee-  I had not spent much time in San Diego’s eastern ‘burbs, prior to last night.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a homey little motel, Villa Embasadora, in El Cajon, a town I have previously associated with huge malls and Miles of Cars.  It is a working man’s motel, so my neighbours were up, and off to work, between 4-5:so, this morning.  After dawdling, online and with my prayer book, i headed off to find breakfast, around 8:15.

A further drive down East Main Street brought me to Pizza Stop, which, despite its name, is a highly popular gathering place for full American breakfasts.  I went inside, expecting to be seated by myself, perhaps at a corner table, away from home-schooling families and small groups of older ladies.  Surprise!  I no sooner had made my way to a two-chair table, when I was summoned to join a large group of my male age-mates.  Seems that eastern San Diego County, with a large population of retired military men, has three service clubs, which help provide security at San Diego’s football stadium, and other large public facilities, in the area.  Most of the men in the room  about 50, all told, were in their 60’s and 70’s.  It was like being at an American legion or VFW breakfast, only writ large.  The breakfasts are huge, keep-ya-full all day affairs.  The group gathers, Morning Lions Club-style, every two Wednesday mornings.  It was a great mid-week start to yet another transition in my life.

My son, Aram, heads to South Korea tomorrow, for a 1-2 year tour of duty, which may or may not be his Navy swansong.  While 2019 seems far-off, I know, from the freshness of memories from 2011, on to last year, that it will be upon us, sooner than realized.  So, as with any life event, we both have several contingency plans for that time.  (I’ve had contingency plans since I babysat my younger siblings, when our parents were out for the evening.  I was 11-13, and whenever they were late coming home, I had the phone numbers of my aunts and uncles at the ready.)  In the meantime, I headed up the road, to Santee, in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains, where Aram had some last-minute business.

I will relax at this Best Western, in Santee, until we head out, early tomorrow morning, to San Diego International Airport.  Once Aram is on his way to the TSA line, and other fun stuff, I will need to head straight back, towards Prescott, and my own present routine; thus, the “turnstile” aspect to this jaunt.

My next visit west, in June, will be to the north of here- from Orange County to Santa Barbara and Ojai.  By then, my son will be acclimated, once again, to life in Korea, the land of his birth.  Time will tell if I get back there, myself, during the next two years.


No Black Thursday


November 24, 2016, Julian, CA-  This little town, northeast of San Diego, has been our Thanksgiving hub, for three of the last four years.  Only in 2014 were we diverted to Aram’s ship, for what was an estimable meal, in its own right.  Otherwise, Julian Cafe has been an irresistible venue- for one of the best traditional Thanksgiving meals this side of the Appalachians.

Julian appeals to Aram, because it reminds him of Prescott and Flagstaff.  The oak forests that surround the town, and the Laguna Mountains, to its southeast, are of immense comfort to one who was born , and spent his first years, in a forested landscape.

It appeals to me, as all mountain towns do, because Saugus ( my home town), and so many towns in New England, are similarly entwined with rugged landscapes and a wealth of historical nuggets.  Julian’s history is inextricably linked to the California Gold Rush.  Southern California had several spots which, while not as noteworthy as the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, nontheless contributed to Gold Fever.

What appeals to neither of us is Black Thursday, as some have taken to calling the afternoon and evening of Thanksgiving Day.  There may be some LIMITED need for some people to pick up groceries, in the morning, as I did on behalf of Aram and his housemates, around 8:30 this morning, at the local Ralph’s store.  I can’t see either of us shopping for deals on Thanksgiving, ever.  I understand some want that to be their Thanksgiving tradition, but I stay with family remaining focused on non-commercial pursuits.

We had another awesome meal, with his two housemates along.  This will be the last time, though, for at least three years, as he heads across the Pacific, in a few months’ time.  That made it an especially treasured repast.


Last Weekend, and This


October 8, 2016, Chula Vista-  It was a weekend of talk about change, and talk about commitments.  On October 1, a Baha’i Unit Convention was held in Flagstaff, and a similar gathering took place the following day, at the Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning, in tiny Burntwater, AZ, about 10 miles north of Sanders, along Interstate 40.

At these gatherings, we choose a person to represent our communities at the U.S. National Convention, in the Chicago area, the following May.  This is an important function, yet what is more important is that we are addressing the spiritual condition of our communities.  It is not a bland spouting of platitudes, and there are sharp opinions voiced, during the consultation.  Yet what we are, regardless of opinions, is respectful of one another’s value.  There is no one, among the gathered friends, who is discounted or seen as lacking value.  The goal, for each of us, is to extend this valuing to the entire community, not just committed members of the Baha’i Faith.

After an intense week at work, in which these principles of unity were put to the test, and which by the grace of God, I largely maintained progress,  I headed out to my son’s place, in this southern suburb of America’s Hometown.   He’s a bit laid up, from a fracture  of one of his left foot’s metatarsals.  So, my entire function, these five days in California is to help with his needs.  My usual meanderings up the coast will need to wait until the week after Christmas.

I set out from Prescott, last night, after a particularly strenuous day and a lengthy, soothing dinner at the American Legion Post.  The route this time took me to a very restful night at an economical motel in Blythe, then a drive through the Colorado Desert, through Brawley, to El Centro and over the Laguna Mountains to the coast.


A 20th Century cowboy, circa 1992, downtown Brawley, CA

The weekend is off to a fairly restful start, and we can tend to tasks related to Aram’s healing, on Monday and Tuesday.