Life can be a whirlwind at times and this fall seems to be one of those times. It has all been self-imposed and it has all been a lot of fun, and fun is retirement activity of the best kind. We’ve been to weddings and wedding parties, church and friend gatherings, Halloween fun, and neighborhood events. Fall is a great time of the year!
Two weeks ago, Helen (adorable wife) and I took Betty (our camper) on a trip to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and joined a group from our church in a delightful weekend in the woods (see last week’s post). We arrived home from that adventure on a Sunday afternoon then left the following Tuesday on a flight to Southern California to visit our son and his family for another week of fun in the warm California sun.
Even though the flights are long, and the airlines don’t care that people like me (6’ 4” tall) don’t fit in their ridiculously small seating, I endure it for the joy that awaits at the end of the runway. Our grandchildren are a sheer delight and that weather is always perfect. In addition, there was plenty of activity planned and we were looking forward to all of it. Here’s the rundown…
Wednesday: Our first activity was walking our grandchildren the three blocks to their elementary school. This may seem like a small thing, but Helen and I never miss the opportunity. Walking gives us a chance to have a casual chat with them and meet some of their friends. The elementary school starts the day with a program of free play where the children are encouraged to walk the track for about twenty minutes and then have organized exercise before entering the classroom. This is a great program and the children seem to love it. There are always plenty of parents around, most holding coffee cups and engaged in conversation with other parents. This truly is a social event.
Thursday: The school observed Veteran’s Day and all parents who have served in the Armed Forces were honored in a formal ceremony after the morning exercise. As a Veteran and a grandfather, I was included in the ceremony and made a hasty run to the Exchange at Los Angeles Air Force Base the day before to purchase a “Retired US Army” cap which I wore proudly as my name was called by the school principal. My son, an Army Veteran, was also honored and we stood side by side in the group photo with other Vets. The ceremony recognized members of scouting organizations and my grandson attended looking resplendent in his new Cub Scout uniform. Following the ceremony, a student handed me a very sincere letter thanking me for my service (see letter at bottom).
Friday: School was out and my son had the day off for Veteran’s Day, so Helen and I let everyone sleep in and we drove down to the pier at Redondo Beach for some fresh air and an early lunch. I love Redondo Beach. The view south toward Palos Verdes is beautiful and we sat and looked at it while lunching on sliders from Barney’s Beanery at the pier.
Saturday: This was soccer day for our grandson and the whole family was up and out for a game at 8:00 am. His team fought hard but came up short in a 3-2 loss. Our grandson played well both in the field and for one quarter at goalie. I drifted back to the time when our two boys played soccer. Those were days of children’s youth that I remember very fondly. There is just something magical about seeing sleepy-eyed little boys arrive at a dew-covered field on a fall morning all grumpy and unsettled. Then, as if by magic, a whistle blows, and eleven little boys take off in pursuit of a white sphere, kicking, and yelling at teammates suddenly awake and alive. I love that.
Saturday evening: This was our night to stroll around the pier at Hermosa Beach. My usual request is to have dinner at Hennessey’s Tavern at the base of the pier, but the last two visits have not gone well. The food was not good. The sunsets viewed from the dining room can be incredible and, for this reason alone, I was willing to give it one more try. Soon after our seating, a spectacular sunset appeared and I ran out on the pier to capture it with my camera. The view of the sunset did not make up for the bad food as, once again, my meal was not prepared well–such a shame because the location is excellent.
Sunday morning: The whirlwind swirled on when my son and I went back to the pier for a visit to Sharkees for NFL Football on many, many television sets. Since we are in the Pacific Time Zone, football begins at 10:00 am and pitchers of Bloody Mary’s are available. I thought “what the heck” I’m on vacation (aren’t I always?) and ordered up one pitcher as a chaser for my plate of nachos. The atmosphere was terrific, but after a couple of hours, we returned home for a long nap. I’m a wild one!
Sunday evening: Suddenly our last night arrived and we were treated to a wonderful evening at the home of our daughter-in-law’s parents. Our host, Cheryl, always goes out of her way to make us feel welcome and is a fantastic entertainer. This evening was no exception. While seated at the dinner table, one of Cheryl’s other grandchildren decided that she wanted to serve salad to everyone and climbed on the table with serving forks in hand, aided by her grandfather. This was marvelous theater and laughter roared through the dining room. All too soon it was time to say goodbye.
Monday: Up before sunrise, and it was time to head to the airport for the return trip home. The flight was uneventful (thankfully) although the promised WiFi failed to work and the seats were still too small. After touchdown and a quick Uber ride home, we were left wondering where the time went. Our west coast turnaround had ended almost as suddenly as it began, but I suppose that’s what happens in a fall whirlwind…you turn around and it’s gone. Nevertheless, great memories linger…it’s just time to be Easin’ Along.