California Cruizin'

Discovering the Hidden Jewels Throughout America's Golden State

Lone Star, Cowboys, and Big Bucks

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Into the Deep Blue

Travel Sonata in C-Major

Next time you descend on Los Angeles, consider a visit to the California Science Center http://californiasciencecenter.org housed in Downtown LA’s Exposition Park. http://www.expositionpark.orgIMG_0629

Entering the modern, airy structure, one is greeted by a suspended Humpback whale replica, two slick fighter jets chasing its monstrous tail.
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Entering the modern, airy structure, one is greeted by a suspended Humpback whale replica, two slick fighter jets chasing its monstrous tail.

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A fascinating array of interactive exhibits, live shows, and demonstrations presented across this state-of-the-art facility offers something to discover for everyone. Open all year round with free general admission, children and adults alike can immerse themselves in the wonders of our world, discover amazing ecosystems, learn about human inventions and innovations, and peek deep into space.IMG_0637

For a fee, breathtaking 3D movies can be watched in the IMAX Theatre next door. Dive into the fascinating blue world of Humpback wales, or take a Space…

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Southwest Chief

Travel Sonata in C-Major

Have you ever thought of exploring America’s western frontiers on railroad tracks? If the travel bug bites, why not ride the Southwest Chief from America’s Heartland to the Pacific Coast? 2,256 miles of spectacular scenery. That’s what one of my nephews did not long ago. Out of Chicago’s Union Station, riding across the wide-open plains of Kansas, under Colorado’s open skies, and down into New Mexico’s red painted desert, he finally hopped off the train in Lamy 24 hours later. Named after Jean-Baptiste Lamy, who became Santa Fe’s first Archbishop in 1853, the unassuming train stop in the middle of nowhere is just 18 miles south of Santa Fe off highway 285. IMG_8698Arriving in the muddy parking area steps from the tracks, I look around. Remains from recent rain showers are still dripping off the red-tiled train station, its sun-faded yellow paint having seen better days.

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Stepping into the terminal…

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2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 950 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Where the American Eagle Flies

Travel Sonata in C-Major

Landing at Santa Fe Airport, is like arriving back in time. And that’s not just because of the different time zone here in the mountains. Depending from your point of departure, you either have gained or lost an hour or two, and have touched down at 6, 348 feet (1,935 meters) above sea level in New Mexico’s High Desert that has not seen much change. IMG_8144That’s what you think when the terra cotta control tower takes over the view in your plane window as the American Eagle jet taxis closer up to the terminal… closer… still closer… Your heartbeat off the charts, you hope the wingtip does not hit the huge window you see the plane reflected in. Is this the arrival or the departure terminal out there? It’s just one small building against the bluest blue. I see people with suitcases lined up.
The plane rolls to a halt…

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Sunbathing

Have you ever watched a seal taking a sunbath? Cruising around the Long Beach Backwaters the other day, this is what I came about. IMG_7691

At first I thought the animal might be injured since it was just floating, staring up into the sun, flapping one fin occasionally. And the advancing peddlers IMG_7707
and other electric boats IMG_7703 did do very little to disturb the frolicking seal. To the contrary, it just seemed to bask in the attention.

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SoCal Harvest

Cruzin’ through Long Beach the other day I came across Cindy Goss, a feisty woman with an infectious smile who runs SoCal Harvest, a community serving organization dedicated to harvesting from the community for the community, one backyard at a time.

So, this morning I joined her and an enthusiastic team of five volunteers as they descended on one orange tree in a Long Beach backyard armed with picking rakes and empty fruit  boxes and crates.  IMG_6969

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And while swift arms plucked the ripe fruits off the drooping branches, laughter popping, and  IMG_6974

Cindy checked for diseases in the oranges, I just watched in amazement at this rich bounty just one tree could offer. IMG_6979

As she clipped the oranges’ little leaved stems, Cindy shared with me that SoCalHarvest was conceived in January 2009 as a response to President Obama’s call to service. Quite impressive!

And while more oranges tumbled into the boxes and crates, and the volunteers enthused about their community service and joy of homegrown produce, Cindy gave me the rundown of things. First, a request comes from the homeowner followed by her site visit to evaluate the yield and workforce needed. Once set up, her team descends like magical fairies, picking the homegrown goodness before delivering it to area food bank, where everything is weighed. Cindy told me that their best harvest, 23 volunteers on one day in one backyard yielded 1,385 pounds of grapefruits, oranges and tangerines. WOW!

Back to the food bank, the homeowner gets a receipt for his tax-deductable donation. One crate of his/her donation goes to the bi-monthly Produce Exchange in Bluff Park (across from Bixby Park) on Ocean Boulevard between Junipero and Cherry. In this free community gathering of gardeners, environmentalists, urban harvesters, and curious Long Beach citizens, all share their bounty, build community and forge lasting friendships.

So, come and check it out every First and Third Saturday of the month from 10:00am to 1:00 pm. For more information email ProduceExchangeLB@gmail.com or go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Produce-Exchange-Long-Beach/

To have SoCal Harvest pick your fruits or veggies or to volunteer, you may sign up through facebook.com/SoCalHarvest, SoCalHarvest@earthlink.net or SoCalHarvest.org.

So, if you’ve got a backyard full of fruit trees or just one, and would like to share your  excess produce with the community, give Cindy a call. She not only will make you smile but a whole community. Because after all, good food serves people and eventually changes the world to be a better place one backyard at a time. IMG_6982

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Scissors, Needles & Beads

Whether you are looking for a quick fix of a too tight, too wide, or too short skirt, dress, or jacket, or whether you need a custom made suit, couture dress, or wedding gown, Vietnamese born Nina Dinh’s tailor shop, Susan’s Dressmaker, on the corner of 7th Street and Redondo Ave in Long Beach caters to all tailoring needs under one roof. IMG_6837
My personal seamstress for a number of years now, Nina’s swift and talented fingers have not only altered quite a number of my pants, skirts, and dresses but also created some stunning new outfits.
Talking to this soft spoken Asian lady during my last visit, IMG_6835 I was touched to learn about her personal story before coming to Long Beach in 1991. Her father worked for the government but when the communists took over, he was put into prison and the family suffered a great deal. At that time Nina attended High School. When her father escaped and went to the US, as a punishment, Nina was barred from attending college and as a result of that she began sewing.
When Nina arrived on the American shore in 1991 with her husband and infant son, she came empty handed and did not know a word of English. But she was lucky to get a job in the tailor shop where her sister, who had come to Southern California earlier, worked.
Soon after Nina’s arrival, her sister ventured out on her own and Nina took over the shop and thus Susan Dressmaker was born.
With the help of two more seamstresses, Nina creates the most beautiful outfits. From casual wear to suits, cocktail, and wedding dresses, she cuts, stitches, and beads whatever fabric and design you may fancy. Besides the whole fashion gamut, Nina also puts her touches on decorative items, like curtains and throw pillows. IMG_6833
Talking to Nina on that day, her eyes misted over retracing her life from communist Vietnam to the free shores of America. Her emotions about leaving her homeland and the hardship she endured still run deep. But with the help of her sister, she forged a new life on the sunny shoreline of Long Beach and appreciates the multicultural communities but most of all her personal freedom and freedom of speech.

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Dance of God

Cruizin’ down Long Beach’s Second Street during lunch hour today, I stopped at the Natraj Indian Restaurant. IMG_6651  http://www.freewebs.com/lbnatraj

My husband and I have been savoring their scrumptious menu many times, so I know the owner Mr. Singh and his bubbly wife, Babbljit, Bubbly, as she likes to be called, I’m not kidding you. And bubbly she is this sweet faced woman from the Northern Indian State of Punjab.
Having lived in Punjab at one point in my life, I feel an affinity with this fascinating land and her people. So, greeting Mr. Singh in his native Punjabi when we first met, naturally we become friends ever since we dined at the Natraj a few years ago. IMG_6648
Mr. Singh, who proudly wears a beautiful turban, today it was sapphire blue, is proud about his Sikh heritage, hence the picture of Guru Nanak, the father of his Sikh faith, I noticed on the wall behind the buffet. He insisted to have his picture taken with me and we did. Copy of IMG_6647  Hailing from Jalandhar, a bustling metropolis in the heart of Punjab, this Indian son arrived in the US in 1992 to work in the restaurant. Since 2004 he is a proud partner and runs the family owned business, making sure that guests get the ultimate Indian dining experience indulging in the many dishes his Northern Indian cuisine menu offers. IMG_6645 From Tandoori specialties and Biryani dishes to lamb, poultry, seafood and vegetable curries, the choice is overwhelming. IMG_6644 And not to forget the scrumptious rice dishes, naans, rotis, parathas, and kulchas, specialty breads arriving at your table fresh from the oven even before you’ve had a chance to finish the last one in your basket.
So, I encourage you to start cruizin’ and explore India’s cuisine right here at your fingertips. Natraj, Mr. Singh tells me means Dance of God, and is open for lunch from 11:00am–2:30 pm and for dinner from 5:00-10:00 pm, 7 days a week. Dishes can be ordered mild, medium, or hot, and the all inclusive buffet during lunch hours is the best way to savor some of the best Indian specialties for a bargain prize. Get in the groove and enjoy the Dance of God.

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Faces of Cruizin’

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