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Monday, June 30, 2014

Driving in Southern California

Aloha Everyone,

California is one of the most beautiful states in the country, but the traffic in Southern California, especially around Los Angeles and San Diego is absolutely awful! Thank goodness J.J. is the one driving our R.V. around.

Stock photo of LA traffic
It's not that drivers are especially rude and mean, but rather that everyone seems to be in a huge rush and there is simply no place to go. Encountering bumper to bumper traffic is very common, especially during rush hour. The freeway becomes a parking lot and people are trying to squeeze through tiny gaps to get a few feet ahead of the next car.

Stock photo of LA traffic. J.J. and I try to avoid rush hour whenever possible
When traffic does start to move, people race down the freeway at warp speed, trying to make up for the time they had previously lost. Cars zip by us at 85 to 90 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone. Of course, this sometimes leads to accidents, which leads to more traffic. It is a vicious cycle.

According to the State of California's Highway Patrol, there are a total of 31,946,422 cars registered in the state as of January 1, 2012. Considering that California's entire population is just over 35 million people, that's a lot of cars! This number does not even include the commercial trucks, vans, trailers, and motorcycles.

There is some beauty that you can find within all this chaos. There are a couple of beautiful scenic shots that I took on some of Southern California's busiest freeways.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Birthday Message to Our Granddaughter

Aloha Everyone,

Today was our granddaughter's birthday. Her birthday party consisted of several of her closest friends and their families. It was a huge success. Everyone including the parents and the grandparents (J.J and I), had a great time. Below is our birthday message to our granddaughter.

Dearest Granddaughter,

Happy 7th Birthday sweetheart. FarFar and I are delighted that we are able to celebrate your 7th birthday with you. Here are some of our thoughts and lessons we have learned which we would like to share with you.

1)  Wake up early, go to bed early and live your life with order.

 2)  Count your blessings, you already have everything you need. Accumulating things do not add to your true happiness. Being comfortable with yourself, having good relationship with your family and friends are much more important than having things.

3)  Be grateful to everyone. Remember that not all people you meet are like you.You will meet some challenging people but those are the people who can help you grow. You will learn to practice equanimity.

4)  Everyday, spend sometime in the nature to look at the flowers and trees, listen to the birds sing and gaze at the clouds feel the sun, the breeze, the rain on your skin. You will learn about yourself when you spend some time alone.

5)  Let go of your ego. Remember everyone is special and important.

6)  Live life honestly, live life simply, live life fully.

7)  Live life with loving-kindness and compassion

Whenever you would like to ask us about our message, please come to us. With all our love and affection,

FarFar* and FarMor*
(Father's Father and Father's Mother)

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Impressive Garden With Western and Asian Flavor

Aloha Everyone,

Last night J.J. and I were invited to dinner by one of our son's friends. The hosts, Larry and Jeanne had a beautiful home with a very impressive garden. What was most striking was the use of Asian and Western design and flora. For example, a common species of Bougainville adorned the tall, dark-brown stained gate and white washed wall complimented by purple flowers in the foreground.

A building adjacent was painted in bright Southwest colors of terra cotta and deep purple. Extremely tall groves of green bamboos from the neighbor's house added another dimension to this section of their garden.

The focal point was Chinese Silk Floss Tree with its thorny trunks.

Professionally designed house that incorporates and balances the exterior and interior living spaces.

Some painting that were created by Jeanne.

Larry and Jeanne in their beautiful museum-like yet comfortable and inviting living room.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, June 27, 2014

King's Hawaiian Restaurant & Bakery

Aloha Everyone,

The King's Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant in Torrance opened in 1988. Its founder, Robert Taira, actually opened his first bakery in Hilo (Big Island of Hawaii) in 1950 and a subsequent bakery in Honolulu 1963. Today, its breads are shipped all over the country. J.J. and I really enjoy their Portuguese Sweet Bread.

This morning J.J and I met Bob, one of our teachers at Art Center College of Design, at the King's Hawaiian Restaurant in Torrance, CA. Bob was my mentor and we remained friends over the years.

King's Hawaiian Bakery is one of the largest retail bakeries in Southern California. Its custom decorated cakes are always a big hit for all occasions.

The interior of restaurant section offers relaxing Hawaiiana atmosphere and very inviting for meetings and get together with family and friends.

Mouth watering baked goods are displayed in the bakery section just as you enter the building.

J.J. enjoyed the Hawaiian Fried Rice topped with fresh egg.

Souvenir photo with Bob.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Amazing Toy Train Collection

Aloha Everyone,

Hollis and J.J. have been friends and classmates even before J.J. and I met at the Art Center College of Design Hollis was J.J.'s best man at our wedding and J.J. then became Hollis' best man at his wedding. Our friendship is one of the longest spanning over 40 plus years.

Yesterday, we got together with Hollis and his wife Ginny, and after a delicious Chinese dinner, we stopped by at his "train house" so that I can take photos.

Hollis has been collecting toy trains ever since we can remember. When our sons were small, we would go to his house and the boys enjoyed seeing his toy train village and get to operate some of the trains.

Today, Hollis has a collection of over 300 train sets, all pre-World War II. Hollis told us that his collection is focused on American Flyers rather than Lionel which most of collectors prefer. Their value depends on condition and rarity. He told us that one of his friends pays an average of $20,000 to $50,000 per set. The highest price his friend paid was $253,000 for a single complete set.

Hollis' collection is housed in an undisclosed, non-descriptive location with security systems in place. We walked in and you are immediately taken into another world of fantasy and wonder. I can understand why Hollis loses time when he is in his train house. I can easily see myself playing with his trains for hours.

This is his work room where he restores trains and manufactures parts, if necessary.

This is where some of his prized collections are displayed. Original boxes are important part of the collection.

This is Hollis with his first toy train set at age 3.

His wife's restored art work is hanging on the wall while she shows us the original box.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Introducing Our RV "Honu"

Aloha Everyone,

I have gotten several requests to give a more detailed description of "Honu', our faithful RV who takes us around on our adventure. Honu is the Hawaiian word for sea turtle and symbolizes longevity, peace, good luck, humility, long life and spirit within. It is said that these sea turtles guided the Polynesians to Hawaii in the first place.

Our motorhome chassis and engine are manufactured and warranted by Mercedes Benz of Germany. The motorhome body and interior are by designed by Roadtrek of Canada.

We have two layers of storage areas. In the bottom is where we store water hose, gloves sad cleaning supplies.

There is a screen is installed to keep insects from entering our vehicle.

The upper section of the storage area is where we keep our luggage.

A towing tongue gives us an option to tow another vehicle.

There are three tanks: fresh water, gray water and black water.The latter two must be emptied whenever they are full. Nearly all of the RV parks we stayed provide individual disposal area where hoses from our RV may fit and dispose directly without any mess.

The green hose indicates that it carries gray and black water.

Disposal hoses are concealed along the bottom of the vehicle of the driver's side.



Rear view camera to guide us when backing into a parking stall.

Our RV home is equipped with an easy to use power roll up awning. We can set it up to give us additional shade or for us to set up outdoor eating space. Although nearly all of the RV parks we've stayed thus far have picnic table and chairs set up for each RV spaces.

On the driver's side near the rear, there is a rectangular compartment where our outside shower is stored. We can either take hot or cold shower using our own water source.

After nearly 6 weeks of RVing , these are basic and useful tools to keep our RV home clean. Paper towels and other items are placed on top of the retractable step that is on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Aloha -- Cathi