Nemo in California
July, 2002

Using subjective journal format, I hope to be able to provide commentary on this year’s annual trip to California. Barbara and I house sit in foggy San Francisco for relatives who escape to sunny Marin County, across the bay to the north. Here is the opening report.


I finished my last review for a few days ahead of schedule, allowing me to do comprehensive archiving and backing up of all the precious data on each of Barbara and my iMacs. I burned CDs of our most important files and folders, using a Wiebe MicroGB combo FireWire/USB portable drive for temporary storage.

Barbara was having difficulty obtaining consistent IP sharing over our Linksys PowerLine network, and it took me two days to figure out a solution: simply unplug and replug the power cord to her EtherFast bridge unit before each cold start, and all was well. Linksys recommends not using power strips, surge protectors, and extension cords for PowerLine equipment, and all three were involved in our tiny network. Under the circumstances, this benign replugging was a simple workaround.

I hauled all my computer hardware and software from office building to house, for physical security and common sense. Our house has air conditioning, alarm system, and a house sitter, while the unoccupied free-standing office (think: garage) is alarmed, but hits temperatures over 100¡F all day every day this time of year.

No books to review were packed this year, for a bunch of reasons:

  • our VW Beetle has very limited space
  • an enormous quantity of Photoshop and web design titles awaits my return to Tucson
  • reviewing books does not make for a mentally peaceful vacation period
  • other dedicated writers are now providing first-rate reviews
  • I wasn’t sure how much uninterrupted computer time I would have in California.

    L. A. FOR A SONG

    Barbara burst out of bed (think: unusual) at 5:00 on the Tuesday we were to depart, enabling us to leave home at 6:10. Nine hours and 494 miles later we arrived at the Los Angeles home of Kurt and Sheila, ready to play in L. A. First dinner was Indian cuisine, yum yum, which was a short distance from McCabe’s Guitar Shop.

    I was instantly transported back to the early 1970s upon entering McCabe’s, one of the premier (think: quality and variety) guitar “resellers” in the United States. Overwhelmed by the extensive range of instruments and books, I was unable to say anything coherent or pick up any instruments for evaluation.

    A young guitarist was strumming on a beautiful Taylor guitar. The name was new to me, but he said Taylor is among the very best of contemporary instruments. Check them out!

    Kurt was attending his first class in beginning vocal technique. Being an old (think: has been) vocalist, I agreed to join him. The instructor, Sue Fink, is the best I have ever experienced. If I had more voice and more time in Los Angeles I would take this class too.


    Wednesday morning found Nemo and Barbara at Santa Monica’s farmers market, where we tasted and purchased organic fruit and veggies. Following a quick lunch at Sheila and Kurt’s place, we drove back to Santa Monica for a long afternoon walk down the beach to Venice. Weather was cool and overcast, so we strolled the entire length of Venice’s concrete boardwalk, or whatever it is called.

    Weird carnivalesque commerce lines both sides. I don’t want to waste your time or mine describing our Venice experience, so I’ll simply state neither Barbara nor I are in any hurry to go there again. We located the charming Venice house of an old college chum of mine who wasn’t home, and who will be surprised to see a business card in his mailbox.

    Kurt treated us to an adventurous sushi dinner in the Hollywood area. I gave him a brief guitar lesson before early bedtime. Barbara and I had another travel day ahead on Thursday.


    No traffic on Interstate 405 (think: surprise) obstructed or delayed our departure from Los Angeles to highway U. S. 101. Northbound, we stopped for the first (and probably last) time ever at Andersen’s highly-advertised Pea Soup Restaurant. At San Luis Obispo we cut over to Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, stopping briefly at our favorite beach, just south of Hearst Castle.

    The drive through rugged, winding Big Sur coastal region was full of glistening ocean vistas, broad headlands, and upward rolling hill terrain. The final fifty miles included a bonus treat, featuring millions of early summer wildflowers (names provided upon request, once I check Barbara’s travel notes).

    Very dear old friends, Steve and Dannie, now reside south of Carmel on fourteen acres of nearly vertical forest and brush, with world class views of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Arriving at 5:00 p. m., Barbara and I talked with Dannie and Steve until dinner was ready, then talked some more until very late bedtime. Steve was intrigued with my Imation RipGo. Its music mini-CDs worked perfectly in his 12″ IceBook.


    Friday, our final driving day, began with an amazing discovery by Steve. I intend to write in detail about the Floating Opera, but I need to do some more research, so please watch this space.

    It was time to leave idyllic the idyllic Big Sur coast, so we continued north on Highway 1 via Carmel and Monterey, always with that splendid ocean on our left. Highlights of the day were:

  • buying bread at one of my favorite places, Gayle’s Bakery, in Capitola (near Santa Cruz)
  • strolling through acres of plants from “down under” in the arboretum at University of California Santa Cruz
  • renewing our acquaintance with pounding surf and blasting breezes at a remote beach near Davenport
  • and a delicious dinner of appetizers and foccacia bread at Cafe Gibraltar in Montara, which we learned about from the Zagat Guide


    My key fit into the door of our July house sitting residence, as it should. After unpacking the VW, I spent the rest of Friday night loading our personal data into the Rev. B bondi-blue iMac we use in San Francisco. Everything works perfectly, including the new high-speed broadband service. Hooray!

    Today, Saturday, our vacation really began with another sunny, windy walk, this time at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. We ate lunch with friends at ultra-authentic (think: foreign country) Lam Hoa Thuan Restaurant on Irving Street, near Golden Gate Park, then took care of shopping and other personal stuff on foot in our neighborhood.

    Now, after sunset on Saturday, the Marin Headland is shrouded in darkness across the bay, while lights from Golden Gate Bridge reflect in the turbulent waters below.

    John Nemerovski

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