It is so true that time flies when you are having fun. We were having so much fun with Jim and Vilma when we realized that our visit would be over in just a few more days.
With the major activities checked off our to do list, we spent the last few days at Jim and Vilma’s just relaxing on the back patio, accompanying Vilma on a buying trip to buy new patio furniture, met a good friend of Vilma’s for lunch one day, and yes, enjoying one last happy hour before leaving town.
Tuesday we drove to meet Vilma’s friend Cheryl at the Mission Inn Restaurant in Riverside. The skies were clear, the temperature cool and, fortunately for us, the traffic was steady. We arrived at the restaurant and found a parking spot on the street close by. The setting of this restaurant was quite lovely. The ‘Spanish mission style’ architecture was quite beautiful. We made our way onto the Spanish Patio settled into our seats and waited for Cheryl to arrive.
Everywhere you looked there was something beautiful to behold. There was a bell tower, a clock and glockenspiel, lovely flowers draped over wrought iron balcony railings, red umbrellas at every table and a circular tiled fountain in the middle of the patio. “What a lovely setting,” I thought to myself.
Cheryl joined us and we enjoyed a wonderful time eating, talking and laughing. Vilma loves to reconnect with friends that she has made over the years and was excited to learn that Cheryl would be staying up the coast for a time this summer and made plans to visit her.
I love hamburgers and decided to order the Mission Inn Cheeseburger consisting of a half-pound Niman Ranch Angus patty, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese on a Brioche bun. It was delicious. We bid Cheryl goodbye and made our way back home and spent the rest of the day just enjoying each other’s company.
Wednesday was yet another beautiful day of sunny skies and cool temperatures. After doing some shopping for patio furniture earlier we drove down to one of the most beautiful spots I have seen in California, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
Randy had mentioned that he spent his early childhood in Point Loma and loved the cliffs. Vilma and Jim had never been there so off we went. Oh my, from the moment I stepped out of the car I knew I would have a hard time leaving.
The park extends 1½ miles along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline. We walked along admiring the view of the ocean crashing against the cliffs, the lovely wild flowers that adorned the landscape, the gulls clustered on the ledges and a few brave souls pencil dropping from the cliffs into the ocean below.
Evidently, it is not permitted for people to engage in diving/dropping into the waters off the cliffs. As we watched a truck filled with lifeguards came along and shooed everyone off the cliff but not before a young girl dropped into the water with her cap and gown on.
We stopped here and there to just take it all in. The words, “Beautiful, just beautiful,” kept drifting through my mind as we walked along. We eventually reached the end, turned and made our way back to the car. Our next stop was down by the beach to visit a street market and enjoy happy hour at the South Beach Bar & Grille.
On our way to the restaurant we walked through the street market teeming with people. Everything you could imagine was on sale; food, clothes, shoes, artwork, jewelry and more.
We climbed the stairs and found seating outside along the railing with a beautiful view of the ocean. I looked over the happy hour food menu and decided to order from the pub favorites instead. I ordered the Coconut Shrimp – 6 prawns dusted with toasted coconut and panko bread crumbs with Thai dipping sauce and a very tall glass of ice-cold beer. Wonderful!
We had the best time people watching from our perch. After we ate, we walked down to the beach to a small grassy area and witnessed people dancing, someone walking a tight rope, a few people playing a variety of instruments and just hanging out. The atmosphere was quite festive and carnival like.
We had another wonderful day! The day was waning so we returned home for a relaxing evening.
Our last day with Jim and Vilma was a quiet one. Jim and Randy went out to purchase the patio set we had seen the day before and set it up on the back patio. It was lovely and just the right size. Vilma was very pleased.
At the very beginning of our visit with Jim and Vilma I shared that we call Vilma our ‘energizer bunny’ friend. What is really amazing about Vilma’s level of energy is that she has been battling cancer for a number of years. She has endured several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy and surgery.
Through it all she has maintained a positive and upbeat attitude and an exercise regimen that makes me feel as though I am always standing still. Vilma walks between 2-4 miles each morning during the week. She also does free weights and squats each day. Vilma is a true inspiration to her family and friends. Randy and I count our blessings that we are counted among Vilma’s friends.
We spent quite a bit of time talking about her latest diagnosis and when she would start her new round of treatments.
The rest of our day was spent talking about future visits, Jim’s trip to Albuquerque, doing laundry and packing for our departure the next day. Then it was time for dinner.
Jim and Vilma wanted to take us to yet another really nice place for dinner called Duke’s in La Jolla. What a beautiful location. We found a table on the patio overlooking the ocean and had the most wonderful time talking about what a great visit it had been and the next time we would meet.
While we sipped our cocktails and ate our delicious dinner, Vilma shared that they had plans to drive to the east coast sometime in the fall or after the first of the year to spend time catching up with friends and would come down for a visit. “Great,” I said with a smile, “hopefully by then we will have scouted the area and found some wonderful places to take you and Jim for happy hour”.
The atmosphere and menus at Duke’s had a distinct Hawaiian flavor. Menu choices included Maui onion soup, Lilikoi Ceviche and Banana leaf Steamed Fish & Shrimp.
But first things first. I started my meal with a Duke’s signature cocktail made with, “Aloha, fresh Hawaiian juices and two kinds of rum”. This delicious drink was served in a fun Tiki glass.
I absolutely could not resist ordering Duke’s Classic Burger made with ½ lb. of chuck, brisket & hanger grind, crisp bacon, white cheddar, yellow mustard aioli, tomato, onion on a potato bun with Yukon gold fries. The burger was juicy, tasty and delicious.
Tasty drink with a kick and a delicious burger cried out for a great dessert. We ordered one “Hula Pie” for the table and enjoyed a taste delight that was beyond delicious. The pie is made with macadamia nut ice cream piled high on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and more macadamia nuts. We all loved every bite of this delicious dessert!
We finished our meal and watched as the sun started to set. We returned home, talked a little more and finally said our good nights.
We left California the next day happy that we had spent time with Randy’s sister Antoinette and her husband Brian, visited with his son Richard and his partner Robert, spent some time with Randy’s 102 year-old Aunt Martha and spent a busy and fun week with our friends Jim and Vilma.
Our next travels will take us on a trans-Atlantic cruise to Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Canada.