Sunday, September 16, 2007

2007 LaJolla and Lawrence Welk Resort

Friday September 7, 2007: We finally made it! After six months of waiting, our week vacation in Southern California was here, and coincidentally the timing worked out great as the first weekend away was the La Jolla Rough Water Swim … a one and three mile swim in the La Jolla harbor. I had swum the one mile distance a couple years ago and had a ball. Julie has swum there seven or eight times.

The first several days of our vacation was meeting up with friends for evening social time and the big race on Sunday the 9th … the balance of the trip was taking in sights like Catalina Island, Temecula, Wine Country, and even golfing as a couple for the first time in 15 years!

We have a time share unit that we had only used once before on a trip to Spain but this year we wanted to stay closer to home. We both love California so we chose to look into trading our time share for a unit within driving distance in Southern California. Fran found a unit for trade September 7-14 located in between San Diego and Los Angeles in a city called Escondido at the Lawrence Welk Resort putting us within easy driving distance of both cities. Interestingly, there are not a lot of time share resorts in Southern California for trade so even though we started looking in March … six months ahead of time … many locations were booked. The resort is on 700 acres purchased by LW back in 1963 for $150,000 when there was nothing near it … I’ll venture a guess each acre is now worth a million! There are four sections, or neighborhoods, to the resort each built at different times over the last 30 years. Each section has a pool and some form of community center and the main “shopping district” near the lobby has a pizza hut, convenience store, a 380 seat theater, a restaurant, and a store for buying gifts. There is also an 18 hole regulation golf course as well as a 18 hole short course … for golfers in training.

Fran and I traveled from Phoenix on I10 / I15 directly to the Welk Resort … a total of about 380 miles. We left about mid-morning … I even managed to get a swim workout in at SAC and by 5PM we were within sight of the resort. Simon and Wendy had already arrived in La Jolla and were on the beach when they called us to ask about dinner. After checking in we met them in downtown Delmar at a very nice Italian restaurant at the central plaza. It was so nice to spend time with Simon and Wendy as we have known each other now for close to eight years when our kids were attending SAC age group swimming. We always have a lot to ctach up on.

Saturday September 8: I slept for nine hours … what a treat … although I think I was more tired than if I had slept my normal 6-7 hours! After a slow morning Fran and I went to La Jolla to meet up with our daughter Julie at the cove. I love swimming there … both in the protected cove as well as on the seaward side where some decent waves come breaking in. I got in about 800 yards of swimming by myself in the outer cove and then 30 minutes in the waves with Julie.

Fran and I took our time around La Jolla enjoying the small eateries that line the streets both before and after the playtime swimming. Coming down the day before the race is quite helpful for me as I rarely do ocean swimming and getting used to the seaweed, the huge number of fish constantly around you and the ocean swells gets some of the anxiety out of the way … although I must say looking the 1.5 miles across the harbor and knowing that I would be going out and back the next day did leave quite a few butterflies in my stomach.

Sunday September 9: The La Jolla Rough Water swim is actually composed of multiple events comprising youth short distances, Age Group, Masters, and a “Gatorman” distance … a three mile swim across the bay and back to the cove. The Age Group and Masters events are a competitive one mile that are sent off in waves of about 500-700 people at a time. Arizona Sun Devil Masters / SAC had about 15 swimmers in these events. The Gatorman is the premier event as the 3 mile open water US championship and attracted about 550 other swimmers this year including several swimmers from SAC (Winston, Patty Gray, Julie, and me) and an olympic hopeful or two.

I received some ribbing about this afterwards but I actually count my strokes … I’ve done this for as long as I can remember when swimming long distances. It helps me keep my mind off of how long I’m actually out there. I made the turn on the north side of the harbor in 1,100 full strokes and I felt pretty good … the swells were running about four feet and the water was a little choppy but not too bad. The return leg though was harder … it took over 1,300 full strokes to get back! I’m not sure why … my sighting was good so I kept a steady heading but the swells seemed a little higher and the water a little more choppy … and there were a few times where I felt I was swimming strong but not making any headway as the water pushed and tugged on me. I finally finished after an hour and 37 minutes … not exactly one of the speed folks out there that day but a time good enough for the ultimate objective … a Gatorman tee shirt … a very prized tee shirt that only swimmers who make the cut off time of 1:45 are eligible! Some photos to look for show Fran, Julie and I as well as other photos with various swimmer friends from my Masters swim team.

Monday September 10: The highlight of the day was having dinner with Mike and Sue at “Su Casa” in La Jolla. Mike and Sue went there 30 years ago on the honeymoon. We spent 2-3 hours just sharing stories about our families and teenagers while enjoying dinner, fresh made at the table guacamole and a few margaritas. Mike has a swimming background very similar to me in that he was not a swimmer prior to joining Masters Swimming. I was a runner, Mike was a bike rider and sore bodies led both of us to the pool and building ourselves up to the point where we could even attempt an open water ocean swim.

Tuesday September 11: Fran and I had a bad experience at golf about 15 years ago … Fran thought it was a social thing … I thought it was a competitive thing … we ended up walking off the course and thinking we would never play together again. But the LWR offers some free golf clinics and on Tuesdays it is learning how to swing a club … not how to hit a ball … but the process of how to swing a club through a ball. The instructor was very good and both Fran and I learned quite a few tips … to the point where Fran even suggested playing golf together later in the week. I think she was feeling a little competitive ...

After the golf clinic we went to the Wineries of Temecula Valley. After an outdoor lunch at Baily’s in Old Town Temecula we went down the main road where most of the 20 or so Temecula wineries are located and decided to go to one called VR La Cereza. It was actually quite pleasant there. We tasted a few different wines and ended up buying one called “Tempranillo” bottled in 2005 and meaning … “they loved to dance”.

As we returned from the winery tour I was thinking of the outdoor grills provided by the resort and how I would like to cook a couple steaks one evening. As we pulled into the parking lot I had this thought in my head … and got to wondering if there were cooking utensils either in the room or under the grills. As I got out of the car and headed towards our condo I decided to make a beeline for one of the grills and even noticed a tong on top of the wood surface next to the grill … before I thought about it further I went right over to the grill, noticed it was hot and proceeded opened it … only to hear a high pitched whiney “that’s my chicken”! Fran had her hand over her mouth as I turned to look at a big Grizzly Adams type of guy who was trying to get to me before I could get to his chicken. Talk about acting before thinking … I quickly apologized profusely and kept apologizing and walking with Fran back to our room where we got a big chuckle out of the “Chicken Incident” and the fact the Grizzly Adams was our loud next door neighbor.

That evening we attended “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Modern Mille is a new play presented at the Welk Resort Theater featuring a large Broadway quality cast. It is about a young woman from Kansas intent on achieving fortune and fame in NYC during the early 1920s. She eventually achieves the fortune part but only after several perilous plights involving failed relationships and saving young women from being kidnapped and sent to Shanghai for the sex trade. It was a nice play to watch starting at 8PM and finishing around 10:45PM … but we felt bad for the cast as the audience gave a polite applause and then went home to bed. But Fran and I were thinking that if you perform the late evening show at the LW Resort don’t expect much of an enthusiastic response for an audience up past their bed time J

Wednesday September 12: Without a lot of planning we decided to go to Catalina Island today … turns out there are several pickup points for the Catalina Shuttle and we left from Dana Point, a very nice area filled with restaurants and shops supporting the wealthy yacht owners of Southern California. A very beautiful place! It was a quick 90 minute trip to Catalina and Fran and I spent about five hours visiting the city of Avalon. Lunch at the Beach House, buying a few shirts at various shops and after a short trolley ride we went on a walking tour of the Wrigley Memorial arboretum. Wrigley Jr owned the island about 100 years ago and bequeathed about 80% of the island as a permanent conservation site. Some photos to look for are from lunch at the Avalon Beach House, the “Dragon Tree” at the Wrigley arboretum, and the streets filled with electric carts. Avalon is only about two miles on a side … so cars are pretty much wasted here … and expensive!

Thursday September 13: Fran and I returned to the golf clinic and learned some basics for chipping this morning. Pretty much the same as for full contact swinging … finding your line, bend at the hips, arms hang straight down, interlaced grip, square feet & shoulders & hips but then pull your feet out at an angle but keep your shoulders parallel to the line to the hole. Whew ... I wanted to write it all down! Seems like a lot when you just want to hit the ball! Then put weight on forward foot and leading arm extended forming a little “y” with arms. Three position back swing (low, medium, high) and the position of the feet prevent the arms from too much of a back swing. No movement of the wrists … it’s all arm movement … from position 1, 2 or 3 depending how far the ball needs to be hit. Club selection is based on loft needed and distance of desired roll.

After lunch at Panera Bread company we played 18 holes of executive golf at the Oak Ridge course at Welk. Most of the holes were 80-90 yards long although a few were a whopping 125 yards. There is a longer course called Fountains but we are a long ways away from being able to use that course. Fran had a number of good shots including a 20 foot putt. It helped that we were almost the only one's on the course so no rushing and we took our time every hole. We played "best ball" and and per hole scores were capped at 5 ... so we got to celebrate the holes where we were successful and by definition we had no unsuccessful holes! It was a nice time together and we got to thinking about when and where we could play next!

That evening I made dinner … OK, not that hard … a couple steaks, store bought salad, and the bottle of “Tempranillo” I had bought on Tuesday but it was nice to cook on the outdoor grills provided by the resort ... and while I was cooking ... I kept looking over my shoulder for Grizzly Adams as I kept reliving the Chicken Incident ....