Salli's Log

I can't imagine taking this trip without having made the journey to our homes to say good-bye before we dropped off the edge of the continent. Although the visits to both places were filled with endless "to do" lists, preparations as we pared down and stocked up, and weary tensions as we readied to set sail, there was still time for some good visits.

Cassidy, Salli, George and Samantha at the Princeton Harbor Breakwater near Half Moon Bay, California

Arizona: Lots of people have asked how my parents feel about this venture. And I can honestly say that while they are somewhat worried (that is item #1 in all parenting contracts, isn't it?), they are also excited. I grew up in a household where, when my parents would see their chicks about to step off a cliff into the unknown, would shout "Flap your wings! Flap your wings!," — and they are doing that now.

They are getting "plugged in" to the computer world so they can follow along (at 79 and 82!). And my Mother has signed up every library in a 50 mile radius.

One of the best parts of this was to be a total surprise for my brother Ric's 50th surprise birthday party. George came up with the idea of calling Ric on our cell phone just after we arrived, pretending we were in Alaska, and walking in while carrying on the conversation. It worked... one of the most effective conversations I've ever had! His party was a hoot, with the highlight being a cartoonish rocking roping horse his friends built. And just about the all of our family was there, so we could all touch base on two counts.

The trip 'home' brought back lots of memories, including the time I won the "Laveen Cowbelles" cooking contest with my "Fire Balls" recipe.

Ric and his "Rocking Roping Horse"

California: The visit in the San Francisco Bay area was filled with even more endless lists, as the panic of the last stop set in. But George's family gathered up for visits and dinners, and I got to spend a little time with my sister (and best friend), Randi. George finally insisted that we take some time to explore the beach where Cassidy got into great wet conversations with her doll, and to explore our old Half Moon Bay haunts.

Cassidy and Barbie conversing in the Pacific Ocean waves.

We were surprised during our recent visit to see how much Half Moon Bay has grown--and how sophisticated it has become. When we left in 1980, it was still pretty much known for its fishing fleet, boat building and pumpkin harvest. Now it is filled with upscale developments, and its downtown is lined with art shops.

But some things remain the same. "Original Johnny's" restaurant--where the locals have their own designated spots, and you don't have to order (unless, God forbid, you want something different one day)--is still there, and still closes at 3 p.m. There are still fields of pumpkins and flowers in the fields next to the ocean, and local folk with a taste of the quiet but good life.

There are two ways in to Half Moon Bay, one over "Devil's Slide" on old Highway 1 (the Coast Highway). In recent years, the slide has been closed for months on end (it slid!), and voters will be deciding whether to create a new overland or tunnel route to replace the beautiful, but dangerous, relic.

We went for a walk along the new breakwater in Princeton Harbor, smelled the salt air, watched the brown pelicans dive like missiles for their dinner and the local folks casting line out for theirs. A noticeably good change in the area is the increase in birds like the brown pelican and red-tailed hawk. Since so many of the chemicals (such as DDT) used with abandon 20 or 30 years ago have fallen into disfavor, these bird species have grown in number.

There were special San Francisco memories that came to mind here as well. Shortly after George asked me to marry him, he took me to the annual crab cioppino dinner in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco. It was a wild affair put on to celebrate the crab harvest by the local fishermen. There were water tumblers full of red wine, and huge quantities of the best crab cioppino and French bread ever to grace a table. We ate and drank and danced and sang until the wee hours.

George's Mother and Step-father were there, and in the midst of all the revelry I asked for George's hand (after all, he had asked my father for mine —and had been promised a dowry of several cows and pigs). His mother gave it some serious thought, and in the end, not only agreed but endowed us with her favorite crab cioppino recipe.

On our final night in San Francisco Randi's husband, Larry came home from hunting and took us to a wonderful dinner at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. The dinner was wonderful - family style, multi coursed, and filled with many different tastes. The place was filled with men singing in Basque.

After dinner, Larry's cousin Leon treated us to a short concert on his accordion. It had been especially made during the depression, and had designs and the cousin's last name, Broussal, inlaid in mother-of-pearl. The night slipped away, and in the morning, so did we.

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