Way back in 1979 we were invited by Larry and Cheryl Burleson to take a vacation with them to San Diego. They were official Zonnies and were looking for new converts. I was real busy with work and didn’t think the time would be right to go, but Cheryl and my wife Carol made up my mind for me. So much for my input, we were going to San Diego.
It was late September and the annual flight of the Summer Zonnies was over. I don’t know if Summer Zonnies travel in flock or herds, but they are normally spotted in greatest numbers in the last two weeks of August and up through Labor Day Weekend. But they were all back home by the time our vacation time was upon us. Besides, the Pacific Ocean is actually a little warmer in late September and early October due to the shift in the ocean currents, or a least that is what Cheryl reported. So our plan was to drive two cars. Larry and Cheryl had their little compact car that would have great gas mileage and Carol and I had our large, nine passenger, Chevy Suburban with dual air conditioning and a 454 cubic inch engine to power us there at the rate of ten miles per gallon.
We meet the Burleson’s at their house early Saturday morning. The anticipation was high and everybody with anxious to get on the road. We had our two youngsters, Chad and Heidi loaded into our car with all our gear and the Burleson’s were packing their three kids, Christian, John and Adam into their car, along with Cheryl’s guitar. With everyone situated, we were off! Or were we? Larry backed his car out of the driveway and then suddenly the engine died. The engine was cranking OK but it wasn’t getting and fuel to the carburetor. After many attempts to get it going, Larry determined that the problem was a direct result of filling the fuel tank the night before with a new kind of gas that would clean up the engine and improve performance. It contained a new additive call ethanol. As it turned out, this additive did dissolve the gunk in the car’s fuel system but unfortunately sent this crud to the carburetor and plug the gas flow. So with the repair too costly in time we decided to pile everyone and their gear into the suburban. With the transfer compete, we were off. San Diego here we come. Even Cheryl’s guitar fit in comfortably and was put in use as we traveled along.
It took us just over eight hours to get to our beachfront apartments. Casa Del Playa was actually in La Jolla and right across the street from a grass park with a little trail that led right down to the beach. What a great place. We had two apartments with small kitchens. The Burleson’s were upstairs and the Wagner’s were downstairs, or was it the other way around? The main thing was that we were on vacation with our friends and on the beach. What’s more, Cheryl and Carol are great cooks and we also had several good restaurants around.
The beach was great! Down from the park there were several, large, private homes and very few people on the beach. When the tide went out, the kids would be exploring the tide pools and sticking their fingers in those little puffy creatures that would suddenly slam closed. At the top of the trail heading back to the apartment, there was a small, wooded bench. It was in a perfect place to what the sun sink into the vast ocean. We made a point to be there at sunset many times as evidence by the number of pictures we took from that spot . Sometimes the kids even got into the scene. It was great!
We ventured away from our little paradise a few times. One time was to a crowed beach where it was difficult to even find a parking place. On another day we went to Old Town where we all dressed up in turn of the century western garb complete with pistols and rifles. Some of us were even dressed like bar maids. Larry and I looked pretty darn good! Don’t take that the wrong way. We were the ones with the guns. Another trip took us to the USS Okinawa that is based there in San Diego. We went on a tour and this time it was our kids that were handling the guns, but under the careful eye of the young sailors. It was amazing to see a glimpse into the life of the Navy Men and Women on this floating home.
We had two favorite places to eat. One was a restaurant within walking distance of Casa Del Playa. It made for a great, morning walk through a small, quaint neighborhood. We even hit a garage sale on the way where I found a pair of gyros for Larry and I to play with. The kids only acted semi interested. Our most favorite dining was Anthony’s located on the shore line. It had a small pier and dock where you could park your boat or yacht. If your yacht was too big, you would have to come in on your dingy. What was the saying? •Fishermen don’t die; they just get a little dingy.” The kids would enjoy the balloonoligist that would make ocean creatures out of those skinny balloons. The seafood there was great and the view of the ocean was spectacular! One of our favorite, in apartment meals was Cheryl’s Red Snapper. It was only a few balloons short of being equal to Anthony’s.
No San Diego trip is complete without a trip to Sea World. Early one morning about the crack of nine (remember we were on vacation) we loaded into the car and headed to the home of “shammoo”. You know, there were fish and other sea creatures in every nook and cranny. As a mater of fact, when Heidi dropped one of her flip flops in the water as we crossed a small bridge, I reached in and retrieved it in one fell swoop of the hand. Then to my surprise, they told me that was the baby shark tank. I immediately counted my fingers. They were all there and securely attached.
In my opinion, I think we had the best time at our own beach. I bought a pair of Bushnell Binoculars to watch the ships go by. We had fun tossing a Frisbee and walking along the beach at various times of day and tide. One afternoon Larry and I were standing on the waters edge, when a young lady came up to ask for the time of day, or to make small talk or …. or something. What she may or may not have known was that her bright, white bathing suit became a little transparent when wet. I can’t remember any of her facial features, but I do remember she was pleasant to talk to!
All too soon, it was time to going back to Arizona. We loaded up the suburban, said our good byes to the management and the beach. We had perfect weather our entire stay and only hit a little rain while leaving San Diego. It came at the same time the song “I love a rainy day” was playing on the radio. Everyone joined in chorus as the windshield wipers kept the beat. Another favorite song was “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. When the radio signal faded we shared stories and sang songs accompanied by Cheryl on guitar. Where I was once a Man in turn with nature either in the desert or pine forest, I had now become a Son of the Beach.
The trip home seamed allot longer than the trip there. The anticipation of vacation and fun makes the going a lot faster while that the anticipation of work and school made the trip home a long journey. In Yuma we stopped for gas and a little refreshment. While there we discovered a leak in the suburban’s radiator. Being in Yuma, the station had many fixes for car cooling systems. The one I chose was and silty mixture that when poured into the radiator would seep into the crack and plug it up. It was a great $3.00 investment and got us all the way home. The Burleson’s could now crown the Wagner’s as official Zonnies. from that point on, we will all remember this special vacation whenever we would hear those two special songs “I love a rainy night” or “Sailing”. I don’t know about Larry B., but I also think about it whenever I see a white bathing suit.
Years later, our Zonnie family members are all pretty much normal except, I have to say John Burleson. After he married his lovely wife, he moved his family from place to place due to his work. That is OK and understandable. But for a time, his job took him to San Diego. While there, he completely turned his back on all us Zonnies and would even go as far as to cheer for the San Diego Padres, even when playing against the new Arizona Diamond Backs. What’s more, while visiting Arizona, he would sit in the brand new Bank One Ball Park in Downtown Phoenix and root the Padres on against the D-Backs in front of his parents. He had no respect. But alas, he now has come to his senses and moved his family back to Arizona. We forgive him for his past transgressions and hope he has learned his lesson and is now a loyal Diamond Back fan.