I’ve just returned from a ten-day trip to Southern California with stops in Marin and Sonoma counties. Although the drive was over 2000 miles round-trip, my old Toyota Camry handled it without complaint and just silently purred along at speeds up to 90 mph.
Gas prices ranged from the $3.70 range in Oregon to as high as $4.39 in the San Francisco Bay area. The effect of high fuel prices was immediately evident almost everywhere I went. No waiting in restaurants, motel room prices as low as $29.99, and far fewer vehicles on almost every highway I took.
So there were some benefits to the higher gas prices, but clearly the general economy is in a slowdown. As I passed through the Stockton/Sacramento areas, real estate sponsored shows on AM radio touted the very low prices in that area due to all of the foreclosures and short-sales taking place. Many homes that would have cost well over $500,000 were going in the low $200,000 ranges in Stockton. The Realtors there are claiming that the bottom has finally been reached, but some areas that already look like ghost towns are still adding For Sale signs to the few homes still occupied.
The good news is that I was able to see my oldest granddaughter (age 11) perform in a most wonderful ballet set that included shortened versions of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter and the Wolf.” She is a most beautiful young lady and very talented, taking the art and athleticism of her dancing very seriously. Her mother hopes to have DVDs of the performances out to all of the family very soon.
I was also able to see my youngest grandson play Little League Baseball. Roaming center field like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, he made his biggest contribution early in the game with a hard hit ball to center field that resulted in a couple of RBIs. He added another hit and a run scoring fielder’s choice later in the game that helped his team gain a very impressive win over their opponents. It was a great evening (although very chilly sitting on those metal bleachers) with my daughter Kristen and her family.
To say I am proud of my grandchildren would be an understatement. All six of them are doing very well in school and sports. But most importantly, they are really sweet kids and are a pleasure to be around – at least for this old guy.
A special thank you to my daughter Kim and her family for putting me up for a couple of nights as I passed through their area coming and going, leaving nothing but dirty laundry in my wake.
My brother Denny and his wife Stephanie provided me room and board while I was in The OC. Their wonderful hospitality is very much appreciated. They allowed me to come and go as I needed, but fed me and kept me laughing during the times we spent together. I have a very special place in my heart for them and their daughter – who is now becoming quite the model for her mother’s blossoming artistic photography pursuits. What a great time I had with them all and their love and support made my trip very enjoyable.
Unfortunately I was unable to see my daughter Kelly and her family in Los Angeles on this trip and was only able to visit other family members for very short periods. But we will be back again – hopefully soon – and hopefully when there is a much improved economy and lower fuel prices.