History Lessons at Pechanga...

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to join the Daisen delegation on their cultural tour of our local tribal lands of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

Our first, and breathtakingly amazing stop was at the Great Oak, known as Wi’áaşal. This majestic tree is recognized as the largest naturally grown indigenous coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) in the Western United States. Its trunk is over 20 feet in circumference, and the above-ground portion of the tree is nearly 100 feet tall. Wi’áaşal’s largest branches reach the ground, supporting the tree’s weight and creating a sheltering canopy for countless generations of people and animals. The Great Oak is over 1,000 years old.
To the Pechanga people, the land and the Great Oak that stands upon it carry meaning that transcends physical presence. The Great Oak has come to embody the identity and character of the Pechanga Band: strength, wisdom, longevity and determination.


Our tour included discussions of the foliage that surrounded us and its purpose. The sage is very important in the tribal traditions.
This remnant of wild cucumber was so interesting and while the seeds are poisonous, they were used for jewelry making. This shell makes for a loofa type scrubber.
Tree willow provided building materials for their kíicha (houses below).



The area which we toured, the Great Oak Ranch, was actually located just outside the borders of the reservation land which was granted to the Pechanga people in 1882. In 2001, the Pechanga Tribe purchased the Great Oak Ranch, Wi’áaşal, and the 1000 acres surrounding it. In April 2003, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians had the Great Oak Ranch property put into federal trust by President Bush. This property is now part of the Pechanga Reservation.

The ranch’s most famous resident was mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, who owned the land he called Rancho del Paisano from 1937 until his death in 1970.  Gardner passed the bar at 21 and was a practicing lawyer until 1933 when he retired to write detective fiction full-time. He is best known for his Perry Mason novels, which were later adapted for radio, movies, and television.  Gardner was an extremely prolific author.  In addition to completing more than 100 novels, he also wrote several non-fiction books and dozens of short stories and magazine articles. 
Although Gardner originally intended his ranch to be a part-time residence, it eventually became his primary home.  Over the years, he expanded the living quarters on the 1000-acre ranch from one small cabin to a complex of 27 buildings, which included separate cabins for the many full-time secretaries who typed the novels he dictated.  He even built a fireproof vault (above) where he stored his original manuscripts and recordings.
History lessons, old friends and In-N-Out... it's what a great day is all about.

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A Christmas Carol: The Musical

The opportunity to get into the Christmas Spirit is around every corner. Tonight's A Christmas Carol really threw me over the top.

"Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways.  Scrooge is faced with his own story of growing bitterness and meanness, and must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption."
This the fun corps of volunteers I had the pleasure to work with. What a wonderful opportunity.
Even more special was the fact that the Daisen delegation was in the audience. The Temecula Sister City Association's relationship with Japan was my passion for many years. It was delightful to connect with them, even if only during intermission.
What made this rendition so exceptional was the fact that it was a musical AND that the performers were incredibly talented. I highly recommend this amazing production so you, too, can be thrust into the Christmas spirit! Wow.

“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel,
I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.
A merry Christmas to everybody!
A happy New Year to all the world!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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My Disney Day... So Many Photos

When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, he gave a 26 second speech, "To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world."

How succinct and a true description of why I love it so... it is a source of joy!
Karen is my Disney buddy and the proud owner of an enviable annual passport. When I informed her that while I was in Florida, my friend, Erline (a Walt Disney World retiree) had gifted me a one day Park pass, she asked, "So when are we going?"
We could not have picked a more perfect day. Lovely weather and Christmas everywhere.
We began our day at Disney's California Adventure. For those who don't know, this park, opened in 2001, where "you’re invited to explore seven exciting lands with timeless entertainment showcases like World of Color, seasonal celebrations and transformations throughout the year."
A must for me was the ride Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! "Showcasing all-new special effects, appearances by popular characters, music inspired by the soundtracks from the films, and “big thrill” drop sequences with a free-fall sensation that’ll have you screaming for more, this is one adventure you won’t want to miss." This use to be Tower of Terror, which I loved. Happily, this new ride definitely did not disappoint. Wow.

Our timing was perfect for culinary reasons as well. The Festival of Holidays was happening where we were able to "Embrace a seasonal celebration filled with multicultural music, food and fun for all—November 9, 2018 to January 8, 2019!" compliments of my girlfriend, Laura (a recent Disneyland retiree- man do I know some awesome women).
Laura had food coupons she wasn't going to be able to use so she passed them on to me. Karen and I dined very well indeed.
Each of the seven lands was decorated uniquely for the holidays. What a joyous time to be there.


"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing -
that it was all started by a mouse."
Live entertainment was occurring all over but these guys, the Holiday Toy Drummers, delighted as they marched to their own beat while drumming up smiles wherever they went. So very entertaining.

This cracked us up so I have to include it for people who know DCA. Located across from Grizzly River Run is this Warming Hut. For $5, up to 5 people can dry their clothes (and themselves) after getting soaked. It was pretty chilly at the time I took this photo. What a fantastic idea. AND quite funny to watch.


The final stop of the day was the main attraction: Disneyland.

Is there anything so magical as the Castle illuminated?

Karen has two special rides that were her musts. "Decked Out for the Horror-Days. Explore the estate at its eeriest with tons of frightfully festive touches—courtesy of Jack Skellington! This winter, the Haunted Mansion will be transformed with jack o’ lanterns and wreaths, terrifying toys and kooky characters from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s a creep-tastic classic you won’t want to miss! Experience all your favorite frights plus scary seasonal surprises—all thanks to Jack himself. Sally, Oogie Boogie and other nightmare nasties will also be on hand to wish you Season’s Screamings!"
"Celebrate the splendor of the season with a festive yuletide version of this classic attraction. A Joyful Seasonal Serenade. Wishes for peace on Earth come to life in jubilant children’s choruses from around the world. As you approach, you’ll hear a medley of the iconic "it's a small world" song along with traditional holiday tunes and you’ll be dazzled by thousands of shimmering lights adorning the attraction’s iconic façade. Then, set sail along a wintry, wondrous waterway, adorned in regional decorations as you tour a world of festive wishes and holiday cheer!"
Karen's enthusiasm for it all was infectious. I will never look at these rides the same!

Space Mountain was a scream!


While in Toontown, we visited Mickey on the set of Steamboat Willie, the film that made him a star. This was a first for both of us. Very special indeed.
Karen saw this popcorn tub and just had to add him to her collection. What a cute, themed item to take home for a souvenir.
And as a thank you to Erline, I got her her own Disneyland Mickey ears. My intent is to give her incentive to visit me in SoCal so we can go to the happiest place on Earth together.

And to end our most amazing Disney day, we had the opportunity to "Behold the magic of the holidays as festive fireworks, stirring music and a sprinkling of snow bring the season to life with the Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks extravaganza."

"Feel your spirit soar during this splendid pyrotechnical spectacle. As the sky overhead lights up with dazzling color, more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminate Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle with sparkling icicles and shimmering snow-capped turrets."

“It has that thing – the imagination,
and the feeling of happy excitement-
I knew when I was a kid.”
-Walt Disney describing Disneyland

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