Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Trails

The sun shone, the air was fresh and for a change, it was pleasantly cool and light. "It's always like this here," said Mr. Hall, as he dressed for breakfast. "It's a beautiful day to go look at some more airplanes." Mrs. Hall just shook her head, and finished her coffee.
Their host, Eric Pierce, had to go to work, but his charming daughter, Mistress Tabitha was ready to play navigator, so off they went into the city. First stop: Balboa Park and the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Smack dab in the middle of San Diego and home to several museums and performing arts theaters, it also lies directly in the flight path of San Diego International Airport. It was all Tab and Mrs. H. could do to get Mr. H into the museum; he was so intent on watching the commercial airlines taking off just a few thousand feet over the rooftops. Once inside however, they had a great time, enjoying the fabulous collection of planes and aviation history. There was also a charming display featuring the work of some of the local school childen who had interpreted Da Vinci's ideas of flight by creating their own models. After a break, they decided that since they were so close anyway, why not take a short trip over to Point Loma and visit the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where Mr. Hall's adopted father is interred. Mr. H's memory of downtown San Diego was a little fuzzy, but after a quick trip (or two...) over the Coronado Bridge and Tabitha's excellent help, they were able to find their way to the cemetery and locate Robert Pierce's tablet. The view from the cemetery overlooks the bay and the naval base; they were even able to see a number of submarines docked at the base from the hill.
While it was delightful to pay their respects and watch the sailboats pass in lazy review, they knew it was time to march on. After hugs and well-wishes all around, it was time to head northward, towards Victorville, Apple Valley and an old favorite of both Mr. and Mrs. Hall.
Those Gentle Readers who remember a certain time long ago when Saturday mornings were a fun filled affair, packed with heros, cartoons, and toy and cereal adverts, will no doubt understand the yearnings of the Halls to relive some of those simple joys and take time out to see the old Roy Rogers Ranch, and the burial site of Roy and Dale. The Roy Rogers Museum used to be located in Roy's old home town of Victorville, but as the Halls drove up, it was easy to see how the family could have made the decision to move the shop; lock, stock and stuffed Trigger, all the way to Branson, MO. Located in the high desert area between mountain ranges, the town itself is not exactly a garden spot, and since the only major industry in the area is a concrete plant, it was immediately apparent the local economy had taken a rather hard hit. Even with the help of some travel guides and the GPS device, the closest they ever got to the old ranch was a sign on the barbed wire advertising its auction, sometime last May. Somewhat dejected, but not deterred, they looked around for somewhere to eat, and regroup. Locally well-known and situated on old Route 66 ("The Mother Road" as it is called by those who roam it), Emma Jean's offers good food at a good price, and definitely, for the Halls, a good choice. Best bet for lunch: the Brian Burger; made with two 1" thick slices of homemade bread, slathered with butter and parmesan cheese, toasted on the grill and topped with American cheese, hamburger and sweet green ortega chiles. (They had been contemplating the cherry cobbler for dessert, but the burger put a hearty end to any further thoughts of food!) Full of energy they renewed their search- and the first stop was the Route 66 museum in town. The proprietors were eager to help and provided them with a map to the mortuary where Roy and Dale were buried. Mrs. H. had been thinking it would be a quaint little cemetery, marked with a small sign or plaque- so she was completely surprized when, following the instructions led them to a huge beautiful facility, so well cared for and decorated, that they host receptions and even weddings there! Working at a gem in the middle of the desert, the Sunset Hills mortuary staff were exceedingly gracious, and when they learned that Mr. Hall was himself in the business, they provided him with a personally guided tour of the facility, including a drive down to the site in a little electric golf cart. It was a lovely end to a terrific day. The Halls thanked the staff at Sunset Hills for all their information and help, and, after promising to send them some info about Syracuse as well, they headed into off to their hotel and a well-earned rest. Next episode: Barstow and beyond; stay tuned!

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