We've been in California for the past several weeks. We spent several days in the Indian Wells Valley, where we had lived from 1981 till last year when we From a bluff overlooking the Pacific can be seen miles of beach with gentle surf Torrey Pines State Park began our post-retirement travels. We arrived at the motel to discover that yet another sequel to The Planet of the Apes is being filmed at the Trona Pinnacles, an area of picturesque chalky hills not far from town. We shared the motel with cast and crew but never recognized anybody famous. We were royally treated by friends, who fed us and welcomed us and brought us up to date on news and gossip.

Next we spent a weekend in Los Angeles, visiting more friends and family. On Saturday morning we took advantage of a beautiful warm morning to stroll through one of our favorite hidden spots, the Mildred Esther Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA. This is a long-established garden with an astonishing variety of ferns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vines, palm trees and more, cleverly using every inch of about seven acres (at the corner of Hilgard and LeComte near the edge of the campus). It's free, generally empty of other visitors, and very peaceful.

We had our annual medical checks at Sansum Medical Clinic -- as our doctor says, maintenance and oil change. This is always more pleasant than one might think: Sansum is a comprehensive diagnostic clinic, our doctor is friendly, Santa Barbara is a lovely city nestled between mountains and the Pacific, and we love the drive to and from Buellton, where we generally stay. The 19th century adobe fort with steps up to the rooms is still standing Fort Tejon

Having been certified fit for another year of adventures, we visited more relatives: our son Phil in Lompoc, north of Santa Barbara, and Elsa's sister Laura. Laura's husband is a leader of San Diego Dialogue, a university-sponsored membership-by-invitation group of 150 civic leaders from San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. They are attacking major social and political issues and raising funds. We learned about the efforts to improve the San Diego schools - a job that will take years to accomplish. Laura continues to practice medicine and write -- we'll let you know when her next book is published. Incidentally, you can see Laura this spring on billboards around the nation: she'll be the Chocolate Milk Lady for the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign.

Leaving San Diego, we headed north, stopping for a walk at Fort Tejon State Historical Park in the mountains south of Bakersfield. The fort is relatively unimportant, as it was in use for less than twenty years; it was briefly the terminus of the Army camel caravan from San Antonio, and the home of the California Volunteers in the Civil War. Several nineteenth century buildings are still standing, and later in the spring there will be reenactors The Aircraft carrier appears interminably long, looked at down the pier towards the gangway USS Hornet -- a favorite pastime of men and boys.

We continued north in time to attend the funeral of our friend Miles Bresee. Over a hundred people, including many retired military officers, attended to pay tribute to a man who gave his energy and services to many organizations. We will all miss him.

We spent a final few days with our elder son and our grandchildren before heading north. We can recommend the Oakland Museum, especially its exhibits of California history, and the USS Hornet, one of the most active aircraft carriers from WW II, which saw duty until 1970. The Hornet is now a museum, being developed by old salts and volunteers in the San Francisco Bay area. The volunteers have made quite a lot of progress since they rescued the ship from a salvage company (by declaring it a National Historic Landmark!) about five years ago.

The next time you hear from us we should be somewhat further north: we plan to cut loose from our moorings in Alameda and drift with the tide tomorrow morning.