Accounting for the past week

Accounting for the past week September 26, 2022


Newport Beach's first temple
We attended the Newport Hills Ward today, which meets in a chapel directly adjacent to the Newport Beach California Temple (LDS Media Library)


When we arrived here on Monday afternoon, my wife and I and my two visiting Utah cousins had an early dinner at the Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar.  Only my second time, I think.  Maybe my third.  (My wife had been introduced to the place by friends, and she introduced me.)  Wonderful outdoor southern California ambience and really good food.  Then we stocked up at the grocery store and checked into our lodgings for a relaxing evening.


Tuesday was fairly relaxing, too.  We walked along the cliffs near the Montage in Laguna Beach, which is one of my wife’s favorite strolls, visited the cliffs in Corona del Mar, which is another of her favorites, and then introduced my cousins to the Shake Shack on the cliff overlooking Crystal Cove, which is one of my favorite places.  My parents would stop off there, back when I was a little kid, during our trips back and forth to visit my Dad’s brother and sister in the San Diego area.  That’s where I learned to love date milk shakes.  And it’s not far from the place where I first became aware of Eiler Larsen.  I saw him many times, and now a statue of him greets people driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.


My nostalgia tour probably peaked on Wednesday.  As did my bad food choices.  My wife and I and my two cousins started our adventure with nutritious mochi doughnuts at Fill Bakeshop in Newport Beach.  (This was a discovery made by my youngest son a while ago; he is both a foodie and a former missionary in Japan.)  Then we drove to the area where I was raised in the San Gabriel Valley.  We ate my family’s traditional go-to pastrami dip sandwiches at The Hat in Temple City.  We visited my brother’s grave in the San Gabriel Cemetery.  We enjoyed ice cream at his favorite ice cream parlor, Fosselman’s.  We drove by the San Gabriel Mission (the Misión de San Gabriel Arcángel) as well as my illustrious alma mater, San Gabriel High School, and the place where my childhood house stood until a few years ago.  Next, we drove to Rose Hills Memorial Park, where many members of my family are buried.  We spent some time at the graves of my parents and then drove by the house in Whittier where they lived for nearly the last thirty years of their lives.  We topped the evening off by having dinner with one of my nephews, along with his wife and his children, in an Islands restaurant in Anaheim Hills.


On Thursday, we had brunch down on the sand at the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove.  (Another of our traditions when we’re here.)  Then we headed southward on the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping off along the way to visit with a ninety-five-year-old member of the Church, a widower and retired engineer, who has been producing replica copies of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and with a friend of his.  We continued on down to San Diego, where we had a meal at El Indio, as we often do when we’re there, and took in a play called Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical at the Old Globe.  It was my wife’s idea; I knew nothing about the play.  But I began to notice that a lot of people of plainly South Indian descent were gathering for the performance, which made sense when the production began.  It’s a romantic comedy about cultural conflict and the clash between tradition and innovation, presented with a large dollop of Bollywood.  It’s fairly predictable, but sometimes quite clever, and I was surprised to find myself liking it quite a bit.  We spent the night in a place where we’ve stayed a number of times before, next to Balboa Park.


On Friday morning, we had a good breakfast at Bread & Cie and then took my cousins out to show them Cabrillo Point National Monument on Point Loma.  The weather here has been magnificent, with moderate temperatures, and we had beautiful views of naval ships and naval aircraft headed out to sea and of the San Diego skyline.  Next, we visited the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in Old Town San Diego, where Brent Top is now the director.  He and I have led tours to Israel together on at least two occasions, and he was formerly the dean of Religious Education at BYU.  He was in and out  of the building while we were there, but I was able to bring him a humorous gift, and he immediately got the joke.  (Incidentally, the Battalion Historic Site is very different from other Latter-day Saint visitor centers, and would be, I think, a whole lot of fun for a family with children in the age range of eight to thirteen or so.)  From the Battalion Historic Site, we went to the spectacular San Diego California Temple, where we did an afternoon session.  My cousins really loved the Temple, and I was pleased because it’s a favorite of mine, too.  After dinner outside at El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla, we returned to our main lodging in Newport Beach.


We set out early on Saturday morning for the Hollywood or North Hollywood area, where my wife and I spent some time with old friends from Egypt while my cousins kindly waited in the car.  We became close to the family during our four years in Cairo.  And then the American-born mother, our Relief Society president, was diagnosed with the same cancer that had already killed close relatives.  They came to the United States for treatment, but, after a long and excruciating struggle, she died.  Now, her daughter has died from exactly the same genetically-predictable illness.  So we did what little we could to express our love and support for her Egyptian-born widower, his visiting sister (whom we haven’t seen in decades), and her other daughter.  Mortality is sometimes almost unbearable.


For the rest of the day, we visited Griffith Observatory — the object of several school field trips when I was a boy, but much expanded from what I knew, and, of course, a staple location for Hollywood films and television productions — had a seafood dinner in Redondo Beach, and paid the obligatory visit to Seaside Donuts Bakery in Newport Beach.  (Along with the mochi confections from Wednesday, that’s more doughnuts this week than I’ve bought in the past decade or two.)  The good weather continued; the views of Los Angeles and the coast were the best that I’ve ever seen from Griffith Observatory.


Today, we participated in sacrament services and second-hour meetings in the Newport Hills Ward, which meets directly adjacent to the Newport Beach Temple.  My wife and I then visited with some friends who live in Laguna Beach.   Otherwise, though, we spent a fairly relaxed evening at our lodgings, looking out over the coast and the vast Pacific.


Please note that this trip to Newport Beach and environs was entirely at our initiative.  No organization sponsored me.  No travel company hired me.  We paid all expenses ourselves.  No tithe payers were harmed in the production of this vacation.  (Some of my obsessive critics have already been frothing with indignation at the fact that I’m here.)


Posted from Newport Beach, California



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