In 1974, when I had just started working at Saint Francis Hospital in San Francisco, my younger brother, David, came to live with me. He was 16 at the time and I was 24. At the time he arrived, I was living in a ten dollar a week room over The Rainbow Cattle Company on the corner of Valencia and Duboce (That story can be found here: Rainbow Cattle Company). Dad had left David’s mother, Irene, and had remarried Deanna, who would eventually murder him. Dad had apparently thrown Donna, David and Hebert out of the house when he married Deanna. Their Mother, Irene, had moved to Sunnyside, Washington.
David and I got an apartment on Larkin street shortly after he arrived and he lived with me until he turned eighteen. I had just finished the Psychiatric Technician program and was familiar with behavioral contracts and wrote out a contract with David specifying that he was expected to work and go to school.
In the eighties, for some reason that I will have to try to remember some time, Darlene’s son, Chris Tasker came to live with Milton and I. He was sixteen when he arrived and was 18 when he left. I also used a written behavioral contract with Chris. (The story about Waller Street can be found here: 465 Waller Street)
By 2011, Milton and I had been living in Vallejo for quite a while and my Nissan was on it’s last legs. Milton thought I should just donate it for a tax write off but I thought the car had some useful life in it still and so offered to give it to Misty’s son, Sean, if they would come down and pick it up. Milton was worried that it would not make it up to Washington but it did and lasted Sean another year or so after that and helped him get moved out of Yakima, over to Everett.
Misty decided to bring Sean’s younger brother, Alex, down to pick up the Nissan. I really didn’t know any of Misty’s kids very well. Little kids are just not very interesting to me. Wynter was the oldest and I had seen her a couple times when she was an adolescent. She had come down to Vallejo with Darlene and her brother Sean and her cousin, C.J., and a girlfriend of hers. Sean was the youngest on that trip and I don’t remember much about him from that time. I had also visited with Wynter on one of the get together’s in Spokane. When Misty brought Alex down to pick up the Nissan, he was sixteen and would turn 17 in a few months.
Darlene had spoke of her grandson, Alex, at various times as he was growing up. For the two years prior to his coming down with Misty, Darlene and Misty had called me multiple times about Alex. He had various somatic complaints and the doctors in Yakima seemed baffled. He had not been to school for two years because of various symptoms. Misty took him to Seattle and multiple tests were done and the doctors were unable to find a physiological basis for Alex's symptoms
Misty and Alex stayed for a couple of days in May with us when they came down to pick up my old Nissan which I was giving to Sean. I took them on a tour of San Francisco. The Story, pics and video of Misty and Alex’s visit in May of 2011 can be found here: 2011- May- Misty and Alex Visit
Within a couple months of Misty and Alex picking up the Nissan, I was talking to Darlene and asked about Alex and how he was doing. Darlene told me that he had asked her if she thought Milton and I would let him come and live with us. I was kind of surprised by this but did discuss it with Milton. As I mentioned previously, I had already parented David from 16 to 18, and then Milton and I had parented Chris from 16 to 18, and now here was another 16 year old that was having problems. When David had lived with me, he was less than 10 years younger than me so we had quite a bit in common and I had known him all his life. When Chris had come to live with Milton and I, I had also known Chris all of his life. Alex seemed so much younger than David and Chris had been. I had only spent a few hours with Alex in his entire life up until then. I really didn’t know him much at all.
Milton and I discussed whether we were ready to deal with another teenager in our lives. We had both liked Alex and both felt he was in some deep trouble, although we were still not sure exactly what that trouble was. I had spent part of my life in Yakima Valley and knew how awful it had been for me. There were really no opportunities there for growth and development and people were very narrow minded. There was a lot of alcoholism and drug abuse as well. It was around this same time that there were news accounts of a rash of young kids in the United States committing suicide. I had just made my own, “It Get’s Better” video which was part of an anti-suicide campaign, telling kids that life does get better if they can get past childhood and their teen years.
As I said, Milton and I really didn't know Alex very well and he did not know us, so we decided that he could come down for a trial visit for a couple of weeks to decide if he wanted to live with Milton and I in Vallejo and to see if Milton and I could actually tolerate someone staying with us again. During that visit, we discussed what some of the rules would be if he were to want to live with us. Like David and Chris before him, I wrote up a "contract" that specified our expectations (a pdf of that original contract can be found here). We tried to make it as clear as possible to Alex that we had expectations for his stay with us and that he was not coming to make new friends, for a vacation or just to play and have fun. We recognized that his life was out of control and he needed limits, boundaries, rules, supervision and goals. Although Alex never did follow the contract to the letter, it was a good starting point to make expectations clear.
Alex flew down in August of 2011. We got him enrolled in an online school for homeschooling and bought him some new clothes and shoes. I bought him a gray fedora that he seemed to love and everyone loved it on him.
As we approached his 18th birthday, we got him a drivers license and studied for the High School Equivalency test which he did pass. I helped him write a resume and he got his first job at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and then a second job at a local bowling alley. Since Milton and I paid for everything and he had no expenses, Alex was able to save up a good chunk of money from these jobs and we began looking for a rental in San Francisco.
We found a place on 25th Avenue in The City for $750 that Alex liked. It had two rooms, a microwave and small refrigerator. He signed the lease five days before his 18th birthday. Within a week or so he had a job in San Francisco and shortly thereafter, he was enrolled at City College of San Francisco. He had come an incredible distance from when he had first arrived.
These are some pics and video from the period that Alex lived with us in Vallejo.
The story, pics and video of the vacation we took Alex on to L.A. and then the Mexican Riviera cruise on the Carnival Splendor can be found at this link: 2012- March- Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera with Family
Always interested in images, whether they are oil paintings, silk screens, videos or photography, I created two sets of "Alex photos." The first, I called "Alex in Black and White." The other, I called "Alex in Color." Then I also made a short video including both and called it "Alex in Black and White and Color." I used a song he liked for a soundtrack.
Alex in Black and White:
Alex in Color:
Dancing has always been important to me. I know that is a pretty broad word, though. There are so many different types of dancing. One of my earliest memories is of my Grandmother laughing and appreciating my dancing as a pre-school kid. I also have fond memories of dancing with my cousin, Mary Griffin at the Candy Shop in Palouse when I was about 12 or 13. We did the twist and I could do a backbend, practically to the floor. In 1964, I remember going to dances in Escondido. The Gay Disco Seventies was a decade of disco dancing. In the eighties, I frequented Page Hodel's club called "The Box" which was located on Divisadero Street in San Francisco. Through the rest of my life, until the present, I still love to go dancing. This is one of the things I enjoy so much about gay cruises. There is a Tea Dance every afternoon and a dancing party every night. I still visit various gay clubs in San Francisco to dance. Badlands, on 18th Street, in the Castro is the most consistent for being a place with decent dj's that play decent music for dancing.
When I say "decent music for dancing," I mean "disco" and it's descendent which is now just called "dance music." Of course, different people would have different definitions of what "decent dance music" consists of. For me, 9 out of 10 songs for dancing should have vocals. Instrumentals, electronica, and techno are boring. Most techno is interchangeable and just drones on and on. A lot of D.J.'s seem to love techno. I haven't quite figured out why. Maybe D.J.'s like it because it is probably easier to "mix" as it is all very similar, with similar beats per minute. Nobody really notices where one song ends and another begins. Songs with vocals may require a little more creativity from D.J.'s to mix one song into the next.
A friend has told me that you have to be on drugs like ecstasy to enjoy techno. Maybe that's true. My friend says that people on ecstasy like the predictability and lack of variation of techno. I personally hate techno.
When I was young, I did try some modern jazz dance classes and tap dancing classes but didn't follow through with either but do love seeing modern jazz in musicals like "West Side Story," or tap dancing in so many classic musicals.
Milton and I tried "country-western" dancing with gay groups but counting 1-2-3, 1-2-3 and trying to stay in time was a little more difficult for Milton so we quite going to the classes. Sometimes I think it would be fun to take ballroom dancing but have never got around to actually doing it.
In 2011, I was determined to lose a few pounds and so I started yet another diet and started exercising yet again to burn off calories. My favorite form of exercise is dancing. I have found that if I go to a gay club and dance for a couple of hours, I could lose a couple pounds in one night. Probably most of it is water weight but some actual fat burns too.
When I started my New Year's resolution diet January 7th, 2011, I thought it would be helpful to take a little video so, when all the fat started melting off, I could look back and see where I started. Sadly, the fat never quite all "melted" off but I still have this video as an example of what an old man looks like when he dances. Me in my sixties.
I was planning to retire in a few months and had been interested in getting a 5th Wheel and truck at some point to travel around in. Actually, I have had this fantasy of some sort of travel trailer, 5th Wheel or Motorhome for some time. When he had bought the Ford Ranger back in the 90's, we got the tow package because we had been looking at Hi-Lo trailers that are lightweight enough to be towed by a small truck. We got the truck but never did get the trailer.
Over the years, my trailer fantasy morphed into a 5th Wheel fantasy. I discovered how much head room you have in a Fifth Wheel. Milton and I are both 6'4," (although I think he has shrank an itch somehow over the year, lol!). Trailers usually have ceilings of about 7 feet. A Fifth Wheel can have a ceiling of 10 feet or more.
Since I was getting so close to my retirement and the possibility of something like a Fifth Wheel, I thought it would be a good idea to actually spend a few nights in one. I searched the internet for somebody that would rent a 5th Wheel and set it up in a park. I found just such a place in San Diego. They had a 34' Forest River Sandpiper that would be available September 4th through the 8th. We found Mission Bay RV Park, where they would deliver the Sandpiper and set it up for us.
We had planned to take the train across country but then we got preoccupied with putting in the new shower and kind of lost interest in the train trip and decided just to do a road trip. Milton is going to give one week of his vacation back so will just be off a couple of weeks. I will take the whole three weeks. At this point, we have a reservation for a night in Santa Cruz overlooking the beach and boardwalk there and then a night in Morro Bay. Then we would arrive in San Diego on the 4th.
We decided that we would essentially follow the same itinerary that we did about 20 years previously. On that trip, we were still living on Waller Street in San Francisco and got a great rental deal on a Ford Mustang Convertible. We drove down Highway 1 with it's spectacular views through Big Sur. It is probably one of the most incredibly drives on the planet.
Twenty years previously we had stayed in a room in Santa Cruz overlooking the ocean and boardwalk. I had long forgotten the name but remembered the location well and was able to track it down. Now named "The Dream Inn" or maybe it was always named that. It is a great place to stay in Santa Cruz! We had room 927. The view of the beach and boardwalk was breathtaking. We overheard people from the next-door room to us out on the balcony talking about seeing a whale. We went out on the balcony and looked and, although I couldn't see it at the time, I could see it in the video I took.
After settling into the room, we took a walk down to the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Like the other time we had stayed here, the park was not operating rides. The roller coaster was silent. Sea gulls sang. The sun shined down. It was a beautiful afternoon.
After our walk, we were getting hungry, so we walked back to the hotel and got the Prius. We drove around looking for someplace to eat. I think we ultimately just got Subway sandwiches and came back to the hotel.
The next day, after leaving Santa Cruz, we would drive through Monterey. As we were leaving Monterey, we kept seeing all these cars parked precariously along the highway and bunches of people looking out at the ocean. It finally dawned on us that they were looking at whales, too! We stopped the car and, again, Milton was able to see the whales but my vision just didn't go that far.
That night, we had a reservation at a Best Western in Morro Bay. It turned out that Milton remembered our staying there on the trip we had taken in the Mustang twenty years ago. It looked like it hadn't been remodeled since. The carpet had terrible stains. It looked like it might have been blood stains but I'm not sure of that. It did get my imagination going though! Was someone murdered in this room? Did they bleed out right here where we are spending the night? Milton didn't think it looked that bad so we stayed. We walked down the waterfront looking for something to eat. We found nothing there and so we returned to the motel and got the car and went driving through Morro Bay looking for food. We found a super market where we got some chicken and some sides and went back to the motel.
We had a great time in San Diego. I remember living there as a teen and under-appreciating it at the time. Of course, I used to get harassed quite a bit when I lived there because I had long hair and the police in San Diego at that time were like gestapo. It is a totally different experience as a conservative looking white senior citizen with gray hair. I had been to San Diego a couple of times as an adult and love the beauty of it. It is so impressive to me that they don't have high rises along the beaches and that so much waterfront has been set aside for the public.
I was especially glad for the opportunity to sleep in a 5th wheel for the first time. It was interesting. Neither of us realized that they jiggled so much! That took a little getting used to like being on a cruise and getting used to the motion of the ship. David said that you can minimize the jiggle with some accessories and we would probably want to do that if we owned one.
This is about part 2 of our 2015 vacation. Milton was turning 60 in 2015 and wanted to visit Disney World in Orlando again. We had both had such a wonderful time on our first RSVP Vacations gay cruise so we decided to do another one of those too. We would fly to Orlando and spend a few days at Disney World and then drive down to Fort Lauderdale to get on the ship.
This was our seventh cruise. We had previously been on several Carnival ships, a couple Royal Caribbean ships and one MSC ship. This was our first Princess ship and like the MSC ship, it was an RSVP Vacations charter. RSVP Vacations really do a spectacular job of entertaining their passengers and so it makes it a little difficult to sort out who gets accolades for the positive and blame for the negative but I do want to try and sort it out here.
First of all, the positive: Last year was our first RSVP Vacations cruise and they had chartered an Italian line, MSC and that crew was a bit aloof, inattentive and unfriendly. The Regal Princess crew was just the opposite- they were warm, attentive and friendly and seemed to enjoy having us as passengers. They genuinely seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were. We appreciate that. I would give the crew a 10 out of 10. They were great.
The ship was fairly new and beautiful as most of the ships we have been on. It was
As is usual on all cruises, we started out with a "muster" drill. Everyone has to bring their life jackets to a location where you would board the life boats.
We were late to the "Hello, my name is..." party because Princess Cruises had lost Milton's bag which had our "Hello, my name is..." t-shirts we had bought specifically for this occasion. We kept checking with our steward but finally, he told us to check at the purser's desk. After checking there a coupe of times through the evening, Milton's bag finally appeared. This was the first cruise that we have ever had problems with our bags arriving in our cabin.
Later that evening, around 8pm, we went to see "Charo" in the ship's theater. She was only doing two performances and they were both on embarkation/sail away day. She did a wonderful show. I think everybody was impressed by how great she looked. Milton and I talked about seeing her on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. We estimate that she must be close to 70 but then we did read somewhere that she got married at 16 so maybe she just got a very early start? Maybe she was only 18 or so when we say her originally back in the sixties?
At 10:30pm that first night, we attended the RSVP Vacations 30th Anniversary Diamond Party. There were a lot of people wearing silver in their outfits and so it kept feeling more like a "Silver" party than a "Diamond" party but it was great fun regardless. We love to dance and never miss an opportunity to do so if the music is good and the music is great on RSVP Vacations cruises. It is more than good!
The first day had been wonderful. There is such an abundance of activities on a RSVP Vacations Cruise. It is impossible to attend every activity and show.
The next morning, we woke up in Princess Cays.
Princess Cays is a private island owned by Princess Cruises. I rented some snorkeling equipment and saw some lovely fish out among the rocks offshore. Milton doesn't swim and not interested in getting a tan but always sweet to let me have my "beach day." A hamburger and hotdog buffet was served on the beach. Although we had purchased "soda" cards which are supposed to cover all the soda you want to drink during the cruise, our soda cards were not good on this island. Princess seemed to want to nickel and dime us for sodas. They should have been included at this buffet!
Upon return to the ship, after we had rested and had dinner in one of the dining rooms, we attended the Princess Cruises show "Fiera!" In addition to all the incredible activities that RSVP Vacations provide, we still get the standard fare from the cruise line. Fiera! was the typical cruise line show for a midsize ship and had a few singers and a few dancers. There were some interesting visual effects. The Princess Theater was the smallest of any of the cruise line theaters we had seen.
Carnival and MSC offer similar shows. Royal Caribbean exceeds all the others in entertainment, though. Royal Caribbean has full Broadway productions on some of their ships. On the "Allure of the Seas," that we had taken a couple of years previously, RC had a production of "Chicago," an "ice" show as they also have ice rinks on their ships. They also had a Cirque du Soleil type water show as well. In all the "straight" cruises we have been on, Royal Caribbean far surpasses MSC, Princess or Carnival when it comes to entertainment. When it comes to gay cruises, RSVP Vacations does such an incredible job that it really doesn't matter much what the cruise line offers.
At 10:30pm, we went to the "Disco Inferno" party with DJ Robbie Leslie. He had been on the gay cruise we had taken in 2014. He does a great job of playing all the hits from the "disco" era. We heard all of favorites from the 70's, including Sylvester, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, and many others.
As we were leaving the dance floor, we saw a guy laid out on a couple of tables. He looked like he was unconscious. I asked the guy that was standing over him if he was okay. This guy replied that he was okay. But as we approached the doorway to where the elevators were, we saw a ship medic of some kind coming out and going toward where we had seen this guy.
The next morning, upon awakening, it was announced over the loudspeakers that we were heading at top speed to Miami as there had been a medical emergency. We heard somewhere along the line that there were two people who had overdid it at the Disco Inferno party and were possibly in coma's. We assumed that it was probably due to some bad drugs. Upon arrival in Miami, we were meant by multiple police cars, ambulances and drug sniffing dogs. We were in port in Miami for a couple of hours before we were allowed to go back out to sea. The itinerary had to be changes slightly but really didn't have much effect on the cruise.
Once we left Miami, it was back to lounging around the pools and wandering around the ship.
On the third day of the cruise, February 10th, we spent a relaxing day out at sea. In the afternoon we attended "The Love Boat T-Dance." Princess Cruise line was the one used in the seventies television show. The actress that played the daughter of Captain Stubbing was on the ship and we kept running into her. She was no longer a chubby kid. Of course, Charo had also been a guest star on The Love Boat, too. A special message from the actor that played Captain Stubbing was played on the big screen.
After resting for a while, having dinner in one of the dining rooms and wandering the ship and checking out various shows, including Bob the Drag Queen, we attended the "Code" party. This was a bit risqué with many of the men in leather or minimal clothing.
On Wednesday, the 11th, we had another day out to sea. We attended various shows and lounged around the ship. That night, we attended "The Pajama Party."
On the 12th, we got off the ship for a few minutes in Cozumel. I wasn't feeling very well and when we got back to the ship, I had to rest in the cabin. My stomach was churning and turning and finally I ended up on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. Finally, I vomited. This was the first time I had been sick on a cruise. I am convinced that it was something I had eaten the night before- the awful shrimp cocktail, or the disgusting chicken breast with a slice of ham on it. The only other possibility was the "made to order omelette." I was too sick to attend the "Diva's" T-Dance.
Later that evening, I was feeling better and we did go to the "Time Machine Party."
On Friday, the 13th, we were anchored off Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Milton and I had been there a couple of times on other cruises but we did get off the ship and took a walk. When we returned to the ship. the "Ranch" T-Dance was underway.
That night, they had the "Anything Goes Costume Contest" party. First there was a fun costume party and then more dancing.
On Valentine's Day, February 14th, we attended the "Blush and Bashful" T-Dance.
It was a wonderful cruise. Disembarkation is always the worst day of any cruise. The ships always want you up and out of the cabin early in the morning. Some ships are better than others in getting everybody off the ship. Since our plane didn't leave Fort Lauderdale until the afternoon, we decided to take the Everglades- Flamingo Gardens excursion that would kill some time and get us to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. We boarded an airboat and zipped through this part of the Everglades. We did see an alligator.
From the Everglades tour, we went to the Flamingo Gardens before heading to the airport. It was a lovely gardens and we did see some flamingos.
When we had gone on our first cruise on the Carnival Destiny in 2007, it was only because we didn't think we could afford a gay cruise and because of my job's annual vacation bidding process was too far in advance to get gay cruise itineraries. We had to bid on our vacation time about a year and a half before our vacations and R.S.V.P. Vacations and Atlantis Vacations released their information about a year ahead. We ended up going on five straight cruises before we had finally had it with other people's screaming kids. Don't get me wrong, I had thoroughly enjoyed each of our straight cruises but I always missed having gay people around. When we were on the world's largest ship at the time, The Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Sea's with six thousand passengers and no gay people we could find, I felt like I was in some small town. I felt isolated.
The previous two cruises with family were great because we had people we knew to interact with. The Allure of the Seas was an incredible ship. We loved that cruise but 6,000 straight people are just not as fun as a couple thousand gay men! By this time, I was willing to go ahead and book a gay cruise and gamble that I would get the time off from work. It did turn out to be a bit of a scramble getting coverage for all the time off I needed but it all worked out.
We had married in September, so this cruise was a bit of a honeymoon and it was also the week of my birthday so it was kind of birthday thing too. The ship was from a company called M.S.C. out of Italy. It was the crews first American cruise and their first gay cruise. They obviously had issues. RSVP Vacations were incredible. M.S.C., though was terrible!! I would never, ever go on an M.S.C. cruise again. The pillows were lumpy. The cabin was the smallest we have ever had on a cruise. The food was terrible.
My Cruise Critic review of the MSC Divina:
My spouse and I had been on 5 previous cruises. We had been on enjoyed cruises with both Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We found that Carnival was fine if we were traveling with other family members that had children but Royal Caribbean had much better activities since they had bigger ships with rock walls, ice skating rinks, huge promenades, and both a higher quantity and higher quality of entertainers. For us, the food was comparable on Carnival and RC and the cabins were also about the same size. Our favorite ship had been Royal Caribbean's "Allure of the Seas." The only reason that we chose the MSC Divina this time was because it had been chartered by RSVP Vacations for a gay cruise and we had never been on a gay cruise and wanted to try one. RSVP was incredible but MSC lacked in several ways.
On our first Carnival cruise, we were really impressed with the bedding in our cabin. The pillows and comforters just felt luxurious. The bedding was so good that it was available to
My ratings for this cruise do NOT include the RSVP parties or entertainment.
How can a faux news network find a story to tell,
that has no news value after their political fail?
What can they say that's not 'bout a mythical cliff,
a way to change the subject,
a propaganda shift?
Where can they find a story superficial and lame?
As always and as usual,
from the past, it came.
Like a pair of old pajamas so comfy when worn,
Fox looked for something comfortable to whine about & mourn.
Their outrage is perennial.
We have heard it all before.
Much ado about nothing,
no real story at its core.
It always baffles me as I've said several other times,
in several other Christmases
in several other rhymes.
Fox propagandists are masters of indignation & hype
Telling their viewers to fear "abominations"
of every sexual orientation type.
Even though they lost the election
they act as if they won-
but there WAS an election
and we know we're still not done!
The war on Christmas is so dusty,
it's tired and it's frayed,
like so many other stories on Fox,
it's hackneyed and cliched.
So worn and trite
the war on Christmas
has never stood the light.
But here it is again,
more shrill nonsense from the right.
They love to pretend their victims
persecuted by the rest of us
who don't live in their bubble
they love to make a fuss.
Gretchen might believe this stuff (she seems a little dim),
but I'm not sure about O'reilly
I think he knows it's all pretend.
He must do it for the ratings
more bombastic hyperbole
to agitate his viewers
and bemuse the left tike me.
But times they are a changing
as Dylan said long ago
and this made up war on Christmas
isn't going to help Bills show.
Christmas is everywhere
with exceptions far between & few.
We are inundated with Christmas
even Buddhist, Hindu, Jew.
There is no getting away from Christmas decorations.
They are everywhere that people meet.
We are saturated with Christmas
on every road and every street.
You can't avoid Christmas carols on radio and t.v.
You can't avoid the garland
on every Christmas tree.
But that's not enough for the Fox neanderthals,
it must be a war on Christmas,
if its not in the courthouse halls.
They don't understand The Constitution,
the separation of church & state.
They want to tell you what to believe
and fill you with their hate.
Which is odd to me and opposite of Christ's meaning
but that's how it is in Bizarro world
when nothings what it's seeming.
Right to work mean's no rights at work
Clear skies means more pollution.
When Republicans say “no child left behind”
it's Orwellian elocution.
Their numbers seem to be shrinking, though.
I think people are tired of the shrill
from Hannity, Fox and Friends,
and especially from Bill.
So seasons greetings to non-Christians and Merry Christmas to the rest.
May your days all be merry
and all of you be blessed.
Milton took me to The City for my 60th birthday. We stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental. On Saturday night we went to the Chinese New Years parade. On Sunday we went to see the musical "Avenue Q." For dinner on sunday, we went to Ruth Chris Steak House. It was a great birthday weekend.
I had bought a new Prius in 2010. I had my old Nissan for over ten years. It had a lot of miles on it and had been a great car. I knew Sean was over 16 and needed a car and I hated to just junk the Nissan so I told Darlene that Sean could have the car if he or somebody came down to get it. Milton didn't think I should offer it to Sean because he was certain it wouldn't make it back to Washington and that it would probably break down on the way. I thought it probably would make it and Sean would get a couple of years use from it. As it turned out, I was right.
Misty and Sean's younger brother, Alex, flew down to pick up the Nissan but while they were here, I took them on my "one day tour" of San Francisco.
I had only met Alex a couple of times while he was growing up. I had heard from Darlene that he had been having some problems and had not been going to school for a while. I had seen him briefly and Donna's house on my last visit to Seattle but he seemed extremely shy and disappeared immediately after introductions. When he visited with Misty, Milton and I could both see that he was in some distress. After he and his mom's visit and return drive to Washington, he would ask my sister, Darlene, if she thought Milton and I would let him come and live with us. That eventually did lead to his coming down for another visit and then living with us from 16-18.
My sister, Darlene, and her grandson, Sean, visited the San Francisco Bay Area. They arrived from Yakima, WA on 8/9/11 and stayed a week with Milton and I in Vallejo. We went to The City on Wednesday and had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory over Macy's and got half off tickets in Union Square for Billy Elliot that night at the Orpheum theater. We came home and rested for an hour or so before the show. After the show we went to Mel's diner on Mission. The next day we did some site seeing- a drive through Chinatown, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, The Painted Ladies, Haight Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, The Castro, The Mission, and Ocean Beach. We picked up some Thai from Cha Am for dinner. On Friday we took the ferry over to Fisherman's Wharf. When we got back we went and picked up an iPad for Darlene. On Saturday we went to the Apple Store in Walnut Creek and then out to Brentwood to visit with my nieces Kathi and Deanna and Kathi's family. On Sunday we went to an SF Mime Troupe show briefly, took a walk up Telegraph Avenue and then went to my brother David's house. On Monday, Sean went with David's wife, Leslie, to the 6 Flags amusement park. That night we got together with David and his family for dinner. On Tuesday, Darlene and Sean wanted to go back to Fisherman's Wharf to get some souvenirs before heading to the airport. It was a fun week!
After our cruise with Donna and her family and David and his family on The Valor, we all wanted to do it again. We looked at West Coast cruises which are pretty limited. Milton and I had taken a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas in 2011 but by this time, Royal Caribbean had pulled out of the West Coast, possibly due to a crime wave of drug cartel related crimes in Mexico. Carnival's Splendor was a new ship and almost as big as the Mariner of the Seas and Donna, David and everyone else had liked Carnival before. Carnival had quit stopping at Mazatlan, though, also apparently due to the crime wave. The ship would leave out of Long Beach with stops at Cabo for two days and Puerto Vallarta for one.
Donna has always been in touch with my dad's side of the family since she was a little girl. Darlene, Roger and I had never had much contact with that side of the family since my mother and dad divorced. They were much more involved with Donna, Davide and Hebert. I think they visited them while they were growing up and I know Donna had made several trips to Arkansas. My uncle Pete and his wife had visited San Francisco after I had meant Milton and I had taken them out to dinner. My cousin, Edward, had also visited once and we spent a day together. I was thrilled when Donna suggested inviting our uncle Pete, in his late 70's at this time, and Edward, who was around my age.
My grand-nephew, Alex, had come to live with Milton and I just a few months previously and so we got him a ticket, too. Alex was 16 when he had come to live with us but had now turned 17. We really didn't know him very well when he had asked to come live with us as we had only been to Washington State, where he lived, only a couple of times during his lifetime. I just don't have much interest in other people's kids so when we did visit, I was always more interested in catching up with my adult sisters, brother or cousins, than getting to know children.
Alex had come down with his mom at one point to pick up my old Nissan which I was giving to his brother Sean since I had bought a new car. My Nissan was over 10 years old but still ran pretty well and Sean needed a car and I really didn't want to deal with selling the Nissan.
When Milton and I had lived on Waller Street in San Francisco, my nephew, Chris, had lived with us from 16-18. My brother David had lived with me in San Francisco in the 70's from when he was 16-18. Alex would be the third teenager in our family that had come to live with me in the Bay Area. Of course, when David had come to live with me, I was much younger and only a few years older than him. When Chris had come to live with Milton and I, we were only in our thirties. It had been many years since we had a teenager in the house and we had never had one post cell phones, computer games and texting. These were all new challenges for us.
When I had seen Alex in Seattle on a trip there and we had meant him when he and his mom came down to pick up the Nissan, we both were under the impression that he was very shy and had difficulties socializing. Darlene, Roger and I are all minimally social so it didn't surprise me to think that Alex wasn't very social either. As it turned out on this trip, we discovered that Alex was actually very social. Once I made him aware of the "teen" club on the ship, he was hard to keep track of for the rest of the cruise.
We spent the first night in Kettleman City, along Interstate 5 as it takes us two days to get to L.A. since none of us like sitting in a car for very long. Then we stayed on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood the next three nights. We met my brother, David and his wife, Leslie and their two kids and my sister, Donna, and her husband, Teddy and their two kids, at Disneyland on Friday. We all went to Santa Monica Pier on Saturday. On Sunday we all got on the Carnival Splendor and met up with my cousin, Edward, and his friend, Neil, and my uncle, Pete, and his girlfriend, Lou. We had a couple days at sea and then were in Cabo for a couple of days. Alex and I went snorkeling there and rode a waverunner and we all enjoyed the beach. Donna and others went and swam with the dolphins.
Then we spent a day in Puerto Vallarta. Donna, Teddy, Nick, Christina and Alex went on a zip line excursion and had a great time.