Sovang, UCLA and a family reunion

We woke up refreshed in our little Solvang hotel, and went out to try one of the many, many bakeries in the Danish village. Kelly (Scout) had never had a Napoleon pastry, so we took care to find one for her. Then we strolled past the shops.
We found a Viking Cousin It scarecrow:
And a mermaid scarecrow with do not touch signs in Danish and Japanese:
The stores opened soon enough, and Peter found a dog robot in the small toy shop, and we all enjoyed browsing the Solvang bookstore, which also doubled as the Hans Christian Andersen museum. There was a small section of Scandinavian books, but the Icelandic section had a book about strange murders which seemed to have nothing to do with Iceland. But in a way, it’s also very Icelandic to find something strange where you don’t expect it.
We were all charmed by Solvang — Kelly called it a town of doll houses and fairy tales, which, well, is quite Scandinavian, particularly if you’ve been raised on European fairy tales.
A few miles west of Solvang, we stopped by the winery which had advertised cookies and wine, Loring Vinyards. It turns out the cookies pair with the wine:
We shared the cookies with Kelly and asked about the vulture sculpture at the entrance to the wine tasting venue. Many of the buildings in nearby Solvang had a stork on top of them — was the vulture a hipster twist on that, or was it a particularly ugly stork? As it turns out, the place had earlier been a gardening supply store with such sculptures and Loring decided to keep it because it looked cool. And there are vultures in the tree across from the place.
UCLA was about 2 hours out from Solvang, so we next headed to UCLA for a late lunch with Neil. As ever, we were delighted to see him, though he was in the midst of a busy week with lots of home work and papers due. It was a particularly beautiful day at UCLA, which is typically a gorgeous campus. But, alas, all the campus restaurants closed at 2, so we had to go to Westwood for lunch. We made plans to meet up with Neil again on Tuesday and take him to a nice restaurant to celebrate his 19th birthday.
And then, we went back onto the LA freeways to go to my cousin Tammy’s house in Escondido. It is somewhat symbolic to be spending my last nights in California with her. Her grandmother took in my mother and me when we came to California from Germany, and the family always made us feel welcome and like we belong. I left southern California almost as soon as I graduated high school, and it was Tammy’s family who watched out for my mother, especially when she developed heart disease and suffered from heart attacks and strokes.
Tammy had just moved in to the house 3 weeks earlier, and on a narrow remote street, but I knew immediately it was hers. I ran up to the window and saw my cousin Linda inside in the kitchen. She had taken my mother in when she was recovering from strokes, and was with her the night she died. I hadn’t seen her since my mother’s funeral more than 15 years ago, but we were as delighted to see each other as if we’d only parted a month ago.
Inside, Tammy had gathered together 4 generations of the family, from my cousins Linda and Frank
with her siblings Amanda and Nick, and Tammy’s daughers Jessica and Kaitlinn, as well as respective spouses and children. Most of them had never met Kelly, and hadn’t seen me since 2001 either. We talked and ate and reminisced well into the mild California night about family history and tendencies, life in southern California now and the promise of other states. The family has lived in southern California since the 1930s, but already Tammy’s son moved to Arizona for an easier, less expensive life.
It was also Tammy’s husband’s Roger’s birthday so we had birthday cake as well. Tammy spoiled us all, and Peter and I had our own room to stay in for the night, and all we could wish for in the way of comfort. I promised I would come back to visit again, this time without a 16 year gap in between.
Tammy made some sandwiches for us to take with us on our journey, and I took a picture of the view out from her deck:
And then we collected ourselves back in the car and our journey continued.

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