I live in Maine, but I have traveled to California once about 25 years ago.  It was just after President Reagan left office…….oh, I am dating myself!

I had a relative who lived out there for a while, and I had never been, so I decided to go spend a week out there and enjoy the good weather.  And I was so amazed at the good weather.  This year, Maine has had constant snow, which hopefully will end in another month, but it has truly got me thinking about and remembering all that time in California, and the palm trees, which I will never forget and of course………the sunshine all day, every day!

My fondest memory of California happened on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.  I had told my relative that I was going to “blend in” and “NOT act like a tourist”, and thus we set out from Thousand Oaks and made the trek into LA for the day so I could see the Hollywood sign and the stars lining the streets on the Boulevard.

Our first stop was Rodeo Drive however, and although I could never afford a dress there, we walked it anyway…….and low and behold in front of one of the little shops………. was a chauffeur and a Rolls Royce, which I had never seen in my life.  Now that might not mean much to anyone who lives there…….but to someone from Maine who only knows Chevy trucks with 4-wheel drive slinging mud around, SUVs, and minivans……….it was a first.

So I took one look at my relative, and started laughing……….. because at that moment I started acting JUST like a tourist.

I walked up to the chauffeur waiting patiently on the street for his charge, and I asked him if I might take a picture of him in front of the Rolls Royce.  I thought I would get the cool brush off, but surprisingly, he tickled to think that I even noticed him, let alone was wanting to take a picture of him.  He was a short man with a darker complexion and an accent, which I think was Mexican, but he was tickled that someone noticed him standing there, that he mattered, and that someone thought he was important enough with which to converse.

He took a minute to ask me who I was, because I think he thought I was famous…….and I told him that “I wasn’t someone important, I was just visiting,” and told him “I had never seen a chauffeur in person before and was simply fascinated with him and his car,” as well as “having never seen a Rolls Royce except on television,” and after chatting a few minutes and laughing while he let me touch the hood in tourist fashion, we decided to take the picture of us together. So I passed the camera to my relative and stood beside him with the Rolls next to us, we put our arms around each other’s shoulder and my relative took the photo, and to this day it is one of my most treasured memories of my trip there.  How such a small gesture could make such a big difference!!

I thanked him profusely for taking a moment in time for me, and he was so endearing and gracious, it made my entire trip!!!  I still have the photo somewhere, but I can’t upload photos at the moment, thus I will have to come back and put it on here at another time.

Another memory of California was of course, the Hollywood sign and Capitol Records, and Frederick’s (yes, I was married then and much thinner) but I also remember going to a famous restaurant on the coastline that was an informal sit down bar.  I can’t recall the name, Goldfinger, or Gateway, or something like that…………anyway………

On the menu one of the entrèes was Maine Lobster, and when the waitress came I said, “Is this REALLY Maine Lobster?  because I am from Maine, and I would KNOW!!!”  She laughed and said she really thought it was from Massachusetts, but that I “didn’t hear it from her.” Thus that day I didn’t order Maine Lobster off the menu, but I tried something more native to California, that was really good as well.

I also remember the Pacific Coast Highway, a trip to Solvang, and touring Beverly Hills.  We went by President Reagan’s home, and although we couldn’t see the home……. I was a typical tourist and took a picture of the trash by the road………..THUS……..after not wanting to be a typical tourist………. I came home with an infamous picture of the Reagan trash cans and some palm trees………now THAT is being a tourist.

I am missing the warm weather out there today, but if anyone from California comes to Maine on vacation, be sure to have Maine Lobster with steamers and lots of butter, it is worth the trip………….but I hope you find a nice memory like that chauffeur and a Rolls Royce.

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