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Perris, CA

While not exactly Paris, there are some things to see and do in and near Perris. With campgrounds wanting $60-80 a night the closer you get to Los Angeles and state parks wanting an outrageous $35 a night with no utilities, the Perris-Lake Elsinore area can be a good home base for all the local attractions such as Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, southern California beaches, and more. There are several good and reasonable campgrounds in the area with RPI and Passport America discounts. Further out is an Escapees park. Having spent a great deal of time in the area in another life, I was more into the simpler pleasures such as finding the house my grandparents use to live in, visiting the old Orange County Trolley Museum my grandfather use to take us to, visiting a Medieval Times dinner show for the first time, and of course time on the beach and touring another lighthouse.

My grandparents lived in Sun City, a new development at the time for senior citizens out in the middle of what was then nowhere. With little water available, all the yards had gravel rather than grass. Theirs was painted green to at least make an attempt at looking normal. They had a small house, well maintained, with an open carport. Down the street was a large clubhouse and pool where children were frowned upon and a small shopping center. We didn’t understand then why they would want to live out there or the strict rules concerning youthful visitors. Now that my brothers and I have long since lost the bounce in our steps and and found some wrinkles in life and limb, we understand perfectly. There comes a time when the noise and business of children just are no longer cute. You crave silence and some amount of solitude after putting in your time as a parent. I can tell you from experience, grandparenting is a much better deal!

Anyway, after making a call to one brother who couldn’t remember the address either, I called a cousin who did remember it and found the house. What a shock! The neighborhood is no longer senior citizens only and most of the houses have bars on their windows. Their carport is now a locked garage. The pretty green gravel is now ordinary ugly gray gravel with weeds sticking up through it. Behind the house the current owner has done a do-it-yourself addition that now fills half the already small backyard. Yes, you can’t go home again.

Sun City

I found the Orange County Trolley Museum nearby in Perris but it too had changed. This change was good though. As a child, all the rail cars and engines were outside and fun to climb on. Unfortunately, being out in the weather is not good for historical things you are trying to save. Most of the equipment has now been moved indoors and while you can tour them, unsupervised climbing is not allowed. They have also added to their collection. I never got to ride the Los Angeles Red Cars previously but I have now gotten to sit on one. I rode in a caboose in the upper seats and rode several trolleys as well as a large train. If you want to learn to drive a train, they actually offer that for a price. I finally got to pump a hand car down the track and back. It’s not too hard once you get it going. They have a a very nice private business car there which was the predecessor to the private business plane. It is ornately decked out with a fine dining room, kitchen, comfortable berths, desks for the business of the day, stuffed chairs, and a covered porch off the back. Ah, those were the days… I also saw a funeral car which was used before the automobile hearse came along and put them out of business. The coffin was loaded in the side and passengers sat in comfortable chairs inside the main area on the way to the cemetery. There is also an old pioneer cabin there which had been built half in the ground to keep it cool and warm. While very small, it had been used as a store.

L.A. Red CarHand carPrivate business car

A quick search of the Internet popped up discount tickets to Medieval Times dinner show but I had to act quick because it was only good for that night.  Whoosh! I saw a chance to cross off one more thing on my bucket list and took it. A quick dive into the bedroom for a Clark Kent-Superman like change and off to the races on the L.A. freeway system. I recommend getting there early, unlike me to get a decent parking spot. I got lucky and found a spot left in the handicapped parking area. Sometimes it’s good to be a gimp. After getting my crown and assignment to the Red Knight’s tables, I settled in for what would be a delicious and plentiful dinner on real pewter plates and an excellent show of horsemanship and chivalry. While feasting on chicken and spare rib, I watched as the knights of olde paraded before the king and queen, lanced a target and hoops, jousted, and battled with fierce steel to save their prince. We all booed the evil Green Knight at the top of our lungs and applauded our beloved Red Knight. At the end of the evening, it was our Red Knight who bested all and freed the prince. Finally, I got to be on the winning team! After the usual milling about with the actors and cruising the gift shop, the drive home was much more relaxed.

Medievel TimesTheir MajestysJousting

A visit to California would not be complete without a trip to the beach. On a warm sunny day, I donned my shorts and headed down to San Diego. Surprisingly, I found a place to park. In California, that is considered a miracle. The beach was afire with energy. From volleyballers, to surfers, to exercisers, to holy rollers, to sand castle builders, to dogs, everyone was working out in their own way and having a great time. Not a good time to be a gimp but there was still walking the pier and the tide pools for me with a little tip-toeing through the cold, cold surf. The volleyball crew put on a pretty good show and I’m not too old to appreciate a firm rippled form sailing through the air and a ball too. Lunch was fish, of course, on the pier in a small restaurant or rather just outside it as it was crowded. The food was quite good though the service was terrible.

VolleyballCowabungaBeach exercising

Sand CastleSanDiego022

Later, I drove on over to Cabrillo National Monument nearby and the old Point Loma Lighthouse for another stamp in my national park passport and a gorgeous view of the bay below. Every lighthouse is a little bit different because of where they are located and who lived there. This one has something I have not seen before, a large rain catching basin. There is still a garden outside to grow food and the snug little interior is well kept. Park down below at the Visitor’s Center, see the monument, then walk up to the lighthouse. It is uphill but not too bad on the paved path.

Cabrillo National MonumentPoint Loma LighthouseBay view

For more pics click here (Perris), here (Medieval Times), and here (San Diego).





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