Kauai & California, 1993

Trip in the Sun with Betty and Casey


June 12-22, 1993


I. Flights from Memphis to Lihue , Hawaii

IV. Sacramento Visits With Nolan Family

II. Snorkeling at Kauai’s Lydgate & Hanalei

V. Napa Valley Wineries

III. Poipeu Beach and Kiele Lagoons Golf

VI. Flight To Memphis


Album of 19 trip photos at http://flickr.com/photos/lewis_nolan/ (Scroll down to see small pictures with limited caption information or double click “Slideshow” at top right to see larger pictures with full caption info once captions are activated on screen instructions.)


(This posting updated July 23, 2008)

By Lewis Nolan


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After lunch in Sacramento, Calif., we checked out of the Clarion Hotel and left for the drive to Napa Valley to the southwest. We rode with the car’s top down. It only rains in the winter in California. The first time we went to California - when Casey was 6 years old – I didn’t believe Buzz when he told me about the absence of rain in the summer. We were camping back in those days and it seemed like it always rained whenever we camped in the South and Southeast.


We finally found our hotel/loge in Napa after about three different people gave us what turned out to be poor directions. (We’ve found that regardless of where you are in the country, most people just can’t give good directions.)


The travel agent goofed again. The rate charged at the Chablis Lodge was higher than what we had been quoted. The previous screw-up came when we thought we had arranged to pick up a car in Sacramento rather than in San Francisco. We overlooked the booking mistake until we checked our receipts while flying from Memphis to San Francisco. By then it was too late to get a correction.


We left the Chablis Lodge to drive the loop through the wine country. We learned that most wineries close between 4:30-5 p.m. so we didn’t have much time to stop and take tours. But we did make a stop at the Robert Mondavi Winery, which provided one of the better tours we remembered from our trip here 12 years ago. The roses planted around the winery and adjacent vineyards were beautiful. We were told that the vintners had learned that if the roses mildew, so would the grapevines. That led to them regularly spraying the vines with sulphur at first sign of trouble in the roses.


We drove most of the loop and stopped at Calistoga for a snack and to buy a book for Casey. He’s read three books so far on this trip – a total that surpasses the requirement for summer reading made by his school. We cut through the town of Yountville and came back to Napa down Highway 29.


We ate dinner at Penguin’s, a Greek seafood restaurant. It was very nice.


Buzz and I took our bottle of Napa’s Mondavi Fume Blanc wine to the hot tub, where the chilled wine was a tasty response to the 102-degree temperature. I thought the water was too hot, but it was a pleasant change of pace. I did a little packing before bedtime.



Reflections on Visits to Cemetery and Family


Tuesday, June 22, 1993 – From Napa, Calif., to San Francisco and Sacrameto (Buzz’s account)


I’m writing this while waiting in the San Francisco Airport terminal waiting on our Northwest flight back to Memphis. We drove the rental Le Baron convertible in here from Napa, Calif., this morning and enjoyed an excellent view of the San Francisco skyline, the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge from the top lanes of the highway over the Bay Bridge. With a toll of only $1, the toll is a terrific bargain compared to the higher prices over major bridges I pay when driving in New Jersey and New York City.


The family trip to the Island of Kauai, Napa and Sacramento has been a wonderful trip for everybody. Outside of my upset stomach Sunday following my eating of a butter-laced croissant at the airport, we’ve all been healthy and have enjoyed excellent weather. We briefly visited Fisherman’s Wharf Sunday morning before driving up the freeway to Sacramento and stopping at the famous Nut Tree restaurant to get my brothers and niece some all-day suckers just like the ones our dad bought for the Nolan boys when we would take family outings to San Francisco (then known among the Sacramento cognoscenti as “The City.”


Once in Sacramento, we checked into the Clairon Hotel near downtown and across the street from the old Governor’s Mansion. I made a solo trip to East Lawn Cemetery to visit my mother’s grave for the first time since her burial in 1985. I found her metal head stone/ground plate. It is marketed Garnett E. Nolan, 1911-1985 without any trouble. I actually remembered have helped my brothers select the plot eight years ago. It sure doesn’t seem like she’s been dead all that long. I miss her a lot.


While at East Lawn, I also visited the crypt of my longtime friend Pete Siller, who was entombed in a mausoleum following his death in Vietnam a quarter century ago. I was saddened to reflect on how that stupid, stupid war denied him the great years of adult life that I have so intensely enjoyed over the intervening period. A bouquet of dried-up, silk flowers at his crypt suggested to me that Pete’s final resting place hasn’t been visited in a good while. I hoped my impression was wrong because I knew his parents and two younger brothers (Ernie and George) fairly well when Pete and I were close friends during school and as fraternity brothers at college. I always thought highly of his family.


As long as I live, I’ll never forget what a good friend and jolly companion Pete was. We spent a lot of time together SCUBA diving, body surfing and living the controlled wildness of guys in their late teens and early twenties. It’s a terrible, terrible, heart-breaking shame that so many really good guys like Pete died for absolutely nothing.


After paying my respects at East Lawn, I picked up Betty and Casey at the hotel and drove to my brother Bill’s home not many blocks away. Bill, his wife, Anna, their daughter, Katie, and my other brother, Pat, awaited us and made us most welcome. There was a household of love, food, champagne and warm hospitality there for us. We visited with them for about 6 hours. We particularly enjoyed getting to know Katie, a blonde-haired, green-eyed charmer who was a pretty little girl with a lot of personality once she got past an innate shyness.


Katie seemed to take a great liking to her Aunt Betty, which pleased me a great deal. She also seemed thrilled by the hula skirt from Hawaii Betty had purchased for her. She treated us to some dance steps and twirls she had learned at ballet school. At age 5, Katie is obviously the princess of the family. It is clear that Bill, 42, and Anna dote on her.


Katie has a roomful of books and dolls. She delighted in showing her collection of doll accessories to Betty.


I asked Katie what her favorite book is and she quickly pulled out a collection of Dr. Seuss books. I let her choose a story for me to read to her and she selected one about a boy with a magic hat.


That evening, Bill barbequed some steaks and Anna made some delicious side dishes and desserts. We had a wonderful meal and evening at their home, making me all the more glad of our decision to layover before returning home to Memphis.


The next morning, I took Betty and Casey to East Lawn Cemetery to see my mother’s grave and to poke around my old neighborhood haunts. The house where I spent most of my growing-up years was at 1517 41st Street, just two blocks from the upscale cemetery in what was then known as East Sacramento. An Oriental family now lives in the old Nolan family home, where my mother raised her three sons without hardly any assistance. She and my late father, Lewis Earle Nolan Jr., had divorced in the mid-1950s.


The color of the two-story, stucco family home is now cream. The tudor, inset timbers are now slate blue. The color of the stucco had been white, with black timbers and trim when we lived there from the early 1950s until my mother’s death in 1985. The new owners have also added a circular, concrete walkway, central air conditioning, installed a door for the two-car garage and replaced the old screen porch to the rear of the house with a trellis/gazebo. It looks like a fine, contemporary house and brought back some bittersweet memories for me.


Chasing ghosts seems to be that way. I also chased some ghosts by driving Betty and Casey to the sites where my public schools were located – David Lubin Elementary, Kit Carson Junior High and Sacramento High. All have been razed and rebuilt by a boondoggle of a public works program some years ago that was designed to reduce the risk of earthquake injuries.


We also drove around the “Fabulous Forties” neighborhood where I grew up and knew so many people decades ago. We also drove by Sutter Lawn Tennis Club a few blocks away. I learned to swim at the exclusive, private club that once had a waiting list of several years from the prosperous, professional families who lived nearby. I taught swimming lessons at the club and coached a pretty good AAU-age group swimming team there in the early 1960s. My memories of my years at Sutter Lawn are rich. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they are slightly remembered by my name on a trophy or two still in the clubhouse.


Betty, Casey and I were joined at lunch by my old swimming pool management partner, Bob Reid. In ways he hasn’t changed a bit over the decades and is still a fuss-budget with a great sense of humor. Unfortunately, Bob is back up to his heavy weight he carried when a young guy and is taking medication for it. He is still out of work (walked away from a big job as Commissioner of the Arts in California state government during a public spat over politics), but is hopeful that Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration – to whom he contributed $10,000 in campaign money – will find a place for him.


Despite his employment challenge, Bob is holding up well with his situation and is as cheery and as wise-cracking as ever. As with my brothers the evening before, Bob seemed to relish telling Casey about my own “hood” stage when I was a young teen. It was all in good fun and didn’t do any damage, but probably gave my son a different perspective of the kind of a guy I was long ago.


My brother Bill showed us his splendid photo album full of family pictures of our parents, of the three Nolan brothers at various stages of our growing up and the Nolan families. I’d never seen some of the photos and may want to take a closer look at some point in the future. I’m particularly interested in seeing if any of the old photos are of Lizzie Cottle Ford, my late mother’s mother who died so tragically young.



To Napa, Wine-making Capital of California


Tuesday, June 22, 1993 – To Napa, Calif. (Buzz’s account)


After wishing Bob and Bill and family all the best (Bob is temporarily living with his sister pending a resolution of his unemployment situation), Betty, Casey and I drove our rental convertible top-down from Sacramento to Napa. We arrived at the wine-making capital north of San Francisco about 2 p.m. and, after stopping three times for directions, found the place where we had made reservations, The Chablis Lodge. It was a charming, small inn owned and managed by a couple from India.


We drove the “wine loop,” a circular tourism route up Highway 29 from Napa to Calistoga and returned down what is locally called the “Silverado Trail.” We stopped for a very good tour at the Mondavi Vineyard and for tastings at the Franciscan Winery. We had a snack at Calistoga before returning to Napa, where we ate a very good meal at The Penguins, a seafood place. We then repaired to the Chablis Inn and its hot tub, where I enjoyed a bottle of chilled wine with my beautiful and loving wife of 25 years.


This trip was a great way to spend our 25th Wedding Anniversary milestone. I’m looking forward to another happy 25 years and doing something special for our 50th Anniversary.


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