"A Room with a View: Port of Ensenada, Mexico"
7" x 5" Watercolor and Ink
Bob and I could not resist taking a very reasonable cruise on Carnival Paradise from Long Beach to Ensenada on the Baja in Mexico, by way of Catalina Island. I believe the distances are so small that you could easily sail there yourself, but Carnival makes it a Monday to Friday cruise and you circle a lot. It was the ballroom dance part that captured our attention -- 200 dancers organized by a studio owner in Long Beach. Of course, the non-stop eating was pretty nice, too, and there were two fabulous musical shows as well. As a bonus, our randomly assigned dining table mates turned out to be a match made to order and we spent lots of time with new friends Char, Barb, Ted, and Janet, all terrific dancers and great fun.
Ensenada was our second stop. As we slid into port, I did an ink sketch and then painted a port scene after we docked. We decided to take a Wine Country Tour to Calafia Valley, a 45-minute drive that passes the port and traverses the mountains. We wanted to get out in the countryside and always enjoy visiting wine country. There we toured two wineries: L. A Cetto Winery, where we tasted and were sent along with a bottle of wine each; and one organic, where Dona Lupe personally served us homemade pizza and treated us to many interesting spreads and chutneys while tasting. Along the way we learned the history of the region. The guide told us the average daily wages are $4.50, which helps explain the number of Mexican immigrants we have in the US.
"A Room with a View: Catalina Island, California"
On our second day, we visited Catalina Island, just 26 miles from Long Beach. We would be ballroom dancing at the Avalon Ballroom in the famous Casino, the round building on the right. Electricity can be iffy on Catalina and we almost missed our dancing opportunity because the casino staff arrived to find the power company had shut them down. With a bit of persuasion, we were allowed in and danced to music provided by our tour director on a portable unit under natural light. Not quite the big band sound, but we were happy to have this rare opportunity. The dance floor is very expansive and beautifully constructed, a nice change from tiny ship dance floors.
We completed our mini vacation with a stay on the Queen Mary and returned to San Jose on the Coast Starlight Amtrak train that connects LA and Seattle.