A Tour of Newport Harbor (Part One)

I found my notes! They were in the scrapbooking box, so it's really a wonder to have recovered them. There are probably actual people stuffed into the bottom of that box, people I thought were interesting and planned to remember fondly at a more convenient date.

The problem with and delay for this post is that, despite the notes, I don't know how to label the photos that are going to follow. I have the labels, I have the photos, but - er - I'm not sure what goes with which. (Blush.) You'll see.

To recap: on Saturday we checked into the Queen Mary. It was historic and super-fun. On Sunday we went to Disneyland. It was empty and super-fun. Now we're up to Monday, where our rough itinerary was as such:

  1. Eat lunch buffet at the delicious Gandhi Palace (located at the Ramada in Anaheim - not the one directly across the street from Disneyland, but a few properties down on the corner)
  2. Drive to Newport Beach/Balboa Pier. Maybe take a tour to see sea lions.
  3. Have dinner at Blue Bayou inside Disneyland.

Let's start with the lunch. Gandhi is a lovely restaurant with a terrific selection of tasty Indian fare, and it was especially nice today as we sat by the windows with an open door behind us, letting in a refreshing breeze.

Gandhi Palace, Take 2

Unfortunately, the buffet had no paneer. Okay, it had sag paneer, but that doesn't count, because we both hate cooked spinach and it was depressing trying to scrape the green goo off the fresh cheese cubes.

"What the heck?" (Imagine it said simultaneously, but say "hell" instead for realism. Or maybe a cheerful f-bomb - you know those Aussies.) This was the fourth Indian buffet in a row without paneer! Is it the season of Lord-Ganesha-Disdains-the-Cheese?

The food was good, but... Even Mike, who isn't a vegetarian, loves the paneer. Must have paneer.

We hopped on the freeway and followed it until it became Newport Beach Boulevard, which runs to the end of the Balboa Peninsula. I didn't take photos of the pier or sea this time, since I already covered that when visiting a couple of years ago. (It's hard for me to look at older photos now that I have Pioneer Woman's "Boost" action. I have already short-listed it for Best Photoshop Action of 2008.) Even though we bought another memory card before this trip, I was a bit conscious of conserving space and sticking to new stuff. (Then again, what I used to spend on photo processing would cover new memory cards many times over. Oh, the bad ole days of trying to decide whether to get "doubles"!)

Mike wasn't really interested in the pier, either. Now that we've been up and down the coast a bit, the piers feel genericized, especially the way each one seems to have a Ruby's Diner on the end.

We walked over to the Fun Zone and - yay - a tour to see the sea lions was leaving in a short while. For $14 you go to the lions and back again, seeing celebrity homes along the way. That's 45 minutes. For twice the time but only a few dollars more, you continue up the other end of the harbour, seeing more yachts and residences of the rich and famous.

We went with the shorter tour - who cares about seeing Nicolas Cage's back porch? Plus, it would be nice to head back before afternoon traffic started settling in.

Our boat was the Queen (behind the Belle, below). Hey, like the Queen Mary, but different. Also in this photo is the Balboa Ferry (left, somewhat hidden) and the Tiki Boat.

A Different Queen

We were directed to grab the front row right, all for ourselves. (Being obsessively early pays off again!)

Mike, aboard on the Queen

Soon the other rows filled up with a mix of tourists, from the large family to the young man who kept his earbuds in the whole time to the two blondes and male friend behind us with their go-pack of cold beers and gummy bears.

(The blondes had a lot to say. I only point out that they were blonde because it's important to get a mental image of the stereotype here, then imagine how much I enjoyed their animated patter about such a variety of topics. I'm not even sure if I'm being sarcastic.)

We pulled out and passed the Balboa Pavilion, just over 100 years old. (It was more watery back then.) As always, I didn't b/w this photo because I thought it would be tasteful and elegant, but because I found the original colour version so disappointing.

Balboa Pavilion

To the left were several watercraft. We learned that the owners put orange nets over the boats to keep the sea lions off. Sea lions are heavy and, apparently, something of a menace, between their weight and whatever offloading of the weight they choose to splatter on deck. A few years ago, sixteen sea lions climbed onto one of these small boats and sank it.

Balboa Boats, Protected from Sea Lions

Now the celebrity homes! Despite our initial poo-poohing, this was actually a neat part of the tour. We both agreed that maybe someday we'll go back and see the rest.

This first house is, for sure, owned by author Dean Koontz. Like I said (and said), my notes are bad - I have names, but I've forgotten who owns what multimillion dollar piece of real estate. However, I remember the boarded up windows of the Koontz home. (He's having some work done.)

Dean Koontz's House - Balboa Harbour

This next house may be owned by Bill Medley, of Righteous Brothers fame. However, it's probably owned by a surgeon - Mike recalls that the house with the two yachts is owned by a doctor, and that sounds sort of right.

Maybe Not Bill Medley's House - Balboa Harbour

Maybe it's this house that is owned by Medley. Or, it was owned by George Burns.

Another Newbort Harbor House

Or maybe this is the one owned by George Burns. Or it is owned by a "drug lord" (here the captain laughs and explains that it's a pharmaceutical company bigwig)? Or by Shirley Temple after she turned 11?

Another Newbort Harbor House

Okay, this one could be the drug lord, could be Shirley Temple (after turning 11), could be the guy who turned his bean field into South Coast Plaza, or it could belong to the owner of Chik-Fil-A. Or, pick two. In fact, I'm 90% certain that one of these is Chik-Fil-A and one of these is someone already mentioned. 80%. Maybe 75% certain.

Another Newbort Harbor House

And somewhere in this picture is the house of whoever is left over from the choices above. Or! It's the home of the Wrigley guy. You know, bubble gum, baseball fields, big mansion on Avalon.

Another Newbort Harbor House

Or this is the Wrigley home. Or, it belongs to Mrs. Fields.

Another Newbort Harbor House

No clue on this next one. Maybe I was just taking photos? Maybe it's someone not eliminated above? Maybe I forgot someone(s)?

Another Newbort Harbor House

This is Shirley Temple's childhood home. For sure.

Shirley Temple's (Childhood) House

Maybe this is the one that belongs to Mrs. Fields?

Another Newbort Harbor House

And this one I remember very well. There was a guy, had two sons, they fought a lot and split the house in two, and then one of them built an extension in order to block the other one's view, which you can see here, maybe, if not, don't ask questions, keep walking keep walking...

Two Brothers, One Split House - Balboa Harbour

After a quick look to the other side of the harbour to see some Gilligan's Island stuff (to be covered later, as we make our way back), we were full speed ahead to the ocean. Sea lions! (See them?)

To the Sea Lions!

30 April 2008 |






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