TRAVEL

African Adventure

LWers travel to South Africa, Swaziland

by Valerie Jorgenson

LW contributor

Leslie and Valerie Jorgenson, Mutual 14, recently spent three weeks on a Grand Circle Travel tour of South Africa and Swaziland.

Their adventure began with a 3 a.m. departure from their home and their arrival in Johannesburg about 30 hours later. There they met their 33 fellow travelers and tour director Johnathan Muller. Johnathan is a native of Cape Town and kept the tour moving at a lively pace.

After a good night’s sleep at a lovely hotel, the group toured Johannesburg, which is considered the richest city in South Africa. The tour included a stop at the Apartheid Museum, where a 50-year history of unequal rights affecting more than 20 million black South Africans is displayed.

The next day was spent on a scenic ride to a hotel near Kruger National Park. The next two days were spent riding in 4x4 vehicles in the park. Many animals, including the “big five,” were spotted including a leopard, which is rarely seen.

The seventh day of the tour, the group crossed into the Kingdom of Swaziland. Ancient and modern beliefs mingle. Unfortunately, at least 29 percent of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, and many people don’t follow appropriate preventive measures. 

Many members of the tour group had brought donations of school supplies, silverware and clothing for the Fontein Social Care Center. On the way to the center, fresh fruit and vegetables were purchased to add to the morning meal for the children who attend the preschool at the center. The 60 preschoolers are orphans. Both of their parents died from AIDS. They are lovable children who were excited to see the items provided for their meal and school.

After traveling back to South Africa, the group visited a recreation of a Zulu village in Hluhluwe. The next morning there was a game-viewing drive through the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve. Lunch was served on a boat while cruising around the St. Lucia Estuary.

It was off to the airport the next morning for a short flight to Port Elizabeth, a major seaport with beautiful beaches. The following day’s activities included spending time at Addo Elephant National Park. In addition to other animals, a great many elephants of different ages were viewed. The very cute baby elephants stand under their mothers for protection.

While traveling to Knysna the next day, a stop was made at an animal rescue facility, which mainly houses big cats. The group members were able to enter most of the enclosures occupied by a variety of big cats to view them at close range.

The Safari Ostrich Farm is located in Oudtshoorn, a scenic drive away from Knysna. In the early 1900s ostrich feathers were in great demand. The group learned a lot about the life cycles of ostriches while visiting the farm. Some group members, including Valerie, went on short rides on ostriches. Lunch was served to the group in the farm’s dining room. The meat course was roasted ostrich.

The next morning, a ferry took the group across Knysna’s lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Tractors pulled passenger wagons up the narrow steep trail. The view from the top was breath-taking.

Traveling to Cape Town took most of the next day. Lunch was in a charming restaurant in the historic town Swellendam that has many building depicting the Dutch influence on South Africa’s history.

Although the fog and rain destroyed most of the view, the ride in the cable car up Table Mountain the next morning was spectacular. The large cars rotate as they move up the mountain. In the afternoon, the disparity between the rich and poor in Cape Town became even more apparent as a shanty township was toured. In Cape Town over100,000 people survive in shacks made of any available materials.

It was a long ride to the “bottom” of the African continent. We spent time at Cape of Good Hope. It was a very scenic spot with huge waves breaking over the rocks. On the way back to Cape Town, a stop was made at Boulders Bach to see a large number of penguins.

The tour group spent their last day together exploring South Africa’s wine-producing region. There were opportunities for wine tasting. A tasty lunch was enjoyed in a lovely area near a vineyard. That evening was “farewell dinner.” An original tune was sung to honor Johnathan. He had taken good care of 35 travelers.

During then next two days, the Jorgensons made the long journey from Cape Town to Seal Beach. They arrived home very tired but with wonderful memories of their trip.

On the Go

Huntington Harbour Lights Cruise – Sunday, Dec. 22, $89, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Pauma Casino Wednesday, Jan. 8, $15; $10 cash in machine, New York Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; or Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

San Manuel Casino— Monday, Jan. 13, $15, $10 back, St. Jude’s Support Group, Aileen Ackerman, 493-6774.

Reagan Library— Wednesday, Jan. 15, $77, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Pala Casino— Friday, Jan. 17, $6, American Legion, Tony Dodero, 430-5828, or (714) 357-8196.

Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple – Tuesday, Jan. 28, $73 with dinner at Benihana, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Cachuma Lake Eagle Cruise – Saturday, Feb. 1, $79 with picnic lunch, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Rubel Castle, Glendora —Tuesday, Feb. 4, $42, LBCC Senior Center, 938-3048.

As Seen in Sunset Magazine, Bower Museum – Wednesday, Feb. 5, $89 with lunch, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Valentine Special, L.A. Flower Mart—Thursday, Feb. 6, $32, LBCC Senior Center, 938-3048.

Carlsbad Flower Fields— March 19, $72 includes lunch at Hunter’s Steakhouse, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Fabulous Palm Springs Follies— Thursday, April 10, 2014, $75, Social Club 17, David Zimmerman, 594-7457, or Cathy Gassman, 596-4014.

Santa Barbara— March 19, $72 includes lunch at Enterprise Fish Co., New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Harrah’s Rincon Daily, free, Amphitheater, 7:15-7:30 a.m., (877) 777-2457.

Pala Casino — Thursdays, free, $5 back in slot play, Amphitheater, 7:30 a.m., reservations needed, (714) 283-8687.

Pechanga Casino — Daily, Amphitheater, 8 a.m., free, $10 in EZ Play upon arrival, (951) 770-2579.

Valley View Casino — Daily, Amphitheater, 7:45 a.m., $6, $15 back in slots.

Overnight Trips

Quartsite, Ariz, Blue Water Resort— Jan. 21-23, New York Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

Yellowstone & Tetons in Winter – Jan. 25-30, David Nell and Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Laughlin, Riverside— Jan. 26-29, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Coastal “Safari” By Rail – Feb. 5-8, David Nell and Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Palm Springs, Follies, Aerial Tramway — Feb., 11-12, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Laughlin featuring Oak Ridge Boys – Feb. 16-18, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Alaska Iditarod & Northern Lights – Feb. 20-March 3, David Nell & Good Times Travel, (888) 488-2287.

Wonder Valley Ranch — March 5-8, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Western U.S. and Canada— May 12-24, New York Club, Los Alamitos Seniors’ Club, Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949; or Verna Burns, 596-1896.

Photo-ENSENADA —Cindy Gannon, Keith Kelsay and seven of their friends took a quick Golden Princess cruise to visit the wineries of Ensenada. There are 52 wineries in the area. They visited their favorites, Dona Lupe and L A Cetto. The ship cruised down the coast at 10 knots.

St. Mary’s Senior

Tour historic Bembridge House

All residents are invited on a bus outing to Lawry’s Prime Rib Restaurant in Beverly Hills and to the Bembridge House in Long Beach on Thursday, Jan. 9. The day-trip is hosted by St. Mary Senior Wellness Center with guides Sandra deDubovay and Joe DiDonanto. The bus departs from St. Mary Hospital in Long Beach. Carpooling from Leisure World is being considered.

Lawry’s has been celebrating special occasions since 1938. The restaurant is usually only open for dinner, but is opening exclusively for this event.

After lunch the group will take a private docent-led tour of the Bembridge House located in Drake Park. This 1909 Queen Anne Classic Victorian home has been restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a second story that may hamper some people, but the downstairs and gardens are worth a visit.

The cost of the day-trip is $65, and includes lunch, docent-led tour and motorcoach.

Participants must be members of the St. Mary Wellness Center. Free membership is available.

For more information, call Sandra deDubovay, 598-6561, or the St. Mary senior coordinator, 491-9187.

St. Jude Support

Trip set to San Manuel Casino

The St. Jude Support Group will sponsor a day-trip to San Manuel Bingo and Casino in Highland on Monday, Jan. 13. All LWers and their guests are invited.

The cost of the trip is $15 and includes $10 back from the casino for food or gaming. The bus will leave from Clubhouse 4 at 9:30 a.m. Call Aileen Ackerman, 493-6774.

—Aileen Ackerman

Pauma

Enjoy day-trip to casino, Jan. 8

The New York Club will escort a day-trip to Pauma Casino on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

The cost of the trip is $15, with $10 cash returned in the machine.

During the trip, bingo is played coming and going and snacks are served.

The bus picks up at three locations, Clubhouse 4, 7:15 a.m.; Amphitheater, 7:30; and outside St. Andrew’s Gate, 7:35.

For reservations and information, call Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743; or Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949.

Los Alamitos

Annual tree lot catering to LW

The Los Alamitos Youth Center’s annual tree lot is open through Dec. 21 in the Ganahl Lumber Parking Lot, 10742 Los Alamitos Blvd., from 9 a.m-9 p.m. on the weekends, and from noon-9 p.m during the week.

Select from noble, Nordman, Douglas or grand fir trees. Tree stands, watering spouts, wreaths, and other festive goodies are also available at the tree lot.

The Youth Center offers Leisure World residents a special $5 delivery charge, regular $15.

More than 300 students volunteer at this fund-raiser each year. The money they help raise goes back to kids in the community. Christmas tree purchases also allow school groups like PTAs and the Los Alamitos High School sports booster organizations to earn funds too.

Now is time to see gray whales

Gray whales are beginning to pass through area waters on their annual migration to Mexico.

Thousands of gray whales travel back and forth along the coastline to their breeding area in Mexico and back to the Pacific Northwest from whence they came during the winter and spring. Gray whales use the baleen system within their bodies to strain through krill.

The California Gray Whale stands among the largest species of whales. They generally weigh between 22 to 35 tons, and are 35 to 45 feet in length, with the females being larger than the males.

California gray whales travel over 8,000 miles a year from their feeding grounds in the waters near Alaska, where they feed on amphipods in cold arctic waters.

December-April is the best time for whale watching.

The first week of December offshore killer whales, humpbacks, grays and a sperm whale were seen off the coast in Long Beach.

Male sperm whales usually travel solo. The last sightings of sperm whales was a pod of females in 2011.

The sperm whales’ blow is very distinct because of the position of its blowhole, off to the side of its head. Therefore, their blow is also off to the side.

Bigg’s killer whales are mammal eaters and usually stick to the coast in small groups, offshore killer whales travel far offshore in large pods. The offshore killer whales are exclusive fish eaters

Killer whales have been broken up into 10 different species depending on where they live, what they look like, and what they eat.

There are several companies offering whale watching tours in the Long Beach, Newport and Dana Point.

When going on a wahlae watching tour be sure to remember:

• Binoculars - There are many things you would miss with the naked eye - like the barnacles on a Gray Whale or the markings of a Risso’s Dolphin.

• Camera - A camera for a chance to capture memories that will last a lifetime.

• Jacket - Are highly recommended as it can be a little chilly when on the water no matter what season it is. Layering is the way to go as the temperature will vary throughout the day.

•Sunscreen and lip protection are always recommended as the sun does get quite intense, even during the peak of winter. Be sure to apply ample amounts to avoid getting any burns.

• Cash for snacks and beverages on the boat. Many boats do not take credit cards.

For more information on current sightings, times and prices visit:

•Davey’s Locker Whale Watching, Newport Beach, Long Beach. www.daveyslocker.com

• Harbor Breeze Cruises, Long Beach. www.2seewhales.com

• Newport Landing Whale Watching, www.newportwhales.com.

Palm Springs

Trip set to see Follies farewell

Feb. 11-12

The New York Club in conjunction with Los Alamitos Seniors Club will escort a two-day, one-night trip to Palm Springs, Feb. 11-12, to see the farewell season of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway with lunch at the top of Mount San Jacinto and visit the windmills of Palm Springs.

There will be time for browsing and shopping in Palm Springs the Spa Casino is just a short walk away from the hotel.

The cost is $245 per person, double occupancy; $304 for singles. Two lunches, a continental breakfast, baggage handling and motorcoach are included in addition to admission to the P. S. Follies, tramway and windmill tour.

For reservations and information, call Phyllis Pierce, 598-3743, Chee Chee Porr, 430-5949, or Verna Burns, 596-1896.