Sun Lakes Writers’ Group – October 2023

Life’s a Beach

Carrie Bonello

What’s better than a relaxing day at the beach? Sun, sand, and surf, it sounds picture perfect. Unfortunately we don’t live near a beach and no one ever said let’s go relax under a cholla in the desert.

Before we retired we looked for opportunities to get away for a long weekend. The beaches in Southern California make for a perfect getaway. We were already set up with the truck and camper so why not just cruise over to one of the beaches in California?

First order of business is to identify the perfect beach for a weekend stay. California has a lot of state parks located along the beaches so it wasn’t hard to find several that sounded good. Let’s face it, when you live in the desert all the beaches sound great.

Our first California beach experience was at San Onofre State Park. In our imagination we expected to find hard-packed sand where we’d park the truck on the glorious beach, California boys would be hanging ten on their surfboards, and bikini-clad coeds would be cavorting in the waves. Well, expectations and reality were a long way apart.

According to the map (pre GPS) we arrived at our destination but this was a paved parking lot, we’re looking for a state park, you know, sand, surf, trees. The guy at the kiosk finally convinced us this was indeed San Onofre State Park. We were on a bluff about 200 feet above the water. As I recall the instructions said to back into your assigned site and you can see the beach from the door of your camper, providing your truck is tall enough. Our campsite was about two blocks from the stairs that led to the beach. There is no way we were going to trek the two blocks and lug chairs, umbrellas, and coolers, down that staircase. Well, down maybe, but we’d never get up again!

It turns out that the California Parks people used incredible imagination when they decided to create state parks using the old freeway as a campground. After all, it was already paved and they can park campers just like a drive-in movie, everyone watching the surf. Binoculars came in handy for this campground.

The state park website neglected to mention the location of the new eight-lane freeway was about 50 feet to the north of the old four-lane freeway where we were now camped. In between the eight-lane freeway and our campsite was the rail for the new Metro Link high-speed commuter train.

When we started setting out the lawn chairs and coolers we thought the background noise was the surf but we quickly realized we were so far from the surf there was no chance of that. But the constant drone of traffic became familiar and when the Metro came roaring through we hardly noticed, although the grounds did rumble a bit.

Before we started the relaxing part of the trip we noticed some odd-looking towers at the end of the beach. What the heck, those look like nuclear towers. I’m sure we’ve seen towers like that in disaster movies. Naaaww, yeah, they are nuclear reactor towers. Oh my gosh, REALLY, they have nuclear reactors right here on the beach! Yep, they do, this was a startling discovery but we are only here for the weekend, what could go wrong …

We finally got settled and decided a walk on the beach would help us shake off the nuclear reactor thing. Off we go trekking down the beach. The sun was shining, the ocean breeze felt a bit chilly but we had sweatshirts on. We have all day, so we walk a long way down the beach until we see a group of people and a guy carrying a surfboard out of the water. Hummmm he appears to have lost his swim trunks. That seemed sort of strange until we looked around and discovered everyone on this part of the beach had apparently misplaced their swimsuits. There were probably 50 people, young, old, traditional couples and alternative couples all cavorting on the beach in their birthday suits. We figured we had walked far enough and turned around, heading for the camper. It wasn’t that we were shocked to see so many naked people on the beach. It was that we were questioning their good sense, it was much too chilly to be out there naked.


The Last Great Dinosaur Convention

Monty Bonello

Way, way back, at a time long ago

When pterodactyls flew high, and dinosaurs roamed below

What’s that? A date?

Oh much too early to mention.

Twas when they held the Last Great Dinosaur Convention!

They came from all over, by sky, sea, and land

To eat, sing, and dance to a prehistoric band.

A pterodactyl named Bill, a diplodocus named Gus

An herbivore named Lenore, who looked just like a bus!

Now Bill had flown in from Eastern Zambezi

but, really, with his thirty-foot wings, it probably was easy.

A triceratops named Fred and his wife Loralee

Showing off those horns, of which there were three.

And Horace the tyrannosaurus, a frightening beast

Sixty feet tall, with nine hundred and thirty-two teeth!

The guests were on edge, but relaxed in a while

I mean, with all those teeth, he had a nice smile.

There were two brontosaurus named Morris and Doris

Who were so long, that when their heads were before us

Their tails were still out in the forest!

It took so long for their thoughts to get to their tail

it would have been better to write, and send them by mail.

Their bodies were huge, but brains? hardly any at all.

Talking to them, someone whispered, was like talking to a wall!

But, good-humored they were and joined in the fun

How can you ignore someone who weighs two hundred tons?

There was laughter and dancing … Oh! What a Fest!

till they ran out of food and Horace ate two of the guests!

One minute they were there, then gone in a slurp

Everyone pointed at Horace, who just grinned,

and went BURRRP!

The party went on until the wee hours

when up to the front came the oldest stegosaurus

He toasted their meeting, their families, and good health

He toasted their lives and wished them all wealth.

But, don’t plan any long trips, he said with a wink

By the time spring is here we could all be extinct!


How to Say ‘I Love You’

Sandy Ilsen

A kindly gesture, a gentle touch,

A smile that says “you’re okay”

These cost so little, yet mean so much,

And can brighten someone’s day.

A friendly hi, an approving glance,

A word of encouragement or hope,

Can open up the world to enhance

A person’s confidence and scope.

A compliment, a pat on the back,

A tender little kiss,

Can bring us the warmth that we may lack

That we so often miss.

You say “I love you” every day,

In a hundred million different ways.


Summer Celebrations

Barbara Schwartz

I have to admit that I LOVE summer. I don’t have to worry about bad weather, snow, or a lot of rain. I even like the heat of Arizona. I am happiest when the temperatures are about 90 or 95 degrees. Okay, I also admit that it does get hotter than that here in Arizona and that 110 degrees is a disaster to most of us!

June offers the official start of the summer season. It also offers the official start of the Arizona monsoon season. While that might be an oxymoron to some folks, it is a fact that the seasons gets hotter and hotter and the monsoon rains bring instant relief with the winds and the rains and the temperature drops by 15 to 20 degrees. I like to sit on the patio at night and watch the spectacular lightning strikes and listen to the thunder and watch the rains as they fall from the sky. I don’t mind the monsoons at all as they clear the air and clean things up a bit. I do not think too highly about the monsoons that happen during the day however. These seem dangerous to me as many people are out driving around and the situations can become bad rapidly. I am not terribly fond of the “haboobs” or dust storms that we frequently get in the summer. These are messy windstorms that stir up the dust and dirt from the desert floors, swirl them around in a frenzy and grow to be miles high and miles wide.

Summer grows from June to July when we celebrate the birthday of our great nation. It is practically a month-long celebration of red, white and blue shows of patriotism and pride for most of our citizens.

August is a quiet month, with not too much to show for it: no major holidays or public celebrations to share. Just a lot of heat!

September is still basically a part of summer. We celebrate Labor Day to show an “official” date for summer to end. But here in Arizona, it is far from autumn. It is still hot, but the temperatures over a hundred are few and far between (except for summer 2023 which has proven to be an exception to the rule!) It is still barbecue time (does it ever end in Arizona??)

And we can enjoy the outside life for a while longer.

Then it is official: October brings Halloween and then, in what seems like a week or two later, we have the end of the year festivities and that always brings the colder but mild temperatures.

While the rest of the country suffers and shivers, we are lucky enough to live in an area where we don’t have to shovel sunshine and that is just fine, fine, fine with me.