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On The Scene - Life Is Good in California

ON THE SCENE   by Gerrye Wong  July 15, 2016   

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Resort PR Director Claire Kunzman welcomes all to San Diego
Whether north or south, there is much to see and do in California, so it is easy to see why our state is flooded with tourists from all over the world. No matter where you are, you hear a myriad of different languages and see faces representing every part of the universe.  And they are not all looking for their pokeymon playmate either and instead, are reveling in all the activities and sightseeing our state offers.

Grand Del Mar Golf club Director Shawn Cox starts neta Howo and Gerrye Wong on to his popular golf course. 
Readers had told me about the perfect setting for a grand vacation was the Fairmont Grand Del Mar luxury resort, so I had to see it for myself.  They were not exaggerating one bit!  Conveniently located near San Diego International Airport, this property is situated amidst southern California’s most sought-after beaches for the sun-lovers, the restaurants for the foodies, and the boutiques for any shopper’s soul. When Public Relations Director Claire Kunzman took Neta Howo and me on a tour, we felt like we were in another world, gazing at the graceful arched doorways, rotundas, wood-beamed ceilings, parquet flooring and gracious welcoming verandas. From there we viewed tropical and indigenous plants, punctuated by garden fountains, and flowering terraces which gave a feeling of Mediterranean elegance mixed with today’s Southern California flair. Winner of AAA Five Diamond rating and US Travel & Leisure’s list of World’s Best Top Resorts in U.S., Fairmont Grand Del Mar is an ideal destination locale and although we didn’t have time to indulge in the top rated spa or enjoy the resort’s four swimming pools, Claire led us to a must-do stop was to sample a gelato and specialty freshly baked goodies at the Cent’Anni Café. 

Four caddy Mark at Grand Del Mar Golf Club instructs Wongs how to play this prestigious golf course. 
Next stop was down to The Grand Golf Club, San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed golf course where Fairmont’s Grand Del Mar is situated amidst its striking fairways winding throughout the scenic valleys of the rugged Los Perlasquitos Canyon Preserve.   We were fortunate to meet Director of Golf Shawn Cox, who has overseen the Grand Golf Club for over the past dozen years, and is very proud of his most dramatic and challenging course, as he well should be. He outfitted me with the best and newest rental clubs I have ever had at any course around the world, and his staff counts as one of the friendliest and most welcoming too.   Husbands John Howo and Calvin Wong were very grateful that Shawn assigned us one of his most knowledgeable four-caddies Mark to help us maneuver the course’s spectacular 380 acres and encourage and inspire us to perform our best shots, amidst ogling at the cascading water features and stunning 18 foot waterfall at the finishing hole.  The course is exclusive to resort guests and Grand Golf Club centennial members, so ladies,  this is another perfect excuse to put the Fairmont Grand Del Mar on your next destination “Wish List” to put on your husband’s pillow tonight!

Sea World’s Whales show puts on exciting performance for excited family visitors daily.
I hadn’t been to San Diego’s favorite family destinations since I took the grandchildren as toddlers and elementary school kids ver a decade ago, so it was a grand occasion to visit the San Diego Zoo and Safari Land, and Sea World through their adult eyes this time.  Although I had just returned from a true South African Safari last month, I must admit that San Diego’s Safari Land does give all ages a great experience to see many varieties of animals. Taking the 20 minute train ride, one gets to see animals from giraffes to hippos to rhinos in natural open habitat. In pleasant walks around the park, one can view the lions or gorillas close up in natural enclosure settings. We saw tourists and locales alike of all ages enjoying a full day’s excursion at Safari Land as well as the San Diego Zoo, which Sarah Weinberg, Public Relations Coordinator of San Diego Tourism Authority, says has continued to be the foremost destination of family visitors to the area. Although San Diego always boasts of summer weather highs in the usual 78F , we hit an unusual heat wave of high 90s, so headed for Sea World, a bit cooler as closer to Mission Bay area. Here my young adult grandchildren recalled their first sea life adventures seeing killer whales, dolphin and sea lions.  This time, all of us were just as thrilled to watch the wonderful shows of performing killer whales and dolphins frolicking in the water, and the whales happily flipping their tails and spraying the eager beavers in the front rows of the outdoor theater. Next time, however, our collage age Todd and Melissa Matsuura said, ”How about let’s take time to swim with the beluga whales and dine with Shamu next time,” which we saw offered as a special activity.  Great, I said, do it while you’re still young at heart and body, but grandma is just as happy watching the pink flamingos relaxing in their one-legged perches, and cooling off in the ice-cold enclosure to see the playful polar bears in their ice caves. Again,  an all-day spent at Sea World could be a great way to entertain everyone, from young to old, and it was a great day for our Wong family to rekindle all the old memories of a visit some 15 years ago.  
Lawrence Welk Resort’s Director of Golf Josh Karp shows off lighted soccer ball used in his Foot Golf games
Heading more inland to Escondido, the Lawrence Welk resort is another family-friendly place where there is something to do daily with a full calendar of activities for the visiting residents.  Golf Director Josh Karp introduced us to the convenient 18 hole friendly golf course on-site, which we could see from our condo balcony, no less.  Especially exciting one day for daughter Kelly Matsuura was watching the resident osprey  hovering on a tall pole and suddenly diving into the small lake below to come up with a  large bass, seemingly so lively and heavy, the poor osprey plopped it down right in front of  our balcony while savoring it for his meal. Another night at his golf course,  Josh showed us his Foot Golf game, where families were enjoying kicking a glowing soccer ball along the resort’s par 3 golf course’s first 7 holes to see who could hit the lighted poles sticking up in the middle of the green’s golf hole. 

Enjoying musical show at Lawrence Welk Theatre were Gerrye Wong, Deanna Hom,  Melissa Matsuura, Neta Howo and Kelly Matsuura.
Always a favorite, we enjoyed Josh Carr’s Lawrence Welk theater production of “Jesus Christ Super Star”.  His shows always bring out the most talented young people around of musical talent, and residents and locals alike always flock to the shows presented in this very comfortable theater right on the resort premises.  For a special occasion, San Diego residents Herbert and Deanna Hom celebrated his birthday at the show which proved whether both visitors and San Diegans themselves all come to enjoy the Lawrence Welk theater shows.  

Allan and Mary Seid at congratulated by Congressman Mike Honda at their Double 80th Celebration
A Double 80th Birthday was celebrated in fine fashion, planned by children Arlene, Marcine and Marc for their parents, Allan and Mary Seid in Cupertino’s Hong Fu Restaurant.  Over a hundred members of their family and many local friends were there to celebrate with this couple, who have been Palo Alto citizens in Silicon Valley for over 50 years.  Originally from San Francisco, the couple have been very active in the community, and were the founders of the very successful social service agency ASIAN AMERICANS FOR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT (AACI) over 40 years ago.   Among the notable guests were long time supporters of their work at AACI, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Mike Honda, the latter being on the original founding board when the group’s mission was to encourage Asian Americans to participate more in community and political activism.  Mike has continued his own mission to further Asian American causes and concerns throughout his very successful political career for which we all personally laud him for his commitment and service.

Departing AACI CEO Michele Lew, second rt, is given farewell lunch by AACI Board of Directors.
Speaking of the organization the Seids once were the founding leaders, the Asian Americans for Community Involvement agency waved a sad farewell to its Executive Director and CEO Michele Lew who had been its guiding light for the past ten years.  Lew had led the organization’s growth to become the largest social service agency serving the medical, social and psychological needs of the Asian American community in Santa Clara Valley, and her presence and leadership will be sorely missed.  The Board of Directors, led by President Patrick Kwok and VP Hanley Chew, held a farewell luncheon for their departing leader, citing that they would be losing a friend as well as the person who either enlisted or wooed them to join her mission to serve a community’s needs. Fellow board members vowed to carry on the goals for AACI’s future she had so capably led the planning of.  Continued good wishes go to Michele Lew in her career at Stanford’s Health Care Center in Palo Alto, but she promises me she will come back to AACI as a fellow volunteer with me for its upcoming fundraising annual gala this fall.  

Grandmother Alsona Wong is surrounded by grandsons, l. to r. Hunter, Dillon,, Trevor, Derek, Patrick and Kelly Wong at Cupertino’s Dynasty Restaurant in celebration banquet in memory of husband, Wyman Wong.
Dr. Rodney Wong’s father, Dr. Wyman Wong always loved the game of golf, and traveled with many California friends to golf courses all over the United States.  In memory of their father, sons Rodney and Terry with their mother Alsona, host a golf tournament annually.  Last year it was held on the east coast, where Wyman was a noted physician in Baltimore, and resided in retirement in Chapel Hill, while this year, the memorial golf tournament was at Los Gatos’ Rinconada Hills Golf Club.  Also hosting the guests on the course were the six Wong grandsons, and at a banquet following at the Dynasty Restaurant in Cupertino, a slide show on the life of Wyman was enjoyed by guests Gerry and Pat Hing, Sherwin and Margaret Louie, Dr. David and Jayne Yee, Dr. Clifford and Susan Chang, Dr. Vernon Wong and Irene Lee, Robert Chen, Frances Tuck, along with hostesses Alsona, Ruby and Ellen Wong. Always a very congenial and personable friend and family man, we’re sure Wyman was smilingly looking down on this fine gathering of his family and old friends. 

Greeting well wishers to Alexanders Steakhouse new location in Cupertino was Chanile Chang and restaurant Chef.
The popular upscale restaurant, Alexander’s Steakhouse, recently held its Grand Opening reception at its new location in the newly developed Cupertino’s Main Street restaurant row.  An overflowing crowd of well wishers came to its VIP reception to feast their eyes on the new large location facing popular Stevens Creek Boulevard, and to enjoy Alexanders appetizer favorites of a frozen fois gras lollipop and mouth watering lamb chops.  Welcoming all were Chanile Chang, Barrie Quan and David Tsang as well as many of the popular hosts of its Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino restaurants.  At the next door Alexander’s Patisserie, manager Amber Umbarger showed off a colorful counter of its favorite pastry and candy delights.   We are sure this new larger and stylishly designed Alexanders Steakhouse will soon be a favorite destination for all of the nearby Apple and other company techies who have taken over every possible corner of Cupertino and neighboring Sunnyvale locations.  There is a four chair chef’s counter seating for a special tasting menu which is sure to be popular with foodies who like to watch the action in the kitchen, and I hope to be one of them sometime soon.  www.alexanderssteakhouse.com

Overseeing the new Alexanders Steakhouse Restaurant in Cupertino’s Main Street restaurant Row will be Barrie Quan and executive chef.