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Visiting all the way from Bonita Richard Pena | Tue, Aug 16 2011 12:00 PM

Some years ago I adopted the custom of spending at least one day in the summer doing the tourist bit.

This was the time that I left the house about mid-morning and went to some other place in the county. Usually, I ended up at Balboa Park and took in the showings of one or more of the museums.

At most of those jaunts I would invariably have a conversation with some other tourist who would ask me if I was from out of town. My usual reply was yes, I am from a little town named Bonita. I never explained the location of Bonita; for all they knew it could have been in Nevada or Arizona or even Texas. I haven't looked it up lately but I would venture that there is another Bonita out there someplace.

In the past few years I have come to the conclusion that the best time to take these little adventures is when one of the kids drops by for a visit. For one thing, one has companionship. Aha, but more importantly one has a built-in chauffer, someone who can squire him around from hither to yon with no complaint whatsoever. My most likely candidate for this task is my Sacramento daughter Margaret, who not only lives the nearest but also has frequent business trips that bring her to our shores.

There are some who might say that this is taking advantage of the individual. I don't think so. There are not many children who would turn down the request of a parent, regardless of how intruding it might be. They see this doddering old guy, making a miserable attempt to stand erect, and their hearts melt. They acquiesce and before too long they are hooked.

The old guy, in the meantime, has little, if any, qualms about his maneuvers. He remembers the times, not too long ago, when the requests - no, demands -were reversed; when it was, 'Dad, I have to go to dance practice, or piano lessons, or Little League practice or some such place.' Only one thing to do: pick up the car keys and away it was. Ah, but now it was payback time. Enough of these outings and we might get even.

In all seriousness this is a fun outing and I am sure that nearly everyone out there has taken it. We left home at about noon and went straight to the Prado area of the park. Even though it was a Friday with the multitudes out we had little problem in finding a parking place in front of the museum. We walked over to our favorite eating establishment, the restaurant on the Prado, to sort of recapture old but pleasant memories.

Zula and I used to frequently have meals here. I recall that we had season tickets to the Old Globe and we would arrive early enough for a light dinner or supper. We made the discovery that a glass of beer goes well with fried potato skins and that was invariably our order. For a change of pace we would sometimes select fried zucchini with our beer. They knew how to prepare this simple repast quite well, sating the appetite of most theatergoers.

The restaurant was closed for a couple of years. There was quite a bit of remodeling that took place. Since its reopening I think I have been there once or twice. The lunch, the other day, was delicious and very satisfying. We were served on the outdoor patio, a perfect beginning to a sunny afternoon.

One can spend an entire day in the fine arts museum and then want to come back on the morrow. There are always a couple of traveling exhibits on hand along with the exhibits of the permanent collection. The art show on loan at this time is titled "From El Greco to Dali" and it features Spanish painters from 400 years ago to nearly the present. In addition there is a collection of vintage furniture that was used in the Craftsman homes era.

We still have a good two months of summer weather that we might use in other local jaunts. Doing the tourist bit is something we highly recommend. Do the museum visits, the zoo and anything else that comes to mind. And talk to people. Who knows? You might run in to someone from Bonita. Wherever that is.

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