Earlier, I posted an article about the Lyon Air Museum located in Santa Ana, California.  The facility occupies a 30,000 square foot hangar on the west side of John Wayne Airport and provides a unique setting for events such as galas, holiday parties, fashion shows and receptions. From now until September 2017, the museum is hosting a classic car show featuring a nice collection of pristine classic cars that will appeal to the classic car hobbyist and thrill seeker alike.

There is a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Offener Touring Wagon and a 1940s Divco Helms Bakery Truck that are  already a part of the museum’s permanent collection. The museum also features a nice collection of military vehicles and motorcycles which include the 1939 German VID Tempo Gelaendewagen, the 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep, the 1943 German NSU Kettenkrad HK 101 Tracked Motorcycle and the 1943 Japanese Rikuo Sidecar Motorcycle, just to list a few.

The classic car show features the 1927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix which was driven by race car driver, William Grover-Williams, who was captured by the Gestapo in Germany  in August of 1943. He was sent to a concentration camp for nearly two years and executed in March of 1945, just a few months before the end of WWII.  You will also find a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster. This vehicle’s prototype was displayed at the London Auto Show in 1948.  Then there is my favorite in the collection, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe in a striking red!

Visitors can enjoy the classic cars and everything else this unique museum has to offer all for one admission fee.  General admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.  Children under 5 are admitted free.  The Lyon Air Museum is located on 19300 Ike Jones Road in Santa Ana, California.  It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM which the exception of Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. You can contact them at (714) 210-4585 for more information.



IMG_96221927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix


IMG_96291953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

IMG_96301955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe

IMG_96311963 Porsche Carrera







California: Santa Ana (Lyon Air Museum)

Located on the west side of John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California is museum founded by Major General William Lyon.  The Lyon Air Museum displays authentic and rare airplanes, automobiles, military vehicles and military motorcycles.  You will also find various exhibits and memorabilia related to World War II.

Major General Lyon was a decorated member of the military and a successful businessman. During his military career of more than 35 years, he served in both World War II and the Korean War. He was the Commander of the United States Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters in Washington D.C and the Headquarters Air Force Reserve, a separate operating agency located in Georgia.  In his role, he had full responsibility for the supervision of U.S. Air Force Reserve units around the world.

Sixty years ago, Major General Lyon started building homes in California for returning military personnel.  Today, William Lyon Homes, Inc. is one of the largest home builders in the U.S. responsible for building more than 75,000 homes in Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

Among the museum’s exhibits you will find the B-17 Flying Fortress, “Fuddy Duddy.” Manufactured in 1945, this plane was used as a VIP transport in the Pacific at the end of World War II. It once carried General Dwight D. Eisenhower who later became the 34th President of the United States. The museum also features the “Bird-dog,” manufactured in 1950 by the Cessna Aircraft Company, as a reconnaissance plane for the U.S. Army. It was used extensively for combat in Korea and Vietnam, often piloted by former fighter and bomber pilots of World War II. The Douglas A-26 Invader was used in more wars than any other aircraft type of its era. Americans used this attack bomber in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, while other air forces fought with it in Indo-China, Algeria, Biafra, Cuba, the Congo. The Douglas DC-3 started life as a C-47A built during World War II. Prior to its conversion to airliner configuration, it flew with the USAAF’s famed 440th Troop Carrier Group. On June 5, 1944, this aircraft was stationed at Exeter Field in England, ready to fly across the Channel with hundreds of other Dakotas. It was to transport members of the 101st Airborne over Drop Zone DELTA, to help support the D-Day invasion in Normandy at 1:40 AM, on the morning of June 6, 1944. However, the plane that drew my attention was the North American B-25 “Mitchell.” Named after General “Billy” Mitchell, this craft was used in the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo on April 18, 1942.  Departing from the deck of the aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet, sixteen of these planes successfully completed the first strike on Japanese soil during World War II.

After the war, the Doolittle Raiders became Air Force legends. Four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Col. James H. Doolittle assembled 16 B-25’s and trained the crew to take off the aircraft carrier, which only had 467 feet of runway. Until that point in time, no one had ever flown a bomber off an aircraft carrier. The mission was to bomb Japan and land safely in China. However a Japanese vessel spotted the Hornet before it was able to reach its target of 400 miles away from Japanese soil.  Instead, the crew  left the carrier a day early from a distance of 600 miles out, in order to keep the attack a surprise. Knowing there was a possibility of running out of fuel before reaching China, the 80 crew members made the decision to follow through with the mission anyway. They succeeded in hitting their targets in Japan but all of the planes crashed except for one that landed in Russia. Out of the 80 crew members 69 survived. One of the crew members, Richard Cole, celebrated his 100th birthday in June of 2016!

The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Closed on Thanksgiving day and Christmas day). General admission is $12 (Children aged 5 -17 are admitted for $6).  Senior citizens and veterans can obtain a discounted admission ticket for $9.

You can tour the entire museum in about an hour, stopping off to carefully view all of the exhibits.  There is an elevated viewing bridge which enables you to get a bird’s eye view of the planes.  There is also an interactive display area where you and your little ones can climb aboard the various military vehicles and have your photos taken.  Photography is permitted inside of the museum.




The B-25 Mitchell















A Japanese “Lucky Flag” brought back from New Guinea


The Pacific War


Col. James Doolittle





Bride wearing a wedding dress made from a pilot’s parachute




Web Page:

 Address:           19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana, CA 92707

Read more about the famous Doolittle Raid and the Pacific War in “The Sun Will Rise Again,” coming Fall 2017.




Founded in 1977, Matanzas Creek Winery is situated on the site of a former dairy farm in Sonoma County’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA), Bennett Valley. Bennett Valley was formally recognized as an AVA in December of 2003, but its history of grape growing dates back to the mid-1800s.

Since its founding, the winery has built its reputation on Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, two varieties of grapes that thrive in Sonoma’s temperate climate. In 1985, the original winery was demolished to make way for a modern winemaking facility. Since that time, the winery’s vineyards have grown to include over 280-acres and its wine portfolio has been expanded to include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and a limited quantity of Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to its wines, Matanzas Creek is also famous for its spectacular lavender gardens.  Lavender has been grown on the winery grounds for over twenty years and more than two million stems are harvested every year.  The winery offers a full line of bath, body, and culinary products derived from the harvested lavender.  The high quality, all natural products are available for sale at the winery’s lavender shop and at spas throughout Sonoma County and beyond.

The bath and body products include soaps, lotions, massage oils, scrubs, masks, sprays, and bath salts.  The culinary products are comprised of lavender laced Himalayan salt, spice rubs, honey and lavender grill sticks.

The winery offers daily wine tastings and wine and cheese pairings.  Vineyard tours are available between the hours of 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Visitors to Matanzas Creek can also choose to picnic among the winery’s fragrant lavender fields or participate in a game of Bocce Ball. The annual Sonoma Lavender Festival takes place in June.

So, when you are  traveling in California’s wine country, why not incorporate a visit to Matanza’s Creek and sample the offerings from Sonoma County’s newest American Viticultural Area?

Location:            6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, California 95404

Web Page:































Japan: Tokyo (Madame Tussauds Wax Museum)

In an earlier blog post, I had written about Madame Tussauds Wax Museum located in Hollywood, California. ( )  During my recent visit to Japan, I had the opportunity to visit Madame Tussauds in Tokyo.

Madame Tussaud or Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France.  She eventually settled in London and by 1825, opened the first wax museum on Baker Street. Today, the museum is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying life-size waxworks of royalty, historical figures, film and sport stars and famous murderers. The wax figures were once roped off from visitors but today the public can get up close and personal with the celebrities, dress up in costumes and take pictures!

If you are unable to visit the original London attraction, do not worry, Madame Tussauds has opened up branches in various countries including China, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, the United States and Japan.

The Japanese museum opened on March 15, 2013.  It is located at DECKS Tokyo Beach in Odaiba, approximately 32 minutes by train from Tokyo Station. The museum has over sixty wax figures of world leaders, celebrities, music stars and other television and news personalities on display. You can mingle and have your photo taken with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, President Barack Obama, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, you name it.  The museum also features various Japanese personalities such as Prime Minister Abe, skater Mao Asada, television personality Matsuko Deluxe and the famous rock band, XJapan, just to name a few.



Duke & Duchess of Cambridge


Nelson Mandela


Lady Gaga


Marilyn Monroe


Audrey Hepburn


Meryl Streep


Michael Jackson






Yu Darvish


Matsuko Deluxe


Akiko Wada




Yuko Oshima (AKB48)







Odaiba is accessible via the Yurikamome Line from Tokyo Station, exit at the Odaiba Kaihin Koen stop. DECKS is just a short walk from the station.


Web page:

Location:            3F Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo


California: Los Angeles (WonderCon 2016)

The otaku culture (anime and manga fandom) is alive and well, not only in Japan but also overseas.  There are countless pop culture conventions held annually all over the world including Australia, India, UAE, Romania, Russia, the UK  and Brazil.  The largest and oldest gathering is held in San Diego, California under the banner of the “San Diego Comic-Con.”

The San Diego Comic-Con is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that originated in 1970. The four-day event takes place during the summer showcasing primarily comic books and science fiction/fantasy related film, television and similar popular arts. In recent years, the convention has expanded to include a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, web comics and fantasy novels. With the San Diego Convention Center as its venue, the event draws well over 130,000 attendees annually.

This year, Los Angeles, California played host to yet another comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention called “WonderCon.” WonderCon originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 until it was relocated to Anaheim, California in 2012.  It has been a part of the Comic-Con International family since 2001 drawing an increasing number of attendees each year.  In 2016, the event took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 25-27 attracting a crowd of over 60,000 attendees and generating an income of $32 million over the three-day period.



In the past, Los Angeles has hosted such shows as Comikaze, which is now partnered with Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment and the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, but those shows do not attract the same level of crowds nor talent as does a Comic-Con event.

WonderCon kicked off on Friday at 12:00 PM featuring various game demos, exhibitors, dealer tables, tournaments, artists, author signings and star autograph booths where attendees had an opportunity to meet the likes of Lou Ferrigno, a former bodybuilder turned actor who stared in the Incredible Hulk and Richard Hatch known for his role as Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica. There were gatherings of various fan groups, panels and programs featuring various anime series and a children’s film festival.  The event concluded on Sunday at 5:00 PM.















Lou Ferrigno


Richard Hatch

Almost as entertaining as the various people involved in the WonderCon industry were the various cos-players dressed in some of the most elaborate costumes you can find. These people are serious about anime and put a great deal of effort into selecting and creating their costumes.

If you missed WonderCon in Los Angeles, do not worry.  The event is returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on March 31-April 2 of 2017 and will certainly be bigger and better than in previous years!







Web Page:

California: Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

Southern California is a culturally diverse and well known area that draws many tourists for its fine year-round weather, open dramatic spaces, beaches and numerous amusement parks. The beach and car culture is predominant here and no city epitomizes this better than Huntington Beach.


Huntington Beach, a seaside city in Orange County California, was named after American businessman Henry E. Huntington. It is the most populous beach city in Orange County characterized by its 9.5-mile stretch of sandy beach, excellent surfing and numerous car shows held throughout the year. The consistent surf all year long has earned the city its nickname “Surf City.”



The downtown district of Huntington Beach includes an active art center, a colorful shopping district, the Surfing Walk of Fame and the International Surfing Museum. The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier you will find the famous Ruby’s Diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Many of the events at Huntington Beach are focused around the beach. The U.S. Open of Surfing takes place at the south side of the pier from late July through early August. A biathlon hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July and the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour stops in Huntington Beach in mid-September. In addition to the beach-focused events, there is a Fourth of July parade which has been held here since 1904. The SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September. During the winter, the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour, featuring a parade of colorfully lighted boats is held in the Huntington Harbor. In February of each year since 1996, the Surf City USA marathon is held with over 20,000 runners participating in the event. The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.




Huntington Beach takes its wheels almost as seriously as its waves and hosts various car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and the Concours d’Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, with over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot. The Concours d’Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library.

The Beachcruiser Meet is an unsurpassed gathering of Volkswagen transporters, Nomads, woodies and other vehicles built in 1967 or earlier. The annual event takes place in downtown Huntington Beach on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway on the third weekend in March and is free to visitors. The event hours are from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Saturday and 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM on Sunday. (
























So whether it is the beach, the surf, the cars or just plain people watching that draws you to Southern California, be sure to include Huntington Beach on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.

Web Page:


Japan: The Japan/ California Connection (Kanaye Nagasawa: Samurai Winemaker)

Wine is enjoying an increased popularity in Japan, renown for producing amazing rice wines (sake), beers and whiskies. There are trendy wine bars opening in Tokyo and the Yamanashi and Shinshu areas are home to numerous wineries. The wine making techniques were acquired abroad and perfected in Japan, producing some of the most delicious wines I have ever tasted to date.

But did you know that Japan’s first wine maker actually started right here in California? Yes, the first Japanese national to reside in the United States full time was also known as the Wine King of California and the Samurai Winemaker.



Kanaye Nagasawa, born Hikosuke Isonaga in1852, was a prominent California winemaker. He was born in Kagoshima, Japan and was a member of the Satsuma clan and the son of a samurai. At age 13, he along with a handful of other students was smuggled out of Japan and sent to the United Kingdom to learn about Western customs. He changed his name in order to protect his family, as Japan was closed off to the world during this time and leaving the country was punishable by death.

Satsuma Students: Shinshiro Machida, Naonobu Sameshima, Munenori Terashima, Kiyonari Yoshida Front Row from the Left Seizo Machida, Hisanari Machida, Kanaye Nagasawa

Satsuma Students: Shinshiro Machida, Naonobu Sameshima, Munenori Terashima, Kiyonari Yoshida ( Front Row from the Left ) Seizo Machida, Hisanari Machida, Kanaye Nagasawa

Nagasawa was too young to attend university and instead was sent to Aberdeen, Scotland, where he lived with the family of Thomas Blake Glover and attended school. While in Scotland, he met an English nobleman named Laurence Oliphant. Oliphant took Nagasawa to New York where he joined Thomas Lake Harris’ influential utopian community, the Brotherhood of New Life. While the other students who left Japan with Nagasawa returned home, he stayed with Harris and eventually followed him out to California.

Sign outside the Kagoshima Chuo Station dedicated to the Satsuma Students

Sign outside the Kagoshima Chuo Station dedicated to the Satsuma Students

Monument in Kagoshima dedicated to the Satsuma Students (Nagasawa is seated holding a grape in the bottom left)

Monument in Kagoshima dedicated to the Satsuma Students (Nagasawa is seated holding a grape in the bottom left)

Nagasawa was 23 years old when he arrived in California. Here, Harris established a community in Santa Rosa which he named, Fountain Grove. The ranch encompassed 2,000 acres and the famous winemaker, Dr. John Hyde, was asked to come to plant grapes and instruct Harris’ disciples in viticulture.

After Hyde departed, Nagasawa became the winemaker and produced wine for the Brotherhood of New Life’s store in New York City. He was responsible for introducing California wines to the international community, including Europe and Japan. The wine he produced won several medals and was widely marketed.

Santa Rosa wine sold in Japan today

Santa Rosa wine sold in Japan today

Harris left Fountain Grove in 1891, after a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote several articles asserting that the commune leader was a charlatan. Harris died in 1906 without ever returning to Fountain Grove, and Nagasawa took over the estate.

He became the top wine producer in California and has been described as “the Robert Mondavi of his time.” Through the Prohibition Era, he could not produce wine but came up with an ingenious way of preserving his vineyards by producing grape juice and cooking sherry.

Nagasawa lived into the early 20th century, enduring growing anti-Japanese sentiment in America. Following his death in 1934, his estate was passed on to his niece and nephew. However, following the signing of F.D.R.’s Executive Order 9066 in 1942, his heirs lost their land. His descendants were incarcerated throughout the war years in Japanese American internment camps and Fountain Grove was confiscated by a trustee.

Today, the lands lost by Nagasawa’s heirs are worth millions, but his descendants who were still living in 1988 received a mere $20,000 for compensation.

The property eventually became a cattle ranch and later was zoned for residential development, although several hundred acres still remain planted. Nagasawa’s round barn remains as a landmark in Santa Rosa and a 33-acre park was named in his honor in 2007.

Nagasawa Park

Nagasawa Park

Visitors to Santa Rosa can view an exhibit devoted to Nagasawa at the Paradise Ridge Winery, situated in the area of Nagasawa’s original Fountain Grove Winery and sample the excellent chardonnay from their “Nagasawa Vineyard.” The Fountain Grove Winery ceased operations in 1940 and sat neglected for many years. The walls were overgrown by vegetation and covered with graffiti. Sadly, rather than being preserved for their historical significance, the original buildings were finally slated for demolition in 2015.

Fountain Grove Round Barn built while Kanaye Nagasawa ran the estate

Fountain Grove Round Barn built while Kanaye Nagasawa ran the estate

Remains of Fountain Grove Winery

Remains of Fountain Grove Winery

Following Nagasawa, many Japanese immigrants arrived in California and faced both unbelievable adversity and incredible success. Today there are over 300,000 Japanese Americans in California who contribute and give life to the diversity enjoyed by the state and it can all be traced back to the pioneer, Kanaye Nagasawa.

Kanaye Nagasawa - Later in Life

Kanaye Nagasawa – Later in Life

Paradise Ridge Winery web page:     

Address:                                                       4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr, Santa Rosa, CA