Orange County


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.



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:


California: San Juan Capistrano

Beginning in 1492 with the voyages of Christopher Columbus, Spain sought to establish missions in the Southwestern United States in an effort to convert the natives dwelling there to Roman Catholicism and to facilitate the colonization of these lands.  California represents the “high-water mark” of Spanish expansion in North America, being the last and northernmost colony on the continent.

The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of religious and military outposts established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order between 1769 and 1833. Today, the missions are among the state’s oldest structures and the most-visited historic monuments. There are 21 missions in total.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, the most beautiful mission in the world and renowned for the return of the swallows, was the birthplace of Orange County. Founded on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1776, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782. Known alternately as “Serra’s Chapel” and “Father Serra’s Church,” it is the only existing structure where it has been documented that the Padre Junipero Serra celebrated mass.


More than 2,000 former inhabitants (mostly Juaneño Indians) are buried in unmarked graves in the Mission’s cemetery. The remains of Father St. John O’Sullivan, who recognized the property’s historic value and worked tirelessly to conserve and rebuild its structures, are buried at the entrance to the cemetery on the west side of the property, and a statue raised in his honor stands at the head of the crypt.

Today, the mission compound serves as a museum, with the Serra Chapel being used as a chapel for the mission parish.














The city of San Juan Capistrano was created around Mission San Juan Capistrano, and many of the homes and strip malls resemble the Spanish architecture that compose the building. It is home to the widest variety of homes in Orange County, including those built prior to 1900 in its central district, a number of 10-million-dollar homes in the gated communities of the hills, and working ranches in its foothills. San Juan Capistrano formerly hosted a population of cliff swallows that reputedly migrate each year from Argentina to the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Some points of interest worth visiting include the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano,  Trabuco Creek,  El Adobe de Capistrano,  The Depot and the Los Rios District.

Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano was established in 1986 and is located just northwest of Mission San Juan Capistrano. The church’s design is patterned after the Mission’s original stone church, which was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake. The prominent feature of the basilica is the Grand Retablo, a 42-foot-high, 30-foot-wide, 16-ton altar-backing carved in cedar and covered in gold leaf which is stylistically reminiscent of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish colonial and Mexican colonial retablos.

Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano

Trabuco Creek is a 22-mile stream which rises in the rugged canyon of the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County.  The creek flows west and southwest before emptying into San Juan Creek in the city of San Juan Capistrano. The area is popular for off-roading, hiking, fishing and camping.

Trabuco Creek

El Adobe de Capistrano is a restaurant located in San Juan Capistrano. It has been in operation since 1948 and is located in a building composed of two historic adobes.  The adobe which comprises the northern portion of the restaurant was built as the home of Miguel Yorba in 1797. The southern portion, from 1812, was the Juzgado (court and jails). The Juzgado’s jail cell now serves as the restaurant’s wine cellar and is rumored to harbor a ghost.

While in office, former President Richard Nixon whose nearby San Clemente home was known as the Western White House, visited the restaurant many times. The restaurant was originally continental cuisine, but after comments by Nixon, it gained attention for its Mexican fare and changed the menu.

El Adobe de Capistrano

The San Juan Capistrano station (The Depot) was originally opened in 1894. It was one of the earliest examples of Mission Revival Style architecture used in railway stations. In 1966, the station was closed, two years ahead of the end of Santa Fe passenger service to the city. However, rail service was restored to the station in 1974, under the auspices of Amtrak.  A year later the depot was converted into a restaurant, with vintage rolling stock used to expand the space.

The Depot

The Los Rios Historic District is home to buildings dating back to 1794, and is the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in the state. The neighborhood originally had 40 adobe structures but most were replaced in the 19th century by wooden structures. Three adobes still remain in the Los Rios neighborhood itself, although there are a number of others close by outside of it which were part of what was once a larger neighborhood. Thirty-one of the buildings in Los Rios and the surrounding area are on the national register of historic places.

Visiting San Juan Capistrano and the Mission make for a great day trip.  I love visiting historic places and would highly recommend this to those of you who enjoy history as much as I do. Try out one of the many restaurants nearby and do take in some shopping, you can find some great deals on native American merchandise here.