Friday, January 27, 2012

There are Trailers … and Then, There are “TRAILERS”!

The Rose and I decided to kick off our weekly adventure by getting together with a girlfriend who had invited us to see her new trailer in Laguna Beach. I use the word trailer here loosely, because the owner — a former gift and fashion boutique operator renowned for her decorating prowess — has transformed this particular manufactured home beyond recognition. From the stellar panoramic view that stretches from Palos Verdes to Dana Point, to the magnificent furnishings and décor (can you say Ralph Lauren chair covers and a Martha Stewart Living kitchen?), this home is worthy of a spread in any of the top home design magazines.

Fully green with envy following our trailer tour, The Rose and I grabbed up our girlfriend and took a short, 10-minute drive south to have lunch at Dana Point Harbor (, a portside community in Dana Point, Calif., that offers marinas, restaurants, shopping and more.
Once parked in one of the free lots, we made our way to Proud Mary’s Restaurant & Lounge ( and picked out a table in the spacious covered patio overlooking a harbor laden with boats, kayakers, paddle boarders and jet skiers enjoying an unusually warm and sunny January day. 

Full from the restaurant’s tasty fish ’n’ chips and burgers (a suggestion from a friend of The Peach), we stopped for a minute to talk to an employee and learned that Proud Mary’s has been around since 1977, but had to close briefly for a time to rebuild after the building it’s located in was destroyed by fire in late 2007. Once reopened after only eight months, though, the restaurant picked up right where it left off and still maintains its casual, down-home personality. The best thing about the renovation, according to one female employee, was getting rid of the unisex bathrooms! (You know how messy some of those men can be.)

We decided to walk off our lunch with a tour of the harbor. Having spotted people waiting to board a vessel to head out on a whale- and dolphin-watching cruise, we dropped by Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching ( to find out the reasons behind the unusually large amount of whale sightings we’ve been hearing about this year. 

Donna with Dana Wharf told us that during January there have indeed been increased sightings of gray whales, along with more than 20 killer whales (which even attracted Good Morning America’s attention!). Although she couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for this unusual influx of whales, she says it likely is due to the beautiful weather we’ve been having during a time that is typically known for rain and rough seas. It’s also been so cold in Alaska that the whales have come through our area sooner that usual on the way south to Mexico, she said.

Since we had Donna’s attention, we asked her when the best time would be to come out for a tour and were told definitely on Tuesdays, when everything is half-price (no coupons necessary). She also suggested the upcoming Valentine’s Sunset Whale Watching Cruise Feb. 14 from 4-6 p.m., including champagne and chocolates, for $32 per person.

And, you’ll want to head back to Dana Point the following month to celebrate the migration of the California gray whale and other species at the 41st annual Festival of Whales (, scheduled for March 3 and 4 and March 10 and 11 and featuring ocean-themed events and activities.
 Armed with a new wealth of whale knowledge, we followed the waterside walkway around the harbor to The Coffee Importers ( for delicious lattes at the Espresso Bar and some ice cream at the Scoop Deck. (This also is a great spot for breakfast, especially if you like bagels.)

 Just next door, at The Downstairs Store, a set of four marble Dana Point coasters ($48) and a Dana Point clock ($58) caught The Rose’s eye, while a fun American flag at Art Sea sparked The Peach’s attention for its creative use of starfish for stars.

 With a few minutes to spare before having to head our separate ways, The Peach and The Rose decided to pay homage to the town’s namesake — Richard Henry Dana Jr. — at the spectacular bronze memorial statue of him on a small island across the harbor bridge (accessible through a cute chipmunk community).

 Author of the classic novel “Two Years Before the Mast,” about his travels along the California Coast during the early 19th century, the cliffs around the harbor were said to be one of Dana's favorite spots. … After all, there are harbors … and then, there are “HARBORS!” Dana Point Harbor is definitely the latter.

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