Huell at Home


On Saturday, January 26, Kurt and I took our first foray following Huell’s footsteps in our own Huntington Beach Central Park based on the episode Huntington Central Park, California’s Gold (9026). The episode starts at Shipley Nature Center, a place that as a resident, I hadn’t visited since I was a leader of my now 23 year old son’s cub scout pack. So Kurt and I planned to renew our acquaintance with Shipley and noodle from there.

In the 2002 economic downturn, the City of Huntington Beach cut the Shipley nature center and the park ranger from it’s budget. At that time, the nature center was overrun with invasive plant species.  When I visited with the cub scouts, the program conducted by the park ranger  was predominately carried on inside visitor’s center and examined stuffed local animals on display.

Since then, the Friends of  Shipley Nature Center, a non-profit, took over the management. Through donations, grants, paid and volunteer labor, the Friends and the City completed an extensive restoration. The Friends replaced non-native plants with California native plants, upgraded the trail system, and created a freshwater stream that aerated the existing pond and will attract wildlife. After watching Huell’s show, I looked forward to a trail walk through the different California climes exhibited, including a redwood forest and the holy trinity of trees, oaks, sycamores, and cottonwoods.

I looked up the hours for Shipley on it’s website. Shipley is open 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Saturday morning after coffee and the newspaper, we headed over to Shipley. On the drive over, Kurt and I discussed the political and societal ramifications of a non-profit taking over the management and doing a better job than the municipality did. It’s great that Shipley is such a treasure. However the residents of the City of Huntington Beach are wealthy  and active citizens. Huntington Beach is also fortunate to enjoy the most parkland in Orange County. Municipalities could use the successful non-profit managment of Shipley as a reason to reduce the budget and pull public funding from their parks. Yet not all parks could be sucessfully managed without public funding. It continues to be important for public funds to be used to maintain city, state, and national parkland so that a lone park in an urban area whose citizens do not have the economic means to continue the park’s existence will be protected and preserved.

At 12:30 p.m., Kurt and I had to get off our car-ride soapbox because we had arrived at Shipley.  We parked and meandered down the slightly wet path from the previous nights rain to a LOCKED GATE!  Oh know!  My first Noodle with Huell and it was over.  I would have to wait a whole week!  I felt like stomping my foot in frustration. Why was the gate locked?  I looked at my watch – 12:30 p.m.  I looked at the sign on the gate – Hours 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Why oh why was it locked?  We walked lamely around the gate a bit – took a few pictures but it was truly and securely locked.

As we headed back towards the car, I suggested going to lunch a Kathy May’s restaurant, 6622 Lakeview Drive.  Although Kathy May’s has been a local restaurant since 1999, it recently opened a new location in  Central Park with a view of Huntington Lake.  Kathy May’s replaced and renovated the previous restaurant at the site, Alice’s in the Park, when Alice retired at 82.  We had been to Alice’s, a long-time local institution, once years ago but were not impressed. So we hadn’t been back and were unsure how to get to Kathy May’s.  As we circumnavigated the park looking for the restaurant, Kurt declared, “Now we are noodling!”

One couple braves potential showers to sit with their pooch.

When we found Kathy May’s, we sat by a window inside overlooking Huntington Lake.  There is outdoor seating on an enclosed patio and a few tables and chairs on an open patio where dogs are welcome. The day was cloudy and overcast and rain still threatened, so only one couple sat outside with their dog.

The restaurant is comfortable and clean with a modern feel. The menu is simple diner food with reasonable prices but the view is outstanding!  Kathy May is currently petitioning the City to serve alcohol so diners can have a glass of wine at sunset while enjoying the water view.  The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with breakfast is served all day.  Kurt had a tuna melt and I had a turkey burger.  Kathy May’s is a new gem in Huntington Beach and one of the most reasonable restaurants with a view in Orange County. We will certainly take visitors there.

Angling for catfish, bass, and trout in Huntington Lake

Angling for catfish, bass, and trout in Huntington Lake

On Huell’s Huntington Central Park episode, besides Shipley, he also featured fishing from Huntington Lake and disc golfers. After lunch, we strolled around Huntington lake and, sure enough, we saw two groups of fishermen. The lake is stocked and you can catch trout, bass and catfish.  We then passed a group of the disc golfers and watched them drive.



We've never seen the lake this high.Because of the recent rains, the lake was higher than we had ever seen it and the dock was flooded. Shipley keeps a log of bird sightings. We spotted cormorants, pelicans, geese, ducks and coots. CormorantsHigh in the trees, there were nests that perhaps raptors had built, and there were also nests created by human friends to attract birds.

As we ambled, I mentioned to Kurt that our son’s high school girlfriend, Nash Bellows, had her art displayed at the Centered on the Center show at the Huntington Art Center, 538 Main Street  So we decided to noodle there next. The Centered on the Center show is a non-juried show open to local artists.  Nash,, had two pieces displayed, Angelina, and Pat Joy.  Pat Joy looks like it includes a self-portrait of Nash. published an interview with Nash and says she “is a northern California-based artist whose brightly colored figurative work explores the theme of identity.”  Besides our own hometown girl, we saw a couple of photographs on canvas displayed by the City Attorney, Jennifer McGrath.  I liked a painting of the Huntington Beach pier with the state of California and the California Bear superimposed over it and Kurt took home the name of a local artist who does wall hangings in stone and tile. He thought her work would look good on the stucco walls outside our house.

After the Art Center, our next stop was Costco before heading home.  But as with any true noodling adventure, on our way on Gothard to Costco , we passed John Baca Park, a park we had never noticed or visited before so we couldn’t resist stopping.  John Baca is a Vietnam Medal of Honor winner and the park was named in his honor in 2002.  At the park’s dedication, Baca read,John Baca Park

It’s a playground for the young, a walk for the dog, these grounds will be blessed by the rain and the sun, free from the smog. A refuge for the birds vacationing south, “Let’s visit Baca’s Park.” Soon it won’t be long for all to enjoy their song! My buddies and friends have joined me for this delight. Some unknown evenings I may be sitting upon my bench enjoying the quiet of the night. What is a park? A site of beauty, a place to rest. A place to stay, leave one’s worries, also leave behind their stress of the day. A solitude visitor can be still, enjoy the quiet of their thought. One can hear the voices in the breeze, trees are clapping their hands, with the movement of the leaves. All humanity can find a space. All are welcomed to a safe, you might say sacred place. These grounds will be a witness for families, lovers and friends who picnic, play, hold hands and maybe embrace. It will be filled with harmony and song and the smile of God’s grace. One last thing before I depart and be on my way, I sat on the bench and a swing in the park that was dedicated in my honor and in my name on this beautiful day.

Kurt and I strolled John Baca’s park in the setting sun and descended to a trail beside a protected ecological water way and considered Baca’s words.  California’s Gold is certainly in her parkssites of beauty, places to rest, places to protect. Our noodle for the day was complete.

After our misadventure at Shipley, I called  714-842-4772 and discovered that the volunteers who staff the center will not open during inclement weather. The volunteer, Diane, I spoke with suggested calling in advance. Shipley is also introducing expanded hours on a trial bases on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Huell led us to Huntington Central Park but serendipity led us to discover Kathy May’s restaurant, local artist’s works at the Huntington Beach Art Center and John Baca’s Park.