Jalama Beach, CA May 14, 1914
Funny the wonderful people you meet in the next site when you’re camping. Enter one Mr. and Mrs. Art Thompson of Encinitas, CA, and their kite, the Vesta-Lee. This is the story of no ordinary kite, nor is it that of her story.
George and I struck up a conversation with Art and Linda (as campers often do!) and asked how they happened to choose Jalama Beach as their destination. They looked at each other, took a deep breath, and slowly opened the back of their SUV. There lay what looked like the makings for a hand-made kite, replete with colorful tail and sturdy string. But in fact, it wasn’t just the makings. It was, in exacting detail, a perfectly made, authentic, hand-made kite in complete construction. We looked at the kite, and then back to them.
“What? How?… but most importantly, WHY?’
And here their story began: “My wife and I are plumbers in the area where we live. We’ve had a client for over thirty-five years named Vesta-Lee. When her husband died long ago, I became out of friendship her handyman, as she, being alone and elderly, occasionally needed upkeep about her home. Sadly, she began to develop alzheimer’s. Close to her passing, she happened to draw a picture of a kite on a paper napkin when I asked her what she loved to do when she was younger. ” Apparently, she loved to fly kites.
“Linda and I kept that drawing, hoping to build her one and have the opportunity to take her flying in a really good kite-flying area when it was completed.”
For those of you who have been to Jalama Beach, you are probably well aware of the ever-persistent winds that faithfully occur there solely, I am sure, for the wind-surfers’ delight. Art and Linda came to Lompoc (the closest town to Jalama Beach) to find the materials and remnants for her tail in a thrift store to build the now Vesta-Lee , dubbed so in her honor, AND then fly her at the seemingly world’s best windy spot! They used the local paper from Encinitas where she lived for the “fabric” in honor of her long-time residence.
“Unfortunately, we locked our keys in their car while we were in the thrift store. But you know what?” added Art, “When the thrift store owner heard why we were in his store, he locked up his store and took us all the way back to Jalama to get the other set of keys and bring us back to our car!”
This was no easy jaunt. From Lompoc to Jalama it’s about a twenty mile drive in and the same to return. The thrift store man must have become as enchanted with this story of Vesta-Lee as her survivors, Art and Linda! He must have wanted badly for them to complete their mission and not let the Vesta-Lee be deterred for any reason.
The pictures above are taken by yours truly. They show Art flying the Vesta-Lee on her maiden flight amongst the brave windsurfers at Jalama Beach in Memoriam to this special lady… created solely from her drawing. RIP dear Vesta-Lee; you have been remembered with honor, respect and a love uncommonly given by an uncommon group of people for an uncommon reason. With their help, perhaps their effort took you a little closer to the loving hand of God on your journey to the beyond.