The couple, now entering their 70s, graduated from Newport Harbor
High School and have been longtime residents of Costa Mesa.
"We were kind of trepidatious about going to China," said Ann, who
planned most of the trip herself. "I was a little worried we were
going to be too old for it."
After surviving the 12-hour flight to Tokyo and then the nearly
three-hour flight to Beijing, the Knipps finally began their journey,
which took place from Oct. 7 through Oct. 19 and was inspired by
Don's passion for horticulture.
Don, who is professionally known as Mr. Fertilizer, continues to
work with the California Assn. of Nurserymen despite his
semi-retirement and heard about a Camellia Society convention that
was scheduled for 2003 in China.
While Don and his wife, who prefers not to be called Mrs.
Fertilizer, thought that the convention would be a perfect reason to
travel to the Far East, they were quickly persuaded to move up the
date when they read that the Yangtze River was expected flood by 2003
and dramatically alter adjacent cities along its banks.
"Everybody in the world read the same thing we did because there
were so many people," Don said. "But it's a once in a lifetime trip
... we're both history buffs and we wanted to see what China was all
Traveling through the country in a tour group consisting of about
25 people, the Knipps got to see and experience everything they had
only heard about. From Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in
Beijing to the terra cotta soldiers in Xian and eventually the YuYan
Gardens in Shanghai, the Knipps managed to leave China with a broad
understanding of the country's history and a new appreciation of
From witnessing the results of the country's population control,
which allows only one child per family, to the great worth of the
American dollar, the couple also came across differences of a much
"Almost everyone travels by bicycle and ... all of the women were
gorgeous, that really made an impression on me," Don said. "This trip
was mostly educational, that's what it was all about."
The Knipps' education incorporated cultural aspects they never
could have imagined.
"I couldn't believe the holes in the kids' pants," Ann said. "We
had heard about it but we just couldn't believe it when we saw it ...
you don't stop and think that they don't have diapers over there."
* Have you, or someone you know, gone on an interesting vacation
recently? Tell us your adventures. Drop us a line to TRAVEL TALES,
330 W. Bay St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627; e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax to (949) 646-4170.