Flooding, Star-spotting, and seeing that everything really is bigger in Texas. That was my Christmas vacation!

Today is the beginning of the winter quarter, the day that classes begin again, and once again it feels like the holiday has positively flown by. Here is a brief summary of what has been happening in the land of sunshine. (Sunshine, what sunshine?!?)

  • My parents came to visit for a week, and we did some more exploring of San Diego, going to a few of the very interesting museums in Balboa Park, the famous hotel on Coronado Island, and the USS Midway – a very interesting aircraft carrier.
  • I bumped into Andy Griffith, star of The Andy Griffith Show from the 60’s, a country music star, TV’s Matlock, and a guest star in Diagnosis Murder. I was thrilled.
  • We went up to LA, and hired bikes along the Santa Monica cycle path. It was lovely in the sunshine through Venice and Marina del Ray. The traffic on the roads was horrendous though.
  • It then began to rain. And rain. And rain. And rain. We were getting up to 6-inches a day, which is crazy! They total annual rainfall fell in about 3 days.
  • Up in Griffith Park you couldn’t see a thing, the fog was really bad. Not even the Hollywood sign was visible, which made me feel slightly upset for my parents.
  • Dodging the raindrops, we just about saw the Queen Mary through the fog in Long Beach, and also went to the Peterson Motor Museum, which has lots of great cars in, such as the ‘Back to the Future’ DeLorean. There was a legit old 50’s diner there too, and that was good fun.
  • I was also very excited to meet the guy who plays the dad in ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ at an Italian restaurant we went to for dinner in Pasadena.
  • After my parents flew home on the 20th (and were very lucky to get a flight back to England) I spent a day in Santa Monica trying to avoid the rain and mudslides on the bluffs.
  • That evening I went to my first LA Lakers game, against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was really impressive, a terrific experience! The only problem was that they were comprehensively thrashed by the Bucks, which wasn’t in the script!
  • My journey back to San Diego didn’t quite go to plan. The rain had caused dreadful flooding and mudslides along the coast, so the trains were only going as far as San Juan Capistrano. From there, with no train, it is impossible to get across Camp Pendleton to Oceanside without a car. It was raining, and I had to pay a taxi $65 to take me there. Nice one Amtrak! Next time, get some alternate transport and don’t just leave your passengers stranded. Once on the bus from Oceanside, there were lots of chances to see the flooding up close. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and made me realise just how scary water can be.
  • My camera had finally given up the ghost on the 21st, so I had to buy a new one from Radioshack. I also finally an external hard drive while I was going about it. I had ordered a camera from Amazon to be delivered to a friend, but given the flooding there was no way I’d be able to pick that up so I’ll just send it back now.
  • Christmas Eve was sunny, so I went to the beach, or what was left of the beach after most of it had washed away in the floods. I also go an ice cream. It’s not all bad in California you know!
  • On Christmas Day I was flying to San Antonio, Texas. The flights to El Paso and SA were packed, despite it being Christmas. I sat next to a nice girl on the San Antonio flight, and she offered for her parents to give me a lift to my hotel, which was much appreciated.
  • I went up the ‘Tower of the Americas’, saw the Alamo (which was very moving), did a whole days exploring to the nearby missions, ate lots of Tex-Mex, and satisfied myself that Texans are exactly as I imagined they would be! The stereotype is true!
  • I bought myself a legit cowboy hat at a store that has sold hats to Eisenhower, JFK, the pope and lots of other famous people. I also got myself some cowboy boots, so all I need are some spurs and I’ll now be a proper cowboy!
  • On my last evening in Texas, I went to see the Lakers play the San Antonio Spurs. This time I was supporting the Spurs, who went on to take a convincing win, and make me very happy. Another great game! I was learning to love the NBA.
  • If flew back to LA, making sure I wore all my cowboy gear. Lots of people said ‘howdy’ and various other Texan things, so I must have been pretty convincing! (I’ve just noticed that in the top right hand corner of this page, by the logout button, it says “Howdy, mattucsd”. How appropriate!)
  • I had two lovely days in LA, mainly spent in the Griffith Park area. Now you could see well over 60 miles from the top, a far cry when I came up here with my parents, and I got as close as its possible to get to the Hollywood sign without getting arrested. I still get excited every time I see it!
  • New Years Eve was spent wandering around in the sunshine in Hollywood, and then watching the LA Lakers again in the evening. This time, against the Philadelphia 76er’s they finally won a game for me, but they made it so dashed tight that I left as something of a nervous wreck. It was a terrific game, and I really love the NBA now.
  • New Year’s Day was happily uneventful as I made my way back to San Diego. No mudslides or anything this time to mess me up!

Now it’s time to get back into the working mindset. I have my results from last quarter, and I did very well in my finals so I now know to just keep this up and I should be ok. Some more sunshine wouldn’t go amiss too though!

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