Monday, November 20, 2006

Impressions of Southern California

Yes, this is about Mr. Paranoid returning to wonderful North Carolina from a family visit to La La Land.

And, dear Reader(s), I apologise for not reporting earlier. My quixotic nature demanded that I tilt at a windmill first. And to my family here, who think I over-react to perceived injustice, I cannot help it. Live with it.

I grew up in SoCal. In the fifties and into the sixties it was a great place to live. Smog was bad, but on clear days you could see the mountains ringing the area. I learned to drive on the freeways. Some days I would spend the morning in the mountains, and the afternoon at the beach.

I won't make it too idylic, because in many ways it wasn't. And now, it isn't at all. If you don't venture out from your little suburb or gated enclave too often it can seem like paradise. But get out into the maelstrom, and you have to wonder how all these people survive.

On this trip, I was out on the freeways at 4:30 am most mornings. Even at that hour there was a lot of traffic. Nothing to slow folks down, but enough to get one's attention. I went into the San Gabriel Mountains to see the sunrise.

Not too many folks on those roads, but on Glendora Ridge Road, from Mt. Baldy to Glendora, I passed a few guys in camo descending into the canyon armed with long rifles. It may have been some sort of hunting season. However, the glances they gave me as I rolled by were not too friendly. Mr. Paranoid fantasized about Patriot meetings, and stepped on the gas. When I was a kid, and my Dad and I went fishing in the San Gabriel River, North fork, and West Fork, the road passed many box canyons that had targets set up at the back, and some riflemen near the road firing away into the rocks.

Many of the camping sites on CA #2 in the forest, and much of the highway, are closed. So the Forest service has scraped out bare dirt sites beside East Fork road and allow campers there; all you need is an overnight permit. It's not pretty, but it's in the mountains with a creek adjacent and very peaceful.

I guess you can tell I have fond memories of those mountains.

Some other observations: A new 3-series BMW with the plate: I'LLSUE weaving in and out of traffic.

Anything will grow there. Just water it, and stand back. Some of the older neighborhoods have vines, shrubs, trees over-growing the pink stucco walls and cinderblock fences. Lush is not too strong a word; but water is the key.

On a farmers' market sign: Avacados: 20 for $1! I could have put a couple hundred in my luggage and paid for my trip.

Mom is safe in her retirement community: gated, guarded, and well looked after. They have 7 foot Bird of Paradise plants and other lush flora. There is a pond with a fountain and a dining room and food that rivals many hotels. This is all as it should be, because the residents pay well for the priviledge of living there.

And, yes, I survived all the security checks and all the take-offs and landings. The security folk were courtious, but not too helpfull. I stood for several minutes waiting for my carry-on bag to be searched, when a fellow passenger said that unless security told me to wait, I should move on. So when I got my shoes tied and belt back on I moved on straight to the bar. Thanks to Ms CPB for making sure I had enough money. Outward bound, my plane left ATL at nine am, the exact time the bar opened. I spent $20 on beer on that 4hr flight. One beer an hour.

On the return journey, I had time to visit the bar at the Duke's airport in Orange County. They didn't pour me on the plane, but I spent less on the flight.

The plane was a 757; cramped in coach, but I had a very smooth flight both ways. Nice plane, but apparently they have no room for food for the passengers. Crackers and cheese, trail mix and a cookie do not a meal make. Four beer helped round it out.

The plane was going on to New York from ATL. After a shakey landing, they announced that the New York passengers would have to exit the plane, also. They were going to have to change equipment for the next leg. It was a very calm way of reporting that since this 757 almost came apart on landing, we'll have to get another plane.

Mr. Paranoid had another beer before getting on the 737 for the short hop to Charlotte. PDB picked me up.

We all survived, and I got to see Mom. I still don't like to fly.

BRB is Write(SoCal still rocks, but not for me)


Anonymous Lewis said...

A few years ago, I used to drivefrom the high desert down to Ontario to catch a Delta flight to ATL. Sometimes I'd get the early am flight and other times a later am flight. For the early one I'd be on the interstate as early as 5:30am. Never ceased to amaze me the amount of traffic at that hour. Or any hour for that matter.

11:15:00 AM  

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