Farewell California

After the Midway trip on Sunday only three days remained of the 2014 Thanksgiving visit. There were some shops to check out,  CA05-02a   as well as neighbourhood bike rides  CA05-03   and school runs to do.

Cloudless blue skies, balmy sunshine, clear vistas – these are the clichéd images for Southern California. Mostly that is what you see, but on December 1st winter began to invade the Californian idyll.  CA05-01    Cloudy skies gathered over the northern coast – and the rains began. So rare is rain that the radio news reports broadcast constant pleas: find and use your windscreen wipers. Areas that had been recently burned in wildfires were under close surveillance in case dampened earth should dislodge and form a mudslide. By Tuesday the slopes behind the Cal Clan’s neighbourhood were under observation too.  CA05-18    For three years now the state has been in serious drought.    State Governor Jerry Brown has asked residents to cut their water consumption by 20% and in one area the planting of drought resistant plants to replace thirsty front lawns is being promoted. Radio discussions on Thursday were reinforcing the view that a three day rainstorm was not heralding the end of the drought but bringing hope of winter rains to restock the low reservoir levels.

With just days to go before a return to the UK the British accent caused at least two more moments of confusion. A neighbour was checking up on his child one evening. “He’s fine. We won’t be having dinner for at least three quarters of an hour,” seemed such a straightforward thing to say.

“Eer, uh, huh,” was the uncomprehending response.

Luckily Cal Gal came to the rescue. “She means 45 minutes,” she intervened.

And on the last night a waiter at The Old Spaghetti Factory  CA05-19   sought help from Cal Son. What was it about a pronunciation of “Ranch” (ranch salad dressing) that American ears could not understand?

If one is always glad to leave something behind it has to be the angst that public toilets can induce.  CA05-17   What to push, lift or press? Worse are the flushing systems that occur unpredictably and unexpectedly…

It was up the freeway on Thursday, heading north back to Los Angeles.

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Disgorged from the courtesy bus after returning the rental car at the Tom Bradley Terminal

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 there was a most unexpected sound. A wall of harmony was coming from inside…Was it a performance by a Gareth Malone-type workforce choir? Apparently not.

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The Martin Luther King Jnr Community Choir had been invited to sing at LAX – and could they sing! Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists and Gospel singers meet weekly to sing under the direction of a Cal State University San Diego music professor.

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All their concert takings go to provide scholarships for students wishing to major in the visual and performing arts. Their sound was rousing, indeed inspirational. Travellers and airport employees alike paused to listen and to marvel.   See here:

“We have toured in Europe twice,” one singer explained.“ We’ve sung at the Vatican.” With time in hand before check in this was the most delightful airport experience ever!     CA05-11

Late afternoon NZ002  CA05-15   took off westwards over the Ocean,   CA05-16   then turned east and north for the overnight flight back to chilly Britain. Darkness fell …

Dinner                                               Dozing                                       Breakfast.

Ten hours passed . Feet were again on the ground, traffic on the M25 was stationary, brains were befuddled by jet lag -and the first Christmas cards were lying on the doormat.

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