Final snapshots

When a good trip draws to an end the head fills with visual memories, each a reminder of more than the picture itself…

This was the rear of a fire truck returning to a San Marcos fire house. 

During a previous stay (October 2007) Cal Son’s San Marcos neighbourhood spent four long days on notice of likely evacuation. The fires burned down one ridge line and along another. Their neighbourhood valley escaped fire while others didn’t. At the high school students pressed plastic water cups into the wire mesh fencing to create their message: THANK YOU TO OUR BRAVE FIREFIGHTERS

It was not so in May 2014, when for four days and three nights the family was compelled to evacuate,  lodging in a friends’ house a dozen miles away until it was declared safe to return. From the Double Peak    viewpoint early on in this year’s trip a local walker (a US navy man who grew up in West Virginia) pointed out exactly where that devastating Cocos wild fire in 2014 had started.   It is no wonder that there is immense respect and gratitude for the work of California’s firefighters.

Many stores and supermarkets have collection jars at their till points to raise financial support for those people who have lost homes in the recent Woolsey and Camp fires. These fires affected Malibu, just north of Los Angeles and devastated Paradise (85 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital) during November of this year.

Fire hydrants look different in the US.

This one was in a San Marcos residential area, while this shiny sprinkler system was in an affluent area in Downtown San Diego.

Late one afternoon at Oceanside   some iconic images were spotted. Was this just a high days and holidays car – or one for regular use too?      Surfers floating on the sea off Harbor Beach

were waiting, waiting, waiting for a wave to ride…

Twilight falls fast at 33N. You have to be ready with a camera if you’re going to catch a Pacific sunset.

   Further inland one evening this was the sky colour (sp. US:color!) at about 5pm. “One of the best I’ve seen,” said Cal Gal (and she must have seen a fair few…) 

There has long been a strong military presence in San Diego County. There is a huge US Marine base at Camp Pendleton, north of Oceanside, there is the very large US naval air base on Coronado Island and the Marine Corps Depot in San Diego. Some folk love to eyeball a tank or a rocket launcher or an aircraft close up. This is the doormat at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at Miramar   where all the above were on view, and this aircraft seemed a sixties’ curiosity.  Apparently the type, a North America-Rockwell Bronco (OV10D) is still in active service, used by CAL FIRE during wildfire situations where its slow speed and the wide sweep view from the cockpit make it an excellent observation aircraft.

As for Leathernecks the name harks back to the uniforms (1798 – 1872) that included a neck piece of leather which protected the neck and also kept marines’ heads erect when on parade. ……

Seen inside the Marine Museum was this plaque, a recognition and appreciation of the contributions made by Marine wives.  US society openly and warmly acknowledges its gratitude to those who served in the Armed Forces, whether by offering free restaurant meals on Veterans’ Day, providing tuition fee waivers at college for those who have served for six years or more  and by providing lifetime good healthcare. In everyday situations there are frequent exclamations of gratitude. “We thank you for your service to our country,” is a warmly and honestly expressed sentiment.

California is desert. It’s a hot, baked, rocky landscape. Human effort has tamed it, constructed wide freeways and created flat terraces for homes, hospitals,     schools… Impressive as these structures are, rugged ridge lines    and steep canyons    are often visible just the other side of the freeway or from a viewpoint or even from a residential neighbourhood. 

Three photos from a last foray into the Barnes and Noble bookstore , now in full “holiday season” mode. Presumably these marketing headings work…   and . It never ceases to amaze how someone will find a way to create a product from other people’s lives – ask yourself, is there anyone on your Christmas present list who’d like this Dot To Dot book…?!

There was time to kill at LAX before a departure delayed by nearly an hour. 

Leaving sunshine and palm trees behind …


the aircraft took off at dusk, out over the coast to turn    and head east for hour    after hour    after hour, before circling in the clouds above London, descending through them, over the Thames 

to bump down at 11am on Thursday.   Back down on UK soil, under UK grey skies… Sigh!

Distance flown to Los Angeles and back: 10,880 miles

Approximate road mileage in Southern California: 840 miles





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