These  Thanksgiving trips to far south California encompass school runs and retail opportunities, leisure jaunts and visits to favourite haunts. There’s  childcare too, although it has to be acknowledged that the older two children now exceed Boatwif’s height by a fair margin – see photographic evidence at the end of the previous post.

There was a soccer match to watch on Saturday on an arena pitch (plastic turf enclosed by a concrete wall and high netting).

Cal Guy Jnr plays at a YMCA (“the Y”)     which has amazing sports facilities. The mission statement on their website declares that the Y is for Youth Development, for Healthy Living and for Social Responsibility. It seems to have far more outreach programs (programmes!) than the YMCA in the UK.   Anyway, playing in a red shirt (against the blue shirts) Cal Guy Jnr pounded energetically around the pitch.   Though the reds were beaten it was a hard-fought match.

Two days later a glitzy sculpture in a favourite corner of Spanish Village  in San Diego’s Balboa Park was a reminder of the youngsters who had displayed their ball skills under the hot midday sun.

Balboa Park is a huge 1200 acre area developed for the 1915 Panama-California  Exposition . A video here gives some idea of what Balboa looks like today and what it offers.  .   Among the many attractive buildings in the park is the Old Globe Theater,   the outside appearance of which bears some resemblance to the London Globe of the 1590s…     A tour of the Old Globe Theater was led by a docent (volunteer guide) who had retired to sunny San Diego from the mid-west city of Minneapolis. While 50% of the Old Globe’s funding comes from ticket sales, the remainder comes from private donations. Building exteriors and individual seats all bare the name of individual donors. The Old Globe has a fine reputation as a regional theater, having transferred 23 of its productions direct to Broadway.  A glass cabinet in the foyer displays a prestigious Tony Award,     presented in 1984 to an Outstanding Regional Theatre for its contribution to the development of the art form.

There are three stages at the Old Globe. The stage of the main auditorium was set for Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which is a very popular annual production.   Behind the scenery is a vast workshop space.    Visits to the costume shop  and a walk beneath the main stage were followed by a look into the second auditorium where set dressing was in progress for Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show  Finally it was outdoors to the Lowell Davis Theater    where Shakespearean plays are staged each year between June and September. A decade or more ago Boatwif and the Captain sat here one August night, watching As You Like It on the stage – and low flying aircraft overhead on their descent into San Diego Airport down on Harbor Way.

Even in the heart of the city wildlife can be spotted: a sharp-eyed ground squirrel appeared from low lying bushes right outside the main Visitor Center.    There was another darting about at a picnic site a few days previously.   Lizards     have been seen scampering among the rocks on a beach and on a path at Torrey Pines State Reserve.    All are harmless wildlife. But take note of these rattlesnake signs seen in parks and on trails.   More disturbing still is a sign alerting hikers to mountain lions, here at Double Peak Park.    A stuffed specimen preserved by a taxidermist is on display in the Torrey Pines Lodge.

Further pics from Torrey Pines:      

“Lunch on the pier” is a Thanksgiving week tradition, in this family at least. Out to Oceanside by car (16 miles)… It was Tuesday and the beach seemed busy.  (“Much busier at weekends,” Cal Guy Jnr emphasised). Since last year huge cranes have been positioned one block back from the seafront – hotels, probably.  The wooden pier, reached by a steep ramp, is 1,954 feet long  (596 metres / that’s about 1/3 mile).    It’s an exhilarating stroll and at the hallway point there’s the pelican to look at  – and a very noisy large gull too. Fresh mackerel for supper, anyone? 

Two chose to return by train. The Sprinter is the light railway that runs 22 miles inland from the coast to Escondido, stopping at 15 stations.     Oceanside’s Transit Center is also a stopping point for these mighty double decker trains on the Los Angeles to San Diego route.

Signing off with some oddities:

  • the word JANITORIAL was on a door in the YMCA Center. Conclusion – it’s a cupboard for cleaning materials used by the janitors.
  • FUNNEL CAKES seem to be a fried fritter made from a pancake batter
  • Transporting stuff by road Mexican-style looks like this:
  • A local version of the Monopoly board game is instantly recognizable.   Players are not sent to jail but, true to local freeway conditions, they get stuck in a traffic jam.   Instead of income tax bills it’s car fines they face.

On Thanksgiving Day itself traffic is light as folk stay home to feast – but on Black Friday, the day that follows, it’s a different game as roads and online retailers will likely clog with desperate drivers and spend-happy shoppers…


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