Monday, December 20, 2010

“It Never Rains in Southern California”

The news today said that the rain over Southern California were record shattering. Well, why not spent the weekend there then and be part of history. George and I were in Los Angeles over the weekend and rained. A lot! As in nonstop. It’s still raining there as we speak. And it has actually reached Las Vegas too in the meantime.

We left for L.A. around 1 p.m. and had a pretty good drive until Victorville. The first wave of rush hour was hitting but it was manageable. But we could already see the looming dark clouds that were building over the San Bernardino Mouintains. Behind those mountains most of Southern California was already being pummeled by torrential rains. As soon as we started to descent from the summit into the valley, the thick dark clouds and heavy fog were settling onto a very busy weekend traffic. I could barely see the brake lights of the car in the front of us. Traffic slowed down to crawl on the very steep section of the four-lane freeway cutting through El Cajon Pass. We were once stuck in a heavy snow storm driving up the pass many years ago. Let me just say it was not fun. At all!

Once we reached the foothills, the fog lifted somewhat and turned into misty rain. It would get harder as we got closer to the city but it wasn’t as bad we thought it would be. Traffic was normal traffic can be on those infamous Los Angeles freeways on a late Friday afternoon. We reached our hotel safe and sound and sooner than expected.

The Disneyland Resort was in walking distance, so we grabbed our umbrellas and headed on over to our destination of the evening, Downtown Disney. We had a wonderful dinner at Tortilla Jo’s, a very festive-looking Mexican restaurant. And since we also stuffed ourselves with scrumptious desserts we needed to walk off the extra ballast again. So we checked out the stores and the beautiful Grand Californian hotel. It’s always worth revisiting.

The next morning it was still raining. After a nice breakfast and with no particular plans for the day we just slowly made our way toward George’s old neighborhood in the Pasadena and Arcadia area. We checked out a couple of stores and stocked up on our Peet’s Coffee. Then it was time to drive up into the hills to visit Rover and some friends at the Green Man Lodge.

It was great seeing Rover again. We spent a nice cozy afternoon a Rover and Cal’s beautiful little paradise. Perfect for a dark and rainy day outside. Cal wasn’t yet home from his drive from Colorado and we didn’t expect to even see him before we had to leave. But he made it home just in time and it was good to see him as well. Even if it was ever so briefly.

Eventually it was time to leave our friends and make our way into Hollywood to see “West Side Story” at the Pantages. This was the English/Spanish version of the musical that made some headlines on Broadway. However, the Spanish bits were a little scarce and felt like they were randomly thrown into the story. It also didn’t enhance anything. That said, the performance and the dancing were still great. The dance routines were close to Jerome Robbin’s original interpretation and to the numbers in Robert Wise’ film version in the 1960s, with slight variation here and there. The song “America” was performed and sung entirely by women. And I have never seen this version of “Somewhere” before. In this case, it’s not sung by Tony and Maria but by Anybodys, the girl whom desperately wants to be one of the boys and part of the Jets gang. It’s set up as a dream sequence and eventually most of cast joins in at the end of this song. I don’t know if this version was in the original Broadway run or if it was altered specifically for the film version. But it was a very pleasant surprise.

George and I did not care much for the main characters, Tony and Maria. Their voices weren’t emotionally involved and at times it felt the two were competing who could sing the loudest. That, the Spanish bits, and the crude and unnecessarily vulgar “Gee, Officer Krupke” scene, were our only complaints. Everything else was absolutely fabulous. Well, I may be a little biased too. “West Side Story” is by far my most favorite musical.

The rain continued all night long into Sunday morning. And it rained harder. We checked out of our hotel and spent a little more time at Downtown Disney before we got ready to drive back home to Las Vegas. The drive along some freeways and up El Cajon pass was littered with car accidents. It was a very slow and trying drive up those San Bernardino Mountains. But once we’ve reached the high desert the rain cleared and traffic was flowing again. There were a few sprinkles along the way into Nevada but nothing too concerning.

Now we’re back at work for a short week. The rain has also reached Las Vegas in the meantime. But that’s okay. Our next little adventure is waiting for us just around the corner.

More about that “next year”...

Below some impressions from our weekend in Los Angeles.

The Pasadena Auditorium on Green Street.

The Pasadena City Hall.

I call this the maharaja’s palace. Some Eastern Indian palace-looking building I’ve seen so many times and always wondered it is. Even George couldn’t tell me and he’s from this area.

Colorado Boulevard in downtown Pasadena. The famous Rose Parade comes through here. On New Year’s Day it will be time again for spectacular floats parading down this street in front of tens of thousands of spectators, displaying scenes made of millions of flowers.

Disney’s California Adventure themepark is undergoing a $1 billion renovation, retheming and expansion. The gigantic tile murals that were at each side of this entrance to the park are already gone. Soon, these huge letters spelling out the word “California” will vanish as well.

George and I standing in front of the letters for the last time. We actually enjoyed the rain. It’s a treat for us. We desert rats are spoiled like that since it hardly ever rains in Las Vegas.

This whole entrance plaza will look completely different in 2012.

The rains didn’t stop, not even for the mouse of the house.

The main entrance to the “happiest place on earth,” the original Disneyland. I doubt too many people were all that happy with the rainy weather though.

George and I haven’t held an umbrella in our hands in over ten years. It just felt weird.

A small section of wonderful Downtown Disney, with an array of shops, restaurants, clubs and movie theaters.


Disneyland Obsession said...

When it rains at Disneyland it provides the Park guest with a great opportunity to play in the Park with almost no one else there. I've been at the Parks just before Christmas when it rained, we were prepared with Ponchos and warm clothes, and had a great time. As for your umbrellas, I've watched them turn inside out on windy days, and leave the holder all wet. So tell everyone to grab a cheap Poncho about $5 bucks , and head for the Parks on any rainy day.

Ice John's World said...

Wow, it surely looks damp in Southern CA! Good thing that you guys still got to have some fun! I was thinking about if you two would dance in the rain in Disney! :) Happy holidays!