Back in California

After departing the Golden State on December 20th of last year, I’m finally back in California a day later than scheduled after what I believe has been my longest absence since moving out here. Here’s a taste of what I did on my vacation:


As one should during the Christmas season, I spent time with my immediate and extended family. I enjoy being with them, even if they do think I’m a little strange.


I had plenty of home-cooked meals and homemade cookies, and learned how to do a solid. On-the-go and in between meals, I got my Wawa fix with an Italian hoagie. And, for the first time I can remember, I tried my family’s popular sweet potato dish. This comes after last year’s pumpkin pie revelation. For years, I listened as my family mmmmed while eating this dish, but didn’t try it myself, even with the tempting marshmallow topping, because I heard the word “potatoes,” saw mushy stuff, and assumed it tasted like mashed potatoes, which I don’t even like the smell of. This Christmas, I took a small scoop and put it on my plate. When my family noted the tiny portion, I explained my fear that it would taste like regular potatoes. They assured me that sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are totally different things. I gave it a try. I wish I could go back in time to all of the family dinners where I’ve passed it up and take a heaping spoonful or two or three.

I didn’t get a specific shot of the sweet potatoes, but here’s a cropped spy-style shot that I was able to pull out of one of the pictures:


What will I try next? Gravy?


Even though they spent a lot of time hiding due to the many visitors, I still got to spend some quality time with our cats, Potter and Harry. They like Christmas trees and turkey.


Like Stan Brakhage to an ashtray, I was drawn to photographing these candle holders:



I had my annual night out with friends from home. It’s sad that I’m only able to do this at Christmas. Ted, Meghan, Christine, Elise, Matt, and I had dinner at Chili’s. I had the “Quesadilla Explosion.” Based on the name and my skimming of the description, I was expecting a plate full of chicken quesadillas. Don’t let the same thing happen to you. You want to know what a “Quesadilla Explosion” is at Chili’s? It’s a freakin’ chicken salad with four tiny cheese quesadillas on the side. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I thought I had ordered. After dinner, a few of us headed to the Drafting Room for a few drinks. And by “a few drinks,” I mean one drink for each of us, because as soon as we sat down karaoke night started… ending our night early. It was fun catching up with everyone. Nobody was in prison or married or had kids or anything, but everyone seemed happy.


My family spent an evening in New York City to see the Christmas show. As of this writing, their website’s favicon is the Netscape logo, but fortunately the show itself was more impressive, and not a disappointment as I had feared could be the case. They have updated the show, with an awesome LED screen as a backdrop that really helped to enhance the sets. And just as I remembered, they made great use of the stage’s hydraulic system, making huge set pieces silently appear and disappear on cue. There was also the addition of a brief 3D video segment, but that was pretty corny and even had awkwardly-placed sponsor logos. Oh well. The rest of the show was great, and I thought the orchestra was awesome, especially in the opening and closing scenes when you could see it. Before the show, we had dinner at Del Frisco’s. The food was good; I enjoyed some crab cakes (I’m not a big steak person) and even ate (and liked) the broccoli after I inexplicably accepted it from the waitress. After the show (actually, my dad and I checked it out before the show as well), we walked by the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. We ended the visit with a trip to my sister’s new apartment, which was pretty cool. It’s like knowing someone on Friends.


After the Christmas festivities at home, my family headed out to Telluride, Colorado for a week of skiing. Why is Telluride awesome? Because this is what you see when you look outside:


We arrived just after a big snowfall, and had five full sunny days of downhill fun. It wasn’t quite spring skiing (my favorite) with gloveless hands and just a pair of sunglasses on my head, but it was in the mid thirties in the mornings and crawled into the forties in the afternoons, so it was far from uncomfortable.

Revelation Bowl, a new addition this season, was open so we tried it out. It wasn’t too special (I can’t remember which place, but I think it was Beaver Creek that has my favorite bowl), but it was fun to have a new area to play in. On the first day I got tripped up by the moguls and rolled down part of it, but that’s all part of the fun. Here are a couple of pictures, first of the bowl itself, and then of the view from the top:





I skipped the sixth day of skiing, which was colder and snowy. Why did I miss out on the fresh powder? Well, I was sitting in the Telluride airport, waiting to hear that my flight was cancelled. Instead of complaining about a bad travel experience (being “stuck” in Telluride for an extra night was pretty awesome), let me tell you how cool this airport is. Yes, I’m excited about an airport. The Telluride Regional Airport is the highest commercial airport in the US. It is so fun to fly in an out of. It’s located on a small plateau, and the runway isn’t even level. You land going downhill, and take off going uphill. If you’re in a prop plane, they’ll run the props up to high speed with the brakes on before takeoff… not risking running out of runway. Here’s a shot I took from the resort area which shows the runway:


And as a special treat, here’s a video of a landing at Telluride. Note how the plateau appears just seconds before landing:

I’d show you the even more dramatic takeoff, where the land drops out just after the wheels leave the pavement, but I didn’t get to fly out of Telluride this time around. It looks like the grade will be reduced in the future, but it should still be a fun place to fly in and out of.

To end this post, here’s how Telluride ends the year, with a New Year’s Eve event where skiers holding torches travel down the mountain with fireworks in the background. Here’s a handheld long exposure of the celebration:


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