Attack of the Pineapple Express

I know, it sounds like some weird children’s TV show. San Diego has been besieged by water in the form of a tropical current from Hawai’i. Thankfully, our roof and windows have held up better this time around than during the previous storm. Being a homeowner is a blessing and a curse. Aside from the rain, life has been pretty busy for me. December was a blur, as it always seems to be. I start off after Thanksgiving thinking that this time around, December won’t be nearly as hectic as it was the year before. I start getting excited about Christmas and my birthday. And then…BLAM…December hits me like a ton of pineapples.

December 4th was the OB Christmas Parade. My hula halâu put together an amazing float. We all gathered at one house early on Saturday morning to build the float, sew costumes for the following weekend’s Ho’ike and get in some extra practice. The Dads did most of the float (thanks Dads!) while we practiced and sewed and hid from the rain. The parade was a lot of fun and our float was beautiful! We had palm trees and lights, flowers and grass skirts (on the truck, not us – we were bundled in turtlenecks and beanies). Unfortunately, our generator ran out of gas just over half-way through the parade route – too much practicing while waiting for our spot in line. So we had to sing sans music and lights for the last bit of the parade. We headed back to the house after we finished the parade route and just as the sky began to open up. We quickly dismantled the float and then piled inside for hot cocoa.

The next Saturday was our Ho’ike (recital). We had been practicing and sewing nonstop it seemed for weeks. We were excited and nervous (at least I was). The costumes were great, everyone did so well and it managed not to rain on us! We performed the handful of dances that we know and then in true Hawaiian style had a huge potluck that lasted into the evening and onto the American Angler where we had the best seats for the Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay. Other than some spilt hot cocoa and a brief visit from the water police (we were too close to the parade route), it was a great ending to a great day.

We celebrated Clarke’s birthday in early December by hosting an OB Pub Crawl. From Pac Shores to Tony’s, Winston’s, AZ Club and finally to Gen & Lisa’s house (on Cape May – the BEST street in Ocean Beach), we had a great time roaming all over OB.

And suddenly, it was the middle of December! Work was very busy as I was trying to get the data cleaned up to send off to the project manager on the east coast by the 15th (which always ends up being the 16th or 17th). Not everything got completed on time (in fact, I’m still working on it!), but I had a good excuse this year. For almost two months I was doing two people’s jobs as well as holding interviews, so thankfully I was given some leeway on finishing the data processing.

Christmas arrived quickly (as it always does!). We celebrated early in the week with Dad and Karen, attended Christmas Eve at Art and Kimberly’s and then hosted Christmas morning at our place (fifteen people in our living room is quite a feat!). Then on the 26th Clarke and I blew out of town on a week-long road trip up the coast. We meandered our way to Carpinteria the first night. Instead of the usual four hours, it took us closer to seven due to several detours and side streets. It was so nice to have no plans to plan, no reservations to make, nothing hurry us along as we made our way North. We stopped in Carpinteria and visited some of my family (Thanks, Aunt Kay for letting us camp on your floor!) then headed out the next morning.

After a brief detour to Solvang (not much to do in the rain) we were shortly in Paso Robles for wine tasting. We wanted to try some new wineries and visit some of our favorites from our last trip up here. We started at Turley and found our favorite wine from the area (Pesenti gold label Zin ’98) on sale by the case, so we bought one (case, that is). (Sadly, we found out when we got home a week later that the corks had gone bad on most if not all of the bottles. :( We’re trying to resurrect the last few bottles.) Our second stop was our favorite winery from our last trip to the area – Zin Alley. Frank has a small winery and is a third-generation vintner. The port we had previously from Zin Alley was absolutely wonderful and this year was just as rewarding. We love wine tasting with Frank, he’s a great guy to talk to and the people that find him (he’s not on any wine map) are always fun to talk with. We even had drinks with the producer of Law & Order (of course, we didn’t know that until after he had left). After a few samples of their zins, ports and an after-dinner wine made by Frank’s son – delicate, fruity and sweet (the wine, not the son) – we retreated to the car for a carb picnic to sober us up. Despite our original thoughts on trying new wineries, we decided instead to head to Cambria and find a place to spend the night. We happened upon a hostel on one of the side streets in Cambria – Bayside Inn. We spent the evening relaxing in the common room and chatting with other visitors, including two girls from Switzerland.

The next morning we began by heading north on Highway 1, knowing that there was a very good chance we’d get turned around before making it to Monterey. We paid a brief visit to the elephant seals in San Simeon, waved hi as we passed the Hearst Castle and made it about halfway up Highway 1 along the Big Sur coastline before being turned around due to mudslides (did I mention that it rained the entire week we were on vacation?). So we backtracked down Highway 1, through Cambria, across 46 through Paso Robles onto the 101 and up to Monterey. I spent most of my birthday in the car, but the view of the Big Sur Coast that we did get to see was amazing!! Dinner in Monterey was at a great restaurant, we highly recommend to everyone – Massaro & Santos on the Coast Guard Pier. We met up with friends for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a walk down Cannery Row the next afternoon. We played in the rain and got to watch some wild seals and sea otters.

We awoke New Year’s Eve in Monterey, repacked the car in the rain for the umpteenth time and headed south. We had no idea where we were going to spend New Years so we just kept on driving. Finally, we decided to camp at El Refugio, just north of Santa Barbara. Despite the fact that it had stopped raining, the weather that we’d been enjoying all week had hit El Refugio pretty hard and the entire campground was flooded. So we headed a few exits south to El Capitan only to find it closed due to weather (concern over falling trees more than flooding since it’s on higher ground). We made one last attempt to camp and made our way to Carpinteria State Beach where we were able to get a campsite (read: double-wide parking spot with dirt nearby) amongst the RVs. We made a great end of the year dinner from the last of our road trip goodies, cuddled up to the campfire and rang in the New Year with kava direct from Fiji (thanks Celso!). It didn’t rain all night and the stars were beautiful – but that also means that it was unbelievably cold. We awoke the next morning to dolphins heading north just outside the breaking waves. What a great way to start the New Year!

We packed up the tent and blazed a quick trail home leaving just enough time to unpack and relax before heading back to work. Now, obviously, we’re getting along into January and work is again keeping both of us plenty busy. We’ve been doing some freelance web design on the side and I’ve even created a website for our halâu! I hope everyone is enjoying the New Year and isn’t being flooded out of their homes (it got awfully close to us yesterday).

Pictures coming soon! Promise!

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