A California diary… Bob and Tigg on tour in 2005
10 days in southern California… days eight, nine and ten


From the Backpack ~ Strange and Unexpected

Normally when I post something from the archives, it involves bringing back an essay or article or such that had appeared on the In My Backpack web site and was removed during one of the updates or computer issues over the years.


This entry is a bit different though… in addition to appearing on the site, it was part of the Travel Trilogy project… or, more specifically, Strange and Unexpected: Backpack on the Road – Volume Two: California.

And that means a couple of versions exist… somewhat specific, almost definitive versions if you will… the work that was on the site, and the chapter that was edited and potentially revised from that piece and used for the book.

This material was originally posted on April 25, 2006. It was later published in April 2013. Some minor proofreading edits and adjustments may have been made while bringing the material back to the site in this posting.

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I made an interesting discovery when I started going through my notes. We didn’t do much on Saturday. For some strange reason, when I was setting everything up to work on this daily journal, a couple of things didn’t connect. For one… we flew overnight on the way home, so we actually had ten days of travels. And another of those things was that days eight, nine and ten would work just fine as a single column. So I decided to reduce the number of columns by one, even though this last entry is covering three days.

Day eight, Saturday, April 23, 2005

If you asked Justin to design his absolutely perfect day, I can say with no hesitation that the morning would involve one of two things. Option number one – sleeping right through it and missing the entire thing. Option number two – Denny’s.

Day eight begins with option number two… a Denny’s right down the street, all of three minutes from the San Clemente Inn. We don’t really have any plans for the day… so laundry and puttering around the resort are the big ideas being kicked around.

When we get back, Tigg decides to do some laundry before heading over to the pool. The boys are already at the pool… mainly for the hot tub. I flip through some books and notepads, grab a pen, and eventually meander down to the pool as well.

Justin and I decide to play some shuffleboard. When all four of us wind up playing, things turn a bit more serious. The boys take a 2 game to none lead and start to feel pretty confident. For the record… when all was said and done, Mom and Bob defeated the boys, 3 games to 2. The boys got whooped by Mom.

Eventually we decided to head out for dinner, but we really didn’t have much of an idea where we wanted to go. We literally stumbled onto a restaurant called the Elephant Bar… and it was fantastic. (I believe we went to the one in Irvine, but I could easily be wrong about that. When I say we stumbled across it, we got off at an exit we thought had two or three dinner options, it turned out it didn’t have any that we had seen and could agree on once we got off of the highway, and there we were on the street staring at the sign for the Elephant Bar.) As a recommendation… all of us were pleased with our dinners and everything that went with it. If you can, find this place. From the listing of locations, they sure seem to be expanding.

Tigg came up with a brilliant idea while we were eating, and of course I’m not going to share it here. Let’s just say I have high hopes of modifying it slightly, finding a way to market it, and retiring.

After dinner, we went back to the resort, where we played some tennis and then watched Dodgeball in our room. And in exactly the same way that Dodgeball was a great, no thought required, fun movie that ended the day on a high note… our Saturday was a low-key, unexpected pleasure that really put a nice finishing touch on our last full day together.

Tomorrow Jay would be leaving earlier than Justin, Tigg and I. The trip had been good… at times fantastic… overall though, good and fun, but not great. Spending the time together today though… shuffleboard, tennis, a good movie and a great meal… it was a perfect day.

Day nine, Sunday, April 24, 2005

As we hit the last day in California, we are facing what is certain to be an interesting day. Nothing special with detailed plans... nothing amazing… but interesting.

Southern California… specifically Los Angeles… has really thrown me for a loop. Nine days after arriving, half of the stuff that I figured we would just check off in a single afternoon I still have listed on our places to see. The same way the Hollywood sign became an adventure on the second day of the trip… Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Disney Music Center are two examples of adventures I simply hadn’t been able to complete with our group.

So on the final full day… with trips to the airport and a schedule virtually open otherwise from beginning to end… I have decided that I am not heading back to Connecticut without finding some footprints preserved in cement.

We check out of the San Clemente Inn, and overall I have nothing but positive things to say. The room was a suite-style set-up that presented some difficulties (with the Murphy beds down, one of the doors to the master bedroom was essentially useless), but none of these problems were too big. The location was good, the amenities were nice, and overall the place is definitely worth checking out if you are heading to southern California.

It’s already time to head up to LAX and drop off Jay. I’ve heard horror story after horror story about the airport… and on the night of our arrival, I was ready to believe all of them. But after a few sweeps through the city during daylight and with decent directions in mind for our approach, things go very smoothly for us when we drop Jay off and leave the airport.

We head over to Hollywood Boulevard and I finally manage to get us to Mann’s Chinese Theater. Yes… Mann’s. (Hey… here’s a tip. Just a quick little thought. If you are planning to change the name of a place, and it is apparent that you will forever have to include the word “formerly” in the title, you might want to think again about deciding to change it. Yup… Mann’s (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theater.

The first thing we notice, even driving by, is the people dressed in costumes. They are all over the place. Also… when we get there we see the line of people in Star Wars mode. While it has been announced that the third episode, Revenge of the Sith, will be opening elsewhere, there are people that don’t believe it. Since the previous installments have opened at Grauman’s, some people are just not willing to believe the final film will premiere down the road at a different theater.

A few of the stars I was impressed to find represented: The Marx Brothers, Shirley Temple, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello… heck… the list just goes on of amazing names. Beyond finding feet and hands and autographs, many of the celebrities added personal touches.

From there we decide to get lunch, and we return to In-N-Out. Of all the things in California, I think In-N-Out burgers may be what Tigg misses the most.

We drove past the Disney Music Center… actually the Walt Disney Concert Hall… which is a beautiful building.

From there our tour of the city is done, and we still have a few hours before returning the car and heading over to the airport for our connecting flights home. I start driving a bit aimlessly, and wind up spotting a movie theater complex in Norwalk. A Cold Stone Creamery is in the next building. So… ice cream and Sahara at AMC. Works out pretty well for a nice, relaxing afternoon.

We still have some time after the movie, so we wind up at a local shopping center. Stops at Barnes & Noble and Pac Sun complete our wandering, and we’re off to return the car.

At the airport we register the final sales of the evening for a California Pizza Kitchen ASAP location, and settle in to wait for our flight. Little did we know as we ate our pizzas… there was still one last show scheduled for us to enjoy during our trip. This one was slated for our gate, a little under an hour before departure.

Ladies and gentlemen… the drunk luggage tosser.

It all started out innocently enough. We had arrived early. Justin wanted a spot near an electrical outlet so he could recharge his iPod. I meandered through a store, found a copy of Angels and Demons for Tigg, and settled in to do some reading of my own.

The area near our gate began to fill up… we had been the first to arrive. A couple sat down about three rows and several seats away from us. A man showed up that at first appeared to be talking to the couple. He pointed at the empty seat next to them, sat down, and continued talking.

Soon it became evident that he was talking to himself. Judging by the looks on everyone’s face, that same idea apparently occurred to all of us at the same time, which was roughly three seconds before he began yelling at himself.

Did you ever have one of those moments where you knew you didn’t have to do something at that very second, but knew there was a chance you were going to be called upon to do something (and it wouldn’t be long before it happened)?

Well… that’s how most of us felt. Several of us were watching the situation carefully. And you could tell we weren’t at all sure what to do. A few of us began exchanging glances. As one of the first ones there, our group of three was a bit pinned in to an alcove that led to the gate and we weren’t really near the guy or the main walkway. The guy really hadn’t done anything other than raise a few eyebrows to that point. When he started his own, personal argument, several people got up, including me. Two walked out to the hall in the direction of the security counter.

Security arrived just after he kicked his carry-on bag… just as he picked it up and threw it at the wall. He was escorted away when he couldn’t produce a ticket for the flight… leaving all of us wondering about how he could have passed through the security checkpoint without it.

Day ten, Monday, April 25, 2005

It’s snowing in Detroit.


In Detroit.

Late April.


Just a great reminder that we aren’t in southern California any more.

Oh sure… it’s almost May… and there are no worries about three feet of snow or an extended cold spell waiting for us in New England. The weather is starting to warm up, as it always does. And that’s good news.

But as the sun rises, and we prepare to change planes for the final leg of our long cross-country trip home… well… snow is not a welcome sight. (And yet, it seems wonderfully appropriate.)

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com