Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Busy First Week Back in SoCal

July 2-9, 2016:

WOW, what a week I had!

After two days of battling jet lag, I was ready to roll on the Fourth of July with the grandkids.

Mary and Jacob took part in the
Ventura Independence Day Parade

And Mary was in full fun mode
at our home later that day

We played a little more Kubb in the afternoon and, of course, had delicious BBQ'd hamburgers for dinner.

It was a good day.

 The grill at The Hat in
Simi Valley

The Hat is much more renowned for their French dip pastrami sandwiches than for their burgers. This was the site of the first of many meetings this week.

At The Hat I thoroughly enjoyed a four hour lunch with Robert Richards who is currently the outstanding Offensive Line coach at powerhouse Oaks Christian H.S.

When I first started coaching American football in 1970 at Thousand Oaks H.S., Robert was the Head J.V. coach and I was his one and only assistant. We worked together for two seasons, forging a 16-2 record along the way and winning the 1971 Marmonte League J.V. title.

I cannot begin to tell you how indebted I am to Robert for all of the things that he taught me back in those formative days of a young coach's career.

Later in the week, Laurie and I met with Paul and Joanne Sabolic for dinner at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo. Paul is a long-time friend from our University of Washington days. We had a great time seeing them over what turned out to be four hour dinner at this fine dining establishment.

It is amazing how time flies when getting together with good friends.

I then had an interesting meeting with former Newbury Park H.S. football player Jacob Wuesthoff (DB/WR) about playing in Europe after he finishes his Senior season playing for the University of Puget Sound this coming Fall. I think that he will be a great addition to any EuroBall team's roster in 2017.

The next meeting of this hectic week was with the Murphy Clan at their ancestral home. So much fun yet again.

The final meeting of the week came at a 1st birthday party for little L.J. Law. Lots of fun seeing many familiar faces from our Rio Mesa H.S. days and talking EuroBall with Charles Smith who coaches in Rome, Georgia and was full of great stories from his days as a player at the University of Georgia.

On Thursday, July 7th of this week I turned 69 years old. It was decided that we should celebrate my day at Dodger Stadium while the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the San Diego Padres.

It would also be young Jacob's first ever Dodger game.

We were excited and ready!

Vanessa, Mike and Jacob were a bit confused as they all sported Los Angeles Rams t-shirts.

 Jacob was ready in case of a
home run ball hit our direction

Jacob and Poppo

 The Boys

Love Dodger Stadium

Jacob's Peek-A-Boo game

Closing in on our seats

Jacob enters his first game

I tried to warn him about becoming a Dodger fan and the heartache that goes with it.

His response?

"GO BLUE!!!"

Mike was born in 1976


We had tickets in the Right Field Pavillion which offered an all-you-can-eat perk consisting of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and soda pops.

At $42 a seat, it is a good value when you consider that Dodger Dogs alone sell for $6 a piece.

I had $24 worth of these wonderful tube steaks during the night.

 GREAT season featuring
Wally Moon's "Moon Shots"

Mike found him a batting
practice home run ball

The hat has growing room
for Jacob

 Our view from the Right Field Pavilion

Baseball can keep you
young at heart

Cotton Candy Mania

Jacob described it as ". . . eating a bubble bath."

The sugar kicked in quickly.

 With Hall-of-Fame Dodger
Manager Tommy Lasorda

Post cotton candy, I ran him around the stadium for an inning to get a bit of the sugar out of his system.

Seventh Inning
Padres 6 - Dodgers 0

We opted to mosey on home early as the game was out of hand and Jacob was showing a few faint signs of wearing out.

Souvenir Time

The Lights of
Blue Heaven on Earth 

On Saturday, I needed a football fix so I drove over to Rio Mesa H.S. to watch a bit of their 7-on-7 and Linemen's Tournaments.

 11 schools met with five
games being played at a time

Passing Offenses everywhere
you looked

BOMB to the corner

End Zone Ballet

Another BOMB to the right corner

Swing passes are OK too

Linemen's Tournament Action
Power Cleaning

The Rock Toss

Too High

It was fun to again see several old friends today at these tournaments.

Reading Is FUNdamental

This is the ninth installment in Walker's Bruno the Detective series set in southwest France.

Just like his first eight books in this series, I found it a fun read with equal doses of mystery and French cuisine.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Trying to Battle Jet Lag but Losing

Saturday, July 2, 2016:

Everything was unpacked from the flight home from Sweden and, YAHOO, nothing was broken.

I had a good night's sleep but I was still feeling the effects of traveling half way around the world in 11 hours.

I did my first weigh-in since leaving for Upplands Väsby on April 25th.

Happily, I lost 4.5 kilos/10 lbs. during my two months abroad. This is a tribute to lots and lots of walking in spite of continued dietary issues, a.k.a., FIKA TIME!

Today was a family day as Mike, Vanessa, Jacob and Mary were coming to Casa Contreras to watch the Italy vs. Germany Euro Cup 2016 game at noon.

Jacob was still proudly wearing
his new Team Sweden jersey

 Mike was in his Team Italy
jersey and celebrated Italy's
goal to tie the game

Jacob and Mary lost game
focus during extra time play

The game ended 1-1 in regulation time and the score was the same after the two 15 minute extra time periods.

In the wild shootout, Germany prevailed to 6-5 to move on to the semi-finals on Thursday against the winner of today's Finland-France game.

Only one thing to do now . . .

. . . play a game of Swedish Kubb,
in the back yard

Aiki Parts gave me a Kubb set as a birthday present at Thursday night's BBQ at her home.

Mike and I had played it once back in 2010 in Hässleholm at a post-Hurricane game party and enjoyed it greatly.


Not to fear, we moved Jacob and Mary out of harm's way before starting to throw the sticks Jacob is holding.

Jacob decided to be my partner but I don't think he understood all of the rules.

Neither did Mike and I.


 Jacob's NRA inspired addition
to our Kubb game

 Nothing like a dip in the pool
after a hard game of Kubb

Well, actually, there is something else that works in this situation . . . 

. . . a Double-Double with Grilled
Onions at In-N-Out Burgers

I thought about their
100 x 100 but sanity prevailed

The Jet Lag attacked me again and I was in bed by 8:30 p.m.

Life is good.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A LONG Day of Travel

Friday, July 1, 2016:

After 66 days coaching and living in Sweden, it was finally time to go home to California.

Aiki Parts and Lotta Douhan

Lotta was nice enough as usual in offering to drive me at 7:15 a.m. to the Arlanda Airport in plenty of time to catch my 9:55 a.m. SAS flight to Los Angeles.

Aiki came along with us to keep us company.

Every EuroBall team should have people who work as hard as these to do in their constant drive to make American football a better product in every way.

Tack så mycket, ladies!!!

At Arlanda, checking in my bag, going through Security and Customs were all a breeze.

My check in bag weighed in at a ripe 22.05 kilos, easily under the allowable 23 kilo limit. Fortunately, nobody asked to weigh my carry-on bag that weighed a robust 19.4 kilos.

Net effect, everything that I packed arrived in California safely.

That's my route and . . .

. . . that's my gate

We departed on time and even landed 25 minutes earlier than scheduled! The total flight time was now a mere 11 hours and 55 minutes.

At LAX, the lines were short and I was out on the street fairly quickly.

Jacob was at the Los Angeles
International Airport (LAX) early

Back Home!

I was in full Poppo mode
almost instantly

Jacob had a lot of private issues
that he wanted to discuss

At my Mother's home,
a battle was raging 

Many died in combat 

Jacob seemed to like his
new Team Sweden jersey 

Breakfast in the Stockholm area,
Dinner at Camarillo Cronies

Again, THANKS to everyone in Sweden who helped make my stay a fruitful one and THANKS to Laurie, Mike and Jacob for picking me up at LAX!

Finally, THANKS to my Mother for making us a great Welcome Home lunch as well.

I'm going to bed.