Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 Holiday Bowl

San Diego is "America's Finest City," the city limits sign tells you. The City Fathers may be absolutely dead on.

On Wednesday, our son Mike and his wife Vanessa joined Laurie and me for the 175 mile drive in the pouring rain to San Diego to first meet with Jaime Lennox and Jillian Rambow, two of my Camino Saints and then to watch University of Washington play University of Nebraska in the 33rd Annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. We were in for some really good times indeed!

After checking into the Andaz Hotel in the Gaslamp District (THANK YOU PRICELINE.COM!!!), it was time for some food, so we walked and shopped our way to Dick's Last Resort. Now this fine establishment is not for everyone. While the food and beverages are excellent, the service is based 100% on the waiters and waitresses verbal abusing the customers. While it is all done in good natured fun, and frequently hilarious, the yelling and berating by the wait-staff can be nerve wracking if you are not aware of what is about to greet you when you walk through the doors.

What an eclectic place to eat and meet the Camino Saints.

At Dick's Last Resort with Mini-Me

With Ste. Jillian and Ste. Jaime

The Camino Saints were lovelier than ever, it was great fun to see them again and to finally meet Jaime's beau, Ruben.

Laurie with Nebraska's Herbie Husker

Unlike Euro Football, a.k.a., soccer, fans of opposing teams are actually quite civil with each other.

After a great night at Dick's Last Resort and a good night's sleep, it was GAME DAY!

A hearty breakfast at The Cheese Factory followed by shopping in Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp District and nearby Seaport Village dominated the morning.

Interesting Gaslamp District Architecture

After weeks of rain,
a GREAT day at San Diego Bay

The Nebraska Band enjoying Seaport Village

Finally, it was time to board the trolley for the ride to Qualcomm Stadium, a.k.a., "The Murph." We would join the Sabolics, the D'Antuonos, the Bruckers and the infamous Mark Johnson, plus thousands of purple clad members of Husky Nation to cheer on the Dawgs.

A Chilly Night in Mission Valley
California Cold, Not Sweden Cold

We were ready to see if Washington (6-6) could somehow avenge a 56-21 loss to Nebraska (10-3) back on September 18th in Seattle. From all accounts, the Cornhuskers completely dominated the Huskies in that first game as badly as the score would indicate. The Big Red scorched the Dawgs for 533 yards of Total Offense including 383 yards rushing in that early season match-up.

The World's Biggest American Flag?

Nebraska in White Warming Up

The Huskies came out in all black uniforms which I HATE!!!

". . . Mighty are the men who wear the PURPLE and the GOLD. . ."

Mike and Susan D'Antuono staying warm

It was 48º F = 9º C at kickoff, the coldest night in Holiday Bowl history and it would get chillier as the game wore on. Thank God we spent time in Sweden last winter!!!

The Girl From Goldfinger?

You meet the most interesting people at Husky games.

I was happy to see that the majority of the stadium was made up of loud, still believing, Purple and Gold clad Husky fans like this loyal lass.

All we needed now was a few U.S. Navy Sky Divers to land and we could kick off the game.

Well here they are!!!

Five in all. They were awesome!

Mike stuffing his face literally!

Our group fills up Mike's row and the one behind him. Thanks to Vanessa for taking a lot of these pictures.

We were all excited to see how our beloved Huskies would fare against the #17 ranked Cornhuskers in our first bowl game since the 2002 Sun Bowl loss to Purdue 34-24. We prayed that our current three game winning streak would propel us to a stunning upset.

This was the Dawgs fourth trip to San Diego's Holiday Bowl and we have attended all of them.

In 1996 Washington lost to Colorado 33-21.

In 1999 we lost again, this time to Kansas State 24-20 . . . lots of purple in the stands that night.

In 2001, we lost for a third time in San Diego, this time 47-43 to Texas.

Fourth time's the charm???

RB Chris Polk for SIX

Amazingly, Washington jumped on Nebraska early taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. RB Chris Polk scored a TD on a three yard run and always reliable Kicker Erik Folk added a PAT and a 39 yard field goal . . . the rout was on!!!

Although the Huskies only led 10-7 at the half, we all had the feeling that the Huskies were in total control of the game.

The Huskies #29 Nate Fellner intercepting
as the Cornhuskers #24 Niles Paul watches

In the second half, the Dawgs simply kicked butt. I can't really explain it, the Dawgs just came to play and regain the program's honor. The defense was magnificent in shutting down the vaunted Cornhusker offense which averaged 414.2 yards/game and 32.7 points/game.

Besides not allowing Nebraska to score in the second half, the Husky defense held Nebraska to only 189 yards of Total Offense and just 91 yards rushing. . . WOW!!!

The Huskies had 340 yards of Total Offense including 268 yards rushing. In the second half, QB Jake Locker would end the opening drive with a 25 yard TD scamper as Folk's PAT extended the lead to 17-7.

In the fourth quarter, the Huskies would add two more points to their total as a Nebraska lineman was called for holding in the end zone giving the Dawgs a safety.

A final score of 19-7 sounds fairly close but it really wasn't, the Huskies were in total control throughout the game as they enter the 2011 season with tons of momentum and confidence that a now four game win streak can give a program.

Four Happy Husky Fans

It was fun to share this great upset with my college roommate Loren Brucker, his son Ryan and our son Mike!

Next up for the UW is a home game on September 3rd with a very dangerous Division I-AA/FCS Eastern Washington (12-2) Eagles team that plays in that Division's title game on January 7th in Frisco, Texas against the Delaware Blue Hens (12-2).

I'm also very interested in the Dawgs' September 17th re-match game against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska . . . should be a lot of fun in the new PAC-12!!!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas week was busy and bittersweet. In the course of four days we said goodbye to Laurie's Dad, hosted Laurie's side of the family on Christmas Eve and my side of the family on Christmas Day. No matter the reasons, it was very good to be with family and friends during this Holiday Season.

Liduvina Perez and Linda Contreras

Liduvina is our daughter-in-law Vanessa's mother and Linda is my baby sister.

After the memorial service for Laurie's Dad, Bill Gardner, on Wednesday, many who attended came back to our home to offer support and tell great stories about Bill's life.

They were all greatly appreciated.

Dylan Moore and Jenn Contreras

Together they explore the wonders of the cell phone. Dylan is a bon vivant/gadfly about town, while Jenn is our daughter-in-law.

Dylan's Grandmother, Debi Murphy,
and Laurie

Family and friends. . . family and friends. . .

The Gardner side of the Family
on Christmas Eve
Lyndsay, Brian, Amy, Craig and Andy

Sisters Gayle Hicks and Laurie Contreras

Florene Gardner doing Parlor Tricks

Don't play with your food!!!

Zany is a good word for this group. . .

. . . Exhibit "A"
My brother-in-law David Hicks

Christmas Goodies

The "Who is the Shortest" Line
Sarah, Amber, Amy, Gayle and our winner. .

Our niece Lauren Wintroath with our daughter-in-law Vanessa

Christmas Day and more zaniness.

My Sisters
Linda Contreras and Marilyn Wintroath

Jenn and her bold husband,
Andrew Contreras

Michael Contreras as the
Ghost of Christmas Future

Two GREAT Holiday Chefs

Marilyn Partakes

Lorenzo is Lauren's beau,
Marilyn and John Wintroath

The Contreras Kids

My Mom, Chuny and my Aunt, Katica

Chuny, Andy and Jenn Contreras

Mike and Vanessa Contreras

Laurie and George Contreras

Mike Contreras' latest autobiography

Next up, a trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl game between Nebraska and Washington. We only lost to the Cornhuskers by 35 points back in September.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blogpost #1,000!!!

One Thousand. . . that's a lot of blogposts indeed!

On Friday, I had the privilege of presiding as a Deputy Commissioner for Civil Marriages at the wedding of our good friends Ben Todd and Krystal Garcia.

This was the fourth time that I've been asked to officiate a couple's special day. It never ceases to amaze me how honored I feel to be a part of a couple's wedding ceremony.

Ben and Krystal were married at the beautiful little chapel in Oxnard's Heritage Square.

Ben was on time for once,
where's Krystal?

Ben making his Vows to Krystal

No surprise here, he was quite eloquent while she was very passionate.

Mr. and Mrs. Todd

The Wedding Cake complete with two AWESOME Dia de los Muertes
wedding figures

A toast to Ben

The Wedding Cake First Bite Exchange

They were very civil with eachother during this tradition, which can become warlike at some weddings.

Good luck to two
very nice people!!!

Meanwhile, back on the football front. . .

The high school football season in California finally came to a close as the teams from northern California won four of the five State Bowl Games over the weekend in monsoon conditions.

2010 California State Championship
Bowl Game Results

Open Division
Concord De La Salle (14-0) 48
Anaheim Servite (14-1) 8

Division I
Palo Alto (14-0) 15
Corona Centennial (14-1) 13

Division II
Folsom (14-1) 48
Gardena Serra (14-1) 20

Division III
Escalon (14-1) 30
San Diego Madison (12-2) 14

Division IV
La Jolla The Bishop's School (14-0) 40
Stockton Brookside Christian (12-1) 14

Meanwhile, back in Sweden, the NorraSkåne newspaper ran a Johan Hammarqvist article on the equipment that we are shipping to the Hurricanes. You can read the always interesting English translation at:


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bill Otis Gardner

Bill Otis Gardner
1942 Los Angeles Polytechnic H.S. Parrots'
Single-Wing Quarterback

Bill was Laurie's father. He was a strong willed, opinionated and principled man who passed away on Wednesday, December 15th due to heart and pulmonary issues.

Though small in stature, he was an intimidating presence to me as an 18 year old boy beginning to court his daughter back in 1965.

His love and devotion to both of his daughters, all of his grandchildren and his wife, Florene, was always evident to me.

I mentioned his principles, Bill was a staunch Republican and a USC fan which, of course, was a constant source of somewhat good natured friction between us over the years. On the day he died, he still had a Ronald Reagan for President bumper sticker proudly displayed on his car!

The very last thing he asked me to do for him on the day he died was to take a bunch of his USC Trojan memorabilia which had been moved and replace it to its true place of honor at the top of a bookshelf that he could no longer reach. His request came with that little smirk he could muster anytime I had to do anything USC related for him.

Bill was quite a guy and we are all going to miss him, I just hope Ronald Reagan doesn't ask him for his opinion on anything.

Brazil Nuts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time to Catch Up

I have been neglecting the blog since Thankgiving, so let's do some catching up . . .

Camarillo Sunset

We are getting a lot of incredible sunsets this time of the year.

To wrap up the high school football season, the team that knocked us out of the C.I.F. Playoffs, Arroyo Grande H.S., really had a magical run after beating us 27-20. The Eagles would go on to defeat #2 seed Dominguez and #3 seed Chaminade before losing to undefeated Serra in the Western Conference Championship game. Serra is widely regarded as having more major college scholarship athletes on their team than any other high school in Southern California.

2010 C.I.F. Western Conference
Playoff Results
Semifinal Games
Serra 41 - Paso Robles 23
Arroyo Grande 52 - Chaminade 19

Championship Game
Serra 35 - Arroyo Grande 10

In California, we do not have a State Championship Playoff system. Instead, at the end of the season the best five teams from Northern California are arbitrarily matched up against their counterparts from the South based on enrollment and perceived strength.

Serra, who won our 2010 Western Division Playoff Championship and was the 2009 Division III State Bowl Game Champion, is currently riding a state best 29 game winning streak. They were picked to represent Southern California in this year's Division II Bowl Game.

2010 California State Championship
Friday and Saturday, December 17-18
at the Home Depot Center
in Carson, California
Northern California School Listed First

Open Division
Concord De La Salle (13-0) vs. Anaheim Servite (14-0)

Division I
Palo Alto (13-0) vs. Corona Centennial (14-0)

Division II
Folsom (13-1) vs. Gardena Serra (14-0)

Division III
Escalon (13-1) vs. San Diego Madison (12-1)

Division IV
Stockton Brookside Christian (12-0) vs. La Jolla The Bishop's School (13-0)

On the college football front, the Washington Huskies finished on a strong note, knocking off UCLA, California and Washington State to finish the season at 6-6 and bowl eligible. Our prize is a trip to the Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl in San Diego on December 30th against 10-3 Nebraska. This is Washington's first Bowl game since the 2002 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, a 34-24 loss to Purdue.

The Huskies played the Cornhuskers back on September 18th in Seattle and were barely beaten by Nebraska 56-21. This time we get them on a neutral field!

We'll be there rooting on the Dawgs to victory!

Also this Bowl season, Johan Hammarqvist's West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3) will play the North Carolina State Wolfpack (8-4) on December 28th in Orlando, Florida in the Champs Sports Bowl.

California Lutheran University, with very strong Scandanavian ties, recently celebrated St Lucia's Feast Day complete with young ladies sporting long, lit candles in their hair. For more information, click on:

Ben and Krystal, Cute Couple

We continue meeting with friends on a regular basis at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo. We are blessed with so many good friends all over the world as it turns out!

If it's December,
it must be Autumn in Camarillo!

We set an all-time record in Camarillo last Sunday, 88ºF = 31.1ºC for a high temperature. Still no snow in the forecast for us.

Occidental College

Last Thursday, I drove down to the Eagle Rock, the home of the Occidental College Tigers, to visit with some of their seniors and talk about the process of going to Europe to extend their playing careers.

Occidental Final Exam Study Time

I wonder if students were laying about like this studying on the grounds of Lund University in Sweden on December 9th?

Senior Tigers

We met for over an hour and had a good exchange of ideas, I really hope that they follow through!

The young man in the back row is Rocky Ciasulli. He is the Tigers' Wide Receiver Coach and a great source of Euro-knowledge for these players. Rocky has spent the last three springs playing football in Finland, Italy and Switzerland. He is going back again this spring to Germany I believe he said.

Good guy.

Donated Football Equipment

A BIG thank you to Laurie and her sister Gayle for helping me set up this picture that Johan Hammarqvist requested for an up-coming article in the NorreSkåne sports page.

Once again, the Hässleholm Hurricanes of the Swedish American Football Federation asked me to collect gear to help expand their program. This year the focus was on smaller sized gear to help equip the 40 or so young players who have turned out for the Hurricanes two proposed youth teams.

A total of 14 Ventura County high schools and two sporting goods companies responded to our request and donated helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys, pants, hip pads, thigh pads, tail pads, knee pads, face masks, chin straps and helmet repair kits!


Another Camarillo Sunset

Well, that about does it from sleepy Camarillo for now,