Saturday, December 29, 2012

San Diego's Holiday Bowl, Friends and Another Christmas

 On The Road Again

On Thursday, Mike and I left Camarillo bright an early for what proved to be a smooth and easy drive down the coast to beautiful . . .

San Diego 

It is truly one of America's greatest cities and I always enjoy our time there. The San Diego harbor's Seaport Village is a great place to spend a sunny, warm December day.

 Cool Tree

Our reason for the excursion was, as usual, football related.

Jack Murphy Stadium

I know that it is now officially Jack Murphy Field at Qualcomm Stadium but it will always be "The Murph" to me no matter how much money a big corporation throws at the City Fathers.

We were in town for the 35th Annual Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl that yearly matches a PAC-12 team versus a Big-12 squad. 

The PAC-12 Representatives

The 9-4 UCLA Bruins were the best team in the PAC-12 South Division this season.

First year Bruins Head Coach Jim Mora did a marvelous job in bringing marked improvement and much needed toughness to the Westwood campus this season.

Since I earned my Masters Degree at UCLA, I was rooting for the Bruins all the way. The fact that I had picked them in my Bowl Pool may have entered in to my decision to back UCLA as well.

The Big-12 Squad

The Baylor Bears finished the 2012 regular season with a deceiving mark of 7-5.

The Bears had won their last three games including a 52-24 shellacking of #1 ranked Kansas State in Week 10. Even without RGIII at QB this year they were still putting lots of points up game after game averaging 44.1 points/contest.

But first . . .

DELICIOUS Tailgate Food 

One of Mike's fellow teachers at Newbury Park H.S., Curtis Scott, had invited us to join him and his brother's family for some grub and grog in the stadium parking lot before the game.

As it turns out Curtis' brother, Randy, was one of my students in the early 1980's at Westlake H.S.

With our tailgate host Randy Scott 

I may be rooting for the Bruins but I'm a Husky at heart.

We were busy socially before the game as we also needed to hook up with two Rio Mesa H.S. luminaries before the kickoff.

With Dick and Greg Bellman

Dick was a fellow teacher at RMHS and Greg was both a stellar student and basketball player for the Spartans. We shared a few beverages and swapped tall tales as usual.

Before entering the stadium, Mike and I opted to use the Port-a-Potty one last time and got into a slow moving line of about ten people. We struck up a conversation with a group of young Baylor fans who got behind us in the queue.

As it turned, out they had all just finished their Senior seasons playing football at NCAA Division I-AA Stony Brook University in New York. I asked them what they were doing in San Diego and their response was simple enough. Besides the obvious football connection, one of them was named Jordan Gush and his Father, Jim, is the Baylor linebackers coach.

I told them how I was currently coaching in France and away we went. After about ten minutes they were all ready to join EuroPlayers and start their new careers overseas.

Small world . . .

Smaller world still!
Mike with John Castellanos

We entered the stadium, proceeded to our seats and we were pleasantly surprised as out of 55,704 people in attendance we were seated next to John Castellanos who coachs and QBs Mike's Ventura County Hogs football team.

John was also our oldest son Andy's first Pop Warner football coach with the Camarillo Roadrunners. 

Me with "Big Daddy" 

Richard was always known as, simply, "Big Daddy" when he lived in Ventura and we coached together at Buena H.S.

I don't think he ever had a last name but his place in Ventura County history was cemented when Cronies Sports Grill named their GIGANTIC pastrami burger after him, the infamous Big Daddy Burger.

Big Daddy lives in San Diego now and it was good seeing him after all of these years.

Navy Seals Parachute Landing 

Let the pre-game festivities commence!

 A HUGE American flag is a must

Baylor on Offense

The newspapers all billed this as being an offensive shoot out.

They were half right. 

Bears on the Goal Line 

Baylor came to play, UCLA came to watch.

The Bears raced out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back. At halftime it was 35-10 Baylor with the Bruins mounting no real threat to the team from Waco.

The final score was 49-26 in favor of Baylor, as the Bears rolled up 494 yards of offense. The key stat for me was the Bears defense being able to hold UCLA's offense to a paltry 33 yards rushing.

Good job Baylor!

Friday morning, we decided to slowly make our way home.   

First stop,
San Diego's Hillcrest District

Why you ask? A good breakfast of course.

The City Delicatessen

A good, solid breakfast every time we go there.

Got to keep this tree warm
in these cold temperatures

 Monkey in a tree?

We HAD to visit the
Hall of Champions 

For some reason, we spent a long time in the football wing of the museum.

San Diego Semi-Pro Football

This form of our beloved game was big in San Diego before the 1950s. 

The 1960 Original Eight of the
American Football League

The Chargers moved to San Diego in 1961.

The Raiders moved to Los Angeles for a few money grabbing years before returning to Oakland.

The Boston Patriots are, of course, now the New England Patriots.

The Titans are now known as the Jets.

The Houston Oilers moved and are now the Tennessee Titans.

Finally, the Dallas Texans moved to become the Kansas City Chiefs.

 Prices have gone up slightly

 The 1960 Los Angeles Chargers

They have been rumored to be returning to L.A. for years now.

Charger Coaches Sid Gilman and
Don Coryell had a big hand in this

Two of the All-Time Greats at QB 

Don Coryell
A truly great offensive mind 

HUGE Onesie? 

The Chargers 40 Year
Anniversary Team 

While this museum has lots to see, we were disappointed at its upkeep and maintenance.

About half of the video displays that simply asked us to push a button to see an interesting story did not work. One had only wires sticking out from a hole with no push button at all.

In the baseball wing, an area dedicated to "active" San Diego area major leaguers had pictures and stats on each one posted. Very nice except that some were no longer active and all of their current stats ended with the 2006 season.

It could be so much better.

Next up, the bumper-to-bumper drive home with a stop in Newport Beach to visit our long time college friends, Loren and Sandy Brucker.

 The Three Car Ferry from
Balboa Island to Newport Beach

Another Ferry arriving
as we leave the dock

Three ferry boats are in operation at all times across the bay.

Mike lazing on the Ferry Crossing 

With Loren Brucker 

A Balboa Bleu Cheese burger at Ruby's Diner at the end of the Balboa Pier is another must do thing when in Orange County.

We saw Sandy for a bit at their home before circumstances made it an all guy lunch.

The Oreo mint chocolate milkshake was nice.

Seeing the Bruckers was great!

Once back in Camarillo, it was time for another Christmas. It appears that it got so late on Christmas night that young Jacob had to go home before opening all of his presents.

You mean I get more gifts?


This is FUN! 

 A little help please, Dad


 Talk to me

Jacob in Action

A wagon!
For me?

Cool Football Hat

Another great two days in Southern California thanks to football, food, friends and family.

Life is GOOD!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Camarillo - Christmas III

(One Last Time)

Christmas Day 2012, was spent at home in Camarillo with Laurie and my side of the family.

I brewed up some delicious
French Vin Chaud . . .

. . . and proudly displayed our new
French flag ornament that my
sister-in-law Gayle gave me

The Pre-Game Meal 

Two new members of the
French Underground? 

That is my sister Linda with Laurie. They are at the nerve center of all Contreras family gathering meals.

The Star of the Show

Laurie was our Christmas Elf

My sister Marilyn with Jacob

Our niece Lauren and Jake

Great Aunt Linda was
up to the challenge

My Aunt Katica being entertained 

 Great Grandma Chuny enjoying
Jacob's company

Linda and her new red scarf from
La Maison des Canuts in Lyon

He is such a scene stealer 


Vanessa was trying to hold him back but to no avail.

Can you guess who might be
the subject of Mike's photo?
A well deserved dessert at the end
of a long day cooking

Two guys just hanging out 

Linda, Chuny, Marilyn and Katica

To review, that would be my sister, Mother, sister and Aunt. Another great Holiday gathering of the clan but we missed Andy, Jenn and Kevin for sure.

Now it is time to relax for a day before the next adventure as Mike and I invade San Diego Thursday for the Holiday Bowl game between the 9-4 UCLA Bruins of the PAC-12 Conference and the 7-5 Baylor Bears of the Big-12 Conference. It should be fun!