Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holidays Merriment in Ventura County

Despite the horrific devastation of the Thomas Fire to first the northern part of Ventura County and now the southern part of neighboring Santa Barbara County, the Holidays were upon us and everyone needed a break from the sad news.

When I arrived back in Camarillo last week from our fun coaching week in Texcoco, Mexico, the first stop as always was to Camarillo Cronies for a quick bite to eat with Laurie.

During our meal, one of Cronies two owners, Chuck Diego, stopped by our table to say ciao and visit for a spell.

He mentioned that the annual Cronies Christmas Party to the following Monday, December 18th. The only problem with the rescheduling was that he was now without a Santa Claus as his usual Santa was booked somewhere else on that date.

Who could Chuck find that was
fat, jolly and a bit dashing
in a red suit on such short notice
to fill this chair?

Heck if I know, but a week
later here was a Santa that
filled the bill!

 Santa making a plea to the kids and
their families for chocolate chip
cookies on Christmas Eve

 The kids were happy seeing Santa
and getting a stuffed toy

I, errr, Santa only frightened one little boy on the night so I guess that made for a successful evening as these things go.

 The parents were happy
with free photo ops

As can happen once all of the kids in attendance got their toys and photos taken, the adults could not resist photos with Old Saint Nick.

Mrs. Claus was a vixen

 Group shot with the Cronies Girls
was a big hit with Santa if no one else

Dave Foldes and Chuck Diego
The Co-Owners of Cronies

Two really good guys, I thank them for being a part of this fun evening at one of Camarillo's landmark institutions.

Wednesday was the day of the Santa Clara Elementary School Annual Christmas Pageant.

The kids performed twice, once in the morning and again in the early evening.

Jacob and Mary
in the morning

This year we opted for the evening performance.

Santa Clara Church looked
spectacular for Christmas

Jacob is one of the shepherds
in the front row

Jacob, top row, second from the left

 A happy shepherd exiting
the church

With our shepherd Jacob

Mike, Vanessa and Jacob

Vanessa is also Jacob's kindergarten teacher. Mary was at Vanessa's parents' tonight as they had attended the morning performance.

After the Pageant, we walked about a block from Santa Clara Elementary School to Oxnard's famed F Street Christmas Lights.

The people who live on this street go above and beyond getting into the Christmas Spirit with amazing house and lawn decorations.

 At what are these two looking?

 Why at a HUGE train layout
in someone's front yard

I liked this one

 A bit more ornate

 Jacob thought that I was
the snowman on the left

Family time is always good times indeed!

Reading Is FUNdamental

A page turner, I liked it

Being a Cuban-American and having visited Havana last Spring made it a fun read for me.

I highly recommend it to you.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Boys ONLY Weekend in Las Vegas, "Whatever Happens in Vegas, STAYS in Vegas!"

At Thanksgiving Andy, Mike and I had a discussion about getting grandsons Kevin and Jacob together more often as they always have a great time playing together.

Thus we came up with the idea for a Las Vegas boys only weekend during the Las Vegas Bowl weekend in December.

It really didn't matter who was playing, we just wanted a good excuse for a road trip to the Las Vegas home of Andy, Jenn and Kevin.

We gave Jenn a special dispensation to join us on a limited basis for some of the festivities.

We wound up getting
an interesting matchup

The Boise State Broncos (10-3) were the champions on the Mountain West Conference while the underachieving University of Oregon Ducks (7-4) were representing the PAC-12 Conference.

Our driving strategy was simple, Mike and Jacob would drive over to our house and we would leave at 8:00 p.m. to avoid most of the Los Angeles traffic and thus arrive in Las Vegas at about 12:30 a.m. on Friday.

Before leaving for Las Vegas
Jacob just had to add another
ornament to our Christmas tree
in Camarillo

 Early Friday morning these
two truant rapscallions
were quickly at play

 They did not stop for a second
all day long!

 Lots of costume changes

While Jenn supervised the boys, we
went out to get and bring back lunch

The Road Kill Grill is a
GREAT BBQ/Butcher Shop

 We came home to a marauding
band of space bandits

Jenn was thirsty and bound to a post when we walked into the house but she should be ok in a few days.

Christmas Gift Exchange
as they won't see each other
during the holidays

Game Day breakfast from McDonalds

 Game Time!

Kevin and Jacob were ready!

Nothing beats tailgating in the sand
and rocks of Sam Boyd Stadium's parking lot

 Touch football was a must

Three generations of Contreras boys
were glad to be together!

With Mike, Kevin and
camera shy Jacob


"Death before dishonor," a lesson that he must learn soon.

With Andy, Kevin and Jacob with
Sam Boyd Stadium in the background

Pile on Andy!

Tailgating done,
it was on to the stadium
National Anthem

Air Force Flyover

Multiple faces just before kickoff

Boise State in blue on the goal line


A Grandfather is supposed to buy
cotton candy for his grandsons


Jacob nearing his Sugar Coma

 Kevin fully engulfed in
his own Sugar Coma

Beautiful Desert Setting

The boys starting to revive


Arm Wrestling?

Why not?

 View at the end of the game

Our Boys

It was no contest really as Boise State beat Oregon 38-28. 

The game was no where near as close as the score might indicate. Only two Oregon defensive TDs in the final 37 seconds of the first half, an 86 yard scoop and score followed by a 100 yard interception return for six points, made the game appear close.

Still, it was truly a BEAUTIFUL day for American football!

Post Game?

Why the Bass Pro Shop of course.

The boys wanted to see the
gigantic Bass Pro Shop
fish tank

They were impressed.

Back home again, it was play
time again deep into the night

 Sunday morning with
Jacob and Kevin

 Having a good time at breakfast
at the nearby Metro Diner

Hugs goodbye

It was as awesome a weekend as I had hoped it would be, can't wait to all be together again soon.

We opted to leave Las Vegas right after breakfast to avoid sharing the I15 Freeway with thousands of other weekend Vegas trippers.

After about 45 minutes, Mike and I quickly discovered that one member of our traveling party needed to use the nearest restroom facilities.

The town of Baker offered us the needed facilities. 

 The Alien Jerky Store
had a restroom . . .

. . . and Aliens too

The Aliens seemed to come
in peace

Jacob was refreshed but still wanted another adventure before returning to home base.

Thus we pulled off the freeway near Yermo to see the World Famous Calico Ghost Town.

I had seen the signs for the Calico Ghost Town every time we had driven to or from Las Vegas but had never pulled off the freeway to see it in person.

Calico, it turns out, is a once in a lifetime experience.

And only once . . .

We found it

It had a bit of a Knotts Berry Town
feel to it

It turns out that the Knott's family had a big hand in the 1951 restoration of Calico which was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town.

Besides the $86 million in silver that this area produced, another $45 million worth of borax was also mined around these parts.

At its peak, Calico had a population of 1,200 souls with 22 saloons, a China Town, a red light district and over 500 mines in the surrounding area.

 The town fire station

 Downtown Calico

 We could all use a good bath

 The Maggie Mine Tour

Jacob deep in the
Maggie Mine Shaft

Close quarters


Surveying Calico
from high above

On the lookout for possible
thieves and cutthroats

 Taking a peek

Now Jacob wants to be a miner

 At the Calico schoolhouse

We had a fun time poking about Calico Ghost Town but it was time to head on home.

We listened to the Rams-Seahawks game on the radio driving across the remaining desert.

10-4, First Place in the NFC West

The Rams are two games up on the Seahawks with two games left, what a season we're having!

Meanwhile, pictures from Mexico keep rolling in from many different sources . . .

Good Looking Team!

Warriors hitting the field

Country Pride . . .

. . . Lots . . . 
. . . and LOTS of National Pride

 Captains with Mexico's QB

Center Manuel Schabel

OL Lenny Kistler
getting knuckles from a ref

 DE Duarte Faria

 Punter/WR Oskar Wypych

DB/Captain Pablo Araya

The pit during a Mexico PAT

 Swarming on Defense

 Hailing the Mexico crowd
after the game

QB Moritz Riedinger

 More swarming

DB/Mariachi Singer
 Tobias Witaliz

He had an awesome game for us, easily our Team MVP on this warm Saturday. 

Saying GRACIAS to the crowd

WR Danny Carroll
United Kingdom

K Tyrone Erasmus and
WR Lander Imbimbo
 Both from the United Kingdom

Reading Is FUNdamental

I found it a bit tedious
but still a good read

On to the Christmas/New Year's Holidays!