Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Thursday, January 5, 2017

12-31-2016 An End and a Beginning

Current Location: Catalina Spa and RV Resort, Desert Hot Springs, California

We have settled into a familiar space here in the desert on Eleventh Street in the older 30 amp area of Catalina Spa and RV.  Mt. San Jacinto is shrouded in heavy dark clouds and the wind is blowing, but here we are bathed in sunshine.  A far cry from the heavy snows that are pummeling southern Oregon at the moment.  Daughter Melody keeps sending pictures and updates, and it does the trick.  I don’t complain a bit about the drippy days or the cool weather here in Southern California.

At last I have a day with no busses to catch, no events to go to, no shared gatherings to attend, except for the dog park perhaps.  Nothing on a schedule at least, and I do hope to get completely caught up on the last few days since the New Year began.

I do love a marching band.  All parades should have marching bands in my opinion, and sometimes small town parades can’t manage to include local bands, and without them a parade is much too quiet.  I knew that one of the highlights of this rally would be visiting BandFest, a three day event that included many of the prize winning marching bands from around the world that would be marching in the Rose Parade 2017.

Even the cloudy morning and threat of rain wouldn’t have kept me from joining our group at the grandstands of Pasadena City College to see the performance.  To say it was breathtaking would be an understatement.  Each performance was better than the last, with the final show by the Pride of Broken Arrow band from Oklahoma so far over the top that we watched in utter disbelief at what we were seeing.  Marching bands are NOT what they used to be.  I marched in the Azusa High School Band as a member of the drill team, competed at state wide events, but never saw anything like this.

The beginning of the show seemed almost normal, but as each band appeared, with more and more instruments, and more and more choreography, it was obvious we were seeing performances that would never make it to the street for the official Rose Parade.  I took a lot of videos with my phone, a Samsung Note 5, which replaced the old iPhone last summer.  Little did I know that every single one of those videos would be recorded vertically and require video software and lots of time to convert to a horizontal view.  Very frustrating.  I also did do a couple of facebook Live videos, which were great, but with gazillions of people attempting to access the internet at the same time, by the time Broken Arrow took  the field, the internet was completely unavailable.

All I can say is that if you like marching bands, check out this video of the Broken Arrow High School Marching Band to get a taste of what I am trying valiantly to describe that is really beyond words. Just watching the long line of marimbas, xylophones, pianos and other instruments rolling onto the fields was a bit of a surprise.  I have never seen a marimba in a marching band.  Of course, the marimbas were not part of the official parade, since they probably wouldn’t roll down the pavement very easily.

These guys not only played perfectly, they did it while marching backwards, doing crazy gymnastic moves, and balancing on low rider bikes while playing.  It was just beyond crazy, and incredible to watch.  No video or description can even come close to what it was like to experience in person.  I would say that if you plan to go to the Rose Parade, make sure you spend the time and $15.00 to attend at least one of the performances, each of which highlights different bands.

The predicted rain never appeared, although by the time our bus returned to the fairgrounds I did have a fairly deep bone chill going on.  Time to get back in jammies for a bit while waiting for the afternoon snacks that would hold us until our evening festivities.

It was a bit of a distance to Fontana, and the Center Stage Theater, where we were treated to dinner and a live show.  The theater is a wonderful historic venue, first built in 1937 as a one screen movie theater, closed down after many years, limping along as the location of various organizations, including the Elks, before reopening in 2008 in its current form.  Since then, Center Stage has produced over 20 Broadway musicals, and 16 original productions.

(Just for fun, I didn’t try to get the red out of the photo.  We had red lights, red tables, lots of red and everything looked red.  Thought you might get a kick out of it.)

It was a dinner show, and as we were seated at the big round tables, we didn’t really know what to expect.  Our waitress came by asking for drink requests, informing us that she would be serving us throughout the evening, in between singing in the performance.  What? 

As the evening progressed, with excellent food, and the great company of our friends Nickie and Jimmy at our table, in addition to another couple, we laughed and regaled each other with stories.  Sitting next to Mo was Dot Bolton and her husband Mel, who were from Pacifica, California.  We had not met them previously during the tour. In the course of the conversation it came up that Mo taught PE, Science, and Health at Terra Nova High School for almost 30 years.  Dot Bolton’s kids and grandkids were students of Mo’s and remembered her well.  What a crazy small world we share.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures inside the theater or of the show.  Somehow my training with kids in theater had me thinking it wasn’t ok to do that, even though no one actually said photos were not allowed.  Thanks goodness Nickie was there with her trusty camera clicking away.  Once again I will have to send you over to Nickie’s blog to get all the inside scoop about this great dinner and show. 

Afterward, I shook hands with the actors, telling them that I had kids in theater and knew what it took to do a performance like the one we had just experienced.  It was amazing to have 8 people who never had a mis step or a  missed note, made us laugh and had truly fabulous voices, in addition to serving our dinner and laughing with us at the table.  So much fun.  We celebrated the New Year at 9pm, right along with the big ball in New York, much like we do at home. 

Back at the MoHo, we heard a few fireworks go off during the night, both before and after midnight, but no guns, and we wished each other a happy new year to come.

The next morning dawned gorgeous and sunny, and with predictions for no rain, it seemed like a great day to skip the long bus ride to LA, Hollywood, and all that tourist stuff, and go for a nice hike instead.  Jimmy and Nickie thought that was a great idea as well, and we jumped into our tow cars (2 cars required since theirs is a 2 seater and ours was full of stuff).

I knew of several different trails into the nearby San Gabriel mountains, not really thinking that the sunny New Years Day would make almost every trail completely inaccessible.  As a Girl Scout I hiked Monrovia Canyon to the waterfall over and over, and loved the idea of returning. What I didn’t expect was cars lined up miles before the locked gate into the trail head, and literally hundreds of people coming and going.

Thinking that maybe the Chantry Flats trails would be a bit less popular, we traveled farther west, up Santa Anita Boulevard to the winding road that leads to Chantry, another childhood favorite where I rode horses, and later took my kids for day picnics with friend Maryruth when we were young mom’s living in Arcadia.  Once again, cars were parked a mile or more from the main parking area, and we simply gave up on what seemed like a good idea at the time. 

The drive into the canyon was curvy and dramatic, with spectacular views across the San Gabriel basin and toward downtown Los Angeles.  It was worth it to see the views and then amble back to Pomona on the old Huntington Drive Historic Route 66.  I lived just a couple of blocks from Santa Anita Boulevard as a very young kid, and then later just two blocks from Huntington Drive, although in the 50’s it was not “historic” but simply route 66. 

We shared an early evening meal of chicken enchiladas with Jimmy and Nickie in their rig and spent the rest of the afternoon resting and trying to catch up a bit on all the activities.  It was a sweet end to the first day of the New Year to come.

The next morning we would get up at 3 to have a couple of hours to walk Mattie, eat a little breakfast, and be ready to board the bus by 5am for the big event of the rally, the Tournament of Roses Parade, 2017.