Archive for November, 2004

Gas stations from the past!

I received a very interesting surprise a few weeks back when I filled up my car at the independent gas station on 4th and Tustin in Santa Ana. I pulled in, noticed the old-style pumps, and went up to the window, where I was asked the if I’d already filled up. Already filled up? Being from southern California, that’s a really strange question. I answered no, handed him my $20, and went out to fill up my tank. As I was walking out, he said “Just make sure it doesn’t go over twenty”.

What did all this mean? Was this attendant trying to tell me that his station was a “pump before you pay” location? That people could steal gas like they do in small towns in Washington? And that I was on the honor system? This works fine for an upstanding citizen like me, but what of everyone else? Amazing how a little thing like that can make your day more interesting.

So, readers, are there other stations like this one in Orange County? Or even LA and surrounding areas? I’d never seen one, but I don’t travel the county much looking for new service stations. Is theft a problem? I’d assume not, since we’re all on the honor system every time we go into a restaurant and pay after we’ve eaten, and those locations don’t have many people filling up then running out. Is there anything else like this around?

Election Leftovers

Bumper stickers are everywhere this election season, but when I saw this set I couldn

A Circling Storm


To get the best picture of the storm, you need to visit a weather site and look at the animated satellite images. The rain and snow comes out of the Gulf of California, circles counterclockwise over Arizona into Utah, crosses the Mojave Desert, and then comes down over the Orange. Here on the fringe of the Santa Anas, I am right at the western edge of it. From here the clouds follow the coast to San Diego and disappear — as far as American eyes are concerned — into Baja to revisit the site of their nativity.

When you watch it, it looks like a very slow moving hurricane. Right now, the winds which tore down the branches and knocked over the trees yesterday have stopped. The clouds you see in the picture are coming towards me, contrary to the usual pattern.

More on the snow…

As has been mentioned, it snowed in Orange County. As Grant and I drove to lunch on Sunday (so nice to meet those who came), we too noticed the white peaks of Saddleback. After we left the Spectrum, we decided to try and get to the snow.

We took El Toro until it turned into Santiago, then took a right on Silverado Canyon. I’ve never been back there, and was shocked to find so many homes. It really did feel like my car had been picked up and placed on the road to Big Bear.

Anyways, towards the end, there was quite a line of cars, and it began to snow again. Silverado dead-ends at a ranger station and has many hiking trails. We finally parked off the side of the road and walked back to the start of the more wilderness area. Within a few feet, there it was snow!

Now, given, there wasn’t actually that much snow and on our way, a few of the locals were out, befuddled/amused/ticked off at all the people driving out to their neck of the woods just for a bit of melted snow; but still, there was *snow* in Orange County. We trudged around a bit, crossed a stream, etc. (wearing jeans and converse, naturally) and headed back home. Here are a couple more pictures, taken from my camera phone (the first is of me, being cold, with snow in the background; the second is where we turned around):

Snow in the OC?!

This morning I wandered down to meet with some of the other Orange County Metrobloggers. As I passed Jamboree on the 5 sounthbound, I looked to the left and saw — wait, what’s that white stuff. Too close for San Jacinto, wrong direction for the San Gabriels — is that snow on Saddleback peak?!

A little later in the afternoon, I took a few more pictures from the Spectrum after the clouds had lifted a bit. You won’t see this everyday in Orange County!

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As I was leaving my home in Laguna Niguel this afternoon I was stunned to see the effects of our little storm. Driving North on Moulton Pkwy the clouds of many shades of grey draped the Santa Ana Mountains providing peaks of a surprising dustng of snow all the way down to the foothills…a rare sight indeed. I’ve seen snow on Saddleback in the last few years, but never so low. The temperature was a low 50 degrees at noon and made it a great day to wear a scarf, boots and my favorite newsboy hat and pretend I was somewhere where they have a real winter.

Dozens of trees with shallow roots from living in the grass parking strips where they receive only sprinkler water, lay like fallen soldiers along the road, with scattered eucalyptus branches decorating the highway. In typical SoCal winter style, the few remaining hills were brightened by the vivid green of winter rye and perhaps the promise of profuse wildflowers to come.

I remember when I grew up in Orange County in the 50’s. Living in a post-WWII housing tract in Anaheim, I would walk to school in the winter and see the mountains covered in snow, but by afternoon I would be dragging my heavy jacket behind me in the warm sun.

We had orange groves down the street still, with 1920’s houses in the middle. We loved to explore and play hide-and-seek in the groves and brave the wrath of the old man who, suburban legend held, would threaten neighborhood children with a shotgun if he found them trampling his irrigation furrows. I never saw him, but it gave us all a thrill to imagine the danger.

They had smudge pots in the groves then, so that when frost was threatened they would light them to keep the oranges warm at night. I don’t remember the last time frost threatened Anaheim…perhaps there is too much concrete, asphalt and stucco that keeps things heated up. Of course, there are no orange trees to worry about, so a little frost is hardly noticed.

You can still find orange trees in the hills of North County and along Portola Pkway between Tustin Ranch and South County…just like the old days…at least for a few more years.

Score One for This Orange County

I’ve been going at it with my old friend Chari Daignault of Orlando Metroblog over who has it better living where. It’s the usual sort of California vs. Florida rivalry — one Orange County against another. She’s got a leak in her basement and I say she shouldn’t have built on a swamp. She tells me that at least her OC went for Kerry. And so forth.

The biggest tease, of course, concerns hurricanes vs. earthquakes. Most Californians I know prefer their earthquakes to the now four or more hurricanes that hit Florida each year. It’s been a long time since this Orange County felt a Big One (knock on wood — there’s a lot of it around as you’ll see in a moment), so we like to laugh and laugh at the weather problems of Floridians.

Early this morning, we got some weather. Lightning followed within seconds by thunder that blasted Portola Hills so hard that car alarms went off. Then rain. When that disappeared, wind began to fall off the sides of the Saddleback. Not a gentle breeze, but a fierce gale gusting up and over fifty miles an hour. The kind of invisible arm of nature that does this:



New Leadership

OC Metroblogs Captain Jason Cosper has stepped down for personal reasons, but remains a valued member of our writing team here.

His position has been filled by me, Joel Sax.

In the email that I wrote to the team when I assumed this role, I said:

Orange County presents many views. So far, we’ve seen a decidedly liberal slant. This does not have to be. As facilitator, I am here for everyone regardless of political affiliation, philosophy, creed, or ethnic background. The blog exists to reflect many points of view. The only requirement is that the subject matter be happenings and sightings in Orange County. Use your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, and your fingers to tell us about life here in the Orange….

We do not have to share political or cultural opinions. Diversity is our strength. I have written unkind things about Dana Point. You have every right to love Dana Point. My politics are left. You may be on the right or in the middle. You may not want to write about politics at all. I won’t give permission, per say, because I am not assigning you your articles. I am a facilitator, a helper, not a dictator. Choice of subject matter is entirely yours. As a member of this team, you have the right to discuss nearly anything you please as long as the subject matter pertains to life in Orange County.

Consider today to be a fresh start for all of us. I ask you to look around at where you live. There are many Orange Counties ranging from the homeless who amble around the streets of downtown Santa Ana to the soccer moms who sip Long Island Iced Teas in the baronial estates of Dove Canyon. We have beaches, we have mountains, we have chaparral, we have bike paths, we have subdivisions, we have slums, we have gated communities. None of us can talk about all of it: this is why we have several commentators. Consider your values, your views, your sense of place. What clubs are good to visit? What parks do you linger in? Where can we get good Peruvian food? What are your local politicians up to that is bad or good? Feel free to make up different questions and write answers to them. What is Orange County to you today?

The challenge our writers are rising to meet is to unabashedly show the Orange County we know. If you want to be part of our quest to talk about the Orange as it matters to us residents of Orange County, click here. There’s still space for new voices and new eyes behind the camera. Think about joining us.


Might I ask, what is with the fog this morning? I haven’t seen this thick a fog in years, and normally it doesn’t cover all of OC, just patches here and there. When I was passing by the Angel Stadium I could not see the Big A from the 57 freeway. And the other part of driving in fog on the freeway is that it is slow. Most people don’t look more than a car or two in front of them, so not being able to see anything a few hundred feet in front of them shouldn’t be an issue and they shouldn’t have to slow down. But they do, so I’m sure most of us were late going wherever we were going this morning, I know I was.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

Talk about a team with an identity crisis.

The Anaheim Angels are in the midst of causing a fan uproar in Orange County as they consider changing the name of the team from Anaheim (which originates from the German immigrants who founded the city) to Los Angeles (the name of the original expansion team). According to the OC Register and the LA Times, Arte Moreno is possibly doing this to expand the market for the team, much like the New York Yankees, but towards a Latin America market.

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