Tag Archives: Orange COunty

Balboa Pier: Newport

I do not live in a beach town but as Californians we are required to visit the beach regularly. When others in our environs learn we are headed to the beach they unfailingly ask, “Which beach do you go to?” This is not worded, or meant, as an inquiry to this instance, but rather a broader declaration.

I refuse to declare a beach affiliation.

But we did recently visit Balboa Pier in Newport. It was nice.IMG_4723

“It was nice” is no sort of manifesto. It isn’t even a resounding endorsement. But the place was in fact “nice” and if you please I will now walk backwards into a more meaningful review.

You can park all day for $10.IMG_5719

California doesn’t mess around with those silly beach tags like New Jersey. The beaches are quite literally a “free for all”. Whats not to like about that. Nice, right?IMG_5648

The Pier itself houses the original Ruby’s Diner. Not a culinary powerhouse by any means but an Orange County staple none-the-less. You can eat your burger while sitting on the rooftop deck watching the sun set over the beach. That would make anything taste great no matter who cooked it.IMG_5727

If cold water and waves that break right on the sand aren’t your favorite you can always head for the boardwalk.  There you are treated to arcades, shaved ice, and carnival style rides like a bucking shark. Who doesn’t want to ride a bucking shark?IMG_5591

None of us wanted to ride the bucking shark but we did ride what was marketed as “possibly” the longest Ferris wheel ride in the world. It was indeed lengthy.IMG_5647

 

With full bellies we were ready to test the scientifically proven tale that one must wait an hour after eating before swimming to avoid certain drowning. We thought it a safe place to test this tale since there were at least 7 million junior lifeguards on the beach for summer camp. I found myself wondering how many 9 year olds it would take to save me if I were to go under for the third time.IMG_5721

Turns out I am too naturally buoyant to find out. No loss. I’m satisfied stating that Balboa Pier in  Newport is Nice.

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UC Irvine: the Anteaters lose an imaginary game, why not.

Orange County has long prided itself as one of the birthplaces of “cool”. Irvine is in Orange County. The “OC”.anteaterdoors

You have to be comfortable with yourself and your position in the world to call yourself the Anteaters. UC Irvine are the Anteaters.pennant

The name doesn’t draw from some storied past, the school was only founded in 1965, but rather from a student body vote in which the runner -up was “none of the above”. But California is known for being new and bucking convention.bridgepath

Walking around campus I never saw the school’s three Nobel prize winners, they were likely busy in labs somewhere, but I did see lots of students. They milled about on lawns, on paths, and brutalist styled libraries and commons. It is easy to notice students at UC Irvine, there are almost 30,000 of them.library

But on this fall day what made these students stand out was what they were doing.

I have never read a single Harry Potter book. I am OK with this.quiddich

After watching what was obviously a game of Quidditch (there was no announcer or stadium to help me realize this) and understanding that I am of a different generation than these students, I rushed home to share my experience with someone who is more in tune with today’s college kids; my 9 year old daughter.

I came in the door, pulled the picture up on my phone and said, “Hey 9 year old daughter, look what I saw today!”

“What is that?”

“What do you mean what is this? It’s kids playing quidditch!”

Without a smile or even a nod of appreciation she stated as fact, “That is not how you play quidditch.”

“Come on, I know they have to pretend a little, but this is real life. Look they figured out how to play it in real life. You don’t think that’s cool?”

Her reply came immediately and at a rapid fire pace:

“No. For quidditch in real life you need a stage. The brooms are connected to a series of ropes and pullies that allow them to move both up and down as well as slide across to the other side of the stage. Bludgers are hung from ropes in different places so they can swing around hitting people or getting hit by players with clubs….” She kept going for a minute or so more without breathing and in an indignant tone. I had no idea what she was talking about but it was obvious she had thought this through in detail.

I have learned that when in conversation with someone who knows a lot more about a subject than you do, it is best to just shake your head and listen.

Hey anteaters, get ready to shake your heads and listen because someone in your neighborhood has a bone to pick.statues

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