The waves were brown for several reasons. The main one was that on Thursday, February 14, there was the worst winter storm in 40 years, according to a security guard at North Coast Village. I stayed in the condo, watching as palm trees bent almost double in the wind, and the waves brought in debris from places near and far. Branches, a couple of entire trees, all kinds of garbage and unidentifiable objects were hurtled onto the shore in what became an approximately 10 feet wide and 4 feet high barrier. Apparently, the main source of contamination is raw sewage dumped in the ocean near Tijuana. The mess was still being cleaned up when I left: bobcats at work and huge garbage disposal bins.
The rain came in sheets, causing all kinds of havoc including flash flooding, closed streets and accidents on the freeways. My daughter had cautioned us to avoid driving in the rain because people down there do not know how to drive in rain! About 3.5 inches of rain fell in Oceanside that day, and when the soil doesn’t absorb moisture, that is a problem. In what Californians call the mountains, 10 inches fell and some of that was snow. I only ventured down to the parking garage to make sure my rental car was not submerged; fortunately, there was just a small amount of water on the garage floor.
For me, the weather was incidental once the worst of it had passed and it continued to be cool with periodic showers over the next few days. After wearing the same red cardigan for 12 days, I did notice the fact that it hadn’t warmed up. My reason for being there was to spend time with my granddaughter—and her parents too, of course—and to help celebrate her 6th birthday.
Packing for a couple weeks in Southern California is always a crap-shoot. I have learned to take one set of clothes for very warm weather and one set of clothes for very cool weather. I learned to do that after one September when I had to buy a sundress and spend most of my time sitting under a fan when the temperature sky-rocketed. Fortunately, the condo where we stay has laundry facilities so I only need to pack one carry-on bag.
But, this past two weeks I certainly didn’t need to worry about a sundress! At the same time, Doug was home coping with bitterly cold weather and plowing and shovelling every day as the snow continued to accumulate. We split our trips to California this year so one of us was home with Hayley.
Our Calgary family joined me for eight days, and the three grandchildren had a great time at Disneyland. My favorite rides are still a couple of the originals: the teacups where my two granddaughters kept us spinning by turning the wheel as fast as they could, and the roller coaster named Thunder Mountain.
Back in Oceanside, the kids had fun playing in the sand on the beach before the big storm, and on the playground and in what was accessible and uncontaminated of the sand after the storm. The harbour area was quickly cleaned as it is a city-owned beach. The area near the condo was the worst in terms of debris. There was still a definite brown line near the horizon beyond which was what looked like cleaner water. Needless to say, there was no swimming or wading.
My granddaughter spent February 18th, our Family Day and the U.S. Presidents’ Day, with me and had her first sleepover. On our walk to the pier, she was invited to play in the sand along the sidewalk with a couple of little girls. Their parents told me they had moved to Oceanside eighteen years ago from near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The father explained that he worked repairing hail damage on vehicles and basically followed the hailstorm path in the spring and summer. He starts work in Louisiana and Texas and then moves on to the Midwest United States. He was curious about our hailstorms in Canada but would need a Visa to work here. When I asked, I was told that there are never hailstorms in Southern California.
Three days later, San Diego had some hail. My daughter drove in it on her commute home, and she knows hail. The fellow sitting beside me on the plane home was out for a walk after his conference sessions ended for the day and got caught in the hail. He’s from Edmonton so he knows hail. All we got in Oceanside was huge raindrops which I thought might turn into hail, but stopped short. As I drove my granddaughter home, we saw a full rainbow—the first one she remembers seeing.
“Seems it never rains in southern California … but girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours…” And, yes, it did hail for a few minutes one day in February 2019.