Early last Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed to stand by the road in the chilly morning air. After a short wait, who should step out of a shiny blue van but M, my brother who I had not seen in more than a year. He was on his way to do a two month endocrinology surgery placement at Yale, and kindly agreed to stop on the way.
After a short rest to unpack, relax, and begin the process of desecrating my room, T took us to the Huntington gardens and library for lunch. M seemed to appreciate the understated opulence of the place, which looked terrific on this crisp sunny day. We visited most of the gardens and headed for home, taking in the fall colours and neighbourhood. A quick siesta was followed by dinner and rehearsal.
Monday called for some serious cold weather clothes shopping, culminating in methodical raids of every department store between Lake St and Arcadia! I myself picked up a fine dark green skiing/mountaineering jacket. We sampled the caltech cafeteria for lunch, and that evening M cooked dinner and we duly conquered Echo Mountain. 26km was dispatched with barely a whimper; I also took the opportunity to test my new camera in dark conditions. I'm tempted to try a yellow filter to reduce light pollution, but it was otherwise excellent.
Tuesday brought mainly work, followed by an FD rehearsal that M attended, through frantic prep for a concert on Friday. On Wednesday we walked into old town Pasadena, saw the cheese cake factory and the museum of east asian art, as well as the rather impressive town hall visible in CBS' hit show The Big Bang Theory. That evening there was a huge windstorm that resulted in damage to nearly every tree in Pasadena.
An early morning walk revealed the extent of the carnage, with power out and roads blocked in every direction. I hired a car and we drove up highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway. M remarked on the steepness of the geologically young mountain range, and before long we were in Palmdale, found the local track of the San Andreas fault, performed the usual rituals, and located a place for lunch. Lunch? In-n-Out burgers. While a far cry from my badly missed burgerfuel, it gave M a taste of American cuisine.
From there the Aerospace highway took us north through the Mojave desert, to California City. A city designed to rival Los Angeles had roads and land surveyed for at least 100,000 people, but noone ever moved there. Today 14,000 inhabitants are lightly scattered about an enormous and barely used central park, complete with a large, duck-inhabited artificial lake.
In the day's dying light we zoomed north to the Red Rock Canyon national park, at the beginning of the Owens Valley. The setting sun blended with the natural rock formations, and after a quick jaunt through the day's frigid winds we turned around for home.
On Friday we picked up some amazing sandwiches from Roma Deli, then headed to Eaton Canyon with T and S. Many trees had fallen victim to Wednesday's winds, making for some interesting balancing problems. At the waterfall we climbed on the rocks a bit, tested my new geology hammer, then headed for home. I got dressed up, picked up some friends from Fluid Dynamics, then drove to Cal State, where we performed a few songs (Look Around, Don't Know Why, Break Even), then drove home. I started packing, then crashed on the floor, M having already grabbed the bed.
On Saturday we dusted the car, went fail-shopping for a warm hat, ate some left over food, then caught a bus to the airport. Why would I go to the airport? Stay tuned.
Overall a crazy busy week to catch up with my brother I hadn't seen in 15 months. We saw most of what Pasadena had to offer, with the exception of the insides of one's eyelids.