Cabrillo photos

Without further delay, here is a photo blog about my recent trip to California… (insert drum roll here)

First off, this was the first time I’d flown jetBlue. Just as RN had promised, it’s a most excellent airline. DirecTV, plentiful snacks (for free!), and a staff that makes you feel human, this is the best domestic airline. It’s a shame that all of my miles are on American…

When we arrived in Santa Cruz late that Friday night, we were greeted at our hosts’ home by these balloons by the driveway.

Our hosts, the Hansens, were absolutely wonderful people. Carrie and Howard, and their grandson Philip who was visiting, couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating and warm. There was always a fresh pot of coffee awaiting me in the morning, whenever I happened to finally roll out of bed, and Carrie’s hot yeast rolls were just about the tastiest roll I’ve found. (And just ask my sister — I love a good roll.) Sadly, I ate all of the rolls before I could photograph them.

On Saturday, we got up and headed to the auditorium in Santa Cruz for my first Cabrillo event: a panel discussion, billed as “lunch with the composers.” From left to right, this is Libby Larsen, Kevin Puts, Marijn Simons, Marin Alsop, Stuart Wallace, and me. As you can tell, Marin was being her typically insightful, funny self…

After the panel, AEJ and I hopped into our rental car (more on that later) and started our drive down the coast, en route to our new place in Los Angeles, which we had yet to see in person. The drive down the Pacific Coast Highway is stunning. I had no idea that places this beautiful existed in California, or anywhere in the US…

Much of the drive was foggy, but it made it even more dramatic. Unfortunately, much of that is lost on my camera.


Did I mention that it’s pretty?

This is from another part of the state (not by the ocean), but it’s still a nice picture.

Um, those are seals. AEJ thought they were great fun. (Don’t worry; they’re just resting.)

After 9 hours of driving (the PCH takes a long time, when you can only go about 30 mph most of the time), we arrived at our new home! AEJ unlocked the door…

The place is great. One room is a bit smaller than we’d hoped, but other things were even better than we expected — like the view from the massive 400 square foot deck:

It’s nice at night, too.

That’s our rental car. We went to a special place that rents hybrid vehicles, hoping for the Civic hybrid (they don’t rent the Prius), but all they had was this Ford Escape Hybrid.

For an SUV, this thing rules. It had a ton of power, and didn’t have any problem getting over the mountains on the drive down to LA. Loads of pickup (great for passing on the two-lane highways in the middle of nowhere), and got great milage for an SUV. At around 30 mpg, it’s no Prius, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the 19 mpg we could have expected in a standard SUV. It was a lot of fun to drive.

While in LA, we had two celebrity sightings. The first, at a restaurant in our new hood, was Giovanni Ribisi. This made sense to us, considering our neighborhood. (It’s “Indie,” we’ll say. But good Indie, not lame Indie.) The second sighting was Tate Donovan, currently playing the role of Jimmy on “The O.C.” Tate was parking his BMW SUV in West Hollywood.

On Tuesday morning, we got up bright and early (who knew that 7am even existed?!) and drove back up to Santa Cruz in time for my 3pm rehearsal. (We didn’t take the scenic way back, cutting the drive time almost in half.) Here’s Marin, rehearsing “Redline Tango” for the first time. The piece “clicked” pretty quickly, and by the second rehearsal, they sounded great, and it only got better from there.

One afternoon, AEJ and I went on the “17 mile drive,” a scenic drive around the bay. At one point, AEJ found these pine cones and branch on the ground. She thought they seemed awfully risque. Dirty, dirty mind… (I assure you she didn’t place them like this.)

At one point on the drive, it seemed like I should pose for my upcoming Christian Rock album cover. Well, you know — just in case.

I don’t play golf, but I’d almost consider it when the course looks like this.

And this.

AEJ made a friend on the drive. This is Brad, the sea squirrel.

We saw this house, which we covet. The view out all of those windows is of the bluff and the ocean.

Here’s the lone cypress, or whatever they call it. It’s pretty out there, all alone, but I kind of felt like they were cheating, because somebody had built a support wall around it to prevent it from falling over.

Oh, we’re not done being tourists yet. Next up: the Santa Cruz Boardwalk! We had a tasty lunch of fish & chips (which appear to be floating) and Pizza Hut pizza.

For only 4 tickets each (which converts to about $3), we went on this spooky haunted ride. If we want to scare our children about the dangers of smoking, this sign should do it.

The ride was one of those things where you sit in a little cart on a track, and it slowly takes you through a dark series of twists and turns where things bounce out at you. Ever wonder what those rides look like when exposed to harsh, bright lighting? Well, thanks to flash photography, I found out. Look out for the creepy spider!

Watch out for the scary mechanical ghoul! Oh, and the spooky fuse boxes!

To calm ourselves after the terrifying ride, we had Dippin’ Dots. Yummy, and colorful — but why does the chocolate flavor look so pale?

I’m a wuss about rides. I wouldn’t even ride this one — meant for toddlers.

At night, the boardwalk is quite pretty.

Back in town, we saw what appear to be the mass graves of Santa Cruz. They claim it’s a construction site, but it kind of creeped me out — almost as much as the Spooky Ride.

The concert was Saturday night, and it was awesome. Apparently, when I introduce my music — and when I work with an orchestra — I get a bit excited. In the lobby after the concert, Marin suggested that perhaps I should cut back on the coffee.
Back at the house, the Hansens had left us a bottle of Champagne. They really couldn’t have been nicer hosts. AEJ did the honors of opening the bottle.

It was just about the most perfect 10 days in a long, long time. It was an honor to get to meet and work with Marin for the first time. I loved this orchestra, and their enthusiasm for the piece was more than I could have hoped for. Now I need to write another orchestra piece so they’ll have me back…

But first, I have to go pack for this move to LA!


R says

Looked like a great time. I knew you'd like Santa Cruz. Where are the In N' Out pictures? BTW, love the Christian rock picture, looks like you're ready for "Faith + 1"

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