Texas Grey to California Gold

By HOWARD BERGER

ANAHEIM (Nov. 26) – In my experience travelling throughout North America, there is nothing so spectacular as a late-autumn afternoon in southern California. Though I spend most of each summer in the San Fernando Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, the glorious weather is infinitely more appreciated at this time of year, when things are cooling off back home. A grey, windy morning in Dallas gave way to absolute perfection here in Orange County – experiencing a heat-wave for late-November, with the mercury hitting 84 degrees on Saturday afternoon.

 

The Maple Leafs chartered here from Dallas immediately following their shoot-out victory over the Stars on Friday night. The club skated for about 40 minutes at the Honda Center earlier today, preparing for the finale of its four-game road trip against the Ducks tomorrow (Sunday) evening – a 6 p.m. face-off out here; 9 o’clock in Toronto.

 

Please enjoy my photo-log, below, from a terrific holiday weekend in SoCal:

 

 

LOW CLOUDS AND A 40-MPH WIND WERE LEFT BEHIND WHEN I TOOK OFF FROM DALLAS-FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT EARLY IN THE AFTERNOON (ABOVE) ON A NON-STOP AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT TO JOHN WAYNE-ORANGE COUNTY AIRPORT IN SANTA ANA, CALIF. THE TRIP TOOK TWO HOURS AND 50 MINUTES.

 

 

THE HIGH-DESERT OF CALIFORNIA, AND ITS COMMUNITIES, WERE EVIDENT AS THE FLIGHT NEARED THE LOS ANGELES/ORANGE COUNTY AREA.

 

 

 

 

DESCENDING OVER-TOP THE MOUNTAINS EAST OF LOS ANGELES (ABOVE AND BELOW) WAS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD ON A CLEAR, CLOUD-LESS AFTERNOON.

 

 

 

 

AFTER THE RAIN OF EARLY-NOVEMBER, THE MOUNTAINS HAVE SPROUTED A FAIR AMOUNT OF GREENERY, AS EVIDENCED ABOVE. THESE HILLS ARE UNIFORMLY DESERT-BROWN WHILE BAKING IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER.

 

 

ON FINAL APPROACH TO JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT, THE FLIGHT PASSES OVER THE CITY OF SANTA ANA, JUST SOUTH OF ANAHEIM. THE BASEBALL HOME OF THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS CAN BE SEEN AT FAR-LEFT IN THE ABOVE PHOTO; THE WHITE-TOPPED HONDA CENTER, HOME OF THE ANAHEIM DUCKS, IS TOWARD MIDDLE-RIGHT.

 

 

IT WAS A TREAT TO LAND AT ORANGE COUNTY AIRPORT, WHICH IS MUCH CLOSER TO ANAHEIM AND FAR-LESS CHAOTIC THAN LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL (COMMONLY REFERRED TO BY ITS CODE LETTERS L-A-X), LOCATED 45 MILES NORTH.

 

 

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND TRAFFIC WAS LIGHT AS I RE-ACQUAINTED MYSELF WITH THE DIZZYING NETWORK OF FREEWAYS (ABOVE AND BELOW) HERE IN THE L.A. AREA.

 

 

 

 

THE STRIKINGLY-BEAUTIFUL HONDA CENTER GLOWED BENEATH A DEEP-BLUE CALIFORNIA SKY, AS EVIDENCED IN THESE PHOTOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A STATUE OF WILD WING, FROM THE MIGHTY DUCKS MOVIE (AND THE HOCKEY CLUB’S ORIGINAL LOGO WHEN JOINING THE NHL AS PART OF THE DISNEY CORPORATION IN 1993) ADORNS THE SIDEWALK OUTSIDE SOUTH ENTRANCE OF THE ARENA.

 

 

RUST-COLORED SEATING INSIDE THE HONDA CENTER (ABOVE) REFLECTS THE BUILDING’S EXTERIOR. LAVISH, GREEN-LEATHER CHAIRS (BELOW) HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE FIRST LEVEL OF PRIVATE LUXURY SUITES IN THE OPULENT ARENA.

 

 

 

 

SEVERAL LEAF PLAYERS SKATE IN THE WATCH OF ASSISTANT COACH ROB ZETTLER.

 

 

HONDA CENTER – ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS THE ARROWHEAD POND OF ANAHEIM – WAS THE FIRST NHL ARENA TO FEATURE MARBLE-TILING ON THE WALLS OF ITS MAIN CORRIDOR, AND THOSE LEADING TO THE SEATS (ABOVE). THE PRESS BOX AND BROADCAST LOCATIONS CAN BE SEEN ACROSS THE ICE IN THE PHOTO BELOW.

 

 

 

 

FROM A 10th-FLOOR BALCONY OF MY HOTEL – DIRECTLY ACROSS STATE COLLEGE BLVD. – IS ANGELES STADIUM OF ANAHEIM (ABOVE AND BELOW).

 

 

 

 

THE ORIGINAL HALO-SCOREBOARD OF ANAHEIM STADIUM – AS IT WAS KNOWN WHEN IT OPENED IN 1966 – NOW RESTS IN A PARKING LOT BEYOND RIGHT-FIELD (ABOVE). A FEW HOURS LATER, THE SETTING SUN CASTS AN ORANGE GLOW OFF THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE BALLPARK (BELOW).

 

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