so after about a zillion and one delays (a lack of communication resulting in the ILs showing up pretty late, the hub's grampa deciding to go shopping until 3-freaking-15, the teen's friend(s) backing out of coming along, last-minute grocery shopping for snacks), we were finally packed up and on our way to colorado boulevard to camp out for the rose parade.
the teen and i were totally pessimistic about our lateness. i'd gotten text messages from amber that said folks were already lining up and chomping at the bit when she drove by at 6:30 that morning, as well as facebook comments from others reporting of massive crowds already set up. noon was the magic hour, and a solid four hours had already gone by before we were even on the damn freeway.
"we're SO not getting a good spot." - the teen, pouting
"it's going to be a freaking miracle if we get a spot anywhere near where we want to be" - me, grumbling
and all the while, the hub was quiet and rather moody (most likely annoyed as hell at the whole situation and our continued bitching about it). the bean was babbling and playing in her seat, the only one out of the group who was cheerful.
i blurted out "if we get a decent spot in old town, i'll bend over and kiss my own ass."
i would live to regret those words, not even an hour later.
the parking lot that we reserved the week before was just a block up from colorado, on pasadena avenue - right around the corner from my beloved paper source. the hub swung a loop, bypassing colorado and driving up pasadena to turn onto colorado from the west.
"i want to see what it looks like, and if we find an opening, you guys can get out with the chairs and we'll park the cars in the lot."
i was STILL convinced that we were completely fucked, but i shrugged my shoulders and went along with it. as we came up onto delacey avenue, he found it: a patch of open curb just south of colorado, perfect for setting up our chairs and waiting for 11:00, when the crowds would be allowed to reposition along the blue line painted a few feet into the street. and my mouth hung open in shock. i'm SO not flexible enough to bend far enough to kiss my own ass.
we pulled up across the street and stopped long enough to unload both cars, staking our claim with our chairs and piling all the other shit into them. i plonked the bean into one of the seats, and she was fascinated with the action and activity around her.
FIL peeked around the corner and spotted an even better opening, right in front of the entrance to tiffany's, and proceeded to move all of the chairs to our new location. we were right next to the traffic light, just behind a couple relaxing in their own chairs, reading the parade's program and enjoying some snacks. i immediately noticed the woman's camera, which looked identical to the one hanging around my own neck, and she saw me at the same time.
"hey, nice camera!" she said. and i replied, "i could say the same for you." we grinned at each other, and she said she'd gotten hers for christmas after coveting it for an entire year. she was taking pictures of everything in sight, and i was stoked that we'd be camping overnight next to a fellow shutterbug. they were a nice couple, up from mission viejo to see the parade for the first time, and we made plans together to move as a group up to that blue line at the crack o'11:00.
i relaxed into a chair with the bean as we got settled in our fabulously perfect spot. i mean, if i'm going to camp out on the freaking street, isn't this the perfect place for my super classy ass?
the streets were, indeed, crowded.
most of the businesses had taken precautions, anticipating a rowdy night, and boarded up all of their windows. some stores were open, and most of the places offering food and drink, but for the most part, colorado boulevard was closed for business. and i spied a camera crew directly across the street from us.
as it is every year, the parade route (especially the stretch across old town pasadena) was a magnet for folks to show off their cars.
and the peoplewatching was PHENOMENAL. i didn't take as many pictures of the awesomeness, but the teen, MIL, and i sure enjoyed the show. i mean, look at this chick's hair! it was even bigger and wilder up close.
and the plethora of chicks walking back and forth in skimpy outfits, bare legs, and strappy sandals was totally amusing. these two are pretty tame, but they were totally shivering and complaining about the cold as they walked by.
despite the cold, the teen and i decided to cross the street and grab some fro-yo from 21 choices. mmmmm.
the hub, who'd wasted no time in scampering off to the nearby cigar shop ("how convenient!" i exclaimed, as he gave me the cheshire cat grin), sent his dad to buca di beppo to pick up dinner for us. the teen used it to keep herself warm while we helped ourselves to the eats.
the teen and i created a makeshift play area for the bean, who wanted to stretch her legs a bit. she enjoyed her pizza too, and then had some quality time with her grandparents, who took her on a walk to see the sights.
not five minutes after they returned, the bean fell asleep in my arms. she looks like she's waving in that picture, but she's sound asleep. this kid loves to sleep with her arms stretched out over her head.
FIL loves me. after overhearing me wax philosophical about bacon-wrapped hot dogs from street vendors, he headed down the street and found me one.
as i happily munched on my meat-wrapped-meat, we watched a car pull up right in front of us. this dude hopped out, gave our group an irritated glance, and started complaining.
"yeah, we were here all day yesterday and chalked off this spot to save for the parade. i've got some chairs in my trunk that i wanted to put here so we'd have them tomorrow."
um, no, fool. FIL and i both piped up and told his ass "that doesn't count. no one was allowed to stake out a spot until noon today, and you can't just mark a spot with chalk and expect it to still be here if you leave."
"well, we were here till 11:30 this morning and we left because we have foster kids and they had to go to the bathroom."
[blank stares from all of us, including the couple from mission viejo]
"i'm not trying to start a fight here, but i've got foster kids, and they really want to see the parade..."
[continued blank stares]
finally, mr. mission viejo threw him a bone. "i'm not moving from this spot, but if you want to put your chairs over here, i'll watch them for you."
lame boy was relieved. "thanks, man." and he pulled three sad little chairs out of his trunk, set them up on the sidewalk, hopped back into his [illegally parked] car and took off.
i told mr. MV that he was far too nice. and he laughed and said "i just wanted to get him out of here. i'll keep an eye on those chairs, but i'm not doing anything else." heh.
about an hour later, the hub finally returned from his warm, comfy chair at the cigar shop and joined the rest of us out on the sidewalk. as he munched on cold pizza, a couple of police officers patrolling the area walked over and stood together, eyeing and pointing at the orphaned chairs. FIL, the hub, grampa, and mr. MV sidled up to them and joined the conversation, and i could hear laughter and snorts from their little group. FIL offered them sodas or water, which they declined.
i remarked to MIL, "it's just comical how our family always buddies up with the cops in the area." she just laughed.
the hub came back to report that the officers had come over to check out those chairs. according to the official rules (yeah, there are rules for camping out at the rose parade), you're not allowed to leave chairs just kickin' it, unoccupied, along the route at any time. not to mention, they were blocking the crosswalk - no bueno. so when the boys shared the backstory, the officers wasted no time in folding them up and putting them on the sidewalk, out of the way. one of them pulled out a business card, borrowed a pen from his sidekick, wrote something on the back, and handed the card to mr. MV.
"if he comes back and gives you any trouble about those chairs, you just give him this. he's lucky we didn't just take them to the dumpster." and with that, they walked away.
and on the back of the card? "don't leave your unoccupied chairs in the crosswalk." haha!
i got the stink eye immediately after i snapped this. oops.
we kind of just hung out, chatted, snacked, and laughed at various outfits being paraded by for the rest of the night. i was quite amused by the musclehead dude who drove by - alone - in his convertible mercedes (top down, of course!), clad in his tight ass t-shirt, with britney's "womanizer" blaring from the speakers. the best part? he was singing along. my cold fingers fumbled for the camera, but i was too late. oh, well.
and around 10, the family camped out in front of us decided it was bedtime. their portable dvd player'd crapped out, and without any extra batteries, they just stretched out on top of their tent (because you can't actually PITCH a tent there, so they just laid on it), spread blankets over themselves, and passed the eff out. with all the noise, i couldn't see how they could sleep, but sleep they did.
it got noisier and noisier and midnight drew near, and the bean ended up waking up - and staying up for a few hours.
at 11:00, we got the okay to move up to that blue line. it was amusing to watch folks scramble to get into position - one couple stood in the middle of the street for a good fifteen minutes prior, clutching a tarp and some chairs, just waiting for the stroke of eleven. with the bean nursing under a blanket, i kind of just sat there as everyone else moved our stuff up and reorganized.
the hub and his folks were rock stars. while the men did the majority of the work, MIL stood next to me to block me from the rude ass mofos who couldn't seem to see the high-backed chair i was sitting in and kept bumping into us. at some point, the teen got totally frustrated and snarled "maybe you shouldn't be drinking so freaking much" at the visibly intoxicated heffas who ran smack into my chair and damn near dropped their purses on my head.
and then we looked at each other and giggled our asses off. i love that girl so much.
the hub moved our chairs up to the curb, reclined them, set up the sleeping bags and pillows, and motioned for us to hop in. i was all layered up - tank top, long-sleeved tee, north face jacket, and sweatshirt - plus my wonderfully warm tall chocolate uggs. i got in that sleeping bag with the bean, zipped up the bag, and when the teen was snuggled into her bag, the hub threw about three blankets on top of us. i think we were the comfiest people all along that entire 5.5 mile parade route, yo.
my other concern going into this thing was being able to find a restroom that wasn't a port-a-potty. i despise those things. i'd rather piss on the side of the road than voluntarily go in one of those. so i was thrilled to hear from the hub that he'd found a great restroom nearby - in an office building nestled in behind a nail salon and next to his cigar shop. it was just around the corner, was relatively unknown to the rest of the crowds, and it was clean. yay!
eventually, the bean fell asleep. and as the night wore on, so did the teen, and then me too. it wasn't a restful slumber, though, as we were directly under a streetlight, folks were noisy as all hell all night long, and i kept checking on the teen to make sure she was okay. happily, we were all warm enough - in fact, i kept having to move the blanket off of the bean's head because she was a sweaty little monkey underneath her layers of clothing.
oh, and um - we were sleeping on the freaking sidewalk. yeah.
around 5:30, there was a parade of tow trucks down the street. a seemingly endless stream of them, all thinking it would be a great idea to blast their loud ass horns all the way down. the teen looked ready to kill, and i covered the bean's ears in an effort to keep her from waking up. it worked, at least for another couple of hours.
i opened my eyes around 6:15 to this.
the hub, grampa, and the ILs hadn't slept a wink all night. the hub was on patrol, making sure we were all safe, grampa was just restless, and the ILs found themselves not quite as prepared for the cold as they'd thought. they go every other year, but apparently, it was chillier this time than in previous trips. but as is their nature, they were all in great spirits as they returned from the coffee shop around the corner. that joint's management is pure genius - they're located a block south of colorado, but circulated lots of flyers and put up plenty of signs advertising their menu and the fact that they were open all. night. long. they offered coffee drinks, hot chocolate, sandwiches, chili, pastries - and the line was out the door.
mr. & mrs. MV found themselves being interviewed by a local news channel - their city's float was a trophy winner, so the reporter stopped to chat with them before moving on to talk to other spectators down the street. it just so happened that the hub's grandma and great-grandma were watching that particular channel, and grandma called the hub to report excitedly that she'd caught a glimpse of the bean on TV as the camera swung around. yay! but since we got home, i've been scouring that channel's website in hopes of finding the interview - to no avail. boo.
the bean and MIL practiced their parade waves.
and i made the teen take yet another picture with me. she smiled, but she was so irritated. ha!
this dude rode around on his official scooter and cracked corny jokes.
this car came rolling down the street, announcing that the parade was about to begin and reminding everyone to stay behind the blue line.
and then as this appeared in the sky, the first float finally appeared.
i heard later that this float snapped off some overhead wires just down the street from where we were sitting. luckily, no one was hurt.
cloris leachman, of recent "dancing with the stars" fame, was the parade's grand marshal.
as another float approached, i did a double-take and recognized cynthia nixon, sex and the city's "miranda," perched on the front.
as the rest of the float went by, i was amused to see that it was sponsored by vera bradley. i HATE vera bradley stuff. it's so old-lady and ugly. gross.
the skywriters returned time and time again to advertise shows on the CW network.
and we were treated to a fly-over by a stealth bomber. so cool!
the bean had a front-row seat in her daddy's lap, and was entranced by all of the sights and sounds.
i was amused at these folks, sitting on the roof high above the rest of us.
our mission viejo friends cheered their float as it...um, floated by.
this float, in honor of organ donors, made me tear up a bit. some of the riders held photos of their lost loved ones who donated lifesaving organs, and i couldn't help but think how bittersweet that must have been for them. i am always amazed at the strength and courage of others when faced with situations such as these.
the rollerskating bulldog(s)! we actually got to see one of them in action, while another rested in someone's arms.
not being an SC fan, i cheered and clapped when the penn state band and cheerleaders came by. i got a few dirty glances, but i didn't give a shit.
the city of huntington beach ("surf city, u.s.a.") is celebrating their centennial this year. their float was cool.
who doesn't love sesame street? okay, i'm sure a lot of folks don't, but i do. well, some of those elmo dolls are creepy as fuck, but whatever.
i don't particularly like jack in the box's food, but i dig jack.
the teen and i noticed a pattern: float, band, horses. float, band, horses. and so it went until the sheriffs on horses brought up the rear. a couple of tow trucks went by, and that was all, folks. as we stood up, stretched, and glanced westward, we were a little startled at the tsunami of grandstand ticket holders headed our way.
we packed up our stuff as quickly as we could, which the men took to the nearby parking lot. the hub came back to hit up the restroom one more time, and then we picked up the remaining chairs and bags and walked our happy but exhausted asses up the street, through the alley, and into the car.
within ten minutes, we were on the freeway doing 80+ mph. we greeted mollydog, cleaned up her shit-and-piss pads, and then the hub passed the eff out on the couch. the teen, the bean, and i took showers and cleaned up, and then the teen was picked up by BFF and family to go hang out.
dinner was chili's take-out, courtesy of the ILs. when they left to drive back up to wrightwood, the hub popped in a DVD ("the women"), which i got about halfway through before i finally crashed.
happy new year, indeed. and if you actually read all the way through to the end, you are my hero. i think i got bored about halfway through writing it.