We picked up a few flyers on our way to Las Vegas, including one for the Haunted Vegas tour and show. We didn’t get around to looking it up, but we didn’t quite need to.

The South Coast Hotel* is so new that they’re still building things like the swimming pool. Being new, lots of things didn’t quite work right. The 42″ wide-screen TV was stuck on with no picture, so it glowed faintly in the dark until I unplugged it and plugged it back in. The water was so soft that you couldn’t rinse off in the shower. One drawer in the dresser just wouldn’t open.

The most bizarre was the whistling. Our first night in town, we noticed a whistling sound like water rushing through pipes, or like someone trying to blow across the top of a bottle. We figured someone in the next room over was taking a shower, but it kept going. The noise stopped when we opened the door, then started again when we closed it. Standing barefoot near the door, I could feel the air rushing in underneath it. It turned out the air pressure in the hallway was high enough that the air rushed in through the door jamb, creating a constant whistling sound.

So we blocked the jamb with a towel every night and slept soundly. But it wasn’t just our room. Every time we walked down the hallway, we could hear the sound coming from other doors as we passed them.

*We finally found out why it’s called South Coast when it’s hundreds of miles from anything resembling an ocean. (The Salton Sea doesn’t count.) The company also operates the Barbary Coast, Gold Coast, Sun Coast, and several other casinos in the city. The new one is farther south than… well, anything else in town, so: South Coast.

The Santa Ana winds are back. I spent a considerable amount of time last night wondering just how strong the glass is in our windows, particularly the big sliding door onto the balcony. We had several brief power outages, the first just long enough for us to head for the flashlights and convince us to not turn the computers back on, the rest lasting only a few seconds each, but plenty long enough to set all the digital clocks blinking again. Three cheers for battery backup in alarm clocks.

The drive to work was… interesting. First we saw one of the apartment complex’s flags had been knocked over, the pole sheared off at the base. Then there was the cop directing everyone away from a nearby street (we couldn’t see anything down there, but we figured maybe a tree had fallen across the road or something). Then there were huge fallen eucalyptus branches by the side of the road, and a number of young trees that had pulled their stakes down with them as they went. At one point traffic slowed to a crawl, until we passed several police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance, and a four-car accident in which a smaller car had hit an SUV from behind, actually pushing the front end underneath the SUV. (And just yesterday we’d been talking about the dangers being in a small car in a collision with an SUV.) After I dropped Katie off, I had to avoid a large tree limb that had fallen into the right lane.

On the other hand, I think all the tumbleweeds went last November.

Despite what you might believe, tumbleweeds are actually quite common in suburban Southern California. They often grow by the side of the freeway, occasionally getting picked up by the wind and bouncing across cars.

Never is this more noticeable than during the Santa Ana winds, which seasonally sweep out from the desert to the coast, blowing over trees, knocking out power lines, and sending the smog out to sea. (Unfortunately, by the second or third day, all the dust from the desert has taken its place.) The two of us got some great shots from the most recent Santa Anas which hit during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

Tumbleweed by the side of the road.
A tumbleweed seeks relief at a fire hydrant.

Downed tree in parking lot.
Even a support stake couldn’t keep this tree up.

Tumbleweeds in the *middle* of the road.
Hey! Get off the road! (Yes, tumbleweeds can get that big.)