45 years ago today my 16-year-old mind and body awoke in the dark at the usual time to find things amiss. The wood shingle roof was making popping sounds. My mind needed some explanation. It’d been hot. Perhaps rain was falling on the tinder-dry shingles, causing them to expand dramatically, thus the popping. Feeling confident of this explanation, I continued getting dressed to head out the door for my morning cross country workout with the other devotees on the team.

I was wrong. What unfolded from that point on irrevocably impacted my life and the lives of those living in the other 28 or so houses destroyed by the landslide in Laguna Beach’s Bluebird Canyon. My mother, for example, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, was raising two teenaged boys. My soon-to-be stepfather living with us wasn’t quite yet 30. Several single elderly women owned houses in the neighborhood in the town now known for astronomical property values but which at the time was the epitome of modest. I don’t recall anyone being wealthy. Regardless, everyone faced a new challenge in a real estate landscape about to blast off: homelessness.

Life, as they say, as if they thought nobody would understand this if they didn’t say it, is full of surprises. I couldn’t have known then what a chukar was, for example. I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d end up living on a golf course, or that I’d be a school teacher, or a professor, or a bagpiper, or a brewer, or someone who failed to appreciate avocados until after he left the home whose landslide swallowed the two big avocado trees (and my brother’s surfboard) that supplied my mother with gallons of guacamole she did not try very hard to convince me was delicious.

And today on my way back to the truck after a hunt I found a very weathered $800 at the base of a bush . That was a surprise.

Another surprise is coming. Stay tuned.

Oh, birds seem to be surprisingly plentiful so far this season.

6 Replies to “Landslide”

  1. Bob, first off, I’m guessing you found someone’s shotgun. Been there, done that. One year I hunted Chelan Butte for chukars and propped my gun against the berm as I loaded up. I made it to Cle Elum when I realised what I had done. I sweated the drive all the way back over Blewett Pass and up Hwy 97, then up to the butte. And it was still there, my beloved Model 12

    Secondly, I remember that landslide very well. I was living in Orange County at the time and my older sister and her two young sons were living in Laguna Beach at the time. She was attending the art school there. They were safe, but I recall what a disaster it was. Glad you all survived!

  2. Hi Bob ,
    Your story made me think for a while ,life is full of surprises ! Like me leaving home Istanbul some 46 years ago ending up in England then United States of America and chasing our own native birds Chukar and Huns here in the beautiful West. Lol what a journey !
    The season must open earlier then in Idaho then Oregon , here is second Saturday of October . Leo is 4 years old in his prime ,can not wait to hunt him .
    The numbers are up here too ,good news.
    Cheers .

    1. A journey indeed. I’d like to hear more of your story. I have very fond memories of Turkey, especially Erzurum, which I’m sure had lots of chukar nearby, although when I was there (1994) I had no idea what a chukar was!

  3. Bob every time you write you surprise me. If I understand your numbers you are in your 60’s. I always thoght of you as maybe 35 or 40. Last time the surprise was that you were not hunting grouse the day it opened. Glad you are back after the dogs and the mountains.
    I am 80 and no longer go to the steep country, but I still try to find a stray chukar or hun on more level ground. I do not get a chance at very many, but each one is a trophy to remember.

    1. Thanks again, Robert. I always appreciate your comments, and like the emphasis on the one. I’m glad you’re getting out there. The nod to summer we’re getting this week is spectacular (even more spectacular than my sage allergies, which are epic this year for some reason!).

Chirp away

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