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après le déluge

Six days of wet weather were coming to an end this morning when John and I left the garden with its pockets of standing water and did a little grocery shopping. We weren’t far from the San Diego River, and we’d heard it was running high. With the storms clearing and being more curious than cautious today we headed over for a look.

The estuary where the channelized river flows into the Pacific flowed with more water than I’ve seen in it. The ducks took to it like…ducks to water.

Heading east, Friar’s Road was down to one passable lane.

We stopped at a couple spots. The first was the YMCA, where the parking lot was being claimed by the river. Stairs led into water where ordinarily they deposit you onto dry land.

Most dramatic was this schoolbus. I’m sure it was empty at the time the water rose, but it’s a pretty awesome indicator of what nature was doing.

Stop #2 was Fashion Valley Shopping Center. People look at its siting–on the banks of the San Diego River–and sometimes wonder whether placing it there was such a good idea. Today, right about the time these pictures were taking, the river was cresting at the highest level it’s reached since 1980–the highest water level in a generation. The parking garages were partially submerged. Underground parking became underwater parking.

Access into the mall shuts down from one direction whenever the river runs high. Today there was only one way in and out of the mall.

All the sights until now were pretty amazing, but being good consumers we were almost more shocked at this sight: two open parking spaces. On December 22. In the middle of the day, during prime shopping hours.

And just as shocking was this: Inside the mall. Where’d all the shoppers go? Let me remind you it’s still December 22…

Well, that was pretty much the end of our expedition. Our holiday shopping was pretty much complete except for the kinds of things that don’t grow in shopping centers. So it was back home, where the standing water in the garden was starting to drain. Will we remember this freakish week once the sun comes out and all the relatives descend?