Dec 13-28 - Christmas Time
We arrived at the 1000 Trails Wilderness Lake Preserve a couple of days early, as there were winter storm warnings posted for the higher elevations, and therefore we wanted very much to be at a lower elevation. Wilderness Lakes is just south of Sun City, just off I-215. It's a very nice place, marred only by an adjoining dairy farm that lends a certain air to everything when the wind is wrong. Fortunately, neither of us smell very good (you know what we mean), so the aromas weren't particularly off-putting.
The plan was to be at Wilderness Lakes until Dec 23, then leave the motorhome there and fly to Seattle to spend Christmas with the family at Puget Sound. We'd then return to California the day after Christmas, giving us a day to recover before heading to Pasadena for the Rose Parade Rally. The plan worked very well.
The Wilderness Lakes Preserve was full of pleasant surprises. Just across the interstate is a brand new shopping center with a brand new Red Robin burger place, so we patronized them for dinner our first night. Next day (Sunday), we drove a few miles south to Temecula and attended Grace Presbyterian Church, a very nice church. That afternoon, the church hosted the holiday concert of the Temecula Valley Chorale, a choir of about 80 singers. It was a wonderful concert, culminating in selections from the Messiah. They even had a harp!
On Monday the 15th, we finished up what little Christmas shopping we had to do and mailed off the things that needed mailing. And just in time, too.
You know that 50's song "It Never Rains in Southern California"? Don't you believe it.
Monday evening the winter storms came. It rained hard for two days - almost 4" of rain. The mountaintops all around were snow-covered, and were quite beautiful. All the moisture enhanced the aromatic qualities of the dairy farm. And the park started running pumps to try to keep most of us above water. The weather forecast kept mentioning "flash floods".
After the storms were past, we were returning from picking up our mail when Judy spotted a sign on an RV just down the "street" from us - our friends from Reedsport, Dave & Audrey McDougald were parked just a few spaces away! Dave & Audrey have been full-timing for about a year longer that we have. We spent some time visiting, had dinner at their "house" one night and we took them to dinner at Red Robin one night. We were introduced to their Nintendo Wii game system (who knew?) and Judy proved to be a natural at it.
We had reservations to fly north to Seattle for Christmas, and when the Seattle airport shut down on Dec 21 because of miserable weather, we started getting anxious. But on Tuesday morning, the airport was open, the planes were flying, and we drove to the Ontario CA airport and flew north into winter, staying at Jan & Denny's place for a few days.
We arrived to the news that Judy's brother John wouldn't be coming - Starrlette had been hospitalized (complications of everything), was on life support, and the doctors were not holding out much hope. The next morning, John called to say that Starrlette was off the life support, was largely awake and aware, and was communicating. By Christmas day, she was eating her own food and starting to complain. After that news, the rest of the holiday was pretty anti-climatic - but still very nice.
Christmas was supposed to be around 35 people, and was supposed to ping-pong between Jan & Denny's and Lauren & Paul's place a few miles away. But the weather wasn't done misbehaving, some folks didn't make it, and the contingent from France brought a nasty European bug with them. So we had separate celebrations - one in our "well" house, the other in their "sick" house, hoping not to cross-contaminate. We survived the illness threat, although many others eventually succumbed. It wasn't the Christmas everybody had expected, but we did get to see almost everybody and had a most delightful time. We never did see the twins Lauren and Lisa - but we did get to see all of their kids. And Ira and Anna were able to make it up from Portland, so that was good.
The day after Christmas, we flew back to sunny California, where we crashed for a day before moving our motorhome north about 75 miles to the parking lot of Santa Anita Race Track, where we would live for six days while participating in many activities, culminating in the actual viewing of the actual 2009 Rose Parade. You can read about the Rose Parade in our 2009 adventures.
There are about 40 pictures in our slideshow for this leg of our trip, most of them from our family Christmas gathering. You'll find them here.