Nov 29 - Jan 5 - Happy Holidays
On the Monday after Thanksgiving, we drove north 94 miles from the 1000 Trails Pio Pico preserve (47) to "Stinkyville" - the 1000 Trails Wilderness Lakes preserve (48) a few miles north of Temecula, CA. Wilderness Lakes is a very nice RV park unfortunately located right next to a very aromatic dairy farm. There are many hundred cattle enhancing the atmosphere and attracting flies, which they generously share with the RV park. Fortunately, the weather was rather cool, thus greatly reducing the fly population and somewhat reducing the aromas.
We were are lucky enough to arrive just after a whole bunch of people had checked out after the Thanksgiving holiday, so there were lots of nice empty spaces to choose from. We picked one that backed up to one of the park's many lagoons, and settled in for almost 3 weeks. As you can imagine, the water attracts many birds, and those of us who feed them occasionally are quickly marked as easy touches. A half-loaf of bread will usually attract upwards of 50 birds - we spotted ducks, geese, coots, egrets and herons. The herons are the most belligerent of the bunch, trying to capture every piece of bread thrown. They're also smart enough to dunk the dry bread into the water to soften it before swallowing, something none of the others did. The birds were very talkative, especially the coots, and would tend to congregate in the shade of the motorhome for their mid-day naps. We got used to the strange mutterings coming up through the floor.
We've stayed at Wilderness Lakes several times, so we've pretty much done all the touristy stuff nearby. Most every day, we were able to ride our bikes around the many roads and trails within the park. We did do some last-minute Christmas shopping and assembled a box of gifts and some of our clothing to ship north, so we could travel to Christmas without checking any luggage.
Grace Presbyterian Church in Temecula is a very nice church, and we attended twice while we were there. One Sunday, we were able to attend the annual Christmas Concert of the Temecula Valley Master Chorale, an 80+ member singing group. The concert was held at the church, and very well attended. Helped get us into the holiday mood. We did a little shopping - replacing Al's well-used sport coat (as dressy as he gets these days) - and enjoyed the opportunities to eat out. As we were in an area that offers Mimi's Cafes, we ate there after church each Sunday.
On Dec 15, we packed up and drove back south to the Pio Pico preserve (47), where we ended the year. That Sunday, the Chula Vista Presbyterian Church presented their annual Christmas Cantata as part of the morning worship. They had a 15 piece Chamber Orchestra in addition to the 30 or so folks in the choir. Most enjoyable.
The highlight of our stay at Pio Pico, in fact the highlight of the whole month, was our trip north to Longbranch WA to spend Christmas with Judy's family at Jan & Denny's place. You probably read about all that rain and flooding in Southern California just before Christmas. We flew out of San Diego the morning of Dec 22, the day of the hardest rain of that storm series. We managed to get to the airport despite the downpour, although we threw a lot of water around when we hit submerged stretches of road in the pre-dawn darkness. Our flight north was without incident, unless you count our first encounter with the infamous airport security scanners. We were both duly scanned, and as we heard no alarms or outbursts of laughter from the screening room, we assume everything went well. At the Seattle airport, we connected with the airport shuttle, and Jan & Denny retrieved us from the Park 'n' Ride closest to their home.
Over the next couple of days, we were joined by Judy's brother John, her sister Joanna, and our son Ira. Ira couldn't stay through Christmas, so we had a mini-holiday with him. Daughter-in-law Anna was in San Diego having a rare Christmas with her father, home from Spain for the holidays. We had a great Christmas eve dinner (12 adults, 4 kids and one dog) and white elephant gift exchange at Jan & Denny's, and the next morning the whole gang reassembled at niece Lauren & Paul's for Christmas Day breakfast, the major gift opening, and another marvelous dinner. In between all the organized goings-on, we also managed to see the delightful animated film "Tangled".
We flew back south heavier than we arrived (the food was wonderful!) on Dec 28, and were not scanned at Seattle. The line we were in didn't have a scanner. We didn't object. We had a 3-4 hour layover in Los Angeles, during which we encountered Bradley Leighton. He's a San Diego based jazz flutist, who happened to have been born and raised in Longbranch WA. Turns out he'd been playing flute in one of the exhibits at the Oshkosh fly-in we attended back in July. Anyway, really nice guy. He does a summer tour that covers much of the country. If he's near you, try to hear him. If not, settle for some of the videos you can find on the internet. We've downloaded a couple of his albums and added them to our Ipod.
Home is good, and we enjoyed being back in our own bed. In addition to resting up from the holiday, we managed to see the excellent film "The Kings Speech". We're glad it received all those Oscar nominations. It's a wonderful film, well done and with a great cast. We had a low-key New Year's Eve, watching the ball drop at Times Square (9pm our time) and even stayed up past 10pm to see the guitar drop at Nashville.
And on Jan 5, we packed up and headed for Palm Springs to begin the New Year. But that's for our next report.
There are 42 pictures in our slideshow, mostly of and of interest to family. You can see them here.