Tuesday, January 9, 2018

California Christmas and More

     We arrived safely in CA after making a little detour over to San Angelo for a short visit with Retha and Randy.  It's always a great visit with them, and it gives us a chance to stop and rest a little before venturing out across miles and miles and miles of endless desert.  Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California......nothing but rocks and sand.  Debbie likes the trip more and more each year, as she settles in to the quiet and peacefulness of the desert landscapes.  I enjoy the traveling, but the threat of dust storms and Santa Ana winds tends to wear me down, and I'm always glad to arrive in Santee.
This year, right on schedule, the Santa Ana winds arrived in Southern California, and our last 2 days on the road were a little further than we normally go, in hopes of arriving before the winds.  Our last morning we were on the road at around 7:00 AM, as the winds were forecast to begin the San Diego County around 2 PM.  Shortly after leaving the campground, we crossed into the Pacific Time Zone, and I realized it was now about 6:30 AM local time.  Debbie just smiled, and settled into her seat, anxiously anticipating a smooth ride into Santee and dinner with the kids. 
      As we approached Yuma, AZ, well ahead of the scheduled winds, we encountered pretty strong side winds with lots of blowing sand a dirt, blowing across I-8.  "Not good" I said to myself, knowing that a 13 mile grade up through Jacumba was still ahead of us.  I used to work that stretch of highway years ago, and I remember how we stayed off of the grade during Santa Ana winds.  Too late to turn back now, so we pushed onward watching the mountains growing ever taller on the horizon.  Then suddenly the winds quit, and the sky was clear, and we sailed up the grade toward Santee.  Temperatures were a little cooler up on I-8 near Crestwood, and the winds were just getting started, but Debbie and I bravely exited the interstate at Campo, looking forward to a $7.95 prime rib lunch at the Indian Casino.  After lunch, we coasted down to Santee and into the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, where we would be spending the next 45 days or so.
     Christmas with a 2 year old can be an exciting time, especially if he could care less.  Liam loved all the lights, but didn't really understand the concept of Christmas.  Well, Grammie, or who Liam likes
to call "No Buzz", was here to explain the intricacies of the Christmas Season.  Ben and Joanne had done a wonderful job decorating the outside of their house, and we enjoyed several evening walks through the neighborhood enjoying everyone's lights.  And I really enjoyed taking an evening December stroll in shorts!! Liam was always in charge of the flashlight, and Jamo was always in charge of security, and a few nightly strolls with those two were quite memorable.
       As you would imagine, we are spending most of our free time visiting Liam, who is completely mesmerized with the movie "Cars".  I'm not sure which version is the latest one, but if you go for a visit, be prepared to watch "queen" each and every visit, and don't lose track of "queen" or your evening will end in shambles.  But Ben and Joanne have done an incredible job with Liam, and he likes to stick to his schedule.  Bedtime comes without any hassle.....he loves to take a bath.....and he loves to be pestered to the point of crying by his father.  Jamo just heads for cover when the romping before bed begins!!

      Christmas would not be Christmas with cookies and fudge, and it wasn't too many days of visiting before, Grammie, Ben and Liam were tearing things up in the kitchen.   As you can see, there must be some alcohol involved, and Ben FINALLY broke out some of that delicious Hood Egg Nog that we carried all the was across the U.S.   Soon the cookies were made, and Ben was happy.  The Chex Mix was made and Papa was happy.  Liam seemed to take a fancy to the Kiss Cookies, but after he finished off the Hershey's Kiss, he wasn't much interested in the cookie part.  Joanne continues to work crazy hours at Target, and looks exhausted when she gets home.  But Grammie steps in whenever she's needed for babysitting, and I follow along to do the driving.

     As part of the Christmas celebration, we ventured down to San Diego for a visit at the Zoo. Ben and Joanne have season passes, and take Liam down frequently for a visit.  He can run freely throughout the park, although I would be a little worried about getting "monkey" out the main gate. Liam's favorites at the zoo are the elephants, so we headed to the back to the elephant enclosure before they went to bed.

 We did manage to get past the monkey enclosure and soon found the elephant compound.  Liam seemed quite mesmerized by them, and it took a little coaxing to get him moving again. 


      Christmas is just around the corner now, and most of the presents have been wrapped.  Hopefully Santa will find us out here in the trailer park!  We'll just have to wait and see.

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