Paige, Dick and Cooper - Stone Brewery

Christmas in Southern California

For Christmas this year, Cooper and I went out on the road.  Southern California was the destination, Oceanside first and Mission Beach second.  It’s about a seven hour drive from Desert Trails, and, although a long drive, it was made shorter by our Audible book mysteries.  Our older truck does not have the newest of Bluetooth connectivity so we had to get inventive.  Cooper was able to use his new mobile speaker that plugs into my phone.  It worked perfectly, thank goodness, because there is a lot of nothing between Desert Trails and California.




The purpose of our trip was to spend the week before Christmas with my sister, Paige, and brother, Dick, for the first time since 1976, the year our mom died.  For Cooper and I, Christmas has always been an extremely busy time for us living in a resort area where others come for their Christmas vacation.  Now that we’re free to roam, it was time to try something different. Although it was hard to leave our kids and their families behind, it was time for them to create their own traditions and for us to spread our wings.

Oceanside Christmas

Our first stop was Oceanside, CA to spend a few days with Paige and Dick.

Christmas in Oceanside

Christmas in Oceanside

Sister, Paige, and brother, Dick - at "Hello Betty"

Sister, Paige, and brother, Dick – at “Hello Betty”

As it turned out, we were also able to see our nephews, Bob and Tom Allen (Bobby and Tommy to us) the second night we were there.  Tommy was visiting from Houston with his girlfriend, Lucy, and Bobby and his wife, Jess, who live in San Marcos, close by.  We all planned to get together for happy hour, but they called to say they might be a little late as they had an errand they had to run.  The errand was a short detour to a beautiful scenic outlook to view the sunset, and also where Tommy proposed to Lucy on bended knee.  Bobby and Jess were in on the surprise and video-ed the whole proposal and put it on Facebook. (Bobby had filled us in earlier in the afternoon, so we were also prepared.) Lucy swears she was totally surprised, but, after 5 years of dating, she probably wasn’t expecting it to EVER happen.

The second bit of news was that Bobby and Jess are expecting their first baby in June.  It was quite the cause for celebration.  We all had a little bubbly (except for Jess who had water in a champagne flute) and devoured Paige’s wonderful chicken dinner.  It was a fun night.

Tommy and Lucy - engaged

Tommy and Lucy – engaged

Bobby and Jess - expecting

Bobby and Jess – expecting

We mostly took it pretty easy while we were in Oceanside as both Cooper and Paige came down with rotten colds, especially Paige.  The weather was cold and rainy (I thought I had heard it never rains in southern California) so we didn’t spend a lot of time out, however we did go to Stone Brewery and Gardens out in Escondido, to fulfill Cooper’s quest for local breweries and beers.  What a beautiful place and, according to Cooper, good beer!  I wouldn’t know.  To me, a beer is a beer, no matter what the color or taste.  I’m a wino, as is Paige.

Cooper, Paige and Dick at Stone Brewery

Cooper, Paige and Dick at Stone Brewery

Stone Brewery, Escondido

Stone Brewery, Escondido

It happened that Christmas Eve was the night before a full moon.  Several visits ago to Oceanside, Paige took me out to the Oceanside Pier on a full-moon evening.  It was a wonderful experience, with families fishing from both sides of the pier in the dark, with the full moon high above.  It was much warmer that night. Since that time, I have planned visits to coincide with the full moon.  How ironic that Christmas Eve just happened to fall on the full moon this year.

Christmas Eve 2015 - Oceanside Pier - Star of Bethlehem?

Christmas Eve 2015 – Oceanside Pier – Star of Bethlehem?

Mission Beach

On Christmas Day, since Paige had to work (she’s a nurse), we said goodbye and drove south to Mission Beach to spend the day with Susan and John DeWardt and their grown kids. They had rented a house at the beach for 10 days to be able to spend time with their kids and the kids’ significant others. Susan is my best friend in Steamboat.  When she heard we were planning to spend Christmas week with Paige, she invited us to spend Christmas Day and overnight with her family at the beach.  PERFECT!

We arrived in Mission Beach after lunch.  It was a beautiful day, a little warmer than the past few days had been, and the sun was shining.  We all took a walk along the beach, headed to a beach bar, and had an adult beverage.  Along the way I found a kid’s beach shovel.  Knowing that Steamboat had been having non-stop snow for most of a month (more that 160 inches of snow so far at the ski area), and that our kids were having to dig out every single morning, I decided they should know that I didn’t want to miss out on all the shoveling fun.  I shoveled six inches, too.

Tracy Shoveling 6 inches at Christmas

Tracy Shoveling 6 inches at Christmas

It was a great visit with the DeWardts, wonderful ham for Christmas dinner and fun to spend time with their kids.  We played a little “Screw Your Neighbor” (card game) and all headed to bed pretty early.

Cooper not sharing his cold.

Cooper not sharing his cold.

As we were packing up, we got a call from Donnis Hisket (of Washboard Willie and Wishboard Wanda fame).  They had seen the picture of me “shoveling” on Facebook and were driving south from Los Angeles to visit friends for a couple of days in San Diego.  They called, wondering if we could meet them for coffee somewhere and catch up.  At first Cooper was concerned because we were already leaving an hour later than intended to get back to Desert Trails, but with a little coaxing, and asking why we couldn’t stay another day, it finally dawned on him that WE ARE RETIRED.  We don’t have a schedule.  If we want to stay another day, we can.  TA-DA!  Thanks to DeWardts for allowing us to return after our visit with Donnis and Larry (and an afternoon with their friends) to spend another night, we had a great extra day.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation from our “vacation”.  Despite Cooper’s cold (which we now think were actually allergies, since it did respond to Zyrtec), we were able to enjoy visiting with family and friends, try some new places and experience Christmas away from the snow.  Although we missed our kids, we didn’t miss the snow – not one bit.

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