Thursday, December 31, 2015


Thursday, December 17

I flew into LAX midafternoon and was met by Brett.  Alba was in Seattle attending a meeting, but returned home late that evening.  Brett and Alba live in Marina del Rey. Their apartment is on the fifth floor under the blue overhang.

When the temperature hovers between 65 and 70, taking a walk (or two) daily is pleasant.  Brett had taken two weeks' vacation, so while he often "relaxed" riding his bike, I strolled through the nearby streets and often, out to the end of the Venice Beach pier.

There's a skate park at Venice Beach visited by many talented skateboarders.  I made it my destination where I stood to watch several times.

The fellow in brown repeatedly soared over the railing and the spectators
Venice Beach has several canals and very attractive homes line each one.

At one canal home, flamingos celebrated the approaching holiday
Saturday, December 19

We walked along Abbott Kinney Street, known for its trendy (expensive) shops and paused at a coffee shop for an espresso.  

It is from Tumbleweed and Dandelion that I sometimes order candles.  It was interesting to see the "brick and mortar" location of a store I see only on the computer.

Sunday, December 20

In the car for one of many outings, we went shopping to purchase items for their kitchen ... a crockpot, some pans, utilitarian knives .. Christmas gifts from me.

Monday, December 21

Brett spent the morning shopping and when he returned, wrapped Alba's Christmas gifts while she was at work.

He had the bows and insisted on using them all

Wednesday and Thursday, December 23-24

Dinner at A J Spurs Saloon
Our first trip out of town was to Solvang. On the way, we stopped in Buellton to have dinner at A J Spurs Saloon, an old west-style eatery known for its meats cooked over an oak pit BBQ. Check the size of those hamburgers!

Hotel Corque in Solvang

Solvang is a pretty town described as the Danish Capital of America.  We had a leisurely morning walking around the town and then had breakfast at Paula's Pancake House. 

Stripes and plaids, so what?

Our day continued with a four-hour drive to Ojai, an occasional motorcycle destination for Brett, through high desert before turning to mountains, curving roads and scenic, wooded views.  While in Ojai, we paused for coffee and then shopped for items for Christmas dinner.

Friday, December 25

A present for ME!

Alba has a thing for Nutella.  And now she has a Nutella cookbook!

A cartop carrier for her surf board

Dinner prepared by Alba with Brett's help

Merry Christmas....

An after-dinner walk to the jetty
Saturday, December 26

The drive today was south to Irvine where Brett and his staff of landscape architects create parks for the nine communities of Great Park Neighborhoods. I wanted to see the jacaranda tree that is the focal point of Beacon Park.

Me (and Brett) in the treehouse!

Big kids can play on the equipment, too.  (Alba won.)

The pedestrian tunnel under the street

Sunday, December 27

Today we drove east and passed several "Windmill farms" on the way to Palm Desert.  After checking in at our motel, we went to Joshua Tree National Park. As the sun began to set, we took a walk up a trail and snapped a few pictures before darkness arrived.  

One of many "windmill farms"

I was captivated by the stones within the stone

Monday, December 28

From our motel in Palm Desert, we drove 30 minutes to Palm Springs. Although weather was predicted to change, we were able to take the rotating Aerial Tramway 2.5 miles to the crest in Mt. San Jacinto State Park.  It was cold and paths outside the station were icy, so we didn't venture out to follow one of the several paths.  But the views from on top were outstanding.  On our return to the valley floor, visitors were being turned away since it was now too windy to operate the tram.

Thursday, December 31

I returned home.  What a great trip it was!  I got to know Alba and spend time with her and Brett.  The time we spent together was important to me since Brett and I, and now Alba as well, live so far apart.  Thanks to Brett for orchestrating our trips and driving.  Alba offered to take a turn, but Brett wouldn't let go of the wheel!  I hope they enjoyed my visit as much as I liked being with them. Hopefully more adventures will be shared.

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