The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.
Christmas in Marina and Monterey
It was hard to be away from family and friends once again over Christmas, but Brad and I kept ourselves busy taking advantage of all that the area had to offer.
We stayed at the Marina Dunes RV Resort. It was a lovely campground just 500 yards from the ocean. I loved the hues of the native plants along the path on the dunes leading to the ocean. Luna basked in the sunsets!
We golfed at Pacific Grove Golf Links, known as the Poor Man’s Pebble Beach. We were paired with a father and son and just had a blast. We saw surfers along the coast running beside the course. This is me pretending to be one.
Monarchs winter along the California coast too. We took in one of their migratory spots at the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary. I could almost hear the thousands of pairs of wings fluttering in the breeze.
We biked along the coast. It was hard to keep an eye on all the car traffic right along the bike path. The ocean was a bit distracting!
We kayaked at Elkhorn Slough, an awesome estuary featuring these little critters.
I teared up at the sight of the mama otter cradling the cub on her chest. It made me miss my kids all the more so.
I couldn’t wait for our reunion in LA.
We rented a home in the beautiful enclave of Pacific Palisades for the start of our time together. The home was built in 1949 and featured an awesome outdoor firepit and views of the ocean right across the street. A nightly ritual involved walking down to the park just up the way, coffee cups filled with favorite beverages, and toasting the sunset.
Hiking and Beaching
We used to call all of our adventures “Brad’s Boot Camp.” I think the apples haven’t fallen too far from the tree, as we made the most of the area. Our first full day, we hiked at Solstice Canyon. We took both the Solstice Hike and then continued on to the Rising Sun Trail for an awesome two-hour experience.
The hike features the ruins of the Roberts Ranch House, designed by Paul Williams, who was a famous African American architect. Here is a fascinating article about this trailblazer whose hand is prominent in over 2500 buildings and homes, most in LA.
After lunch at Malibu Seafood (“the reason we don’t serve breakfast is because we’re out catching lunch”) and then, after numerous attempts, finally found coastal access to walk along the Malibu Beach.
Venice and Santa Monica
We sang Sheryl Crow’s iconic song All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun while visiting the Santa Monica area. We took in the famed canals of Venice Beach. We walked the Santa Monica Pier. And we made a quick stop at Zibby’s Bookshop. I am inspired by the dedication and passion owner Zibby Owens has for books and sharing authentic stories. I’ve been in touch with Zibby about our story…perhaps her publishing house may be interesting in sharing our journey some day.
Pasadena and New Year’s Eve
We shifted to Pasadena for what will become obvious later in the post. We took full advantage of the area and the beautiful home we stayed in as we brought in the New Year together.
On New Year’s Eve we took a nice 5 mile hike on the Eaton Falls and Henninger Flats trail. Great start to the day!
Later in the day we headed to Griffith Park and the Observatory. We packed a charcuterie board and some bubbly and watched the last sunset of 2023 on a little path down below the iconic Observatory.
I discovered a bit about the park on our drive. At over 3,000 acres, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with wilderness in the United States. The land was donated in 1896 by Griffith J. Griffith and his wife, Tina. Sounds great, right? Well, as we all know, there’s always a story behind the story.
Let’s just say that Griffith J. Griffith’s life is rather checkered, including accusations of tax evasion and imprisonment for attempting to murder his wife. For the rest of the story, see here…
We returned to our beautiful rental home in Altadena and worked together to create a scrumptious NYE dinner featuring grilled steaks (from the grass-fed beef we bought at Rafter W. Ranch in Simla, CO), brussel sprouts and smashed roasted potatoes. Yummy!
Rose Bowl Experience!
Brad booked our tickets to the Rose Bowl parade and game through the Al Brooks Ticketing Agency almost a year ago. The package included awesome seats to the parade and special seating to the game. We had no guarantee that the kids or their partners would be able to join us.
It was a gamble that paid off in spades.
Sadly, our daughter Kyle’s husband, Will, was not able to join us, as his brother is on the coaching staff of Wisconsin. Wisconsin was in Tampa for their bowl game on the same day as the Rose Bowl. We missed Will during the entire trip. But, Kyle, and our son Ian and his partner Adam were with us for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Everything that could have gone right for the day, did. From easy-peasy access to the designated parking area for the parade (although we got up at 5 in order to be at the parade route by 6!), to the incredible weather, everything was perfect.
I got chills (and, okay, a few tears) at the start of the parade as the B-2 Stealth Bomber flew over the parade.
Television coverage doesn’t do the parade justice, as we witnessed all the incredible flowers that decorate the floats.
Then, the piece de la resistance! Game Time! Although our beloved Buckeyes from The Ohio State University didn’t make it into the Bowl as we hoped, Big Ten was represented incredibly well by the University of Michigan. As you likely know, the game went into a thrilling overtime and Michigan claimed the victory.
We scooted out in a flash, catching the drone show as we walked to the parking lot. We went back to our rental home and watched Washington beat Texas together in the cozy family room.
Our time ended all too soon. It’s always so hard to say goodbye to our kids, with Ian and Adam in Denver, and Kyle and Will in Atlanta. But before the final goodbyes, we were already planning our next adventures.
“Cause All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun…”