Holiday Warmth

The weather was in for a bit of a change today. The wind was colder and blowing from the south ruffling the ocean and bringing in a thin layer of clouds. I took the dogs south down through the day parking area to have a look around in the daylight. There were already quite a few day visitors parked up. Many of them in past their prime vans and RVs that must go stealth camp in nearby neighborhoods for the night then resume their station along the sand come morning. A few had generators already coughing to life.

Colors have to match

Back at site 102, PJ was preparing a salad to bring to her sister’s place up the road in Laguna Beach. Kim is hosting a holiday spread for us family members lurking in the area for the Christmas season. We were ready and driving by midday and ventured into the neighborhood getting a little misdirection from our GPS. We parked a few blocks away and walked through the charming neighborhood of one of a kind cottages and beach houses up to her cozy zen sanctuary overlooking a quiet canyon.

It was hugs all around as we haven’t seen our nephews since early summer. Nick brought his new sweetheart Amber with him and we were all taken by her charm. We sat out on the porch chatting while the turkey was roasting in the oven. It turned into a beautiful sunny day with a slight chill in the air. The patio was closed in with trees and the house has an elvish atmosphere about it. The kids (o.k. they’re in their 30s) are all doing well. UPS has been keeping Andrew buried with work with Xmas looming on the horizon. Nick and Amber have been housesitting out in Alpine enjoying the peace away from the city.

Kim has set herself up with a unique temporary living situation here in Laguna a few blocks from the beach and all of the activities of town. She is exploring areas where she thinks she might like to settle down and hang her hat for a while and Laguna Beach has made the short list. Laguna is a bohemian outpost of art galleries and one of a kind homes and businesses. Each house is different from its neighbor and most originated as beach cottages and weekend retreats. The area has managed to maintain that beach feel and has for the most part, resisted the urge to tear down old cottages and replace them with McMansions. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of mansions around the area, but the old school zones are still pretty much old style. It is fun just to walk the street checking out the houses and the artsy ways people have redone a few things.

Kim slaved in the kitchen and the results were a culinary delight of tasty holiday comfort foods. We gathered around the dining table and filled up on turkey, stuffing, creamed cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, salad and fixin’s. Awesome home cooked meal. Thanks Kim for the hospitality and loving care.

When the sun went down, so did the reading on the thermometer. It was almost instantaneous. After munching a few strawberry Santa hats, it was time to get back to Doheney and release the hounds. We shared some more hugs and farewells, then Kim walked us back through the neighborhood to where we had parked the car. The sky was darkening and the Xmas lights were beginning to come on one by one. Magical little community.

Laguna Beach and Dana Point hold nothing back when it comes to decorating the town for the holidays. Every giant palm or shade tree is coated in lights, enough to power Rio de Janeiro. Absolutely beautiful drive along the coast, Ritz Carlton and Monarch Bay went all in. Even strip mall parking lots were in on the festivities. Unfortunately, we were too busy gawking to think about taking pictures.

Back at camp, we had new neighbors, a group of about eight cool surfer dudes and chicks. All about twenty years old and oblivious to anyone else’s presence. It was a long night of hilarity, breaking up wooden pallets and bro based jocularity. Busted out the earplugs for the first time since the operation in February.