Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmastime in LA with Robyn and Atul

Roger here....  It has been a very busy December for Dianne and me.  We sold our motor home and car.  We bought a tiny Airstream Sport and Toyota Highlander.  We spent three nights in a nearby state park with neighbors, after which we immediately flew to Los Angeles.

Robyn and Atul wanted to see us during the holidays.  We offered to have them visit us, but they wanted us to stay at their home in L.A.  How could we refuse?  Our nearby neighbors again offered to watch our dogs.  We owe them big-time.
(click on red links below for further info... -- D.)


Our good friends and neighbors, Bob and Linda, were also flying to California the same morning to visit family so we rode to the McAllen, Texas airport together.  I was able to take advantage of free airport parking during the holidays.  We truly love it here in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Robyn and Atul picked us up at LAX around noon.  We stopped by a restaurant on the way to their house before settling in for the afternoon. We needed to rest up before a big night on the town.

Fascinating Light Display in front of the L.A. Museum of Art
 Atul did all the driving during our visit, a gesture that I truly appreciated.  Robyn and Atul planned all the outings.  We were pampered with yet another series of guided tours of Los Angeles. 

  Our destination for the evening was a movie screening of "Green Book" in Beverly Hills.  We parked under the building where the screening was to take place and checked in.  Robyn is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.  Atul is a member of the Producers Guild.  As members they can sign up for a multitude of private screenings and each can bring a guest.  We had plenty of time before the movie began, so we walked down the street to Rodeo Drive to wander around.

We took countless pictures amid the festive lights.

At one point Robyn asked us if we had ever heard of a  "Pop Up".  Of course we had not.  She then led us through a store front into a wonderland.  The space was filled with a series of painted scenes created by artist Alexa Meade:  
 The scenes were of a walk-in variety.  Artistically painted clothing and props matched the backgrounds.  Anyone who walked in could put on the clothing and melt into the background settings.  Energizing music set an amazing tone.  People were dancing.  People were smiling.  People were happy.  Great fun!  We took LOTS of pictures.

Robyn hams it up for Atul

The King and Queen

Robyn joins the fun

We reluctantly left the pop-up exhibit so that we would arrive at the screening on time.  We walked past the Beverly Wilshire along the way.  BTW.  I highly recommend Green Book (based on a true story) --- one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.


We went to a screening of The Mule on the Warner Brothers lot.  It is also based on a true story. If you like Clint Eastwood, you would probably like it.  

The picture to the right was my 3rd attempt to take a decent picture of the WB water tower at night.  Such attempts are obviously above my skill level.  (We both tried with the same result -- must be the lights shining on it -- D.)

DAY THREE....  and what a day it was....

Atul took us on a two-hour ride along the southern California freeways to the City of Riverside.  Many years ago the old Mission in the city was saved from demolition by a visionary who transformed it into a grand luxury inn and spa.  In conjunction with the city the hotel hosts a Christmas light festival every year.  USA Today has named it this year's best light display in the country for good reason.

We wandered around the Mission Inn for a little while during the late afternoon gawking at the lights.  

As evening descended, we realized that we were thirsty and hungry.  We entered the Inn to see if we could snag a seat at any of the restaurants. We soon discovered that all of the tables in all of the restaurants were reserved weeks in advance.  Sooo, we hung around the large bar area waiting for someone to leave.  Our patience paid off.  We snagged a bar table and ordered drinks and several appetizers.  

While Dianne and I sipped on our drinks, Atul pondered the size of his margarita.

Robyn and Atul hopped up to say hello to Santa.

Atul and Santa had a laugh --- well at least Atul did.

After we were satiated, we vacated the table for other people who were ready to pounce on any empty seat.  We wandered outside to find light displays that seemed even more spectacular than what we had already seen.

We had not had dessert. Nobody loves cupcakes more than Robyn loves cupcakes.  She knew that this place was famous for gourmet cupcakes.  Sooooo...

Red Velvet Cake Cupcake - YUM!

Dianne was enamored by the boxes in which the cupcakes were placed.  Dianne wolfed hers down on the much quicker trip back to L.A.


Just look at that blue sky!
We stopped by Union Station on the way to lunch to look at the interesting architecture.  This was a venue that Robyn and Atul had considered for their wedding.  It is a spacious and iconic building.  I snapped a picture of Robyn and Atul next to the train under the tree.

Atul took us to the center of downtown L.A. for lunch at the City Market.  We each bought food from different vendors.  Dianne and I enjoyed pizza and a craft beer.

After lunch, we crossed the street to take a ride on the Angels Flight trolley.  It had been closed for several years, but was recently refurbished and has been featured in several movies.

We walked around for a bit at the top before taking the stairs back to the bottom and on to Atul's car.   

That evening we attended another screening.  This time the movie was Vice, which had not yet opened.  Steve Carell as Rumsfeld was great.  Christian Bale as Dick Cheney was amazing.  The movie was very different.  It was funny in parts.  Serious in parts.  Confusing in parts.  Disturbing in parts. Scathing in parts.  It was probably very realistic, at least from my memories of that time.  

After the movie we drove through the busiest Chick-fil-A I have ever seen.  There were four drive through lanes, all full of cars.

Before going to bed Atul and Robyn fixed the glitches in my MAC computer that I encountered after updating to Mojave.  I had attempted to solve the problems myself, only to make matters worse.  Very grateful.   (It takes the younger generation to figure this out! -- D.)

DAY FIVE....  

It was time to go home.  What a wonderful time we had with our daughter and son-in-law.  They have been so good to us.  We love being with them.

Santa dropped by the airport to wish travelers a safe trip.

The next morning I received a package from our other daughter, Amanda.  This pillow case is VERY accurate.  She knows us well :-).  We plan to visit her next summer in Florida.

PET PICTURE OF THE DAY...  Poquita got to have a four-night sleep-over with her friend, Chica.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Fun Times with Neighbors at Falcon State Park

Roger here...  After two weeks of figuring out the ins and outs of traveling in our new mini-Airstream, we traveled 1 1/2 hours for a three-night stay at Falcon State Park with a few of our neighbors from Retama Village.

Before leaving, 
Dianne had a blast buying tiny things to put in our tiny trailer.  I worried about installing a sway bar to prevent the wind from blowing the trailer around while towing.  It was a hassle to get it done, but we gave our new rig a true test in 30 mph winds on the way to the park.  The Airstream pulled flawlessly behind our new Toyota Highlander.

Falcon State Park is located on the banks of Falcon Lake (a reservoir of the Rio Grande 
River) near Roma, TX.  Our pull-through campsite was great.

The site had a covered picnic area and lots of private space in the back.

Dianne took us back to our camping roots as she prepared bacon and eggs outside.  Yum.

Dianne was thrilled that we could again enjoy her festive tiki lights in the evening.  (Dianne here:  I always loved these silly tiki lights, but we didn't really use them on our motor home.   They've been stored for the past 12 years, since we sold our travel trailer and quit "camping" to go full timing.  I think they will look even cuter on our tiny awning when we're at a campsite where we can open it out.)

The state park had 3 miles of hiking trails, so of course we took advantage of them.  We trekked half of the circular loop on two different days.

Sporadic views of the lake were a highlight of the hikes each day.

Our friend, Kathy, joined us on the second day of hiking.  She was accompanied by her dog, Takoda (another Cinderella Pet Rescue alum).  

Keeping busy was not an issue.  The first night we played cards with Kathy and her husband, Ken, in their fifth wheel.

The second night our friend, Shari, who organized the outing, shared some of her home-made wine with the group before showing us all   how to prepare pizzas in pie irons over an open fire.

Dianne and I had somewhat of a misadventure after dinner.  We intended to go to the first annual Falcon State Park Christmas Boat Parade.  Most of the group drove to the lake.  Dianne and I (and the dogs) wanted to walk.  Poquita, in particular, needed to work off some energy.  We walked to the boat dock in the dark (enjoying the stars), only to discover that it was deserted.  No problem.  We walked back to the main road to follow another route to the lake which was also deserted.  By that time the event was already in progress.  We did see some colorful lights in the distance.  We should have talked to a park ranger before taking off.  Oh 
well, Shari got some nice pictures.

The next morning the ladies organized omelettes in a bag for breakfast.  So good!

Our last evening was a blast as we were reintroduced to a wine-infused game of Trivial Pursuit.  I had forgotten how much fun that game is.  Unfortunately, the girls' team beat the guys in a play-off game.  They must have cheated.

Our neighbor Jim, originally from Louisiana, prepared a delicious shrimp gumbo for supper that night.  Did I mention that he was from Louisiana?

Dianne and I drove back to Retama Village the next morning so that we could get ready to fly to Los Angeles the following morning for some time with our daughter and son-in-law, Robyn and Atul.

PET PICTURE OF THE DAY...  Poquita enjoys some quiet time after playing with one of her toys.