December 24, 2004

The Day Before Christmas

Today was one of those rare days when my husband and I both had the day off. And it was a rarer day for being a crisp, clear day in Southern California where you could actually see miles away into the mountains. We were at my parents' house about an hour north of Los Angeles and we decided to go for a short hike in the mountains. My hubby(M) and I took my niece and headed out north toward the Santa Ynez mountains. It took us about 40 minutes to get there and we passed an Amtrak Surfliner going north along the coast. There's something about traveling next to a moving train that makes you feel refreshing and alive. It must have something to do with velocity... perhaps will ask M later.

We passed Santa Barbara, where my niece said, "It's beautiful here." Too bad the only people who can live there are the likes of Oprah.

We drove to the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains and hiked for about an hour beginning at a camp site at the end of the Paradise Road. Yes, that's the real name of the road. But we stopped along the way at the Paradise Store to pick up an ice cream drumstick, Hot Cheetos and a Coke. Paradise, indeed. Here's a view from the top of the mountain.

After we came down the mountain, we were driving next to the beach where we spotted the Surfdog. And you thought I would never get to food! Yes, life can be good. See the Santa hat on the Surfdog guy?

We got two Dodger dogs and he gave free lemonade and a bag of cheetos to my niece, whom he called "Precious." He then packed up and left. I hope he had a good day too.

We then took a leisurely stroll on the beach where we saw a heron. A sign of longevity -- the day was turning out rather nice!

By this time, it was almost 4 o'clock and we headed back home. We were to have dinner at Octopus, a new japanese restaurant in Encino, where the food was fantastic. The minimalist, zen-decor is quite beautiful, I must say.

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