Thursday, July 9, 2009

California Dreamin'

I wasn’t dreaming of going to California much. It was a few days with my husband, Chuck’s, family, period, end of story. Not prepared to have fun, experience community, feel love, enjoy myself much or have a wonderful time. It was all of that and more.

My husband’s only sister, Vicki, and her 12 year old daughter, Alissa, live in Southern California, in Riverside. Riverside is a wonderful place, especially since it is NOT L.A. I had one visit to L.A. a few years ago, and it was enough to last me for my lifetime. Not that L.A. is bad or anything, it’s just too big, too polluted, too hot in the summer and not very friendly to visitors. Riverside is friendly. Riverside is easy to get around and close to other places including one hour to the beach, if there is no traffic.

Speaking of the beach, I had a lovely afternoon, at Laguna Beach on July 3rd. But the traffic was bumper to bumper when we got within a few miles of it. We travelled there on some rather expensive toll roads, but then had to get on a smaller four lane road that went down to two lanes. Not tourist friendly but it was a beautiful cool day and the beach was full of people enjoying themselves. We did too. Ending the visit with a trip to a cute little ice cream shop. A mango-orange-banana smoothie hit the spot after being in the sun for several hours. I had the sunburn to remember it by.

Speaking of food, we had a memorable meal at The Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. The inn has several restaurants with the best having an inside courtyard which reminded me of Mexico City or being in Europe. The seafood buffet was gourmet quality and the service rivaled the best restaurants that I’ve experienced in the past. Lovely company of Chuck, Vicki and Alissa; incredible food and desserts!; a beautiful evening with cool weather and an almost full moon in the night sky.

Speaking of the night sky, it was of course not too clear it being still near to Los Angeles. We visit three evening minor league baseball fans. Chuck is a die-hard baseball fanatic. Especially for visiting minor league teams on our vacations. He’s attended six games so far… Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore. He has enjoyed every minute of every game. On the 4th of July, we saw the Inland Empire 66ers play and then a wonderful fireworks display. A day full of patriotic symbols that I hold dear. Baseball being one of them, at least as far as Chuck is concerned. It’s almost a religion to him.

Speaking of religion, I had the opportunity to visit a local Riverside church… All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. I’ve been a practicing UU since 1993 when I joined a local Plano church. It’s a church that believes in community, service to others and being a welcoming place for people of all faiths, those searching for their religious home or just a place to be themselves. It’s a place that like Toastmasters, where I can be true self. The Riverside UU church was a welcoming place full of friendly folks that were happy to have a Texas visitor. I listened to an uplifting service with good music and a diversity that’s nice to find at any church. I hope that they continue to bring a sense of justice, service, love and community to people entering their doors.

I walked through a door to California and found love, community, fun, good food and cool weather. I’ve been California dreaming’ and it was good.

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