Ahhhhh….home, sweet, home….we made it to Orange Park Acres (my hometown), California, Saturday evening. Along the way we stopped and visited my mom, who lives in the Wild West town of Wickenburg, Arizona. My mom and I received the short end of the gene pool so we’re not tall enough to be models, but we made feeble attempts to strike model-like poses. I know it’s hard to believe we’ve never had formal training.
My mom’s a cat person and actually recoiled when the dogs bounded out of the van, but she was a good sport and held all of the dogs while we used the restroom.
After a healthy lunch and a tour of the Wickenburg Museum, which is really quite spectacular, we took off for the last leg of our journey to California. Out in the desert it started to sprinkle. By the time we got to Orange County it was pouring — and it hasn’t stopped yet. We had just driven into the “pineapple express,” a rare phenomenon that occurs when a storm system reaches back to Hawaii and builds strength until it dumps excess moisture over southern California. As I write this a weather alert has just been issued for flashfloods along with warnings of mudslides and flooding in streets for all of southern California.
In any case, it was wonderful to finally arrive at my dad’s. The house has undergone several renovations since I lived there as a kid, and now features three “guest suites,” each with their own full bath. (I’m still deeply wounded that I was deprived of such luxury as a teenager.) The other big change in the property since I lived there is the stable/horse arena set-up. When I lived there we had two horses, multiple goats and a dozen or so birds (chickens, turkeys, etc.). There was a nice large dirt horse arena to work the animals. I kid you not, within one month of my moving away to college, my dad brought in the bulldozers and replaced the great horse arena set-up with a mini-golf course, complete with chipping range, putting green and sand bar. Here is the current back acreage. The horse stalls, tack room, and hay barn still exist on the left side, but they now hold Christmas decorations, gardening equipment, and cancelled checks dating back to 1965.
I mentioned earlier that all of Thom’s family (parents and brother’s family including my two nieces) are joining us at my dad’s for Christmas. Because my dad and his housekeeper use two of the three bedrooms, there isn’t enough room for all of us, so my dad arranged for two trailers to be set up in the back yard. They are really nice and afford the visiting guests some privacy.
Alex, our oldest son, arrived today from Dominica, where he attends medical school, and Kevin, our youngest, flew the long route from Michigan (Lansing->Detroit->Minneapolis->Orange County) and arrived tonight. With the whole family reunited it’s starting to feel like a Merry Christmas indeed!! The rest of the relatives arrive on Wednesday.