Well, it happened. Winter has officially arrived here in Southern California. The last two nights the temperature has plunged down into the mid-20’s and this morning I spotted a bit of frost on the grass. Brrr! We’ve been staying this week at at very nice county run park just south of Los Angeles. The O’Neill Regional Park is tucked down in beautiful Trabuco Canyon with the Santa Ana Mountains on one side and the cities of Lake Forest and Mission Viejo on the other. It’s a very nice campground filled with towering Coastal Live Oaks and Sycamore trees. The location in the canyon makes you feel like you’re somewhere deep in nature instead of a mere five minute drive from any store or restaurant you could ever want or need to visit. The canyon location also means cold. The cold air sinks down and stays, making it about ten degrees colder than the surrounding areas. In the summer months I can imagine this provides welcome relief from the heat, but right now it just makes for some really cold nights. It also means all the RV’s in the park are turning on their furnaces at night. Furnaces use LOTS of electricity, and in this campground with no electric hook-ups that means LOTS of generator use. The generator hours are from 8am to 8pm and between those times it’s rare that a generator is not running somewhere in the park. I’m not complaining…really I’m not. It’s more of an observation on the inner workings of campground life. I am happy to report that due to the recent installation of our third solar panel (Tim still claims he’s going to write a blog post about the solar. I’ve seen the draft so I know it exists, but I can’t make any promises when a finished version will appear) we’ve been able to limit our generator use during our time here. We did have two days of dark clouds followed by one day of all out rain so we had to join everyone else and turn it on for a few hours on the third day of no sun. The last two nights we had our furnace set on a very low temperature so we didn’t freeze, and even though I heard it kick on at quite often last night we still had enough power this morning and now the sun is beating down on us and recharging all that we used. Besides testing out our ability to survive below freezing temperatures in an aluminum box, the real reason why we are here on the edge of a city I swore I never had any interest in visiting is to hang out with some friends who live near by. Tim and Diran have known each other for about 15 years and while they’ve collaborated on work projects, and sometimes chat with each other online, this is only the third time they’ve met in person. Diran has been a wonderful host- taking us out to lunch, coming with us on a hike, and even inviting us to his house for dinner. Diran and his wife Christine graciously invited us over for a night of Thai food, good conversation and a couple of killer rounds of Apples to Apples (my new favorite board game). True to form I only remembered to take a few photos from the evening. I seem be great at taking hundreds of pictures of a single mountain, tree, or lately cactus, but once you add people and conversations to the mix all my best intentions of capturing the moment via photograph fly out the window. I did remember to take pictures of the Persimmon Cake that I made though! Yesterday was the first day this week that the sun came out, and after hiking the only dog friendly trail we could find in the area Diran mentioned that we were not far from Laguna Beach. Well, it’s been over a month since our last ocean visit so we eagerly took his advice and headed down to the beach. Lucky for us, and Phineas, Laguna Beach is very dog friendly. Needless to say, Phin was as excited as we were to be back at the beach. He celebrated by jumping around and getting in a few good rolls. We celebrated by watching the surfers and catching an amazing sunset. While it was great to spend time with Diran and Christine, we’re excited to be moving south today to San Diego for the next week. It should be a fun place to spend Christmas, especially since our campground is right near the beach!
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