We arrived in Redlands just in time to join family for holiday festivities. Being in a house always feels good after a long stretch in the Woodebago, but this time of year we were especially grateful to be in a home where there was a Christmas tree, a fireplace with stockings hanging, a big table to gather around and, most of all, cousins to enjoy the excitement of the holidays.
We are thankful, too, to have a dog here since we miss our own Sheba terribly. Shadow is a sweet, handsome and lovable muppet of a dog, who deserves his very own picture set.
An hour east of LA in a valley surrounded by the San Bernadino mountains, Redlands is a city of roughly 80,000 with plenty to do and see. Once the navel orange capital of the world (before the industry moved to Florida), Redlands is full of orange groves. There are persimmon trees, loquat trees, lemon trees and too many palms to count, but the orange is the favorite here, painted into murals and adorning city benches and signs.
Redlands is home to many other treasures too, among them the largest collection of Lincoln artifacts in the West, which sits next to the beautiful old A.K. Smiley Public Library.
The San Bernadino Museum, also in Redlands, was featuring an exhibit on communications through the years so the kids got to see and experience old school phones (like a natural, G took quickly to twirling the cord of the phone and waving away her parents when we told her to get.off.that.phone already!).
Some of us who had been here before (huge thanks to Steve, Kim, Teo, and Mara for taking us all around) were not as enthralled. But we all loved it.
Just outside of Redlands is Riverside, a bigger city that is home to UC-Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum, where we saw an exhibit on age (actual and emotional) and an opportunity to sketch eyes (those are our four in creepy picture collage format).
Riverside is also home to Tios Tacos, one of the coolest recyclable art slash great Mexican food spots we’ve visited (also the only).
Our week was filled with relaxing and fun cousin times, including a post-Christmas viewing of the thrilling Star Wars Episode VII, hours of Star Wars themed lego-building and book and puppet making, and even more dancing and lip syncing to songs new and old (it may be months until we can get Silento’s Watch Me Nae Nae and Europe’s Final Countdown out of our heads).
Now, we’re preparing for our own final countdown to 2016. Tonight we will ring in the new year here in Redlands with our cousins at their friends’ house. We will not plunge into the Chesapeake tomorrow morning but, with that in mind, we will dutifully jump into a freezing pool (by Southern California standards) and toast all of our friends and family on both coasts and in between. Happy New Year!