A Visit Home to California
I was fortunate enough to be able to go back to California for almost a full month during the Winter holidays. As a California girl, I cannot begin to express how great it felt to experience the “winter” in San Diego after soldiering through the cold of Austria in December. My time in San Diego was spent with friends, family, nature, and lots and lots of food. To be honest, I gained a full 4 kg during my trip home and I have absolutely no regrets about it – bring on the tacos!
Southern California is one of my favorite places in the world so I tried to squeeze in as many of the things I cannot do in Europe into my trip. So, since I currently live in the land of mountains, lakes, and forests, I decided to focus on the beach and desert. Instead of schnitzel and bratwurst, I loaded up on ramen, tacos, and strong American ales. It was just what my heart needed.
- Hicksville Pines in Idyllwild: I kicked off my trip home with an extended weekend in Idyllwild with my immediate family. My sister, mother, and I rented the Christmas Town chalet at the Hicksville Pines to celebrate the holiday season and catch up. Luckily, we arrived right after a snow storm so the chalets were blanketed in snow. It was such a fantastic weekend with the highlights being my Mom dressing up in a Santa costume and staying up late watching Christmas movies.
- Christmas: I adore Christmas with my family, we all love to celebrate and truly get into the spirit of the season. This year, I created a fun holiday trivia game with an Austrian Almdudler soda as a prize. We laughed the night away trying to guess the answers to the silly trivia questions.
- San Diego Beaches: growing up, I used to see the Pacific Ocean almost every day. Now that I live in landlocked Austria, all I wanted to do was spend time on the beach. One of my favorite beaches is Swami’s in Encinitas, especially the views from the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens. We also took a trip to the dog beach in Ocean Beach for a fun afternoon with our dog Laika.
- Balboa Park: built for the Panama Canal Exposition in 1915 – 1916, the park is now home to a multitude museums and gardens. I love walking around the Botanical Building and admiring their staghorn fern collection.
- Joshua Tree: we decided to take a mini-vacation during our trip home to celebrate New Year’s Eve and our one year wedding anniversary out in Joshua Tree. We actually got married in Joshua Tree and spent New Year’s Eve there the previous year, so it was quite nice to bookend 2016 in a place that means so much to us. We rented a trailer at the Hicksville Trailer Palace (can you tell I am a fan? – ha!) and spent our days visiting our favorite spots in Joshua Tree. Some of our favorites include the Joshua Tree National Park, the Sky Village Swap Meet, Art Queen and the Crochet Museum, and Pioneertown.
- Portland, Oregon: My sister-in-law and her husband live in Portland and we realized that if we did not visit them during our trip back to the USA, we would not see them for two full years – yikes! Portland is such a fun city to visit, but unfortunately, we arrived during a big snow storm so our adventures were pretty limited to hanging out at their home. However, we did have one storm free day where we managed to make it out to Multnomah Falls.
- Salvation Mountain and Slab City: For my younger sister’s 26th birthday, we made a pilgrimage out to Salvation Mountain and Slab City in the Mojave Desert. We are both big fans of folk art and the desert really attracts free thinkers and artists to go out and do their thing. The highlight of our trip was visiting East Jesus and meeting some nice desert people while playing around with the weird art. A memorable day for sure.
- Disneyland: For my Christmas present, my sister and mom surprised me with a two-day trip up to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme park. My sister, mom, and I are die hard Disney fans, so we had a great time being wild women in the park. We ate lots of sweets, rode all of the rides, and had a great time hanging out with one another.
My last day in California was spent in Los Angeles with my sister. I flew in and out of LAX, so we decided to make a day out of it with lunch on Sawtelle Blvd and walking around Venice Beach and the Venice Canals. It was a sunny day and while I was watching the skateboarders, surfers, and freaks cruising the beach, I couldn’t help but feel sad to be leaving. Southern California will always have a piece of my heart and I know that no matter where I live, I will always feel homesick for it. So while my “home” is technically Austria, Southern California will always feel like “home” to me.
Southern California, you have my heart. I hope to be reunited with you again soon.