Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Day in the Sun

It's official, I may never want to wish for a white Christmas again! After spending a stressful Christmas Eve driving down from San Francisco and remembering why it is we we are happy to not have to worry about car ownership, we made it to Venice Beach in Los Angeles just in time for a walk along the pier to watch the sunset and find one of the few places still open for dinner the night before Christmas. Then it was home to settle in, hang the Christmas tree and place our decorations on, wrap the remaining presents and hang our stockings to prepare for Santa. As you may recall, over the Remembrance Day weekend, while Daddy was away, the kids and I worked together to make a portable Christmas tree specifically for this trip. As promised, here are the fruits of our labour. A lovely felt tree decorated with handmade felt baubles hand sewn by my seven year old and yours truly. It may not have had all the beauty of a fresh cut evergreen, but for our family vacation, it was perfect!

Christmas morning surprises!
Christmas morning, after convincing the kids to sleep a few more hours when they woke up at 4:00am, we got out of bed to see what Santa left behind. The kids were very happy to see that Santa had heeded their requests for scooters, which they promptly took out for a spin (and a couple tumbles from Etienne) immediately after breakfast. That's when they learned Mommy wasn't crazy when she insisted they wear shorts and t-shirts and not the sweaters and pants they received as gifts. Instead of the snow all our friends in family in Canada were experiencing, our kids were spending Christmas day in the sun at temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). And once Mommy was ready, we set off to the beach for what we else? A bike ride!

Scooting along the Canals. Not a bad way to spend
Christmas morning
All set for our Christmas day ride
Chris and I have become big proponents for Airbnb, having found some amazing places to stay throughout North America. Our current home away from home is no exception, and a big selling factor for us was that it included cruiser bikes for Chris and I. So Christmas morning we took our rides down to the water, rented the kids a couple of bikes, Coralie happily opting for a beach cruiser this time, and we rode North from Venice Beach to Santa Monica for some fun at the pier. The ride was much easier than the one we rode just two days prior in San Francisco, and Etienne managed to lead the way the entire trip, mastering hand brakes quicker than I expected. But then, his motivation may have been getting to the pier and going on some rides, because as soon as we parked our bikes, that's all he asked for. We managed to ride the Pacific Wheel, and the kids each got one smaller ride of their own, despite pleas and cries for more, before we had a quick bite for lunch and head back on our bikes towards Venice.
Etienne leading the way with the Santa Monica Pier in sight
Hard not to smile on a day like this
The Pacific Wheel at Santa Monica Pier
Etienne's good to go
Coralie all set for a Pirate Ship ride
Although we had grand plans to do lots of riding, Chris and I realized that all the kids wanted to do was play in the sand. So we stopped off at our place to grab their bathing suits and pack a beach bag (again, provided by our hosts), and rode back to the beach to drop off the kids' bike rentals and settle into the sand while the kids played in the water and on the man-made bluffs. We also treated them to some body boards to ride the surf, which Coralie almost mastered but Etienne soon gave up to instead jump through the waves. Once they were too cold from the water, the joined the many other kids sliding down the bluffs. These massive piles of sand are created each year to protect the coastal cities from storm surges, but are subsequently used by local and visiting children for tobogganing. Not a bad substitute for the snowy hills to the North, especially when you can do so in shorts and a t-shirt!
This is about as far as he got...
...Before doing this instead
Coralie riding the waves
So that was how the Velo Family spent their Christmas day. Relaxing and riding bikes in the warm sunshine on the Pacific Coast of California. I really did think I would miss snow, being a sucker for traditionalism when it comes to Christmas. Clearly, I was wrong, because I'm already thinking to next year and what warm and sunny place we can go next! Maybe it's because I've spent the previous six Christmas' in Vancouver and seeing only one snowy Christmas in that time, or maybe I needed a break from the cold and the wet. I think though, that the most likely reason of all is that I, like my husband, crave adventure and travel, so to give ourselves this Christmas in the sun was the perfect gift. Getting to spend it on bikes is just the cherry on top!
A lovely family shot as the sun set on our Christmas on the beach
One last shot with my partner in crime on our
seventeenth Christmas together!

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