We're back in Seattle after spending the week in Southern California. It was a pretty whirlwind trip, but things went well. It was nice to thaw out with warm weather.
The night we arrived my parents roasted a prime rib. It was somewhat impressive to see the slices my dad cut for Kellen and Tynor (looked like about 1.5"), but not as impressive as it was to see them finished off, along with the sides.
The next day was mochitsuki, probably my favorite gathering of the year. With the food, family, and all that mochi, how can it not be? I've added a page about how we make mochi, although the pictures are already a decade old. I heard there was about 180 pounds of rice which got steamed, ground, shaped, and packaged.
Melody and I left early so we could take my mom to her oncologist where she had a checkup. Ends up she was dehydrated again, so they hooked up an IV for a couple hours (she had another session the next morning). While Mom was getting hydrated Melody and I walked down to the lighthouse in Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor.
The next day we and the boys headed out to Santa Barbara. After dropping our stuff at the motel, we headed out to the Santa Barbara Mission. There was a surprising number of people there. One thing that struck us was the main chapel was very square, kind of like a large shoebox, instead of having arches or some sort of ridge. There were also a lot of candles which were very high up in the chapel, which must have been pretty tedious to light.
We then did the Red Tile Walking Tour through downtown which took us past many of the historic buildings. We ran out of daylight towards the end, but were still able to finish the circuit. That evening we had a great time having dinner with my cousin Dave and his wife Molly.
The next morning we went to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse where went up to the tower and had a great view of the city, although there was fog along the coast so we couldn't see the ocean. After going through the courthouse, we walked down to the wharf by which time most of the fog had burned off. Again, there were a lot of people out and about.
I've put photos on a new Santa Barbara page.
Before heading back to Downey we drove by Solvang. We had lunch (had I thought of it before, we probably would have gone to Pea Soup Anderson's in Buellton) and walked up and down the main drag. Before heading out we had pastries at Olsen's Danish Bakery and bought some to go. When I was growing up, a bucket of cookies from Olsen's was a symbol of Solvang; anyone coming back from the town had at least one of those buckets, so we picked one up, too.
For New Year's Day we went to my cousin's house to eat ozoni and other food (as usual there was a great spread) and play games. During the day Melody and I hiked around Peters Canyon Park and saw more people than usual hiking the trails. There were also a lot of mountain bikers riding through the park.
My mom didn't make it to mochitsuki, but she enjoyed herself on New Year's Day. She had a rough time early in the visit, but things did seem to get better after her infusions. She thinks chemo is what's giving her problems, and her current medication is two weeks of pills and one week off. We were there towards the tail end of her off week, so the timing worked out well for her to enjoy being with family.