OK, time for a little holiday break…

After years of hearing about it, but never making the trek, Jaci and I decided to head out to the Riverside Mission Inn “Festival of Lights” to try to get a little Christmas spirit.  We booked a lunch date for today (Sat), but then yesterday morning Jaci saw in the paper a well-reviewed Holiday Sing-Along at Disney Hall, so we got tix for that (we’ll be leaving in only moments).

Playing hooky from work (to try to start getting the house picked up before the holidays…which didn’t remotely happen, btw), we decided to just head out to Riverside later in the day, or we might end up missing another year.  We got a late start (chores, stopping at the P.O., etc), and it was raining all day.  Being off work, we also forgot it was Friday and approaching rush hour.  Nevertheless, with our box of Christmas CDs to entertain us, we slogged through – the 90-minute drive taking 3 hours.  It’s now pitch dark, still drizzling, and we finally see our freeway exit, and the transmission ups and dies.  Completely.  Called AAA and their tow truck picked us up and got it to the Honda service dealer 5 minutes before the last guy left.  Yep, transmission dead.  The kick-in-the-head being that we just 2 weeks ago decided to go ahead with one last major service on the ’99 Odyssey van, blowing $2000 on parts and labor – before doing so, asking “Do you think the transmission’s OK for a while yet before we waste the money…?”

I’ll give you the bottom line, before continuing…$4500 for a 4th transmission (the 1st 2-1/2 were covered)…so we’ll now be dumping it and begin contemplating an unplanned shopping trip (we can borrow Jaci’s mom’s car for a while).  In a nutshell, Bah humbug!

Back to our adventure:

The tow truck driver kindly offered to drop us off at the Inn, our original destination, while the Auto Club assured us they could get a rental car to us there.  It then transpired that all the rental places were closed and AAA did not have any means to help us.  Meanwhile, of course, Auggie and Maezi were back at home, huddled in the kitchen, oblivious to our misadventures, and our dog-sitter answered his phone in Wyoming, where he was skiing…

Beautiful spot, no?  (not our photos, we hadn’t thought to bring a camera)  Yes, and for us, a happy omen.  Spilling our whole sad Tale of Woe to the concierge, he treated us like V.I.P. guests, calling a nearby restaurant (theirs was booked solid) and getting us a table, calling the nearest airport (20 miles away) to make sure they had rental kiosks open, and arranging for their limo service to take us there whenever we were ready.

So we were now able to relax enough to enjoy the spectacular atmosphere of this annual tradition.  Lights, life-size moving (if a bit scary) elves and other figures, an ice skating rink, a pair of live reindeer with amazingly beautiful eyes, a decadent meal, and a stiff drink.

The remainder of the night was tedious but uneventful, and we got home just after midnight to two very vocal dogs.  If they only knew about our extended, impromptu day, they would have been less judgmental.

A Christmas Story to remember, alright!