I left SJ on the 22nd around suppertime, with a giant container of presents from my Dad for my older brother, SIL, and nephew. Surprisingly, the airline didn't charge an oversize fee, despite the fact that it did exceed the limit. I packed one suitcase inside the other, and with the presents I had to take to SoCal, I ended up packing military-style so I could fit everything in. I arrived in Montreal slightly early, collected my luggage, and waited for my brother to arrive at the airport.
I had a fun time in Montreal, despite not being there very long. I don't normally get to see my brother at Christmas anymore, so it was great to have that as a treat. My nephew seemed happy to see me. Tanq the cat was doing well also, and seemed to continue his enjoyment of my company. Not sure why he likes/doesn't mind me, but he does.
I left Montreal without issue, and thoroughly enjoyed my flight in business class. I was seated on the left side of the plane, which in business class on this plane only had a single seat in my row. I could get up to use the bathroom without disturbing anyone anytime I wanted! It was great! The legroom was also spacious, as you can see. I had a meal of cold cuts & cheese, and like the good old days, it was included with my ticket.
I arrived in Denver early, thankfully. I didn't know I had to switch terminals, and had only been through the Denver airport once before. I ended up having time to hop into the first class lounge, free access included with my ticket. Swanky compared to the usual gate waiting areas.
I left Denver without issue on a first-class United flight to Orange County. Niiiice. They served us a small dish of warmed nuts (no peanuts, of course, but still cool). My meal was a choice of Tuscan wrap or chef salad (I chose the salad) with a chocolate chip cookie, roll, etc. The put out tablecloths and served our meals with real glasses, cutlery, and plates. I have flown first class before, but it had been a really long time since I had the luxury. I now remember why they pull the curtain, because it really is a whole other level of service. The flight attendants are so much nicer and actually seem happy to be doing their job, as opposed to the economy section.
I arrived in SoCal right on schedule. I am still surprised at how smooth my travel went. Despite being wary of flying through Denver (where John's mother was stuck for 2 days on her way to our wedding), it was actually the better choice. I normally end up flying through Chicago, but if I had ended up there, I would have gotten stuck in a storm and likely been delayed. I hope my return flight, which is through Chicago and Toronto, doesn't result in my being stuck somewhere. I need to return home on time for work.
John's tree is perfect for his apartment, as it is basically half a tree that is designed to fit against a wall. He did a great job decorating for my arrival.
On Christmas Eve morning, we decided to head to Denny's for breakfast. We saw this truck in the parking lot, complete with audio. I laughed.
The amount of Christmas decorations in Irvine has been very disappointing. When I was here at US Thanksgiving last year, there seemed to be more in place. This year I have seen very few, and thus do not have many pictures to share. I tried taking a picture of a car with antlers and a red nose, but keep missing the opportunity with my camera.
We attended mass on Christmas Eve, which ended up being standing room only; luckily we got there early and were able to sit. The place was packed and so warm with the huge number of people. We had a good Christmas morning. He bought me items from my wishlist and a couple of surprises, and I surprised him with some items he mentioned he wanted but hadn't specifically asked for. We also opened presents from my brother & SIL. After having breakfast, making some calls home, and getting showered, we headed to the desert to visit with John's mother.
We spent Christmas day with John's mother and had Christmas dinner -- a delicious ham, mmmm. She doesn't normally do much decorating for Christmas, but with my arrival and a party she was hosting, decided to do some this year, which I appreciated. Presents from her included a really nice sweater, an afghan which she made for our bedroom (in purple, of course), and matching hats for John and I. Hey, we're married now, and they say married people grow to look alike. We'll start with hats. :)
On Boxing Day, we headed over the hill to visit with John's dad and stepmother. They were happy we made it out to the desert for a visit. We had lunch with them and talked for quite a while. After receiving a phone call from John's mother, we realized that we had forgotten the afghan and stopped on the way home to pick it up. After leaving there, we headed home, but I insisted on a stop at the Cabazon outlet mall so I could pick up a couple of items at the Jockey store. The mall was very busy, but not as crazy as we thought.
We stayed in on the 27th for the most part because John wasn't feeling well. The desert had been colder than we expected, and the change in climate likely triggered John's cold. On the 28th, John took me shopping to NY & Co. and I bought a bunch of clothes (50% off sale, how can you go wrong?). We had lunch at Olive Garden, and then John really needed a rest, so he had a nap while I did some shopping at the mall across the street and Costco, within walking distance.
Today was his friends' Secret Santa party. We had a good time, even got to watch parts of the Pats game in between socializing. It was good to see his friends again. My Secret Santa present was a green fleece blanket (a new couch blankie, which will match better with the living room and be used when I have the purple one in use elsewhere) and the book form of Wicked.
In amongst our days thus far, we've managed to watch a few movies. Pirates 3 was a huge disappointment and a waste of 3h. Knocked Up wasn't bad, better than I thought it would be. National Treasure, though it left me saying "yeah, right, like that's possible" in a few places, was entertaining and I liked it in the popcorn-movie genre. I will likely see the sequel.
We still have yet to get to Cheesecake Factory, but will try and do that in the next 2 days. We also want to see a couple of movies in the theatre, but that will depend on how we're feeling.
My mother has been writing me emails, telling me of the storms that have hit home. I do not miss the shoveling at all, nor the maintenance of a fire, nor the being alone. I am not looking forward to coming home, but I do need to work and make money. Reality bites.