Well, I certainly hope that everyone enjoyed the holiday and am preparing themselves for the New Year celebrations. I had a very nice time in California, celebrating Christmas with Donna's daughter Kristina.
We flew out of JFK last Thursday (12/23) and were picked at LAX by Donna's ex-husband (and Kristina's father) Michael. Michael acted as our host and chauffeur for the next few days, taking us around to some of the places where Donna used to live and to several restaurants. We were joined for most of the weekend by Kristina's friend, Devin.
I have to recommend both Mimis Café in Laguna Niguel for breakfast. The fresh baked muffins and raisin carrot-cake log are to die for. Also, the price is very reasonable. This used to be one of Donna's favorite places and I can understand why. Be prepared to wait a while depending on when you arrive. If you're curious: http://www.mimiscafe.com/
I have been hearing about In-n-out Burger for a while now. Kristina raves about it and when Donna's sister came back after a visit, her husband was also a fan. We had a chance on Sunday, before heading to the movies (where we saw MEET THE FOCKERS, which is a must for anybody who liked MEET THE PARENTS). The great thing about the place is the very limited menu. You'd think that would be a down side, but the choice of a burger or cheeseburger makes life very simple. The place was packed when we got there, which goes to show you that in spite of the hundreds of other restaurants and fast-food places around they must be doing something right! If you like hamburgers you have to give the place a try. I thought the fries were a bit salty, but not too bad and definitely a step above most fast-food fries. Oh, you might want to check out the "secret menu", which you can find over at their website: http://www.in-n-out.com/
By the way, there are other stories told about the place, but check out the bottom of the soda cups to understand where they may be coming from. :-)
Anyway, we had a nice day on Christmas, with Donna and the girls putting together a delicious meal, which included honey-glazed ham, sweet potatoes and Donna's homemade cheesecake. Yummy!
Every year my Christmas gifts run along a theme. We've gone through SOUTH PARK & THE SIMPSONS so that I'll end up with books, t-shirts or other related items. I have Simpson editions of both LIFE & CLUE, which we enjoy playing. This year I made mistake of sitting around with my wife's nieces & nephews watching SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. I actually enjoy the show and now find myself with a SPONGEBOB t-shirt, 2005 15-month calendar, six-inch inflatable doll and a mini-lunch pail filled with SPONGEBOB sour candies. If you haven't really sat down and watched the program, you might be surprised to find yourself enjoying it. The recurring MERMAID MAN & BARNACLE BOY characters are wonderful examples of super-hero spoofs which are clever enough to appeal to comic fans of all ages.
About the only 'western' related things I saw were seeing the Saddle Back Mountains, where some low-budget westerns were filmed. Also, passed the exit to Gene Autry Way which made me smile as I passed the sign.