One of my favorite places to go for the holidays is Alamitos Bay near Long Beach, California and the nearby Naples Canals.
Both places do it up nice for the holidays. In Alamitos Bay, colorful Christmas trees are placed on platforms and lined up in the middle of all of the channels. In addition, lights and garland can be seen strung along some of the docks and boats.
A California Christmas, palm trees, gorgeous sunsets, and Christmas Lights.
As offshoots from the bay, the Naples Canals are a series of narrow waterways that are just wide enough for small boats. Gondola rides can be charted at nearby rental places and we saw as many as 15 people in one of the larger vehicles. Duffys and kayaks were leisurely navigating through the channels while people were walking the boardwalk happily enjoying the beautiful December night. The bridges crossing over the canals were the most crowded as the view there was the best. Each time you drove or walked over a new bridge the sight was just as spectacular as the next.
At least 90% of the residences had lights and decorations making for a spectacular holiday display. The charming little canals were made even more vibrant by the shimmering lights from the homes and docks.
Not as crowded as a Saturday night, Sunday was alive with people, although, that surprisingly added to the appeal and holiday spirit of the evening. There was a live band playing Christmas tunes, hot chocolate and cookies were for sale for a school fundraiser, and of course the star of the show , the holiday spirited homes themselves.
It is an amazing place and a must see if you are in the Southern California area for the holidays.
Story and photos:Debbie Colwell
The Nutcracker at the Civic Center in San Diego
I think most of us have all heard of the production called the Nutcracker. We may not know the story, however most of us might recognize at least some of the music. I decided that at age 52 it was time that I actually see the Nutcracker production. I had never been to the ballet or even expressed much interest in going but Christmas and the Nutcracker just seem to go together and I had to find out myself what it was all about. I saw the advertisement for the production at the San Diego Civic Center and decided that 2015 would be the year that I would finally go.
The California Ballet production is filled with some of the most talented artists and the costumes were more than impressive. The talent ranged from ages 3 to 33 with all skill levels. The young ones were fun to watch and the older dancers were mesmerizing. The San Diego Symphony provided the live music and the familiar tunes were in perfect sync to the dancers. It made me feel lucky that I lived near a city that had such a wonderful production.
They provided a story synopsis of the different scenes in the play bill and that made it way easier to follow along. Not being familiar with the story I would have been lost without the background they provided.
Our lives are so hectic that it’s nice to relax and escape to a fantasy world. I have to admit I didn’t always follow the story line but the dancing sweeps you away and for some reason it really doesn’t matter if you know all the specifics. The dancers take you into a world of no worries and peace. You sit mesmerized by the strength and skill that these individuals portray. Joking around, I have to admit I did a twirl or two on the way to the car. I found myself clumsy, dizzy and out of breath, so much for a career as a ballet dancer. That’s when I said hats off to these dancers, and realized how talented, coordinated, and strong they are.
The Civic Center is a convenient location and nearby there is plenty of parking. It was fun to experience the bustle of the area and the impressive city Christmas displays. Carolers welcomed you into the facility and you were instantly greeted by the young dancers in costume.
The front of the wonderful Civic Center in San Diego
Looking down at part of the lobby
The Nutcracker is a must see at least once in your life time. The music and dancers provide the perfect scenario to get you into the Christmas Spirit.
Story and photos: Jolan Schmidt