December 14, 2017

Mission Inn Festival of Lights in Riverside

25352309_10214816869761476_6110432454522891622_oYesterday was my Second Annual Retirement Practice to the Mission Inn Festival of Lights. Folks had mentioned how I had to go on this trip and I passed it by for a couple of years, but finally went last year. I LOVED it and vowed I would go every year. And I did. Jennifer was once again my awesome Tour Director from DayTripper Tours. She is hilarious and has a quick wit about her. She had me cracking up during her welcome speech and safety brief. David kept us on track as he pointed the bus towards Riverside. We all enjoyed our comfort stop at Tom’s Farms in Corona. There are several buildings, some with food, a restaurant, home goods and furniture, but the best part was many bathrooms. That is SO important when you have a bus full of predominately females. But we had plenty of time for that and for shopping so it was all good.

25352187_10214816871561521_1465818592178967978_oBack on the bus we continued to Riverside. I couldn’t wait. After all, I knew what I was going to see and I’ve already waited 12 months, I really couldn’t wait any longer. Finally, we pulled up and I could see the Inn kitty-corner to where David parked the bus. It was daylight and, of course, the lights were not lit, but I could see the strands of bulbs and my anticipation grew even stronger. I love looking at Christmas lights so you can only imagine what I was going through. At the suggestion of the docent who met the bus, I enjoyed a light, fast and yummy lunch at Antonio’s Pizza, salad and a slice of pizza and lemonade. I opted for a quick meal so I would have more time to look around but there were plenty of sit-down and fancy restaurant options. As I waited for my tour time of 3:15, I wondered around in search of this really cute store I went into last year. After a while I found it beside the carousel. The “Festival of Lights Gift Shop”. They have a lot of hats and some toys and Christmas items, but what impressed me the most were all the lights hanging from the ceiling. So beautiful inside and hey, it doesn’t hurt to have a bear with a balloon welcoming you into the establishment.

25188817_10214816867761426_8931953238790677627_oOnto the tour. WOW, such a beautiful place that takes up a whole city block. Huge. It was built in stages using different styles of architecture during different years. We heard of how it came to be and we walked everywhere and heard some of the stories of how the decorations were collected and purchased since the early 1900’s. We were even treated to a tour of some of the “guest only” spaces. Awesome.

Back outside, I mentally counted down the minutes to the magic time of 5 pm when the block would explode in a vision of many different, I say bazillion but actually more like 5 million, bulbs that would turn on at exactly the same second. Anticipation level was at an all-time high and like the crowd that gathered, our faces beamed as bright as the bulbs across the street. The Festival of Lights, 25th Anniversary was again in progress! The hardest part from this moment on was to not run into someone or trip over something as I was gawking at all the lights and trying to capture the moment in digital images from the best angles. So much to see and take in. All so beautiful. Jennifer said there were 200 figures that moved and challenged us to find them all. Well, I did my best and saw a whole bunch of them.

25394947_10214816868881454_7352542594032869878_oAll too soon it was time to find the bus in the dark. Luckily for us, Jennifer had that preplanned and we located her across the street on the exact spot she said she would be with her blinking crown pointing the way back to David and the bus. We headed home to reflect on all the familiar and new sights at the Mission. I did take a peek at the prices for the rooms and will have to think about that for next year. Hum… what a wonderful Christmas present that would be to give to myself. Cause, you know, I will be back again. Thanks DayTripper Tours and Jennifer for another fun Retirement Practice. Till next time…

17553710_10212356197486207_3656418806821223521_nDayTripper Traveler Donna Grover
Tour: Mission Inn Festival of Lights

Date: December 13, 2017


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