After Jeff made us a hearty and healthy breakfast, we let the kids watch some of the Rose Parade on television before getting outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine. We made our way up the Pacific Coast Highway for a family-friendly hike in Solstice Canyon. Originally setting out to check out the architectural ruins, “Darth Vader” House and waterfall, we realized we left our backpack and baby carrier at the house so we didn’t make it that far. No big deal, there was still so much for the boys to explore. First we head up a small staircase near the park entrance to the Rising Sun Trail which meanders along a mountain crest with vistas of the Pacific. We’ve had a four-year dry spell in Southern California, making it one of the most severe droughts on record. The brush, dotted with sage and wild anise, was mostly dried out. This particular trail was a bit more rugged and Benjamin was determined to hike by himself. When the trail started to climb we turned around to explore the wider, more kid-friendly and mostly paved path. On our way down, we heard squawking bird calls and Judah told them he couldn’t fly up to play with them at the moment. He seemingly was having too much fun to be interrupted! The kids explored tree hollows, pretended they were conductors with tree logs as their choo-choo trains and chased each other around old majestic oaks, sycamores and alders. The sun soon disappeared behind the mountains and it got rather chilly. Without our jackets, snacks and water we called it a day, but look forward to returning soon enough. I can’t think of a better way to start off the New Year than connecting with nature and family!