That's right. Valentine's Day is today.
If you forgot, you're probably groping for an excuse right about now.
Or maybe you remembered but couldn't get enthused about a holiday that falls on Thursday , that annoying gap before Friday, when there's light at the end of the tunnel and two whole days of freedom ahead.
Either way, you're probably kicking yourself and searching desperately for a last-minute idea.
Before you resort to a store-bought card and one of those bouquets at the checkout stand, why not suggest something fun and different for tonight or this weekend?
What could be more romantic than a stroll in a Spanish garden or watching a sunset together? Or how about a bonfire on the beach? Maybe even a drive-in movie to remind you of those steamy nights in the back seat of Dad's car?
Feel like staying home this weekend? For less than what you would spend on cut flowers, you and your loved one could plant a rose garden that will last for years. Then you can snuggle up and watch romantic movies, or dance in the living room with the lights down low.
Or if privacy isn't your main concern, you could invite a few friends over for a red wine tasting.
The possibilities are endless, but here are a few to start you off:
* Arrange to meet your sweetheart at Bolsa Chica State Beach. Stop by the store on your way and pick up some goodies and one of those little bundles of firewood. There are fire pits on the sand, and the two of you can enjoy a cozy bonfire. If you get there early enough, you can watch the sunset. No need to hurry home. The beach is open until 8 p.m. Parking is $6.
* There's a romantic spot in Anaheim Hills where bandits used to hide. It's called Robber's Roost and it's another great place to watch a sunset. Historians say bandits hid up there, lying in wait for the Butterfield Stage. Today, it's bordered by housing developments and power lines. But it's quiet up there, and you can see a long way. (Sad to think that the top was bulldozed off without a permit by developers in the 1970s. But the county made them put most of it back.)
You can drive to the base of it, and from there it's just a short hike to the top. The trail is moderately steep, but the view is worth it.
Take Nohl Ranch Road south until it deadends at Serrano Avenue. Turn right. The peak is directly behind Anaheim Hills Elementary School. From the school parking lot, it's easy to spot the knob-shaped boulders where the robbers hid. The trail leading to the top is between the parking lot and a housing development. Keep to your left on the trail, and you'll find an easier route to the top. An equestrian path winds around behind the peak and curves gently up. Bring a flashlight in case you want to linger awhile after dark.
* Seaview Park in Laguna Niguel has one of the best ocean vistas in the county, and the sunset is spectacular from up there. It's bordered by housing developments, but it overlooks Aliso/Woods Canyon Regional Park.
From Alicia Parkway, turn north onto Pacific Island Drive. Turn north again on Talavera Street and follow until it deadends at a gate-guarded community. Park on the street near the guardhouse. The entry to the gravel foot path is marked, and it's lighted after dark, so you can stay and watch the lights of Laguna Beach come on at dusk. The park never closes.
* Drive-in movies are becoming a thing of the past in some parts of Southern California, but Orange County's got three of them (one of which has six screens). There are two in Orange, including the county's only Spanish-language drive-in.
Pacific's Hi-Way 39 Drive-In on Trask Avenue in Westminster has Cinefied Sound, which comes through on AM radio. Consult the Pull-Out Movie Guide (Pages 12-17, this section) to see what's playing. All show a second feature for one admission price, so load up the car with some pillows, blankets and plenty of goodies.
* Take the Amtrak train to Fisherman's restaurant on the San Clemente Pier (611 Ave. Victoria). The southbound San Diegan stops daily right across from Fisherman's at 7:40 a.m. and 9:08 a.m. If that's too early for you, the train stops at regular intervals in San Juan Capistrano. From there, take the 91 bus over to the pier. It's just a 15-minute ride.
Fishermans opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. Lunch is from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner is served from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday brunch is from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant and bar are in separate buildings on opposite sides of the pier. Both are romantic and elegant, but the bar is the best place to watch the sunset. Afterward, take a romantic stroll to the end of the pier or along the shoreline.
Call Amtrak at (800) 872-7245 and Orange County Transportation District at (714) 636-7433 for schedule and fare information.