Thursday, April 11, 2013

Asian Adventure part 1: San Francisco

I talked yesterday over at The Friendly Home about why we decided to travel with our kids, why we chose Asia, and some things we learned about traveling with kids. It can be complicated, but it's worth it. The pastor who I grew up with, who married Scott and me, just left for Madrid on a much simpler trip which, in retrospect, makes me a bit jealous.

But we'll continue pushing on through the hard stuff with our kids until they're old enough to be simple.

I wonder if that ever actually happens?

The first part of our spring break adventure in Asia actually happened in San Francisco. Because it's where I grew up and because it was an easy transit point between Colorado Springs and Hong Kong, it made sense to spend some time there. We had old friends to visit and sites that we wanted the kids to see.

It's strange growing up in a place and then moving away and not going back to visit. My family is gone -- my mom, dad, and brother have all moved away. My kids know (or knew) nothing of the Bay Area. What a fun opportunity it was to stay for a few days with my childhood friend, Suzanne. For my kids to hang out with her kids, to chat over coffee and beer (not at the same time), to drag my kids all over the Bay Area showing them my favorite things about where I grew up.

It was an action-packed time but so much fun.

As with all of the tours I've given of the city (my college friends will remember this with disdain, I'm sure), my children were not given the opportunity to ride a cable car. Cable cars are not an amusement park ride, my friends, they are for transportation. If you don't need to take one to get from one side of the city to another, then you don't take one. And you certainly don't stand in line for an hour at a turnaround to get on one.

But if one is sitting vacant, you might hop on for pictures.

The kids may have been disappointed that they didn't get to go on a cable car "ride" but they were pretty excited to do this:

Ride bikes across the Golden Gate bridge. This is something I hadn't done before but had wanted to for a long time. The bridge was crowded with bikes -- it was a (rare) beautiful, fogless, sunny, warm Sunday morning. Lots of tourists as well as local road bikers. We rented two tandems from Blazing Saddles on Hyde Street (near Fisherman's Wharf) but if we were to do it again, I'd consider grabbing bikes out at the Presidio from Sports Basement. Navigating through the Marina on tandems is not simple.

We started our morning in the City with breakfast at the Ferry Building. As you may or may not know, Scott and I usually avoid eating animal products. But when you get to San Francisco, the birthplace of the local and ethical food movement, and you find a place that makes breakfast with local organic eggs, milk, and forget about what is the most "nutritionally dense" and you eat what's offered.

Callie actually enjoyed her yogurt more than she appears to be.

Hence breakfast at Il Cane Rosso, which was probably the best breakfast we had during our trip, and the most expensive, too. Actually, it helped me see where all the food elitist criticism comes from...because it was not cheap. But the fresh grapefruit juice with honey and mint? And house made yogurt? And the fried egg sandwich? Seriously. Such a treat.

While we were in the Bay Area we also visited some of the spots that have meaning for me, and for Scott, too. We checked out my old elementary school, Burton Valley, which happens to have a sweet school garden in a spot that used to be ivy-covered wasteland. We visited the corner of the school where I sat outside my third grade classroom crying because my best friend had skipped a grade and I was feeling lost. We sat on the bench where I sat with my fourth grade teacher after passing out during rehearsals for our Christmas program, when I fell backwards off the top riser because I didn't eat lunch. We checked out the sports fields and the handball walls and the swings and the huge US map. Wandering around my old school with my elementary-age kids was such fun for me.

We took the girls to my old church, Moraga Valley Presbyterian, so that they could see where Scott and I got married, and to the Claremont where we had our reception.

We spent a morning at Tilden Park riding the steam of my favorite childhood activities. And we went for a great walk toward Inspiration Point which is on a bluff up above Tilden with gorgeous views of the Bay.

On the Tilden Park steam train with the Krogers.

As a kid I didn't understand the "happy cows" ad campaign in California. Now that I've seen how other cows live,  I get it.

Walking toward Inspiration Point with Gretchen and Jen.

We spent time just hanging out. The kids jumped on the Krogers' trampoline, they had doughnuts at Johnny's, we ate breakfast at Milly's and lunch at Zachary's. That sounds like a lot of food. It was. I gained about 7 pounds, I think.

Meeting Jen's baby, Autumn. Such a happy girl!

Brynn's only pretending to be asleep. You know she's "too old" to be read to, but she still loves it.

Doughnuts at Johnny's in Lafayette.
Zach's Pizza in Berkeley

Nature's Express in Berkeley. Callie's one and only favorite vegan mac-n-cheese. Only $9 a cup. Yikes.

We also managed to squeeze in a day in Marin. I wanted to visit the Marine Mammal Center, and so did Callie. So we got in a stop there, plus a walk through Muir Woods and a visit with my grandma.

Picking up banana slugs is probably frowned upon.

At the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands.

Checking out the rescued Elephant Seals.
All will go back to the wild once rehabilitated.
Spending time with my grandma.
The iPad was great for sharing photos with her.

Through all of the California leg of our trip, the girls were enthusiastic, curious, and wide-eyed. I think almost as much as I did, they enjoyed spending time with my friends (and their kids) and enjoying some of what the Bay Area had to offer. I'm so thankful to have a place to stay that is comfortable and welcoming (thanks, Su) and friends to visit and catch up with. It's funny how, even when you haven't lived in a place for almost twenty years, you can go back and it still feels like home.

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