Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coming and going

...and going and coming.

Gabriel and Markus are back from California. Yay!! We picked up the two from Seatac airport the other Sunday. They flew in with their cousin who now resides in Seattle. Markus and Gabriel seemed to have grown taller in such a short time!

At Seatac with Joel, Pat's son, a very talented tattoo artist and artisan.

Markus is having fun--at dad!

As Gabriel rested in my mother's apartment, the rest of us went to Seattle Center for an annual food festival. I had never seen so many people in this area. Lots of food, live music and loooong lineups

At the International Fountain. People beat the summer heat.

We'd rather have ice cream... That's Gino in light blue and dreds.

So our home was full again with everyone under one roof.

Then Mickey left for Japan. Wow!! The Land of the Rising Yen! Mickey has been wanting this trip for years. He saved up for it. He has Japanese friends there including our former homestays who will now host him for the next two months.

"Leave me all your contact numbers, addresses, and people you will be staying with," I told him several times. "Scan your passport... Get travel insurance... Be alert... Spend wisely... Be careful with girls..."

Mick has been emailing and sending pics. He is having a blast and eating "delicious Japanese sushi." I wish I were there too!

Be safe, Mick!! See you in two months!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eat, play and be merry

I wonder what Gabriel and Markus are doing at the moment. They are still vacationing in California, and I am very envious!!! Waaaah, California dreaminggggg!!!

I miss my two buds. This is the first time that they have been away from mommyblossoms this long, we call them every other night. Or they call us. I hear they are having a great time and don't seem to be missing chores, hahaha.

Last night when I called, they just came back from eating at a Thai restaurant with their cousins and grandfather. One time they went fishing. Another time they went to an arcade... Today, Gabriel left a message that they would be spending two days with Tito Roy in Suisun City. I think there are plans to go to an amusement park, too. What fun!!

Even if they just stayed home, they will still have things to enjoy. Maple Story, for instance. Or, the Guitar Hero that Kuya Warren bought for their Nintendo DS. I enjoyed that, too. Or they could play basketball in a nearby park.

"Help around the house... Help Lolo cook... Wash your plates... Clean the yard...," I told them a few times. Even if you are guests, you have to help out. Gabriel and Markus, are you reading this? Eat, play and be merry...and help with chores!

Here are some more photos from our Morgan Hill vacation...

Every meal at my sis-in-law's house was a gastronomic delight. They are all such good cooks. That's my 84-year-old father-in-law, a wonderful cook himself. And that's me in the smaller pic helping him out with the dinuguan.

I can still have fun at the playground...

If Markus can do it...

and Gabriel can do it...

and Bud can do it...

I can do it! Give me a push, Markus!! Aaaaacckkk!

OK, Gabriel, show me how to do this...

Age does not matter when it comes to the swing. The width of one's hip does. Ouch!!!

Guys, don't play football here. Can't you see we're playing basketball? (Or something like it?)

I wish we could climb that hill...

We loved these dogs.

At home, I sang and sang and sang on the Magic Mic. Everyone else was too shy to sing. Finally, I got Bud to sing. Behind him is Jess, my sis-in-law's hubby.

He can sing!!

Pat, my sis-in-law. See you again next time!!! And thanks for a wonderful stay there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

On the streets of San Francisco

I'm back in BC. Now I will blog about our stay in CA...

My sister-in-law and our gracious host, Pat, brought us to San Francisco for a day. It was sunny and very windy and as always, very interesting. This was my third visit to this city by the bay where Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett left their hearts. I was content just to see the Golden Gate again.

Our first stop was the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, which is open two days a week—Tuesday and Saturday. The market offers certified organic produce and flowers from small regional farmers and ranchers. It also sells specialties like breads, cheeses and jams. Check out its website. I enjoyed taking food samples.

The market spills out onto the sidewalk.
Markus, keep an eye out for samples. That's our lunch!!

Checking out some beautifully packaged artisan chocolates
at the Recchiuti Confections, a Parisian-inspired shop inside the arcade. Just two weeks ago, I sampled a piece of chocolate that I realized now came from this shop. I swear I could have eaten a whole boxful!

Lerryblossoms among "freshly-cut, sustainably-grown bouquets
in French flower buckets complemented by a fragrant array
of handmade, farm-grown herb wreaths and decorations..."
according to the Oak Hill Farm of Sonoma website.
Charming! (I meant the flowers.)

Outside, we walked across the plaza to check out shops.

With Gabriel, niece, Isa and Pat.

Lerryblossoms: Wow! These paintings look like pictures!!
Bud: Those are pictures.
Lerryblossoms: Wow! These pictures look like paintings!!

More pictures from The Embarcadero, home to many shops, restaurants and hotels, along San Francisco Bay:

Pat treated us to lunch at The Slanted Door located in the Ferry Building. I didn't know until today while reading its website that it was a modern Vietnamese restaurant that "showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area." I should have known by the spring rolls and pho that I ate. Their food was really good!

Loved those shrimps!

Later in the day, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, a recognizable symbol of San Francisco and California. We went to the viewpoint to enjoy the sights of the city across the ocean, the Alcatraz, and the bridge itself.

Only Gabriel's mohawk hair withstood the wind gusts of Golden Gate. Great gel! (I cut that hair...)

Isa and I decided to walk across the 2.7 km bridge. At first I was concerned if I could do it knowing my fear of heights. We agreed to walk only halfway then walk back. But once on the bridge, there was no turning back for us. We decided to go all the way. I was surprised to have made it without feeling woozy.

Going back to the other side, we met Markus who was sent to call us because we had taken so long walking. Seeing him walking near the rail triggered my fear of heights. I felt my knees buckling. Oh no!! I tried to keep my mind off the bridge. I realized my greater fear is that of my son falling. This was the same feeling I had when Gino and I rode a cable car nine years ago in the Sta. Cruz Boardwalk. I froze!

Stay closer to the road, away from the rail...

It took us about an hour to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. We did it! What a nice way to end the day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Do you know the way to...

Morgan Hill? which is were we are right now. Woo-hoo!!!

The Blossoms family, less two buds, are having a vacation in this city next to San Jose. Too bad Gino and Mickey weren't able to join us because of work. At first, I myself was undecided about this trip also because of work, but now I believe I needed this break.

Heeding some friends' advice, we decided to get a rental car instead of taking the van. Renting may be more expensive than driving our own, but considering wear-and-tear and mileage, it seemed more practical in the long run to rent a car for a trip like this. We paid extra for comprehensive insurance. Peace of mind costs money sometimes...

We left Saturday night and slept over at my mother's apartment in Seattle. This gave me time to chat with her once again and do my pedicure. I did my fingers too! I can't remember the last time I had a manicure. I think I was still single then. Hahahah... Now my nails on my toes and fingers are solid pink with white spots. Fancy!! My mother gave me the idea.

We left at 4:30 the next morning and began a 17-hour trip to California. Bud drove most of the way. I only volunteered to take the wheel when he was already dangerously sleepy somewhere in Oregon. I was reluctant to drive. First, I didn't know the route. Second, I wasn't familiar with the car, a new Ford Crown Victoria, the model used as a police car. I'm used to driving an aging Honda Accord, not one that glides on the road and has push button everything. It was making me car-sick. Nevertheless, I tried to overcome my fear and let Bud sleep for a while.

"Pa'no ba 'to paatrasin?" I asked as I was trying to back up from the parking lot at a rest stop. I didn't know how to use the shift stick located behind the steering wheel. My car had it on the floor. After getting a little help from Bud, I drove off. Within a short time, I was enjoying the car.

I was the driver for almost two hours on a very scenic part of Interstate 5. Mountains, trees, hills, winding roads... The forests were so lush and green. Lovely!

I drove carefully. For me, the road signs "65 mph radar enforced" or "patrolled by aircraft", are very effective speed deterrents. At lunchtime, I parked at a rest stop and handed the wheel over to Bud.

Gabriel complained of a headache and carsickness, and we had a long way to go. Both him and Markus kept asking how many more hours to San Jose. Bud and I were having body aches.

We took several short stops along the way to gas up, stretch, rest, eat and use the washroom. If we hadn't been aiming to reach our destination before dark, which was between 9-10 pm, we might have stopped longer.

We were on I-5 for a long time. I think it was already in Sacramento, CA when we started to take different freeways--505, 680, 101--to get to Morgan Hill.

Past 8 pm, nearing San Jose, the boys were already very restless and impatient. Bud was in a hurry to beat the dark. I was watching out for speed limits and police cars that I missed the exit to I-101.

"That's 101! We should have exited," I said as we drove past the exit. I was the navigator. I was doing fine until this point. Bud's stress level shot up. The freeway we were on were four or five lanes each direction. Many vehicles were driving over the speed limit in my estimation. And we missed our exit!! What to do?

We took the very next exit, turned left to wherever hoping to see a sign that will get us back to the freeway. Fortunately, we found it. "101 to San Francisco. 101 to Los Angeles." We were headed south, which meant we should take 101 to Los Angeles, but we almost missed it again. Finally, on 101 South, we heaved a sigh of relief. Then Gabriel barfed! That was his relief. Poor guy took after me. I was like that when I was much younger.

The next goal was to find my sister-in-law's house. Thanks to BCAA, we had a triptik that showed us every turn from our house in British Columbia to her house in California. Exhausted, we were at her doorstop by 9 pm. Very grateful to be safe and sound. Albeit spent.

More stories and pictures next time...