Friday, July 30, 2010

More Alaska Fun!

We all went to the Alaska Zoo and I was surprised by how much it had changed since I went as a kid. We saw a sign that said one of the Golden Eagles had come from the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek!

We hung out at my parents house and played croquet until 11pm and it was still light. Everytime we visit, I forget about the endless days of summer. Alaska is so beautiful! My sisters dog, Blue, came to play too. We made our traditional stop at the Alaska Wildberry Products store, where they have an incredible chocolate fountain and lots of fun Alaskan items.

My awesome friend, Barat and Christine always make time for lunch when I come...even when I call them at the last minute. We ate downtown near Barat's office at Ginger and it was delicious! The waiter called us Miss instead of Ma'am. I appreciated that! It was great to catch up and now I am waiting for them to come and visit me in San Francisco.

At the Alaska Wildberry Products store, on the way to the airport. It's worth the can watch the workers make chocolates through the kitchen display windows and there is a great candy counter!

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Fishing in Seward, Alaska

All 19 of us went fishing in Seward, about two hours from Anchorage. We had to be there at 6 am, so we got up super early. Our boat was named "Perseverance"and the captain did a great job of getting us to where the fish were. We played cards during the boatride and at some point the older kids used startburst as poker chips.

It was supposed to rain all day and we were prepared for the worst, armed with raingear, boots, gloves, but it turned out to be a perfect day. A little chilly, but so much better than wet or too hot. The wildlife was beautiful and even though it was overcast, the glaciers really stood out. We saw puffins and whales on the way to our fishing spot.

After a 3 hour ride, we dropped our lines and within the first hour we had 18 silver salmon! The limit was 3 silvers per person, so as a boat we were allowed to get 57 and we caught our limit. All of the kids caught several salmon and I loved seeing everyone have success fishing...I have been on many a trip where that wasn't the case.

The captian let a few people put halibut gear on their lines and Aaron and Dave Fletcher each caught halibut! By the time the rest of us asked if we could try, we had reached our limit of salmon and it was time to start the 3 hour ride back to the harbor. What a fun, long day!

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After much debate, I took the kids to Alaska for 5 days right after we got back from our trip to Monterey/Carmel/Santa Cruz/Gilroy. My Grandfather, Uncle, and Cousin all came and my sister and one brother live there with their families. My parents still live there and my other brother and his wife came, so we had a little reunion. Dave wasn't able to take more time off and we missed him, but I am glad we were able to spend time with everyone. Grandad will be 91 in a few weeks and I love listening to his stories and wanted the kids to have more time with him, since we usually only see him every other year. We all went to the Anchorage Museum and saw the Imaginarium Science Center that my mom helped create when I was a kid. It was great
We visited at my mom and dad's house and at my sister's house and the kids had such a fun time with their cousins!

We had family pictures taken and I had my cousin stand in for Dave because he is about the same height and I thought I could just photo shop him in hasn't happened yet. The kids loved doing the silly pictures with their cousins afterwards.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Gilroy Garlic Festival

After living in the Bay Area for 10 years, we finally made it to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It was really fun! We watched the Garlic Cook-Off and I was amazed at the flavor combinations the entrants came up with. Click on the picture to see the recipe titles. The winner made a watermelon, garlic, and crab soup. Sounds gross, but the judges raved!

We had our own chance to taste some interesting garlic cream! I have to say, it wasn't as bad as it sounds, but not nearly as good as the chocolate covered bacon from the County Fair.

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I picked Dave up at the airport in Monterey the next day and we went to Carmel to play at the beach. The girls loved this tree and were so cute climbing all over it.
We played beach soccer for a long time and kids were hysterical! Ryan brought his goal from home and was so happy we had a chance to use it. The girls were knocking into him (they swear they weren't...) and he kept exaggerating the falls, like the World Cup soccer players. He may have seen a few too many of those games!

We missed Andy this trip, but here are the rest of us!

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Santa Cruz and Monterey

We went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and saw Circo Brazil on the beach. The performers were great and the kids especially loved the trampoline gymnasts. The girls and I went on some rides while Dave and Ryan played mini golf. Andy was off to Trinity Alps with the Boy Scouts, so he couldn't come with us on this trip. We missed him!

I took Dave to the airport and he went away for business and I took the kids to our hotel in Carmel. In the morning we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

At one point Ryan said that sharks were his 10th favorite animal. Now he says he doesn't like them at all... The little sand crabs looked like tweedle bugs with their antenae sticking out and wiggling while they dug.

When I was a kid, my sister and I used to bring dried seahorses back from vacations and I have always thought they were cute. These were amazing! And, the males have the babies!! Oh, why wasn't I a seahorse?

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pioneer Trek 2010

The youth in our Stake and the Concord Stake had the fantastic opportunity to go on a pioneer trek for 4 days. I really wanted to go, but they had enough "Ma's and Pa's" already.

This is Andy and Alaina before and after Trek...I think they won the prize for bringing home the most dirt!

All of the kids had a lot of fun and also learned firsthand how hard the pioneers worked. Everyone came home a little more grateful for our comfortable lives. What a great experience!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Calico Ghost Town

We had fun walking around the Calico Ghost Town and learning about it. There was a one room school house with hilarious rules for the students and teachers. We took a tour of the mine and wandered around. Every ghost town seems to have an awesome candy store, so of course we had to check that out, too. Thank goodness for sealants!

On the way home!

We had a great family vacation, but we were all ready to get home and back into our routine. And especially to see Cabo!

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Arizona, part 3

I took the kids to Palatki to see cliff dwellings and cave paintings. It was amazing to see them up close and we learned a lot from the Ranger. Andy had a book that explained some of the paintings and he was able to tell us a lot, too.

The Ranger told us that the black cave paintings are just black from soot sticking to the white material they used for painting, not black was awesome to be so close to the caves.

Then I took he kids to Slide Rock State Park even though they didn't want to go because it "didn't sound like fun". I promised them if they didn't like it we'd leave and we ended up staying for 3 1/2 hours! It was really fun and I even got in the freezing water and slid around with the kids. Too bad Dave was in New York...we missed him. The van temp said it was 103 F outside!

I drove 6 hours with the kids while Dave flew to California, rented a car, and met us at Calico Ghost Town. I love the "used water 10 cents" option for bathing!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Arizona, part 2

After living on the West Coast for 10 years, we decided it was finally time to see the Grand Canyon. And we figured the kids were old enough not to jump was close! We took an awesome helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon and I was so surprised how huge it really is. It is really green with lots of trees, too...I'm not sure what I was expecting, but not that! We loved being in a helicopter for the first time.

We took a shuttle bus to the Bright Angel trail and started to walk down the Canyon. It was 81 and sunny, but not too hot. Andy, Ryan and I hiked down about a 1 1/2 miles while Dave and the girls took the shuttle back to get the van. I got a call (while I was hiking) from my orthopedic who is supposed to do my hip surgery in a month...if I can walk up and down the Grand Canyon, do I really need surgery?! I will say the 1 1/2 miles back up was a little tougher...Andy took off and met Ryan and I at the top.

We stayed at the beautiful Hyatt Pinon Point, but unfortunately Dave had to fly New York for business meetings, so I took the kids swimming and to Telaquepaque to shop. Dave probably didn't miss the shopping part!
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Palm Springs and Arizona June 11-19, part 1

The day school got out, we picked up the kids and headed out on a road trip. We went to the La Brea Tar Pits near Los Angeles and saw skeletons that were 40,000 years old! They were excavated from the Tar Pits and were stained dark from the tar. We drove to Palm Springs and went straight to the pool, then we walked around the town and found color-changing nail polish at Del Sol. I always tell Dave he's lucky that we are so easily pleased!

We went to church in Palm Springs, then loaded up and drove to Scottsdale, Arizona. We stayed at the Hyatt at Gainey Ranch and it was beautiful. The pool even had a sandy beach at one edge. In the morning we played tennis, then the Beesons came to swim at our hotel. It was so fun to catch up with them! The kids had a great time playing water volleyball together.

I told the kids I had a surprise for them that they had to eat...then I gave them a lollipop with a scorpion in it! They all took a lick, but that was it.

We drove to Sedona and checked in to our 3rd hotel, then we took a Pink Jeep tour on the Broken Arrow Trail. It was a fun ride in a heavy duty 4 x 4 Jeep and we rode up and down the red rock formations.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alaina's 8th Grade Graduation

Well, another Bain is through with Walnut Creek Intermediate. I knew it would happen, just not so fast. Alaina had a fun time in middle school and made lots of friends. She learned a lot in and out of school and was exposed to a little more than I would have liked, but I guess that is to be expected. And I probably am a bit of a dinosaur anyway.
Andy remembered his graduation, just last year, and Becca thought about her upcoming graduation in two years. Ryan, however, couldn't have been more disinterested. I guess when you are going into 4th grade, graduating from 8th grade seems too far away. The Principal read all the names as the students crossed the podium and did his best not to slaughter the ones with only vowels or consonants. We live in a very diverse area and there are lots foreign names! I love the culture all around us here.
The house rule is no make up until the girls are 14 (none for the boys, ever!) but since Alaina has a late birthday, I let her wear some for graduation. She looked so beautiful and grown up. It truly seems like yesterday we were riding the Tube in London where she was born. I am so proud of her!
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