Sean’s sister Rose, niece Kyah, and step-mom Peg live in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and a half-hour ferry ride from Salt Spring Island. During our stay on the island, we spent our weekends with his family in Victoria.
We would stay at Peg’s apartment, just downstairs from Rose and Kyah’s. They all live near downtown Victoria, in a neighborhood called James Bay. Just a short walk from the apartment are the Parliament buildings, where the provincial government meets, and the Empress Hotel, one of Victoria’s signature buildings. Here’s Sean and Kyah in front of Parliament at night, when the building sparkles with thousands of lights.
The Empress hotel represents very classic British colonial architecture.
Peg manages a community garden near her apartment, where she grows greens and flowers for herself but donates a lot of the extras to a local community centerwho supports the elderly with myriad programs.
Victoria is on an important harbor on Vancouver Island and has many public beaches. From the beach you can see the San Juan Islands in Washington state.
One afternoon, Sean, Kyah, and I had lunch in Chinatown together. We learned a thing or two about Victoria’s Chinatown.
Kyah tried using chopsticks for the first time—though a spoon for her soup was much more practical and appealing.
Victoria also got plenty of snow while we were there, which is somewhat of a rarity for this city (Victoria has some of the mildest weather in all of Canada, and is technically a desert due to its low annual precipitation). This year though, the fountain in front of Parliament nearly froze mid-air!
Sean started packing for our big trip while in Victoria by going through much of the clothing and knick-knacks he was storing at Peg’s place. He donated a lot of old clothes and minimized the things he was leaving behind to fit into just a few suitcases.
As you can see, one of the bags is as big as Kyah.
We made one last stop in Victoria before returning to Vancouver, this time with all of Sean’s belongings from the Centre. We discovered that Sean’s travel backpack was not only big enough for a 9-year-old wanna-be stowaway, but could also double as a great play toy!
Tremendous thanks are due to Peg for hosting us all those weekends in Victoria and to Rose and Kyah for all the laughs, games, and memories. We are both so thankful to have had the opportunity to share the winter with you.
While in California, we took a week-long trip to San Francisco. We drove up from LA with Nela, one of Melinda’s best friends from high school who lives in SF.
The very first item on our agenda in SF was to visit Lotta Crabtree’s fountain downtown. Family lore says that Lotta’s lineage is connected with Sean’s branch of the Crabtrees. Lotta was a famous theater entertainer in SF for the 49ers during the Gold Rush and became known as “The Nation’s Darling”.
We were blessed with uncommonly sunny and clear weather the entire time we were in SF. Because of this, we spent most of our time walking around the city and then lazing in various parks.
Here’s one of our favorite city shots of the TransAmerica Pyramid.
One of our favorite parks was Mission Dolores park, nearby Nela’s house where we were staying. It has an incredible view of the city.
We spent one afternoon in Fort Mason park, along the waterfront, and made friends with a fluffy Pomeranian.
We also spent an afternoon traversing Golden Gate Park, walking the 3-mile-long park from end to end. Here’s Sean at the Japanese Garden.
The park ends right at the beach—a rewarding oasis after such a long walk!
We ended the day by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
We went across and back just in time to enjoy the sunset from the Presidio.
While in town, Melinda was able to take yoga classes at her favorite yoga studio (and alma mater) and Sean met a phenomenal teacher at City Aikido. After five days in the city, we rented a car to take our time driving home to LA.
Along the way we stopped in Santa Cruz, where Sean returned to his home dojo after eight years. Unfortunately, Highway 1 was closed in Big Sur, so we had to take the inland route south. We stayed one night in Paso Robles, then in the morning we headed to Hearst Castle, perched above the Pacific Ocean.
The Neptune Pool is supposedly the most-photographed private pool in the world.
The castle was built by William Randolf Hearst in the early 1900s and houses his tremendous collection of rare European and Middle Eastern art and furniture.
From the Castle, we took Highway 1 all the way home to Los Angeles, stopping in Pismo Beach for a stroll along the pier and then on to Santa Barbara for dinner.
We cannot thank Nela and Amitai enough for letting us stay with them in San Francisco for the week. Thank you also for providing such fantastic weather!
And thanks to Lola for being our favorite furry friend. :)
After a little more than a month in California, we packed up our bags for the final time and started the trip to Poland. On the way, we stopped in Washington, DC, for a few days to visit Melinda’s good friend Lelia. From DC, we took a bus to NYC to visit old friends and enjoy the City we both loved and lived in for many years.
Like usual, while in DC, we spent a lot of time walking around and taking in the sights by foot. Here we are in front of the White House.
Lelia hosted us in her studio apartment. She worked for a Congressman and was able to take us on a VIP tour of the Capitol building, including the underground tunnels that connect the Congressional office buildings to the Capitol.
While on the tour, Lelia took us to the floor of the House of Representatives—which regular tours cannot access.
It was really incredible to be on the floor of the House, where so much of our nation’s legislation and debate happen—sorry, no cameras allowed! But here’s a picture of the Rotunda in the Capitol and its great iconic dome.
Here’s Sean using the hand-sanitizer dispenser at the Speaker of the House’s office. (No sign of John Boehner’s private tanning booth!)
We also spent much of our time in DC visiting the Smithsonian Museums.
Here’s some recent treasures: Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the original Muppets.
Our favorite was the National Air & Space Museum. The museum houses the Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11, and even the Wright Brothers’ plane. In the picture below, the Spirit of St. Louis is in the top right corner and the Apollo 11 capsule is at the bottom.
Here’s how big the capsule is, but the astronaut’s cockpit is quite small and cramped.
We also saw the first plane to ever fly, the Wright Brothers Flyer (circa 1903).
The exhibit was top-notch, with rich historical perspectives on flight, compelling explanations of the physics involved, and a family narrative on the surrounding walls.
The Wright Flyer turns out to be very hard to photograph, so here’s a diagram of it. (Photo from Aviation-Central.com.)
From DC, we hopped on a bus to NYC, where we stayed with Melinda’s friend Lauren on the Upper West Side. Here we are in front of the Flatiron Building.
While there, Melinda was able to take classes at her old home yoga studio and Sean was able to go to his home Aikido dojo—which happen to be within 1 block of each other!
We enjoyed visiting some of our favorite places in the City together, like Washington Square Park, Central Park, and Union Square. Here’s Betheseda Fountain in Central Park, one of our favorite classic NYC scenes.
Of course, we had to make the obligatory pit stop in Times Square, just to say we did.
We spent a lot of time with Sean’s cousin Allyson, who works at the United Nations.
Allyson was able to take us on a special tour of the UN buildings and tell us about her work with UNICEF. She took us to the main building that houses the UN General Assembly. Here’s views from the street and from inside, overlooking the East River.
We were actually allowed to go onto the floor of the General Assembly…
…and we even went so far as to sit at the desks of numerous countries!
Here’s Sean and Allyson at the Canada desk…
…and the two of us at the US desk. (You can see us hard at work here!)
The highlight was definitely when we got to stand at the General Assembly Podium!
Lastly, we had a big fun dinner with Paul and Vinaya, (Sean’s godparents), as well as Dace & Marcia and Natalie & Jason. We both enjoyed a classic Hoboken lunch with all of Melinda’s old co-workers at Frommer’s.
We were so thankful to see so many of our old NYC friends before leaving the country. From there, we were off to Poland!
Tremendous thanks to Lelia for hosting us in Washington, DC, and for showing us the Capitol. We had such a fantastic time with you and Angelo!
Special thanks to Lauren for your hospitality in NYC. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect close to our time in the US than with you, on the couch, watching movies, browsing the rare birds and fish shop, and endlessly coercing/hunting for bunny!