Business Trip to Tokyo

Last week I went to Tokyo for business. It was my first time traveling to Japan since my one and only visit in 1979. I had to ask my mother for details. After her father semi-retired from practicing medicine in Korea, he wanted to keep working and had an opportunity to work with a friend in Japan. While it probably wasn’t common for Koreans to immigrate to Japan, my grandparents lived outside of Hiroshima from about 1970 to 1990, during which time I visited them.

I had been meaning to get to our Tokyo office for quite some time, but schedules got in the way. The opportunity to travel with colleagues presented itself last week, so I took it. It was an amazing week to meet and connect with the various teams there and our hosts could not have been more gracious and inviting. We enjoyed many meals together and had productive meetings.

We also took the opportunity to explore a bit, venturing further and further from the comforts of Roppongi Hills as the week went on. I had some great meals during the week based on recommendations from friends and hosts. The truth is I had Starbuck’s every morning, two hamburgers for lunch, and zero sushi all week. I did have amazing Katsu while meeting up with my b-school friend, Tom. In the it’s-a-small-world department, I randomly ran into a dad from Lucas’s school.

My colleagues and I ordered ramen from a vending machine and also figured out the subway to Harujuku one evening. Half of us indulged in a second dinner (the really hungry half). I stayed one extra night by myself to explore. I caught up with another b-school friend, Trista, who lived not far away. It was great to catch up with her.

The best meal I had was ironically French, at L’Atelier de Joel Rubuchon (RIP). The last time dining at one of his restaurants was on Grace’s 40th birthday in Paris. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a 4-course meal, which was perfect. Although I could have stayed in to watch the Ryder Cup (glad I didn’t), I instead got on a bus to Shibuya to see what it was all about. At that hour, the crossing was busy, but not worthy of a time-lapse or extra effort. The general people watching was entertainment enough.

Although I had visions of pulling an all-nighter so I could sleep on the plane and get back on schedule, I can only keep myself company for so long. After wandering around (and around) and having the wrong people ask me the wrong questions, I decided it was time to get out of there. What I didn’t know was that public transit ends at midnight. It was 1am. Apparently I’m terrible at hailing a taxi and/or recognizing who was for hire, so I just started walking. Eventually, down a dark alley, I caught a cab just as some people were getting out.

On Saturday, I headed back to Shibuya to meet up with an old work friend, Benjamin, who was spending a month in Japan. Great catching up with him as well. I was only a little worried about getting out before the Typhoon arrived. I might have arrived at the airport a little early, but it gave me time to buy some gifts and get in one last meal of Katsu curry.

I would have loved to stay longer, but I had to get back to the family for Elin’s last weekend at home with us. I’m sure I’ll be back in Tokyo again. Apparently, my Epic ski pass works at Hakuba Valley in Nagano, so it just might be when the powder is deep.

 

Eemoh’s 80th Birthday Party

My aunt celebrated her 80th birthday Saturday, August 18th, in New Jersey with many family and friends. I took the red-eye solo to represent our family for this important milestone. She is the rock of the entire Hau clan.

I arrived very early in the morning and stopped by Bobby’s house to see the family. We had breakfast together in Ridgewood, which is a super cute town. Afterwards I made my way to the party, which was on the Hudson River. My parents had come from Michigan and were staying with Jen.

There were many toasts and speeches by the children and grandchildren. There was entertainment from live action, live music and music videos. The Haus are incredibly theatrical!

Afterwards, we went to Ellie and Sandor’s beautiful new home in Rye, not far from Addy and Charles. There, I finally got to meet #4, Spencer. They were kind enough to put me up for the night. On Sunday, I drove into Manhattan with  Eemoh and met up with my parents and Jen for my first viewing of “Crazy Rich Asians” and lunch at Quality Italian. It was a super short trip, but important and memorable family time.

Happy 80th Birthday, Eemoh!

Annual Summer Trip to Michigan

Despite Lucas’s apprehension about his 3rd year at SJC, the whole family made the trip to Michigan in August. My plan was to press re-play on my amazing week last year, but JP wasn’t available to be my golf partner-in-crime, so I had to recruit a new ride-or-die: Grace.

We always try to head east a few days early so the kids can get acclimated to the timezone change, which gives them some QT with Grandma and Grandpa at their place. The wide open spaces are never lost on them and we make the most of it. Aunt Jen was home, too, which made it even more fun.

Lucas could not like sandwiches less, but he persevered at Zingerman’s. We paid a visit to M Den, as we swap out their old Adidas gear for new Nike swag. We were also lucky to spend a little time with the Feleses and the Milano-Sessines, the latter of whom were coincidentally in town for a family visit.

On Sunday after dropping the kids at camp, Grace and I got on the road for the two-hour trip west to Arcadia Bluffs for our afternoon tee time. The nice thing about twilight golf there is that they play bagpipes while you look for your ball. We spent two nights there and enjoyed both the dining and accommodations. On Monday, Eddie, Ethan and Dr. Lee drove up from Ludington to make our foursome in the morning. Grace joined me in the afternoon for my second 18 of the day.

On Tuesday, Grace decided she had enough golf and flew to NYC for work from Traverse City. I drove her up there in the morning and turned right back around to head down to Ludington to play golf with Eddie, Emma and Ethan. We had dinner at the club with the entire family. I got on the road with the intention of driving back to West Bloomfield, but Ed called and talked me out of it. Once again, I was rooming with Ethan in the basement.

Wednesday, I did make it back home and hung out with my parents. On Thursday, I had breakfast with Jon and Greg in Ann Arbor. While waiting for my coffee, I made a call to Forest Dunes and found that there were afternoon tee times available, so I drove up there myself, played 18 and had dinner with Paula, David, Jeanah and Christine. I stayed there overnight and had the first tee time as a single on the new Loop course, which is supposedly the only reversible course in the US. I totally forgot it was walking only and what I envisioned as a two hour speed round turned into a three hour stroll looking for my ball. I was officially golfed-out.

The rest of my trip was my high school reunion, which was another highlight of the week. The beginning and middle were great, too. Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Week in Tahoe with the Moons

We’ve had many Tahoe adventures with the Moons over the years. Now that their home is finally ready, we were honored to be the first guests to break in the house (figuratively and literally). I guess the real honor goes to Ed’s bachelor party, but there wasn’t a speck of glitter anywhere, so it’s like it never happened.

We arrived on Monday and had lunch at the family barn, which is just a short walk from their home. It wasn’t hard to keep busy for a week with so much to do. The kids got started on a fort, which kept them busy throughout the week. Olivia is really wanting a dog, so spending time with Thando was good practice.

On Tuesday, Elin, Mike and I took the kids to the ropes course, which was challenging and a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a little bit Truman Show to be able to either fish or go bowling only 100 yards apart, but those were our options in the afternoon. Elin took Nico and Lucas bowling while Alex, Olivia and I went fishing. We heard they’re getting smarter and they did prove hard to catch. I got lucky and snagged a 10-12″ trout. Eventually the others found us and both Nico and Olivia hooked a fish but both fell off before landing them.

On July 4th, Mike wanted to go on a hike/adventure he had heard about at Crystal Peak. Apparently, the Crystal Mine trail ends on a mountain of quartz, which is there for the taking (one bucket-full per car per day). We had no real idea where we were going and there was a dispute between Google Maps, Waze and the internet. We also ended up off-roading for miles and had read that the last part of the trail required 4-wheel drive and clearance. I think we looked a bit out of place with all of the 4-wheel dune buggies whizzing by, but we made it all the way up. The kids thought it was fun.

There was no real objective when looking at a huge pile of rocks, so we told them to start digging up a huge crystal embedded in the mountain. That kept them busy for an hour or so (not even close to dislodging it). Eventually they started to search for and collect clear crystals, which were also hard to come by. After a couple hours, we decided to head out and went out a different way, which we were hoping was a little easier on the car. It wasn’t. The rugged terrain lulled everyone to sleep for what turned out to be a 65-mile drive deep into Nevada and back to Tahoe.

Grace brought a lot of food, which included a colorful 4th of July BBQ featuring Fred Steaks. We finished early enough to head down to Tahoe City to catch the fireworks. Things didn’t get underway until well past 9:30pm when it got truly dark out. Of the 600+ photos I took on the trip, it’s possible that 300+ were of fireworks. I posted one, which still looks terrible. I think the iPhone has those nailed.

Thursday, we wanted to go to the beach on Lake Tahoe. Thando was joining us, so it had to be dog-friendly, which ruled out our usual Sand Harbor. Mike determined that Chimney Beach was the place to go, but it has limited parking so we got a very early start and were one of the first people there. Elin and I were trying to guess the water temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Either way, it was super cold, but the kids and Elin braved it (well, Lucas was less brave). We stopped at the Lone Eagle restaurant in Incline Village for lunch, which was well deserved after the big hike back to the cars. Clara, Mike, Grace and I had one adults-only dinner out at Plumpjack Cafe at Squaw Valley.

Friday, we played putt-putt, which wasn’t the hit it through the windmill type, but rather real greens meandering through the neighborhood. There was a lot of slope to the greens, which resulted in some big scores. Some of the group stopped after 9 holes, but Elin, Nico, Lucas and I pressed on to finish 18. There was a great family festival going on, which kept the kids busy for a while. Mike, Grace and I left early to play real golf. The Martis Camp course is so beautiful and is in amazing condition (until we came along). Mike got some advice to stay out of the bunkers, which was sage. It didn’t help.

On Saturday, we had one last meal together and prepared to head home to the real world. The kids were excited to show us their fort, which was a legit lean-to. We were sad to leave after such a fun-filled week with our gracious hosts. Thank you, Moons, for another amazing vacation together.

Spring Break in Southern California

After traveling a bit this winter to ski, we decided to stay local for Spring Break. We didn’t have any firm plans and after a great trip to Tahoe a few weeks ago, skiing was put on the table. However, the weather was a bit unpredictable, so we stayed with the original plan, which was to go to Southern California.

What didn’t go as planned was our departure. Grace arranged to have lunch with her parents, which would have meant about a 7am departure. Given that we don’t pack until the day of, our actual departure was about 11:30am. We only made it about 1 mile before our first stop for lunch. After that, we drove straight with no stops to meet Grace’s parents for dinner instead in Koreatown at Chosun Galbee (always). We continued another hour to Laguna Niguel.

Part of our trip was coordinated with Julie and Albert, who were originally going to stay at Monarch Beach. After they changed plans, we just decided to stay at Grace’s parents’ house, which was empty. The next best thing to staying at Pelican Hill is having your friends stay there and crash their party – for two straight days.

On Monday after swimming over there, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary at Monarch Beach Resort, which was formerly the St. Regis when we got married there. The decor is a little more modern and the restaurants are new. Bourbon Steak replaced the previous Michael Mina restaurant. I had informed them of our celebration and they took very good care of us for the evening. We’ve been to the resort a few times over the years, but hopefully this is a visit the kids will remember.

On Tuesday, the Lees had a setup at Crystal Cove beach and invited us over. The kids played for a while with the Lees and their cousins before retreating to the full-servicesness of the pool at the resort. Thanks to Julie and Albert for hosting us during our OC visit.

Tuesday evening we called an audible with Beth and Ryan, who live very close to Grace’s parents’ house in Laguna Niguel. We met up at 230 Forest in downtown Laguna Beach. It was great to catch up with them and see Sloane and Alex, who have grown so much since our last visit.

Wednesday we migrated back to LA with a stop in Manhattan Beach, where we stuck to the routine of Rock N’ Fish, beach and the creamery. The only thing we forgot were the beach chairs, but we bought a much needed umbrella from the same guy who was selling fruit every other time we saw him. Grace wanted to check out Venice Beach on the way up, but by the time we got there it was so windy that we didn’t want to get out of the car.

We had dinner at Century City, which was our new new home for the next couple days. We went to Rock Sugar for dinner on Wednesday and Toscanova for lunch on Thursday. Thursday afternoon, we went to Ann and Jeremy’s who were joining us for dinner with Grace’s family and Dave to celebrate her mom’s and Dave’s birthdays at Del Frisco’s in Santa Monica.

After completing some IT projects at the Westwood house, we met up with Dave and Grace’s parents back at Republique on La Brea, where we ate last year. There was no Fonzie sighting this year, but the food was just as good. Following lunch, we hit the road for home. We did have to make one quick stop for gas, but it was otherwise a non-stop trip to home. The only thing that saved me was trying out adaptive cruise control for the first time. I admit that I didn’t trust it at first to slow down, but after some testing, I realized it was life-changing. I can live with semi-autonomous cars for now.

Annual Tahoe Trip with the Moons

This past weekend we made our first trip to Tahoe for the season thanks to a late winter snow storm. We coordinated with the Moons and looked into renting a house or condo, but with Thando joining the family, we needed something dog friendly. Luckily the hotel was happy to have him.

We stopped at Il Fornaio in Roseville on Friday night and didn’t get into the hotel until about 10:30pm. Saturday morning we got a relatively early start (given we were on the mountain already). It snowed all day and most of the night, dumping about 9 inches on top of a recent storm that brought over five feet of much needed snow.

Their friends Elisa and Don were also at the resort, so we had dinner together on Saturday night. Each of us got a turn with the baby, Olivia being the most successful. On Sunday, we got out early again and skied hard for a few hours on the most and best snow of the season. The powder in the glades was the best. Lucas and Olivia made so much progress this season, which was proven on the same mogul run we did a couple seasons ago. Grace is also doing great on her form.

We thought this might be our last trip of the season, but now skiing is on the table for spring break. Who knows what will happen with the snow and weather between now and then. In any case, it was a great trip with the Moons  with some of the most memorable runs of the year.

Colorado Ski Trip with WB Guys

This past weekend Steve, Scott, Herb and I met again in Beaver Creek for our annual ski trip. We had a great time last year in Colorado, so we decided to head back again. We were missing some of our regulars, but four was still a great number on the slopes.

Friday was Steve’s birthday and although we didn’t convene until Saturday, his request was to watch the Michigan Basketball game. This year, we had a large suite at the Westin (where we usually stay). Rather than go out, we just watched the game in the room and ordered room service. It was a stressful game right up until Poole’s buzzer beater. We went nuts.

On Sunday, we skied at Beaver Creek. The conditions were a little firm, but the snow was infinitely better than it was back in December. We had dinner at Splendido, which I had been wanting to try for a while.

It snowed a lot starting Sunday afternoon and throughout the evening. Although it snowed 7″ in Beaver Creek, we opted to go to Vail, which received 5″ of fresh snow. We covered a lot of ground and had a great day on the mountain as it continued to snow. Sunday night, we had dinner at Grouse Mountain Grill, where we celebrated Nick’s birthday last year.

On Monday, we skied again at Beaver Creek, which receive another couple of inches overnight. We did some laps on Larkspur in the morning, which we hadn’t tried yet. The snow was amazing. Before lunch, Steve, Herb and I went up Grouse Mountain and skied Royal Elk Glade (at Eddie’s suggestion). It was the best run of the week – lots of run and everyone made it down safely. We met Scott for lunch before heading up again for one last run down Royal Elk Glade again.

Herb was staying an extra night, so Steve, Scott and I left around 3pm to get back to Denver for our flights. Another great trip is in the books. We’re already talking about next year and hope more of the team will join us.

Ski Week in Whistler and Vancouver

We’ve been dealing with drought off and on the past several years and have thus chosen to travel for the kids’ ski week vs. going to Tahoe (although last year was epic). After the debacle in Beaver Creek before the holidays, I kept a close eye on the snow report across the various ski resorts. It seemed that Whistler was the only resort having a “normal” winter in terms of snow fall.

After we made our plans, it seemed like Utah and Colorado caught up a bit, but we were still happy to be able to try a new mountain. We actually had traveled to Vancouver before for our Alaskan cruise with the Parks several years ago. Lucas was only 2, so he wouldn’t have remembered anything and even Olivia probably didn’t recall much.

Our flight to Vancouver was delayed a few hours, so we decided to eat in the city before heading up to Whistler. I made plans for us to go to an early dinner at Market by Jean-Georges. We ended up having a later dinner there instead. Lucas declared it one of his best meals ever. Although it was too dark to see the stunning drive Whistler, the roads were at least empty, which made it go by fast.

We skied Monday to Thursday together. We’re not really a first chair kind of family and somehow each day we got on the gondola later and later. On our last run on Tuesday, we went into the terrain park and I realized the day before we had gone through the “M” of S, M and L and lived to tell about it. I didn’t think too much of it the second time except I did scrub some speed off the first big jump and landed it fine right in front of Olivia. Feeling confident, I went for the second big jump and somehow did NOT make the landing.

In a split-second, I hit the top of the jump hard, double-ejected and face planted after falling forward about 135 degrees down the ramp. It would have been bad enough, but I was wearing my camera around my neck and basically body-slammed it into my ribcage. I could not breath, and when Olivia came down, she could not stop laughing. I was so wrecked. After I verified that I was still alive, Lucas came down and was trying to push my skis down to me when someone came and gave us an assist. He asked if I was okay because he saw the whole thing. I really wish there was video of it because it was so epic. I haven’t crashed like that in … well, ever.

On Wednesday, we met up with my POPSUGAR buddy, Chris. We got in one run together at the end of the day. Even though I said I retired from the terrain park, the kids made me go in there again to face my fears. I stuck to the “S” route and made it down safely. It wasn’t until Thursday that I really started to feel injured. I went to the top of Blackcomb by myself for the last run of the day and limped down the mountain as I had trouble breathing on my right side.

On Friday, I did pretty much get on the first gondola and went straight up and over to Blackcomb (“Do you guys want to go with me? No? Okay, see you later”). I got lucky as when I arrived at the Peak-to-Peak gondola, the glass-bottom car had just arrived. It was cool and terrifying at the same time. Unfortunately, the lift to the top was closed due to the weather, so I did a few laps until it finally opened. I took one last run from the top of 7th Heaven before we packed up and headed out.

We had planned to spend one night in Vancouver to check it out. We had a great dinner at Lupo near our hotel. On Saturday, Grace bought us tickets for some attraction at the same port where we got on the Disney cruise ship. It was “Fly Over Canada,” which was basically a light version of that Disney Avatar ride that wrecked me over Thanksgiving. I was destroyed, so Liv and I went back to the hotel while Lucas and Grace went to the park and Science Center.

We ate our last two meals in the hotel at Honey Salt, which was excellent. There’s one in Vegas, so we’ll have to check it out there. We had a late flight home, which was delayed a bit. After someone took one of our our ski bags by accident, we didn’t get home until about 1am. Everyone was very happy to be home, mostly to see Luna!

We’re definitely going to keep Whistler in the rotation for ski week if climate change continues to conspire against us in Tahoe.

Skiing in Beaver Creek and Vail before Christmas

The kids had the week off before Christmas so we decided to ski again before the holidays. We had settled on Beaver Creek, but didn’t make our plans until the last minute. I was showing the kids the World Cup, which was held in Beaver Creek at the end of November and it seemed fine. It wasn’t until after we made our arrangements and checked the weather that I found out there was hardly any snow and very little open. Uh oh.

We were locked in, so we just decided to make the best of it. Like last year, we were on our way to our holiday destination (Michigan this year), so we had 8 bags of luggage on the way there, as Elin was joining us for the week. Thankfully it all fit in the car. We have bad luck on I-70 as the road was closed at the Eisenhower Tunnel and we were forced to take the Loveland Pass, which caused a little delay.

On the way there I saw that our old friends, Betty and Andrew were already in Beaver Creek so we hoped to meet up. When we arrived at the mountain the next morning, they were the first people we saw. We met up with them again at lunch as they were leaving the next day.

The kids didn’t get to show Elin all their favorite runs because none of them were open. Despite that, there was still plenty of terrain to ride and we spent the whole week working on our turns (and hockey stop for Lucas). For months I was getting Lucas mentally ready to ski parallel this year. Up until this year, he skied a very wide stance, which made skiing parallel virtually impossible. We started with hockey stops (on both sides) and lots of sliding. I realized that both Olivia and Lucas could turn and stop pretty well when going right, but going left, not so much. From then on, they were only allowed to stop left (though there wasn’t full compliance).

We stayed at the Westin in Beaver Creek again and got a little more space for the five of us. We finally made it to Grouse Mountain Grill as a family, which I enjoyed for Nick’s birthday during the last season. On our third day, we skied a half day and headed over to Vail to watch Star Wars. Afterwards, Arthur invited us over for dinner. It was great to spend time with his mom and his sister’s family, who we see often in Vail.

We skied Vail on Thursday. The coverage was surprisingly thinner than Beaver Creek and it was a day of unsuccessfully avoiding rocks. Arthur made it out in the afternoon for a few runs together. We had more meals at some familiar places as well as tried some new restaurants in Vail during the week.

By week’s end, it snowed a few more inches and actually got quite cold. The last afternoon on Saturday were the windiest conditions in which I’ve skied (seemingly hurricane force). But, it was only my second chance during the week to let my new skis run as Grace and the kids called it a day early.

Even though the snow wasn’t the best (i.e., the worst), we still had a great time and both kids made great progress on their form and speed. I’d call it a success. Can’t wait to get back on the mountain under better conditions.

Thanksgiving 2017 in Orlando with the Parks

We spent only our second destination Thanksgiving in Orlando, FL last week. Coincidentally, the first was with the Rhees in Miami Beach, FL five years ago. Our family and Elin went down a little early to spend a few days at Universal Studios. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was very close to the park.

The kids were most excited about Harry Potter, even though we already enjoyed the lite version in Hollywood over Spring Break. Orlando’s Diagon Alley did not disappoint. The weather was amazing the day we went. Our family lost steam around dinner time. We had dinner at Citywalk before heading back to the hotel. Elin, however, wanted to hit every ride and got most of them in by riding until closing time.

The next day, it was raining, but we still went to the pool anyway. It would have helped a bit if it was warmer, but the kids didn’t seem to mind too much. After swimming, we made a game time call to see Wonder. Afterwards, we had dinner across the street at The Portofino.

The third day we just had breakfast and packed up to move over to Disney. We went over to the Hilton next door to use their pool, which had a lazy river and a slide. Addy, Charles, the kids, and Dave all arrived and met us there. We tried to have dinner at Disney Springs with no reservation, but ended up just eating back at the hotel lobby.

On Thanksgiving, my plans to eat nothing until dinner was thwarted by a nice lunch at Eddie V’s. We hit the pool at our hotel in the afternoon, which had less amenities but was at least heated. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel restaurant, which is not our style, but still a lot easier for those who usually cook and or clean. Our main motivation for visiting Orlando was to see Grace’s mom’s brother, Ben, who lives there. We were happy that he joined us for our family dinner. This was Elin’s first American Thanksgiving, which she hopefully enjoyed.

Black Friday was spent at Disney World. It was my first visit there since 1980, which was before Epcot was even built. We planned this part of the trip terribly, as we just bought our tickets and had virtually no fast passes reserved among our big group. Our plan to mitigate this was to catch the first shuttle to the Disney, which meant a pre-dawn wakeup.

The main attraction Charles wanted to ride was the new Avatar-themed Pandora attraction. We didn’t exactly elbow our way into the park or run to the ride. By the time we were in line, it was already a 3-hour wait. Oof. Thankfully, everyone was patient (including the Grandparents). I don’t do well on these 4D rides. It was pretty amazing, but I’m still queasy. The kids and Elin loved it. We took it a little easier in the Animal Kingdom and did some Safari ride. Because the damage was done, even the Dinosaur ride was painful to me. We did actually have 3pm fast passes for Pandora, so Elin, Addy, Olivia, Lucas and Cameron rode it again.

We all headed over to Epcot for dinner. It was my first visit there. We then rode the monorail back to the transit center. Olivia, Lucas and Grace’s parents were done at this point, so I took them back to the hotel. The rest of the group headed over to the Magic Kingdom to check it out and watch the grand finale. Everyone was impressed.

On our last full day together, we finally made it into Morimoto Asia for lunch. Afterwards, half the group went back to Disney World for another day and night at the park. Elin had a Fast Pass at 11:30pm at Space Mountain and didn’t make it home until late. The kids, Grace, Dave, Grace’s Dad and I went to the pool for a bit. We were back at Disney Springs for a healthy meal of fried everything at Art Smith’s.

Sunday, we packed up, and headed out of Disney for the last time. What we didn’t know was that our flight was going to be delayed about 4 hours, which made for a long rest at the Orlando airport. The one good thing about it was running into my long lost b-school buddy, Ted, who was on his way back to Austin.

As always, we have so much for which to be thankful and now this amazing trip  with family is also on the list.