Spring Break in Maui with The Lees

We’ve traveled before with Julie and Albert, but never for a week. I don’t know why because our kids (and the adults) always have such a good time with our BFFs. We haven’t been to Hawaii in 8 years, mostly because they were usually Grace’s work boondoggles. The kids were too young to have any memory of it, so this was all new to them.

Going to Kapalua on Maui is a little bit of a golf bucket-list destination, so I was excited … until we got the news that the Plantation course was closed for renovations for a year. No worries, we were really just chaperoning these five kids so they could be on their devices in one of the most beautiful places and in close proximity to the ocean. Our au pair, Ala, also came along. Hawaii was a first for her, so she went to Oahu right after we arrived to explore by herself for a couple days.

Albert’s cousin lives on the island, so they spent a few days with us as well at the resort with their daughter and brand new baby. The kids had endless ours of fun at the pool and down at the beach. We went and explored Lahaina and Kaanapali and had a lot of great meals throughout the week. On April 9th, Julie and Albert joined me and Grace in celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary at Merriman’s. Julie and Albert could write the Lonely Planet guide to Luaus and took all of us to one at the Westin in Kaanapali on our last night there. One of those fire-spinning dudes was not like the others.

By the end of the week, everyone had their fill of Spam musubi. Everyone was ready to get home to their pets (Max and Luna). It was a sign of a relaxing and restorative vacation. Our families are often like one, and we hope the kids will always feel that way about Olivia, Ellie and Theo. Looking forward to our next big adventure together.

Mahalo.

Spring Skiing in Tahoe

The weekend of March 30th, we went up to Tahoe to get some more skiing in before the end of the season. Olivia has soccer practice on Friday nights until 8pm, so we left right after she was done. Olivia has not been a fan of fast food for most of her life, but for some reason was craving McDonalds. We made a drive-thru stop on the way and she sampled the McNuggets. They are a drug. I had my first McDonalds French fries in a couple years. Also drugs. Lucas didn’t sample the McNuggets, but he is not curious to try them. Fries are the gateway drug to other McDonalds foods.

We didn’t arrive to the hotel until midnight. We’re not a first-chair kind of family, so after a proper breakfast, we hit the slopes. We had just missed some fresh snow a few days before, but were now enjoying the bluebird conditions. I left my sunglasses at the Moons’ house on our last trip up, so I ended up burning my eyeballs before buying a new pair.

The Moons were also up at their house with friends so we met up with them for dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday, we skied for a few hours again after breakfast before changing, packing up, and heading home so as to not get home too late. The traffic wasn’t as bad as our last trip, but I’m still feeling that the drive is not the best use of time. Utah is looking better and better to us.

Ski Week in Beaver Creek and Vail

We had a great time during our first time in Utah after Christmas. The next big decision was where to go during ski week. Had we known Tahoe would be dumped on by an atmospheric river, we would have considered it, but maybe they got too much snow? We settled on our trusty Beaver Creek, which turned out to have just the right amount of snow, especially compared to our last trip there.

The other upside was that Jea and Eddie were going to be there with Audrey and Ethan. They’re often skiing over the long holiday weekend, but they don’t have the whole week off. We’ve had one other chance encounter several years ago when they were in Vail, but this time we were staying at the same hotel.

Coincidentally, Eddie and I went on a couple ski trips to this area just after college. Once, we drove with Bobby from Ludington, MI, stopped at a Cracker Barrel to pick up my buddy, Eric (Grub), in Illinois, and drove to CO. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Avon, which is a stone’s throw from the Westin. Those trips were the last time I skied with Eddie, which was why it was so awesome to ski with him again. It was just a few runs over a couple days before they left, but still fun like old times.

Poor Audrey wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t see her on the slopes. We spent some time with their friends from DC, who were their hosts. Olivia and Lucas have apparently been playing too much Nintendo as they seemed to school the bigger kids.

The rest of the week it was just us. We tried a couple new restaurants in town, but mostly stuck with the old routine, including countless runs through Jack Rabbit Alley. One day we went over to Vail and tried to find Arthur and Sophia, but between timing and a big mountain, we didn’t hook up.

This was the kids’ first time skiing 6 days, which isn’t that impressive because we’re not a first-chair kind of family. Some days we got on the mountain just before lunch. It snowed a little while we were there, leaving just enough powder to keep everything soft. It was perfect conditions for Olivia and Lucas to tackle their first double-black diamond runs. They thought it was no big deal.

We were having a great time together until our very last run, we wen’t through some trees we had never skied, which seemed to be endless. Lucas straddled a decent sized tree and got stuck, which required me to hike up a fair way to dig him out. We were all ready to get off the mountain after that.

I knew no one was going to want to ski on our last day, so I went out early by myself. It had snowed about 4-6″ up top overnight and was a bluebird morning. I got in a few hours and called it quits while I was still in one piece.

Hoping to get in a few more days of skiing this season. With all the snow in Tahoe, it could be in June!

Skiing in Deer Valley Over New Year

We’re always looking for new places to ski with the family. Although I’ve been to Utah a bunch with friends, Grace nor the kids have been there for skiing. We looked at a lot of options for our 2nd week of the holiday break. Coincidentally, Ann and Jeremy were going to be in Deer Valley and invited us to crash with them.

This was fortuitous on an epic scale because they were staying at the Montage. I’ve only had lunch there before with my WB buddies and fell in love with it the minute I stepped inside. I never expected to ever stay there, but we were beneficiaries of Ann and Jeremy, who were beneficiaries of another friend whose plans changed. That left available a beautiful 3 bedroom unit, the kind of which makes you not want to return home.

Sunday, the day we arrived, was Olivia’s birthday, so we wanted to celebrate somewhere. Our plans were last minute and the only place I could find was the Seafood Buffet at Deer Valley. If I had a better memory, I would have remembered that while the food was good, the ambiance was a little lacking for the price of admission. Next time I will not forget. Most importantly, we celebrated Olivia’s milestone with friends and she was happy.

Monday, we skied at Park City because the Ikon passes I got at the last minute were blacked out that day at Deer Valley. It was a cold but great day on the mountain. I hadn’t skied there in forever. Starting Tuesday, we got into our ski-in/ski-out routine at Deer Valley, which was a lot easier. The snow was infinitely better than the start of the season last year, though coverage was still a little thin in areas. We definitely made the most of it.

The Champions Club at the Stein Eriksen was one of the best finds on this trip. While the food is not as epic as the buffet upstairs, every game in the arcade is free. I guess they’re making it up in pizza. We spent New Year’s Eve in the room and had room service for dinner, which was fine with everyone. We had some so-so dinners in town, though Riverhorse on Main was notably excellent again. Some of our best meals were at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel (two nights in a row).

All the kids were great sports all week and we had fun skiing with Emme and Elsen. The little and big kids enjoyed an après ski of tubing and hot cider. The kids added rolling around in the snow between the pool and hot tub to their routine. I didn’t allow myself to get roped into that, but Jeremy joined right in.

We didn’t venture down to the bowling alley until right before we left. Otherwise we might have had some high scores by the end of our awesome week together. It all went by so fast, but we’re so thankful for being able to finally travel with their family, especially after our Airstream caravan got aborted a couple years ago. Until next time!

2018 Vegas Trip

Jen, Ed and I met up in Vegas for our annual trip. Grace and Prem both came in for one night, which is plenty of time for trouble. We missed Jea, who was at Nationals with her tennis team (woo hoo).

Ed and I played Paiute two days (Wolf and Sun Mountain). The weather was beautiful and we had a great time. We tried some new places to eat (Mastro’s was a bust) as well as visited our tried and true. I might have stayed 3 hours (or 3 days) too long.

Until next time…

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.