Epic Michigan Golf Tour

After dropping Lucas and Olivia off at camp, I had absolutely no where to be. Joseph (JP) and I have been contemplating this situation for some time. Still, we had no real plans.

We’ve been wanting to play Arcadia Bluffs for a while, but the opportunity didn’t arise until just a day or so before camp when a cancellation opened a spot on Monday. We left JP’s car at camp and headed to Crystal Mountain, which was not far from Arcadia Bluffs. When we arrived, we headed straight to the pro shop and got in a full round on the Mountain Course well before dark.

Eddie was visiting his parents in Ludington, which is about an hour away. On Monday, he and Ethan rounded out our foursome at Arcadia Bluffs. Despite living most of my life in Michigan, I had only laid eyes on Lake Michigan from the Michigan side a few times. I wasn’t quite prepared for how beautiful everything was: the lake, the elevation, and the links course nestled in the golden heather. Even though it was a tough course, JP went low and was actually under par through 9. Wow. I got our money’s worth on a per stroke basis. We all had lunch together and then JP and I decided to replay. We got in a solid 15 holes before we called it due to darkness. The wind had kicked up towards the end of the first round, but by late afternoon it was calm and beautiful as could be.

We had also secured a tee time for Tuesday. However, the one thing that didn’t go our way was that we wanted a room at AB, but it was booked (we only asked about 20 times during the day about cancellations). Graciously, Dr. and Mrs. Lee invited us over to their house, so we headed to Ludington. We got there late and stayed up even later being entertained by JP. On Wednesday morning, JP had to switch sports to tennis along with the entire Lee family. I went in search of coffee and postcards for the kids. We played golf at the Lees’ club, Lincoln Hills, followed by dinner together. We couldn’t have been more thankful for all their hospitality while we were golfing vagabonds.

Jen happened to be in Traverse City visiting friends, so we headed there to see them out at the bar. JP hit a wall like I’ve never seen (he’s usually always high octane), so we found a place to stay in downtown TC. Somehow he mustered some energy for 11pm ice cream. The next day we decided to play “The Bear” at the Grand Traverse, which was also a first for me. It was difficult, but fun. We had already payed for a reply when JP got the bat signal from our friend Anita that she was in town but had to head back to NY early. We changed gears and drove 3.5 hours back towards my parents house to meet up at Christine’s house.

JP now had the opportunity to entertain my parents for a couple days. We played U of M on Thursday (exactly a year to the day from our last round there). We had dinner at home together with Jen and cancelled our Friday golf plans at Forest Dunes. Our luck continued when a room finally opened up at Forest Dunes, which is the resort at which we stayed last year with Grace and YY. We got rained out then, so we were determined to play there this year. JP fancies himself a very lucky guy and true to form, when we checked in, they put us in a two-bedroom cottage because there was a group of 24 dudes that were expected to be a little rowdy. Perfect!

We finally got our last round together in at Forest Dunes, which didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of trouble and the greens were fast. The good news was that I made it through the whole week with only the balls I brought (and found of course).

I haven’t played this much golf since my honeymoon (Grace is the best). I just can’t see why this doesn’t become the annual ritual while the kids are in camp. We’re currently accepting applications for our 3rd and 4th players.

Visiting Family and Friends in Michigan

There were three reasons for our annual trip home to Michigan:

  1. Visiting Michigan grandparents, seeing aunt Jen, and catching up with friends.
  2. Attending Sae Jong Camp
  3. My golf tour of Michigan

Last year, because we attended a reunion before camp, the kids didn’t feel like they had enough time at grandma and grandpa’s house. Thus, this year we went a few days early not only to adjust to the time, but also to spend quality time with family and friends.

Highlights:

  • Grace’s parents happened to be traveling back to LA from Michigan as we were landing, so they met us at the gate to say hello. Our flight was delayed, so we only had time to walk them down to their gate. Still, it was a great surprise for all of us.
  • My mom always likes to cook the kids’ favorite foods. Olivia’s best compliment to her was that we were so lucky to grow up with such great food. This is true!
  • We visited with the Melanie and Nick for a bit and Randy also came over.
  • Last year, I took my dad downtown to explore. This year, the kids and I took my mom. We went back to midtown and had lunch at Jolly Pumpkin and also visited the Shinola store for some souvenirs. The kids were also mesmerized by an actual turntable (hint hint, Santa).
  • We tried flying our kites again, but it was futile. I’ve done it many times as a kid back there, but now I think the forest has grown too tall and was blocking the wind. The kids never tire of my childhood elementary school playground.
  • We met up with the Feleses again for dinner and dessert at Stroh’s. We wouldn’t have another chance because they were off to Spain for an awesome summer adventure.
  • On Saturday, we met Jea and Eddie’s family in Ann Arbor. Jea and Emma were touring Chicago colleges and then everyone met up to visit Michigan in Ann Arbor. We had lunch together at Zingerman’s (check!)
  • Our golf tour included a detour to Ludington. Eddie’s parents invited me and Joe to stay at their place. I hadn’t been there in well over 20 years. Top Gun was being screened as we arrived. We slumber partied with Ethan in the basement like we were all 13 years old. We got the full Ludington experience, including tennis, lunch and golf.
  • After bringing the kids back from camp, I went to Michigan to have brunch with Fran and Jon. The Brimhalls were visiting their old hood from their new hood in Telluride.
  • Finally, on our last day, Kristen and Scott happened to be home visiting Scott’s parents, so we met up with Riley and Natalie in Birmingham.

For as much as we squeezed in, there wasn’t enough time to see everyone. We’ll be back in December for the holidays and will hopefully have a chance to see more friends then.

Summer Vacation Kickoff in Las Vegas

We’ve been starting summer the last couple years in Carmel. However, my parents came to visit for a few weeks, so we decided to take them on one of our Vegas excursions. Jen was needed to complete team Rhee, so she came out to CA and flew with us.

Our Vegas crew also includes Jea and Eddie. I’ve been asking them for years to bring the kids, which is always harder for our normal Spring or Fall trips. We planned this after school was out for everyone, so Emma, Ethan and Audrey finally made their debut in Las Vegas. This was a first for both families to be traveling together, unless you count our chance encounter in Vail a few years back.

The kids finished school on Thursday morning, and by that afternoon we were on our way. Our flight was a little delayed, so we went straight to our scheduled dinner at the new Momofuku in the Cosmopolitan, which hadn’t opened yet when we were there in December for Jen’s birthday. Eddie’s family were not arriving until the next day, so it was just us.

Bobby, who does not love Las Vegas, happened to be be in town for one last bachelor party. He came in a little early so we could golf together on Friday morning at our usual Bear’s Best. He came and had lunch with the family, who were out at the pool. We haven’t really been to Vegas in the summer in a while, so it was nice that it was warm, but it was unexpectedly windy.

The Lees finally arrived right before dinner, after a very long day of flying to LA and driving to Vegas from there. We were happy to finally all be together and enjoyed a great meal at our usual Mon Ami Gabi. Emma, Ethan and Audrey were already getting the full Vegas treatment. Because it was their first time, we crossed the street to watch the Bellagio fountains for a while.

Ed and I played golf at our usual Royal Links early Saturday morning. Everyone else had breakfast at the Wynn and went straight to the cabana. The Wynn pool is a lot better for the kids and the Lee kids were now very deep into the routine. We all got a little rest and had the kids eat before seeing Blue Man Group, which they all loved. Afterward, the kids stayed together while all the adults had dinner together.

We had an early flight on Sunday, so we enjoyed one last meal together at a new restaurant at the hotel. Our kids had a great time with the whole Lee family. We hope they’ll be a regular part of the crew next time (i.e., this Fall).

Spring Break 2017 in Los Angeles

After a lot of skiing this winter, we decided to road trip to Los Angeles for spring break. The main motivation was because Grace was convinced her mom was turning 75 and wanted to have a surprise party for her. Then Addy and Charles changed their plans to meet us in LA, and Dave came down, too.

We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Westwood. We were going to go to Santa Monica, but decided to go to Century City for dinner instead. While there, we decided to see a movie. The nice thing about taking your kids to a 9:30pm movie is that no other parents bring their kids to a 9:30pm movie. I stayed awake for all of Boss Baby. They loved it.

When Grace was planning her mom’s dinner, she mentioned it was going to be on April 9th. Ummm, that’s our anniversary… No matter – it’s her 75th! We celebrated our anniversary at lunch instead with the kids at Bouchon. Lucas was very leery of French food, but found the donuts to his liking. We did some shopping for Grace’s mom in the afternoon.

The kids wanted to visit with Emme and Elsen before dinner even though we didn’t have much time. I took the opportunity to catch up very briefly with my long lost friend from home, Joanne, who also lives in Santa Monica. Our visit was too short, but still long overdue. So great to see her and meet her sons.

Sometime before all the family arrived at the restaurant for Grace’s mom’s surprise, we determined that it was actually her 76th birthday. Surprise! She deserved a big party anyway, so it was all good. Awesome to see all the Park cousins.

On Monday, we met up with the family at République in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful building, which used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate. When I got there, I looked up and saw someone familiar. My instinct was to say hello and his instinct was to say hello back. It was Henry Winkler. Who is more familiar than the Fonz? That was one of the highlights of my trip year.

Grace went with her mom and sister to the spa, so I took the kids to the Grove to get out of the house (i.e., off their devices). We went to a real book store, which had real books (each kid got 2). We had more donuts, ice cream, and people-watching. Afterwards, we went to Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little early.

On Tuesday, we went to Universal Studios, which was the 2nd big reason for our LA spring break: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ann and Emme joined us (Elsen had no idea what he was missing). The kids have been wanting to do this for a while and were so excited. I had no idea about the rides, but we all (adults) got so wrecked by the Forbidden Journey. I took more than one for the team and rode that one twice (worse the 2nd time because it broke down the first time and I didn’t have to suffer through Quidditch). By the time we got on the Minions ride, I learned to just keep my eyes closed the entire time. I’m still sick.

Everyone enjoyed the studio tour. Seeing animatronic Jaws made the kids feel a little better about sharks after I screened Jaws for them a few weeks ago. We were all traumatized by it when we were kids; I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be, too.

Wednesday was a very routine beach day in Manhattan Beach. By routine, I mean lunch at Rock’n Fish, beach, Starbuck’s, and the Creamery. Every. Single. Time. That evening we had dinner with Ann and Jeremy at Katsuya in Brentwood.

Thursday, we had lunch with Grace’s parents in Westwood after I upgraded them from 0 MB DSL service, which was killing me, but was the only thing instilling grit in the kids on this trip. We walked to the other end of Westwood and back and then loaded up the car to drive home.

My spring break officially started on Friday with the first round of golf in a long while with Charles and Albert in Half Moon Bay. We spend the rest of the weekend with Addy and Charles, who left early on Sunday. Our nice break ended with Easter brunch at the Crowthers’ and dinner with Jeanah and Christine at our house.

Spring Skiing in Tahoe with Kimuras and Lees

We’ve been trying to get to Tahoe with the Kimuras and Lees for a few years now. This year, we finally made it happen. We rented a great house in Northstar last weekend, which was perfect for all the families. The Lees were only planning to ski one day, and unfortunately their Olivia stubbed her toe in the morning and fractured it! Bummer.

We had some great home-cooked meals thanks to Torsten and Grace. We had some fresh snow and generally very spring-like conditions. The kids just don’t care and I was pleased they were eager to go down the hardest trail (for Northstar). Lucas might have bitten off more than he could chew, but he made it without complaint.

Next year, I think we’re going to try to go somewhere out of state. Wherever we end up, it will be fun with this crew.

Colorado Ski Trip with WB Guys

After missing our annual ski trip last year, the WB guys reconvened in Colorado last weekend. This was the first time we’ve been to Colorado together since Chris was living there a couple decades ago. We’ve been going to Utah for several years. Steve graciously hosted us in a couple of his timeshare units in Beaver Creek.

We’ve been asking Nick to join us for years and he’s always politely declined. This year, I conspired with an influential person (Melanie), who surprised him with a plane ticket to join us over his birthday weekend (surprise!). Both of us were a little worried about the fallout, but he was a good sport about it.

I think Nick’s hesitation might have come from the misunderstanding that this was a hard-core ski trip. It didn’t take him long to realize the truth about old-man skiing is that the entire trip is planned around eating. Each day, we get up later and later and go to bed earlier and earlier. The trip is measured in calories vs. vertical feet.

On Thursday night when we got in, we headed over to Vail for dinner at La Bottega. Friday, we skied over at Vail in very Spring-like conditions. Friday was also Nick’s birthday. To celebrate, we had an amazing dinner together at Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek. I’ve been wanting to go there for a while, but we were never able to get in on our family trips. Melanie very thoughtfully arranged for some champagne and appetizers and every person in the restaurant seemed to know it was Nick’s birthday. The evening (and possibly the trip) culminated when the resident musician came over with his accordion to lead a rousing “Happy Birthday” to Nick. All this was topped off with bread pudding for dessert.

One other thing that Nick and Chris might not have bargained for was the Big 10 basketball tournament. Every day, lunch was planned around catching the end of the Michigan basketball game, which really meant the 2nd half (and sometimes included half time). They were good sports and cheered along with us Wolverines as we won every game including the championship.

We all skied Beaver Creek together on Saturday, followed by dinner at Maya at the Westin where we usually stay. Nick and Herb were both leaving on Sunday morning, so the rest of us didn’t get on the mountain until close to noon. Monday was the only day we got up early. Steve, Scott and I were there as the lifts opened as Chris had to work.

Everyone really seemed to enjoy Beaver Creek, so I expect we’ll return again. There’s already talk about going back to Whistler, where this trip all began over 10 years ago. I don’t think it matters much where we go as it’s always a good time, with good food and great friends. Until next time, fellas.

Ski Week in Tahoe with Moons and Uncle Dave

The last couple of ski weeks, we went to Colorado in search of snow. However, this year’s wet weather gave us more confidence that Tahoe would work out and we got even more than we bargained for. We rented a house with the Moons in Martis Camp. Their brother, Ed, joined us and then Dave came up for the second half of the week. We ran into friends from home and school, including Mrs. Zirelli, who was both kids’ first grade teacher, and Mrs. Lawson, Olivia’s teacher this year.

We arrived on Saturday just as a storm was coming in. It started snowing and basically didn’t stop for the week we were there. The first couple days it was dumping heavy, wet snow. It cooled down after that and the snow turned light and powdery. It was the most powder I’ve skied just about anywhere. The first day was a little tough for Olivia and Lucas, but when the snow lightened up, they got the hang of it.

We skied six days straight, which is a record for us. By the end of the week, Olivia was crushing some legit black diamonds and skiing the glades. On the last couple days, Lucas also opted for some real black diamonds. He struggled a bit with a full steep mogul run, but got back on his fast groomer and skied about a third of his last run through the glades.

Grace cooked a lot during the week, so we only made it into the village on the last night. Everyone was pretty tired, but Lucas got hooked on Settlers of Catan and really wanted to play. He stayed up until 12:15am to crush me and was quite pleased with his domination (with Grace). We had a great time together with our friends and look forward to our next adventure together.

NYC with Family and Friends

After Christmas, we decided to spend a few days in NYC. We enjoyed meals with all the Parks and Rhees Bottega and Quality Italian. With met up with Clarence and his kids at the Time Warner Center, which was where we were staying. I had wanted to watch Rogue One, but the kids insisted on seeing Sing and Moana first. My dad joined us for the former on his 80th Birthday.

On the way back from Moana, we looked around Times Square for a bit and decided to take the subway home for fun. We popped out right at Columbus Circle and I saw this dude wearing my coat. Then I notice that this dude is Danny, one of the only people I know who lives in Manhattan. What a small world.

On our last morning in NYC, everyone slept in a bit, so I went out for a walk in Central Park, which we never do. We met up with Ana, Bobby, the boys and my sister and parents for lunch in Koreatown for one last meal before heading out to the airport.

The holidays are always nice in NYC. We’ll be back again soon, I hope.

Dad Park’s 80th Birthday Celebration in NYC

Because all of the family were together for the holidays, Grace’s Mom wanted to celebrate her Dad’s 80th a little early. On Monday, December 26th, several close friends and family met at Gaonnuri. Dave and Charles emceed the event and several people spoke, including Mom and Dad.

It was a beautiful event to celebrate Dad’s 80th and the food was excellent. Everyone had a great time. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Skiing in Beaver Creek Before Christmas

Grace has pushed all in with family skiing, which is great. This year, everyone got a pass again, which finally makes sense as the kids have hustled their way out of ski school. The kids were off the entire week before Christmas so we took advantage of their time off to stop in Colorado on the way to the East Coast for the holidays.

We have things pretty dialed-in now at Beaver Creek, so we headed there again. We usually stay on California time whenever we travel and without the rush of ski school in the morning, there are no first tracks for this family. I’d say we were more than leisurely on this trip, but having passes makes it less of an issue to pack it all in every day.

On day 3, Grace gave the kids an out because she had to work in the morning and they took full advantage of it to sit in the tub for several hours watching their iPads. I took the opportunity to ski by myself and hit some terrain I had never explored before. It was very efficient. Eventually we met up for a late lunch and they rallied with all their gear. We went up the lift at the base and got on the mid-mountain lift 5 minutes before it closed to get in one run from top to bottom together.

Everyone is making great progress, especially Grace. Olivia opted to hit some black diamonds with me and was fearless. More importantly, she’s my best student and very actively does the things I ask her to do to promote good habits. Lucas is still a work in progress, but he’s not afraid of speed, which is awesome. Grace will need to keep up with him.

On day 4, we went over to Vail for a change of scenery. The snow seemed a lot better over there. Arthur was now in town and graciously invited us to park at his place which was a huge help in terms of logistics. He was deep on the other side of the mountain by the time we were heading up, but we eventually met for a late lunch. After skiing, we stopped by to say hi to Heidi, the girls, and his sister’s family.

One other nice coincidence on this trip was that my friends Judy and Danny were staying at the same resort. Grace hadn’t met them yet, but Judy and I had the honor of being maid of honor and best man in Jea and Eddie’s wedding over twenty years ago. The one and only time we had skied together was at Beaver Creek and Vail over a couple decades ago. And, Danny is Eddie’s business partner. The last time we hung out was at Ed’s surprise 40th. It was fun catching up and having the kids spend time together. Hopefully, we’ll all meet again.