Spring Break on the Big Island

Spring break this year was also a belated celebration for Grace’s 50th birthday. Although we used to go to Hawaii a bit before the kids and also when the kids were very little, they’ve only been one time that they remember. We had a great trip with the Lees to Maui for spring break several years ago.

Grace thought it was time for a return trip to a special place for us, which is Hualalai on the Big Island, where we spent the second half of our honeymoon. We also went there with my parents on a babymoon before Olivia was born. Then there was one last trip with Olivia when she was a toddler.

In the past, we rarely left the resort, but Grace planned some memorable excursions for us throughout the trip. On Monday evening, we went manta ray feeding nearby. There were about 10 other boats in the same area just off the coast near the airport. They use bright lights to attract the plankton, which in turn attracts the manta rays who feed right below you. We ended up seeing 6-8 manta rays with four continuously looping under our board for quite a while. We weren’t allowed to touch them, but they were close enough that they touched us. Lucas had some trouble with his gear so didn’t enjoy it as much. Olivia said it was the coolest thing she had ever experienced.

Tuesday we golfed together. It was a tough round for everyone as the wind got up. Olivia got hit by an errant ball early on in the round and took a break for a while. We were mostly all smiles by the end of the round (except Lucas). We checked that off the list.

Wednesday morning we went out on a canoe at the resort. It wasn’t expected, but a pod of dolphins went right past us, which was so cool. We also saw a couple sea turtles. On the way back in, we were able to snorkel along the reef and saw many fish.

On Thursday, Grace and I golfed again while the kids tended to themselves by the pool. They survived the several hours unattended. We had lunch together and had more pool time.

Friday was our last full day and Grace had planned a ziplining activity in Kohala, which was about an hour from the resort. I though it was controversial to spend our last day away, but it ended up being really fun and the kids said they enjoyed it even more than the manta ray feeding. We didn’t really have time to swim when we returned, but everyone was okay with some down time.

Our amazing week in paradise went by so quickly. Given our late spring break, we ran into several friends from school at the resort and then met a few more families who were on our plane home. I also ran into an old friend from my earliest start-up adventures when I first moved to the Bay Area. It’s always a small world.

Lucas said it was sad like leaving camp, which I understood. Grace said it was one of her favorite trips ever (perhaps behind her 40th birthday extravaganza). We all had an amazing time and did the math on how old we’d all be if it were another 13 years before we return. I hope it’s not that long, but it will be worth the wait.

U of M Ski Trip to Vail

A group of guys have been going on this ski trip for a while. This year, Thorne let me know he and Blaine had space in their room and invited me along. Among the other first timers were Blaine, Jon, Lamarchial and possibly some others. Some people departed as others arrived, but my guess is that there were about 16 or 17 people in this group (almost all Sigma Nus, plus some relatives and close friends).

The SF crew arrived Thursday afternoon, but some others had already had a full day of skiing and were gathered at the Red Lion for après. We spent hours there catching up before moving over to Vendetta’s for pizza and the Michigan basketball game. We finished the evening at the hotel before calling it a night. It’s no wonder why some of them did not make it to first chair, but the committed were waiting at the Gondola 1 before service officially started.

It’s not easy to keep a group this large together on a mountain like Vail. To that point, we lost Lamar about 3 minutes after getting off the gondola and didn’t see him again until lunch. It was almost as bad as losing your kid at the mall. There wasn’t a lot of new snow, but it was good enough. The groomers were a lot better than the back bowls, and we covered a lot of the mountain in search of good terrain.

How many old dudes can you fit in a hot tub? Too many is the answer. The size of the group also made it hard to find fine dining, but that was okay because we all fit inside the Blü Cow. Those guys behind the bar had no idea a group would come in and pay for the next 3 months’ rent. I wasn’t there to shut it down, but they reserved half the restaurant for us for the following night as well.

Although I’ve seen most of these guys here and there over the years, I hadn’t met John before because he was a little after my time in the house. The Flint crew showed up on Friday, and Paul and I decided we hadn’t seen each other since college. That meant it was awesome to catch up on almost 30 years and also learn he has 580K TikTok followers. Who knew!

The number of skiers/boarders dwindled on Saturday, with some opting for recovery. Greg and Scott had a beautiful champagne lunch at the Four Seasons. We’re all very happy for them. The rest of us were dining on burgers and chicken strips at the Eagle’s Nest and only the bravest continued on through the end of a very full day of skiing and riding.

Saturday’s Michigan-OSU game did not end as well, but we shook it off with more Vendetta’s (sorry, Blü Cow crew) in Greg’s room. Things got a little crazy with our all-night Euchre tournament. No punches were thrown, but let’s just say some people will do anything to win.

Sunday, I ventured out alone for a few runs in the morning before packing up and saying our farewells. Thorne, Idema and I had our first civilized meal of the trip at Sweet Basil before heading out to Eagle and home.

One thing I loved about this trip was that I got to really catch up with everyone, unlike at a tailgate or a game. There’s lots of time on the chairlift and while hanging out to meaningfully reconnect. On the mountain and in the bar, everyone is still 20. But our conversations really reflect our age as we celebrate our children (and babies!) and partners, support each other with our aging parents, lift some out of unimaginable hardships, compare colonoscopies and cholesterol levels, and contemplate the next phase of life.

However that next phase plays out for each of us, I hope we can keep doing this trip while our knees and (some) livers will allow. Until next time.

Note: I can’t be in all places at all times to capture all the shenanigans, so these are a collection of photos from the trip.

Long weekend in Tahoe with Moons

We spent the long weekend with the Moons in Lake Tahoe. Clara and Grace conspired to sign-up Lucas for ski team at Northstar. This was his first time skiing with his Mountain Explorers team. He’ll get some more days on the mountain this season and is happy to have Nico to keep him company.

Olivia and Alex didn’t ski/ride as much this weekend, but they still got out for some tubing. We didn’t end up getting on the mountain on our last day, so the four kids went tubing instead. It was a great end to our weekend together.

Thanks, Moons, for having us (as always). We’ll see you again in two weeks.

Ski Trip to Beaver Creek with Jea and Eddie

We planned a ski trip for the 2nd week of the kids’ break. It’s always a gamble with the snow that early in the season and a week or two before our trip to Beaver Creek it was looking very bleak. It was dumping in California during that time, but not all of the storms seemed to be hitting Colorado.

While we’re used to going to Beaver Creek now, we chose it in particular because Jea and Eddie planned to be their with their family and their friends. It’s a crazy time to travel and the only thing we could find was a 3 BR at the Westin. We didn’t need all the space, so Jea and Eddie joined us in one of our rooms, which was nice to be able to stay together.

Between COVID-19 and the weather, our flight to Eagle was cancelled after several delays. We spent most of the day at the airport trying to re-route and got on a flight to Denver in the afternoon, rented a car, and drove ourselves up that evening. It was very snowy and slow, but we made it safely, but our bags did not.

We arrived on Sunday, but our bags didn’t arrive until Wednesday night. Luckily I had shipped all of our ski gear ahead of time because we were supposed to be coming directly from NY. The kids didn’t have their base layers, so we bought some there and everyone wore the same clothes for 3 days straight. Thankfully we had laundry in the unit to stay fresh.

It snowed pretty much every day we were there, yet much of the mountain and lifts were still not open. The lack of staff impacted everything from the restaurants, in-room dining menu, and lift operations. I don’t think I skied a groomed run all week. Even Starbucks was shut down in the hotel, which is usually an important part of our routine.

In any case, we made the most of the fresh snow and being with our friends. It wasn’t easy to coordinate the whole group, but the kids skied together some days, as did the adults. We had some meals together and celebrated Olivia’s birthday. We enjoyed spending time with the Lim family and their boys were great with Olivia and Lucas (even if they were no match for him in Super Smash Bros). We were supposed to spend NYE together, but the other groups headed out a day early to beat a big storm that threatened to snow them in. They made it safely to Denver after a 5-hour drive.

We were suffering as well back at the hotel, watching Michigan get destroyed in the semi-finals. I barely made it to east coast midnight, but I did manage to get out early on New Years Day to find some fresh powder. Lucas and I skied 6 days while Olivia took her birthday off with Grace.

Although we were delayed again on the way home, we were relieved to just get a flight out with all the cancellations. We made it home safely with all of our luggage (though our shipped ski bags were dropped off ironically to the wrong house).

Happy New Year!

Christmas Day at Home

We came home early from New York City and spent Christmas at home alone (with Luna). The kids were excited to open all of the presents that were under the tree, as they originally wouldn’t have been able to open them until after we returned from Colorado in January.

Thanks to all our family for the generous gifts.

NYC for the Holidays – 2021

We finally had planned to spend the holidays in NY to be together with family. This was technically a Park Christmas, but my mom would be with Jen and the Haus would all be around. I hadn’t been to NY since Eemoh’s 80th birthday over three years ago. We planned to spend the first half of the week in Manhattan. Grace wanted to minimize walking, so we stayed at the St. Regis vs. the Essex House or Mandarin, which are more towards Columbus Circle.

We met Dave for dinner on the first night. My mom came down from Jen’s to hang out with us on Monday. We went to Rockefeller Center to check out the tree. It was pretty crazy down there. We had our first celebrity sighting when Olivia noticed Gaten Matarazzo from one of our favorite shows, Stranger Things. I told her to ask for a photo, but she hesitated. My mom was the most aggressive in getting close to him and in the end Liv wanted one, but we missed our opportunity.

We had a late afternoon snack at the St. Regis before heading out to go skating in Central Park at Wollman Rink. It was a bit of a zoo down there, but we had fun and no one got injured. We had dinner at Quality Italian with Dave, Jeanah and my mom. The last time we came here together, my mom took a really bad tumble on the last couple stairs and broke her knee cap and wrist. We rode the elevator this time.

On Tuesday, we went to the MOMA with the kids. They weren’t really in the mood for a museum and were being very teenagery. Grace did a little shopping on her own while the kids and I had another snack at the hotel. All the food and service there was excellent by the way, especially breakfast. That evening, we had dinner with Zoë and Jeanah. We hadn’t seen her since SJC.

By Wednesday, things were getting a little crazy with COVID-19 in Manhattan. Our Christmas plans were becoming very uncertain and it looked like we weren’t going to see extended family, including my mom, and Grace’s parents, who didn’t even come in from Michigan. Although the kids were very sad to miss spending time with Cameron and Dex at Addy and Charles’s house, we decided to head home early on Wednesday.

We took a PCR test before we left, got home safely, and all received negative results. We survived and Luna was especially happy to see us arrive home early vs. being gone for two weeks straight. We were supposed to fly directly from NY to Colorado, so those plans had to be rearranged.

Until next time, NYC!

Annual U of M Holiday Party – 2021

It’s hard enough to schedule a holiday party and much more so during a pandemic. We skipped it last year, but were determined to get back on track this year. Some regulars decided to leave the country (temporarily) and others had conflicts. Amy and Grady were kind enough to host at their new home.

In the time of COVID-19, it’s perfectly normal for one of the hosts to participate virtually. Grady had a solid reason to be away and Amy handled this rowdy group effortlessly. As we age, the gift exchange becomes tamer and tamer (and more full of CBD-related products).

Glad we didn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with dear friends, despite a lot of other things going on. Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!

Lake Tahoe with Mom and Jen

We capped off our Thanksgiving holiday with my mom and Jen in Lake Tahoe. I’m not sure if it counts as a staycation when you drive 4-5 hours each way, but it is somewhat routine for us. We wanted to give them the full treatment, which included a stop at Il Fornaio in Roseville for dinner. Blue came along and they were nice enough to let him sit with us in the restaurant (instead of on the patio, which would have been chilly).

Grace was thinking that this would be somewhat of a ski trip, except it was in the 60s and the only snow on the ground was from October. I think at that time they were optimistic for an early start to the season, but it has been quite dry since then. It turned out to be fine because we could just relax and show them around.

We were all able to fit nicely into a 3BR at the Ritz-Carlton. We started Saturday morning with brunch in the hotel. Olivia wanted to skate so we took the gondola down to Northstar village, but the rink was closed until the evening. We drove half way around the lake to South Lake Tahoe. It was a perfect day and in the 60s. My mom hadn’t been to Lake Tahoe in 33 years and back then she didn’t see much.

When we got to Heavenly, it was a lot more crowded. Lucas has been wanting to do the bungee thing since he missed out in Jackson Hole. And, to Olivia’s delight, the skating rink was open over there. I took my mom up the Heavenly gondola, which has stunning views of almost the entire lake at the observation level. By the time we got down, Olivia, Jen and Lucas were all skating.

The main event for the evening was the Big 10 Championship game. This was supposed to be an early birthday celebration for Jen. There was a lot of planning of dinner around this game, including a dog sitter for Blue. In the end, we just ordered room service and watched the game in the room, which turned out to be perfect. Also perfect was our blowout, decisive victory. Everyone was happy.

Sunday, we just had brunch again at the hotel and got on the road to return home. It was a short trip and a long drive, but worth it to experience Tahoe all together. Lucas is doing ski team at Northstar this winter, so he and I will be making this trip often.

Lunch with Lilly in SF

Mom has been missing her beloved Mia so much. We had lunch with her daughter, Lilly, in San Francisco during her visit. We spent some time before lunch at the Ferry Building and walked to Waterbar along the Embarcadero. It was so nice to catch up and hear about her family and her new passions.

Brunch in HMB with Mom and Jen

Even though we might have still been full from Thanksgiving, Grace arranged brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay on Sunday, November 28th. We’ve had mixed experiences with brunch there over the years, but in the past they were the big ones during Easter or Mother’s Day.

This brunch was in Navio and allowed sampling anything off the tasting menu for two hours. Olivia ordered the scallop three times. Lucas did not get his money’s worth, but did enjoy a Wagyu slider. Most importantly, Mom and Jen had a great meal and we got some nice photos at the coast. We were also able to pick up our Christmas tree on the way home.

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