2023 U of M Ski Trip to Vail
This past weekend was spent with brothers for life in Vail. Although the tradition goes back at least a decade, this was only my second trip. It’s not easy to herd this many cats on a mountain as big as Vail, but we did our best.
It’s easy to see the routine: Loaded Joes, skiing, hot tub, dinner and cards, with some other activities sprinkled in between. There were some high speed crashes, but everyone went home in one piece. As always it was great to reconnect and catch up with each other throughout the trip.
Lamar and I broke our perfect record of losing in Euchre, but one of those wins was against a team who had no idea what they were doing. Allard and Durbin are unbelievably undefeated and couldn’t be less gracious about that fact – worst winners ever.
Thanks to Brad who organized a special dinner in a private room at Elway’s. His only request was that everyone share a toast. I had a conversation last year about learning the importance of never missing an opportunity to let people in your life know what they mean to you. This group already gets it. Many beautiful words were shared to attest to the gratitude we all share for our decades of friendship.
I’m already looking forward to Super Bowl weekend in Vail next year (and every year thereafter).
U of M Tahoe Trip to Blaine’s – Winter Edition
Matt invited the west coast crew back up to Lake Tahoe for a ski trip. It’s just as beautiful up there in the winter, just snowier. I rode up with Ben on Thursday evening and Matt and Dukes were already up there.
Friday, we skied Palisades, which was the first time for me in years. Because I last skied there when the kids were very little, I don’t recall the big mountain aspect if this resort. It was a welcome change. We met up with Greg and his friends and skied together after lunch.
On Saturday, we avoided the crowds and skied at Matt’s home mountain of Homewood. This was a first for me. I always thought Heavenly had the best views in Lake Tahoe but I was wrong. Homewood is right on the lake with spectacular views everywhere. It was well groomed and quiet. The plumbing is not modern.
Great weekend away with the boys. Hope we do it again soon. Thanks for having us, Blaine!
Olivia’s Surprise 16th Birthday Party
Olivia hasn’t had very many birthday parties with friends over the years because her birthday lands during the holidays. Her very thoughtful and sweet friends threw her a surprise birthday party. She was in on some discussion for an impromptu party a couple weeks ago, but that never materialized.
On Sunday, while her friend took her to lunch, a bunch of friends came over to the house to decorate and set up. There was enough misdirection that Olivia really had no idea. When she came home, she was truly surprised and overwhelmed.
We can’t thank her friends (and their parents) enough for making this happen. We’re all very fortunate that she has such a kind friend group and we love having them all over. Happy Birthday again, Olivia!
Olivia’s 16th Birthday
We celebrated this sweet 16-year-old at home this year, which is rare as we’re usually traveling somewhere. It’s hard to imagine that Olivia would need anything just a few days after Christmas, but her generous family always sends her such thoughtful gifts. It was extra special to have my mom, aunt Jen and Blue here to celebrate together.
We braved the rain and took everyone to Che Fico in San Francisco. I thought it was even better than the first time and every dish was amazing. While not a big party with her friends, we hope she enjoyed spending the day with her family who loves her very much.
Happy 16th Birthday, Olivia!
Beaver Creek with Grandma and Aunt Jen
The kids got out of school early this year, so we decided to go on our annual ski trip before the holidays. Even though they weren’t going to ski, we asked my mom and Jen (and Blue) to join us to experience mountain life for a week. To keep things familiar, we went back to Beaver Creek, though we stayed at a different hotel for the first time.
After all flying into Denver, we drove up to the mountains together. Things went a lot more smoothly with our flights and bags compared to last year, so we had that going for us. The snow was also the best it has been for us this early in the season, so we were also thankful for that.
Even though we took mom and Jen to some of our favorite places, we tried some new ones together, too. We took a one-day excursion to Vail, which really meant a couple of runs and lunch. The weather most of the week was pretty good. Some bluebird days, some new snow, and some bomb cyclone wind and snow.
All-in-all, it was a fun Rhee family trip, despite the 7-hour delay getting home from Denver. We all flew back to SF to spend the rest of the holiday together. Everyone was super excited to see Luna, except maybe Blue.
Annual U of M Holiday Party – 2022
The holidays are extra special for our U of M friends this year because the football team is 13-0! The calendar was extra challenging this year to get everyone together and some couples already had a full dance card. One surprise was that Theresa and Matt finally completed their decade-long assessment that the Golden Gate Bridge was indeed safe enough to cross!
Due to schedules, the White Elephant gift exchange was conducted before dinner. I think Theresa was traumatized by the brutality of all of the gifts she lost. This group is ruthless. Jenn and Michael said they had another party to go to, but who knows if they made it after they scored the Viagra (smuggled from London).
The older we get, the earlier this party starts. That said, it went pretty late this year, complete with an impromptu holiday musical concert that sounded so so bad. Thanks, Tam and Ben, for hosting us at their beautiful home.
Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!
The Airborne Toxic Event Secret Show in SF
This is the last show in my 2022 concert series, which turned out to be the most intimate and memorable. While I was cementing my The Airborne Toxic Event superfan status, I joined their fan club. Along with a free t-shirt, members are entitled to admission to one secret show per year, one of which was scheduled in San Francisco on Saturday at the Rickshaw Stop.
This club is so secret that no one in my family would join me. I was resigned to go alone. I think I mentioned it to Eddie and somehow I roped him into going with me. I did all the hard work: signing him up, sending him his t-shirt, and telling him the date. All he did was fly coast-to-coast, golf with me in 40-something-degree constant drizzle, and swipe the bill at Che Fico (highly recommended dining in SF).
The show itself was even better than I expected. This was the smallest venue in which I’ve ever seen a band play. My guess was that there were only about 100 people there. The set included many songs they don’t normally play, and also excluded some favorites.
This was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see a show like this again. It was super special to enjoy it with my best man/best friend, who also loves live music even if TATE is new to him. If you ever get a chance to see them live, don’t pass it up.
Thanksgiving in NY – 2022
Last year, we attempted to spend the Christmas holiday in NYC and Rye, but we abandoned our plans midway through the week. Things are thankfully different this year, so our Park Thanksgiving was again planned for Addy and Charles’s house.
Like last year, we spent the front end of our trip in Manhattan. We didn’t have any firm plans, except to see family and friends. Our first night, we saw a big group of summer camp friends in Koreatown. Liv was especially excited to see her cousin, Sara, who stayed with us for a night at the hotel. Thanks, Liz and Clarence for a great dinner!
It was bitterly cold those first few days. Addy and Charles came into the city for lunch at Quality Italian, which is always a must on our NY trip. We also got to see Jeanah for ramen. It was a long way to come see a movie, but Wakanda Forever was worth the trip.
One of the things I wanted to see was the 9/11 Memorial. I haven’t been down there in almost 20 years. Olivia and Lucas weren’t alive then, so I can appreciate that they don’t have the context of remembering it as we do. Still, it sparked a lot of conversation. I think it’s something I need to go see again alone and when it’s less crowded.
We met Grace’s parents and family for soup dumplings on Monday after they arrived. Afterwards, we walked over to Times Square, as Olivia really wanted to see it. We ended our last night in Manhattan with dessert at the hotel.
Tuesday, we headed out to Addy and Charles’s house in Rye. We haven’t all been there for a holiday since 2016, though Grace and the kids have visited more recently. It was mostly quiet time before Thanksgiving.
The Parks were kind to also include the Rhees (mom, Jen and Blue) for Thanksgiving. It was nice for all of us to be together again. I love Thanksgiving dinner and this one was prepared to perfection. Thanks to all the cooks! Sandor was hosting 30+ nearby and was also kind to invite all of us over for dessert for long overdue meeting of the clans.
On Friday, Ana and Bobby brought the family from Ridgewood to Rye to meet up for brunch. This was our first time meeting baby Courtney. She is such a cutie!
On Saturday, Jen hosted a big crew for the U of M vs. OSU game. Big props to Sandor for bringing the boys dressed for the occasion. They have much more spirit than Olivia and Lucas. Jen was dismayed that our flight time conflicted with the game. We missed the last two Donovan Edwards TDs just as we were getting into our car. Is it bad that we’re most thankful for this win?!?
Thanks again to everyone who hosted us this trip. It was really great to be back in NY and see so many family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!
Harry Styles Concert in Los Angeles
We’re nearing the end of our concert series for 2022, but this is clearly the pinnacle for Olivia, who is slightly obsessed with Harry Styles. We were cool with Olivia wanting to see him on his tour, but it didn’t help that he was only playing a few cities, the nearest being in Los Angeles.
Back in May, Olivia came home from a school trip with a lot of memories and COVID-19. The silver lining of her being home that week was the she could focus all of her time and attention to securing tickets to this concert. She enlisted my help and as each show went on sale, we anxiously logged in to get in the queue. We first ended up with 4 tickets to last Saturday’s show, which thanks to being deep in line and Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing,” we paid an astronomical sum for upper bowl tickets. I was underwhelmed.
A few hours later, we tried again for the next Saturday’s show. While I was again thousands deep, Olivia somehow ended up 2nd in the queue. She was in tears with joy. I was just happy she got 8 General Admissions tickets for a reasonable sum and was now just stressed about who to invite.
In the end, only a couple of Olivia’s friends could attend the show, which was perfect because my car only holds 4 people. After our Olivia Rodrigo GA debacle, Olivia felt we needed to up our GA game and wanted to camp out. I was very hesitant to sign up for that, given an overnight in Inglewood with 3 teens seemed sketchy. Plus, I’m way too old to sleep on pavement. Olivia’s pragmatism prevailed and she decided on her own that it wasn’t worth it.
I picked them up straight from school on Friday and after seven hours, including a stop at Party City for feather boas and candy, we made it to LA. We tried to do a drive-by of the Kia Forum, but Friday’s show was just letting out and it was mayhem. The weather was really nice, so I agreed to go early and try to get wrist bands. We got up at 5:30am and got in line around 6:00am, behind about 600 people crazier people than us. There were people already in line and camping for Tuesday’s show – nuts!
We brought lawn chairs, Snuggies, sign-making supplies and even homework and the time passed surprisingly quickly. By 10:40am, our wristbands were secured. We were numbers 610-613 in line. Olivia’s friends had not really visited LA before, so we went for a well-deserved brunch in Manhattan Beach. Olivia wasn’t very happy that I forced them to take so many pictures after we had all just rolled out of bed and were not camera ready. Too bad.
We only had a couple hours to rest and get ready before heading back to the forum between 3-4pm to get back in line. From then, it was queue after queue until we finally entered the arena just after 6pm. Ben Harper opened and was great and Harry’s set started promptly at 9pm. We had already been on our feet for 6 hours. I was now ready to sit and admit to shopping for seats on StubHub.
Within about 20-30 seconds of Harry coming on stage, I realized his fandom is something I hadn’t really experienced before. It was deafening (literally – ears still ringing). Olivia wasn’t crying just yet. However, the minute I realized all of this was worth it was when Harry waved to her and she just turned around to me and started sobbing. At 15, I didn’t love anything or anyone that much (because I didn’t discover Kim Basinger until I was 16). Olivia sobbed again in the car when she reviewed the video of Harry waving at her.
The show was actually really fun and the girls all had such a good time, Olivia especially. I will say I am more of a fan, but I’m not necessarily inclined to camp out for him again. Even Olivia conceded it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
We didn’t eat or drink anything for close to 12 hours, so it was time for dinner. It’s been close to 30 years since I had a late night in Manhattan Beach, but The Kettle is still 24-hours so we went there. It was a long, long day of Harry Styles.
I told Olivia I was only invited because they needed me there. She said that wasn’t true – they didn’t need me (oof). The truth is in a few years she’ll be able to do this on her own. I’m glad we got to experience this together and she was truly appreciative.