We’ve spent Mother’s Day with the Moons for at least the last 5 years. This year, the tradition continued. Mike has been talking about Auberge du Soleil in Napa for a while, so we decided to take the families there for brunch.
Initially, Mike suggested a pre-brunch hike, but we ended up just going over to their place early and taking the kids for a bike ride in Tiburon while the moms chilled at home for a bit. They live on a serious hill, so negotiating their street on the way down and back was a big part of the adventure. The kids never met a jungle gym they didn’t like, so we made a stop. I can appreciate any park with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We rode out to Blackie’s Pasture and turned around for home. This was definitely Lucas’s longest ride and I’m glad he’s enjoying his new bike.
By the time we made it to brunch, we had all definitely worked up an appetite. It’s a really beautiful place with gorgeous views of the Napa Valley below. Everyone enjoyed their meals, most importantly, Grace and Clara.
We all headed back to our favorite resort in Tiburon, the Moons’ house. We hung out for a few more hours and headed home at the end of another great Mother’s Day together. Happy Mother’s Day to our Grace, Clara and all our moms!
We don’t often see live music, but when we do, it’s Florence + The Machine. By my count, it’s 4 of the last 5 shows we’ve seen together (this is not counting when Grace bailed on Howard Jones).
It’s been over a decade since we’ve been to the Greek Theater. I rode BART and a Berkeley campus bus to get there. We managed to post up to the 2nd row and I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person within 25 yards.
The show was amazing and was a stark contrast to the stripped down LA set we saw in the Spring. I think we’ll travel again for the next show.
The start of school is always exciting for us. We feel fortunate that Lucas has the same teachers Olivia had in 1st grade. Olivia continues to pave the way in 3rd grade. Wishing them both a great school year, which I’m sure will go by too fast.
After some recent trips, I had become concerned that the kids needed some perspective on their lifestyle. I don’t blame them and know the responsibility is ours. I had this vision of taking them on a road trip this summer in my crappy old 80s car (really, it’s the coolest) and staying only at the Days Inn, like how Grace and I traveled as kids (except in 70s cars). Then I realized that they probably wouldn’t mind that much as long as there was a pool and that it might not be that fun for me.
I say “I” because I didn’t really envision Grace having the same tolerance for being on the road in this manner. At the beginning of the summer, I started to consider camping instead of a road trip and then realized RVs were readily available to rent (excess capacity thanks to Burning Man). Now we were talking. I had gauged Lucas and Olivia’s interest in such a trip and they both seemed game.
The only thing that held me back from pulling them out of the camps in which they were enrolled was that I had no plan. I realized that the idyllic coastal campsites need to be booked months in advance in the height of summer, not days. So, I just let it go.
A few weeks later, the kids inquired about the RV trip and I was surprised they remembered. There might have been some misunderstanding on their part about what type of RV we were going to take on this trip, but it was crystal clear to me that we were renting an Airstream in any color as long as it was silver. I booked the RV for the last week of summer when they were already free.
Like any trip research, reading Yelp, TripAdvisor or campsite reviews only makes you not want to leave the house. People mostly complain and the complaints are severe enough to discourage just giving it a try. After a while I came to grips with the fact that there was no ideal itinerary or campground and accepted that the journey would be the destination.
I only finalized the trip a couple weeks before we left, taking into account the logistics of travel, oil spills and forest fires. Ultimately, I settled on spending two nights in Half Moon Bay, which is just 30 minutes from home. This was partly so that Grace could have the option to join us for the weekend, as she had to work during the week. The other reason was close proximity to the Ritz-Carlton, in case shit went really sideways (just kidding – haha … ha). Posse mentioned that he would be up in Donner that week and that the Rantas would be up there, too, so I planned 3 nights in Lake Tahoe so the kids could spend some time together.
I rented the rig from Elite RV in San Jose. There were 5 different Airstreams from which to choose. I picked the second smallest one (a 20′ Flying Cloud) because it was only the three of us and I had never really towed anything before. I figured it was a good test to see if the size was sufficient and it was well within the towing capacity of the truck. Nora and Chris couldn’t be nicer and all of their Airstreams are only several years old and come fully stocked. By fully stocked, I mean Le Creuset, Scanpans, Dyson vacuum, high-count sheets, Egyptian towels, spices, and even latex gloves to hook up the sewer. The only option at booking was Nespresso or Keurig.
We arrived at their place at 9am on Saturday. It took about 90 minutes to get the training on every procedure and feature. I added the wiring to the truck the week before and the actual hitching process seemed pretty straightforward. After pulling out, I immediately had some issues with the lights, so I pulled over from the 280 to have a look. Waze apparently didn’t know I was pulling a trailer and routed me though the windiest roads in Portola Valley to get to Half Moon Bay. Besides trying not to clip dozens of bicyclists, some of the bridges were barely two-lane. Ironically, I lost satellite in the trees and missed a turn up La Honda and ended up going through Woodside back to the 280 and the 92, which was what my instinct told me was the best way.
The RV park in Half Moon Bay was nothing more than a dirt parking lot with full hookups. It only took me a little while to get everything hooked up, after which we went into town for lunch. Both Lucas and Olivia were hangry at this point, and I basically won and lost father-of-the-year in that first hour when I almost lost my shit at the restaurant.
I came up with a list of rules for the RV trip when the kids agreed to go. We added some along the way and I made them recite them almost daily throughout the summer.
- No whining
- Listen to Daddy
- No whining
- Have fun
- No whining
- No fighting
Lucas and Olivia were breaking all six rules simultaneously at the restaurant (and indrectly breaking #4 for me). After they finally got some food in them, order was restored and we were back on track. We spent the afternoon at the beach as we had so many times before (it’s never too early to start working on the holiday card photo). We were there a record 12 minutes before Olivia said she had to take a dump. Seriously? She offered to go to the porta-potty we had spotted on the trail, but I advised her against it and pointed her toward the hotel in the distance. Lucas is a poky walker and Olivia was in a hurry. I told her to go ahead and we’d either meet her or she could come back and find us. She never came back, so we walked through two weddings and found her waiting by the bathrooms for us. It was a productive stop for all of us.
Grace decided to spend the night with us in the RV, so she came out to HMB with bags of supplies. Ann, Jeremy, Emme and Elsen were in town for the weekend and we met them in HMB for dinner. They were curious about the Airstream and came over for a visit before going home. The kids started watching Harry Potter before bedtime and finished the following morning after having our first meal in the RV (pancakes and sausage).
Clara saw we were in HMB and said she had a photo shoot on Sunday morning at the hotel. I told her to have Mike bring the boys down and we could all hang out. All the kids had fun in the RV park before we went to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach. This was our first time there at the tide pools, which were teeming with sea life. Afterwards we went to Moss Beach Distillery, which was also a first time for us.
Grace decided to stay a 2nd night with us and go straight to work from there on Monday, so she went home again for gear and supplies. In the spirit of roughing it, we had dinner at the hotel. We enjoyed the seaside fire for a bit before heading back to the RV to sleep.
On Monday, Grace took off early in the morning and the kids slept in a bit. We went into HMB for breakfast before returning to the RV to pack up and pull up stakes. We were on our way to Tahoe by 11:30am. I let them know that I didn’t plan to make any stops, but by Pinole, Olivia said she needed to potty, so I pulled into a Target parking lot. I explained why we had to park far away and that it was going to be hike to the store. Olivia pointed out that we could just use the RV, which was indeed our mobile rest area. After some chilled refreshments, we got back on the road and both of them took a nap.
They woke up about an hour from Tahoe and Olivia needed to stop again (tiny tank?). We were just passing Ikeda’s so I got off and circled back. I hadn’t stopped there since the 90s and was a little unnerved to pull the trailer into a street that says “No Outlet,” not knowing if I was going to be able to park the rig. Miraculously, there was one spot that didn’t have a concrete divider, so I pulled in and through and just fit. We had a quick lunch and picked up a Razzleberry Pie (Marionberry and raspberry) and wine for the Patches.
From there, we bombed up the 80 into Lake Tahoe and settled into Coachland RV Park in Truckee. We were a little behind schedule, so I didn’t even set the landing gear on the Airstream before we headed over to the Patches place on Donner Lake for dinner. The Rantas were there, too. Even though they only live a couple streets over, it had been at least six months since we last saw them.
On Tuesday, we spent the day with just us. We went into downtown Truckee and had breakfast at Squeeze In. After, we gathered our gear and headed over to the Nevada side (state #2) to go back to Sand Harbor. We went there exactly a year ago with the Crowthers and had a great time. This year, being a weekday late in the summer, we almost had the place to ourselves. We had lunch and spent about four hours there. The water was a little chilly, but it didn’t stop them from exploring and having fun. Of the 20 things I ordered from Amazon in the days preceding the trip (my bear spray didn’t arrive in time), the kids’ swim shoes were the most appreciated.
We stopped at Mountain Hardware on the way home to get some local knowledge for fishing the following day. After a long day out, who had the energy to cook? We went to the familiar Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton, which was nearby (coincidence?). It was nearly deserted so we had a nice quiet dinner together. The kids have been into Harry Potter this summer. They are allowed to watch the movie after Olivia finishes each book. She finished Goblet of Fire in the car on the way to dinner, so we watched the movie when we got back to the RV (while I squeezed in a couple loads of laundry). They finished a little past midnight.
Despite being up late, we got up (relatively) early to catch the fish. After stopping to buy bagels, Starbuck’s and nightcrawlers, we had our lines in the water by 10am. Morgan, Mason and Ben came and met us at the piers on the West end of Donner Lake. They learned a life lesson that fishing takes patience and is hard. We didn’t even get a nibble, but it’s the process that matters.
We went back to the Airstream for our second RV-cooked meal: 신 Ramen. Then we gathered more gear to spend the rest of the day back on Donner Lake at the Patches. The Rantas brought a variety of meats and Eric did the grilling. The kids all kept themselves busy and played so well together, which allowed the adults to have a very peaceful evening. We headed back at a decent hour and the kids wanted to watch Star Wars Episode II (having seen IV, V, VI and I, in that order). Lucas made it about 20 minutes and Olivia lasted a lot longer, but eventually chose bedtime over Clones. It was a great last day in Tahoe.
On Thursday, I got up early to start cleaning and packing. Eventually I stirred the kids to get dressed and ready. Our neighbors at Coachland were all very friendly, and one helped me back up to the trailer, which was helpful. We headed out before 10am and after a quick stop at Starbuck’s (with the Airstream in tow), we were on the road in earnest and drove non-stop to San Jose to return the rig.
This was defintely a different kind of vacation for us, but it turned out to be one of the best ever. When I picked up the RV, Chris at Elite asked me why Grace wasn’t joining. I said two bosses are better than three, and he completely understood me. Despite this, I’m very glad Grace decided to join us and now she’s sold.
Everyone along the way seemed pretty interested in the Airstream, so there was a lot of talk about renting a fleet and meeting up somewhere. I hope they’re serious, but I know for sure we’ll be there, probably in a 25′ next time. In my head, I’m ready to go North and South, and probably won’t wait until next summer to do it again.
Who’s coming with us???
Yesterday we saw U2 in San Jose. On a whim, I bought Red Zone tickets, which looked amazing at the time of sale. However, by the time the concert was laid out, the RZ areas were moved out to the side of GA with a small portion reserved for the ends of the main stage. After much research on the internet and reconnaissance from Sabs, I had a plan.
We got there about 15 minutes too late to get right on the rail, but we posted up 2 deep right in the middle of the center catwalk in regular GA. There was no single optimal spot for this show, and for part of it, the band are inside of the huge screen, which we could not see very well. After intermission, they moved to the b-stage, so we left our spots and moved closer to it. There was plenty of room in GA to move around. When they finished the show on the main stage, we finally went into the RZ and were only one row off the rail.
I think our maneuvering paid off and we got to experience the show from many angles. The band sounded great and the energy in the arena was amazing. Bono called an audible and they played Bad, which was one of my favorites.
Though still my favorite band, I’ll admit I haven’t been as into them lately and our last concert experience wasn’t great because we were so far and removed from the stage. I’m glad Grace was game for the additional overhead of gaming GA (even if she did almost get into a fight with an angry lady behind us). The setlist was unbelievalbe and was a great reminder of why they’re such a strong connection with my youth, even as we’re all getting older.
- Beat on the Brat
- (Ramones song)
- The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)
- The Electric Co.
- (First time played since 2006,… more )
- (with “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’… more )
- I Will Follow
- Iris (Hold Me Close)
- Cedarwood Road
- Song for Someone
- Sunday Bloody Sunday
- (acoustic: without final verse)
- Raised by Wolves
- (with “Psalm 23” snippet)
- Until the End of the World
- (Johnny Cash animation on video screen)
- Even Better Than the Real Thing
- Mysterious Ways
- (with “Young Americans” snippet)
- (on second stage, with “1969”… more )
- Sweetest Thing
- (on second stage)
- Every Breaking Wave
- (on second stage, Edge on… more )
- Bullet the Blue Sky
- (with “America” and “19” snippets)
- Pride (In the Name of Love)
- (with “The Hands that Built America” intro)
- Beautiful Day
- (with “I Remember You” snippet)
- (with “Into the Mystic” and “… more )
- With or Without You
- City of Blinding Lights
- Where the Streets Have No Name
- (with “Mother and Child… more )
I was still feeling bad about blowing up Grace’s plans for our birthday a couple weeks back. Right before we left for Spring break, I learned that Florence + the Machine were coming to San Francisco to play a couple last-minute shows at the Masonic before Coachella. We’re big fans and enjoyed them in Paris and at Shoreline a couple years ago. I really wanted to see them, but it was too late to cancel Spring break and the kids would have been pissed (hehe).
They were, however, playing one other show in LA the following week. I checked schedules and told Grace to clear hers and get an overnight sitter. I had this thing at work, so I planned to attend that meeting in our LA office, but that required us to take the first flight out to LA, which was brutal. Tradeoffs. I have a serious love-hate relationship with StubHub, but they came through with first row tickets and I got them before people started asking crazy sums of money for tickets way back. We were all set.
Because this was a do-over on our birthday trip, I made this one a surprise like her 40th. She didn’t know where we were going until we met Mr. TSA. We had a 6:45am flight, which ended up being completely unnecessary because my work thing was canceled after I booked the tickets. Too late.
When we arrived, it was too early to do anything, so we did the default thing and headed to Manhattan Beach. We grabbed a coffee and walked down the strand, which we haven’t done in years. A lot of the homes are the same from when I lived there a couple decades ago, but many are new, too. One thing I noticed is that those ocean-front homes get weathered really quickly. We walked all the way down to my old place at Marine and then turned around.
Grace didn’t know where we were staying, but we headed over to Beverly Hills. I considered the Montage because we enjoyed it so much last time, but it was insane so I thought we would try the Beverly Wilshire. I gambled on an upgrade to one of the serious suites and lost big time. The theme of the trip was that we were too early for everything. The room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we went over towards the Montage and had lunch at Bouchon, which wasn’t open yet either. I never met a croque madame I didn’t like, but that one was special.
The room was possibly a bit much for a 36 hour trip, but we ended up enjoying it. Grace kept singing the Pretty Woman theme song, which almost ruined the hotel for me. I saw exactly zero hookers, which actually did ruin the hotel for me. We had the afternoon to relax and I thought Grace might enjoy the spa, but we just went to the pool together. We got there around 1:30pm and completely checked out. It’s great traveling with the kids, but it’s also really great traveling without them. We both took a nappy nap – for 3 hours. It got windy and chilly during that time. Although I might have been suffering a little, I was too tired to move or do anything about it. When I finally did come to, it was nice again.
Dinner was at 6pm downstairs at Cut, so we got cleaned up. I’m sorry (not sorry) about all the car porn, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve never seen a Bugatti up close and this one was brown. Despite being half the price, it was the hybrid LaFerrari (1 of 499) that I couldn’t resist. Grace is lucky I didn’t hug it. Not pictured was this lowly black Aventador. They’re a trio because they’re all owned by the same sheik, who rolls into town every once in a while with the 3 cars and rents an entire floor at the Beverly Wilshire for a month. Does he need a driver?
The restaurant wasn’t quite ready for us when we arrived. We got the Kobe beef tour and I decided to try my first one (American). Neither of us was particularly hungry (still full from Spring break), but we did our best. The entire meal was really amazing.
Afterwards, we were off to the event. I will note that there was now a parade of Bugattis outside. At this point, Grace didn’t know for sure what we were doing, but she loves to spoil surprises by guessing and guessing. We took a car to downtown LA to the Ace Hotel. The venue was a beautiful old theater that only held 1,600 people. Grace and I were both excited.
The only real wrench in our plans so far was the Florence had broken her foot stage diving at Coachella the weekend before. While we were lucky she didn’t cancel, we were unlucky in that she had to remain seated the entire set and she would not be grabbing my hand like last time.
The show was stripped down and she had to change up her set list to something more “unplugged.” She added an eight-person string section, who were right in front of us in the orchestra pit. Despite her injury, she sounded amazing. As before, I’m pretty sure she was singing to me at some point. She definitely waved to me as the curtain was going down. And that was that.
The next morning, we invited Grace’s parents to the hotel for breakfast. They’ve probably driven past it thousands of times since moving to LA, but this was the first time they had been inside.
The Facebook had informed me that one of my long-lost brothers was also in LA. Joseph (JP) and I are BFFs on FB, but haven’t seen each other in almost 30 years, when he was an “observer” at my summer camp. I was so glad he and his wife, Younyoung (YY) were able to meet us for lunch. It was super fun catching up. After lunch, it was time to head home.
It’s amazing how such a short trip can be so rejuvenating (you know, after a tough week in NYC). I’m really happy it all worked out and we didn’t have to go all the way to Europe to see Flo this summer. Though, you never know…
Today was Grace’s birthday (and mine). This year, she was determined to make it “my” birthday because she thought it was a big one. She had planned a very thoughtful getaway to Carmel Valley Ranch, which included unlimited golf. Something came up and we weren’t able to go. Not only was she super understanding, but within 24 hours, she was able to get us a reservation at Gary Danko though a FOG (friend of Gary – thanks Adon!). We’ve been meaning to go for years, but were just waiting for a special occasion. I guess this was it. Thanks, Grace, for another awesome birthday together!