Tag Archives: Our Travels

I Found My People

IMG_0774 I mentioned a month or so ago that I went to San Diego with my Aunt.  We went to a conference and then stayed a couple of extra days with my mom’s cousin and his wife.  This particular branch of my family moved to California before I was born.  I have only met them a handful of times and the last time I remember seeing them was at a family reunion in 1992.

I cannot tell you how great it was to get to know them as an adult.  It was like we had spent holidays together for years.  They told me things about my grandparents, my great aunt and uncle, my mother and her brothers.  And of course there are always Aunt Char stories (*well, sh*t, Char would say.  I just realized I never posted about my birthday surprise trip when we went to visit her in May.  That will come.)  Most of the stories they told me I had never heard.

IMG_4987 My Uncle Gary reminded me so much of my grandfather it was creepy.  Even more so since they are not blood related.  (My grandfathers brother was his step-dad).  The day we arrived at their house their daughter, Sonia, drove in from L.A.  (As a girl from Oklahoma, I have always wanted to say that.)  Again, I had not seen her since the family reunion when I was in the 8th grade, so I did not know what to expect.  Aunt Charlene talks about her nieces often, but she never mentioned that Sonia is a graphic designer who loves make pottery and eat good food.  She even blogs and has an Etsy shop.  She really is my long lost creative type twin.  Please excuse the creepy stalker feel, but it was really exciting. The only difference is she lives in L.A. and makes money with her creative ventures but, really, who is keeping score?

When Sonia arrived, we headed down to the beach.  This always makes girls from Oklahoma giddy.  Gary taught me to boogie board.  If my pale body that hadn’t exercised all summer due to the extreme heat dome that sat over Oklahoma for two months, was not a dead give away that I was not from California, my boogie boarding skills sure were.  Seriously, I looked like a toddler learning to walk.  But I was determined, so I kept after it.  Gary was trying to get me to listen to the waves and pick the right one.  Finally, he said, stand here and do what I do.  He jumped on his board and went sailing toward the beach.  I just belly flopped onto my board and went about six inches.  As soon as I stood up, I saw it, the wave he described.  It had the right sound, the right foam and I jumped on.  Two seconds later I was on a wave heading to shore only I was several feet up and the wave broke right over my great uncle.  I bailed and tried not to kill my host on the first day.  He was fine but I looked like a mess as I tried to discreetly get the sand out of my swimsuit.  This was about the time I noticed the surfers laughing at me.

Don’t worry friends.  I didn’t give up.  We continued until I was so beaten by the waves I could barely haul my poor little body up on the shore.  The next day I woke up and felt like I had been run over by a truck.  It was almost noon before I connected my pain to the boogie board.  I am so glad I could educate those Californians on what it is like to be from Oklahoma.

While we were at the beach, I took a picture of this cute little family with children near our boys age.  They were building a sand castle.  Big Guy as asked for years to go to the beach and build a sand castle.  I emailed a picture to Law Man so he could show the boys.  That night, I get word that it took dad quite some time to console the boys that the black shapes they were seeing in the background of the picture were surfers, not sharks.  Lesson learned…do not send a picture with surfers in the background to children in Oklahoma the week after Shark Week.  I think I postponed the beach requests for a while anyway.

The infamous “shark” picture.

We spent the next 36 hours eating at local restaurants, drinking local beer and took a great trolley ride around the city.  The most interesting part was to hear the stories Gary and Cathy told about their time in California and how things had changed and evolved. It was priceless time.  I so wish my mother could have been with us.

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 I got to educate them on my obsession with taking pictures of food.  🙂

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I *heart* BLICK….and I finally got to go visit one and I did not buy a single thing.

Aunt Cathy is a knitter…..*swoon*!


I was giddy over their four Rosemary Bushes….and bragged about the Crape Myrtles I have that are as tall as our two story house.

I had been in search of “my people” the whole time I was in California and with my Aunt, Uncle and Sonia…..I found them.

 

Vancouver Revisited

Every time I travel, I have all intentions of documenting our trip here on my blog. I take pictures, a lot of pictures, I collect menus, I make mental notes, I have even started “checking in” with Facebook along the way in case I lose my pictures or notes in a tragic accident.  Upon return, the same thing happens…..kids are out of their routine, I am tired and behind on laundry, I realize that I have a list of “things I will do as soon as I return” and all of my intentions go by the wayside.

Now, a year after we spent an amazing week in Vancouver, BC for our 10 year wedding anniversary, I have been asked to make recommendations.  My brain immediately went to the blog entry I wrote…..oh wait….intended to write.  Then I surfed the web trying to remember the exact name of the places where pictures like

this….

and this were taken.

I Googled things like “bacon fried rice” and “modern thai”.  I flipped through all of my pictures and regretted that I deleted the few I had taken to document the names of the restaurants.  Why?!?!  Why?!?!  Why?!?!

So, here I go, I am going to break my writers block and start with a few of the places we enjoyed complete with my personal recommendations.  Now, I will say, I am not a professional food reviewer…..more to come on that later.  However, I am not giving these recommendations by request of the owner, under duress, or for any type of compensation…..although, if one of the establishments likes my comments and wants to compensate me in kind they may feel free to do so…..and fly me back to Vancouver immediately.

I digress……the bottom line is that I *heart* Vancouver.  It was an amazing trip.  Just enough adventure and rest to reflect on our marriage over the past 10 years.  Law Man can rarely…..okay, never, get out of town for more than a long weekend.  This is another issue, but for our anniversary trip, he made an exception.  We planned to be in Canada for 8 days.  This led to a bit of a planning problem…..solution….we had three mini trips in one.  This allowed us to see and experience different parts of the area, kept us from getting bored 🙂 and kept things in our budget very nicely.

Mini Trip 1:  Downtown Vancouver (4 days)

We spent the longest portion of our trip here where we made our best attempt to balance between local living and just seeing the sites. The best part was spending one day laying on the beach and the next…20 minutes away at the top of a snowy peak.  The highlights were:

Exploring Stanley Park

Biking around the Sea Wall

Don’t let this sign or anyone talk you out of the hike…..it is tough, but short and so much fun!  Added bonus…..the beer tastes better at the top after a hike.

The Grouse Grind……there is a great restaurant at the top with very cold beer and a great view.

The Celebration of Light…..this was awesome!  We were so excited to find out we would be in Vancouver during this event.  The fireworks were like nothing I had ever seen before and the people…..we are talking thousands….all over the city.  They shoot the fireworks off of two 500 ft. barges in the English Bay.  We watched the fireworks from the Burrard Bridge.  This was as wild as we saw the laid back Canadians get.

Favorite restaurants:

Goldfish Pacific Kitchen….this is where we shared the Bacon Fried Rice.  TASTY!

all of the casual little pubs around Stanley Park

Mini Trip 2:  Sunset Coast (3 days)

This was my attempt to, “forgo the individual rooms and stay together in a luxury suite”….it was our 10 year anniversary.  Highlights:

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort  this was recommended to me through a personal blog.  I have searched and searched for its source and NOTHING.  I will say I was not the least bit disappointed.  We stayed in a Tenthouse and had a wonderful time exploring the area.

Sea Kayaking  there are no words…..well, maybe one, INCREDIBLE.

The seals, the starfish, the bald eagles…it was beautiful.

Restaurants:

There were not a lot of restaurants in the area so we ate at the hotel every night and it was really good.  They had something different every night and I was really impressed.

Mini Trip 3: (1.5 Days) Downtown Vancouver….a little more upscale

We had to go back to Vancouver before we flew out and I took this opportunity to stay at a really great hotel I discovered while researching the trip.  Highlights:

The Loden ….it was beautiful and in a beautiful part of downtown.  I *heart* boutique hotels.

Urban Fare….a gourmet grocery store to end all gourmet grocery stores.  Sorry, I am a foodie at heart.

Restaurants:

Le Crocodile amazing French Cuisine with “West Coast Flair”……I *heart* West Coast Flair.  We opted to partake in the Chef’s Tasting Menu and were not disappointed.

So, here is our trip in a nutshell.  If you make it to Vancouver, give some of these places a try and let me know what you think.