Family Fun in the USA

Sailing in San Diego Bay with members of my family, from left: Tom, Joan, Steve, Yoshie and Dave.  Capt. Charley at the helm.

First stop, Winchester, Virginia. Stepson Rob and grandsons Samuel and Lang live outside the city in a lovely country location below the ridge of Big Schloss Mountain, part of the Appalachian chain. Their house, which we had not seen, is spacious and tastefully decorated by Rob – with a few treasures from Germany donated by his father.

Samuel, Rob, Bob and Lang at the bridge.

Rob drove us around the picturesque area with stops at the Muse Winery Swinging bridge on the Shenandoah River and a visit to the Woodstock Brew House in the town of Woodstock,  Va. The artisanal beer was a treat, as was another German favorite,

Swinging bridge on the Shenandoah River

sauerbraten at a German restaurant 
in nearby Harrisonburg

On the way home from dinner we passed a Krispy Kreme donut store. They were excited. The red light was on. ?? We learned this means donuts are coming off a conveyor belt to be doused with glaze. Purchase them fresh and warm and enjoy on the spot. “You will love these,” they insisted. The boys had more than one each…   Bob and I failed to share their love of Krispy Kreme. We’ll take croissants, merci.  But, good to know about that red light. And, the German dinner was wunderbar.

Virginia home of Rob, Samuel and Lang

Bob spent several days with Rob and the boys, then flew on to Ohio for a reunion with six of his seven brothers and sisters, as well as many nieces and nephews. They had a belated b’day celebration for Bob, 80 last October.  I flew west to San Diego for a reunion with some of my family.

Bob, far right, with his brother John and sisters, from left,  Susan, Judy, Kathy and Sandra.  Missing: brothers George and Tim.

My brrother Tom, who now lives in San Francisco, wanted a reunion in San Diego where he had worked for several years. Brother Steve and sister-in-law Yoshie came from Boulder. Nephew David and his mother Joan came from Kentucky. Missing was brother Dave, Joan’s husband and David’s father, who had work commitments and could not join the fun.

San Diego from the sailboat

Tom was our guide. He made sure we visited famed Balboa Park, his beloved Coronado, downtown landmarks and more. Thanks to nephew David, who combined business with pleasure, we were fullsizeoutput_14fcchauffeured in style. His rental car was upgraded to a gleaming, cherry red Cadillac. A tight squeeze, but we all piled in for a scenic ride up the coast to La Jolla where we took lots of photos of seals.

Dave and the Caddy.

More seal photo opps awaited on our sailboat adventure with Captain Charley in the San Diego Bay. We enjoyed superb views of the city skyline, sailed past the Naval Base, and, in addition to seals, watched dolphins training to detect mines. All beautiful, fun and relaxing, until Joan realized her Iphone was missing — not to be found on board. It obviously had disappeared overboard. Although the phone was insured,  most of the photos had not been backed up.  Lesson learned: back up all. 

I went  overboard with seal photos — too many.  But, I like this one.

Balboa Park, San Diego’s “cultural heart” with 17 museums, gardens, the city’s famous Zoo, plus stunning Spanish-Renaissance architecture, is impressive. Tom recommended a visit to the Botanical Building with more than 2,100 permanent plants, including collections of tropical plants and orchids. Alas, it was closed for cleaning. Instead we went to the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park

Yoshie, who is Japanese, enlightened us on many aspects of this marvelougarden with its streams and pools where vibrantly colored Koi (Japanese carp) swim.PFZfUgbsSI29iZgMpO3x4w

My favorite part of the San Diego visit was the Ocean Beach street fair. It is a regular happening, we learned, a feast for foodies with a range of international culinary treats: Mexican burritos, Chinese steamed buns, paella, lobster rolls, tangy East African specials, pizza – even crème brulee. Plus – lively music — and  dancing in the street. Tom and I joined the dancers.

Joan went for pizza. This is one slice of a monster.

We ended California family fun at the beach in Coronado watching the sun set with a Margarita in hand. All agreed. We should have these reunions more often.  

Dancing at the fair.







Scroll down for more of the family photo album.

And the winner of the best San Diego sunset photo, brother Steve who shot the scene with a Panasonic Lumix LX100.  “I love this little camera,” says the photographer.
In Ohio:  Bob’s niece Tammy and husband John.


In California: The “boys”:  My brother Tom, nephew Dave and brother Steve.
In California: The”girls”: sisters-in-law Yoshie ,Joan…and me
In Ohio;  Bob’s niece Kim, husband Alan and nephew Jim.

Coming soon:  Rajasthan, the best of India, and then, Costa Rica, which followed this US trip.  If not a talesandtravel follower, sign up, upper right.  Your address is kept private and never shared.

In Ohio:  foreground, Bob’s nephew John and wife Cindy.

A new taste — trout for fish lovers.  See recipe, click on photo above right,

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Family Fun in the US

Husband Bob’s family (he has eight brothers and sisters) was planning a big family reunion in Ohio this past summer.  Of course, we planned to attend.  What about my family?  Why couldn’t we also have a reunion?  I planted the idea with brother Steve who lives in Boulder, Colorado, a location which seemed the best for such a gathering.

Majestic Colorado scenery

He was not overly enthusiastic, but agreed.  Of course, brother Tom from San Francisco would attend.  Then we sent out word to cousins, many of whom I had not seen since we were children some 40 – 50 years ago.   From Florida, South Dakota, and New Mexico they came, as well as a nephew and his wife from Kentucky.  Unfortunately brother David, his wife Joan and son Dan from Kentucky could not join the party, nonetheless it was a smashing success with 22 in attendance.

Everyone was in awe at the classy cocktail party cousin Sean and his partner Jerry hosted at their gorgeous home in Boulder. Another fun event was a chartered bus ride up in the mountains for dinner at the Gold Hill Inn in a funky old town by the same name.

With Steve and his wife Yoshie and son Tai, some of us visited the Eldorado Canyon outside of Boulder where we watched climbers scale sheer walls of rock – a mind boggling spectacle.  We also toured Boulder and its farmers market.  For many (the Democrats in the group), an exciting bonus was attendance at an Obama speech at the University of Colorado.  Unfortunately it meant standing in line for hours before being admitted to the venue.  My new knee was not up to the wait, so Bob and I drove back into the mountains to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

On to Ohio for another remarkable event.  But first we spent a few days in Winchester, Virginia, where stepson Rob and his two children, Sam, 8, and Lang , 6, live.  Time there for me to do my Ami shopping (everything seems so much cheaper in the U.S.)   I always leave plenty of room in the suitcase for purchases.

Together we drove to Ohio.  We stayed with Bob’s brother, John, and sister-in-law Mickey, who always provide deluxe accommodations in their spacious and beautiful home in Wadsworth.  The reunion festivities got underway with a dinner at a restaurant Friday evening, followed by a slide show of the past.

Cloudy, cool weather did not dampen the enthusiastic ambience for the main event the following day, a catered picnic at a lodge pavilion on the edge of a picturesque lake.  This was a major reunion with some 80 in attendance, many from California.  Some came with photo albums filled with memories.

Brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, cousins – all ages.  It was amazing, and the pavilion was perfect with an adjacent playground for the kids, and plenty of space for the adults to wander around and chat with those they had not seen in years.  Thanks to diligent internet research, stepdaughter Kellie, who lives in New York City, tracked down some cousins who live in Pennsylvania.  They also came.

A visit to the family house where Bob and his brothers and sisters grew up was especially meaningful for the siblings.  Current residents were not home, but agreed that the family could walk around the property.  They toured the terrain, reminiscing about long gone chicken coops, fruit trees in the orchard, a small house still standing that Bob and his brother John had built.

We spent our last few days in the US in NYC with Kellie at her elegant apartment in Soho.  One can never tire of NYC.

It’s fun, gratifying and simply wonderful to reconnect with the past, to relive old memories, to become reacquainted with childhood companions.  Bravo for reunions!

See the photo album below for more reunion photos, and more of the US.  For a dip with a kick, see the recipe, “Spicy Peanut Dip,”  in the column at right.  If you’d like to read more of my tales and adventures, click on “Email Subscription” at top right of post.  Comments are welcome.  Click “Leave a Reply” 

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