When I was in high school, my dream college was Berkeley. My life path diverged (no complaints!) and today I finally got to “go to Berkeley!” Actually, we’ve been in the city a few days and have really enjoyed it. Frank and I like college towns. They are diverse and have so much energy. The city is larger than I imagined but easy to navigate. There are a lot of interesting neighborhoods and there are a lot of great (and surprisingly inexpensive) restaurants.
Nick just took a job in San Francisco. I was here twenty-some years ago but that memory is pretty foggy (haha, SF reference). Anyway, it seems like I am seeing the city for the first time. Nick and Maddie have spent quite a bit of time here and love sharing it. With almost 750,000 people, San Francisco is the country’s 13th and California’s fourth largest city. The weather is relatively cool for California, which I prefer. Yes, it’s expensive, there’s a ton of traffic, and there are so many homeless people, but San Francisco is truly one of the country’s most unique and beautiful cities.
A couple hours along the picturesque Coast Highway is the Monterey peninsula. We took a ride one day to visit the Monterey Aquarium. I LOVE aquariums (as some of you may remember from our trip to Portugal!) and this aquarium was amazing!
We spent the month of August back in Bozeman. We were hoping the June rains would hold back some of the wildfires but no such luck. The air was often thick with smoke and the mountains frequently obscured. But it was still beautiful and we enjoyed more time with friends and family. Sienna is starting high school so I happily joined Jenny on a girls’ back-to-school shopping road trip to Salt Lake City — so fun! Before we knew it, Frank celebrated another birthday in Bozeman and it was time to head back to Milwaukee.
Want more of Bozeman?
Read about another Bozeman summer (including wild fires, a visit to a rodeo and even an earthquake!) in this 2017 post.
Sitting on a huge sectional, fire roaring, drinking wassail and watching “Home Alone” with Frank and the boys — there are few places I’d rather be Christmas Eve. Outside, Vancouver’s city lights are shimmering and there is one bright star — the Christmas star? — twinkling through the night. Yes, pretty idyllic.
We have been to Vancouver before and love the city. But to be honest, inside, in front of a fire, is the best place to be this particular week in December. The weather is rainy and bone-chilling cold.
The city is decked out for the holidays and the overall mood is cheery. Food is delicious and plentiful. Cocktails are flowing. The streets and malls are packed with young people bundled up in their Canada Goose jackets, carrying Louis Vuitton and Hermes shopping bags.
This is in stark contrast to the shivering homeless huddled in alleyways and along the sidewalks. Every time I walk into our building, I am reminded of “there but for the grace of God…” A warm fire, delicious food, good health and love of family — yes, idyllic. I am feeling truly blessed and very thankful this Christmas Eve.
December in Vancouver
Vancouver is a wonderful place to spend Christmas — decorations galore and the city is hopping. Our high rise airbnb was ideally located between historic Gastown and lively Chinatown, surrounded by a diverse assortment of fun little restaurants, bars and shops. It was also adjacent to the stadium, which drew hordes of avid hockey fans decked out in their favorite team gear. The neighborhood was bustling day and night despite the constant rain and cold. Vancouverites adapt. As did we. The weather may have prevented us from enjoying some of Vancouver’s natural wonders but the city provided plenty of holiday diversion and entertainment. It was fun just being together — walking the neighborhoods, eating, drinking, shopping, laughing and just hanging out.
A stunning rainbow stretched across a clear blue sky when we arrived in Maui a week ago. “Aloha and welcome!” it seemed to announce. It didn’t take long for Frank and I to feel welcome — to acclimate to the weather and settle into our new place.
Weather? It couldn’t be nicer, 82 and sunny every day. Our place? It couldn’t be more comfortable. The furnished apartment is the entire lower level of our landlady’s home. We have two bedrooms, a full kitchen and a private porch that spans the length of the house. It sits in the midst of the rainforest just off the Hana Highway, about a half mile from the ocean. Every night, the temperature pleasantly dips into the sixties with intermittent showers — perfect for lulling us to sleep.
When we were in Vancouver, we played “travel roulette” to find inexpensive, last-minute flight destinations. I can’t say we were disappointed when a non-stop flight to Maui popped up. Hawaii has always been one of Frank’s favorite places. We have visited the islands twice, once for our honeymoon and once, with the boys, around our fifteenth anniversary.
Flash forward 15+ years and here we are again. Maui remains as beautiful but much busier than before. Our plan is to live here a couple months. How will it be different from previous visits? Resort versus house. Island hopping vacation versus more of a “staycation.” We’re anxious to see if life in paradise lives up to our dream of life in paradise. Stay tuned.
What a wild week it’s been! While our friends and family back in Wisconsin have been pummeled with historic wind chills and wave after wave of heavy snowfalls, Hawaii is experiencing some wacky winter weather of its own.
A strong Pacific storm ushered in waves of 40 feet+, hammering our North Shore and closing beaches. It was a spectacular show! Without a person or object providing scale, however, photographs hardly depict the enormity or intensity of these ferocious jaw-like monsters. Our friend had some minor damage to his beach area and yard but his next door neighbor wasn’t so lucky. Mother Nature seized back several grassy feet of frontage and tumbled his massive rock retaining wall.
It felt like we were back home as we watched the National Weather Service warn of intense snow showers, slippery roads and blowing and drifting snow for Mount Haleakala. Although the summit at 10,000-foot elevation has often been snow covered, no one recalls seeing the white stuff at 6,200 feet.
The strong winds have caused their share of havoc. Trees and plants have been uprooted, there is a lot of debris and some power lines have toppled. Last Sunday, half the island was without power for several hours.
So other than a little inconvenience here and there, Hawaii’s weird weather has been intriguing but it hasn’t affected our lifestyle like it would back home. Our place is closer to sea level where temperatures hover in the 70s. The rain — often heavy — alternates with brief periods of intense sunshine. We continue to swim outside every day. When you’re wet you’re wet, right? It also helps that the manager at our local pool keeps the water at a balmy 82 degrees! Frank shakes his head while I grin like a fool, floating on my back as the rain drops dance around us.