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.
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.
The mountains – first you see them, then you don’t!
Had lots of fun with Susan who visited from Milwaukee.
She even did a bridge jump!
Susan’s cousin was in town and we ran into her at Music on Main.
Road trip to Salt Lake City for school shopping.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City road stop
We spent a day at Salt Lake’s Lagoon amusement park.
Before and after views of the Colossus roller coaster.
A highlight for the girls was visiting the school where they filmed “High School Musical.”
We randomly ran into a guy who was happy to give us a tour of East High.
Jenny was in her happy place visiting Salt Lake City’s Whole Foods.
Bozeman Car Show
Happy Birthday Frank!
Birthday dinner with the chicks.
On our last night, Sienna made us dinner.
The day we left she had her first day of high school. Where does the time go?
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.
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.
Nick and Danny (visiting from Chicago)
Henry was wearing a cone but it never seemed to bother him when his friend Frank was around!
The view of Alcatraz and the Bay from Nick and Maddie’s place.
They were a couple blocks from Lombard Street, the famous crooked street.
Downtown San Francisco from the Embarcadaro.
Saturday Farmers Market outside the Embarcadaro. Inside the building are many unique shops and restaurants.
Run Maddie run! Maddie likes to run at the Golden Gate recreation area.
The park runs along the Marina and has views of the Golden Gate Bridge — well, at least part of it today!
Fort Mason Community Garden
The grounds of the Golden Gate recreation area include a the Fort Mason Community Garden.
Nick and Maddie took us around many cool little neighborhoods.
The obligatory trip to Fisherman’s Wharf
Popular Pier 39 with its views of Alcatrez and the sea lions.
Sometimes the rafts around Pier 39 are full of sea lions but there were only a few on the day we visited.
The steep streets in San Francisco are cool but I am not a fan of driving them!
When Nick lived in Kansas City, he would take visitors to Christopher Elbow, his favorite chocolate place. While we were walking around San Francisco, we came across their only other location! Nick was thrilled!
Frank can never pass up a sundae from Ghiradelli.
I have to admit, we got a big kick out of the names of places in the Castro neighborhood!
We took a couple rides north and south of the city. This part of northern California features some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States.
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!
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.
Our 420 friendly(!) airbnb. I have never seen a book case arranged by color!
First time I’ve seen a whole shelf of books arranged by color!
Berkeley Peace Wall
Berkeley Peace Wall
Berkeley Saturday Farmers’ Market
Some of our favorite restaurants were the inexpensive, yet very good, restaurants near the campus.
A highlight for us was visiting the Cheese Board Co-op. It is one of Louie’s customers and he asked us to visit and thank them for their business.
Frank and Amry. The bakery/cheese shop is in North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood.
A few doors down is their pizza restaurant. They serve only one type of vegetarian pizza every day and people line up before it opens!
Truly, they have one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. The crust is incredible!
I’ve previously mentioned how traveling can nudge you out of your comfort zone. When you’re home, it’s easy to become complacent, “Why would I want to do that?” Traveling gives you the opportunity to stretch and say, “Why NOT?!”
The “M” has always intimidated me by its steepness and height.
This year, I decided to try it.
At the top of the “M”!!!
Evidently, bridge jumping is “a thing” in Montana. Why would I want to do that? I hate cold water (yes, I’m one of those who has to walk in an inch at a time before going under). I don’t like heights. And who wants to jump into a dark hole when you don’t even know what’s in it or how deep it really is.
Even the girls debated whether or not to jump . . .
But then they did!
and then Cee Cee
After a while, I went and sat on the bridge. Sienna came up next to me. “What are you afraid of? What’s the worse that could happen?” she asked. “It’s deep enough. It will be cold but I will have a warm towel waiting for you.” Who could argue with that?!!