Vancouver Christmas, pausing to be thankful

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

Our airbnb hostess put up a Christmas tree for us!

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. 

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End of summer

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.

❤️ San Francisco

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San Francisco’s famous cable cars.

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Painted Ladies

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.

Monterey Aquarium

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!

 

Berkeley

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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.

 

A toast to Napa

Little victories

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?!”

Although the things I’ve done in Bozeman don’t quite rise to previous “levels of wild” (i.e. skydiving, diving with sharks, walking with lions), I did push myself a couple times.

Climbing the “M”

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At the top of the “M”!!!

Bridge Jumping

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 . . .

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But then they did!

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?!!

#littlevictories #nevertooold