Road Trip Day 4–Sabbath

After church, we went back into the city to wait a long hour in the car so that we could weave down the famous Lombard street.  This famous section is a steep street that winds back and forth between planters.  My understanding is that the purpose of the winding is to slow down the traffic.  Well, it seemed to have worked because it takes about an hour to stand in line and weave down this magical street.

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Next, we went to Presidio and Fort Point. 

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They were giving a demonstration of how to load and fire a cannon.  It seemed like a good skill, so I volunteered to help load the cannon.  There were 4 of us operating the cannon.  1 person to put the shell into the cannon.  1 person to push the shell all the way down the barrel with a giant Q-tip (that was me.) 1 person to hold his thumb over the vent while the shell is being loaded, then puncture a hold in the shell.  1 person to insert the flint and fire the cannon.  They asked for a fifth volunteer.  Someone that was really good at giving commands.   Tenille immediately raised her hand and she was chosen as our captain.  She issued a set of commands, then each of us performed our part in the process.  The Park Ranger told us that it normally took a team about 30 seconds to cycle through the loading and discharge of a cannon.  It took us about 20 seconds.  However, I think I probably would have been much more careful if I was shoving a real cannonball with real gunpowder into the business end of a cannon.  I also probably wouldn’t be too quick in shoving a cannonball in right after one just blew out.  I’m sure many a soldiers that had the Q-tip job went home without hands.  At the end of the demonstration, Tenille and I got Cannoneer certificates.

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Sundays on the road are always interesting for our family because a part of observing the Sabbath for us is to not buying anything if possible.  This typically means that we buy our food the day before and we don’t eat at restaurants.  We are often eating preserved food of one type or another, especially when there is no refrigerator.  I probably fared the best because I got to eat the left over Italian from the night before.  Caleb ate some spam and crackers hors d’oeuvres.  Andrew ate a cracker sandwich.  Most people might think a cracker sandwich is two pieces of cracker with a piece of meat in the middle.  Andrew’s cracker sandwich was 2 pieces of bread with a cracker in the middle.  Didn’t look that great, but he ate the whole thing.  I have no idea what Tenille ate.  Probably a string cheese. 


Road Trip Day 3–San Francisco

On Saturday morning, we did some swimming at the hotel.  It was nice because we had the pool mostly to ourselves.  Andrew rode around on my back as I hopped around the pool.  When I proclaimed that I was a Kangaroo, Caleb asserted that he was a dingo.  So, for about an hour we played Kangaroo and Dingo as Caleb chased me and Andrew around the pool with Andrew screaming, “Get away, Dingo!” into my ear.

We drove back into the city and I dropped off the family at the Cable Cars.  Then, I went to go pick up my sister at the airport.  We met up with my family again in Chinatown, and it was back to dim sum at another restaurant.  Again, pretty good dim sum. Cable Car & China Town Day 2 2011-08-20 009Cable Car & China Town Day 2 2011-08-20 029Cable Car & China Town Day 2 2011-08-20 031Cable Car & China Town Day 2 2011-08-20 033

Then, we went to the Walt Disney Museum.  This was probably one of my favorite stops in SF, although I don’t think it’s for everyone.  There’s much to admire about Walt Disney.  I love the standards he held for family entertainment.  He was a visionary that created dazzling and magical worlds.  But, I think the part I loved best was that before he was anything, before he penned Mickey Mouse, he was a failed entrepreneur.  If you would have seen Walt Disney in his mid-twenties, you would have thought him very ordinary.  He had just closed up his cartooning workshop and was heading to California to find a job.   It reinforced to me that you never know what kind of greatness awaits each one of us and when we will truly blossom.  We only have a view of our half-written stories, and seeing Walt Disney’s full life give us hope that perhaps we, too, can contribute something great in the unwritten pages of our book. 

After the Disney Museum, we stopped at the Ferry Building.  Unfortunately, it was closing up.  Looked like it would have been fun to browse around a bit, but alas, we were too late.  We didn’t see any restaurants to our liking, so we had headed to an Italian Restaurant – Bertolucci’s – next to our hotel.  Great food.  Affordable.  Plenty of leftovers.  Bread was not burnt. 

Road Trip Day 2

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Our first stop was the Jelly Belly Factory.  A few interesting facts:

1.  Ronald Reagan put Jelly Bellies on the map.

2.  Jelly Beans are a form of Turkish Delights – (applets and cotlets).

3.  Jelly Bellies have  a set of novelty flavors called BeanBoozled that were the kids’ favorites to look at.  These flavors included barf, baby wipes, booger, and canned dog food. 

4.  There is an artform called Jelly Belly Bean Art.  Check out the gallery.

We then made it into the city for some Dim Sum at the Hong Kong Lounge. It was good.  I don’t think it was necessarily better than Jade Garden in Seattle, though.  I think I was expecting to have my mind blown by some fabulous San Francisco Dim Sum.  But, good dim sum in San Francisco tasted like good dim sum in Seattle. 

We stopped at Ghirardelli Square and got our requisite free chocolate, then walked along the water front to our cruise. 

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We missed the Alcatraz tour because it was booked up.  So, we went on a cruise that circled Alcatraz and went under the Golden Gate bridge.  It was cold and the engine was a bit too loud to hear the tour guide spiel over the loud speaker.  Not sure if I’d recommend this.

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Finally, we hit a french restaurant called Restaurant Decroix.  Overall, not a great experience.  We were served burnt bread 3 times, then Tenille’s Crème Brulee had a squiggling worm in it.  Full review here.

We drove about 15 minutes out of town and stayed at the Embassy Suites next to the airport.  This was a good call for us.  It was super close to town, but not as hectic nor expensive as in town.  Also, the Embassy Suite is great if you have a family with more than 4 people.  We had our family + my mom + my sister.  I never realized how difficult it was to find a hotel room for a bigger family.  Almost all other hotels and motels require you to get 2 rooms.  What do you do if you have 3 or more kids?  I found that there’s an entire website dedicated to this problem.  (Unfortunately, the bottom line is that you have to pay more.)

Road Trip Day 1: Day of Driving

We took off about 7am. Our plan was to have me drive in the morning while the rest of the family got a few more hours of sleep. Despite the well-laid plans, nobody slept in the morning. But, that didn’t stop me from swapping out after a few hours of driving. Our children watched Jungle Book.

Caleb asked me, “What are necessities?” (As in the “Bare necessities”)

“They are things you need to survive. Is air a necessity?” I questioned to confirm understanding.

“Yes,” Caleb replied.







Very good… there’s hope for him… let’s get a bit trickier…

“Is mom a necessity?” I asked.

“Yes…. Otherwise, we couldn’t be born.”

“Is dad?”

“hmmm….” He looked thoughtful…. “I don’t know.”

Admittedly, a bit hard to hear… but that is the nature of truth…

We stopped at a rest stop in Oregon. Tenille and my mom packed all the ingredients to make “Kim Bap”. This is a Korean-style Sushi Roll with Beef, egg, spinach, carrot, rice, radish, etc…. It is the staple backpacking/road-trip food. It might be the size of the bite-size cut rolls (about the size of McNuggets), but it’s nearly impossible to eat just a reasonable amount. I’m always WAY overstuffed when I see a big tower of Kim Bap.

At the rest stop, Tenille pointed out some ladies standing outside the bathroom holding a sign – “Stranded”. There was a young girl with them – maybe 5 or 6 years old. Tenille apparently talked to them and got the scoop. They are on their way back to Arizona, but their fuel pump busted. Their car is in the shop, and they need enough money to pay for the repairs so they can get back to their home. Gas Pump was $130. I was a bit reluctant.

A few months ago, I was approached by a haggard lady in the Barnes and Noble parking lot. I was with Caleb. She told me that her car was out of gas and she needed some money because she need to get to Mountlake Terrace.  She didn’t really ask for the money.  She told me this story as if I owed her and she had returned to collect on a debt.

No problem. “Where’s your car?”

She pointed to an old white sedan in the parking lot. “OK. Let’s meet at the Chevron across the street and I’ll fill it up for you.”

“It’s out of gas. I can’t.”

“Oh… how were you planning on filling it up?”

“I don’t know! I guess I have to go buy one of those gas cans….”

“OK… come with me. Let’s go to the Chevron. I’ll get you a gas can and some gas.”

Then she got angry with me. “I ain’t getting in no car with you! I don’t even know you! There’s no way I’m getting in your car.”

That hurt my feelings a bit. Comfortable enough to ask me for some money, but not comfortable enough to get in my car. I suppose I could understand. I could be a kidnapper of haggard, old women only pretending to be a nice dad buying math books for my 6 year old child. My son could have just been a temporary prop to lure old women that needed gas money… Then before they knew it, my trap would snap around them – they’d be baptized into the Mormon church and canning peaches for their neighbors.

I digress. I don’t fault her for not wanting to get in a car with a stranger. I think it was just the tone with which she chastised me – it left a tender scar. It was so accusatory.

“OK, then… why don’t you just walk over there, and I’ll meet you over there. I’ll get you some gas and a gas tank.” I tried to calm her politely in my best non-kidnapper voice.

“What? So you can drive off on me? This is such a waste of my time. I’m not going to walk all the way over there then have you drive off!” And she walked off while mumbling something unsavory.

Caleb and I continued to our car and replayed together what had just happened. The main principles were:

1. We should always try to help those that are in need. It would have cost $30-$50 to fill up her tank. That’s not a lot of money to get to be a hero to someone in need.

2. We’re not obligated to help people exactly in the way they ask.

An interesting experience, but a bit unpleasant. So when Tenille informed me of these poor lady’s plight with their stranded story, a small bitter taste of the gas-lady experience regurgitated in my mouth. With that said, we should always try to help (See Principle 1). Again, $130 is not a lot of money to get to be a hero…

I approached them with Tenille at my side. I didn’t want to be accused of any weird impropriety with these ladies. “My wife tells me that your car is in the shop and you need some money to get it out of the shop, so you can head back to Arizona?”

“Yeah” Both of them chimed in then started in about how they need to get back to their home.”

“Where’s the shop?”

“About 6 miles away.”

“How did you get here?”

“My dad dropped us off.”

At this, I must have raised an eyebrow. I knew my heart sank a bit… This is not going down a good path. Red flags are waving everywhere, but I plowed forward. “If you want to take us to the shop, we’d be willing to pay for your repairs so you can get home.”

“Well – my dad took it to the shop and I’m not exactly sure where the shop is.”

Hmm…. I’m at a bit of a loss…. What did they think was going to happen when they held a sign at a rest stop saying they were “Stranded”. After a bit of an awkward pause, she continued, “I can call my dad and see if I can get the address of the shop…”

“OK… “ I replied. I gave Tenille a half-smile.

A few minutes later, she returned… “He’s not answering…. and this is totally lame because you’re the second person to offer fixing our car… “

I saw the little girl sitting against the wall of the bathroom building in her dirty dress. She seemed like she was the daughter of the lady who was doing most of the talking. We gave them a dollar and wished them good luck with their car. In my heart of hearts, I wish we could have driven them to a shop, paid for their repairs, and watched them happily drive off toward Arizona. It would have been much more satisfying than paying a dollar for a half-baked story and watching the mis-education of an innocent girl.

Caleb turns 7

Happy Birthday, Caleb!  This year, Caleb had a Rocket theme for his birthday.  Now that Tenille has been making elaborate birthday cakes, she is trapped into the curse of having to outdo the previous year.  She got some Fondant lessons from her friend, Kay.  (If you don’t know what Fondant is, don’t worry – you’re probably just a guy.  I’m still unclear what it is…)  Kay helped Tenille create a “practice” cake a few weeks ago.

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Then, Tenille unveiled her masterpiece at his birthday party. 

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It was getting a little bit tense when the cake fell behind schedule by a few hours… and there may have been some mutterings about “never doing this again… “  But, after Caleb saw the cake and beamed at his mom screaming, “I love it!” she very quickly forgot about the intense effort.  I imagine this is similar to how women choose to have multiple children. 

We had a bunch of rocket theme activities planned, but primarily spent our time with the stomp rockets.  The invitations themselves were actual stomp rockets this year.Caleb Birthday Party Invitation 2011-07-20 001


A test launch before the Birthday Party w/ Andrew as cheerleader

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Lizzy demonstrating perfect stomp form.

Stomp Rocket Launch on Birthday

The plan started unraveling when kids started showing up and I had to start making rockets for everyone.  Admittedly, I got a bit snippy.  Luckily, Adam, Trevor, and Shane kicked in and fired up on the manufacturing line.  A big thanks to the manufacturing floor!

We let folks know that Caleb is an avid collector of foreign coins, and Caleb made some loot.  By the end of the day, he was grinning from ear to ear with all his new coins.  He even got a coin collection book from his auntie to keep all his coins in. 

Today, we looked at some old pictures and watched some videos of him as he was growing up.  What a wonderful journey it has been so far.  What a wonderful boy.  We are lucky to be his parents.  Happy Birthday, Caleb!


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