Thursday, May 8, 2014

Part 1 of Nan and Pop's Visit: April 18th-26th

Nan and Pop recently came to visit us! We were so thankful that their visit coincided with the Easter holiday. It is hard to miss so many holidays and birthdays with family now that we're over 2300 miles away. They arrived on Good Friday. Jeremy picked them up at SFO after work that day. We spent Friday evening at our house and they went to bed as early as Emily and Caleb! (All day travel and time changes will do that to you!)

On Saturday morning, Jeremy and Dad picked up our rental van for the week and then we headed to Alcatraz for our tour. Well, everyone but Caleb. We hired a babysitter to keep him for the whole day to make sightseeing easier for everyone. The Alcatraz tour was a first for Jeremy and me. We decided to save that to do with visitors since we knew it was usually something tourists might want to do. We had a pleasant day to enjoy the ferry ride to/from the island. It was very windy on Alcatraz, but still fairly warm (for SF) and sunny. The tour includes an audio track for you to listen to and enjoy at your own pace which was quite helpful. At times, it was difficult to keep up with Emily as she kept flitting back and forth between us and the grandparents, but she did pretty well for a four year old.

Approaching Alcatraz
One of my fave pics of Emily from the week

Sweet girl and Daddy

View of Alcatraz Island as the ferry approached

Emily smiles even for the jail house photo!

After Alcatraz, I had hoped to do a cable car ride, but the lines were REALLY long at Fisherman's Wharf. (Never going again on a Saturday if I can help it!) It was a slow, long walk through the crowds from Pier 39 to the cable car stop. We briefly went to Ghiradelli Square and sat outside to enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge views while drinking our ice cream shakes. It was only a mile walk from Pier 39, but we were all tired from the Alcatraz tour (much of that was walking over hilly terrain) so it felt like much longer. In hindsight, we probably should have just taken our car and showed Dad more of the city. Oh well, Dad will just have to come back to visit us for his cable car ride! 

Sunday was Easter and we spent the day at church, eating out for lunch, napping, egg hunting, and showing Dad and Mom parts of Alameda. Sunday morning Easter service was outstanding at FBCSF. The funny story about that afternoon was the crazy time we had with our Easter lunch plans. I had reserved a nice place for Easter brunch in Oakland. Despite my checking their website and calling the restaurant twice, I could never find out the cost of the brunch. Well, finally someone answered the phone on Easter Sunday morning. I was informed that it cost $50/person for brunch. We quickly decided we didn't want to spend over $200 for lunch, especially with two young kids who have trouble sitting still for very long. So, we decided to try a local franchise brunch place called Squat and Gobble. There was a location near church and Golden Gate Park. Well, Easter fell on 4/20 this year which is like an annual "pot smoking" day. Golden Gate Park was having a 4/20 festival and our restaurant was located in a hippyish area near Haight-Ashbury that was roped off for the festival. A quick glance around at those walking about revealed that it was an odd choice for Southern church folks to have Easter lunch, so we bailed! We lucked out and found an acceptable lunch spot in Hayes Valley that did not have a wait. Thank goodness! The kids were getting tired and hungry which is never a good combination!

My little family: Easter 2014

Checking out the Easter basket goodies. Caleb was obsessed with his construction vehicles.

"Professor Mike" and Caleb at our church

This girl LOVES Frozen! (And so does Mom and Dad.)

Monday was Alameda Day/Yosemite Packing Day. I had a doctor's appt. that morning and it was nice to have the grandparents watch the kiddos so they didn't have to go with me. We showed Mom and Dad more of our neighborhood (Crab Cove, Park and Webster St., Shoreline Dr., Emily's preschool, our local park, etc.) Yosemite in April can still be quite cool, especially mornings and nights. I had to prepare and pack for weather temperatures ranging from the 40's-70's!

We headed out Tuesday morning for Yosemite. We were making great time when about 45 min. into our trip we realized we didn't pack the baby hiking backpack. Sheesh! We had to go all the back for that because there was really no way to do any trails with Caleb without it. We ended up eating an early lunch back at our place and then driving almost straight through to Yosemite (4 hours.) We didn't have time to do much our first day there, but we did enjoy the grounds at Wawona and had dinner in the hotel restaurant. The grounds of Wawona Hotel are BEAUTIFUL--big, old trees, lots of green grass, a pretty water fountain, and a covered bridge over a small stream. It was a lovely, historic hotel. Wawona is near the south entrance to Yosemite and about an hour from the Valley. It was close to the Mariposa Grove of Gianta Sequoias so that is what we did on Wednesday.

Enjoying the sunny day and the grounds at Wawona Hotel

So sweet!

My tree huggin' kids on Earth Day 2014

Wednesday morning, we enjoyed a nice (free) breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for the Mariposa Grove. We took an open tram ride through the upper and lower groves so that we could see as much as possible more easily. (Hiking to the upper grove can take several hours.) An audio tour provided tons of history and information which I very much appreciated. Caleb was fidgety through most of it, but we managed to get through without a major meltdown. :) We were allowed to get off of the tram ride to explore by foot twice. A convenient shuttle took us directly from our hotel to/from the Grove. It was a nice trip and had we had more than three days in Yosemite, I could easily have stayed much longer at the Mariposa Grove and hiked a few trails.

Don't mind us. We're just standing inside a live tree trunk.

A small portion of the Grizzly Giant Tree

This was one of the trees at the entrance to the park. This portion of exposed roots is pretty amazing.  Obviously, I can't even begin to photograph the full height of the tree. 

After a quick lunch in our rooms at Wawona, we loaded up to drive to Glacier Point. It was during Caleb's nap time, but luckily he napped in the car during our drive there. Glacier Point is one of the most beautiful vistas in all of Yosemite. Luckily, you can drive right there, park your car, and walk around to enjoy the awesome views without even hiking! There are several trailheads at Glacier Point or nearby, but we decided that it would be too hard to hike a few hours, drive an hour back to the hotel, and make it in time for dinner before the kids got too hungry and tired. I lost all track of time while at Glacier Point. Were we there an hour? Two? or more? I don't even know. It was SO beautiful. I loved every minute.

On top of the world!

Glacier Point. Easiest "hike" ever! ;)

Little Caleb got all the attention this day with his "Park Ranger" outfit. I mean seriously, he couldn't be any cuter!

Pop and Caleb are big buddies. Love how patient Dad is with him. 

Happy 8th Anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Reiss!

This kind of looks unsafe, but I promise, we were nowhere near the edge! 

Caleb's response to the Glacier Point Views? "Whoa!" 

Love my girl's adventurous heart

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