Friday, September 25, 2015

Cali-cation - Yosemite, Tahoe, Sisters and COUSINS!!

It must have been about 6 months ago when my cousin was telling me about her fabulous summer plans which included spending a lot of time with my younger sister, Marie, and niece, Sasa, in Cali, including camping in Yosemite. I was super jealous. Then I had a really good idea: go to Cali
and go camping in Yosemite with my sister and niece! Not very original, but pretty good nonetheless. Plan was proposed and accepted, and tix were bought. (Actually, one ticket, which was part of the brilliance of the plan - go before Ebba turns 2 and I would have to pay 2 full fare tickets.)

The plan got even more brilliant when I decided a stopover in MN would also be necessary. Hard to visit the US and not see the grandparents. Turns out that was a brilliant plan, because Grandma helped ease the pain of jetlag so that when we arrived in Cali we were 100% ready to go. The fact that Grandma also prepared a full Thanksgiving meal for our arrival was not too shabby. Really.

Four days in MN was not long, but it was enough to squeeze in a few visits with friends and lots of time with the grandparents. We also ate donuts, which was very important to me.

Lekker donuts!
We arrived in Cali and got to check out my sister's new house in Oakland and see Khiza for the first time since he became a father! Soon, however, we were off for 4 days of camping in Yosemite! We arrived with almost enough light to set up the tent, but not quite. Our friendly camping neighbors lent us theirs (that night and every night thereafter) as we discovered that the lantern we brought did not, in fact give off light. We all slept amazingly well in the fresh mountain air (when air mattresses weren't leaking, of course).
Visiting a National Park with two toddlers sort of set the pace. There was lots of gathering of sticks and stones and simply playing in nature. We took the obligatory drive up to Glacier Point for the inspiring views over the valley and Half Dome. The kids were content climbing on rocks and driving log trains to San Francisco to visit Gigi. Nature really is the best playground.

Family photo!
Toot toot! Off to San Francisco!
Nights around the fire were always capped off with s'mores (duh). I even tried one using Dutch stroopwafels instead of graham crackers. You lose the nice crunch, but gain soft caramel. Definitely worth a go, if you happen to have stroopwafels with you next time you go camping.
As if camping in Yosemite hadn't given us our fix of natural beauty, we drove on to Lake Tahoe to celebrate the wedding of Alana and Patrick. We checked into a hotel and enjoyed the luxuries of showers and clean sheets. We spent nearly 2 hours the next morning swimming in a heated pool in the warm sunshine. It was glorious!

After celebrating National Cheeseburger Day at lunch, it was finally time to see the lake! We headed over to Emerald Bay for a hike and to enjoy the view. Time did not allow us to go all the way down to the bay, with its' enticing blue waters. However, we made time the next day by leaving the kiddos with Uncle Khiza and Marie and I rented kayaks and actually got out on the lake. I even took a quick dip in the chilly (62F, 16.5C) waters. I got my lake fix!
Hike down to Esmerald Bay
That evening we took a sunset cruise on Lake Tahoe and toasted to the happy couple! The views were stunning and I enjoyed half-conversations with many, as I often had to run to catch Ebba before she toppled overboard. Just as the after-party was kicking into high gear, Marie and I said goodbye to the Tahoe crew and headed back to Oakland so Ebba and I could make our flight the next day.
The Mac Crew
Goodbyes are never easy, especially when such distances separate us. But having been able to spend so much time together (the most in many, many years) left me feeling full of sister love and grateful for the opportunity to have had that time with Marie. We had conversations we had been meaning to have for years, shared the joys and frustrations of parenthood, and got glimpses into each other's lives that just don't transcend Skype. I was also so happy that Ebba and Sasa were able to really forge bonds that will (hopefully) lead to their own lifelong sisterhood.
PS - Wonder where Simon was during all of this. My guess? Eating pizzas and watching movies.In reality, lots of after school play dates and fun weekends with his Pappa.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015