And They’re Off …

 

Our first stop this morning was the Civil War Battlefield of “The Battle of Franklin” at the Carnton Plantation.  When you go back and consider the tragedy that war was for our country in the amount of human life that it cost us, it’s too sad to think about.  But then again, it also made us who we are as a country today.  We won’t ever go back to the terrible injustices of treating people differently because of the color of their skin or because of the way they look.  We learned our lesson during those tragic days.

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Since it was our first time in “The South,” we wondered how a tour would be … would it be too confederate, would we feel uncomfortable?  We were a little hesitant but we figured, “we’re here, we might as well go.”  It turned out that our tour guide was amazingly un-biased and she gave us a tour of the house and the property that just told the story of the battle at Franklin, Kentucky that day.  It was one of the war’s worst battles, and the people who lived on the Carnton Farm saw it all happen right in front of their eyes.  They became an instant hospital, caring for the fallen soldiers, and burying them right then and there on their farm.  As we peered out the windows from their second story bedrooms, you could certainly feel the sadness of that day, and at the same time, give honor to all those who fought and died on both sides of the battlefield, because, after all, they were all Americans.

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This is the first “Civil War Site” that we have been to and it was very moving.  Sad and tragic and yet they did a beautiful job at honoring all those who fell during those terrible years.

As we continued our road trip, I was so curious about the stone walls along the side of roads that we kept seeing for miles and miles and miles.  I kept telling the gang, “this looks like what I imagine Ireland to look like, with the short hand-stacked stone walls.”  I’ve never been to Ireland but it really looked like all those pictures we see in movies and on postcards.

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We finally saw a “Historic Site” monument sign and we stopped to read what it said.  Well, you’re never gonna believe it!  These walls are called “The Rock Fences of Kentucky” and here’s what one blogger says about them:

Central Kentucky is world famous for Thoroughbred horses and endless miles of rock fences (dry stone walls). There are more rock fences here than any place in the USA. In Central Kentucky only 5 -10% of these 19th century dry stone walls built by Irish Immigrant stone masons still stand. These stone masons passed their craft on to black slaves that became masters of the craft of building rock walls.

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It was so picturesque to see, and then when you touched them, you felt the spirit of those who built them, proud of the work of their hands!  So, I got to see a part of Ireland in Kentucky!  Who would have guessed that??

We continued our drive along these glorious green roads til we came to … Churchill Downs — Home of the Kentucky Derby!  And WOW!  What a sight this was!!

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As soon as you pull into the parking lot and see the steeples, you can hear the trumpets playing the “song” in your mind … you know the one, “da da da da da da daaaa — and they’re off!!”  This was going to be great!!

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We had a little time before our tour to see the grounds and visit the museum.  They have an actual gate from one of the previous Derby’s for you to play in … and so we did!

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They also have lots of interactive exhibits for more playing … and so we did!

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Of course, I was the winner of the horse race because of my horse’s name.  “Little Lu” beat the girls by a whole length!  Haha!!

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They are also the only museum that has a 360° theater that shows actual footage of horse races going all the way back to Seabiscuit (he did NOT run in the Derby though) through American Pharaoh, last year’s KD winner!  It was quite exciting to experience those big races again!

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This place is full of history and fun.  On the day of the Derby last year, they sold over 170,000 tickets!!  And the cheapest ticket is “General Admission for $60.00 per person” … they are making a killing for a couple of minutes of thrills!

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We had a great time touring and visiting all the cool exhibits, the actual grandstands, and the barns where all those famous horses live.  The race track was so beautiful and green and perfect.  And all for a quick run around the track!   I think their website says it all …

A trip to the Kentucky Derby is an unforgettable experience! Watch one of the world’s top rank horse races, known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, while immersing yourself in iconic southern Derby traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing
“My Old Kentucky Home”.

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EJG March 2016 008Well, not sure my hat makes their Top 10 List, but we’ll definitely be back here for a race or two!!  Not to mention a mint julep or two!  😉

Oh, and in case you’re interested, the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday … anyone care to make a little bet??

And we’re off … talk to you tomorrow!

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I’m a Little Bit Country …

He’s definitely a little bit rock and roll!  Haha!!  Well, we decided that since the girls were ready for anything, we’d take a little road trip.  We packed up the rental car and off we went, headed south for … NASHVILLE!!  Yes, Nashville!!  We cranked up my “Garth Brooks Pandora Station” and drove Eddie crazy for the next 6 hours!

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It was a nice drive but not nearly as scenic as it is on the 6 hour drive to San Fran … just kind of plain.  No mountains, no green trees, no cows … just a lot of open fields to see for miles and miles and miles!!  The empty corn fields waiting for their time to grow again.

We stopped in Louisville, Kentucky for a quick BBQ dinner at Doc Crow’s.   We had dirty rice, baby back ribs, mac and cheese, and some other stuff that was gone by the time we remembered to take this picture!

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Needless to say, it was delicious and delightful!

By the time we arrived in Nashville, we were pretty pooped and we had a long day ahead of us.  So we hit the hay and dreamed of Garth serenading us to sleep with …

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes

Those words kind of described us for the weekend!  We were just going!!

Our first stop the next morning was the famous, the fabulous, Grand Ole Opry House!  Even if you’re not a country music fan, you absolutely have to take this tour about country music roots and history.  If you are a big country fan (like us girls!), you can go goo-goo eyed!

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(**A Little Side Note:  The little guy that is with us is named “Flat Stanley.”  You’ll hear more about him later but just in case you’re wondering who he is, that’s Stanley!) 

Our tour guide was full of music trivia and country music history so she made it both fun and funny!  We found out that the old t.v. show “Hee Haw” (does that ring a bell or what??) was filmed here in the Opry House every week in front of a live audience!!  That brought back great memories of Dad/Grampa because he was a “Hee Haw” fan of the biggest kind!  He would have loved to see the set!  The pictures aren’t great, but they may look familiar when you think about that old show!

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It’s a huge venue and they fill this up 5 nights a week with different performances ranging from 2 hours to 6 hours, depending on who “drops in” on any given night.  Any country star that is a “Member” of the Opry House can just decide that he or she wants to do a little performance that night and wa-la … you could be seeing Garth live on stage!  We weren’t able to snag tickets for the show that night but you can bet we’ll be back here again!

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They offered to let us have a go at serenading our tour group, but since I didn’t want the group to take off running, we passed!

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Here are a few of our favorites in the “Member Walk of Fame” corridor …

After we finished ooohhhing and aaahhhing, we left the Opry House on a high note!  We made our way into the downtown area to check out Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and some other country favorites on their famous “Broadway Street” — it was a little wild and crazy for me and Eddie, but the girls loved it!

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We had gotten a tip from a gal who was visiting from Australia that we should definitely go to “The Bluebird Cafe.”  This is a little dive outside of town, hidden in a strip mall.  You would think nothing of it if you happened upon it or drove by.  But she gave us the story!  This is THE PLACE for country singer/songwriters.  Many of today’s country stars began their careers right here at the Bluebird!  I know you’re going to think I’m a “Garth Fanatic,” but I’m just giving you what’s on their website:

At The Bluebird, performers include up-and-coming songwriters along with those whose music is regularly on the charts, country music as well as pop, rock and Contemporary Christian hits.  Kathy Mattea was the first star to be identified with The Bluebird and is still a friend and a regular guest performer today.  Garth Brooks played on both our Open Mic and Sunday Songwriter’s Shows before he was discovered – at The Bluebird – and signed to Capitol Records.

So off we went to find this place and … stand in line!  Since we didn’t have reservations, we had the option of standing in line for a very slim chance of getting in to see the evening’s show.  When we arrived, we counted about 20 people in front of us.  The place only holds 90 people so each night after the tables with reservations are filled, they come out to the line and say, “Ok, most of you will not be able to get in to the show, but approximately __ will be able to.”  That night it was “approximately 25” … we were numbers 23, 24, and 25 in line!!  OMG, we were so stressed out!!  What if we didn’t get in?  We’d been in line for 2 hours and we still had another half-hour to wait!!  And then, every time someone walked up to join another party in line ahead of us, we just knew our chances were getting slimmer and slimmer.  OMG!!  This is terrible!!  Finally, when the guy comes out to begin letting some of our line in, he’s counting … 1, 2, 3 … 13, 14, 15 … it was so dreadful!!  But lo and behold and hallelujah, he gets to us … 23, 24, 25, you can come in now!  Well we about knocked him down to get inside the joint!  We were so excited at that point and just wanted to take our seats to make sure he couldn’t change his mind!

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It’s a very intimate musical circle and we had a blast.  We heard songs that we knew and that we had been singing with the radio for years!  But let me tell you … songwriters have a hard gig.  They write a song, they sing it in front of venues like this to have “someone” hear it and then offer to record it on their label.  If it does great, then the songwriter is paid for their work and they can cash in.  But if it doesn’t, all their hard work is for naught.  I’m not sure too many of us could take that kind of rejection,  waiting for the “BIG ONE” to hit the charts.  I know I couldn’t.  But, you gotta give it to them!  They are troopers and it was a wonderful evening listening to their music in their own voice, sharing their stories of writing and waiting with us.  I highly recommend this as a stop on your own Nashville trip to be sure!

This was a day filled with music and the magic that goes along with it.  Each place we visited was truly a “note to be remembered.”  The singer/songwriter Edwin McCain nails it when he sings…

And these are the moments I thank God that I’m alive.
And these are the moments I’ll remember all my life.
I’ve got all I’ve waited for and I could not ask for more.

We all know we were blessed that day … we couldn’t have asked for more!!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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Bon Voyage!

Well gang, I promised that I’d write you “next year” … so here it is!  But first, I hope that your 2016 has started out in peace and health and that this year brings each of us lots of surprises, stuffed full with love!  Yahoo!!

So you might think the title of this blog, “Bon Voyage” is weird for the first post of the year right?  Well, not exactly.  Most of us think of this word as meaning “Good Bye, have a great a trip!” but it really translates to “Good luck and great wishes for your journey!”  So it’s very appropriate for this post as both the first post of the new year and the journey we all look forward to this year, and as a title for our family trip.  So, here you go!

As for us, we started out with a bang!  We left Chicago on January 1st heading to Miami, just as you all were settling in to watch the Rose Parade.  We met the kids from all their different starting points and began a “Galvan Family Vacation” or as the kids would call it “#galvantravels” with a cruise to the “Eastern Caribbean.”

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Since we arrived a day early (I needed to make sure they would all make it there on time and not “miss the boat” … literally!!), we had Saturday to take a look around the city, eat some amazing food, and enjoy their fabulous culture.  So first … a tour of the Everglades!  We were loaded up on a “fan” boat … it brought back memories of my favorite tv show back in the day … remember “Flipper”?  hahaha!  Yes, Sandy and Flipper, my two favorites … “they call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, no one you see, is smarter than he …”  Oh come on, tell me you don’t remember that one!!  I can hear you humming the tune!!!  Alright, well, back to the fan boat.  It was a blast, literally!  We blasted through the Everglades on this crazy fast fan boat looking for alligators.  I didn’t see any alligators (TBTG!), however, we saw lots of beautiful native birds, the sea life and plant life of the area, and had a lot of fun on that crazy ride!

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After the ride, they have an arena where they show you lots of the area’s animals, and they brought out one of the common “loud mouths” of the Everglades.  A huge frog!  The presenter obviously had an eye for Ashley, so he asked her to give the “little guy” a kiss for him to see what would happen … so she did!!  Yes, she did!  But the funniest part about it was the reactions on the young girls’ faces who were sitting behind her!  I probably looked just like them, but I think this is priceless!!

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Kudos to Ash for being a good sport with that one!

That was a really fun day and we were all able to check off our bucket list … “See the Everglades.” 

Before we left for the cruise the next morning, the kids presented us with a very cute gift.  They made Eddie the “Captain” and me the “First Mate” and they were all the “Crew.”  We wore these hats all during the cruise and many of our co-passengers would comment on how clever they were.  Even one of the real crew members asked me, “So when did you get promoted?”  It was a great addition to our family vacay!

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The Galvan Family Bon Voyage Party on deck!

Our first stop was Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.

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I missed the sunrise, but this was about 6:30 a.m., as we arrived to the Dominican Republic

Eddie and I went exploring in the very small shopping village and the kids found the one and only resort!  We reunited later that afternoon at this beautiful resort, that included one of those crazy water slides!  Well let me just tell you … it was crazy fun!

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It certainly brought back childhood memories of some great slides!  And the view from the top was pretty spectacular!

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Sunset as we say goodbye to Amber Cove, Dominican Republic

It was a beautiful day in paradise …

Our next day was spent in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  This is definitely a larger port than yesterday’s, filled with shops, culture, musicians, and beautiful, friendly people.  The mountains and oceans were stunning, colors that we have never seen before … deep, deep greens, blues that were sparkly (is that a word?), and some vivid (and my favorite) pinks!

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We met up with the kids again at the beach in the afternoon for some snorkeling.  It takes a little getting used to, especially when you’re un-coordinated me!

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The colors under the water were just as beautiful as the ones above.  This was truly a blessing in seeing the “awe” of the Creator’s hand.

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It was a beautiful day in paradise …

Third stop was Puerto Rico!  Ai Yai Yai!  That was a fabulous place and we only had time to see “Old” San Juan, “New” San Juan, and the Great Fortress!  This place is a definite do over.  We all loved it and will be back here for sure!  Take a look!

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Entering the Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

The famous “Fort” in Puerto Rico was absolutely fabulous!  You can’t imagine a place like this until you walk through its halls and tunnels, on the walls, and in the cemetery.  What stories lie in this place!  It’s actually four “forts” … Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, most of the city walls, the San Juan Gate and Fort San Juan de la Cruz just across the entrance to the bay.  It was continually built and re-built over 250 years by Spain and then the United States to fortify the prized location of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.  This is a place for everyone to experience.  These pictures definitely do not do this place justice, but I’ll try.

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The walls and a look-out area

 

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The cemetery, dating back hundreds of years!

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Looking out from one of the cannon areas.  Look to the middle of the picture and you can see another end of the fort.  

Being the history fanatics that we are, Eddie and I really enjoyed this day.  We will definitely come back to explore more of these walls.

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As we were leaving the fort, someone had to come by to say “Hi” … I very quickly said, “GOODBYE!”  Haha!

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This little guy (approximately 4 feet long!!) decided to say hello to us!  

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HELLO!  Yikes!  I ran away, of course!  

After leaving the Fort, Eddie and I took a walk through the “two” cities, and of course, visited their beautiful cathedral.  St. Juan Bautista was simple and beautiful at the same time.  The cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in the “Old” San Juan neighborhood, and is the second oldest cathedral in the Americas.  Isn’t that something?

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After a nice walk and a delicious lunch, we made our way back to the kids …

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Apparently, we “took over” the hot tub as we pulled out of Puerto Rico … and yes, that’s a good old-fashioned Bloody Mary that I’ve been caught drinking!  

If you are planning a get-away anytime soon, be sure to stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  I had no idea how beautiful it was and Eddie and I, hopefully with some of you, will certainly be back!
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It was a beautiful day in paradise … 

Our last port was probably our favorite.  Well, maybe.  Not sure.  The others were so great too!  How do you choose?  I guess we have to go back!  Grand Turks was a beautiful, peaceful, reflective place.  The water was even more spectacular than any of the other places we had seen so far.

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We took a catamaran to one of their smaller islands, and did more snorkeling and exploring.  Edward and Ash took pictures with their drone, and I think you’ll agree with me, that this place was pretty extraordinary!

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It looks like someone took a few crayons and went wild with the blues, greens, turquoise, etc.  Well, I guess “Someone” did … when you see places like this, you have to believe that God was having a great time creating scenery like this for us to appreciate, but also to care for.

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It was definitely a beautiful day in paradise … 

That was a trip full of blessings.  We made some great memories, had some great experiences, saw beautiful places, met wonderful people, and were especially blessed with the gift of spending time with one another.  We couldn’t ask for more than that.

Bon Voyage everyone … may your next journey be guided by God and led by love!

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally … Caught Up and Happy New Year!!

Well gang, believe it or not, I’m finally caught up … a little out of order sometimes, but I have officially recorded all of our visitors and visits, from June to December here in Chicago.  This experience has been amazing and Eddie and I feel blessed to be able to do this.  If you haven’t been here for a visit yet, get it on your calendar (and ours!) for 2016!  It’s a great city and there’s so much more for us to explore … hopefully with you!

We want to do a little re-cap here with some pictures that didn’t make it on a post.  We hope you enjoy our 2015 “Wrap Up” …

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We hope you enjoyed those!  We started with my flight in and then my first official day in Chicago, which happened to be the day the city was having a giant party for the Blackhawks, celebrating their Stanley Cup Championship, and ending with our Christmas weekend, taking in the new Star Wars movie on Saturday.  2016 promises lots more pictures!!

I found this prayer and wanted to share it with you for the New Year!

Yes Amen.:

May this year, 2016 (can you believe it’s 2016?!?!), bring you and yours peace, love, reconciliations if needed, and many happy memories!  We will keep you in our prayers every day until we see you face to face (either here in Chicago or home in La Verne!).

We love you!  HAPPY NEW YEAR GANG!!  

I’ll talk to you next year!  😉

 

 

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Home for the Holiday!

Yeah, it’s officially “The Holiday Season” and I got there just in time!  My plane landed at noon and I was able to make the annual SS.CC Mass of Thanksgiving at 3:00.  There’s nothing like coming “home” to this beautiful celebration of thanks, friendship, and lots of love for our amazing Padres.

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It was a beautiful liturgy and we had a great meal and fellowship afterwards!

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Both the SS.CC Fathers and the Secular Branch are such an important part of our lives.  Thank you to each and every one of you who made this day so beautiful for the rest of us!

The next day was our “Prep Day” for the Thanksgiving Day Meal being served on … Thanksgiving Day!  We had a blast cooking and cleaning and getting things organized just right!  And, ok, we fooled around a little bit!

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I’m so proud of our parish and what you did for Thanksgiving!  We have never done anything like this before and with the leadership, dedication, and generosity of both Terry and Kathy, it turned out perfectly.  If there would have been 1,000 people there, we could have served them without any hitches!  Eddie and I were grateful to be a part of this and hope to be for many years to come!

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Kathy hard at work! 

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The “Left” Serving Line – Ray, Dn. Marv, Eddie, Maurice, Jeremy, Michele and more servers.

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The “Right” Serving Line – Elsie & Ernesto 

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Dn. Marv & Ray

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The Estey Clan

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Terry receiving lots of love – her favorite moment, I’ll bet!

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After we were done with our shift, Eddie and I met Edward and Ashley at her family’s home for a fabulous “fried” Thanksgiving!  Her Uncle Cam deep fried two big turkeys, and with Aunt Denise leading the way with the sides, we were set for sure!

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It was a really nice time spent with the Brusegard Family for our first (yes, first!) Thanksgiving dinner.  When we were totally stuffed there, we left and made our way to the Vidaure Home for a second Thanksgiving Dinner!

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Well, we made the most of our Thanksgiving Day for sure!  You can’t get much more food and family than that!  Thank you to both of our hosts for a wonderful celebration of what “Thanksgiving” really means!

The next day we set out for San Fran … because of the girls’ work schedules, they were not able to join us in La Verne this year for the holiday.  So, we packed up and drove to them.

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Once we got into the city, our first stop was a quick visit to Bubbi’s workplace.  We got a tour of this amazing workplace (doesn’t look like any place I have ever worked!) and were able to meet her friends and co-workers.

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Apparently Bubbi has coerced them all into reading our blog and for some reason they do it!  So here’s a shout-out to the gang at “Dot & Bo,” the newest and best online furniture store, and particularly to the “Customer Service Representatives” who will happily help you through every detail with a smile on their face.

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You guys need to replace some of those old barca-loungers?  Give them a holler and they will find you exactly what you need!

We spent the weekend with the kids, exploring Moss Beach …

 

 

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and Petaluma … where we found none other than …

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an “outdoor” Lagunitas!  This is the original brewery and it’s all housed outside … unlike the Chicago one which is under the 7-acre roof!  Complete opposites in their warehouses!

We drove home over the Golden Gate bridge under a beautiful sunset …

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And ended the day by celebrating someone special’s birthday!

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We figured that a game of “Chicago-opoly” would bring out her competitive juices!   Anyone ready for a game?

We had a wonderful visit with our SF Crew and are grateful for the chance to drive up and see them.  They are fun and funny and it’s always a crazy time with this gang.  See you guys soon!  We miss you tons already!

On our way home, we were able to make a quick pit stop to see our very own Nino & Nina!!  These two have been the best Godparents any girl could ever ask for and it’s always so great to see them.  They have been wonderful role models, sharing their faith and love with us, treating us like their own kids, and always welcoming us home with a good warm meal.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the homemade turkey soup Nina made just for us.  It was delicious!!

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It was a perfect way for us to end our Thanksgiving weekend.  We made lots of happy memories from start to end and are thankful for the opportunities God has given us to share the weekend with our loved ones.

We hope your Thanksgiving was the best ever too …

Talk to you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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A Day with the Irish!

Well the day had finally come!  How many times had I been asked (in an Irish accent, of course — you pick your favorite one), “Have you been to the Holy Land yet”?  Now I get it!  The “Holy Land” in South Bend, Indiana!!  The one covered in green and gold, and traditions and yes, even holiness!  It turned out to be a perfect day!

Tina is a BIG BIG BIG fan of the Irish.  Last time she was here, we went to the ND store right by my house and she went wild, making sure she had her gear in time for football season to begin!  Well this time, Cliff made our visit to the store a little more authentic!  He made us reservations for the formal “Stadium Tour” on campus for our next adventure!

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So we rented a car and set out for a morning drive to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.  We didn’t realize how close we really are.  No more than an hour and a half and an easy drive on the highway.  We arrived before we knew it!

Our first stop was the new shopping neighborhood right across the street from the entrance to the University.  Notre Dame Bookstore!  Well, we went crazy!!  It was a good thing that we only had 40 minutes to shop before our tour began or it could have been bad!

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By the way, I found it exciting to know that even ND got in on the “Star Wars” action … which of us “Star Wars” fans wouldn’t want one of these??  Ok, well, maybe just the “force” side!!

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We arrived for our tour right at noon and met our guides for an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the stadium, the locker room, the arena, and the amazing “Sports Center Hall of Fame” that holds pictures of every team from the beginning of ND time!  It was so cool!

Our first stop was the Joyce Center Arena which is where they play both basketball and volleyball.  Apparently the arena does not have enough seats for the “Final Four” so as of right now, we’ll never see one of those games there.  The hosting arena must have at least 10,000 seats and this one is just over 9,000.  If they would have only known …

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On the 2nd floor of the arena, completely surrounding the inner seating, is the Sports Center Hall of Fame.  This is an amazing exhibit to all of their former athletes and teams.  There are so many “famous” people on those walls that went on to “celebrity-ism” … it is pretty incredible to think that at a school this small (their undergrad population is about 8,000 students — that’s it!), so many are well-known for their participation in “pop culture” after graduating from ND.  And, I’m sure there are plenty whose names are not part of pop culture too … you can tell this is a special place to be part of.  It’s gonna stay in your bones … even if you’re just a visitor!

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Next stop:  The Locker Room!  We got to see the story of the “Gipper” and the window that “Rudy” crawled through and of course, the ND watermark that NO ONE … and I mean NO ONE … ever steps on!  Too funny!  Of course, I wanted to step on it just because they said we couldn’t … good thing it was behind a roped off area!

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Each one of those wooden little sections is someone’s locker.  They are all in some sort of “position” order with their names and numbers at the top.

When the players are done getting ready for their game, the next stop is the tunnel.  Our guide explained that the tradition of this tunnel is that Coach Lou Holtz made all the players touch the sign as they ran down the stairs and out to the stadium.  We just HAD to do that!!

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It is quite an awesome feeling when you’re standing there knowing that so many of our favorite football players have done the same thing, time and time again.  I’m not sure they stopped and posed for pics … but ya never know!!

Next stop:  THE STADIUM!

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There’s really not too much to say about the stadium … you know how much history it holds.  The only real thing changing this year is that they are making the seats (the wooden bleacher seats) a little bit wider for their fans.  Instead of the original 7-inch wooden plank seat, you will now get a upgraded seat made of “faux” wood!  The story goes that the season ticket holders would bring their own sandpaper at the beginning of the season to smooth out their seats and remove the splinters!!  HAHAH!!  Not sure how they got away with that all these years but apparently they did!  Our tour guides were really happy that they were “finally” doing the right thing!

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We had a great time with these two devoted tour guides.

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Mark & Steve were funny and knowledgeable and obviously huge fans of the school and the sports programs.  If you are ever in this neighborhood, this is another “must see” place!

Because we had a little time before our next “un-official” tour, we decided to grab some lunch at a local brewery.  The Evil Czech Brewery boasted some pretty good ratings and reviews and that was all we needed to re-fuel ourselves for the afternoon.  Lucky for me, they had ….

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Truffle Mac & Cheese!  OMG, if I would have known how good this was going to be, I would have ordered a couple extra to take home for dinner for the next 3 nights!  Holy Cow, they know how to knock out the mac and cheese!

I forgot to mention that at the Joyce Center Arena, they had another large bookstore … and you know what?  There was stuff in there that they didn’t have at the first bookstore, and because we took the tour, they gave us an additional 15% off our purchases.  Yeah, we stopped … and shopped … again!

Now, lucky for us, one of Cliff’s childhood buddies, Diego, is on staff at ND.  It was so nice to meet him and see his day-to-day life at ND.

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Diego was able to spend some time with us and show us a few more “behind the scenes” places like the indoor soccer and football fields (they have two — one for practice and one for games!) …

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and the training rooms (each machine has its own Ipad to give individualized instruction to each and every athlete!).

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He also took us to “The Gug” (pronounced like Google – just short – so like “goog”) which is where they keep their Heisman trophies.  That was a BIG DRAW for the boys.  It seemed like everywhere we went, there was a history lesson of some sort.

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We finished our day by taking a stroll through the campus.  We went to the Basilica,

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the Grotto,

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the Golden Dome,

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“Touchdown Jesus,”

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and finally, just enjoyed a perfect fall day on campus.

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Before we left for the day though, we found out two more very important details.  First, there was a men’s scrimmage basketball game that evening in the arena we had just toured.  Are we going?  You bet!!

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And second, can you believe that there’s yet another bookstore on campus?  And that this one is TWO stories and the biggest one they have?  Well, we weren’t going to miss that one either … what if they had something the other two didn’t?  We aren’t taking any chances!

By the time we finished our day, it was 10:00 p.m.  Tina and I snuggled in the back seat of the car and didn’t open our eyes til we heard the words, “we’re home!”  We all still felt holy and happy when we fell into our beds, resting in the history and fun, and being part of the tradition of the Fighting Irish!  We had a blast!  If you have never been here, this is certainly a must see for all of us.  Put it on your bucket list.

Ok, talk to you tomorrow!

 

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Another Day, Another Museum

Today we went waaay out of our “downtown” range.  All of the museums we’ve been to this far have all been in downtown, no further away from us than about a mile and a half.  But today was another FREE DAY to the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.  So, we walked down to State Street and caught the bus for a 30 minute ride (about 7 miles) to yet another spectacular museum.  This one is in the “Hyde Park” neighborhood and next door to the University of Chicago campus (another “Harry Potter” campus!).  The museum itself is a kids’ wonderland and an adults’ playground.  They make science so easy to understand that you absolutely want to keep learning and reading and doing all the interactive activities.  I wish I had been to a place like this when I was in 5th grade.  Here’s where our future scientists and engineers and creative brains come to play!  From an adult standpoint, the museum campus looks like the Field Museum.  Apparently when it was built for the World’s Fair in 1893, it was the “first” Field Museum but then as the downtown campus was built and the Field moved, this one turned into the “science” museum … and what a place this is.

It looks almost identical to the Field Museum.

It looks almost identical to the Field Museum.

Anything that you can think of that is “science” or “industry” related seems to be here.  They have one whole room, and by “room” I mean a room as big my whole house, that has a model train set which is an exact replica of our actual train system from Chicago to Seattle.  It gives the whole history of the railroads which really got me going because my grandfather was a “Santa Fe” railroad man.  The pictures don’t do it justice but here’s a little peak … you’ll have to see the real deal for yourself when you come.

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The model of Chicago was taller than me!

The model of Chicago was taller than me!

The other part of the museum that I loved, was their full size 1910 replica of the city of Chicago.  The “street” was cobblestone, they had hitches for the horses, and stores for any type of item that was necessary and sold in those days.  Here we found the first “Walgreen’s” … along with many of our now popular stores that all had their roots in Chicago.

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This museum also holds a full size World War II submarine, a full size locomotive, a full size aircraft and lots, lots more.

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This is truly one incredible place!  Obviously we saw merely a smidgen so I’ll have to go back when you’re here!

Since we were right across the street from the campus of the University of Chicago, we decided to take a stroll around.  The University houses a Frank Lloyd Wright home, the Rockefeller Chapel and the Oriental Museum, all worth exploring if you have the time.  The chapel offers tours of their bell tower if you are game to climb the 200+ steps to the top!  There’s no way to see all these in one day and they all offer … FREE TOURS!!  So, I’ll add these to our places to discover next time for sure!

Rockefeller Chapel, non-denominational place of worship ... spectacular!

Rockefeller Chapel, non-denominational place of worship … spectacular!

We ended our day by meeting Eddie in “Greek Town” for the most amazing Greek food I’ve ever tasted.  The Athena Restaurant was our choice (with a little help from “Yelp”!) because of the atmosphere.  We sat on their outdoor patio which made us feel like we really were on some Greek Island, eating the food of the gods!  I have no idea what we ate, how to say it, or even what was in them, but everything from the hummus to my salmon was ohhh sooo good!!

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How about a little appetizer?

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It was a perfect ending to our “cultural” day of exploring.  Off to find another museum!  Talk to you tomorrow!

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