Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Santa Cruz

We drove an hour west to Santa Cruz with Sun-Ling's sister and nephew for some coastal hiking; plus a visit to the famous Santa Crux Wharf. After all the winter and spring rains, the wild flowers along the Wilder Ranch trail were amazing. Not to mention the rugged coastline which reminded us of Spain and Portugal. And just one mile north of the Santa Cruz Wharf, we came across the 2nd surfing museum of this trip. Wow! The first was in Nazare, Portugal. Wow! How many surfing museums can there be in the entire world? .....Twenty, according to this article at SURFERTODAY.com/

Wilder Ranch State Park
Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, California

And farther south along the coast.
Santa Cruz, California

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.
Santa Cruz, California

Surfing Museum (right) and surfers in the water (center).
Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz Wharf.
Santa Cruz, California

On the way home we stopped for a stroll on the boardwalks at Neary Lagoon Park.
Santa Cruz, California

And last, Sun-Ling's mother made some very tasty dumplings for dinner.
Santa Cruz, California

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Graduation!

The main impetus for this California visit was my oldest niece Nicole's high school graduation. The day Nicole started kindergarten my brother was taking John and me to the airport after the drop-off.  The image of Nicole with tear streaks running down her little face is still vivid in my mind. I wasn't sure leaving her behind was harder for me or for my brother....Here she is, graduating from high school, starting in Material Science at Cornell in the fall.

The graduation ceremony itself turned out to be a fascinating experience, many firsts for John and me.

1. We had cloudy weather for the 5pm ceremony instead of blazing California sun. It even sprinkled enough for some people to break out their umbrellas, in June!
2. For a California public school, the 300+ grads were 45% east Asians, 40% south Asians, 15% white.
3. To curb the competitiveness, academic achievements were solely in print in the ceremony program, and nothing more.
  • There were no speeches by the valedictorian and such. Instead, speakers were selected based on speeches they had submitted.  
  • Diplomas were given out first to class officer and speakers, then strictly alphabetically to the rest of the grads.
  • No honor cords or stoles were allowed. Caps were not supposed to be decorated, though everyone ignored this one rule. 
4. The names of the students were read by class officers.

Nicole was a little bummed that she did not get into MIT. After Saratoga High, Cornell may be a blessing in disguise.

It starts to sprinkle.
Graduation 2017 - Saratoga, California

Sun-Ling and sister-in-law watch the festivities.
Graduation 2017 - Saratoga, California

The new grad with cousins and grandparents.
Graduation 2017 - Saratoga, California

Grad, sister, and parents.
Graduation 2017 - Saratoga, California

Grad, cake, and parents.
Graduation 2017 - Saratoga, California

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday in San Francisco

My sister had a friend in town for a family wedding. The four of us had an outing in San Francisco.

1. Land's End
2. Legion of Honor
3. Lunch at a popular Chinese restaurant in Sunset
4. De Young Museum & Golden Gate Park

I couldn't believe our travel is still continuing; museums, scenic trails, restaurants.... After four months, I did miss Chinese food more than I realized. On the other hand, San Francisco didn't do much for me, considering twenty years ago for the first three or five times I visited, I wanted to move there after each visit. Whew, I am glad that I have that behind us.

Hiking the trails at Land's End.
Starting the Land's End Trail - San Francisco, California

Starting the Land's End Trail - San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

Legion of Honor Building and Museum.
Legion of Honor Museum - San Francisco, California

Legion of Honor Museum - San Francisco, California

Legion of Honor Museum  - San Francisco, California

Legion of Honor Museum - San Francisco, California

Legion of Honor Museum - San Francisco, California

The de Young Museum.
San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spain continued in Southern California

From Madrid, we flew to San Francisco for my biannual family visit. After a rest day, we got in the car with my sister on a road trip, mission: pick up nephew Ian from his school in Ventura County. Since it is virtually virgin territory for us; that is, between Santa Cruz and San Diego, we chose to give Santa Barbara a look on the way.

The one tourist attraction we chose to check out, Santa Barbara County Courthouse, happened to be having a guided tour, so we had a rather thorough visit. The Spanish Moorish architecture of the courthouse made it seem like a continuation of our Spain trip. Afterwards we walked to the water; the palm tree-lined beach again reminded us of Spain.

First thing the next morning, we showed up at Ian's dorm for pick up. Ian just finished the first year at Thacher where each freshman is paired with a horse for the whole school year. Naturally we had certain expectations for such a posh school. Of course, none of those turned out to be true. Everything and everyone we saw was very chill. All my previous concerns all went by the wayside.

Several shots of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse; interior and exterior. Here, the courthouse with clock tower is at center-right, and the jail left.
Courthouse - Santa Barbara, California

Courthouse - Santa Barbara, California

Courthouse - Santa Barbara, California

The highlight of the guided tour was watching the clock (actually 4 clocks; one on each side of the clock tower) strike 3 PM
Courthouse Clock - Santa Barbara, California

Stairwell with Moorish ceiling.
Courthouse - Santa Barbara, California

View from clock tower to the mountains.
Courthouse - Santa Barbara, California

Sun-Ling and her sister on the Santa Barbara Pier.
Santa Barbara, California

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Worn out in Madrid

It all came back to us. We were really worn out in the museums in Madrid the last time (2000). We were doing it to ourselves again this time.  Taking advantage of free admission we visited and revisited
  • Sorolla: our new discovery
  • Archaeological: have to allocate a whole day here next time
  • Reina Sofia: renewed my interest in Picasso
  • Prado: site of exhaustion
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza: some collection
When we tried to go back to the Prado on Monday, the line was extraordinary long, a part of us was relieved. We went on a city tour instead, something we love as much as museums.

If our flight was not so early in the morning, we would have returned to Madrid at all.  What dumb luck!   No wonder there are SO many visitors.  Over the last four days in Segovia and Madrid, we saw as many tourists as the rest of Spain combined.   Like everyone else, we loved Spain.  A part of us could not believe the trip is coming to an end.  We will be back for more.

Museo Sorolla and gardens.
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

MAN - Museo Arqueológico Nacional. A very fine presentation of archaeological finds and sites on the Iberian Peninsula.
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Flora sculpture near the Reina Sofia.
Madrid, Spain

Madrid at night.
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

El Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Get a free tour at the Plaza Mayor.
Madrid, Spain

Royal Palace with segways.
Madrid, Spain

Architecture.
Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

The very popular Primark department store on Gran Via...
Primark - Madrid, Spain

...where husbands and peddlers wait outside the main entrance for shoppers to exit.
Primark - Madrid, Spain