Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 4

San Francisco served as the turnaround point for our cross-country extravaganza and the venue of our fourth Barber family reunion. All thirty-three Barbers met up there and stayed in a trio of beautiful victorian houses in the city (except Troy and Dan, who stayed at their home, just a couple of blocks away--score!). We did all those things people like to do when they visit San Francisco...

The first day we spent a lot of time playing at Golden Gate Park. It was sunny and breezy, the kids loved running around, tossing footballs and frisbees (but not loving getting nailed in the head with a frisbee), playing kickball and wielding sticks in a big Hunger Games reenactment (minus the bloodbath...well, unless you count the frisbee-head incident).

There can only be one winner...

I think Lydia spend 95% of our time in San Fran on someone's shoulders.

A rare but beautiful moment: Afton loving Allie.

Kickball: no injuries this year.

P.S. This day was Allie's birthday!

The cement slides. Josh's love affair with them was over
this trip, but Afton sure dug them. Must be a three-year-old thing.

We all ate together that first night at a restaurant in China Town (Empress of China)--seven courses of deliciousness.

Taking over the sidewalk on our way to eat. Note the two little girls perched on
willing uncle/cousin's shoulders.

The same electronics that were invaluable in the car were helpful while waiting for our food to come too.

And when she couldn't get a shoulder-ride, Afton managed to hitch a ride on
Sammy's lap. It helped that he was watching Max and Ruby on Susan's phone.

The second day of the trip, my parents chartered a bus for us to do a city tour and Dan planned the route and did the commentary, sprinkling us with trivia and interesting facts about the city. We made our way around town making stops to get out and tourist our little hearts out at Twin Peaks, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Golden Gate Bridge, and finally we were dropped off right by our ferry for Alcatraz.

We were all fogged in at Twin Peaks so we missed out on the view. But all was not lost! This day was both Mom and Dad's anniversary and Dan's niece's birthday, so we all got delicious cupcakes and had plenty of time to jump around on the stone walls before loading back onto the bus.

Smarty-pants...they're going to get us kicked out of the city.

That's a lot of cousins in jail. Thanks for getting the photo, Mom.
After Alcatraz we made our way past the sea lions and had dinner at a place called Off the Grid. It's a collection of 20 or so food trucks circled up like wagons. It was a really fun place to eat, because everyone could get what they wanted--kung fu tacos, mongolian bbq, pork belly burgers, empanandas and alfajores...take your pick. Or if you're Scott, keep picking and picking until you're ready to burst because it all looks so good.

Hale loves chicken.

Emma and Claire love each other.
Day three of San Francisco we all split up a bit, each going our own ways and mixing and matching with each other as the day went along. Some of us hit the farmer's market for fresh berries, celebrity-sighting Joe Montana there (true!), and grabbed some burgers for lunch. After that we Cruzes headed back to China town, as the kids had some souvenir money they were keen to spend. We totally lucked out this day as Troy and Dan volunteered to run around with us, saving us the hassle of thinking twice about how to get from place to place, and giving us their good company just a little longer. We met up with the Lehi-Barbers at Deloris Park after China Town then stood in line for some delicious Bi-Rite ice cream (worth it!).

On the way back from ice cream we passed this church in the Mission--the oldest building in San Francisco. 
Then do you know what? We weren't even done yet. We had one whole more day to go. We started Sunday off with church in a local ward made up primarily of dental students. Then after a quick lunch back at the house we packed everyone up and went over to Land's End to walk around, enjoy each other's company on that last reunion day, and see the ocean. It was beautiful and we were glad we went down and touched it too.

If there is a rock, we will climb it. No exceptions.

At this point you may be thinking to yourself, "I am sick and tired of this post and all those dang vacation photos." Well, hold on to your hats because we're not done quite yet. I took a few dozen shots of Emma outside the house where we stayed, so you have to look at a few of those too.

No Emma here, but a good shot of the house (thanks again Mom),

The end of San Francisco...till next time! A big shout out to Troy and Dan and Mom and Dad for their tireless work, bending over backwards to plan and prepare and make this reunion fill its full potential. Thank you.

(Still a week and 3.5 more stops before the Odyssey is over, though. Check back soon...)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 3

And then you know what we did? We drove ourselves all the way to Happy Valley.

Two overall impressions from our trip: I think two and a half weeks was just barely too long. Two weeks would have been perfect. By that time we were starting to long for our own beds and our usual routines. However: each of our wonderful stops was just a little too short in and of itself. Besides San Francisco (for the family reunion) we stayed at each of our destinations for only one day. One day just wasn't enough. We find ourselves now planning to make return trips to each stop and give them the additional time they wanted. We felt this especially in Utah. We had a long list of things we wanted to do and see, people we wanted to visit and simply lacked the time. Our exploring of BYU and Temple Square felt abbreviated and somewhat rushed. Next time, Utah, next time.

But here's what we did do...
Hiked the Y. Shocking fact: in all of our years as students we never once hiked the Y.
What was wrong with us?

Sitting on the Y

Picked up some souvenirs at the BYU bookstore
(there's that Y on the mountain behind us)

Visited Brad's office and sat in one of the classrooms he uses

Temple Square. Our last visit was about five years ago so they didn't remember much. 

There are many fountains around Temple Square and the Conference Center.
Our dutiful children were sure to get wet in every single one of them. 
Tired of the travelogue yet? I'm so sorry...there's still four stops to go...stay tuned.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Odyssey - Part 2

When we left Nauvoo our trusty old Odyssey was acting funny. The engine was kind of misfiring and jerking around. It was Saturday and our location was remote. We drove through one decent-sized town and tried to find a mechanic, but there were only two there--both closed. We felt our options were either to find somewhere to stay until Monday and miss out on visiting our friends in North Platte or redouble our prayers and press on. We chose the latter.

Mercifully we made it to our destination without incident and double mercifully our friends had a good friend who was a mechanic who was awesome because he used some fancy equipment to determine it was a faulty ignition coil and replaced it for us in five minutes. (runonsentence)

Anyway, the reason we love North Platte is because that's where we found the Dailys, some of our favorite friends from college. All the years we lived in married student housing the Dailys were our next door neighbors. How many hours did we spend chatting it up on the balconies? How many calories did we consume of Jeanne's awesome cooking? The best thing about hooking up with old friends is finding that they have not changed. Don't you love those pick-up-right-where-you-left-off-ten-years-ago relationships?

Biggest North Platte regret: no photos of Jeanne and Jared! How did we miss that opportunity? Luckily, we got plenty of our kids all together. Both of our families have five kids who match up in girl-boy-boy-girl-girl birth order. Besties from the get-go, every one of them.

No one could settle for a smiley photo without a silly one to match. Except the first-borns--they're mature like that.

It was fun to go to church with the Dailys (just like the old days!) and we even got to fill in and teach the 11-12 year old Sunday School (guess when was the last time we taught together at church? yup, back when we lived next door to the Dailys). We stayed only two nights and one day before taking our new ignition coil and heading further west. All ten kids begged and pleaded to stay longer, but we had miles and miles of mid-west left to drive through.

Next stop: Utah.