July 17, 2022
2022 June - July trip to America
Table of Contents
- 1. Thursday June 23rd
- 2. Friday June 24th
- 3. Saturday June 25th
- 4. Sunday June 26th
- 5. Monday June 27th
- 6. Tuesday June 28th
- 7. Wednesday June 29th
- 8. Thursday June 30th
- 9. Friday July 1st
- 10. Saturday July 2nd
- 11. Sunday July 3rd
- 12. Monday July 4th
- 13. Tuesday July 5th
- 14. Wednesday July 6th
- 15. Thursday July 7th
- 16. Friday July 8th
- 17. Saturday July 9th
- 18. Sunday July 10th
- 19. Monday July 11th
- 20. Tuesday July 12th
- 21. Wednesday July 13th
- 22. Thursday July 14th
- 23. Friday July 15th
- 24. Saturday July 16th
- 25. Sunday July 17th
We left on Thursday June 23rd. Took a noon or so Narita Express, and caught the 5pm JAL flight to San Diego.
1 Thursday June 23rd
Spent the day at Alana's place. I did some shopping: I needed to get a new suitcase to replace an old broken one, and non-sneaker shoes for our visit to the Magic Castle. I got a nice pair of Cole-Haan shoes that really fit well.
2 Friday June 24th
Relaxing day. I met some friends for dinner at Stone Brewery, it was really nice. Super awesome, one of the highlights of my trip back to America this year.
3 Saturday June 25th
We drove up to Hollywood and stayed at the Magic Castle Hotel. We didn't do anything special; just spent a lot of time in the pool and had some pizza and mexican food for dinner at the hotel.
4 Sunday June 26th
We went to The Magic Castle and had a nice brunch. Lots of math based magic!! We stayed at the Magic Castle Hotel for a while, and then drove to the hotel for Disneyland (The Discovery Inn Anaheim). We met up with Michelle that morning, and stopped at a Jollibee's for lunch.
5 Monday June 27th
We went to Disneyland with Michelle's family too.
6 Tuesday June 28th
We went to California Adventure. At 8pm the park closed for some sort of graduation event, so we drove home after an hour or more at Downtown Disney.
7 Wednesday June 29th
Relaxing day. In the morning Alana went to work so I was home with all the kids. In the evening Lisa and I went on a nice dinner at Vaga, a fancy restaurant. We both had headaches though and cut the meal short (the appetizer and salad were great though.)
8 Thursday June 30th
Had an 11:30am flight to Seattle, I made us leave at about 7:30am but it worked out well time wise. Returned the rental car, got to Seattle. Checked into the hotel. Took a bus to the piers and the water taxi to West Seattle to meet up with Jon Evans and his family. Super nice.
9 Friday July 1st
False Fire Alarm at the hotel. The pool was closed for unforseen circumstances until 5pm (probably space squid). We had a plan to meet with the Weavers for a socially distanced ice cream in their backyard, but Alana got a bad headache and slept all day. Lisa and I took the kids to the Space Needle with Dad, and we rode the Monorail to downtown and back ($25!) and then the kids played in the big park there for a few hours. In the evening the kids went swimming and we decided not to see the Weaver's because it would be too risky in case Alana has Covid.
Hey! Alana has Covid! After we finished swimming (cold, but an indoor pool) the kids stayed in our room. All four kids slept on the sofa bed (Alan on the non-bed part) and Momo even wanted to sleep there with the "other kids". Dad arranged for a clinic visit for Alana early on Saturday morning. Of course, after not too long Momo came to sleep with Mom and Dad.
10 Saturday July 2nd
We drove over to Wenatchee. Aurelia went with dad and Alana. We stopped at Cle Elum for lunch - we had planned to go to Mike's Tavern, but main street was closed off for 4th of July celebrations and so instead we stopped at Safeway and got lunch there. We ate on the car ride over. Once we got to the hotel (Downtown Inn on Wenatchee Ave.) we settled into the room, and after a while we walked down to the river park. We went to the Public Market - things were shutting down at 7pm, but we got gelatto for the kids - and walked back through downtown. Downtown Wenatchee has really changed a lot! Lots of cute little shops and expensive looking places for presumably well-off Seattle people to patronize.
11 Sunday July 3rd
We got up and hung around the hotel in the morning. The breakfast wasn't much to talk about. We slowly made our way over to the East Wenatchee hotel (The Cedar Inn, which we've stayed at before). We relaxed for a bit, then went to Aunt Sandee's for lunch. We saw Sandee, Tom, Deneen and her husband Carl, Allen, and Tracy and her two year old Elizabeth. Deneed brought her puppy Wicket, who was lots of fun to play with. The kids spent a lot of time in the mobile home. We cooked up some burgers and hot dogs, and generally ate too much. Alana wasn't feeling well so stayed at the hotel to rest. We headed back a bit later in the afternoon.
The hotel has a small indoor pool and an outdoor hot tub, Lisa took the kids there. I had a headache so I just slept. After an hour and a half or so, the kids came back. Momo was tired from running around after the dog and slept too. She woke up later a bit before bedtime, but the kids were hungry so Lisa and I went to Arby's and got some french fries, chicken nuggets, a chocolate shake for dad, and one to split ourselves. I was surprised that the Arby's itself wasn't open, just the drive through. The food was enough for the kids, so we were ok. I was also surprised that dad finished his chocolate shake before Lisa and I could finish ours.
12 Monday July 4th
We woke up at around 7am, and went to breakfast - the pancake machine was broke which made Momo a bit troublesome, but she eventually settled on a waffle. The plan was to leave at 8am to get to Brewster (an hour drive) by 10am for the parade. We were late, and left closer to 9am, got to Brewster at about 10am, parked, and found a spot at the tail end of the parade. It had just started though, so we were fine! The parade was fun, there weren't many old cars - there was an older El Camino, and a hot rodded truck - but there were the dancing horses. Momo really enjoyed darting out to get the candy that people threw.
After the parade, we met up with a few of our cousins who were straggling, chatted for a bit, then dad met his friend (Ford Waterstrat maybe?) from the Omak basketball team. We all headed down to the river where there were some stalls set up. The kids played with the balsa wood airplanes they got, and we spent some time down by the river. We eventually went back to the cars, left dad with his friend, and drove to Omak to check in to the Best Western hotel there that we will stay at. After an hour break there, we headed back and spent a couple of hours at Jessica's place talking with lots and lots of cousins. We opted not to watch the fireworks since the kids were tired, and drove back to Omak at about 9:30pm, which put us just in time to see Omak fireworks as we drove to the hotel and collapsed into bed. The kids had already changed into pajamas and brushed their teeth (having done this a few times) so it was pretty easy.
13 Tuesday July 5th
We got late checkout at the Best Western in Omak. Alana and Dad went for a long run that necessitated another later checkout for a fee. We couldn't go swimming because they were painting the pool room. We finally got moving at about 1pm, and went to the Breadline for lunch. Alana stopped off at Walmart to get Aurelia's glasses fixed. After lunch, the kids played in the park for a bit, then we headed to Brewster and checked in to the river house. It was really nice! 2 bedrooms in the basement (5 beds total), one bedroom on the ground floor, and two bedrooms on the top floor. Jessie and the cousins came over, we all sat around talking, saw Aunt Debbie and Uncle Joel, Uncle John stopped by, the Garcia girls and Jessie and Aaron, Hanny, and Aunt Linda were there too. Lots of fun.
In the evening after working out sleeping arrangements, the adults watched the first episode of The Winning Season, Lisa and I went to bed, and Alana and Dad continued to watch.
14 Wednesday July 6th
Wednesday morning was a relaxed morning, Jessie came over and cooked some Shmaro and other breakfast things. It's crazy how much she went out of her way to help us. We couldn't convince any of the kids to try Shmaro (I feel like this family tradition just isn't going to survive) but Alana and I had some. We visited for a while, Myra came over and Momo really enjoyed playing with her outside. We had thought to go to the Fort Okanogan Interpretive Center but we weren't able to rouse the troops in time to make it. Dad had a meeting to attend, and the adults wanted to take the kids to the Brewster community pool from 2pm - 4pm. So we did that, and the kids had fun. Aurelia really enjoyed the big twisty turning water slide, Alan didn't try it, and Scout didn't like it. I rode it at the end and got a bit motion sick - I guess I'm just getting too old. Momo spent the entire time on the little small kids slide in the shallow end, and I spent the entire two hours minus a few minutes at the end catching her and floating her back to the steps.
After the pool we dried off, changed, and went to the (new, to us) Lone Point Cellars winery up on the hill. There were really good views of the valley and surrounding orchards. The wine was nice, as was the food. We bought a bottle of wine which I'm not sure we will have the time to finish before we fly to Dallas, but I hope we get a chance.
15 Thursday July 7th
We got up at a regular time - around 7am - and started to pack. The kids went to bed super late, so were a little slow getting up. Jessie came over at about 8am and helped out - also brought along some cherries and other things (sparkling water, etc). Jessie and her family are always super great when we are visiting, I really appreciate that. I hope we can be as hospitible if they or some of the girls come to Japan.
We probably didn't leave until 9am or so. We drove through Spokane with a gas and potty break in there, and went through a bit before 11:30am. We thought it was a bit early for lunch, but right after we got out of Spokane one kid needed a potty break. So we went to Denny's and got lunch as well. After that it was more driving, right through the tip of Idaho (a bit over 30 minutes?) and into Montana. One more gas and potty break, and then we rolled through Whitefish and got to the rented condo at about 6pm I think. It didn't seem like a terrible drive, but took most of the day. The kids watched some TV, Alana and Dad went out for a run, and I did some work. It was getting late - we went through a time zone change - and some kids were hungry to Lisa, Alana, and Momo went shopping, and we ate probably at 10pm, with kids finally falling asleep between 11pm and midnight. I finished up some work and went to bed at 1am.
16 Friday July 8th
Today was our first full day in Montana, we had a scheduled 13:30 boat ride on Lake MacDonald. It takes about an hour to get there from the condo, so we packed a lunch, and left at around 10:45am. We made it there in time for a nice leisurely picnic by the lake. The boat ride was really nice - it was an older boat built locally in 1932. It was only about an hour on the water, going around the lake, but was fun. The kids seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards we spent some time down at the shore, the kids trying to improve their rock-skipping skills, before heading into Whitefish to walk around. That town looks like a very expensive tourist town. There was a Sotherby's and other high end shops. We had dinner at the Buffalo Cafe which was fine, and some Gelato at Huck's Cafe before heading back to the condo where the kids took a dip in the hot tub.
17 Saturday July 9th
Today was a full day in the park. We had to leave a bit early to get to the visitor center by 9:45am to catch our Red Bus tour. The tour was done in a 1937 White Bus, they were refurbished in the 1990s or 2000s by Ford with a steel frame replacing the wooden one, and newer engines / brakes, but still retained the original body and doors. The tour was 4 hours, we drove around the park, got out a few times for short hikes, and heard a lot about the park. Since covid started the park instituted a day pass which means you need a paid pass to enter the park, which really reduced the number of people entering the park. After 4pm people get in free, and the lines are very long, backing up onto the highway. There were some really great waterfalls, and nice views on the different hikes. We drove a bit of the Going-to-the-Sun road, but it was closed up higher due to risk of avalanche. It should open in mid-July, which is on the later side historically.
After the bus tour, we did a short family hike, and all the kids were great with it. We stopped and bought some overpriced souvenirs, but that is how things go. Then we got back in the car and headed home. We stopped at Subway for dinner, and ate back at the condo. The kids and some of the adults got in the hot tub while I did some work. It was a great day!
18 Sunday July 10th
The goal for the day was to check out by 10am (we just made it! Which really just meant that we packed up and left the condo and locked it by 10am) and drive over to Spokane, about a 4.5 hour trip. We got off to a good start. Alana wanted to stop at a Starbucks so we were going to go to one, but I missed the turn for the Starbucks. When I checked the mirror, Alana was gone, so I guessed they had gone to the Starbucks. I drove slow for about 15 or 20 minutes, when we got a call from Alana. Just as they turned into Starbucks, Momo threw up, which then made Aurelia throw up, and there was understandably a lot of throw up in the car. Aurelia wanted to change cars, so we turned around and drove the 20 minutes or so back to Starbucks to meet them. They spent that time cleaning up. When we got there, we switched some people around in cars (so we had a Tanaka-Evans car and an Evans-Huang car now) and bought some stuff, and finally about an hour later after we had started we were ready to go.
Lisa was driving - and got a text from her dad telling her Happy Birthday since it was the 11th in Japan. She commented that last time we were in America she was driving through Yellowstone National Park on her birthday!
Dad coordinated with his friend Frank and we met him at Cracker Barrel at around 2:30pm, but it was an hour wait for a table at Cracker Barrel so we got some stuff at the nearby coffee shop and visited for an hour and a half. Then we said goodbye, checked in to the Steam Plant Hotel in downtown Spokane, and went to get some dinner (Mexican food, quite good!) After that we went to the riverside park, which the kids really enjoyed. First, we saw this strange sky car ride thing that we took. It was about 20 minutes going down over Spokane river, under a bridge, and back. Very nice views! Then we went and rode the Looff Carrousel which was built in 1909, then saw the Garbage Goat. Momo was a bit scared of the Garbage Goat at first, but it certainly made an impression! Then we played at the giant Red Flyer slide, and finally walked past the clock tower, and played in another playground for a while. Riverside park really is nice! We'll probably go back tomorrow between hotel check-out and next hotel check-in.
19 Monday July 11th
The plan today is to check into our hotel at the airport, visit Jenny's for a dinner / party, then return the rental cars. What ended up happening is that we left the hotel on time for checkout (about 11am?) and Dad went to meet a friend of his. The rest of us walked to Auntie's Bookstore downtown, and that took a surprising amount of time. Perhaps an hour or two. Then, the Central Library in Spokane had it's grand re-opening after major renovation. We walked down there and spent probably 2-3 hours there. We got a tour which was nice. They have a nice cafe on the first floor where everyone ate lunch. The second floor had a nice kids play area which was a hit with everyone. The third floor had an arcade machine (a 20-in-one) cabinet that was a real hit with all the kids. We had left the cars parked at the hotel, so we walked back there - it is a nice centrally located downtown hotel, very convenient for us - and then moved to the SpringHill Suites hotel at the Spokane Airport. I really liked this hotel - very nice large rooms, and a quick and easy walk to the airport.
Then we drove down to cousin Jenny's where we met with Alana's friends Jakyln and Jared. In a real coincidence Alana had spent a long time talking with a social worker at the library, and then she showed up at Jenny's place because she is dating Jordan! Very small world. We had a really good time visiting - Jenny and Aaron are great hosts - and the big attraction of the night was when the dogs Buck and Charlie came back from the neighbor's house. Those dogs are huge and lots of fun. Lisa and the kids really enjoyed playing with them. The kids also had a lot of fun with a slip and slide, and playing badminton.
We left a bit before 10:00pm which got us back to the hotel near 11:00. It was a bit of a struggle, but we got the kids in bed, the cars cleaned up, and returned. It was just a short walk from the rental car return back to the hotel which was nice. After packing up I got to sleep a bit past midnight with a 3:45am alarm set.
20 Tuesday July 12th
We have a 6am flight to Dallas from Spokane, so we're staying at the hotel at the airport so we can just walk over. That's the plan anyway. Hope we can wake up. We got up on time, and it was a struggle, but we got everyone on the plane. The hotel is really close to the airport, but we had to walk to the farthest ticketing gate - luckily the lines for security were much shorter there. We got on the plane at about 5:40am, and took off at 6am on time. When we arrived at DFW it took a while to get the luggage. We messed up and walked really far only to return to our original location for the baggage claim, and by that time the luggage had already been pulled off the carousel which took some time to recognize. For some reason, only one of Alana's bags wasn't out, but while she was getting the rental car, the next flight that came off pushed her bag through so we were ok.
We took the rental can and an Uber back to Dad's place, where he started to listen to the Jan. 6th commission, and other people started to fall asleep or use devices. At some point we will need to figure out dinner - most likely dad's favorite place. I tried to get up a DMV appointment to renew my driver's license, but none were available until after I had to fly back to Japan, so that isn't great. I'll have to fly back to the US sometime in November to renew my license. Ugh. We did have a nice dinner at Joe's Pizza and Pasta, so I was right about that.
21 Wednesday July 13th
I made pancakes in the morning - after a bit of shopping to get eggs and milk. There was an 1949 Hudson Hornet in dad's garage, and in the morning the owner came to pick it up. It was there because for the past year Kenneth had been using dad's air conditioned (newly for me!) garage and the lift to get some work done on it, and it was finally done. He brought his daughter who had just finished high school in Britain (she had a super cute accent) and they picked it. In the evening, we drove by Kenneth's place and got dad's Pontiac to replace it. In the afternoon Lisa, Alan, Momo, and I went to Buc-ee's and got a lot of stuff there, then stopped by the Premium Outlet mall and got some clothes for Momo before going to the Mitsuwa. We looked around for more Spy X Family English books, and picked up Otakoi v1 for Yuzuna, but couldn't find Spy X Family vol 2 and 3 (they were sold out.)
That took most of the afternoon, and in the evening we had dinner for Lisa's birthday at Flemming's. We ate too much, but it was very nice. I enjoyed it. I went out for a run with Dad and Alana that was nice, and we stayed up very late watching two episodes of Winning Time. I also spent an hour or more doing some work, so I didn't get to bed until something like 3:30am.
22 Thursday July 14th
By some sort of miracle, I didn't wake up until 10:00am. I don't know when the last time was that I slept in that late. We went to SMU for lunch, and then over to Half Price Books (still no luck with Spy X Family vol 2 and 3) before heading back to the house. Lisa and I went to do a bit more shopping (looking for Spy X Family) and I got some Mav's stuff, as well as a stop at Trader Joe's. In the evening we went to Free Play Arcade in Richardson, TX which was only about 30 minutes from Dad's place. The kids had a good time - and Alana was really into a bunch of games too, like Tapper and Dig-Dug. It was really nice - I played some Street Fighters (SF3 and Alpha 2 and Super Turbo) as well as some other games. We went next door for Vietnamese which was nice, the Alana headed out to pick up Jana and Grayson with Aurelia. Momo wasn't happy about that, but there was a Baskin Robbins next door, and that cheered everyone up.
Jana got back, we got the kids in bed, then Alana, Jana, Dad and I went for a run, and had a glass of wine with Lisa and chatted for an hour or two. I didn't get to bed until maybe 2am after doing a bit more work again.
23 Friday July 15th
JP Travel COVID tests. Party at dad's house. We also did some shopping at Costco - I picked up AirPod Pros, I hope the noise cancelling will work well on the plane. When I got home though, I noticed that they had given me non-Pro versions. The party was fun, saw a lot of dad's students and friends. Ate too much cake.
24 Saturday July 16th
Alana and Jana went out to get doughnuts which we all had for breakfast. Dad went to a meeting at SMU in the Pontiac from 9am until about 2pm. In the meantime we cleaned up a bit, Jana and I ran to Costco to return the non-Pro AirPods, and I picked one up for Lisa as well. We didn't really do much in the afternoon - the kids were playing, and we were running errands. One of the errands was taking the Hudson to the gas station after putting a small amount in it that Dad got with Jana earlier. Alan joined us on that, and had a good time I think. I drove back, which was fun - it took a while to get used to the three on the tree setup again, and I haven't driven stick in ages. After that we had dinner at Chuy's at 5pm, then went to Erwin Park in McKinney for family photos with a photographer. It went as well as you can expect with five kids. Dad met us there with the Pontiac. We'll see the pictures in about two weeks. I drove the Pontiac home, and Alan joined me as well. That car really drives well now, though the steering wheel doesn't look like it is centered. Dad had the steering wheel changed because it was cracked, and the guy who did the job probably didn't align the wheel with the steering box correctly. Later in the evening we did a load of laundry which took way too long, so we went to bed (about 2am as I write this.) Up in four hours to do final packing and go!