The main reasons for this trip were: 1) to watch our daughter Diana officially become a Pediatrician and 2) to move her from NC to PA.  Rick and I were delighted to find that Bryan, her boyfriend, had already flown in that day from Ft. Worth where he was doing a clinical rotation for his Masters’ Degree (Nurse Practitioner in Pediatric Intensive Care).  Diana was lucky to have a relatively easy final rotation in Allergy and Immunology where she worked mostly 9 to 5 days with only a couple of 30-hour shifts (1 of course was on her last 2 days).  So we actually spent a decent amount of time with her and Bryan over the new few days. The Pediatric Residency Banquet on June 17th, held at the local country club, honored 8 Pediatric Residents, 6 Internal Medicine-Pediatric Residents, and several Neo-Natal Fellows. It was fun seeing all of her close friends who had become her extended family through the crises and hardships of 3 years of semi-slavery. We also enjoyed meeting or re-meeting some of her attending physicians.  It was a lovely occasion that for Diana was happy and bittersweet too.

One of Diana’s favorite “Attendings” was Dr. Irons who recruited her and 2 colleagues to an informal “doctors without borders” program for a month in Zambia early Feb. to early March 2011.  She and he really bonded there even more than before.  We had met him several times, thoroughly enjoyed his company and admired his many accomplishments in the hospital and community.  So we invited him and his wife, with whom I had emailed multiple times before the Zambia trip, to dinner at one of Greenville’s best restaurants, which happens to be owned by another of Diana’s favorite Attendings.  We truly hope to remain in touch with the Irons.  They are good people!

In the last week of June, 2008, I had helped Diana move into her “owned” townhouse in Greenville, NC.  Three years later to the week, I helped pack her up.  I estimate that she had 6 to 10 times as much furniture and equipment leaving Greenville than when she arrived (she had a bed and couple of bureaus). In the 3 years of living in her 1st home, Diana had furnished 6 rooms, bought kitchenware of all sorts, and integrated some of her boyfriend’s stuff.  Plus they had bought a small motorboat with a towing trailer.  Her boyfriend finally persuaded her to hire official movers.  However, she wanted to pack some of her “personal” stuff herself. After buying multiple new boxes, bubble pack, etc. Rick and I with some assistance from Diana, began the move efforts.  Rick and I worked on the house over the next couple of days, then he flew to NYC on TechnoServe business.  I continued to pack up various elements of Diana’s stuff until her last work day on Thursday after her 30-hour shift.  She slept for several hours, we completed as much packing as possible and then went to a last “family dinner” with her close friends/colleagues. The movers arrived at about noon on Friday, discovered they had more to pack than originally estimated because Diana had over-estimated how much she could do, but spent the next 7 hours stuffing more boxes then loading the truck which would supposedly arrive in Philadelphia on Monday morning.

At 7:30 pm Friday night, Diana, 2 cats, 1 dog, some personal boxes, and I began our trek to Bethesda, MD to meet Rick at his mother’s house where we’d stay with for a couple of days before continuing to Philly.  We arrived at midnight, unloaded 3 traumatized animals and passed out on our respective beds.  We spent a fun few days with family and had a dinner with Calif. friends of Diana’s now living in D.C.  The movers hadn’t called with a specific arrival time on Monday.  So because Diana and I would have had to sleep on a blow-up bed with no sheets or towels if we drove up Sunday night, we decided to leave at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning.  We arrived in Philadelphia about 9:00 a.m. but still hadn’t heard from the movers despite Diana’s several phone calls. So we went to lunch at her friend Ali’s house in a nearby suburb (the Ali we had dinner with in Seattle in early May).  Her mother treated us to a delightful lunch, as well as allowed us to shower and change our clothes there.  On our way back to Diana’s place, the car was thoroughly washed to clean up the vomit that Diana’s dog Koti had created on our drive from D.C.  There was still no definitive time for the movers to arrive—only late afternoon. The movers drove up at 7:30 p.m. and finished unpacking at midnight.  Meanwhile Diana had gone to bed because she was working on Tuesday!

That left only Tuesday and Wednesday for Rick and I to unpack 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, living-dining room and deck. We were leaving and Diana worked on Thursday!  Her new apartment in the Manayunk / Roxboro area of Philly is lovely though not quite as big as her Greenville townhouse and differently laid out.  But by the time we left, the kitchen was fully functional; the deck, living room, dining area were organized (no pictures hanging); the master bedroom and bath and the 2nd upstairs bedroom and bath were livable; and we could easily walk through the garage though it was still quite full.  Though I can’t say it was fun, it was definitely satisfying for us and highly beneficial for Diana’s new life.

MAY 25 – 29, 2011 — YOSEMITE IN SPRING

I hadn’t had my Yosemite “fix” in almost 2 years, so as a surprise for Rick’s birthday, I arranged a weekend in the park when I anticipated that the waterfalls would be full.  Well that was an understatement.  Besides Yosemite’s normally gorgeous views of the gray granite cliffs, domes, mountains and canyons, the waterfalls were so full that you could feel their spray and hear their roar 100s of feet away.

We spent 3 nights in the rustic Curry cabins in Yosemite Valley and 1 night at Wawona Hotel near the giant Sequoias at the southern end of the park. We ate quite well at the Ahwahnee Dining room for 1 dinner and at their pub for a couple of lunches, as well as had nice dinners at Yosemite Falls Lodge and at the Wawona.  But our main focus was enjoying the wilderness.

From past experience, we knew that Tioga Pass at the northern end of the park often remained closed till Memorial Day weekend (this weekend!).  What surprised us—but shouldn’t have—was that the road to Glacier Point was just opening for the 1st time this year on Friday, May 27 due to the huge Sierra snowpack.  That curtailed our plans to hike up there on Thursday!  So we quickly arranged to take a “hikers’ bus” on Saturday morning to hike the Panorama Trail for 9.6 miles down (and several ups) from Glacier Point to Yosemite Valley.

Instead on Thursday morning, we bought a picnic lunch, took the Valley shuttle to Mirror Lake trailhead, hiked to Mirror Lake, and then around it to the Snowcreek trail where we continued for a couple of hours up toward Snowcreek Falls.  The views along the way were breathtaking:, especially Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, and a peek at Snowcreek Falls.  It was a wonderful re-introduction to my favorite place in the world, Yosemite Park.

Meanwhile on Friday shortly after noontime’s road opening, we drove up the road to hike for a couple of miles out to Sentinel Dome, maybe Taft Point, and back.  As we drove, the rise in elevation was accompanied by snow along the roadside. As we neared the road end, there were snow banks a few feet high until near the Glacier Point parking lot the snow banks were probably 10-feet tall on both sides of the road.  That’s why it took a long time for the park to open the road!  Sadly when we drove up to the Sentinel Dome parking area, it and the trail as far as we could see was covered in probably 3 feet of snow.  So much for that trip.  At least we did stop at the famous “Tunnel View” of Yosemite Valley with El Capitan on the left, Bridalveil Falls, many mountain cliffs on the right and Half Dome straight ahead.  When I sit on the stone wall overlooking this view, great peace always overtakes me. It’s my favorite view in my favorite park…

After quickly buying a packed lunch, we caught the 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning bus to Glacier Point.  About 1 hour later, we began our hike.  Within the first mile, a family ahead of us stopped, pointed down and whispered “bear.”  Sure enough there was a California Black Bear.  However, as is typical, it wasn’t black or the normal dark brown, but actually blond.  He/she remained focused on foraging on the slope about 100 yards down, so after a few minutes, we continued on our way.  Panorama Trail lives up to its name, because for most of the way, there were amazing vistas.  We hiked near 3 major waterfalls: Ilillouette, Nevada, and Vernal with thunderous water flowing over.  We also crossed at least a dozen small streams across the trail, with some small waterfalls or cascades above them. We stopped for lunch at the top of Vernal Falls, which was pretty crowded with tourists hiking the famous “Mist Trail.”  Many years ago, the park service had created a rough stairway with a railing that paralleled the Merced River leading up to Vernal Falls.  During much of the year, the spray from the falls and water flowing over the cliff above the stairs keeps the trail wet and slippery.  However, this time of year with this atypical water flow meant we were soaking wet even with our rain ponchos on.  Most tourists didn’t even have jackets, never mind rain gear.  The worst tourists were carrying infants or toddlers in their arms while they were walking up the treacherously wet stairway.  Though signs are posted everywhere to stay back from the rivers and waterfalls, people can be stupid.  I think 2 people died during the 4 days were in Yosemite.  I’m glad the park charges for rescue because most of the time, it’s the rescuee’s fault.

In any case, after climbing down the Mist Trail, there were still a couple of miles before we reached the trail’s end and then the shuttle to reach our cabin.  Going downhill is tough on the knees, uphill is hard on the lungs and butt.  There were enough “ups” over the 9.6 miles that all my body parts were sore.  Toward the end, my mantra was “a body in motion stays in motion” to keep me putting 1 foot in front of the other.  With jelly-like legs, I eventually climbed aboard the shuttle.  After few weeks’ perspective, however, I decided I would be willing to hike Panorama Trail again.  The views were worth it!


Our Gourmet Group reached a significant milestone: after 30 years, 9 of the 10 original members are still together cooking, eating, wine-ing and causing a ruckus whenever we’re in public.  We’ve lasted longer than many California marriages, so we decided to celebrate.  Seattle’s food and wine scene reflects our well-established traditions, so we amazingly coordinated calendars to arrive on May 5, 2011.  Unfortunately, a last-minute injury side-tracked the Kellys, but we took their spirit with us everywhere, including purchasing a Starbucks travel coffee mug from the original Pike’s Market location to add to their collection.

We were a politically green group, taking a train from the airport then walking a few blocks to our hotel.  We took a 45-minute trip Express Bus to and from the Museum of Glass in Takoma.  And we walked, walked, and walked most other places with just a couple of taxi rides thrown in.

Our most memorable activities:
  • The flower section of Pike’s Market, where we saw hundreds of tulip varieties, in glorious colors and amazing shapes streteching for a couple of blocks.
  • “Fish throwing” also in Pike’s, entailed different fish seller shops periodically having 1 of the fishmongers sequentially toss several fish in a row to another fishmonger, shouting the whole time.
  • Our picture in the Seattle Times from the Arboretum overlooking Seattle.  After taking taxicabs up to the Arboretum in one of the city parks and appreciating the vista, we wandered through the small but densely-planted building full of species from many zones around the globe.  While there, we noted a photographer taking pictures for an article for the Seattle Times newspaper, but didn’t pay much attention.  The next morning, 1 of our group excitedly showed us our picture wandering through the Arboretum on the front page and on an inside page of the paper!  Guess we are newsworthy wherever we go!
  • Becoming glass artists! Rebecca had arranged ahead of time to visit the Museum of Glass in Takoma as well as taking a lesson in glass fusion from a local artist. The 8 of us had the teacher all to ourselves.  She told us we would create our own glass tiles which she would later fire and the museum would mail to us.  Reviewing various techniques to achieve different effects, she set us on our individual paths to creativity for the next 30 minutes.  It was so much fun!!!  Each of us created unique tiles using different methods and materials.  After we had gotten in touch with our inner artist, we then toured the rest of the facility where we saw what real glass artists could accomplish, particularly Dale Chihuly whose astounding pieces have recently been touring the U.S. in huge exhibits.  And finally we saw a glassblowing demonstration from artists in residence in the museum’s special auditorium adjacent to their furnace.  All in all, a wonderful experience!
  • Last but not least, food and wine galore. We ate our 1st night’s dinner at Barolo’s (Italian) with our daughter’s friend Ali whom we’ve known since their freshman year of college. Our next 2 nights’ dinners were at the Flying Fish then at Chez Shea.  Each place was excellent and very different from each other.  Reservations for our final meal together, Mother’s Day brunch at Salty’s, were at 8:45 a.m. to accommodate 1 couple’s flights back to the Bay Area.  But it was well worth getting up early for unlimited prawns, crab, salads, traditional eggs, omelets, waffles, etc. and amazing desserts including a chocolate fountain with fruit and other fondue-type goodies. Fresh crab, prawn or ceviche snacks at Pike’s Market held us over between lovely breakfasts and fabulous dinners.

Food, wine, glass, flowers, harbor views, and lovely city architecture.  What a great weekend!