Yosemite Hike - 2011

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Olympic Trip Itinerary

Sat., August 9th – San Diego > Los Angeles > Hong Kong

Sun., August 10 – Late arrival Hong Kong. To hotel for sleep!

Mon., August 11 – Morning explore close to town, Afternoon tram ride overlooking all Hong Kong, Gondola & Trek to Buddha.

Tues., August 12 – Morning shopping and exploring, afternoon train to Shenzhen, visit Splendid China and China Folk Culture, depart on evening flight from Shenzhen to Beijing. Gwen greets us at airport and takes us to “our” apartment.

Apartment in Beijing - Douban Hutong, Building 2, Door 9, Flat 1802 Chaoyang District, Beijing, China - Phone: 86 135 220 71 447

Wed., August 13 – Settle in @ apartment, afternoon USAVB Reception @ USA House

Thur., August 14 – First Olympic Events! Morning Beach VB 9:00 USA & Evening Beach VB, then late night evening Men’s Indoor VB

Fri., August 15 – Great Wall Mutinyan Section, sporting good store!

Sat., August 16 – Morning Indoor Men USA 10:00, Tiananmen Square, Emporer’s Palace and more site seeing.

Sun, August 17 – Evening Beach VB USA

Mon, August 18 – Morning Beach VB USA, depart for Manila at 4pm. Overnight Swagman hotel.

Tue., August 19 – Early flight from Manila to Borocay via Caticlan. Arrive White House Beach.

Wed., August 20 & Thur., August 21 – Boracay!

Fri., August 22 – Boracay > Caticlan > Manila for a quick overnight

Sat., August 23 – Manila > Hong Kong > Los Angeles > No flights until Sunday morning. We drive to San Diego and arrive just before midnight!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


At the check-in counter at the Manila airport.

This is the sign outside the men and women's bathroom

As if a pregnant belly isn't "documentation" enough

Monday, August 25, 2008


Day 14 & 15 – FRIDAY & SATURDAY AUGUST 22 & 23, 2008

Never one to get the whole time change thing down, I’m not sure I will do this last part of our trip justice. Even sitting down to type this, I’m tired trying to recall where and when the last leg started….

Friday morning, our last morning in Boracay was fantastic! We all went for a long morning swim after breakfast and did some exploring at some rocks half submerged in the water by high tide. During our swim, Mom introduced the girls to “skinny dipping” which they thought was funny. Apparently words like “liberating” and “freeing” are still way over their head!

A trip back to Jonah's for a second round of milkshakes and this time we tried some local fare too that didn’t disappoint. Curried veggies and rice have been Jana's staple when all other choices are suspect!

Bags packed and time to leave Boracay. We’re all sad to say goodbye to the beautiful ocean and white sand beach. A special time for our family and great memories! I think Scott and I were especially sad because we knew what lay ahead in terms of getting (all the way) home.

All packed and ready to start the LONG trip home

Breakfast of champions!

Friday 2pm taxi to boat back to Caticlan, plane to Manila, arrive at hotel at 8pm, quick dinner (Shelby half asleep at the table), watch some Olympics, Saturday Wake-up call at 2am, shuttle to Manila Airport by Saturday 2:30am only to find out all flights to Hong Kong cancelled due to a Typhoon!

Passing time in the airport...

Getting punchy, been up since the crack of dawn!

Just like their Mom, they can sleep anywhere!

Wait, wait, and wait some more, to figure out any possible options to get home. After 5 hours the girls fell asleep on the airport floor. After another hour we were suddenly, and secretly, told they were putting us on a flight but we had to be discreet about it. It pays to be calm when talking with the airline representatives, as most other passengers were yelling and delirious not helping the situation much. Having two tired kids and some Olympic pins certainly scored big points for us we're sure of that. We run to customs, then to the plane – yep, we were the ones that everyone on the plane was waiting for – you know the looks “those” people get! Oh joy! Our seats weren't together which of course took some begging of other passengers and calming of the girls nerves.

Off to Hong Kong we go…getting closer to home. Arrive Hong Kong at Saturday 11am but wait, no flights have left Hong Kong for over 24 hours so lots of backed up flights and no airplanes. Miraculously get rebooked on a flight to LA, hand out some more pins to avoid a three hour baggage check line and proceed to search all over for United terminals and some info about departure time and finally on a plane and depart Hong Kong Saturday 11pm. Oh joy, 12 hours in the Hong Kong airport! The girls were champs and the last few hours we spent talking to two delightful young gals form New York that had been in Beijing for The Games. Great to hear someone else’s account.

And we think Scott is tall! Hanging with Yao Ming in the Hong Kong Airport

Arrive LA 8:00pm Saturday clear Customs, get luggage and haul ourselves over to United Departures in a different terminal. We were certain we’d miss our connection to San Diego, but confident there would be others that night but were we wrong. Last flight out was 10:40pm and it was overbooked so our choice was:
A) a hotel with a flight at 7am Sunday morning
B) call Gretchen to come and get us
C) rent a car and get home as fast as possible to our own beds

Answer: C) Advantage Rent-A-Car here we come!

A quick drive to SD, thank you Scott, and home sweet home midnight Saturday. I’m not quite certain the course of events that happened over the next couple of hours. Everyone seemed to play musical beds and Sydney finally fell asleep sometime after 5am.

Our welcome home from The Brooks'

Today (Sunday) has been a blur. We did some unpacking, laundry and back to school shopping for the girls since school starts tomorrow. Scott says it might be an awful morning tomorrow but I’ll take it as it comes. At least we made it home!

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY: Hanging in there as a family and making it home!

FUNNY FORTUNE STUFF: Running through Hong Kong Airport trying to find our gate.

SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY: Nothing to really note here, except that from now on when I hear about bad weather in other parts of the world, I mat be a bit more sympathetic.

DAILY FAVORITES: Getting home safe and sound. Also listening to the talk about ways to save money for a trip to London in 2012!

OLYMPIC UPDATE: A historical Olympics. China spent $40 Billion on hosting the Olympic Games. A lot of it was infrastructure needed for the city, but now the politicians have to figure out what to do with the Water Cube and other Olympic structures. They spent $400 Million on the Opening Ceremonies. London has a tough act to follow.

A historical outcome in volleyball. I couldn’t be prouder of the USA VB teams in how they represented themselves, competed at the highest level, and made all of America proud. Never in the history had one country dominated volleyball, as we won gold in Men’s and Women’s Beach, Men’s Indoor, and silver in Women’s Indoor Volleyball. As the athlete AAC representative for the volleyball, member of USA Volleyball and USA VB Foundation, it was truly rewarding to be part in helping out the success. The Men’s team completed the dream with an upset win over #1 Brazil in the last event prior to the closing ceremony. All of America was able to witness the joy of the win and the sadness of the head coach Hugh McCutcheon as he reflected on the last two weeks since the tragic event.

Thank goodness for DVR, as now that we are home we will be able to catch up on some of the missed events from the last two weeks. USA won the overall medal count, but China won the Gold competition. We knew that this was going to be a tough Olympics versus the home team China, but a great Olympics to be part of and experience it first hand.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Random boats

Peace on the beach

Sand up close

The sign of a relaxing vacation

Cuties at sunset

These little piggies went to....

Thursday, August 21, 2008



Today was devoted to snorkeling. The girls have practiced, in the Brooks' pool, but I wasn't convinced this outing would be a winner so I was already managing expectations early in the day. I have never been happier to be wrong! The girls took to the water instantly and we followed their lead swimming around for the next few hours.

On our way to snorkel

We learned snorkeling is like skiing; invest in good equipment to keep things in working order for the kids (and parent's) sakes. We were at the mercy of what the snorkel boat had so needless to say, we all made do with quirky masks and fins that were too small. It was amazing to experience the underwater sea life with girls as they saw it for the first time. They were in awe of all the fish and coral and Sydney and Jana even saw two eels. Shelby kept saying the huge corals looked like brains!

This is so fun!

We stopped for lunch, steamed rice and milkshakes, at Jonas, a place that was recommended to us. The milkshakes did not disappoint. It’s unanimous; we will be going back on our way out of town tomorrow. Our entire afternoon was planned around watching Misty & Kerri play in the Gold Medal match for beach vball. You should have seen us all huddled on the bed cheering for the USA!

Nighttime swim for Scott & Sydney

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY: Snorkeling, snorkeling & more snorkeling, Scott and Sydney’s nighttime swim in the ocean & Jana having sushi! A head massage for Jana for $8 with Coconut Oil – supposedly to repair my dry hair. Still not sure the oil was a good idea or not?

Sushi time!!!

FUNNY FORTUNE STUFF: Shelby so excited when she got in the water and saw all the fish, we could hear her in the water, face down talking into her snorkel saying, “Oh my goodness!”

SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY: When we were out snorkeling, a man paddled up in a boat and said something to our boat captain. Next thing I know, I was reaching for Scott’s wallet to pay some fee for all of us to snorkel there. We’ve found, there’s never just one price here. Case in point, all separate transactions….. Paid for the boat, snorkel & mask (did include hotel pick up & drop off) Paid to get on a private island with caves Paid fee for snorkeling in a cove Paid for fins rental Also for some reason, napkins seem to be at a premium here. We seem to be constantly asking for them and needing more b/c they are so small.

DAILY FAVORITES: Man paddling in a boat around the snorkeling area selling ice cream. Watching USA Beach Women win Gold in the rain and watching USA Indoor Women crush Cuba 3-0 live.

OLYMPIC UPDATE: Needless to say, I didn’t think things can get any better from a volleyball standpoint. The USA indoor women pulled off a huge upset by beating Cuba easily 3-0. The USA team lost to Cuba pretty badly 3-0 in pool play, but we prepared much better in the second match. The USA coach is former Gold Medalist from China, Lang Ping, and is considered the greatest volleyball player in Chinese history. She has come through big time for the USA and was featured on NBC nightly news last night. USA indoor women will play #1 Brazil for the gold medal now. USA is on a roll! Misty and Kerry came through in the rain to win 108 in a row and the gold medal match over China. Last time they lost a match was one year ago and clearly have been rolling all the way through the Olympics. Great to see them excited winning the Gold again. Tomorrow, Men’s Beach Gold Medal Match with Todd and Phil and Men’s indoor semi’s USA vs. Russia. Don’t want to jinx anything, but USA VB could sweep the whole Olympics!

TRAVELING INSIGHT: Have a waterproof camera on hand for all water adventures with kids. We failed at this and missed some great photo ops!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


DAY 12 – WED. AUGUST 20, 2008

Today was our first morning with nothing to do or no where to be. Scott was up first or course and then me. I enticed Syd out of bed with a private morning walk with Mom on the beach. It was quiet and beautiful and we walked for a bit. On our way back I noticed a cute kid running towards us and it was Shelby in her pj’s with her favorite stuffed animal in hand. SO CUTE! We practically had the entire beach all to ourselves - It was glorious!

The beach in pj's. Does it get any better?

SIDENOTE: For those of you who know how precious each of the girl’s blankets are (yes, I use the term blanket loosely!) we’re happy to report the girl’s have survived without them here. There has been mention of them on the trip but I'm not fooling myself, I am sure they will be for them when we get home.

Breakfast is included at our hotel. You make your requests the night before and you get to pick whether you want to eat at your room, the beach or at the cabanas. We chose the cabanas which are little thatched huts with wood tables and benches over a sandy floor. It was nice to have eggs, bacon and toast! The girls of course did not like the taste of the toast for some reason, something to do with the butter being different – whatever!

Fresh mango and cook to order breakfasts - not too shabby!

We braved our first Boracay taxi today. They are basically motorcycles with little horsepower, a sidecar and small flatbed with camper shell over them. Can’t say it’s the most comfortable ride. Scott managed the front seat but I'm not sure how. I couldn't even imagine him attempting the back with the girls as I was hitting my head over every speed bump. The girls and I were packed in the back so it's hard to imagine how the groups of 8-10 we saw on some taxis managed.

Are you sure there's still room for Mom?

We spent hours at Puka Shell Beach; swimming, looking for shells and more swimming! It was an amazing beach and we had it to ourselves! Pure heaven and a place we are sure to remember for a long time to come.

Shelby visiting with the local school kids

The students had been waiting for this delivery of books.

Back to the hotel for lunch and more swimming in the pool. The girls are going to sleep great tonight! Pedicures for the girls and Scott and a massage for Jana – one of the best I’ve had despite the fact there was sand blowing on me from the beach getting mixed in with the oil she used. Guess I got a massage / exfoliation all in one! The girl was so good I insisted Scott get one too and it did not disappoint! The masseurs roam the beach so you can get one whenever you want and they are just a few dollars.

Jana joined some of the locals for beach volleyball and learned there are ball hogs in every country!

We went to D’Mall to find dinner which is rows and rows of more than a hundred shops and restaurants complete with a grocery store the size of a 7 Eleven. We, or should I say the girls, decided on ARIA an Italian restaurant since “plain noodles” were the request. It was a great find with the first salad we’ve had in 2 weeks. I swear I have had more carbs/starch on this trip than I eat in a month at home. I am dying for some protein. Ever since Beijing when I order a chicken dish, it comes complete with bones and god knows what else. Needless to say, I'm suspect of meats abroad….o.k. I’m picky!

Ice cream for dessert and a blueberry and ice cream stuffed crepe for Scott. Back to the room, all huddled on our bed to watch the Olympics again!

Walking through some of the neighborhoods seeing Dad’s collect well water in buckets and small children bathing outdoors. We tried to explain to the girls we were walking own the Filipino version of Del Cerro Blvd. Not sure if any of it is sinking in or not but hopefully the pictures will help paint the picture.

FUNNY FORTUNE STUFF: Scott sitting in the back of the taxi cart. Shelby has decided Daddy must always sit in front!

All kids where uniforms to school. The uniform worn, depends on the school attended. School starts at 7:30am with a break at 12pm and then kids return back to school at 1:30pm until 4pm. We stopped in front of the Elementary School and chatted with a man that is doing some teaching there. He said most kids attend school but part of his job is to visit the kids at home who’s parents don’t send them to school and try to get them enrolled.
*Lumber yards are simply piles of bamboo
*Speed bumps are made out of thick pieces of rope placed across the street.

I think it was unanimous…..Puka Shell Beach
Of course $8 massages poolside are a close second!

With a 5 set victory by the USA Men’s indoor team over Serbia, all four USA VB Teams are in the medal rounds. Never in USA VB history has this happened, signifying something very special and the great work and results by USA VB. Both beach teams will be playing for gold and the indoor teams are in the semis. First off is the NBC focused team of Misty and Kerry as they look to run their winning match streak to 108 with a win over China’s top team. It will be the toughest challenge yet, as China has a distinct home court advantage. The women’s indoor team matches up against a tough undefeated Cuba team. A win puts them in the gold medal match. It was nice to see Bolt actually run the full 200m race and set a world record versus the show boating he did in the 100m. Things are wrapping up in Beijing and still too close to call for the overall medal count. Wins by volleyball could put the USA over the top.