Seeing the smiles on their faces as they ride the cable car, look at Yosemite Falls, see the ocean view from 17-Mile Drive or take a cruise on Lake Tahoe makes me so happy.
Another highlight is the BBQ at my parents' house in Morada. My dad barbecues tri tip steaks, chicken and salmon. All my relatives bring over a dish to share (my cousin Ann makes the best fried chicken!) and we order some Angelinas raviolis. Oh yeah and my mom makes Jell-O and rice! After eating, we usually go in the backyard and play. This trip back was the first time to meet the new family dog, Denbo. Growing up (in the same house), we always had a pet dog. Denbo is German Shepherd #5.
With the yen so strong now (about 80 yen equals one dollar), it made everything seem very cheap. For example, a big tub of Jelly Bellies (one of my favorite candies) is only about 1000 yen at Costco. It's double the price (over $20) at Costco Japan. The Jelly Belly factory is less than an hour's drive from my parents' house. On a tour a few years ago we stopped there on the way to a Napa winery. Another cool thing is that there's an Abercrombie & Fitch outlet store in the Great Mall that we stop at on the way home from San Francisco Airport.
We also did something different this tour. We saw a professional ice hockey game; we watched the Stockton Thunder win their last home game. I wasn't and still am not a real fan but did find the game very entertaining. The action was so fast and furious and right in front of our eyes. We all left with an appreciation of what they do on the ice. My next pro game will be an NHL (San Jose Sharks) one I hope. Other good news (or maybe not), Krispy Kreme reopened in Stockton! I have to go into Tokyo and wait in line if I want a Krispy Kreme fix here in Japan. I had them 3 times while I was back. Consequently, I gained 5 lbs. :)
After the tour, we got to spend a lot of quality time with family. We went to Lake Tahoe for skiing/snowboarding/gambling and eating with my brother Kevin and his family, my cousin and my parents. We played tennis with my brother Lance and his family, my cousin and my parents - amazingly my dad can still play pretty well. Taiga had so much fun playing with all his cousins and of course grandpa and grandma! :)
Thank you students for joining our tours. Our school's next CA tour will be in August 2013. Summer is my favorite season in CA. Every day is sunshine and blue skies. Won't you join?