Going to Astoria, OR

Apr 17th.

Our next stop is Astoria. Originally planned for Long Beach WA, but My could not book Long Beach, so the closest logical choice is Astoria.

Here is the Google map of our last few stops.

donuts and noodlesOur oceanfront lodge does not have fancy breakfast, just some donuts and coffee so we cooked our instant noodles. Luckily, the hotel front desk had a kettle so we don’t have to bring in our rice cooker to heat water for the noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying good bye to our lovely but chilly and windy beach.

good bye to our chilly and windy beach

drive along beachesThe drive to Astoria is also mostly along the beaches of CA1

 

 

 

 

Caught three surfers walking across the highway with T-shirts and short, one with just short. The temperature was about 14-5C (57F), hats off to these guys.

3 surfers

elk jerkyWe came across this truck selling elk jerky. 15 bucks for a piece of jerky about 3 oz. Despite the steep price, we grabbed a jerky and a sausage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

happy elk jerky peopleWe walked away happy with our elk snacks, the vendor happy taking our money.

Ielk jerky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About half an hour later, My wanted to open the elk jerky, she tried but couldn’t tear the package off so we stopped at a small town parking lot to pull out our pair of scissors to cut it.  Even then, it was difficult to pull the meat out of the vacuum pack.  Here’s My, enjoying our new snack.  Elk meat is more tender than beef, not as chewy.  You don’t need dentist’s appointment after eating it.

 

 

My eats elk jerky

This morning at the hotel, the only front desk lady asked us where we’d be heading off today, we told her “Astoria” then she said “You’ll love it, the Astoria bridge is beautiful”. Approaching Astoria, we saw a bridge far away and knew right away this is the bridge she mentioned in the morning.

Astoria bridge

Astoria is a small town, we reached our hotel Hampton Inn with no difficulty at all and traffic was very light.

This is our room, nicely renovated.

our hotel room

 

nicely renovatedglass showerswith glass showers, not fancy but decent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

always do thisAnd this is me, I always do this when we first arrived to a new hotel.

 

 

 

 

This is our room’s windows looking out to the Columbia River. Our room only had a partial view of the river, My asked the front desk to upgrade our room to a full river view, but the lady at the front desk told her it’s not a good idea because, at this time of the year, the lion seals are very noisy.  She said “trust me, you don’t want to wear ear plugs in order to sleep, there are young boys and men and they’re all looking for girlfriends this time of year so there are lots of fighting and growling.  You never know what set them off!”.  Sounds like sea lions behave much like humans or vice versa!

windows

We walked around the town before researching for our dinner.

walk around town

theatreDinner was not an easy decision, we drove all the way across the short bridge to the south side of Astoria and looked at the sea food restaurant Dooger’s and finally decided to come back to the downtown Astoria and settled for “Baked Alaska”.  We had a dozen of oysters on ice for appetizer, for entrees, My picked prawn and crab spaghettini with truffle sauce and I settled for Iron seared ling cod. We were both happy campers.

This is part of the reason why we came to “Baked Alaska”. The name Baked Alaska is actually a dessert, a nice dessert. The cake was served with some rum poured on it and flame it. The flame was light, hard to see in the picture, both of us had to blow our lungs out before the flame subsided.  It’s a chocolate cake filled with vanilla ice cream and covered with meringue.

baked alaska with flamed rum

blow off flameinside baked alaskaAfter dinner, we went back and My took this picture of the welcome sign.

welcome to Astoria

 

Going to Yachats, OR

Apr 16th.

My always booked the hotel which served free breakfast. This Best Western did serve free breakfast. We walked to the hotel lobby for breakfast, and there was a sign telling us to access the side door to breakfast room. On this side door, we had to use our key room to get in.  May be it had experienced unregistered guests coming to try its waffles?

There was a self-serve waffle machine, normally we would avoid this type of waffle making because the last few times we didn’t like the batter mix, it’s too heavy and chewy.  And looks like many hotels use the batter distributed by the same company.

Better BatterBut today, My told me this batter is different. She said it’s a better batter. Simply, because she saw on top of the waffle machine, it says “Better Batter”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really! How’s better? There is only one way to find out.

A Better Batter Waffle

The verdict? Well, it looks like this is really a “Better Batter”, or maybe we were so much “Battered”, we can’t tell the difference!

Arcata is a short stay for us, but the town seemed like a cute little town, judging from our last night visiting the sushi restaurant and this morning looking at the landscape of this Best Western hotel. Here are some pictures My took this morning.

nice japanese cutleaf

nice mountain flame bushbye bye ArcataSorry, Arcata, we have to move on. Bye bye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

one side is ocean, other are mountainsThe best time to drive along the California 1 is in the morning. You’ve just had a fresh shower, well fed (with “Better Batter”) and driving along the highway with one side the ocean and the other side, the mountains.

Follow me carThe only annoyance for us are road repairs, they were everywhere. This road repair crew was special. Instead of having a worker standing by the road with the sign “Stop” or “Slow”, this crew got an extra car guiding us from one side to the other. In the back of this car the sign says “Pilot Car. Follow Me.”

 

 

 

We drove over this bridge with the statues of 2 golden bears standing on top of the bridge walls at both ends of the bridge. My wanted to take a picture of the bears but she missed the opportunity when we were first driving on the bridge, I told My that you may have the opportunity to capture them when we reach the other end of the bridge. And this was the picture she took at the end of the bridge.

IGolden Bear

That sure was a golden bear, but it was showing us its butt!

We saw the sign about “Trees of Mystery” along the road side. Curious, we stopped at this place. On the front entrance, there was a statue of an indian riding his horse or mule, and the whole thing was carved out of seemingly a very large piece of tree trunk.

large tree trunk

About 30 ft from the entrance was these humongous statues of a man and his ox.

man and his bull

You know how huge this structure was by looking at its foot, there was a real man standing on the boot to repaint it.

man painting its feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a group of young kids passing by us, and I heard one kid saying “It’s the ox’s balls.” and another kid said “No. It’s not its balls, it’s the tail”.

I guess they were referring to this round part under the ox.

balls or tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California is the state of redwood, huge trees that we never saw anywhere. My read somewhere in this place that the redwood is the largest living thing on earth.

The drive-thru tree we saw the other day was an example. Along the highway, scenes of very tall redwood trees are beautiful to look at.  These trees can reach 50 storeys tall and live to 3000 years old.

tall redwood trees

We didn’t have time to take the tour of “Trees of Mystery” since the whole tour would be more than an hour long and it’s too cold to walk in the forest this time of year. We promised that we’d be back here one day in the summer time but now we had to move on.

There was a long section of our trip where the highway is really winding. We saw a sign indicating that the road is winding for the next 22 miles. At first, I thought that this is nothing, piece of cake but the winding left and right was very dizzying, even for My sitting in the passenger’s seat. I had to steer the wheels every few seconds, the highway wiggles right then left and it seems like it never ends. Finally that 22 miles of winding road was over, we were literally “out of the woods”.  Not for long though, another sign with “wiggly road” for the next 15 miles popped up a few minutes later.  It was really, really tiring…

 

java hutWe found this “Java Hut” in the middle of nowhere. At first we didn’t expect it therefore we missed the stop. We had to drive back to look for it. It was a nice surprise since we were looking for a Starbucks along the drive. But to our understanding, Starbucks can only exist in large cities, but in a small tiny town along the highway, a fancy coffee shop would be non-existent.

We were deadly wrong. This hut serves whatever Starbucks has.

 

 

 

Here is the menu right in front of the hut.

Coffee menu

 

We later learned that this type of java hut existed in many places along the highways of Oregon and also Washington (where Starbucks originated). Our conclusion was that, in terms of coffee drinking habit, Oregon and Washington’s coffee’s taste is more sophisticated than everywhere else in North America.

sub-hutMy walked around this java hut and took the picture of what’s inside the little sub-hut by the main hut.

 

Apparently, it’s a portable washroom, not for customers but for the person in charge of the hut.

If you’ve got a washroom you can’t hide it from My.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some sceneries before reaching Yachats.

 

Deane'sFinally, we reached Yachats. This was our hotel.

The lady at the front desk told My that Yachats was pronounced as “Yaa-Hats”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about the name “Deane’s” but the word “Oceanfront Lodge” works for me.

windows looking out to beachWhen we got into our room, the first thing that got me excited was the windows looking out to the back of the hotel. We saw the beach about some 20 ft from the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fake fireplaceIn the room, there was a fireplace. My quickly turned it on, I touched the screen, and we both laughed, it was a fake fireplace, there was no heat coming out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before heading to town for our dinner, we went out to the back checking out the beach, despite the windy and chilly weather.

Beautiful beach

checking out the beachThen we drove to town for dinner. This seafood place was recommended by our hotel, Luna Sea Fish House.

luna sea fish house

 

A very nice seafood restaurant. The fish were fresh from today’s catch.  No farmed fish served here.

 

www

Going to Arcata, CA

Apr 15th.

Today we are going to leave this ocean cove for our next stop, Arcata.

At first we wanted to stay at Eureka but My couldn’t find a good hotel in Eureka so she booked the closest one Arcata.

This morning, from our windows, we saw the little dog standing on the hood of its owner’s truck. The dog belongs to the landscaper, he came here and was working on the hotel landscape since yesterday. His little dog was always standing or sitting on top of the hood.  What a smart dog, he can read the sign “No dogs allowed” right behind him.

little dog on hood of truck

Time for us to take picture to say good bye. I asked My “Do you want to the picture’s background as the hotel building or the ocean cove?” My said “The ocean cove”.

good bye ocean cove

On our way, we stopped by this view point.

beautiful view poinmt

construction truckThere was the two of us and this working truck with an amber light on top and one man sitting inside the truck. He was either a landscape worker or some road construction worker.

 

 

 

Our car was stopping right in front of his truck and as soon as he saw our Ontario plate, he had to step out of his truck and talked to us, his hand was still holding his big lunch container. It’s very hard for us to lie where we came from, since our car’s plate can’t lie. He told us he grew up and lived in Fort Bragg, which is about 33 miles from this viewpoint.

When we left, we drove away and waived our hand to him “Bye bye, and have a good lunch.” he responded “Thank you, it’s rice and beans.” Wow! rice and beans, eh? Makes me hungry. There was no food along our way, we may have to wait another 33 miles before our lunch.

Tsunami Hazard ZoneAlong the wiggling road around the mountains, some times going downhill, other times going uphill, the sign similar to this is repeated every few miles, it either reads “Entering Tsunami Hazard Zone” or “Leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone”

 

 

 

The weather wasn’t very warm, even with the sun, we had to wear a thin jacket to protect against the wind.

Windy

 

Finally, we reached Fort Bragg. It’s a relatively large town, and it got Starbucks. We had lunch at this Fort Bragg Starbucks to help the economy of our “Rice & Beans” friend’s home town.

 

 

After our good lunch at Starbucks, we moved on, and along the way, stopped at this view point which was quite an experience for us, especially for me as a driver.

crazy trail

we took the picture above at the beginning of the trail. It doesn’t look that bad, but as we moved along the trail, the road was further inclined with one side much higher than the other side.  I was really afraid that my Subaru would trip and roll on its side. My wanted me to back out, I thought about it and decided to go through thinking that perhaps many had already driven through this and they all came out fine, I hope. And sure enough, I made my way through the trail with no problem. Here are some pictures we took on this trail.

My tsking pictures

 

drive-thru treeWe saw this sign on the road side. It’s about some drive-thru tree that we heard before.

 

 

 

 

 

fee for drive-thruWe followed the sign and saw a few cars in front of us about to enter the park. There is a fee of $5 for the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the picture of the 2 cars in front of us about to drive-thru this humongous tree.

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 I can see the hole for driving through isn’t very big.

hole not big

our turnNow, it’s our turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

car barely fitI can feel that our Subaru car barely fits inside this tree hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

crazy experience

wIt’s a crazy experience but it’s fun. When we got through the hole, we saw about 10 people standing at the other side of the tree and when they saw our car made it through, they all applauded. It was likely a nice applause since we also carried a bike rack with a bike at the back of our car, making it a little tougher to drive through.  We felt like a star and were so busy bowing to the audience that we forgot to take picture of the standing ovation!  Oh well, you have to take our words for it.

After we got through, My had the opportunity to take picture for this car. The owner was smart, while he was about to exit the tree hole, he asked My to take his picture and the car.

My hel;ped taking picture

We hang around the park and its gift shop.

 

Finally, we reached our Best Western hotel.

IMG_20150415_190605

Feeling a little for sushi tonight, we drove about 8 minutes to this Sushi place for our craze of sushi and sashimi.

 

Good night Arcata.

 

Jenner-by-the-sea – Goat Rock

Apr 14th.

Today we are going to visit Goat Rock Beach, about 30 minutes drive from our hotel.

ocean cove breakfastThis was our simple hotel breakfast.

We didn’t rush to go anywhere. Not much to do around here. As the hotel owner had said most people came here for the drive.

The scenic drive along the CA1 west coast is all that matters. I stayed in the room with the warm fireplace and finish some of my blog (I was about 3 days behind).

My cooked brunchMy cooked something to eat for our brunch. By cooking, I meant she re-heat some leftover foods from San Jose party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cooking by the sinkThere was no kitchen in the hotel, we had to bring our own rice cooker and re-heat our foods by the sink in the washroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

our meal

the wind combed my hairAfter brunch, we drove to Goat Rock. On our way, we stopped by this view point by the road, the wind was so strong I can hardly hold on the car’s door. This is a picture of me with my hair well combed by the wind. There is no need to comb your hair before going out because if you do, the wind is going to mess it anyway it wants.

 

 

 

 

From one of the viewing spot on CA1, we shot this picture of the joining part of “Russian River” flowing out to the ocean.

Russian River joining ocean

My sneaking behind meMy was sneaking behind me to take this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

no one on beachWhen we reached Goat Rock Beach, we first headed for the north part of the beach. At the very end, there was a parking lot but no one parked there. Great, we were going to park here and it’s like we owned the beach for our self.

 

You can see we were the only ones on the beach since the sand only showed our footprints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few steps onto the sand beach, I started to understand why no one wanted to be on this part of the beach. It was windy, very windy. In fact it was so windy that My decided to head back to our car. Now, I still hung on with my camera but the wind kept blowing sand onto my face. I couldn’t take it anymore, but before joining My back to the car, I managed to take a quick picture of the north beach (while spitting out some sand stuck in my mouth)

North Goat Rock Beach

 

When I ran back to the car, My had already sheltered herself in the car. We headed back to the road and this time we took the west direction to the main Goat Rock side where everyone came to see. There were already about 10 cars in the parking lot. Going down the main parking spot, the narrow road can only take one car at a time, cars going in or going out had to wait until the other direction is clear.

 

 

This side of the beach was also very windy, we stayed inside the car for most of the viewing, and only getting out to take pictures.

Stay inside the car

 

hairstyle so coolI had never gone to a hairstylist, but today, I got my hair styled so “cool” that My took this picture. Thanks Mr Wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove around the parking lot and saw some people with lots of camera equipment. I had no clue what they were going to do here. My took this picture and a man was waving his hand at the camera.

IMG_20150414_152112 (2)

 

 

IMG_20150414_155120On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the visitor information centre of Jenner-by-the-sea. We were about half an hour late, the centre was closed.

 

 

We went to the back of the information centre, and My got a free hairstyling.

Ifree hair styling

 

This Jenner-by-the-sea is a tiny village with very narrow roads going up the hills to the town residents. We tried to go up one narrow road but gave up the exploration because the road was so narrow that only one car can drive on it.

cow signOn our way back to the hotel, we saw this “cow” sign by the road.

The warning sign was for cows, not wild animals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cow on top of steep hillDo you really have cows running on this coastal road? The answer is yes, it’s possible. My took this picture of a cow eating grass on top of a hill. The cow was standing at the edge of the very steep hill. Hey cow, hang on there, don’t fall down here or we are going to end up at the bottom of the cliff or the ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

convenience store also sells gasWe stopped by this convenience store to get some snacks and some instant noodles. Apparently the store also sells gas, one of the few gas stations where you can get gas on this west coast.

 

Tonight, we were going to eat our dinner home made with whatever was left from our snack bag.

 

During our dinner inside, I walked outside in front of our windows to take this picture of the sun setting.

SONY DSC

 

Life around here is always peaceful.

 

 

Good bye San Jose .. To Jenner-by-the-sea

Apr 13th.

Well, we have been in San Jose for a total of 9 days. The wedding is done, it’s time to move on.

small change in breakfastThis morning breakfast, My had a small change in her menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

last breakfast at MarriottThe European gang also moves on today. They are continuing their journey to Yosemite and later on to Death Valley before heading north to Vancouver, BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a problemTime to pack all the stuff. There seemed to be a problem.

 

The European gang rented this Town and Country van to transport a total of 5 persons and their luggage. When they came here to Marriott it was fine because some of their luggage were lost, but now the luggage have been recovered, there may not be enough room for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sacrify a little comfortThe car is seven seater so someone had to sacrifice a little of her comfort for the luggage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

good bye San JoseAfter saying good bye to My’s brothers and sister-in-laws, it’s also time for us to say good bye to San Jose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is our planned trip. We drove south to visit Santa Cruz Boardwalk before heading north to Jenner-By-The-Sea.

 

 

Santa Cruz BoardwalkThe drive to Santa Cruz was great. The roads are very winding with lots of green trees and green mountains. Santa Cruz Boardwalk is not a big place, few people on the streets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lion sealsPerhaps the main attraction to this Boardwalk are the lion seals.

 

 

 

 

They are everywhere around this Boardwalk.

lion seals

 

How did he get up thereEven under the boardwalk supporting posts, I don’t know how these guys climb up these posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My and the seals

 

peaceful life?

You look at them, you’d think that these seals live peacefully. Hell, no. Just like humans, they fight for a piece of real estate. These ones swimming in the water were trying to get on the wooden platform, but the ones that are already on the platform would not let them on. They roar like lions, their sound can be heard far away.

 

 

 

We had our lunch right on the boardwalk.

After lunch, we walked along the boardwalk to finish the exploration.

walking along boardwalk

 

IMore sealsMore seals to discover.

 

 

 

 

 

Ibad hair dayWith a bad hair day like today, I don’t know how My can see the seals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ice cream in 12cOK. No more seals, we walked by an ice cream store and My said she wanted an ice cream. An ice cream in this weather? With a wind chill on the boardwalk, I may feel like the temperature was about 12C (54F)! I’ll take a rain check, but My had no problem finishing the ice cream!

 

Getting out of the boardwalk, I discovered that our car had a parking ticket on the windshield. We had stayed too long on the boardwalk and our meter had expired. Those cute seals may cost me $43.

We drove along the coast watching beautiful houses with view of the ocean.

The scenery along highway CA1 was spectacular. No pictures would be able to describe it. The open view of the ocean on one side and the mountain view on the other side, makes the drive one of the most enjoyable of our journey. I had to drive and cannot take my eyes off the road, and I asked My to take pictures, she missed them most of the time. The few times she remembered to take pictures, they didn’t do justice at all.

 

 

Finally we reached our hotel, “Ocean Cove Lodge”. The place is very remote, it’s about half an hour by the tiny town Jenner-by-the-sea.

 

IMG_20150413_193753IMG_20150413_175927

The hotel is on the other side of the highway facing an ocean cove. The hotel had 15 rooms, but only 2 or 3 rooms had the view of the ocean cove, and our room is one of these. This is the view from our room looking out to the cove. It’s not five stars ocean view, but for $97, it wasn’t a bad deal.

IMG_20150413_182042

gas stove in the room

 

The room also got a gas stove. The owner told us that we might need to turn it on for tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hotel had a Bar & Grill but it closes at 8, so we had to rush in to have our dinner. We sat at the bar with a beautiful view of the ocean cove. Our grilled fish sandwich was great, the cod fish was really fresh.

 

After dinner, we walked over to the other side of the highway to view the ocean cove. The owner told us that we might be able to see a grey whale playing in the cove. The first thought that went through my mind was “Wow! Really!”

IMG_20150413_193320

We didn’t see any whale but the view of the cove was very nice. We then drove to a camp ground close by and saw these signs at the entrance. On one side was the camping fee of $24, the other side is the fee sign of $7 for walking or driving through the campground.

camp ground

This campground is right on the ocean side and may have good view of the ocean, but charging $7 for being in the campground? No, thanks.

We went back to our room and turn on the fireplace. Good night Ocean Cove.

San Jose – Wedding, A Day After

Apr 12th.

Today’s plan was to let the bride’s and the groom’s family meet at David’s home. Serving foods for such a large group was impractical, so the plan was to buy some Vietnamese sandwiches. But at the last minute, the bride’s family (minus the bride herself) decided that they would leave early for a visit to Los Angeles before heading home to Germany. So today, only the groom’s family will meet with David and his new wife.

same faces same breakfast

My, buying sandwichesAfter the same morning breakfast at Marriott Residence Inn, we all headed for a Vietnamese sandwiches store in the “Little Saigon” quarter to buy some sandwiches. You can see My in front of the queue pointing her finger to the sandwiches menus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 sandwichesIt took a while to fill My’s order of 30 sandwiches with 6 different types of filling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we were ready to head straight to David’s home.  Just so you know, we’re again late by 45 minutes.  People were really hungry by the time we showed up but who can blame the two new retirees for forgetting about being on time.  For some people, this is the first time they saw David’s home.

David's Home

The-Bride-Who-Lost-Her-Wedding-DressThe “Bride-Who-lost-Her-Wedding-Dress” was serving some mung bean sticky rice to guests. The sticky rice dish was prepared by her mom yesterday before leaving for LA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indonesian CoupleThis Indonesian couple is from Germany and they are friends of the bride. I’ve heard that the lady is, like our bride, a medical doctor.

 

 

The groom's fatherI spotted the groom’s father. He was sitting outside by himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eat his sticky rice and fly home TorontoHe was eating the sticky rice. I saw his happy face, happy because wedding is now over. I know what he wanted. He just wanted to eat his sticky rice and to fly home to Toronto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole gang now moved out to the garden area, while still chit chatting. Some were speaking German, I could not understand a word.  We were all invited to Germany by the bride’s family so I’m not sure whether we should start German lessons now or keep on trying to increase our knowledge of Spanish from two words to four (Wow, a 100% increase!).

Eating in Garden

top of wedding cakeThe bride brought out what seemed to be the top piece of yesterday’s wedding cake.

Everyone’s eyes were focussing  on the beautiful flowers on top of the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

more pictures

 

 

 

Time to waste some more digital pictures. People never got tired of wedding cake, especially if it’s digital pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked dumb

How about me? Why didn’t I have my camera? Oh, I know, My took my cell phone camera and she took this picture of me staring at the cake! I looked dumb, didn’t I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

groom's mon talking about her wedding cakeIn this picture of the groom’s mom, I don’t recall what she was saying, I think something about her wedding cake some 40 years ago! They had wedding cake at that time? I really can’t say.  BTW, I forgot to introduce My’s cousin and her husband shown here at the end of the table.  She served as witness for David at the church ceremony and earlier at his civil marriage and she and her husband were greeters at the wedding reception, making sure guests found their way to their seat.  Since she’s the only relative David know in San Jose, he called on her for help on everything which she did willingly and graciously.  Remember our groom’s family get together the night before the wedding at the restaurant? She and her husband picked up the tab for the whole gang before we could react.

 

After a while, everyone was a little tired of talking and it’s also about time to leave the bride and groom alone, they only have today’s together since the bride would leave for Germany tomorrow.

Before heading home, we went shopping in the Asian market for some foods and snacks for tonight. Since no one wanted to go to the restaurants, an assortment of snacks for tonight would be perfect. We all headed home and all gathered in our penthouse unit.

all gathered in penthouse

My’s family from Vancouver had left very early in the morning, therefore only two gangs are left here, the Toronto gang and the European gang, as usual.

They talked in the morning, they talked in the afternoon, now, they are still talking. You’d think they never got tired talking? You were wrong, all of a sudden, everyone felt tired and hungry.

 

drink tofu from strawI asked My’s sister-in-law (the one from France) to show how she would drink her tofu dessert out of the straw.

 

I showed the picture and everyone was laughing so hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this started the trend. Everyone was sucking the excellent coconut tofu dessert from the straw.

sucking tofu dessert

We all had a good time. Let’s call it a day.

 

San Jose – Wedding Day

Apr 11th.

Today is the wedding day. My’s brother from Belgium told everyone that we should be having our hotel breakfast a little late, maybe at 9am to make it like a brunch, since the wedding ceremony at the church will last until the afternoon, no time for lunch. Everyone agrees.

2 tablesWe formed 2 tables. In this picture, the front table is us, the Toronto gang, which is composed of me, My and the groom’s parents, the further table is the European gang, My’s brother and his wife from France and another brother from Belgium together with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After brunch in the hotel lobby, it’s time for everyone to dress up beautifully and be ready for the ceremony at the church.

almost readyMe too, I was ready to go to the wedding ceremony. Well, almost ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iexcept my left shoeExcept maybe this shoe!

 

I discovered I got an “Alligator” shoe. By “Alligator”, I don’t mean the expensive shoes made from alligator’s skin, my shoe opens up like an alligator’s mouth.

 

 

 

I looked at my watch, it’s about noon, and we are supposed to show up at the church in half an hour and the ceremony will start at 1pm.

no shoesWe quickly dropped by a Home Depot to get some glue for my “Gator” shoe. I was all dressed up with no shoes to wear, I improvised.

It took me a while to find the “Gorilla glue” to seal my “gator” shoe.

The “gator” shoe was glued and pressed together while we drove to the church.

In the church’s parking lot, I took my “gator” shoe out and discovered a new problem.

 

 

 

 

white foamThe fixed “gator” shoe now had a white foam around the glued line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

scrape off the white foamOops! I had to quickly scrape off the hardened white foam with just a piece of paper. I tell you, it’s not that easy, I can’t completely eliminate the foam.

Well, Mr Chevy Chase, let’s get in the church, nobody is going to see your ugly shoe, every eyes would be concentrating on the bride and groom anyway.

 

 

 

get in the church

 

luggage recoveredI wasn’t the only one getting into trouble. My’s brother from Belgium and his family lost some important luggage on their way at the Amsterdam airport. They were lucky to have recovered their luggage yesterday’s night, just in time for today’s wedding. We were joking that her brother would have to attend the wedding in his short.  Coincidentally, the bride’s little sister and her German husband were in the same flight transiting from Amsterdam also lost their luggage and had to buy new outfits for the wedding.  And that’s not it! The wedding dress and matching shoes the bride had delivered to David’s house when she was in US last were stolen from his house when walls were knocked down during the extensive renovation and David had to move out for 4 months.  Like any man, David never thought of bringing with him or send to storage his then fiancée’s dress and shoes and didn’t break the news to her until she came to US two days ago.  When asked, his wife told My that David told her shyly the morning she came: “I have the feelings your shoes were lost”  and then later on:  “I think your dress was lost as well”!   David, she’s a keeper for taking things so coolly and willing to improvise.  Any other girl, you wouldn’t have live to see your wedding day.

 

The ceremony has already started, we are about half an hour late. We were lucky that it has not ended due to the fact that the priest seemed to favor long speech.

ceremony already started

My beautiful wife

 

priest soothing toneYou can tell the priest’s sermon was long because one of My’s sister-in-law took the opportunity to have a little nap..

 

 

 

 

The groom and his parents

groom and his parents

 

The bride and her parents

bride and her parents

priestThe priest who married them. Where did you say you found him, David?Amen.

A very “down-to-earth” priest, IMO.

 I’m not sure if it was his voice or the microphone or the church sounding environment, it was hard to hear what he had spoken, neither in Vietnamese nor in English.

 

 

 

 

Regardless, the bride and groom only repeated the Vietnamese word “Thưa Có” meaning “I do”

I Do

proud slave of his wifeDavid is now the proud owner, sorry, the proud slave of his wife. You can see it in his face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the ceremony is over, it’s time for pictures.

Here is the bride’s family side.

Bride's family

And the groom’s family side, minus two persons, the photographer, My’s eldest brother from France, and me. I was excluded from the picture because the day before, I made a mistake by telling him (the photographer) “You take clear pictures but your photos are not artistic.”  You can only see a little of my arm around My.

Groom's family

After the ceremony, everyone gets home and rests for tonight’s reception at Hotel De Anza.

napping

 

 

 

By resting, I may have meant napping for some people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

half asleep

 

 

 

Or half asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a little dazzled

 

 

 

Or a little dazzled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the reception, the ladies had some time to show off their beautiful dresses.

beautiful dresses

For tonight’s reception, we were late again. When we came, everyone was already there.

tonight's reception

almost final product

This is the centre piece as of yesterday’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My's top bouquets idea

This is today’s. The centre piece was beautiful. The six flowers bouquets on top were My’s idea. My told the bride after this morning ceremony that she may want to reuse the flowers placing around the church benches for the top.

The bride thinks it’s a good idea and the final center piece turned out very nice. David (the groom) can not say “It’s Halloween.” anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know why My’s sister-in-law always looking up in the ceiling.

DSC_0633

Here are some more pictures of the wedding.

 

 

Perhaps, the remaining problem that could not be corrected was the names of bride and groom written in the hotel lobby directing guests to the reception. Should have been “Ngo & Huynh”, luckily no one gets lost.

Hoang and Huynh

 

 

San Jose – Preparing For Wedding Day

Apr 10th.

This morning, we had our first breakfast in the hotel. My’s sister and her husband (the groom’s parents) had a fun time, since this is the first time for them to experience a morning breakfast in a hotel. Especially her sister, she ran around and tried all the different foods while her husband only sticks with oatmeal and bread.

My's sister and husband

my breakfastMy plate is also simple, the two most important items for me are scramble egg and bacons, the rest I don’t bother too much, BTW that half bagel piece is from My’s plate, she always took the whole bagel and left half for me.  My’s brother and sister-in-law from Belgium joined us half an hour later for breakfast.  They also checked in yesterday.

IMG_20150410_090629

IMG_20150410_090636

groom's parentsToday was an important day for the groom’s parents, they were going to meet with the bride’s parents and family. This is the picture of the groom’s parents in front of our hotel building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took them to David’s home to meet with the bride’s parents. You see, it’s complicated. David, the about-to-be-groom, hosts his about-to-be-parents-in-law and the bride’s sister from Germany in his own home while David’s parents stays with us at Marriott Residence Inn so all the people from the groom side could be together.

While David’s parents met with the in-laws, we helped the groom and bride setting up the wedding reception hall in the hotel De Anza. David needed 2 cars to transport all the necessary parts for tomorrow’s reception.

 

 

 

boxes of groom's origami art workThis is Hotel De Anza wedding reception hall. My was standing by the 6 boxes containing all David’s origami birds (500 of them)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David's artworkThis is what’s inside the boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


groom's artwork

The other day, David showed My how he made the origami artwork. It took him about 5 minutes to finish one origami bird.

 

 

 

 

 

Working his bird

5 minutes to complete one bird

The Origami artwork is just part of David’s effort, he had to design a prototype structure to support the artwork. The whole process took him about two months of after hours.  we joked that David could pretty much fold the origami crane while sleeping.

Here are some pictures of us and the about-to-groom and bride working hard to set up  the focal point wedding reception.

 

When I say we were all working hard, I was lying. Me and My, we were hardly working, we left the about-to-be bride and groom continuing their work while we went for our coffee break in the hotel restaurant.

IMG_20150410_124633When we went back to check, the bride and groom have almost finished setting the wedding focal point.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s time to put up the veil fabrics on the structure, David told his about-to-be wife “You do it. I don’t know.”

bow tie the vailThat’s right, David, it takes two to Tango.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

looks like HalloweenDuring the first trial of the veil ribbon, David’s comment was “It looks like Halloween!” Hey, who said our about-to-be grrom doesn’t have a sense of humour!

This is the almost final version of the bride and groom handiwork, stay tuned for the ultimate structure on the wedding day.

almost final product

 

We went back to David’s home to have lunch cooked by David’s about-to-be mother-in-law (there were lots of people and no one remembered to take pictures!).

family from VancouverAfter lunch, I went picking up the family from Vancouver, My’s sister, her husband, her son and his girlfriend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a long day, we had out family gathering at a Vietnamese restaurant inside “Grand Century” mall, “Com Tam Thien Huong”. The whole family on the groom side, minus the groom because he was busy with the bride’s family (I told you it’s complicated, didn’t I!)

As a result of overstaying in the restaurant, the whole gang was kicked out. And into the mall, we kept talking and chatting. This is the last scene in the mall, most had left, everyone was saying “See you tomorrow.”

see you tomorrow

See you tomorrow, indeed. Tomorrow is the wedding day.

🙂

San Jose – Family Day

Apr 9th.

Today we are moving out to our new hotel, Marriott. The plan was for every family members attending David’s (My’s nephew) wedding to be close to each other.

Time to move out of “Hotel Vue”. Hey! That warning sign about some chemicals causing cancer bothered me, the earlier I move out the better.

hide our toasterLots of guests staying at Hotel Vue here carry with them all kinds of machinery, since most of them either work at Google or are Google contractors. We are special, we only carry our toaster with us, I had to hide our toaster inside a grocery bag to make it look like some secret instrument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our way to our new hotel, we drove around the “Little Saigon” town. Still fresh in our mind was the politics stories between the 2 groups among the Vietnamese community, one fighting to change the town to the new name of “Vietnam Town”, the other fighting to keep the common old traditional name of “Little Saigon”. We looked for signs of he rival politics, and all we found was the old name of “Little Saigon” (with the old South Vietnam flag on top) still hanging around the main streets.

Little SaigonLittle Saigon

 

 

Here is our hotel for the next 4 days, “Residence Inn Marriott”.

Residence Inn Marriott

It’s not a traditional high rise hotel building, it’s composed of many smaller low rise buildings. Each building or “block” is composed of 8 units. We have 4 families living here so My picked one penthouse on top floor, and 2 separate units below.

Our blockHere is our “block”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are checking in the penthouse. It’s a two level unit with complete kitchen, 2 bedrooms and a small living room. This is our headquarter of family gathering for the next 4 days.

 

enjoy snacks in new hotelIt’s me enjoying my snacks in the new place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

favorite dessertMy favorite dessert, “tofu in coconut sweets”. The 2 bananas were from the hotel’s lobby.

 

 

durian in coconut sweetsMy enjoying her new favorite dessert, “durian in coconut sweets”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

walk to lobby

We got a phone call from the lobby. The lady staff told us that one of her brother just came in. We walked to the lobby to meet with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole family in the lobby.

in lobby

A small party inside our penthouse celebrating My’s first family reunion.

 

The family from Belgium lost their suitcases and they haven’t slept the last 20 hours.

Everybody has some stories to tell, except me, I got stuck trying to get my espresso machine running after a long break.

getting espresso machine running

Finally, I got it to pump again. Woohoo!

IMG_20150409_170329

Once the new stories were cooled down a little, everyone was tired and went back to their own room to rest.

Around 6pm, after a decent rest, we all went for a walk to the nearest Vietnamese restaurant we can find on Google maps, “Vy’s Restaurant”. It’s only an 11 minute walk according to Google, but it took us a bit longer and for some of us, it looked like forever.

frsh after a good rest

restaurant temporarily closedFinally, we came to Vy’s restaurant and saw this sign in the front door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barn ThaiLuckily, there was a Thai restaurant next door, “Barn Thai”.

 

We were the second group of customers in the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My’s plate was called “Pad See-iyew”, we all joked “pad see you, see me”. Mine was the traditional “pad Thai”. My’s brother-in-law, the one from Toronto, was the simplest meal ever, plain steam rice.

 

After dinner, All the 3 men, had to walk back to our hotel to drive the rented car to pick up all the rest of the gang, because My’s sister-in-law complaint about the long walk she could hardly make it.

 

 

 

 

 

San Jose – Meeting more friends

Apr 8th.

Today is going to be another day socializing with friends. The same friend we met yesterday wanted to invite us to her home for lunch, she said she would be making a very simple lunch.

Same breakfastOur breakfast in the hotel looks almost exactly as yesterday’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my plateThis one is my plate.

 

 

 

 

 

tan

 

 

 

Here’s My showing off her tan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

neighbourhoodThen we drove to the friend’s house. She lives in Milpitas, about 20 minutes drive from our hotel.

Arriving to the friend’s neighbourhood, My took some pictures to show beautiful landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beautiful landscape

 

Finally we arrived at her home. Here are some picures of the ladies preparing lunch in the kitchen.

 

friend's aunt

Today we also meet new faces. This lady is our friend’s aunt. My told her friend “Why do you call her aunt? She doesn’t look that old to be your aunt.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then lunch is ready. It doesn’t look like a simple lunch to me.

not a simple lunch

 

ready for lunchyet another friendA few minutes later, there was another friend of My joining our lunch party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She too is a friend of My from the day they were in high school. Here are the 3 childhood friends, they meet again, this time in San Jose.

3 childhood friends

The afternoon went well and it’s a beautiful day outside. We finished our lunch and one of My’s friend had to go to work. It’s not her day off, she’s just dropped by to be able to say hello to My.

time to go

 playing with the dog)She had enough time to play a little with one of the dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dog bit MyThis same dog, which I told My to go and pet her. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well for My, the dog bit her and left a little scratch on her finger.

 

 

 

 

Well My had better luck with this one. This dog is special, it’s a breed of a type of dogs that only exist in one region of Vietnam, the island of “Phu Quoc”.

phu quoc dog

What was so special about this dog is that it’s got a swirl of hair growing backwards on his back, like guys putting gel on their hair to pull it into hoop.

swirl of hair on back

keep chatting

 

 

Everybody left, the 2 friends keep chatting for a while (while I slept leaning on the couch).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

good bye

 

 

 

 

It’s that time again, they have to say goodbye to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foods to go to hotelBefore we go, our friend packed a bunch of snacks for us to take to our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She also gave us as gifts a few bottles of fish sauce, the “Red Boat” label, the famous brand that belongs to her family.

red boat fish sauce

Phamily ReserveThis bottle is special. Notice he word “Phamily”, it’s not misspelled. Her family’s last name is Pham, hence the word “Phamily” was coined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left the neighbourhood, My took this picture of beautiful mountains in the backdrop.

beautiful backdrop mountains

 

Tonight, we ate our dinner, foods-to-go, bought from the store the day before.

 

Good night, friends. And thank you for a wonderful day.