Friday, August 30, 2013

Picnic lunch at Coyote Point Park

Our picnic spread - we are all small eaters!
The FC Housewives Club had a picnic lunch at Coyote Point Park today! It's a mere 10-minute drive from home and can be easily reached by the Peninsular Ave exit from US-101.

Yelp's review of the park is so varied and I guess it really depends on which time of the year you go. To us on a weekday afternoon, it seemed like a secluded place by the marina. There's barely any other visitors except for the occasional seagull or goose which threatened to come too near to our food. (Ok, I have an irrational fear of fowl.)

There are also plenty of BBQ pits and picnic benches around the park, all surprisingly clean. For families with kids, there's a big playground with swings and slides. We kept trying to find the one with the dragon mouth for Z but guess it's not near the BBQ pits! Still we had fun on the swings; with every push Z giggled and sang "Wheeeeeeee!"

At the end of the picnic I started to grab 'victims' to help model my new felt flower hair pin. (It's pretty hard to do selfies with hair items!) Poor Jo, the birthday girl, had the 'honour' of having a flower planted in her hair. But I think the photos came out really nicely. The flower looked pretty with her long flowy mane! Love the effect!

That little white jasmine flower as modelled by Jo! (more photos here)

We packed up early cos I have to prepare for my Toronto/New York trip the next day. We didn't visit CuriOdyssey - a science and wildlife centre within the park, nor explore the trails further. I'm pretty sure that's much more to Coyote Point Park than what we've seen today. Pity that we'd have to pay another $6 to go in again next time!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom: Too old for rides?

As fast as Superman!

We've always wondered what that colourful theme park is whenever we drive past Vallejo to Napa Valley. And we found out - it's Six Flags Discovery Kingdom!

Panda is not a real fan of thrill rides but yesterday in the spirit of celebrating Vic's birthday, he got up the courage to go with the rest of the gang. I am a big fan of theme parks and thrill rides (it runs in the family) so it was an absolutely awesome outing for me.

My personal favourites are the Superman Ultimate Flight and Vertical Velocity - talk about going at high speeds! I love the sense of fear and anticipation as we stand in the queue and hear others scream.

I didn't really like Kong and Roar because they rocked too much and I kept bumping my head against the safety gear, resulting in a post-ride headache! But Medusa is nice, Boomerang is not too bad, SkyScreamer and Tazmanian Devil are pleasant - kinda like taking swings in the park.

We also did some of the family friendly stuff, more for Panda and Jo who were not keen on thrill rides. We had a blast at White Water Safari. Poor Jo was TOTALLY drenched from head to toe when the raft went right under the waterfall; we had to dry ourselves at the ladies after the ride! We also took a walk down memory lane with bumper buggies - it's the longest queue ever cos there were so many kids.

The (H)ero and the Superman in action

Not for the faint hearted

Other than rides, Six Flags had animals like tigers and giraffes and elephants and dolphins; it's a pity we didn't get to see them all! We also didn't watch any shows cos there was just not enough time.

We could have stayed longer but we needed to drive more than an hour home. We had a nice dinner at downtown San Mateo for the birthday boy, hung out for a while at Jo and Vic's place before collapsing on our own beds. We were exhausted from being out in the sun for too long, but it was such a great day!

We had so much fun at Six Flags!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Our first strawberry picking experience

Fresh strawberries, anyone?

Just when I thought the strawberry picking season is over, Jo invited the housewives of FC to a morning of U-pick at Swanton Berry Farm. Hooray! When I told Panda about it, he was really envious because we've been talking about it the whole summer.

It was a smooth drive along CA-1 until we reached a sharp turn at the road sign. The road leading in to Swanton was really small and the place was so laid back, with minimal signage, that we didn't know where to go after we parked our car. Fortunately, a fellow picker directed us to the strawberry shrubs a short distance away.

I didn't expect to see much strawberries since it was towards the end of the picking season. So it was a pleasant surprise to still find plenty of bright red little fruits hanging on the plants as we neared. We worked down the aisles with the baskets we borrowed from the main house, making sure that we only pick 'red ripe fruits'.

Before long, our baskets were filled with little red rubies that we have handpicked.

Pick only red ripe fruit!

Our 'harvest'

After toiling for our strawberries, we brought them back to the main house and weigh them on the little machines, jotting down the weight and price on the log book. I was going to look for the cashier when I realised there was a 'honor till', that is, you put down the money and get your own change. Don't you just love the trust system here in US!

Step-by-step instructions on picking and weighing

It's a trust system!

The main house has a lounge where you can chill after being out in the sun!
Swanton is only 15 minutes away from Santa Cruz, so we went there to have lunch and walk along the boardwalk. I think we only spent one short hour at Swanton but already, it made me appreciate the work that goes behind fruit growing and picking.

Tonight when I ate the first box of strawberries at dinner, they tasted extra sweet!
We are as sweet as strawberries (we hope!) 

That fantastic Whistler trip!

Whistler Olympics Plaza on a sunny day in August

Following Edmonton, I flew with Uncle Johnny, Aunt Elim, Aunt Connie, gugu and gucheung to Vancouver. (Thanks to gugu, gucheung, dad and mom for the generous sponsorship - I keep going on holidays on others' expense this year! My family took pity on me the temporarily jobless one.)

The plan was to spend 4 nights at Whistler's Mountainside Lodge, then a day in Vancouver before flying home in the evening. How cool is that!

Day 1

We arrived in Vancouver in the late afternoon, stopping by Aberdeen Centre to have our dinner. The last time I came here I had 鸡蛋仔 (bubble waffle) from the food court, so this time round I tried the noodles from the same stall. I love it because it's the closest taste I have of the 茶餐厅s from HK.

I want to eat everything!

We bought loads of groceries from a nearby Chinese supermarket and went on our way before it turns dark. Two hours later, we checked in at Mountainside Lodge. Everything's been perfectly arranged by Uncle Johnny so we had a room in no time. But we slept late because we had many Indian chiefs wanting to decide on the sleeping arrangement Poor gucheung carried the mattress 3-4 times up and down the stairs after each decision was overridden. It was too hilarious! ^ ^

The trolley could barely move under the combined weight of our luggage

From the vantage point of the loft

Day 2

We had very good weather on our second day. We spent the day strolling around the village, checking out the shops and taking in the sights. The heat was a tad unbearable towards the afternoon so we stopped by Cows, apparently the best ice-cream chain in Canada, for ice cold sweetness. They also sell the cutest merchandise!

Hordes of tourist around the village

Spot the ski trails on the distant mountain?

Whistler is a world renown ski resort but what's less known is that it's a great place for summer activities too. Mountain biking is a big thing and everywhere we go, we see people young and old clad in protective gear. The ski slopes are equally, if not more, exciting for mountain biking!

A group of older bikers... we saw some as young as 4 year-olds!

One of the bikers 'flying' in the sky

In the evening, we drove to the nearby Alta Lake where families were having picnics by the shore. Dipped our feet in the freezing water for the first time.

An unspoken sense of peace

Selfie by the lake

Day 3

We meant to take a 30-min trail to Lost Lake but I followed the wrong map and led the group on a long, long way along Fitzsimmons Creek to the Green Lake 2 hours later. Oops! Luckily, we discovered Nicklaus North Golf Course at Green Lake so we had a nice lunch overlooking the lake.

Whistler Air at Green Lake. Floatplanes!
(My photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of the lake)

Lunch at Nicklaus North Golf Course

Finally back on track on Valley Trail
We finally got back on track after lunch and arrived at Lost Lake 45 minutes (and many, many slopes) later. It was drizzling on and off and the sky was gloomy when we reached.
Lost Lake is much smaller than the other nearby lakes
Had to put on a jacket because of the cold breeze

Aunt Elim must have been looking for some adventure. The mischievous adults, led by Aunt Elim, balanced themselves on two narrow, floating tree trunks to get to the small platform in the middle of the lake. I followed suit after seeing how dangerously fun that is! It started raining heavily after the four of us were cramped on the platform and we started scrabbling back on the wobbly logs.

Gucheung looks like he's walking on water!

On our way back, we noticed these tiny toads supposedly migrating from the lake to the grassy areas. We had to really look out for them lest we step on them accidentally!

Look how small the toad is compared to my shoe!

Day 4

The last day at Whistler is the most exciting day because we took the PEAK2PEAK Gondola! On Whistler Mountain we met our lovely volunteer guide who took us on the gondola ride across the peak to Blackcomb Mountain. It's quite an experience, being dangled in a gondola crossing the two giant mountains!

It's fun moving through the fog though it sometimes blocks the view

The never ending stretch of Alpine trees is lovely!

We hiked around Blackcomb Mountain with our guide enthusiastically explaining the plants and wildlife along the way. The glacier bowls look bare at this time of the year but in winter they are covered in snow!

Our guide walks faster than a 18-year-old!

It will be completely different in Winter

The hike trail is quite rocky and even though walking sticks were provided we had to use every ounce of effort to keep our balance. It was foggy so there wasn't much view but we felt like we are walking above the clouds.

It's worth the climb!

A rocky road

The highlight of the day is the Peak Express! HIGHLY recommended because it takes you all the way to the summit of Whistler Mountain! It's included in the gondola ticket so you don't have to pay anything extra. It's SO awesome sitting on the chairlifts, being taken to the skies and beyond. The view is beautiful on top!

Going higher and higher... yay!
Gugu and gucheung having the ride of their lives

I want to touch the sky!

The Whistler Inukshuk!

Final words...

We left Whistler the next day and went back to Vancouver, stopping by Shannon Falls, the Twin Falls at Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, English Bay and the University of British Columbia before boarding our flights home.

Compared to Whistler, Vancouver's day trip is very toned-down. I had so much fun that I almost didn't want to go home. The only regret is not trying Ziptrek Ecotours at Whistler! We didn't have enough time.
Finally a group photo at Shannon Falls

The suspension bridge is not that high but it sways a lot when too many people try to cross!

Looking down at the Twin Falls

At English Bay

Vancouver School of Theology at UBC

I want to say thank you to everyone who has made this trip so memorable. I hadn't expect to have so much fun but I did! My aunts and uncles are so young-at-heart and fun loving... they made me realise it's OK to just be silly and fool around whatever age you are at! Thank you, for generating so much laughter in the trip!

Yay! We are flying (off the railing)!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Photo higlights of our short Edmonton trip

Panda's tired but happy that we finally reached Edmonton

So after all that ding-doing with United Airlines, we finally got our butts in Edmonton and attended the wedding dinner. Panda only spent slightly more than 48 hours there before flying back home. So here are the highlights of our short Edmonton trip!

Uncle Johnny and Auntie Elim promoted to 老爷、奶奶 at the tea ceremony

With gucheung and gugu at the wedding banquet at Delta Edmonton South

Bride and groom at the head table - the first time we attended such a cute banquet arrangement

Daniel was only one when I last saw him... how time flies!

The Kenneth Cole dress that earned quite some compliments at dinner... thank you!

South Edmonton Common - blocks and blocks of shops

Introduced Tim Hortons to the gang. Coffee was ok but they loved the panini.

Bought ketchup chips, available only in Canada. They're so yummy!

World Waterpark within West Edmonton Mall. I want to play when I come back next time!

Family dinner the day after at 喜万年 ... the poor tired wedding couple.

A pretty park behind Uncle Johnny's. Thanks gugu for the photo!
A nice winding river within walking distance from Uncle Johnny's 

Next up... that super amazing Whistler trip!