Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
This is the start of our new series of travel diaries, I think. Although Marianne has four to six weeks left of cancer treatment and recovery, we are getting confident enough to lay out plans for trips, several trips. We are not starting with a three-month European excursion just yet, rather with a two-day drive over for granddaughter Ava's birthday. All plans have to start with a first step.
Rough plans for next steps are a half-dozen North American trips in 2020 and a return to Europe in 2021. Right now, the hardest part is having confidence that such travel will be possible, given everything from cancer to Covid-19. We'll see.
On Tuesday (March 3) we packed up the Audi Q3 and hit the road to Monte Sereno in the San Francisco South Bay Area. This was a short trip to test the small car as a substitute for the larger Grand Cherokee. Our big red Jeep has had a couple losses of reliability lately and we need to know if we have a viable alternative. The Audi is smaller, but we have been known to drive for months in our much smaller Boxster, albeit in much smaller countries.
Drive One: three hours to Rockin' Jump, a trampoline park in San Jose. Ava had chosen the park to celebrate her 11th birthday with 11 of her friends (and her brother, one of her best friends, although they may not admit it.)
Rockin' included plenty of bouncy places: a field of trampolines, a big pillow bag to flop into, a jousting area with foam blocks to fall into, a basketball court for jumping way above the net, and a dodge ball arena.
I had been having trouble getting pictures of all this high-velocity action, but then the girls lined up for the rock climb. The slow motion was easier for me, but not for the girls.
Almost everyone did make it to the top, however, and nobody fell. Phew!
After all this activity, it was time to call the crowd to Party Room 3. There they were greeted with balloons and Taco Bell tacos, burritos, and tortilla chips. All health food. This was topped off with cupcakes. All healthy. Finally, little time for opening presents.
But this would not be all there was to celebrating Ava's 11th birthday. After we made it home from Rockin' Jump, there were a few more presents to open. I think Ava negotiated to open more than originally allowed, but how often is someone 11?
And it was not over.
Ava's Rahimi family has a very strong tradition of a family celebration for each birthday, not just school friends. For this evening, the crew included mom, dad, five aunts and uncles, two grandmothers, one grand aunt (?), one Opa, a brother, and five cousins. Happy Birthday was sung in both English and Farsi!
On Wednesday, I started with a diary-writing session in Starbucks, my normal travel routine. While I was writing, the kids were getting up and enjoying Gigi's palascintas (crepes), another family tradition when we visit. Then the kids were off to school.
Gabby and Gigi organized an in-house work-out program, while I went out for a neighborhood walk. I brought along a camera, to make sure I really looked at what I was seeing. One very positive aspect of photography is that just bringing along a camera forces one to try to find picture-worthy subjects. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not, but it's fun.
So much for decorative arts. Next up is Sam's baseball game, his first of the season. He said he had moved up to the "Triple A" league and we were curious about this new level of prowess. He sure looks like a big leaguer, to Gigi and Opa at least.
On the field, the Tigers are a mix of sizes, reflecting the variety of age. Eight-year-old Sam is one of the youngest, and smallest, but he's darn good. (Unbiased evaluation.) I took a zillion pictures and here are a selection, no particular order, but heavy on shots of Sam, cousin Reef, and Uncle Ali. It's big league, but still family.
Not only did the Tigers look good, they won. Sam batted 1000 (one hit and a walk)! Everybody left pretty happy. After the game, the family had dinner at Double D's Sports Grille, along with several other player families. At times like this, Los Gatos really does seem to be a small village. Nice.
On Wednesday we headed home with no more plans until next week.
John and Marianne