We always start and end the year with a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. I am not sure if it is the good weather, the golf, or hoping to bring back memories of Spring Training with my kids. We went several years running, played golf in the mornings, and watched baseball in the afternoons. I hope they remember it with the same fondness that I do.
Another highlight was playing Pebble Beach with my son, Matt, for his 28th birthday. He is a scratch golfer. But I had a few good holes, including a birdie on #16 and it was a beautiful sunny, winter day in heaven.
We also went to Sequoia National Park, on our way to Palm Desert with Buddy on a car trip. We also went over to to Joshua Tree National Monument, and the bone yard in the Mojave Desert. It was lots of driving, but great to have him along. It was also an insight into retirement living and the desire for warm weather.
We started the month with a great stay at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. We got to use a Lexus SC convertible, and almost bought one (just kidding). We have gone to Pebble Beach now for several years, staying on the Friends and Family discount. We also love to eat at Roy’s, where we had Kobe beef for the first time. Carmel is always fun, winter or summer. Our friend, Carole, is a real delight!
In the middle of the month, we made another trip to Las Vegas with a stay in St. George, Utah as well. St. George has become a favorite, since our friends, Peggy and Jim live there during the winter. We also like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, as well as the great Inn at Entrada. The rooms here are mini suites, with your own garage. This is where we fell in love with Nielsen’s Frozen Custard. And of course a visit with our friends, Ken and Debbie in Summerlin.
A big month for travel since we went to Japan for first time. We enjoyed every part of the trip, except perhaps that it is a fairly expensive country to visit. But I got to try and learn a little Japanese, and acquired a greater appreciation for my grandparent’s homeland. We loved Tokyo and Kyoto in particular. I went to my grandparents home town of Nagoya, where we went to the Toyota Museum. In Kyoto, we had the world’s best and most expensive tofu. We also enjoyed riding on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to each of our 4 cities that we visited. And we love the Gonpachi restaurant. We also found the Asadachi, one of Andrew Zimmern’s favorite places on the Travel Channel. Our new friend, Ai, was most delightful.
We decided to visit Seattle, even though we go in June for our anniversary. We love Seattle for the great food, shopping, and some wonderful friends there. We got to see our friend Kelsey, but also found out that our friend, Pat, passed away earlier in January. Kelsey is now in NYC seeking fame and fortune. And just a joy to see Ben, Lori, and Victoria.
We also met some of my relatives in Las Vegas for some gambling, shopping, and fun. We could see, rather dramatically, how the downturn in the economy was affecting the city, casino workers, and tourism in general. But it is always great to see my Aunt and Uncle from Long Beach, while we are in Vegas.
We flew to Salt Lake City, as it served as our gateway to Moab, and home of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. We flew in a plane over Canyonlands, with Gene, Gene, the Flying Machine. But we marveled at the arches mostly. And we stayed at the great Red Cliffs Lodge on the Colorado River. We love our National Parks. Thank you John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt!
I also went to the Indianapolis 500 Race with my younger brother, Bob. Our Dad went several times when he was alive, back in the 50’s. We had a great meal of rack of lamb and lobster on the night before the race. And we rooted for Danica.
We always celebrate our Anniversary in the city of Seattle. We have been there every year on our Anniversary since we went there on our honeymoon. We love the Nordstrom flagship store, and the Tom Douglas restaurants. We also make a point of having plenty of croissants from Le Panier, the best French bakery anywhere. We also walk down to the International District to visit Uwajimaya, the largest Japanese grocery store in the U.S.
Another milestone for me was going to Wimbledon (England) for the first time, and getting to see many of today’s tennis stars. I got to see Andy Roddick, the Williams Sisters, Juan del Potro, teen sensation Melanie Oudin, and all of the tall female Russian players. I really enjoyed the fish and chips at Wimbledon. I also took side trips to Stonehenge, and to the Louvre in Paris via the Eurostar (chunnel). Next time, I will skip Stonehenge and Paris. And standing in the qeue for three hours turns out to be quite fun. My new friend, Kavita, is a bundle of energy and business acumen.
Why we went to Vegas in July is anyone’s guess, as it was HOT, HOT, HOT! But we did have a great time, doing our usual shopping, walking, and eating. None of our friends were around, perhaps the heat or the slow season. But the big Cabela’s store is a real treat. And we love the outlets in Primm, especially Tommy Bahama, and Ed Hardy in Vegas. And Spencer, where were you?
Later in July, we got to visit Seattle again, this time with good friends, Ingrid and Kelly. We saw a concert there with Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire. We had another great meal at Lola. And we brought home many almond croissants for the folks back home.
The month was completed with our annual visit to Ken and Debbie at Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village. We got to play some golf in Santa Barbara, see our friends Bobcat and Jim, and met the crazy Cuban Pedro, who calls himself the Salt Water Mexican. These visits are so special, even after too much champagne.
We took yet another car trip with Buddy, this time up to Crater Lake and Oregon. We visited friends along the way, Mike and Gail in Redding, and Jim and Peggy in Eagle Point, OR. I got to play golf at the new Bandon Trails Golf Course. All three of us enjoyed the cooler weather, and the fresh seafood. We also enjoyed Ashland, Newport, and Jacksonville, Oregon. Buddy loves to run on the beach.
I spent most of the month in Chile and Argentina with my friend Mike. The highlights were Mendoza, the Atacama Desert, Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Buenos Aires, the tango, and the animals. The red wine was great, including the carminiere’ from Chile, and the Malbec from Argentina. The tango lessons were also a trip. Evita Peron’s grave, the vicunas, silver foxes, and desert flamingos were great viewing. So many stray dogs everywhere. Lots of funny stories, like blown tires, and $18 a night hostels. But it was too long to be away from home. The wild and crazy attorney turned comedian, Barry, entertained us at dinner.
A first time trip to New England, other than just Boston. We visited Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. We really enjoyed the fresh Maine lobster, blueberry cobbler, and shopping at the L. L. Bean flagship store. The fall colors were just about right. We hit some great weather, and some not so great (rainy) weather. We toured Acadia National Park in a windstorm. We also visited Cambridge and Harvard University. We must go back.
This is our annual trip to Hawaii, including Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. We really enjoy our friends (Rey and Corinne) there, along with the good local food, golf, and just taking it easy in our Maui timeshare. We enjoy the Aloha Stadium flea market, Hawaii golf, sushi at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kintaro, and saimin at Hamura. Sheri usually ends up buying something totally off the wall. Last year, she bought an antique nightstand. What will it be this year? Nothing, can you believe?
Later, over the Thanksgiving holiday, we headed up to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and on to Chama to visit Sheri’s brother, Greg. We loved Santa Fe’s off beat charm. We spent a night there before meeting up with her brother’s family. He bought a resort type home up there in Chama, near the Colorado border, that he rents out. I prayed for internet access. Another highlight was Ghost Ranch, home of Georgia O’Keefe.
Another annual trip, this time to Vegas for my Mom’s 86th birthday. We celebrate it every year there, joined by several relatives, including my son, Matt this year. We took a drive over to Death Valley, and visited our dear friends, Ken and Debbie, this time in their Summerlin home. We enjoyed the huge sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli at the Mirage, and breakfast at the Blueberry Hill Pancake House. A little Christmas shopping perhaps?
We end the year by heading back to Scottsdale. In the last few years, we have added side trips to northern Arizona, such as the Grand Canyon, and Sedona. We love the spectacular scenery there. We visit our friend John at Patrick James in Scottsdale, who we have known for over 20 years. He is my sartorial consultant supreme.