After a very full two weeks at McCall visiting with Christa and the grandkids, we drove Christa’s new Chevy Traverse from Boise to Seattle while she flew over with the kids. Having being at sea for over eight months, it was wonderful to drive through Idaho and Eastern Washington, where your eyes can linger on the vast expanse of wheat fields stretching to the horizon. It reminded me, in a way, of being at sea.
We stopped at one of the ubiquitous fruit stands and stocked up on super fresh peaches and corn-on-the-cob, missing the super farm fresh veggies you can get in Eastern Washington. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass, something we’ve done hundreds of times, was like a homecoming to the evergreen forests of our youth. Around every bend was a hike we’d done or a mountain peak we’d climbed.
Arriving in Issaquah we were welcomed with open arms by our friends Paul and Irene Ballew, who are always ready to listen to our tall tales of the South Pacific. Visiting with them is like going home, they make us feel so welcome and accepted.
On Saturday August 1 we were invited to a pool party by our kid’s former childcare provider and surrogate grandmother, Anna. It was great to watch Quinn and Brody competing for the most outrageous jump off the diving board, and the fearless Conner, who although he can’t swim yet, still thinks he can. We all did our best job keeping him afloat long enough to make it to the side.
On Sunday we drove and hour and one-half south to Meryl’s sister’s place in Allyn, Washington, where her husband Bob was celebrating his 81st birthday. Fun to see old friends from our days at Camp Pecusa in Maui.
The next few days were full of medical appointments and general errands around Seattle, and the joy of returning to the Ballews for a fresh gin and tonic and great conversation long into the night. I might mention running around Seattle is no easy task these days as traffic seems to be approaching gridlock, quite a change from our lifestyle on the open sea.
|Traveling 12 hours on an overseas flight is not everyone's cuppa tea. These kids were great (most of the time).|
|The view of Lobster Bay from the top floor of Christa and Nash's house.|
As if we hadn’t traveled enough, on Wednesday we headed out to SeaTac Airport with Christa to help her with the kids on the flight back to Hong Kong. Quinn, who at age five has more air miles than most adults, is a seasoned traveler and quickly broke into her routine of games, arts & crafts, and iPad movies. Conner did much of the same, just with a little more drama involved. All in all they were great kids on the flight. Twelve hours later Nash met us at the airport and chauffeured Christa and the kids home while we followed in a cab (their luggage alone filled the car).
|Sai Kung Harbor is packed with sampans and other watercraft. Makes our crowded anchorages look like child's play.|
|I love this little Chinese hardware stores; you can find the most interesting stuff just browsing the aisles.|
|We'd stop at the Sai Kung market to get fresh veggies for the night's meal.|
|Sai Kung is famous for it's outdoor fish restaurants. Huge tanks showcase almost every type of seafood available, and as they say, it's fresh to your table.|
Christa had an intense week-long medical training for her job, putting us in the roll of Grandma and Grandpa for the duration. Our job was to drive the kids 15 miles to Sai Kung each day where they were enrolled in a summer sports camp. Now imagine that you’ve been on a boat for eight months and are suddenly placed in a left-hand drive car, in a foreign country, whose narrow roads challenge even a Mini Cooper (throw in the running commentary from a 3- and 5-year-old), well, you understand the situation. While the kids were at camp Meryl and I would wander down to Sai Kung village and roam around. It’s a popular area with the ex-pat community and full of interesting shops and restaurants. We would typically end up at the local Starbucks, which had good WiFi and even better tea and scones.
|The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club had just installed a new children's playground. Quinn and Conner could get lost in the maze of toys and contraptions.|
|My favorite Chinese food in life is char sui bows, and these were exceptionally good.|
|A ride on the new Hong Kong Wheel near the business district (Nash's office is in the background) on Hong Kong Island.|
Meals in Hong Kong were interesting as Nash and Christa were on a strict diet and exercise program (Kensei), and Meryl and I were not (but should have been). We did get the opportunity to walk over to the Sai Kung pool while the kids were at camp and swim in their 50-meter pool (I though it was a 100-meter pool and kept telling Meryl we must be great shape because we just swam 1,000 yards). We went to Nash’s club, The Clearwater Golf and Country Club, several times to go swimming with the kids and have lunch. Christa also took us out to the City Mansions on Hong Kong Island for great dim sum lunch with the kids and a ride on the Hong Kong Wheel.
We had a great time putting together a neat video on “the neighborhood animals in Hong Kong” for a friend of Christa’s whose child was in the hospital in the States. It was fun following Nash and Quinn around the tideflats in front of their house looking for a wayward crab or errant clam.
|This is about as far as you can get from my typical breakfast at the Mt. Si Golf Club.|
|What a great day with a great son-in-law.|
The highlight of the trip (other than just spending quality time with the grandkids) was when Nash invited me to go golfing at the Clearwater Bay Club. He made it sound like we’d just go out on Sunday and hit some balls, but when we arrived there was some huge ceremony involving the founding fathers of the club with lots of pomp and circumstance.
We ended up playing in a shot gun tournament, paired with a very nice Chinese couple who politely ignored my complete lack of golf skills (I had played once in the last eight years). Nash discreetly called to the Pro Shop and had them deliver an extra case of golf balls just so I could finish the course. Non-the-less, it was a stunning golf course and I felt very special to spend the afternoon with Nash.
The other highlight for both Meryl and I was the opportunity to go to frequent foot massage parlors with Nash and Christa to relax our tired bodies. If I were a rich man I would probably just go from massage parlor to massage parlor all day long.