YFU Trip to the West Coast

Carol and I just returned from a 10-day trip to California, Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Las Vegas Nevada. We arrived in San Fransisco and met seventy one exchange students from around the world that had spent this past school year in the midwest. We also met JoAnne and Cal who were our very compatible chaperone partners, and Chris and Julie, our super tour guides. We saw and experienced so many things that I want to share, but the best part was developing relationships with the kids. Learning about their cultures and sharing our beautiful country with them and just to witness their enthusiasm about everything was so rewarding.

Cal and JoAnne our chaperone partners

Cal and JoAnne our chaperone partners
City Hall - one of our first stops in San Fransisco
The next few pictures are of the city of San Fransisco, Japantown, and Twin Peaks
Friday night we went to Four Seas restaurant in Chinatown in San Fransisco. We had a Chinese meal served family style. Carol and I tried to sample all of the foods, but we really did not like the soup, and I took some pretty small portions of some of the other dishes. No wonder the Asians are so tiny! We had an early bedcheck the first night because all of them (or was it the tour guides) were tired and we had a big day ahead of us on Saturday.

Saturday

We had a full day on Saturday. We started our tour at City Hall and then went to Twin Peaks. The kids loved to stand up on the ledges overlooking the city and then jump as someone took their picture. We did some shopping in Union Square. Alamo Square was the sight of the Painted Ladies which was a group of houses, one of which was the house front for Full House. We went back to Chinatown for a little shopping. Carol has a better sense of direction than I do, but anyone who knows me knows I have NO sense of direction, so when we got deep into Chinatown and had done a little shopping we began to realize that we didn't have a clue as to where we were. We would still be in Chinatown if we had not seen a group of our boys. The kids often led Carol and me back to the bus! We traveled to Fisherman's Wharf and spent considerable time at the Pier. Late afternoon we boarded a boat and cruised the San Fransisco Bay, went under the Golden Gate Bridge, and circled Alcatraz. Although many tried to escape Alcatraz it was over a mile swim to shore in shark infested, frigid water. I rather doubt anyone made it, but the conditions at the prison were pretty awful too. We had our evening meal at Bubba Gump's on Pier 39 and then took a Cable Car ride on Lombard Street. Our car was so full that we got to the top of one of the hilly streets and could not quite make it over the top so we had to back down and start over. Again, the kids were exhausted by the end of the evening.

Sunday

This morning we boarded our bus and headed for the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is 1.2 miles long and the took us to one end of the bridge and we had to walk the length of the bridge to get back on the bus. I did not think I would like that excursion, but it was not so bad. After we had made the hike Chris, our guide, commented on the number of telephones available on the bridge. He explained that there have been numerous suicides committed by jumping off the bridge, and the telephones are there for someone to use if they are having second thoughts and need some help.

pictures of Golden Gate Bridge

pictures of Golden Gate Bridge

Berkeley

Our tour guide was a graduate of UCLA and there was a strong tradition for his family to graduate from that university. However, his son decided to attend Berkeley so we went to the campus. This allowed the students to visit a university in the United States. Some of the exchange students plan to study in the United States. Below is a picture of Carol enjoying a the quiet of the campus on a summer Sunday morning. After our visit at the campus we boarded our bus and spent much of the rest of day traveling to Los Angeles. The trip took about six hours. We checked into the Embassy Suites Sunday evening. the boys were really pleased with this motel. Girls have no problem sharing a bed with another girl, but boys do not and will not sleep with another boy, so often they had matresses pulled off the bed, or makeshift beds on the floor. The suite gave them a hideabed so the boys were much more comfortable in LA.

Monday - Disneyland

Monday was a funfilled day as we journeyed to Disneyland and were there for eleven hours. It was difficult for Carol and me to believe that we are in a recession. There were huge crowds of people, gift shops were doing a spendid business, and much money was being spent on food. Several of the students had been to Disneyland in Europe or Japan, but now they got to go to the "Granddaddy of Disneylands." Once again, Carol and I had to use cell phones to call JoAnne - yes, we were lost! We thought we knew where we were to meet everyone, but at night things look so different. From that point we learned to check for landmarks more carefully.

Tuesday

Our trip was very well planned in that if we spent alot of time walking one day, then the next day we spent more time with short trips to many places. Tuesday was our tour of Los Angeles. Chris was a huge Lakers fan - and by the end of the tour so were many of the students. We had to stop at Staples - home of the Lakers.

Traveling Tuesday

We continued our trip to Hollywood, and I think the kids were disappointed because they thought there would be famous stars walking the streets. Hollywood was not the glitz and glamor they had imagined. They all wanted pictures of the famous Hollywood sign and we spent some time at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Notice in the picture that this is the closest I will probably ever get to seeing Jack Nicholson.
We went to the Farmer's Market for lunch, and Carol and I ate at a French restaurant - but found it unusual that the employees were Asian. Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive were our afternoon stops. The stores were beautiful on Rodeo Drive and everything was very expensive, but we never saw anyone shopping in these stores. One of the students went in and priced some jewelry. They saw a diamond ring selling for one million dollars. We actually had one student make a purchase at one of the stores. He purchased something with Gucci label on it.

Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman
Shop where Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman was snubbed

Men's store

Men's store
You need an appointment to shop here

Venice Beach

Late in the afternoon we arrived at Venice Beach. This certainly was not our favorite place. We were hesitant to walk in the sand on the beach for fear of stepping on needles. As Chris said later, "Did you see all the freaks?" We ended our night at Santa Monica beach and, again, the kids headed for the amusement rides, but there were some nice stores for shopping as well.

Beach at Santa Monica

Beach at Santa Monica

Wednesday

Universal Studios was a favorite among the kids and I really enjoyed this day as well. The tram tour of the various television and movie sets, and the rides were thrilling. We were given the dare and encouragement to ride the new Simpson attraction - and we did - Wow! What a simulation ride it was! Our evening meal was at the Hard Rock Cafe which ended our day.

Our Group

Our Group
We were getting assembled for a group picture

Universal Studios

Universal Studios
The escalators we had to use to get from upper to lower level. The picture is missing the first level.

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

Vegas, Baby!

Thursday was another bus ride - this time from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It took about five hours of desert driving. We checked into the Hampton Inn just off the strip, and the kids were given time to swim and rest. We then loaded the bus and went to Planet Hollywood where we had reservations for a Brazilian supper. If you like meat you would like this meal. They came around with beef, pork, and chicken on skewers and carved a chunk for you at the table. The meat was pretty rare for my taste - in fact I am not so sure they did not just kill the cow and serve the beef. Cal and I went away from that meal ready for a evening snack somewhere else! We like our meat well-done!!
Fremont Street in the old part of Las Vegas was our evening adventure. When the kids were told they were going to a light show, they could not figure out what this meant. They equated show with going into a building - too much Hollywood influence by this time!

Fremont Street Light Show

Fremont Street Light Show

Grand Canyon Tour

Friday it was back in the bus for a three hour ride to the West rim on the Grand Canyon. We drove through the Hoover Dam but we did not stop. After two hours we were transported to a shuttle bus and took a 45 minute ride on a bus with no shocks on a winding, rocky dirt road. While at the Canyon the kids had the opportunity to walk the Skywalk, which is constructed entirely of glass. When you walk out on the rim you have glass beneath you, and at your side. You have a view 4000 feet down into the canyon. This part of the canyon is owned by a tribe of Indians so while we were there we were actually out of the United States. The kids really enjoyed hiking the trails. After I did the skywalk, Carol and I enjoyed the peace and quiet and did some peoplewatching.

Glass Bridge

Glass Bridge

Walking the skywalk

Walking the skywalk
Cal and I are about to start our journey. We are the ones waving!

Close to the Edge

Close to the Edge

Friday Evening

We ran into traffic congestion on the way back from the Grand Canyon. As we got into the Hoover Dam area traffic was at a standstill. It was early Friday evening and everyone was headed for Las Vegas for the weekend. It took us over an hour to travel a few miles. When we got back to Vegas we went to the Bellagio for the water show and to view the interior of the casino/hotel. What beautiful flowers we saw. Again the kids were exhausted by the time we got back to our motel that night.

Saturday

Its not time to wind down yet, we have a whole day of Vegas waiting for us. We went to the Stratospere in the morning and went 108 stories up to the tower. Above the tower were more rides and the kids liked these the most. The most popular was a swing that hung out over the tower so you were suspended above the city and swinging. Many of the kids took avantage of all the rides. We spent most of the day on the strip touring all the major hotel/casinos. Carol had not been to Vegas in 25 years and it has been nearly eight years for me and we could not believe the changes. We question when the city will become saturated with hotel/casinos. If there is a recession in progress we could not see it.

Swinging

Swinging
Ana is ready to ride!

Las Vegas from the Stratosphere

Las Vegas from the Stratosphere

The Venetian

The Venetian
We were in Venice for awhile

End of the Day

Saturday evening we went back to the Stratosphere and went to a show. I think it was Las Vegas Super Stars - anyway it was impersonators entertaining us. Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley were performing. After the show it was back to the Hampton Inn and time to say goodbye. Many were departing for the airport as early at 4:00 the next morning. What a wonderful bunch of kids. They were so polite, respectful of others, so interested in learning, and just fun to be with. Carol and I could have taken them home with us. What a wonderful experience we had.

birthday girl

birthday girl
Anne celebrated her 17th birthday on Saturday

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Baseball

Cute little first baseman


Getting ready to "hammer" that ball



Waiting to "field" the ball



Dane and Brett are both playing baseball this summer. Dane plays for Pomeroy/Palmer Little League and Brett plays T-Ball at Rockwell City. Dane has really improved his skills this summer and Brett is a very competitive little player.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Graduation

While she has not officially graduated from high school, we celebrated the event on Friday night. We were a little worried for awhile that Bailey would not make it to her own party. She was participating in the district track meet and she was a little late in arriving, but she made it.
Family is waiting "patiently" for Bailey to arrive
Grandma Betty and Grandma Ann share a moment together with Bailey
Uncle Terry always gets in the picture
More pictures taken Friday evening