In July of 2014, I packed up the car with one suitcase for Mama and me and filled up the rest of the trunk space with everything needed for a small 21 pound human being (which is a lot!). By the grace of the gods, Alessio rocked the 8ish hour journey and was all smiles when we arrived.
After arriving, we handed over our child to one of the cugini (it did not matter who) and enjoyed a relaxing weekend in the mountains of Arizona that included plenty of chatting, eating (thanks to everyone who cooked), coffee, a piñata, and visits to Downtown Prescott. I even managed to sneak in visits to two local breweries (Prescott Brewing Company and Granite Mountain Brewing)!
All three of us are looking forward to the next Prescott Family Reunion…in about three years since that seems to be our modus operandi.
Images from Prescott, AZ
Mama and Alessio checking out the artwork as we wait for our food at The Raven Cafe.
Alessio excited to be out of state for the first time in his life.
So our cugina-in-law Pam is a professional family photographer and while we didn’t beg, she was kind enough to take a few photos of Alessio for us.
Earlier in the week, the weather forecast called for rain and thunderstorms. To our dismay, we were greeted with sunny skies. However, it did rain one morning and all was well.
The newest member of the Bernasconi clan is also the first to have teeth! I think he looks a little perturbed because he already has four teeth and more are coming in. From what I hear, the process of growing teeth is uncomfortable. However, I got a great big smile out of Logan when we jumped around like House of Pain was playing.
I am sure cugino Mando was saying something very important and deep.
Cugini Vinny and Sonny exploring the forests of Prescott.
Cugina Ariana excited to explore the creek across the street from the cabin.
It’s not a cabin in the woods without a tire swing!
Just playing around with the camera and caught some light breaking through the trees.
Since we didn’t have the highchair, Mama’s lap had to serve as a seat and a stray food catcher.
Since there are so many Bernasconis, there is always a birthday and the need for a piñata.
This year’s birthday boy was for cugino Tino (the one holding the stick).
Prozio Santo enjoys playing Piñata Master from high above.
Instead of hitting the piñata with a stick, he wanted to put it in his mouth. In a few years, he will be shoving the candy into his boca.
Alessio needed a break after the excitement from his first piñata.
Who needs a two hand grip when your bo staff skills are tight!
Cugino Vinny one ups his little brother by using both hands!
Cugina Ariana preparing to show the piñata who’s boss!
Cugino Mando preps cugino Dom to utilize his karate skills on the piñata. A true karate master has no need for the sense of sight.
Cugino Dominick was out to destroy the piñata so prozio Santo had to make sure Dom only grazed the piñata.
Going for the death blow with a jump shot.
Cugino Enzo cooled the piñata with a slight breeze from the whiff as the stick flew by.
Cugina Gabriella’s dad prepares the blindfold…so that he can get her in the car and to the nunnery before she meets those high school boys. I kid, I kid!
Gabriella would never hurt the piñata because she is a member of Flagstaff’s leftist Cardboard Objects Filled with Candy Have Rights Organization.
Utilizing all of his Miecraft skills, cugino Angelo prepares to break open the piñata and collect all of the resources so he can continue to build his spaceship.
Cugino Louis prepared to break open the piñata and then he remember that is was Tino’s to destroy!
How do you catch a crisp photo of a teenager breaking open his birthday piñata? You don’t unless you have thousands of dollars of camera equipment!
After the excitement of the piñata, we all needed to relax and enjoy a few adult drinks.
The beautiful thing about being in the woods are the stars.
Trying to hone my nighttime photography skills. Need to get a remote so I can take longer exposures.
Wife and I are really excited for our trip down the Grand Canyon to the Phantom Ranch via mule transport. To top things off, we booked a stay in Buckey O’Neill cabin, an actual historic landmark, that sits right on the edge of the canyon with a warm fireplace, king-sized bed and a private patio. We are excited for what should be our first White Christmas!
Here is a little background on Mr. O’Neill and his cabin from Wikipedia:
The Buckey O’Neill Cabin was built in 1890 by William “Buckey” O’Neill in what would become Grand Canyon National Park. O’Neill was, among many other things, a member of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, who had previously been an author and a judge in his native Arizona. He was killed in action in Cuba in 1898, but was instrumental in establishing what would eventually become the Grand Canyon Railroad.
The cabin is the oldest extant structure on the South Rim. It was used as an office for tourist accommodations in the area during the 1890s, which eventually evolved into the Bright Angel Hotel. After the hotel was sold to the Fred Harvey Company it remained much as it was when built. It was incorporated into the rebuilt Bright Angel Lodge complex by Mary Jane Colter in 1935.
The one-story cabin is a wood frame structure on a low stone foundation, right on the edge of the Grand Canyon. The shallow-pitched roof is covered with wood shingles. The cabin is connected to other lodge buildings using compatible, unobtrusive materials, and has been cited as an early example of an adaptive reuse of a historic structure. The cabin is one of the guest accommodations of the Bright Angel lodge.
The Buckey O’Neill Cabin was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1975. It is included in the Grand Canyon Village National Historic Landmark District.
Neither cabin crew strikes nor volcanic ash kept us from arriving in Lausanne, Switzerland, last Wednesday night after a fairly uneventful, though veerrry long, day of travel. Our bags were packed-yes, just a small backpack and a carry-on for each of us-and off we went!
We left San Diego at 11:50 am, but not before I got the news that I won the Burke Administrator of the Year Award at USD! I was thrilled! It is the highest honor in my division, and even though I missed the announcement, it felt amazing to be recognized for what was really an outstanding year for me professionally. With that great news, I skipped right onto the plane for what I now knew was **officially** a well-deserved vacation.
The plan was to fly from San Diego to Chicago, Chicago to Heathrow, Heathrow to Milan, then take a train from Milan to Lausanne. We did try to pull an Amazing Race move while at the Heathrow Airport and hop a flight into Geneva instead of Milan to save us a train trip, but unfortunately all the flights to Geneva were full. Instead, off to Milan we went and got our first glimpse of the Swiss countryside when we hopped the train to Lausanne. Not really knowing which was up or down, if it was night or day, if we were sleeping or awake, we had a pleasant conversation with two missionaries from San Francisco and finally managed to drag our limbs and luggage up to the front door of Mark and V’s place in Switzerland.
I was so excited to see my friend V, that I didn’t have any trouble staying up to chat until almost 11 pm before we finally fell into our comfy Swiss bed.
It was by far, the longest day(s). In the end, we departed San Diego at 11:50 am on Tuesday, May 25 and arrived in Lausanne, Switzerland at 8:40 pm on Wednesday, May 26. Total travel time was almost exactly 24 hours (note lesson learned below!).
Savvy Traveler Moment of the Day: Thanks to my research, even barely functioning, I recognized the bright yellow ticket validation machines tucked near the entrance to the train platform in the Milan station and “kerchunked” our tickets. This validated our tickets and saved us from a hefty fine that Italian officials are notorious for sticking tourists with when they don’t validate their tickets.
Lesson Learned of the Day: Four legs and three connections=too many; three legs and two connections=possible; two legs and one connection=preferable.
Back in June, Wife and I headed up to Canada for some much-needed R&R. This is a post we finally decided to finish so it might be a little off seeing as the trip was 6 months ago and don’t remember everything exactly as it happened. Enjoy!
Alas, it was our last day in Whistler. We spent the morning cleaning up our little one bedroom apartment before checking out. We cleaned the place so well it looked like we had just checked in (if we did not they would have charged us for dirty dishes).
We had time to spare, so Wife purchased some postcards and postage, wrote some notes to her grandmothers, and put them in the mail in hopes that they would arrive in San Diego before we did. After that, we walked down to the bus station and played cards on the grass while waiting. Once the bus arrived, the bus driver informed us that he would make a few stops and that one would be real close to our hotel in Vancouver. That meant we did not have to get a taxi once we arrived, which was great. The drive down was fairly uneventful but took longer than our drive up.
Once in Vancouver, we walked the few blocks (it seemed like a lot more when you are tired and do not know where you are going) to our hotel eager to check in and lie down for a few minutes. Once we found the Barclay Hotel, we checked in and walked up the stairs to our closet…I mean room.
Our first room was about a square foot or so larger than a typical walk in closet. With our two sets of luggage and the furniture, we could not move around the room without tripping. The bed and the desk sat so close to together that you could not pull the desk chair all the way out. We grabbed our luggage, walked downstairs to the front desk, and asked to see a bigger room. The attendant showed us to two choices of bigger rooms and we decided the medium-sized room would be acceptable (the chair actually came all the way out).
The size of the room and the age of the building (it needs to be updated, but that would cost money) were the only problems we had because its prices and location were ideal. It sat in the center of Vancouver with easy access to the water, parks, transportation, and restaurants. We walked down one of the main streets and dined outside at an Indian restaurant. There we decided we were ready to come home and to move our flight up by a day since we would be headed to the Cayman Islands just a few days after we returned.
After dinner we walked along the water and tried to spot some of the areas Wife had visited when she came with her mother before leaving on Semester at Sea. We found a few of them and then just enjoyed the rest of the scenery (like a dentist chair that faces out to the water). The big thing we noticed was how all the high rises had really large glass windows. The city obviously did not sit on or near a fault line and as Southern California natives, we were both impressed.
Tired from the drive down from Whistler (funny how traveling, even for a few hours can make you tired), we called it an early night and went back to the Barclay to plan our last day in Canada and to sleep.
This past Friday, Wife and I flew up to San Francisco to run in the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon. We arrived late Friday night and my sister Trista picked us up from the airport and drove us in her new (well new to her) fancy Corolla back to her place where we spent the night. The next morning she played Martha Stewart and prepared an excellent breakfast for us in a kitchen the size of a small walk-in closet. You can see some of the breakfast below:
After we picked up our running bibs we drove out to the East Bay for lunch and a tour of my brother’s new house. The cats decided to hide from the tour, but they probably felt more relaxed when we left to meet up with the other San Francisco visitors/runners. We waited for a little over an hour to eat at Nob Hill Cafe because we wanted to eat carbohydrates for the next morning. It was worth the wait, and our crew would definitely recommend it. After dinner we actually made it to bed at a decent hour.
The early bedtime was met with an early rise at 5 in the morning and luckily our hotel was only 4 blocks form the starting line so we took our time preparing. A little after 7 (okay about 10 minutes after 7 am) we started to run. A few frustrating walkers and a little over 2 hours later we crossed the finish line. I must say that this is in the top two of my favorite runs (tied with the Carlsbad Half-Marathon). The only thing holding it back would be the sheer amount of people running which made it frustrating to move in the first 5 to 6 miles (as I said before a lot of walkers!!). However, the cheering of my Mater and the 11 to 12 mile run with my college friend Andy made the race a lot more fun. Our official times were:
Husband – 02:16:07
Wife – 02:16:09
A post race lunch celebration was followed by a nap and then another post race celebration dinner and drinks at the Noc Noc. Afterward, Wife, Andy, and I visited Joe’s new apartment and then we all headed home.
The next morning we relaxed in our hotel room and then took BART down to the airport. Even though I had a 2:30 in the morning run to Walgreens for cough drops to battle the sickness I caught, I must say it was a fun and relaxing trip. Will we run next year? Who knows!