The Dog Days (Summer Part 3)

Hopefully this will be my last post about my summer vacay. I have been wanting to get it all written down so I don’t forget a moment, but like I said previously my time is short, that combined with feeling a bit under the weather lately. I want to do it justice, so here it goes.

Before we moved on to our final destination for the summer, we made a much needed trip to Phoenix. Airfare was pretty expensive, and by then I was pretty much sick of being on a plane, so we decided to drive from TX. This is a drive we’ve made dozens of times, but this time it felt therapeutic. We woke up early and hit the road, traveled through 8 hours of West Texas, stopped in New Mexico for a yummy lunch at a brewery and then cruised on into Phoenix.

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We stayed with my mom in her sweet house in the Willow district of Phoenix. Her house is so comforting to me, mostly because it’s my mom’s house and I always feel better around her, but also because it’s set up in a way that’s fun for everyone. She has her own pool in a courtyard and we stay in a room right next to the pool. The week we spent there was a piece of heaven for me, minus the oven-like heat. We went for some runs, grilled delicious food most nights, drank awesome beer (obligatory stop at Four Peaks and my mom makes beer too!), but mostly we swam. We were in the pool about 5 hours per day, and then we would eat, watch a True Detective episode and head to bed. I loved it. Paul got quality time with Nana, she taught him swimming lessons, and they doctored each other with all of her fancy doctor tools. ย My friend Callie was also came to spend the day with us. It’s been ages since I’d seen her and so much has happened since the last time. It was good to soak up the time with her, and it’s always special knowing that we can pick up wherever we left off like no time or distance is between us. Before we knew it, it was time to go, but getting to spend quality time with my mom like that is the best, and also we hung out with my brother Nathan, who has grown up so much in the time I’ve been away.

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I was sad to leave Phoenix, but I was excited for the next leg of our journey…Seattle. But right before we were set to leave, Donnie’s parents decided to have a “birthday party” for Paul. They thought they were going to miss his real birthday (which now it turns out they won’t), but the sentiment was nice. Paul hasn’t had a Texas birthday since he turned 2! We had lots of friends and kids and he got to swing at a pinata for the first time. Overall it was super fun, who doesn’t like birthday parties? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Finally it was time to pack up and head to Seattle for the final leg of our summer. Matt graciously offered up his place for us to stay (he was living with his new girlfriend) and I was excited to get back to the city and see all the faces I love. Matt picked us up from the airport, and we wasted no time getting to a place to watch the soccer match, unfortunately it was terrible. Even though we arrived mid-week, everybody cleared their evening schedules to meet up for a picnic on the beach. I got to meet Ben, Andie’s boyfriend, and spend more time with Alayna, Matt’s girlfriend. We had a summer salad, wine, cheese, beer, bread and lots of laughing. It was a little chilly, but Paul was content to sit and play in the sand while we all chatted. It was a perfect start to the end of our summer.

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We spent the next few days settling in before Dad, Grace and Dad’s girlfriend (now fiance!!) came to visit for the weekend. I met up with V and Andie for happy hour drinks at the restaurant where we were all meeting for dinner. When everyone arrived it was a lively night, lots of good food, drink and wonderful conversation. My heart was so full! We all called it a night early, with plans to meet for a family race (the Froyo Run) in the morning.IMG_0292IMG_0287 IMG_0288

It was cold and raining the morning of our race, but we were pumped up and ready for the race! Donnie, Matt, Andie, and I were going to do the 10k, while Grace and Susan were going to do the 5k. Paul was gonna take a sweet ride in the stroller (and hopefully sleep more because he was grumpy). Andie had made us awesome new running shirts and I was so excited to participate in my first ERC race (Erhart Running Club). My lips were so blue and I have never been so thankful for the start of a race. ๐Ÿ™‚ It wasn’t an easy run, two loops with a big hill in the middle, and the reward of froyo wasn’t quite as motivating as it had seemed. I ran with Andie and Dad most of the time, and Dad was running up ahead, and running backwards to take pics. It was funny and fun, but I was sorta glad to be back and warm in the car. From there we dropped Andie at the zoo for some work, then headed back to the city to get warm clothes on. I was tired, but pushed on, dragging Paul and Grace out to the zoo to hang with Andie, Mal and Ben for the day. We had fun looking at the animals, but I was spent on Saturday night. We rallied though, and headed to dinner at Andie’s. A quick meal of burgers and wine and lots of laughing. It was a really nice way to end the day.

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The next morning I met Matt, Andie and Alayna for a crossfit workout, which was my second one ever. My body hurt all over. But we got home, changed and met everybody for brunch and an afternoon trip to the Museum of Flight. Paul was grumpy again, my heels were bleeding from a new pair of shoes, and a rainstorm was rolling in. Our trip to the museum was short, but fun and we bid Grace, Dad and Susan goodbye as they went to the airport. I was so glad that I got the time with them and I’m looking forward to more good times!

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But the day wasn’t over! Kyle was arriving that evening, so we decided to all meet at Andie’s again. (Her place is central and quite large.) We had another feast of delicious food (al pastor tacos made by Alayna!) and I marveled in our shared friendship, which now spans close to twenty years. These three have been my best friends through so many life changes, and I feel so lucky to have them close to my heart all the time. Even luckier that night when we were all physically together.

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Kyle was in town for a few short days, but we made the best of it. The guys (plus Mal and Andie) went out for golf and V and Paul and I met up with them for a few short stops for brews, one of which included a few competitive rounds of bocce ball. From there we hit another couple of bars, toasted each other, and Kyle’s upcoming wedding and stumbled home in the early hours of the morning. It was Kyle’s unofficial bachelor party hosted by his three girlfriends. We had a blast. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The next day, after a slow start, we all met up for a baseball game (all of us minus Matt, Alayna and Donnie and Paul). It was really hot, but super fun. Our seats were in the nosebleeds, but there’s a restaurant down by the field where we met up with V and I’s friend Jeff. We’ve known Jeff since HS, and V has seen him more over the years than I have, but he’s hilarious and we had fun. Jeff and I made a $5 bet in HS that he would live longer, and that we would leave the money in our wills. Well I guess Jeff is super unhealthy, because he decided to call it and I won. Lol. He handed over 5 crumpled $1 bills.

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The rest of the week was somewhat uneventful, lots of gatherings, laughs, paddleboarding with V and generally enjoying life. Too soon it was time for Kyle to go home, and a few days after that, it was time for Donnie to head back to China.

Donnie got a promotion this year, and he needed to be back to help set school up and train the new hires, so that left me and Paul in Seattle for a week. We had originally planned to move in with Andie for that week, but it turned out that Matt was ok with us staying at his place. That way we didn’t have to pack and re-pack a week later. It also gave Andie some space to get her solo stuff done, and have some time away from us with Ben. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was Sister week! We made a calendar just like last year in China. It was packed, but with good stuff. We didn’t try to overwhelm ourselves, and it allowed for some flexibility. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the calendar, so I’m not sure the events will be in the correct order when I recount it here. I do know that the evenings were the best, relaxing with my bro and sis and Paul watching X-files most nights.

One of the days (I think Monday), Andie was kind enough to take me around to all of the shops I needed to buy my yearly supply of goods for China. We hit Costco, Target, the Apple Store (multiple times), and Sephora. It was a long day, hot and full of traffic, and I was glad to be done with the business part of the week.

One of the days (I think Sunday), we met up with Ben for a drive out to the mountains for a hike to river where you can play. I was worried about Paul’s stamina for hiking for 5 miles, but he managed! He complained quite a bit, but we played a question game while we walked and just as he was starting to lose it, we made it to the river. Because there had been so little rain in Washington this summer, the level was very low. It didn’t stop Paul from splashing around and having a great time! The water was freezing, but we stayed, had a picnic, then walked back. We were all pretty tired after that day, and I remember sleeping well that night.

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One of the other days, we went for a family paddle boarding trip! It was so much fun! Matt joined us, and we rented 3 paddle boards from the same place I had gone to with V. The weather was a little cooler than the week before, but it was just as much fun. We paddled all the way across the lake to the Gas Works park we used to go to as kids with Grandma. Matt showed off a bit (his new crossfit skills) and did head stands on his paddleboard. Paul had a blast swimming from board to board and trying to tip people over. It was one of my favorite moments of the summer.

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On another day (maybe Thursday?), I made Andie take me out on her famous ‘tacos and beach’ day date. She takes all her friends and I wanted to be included. It was a super sunny day, and we trekked from her apartment along the water to a water taxi to take us to West Seattle (across the water). Once we arrived, we ate at a really yummy taco shop and then walked from there to the beach. It was a ton of walking in the hot sun (Paul lucked out in the stroller), and we were pretty hot and tired when we arrived at the beach. But I am a beach bum at heart, so my spirits were lifted when we spread out our towels and relaxed in the sand. Ben showed up about an hour later and we ate some delicious gelato and Ben (thankfully!!!) drove us home. It was just as wonderful as she had described and I can’t describe how happy I was to get that time with Andie.

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Our days were growing short, but we had one more great adventure before our departure. We decided to take a road trip to Mt. Rainier, a place I have fond memories of from when we were kids. I was hoping there would be snow, but didn’t really expect any because of the lack of rainfall. Ben took the day off, and we set out early-ish for the mountain. It was a long drive, and I had hoped Paul would rest, but he didn’t. So by the time we arrived at the mountain, he was tired. We had a picnic lunch (lots of picnics in Seattle) and then set out on the Wonderland trail. Paul didn’t make it 10 steps before he had a meltdown and I sent Andie and Ben ahead while I talked to him. I managed to convince him to walk a little further, but after a snack break it was clear he wasn’t going to last much longer. We walked back to the car and drove to a different trail head, and on the way, Paul fell asleep. I decided at that point that it would be better for us to nap in the car and let Andie and Ben wander. It worked out well, Paul got a good nap, I read my book in the most peaceful natural setting, and Andie and Ben got to explore a new place. It had been a long day, so we headed home, stopping for a yummy dinner on the way back. It wasn’t as successful as our previous hike, but it was still worth the drive.

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So suddenly, it was our last full day in Seattle. We spent it finishing up shopping, packing and Matt and Alayna came over for dinner. I really can’t describe the relationship I have with my two siblings except to say that they each have a piece of my heart. When their hearts are full and happy, mine is more full. Seeing them both so at peace and happy in life made this summer one of the best times of my life, and although I don’t get to see them often enough, they are never far from my thoughts.

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The next morning, everybody (Mal, V, Andie, Ben, Matt, Alayna, me and Paul) sat at the stools of The Shanty (our local diner) and enjoyed breakfast for one last time. I have never had such a love-filled summer and although I was anxious to get back to my home in China, I was sad to be departing so much love. I am one of the luckiest. I have friends that are family and family that are friends. I have people that support and love me no matter what and I can be there for them too. It was a busy and hectic summer, but there will never be those moments again.

Thank you to all who shared their time, love, food, car, beer, beds and hugs with me this summer. It was one for the books, and I’ll cherish it forever.

Much love to all. J xoxoxoxo

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