Leaving Shenzhen this year bittersweet. Summer is a time I look forward to every year so I’m always anxious to get it started, but as I’ve posted before it was a heart-wrenching time saying goodbye to so many people I love. Also this summer was going to be a blur, running from one place to another, so I was a little worried about actually having a good time.
We departed Shenzhen on the day we were allowed to go, catching the first flight we could to Seattle. It was a long journey with a layover in Taipei, and when we arrived, we were beyond tired. U.S. passport control flagged us for something so it took an extra hour to get through immigration, so needless to say we were a little weary when we spotted my sister waiting patiently for us afterwards.
We had planned a few days in Seattle to hang with family and also take a break from airplane hours, but I have to say most of those days were lost to us. Jet lag is our worst enemy when we arrive across the ocean and we tortured my sister with it this time. She was gracious enough to let us stay at her cute new apartment downtown, and I’m not sure she doesn’t regret it. 🙂 We were up at 3-4am each day and then slept at random times. It was also much colder than we had anticipated, (I think we have tropical blood now) and Paul wasn’t into going anywhere. I did manage to rally and walk with Andie and Ben down to the market for their weekly flower shopping, and we met up with Matt and Alayna for a short while when they came over to visit us. I also got to see V and Mal for a hot second one afternoon. Other than that, all I remember is sleeping and watching GoT. We got there on a Saturday night and we were on our way again by Tuesday morning, but not without the obligatory stop at The Shanty before heading to the airport. 🙂
We got to San Antonio that evening and made our first stop at Los Generales. We’ve been going to this place since it opened years ago and although the menu and most of the people have changed, it still feels familiar. It’s around the corner from our old house and Donnie and I have so many fond memories. There is only one original waiter left and although we only come once or twice a year he always remembers us. After our fill of food, we went home to sleep, of course. 😉 The rest of the week was full of errands, shopping, playing, watching soccer and eating of course. I know I’ve said this before, but I love just going to the grocery store. Picking out new things and trying them or just going back all my old loves. It’s one of the highlights, which may seem strange, but I think most people who’ve left and came back appreciate it.
Also, Paul had been super sick since we left Shenzhen, so Donnie and his mom took him to the Dr while I went to take a certification test. It turned out to be strep throat and ear infections so they gave him antibiotics for 10 days. He slowly got better, but ended up passing along his illness to me, Matt and Andie in the process. 😦
We met up with friends to watch the epic USA game against Ecuador, sadly I didn’t take any pics, but we had fun cheering on the national team and catching up. It was fun to be in the same place at the same time again as Efren, Marc and Kel and Marcela.
That first weekend we were there I had scheduled us for a half-marathon. Our first in over a year. We’d been trying to train in Shenzhen before we left, but the end of the year is always hot and busy. I managed to get all my training runs in, but Donnie had less time than me. I talked Marcela into running a race with me the night before. Just a 5k, but the same race that I ran last year with some friends. We signed up on the day of and I picked her up and we headed out to the race a little earlier than we needed. It was a fun night! Marcela and I are good racing partners, we run the same pace and finished about the same time. We didn’t have much time to hang around afterward because I needed to be up early for the half the next day.
The next morning came too soon, but we geared up and drove out to the race starting. This particular half was also a relay, so it was set up in 2 loops that repeated twice. For some reason I found comfort in this. I am able to focus on finishing each loop individually. Unfortunately, the race didn’t start until 8am, and by then it was getting really warm and sunny. It took much longer than I thought, but I finished, and Donnie finished 3/4 loops which was about 10 miles. We didn’t hang out too long after, grabbed our post race meal and headed home.
The next day was Father’s day and it was relatively low key. We relaxed and then headed to the Fathersfest at a local brewery. We’d been meaning to go for a while and it was pretty cool. I was impressed by their operation, it was small but widely popular considering its size. From there, we went to Ruths Chris to treat ourselves to some delicious steak. It was excellent company and really good food, as it always is.
Unfortunately the sickness I had caught from Paul was in full swing and I was feeling pretty horrible, but rallied for our trip to Vegas the next day. Donnie’s parents were kind enough to take care of Paul while Donnie and I had some alone time for a few days in Vegas.
We got there later than we expected, our flight was delayed and after we checked in and picked up some cold medicine for me, we passed out at like 8pm. Jet lag and the crazy schedule we’d been keeping was not so Vegas-friendly, but we did our best.
We were up early to walk across the street to watch the Germany Eurocup game at the Hofbrau, then headed to the pool. We stayed at the Hard Rock this year, and I have to say I think it’s looking a little worn out. The sportsbook wasn’t even open to bet the Eurocup soccer games. We mostly hung out by the pool, with one exception, we walked down to the strip to watch a few of the games at the Venetian sportsbook. It was probably the most low key Vegas trip ever, but it allowed for downtime I needed to feel better and time for us as a couple. We headed back to SA early Thursday morning after an easy travel day.
We got back on Thursday, and were leaving again for Phoenix on Saturday, but on the day in between, Ron and Angie threw Paul a half-birthday party. They won’t be with us this year for his birthday so it was fun to have another mid-summer bash. Some of their friends and Paul’s friends came to celebrate and I think it was a great time.
The next day we hit the road super early to get to Phoenix at a reasonable time. The drive was easy and we made good time, and I was so happy to get to my mom’s and give her a big hug. We hadn’t seen her in a year, and that’s too long for me.
We stayed at my mom’s for the night and then checked into the Arizona Biltmore the next day. They gave us a ridiculous deal and it’s not too far from my mom’s new house, so we opted for that to be able to use their pools. So that first day while we were waiting for the room to be ready, we hung out at their awesome pool. After getting cleaned up, we dropped Paul off at Nana’s (he wanted to spend the night with her), and went down to our favorite brew pub in Tempe, Four Peaks. We met up with Kyle to watch Chile dominate Argentina in the championship game. It was a good time.
The next morning, we went to go get Paul and make plans with mom. She had some things to do, then met up with us at the hotel for some pool time and play time with us. Our final day at the hotel was filled up with another pool day and then we checked out and spent the last night with my mom. We did manage to sneak to two more breweries while we were there and meet up with Callie who will be joining us in China in less than a month! It was a fast trip, and time with my mom is always too short. We hopped down to visit my grandparents who are doing well, then left super early the next day. Hopefully Mom will come to see us in October/November this year. We miss her so much.
After another 13.5 hour drive, we were back in San Antonio to wrap up our shopping and celebrate Independence day! Before the 4th, we met up with more friends at our favorite Texas beer hall for First Friday. It was a blast, but we were also tired from our travels. We tried to stop at our taco stand, but the line was too long. 😦 So we grabbed TC’s and headed home early. I did get to catch up with my old friend Carrie. It’s fun to cross paths with her every few years and catch up on our lives. She’s so awesome.
After more epic shopping days and spending way too much money (I think I got 6 pairs of new shoes!), it was finally the Fourth of July. This was our first proper 4th celebration in a while, so we went to a pool party at a friend’s, made the flag cake, grilled burgers and steaks and then went to see fire works! Paul had a blast, I think it might be his favorite holiday besides Christmas. He is in awe of fireworks. I was happy to see him so happy. 🙂
It was down to our final few days in San Antonio. By this time, I had finally gotten over my sickness, and we were done with our shopping and some packing, but all I really wanted to do was relax. I wanted to catch up with a few friends before I left, so the night before we went, I met up with Shannon and Jane. Nobody else could meet up since it was a holiday week, but it was so nice to catch up with them. I really miss working and chatting with them regularly. It’s refreshing to be able to pick up where we left off though. I know it will always be like that.
And then it was the day of our departure. We finished up packing, watched a soccer game, ate one last round of breakfast tacos and chatted with Ron and Angie about the next time we’ll see them. We talked them into visiting in March/April, so that gives us all something to look forward to. It’s easier to say goodbye when you know the next time you’ll be with loved ones. Paul said a tearful goodbye to Colonel, he really misses having a dog, and they got along pretty well this trip. We were off to the airport for our flight to Seattle. I was sad to say goodbye to all that San Antonio holds for us, but looking forward to some cooler weather again in Seattle.
It was our last leg of our epic USA whirlwind blur. We arrived in Seattle late Wednesday night and headed straight back to Andie’s. We got there and my best friends for almost 20 years picked me up almost as soon as we got home. We headed out for a few drinks, catching up and relishing each other’s company. It’s so rare we can all be together. I was so tired when I got back, I fell asleep fast on Andie and Ben’s comfy couch. This time we got an Airbnb nearby, so they only had to endure us for one night. 😉 Donnie had to head off to work for conferences everyday in Seattle, so that left me and Paul to our own devices.
After a slow start to the morning, Kyle, Mal and Paul and I met up to go to the aquarium and watch the last Germany eurocup game. It was fun, aside from Paul’s whining. 😦 We did get to see lots of cool stuff at the aquarium and Paul was obsessed with a pufferfish he named puffy. We went back 3 times to see him. From there, we went to a touristy brew pub and watched Italy kick Germany’s butt. Mal got called away for work, so Kyle and I walked back to V’s place where he was staying. I was hoping that he would go down for a nap, but no such luck. When Mal was done, we all hopped in her car and headed to happy hour at Barrio, a trendy and yummy Mexican place on the Hill. From there, we headed to Queen Anne Beer Hall where everybody came to see us. It was the perfect end to a really busy day. It makes my heart so full to have so many of my loves in the same place at once.
That Friday I had every intention of going to the ferris wheel, but Paul and I were so tired, we lazed around the apartment watching the Price is Right and doing some cleaning. We set out to meet up with Andie at 12:15, she was taking us to Costco for our yearly trip of stocking up. Paul was not really into our errand running, but he hung in there until we were finished and we took a quick nap after Andie dropped us off. Andie and Ben were kind enough to watch Paul while I went to a work dinner with Donnie, so they came by and picked him up for a movie. I left a short while later for a long walk out to a Chinese restaurant. The dinner really wasn’t all that fun, but we got to see friends we hadn’t seen in a while like JC and Matt M. It ended around 9, and we booked it back to Andie’s place. It was Kyle’s last night so I turned around and went out to meet V and Kyle at a cocktail bar not far away. It was supposed to be a quick drink, but lasted for some hours after V’s boyfriend and friend came to meet us. I did not envy Kyle’s early trip in the morning and I was hurting too. It was our last day in the States, so I got up and started cleaning and packing again.
Around 12, Paul and I checked out of the apartment (Donnie was already at work again), and Ben drove us to the zoo. We went to the firefighter picnic last year, and it was fun to go again. The weather was a little better this year. 🙂 We visited with Andie, did some playing at the bouncy firetrucks, and wandered the zoo for a short time. I say short because Paul got whiny again and Ben had to take us home. We took a nap before everybody arrived home from their work places. We tried to rally for dinner, but only Andie, Ben and I made it out. It was a little disappointing, but I was satisfied and then hung out at Andie’s place with Ben, Andie, Matt and Alayna before we took our weary bodies to the airport. It was another easy goodbye, we’ll see them all again next week here in Thailand! So it was just the stress of all our baggage and getting through all the lines. We made it with time to spare and our travel back was relatively easy, minus a few long waits.
We were at our new house for less than 24 hours, but we managed to get 25% unpacked. It’s harder when you have to find a place for everything. We are nowhere near done, but it’s a start. We unpacked and repacked bags for our Phuket trip, ran to school for a few things and internet access, and I got a much needed pedicure. It will take a while before we get settled, and we ordered a bunch of stuff for the house so hopefully it will be there when we get back. Oh, and the road in front of our place is literally an obstacle course right now, piles of rock and sand and trenches. Hopefully that’s done too. It’s a lot different from our Garden City apartment, but it will be a good home for the short time we get to stay there. 🙂
And after a delayed flight to Phuket, we finally made it Tuesday evening. But more on that in another post. 🙂
Like the title states, it’s been a whirlwind and a blur. I don’t think we’ll do that again next summer. I’m thinking Mexico for the whole of it, but we’ll see. 🙂 It is good to get back and see faces we’ve missed and eat all the food we love and miss, but since we had been back in April, it wasn’t as special. I don’t know when we’ll be back in SA, or Phoenix, but they are always close to our hearts. Ok, sorry for the epic post. Hope all is well. Love to all. J.