san diego

San Diego

Day 10
Once again we left too early with the plan to take 1 down the coast.  But I missed the exit and we ended up taking 101 all the way down.  We stopped in Santa Barbara and finally found a McDonald’s to have lunch at (we’re poor, okay).  We arrived at Steph’s house around 4 and had the pleasure of meeting all three of her dogs.  We went to Blockbuster to pick up the new Pink Panther with Steve Martin.  After dinner we sat and watched the hilarity that is Mr. Martin.

Day 11
Steph took us to Balboa Park, an "urban cultural park" with a botanical garden, 15 major museums and a lot of architecturally beautiful buildings.  We just walked around the areas that were free but it was still a nice visit.  After that we took Matt to In-N-Out for the first time and then walked across the street to the Japanese market.  We also spent some time at the neighborhood pool.  And that night Steph took us to her youth group and we finally got to meet the people she always talked about.

Day 12
After leaving a bit later than planned, we arrived at Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Melissa (Steph’s sister) and her friends split off and Steph’s parents went off on their own.  So Steph, Matt and I went around hitting all the major coasters.  We started with Goliath (which stands 255 feet above the ground and goes a maximum of 85 mph) and worked our way around the park, ending with Revolution, the first roller coaster built with a loop.  30 minutes before the park closed we met at the entrance for funnel cake, as is Steph’s family tradition.  Matt’s shirt was nicely decorated with powdered sugar by the time we left.

Day 13
On this, our last full day, we headed out to the beach with boogie boards underarm.  It was overcast and the water was freezing but we went in anyway.  After a while my legs just went numb and I found that I really enjoyed being carried by the water as I floated on the board.  Unfortunately we never caught any good waves, but it was fun nonetheless.  We finally got back to our towels and lay in the sand for a while until our empty stomachs couldn’t take it.  On our way back to the car, we grabbed lunch at a nice little shack that was selling hot dogs, just what we were craving.

After de-salting (un-salting?) ourselves, we went with Steph’s parents to Crusin’ Grand, an old car show of sorts held every Friday night from April to September in downtown Escondido.  While we waited for a table at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, we walked around checking out the cars and stores that lined the streets. 

Dinner was fantastic and when we got back to the house, we watched Gladiator with Russell Crowe.  Being that we got a late start on the movie, the movie itself is long, and it was our last night together, we decided to forgo sleep.  When the movie ended at 1:30 am, we went into Steph’s room to talk and hang out.  Around 4 am we took out the camera and started taking goofy pictures.  It resulted in over 50 pictures with just the three of us.  Definitely a good way to remember the fun times we had.  At 5:45 we went outside to enjoy the cool, quite morning air.

Finally at 6:30 we had to start getting ready to head out for the airport.  Anne was gracious enough to drive so we could spend more time in the airport before I had to leave.  We took our last picture at 9:05 and I got in line for security.  We hugged, said our good-byes and they left.

I could not have imagined a better road-trip.  As Matt said, the road trip kicked our friendship up a couple of notches.  I’m so blessed to have them in my life and we all hope to stay friends for…well, the rest of our lives. 

To us and whatever the future may hold.

san francisco


Day 6
We left around 6:30 with Mason seeing us off.  We drove the 101 down the coast with a gorgeous view of the ocean.  About four hours after we left, we made a stop in Astoria to visit the Astoria Column.  We hiked up the stairs and were able to see out to the Pacific, and the coast of Oregon.  After seeing the Lewis and Clark movie at the Seattle Science Center, we were all interested in visiting Fort Clatsop, a place the two explorers and their men stayed during the winter of 1805-06.  Our next stop was Tillamook, home of Tillamook Cheese which I still have yet to taste.  We did get some ice cream and browsed the souvenir store.

Our final destination that day was the Redwood Hostel, about 15 minutes south of Crescent City.  Our family had stayed there a few years ago and I knew it would be a nice place to rest.  I wasn’t disappointed.   It was still as friendly and clean as I had remembered if not more so.  We had a simple dinner of chili and toast and then hit the sack.

Day 7
We got another early start, leaving around 6:30 again.   We made a stopped to visit a few of my old friends.  We ate lunch at Quizno’s, and played tag at the park for a while.  Then we left for my house, finally arriving around 7:30.  After dinner we came back to the house and…sat around the family room and talked.

Day 8
Sunday and Mother’s Day meant church and the Cheesecake Factory.  That night my parents made steak and we watched "Plains, Trains, and Automobiles" with Steve Martin and John Candy.

Day 9
We slept in (finally) and brought a sack lunch to Golden Gate Park and ate it in the AIDS Memorial Grove.  We found the Conservatory of Flowers but it was closed and they were about to plant new flowers in the front.  As we drove around the Park we stumbled across Pepe Ozan’s "The Dreamer", a giant purple head that seems to stick up out of the ground.  Of course we stopped and took lots of pictures.  Next we went to Pier 39, walked around and stopped in the Bubba Gump store.  We went on to Ghirardelli Square and each bought something sweet.

After dinner we went for a walk with Shadow and my parents.  After we got back home we played a game of Cranium, the three of us against my family and we won amazingly.   And we had Matt watch The Holiday with us.  What a lucky guy.

Part III: San Diego


The road-trip was better than any of us were expecting and we’re hoping to have annual reunions.  It was a great two weeks made up of memories that will last a lifetime.  For the pictures of the Seattle leg, click.  To read Steph’s [very well written] version of our trip, go here.

Day 1
Steph and her mom arrived on Sunday night and after hugs and introductions we went inside and sat around the family room talking for a while.  It was really nice being able to meet Anne, she has a very lively, fun spirit.  We all went to bed fairly early since we had a long, early day ahead of us.

Day 2
We woke up and were out the door around 6.  Anne had a flight to catch which we initially thought left the San Francisco airport but quickly found out it was leaving the Oakland airport.  After dropping her off at the correct airport, we were on our way for real.  I drove the first part and Steph and I enjoyed singing at the top of our lungs whenever a Disney or Moulin Rouge song came on.  We stopped in Weed, California at "Hi-Lo Cafe" recommended to us by Steph’s Youth Pastor.  We enjoyed our lunch and headed out again with Steph at the wheel.

As we passed through Oregon we saw many beautiful, green hills, lots of cows and loads of signs with "Butte" on them.  We’re so mature.  It was an easy drive, the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed the company.  We stopped again in Portland for dinner and once again switched drivers.  About an hour away from Seattle I realized that a cop was following me.  After I pulled over he told me that I was going at an inconsistent speed (I was nervous because he kept following me and the car’s cruise control didn’t work) and swerving in the lanes (again, I was nervous, but I wasn’t swerving anymore than any of the other cars on the road).  He let me go after telling me to drive safely.

We finally arrived in Seattle but had a little difficulty finding Matt’s house.  We got to the house around 11 and were greeted by all the family except the two youngest who were sleeping. We all sat around the living room and talked for a while (déjà vu) and finally got a blessed night of sleep.

Day 3
After finally dragging ourselves out of bed and getting ready for the day, Steph, Matt and I headed to downtown Seattle to have lunch atop the Space Needle.  It was a gorgeous day, clear, sunny and not too cold.  We were all relatively dressed up since there’s a dress code for the restaurant.  The restaurant is right underneath the outdoor observation deck, it rotates and takes roughly one hour to make a full revolution.  Since it was such a nice day, we could see everything and greatly enjoyed the view as we ate our $30 meal.  Since we paid so much for the lunch, we were able to visit the observation deck for free (technically it came with lunch but whatever).

We left the Space Needle and headed over to Pike Place Market, a street lined with many different shops, some full of souvenir knick-knacks, others with fish.  The original Starbucks also resides there.  We continued around the area and stopped inside a used/new bookstore where I picked up Jane Austen’s Persuasions for a mere $3.

Back at Matt’s I got to spend some time with the two youngest, Zach and Madeline who took me out to their fort.  Matt and Mason started sword fighting with Zach (I got videos of course) and eventually headed inside for dinner.  For dessert we had a delicious chocolate cake that Emily and Arita had made.  Mmmm.  When dessert was finished, Maddie and Zach brought Steph, Matt and I into the basement to play with them.  They discovered how fun it is to take videos on my camera and I spent a good amount of time recording them and immediately watching it with their tiny faces squished against mine.  Precious moments.

Day 4
We had wanted to go to Mount Rainier so we packed a lunch and headed out.  Unfortunately we found out that the only road to Rainier was blocked off due to snow.  So we stopped there and found a place in the woods to have our picnic.  We stopped by the library on the way back to Matt’s house and also tried to get a good view of the beautiful Lake Washington.  At the house, Matt’s mom had suggested going to Kubota Gardens which was close-by and free.  We walked around for a while and after getting back we played Scattergories.  Jackson 5 and Daphne!

Day 5
The whole gang (Matt’s Mom, Emily, Arita, Mason, Zach and Maddie) came with us to the Seattle Science Center.  We walked through the dinosaur area and then the best part, the butterfly house.  We stayed in the humid room for a while trying to get decent pictures of the different butterflies that flew past.  The IMAX theater was putting on a show about Lewis and Clark which was really well done and very interesting.

While the rest of the group went back home, Steph, Matt and I were dropped off to take the underground Seattle tour.  Before the tour started we walked along the piers, checking out the stores and grabbing some ice cream.  The tour started and we were led by a very lively and hilarious tour guide to underground Seattle.  When Seattle was first settled, the city was built on the tide flats and whenever the tide came in, the city was flooded.  Many other problems occurred before the Great Seattle Fire devastated the city in 1889.  After the fire, the city was structured so that the storefronts were two stories below the streets and to get into the stores, the people had to climb up and down ladders.  Eventually the streets and storefronts were on the same level, making the original storefronts the basements, which is the part we saw.  To read more about it go here.

Next stop: San Francisco!


I was finally able to finish this video.  I picked out some of my favorite pictures from Japan and our road trip (from my camera as well as Steph’s) and set them to music.  It might be a bit monotonous since I have the same transition setting for all 131 pictures, but it’s all about the memories, right?


"I’ll Be There": Jackson 5 ^-^
"Leaving Song": Stephen Speaks

I miss you guys!  You are truly made of awesome.


In three hours we’ll start getting ready.  Take our showers, climb into the truck and drive to the airport.  My plane leaves at 10:15 am and Matt’s leaves at 9 pm.  It’s been a great journey with my two friends.  From Japan to Seattle, to San Francisco to San Diego.  I’m going to miss them more than I can say.  So many memories, so many laughs, so little time.  How I hate good-byes.

road trip

We’re leaving in about 30 minutes to start our road trip.  I’m super excited about being able to do this. 

First we’ll be heading up to Seattle to visit Matt’s family for a few days and hang around the city.  Then we’ll go back down south, stop in Astoria, sleep one night in a hostel in Northern California, stop in Santa Rosa for a few hours and then head on down to my house.  We’ll stay there for a few days, go to San San Francisco and the next day drive down to San Diego.  While we’re there we’re going to Six Flags Magic Mountain for a day with Steph’s parents and Sasha.  On Saturday the 19th Matt and I will take a plane back to our respective homes.  It’s a crazy, whirlwind trip but it’s going to be lots of fun.