April Travel: Gaslamp District and USS Midway

This is the last blog of four about our travel to California in April. For more see: April Travel: San Diego Old Town and Zoo or April Travel: Downtown LA and April Travel: Baby Shower and First Flight

Sunday we took the morning slower, met with Luke when his conference ended, had lunch with family and then said good bye to my parents. We spent the rest of the day enjoying downtown San Diego.

Luke showed me where his conference was all weekend and we got frozen yogurt then took a stroll along the park near the port.

In the evening we went to Spaghetti Factory right by our hotel. It was familiar and kid friendly. Zach loves noodles, and got mac and cheese and applesauce. He also enjoyed the eclectic lamps and other decorations.

The next day we packed then went down to the pool. Zach was unsure at first but after a slow ease in started to enjoy himself. When he got cold so we moved over to the “not so warm” hot tub and turned on the bubbles. By the end of the half hour, Zach actually went underwater three times.

That afternoon, we checked out of the hotel, left our bags at the front desk and took the light rail to the USS Midway for a tour of the aircraft carrier. Luke loved exploring the fighter planes and helicopters, hearing about their take off and landing procedures.

The top deck was impressive, and it gave a great view of the ocean, even though it was very windy. I found the museum below deck more interesting, seeing the culture and everyday life of such a large vessel was fascinating to me. Everything from laundry, to meal service, entertainment, sleeping quarters, and a jail-it was a lot to take in.

They said it takes about three hours to see it all we took all that time for sure. There were definitely a few restrictions having a kid with us, as well as for a stroller, but it was still worth it.

After this we got on the light rail back to the hotel just in time to get all our luggage from the front desk and into our shuttle to the airport. Our flight was delayed so we were able to eat dinner before going through security.

We had a late flight back to Oregon, fortunately we had a gracious person sitting next to us who had her own kids and with Luke’s help we kept Zach entertained. We got home very late and went straight to bed. It took a good week or more to re-organize and adjust from the trip but it was all so worth it.

Flashback: March Maple Season

I know it’s April but as I wrote before I”m trying to catch up on our March events.

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When we moved to our house in October. For more see https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/im-back/. My sister in law Stina who was helping us move said she thought most of the trees  behind our house were maple. By the time we moved their bright yellow leaves covered the ground.

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We had seen signs along roads with a tree tapped with a bucket next to it and been to farmers markets were local maple syrup was sold.But we had never toured a local maple syrup farm, until this past March.

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All across Upstate New York during March or April is a Maple Weekend. For more see http://www.nysmaple.com/nys-maple-weekend/ when local maple syrup producers open up their doors for tours of their facilities, hikes through their maple trees, children events, sales on their maple products and pancake breakfasts served with their maple syrup.

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This year we chose to go to Wohlschegels sugaring facility near Naples NY. For more on this local maple producer click here: http://www.fingerlakesbulkmaplesyrup.com/

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By the time we got to the sugaring facility they had opened up the back end of their syrup/sugar processing building and filed it with tables and chairs for a pancake breakfast. We payed a small prices for all you can eat pancakes and were given generous portions of pancakes and sausage.

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We got coffee (they had maple flavored coffee as well) and enjoyed looking around and at the menu which advertised all the local maple weekend events in the area.

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After breakfast we sampled some of their products: maple mustard, syrup, creams and enjoyed an indoor tour on how they process  sap and turn it into syrup.

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Luke enjoyed the chemistry lesson and told me later that from what he heard much of the new technology for processing the sap to syrup  adapted from the brewing process for beer.

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We decided not to do the hike through the snow to the maple trees, maybe next year.

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After going to this local maple events I decided for a spring break treat to make maple cream sandwich cookies with local maple syrup and a light cinnamon vanilla buttercream. For the recipe and more on this go to:

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Do you like pancakes? Do you dip them in syrup or pour the syrup over?

Playing tourist with the Grandparents

It’s always fun when family come in from out of town; we love to play tourists and being hosts.  The season they come during and their personal interests determine which types of activities and locations we get to share with them.

This past week my grandparents (dad’s parents) came into town for a visit on their month long travels. They started from their home in California in their camper-van and are on their way up to Maine and back again. The last time I’d seen them was at my brother’s wedding last August (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/snapshots-halvorson-wedding-behind-the-scenes/)

So I was thrilled to get some time with them.

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My husband took off work on Friday so we were ready for them when they rolled into town that afternoon. We took them downtown Market street on a walk after some much needed catching up. While downtown, we stopped in the Crystal City olive oil store. My grandpa took samples of everything and enjoyed talking to the store workers since we had the place to ourselves. Luke and I bought a bottle of lemon basil white vinaigrette we thought would go well on both salads and for marinades and my grandmother picked up some very early christmas gifts for a few friends.

For more on Corning’s Market Street see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/my-new-hometown/

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We came back to our little rented house and made them our traditional Greene pizza with a twist. Instead of the usual ingredients we used artichoke hearts, olives, crushed fresh garlic, grape tomatoes, onions, and spinach with an Alfredo base instead of tomato. And for meat? Chicken breast pan fried in olive oil and oregano. It was extremely delicious and a great experimental sucess.

For more on our homemade pizza see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/pizza-a-la-greene/

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The next day we took the grandparents on a hiking/nature tour. We stopped by their beautiful campsite with my homemade quiche and fruit for a picnic lunch (see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/a-good-spring-quiche/)

Then we took off in our car to Walkins Glen to hike the Gorge Trail. Although the parking lot was crowded the trail was not too busy and my grandparents had not problems keeping up on the incline of stairs (which is pretty great since my grandfather turned 80 this year!) It is just as beautiful as last year when we first discovered this amazingly breathtaking view.

For more on Walkins Glen state park see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/walkins-glen-state-parkgorge-ous/

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Next we drove up to Ithaca passing by one of the finger lakes (Seneca) on our way to the base of the other (Cayuga) through beautiful country. We stopped by the Ithaca Farmer’s Market where we split off: grandpa and Luke sampling cheese and other foods and Grandma and I tasting local ciders and wines.

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We left with some local maple syrup and hard cider and headed to another state park: Buttermilk Falls. We chose not to conquer two gorge trails in one day but instead enjoyed the view from the picnic tables at the base of the falls.

For more on the Farmer’s Market and Buttermilk falls see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/an-ithaca-birthday-adventure/

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We drove back towards Corning a different route to show more of the country-side then ended up in Horseheads for dinner and dessert. We took my grandparents to our favorite little mom-and-pop sushi place where we enjoyed our delicious sashimi, miso soup, and traditional rolls while my grandparents enjoyed yakisoba  (although they did try a shrimp, avocado, and egg roll). And for dessert? We went to sweetfrog; the local frozen yogurt joint where we could all get a variety of topping and flavors for our unique personalities.

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On Sunday after church we went to lunch at one of my favorite spots: Walker Cake Co.: Barn Owl Cafe where we got breakfast for lunch: breakfast burritos, gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, and traditional two egg breakfasts all with coffee.

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After a hearty brunch we took our grandparents to the Corning glass museum (how could we not?). They were concerned that we would be bored since this was our fourth or fifth time in the museum. We assured them that we weren’t; the contemporary art exhibit had completely been changed out; the demos were being done by new people which always means different information, each live glassblowing creates new and unique items, and the main art display always has a changing/rotating exhibit.

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So although we had taken my parents  at christmas we were far from bored. We also did a very early christmas gift ; the grandparents made a sculpture at the art-glass studio. Much like what we did from my parents; grandma chose the colors and grandpa made the sculpture. Since they are traveling they chose to have it shipped to my parents place where they will end their travels.

For more on the glass museum see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/a-corning-christmas-present/

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After a long tour day at the museum we headed back to our house for another Greene dinner: fish tacos. My grandfather tries every fish taco place in California when he has the chance and gave ours a thumbs up for approval

For more on our fish tacos see: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/greenes-tilapia-fish-tacos/

We finished our last night together enjoying the thundering rain storm on our porch while eating some of my homemade popsicles.

See some of them at: https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/tropical-banana-creamsicles/

As a parting gift as we took my grandparents back to their campsite I gave grandma one of my swedish rye loafs (will be my bread of the month post) and little horseradish cheese from our trip to Ellicottville.

For more on Cuba cheese see:https://agreenesadventures.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/wine-tasting-in-ellicottville/

It was a great weekend playing tourists and hosts. It was also a fun overview for us of what we have explored, learned, and discovered in the past year living in the Corning area. Can’t wait to see what we will explore and discover the rest of this summer and into next year as we transition into a new location (but more on that later).

Do you enjoy hosting friends and family?

What are some of your favorite meals to cook for them?

What local restaurants/tourist spots do insist showing them?

 

Passport to new beginnings

                  Part of the name-changing process, as I mentioned in Becoming Mrs. ___________, is getting a new passport. Although I was a little sentimental about my CA drivers license and license plate, as made obvious by my I’m a New Yorker?!  post, I’m even more sentimental about my passport.

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                 In case you didn’t know, I traveled quite a bit in college. In fact 10 countries in 3 years!
My first time off the North American continent was in 2007. I embarked on a seven-week global internship backpacking through Guatemala, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. It was a humbling experience being apart of lives of many who have less than I do and therefore have more: gratefulness, humility, generosity, patience, and gentleness. The people we stayed and volunteered with treated us strangers like family.

Coral beach in the Philippines

Coral beach in the Philippines

Hong Kong's busy streets

Hong Kong’s busy streets

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Passport stamps from Guatemala, The Philippines, and Hong Kong.

                A year later I went on a two-week summer performing tour of Italy with my College Concert Choir. I got the opportunity to visit many famous historic locations and sing in many as well including San Marco’s Basilica in Venice and Mary Maggiore Basilica in Rome! I now understand the pride these people have for their native language, culture, food, history, and beliefs.

Siena in Tuscany

Siena in Tuscany

rehearsal in San Marco's Basilica

rehearsal in San Marco’s Basilica

Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice

Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice

                 Skip ahead to 2010,  I am off to the Middle East for a semester abroad. I lived in Cairo Egypt for two months studying Arabic, Egyptian current events and history, and Islam. Then we traveled to Turkey, Syria, The Kingdom of Jordan, and Israel where we met with many local politicians, religious leaders, non-profit workers, university students, writers etc. who share about their country’s history, current events, politics, and religion(s). If you want to know more about my semester in the Middle East click here!

Me  . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol

Me . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol

Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria

Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria

Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

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Visa and stamps for Egypt

         My passport is marked up; but it is not full. Many of the people I know from college, my Master’s degree, and my semester abroad  have chose to teach, volunteer,  study, and explore other countries. It is hard at times to not be jealous.

                But I don’t regret the choices I have made. I love my husband and being married. We are here in New York for now. We both have a desire, after a few years, to move to another country which could put our knowledge, experience, education, and careers to good use. The new Amanda Greene passport will be used for that purpose. For now it’s blank pages will be a reminder to have hope in the many exciting adventures I know are ahead of us.