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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Short Visit with Stephen

Nikki had a 5 day weekend this past weekend.  St. Lucy's always takes Valentine's Day off.  Sister Helen couldn't take the barrage of deliveries for the girls from both boys and parents.  So she made it a holiday.  Well then the deliveries started coming on the 13th.  So guess what?  Yep they get that day off too!  Gotta love her.  So that gave us Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Plus both girls were off on Monday for President's Day.  We decided to take advantage of it and pull Ali out of school on Friday and head up the coast.  We wanted to tour some colleges along the way and get in a visit with Stephen.

We left Friday morning and arrived at Cal State Channel Islands for our 11am tour.  The school was very nice.  Bill really liked it, and I think both girls did as well.  The one downfall is they don't have any sports programs.  They have club sports though so it's still a consideration.

From there, we headed into Santa Barbara for lunch.  We walked awhile on State Street and had a great pizza lunch.  Then it was time to jump back in the car for a long stretch.  Our next stop was Monterey.  We arrived, checked into our hotel and headed to dinner.  I'd made a reservation since it was Valentine's Day and we weren't sure what kind of crowds would be there.  I picked a place called Lalapalooza.  It had good reviews and it was in the little downtown and not near Fisherman's Wharf so I thought we'd be okay.  It was a great choice.  Not crowded, good meal and we walked from the hotel.

The next morning, we had another 11am tour.  This one at Cal State Monterey Bay.  This is the school that has been great about communicating with Nikki about soccer.  They've seen her play a few times and have told her they like what they see.  Unfortunately she's had several girls tell her not to go there.  They've said it's all concrete and super ugly since it's an old Army base (Fort Ord).  Needless to say, I'm glad I forced her to check it out.  She and Ali both loved it.  It's near the beach, has bigger dorm rooms and is really spread out over a large area.  Plus it helped that we had an awesome tour guide.  

This was the new library.  Many of the buildings had been converted from the Army base.  But the new buildings have been built using 80% recycled materials from the base.  It was really neat to hear the history of some of the buildings.

After our tour, we stopped and had lunch near the water.  There were a bunch of seals out on the dock so we watched them awhile too.  From there, we headed to UC Santa Cruz.  Nikki really wanted to check out their campus, but I wasn't able to set up a tour.  They only do weekday tours and were closed on Monday due to the holiday.  So we had planned to just do a walking tour.  But by the time we arrived and saw what hill the campus was on, we decided a driving tour would be just fine.  It's a pretty campus, but is much harder to get into.  So Nikki is going to keep it on her list of "maybes".  

From there we headed to Santa Clara.  We knew we wouldn't see Stephen until morning, so we just had a nice dinner and shopped around at Santana Row.  We stayed at the hotel right on Santana Row this time.  I'd seen it before and had thought it'd be a fun place to stay.  It was perfect.

The next morning, we picked Stephen up and headed into San Francisco.  He had kept the day open for us.  So we went into town and ate at Gotts Roadside.  Yes we'd planned our entire day around that meal.  It consisted of hamburgers, fries and shakes for $110!  Although I got the ahi burger, and it was delicious.  Then we walked down to Pier 39 and did lots of people watching.  Of course we had to stop by and see all of the seals there too.

The visit seemed way too fast, but I did get to ask him all of the questions I'd been wanting to ask.  I am just so proud of how hard he's working and the direction he wants to go.  He is loving everything they're doing in ROTC and is working really hard to earn a scholarship.  He showed me the two badges he's earned already.  One was for scoring 290 on the PT test and the other was for German Armed Forces Military Proficiency.  Now he just needs the uniform to be able to put them on!  It sounds like school is going okay and polo is too.  Although he thinks his time is limited for playing polo.  He sees  how busy school and ROTC get junior year and is concerned.  We told him to take it one year at a time and see how it goes.

Monday morning we woke up early.  Stephen forgot to give me a form he needed me to take to the bank for signatures and was leaving at 7:30 to work in a VA hospital.

Then we had breakfast at Stephen's favorite breakfast place, Bill's Cafe.  It was a yummy way to begin our long ride home.  I did enjoy the beautiful blossoms on the trees along the way, although felt really bad about all of the bees that splattered on our windshield!

Overall it was a very successful trip for both college tours and visiting Stephen.  Hopefully he'll be able to come home for spring break.  Otherwise we won't have him back here until the END of summer.  Boo!!

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