Saturday, July 21, 2007

We're HOME! The crazy world tour is done. We capped it off with time spent visiting Luong's family in California and Canada. All in all, we were able to see his younger sister Lihn and her family, his older brother Tai and his family, his oldest sister Muoi and her family (including our first "Grand-neice!"- whew we are old!), and of course his parents.

Luong flew to Orange County, CA the end of June to spend two weeks looking after his mom who has been recovering from surgery. Then I flew out on July 4th for a couple days. On July 6th we flew up to Seattle, WA. It was the most BEAUTIFUL day you can imagine in Seattle! No rain, sunny, and warm.

After a day and half in Seattle (including an evening spent in an Irish pub- of course!) we rented a car and drove cross the border into British Columbia. It seemed as if the mountains that surrounded us were shouting God's glory, spectacular! We made our way up and over the Cascade range, through the desert-like conditions of Kamloops, and up into the Canadian Rockies where we spent the night in Sun Peaks. This little ski resort village reminded me of Aspen or Vail. Ironically, our friends the Stockmans spent a couple days there in 05. Per their suggestions we shopped early and enjoyed the views! There was a BMX bike contest and live music. What a great time!

The next day we drove an hour on the most remote, yet beautiful, cow path back to the highway. Seriously cool. Then we drove through Canada's Glacier National Park, Roger's Pass, and Banff National Forest. I took over 100 pictures in about an hour!

We arrived in Calgary around 8pm and shared the first of many Chinese meals with Luong's sister and her family >-)! Yummy. We stayed with Lisa and Simon Le (Luong's oldest sister's oldest daughter). Their first daughter, Brianna, just turned one- which should be about the age of our daughter when we pick her up in China... needless to say thoughts were often of her!

The famous Calgary Stampede was roaring through town, so of course we had to go! Basically, it's a big rodeo meets a county fair. The entire city of Calgary (1 million +) goes all out for the Stampede. Free community-wide breakfasts, corporate lunches complete with cowboy hats and blue jeans, and the event itself! It was hard to not get caught up in the "spirit" of it all!

After a wonderful visit with family and more Chinese food than I could handle (and not near enough for Luong- of course!) we hit the road for our the eleven hour drive back through British Columbia to Vancouver. Again, all sun and no rain (sort of the theme for our trip). And, 100+ degree heat in the valleys. Even Vancouver was experiencing their hottest day of the year! We checked into our cute little hotel/ B&B in the heart of downtown and set out to explore the neighborhood. Vancouver has so much to offer, we packed as much as we could into three days. We bought a two-day tour bus pass that allowed us to hop on and off whenever and where ever we wanted. It was a great way to see the city. We visited Stanley Park, Granville Market on Granville Island, the Canada Place (where the all the cruise ships dock), Robson Street, North Vancouver, Gastown, and of course Chinatown! Our favorite had to have been Gastown. It reminded me of the narrow little streets of Ireland lined with shops and pubs.

Finally, we packed up headed back across the border to Bellingham, WA to catch our Skybus flight back to C-bus. All in all, a fun time for the Hos. I think we learned that "vacations" will never be the same after serving in Ireland last summer. We were often overcome by the social, physical, and spiritual needs around us. We were overwhelmed by the dozens of homeless and open drug abusers we saw in Vancouver. We couldn't help but try and come up with potential social reform programs that would help those in need... oh well, I'm glad that we will never travel the same way again!