Introduction:

Everywhere you looked the flag was there.

This is about our wonderful summer vacation to the United States of America and the fun times we had there. After having waited for such a long time (years) and saving up our money, our patience was rewarded with a fantastic trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the other side of the big apple. For the kids it was their first time flying in an airliner (actually Lennart was ten months old but that does not count), and they were good travellers. Even the jetlag was not much of a problem. The goal of the vacation was not only for fun and relaxation, but also to show the kids where I had grown up and allow them to become somewhat familiar with the real American culture there. Not so much from a tourist point of view, but rather a more intimate interaction with real live folks. Of course, the most important purpose above everything else was seeing and having a fun time with the rest of the family, the relatives and friends. Basically, our trip was divided into two geographical locations. The first two weeks were spent on the west coast in California. The last week was on the east coast in the Washington D.C. area where my two sisters Kathleen and Martine live, in Maryland and Virginia respectively. Lennart and Marlies stayed one week extra on the east coast so that they could supposedly polish their English speaking skills (yeah, sure). Thanks to everyone for being so cordial and nice to us, letting us stay over and eating all of your food. We had a really great time seeing you all again. Let's be sure to keep in touch.


Our flight path from Schiphol to SFO (kind of).
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Monterey Bay:
With Grandma at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey
With Grandma at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey.

The first stop after landing in San Francisco was to drive right away down south to Grandma's house, of course. Once we were there, we could relax and recover from the jetlag. Grandma took great care of us and also let us go our own way. The Monterey Bay is just lovely, even when it gets foggy. That is where I spent the last years of my youth. It was a challenge for me to show the kids everything and try to make it sound interesting. There was much to do like places to visit, food to eat, videos to rent, rocks on the beach to climb, nature walks to take, ad infinitum. In the evenings we could relax at home and simply visit with my mom. I also got to see my old buddy David Wilsey, and his family took us out to fancy pizza one evening. There was Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, the Monterey Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive, a trip to Big Sur, luscious bagels in Carmel Valley, Carmel Beach, and one day we headed on up to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to lie on the beach, swim in the cold ocean water, and go on a couple of rides. While at Grandma's house, the kids played tennis alot down the road, climbed the old oak trees behind the house, and explored the top of the hill behind the house (like I used to do when I was little). The two weeks at Grandma's house were split in the middle by four days that we spent in the San Francisco Bay area (see below). During the last few days we spent as much time as possible together and Grandma came along wherever possible.

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Pictures

Kids in the plane to America
Kids in the plane to America.
Kids in Grandma's backyard
Kids in Grandma's backyard.
Kids at Big Sur
Kids at Big Sur.
Kids in Monterey
Kids in Monterey.
Cypress Tree Carmel
Cypress Tree Carmel.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Kids climbing rocks at Pacific Grove
Kids climbing rocks at Pacific Grove.
Lennart and Marlies on the rocks
Lennart and Marlies on the rocks.
Thunderbird bookstore
Thunderbird Bookstore.
Kiffin at Big Sur
Kiffin at Big Sur.
Sabien and Maarten on the rocks
Sabien and Maarten on the rocks.

17 Mile Drive.

Kiffin and Thea at Starbucks.

Kids at Carmel Beach.

Kids at Santa Cruz beach.

David and Kiffin.

Mom and Kiffin at Carmel Beach.

Kiffin in front of the Minivan.

Lennart and Marlies enjoy homemade hamburgers.

Pizza with the Wilseys.
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San Francisco:
The kids in front of the Golden Gate Bridge...
Kids in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Nothing could beat the four days we spent up in the San Francisco Bay area where we had a chance to meet with the relatives. Even Uncle Dick flew down from Nevada to attend the famous picnic with all of us. The city of San Francisco is hilly and fun to drive around in our minivan. I tried to act like Starsky and Hutch speed chasing, but Thea got scared when the sparks started flying out the back of the minivan. While in the city we saw the usual sites and more, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, ate sea-food at Fisherman's Wharf and bought tons of inexpensive T-shirts there, rode in a cable car and then saw the cable car museum, drove down the crookedest street in the world (Lombard Street), walked through China Town to buy cheap souvenirs and got lost for awhile (sorry, do you speak English?), and one evening I took Lennart on the BART metro to see the Giant's play against the Chicago Cubs in the new Pacbell baseball stadium. We even saw Barry Bonds hit his 599th homerun there! Sue and Geoff were so very kind to let us stay over at their fancy house. It was great seeing everyone else there: Jeanine, Gail and Alan and Scot, Brent and his family, and Uncle Dick. The picnic proved to be a real American gourmet style eating session where we chatted alot and caught up on the last fifteen years. Where had the time gone by? We played some baseball, munched out, and I ate too many of those delicious brownies. On the way back down to Monterey, I stopped by to visit my old friend Trudi, and afterwards took a quick walk around the Stanford University campus (too bad the kids were kind of bored). I could not believe that the Physics "tank" (where I followed some of my most memorable classes) had been demolished five years earlier. That really hit me. Oh well, in time things change, hopefully for the better.

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More pictures


Sue and Geoff were great hosts.

Lennart in front of a WWII submarine.

Fun family picnic in Oakland.

San Francisco view.

Another view of San Francisco.

Lennart in front of the Giants Pacbell Stadium.

On the Cable car.

Munching out at Fisherman's Wharf.

All of us in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kiffin and Jeanine.

Kids in front of Alcatraz.
Kiffin in front of a burned out bomb shelter
Kiffin in front of a burned out bomb shelter.

Kiffin visits Stanford.
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East Coast:
In front of the White house...
In front of the White House.

Finally there was the east coast on the other side of the States, where my two glorious sisters were anxiously awaiting our arrival. First we stayed at Martine and Alan's house for four days, and then we went to Kathleen and Bailey's house. What else can I say but we were constantly on the move and had an amazing amount of fun? Asides from the usual touristic things like driving around Washington D.C. we also had gourmet dinners, saw where the girls worked (Martine's an antique gift store and Kathleen's lawyers office), took countryside walks with the dogs Maggie and Cocoa, saw the previous houses where the girls used to live, had lunch in Annapolis (where we purchased the ships bell), searched for real shark teeth along the beach, and much more. Because the climate there was extremely humid and there was a heat wave at the same time, we made it to many swimming pools and just swam an awful lot, mostly in the afternoons to cool off. I could not remember the last time in my life that cool water felt so good and invigorating! The real American barbecues were our rewards in the evenings, munching out on the porch, laughing and joking about old times and things in general. There was plenty of baseball on TV, and we finished the Joggers jigsaw puzzle (which Alan promised he will frame in tribute of our visit). Bailey made the best pancakes and waffles in the world and there is nothing like real pancake syrup. Before we realized it, we had to say good-bye depart, which is always hard. A good vacation is by definition one where the time flies by and you are just as sad to go as you were happy to see everyone again at the beginning. However, Lennart and Marlies could stay an extra week. All in all, we had great memories to which all these pictures below can attest.

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Even more pictures


Martine's house.

Treasures and Trifles antique store.

Brother and two sisters.

Vietnam Memorial.

Kiffin in Washington D.C.

Alan and Martine in Washington D.C.
Kathleen at the office
Kathleen at the office.
Kathleen and Bailey are the perfect couple
Kathleen and Bailey are the perfect couple.

Lunch in Annapolis.

Taking the dogs for a walk.

Kathleen going to work.

Kathleen and Bailey's house.

Maggie and Cocoa.

Lennart the fighter pilot.
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Maps:

In order to get a better idea of where we exactly were, I have included the following maps. Just click on the thumbnail image you wish to view and you will be able to explore the area we visited.

Map of California...
California.
Map of the East Coast...
East Coast.
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Journal:

During the few free moments I was able to muster, mostly early in the mornings when everyone was still asleep and I could concentrate, I somehow managed to keep a journal. By penning a few words in my weblog, I was able to record some of the highlights. For those interested have a look at my weblog category Trip to America.

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