Claire’s visit

Several months ago, Barb signed us up to host a French foreign exchange student. We were hoping to have our [remodeling project]( finished before that time came, but unfortunately we were still living in a house under construction when Claire arrived. The poor girl spent three weeks living with us in less-than-ideal conditions. We took a few weeks off from remodeling and instead spent our weekends showing Claire some of the sights in northern California. If you want to skip all the narrative and just jump to the pictures, check out the [“Claire’s visit” collection]( on [our Flickr page][]:

Mosaic of Claire's visit to Sacramento

Neither Barb nor I were able to take much time off while Claire was visiting, so it was up to Caira and Caitlin to entertain her during the week. Shortly after Claire arrived, my parents came by and brought the kids over to their house to go swimming. Caitlin and Claire found the squirt guns and ended up in an entertaining [water fight](, with my mom (who assumed that Caitlin wouldn’t get her wet) assisting Claire.


[Our first weekend with Claire](, we went boating and camping overnight at [New Hogan Reservoir][] with Johnny and his family. The most remarkable thing: we found out that *”Sacre bleu!”* is French for “Holy cow, a tarantula!”


During the following week, the kids (and Caira’s friend [Qiana][]) took [Regional Transit][] and [explored midtown Sacramento](

We spent [Claire’s second Saturday]( in Monterey. First stop was [Monterey Bay Aquarium][], where we spent the morning. After lunch, we walked around Monterey and ended up kayaking around the bay. (We’ll be doing more of that!) On Sunday we went over to my parents’ house and [celebrated all the July and August birthdays]( in our extended family.


On the next outing, Barb and the kids went to the [California State Fair]( (pictures [here]( We had tried to explain this whole concept to Claire in advance, but we couldn’t find the right words for it. Afterwards, Claire said the closest thing she knew of was Disneyland.

For our last excursion, we took Claire to “[The City](”, aka San Francisco. Instead of driving all over, we parked at [Union Square][] then took the cable car down to [Fisherman’s Wharf][fw]. We did the [Red & White][] tour of San Francisco Bay–lots of cool stuff on the recorded tour information. They even mentioned the air defense system which Dad commanded until it was shut down in the 1970’s. After the boat tour we had some clam chowder then looked around Pier 39, saw the [sea lions][] wrestling and playing, and heard [Sila and the Afrofunk Experience]( playing. Then we started walking. We went through [North Beach][] and by the “Ministry of the Salesmen” (somebody’s clever rearrangement of “Ministry of the Salesians”). [Why in the world is a Catholic church located at **666** Filbert St.?!?]( We were looking for [City Lights Bookstore][], but we never did manage to find it. After a while we gave up and headed on to [Coit Tower][]. The views up there were beautiful, and we saw all kinds of cool stuff on foot that we’d *never* seen in all the times we’ve driven around San Francisco. From Coit Tower, we caught a bus that took us a few blocks toward [Lombard Street][], but mostly we hoofed it. Quite a walk, but again the sites visible on foot made it well worth it! We were only a few blocks from [Ghirardelli Square][], and by this time we were more than ready for some ice cream. We looked around Ghirardelli and Aquatic Park a bit, but we were running out of time so we took [Muni][] back to Union Square so Claire could do some shopping. We took a “shortcut” through Westfield Mall, an 8-story mall with curved escalators up the middle. I couldn’t resist going all the way up and down those! Claire still wanted to get some pictures of San Francisco architecture, so drove around a little and ended up at “Postcard Row”, [Alamo Square][]. All I’ve got to say is, “Wow!” Amazingly beautiful homes. Our final goal was a walk out onto the Golden Gate Bridge. We managed to get over to the Marin side of the bridge at sunset about 10 minutes before the pedestrian gate closed. I took a bunch of pictures, most of which didn’t turn out, and *none* of which really did the scene any justice. You really have to be there in person to truly experience the view.

Claire only had a couple of days left in Sacramento, and we managed to show her [two landmarks on one evening]( Caira and Claire went to the [Tower Theater][] to see “[Becoming Jane][]”, then Barb, Caitlin and I picked them up and went to [Gunther’s][] for some ice cream.


On her last night with us, Claire made crepes from her mother’s recipe, and they were *fabulous*! (This is what got me hunting for [Nutella][] earlier.) I’ll post the recipe later, because I’d hate to lose it!


Caira and I took Claire to the airport last Thursday at 04:30 (!) in the morning. Sad to see her leave, but I’m sure she was looking forward to seeing her family again, (*and* not living in a half-finished house)! We enjoyed the experience so much that we’re probably going to do this again next year. In fact, Barb is now talking about learning French!

[our Flickr page]:
[New Hogan Reservoir]:
[Regional Transit]:
[Monterey Bay Aquarium]:
[Union Square]:
[Red & White]:
[sea lions]:
[North Beach]:
[City Lights Bookstore]:
[Coit Tower]:
[Lombard Street]:
[Ghirardelli Square]:
[Alamo Square]:
[Tower Theater]:
[Becoming Jane]:

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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3 Responses to Claire’s visit

  1. Pingback: San Francisco touring suggestions at SonicChicken blog

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