California travel- By Rui Zhang
April 14, Sunny, 68F, San Diego
Here we are, the beautiful San Diego, the historical Old Town, and the famous zoo. But what made today special was the visit to USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. The carrier was named after the battle of Midway Island, one of the most decisive navy battles of World War II.
A short movie brought us back to June 3, 1942, the night before the battle. On their narrow beds, the young men wrote “Jenny, I miss you.” “Don’t lend my car to Charlie, he is crazy.” “When I am back, I will visit you brother.” “Mom, I miss your cooking.” They were calm, or as calm as they could be knowing tomorrow might be the last sunrise for them.
So the battle began, the courageous men got on their planes with the brightest smiles even though their hearts were pounding and their hands were shaking. Forty two torpedo bombers were launched, only seven returned. But they diverted Japanese defenses just in time for the dive-bombers to arrive. In the next six minutes, the American dive-bombers sank four Japanese carriers, it was the turning point of the Pacific war.
No matter how noble a war is, it demands too much blood. I can’t take my mind off the faces of those brave young men. How were they feeling, what were they thinking the night before their almost certain destiny? Was it courage, or was it just simply knowing that it was what they had to do? Suddenly the burdens on my shoulders felt lighter. There are things we have to do, the paths and the destinies are not chosen, and we are afraid.
“Bran thought about it ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” – George R. R. Martin
4/15, Sunny, 72F, San Diego
An animal person, I can’t miss the zoo, the famous San Diego zoo.
Not too long ago, I was the one holding the map, looking for the road signs, and checking off every place we visited, not anymore. The kids, age six to thirteen in our group, are the leaders. “Where are we going?” I asked, “We’ll go right, see the elephants and the lions first”, the kids answered. This felt great, I finally became a follower.
I still love the animals. The gracious flamingos, the gentle elephants, the powerful lions, the playful polar bears, and the beloved giant pandas, but this time there is more.
“Where is Jessica? oh, she is over there”, Taylor was glued to her friend. “Hey, do you think this picture look like Tim’s Dad?” “Just the hair and the eyes”. “What will we have for dinner, Mexican, no, noodles”… This time it is about our friendship. The friendship that goes beyond just being together, the friendship that is trust and support, the friendship that brings us happiness.
I also think of our friends that are staying at home or traveling in another continent. Wish you all have a wonderful time!
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
4/16, Sunny, 86F, Los Angeles
LA, a city full of dreams and wonders. Thanks to our invisible group member, our hotel is only a block away from Hollywood Blvd. A morning walk to the Tiago’s cafe led us through Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese theater. This magical place made us feel like stars.
Just like fourteen years ago, I got all excited in the city, passionate enough to convince all of our group members to go to Universal Studio. After all, I am a Harry Potter fan and a roller coaster girl.
Human’s imagination amazed me once again, the streets, the buildings, the characters, and the music. Waiting in line for an hour just to get into the wand store, crazy? Oh no, I got my own time to enjoy the surroundings, to talk to other fans, and best of all to fulfill my promise to my boy that as soon as he finishes all the books I will get him a wand that belongs to – You-Know-Who.
The studio tour took us through time and spaces explaining the art of film making. Curiosity, organization, and patience, so much love and devotion goes into each detail.
A fun day in the theme park, a day of magic, music, love, and passion.
“People with passion can change the world” – Steve Jobs
4/17, Sunny, 86F, Los Angeles
The city has too much to offer, we decided to extend our stay. If Universal Studio is the man made dreamland, the Griffith Observatory is the perfect combination of natural wonder and human power.
Funded by Mr. Griffith with his passion to make astronomy accessible to the public, the observatory opened in 1935. During World War II the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation, and was again used for this purpose in the 1960s to train Apollo program astronauts for the first lunar missions. Inside, it is a world of nature and science, and man’s desire to know the outer space. We live here, but where were we from?
Maybe we were from the ocean? Bare foot, I walked on the beach, the feel of sand and water was so natural and unbelievably replenishing. Santa Monica beach, one of the best in California, welcomed us with soft sand and warm water. This is California, the Golden State.
The evening was relaxed. Chinese theater is classical yet high in technology; In-and-out burger shop is simple yet so popular; Hollywood Blvd. is lively yet I started to miss home. Bags are packed, we are heading to San Francisco tomorrow. Thanks to Christopher from the hotel, you made our stay more pleasant, we loved the chocolate you sent!
“When I orbited the Earth in a spaceship, I saw for the first time how beautiful our planet is. Mankind, let us preserve and increase this beauty, and not destroy it!” — Yuri Gagarin, Russian Cosmonaut
4/18, Sunny, 82F, LA to San Francisco
Can long drive ever be fun? The answer is absolutely yes! We are on our way to the City by the Bay. During eight hours, we experienced fancy city, dry inland, and beautiful coastline.
The Wild West, across the land of the wineries, we enjoyed the almost desert looking landscape, visited the ranches, and met the cow boys. “Beware of the rattlesnakes”!
The drive is not completed without seeing the beautiful pacific coastline. Following my heart, we detoured to Carmel. Standing on the white sand, listening to the sound of the wave, I told my kids “across this ocean is our homeland”. A picture I found online led us to Bixby Creek Bridge, time froze when I stood in front of the breathtaking view. It is a picture without frame, it is a piece of art.
When we arrived, my college classmates welcomed us with their warm hearts and the authentic Beijing Roasted Duck.
The drive was long and tiring, just like some other trips in our life. But what we’ve experienced was so rich and the best part of the journey is the surprise and wonder along the way.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” – Claude Debussy
4/19, Sunny, 73F, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge –
It’s just a bridge, or isn’t it?
I stand here today, my mind travels.
Following the gold, people came here,
A long bridge was born to connect the lands,
Nearly twice the length of any in existence.
Two hundred thousand people crossed on the opening day in 1937.
In the color of international orange,
Magnificent yet part of the surroundings.
A symbol of beauty,
The bridge stood against the winds and the earthquakes.
Yet many people’s dreams ended here.
When there are pains, there are hopes.
I dreamed about the bridge,
In my dream I stood here looking far away,
Feeling the touch of the wind, soft and tender,
Listening to the sound of the ocean, boring yet affectionate.
I stood here, my heart lightened and my mind brightened.
I stand here today, thinking of my dream,
It is not just a bridge, it is hope and connection,
It is my inspiration.
Oh yes, I have seen it,
It is part of my journey.
4/20, Sunny, 70F, San Francisco
If Golden Gate Bridge is my inspiration, California Academy of Science located in the golden gate park is for the kids, not me. The flying butterfly hit my worst fear, the pink eyes of the white alligator was a bit creepy, the electric eel simulation gave me a real shock, and the earthquake exhibit ended my impulse to move to California.
Well, anyone knows me can tell that I am not telling the truth, nature and history is my true passion – the rare reptiles from the rain forest, the giant fishes from the Amazon, the sharks from the California coast, the Penguins from Africa, the human revolution exhibit, and the stars in the planetarium. Once I was asked what I would like to be if I could travel through space and time, “I don’t want to rule the world, I would want to know.” I answered.
Back to city life, we drove/walked through the up and down hills like a local. Grant street leads to the gate of Chinatown, Market street has so many shops to offer, Union square is fun and lively, and for two dollars and twenty five cents the buses can take you anywhere across the city. This is the heart of the ravishing San Francisco, the Paris of the West, a perfect ending of my vacation.
“Beautiful memories, recorded or not, will stay and continue to inspire me, give me strength and happiness in my journey, our journey.” – Rui Zhang