Category: Family

Bonjour Paris (August 6 to 13)

Our first visit to Paris was in May 2015.  We fell in love with the city, its sites, the people and the food.  So, after my mom passed away in March 2017, we collectively decided to return to celebrate her (and our) love for Paris.

We landed at Orly Sunday morning at about 8:15, collected our luggage and took an Uber to our two bedroom apartment in Marais.  We picked Marais, which is located in the Fourth Arrondissement, because of its central location.  Our apartment, which we found on AirBnB, was perfect.  Located on the second floor above a restaurant, it was exactly as advertised and we would return in a heartbeat.

After unpacking our bags and freshening up, we headed out.  After years of traveling, we’ve come to the conclusion that its best to hit the ground running in order to acclimate to the time change.  Our first destination was Les Catacombes, which is located several hundred feet beneath modern Paris.  Megan had purchased our tickets online, which turned out to be a very smart decision.  Our window of entry was 10:00 a.m. to noon.  We hoped on the Metro and after one line change, we arrived with a minute to spare at 11:59 a.m.  The line wrapped around the block but, fortunately, with our tickets we entered without a wait.

The Catacombes was initially a mine.  Limestone was excavated and used in the construction of buildings in Paris

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Later, it became a burial site for Parisians that were killed during war or by the plague. As you meander your way through the Catacombes, you eventually come upon the burial sites.

Each burial site typically includes a memorial that details the date of the site and cause of death.  These sites go on and on throughout in maze-like fashion.

One of the best decisions we made on this trip was to use the rental bikes that are located throughout Paris.  For a little more than $9.00/person a week, you can rent a bike for 30 minute intervals.  As long as you return the bike to a docking station within 30 minutes there is no additional charge.

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We used the bikes as our primary mode of transportation every day. Dealing with the busy traffic took some time getting used to but most drivers were very respectful of bicyclists.

Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower.  We had purchased our tickets three months in advance.  We showed up at our appointed time and made our way to the mid-level.  This was our second time to the Eiffel Tower. The view is magnificent!

Prior to our trip, the girls booked a cooking class at a location not too far from our apartment.  It was a blast.  We made croissants and other breakfast pastries.

The class started at 9:30 a.m. and finished around noon.  After learning just how much butter is in each croissant, I will never be able to eat more than one at a time (well, okay, maybe two)!

Speaking of eating, we are the consummate foodies.  We love good food and are willing to try everything and anything.

Two doors down from our apartment, was this great restaurant:  Le Pain Quotidien

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We ate there for breakfast, lunch and dinner during our stay.  Every meal was delicious.

We also returned to Chartier, which is said to be the oldest restaurant in Paris.  The line to get in can be long but it moves relatively fast.  The food is not fancy but its good and very reasonably priced.

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I know it sounds like all we did was eat but we did manage to see quite a bit of Paris.

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On one of our last nights, we booked a dinner cruise on the Seine River.  We booked with Bateaux Parisiens.  They did a wonderful job! For roughly $85 per person, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and an open bar all while taking in the sites along Seine.  We all had a fabulous time!

With Kristin headed to graduate school and Megan headed into the last two years of college, it may be a while before we can manage to find time on the calendar for another trip.  The girls are such good travelers.  In addition to planning most of this trip, they navigated our way through Paris on foot, bike and by subway.  It will be a joy to see when they return with their own families.  It’s no wonder that my mom loved Paris.  It truly is the city of love!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Born on May 22, 1919, my dad would have been 98 today!

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For the benefit of my future grandchildren (sorry for being such a sap but one of the reasons I created this blog was so that my grandchildren could learn more about me and the Ito clan), your great grandfather was an amazing man! Your mom and aunt will tell you all about him as they had the privilege of knowing him.  He was born in Kurtistown on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  He was one of six children born to Itaro and Harumi Ito. A graduate of the University of Hawai’i, he served as a Military Intelligence Officer during World War II and was an interpreter during the war crime trial of General Yamashita (the Tiger of Manilla).  After the war, he attended dental school at the University of Kansas City and, upon graduation, joined his brothers Takeshi, Yoshio and Setsuo (all dentists) in Denver.  He married my mom on February 1, 1959 and they were married for 52 years before he died on January 12, 2012 at the age of 92.

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I had the privilege of calling him “dad.”  He was my mentor, hero and role model. Because of him, I am a better person and, importantly, a better dad.  I miss him every single day and not a day goes by that I do not think about him.

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I love you, dad!  Happy Birthday!!

Seattle (May 6 to 9, 2017)

My girls and I spent three nights/four days in Seattle. My oldest daughter will be attending graduate school at the University of Washington in the Fall of 2017 so we decided to make a trip to find her an apartment and to explore the city.

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Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market.  Its filled with vendors selling flowers, meat, poultry and seafood.

Like most of our travel adventures, we enjoy eating good food and this trip was no exception.  The chowder at Pike Place Chowder was the bomb!! There was a bit of wait but it was definitely worth it.  I enjoyed the smoked salmon chowder while my girls both enjoyed their New England clam chowder.  Be sure to try the dungeness crab sandwich. We ordered a half sandwich, which was more than enough for the three of us to sample. The crab was sweet and tender. We had dinner at The Metropolitan Grill and Matt’s in the Market.  Matt’s in the Market was a treat! I had the seafood stew, which was brimming over the bowl with seafood.

Between eating and taking in the sites, we did find an apartment.  It’s a great unit within walking distance of school and the grocery store.  I am excited and a bit sad.  I am officially an empty-nester.  At the same time, I am excited.  My daughters are beginning their own journey.  Their futures are bright.  As a dad, I could not be prouder.

Mom (Taeko Wakaye Ito)

My mom passed quietly in her sleep the morning of March 27, 2017.  She was 90. We held a memorial for her on April 7, 2017.

She was born in San Francisco in 1926.  In 1942, at the age of 16, she and her family were forcibly removed from their home and relocated to a federal prison camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.  There they lived for the next four years suffering through the cold Wyoming winters.

When she was released four years later, she and her family returned to San Francisco. At the age of 32, she meet her future husband (my dad) and six months after their first date, they were married on February 1, 1959.

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After trying for several years to start a family, they made the decision to adopt me and my sister.  I was beyond blessed to have them as my parents.  My mom was dedicated to my dad and, in turn, they were dedicated to their family.  My dad was my idol and my mentor.  He set the benchmark for what it means to be a dad.  I strive everyday to be just like him.  My mom taught me to push myself and to never settle.  Much of what I have accomplished in life both personally and professionally, I owe to my mom.  I miss them both and will never forget them!!

adoptiion Day
The Day My Adoption Was Finalized