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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

The First of Many Family Dinners – California & The Canyons

The California and the Canyon trip checks in from San Francisco.

Dear Families,

What an amazing few days we’ve had so far!!! We have already seen so much, and we keep hearing everyone talking about how it feels like we’ve known each other forever! We are lucky to have trip members from all over the world including Ludovika from Italy, Bence from Hungary, Victor from France, Ebba and Rakel from Sweden, and a bunch from all over Canada and the United States. All these different backgrounds have made our Westcoast family a truly unique one! The excitement all started on Monday when we played icebreakers to get to know one another. Right away, we found out how much we all had in common, and how talented and interesting our new friends were. Saffire is a songwriter, Ryan can play piano by ear, and David is a talented baseball player.

Our first stop in San Francisco was the cable car, which we took to Chinatown together. There truly is no better way to travel across a city. We had a feast at a Chinese restaurant, our first of many family dinners, and heard laughs coming from each table throughout the night. Kim’s fortune cookie was especially fitting for our trip: “You will make some of your closest friends in the very near future.”

Tuesday was a jam-packed day from beginning to end. After breakfast at the hotel, we hopped on the bus to Alcatraz and listened to our morning song for the first time. ‘Say Hey (I Love You)’ by Michael Franti will start off our days until we leave (so don’t be surprised if you hear it coming from your kid’s room on repeat for hours on end when they get home). We all went on a tour of the prison and learned so much about its history (and got to see where Al Capone and other famous prisoners spent years on end). Alix H mentioned how she got so much from the audio tour and really got a sense of what Alcatraz might have been like when it was open. Afterwards, we made our way to Pier 39 where we enjoyed lunch and saw the beautiful boat-filled pier and bay. We then finished off the afternoon by enjoying our hotel’s beautiful pool and facilities before heading off to a baseball game in Oakland! We had such an amazing time and even did our ‘Toaster’ dance from our seats (all 52 of us!).

The next day we had our first celebrity sighting when we were eating breakfast at Panera. Ally, Meredith, Kaily and Sloane met Andy Grammer, who gave them a CD to listen to on our bus! After breakfast, we visited one of the most famous landmarks in the US – the Golden Gate Bridge – and felt so lucky to be there on such a clear day. After taking some great photos from the lookout, we even walked along the bridge and got truck drivers to honk for us when they passed by. Darby, with Lindsay and Jennifer’s help, convinced some tourists that she was a famous Canadian TV star – and the tourists even took pictures of her!!! Speaking of Darby, we just celebrated her 16th birthday, and our goal was to sing Happy Birthday everywhere we went. We sang it in more than 16 times (in English, French, Hebrew, Swedish, and Italian thanks to our international trip members). And then we’ll start all over again for Lloyd’s birthday. After the bridge, we spent the afternoon in Sausalito, one of the most beautiful cities. The sky was clear, and the sun was shining through. Our meeting spot was in a park facing many sailboats making their way through the bay. We then went to Ghirardelli Square and indulged in some incredible chocolate treats. After dinner at a 50’s style diner, we went bowling and had the entire bowling alley to ourselves to play some amazing games!

Hope this hasn’t made you all too jealous!!!

All the best,
Your Staff: Lauren, Michael, Louis, Jill, Carly, and Laura

The Westcoast Blogger