I first heard of a “roots trip” from my Auntie Teresa. Every year she would take her son and nieces and nephews on a day trip to visit her family’s childhood home on Tehama St. in San Francisco. It’s the same house, with 3 separate flats – one on each floor, where my grandparents lived in their early years in the US after immigrating from the Philippines and where my mom lived as a child. My mom and my Lola and Lolo lived on the top floor, Auntie Teresa and her family lived on the middle floor, and my Auntie Rosalie lived on the bottom floor. Auntie Teresa still does this trip every year, now with her grandkids, to show the younger generations where they came from. Where their roots were. They also visit other places around the city that are special for their family. And although our trip to California this summer was not intentionally a “roots trip” exactly, it really was one because we got to show Calvin and Henry, who were too young to remember living there, where they came from and places that are important and special to our family.
Calvin was SO excited to see our old house! He had been talking about it for months. Actually, he had been asking to go see our old house ever since we moved to North Carolina! It’s my Lola’s house. It’s the house where she and my Lolo and my mom moved after the place on Tehama St. It’s the house where I lived with my parents and my grandparents as a kid. It’s the house I moved back into as a newlywed, this time into the in-law apartment downstairs. And it’s the house where we started our branch of the family – Henry was actually born there! So it was really special to bring the kids back, and although Henry probably didn’t understand the significance, Calvin was excited about it for the both of them 🙂
We went to the park in our old neighborhood. Got my favorite sandwiches from the store down the street (On Dutch crunch bread!!! – If you’ve never had it, go to SF and find it!). Checked out what was new and what was still there.
We went to some of our favorite restaurants in the city to eat some of our favorite dishes. My parents and brother were with us, so we had help with the boys. We had the cajun shrimp at Cha Cha Cha’s… Diana’s Special from Henry’s Hunan (not named after me, but might as well be, it’s my fave!)… Indian pizza with korma sauce from Zante’s… and ice cream from Mitchell’s! As we sat outside of Mitchell’s eating our ice cream in the chilly San Francisco summer weather, Calvin said, “I like this city even though it’s cold. It makes my ice cream not melt!”
James and I also took the kids to Park Chalet, which was a favorite of ours because of the lawn that opens out onto Golden Gate park so the kids can run around and play.
When we lived there, James and I used to love taking the boys on beach picnics. It’s not like a beach picnic where we live now in North Carolina 🙂 The water’s not warm enough to swim and the weather is rarely warm by the ocean there in NorCal. But the boys always loved playing in the sand and visiting the tidepools. When Calvin was a toddler, we once saw an octopus in the tidepools at Moss Beach! It spat water at us, lol. So on our trip this summer, we went back to those tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach and checked out the anemones and snails and teeny tiny crabs. It’s also a sanctuary for harbor seals, so we saw them lounging out on the rocks.
After visiting the tidepools, we drove down past Half Moon Bay to Bean Hollow State Beach, which is really cool because it’s a pebble beach – so instead of sand under your toes, the beach is made up of small, smooth pebbles. Henry loved it! Beaches are always a great sensory experience for Henry, but the pebble beach was really special.
We drove up to Muir Woods to see the beautiful old growth redwoods. It’s so gorgeous, it’s always worth a visit! We also went to Muir Beach and did a little hike on the trails near there. Muir Beach has one of those great wheelchair access walkways. As a parent of a child with mobility issues, things like that are nice to see.
We took a walk down at Land’s End to see hazy views of the bridge.
We met up with some friends and their kids and spent a morning at the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo is one of my favorite places to go because I used to LOVE taking the boys to the zoo when we lived there. We lived really close to it and we went, like, every other week!
As we drove around the city, we would point things out to the kids, like the hospital where Calvin was born, AT&T park where we would go see the Giants play, places in Golden Gate Park where we would go for picnics.
We visited a lot of my west coast family. My aunties, my cousins, and of course, my Lola!
We even went to a big family & friends picnic that my Auntie Teresa organizes every other year with tons of food, games, and photo ops 🙂 This year’s theme was Wild West.
It was an awesome trip. I had been nervous about traveling with the babies – the plane ride, walking around the city, eating at restaurants – all of it! But, they did great! I was especially worried about Henry on the plane. I’ve read stressful stories about kids with autism having a difficult time with plane rides, and I’ve been the parent with the crying baby in the past. But we took a chance on flying red-eye and both kids were able to sleep during the flight – Hallelujah!!
I’m so glad we made the trip. We’ll do another trip back to California not too far in the future, hopefully. And maybe next time we’ll really make it a roots trip and show the boys their Granny’s old house on Tehama St. 🙂