As I have mentioned before, my wife’s particular career choice provides us with some very fortunate traveling opportunities throughout North America. Whenever possible we bring the kids along for the ride and make family vacations out of these opportunities.
While traveling to different cities there is always the highly marketed attractions and theme parks, however we tend to migrate to site-seeing opportunities that are more cultural, such as museums, historical landmarks and parks; after all, we figure if we are going to take the girls out of school to partake in these trips, it is important to include some learning into the vacation.
We were quite fortunate last year to attend a conference is San Jose, California; and even more fortunate to have attended again this year. San Jose is a city with many wonderful cultural attractions, this year we made a return visit to the Children’s Discovery Museum. This museum focuses on sensory activities for kids of all ages, most, if not all of their exhibits are interactive and provide a creative and imaginative learning experience. Our daughters were able to explore science and engineering, learn about healthy eating in the Rainbow Market, experience city life in a life size re-creation of a streetscape, blow bubbles, and many more exciting things, including all kinds of craft activities and building with life size foam blocks; a very imaginative exhibit which happened to be sponsored by Intuit, which was the company holding the QB Connect conference that my wife was attending. Needless to say, the girls had an absolute blast and took with them many new creative thoughts.
On the same theme as museums, San Jose also has an incredible Science and Technology centre called The Tech, which is a self described “museum of innovation“. Again this was a must see this year as the girls enjoyed is so much on their visit last year, much like the Discovery Centre, this museum is very interactive and provided numerous learning opportunities for the girls, from science based crafts (building butterflies using links and hinges) to interactive motion screens teaching about balance, the human body and exploring space and geography. I asked the girls which exhibit the enjoyed the most and it was definitely the in the new biology exhibit; they were at a station which had them perform real science experiments where they used DNA to create their own bacteria and analyze it.
Of course museums and technology centres are great learning environments, however sometimes you come across other cultural opportunities that are inspiring and make you truly appreciate things in life, as were are typically too busy to notice them sometimes. While walking through a park in downtown San Jose, we came across a musical swing set, as people would swing, it would play a beautiful melody, with a unique sound depending on how fast the swings were moving, and if all of them work moving or just some. While my wife and I observed this beautiful park feature, we could not help to notice that the swing was drawing in people of all ages, all walks of life and many different cultures. Everyone felt comfortable on this swing, nobody was being judged, there was no costs to swing on it, there was just one thing in common with everyone, they all had smiles on their faces, not to mention the joy it brought to all of the passers-by. So “well done” San Jose, a fixture in your downtown park has broken down barriers and reminds people to stop and enjoy the simple things in life, which sometimes includes embracing our neighbours and fellow park goers.
Later the same day as our swing set experience we were absolutely in awe of the annual Dia De Los Muertos festival, which is San Jose’s “Day of the Dead” celebration. This is a
celebration of life, observed by Mexicans and other cultures too. We arrived at the square
where people were gathering for a procession through downtown San Jose; this included hundreds of participants, young and old. There will traditional dancers, drummers and even people on stilts; many wore costumes and had their faces painted. What was truly great for us is that they asked us if we would like to join them in the procession, of course we said yes and were glad we did, what a memorable experience this was. The girls has so much fun and were truly amazed at this cultural celebration.
During one of our final days in California we traveled to San Francisco, now having not rented a car while we were here, we figured that we would try Uber out; so I downloaded the app entered in our location and what our destination was and literally within minutes their was a car at the front of the hotel to whisk us off to San Francisco, this service is great. We decided to check out the Fisherman’s Wharf area, which is very lively; while there we seen street performers, checked out some souvenir shops and had lunch at a place called Franciscan Crab Restaurant which seemed to be a go-to place for celebrities, with pictures on their walls of folks like Jack Nicholson, Lucille Ball, Dustin Hoffman and Anthony Hopkins to name a few, the exterior looked like a ship and the interior had a vintage fifties vibe. The food was incredible and the very entertaining atmosphere was enjoyed by the girls.
So overall I would say that our latest experience in California was very cool, the kids had fun as alway, they swam in the outdoor pool in late October; because, well they’re Canadian! and we checked out great culture. So now it seems that California has definitely made it onto our list of our favourite destinations. With the focus on culture and learning, it certainly makes for a rewarding and memorable experience for the girls, and for my wife and I too. So if you ever have the good fortune of finding yourself in California, it’s an absolutely beautiful part of the world! Not too mention when you travel in the fall the weather is perfect.
And by-the-way, the conference my wife attended was an amazing experience for her, she was named the 2016 Firm of the Future representing Canada, which allowed her to rub elbows with some celebrities, network with new and existing colleagues in the industry and overall strengthen her place on the Global Stage as a leader and innovator in Cloud Accounting. Congratulations to my wife Jennie on a very successful year in business, all the while being an amazing, dedicated and involved wife and mother!