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The Boston Park Plaza Hotel - Boston, MA

Dear Diary,
We followed the pull of our hearts to Boston, and spent Christmas with Nick during his overnight.

Life as an aviation family is unconventional at best, as his work schedule extends beyond that of a typical 9-5. It's equal opportunity, meaning it does not discriminate against birthdays or holidays. His presence and witness to family milestones and moments, especially now that we have children, are definitely a priority of mine.

After a delay at O'Hare, the kids and I boarded an outbound flight where the crew passed out warm, fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and (free) wine for Mom. We landed, Ubered our way to the hotel and were reunited as a family at around midnight EST time.

The Boston Park Plaza Hotel is a Boston icon, and recently renovated to blend its celebrated history with modern amenity and design. Located near Boston Commons, and highly sought after for its ideal location near many a historic site, it was a grand setting for our family's Christmas celebration.

(This gingerbread house made in the hotel's likeness was absolutely insane!) 

(I've since added a similar chess set to my Amazon list for our own library in-progress.) 

 (And suddenly, I need a pair of Nutcracker soldiers to stand guard on my front porch!)

(The hotel lobby was very festive and grand.) 

(There were many an intense game.)

Construction began in 1925, and E.M. Statler opened The Statler Hotel in 1927. For five decades, it was the largest independent hotel in New England, and the 8th-largest hotel in the world.

Where the hotel now stands was once beachfront property where British troops landed to embark for the Battle of Lexington. The bay was later filled in to form what is now known as Boston's Back Bay.

Boston Park Plaza has also been a destination for U.S. Presidents, and all but 2 in that time have stayed there.

We ate a delicious Christmas dinner at Fogo de Chao, where I ceremoniously flagged down the server with the filet mignon and we toasted to us being together. Snow had fallen upon the city the night before, as if the spirit of the holidays gifted us with such a traditional scene.

We all agreed that 'home' is wherever we're together, and the holidays are best spent in keeping with that theme. Perhaps next year, our families can make the trip to our country house should Nick be lucky enough to have it off.

If not, it's still a comfort to know that Nick is just a flight away so we can be together for the holiday.

If you stay:
Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

San Diego Walking Tour

Dear Diary,
I confess that my final San Diego-related post presents as a compilation of photos and mere captions rather than a developing story line. I've already covered the main two I followed - my son's tournament, and "Yankee" Jim.
The rest of the hours were filled shopping for souvenirs at artisan bazaars.

We "discovered" Casa Guadalajara, and I have no shame in admitting we ate here twice in the 4 days we were in town. It's been named the Best Mexican Restaurant in San Diego for 2017, and I can see why. The food (and margaritas!) are delicious!

No photos of my meal - I was more focused on devouring it.

While we were in Old Town, we toured the Mission Battalion. Nick and Madelyn panned for "gold" - we don't have the heart to spoil the thrill of her finds and tell her the "nuggets" are merely spray-painted rocks.

Let her imagination run rampant!

Meanwhile, I admired the tile work on the Mission's stairs.

(Another church in Old Town)

Imagine being locked in this jail cell as the sun beats down on it - that alone feels like enough of a deterrent.

(A belated Merry Christmas to you and yours!)

The Beach at Sunset - San Diego, CA

Dear Diary,
Viewing a sunset from the Pacific coastline rivals anything I've witnessed previously and comparatively in the Midwest.
There is magic in the spot where the crystal waters meet a watercolor sky.

Madelyn couldn't wait to touch it.

Though we're a little early, I saw agreeable symmetry in this moment. She began 2017 swimming in the Pacific Ocean. She might as well close her year by stepping into it's surf.

The water was freezing, she admitted, but she remained undeterred.

The Coast Guard must have it rough to be based here - to patrol the San Diego beaches at dusk is sure to be quite a site.

As I write the final words of this post, I am cuddled beneath multiple layers plus a blanket. These images of California sunsets and palm trees are successfully working to warm my soul again.

El Campo Santo Cemetery (The Holy Field) - San Diego, CA

Dear Diary,
After lunch, we completed our tour of Old Town San Diego with a stop at 'The Holy Field'.

The site was founded in 1849 as a Catholic Cemetery. After the last body was interred in 1880, many of the grave sites were unjustly paved over to make room for "progress" and a railway.

This reportedly created the foundation for many a reported haunting, but I could only feel it's lingering sadness.

While a few of the markers are damaged or missing, it's obvious that descendants continue to visit. A couple of the sites had flower offerings, and one had a few toys.

The more notable graves included printed cards about the deceased.

There are 477 bodies buried here, but unfortunately, not all of them retain their graves. In fact, when you venture outside the fence line, pay attention to where you step. Beneath your feet are small placards the size of coins marking the site of graves belonging to "natives," who were considered "too uncivilized" for burial within the boundaries of the hollowed ground. Now, they rest beneath busy sidewalks.

It wasn't until after I had returned home that I learned "Yankee" Jim Robinson was buried in this cemetery, and he is blamed for many of the unexplained mechanical failures that occur. It's said that in 1996, the residents and business owners in Old Town pooled their money together to have the location exorcised, and the activity significantly diminished since.

Whether you chase ghosts, or simply a good story to tell, Old Town San Diego has plenty to uncover.

Seals - La Jolla Beach, CA

Dear Diary,
In our downtime, we made the short trek from our hotel to La Jolla at the recommendation of our waitress at breakfast.

"I watched the seals for a half hour the other day," she admitted. "It's something really cool to see."

She was right. 

This particular beach was closed to the public since it's pupping season!

This is by far one of my favorite types of tree lines.

Landen later mentioned that one of his team's activities was to see the seals, too. I'm happy he got to experience them.

We walked down the seaside path towards a cove with public access. There, we were able to get within feet of the seals.

Being treated to such a site is one we won't soon forget!