West Coast.

#17 If you laugh if you cry...

Img: plant, tree, grove, land, nature, outdoors, vegetation, woodland, redwood, road
Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota

My birthday dinner was different from usual, but it was also delicious.

In our cute little corner we had two large families together, and although we didn't have chairs for everyone, we were very comfortable.

The children arrived with a beautiful bouquet saying: Happy 29th Birthday Mrs. Mota (I love it!) and although it was a grown-up birthday, the under-5s went wild.

  • Img: adult, female, person, woman, cup, microwave, child, girl, indoors, meal
  • Img: people, person, brunch, child, female, girl, boy, male, couch, cup
  • Img: cheese, food, cutlery, fork, cup, blade, knife, weapon
  • Img: person, portrait, potted plant, furniture, chair, cushion, living room, child, female, girl

The seafood rice was great, and for the first time I got to know a wonderful variety of See Candie's bonbons, the 7 children automatically in self-management, and we with a practically adult program, good conversation and a late night. "Pati's happy!"

Then it was time to pack and prepare for the spring trip, aka spring break.

Img: nature, outdoors, sky, scenery, rainbow, landscape, grass, plant, countryside, grassland

We're about to turn off Rossio onto Betesga Street, and the six of us set off with our suitcases and luggage for San Francisco.

Although I was very keen to visit, the opinions I've heard about this city have left me with cautious expectations...

Between the logistics of visiting a very urban environment with 2 girls, a ninja and a Mel to accompany, with vertiginous ascents and descents, cultural programs, and everything I heard about the problem of homelessness, we briefed the troupe to control any surprises that weren't so "wow".

We've been lucky with everything in this city.

With the spot we chose to sleep, with the weather, with the guides who were able to explain the curiosities of this city to us, with the spontaneous conversations between guides and daughters, who understood and enjoyed the "Live and let Live" that is lived here.

We started in Sausalito, which is like the Riviera of Northern California.

It's beautiful, charming, picturesque and very much like... Cascais! Sister Cities and all! A thrill.

  • Img: boat, sailboat, watercraft, flower, lupin, water, waterfront, person, summer, tree
  • Img: nature, outdoors, scenery, sky, land, landscape, summer, boat, horizon, sea
  • Img: grass, park, lawn, neighborhood, photography, person, portrait, tree, vegetation, teen
  • Img: pants, potted plant, person, photography, portrait, planter, jeans, herbal, fountain, shoe
  • Img: pants, path, tree, sidewalk, walkway, jeans, boy, child, male, person
  • Img: water, waterfront, pants, pier, person, portrait, port, wood, shoe, jeans
  • Img: path, shorts, city, street, pants, shelter, backpack, person, portrait, sidewalk
  • Img: grass, pants, lawn, boy, child, male, person, portrait, park, shoe
  • Img: traffic light, shoe, person, pedestrian, canine, dog, pet, chair, pants, hoodie

As you can see from the photos, Matias was going crazy, posing completely naturally, his sisters trying to keep up, and Mel was always with us everywhere.

San Francisco has an impressive light and a number of similarities with Lisbon.

On the free tours we took, we learned how the amount of gold shaped this history, how the architecture had such a French influence after the earthquake, and how entrepreneurs find inspiration and funds in SF to grow brilliant ideas that change so many people's lives.

We also learned that more than 90% of the homeless in SF are from other states, who have found a climate here that is tolerant of their presence.

According to the guide, if there is anywhere in the world that can find a solution to this problem, it might be SF. Let's hope it's soon!

As far as we were concerned, with the troupe we were taking, we completely avoided problem areas and got a wonderful idea of this city.

  • Img: bridge, golden gate bridge, landmark, boat, transportation, vehicle
  • Img: face, head, person, photography, portrait, glasses, sunglasses, people, adult, woman
  • Img: person, urban, people, footwear, shoe, car, vehicle, dog, outdoors, shelter
  • Img: pants, person, photography, portrait, jeans, shoe, purple, dog, hound, flower arrangement
  • Img: flower, plant, petal, cherry blossom, outdoors
  • Img: city, urban, downtown, office building, metropolis, shoe, person, handbag, clock tower, high rise
  • Img: city, urban, cityscape, car, vehicle, clock tower, traffic light, person, bus, metropolis
  • Img: path, walkway, city, flagstone, person, urban, lamp, street, sign, lantern
  • Img: city, street, urban, people, person, pants, handbag, boy, child, male

We always ended each day in awe of the number of kilometers we had covered, and proud of these 6 without protest, even when, in the madness of trying to reach all our plans, we climbed all kinds of hills, even with cats.

SF with children is an intense experience that I thoroughly recommend.

  • Img: people, person, clothing, pants, female, girl, teen, footwear, shoe
  • Img: land, nature, outdoors, boat, transportation, vehicle, sea, water, building, tower
  • Img: sunglasses, person, photography, portrait, shelter, city, glasses, people, shoe, male
  • Img: city, cityscape, urban, neighborhood, road, street, metropolis, car, suburb, high rise
  • Img: pedestrian, person, clothing, pants, walking
  • Img: people, person, pants, female, girl, teen, shoe, glove, handbag, road sign
  • Img: pants, city, female, girl, person, teen, street, neighborhood, people, walking
  • Img: person, clothing, footwear, shoe
  • Img: window
  • Img: window, city, bay window, urban, person

The stories on every corner, the gardens, the views, the streetcars, the restaurants (thanks for the tips, Elaine!), the seals and sea lions, the music, the chocolates, and the flowers everywhere made our Easter different but very sweet.

In one of the parks, among the crowds, a lady was scattering Easter eggs, and a rabbit who had come to sunbathe with his owners. My children thought it had been planned for them, and they snatched up so many eggs that they had a glucose spike and lots of laughs.

I don't know whether to laugh...

On our last day in SF, Rodrigo called one of the robot taxis and put us inside for a futuristic experience, much appreciated by the little ones. He booked us in October, and we've just had the chance!

Of all the things we've experienced in this city, where gold is now called technology, this one was clearly remarkable—for everyone!

Img: clothing, coat, head, person, face, jacket, photography, portrait, happy, belt

It's amazing how comfortable driving is, how quickly it adapts to everything that comes up, and how naturally, after a few minutes, we're no longer afraid!

We headed to the Redwoods via The Avenue of the Giants the next day.

I have a crush on the Cascais Marginal, but this Avenue is stunning. Photographs can't show the scale and spectacular nature of the landscape.

  • Img: plant, tree, grove, land, nature, outdoors, vegetation, woodland, redwood, road
  • Img: fir, tree, nature, outdoors, scenery, conifer, vegetation, pine, road, canoeing
  • Img: plant, tree, fir, conifer, vegetation, nature, outdoors, scenery
  • Img: plant, tree, grove, vegetation, woodland, car, transportation, vehicle, person, redwood
  • Img: field, grassland, nature, outdoors, countryside, meadow, pasture, fir, tree, grass
  • Img: grove, pants, tree, vegetation, woodland, person, portrait, park, jeans, teen
  • Img: grove, land, tree, vegetation, woodland, pants, photography, portrait, path, hiking
  • Img: head, photography, portrait, grass, park, tree, vegetation, woodland, people, glasses
  • Img: tree, grove, land, vegetation, woodland, adult, male, man, person, redwood
  • Img: pants, tree, vegetation, grove, land, woodland, park, portrait, rock, jeans

We picnicked in a park and were able to be close to Sequoias in the middle of the woods.

It was really worth it to go up beyond SF to California, even further north, and get to know this marvel of the red forest up close.

  • Img: plant, tree, tree trunk, redwood
  • Img: vegetation, tree, coat, people, person, photography, portrait, woodland, jacket, female
  • Img: pants, tree, jeans, person, portrait, female, girl, teen, people, shoe

We headed south again and went to Carmel and Monterrey.

Carmel is a fairytale setting.

Clint Eastwood was the mayor when I was there for the first time. In addition to the privileged location, Carmel-by-the-Sea has a cluster of beautiful restaurants, art galleries, lovely stores, tea rooms, and quaint pastry stores that I haven't seen anywhere else in the world. Our crazy dog, who accompanies us everywhere, needed a name beginning with C and was registered as CarMel because of this idyllic place.

Mel could always be with us, and in some restaurants, there was also ice water for her and a dog menu—a real luxury. Mel was truly at home.

  • Img: shelter, pants, person, portrait, urban, shoe, potted plant, city, neighborhood, dog
  • Img: urban, path, walkway, shelter, city, shoe, neighborhood, flagstone, person, potted plant
  • Img: city, planter, potted plant, road, street, urban, alley, neighborhood, path, herbal
  • Img: horizon, nature, sky, grass, scenery, vegetation, portrait, summer, shoe, pants
  • Img: neighborhood, plant, nature, outdoors, suburb, countryside, person, architecture, building, housing
  • Img: potted plant, planter, pottery, vase, flower, flower arrangement, city, path, person, flag
  • Img: neighborhood, shelter, city, path, shoe, person, urban, dog, housing, handbag

In Monterrey, the kids loved the aquarium and the surrounding environment, ate Clam Chowder and landed in awe. Even Mel fell asleep on the floor, which given her aristocratic qualities is quite a feat.

  • Img: pants, shoe, people, person, boy, male, teen, aquarium, child, aquatic
  • Img: animal, sea life, invertebrate, jellyfish
  • Img: aquatic, water, nature, outdoors, reef, person, scuba diving, aquarium, fish, underwater
  • Img: animal, sea life, invertebrate, jellyfish
  • Img: aquatic, water, aquarium, fish, nature, outdoors, reef, sea, coral reef, amphiprion
  • Img: pants, people, person, city, walking, shoe, urban, boy, child, male
  • Img: pants, person, photography, portrait, boy, male, teen, shoe, child, girl
  • Img: water, waterfront, boat, sailboat, harbor, pier, watercraft, port, marina, person
  • Img: food, meal, dish, bowl, soup bowl, food presentation, plate, gravy
  • Img: fireplace, indoors, animal, canine, dog, mammal, pet, hearth, floor

We said goodbye to this sort of residence of Snow White and the seven dwarfs and did a bit of Big Sur.

Again, although the Marginal is the big favorite, Big Sur is magnificent.

It's reminiscent of the Costa Vicentina (I don't know whether to laugh...) with steroids, whales, and sea lions.

  • Img: nature, outdoors, sky, horizon, sea, water, scenery, beach, land, promontory
  • Img: land, nature, outdoors, promontory, water, sea, scenery, shoreline, coast, grass
  • Img: nature, outdoors, sky, landscape, scenery, cloud, sea, promontory, horizon, land

On the final stretch of our road trip, with 24/7 intense socializing and conversation, games, breathtaking landscapes, an excess of Taylor Swift, an adventurous spirit running high, the hope of having created a few more memories, and the km on our bodies also running high, we still strolled around San Luis Obispo, Solvang, and Santa Barbara.

What a privileged place this state is.

  • Img: brick, face, head, person, photography, portrait, finger, smile, people, sweater
  • Img: wood, shoe, hardwood, pants, canine, hound, jeans, floor, interior design, puppy
  • Img: city, neighborhood, person, car, shoe, plant, handbag, urban, glove, hat
  • Img: shelter, flag, urban, female, girl, person, teen, shoe, path, city
  • Img: footwear, shoe, handbag, person, outdoors, plant, horse, shelter, road, road sign
  • Img: neighborhood, city, road, street, urban, path, shelter, sidewalk, pants, portrait
  • Img: summer, shoe, palm tree, tree, person, bicycle, hat, boat, cycling, outdoors

We arrived home tired, and I didn't realize how tired we were until after a shower and pajamas, we threw ourselves on the bed and fell asleep, perhaps before touching the pillow.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the lights still on in the room and everything sound asleep. And I really felt at home...

At the weekend, we still managed to do the Library Tour, which is one of the top Saturday morning programs, and line up bacalhau a Brás and pizza night to catch up with local friends... All delicious, and the desire to restart the routine with eclipse mixed in.

  • Img: computer, electronics, laptop, pc, computer hardware, computer keyboard, hardware, dog, mammal, pet
  • Img: wood, machine, spoke, bicycle, transportation, vehicle, hardwood, wheel
  • Img: book, furniture, table, desk, tabletop, person, computer keyboard, text, chair, wheel
  • Img: clothing, costume, person, dog, mammal, pet, face, head, photo frame, floor
  • Img: dining room, dining table, table, lunch, meal, restaurant, adult, female, person, woman
  • Img: brunch, cup, boy, child, male, person, female, girl, people, knife
  • Img: food, pizza, food presentation
  • Img: food, pizza, food presentation
  • Img: food, pizza, food presentation
  • Img: arugula, food, leafy green vegetable, plant, produce, vegetable, pizza, food presentation

Meanwhile, after the eclipse, we managed to surprise the brothers with the arrival of the abuelitos. We know they miss us, but catching them off guard and making them cry with happiness is wonderful. Grandparent-grandchild relationships are very powerful indeed.

The start of the week just got a whole lot sweeter...

Mercedes, for once, had recovered from her surprise and explained, "This has been happening to me a lot lately... I feel things so strongly that I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

But it's really, really good."

That's it.

More Stories

Img: nature, outdoors, weather, tree, rainforest, vegetation, fog, mist, fir, redwood

# 18 Land of the free, home of the brave

I've always loved anthems. Despite the warlike tone, I always found it amusing to hear emotional players before matches chanting a kind of motivational speech for the match.

Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota
Img: flower, plant, petal, anemone, geranium, daisy, poppy, field, outdoors, nature

#16 Never worse but never better

The phenomenon has already taken hold of this family, and although they won't admit it, the truth is that we have two Swifties in the house. And a loyal fan. I like it more and more myself, I must confess. We found Wonderland...

Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota
Img: nature, outdoors, sky, scenery, sunrise, mountain range, landscape, sun, sunlight, vegetation

#15 Solo walking at night and opportunities

We picked Mercedes up from the bus when we arrived at the OSS (Outdoor Science School) camp and when we saw her with a big smile, it was heaven. She hugged us and the first thing she said was: "Mommy, I did a solo hike in the night"...

Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota
Img: road, freeway, highway, car, vehicle, pickup truck, cityscape, city, person, wheel

#14 Palm trees and white peaks

Diversity is what best defines California, it seems to me. Of cultures, landscapes, possible experiences, flavors, fauna and flora, the open-mindedness of those who live here...

Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota