Xin Nian Kuai Le!
(click image for larger view or look at our entire Flickr set here: Gwen & Maddy's Chinese New Year 2009)
Another beautiful day in San Francisco. This time, we grabbed breakfast and headed straight to Golden Gate Park and lucked into a perfect parking place in front of the most perfect sunny playground. Those of you with small kids will also appreciate how excited we were to find a clean public restroom about 50 yards from the park. We played for about an hour then walked to the San Francisco Botanical Garden (Arboretum) where our little girls chased squirrels and seagulls while we basked in the beauty of all the splendid plants, trees and flowers. Once, we saw a fantastic fancy orange flower and Gwen stepped closer to investigate while Maddy just gasped at it with her mouth wide open. They willingly posed for pictures and spent the best part of two hours climbing trees and being the "leaders" as we followed them up and down every path in the place. We'll absolutely come back here again! When we walked back to the car, we stopped to pose for a quick photo by a magnificant giant old (Oak?) tree. I love taking pictures in places like this because I know this tree has been around since for several hundred years and will likely be around many more. My girls will probably visit here as adults and it'll be so amazing to look back at these old photos from their childhood. I get shivers just thinking about it.
After the Arboretum, we drove to the Chinese New Year Parade and immediately regretted not arriving more than an hour before the parade started. They estimated about 500,000 spectators and with the sudden break in bad weather, we're pretty sure they had at least that many. Every part of the parade route was 10 rows deep in people and there really wasn't any way we were willing to be in the 11th row. But, again, we got incredibly lucky and happened to be at the intersection of Geary and Powell when the police closed off the street so we were able to snag a prime spot right in the front and watch the entire parade as it marched straight toward us and turned the corner. I asked one of the police officers to take our photo (lower left corner photo, above) so you can see how quickly ten rows of people formed behind us. Really, I can't even start to imagine why would anyone want to see a parade like that?
Anyway, the girls were very excited about the parade. They've been practicing saying Xin Nian Kuai Le for many weeks and they were thrilled to get to put their new language skills to use. As far as they were concerned, the highlight of the parade was the great big dragon so when he passed, it was pretty easy to convince them that the parade was over (even though two more hours remained). We stopped for a quick bite to eat on the way home and still managed to get into bed by 9:00 PM. All in all, a totally perfect day in nearly every way!