Sorry this is a few days late, but we had a typhoon to contend with. I’ve been meaning to write about a recent, and very deliberate trip we took as a family. My uncle passed away a few weeks ago and we were all heartbroken, tired and searching for some kind of healing. We’re still all of that and will be for a long time.

We drove up to Baguio very early last weekend and I had been dreaming of this trip for weeks. I left my laptop and blackberry charger after half-heartedly charging my phone, hoping it would die midway and I could be truly off the grid.

Baguio is a small town about four hours by car from Manila. Because it sits some 5,000 feet above sea level, the weather averages 15-26 degrees celsius and can go to about 8 degrees around Christmas. My Dad lived in Baguio for most of his 20’s. There he got a job as a DJ, drove a white Opel, made many great friends, and dated pretty girls. My Mom reminds us of this last detail especially.

We vacationed in Baguio many times growing up, and my own memories of this foggy town are so vivid. The long, scenic drives. Pine trees everywhere, and their heady scent, equally everywhere. Flower farms and strawberry fields. Horseback riding. Those green and white, American colonial cottages. Naps by the fireplace. The hilly, twisty roads and their blanket of fog. Eggnog, hot chocolate, and ghost stories. My brothers and sister are spacing out right. about. now…

It’s been years really, and this time we took the kids. We had the view above where we stayed. And we tried to do as much as our tired bodies would allow in the two and a half days that we visited (Tip: Stay for 3 nights at least).

We had a fried chicken lunch at the old Mile Hi Diner. Before that we picked up croissants, eggs, ham, thin cookies called Butter Oats, strawberry jam, and strong coffee. So we could have breakfast in every day. It was hard getting up so cold and early in the morning to start the coffee but I managed. We also ate Chinese food at the old Rose Bowl, and marveled at how fresh the veggies were in our ho to tay.

My amazing aunt Dolores came on Day Two and together we took in the art at the BenCab Museum. The restaurant there serves this tasty and very filling Cream of Mountain Rice, and a vibrant pasta with Hungarian sausage. Later, Gabby and I had nostalgic cups of hand-churned local chocolate at Choco-late de Batirol. Nostalgic because we were not yet parents when we were there last.

Speaking of the crazies, we picked up a wooden chess board for them at this charming little shop in Mile Hi. After the rules were carefully explained to her, Caroline immediately proceeded to play chess with her own rules, thank you very much.

I have to say, I had moments of unraveling. Which is my nice way of saying that I was freaking out. Going up to Baguio we took the historic and scenic Kennon Road. I love this road, but I thought Gabby was driving too fast. I was too freaked out to notice that my kids were probably wondering why I was freaked out, and that my Mom was holding my hand. Which is her nice way of saying GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. We also had some kind of stomach bug (perfect timing). And poor Jamon was car sick all of Day One. We had the Steak and Prawn for dinner at the lovely Le Chef that first day. Jamon had a bonamine.

The kids were nursing a cold too. But they went horse back riding anyway. We stumbled upon the charming little garden of Le Monet hotel where we collected pine cones and had a staring game with this spider. We also spent some time among the pines in Camp John Hay. I’m always longing for my young, city kids to be in the presence of old trees. Maybe it’s because I feel like I know them and they know me.

I think sometimes we forget. Fond memories fade in the harsh light of a reality that is sometimes difficult. But we can return to them, don’t you think? We can know them again. Even if that takes a little time.

Sadly, on our way home from the pines, I failed to take a photo of this glorious cumulonimbus. So majestic and billowy, and sparkling with lightning, it moved swiftly and quietly across Baguio’s clear, dusk sky. My Dad says the clouds are so near in Baguio you can almost touch them.

Next time… and thanks for reading.