Saturday, August 30, 2008

An email from Jake in Japan

So we walked for nearly seven hours! And half the time it was in the rain!

Not like Kodiak rain, though. This rain was warm and cooling at the same time.

We took a train out to Kamakura about 11am. There's a street called "Shopping Road" or something to that effect. It's packed with shops, but not like Busan. These places are nicer, trendier, and cleaner. Every other store on the street sells icecream. EVERY store has umbrella holders in the doorway. But shopping wasn't our goal.
We went to a Buddist temple Heath had heard about. It was about a half hour walk, kinda up-hill. Then more up hill. We didn't pay to go inside, becuase photography wasn't allowed inside anyways. Oddly, at the entrance to the shrine a band was setting up. We walked all around and saw a HUGE koi pond, with the weird lilly-type plants that seem to filter water up through the stem then out the top of the plant. Also in the pond were turtles and ducks. (Ducks sound the same in Japanese as they do in English.)

After about an hour walking around there, we headed to McDonalds, which was all the way back at the train station. I had a Big Mac, fires, and a Coke for 550 Yen. Then we walked to the Kencho-Ji Zen Temple, which was about 30 minutes past the first temple. The place was gorgeous, the sun had come out, the artwork was fantastic. Everything you imagine Japan should be like.

Then we walked back to the train station (down hill from this point) to get our bearings and headed out to the Great Buddha. We got there about half an hour before it closed. That sucker his Huge! for 20 yen you can go inside, but we were tired. We walked back to the train station, it rained some more. Then back to the base. That was our day.

I love you very much.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're back!

We made it back to Kodiak. It's good to be home, but boy, we sure do miss Papa Carl, Grandma Mary, Grandma Mari and Papa David! We've been busy with all kinds of last minute stuff to get ready to start school next week. We came home to this beautiful sign on our front door made by our neighbors from across the hall...isn't that so sweet??

Why? What's the significance? I don't know!

Sorry, for those that are clueless, the title of this post is just a little shout-out to my Pee-Wee sistas out know who you are...

Anyway. My point is, that there is actually something quite significant about this seemingly boring picture of these shelves in my house. There is a very glaring lack of Star Wars guys lined up...which means...that Nate is officially potty trained! He did so well on our trip and has not had to wear a diaper in over two weeks! I thought he deserved all the remaining Star Wars guys that we had on the shelf, so I scooped them up and dumped them into his waiting arms, last night!! WOO HOO!!!!! I am so proud of all his hard work and can't even begin to express my excitement when I think about the fact that I will most likely never have to purchase another diaper in my life (unless, of course, my darling niece Faith Olive is in need of something for her cute little bottom). Let's pause for a moment of silence while we absorb that thought, shall we?........Ah, yes. Life is good.

Hermiston pictures

Here are some pictures of Hermiston, finally. We had a lot of fun out there, but it was so dang hot! All the pictures I took were of the kids running in the sprinklers, well, because that's all they did! Here are some from Grandma Minton's birthday party:

Here are some from Aunt Peggy's house:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going back to Kodiak tomorrow!

Farewell,, I mean "Lower 48"! We are headed back to Alaska tomorrow. I admit I'm ready for my own bed, DVR and coffee pot, but I am not quite ready to get back to any of the rest of it. I really love being down here, especially Sequim and Gig Harbor. I can't wait until 2010 so that we can move back to this neck of the woods. Anyway, I guess that's neither here nor there. The fact is we have to go back tomorrow, and I might as well be excited about the little things, so, little apartment in Kodiak, here we come! I am actually excited about Joanna starting kindergarten and Nate starting preschool. I think they're going to love it! I also have Halloween costumes to make, which should put my basic sewing skills to the test. Plus, every day that goes by is one less day that Jake is away, and that is always a good thing.

Anyway, that's it from here! Talk to you on the flip side soon!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Trip update

We're in Hermiston, OR right now visiting with Jake's mom's side of the family. For those that are unaware, Jake's mom is the oldest of 10. Yes, 10. I love Jake's family. They are so fun and full of excitement (read: drama). I'm kidding (sorta). They really are a fun family and I love them all very much. The weather is HOT, HOT, HOT right now. It definitely is over 100 degrees, which is fine with me. I feel like I'm really getting some summer! I will admit, though, that I prefer Western Washington temps to this. But hey, there's nothing like a swealtering summer day and a Hermiston watermelon to go with it! :) We will be celebrating Jake's grandma's 75th birthday on Sunday with a big party, complete with huge tents and all! It will be fun. We'll be back in Gig Harbor on Monday and then it's back to Kodiak on Sunday the 24th.

In other news, I have something exciting to share! I am going to be traveling to Japan early this fall! (I can't give specific dates because I don't want to violate the "Loose Lips Sink Ships" policy.) Someone from the ship is putting together a trip over there to meet up with the Munro when it pulls in! The details just emerged the other day, and when Mari Garris (my wonderful mother-in-law) said she'd come to Kodiak to babysit so that I could go...well, I JUMPED on it! I told myself when we first found out about this whole Alaksa/big ship thing last year, that I was going to take full advantage of any unique opportunities that came my way, and I think this definitely qualifies! I'm totally thrilled about the whole thing!

I guess that's all for now. The conspicuous lack of pictures is because when I download them from my camera to Mari's computer, they get put in some mysterious secret file that can never be found again. So I gave up trying. I'll post pictures when I get home to Kodiak.

Ciao for now! :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Girls Trip to Seattle

Joanna and I went to Seattle for a friend's wedding on Friday. It was just a girls trip...I made the exectutive sensible-parent decision to leave Nate at home with my parents. It would have been way too much for him to handle and therefore no fun for anyone. Joanna and I had a blast! We enjoyed the wedding so much, and had fun taking the ferry over and staying in a fancy hotel downtown! We took a ride up the elevator at the Space Needle and enjoyed the evening view, and saw some friends we hadn't seen in a very long time! Of course, we got some shopping in. What mommy/daughter trip would be complete without that! :)

Summer in Sequim

So, we had some nice weather last week. The kids were able to play in the pool in my parents' back yard. Nate saw a bug in the is the progression of Joanna getting it out for him. :) We got some water balloons too. They were a big hit...literally...hee hee.

Papa Carl is going to get you, Nate!
Not so fast, Papa!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who's Blog is this, anyway? (More from Jake in Korea.)

Just kidding. It's all about the "Family Adventure", and Jake is certainly having the most exciting ones right now. Here is another excerpt from the email he sent to me this morning. :)

So yesterday was our last day in Busan. We had decided the previous day to visit the aquarium. The Seaman's Club at the base had some coupons, so we grabbed one. It was basically six dollars off. We took the liberty bus down to the Paradise Hotel, one of the nicest hotels in the city, right on the beach. The stores at this hotel were all Prada and Gucci and such, so we didn't bother sticking around. From what we had heard already, even the casino upstairs cost $100 just to sit down.

The beach was packed. The first week of August is the annual Busan Sea Festival or something or other. This year they were trying to set the Guinness record for most umbrellas on one beach. The newspaper reported and estimated 28,000 umbrellas. We walked down the beach to the aquarium, taking in the sights along the way. There was a giant buoy-thing, a light house, a dirigible getting its ass kicked by the wind, and the weirdest park bench ever. It had bars in the middle of it to separate the occupants! And this in a country where one's personal bubble ends at the toes!

The aquarium took our coupon and gave Heath his discount, then we used the same coupon and Jim got a discount, but since he was paying form Mark and me, he only got one discount. Mark and I were full price. Lame. The aquarium was worth the price of admission. It reminded me of the aquarium at the Mall of America, but more touristy. The penguins were a nice touch, but the shark tank was great. We were just in time for feeding time, which was done by a guy in scuba gear in the tank with dozens of six to eight foot sharks. I'm no mathematician, but it seemed rather sensationalized and dangerous to me.

After that it was off to lunch. We picked a T.G.I.Fridays across the street. I had a tasty Szechuan Shrimp Alfredo and a Coke. Heath and Mark noticed that none of the locals wanted to sit by us. We figured it was because we stank so bad from sweating in the hot hot sun. Or because we were the crazy rowdy Americans no one wanted to be near. Either way, my pasta was quite decent for something from a chain restaurant.

We stopped in at Starbucks and then hopped in a taxi to head out to the International Market. Riding in a taxi in Busan in itself is almost worth the cost of visiting. To appreciate, you have to know that in Korea, everyone with a license is considered to be a professional driver. Pedestrians and bicyclists NEVER have the right of way. Traffic signals are a recommendation, and the taxi drivers know only two speeds: Fast and Stop. Luckily, they don’t charge much. (Side story - The other day, we saw a guy on a bike cut off a driver, and the car knocked him right down. Once he got up and dusted himself off, he started apologizing to the driver. Our taxi driver, a witness, pulled up along side and started chastising the bicyclist!)

The market was all you would expect it to be. Hello Kitty socks, dried squid, assorted meat-on-a-stick vendors, belts, faux handbags, neckties, and everything you could imagine out in the streets. There was a surprising number of stores I recognized: McDonalds, Adidas, Rebok, Nike, Krispy Kream, Dominoes, Pizza Hut to name a few. We walked around for a few hours until we got too hot. Mark needed a belt, but the biggest belt we could find was about nine inches too short. Finally, we got stopped by these two old betties who happened to be running the belt store we happened to be teasing Mark about, since it appeared to be a women's belt store. We pantomimed an explanation about how none of the belts fit Mark, so they took him inside, cut him a fresh eight-foot chunk of leather and punched some holes in it lol.

Jim bought some shorts and was able to haggle his way down from $45 to $20. It was very hot. About 3:30 we decided it was time for a drink, so we headed to the recommended Hollywood Club. It didn't open until 4:00. Back out in the street, we noticed the place across the street and upstairs was open, with a sign that said "Soju". The place was called Piff or something. It was this neat trendy little place, but it kinda looked like if you went around the back you could end up in someone's living room. We sat in this nice booth and had ice cold C1 soju for about an hour. Soju is a 40 proof liquor that comes in a beer bottle, so one bottle is like drinking four or five beers. We sat and talked and made our toasts to all the things that make live on a ship great (yeah, right). After we cooled off we headed back out to the market and walked and walked and walked until we got hungry.

Pizza Hut was our dinner of choice. Heath had a plain-jane pepperoni pizza, and Jim, Mark, and I shared a large everything pizza with sweet potato stuffed crust. It was interesting, like the soju or the kimchi. I don't think I'll choose it again, but at least I can say I had some.

We then went on a mission to find you a refrigerator magnet. After an hour or two, it ended up being a bust. Sorry. We did however find several "barber shops" lol. Then we caught a cab back to the ship. I sat in the middle back, squished between Jim and Heath. I told them the ride isn't nearly as terrifying when one can't see out the side windows. That was it. I'll send you pictures once I find my thumb drive to get them off the laptop.

I love you and will call you soon.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A picture of Jake in Korea

I stole this from Christie's husband Heath's travel blog. (You should check it out. He's been doing a fab job of journaling his adventures so far.) Anyway, I think my husband is really cute so I thought I'd share. :) If you click on it, it will get bigger and you can appreciate his cuteness better.

Monday, August 4, 2008

An excerpt from an email from Jake

I got an email from Jake in Korea. I thought it was interesting and that you all might like to hear about his adventure, so here is an excerpt:

Jim and Mark and I went out this afternoon. We walked up and down the few blocks of the International Market and got roped into some $5 budweisers. Then we had $5 coffee at Starbucks. Then we went to a nice hotel for dinner, and had the Authentic Korean dish, with lots of weird smelly things, and a few beers (just one for me) and our bill was almost $200!!!!. Then we walked up to the casino upstairs. I was very nice, very small and quiet. It's a Monday night after all. I didn't gamble because I only had $15 left after dinner and coffee and beer (started the night with $80) but had fun watching jim and mark. Then we walked to the department store which had just closed, and walked around the block checking out the stores and street vendors. Lots of "meat-on-a-stick" vendors. Yuk. Then we caught a cab back and found a bunch of people at the Seaman's Club just outside the gate. The MKCS was inside singing drunken-dirty sea shanties. So I came back to the ship to email you.

Wednesday we plan to hit the aquarium. 1000 of their monopoly monies equals one dollar of our money and change. So 100 American gets you 100,099 funny-monies. It's weird. I have to go brush my teeth before I go to bed, I have kimchee breath... it's nasty, you wouldn't want to kiss me lol.

I love you and will talk to you on Wednesday unless you let me know otherwise.


Seattle Zoo

We went to the Seattle Zoo this past Saturday. We had never been there before, and it's a really nice zoo! The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed our ferry ride over there. Once we were actually in the zoo, however, Nate (who hadn't had his nap) was only able to make it through about 1/4 of the through before he was done. We did manage to ride the carousel, see the flamingos, elephants and the Komodo Dragon, among a few other things. Nate said he felt like Indiana Jones while he was walking through some of the exhibits that were made to feel like you were actually in the jungle. In a few years he'll be able to hang out longer, but when you're 3, nap time is golden time. :) Here are some pictures I snapped of our adventure.

Faith Olive - It's just fun to say!

So, we've met Faith Olive! She is beyond adorable and I've already promised her that she can have anything she wants when she comes to my house...ah, Aunti-hood. :) Faith Olive is getting cuter each day that we're here and she's coming out of that new baby "fog" more and more each day, too! It's really fun to be around her, and I just can't help but say "Faith Olive". It's just fun to say! She's a very good baby, too! She only cries when she needs something and even enjoys her bath! My kids HATED their baths as newborns and Joanna cried for hours on end. Faith Olive sleeps for 6 hours straight at night! Nate woke up every two hours at this age. Wow, Faith Olive. Just wow. :) xoxo