Saturday, May 21, 2011

We're in Japan!

Zack's first ever plane ride!

The Plane

After a super long day of flying, which started at 6:30 am, we arrived in Japan yesterday (Saturday) at 2:30 pm.  (Can I just say that I envy people who fly first class?  We were like sardines in a plane!)  We took a train into Tokyo and then had to drag our luggage through the busiest subway stations, up and down stairs, and then down the streets of Tokyo to our hotel.  It's a good thing I do roller derby because my awesome skillz came in handy.  I just had to literally push through people because they do not move for you!  I did a couple of hip hits, took a whip from Steve and rolled my suitcase over some guys feet.  No problem. 

The Japan subway turned us into devils!

Our room.  The futons were surprisingly comfortable and the guesthouse was very clean.

We are at a cool hotel with futons on the floor.  Last night we found a Ramen shop and had Delicious ramen and gyoza.  We were going to go to a bath house but Zack was falling apart so we'll try and go tonight. We slept well and were all up at 5:30 this morning feeling much better!

The Kimi Ryokan - our guest house hotel while in Tokyo.

The Delicious Ramen shop we found.  The two cooks were very friendly.

Zack only asked to go home 4 times last night.  We'll see how he does today, having slept.

Robes and slippers were provided by the Kimi.  Zack's is a little big!

It's a good thing that Steve speaks Japanese or we would be completely lost here!  It's funny to see people's reactions when this tall white boy starts speaking their language to them, they are usually quite surprised.

We are having a great time and I will post when I can!

Zack was exhausted by the time we got on the train from the airport into Tokyo.

The bathroom area of our hotel with showers on either side.  The toilets were around the corner, as was a wooden bathtub.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zion National Park

I found this post that I never finished because I was waiting for pictures! It is from October 2010.

Over UEA weekend we wanted to go camping and Steve came up with the idea to go to Zion's since we have never been there together and Zack has never been. We found a really neat place to stay called Zion Ponderosa. You can camp, trailer camp, rent a cabin, rent a covered wagon or rent a room in the lodge. They have a really nice pool, hot tubs and spa. They also have tons of activities you can do like miniature golf, rock wall, zip line, 4 wheelers, etc. It was great and I would stay there again. The best part...showers! Nice, clean, private, hot showers!

Steve planned our whole itinerary and it was full of hiking, and more hiking! He did a good job researching hikes in Zion and had the GPS coordinates for the more obscure ones. Unfortunately we forgot our camera! Big bummer. Fortunately, Steve took a few pics with his phone.

No pics of Steve since he was using his phone camera! :(

The highlight of the trip was our 5 mile hike up to Angel's Landing. I wasn't too worried when he told me we were going to do 5 miles because we did 4 miles in Glacier 2 years ago and we all did fine, Zack is a good little hiker. I SHOULD have been worried. Angel's Landing? Ever heard of it? Apparently I am the only one who hasn't because every time I mention it people's eyes get big and they say things like: "You hiked Angel's Landing with Zack!!?" When I told my mom we hiked it she told me people die all the time on that hike. (Upon further googling, I found that about 6 people have died on this trail in it's history. I am surprised it's not more!)

On our way up, I look like I'm dying.  I was!  Zack loved climbing in the drainage system.

Good thing I didn't know about the deaths before we started. It was a really hard hike for me as I am pretty out of shape and you gain 1500 feet elevation, but I was really proud of myself for doing it. It was nothing at all for Zack and Steve, I probably held them up. It took us 4 hours and that included a half hour break at the top to eat lunch and look around so I feel like that is pretty good time.

After 4 1/2 miles of hiking we got to a spot where a bunch of people were sitting and eating. I thought that was it and was ready to dig into my lunch when Steve informed me that we still had a half mile to go and then he pointed to where we were going. I literally got sick to my stomach and asked him if he was joking. I thought about staying put but my pride wouldn't let me. That, and I wasn't about to let Zack go without my protection.

The last little climb to the end of the hike, treacherous!

The last half mile of the hike is literally along a thin (thin as in a few feet wide) spine of rock with 1200+ foot drops offs on both sides. There is occasionally chain drilled into the rock to hold onto and pull yourself up with but when you are going up and dozens of people are coming down, sometimes you have to let go to let someone pass. It is really hard to describe how scary this path is. If you want to see for yourself this is a good video.

Can you see the narrow ridge I'm talking about?  This photo is a view from the end of the hike, that is what we walked over!  It is as small as it looks.

We made it to the top and were rewarded with fabulous views all around us. It was truly beautiful and I was so proud of myself and Zack (and Steve) for completing the hike, ALL THE WAY! On the way back down, people kept commenting how they were amazed at Zack and his hiking skills. We were all proud.

I highly recommend this hike to everyone. Just be care full!

Here we are at the top!

After the hike down we waded through the river and Zack got pretty wet. It felt good! Then Steve wanted to go on a couple more short hikes. Ha! We had to break it to him that we were done for the day, I was dead and Zack was shivering cold, so we went into town and got some pizza and shopped for rocks. Zack was in heaven with the rocks, but who knew they could be so expensive?

The next two days we did some shorter hikes including the emerald pools (3 miles and a cinch!) and weeping rock. We also found a cool mini-narrows on one of our adventures and Steve and Zack had fun exploring and rock climbing. While in the narrow, I pointed out a dead tarantula floating in a puddle with some weird worms. Steve went to pull it out and found it was alive! We had fun saving it and watching it crawl around and then we placed it in a sunny spot so it could warm up. Boys love stuff like that!

Giardia anyone? On the Emerald Pools hike.

We did have some rain one afternoon so we went and soaked in the hot tub. It poured that night, but our new tent held up pretty well and we were only a little wet in the morning. Steve is a great cook and we had a delicious dutch oven dinner of roast with potatoes, carrots and onions and every morning we had a deluxe breakfast.

Chilin on one of our hikes

I always worry that Zack will be bored on vacation with just his old parents but he always has a good time and doesn't seem to mind. He has fun exploring and playing and has never complained about us. I am so grateful that we are able to take so many fun vacations together, it is something we make a big priority and it is good bonding time for our family. Even if I do get a little grumpy when I camp! (I hate dirt and creepy crawlies!)

Zack wanted to climb every rock and hill!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daisy Update

A couple of weeks ago our agency rep. told me she would ask for an update on Daisy but that we probably wouldn't get one.

A few minutes ago I got an email from her and the orphanage had sent an update! They said she is doing great and gave her measurments. No pictures though. Here they are:

Weight: 8.5 kg = 18 lbs. 12 oz
Height: 73 cm = 28 3/4 inches
Head: 43 cm = 17 inches
Chest: 44 cm = 17 1/2 inches
Feet: 11 cm = 4 1/2 inches

I looked the numbers up on the growth chart and she was not even on it! So then I looked her up on a Chinese growth chart and she is 15% for weight, 10% for height and 10% for head. She is tiny!

Well, I guess those 12-18 month clothes I bought her are not going to fit! Better do some more shopping before we go!

By the way, we are leaving this Friday! We are so excited!

I will try and blog from there, but may not be able to. If I can't, I will post when we get back. Wish us luck!