Monday, March 31, 2008

On Top of the World

Jim and I went skiing at Bogus Basin the weekend after spring break. After I'd had several practice runs on the beginner hill, he talked me into going up to the top . I was scared half to death! We rode up on a chair lift going at least a 100 mph past skiers that seemed to be skiing down cliffs. Trying to smile while this picture was being taken was not an easy task--my teeth were chattering and my whole body was shaking. From where I stood, it looked like we were on top of the world with no easy way down. Lucky for me, Jim was a patient guide as he took me down the cat tracks and the bottom half of an intermediate run. He was so excited to point out the sights. I'm afraid I didn't appreciate them much.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Break in the Snow

We tried talking Jim into a spring break trip to Hawaii or Mexico but were overruled by the fact that 1) Jim loves to ski and winter is almost over, 2) there was a season pass to Brundage ski resort burning a hole in his pocket, and 3) since Jim earns all the money, we agree that he has the last word on where to spend it (at least on the big stuff :)). Consequently, we took our spring break trip to McCall, Idaho this year in 10+ feet of snow. Since this was Cami's last spring break and due to the fact that she has no interest whatsoever in skiing, we appeased her by letting her invite some friends. We stayed in a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 year old condo on the golf course for three days and nights. The condo was very comfortable, the company extremely delightful, and the skiing (even for one so inexperienced as myself) was outstanding. I don't think we could have had a better vacation!

The snow was incredible. We loved how it slid glacier-like off the rooftops. Cami and friends (Alisha, Emily and Jared) had a great time playing in the snow.

Jared, Emily, Jim and I went skiing. In case you were wondering, Jared is the one doing the jumps off the cliff, not me.:) Jim skied with the camera down steep slopes and through the trees to get some shots of Jared jumping off cliffs and executing other crazy stunts. They were in their element!

The views from the ski resort were amazing.

I really enjoyed preparing the meals for such an appreciative group especially since the kids did all the dishes! Here's Marcus (who joined us later) and Cami doing their part.

We loved our view from the condo.

Another highlight of the trip was our experience at the local movie rental place. Several rooms in the old maze-like building were filled to the brim with movies--oldies, goodies and everything in between. As we browsed the numerous shelves, we had a hard time deciding which movie to rent and ended up having to get several.

Our spring break trip in the snow was definitely a success!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jim's Trip to China

Here I am in Xian, China at the archeology site where they found the terra cotta armies buried by Emperor Qin, circa 200 BC. The Chinese believe he created these and had them buried near his tomb so that he would have armies to lead in the next life. These life-size soldiers, horses, wagons, etc. were not written about in any Chinese history books. They were found by a farmer who was trying to dig a well about 20 years ago. His drill hit one of the pieces of terra cotta. He took the piece to a university to figure out what it was. The site has been under excavation since then. I actually got to meet the farmer who started it all. Instead of farming now, he signs autographs for a fee. He seemed to be about my age.

Emperor Qin was an interesting and powerful guy. He was crowned emperor of part of China at age 13. By age 21 he had united most of present day China into one country. This was the first time such a feat had been accomplished. He lived to the age of 52 and ruled as emperor all that time. He was also somewhat famous in that he was reputed to have approximately 3000 concubines. There is no record of how many children he had. They apparently only tracked the official royal children from his official wife. The picture below shows the size of the recovered horses. When they find most of these horses and warriors, which are still being uncovered, they are usually broken into pieces. The archaeologists have to rebuild them one piece at a time. Some speculate that the locals destroyed the armies after the emperor died because they did not like him.

A friendly group of high school students allowed me to have my picture taken with them.

The front door of a restaurant. They really eat Chinese food at nearly every restaurant and meal in China. I did not see a single pizza place the whole time I was there.

After Xian, which is in the People's Republic of China, I went to Taipei, Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China. This photo below was the view out my window from the Westin Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.

This is a shot of Taipei 101, the tallest office building in the world. It is known as Taipei 101 because it has 101 stories. It has an observation deck that is accessible by the world's fastest elevator. We went up to the observation deck. It is pretty amazing. There is one level that is inside and a higher level that is outside, sort of like the Empire State Building observation deck. I highly recommend checking out this building if you are in Taipei.

In Taipei, millions of people ride scooters as their primary form of transportation. Scooters are everywhere and are used for many transportation purposes.

A typical street scene at dusk in Taipei. Taipei really comes alive at night. People work till 6 or 7 o'clock at night, sometimes a lot later. They go shopping, to the dentist, run errands, etc. from 8 to midnight. It seems like all the consumer oriented businesses were open till quite late. They are a very industrious and enterprising bunch.

This is a food stall or street restaurant. They were everywhere in the older shopping areas. The food looked great and smelled very good, but I stuck to the more formal restaurants. The food I ate in Taiwan was simply outstanding. They had lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.

This photo shows an interesting juxtaposition of the Westin Hotel with some typical housing units right next door. In the foreground are the ever-present scooters. I thought it really captures the essence of Taipei all in one shot.

Here is the Watsons drug store where I went for cold medicine before my return flight home. I had a nasty cold the whole time I was in China and Taiwan. the 14 hour flight there and 12.5 hour flight back were a little uncomfortable due to my cold. Buying decongestant and antihistamine when you cannot read anything at all on the package was bit intimidating. No one in the store spoke English. Finding the Vicks cough drops and Kleenex was pretty easy, though.

This was a set of apartment buildings right behind my hotel. I thought the arches at the top were an interesting architectural flourish.

This was a cool looking building I saw on the way to the airport. I have no idea what it is. I was trying to take a picture of it from the taxi window. All of a sudden, we ran into a traffic jam and had to stop on the freeway on an overpass directly in front of the building, so I was able to get a decent shot of the building.

Taipei was lots of fun. I really liked going there in early March. The temperatures were quite moderate and the food was simply outstanding. The Westin was as nice as any hotel I have ever stayed in. My business meetings were OK, but we have much work to do there. Next time, I will hope that I do not have a cold when I go.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sariah Is A Missionary Now

When Sariah learned at stake conference last Sunday that the brand new stake president was Bro. Porter, she was pretty excited because she new him well (having dated his son for a couple of years). She was especially happy because of the fact that he would be setting her apart as a missionary that very evening.

Sariah started her mission with a beautiful blessing from President Porter and a few words of advice from her mom, dad and sister, Cami. I became her companion for the next couple of days. Monday was packing day. What a project! We can't believe how much Sariah was able to put in those two suitcases--everything needed for the next 18 months.

Tuesday, we drove to Utah, did some last minute shopping (a constant), and said goodbye to several Provo friends. That evening, a few family members were able to join us at Elly's house to wish Sariah well in her new missionary adventure. We really enjoyed having the chance to visit with them! I'm sure Sariah got lots of helpful advice. :)

Wednesday morning, after one more trip to the store (finished at last!), we took Sariah to Provo. We enjoyed lunch in the Skyroom with several of her friends.
Next stop...the Missionary Training Center! We were impressed with all the volunteers with their cheerful faces and kindly comments who guided us each step of the way. We made it to the chapel without getting lost once!

We did get a little sidetracked when Sariah encountered Elder Wilson (remember James Brett Wilson, Sariah's boyfriend?). He will be in the MTC for another ten days or so. He is going to Hungary on his mission. Communication happened to be a little difficult as Elder Wilson was speaking only Hungarian that day. Maybe that was a good thing! :) We were also surprised to encounter the Pugmire family who we knew in Woodinville, Washington so many years ago. Their son, Sam, is going into the mission field.

After a short but very sweet meeting with the other new missionaries and their friends and families, it was hard to send Sariah on her way. Of course, we shed a few tears. We miss her but know this experience will be so beneficial for her. We're looking forward to hearing of her experiences!


We love them! I'm sure you're wondering what a Meltykiss is. Jim brought them home from Japan, after spending a week there on business, for "Cami to give to her boyfriends". They are brown little squares. They are edible and, in fact, taste quite delicious--chocolate on the outside and raspberry within. The best part is that they really do melt in your mouth! They have disappeared (before I could get a picture). Cami didn't even get to give a single one to a single boyfriend. We're looking forward to Jim's next trip to Japan!:)