Friday, August 22, 2008

Sun in San Diego

At the end of June, we flew to San Diego to visit with Jacob who had been doing a summer internship for a design firm there. Our journey from the airport in San Diego to La Jolla and the condo where we were to stay was a long and frustrating one. It took us forever to pick up our rental car and then find our way to La Jolla. It was good to see Jacob when we finally found him. We celebrated with midnight snacks at TCBY (we were starving).

The next day, we met the family he had been living with--a piano teacher from Russia and her husband. The piano teacher played and Jacob sang a couple of numbers--so beautiful! Then Jacob took us on a tour of Encinitas. We were especially impressed by the beach.

We ate lunch at a little Mexican restaurant not far from the beach.
My fish tacos (first ever) were fantastic!

It was such a beautiful day that we decided to take advantage of it and try some ocean kayaking in La Jolla. The wedding that was taking place on the beach surrounded by hoards of swimmers and sun bathers was interesting.

Kayaking over the waves was lots of fun. We saw caves and sea lions on our journey. After showers and a brief R&R, we visited Old Town, the original San Diego.

We ate dinner in Little Italy at, yes, an Italian restaurant. The food was awesome! Then Jacob took us to Extraordinary Desserts for a perfect ending to a wonderful day. On the final day of our visit, we toured a portion of Balboa Park. We walked along the El Prado pedestrian walkway with it's beautiful Spanish-Renaissance style buildings constructed for the 1915 World's Fair (the first). We also visited the Lily Pond and the historic Botanical Building which is one of the largest lath structures in the world.
We attended church in the afternoon and met a young woman who had been in Aunt Shawn's ward 8 years ago. What a small world! Afterwards, we enjoyed meeting Jacob's "Polynesians" and his friend Michelle. What wonderful, kind people! We appreciated the delicious dinner they shared with us. We're especially grateful for all they have done for Jacob all summer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sizzling Summer Fun

In mid-June, Cami and I traveled to Utah. We spent a night with Elly and family. The highlight of the visit was a walk through the neighborhood with Elly, Nathan, Matthew, Maggie and Becca. What a wild and crazy bunch of grand kids! I loved every minute.

Cami stayed with Elly while I embarked on an adventure with my mother and two sisters to St. George, Utah. Sister Margy, who had planned the event, was our trusty chauffeur. The drive down was long but passed quickly as we jabbered non-stop. We spent a couple of days doing what girls like to do most. We did some sight-seeing (but with temps at 105 degrees, we only saw the tabernacle before we decided it was too hot for much more).

We went to the theater, the Tuacahn Theater, and watched Les Miserables. We were impressed by the spectacular red rock cliffs surrounding the theater.

Although it was a little on the warm side, we really enjoyed the play.

We had manicures and pedicures at the salon. We got a little carried away in the salon's meditation room laughing and giggling as we were trying to take pictures. Luckily no one was trying to meditate.

Of course, we went shopping. We took in a movie, Get Smart, and laughed till our sides were about to split. We ate lots of great food. We even tried on our socks (a gift from Margy) and had a photo shoot.

We had such a great time together. I hope we can do it again in the not-too-distant future!

Surprisingly, Cami got some much needed R&R in spite of all the attention from her nieces and nephews. We both agreed that it had been just the vacation we had been hoping for.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Birthday Party in Fujinomiya

After our tour of Kyoto, we traveled by train to Fujinomiya to meet with Masaaki Oishi, his wife, Yoko and daughter, Erika. Masaaki stayed with us a couple of times when we were living in Woodinville, Washington. He would bring exchange students from his community in Japan to visit Seattle for a couple of weeks in the summer.

We enjoyed dinner together at a very nice restaurant. The food was fabulous.

The restaurant brought out a cake with candles and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me. We each received a piece of the cake after our meal.

We were so glad that we had the opportunity to visit with Masaaki and meet most of his family. They are wonderful people.

We spent the night in Fujinomiya and then traveled to Tokyo the next day to attend church in an area in which Jim had served as a missionary. I attended Relief Society, while Jim attended priesthood meeting. The lesson, taught by a young Japanese mother with a child in her arms, was about the organization and destiny of the church. The opening quote by Joseph Smith brought tears to my eyes, "You know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap. You don't comprehend it....This Church will fill North and South America--it will fill the world." After the first hour, we had to leave to get to the airport in time to catch our planes. I was returning home and Jim was traveling on to India. Before we left, we met a sister whom Jim had taught as a missionary. He had helped with her baptism. She had not been to church for quite some time. It was a touching and memorable experience.

One of the Best Birthdays Ever

I got to celebrate my birthday in Kyoto, Japan doing one of the things I enjoy most--exploring! In spite of the fact that June is the rainy season in Japan, the weather was perfect--cool without a drop of rain. With over 1,000 temples and shrines to see, we hardly knew where to start. We hired a taxi driver to take us to the most famous. Our first stop was Ginkakuji (Silver) Temple, a Zen temple established in 1482. The path leading to the temple was lined with shops.

The gardens were enchanting.

Unfortunately restoration work was being done on the pavilion.

The different types of moss found in the gardens.

We saw the Path of Philosophy which in the spring is lined with cherry blossoms.

The Imperial Palace, the Imperial family's residence until 1868, was closed. We had to satisfy ourselves with a few pictures.

The Rokuon-ji (Golden) Temple was packed with visiting students....

...but the grounds were amazingly peaceful.

The pavilion, originally built in the 1200's, is covered with gold leaf. It houses sacred relics of the Buddha. The original pavilion was burnt by a fanatic monk in 1950. The present building dates from 1955.

An ancient pine tree.

The garden was exquisite and apparently remains as it was in former days.

We watched students trying to throw money into the bowl below.

This is the mound in memory of the white snake.

Thatch on one of the buildings.

As we made our way to Ryoanji Temple, we encountered this statue.

The main attraction at this temple, laid out at the end of the 15th century, is a simple rock garden consisting of white sand and 15 rocks. The walls are made of clay boiled in oil.

Note the moss on the ground in the gardens.

The stone wash basin for the tea room is inscribed with the words,
"I learn only to be contented."

The original silk screens are being restored.

At each building we were allowed to enter,
we left and then picked up our shoes at the entrance.

The architecture of the buildings was impressive.

Nijo Castle, the Kyoto shogun's residence, was built in the 1600s.
The formidable outer gate

The ornate inner gate

Located on Mt. Inariyama is the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Inari is the Shinto god of rice. The shrine is famous for the torii gates that cover the hiking trails up the mountain. Businesses donate money to have a gate dedicated to them.
The washing place at the entrance.

The torii gates

The buildings at the base of the mountain.

Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers and replicas were found everywhere at the site.

A shop on the grounds

Our day in Kyoto was perfect. We only wished that we could have had several more!