Sunday, June 25, 2017

Minnesota trip to see Isaac and family

Last month we made a trip to Minnesota and got to have a long visit with Isaac and Kim and their little children Joslyn and Dorian.

 We had never met Dorian in person before and he's already walking.  And Joslyn grew a lot while we where on a mission.  She can carry on quite a conversation now.  She loves to have people read to her and she is learning Japanese.


 One of the first days there we went to the Minneapolis zoo.  They have a great zoo with lots of natural habitats.  I especially liked the baboons and gorillas.


 They had this bronze statue in memory of these giant turtles they used to let walk around the zoo.   Jacquelyn remembers seeing them as a little girl and sitting on them.  We weren't sure whether or not to believe her when she told us the story, and then we saw a plaque about it.


 Here's Isaac and family with Goldy the Gopher, mascot of the University of Minnesota, where Isaac is attending graduate school to be a professor in economics.  Did you know the University of Minnesota is the second largest university in the country?  Isaac just finished two years, which are the academic classes.  Now he has to do his research on a dissertation project.


 We saw the mighty Mississippi river.  Quite large even up in Minnesota near the source of the river.


 One day they took us out for a hike in the park by Minnehaha Falls.  Minnesota is so green and beautiful this time of year.  It really made Jacquelyn feel a little homesick, if you can believe it.  She said she wouldn't mind living there again for a while, just not in the winter.


 We went to this ice cream store where they don't understand the concept of small.  This is actually a child's size, which some of us had a hard time finishing.  We went went there twice.


 This is the famous spoon at Sculpture Park.


 A new sculpture, the blue rooster.  The park was closed so we couldn't get too close but we walked around it.


 Joslyn and Cousin Bella.  One Sunday after church we drove down to Rochester where Rosemerry was hosting a family get together.  They must of had 20 relatives there.  The food was great, pulled pork and sirloin and lots of side dishes and desserts.  The weather was great and we played "corn hole".  Jacquelyn and I beat Roger and Marilyn in a contest, then we played against Isaac and Kim and we even beat them.


Isaac and Joslyn at Teddy Bear park in Stillwater, Minnesota.  The kids loved climbing on the statues.
 Dorian on one of the giant teddy bears.  They look cuddly but there are actually made of concrete.


 One day we went to see a Twins games.  They lost to the Houston Astros but it was a lot of fun seeing the stadium and the game and all the excitement.


Almost every day we were going on a walk somewhere.  We put in a lot of miles and had lots of fun.  We had a great time.  Kim and Isaac were wonderful hosts and we had a great time.  Joslyn and Dorian are so much fun.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful grand children.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Timber

We had to have two of the giant trees cut down from our home in Puyallup.  They were encroaching on the yard, the roots were tearing up the lawn, and one was pushing the sidewalk up.  Simply put, they had gotten too big and Jacquelyn said they had to go.

Before picture from the front.

 After picture.  Can you pick out the two trees that are gone.

 Another before picture from the front at a different angle.

 After picture.  Easy to see the missing front yard tree.


 Back yard picture before.

 Back yard picture after.


 For the big Douglas Tree in the back yard the cutter worked his way up lopping off limbs one by one.

 Getting pretty high.


 Meanwhile there were three other workers hauling branches out to the street to the wood chipper.

 Almost to the top.

 Ready to cut off the last part.

 Timber!!!!!!

 Now he just worked his way back down the trunk cutting off sections one by one.

 Almost to the ground.  The irises at the bottom were crushed.  But they didn't even scratch a limb or leaf on the Roddie or small Japanese Maple.

 For the Spruce tree in front they took a different approach.  They tied up a guild line to pull it into the street when it fell.

 Did some cuts near the base.

 Timber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Then they just chopped it all up.

 The branches all went into the wood chipper but we got to keep the logs from the trunk.

 Stump number 1 in the back yard.

 Stump number 2 in the front.  A stump grinder will be coming out a different day to grind up this stump and the roots extending into the yard.

We lost two trees but we have plenty of others, and Jacquelyn's irises are blooming so all is well.

Thailand

On our way home from the Philippines we went on a tour of Southeast Asia with Gate 1 Tours.  We went to five different countries.  The first stop was Thailand.

This was a beautiful country and we spent 10 nights there in several different cities.  We stayed at Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai, an Chaing Mai.


This was the view of Bangkok outside out hotel window the first of three nights in Thailand.


We visited the temples at Wat Po and saw this gold Buddha and the famous Recling Buddha.


There were beautiful gardens and statues in all the temples and shrines.  They were maintained by the monks that lived and studied there.


I liked looking at the statues.


This is at Wat Pra Kaew.  These two statues are of demons who our guide told me were evil, but they were guarding the temple, so they our guide said they were good.


Beautiful temples and statues, but to me it was noticeably lacking in spirituality.


Even old Ronald seemed to giving Buddhism  a try.


In Ayutthaya we saw the second capital of Thailand were they had the Summer Palace Bang Pa-In built all along this lake with temples on small islands.  We also saw the Ayutthaya Historical Park and the Chai Wattamaram Temple.


This is at the Sukhothai Historical Park, a World Heritage site were they built an impressive temple complex for the capital when it was there.


This is our tour guide trying to get us to try the boiled rats they were selling along the roadside.  She only got a few takers out of the whole bus, but of Jacquelyn was one of them.  She said it tasted like chicken.


We stopped at some more Buddha shrines on the bus drive to Chiang Rai.


In town we visited a shop where they make the blue dye and saw a demonstration.


This is a handkerchief Jacquelyn had made out of the blue dye.


We took a bus tour of the Golden Triangle poppy growing region used for opium and heroin.  We also visited the opium museum and saw what it was like in an opium den for the poor unfortunate victims of that evil vice.


One the Mae Khong River tour we got to see the actual Golden Triangle area where three countries meet and the opium trade flourished, at one time supplying 90% of the world's heroin, before Afganstan became the center.  Now the Chinese are developing the Golden Triangle as a tourist area and have gambling resorts going up, also a giant golden Buddha.


But we also got to visit the Mae Salong Hill Tribe and saw the long neck women with their neck stretching rings.  If they take the rings off their necks are no longer strong enough to hold up their heads, so they have to wear them at all times.


Jacquelyn with a teenager and little girl who haven't got very many rings yet so they are still early n the process of neck stretching.


In Chaing Mai we visited the Wat Suan Dak temple and Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple, and our favorite, the White Temple, otherwise known as Wat Rong Khun.  We saw some really bizarre stuff inside the temple, including comic book super heros and famous movie star heroes.


It was one strange temple.


Me posing with some strange creature outside the White Temple.


Jacquelyn too.


We saw the famous Jade Buddha, made out of pure Jade.  It was an interesting history.  It was only recently discovered hidden inside a larger concrete Buddha made to hide it from the Burmese when they invaded Thailand on one occasion.


On the entire tour they was only one day were Jacquelyn and I went off on our own rather than the organized event.  We went to the zoo.  It was fun walking around.  The highlight was the panda bears.


The best part of the whole vacation, no question, was when we got to visit and play with the elephants as an elephant reserve.  They have dozens of elephants who were given to them when it became illegal to use them in the lumber industry.  So they care for them.  Interacting with the tourists helps pay for the reserve and the elephants seemed to really like it.  The first event was giving the elephants a bath.


One they were all cleaned up we got to ride them.  It's no easy matter getting on an elephant.  They are not small. They hold one leg up for you to stand on but still you have to grab hold and hoist youself up top.  They are so strong your weight is nothing to them.


Hi ho and away we go.


Then we got to feed the elephants.  Jacquelyn helped make the food, and nutritious mixture of fruit and vegtables.


Lastly we got to go for a trek on one of the elephants.  It had no trouble holding the two of us and also the driver who sat on his head.  And it had massive tusks that probably were not light.


Finally it was time to say goodbye to the elephants.  We loved the elephants.