Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Japan photos

Patrick: Well, I got back from Japan. I don't know how quite to sum up the whole experience. Japan is very very humid. The people are nice but don't speak as much english as I thought they would. In all the countries that I've been in I haven't felt as lost as I did in Japan. In European countries, if you don't know a word, you feel comfortable looking it up. You recognize the letters for the most part. Kanji, or the characters of Japan, look so alien that you just don't know where to start.
The stereotype is that Asian people are smaller. That is somewhat true but they give huge portions of food at restaurants. I thought that was interesting.
All the bicycles have baskets.
The drive on the left, which isn't bad unless you're trying to cross the street and your mind goes blitzo and you don't know which way to look.
Tokyo is like any other big city. Downtown is shiny and modern. Everywhere else has lost its polish.
They don't do dollars and cents (100 cents equals a dollar). 100 yen is 100 yen. It's a better system.
Next time, I'm hitting some hot springs and the beach.

Here's the pictures with commentary if you care.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy 9th

Wednesday was Patrick and my 9th anniversary. It's kind of weird because 9 years seems like a really long time- but it doesn't seem like it's really been so long since we were married!
Of course, Patrick is in Japan so I celebrated by myself- but I invited some friends over and we ate left-over desserts and watched "Funny Girl" which, by the way, is hilarious.
Patrick gets home on Sunday and I am looking forward to picking him up at the airport! I've missed him.
We've gone through many things and places together these past few years. We've suffered the humidity of Virginia, become beach bums in Rota, and watched in awe as our children were born. One thing I have learned is that most of the best things we've done are the things we've done together.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Climbing Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji has to be the most miserable climb I have ever done. Let me walk you through it. It's a pretty big mountain at 12,336 feet but it's more impressive because it stands alone and its entire height is from sea level.The Base runs a bus shuttle to the mountain. Unfortunately, the bus leaves at 2am. Luckily, I'm still a bit on Utah time so it wasn't so horrible. I slept the rest of the time until we got to the mountain at 5am. I took off on my own because the only people on the bus that I knew didn't look like they could keep up. ( This turned out to be a good choice as one guy didn't even make to the top and the other guy took forever.)

Hopping off the bus I was awarded one of those amazing views that just scream "Life is beautiful."
The weather was cool and moist. I never would have guessed the misery that was to come. The bus dropped us off at the fifth station, which was at 5,000 ft. This was still below the tree line that ends at 8,000 ft. I took off before anybody else from my bus. After a bit of hiking I felt pretty good. I didn't see any other americans but there some Japanese folk on the mountain that must have started pretty early to already be there.

I think this picture is from above the sixth station just above the tree lines.

As you can tell, I'm pretending to run up the mountain. Yeah, that turned out to be a big lie. What made the climb so tough is that it is constant switchbacks with no break. The trail ranged from packed dirt to somewhat maintained trails with some steps in the beginning. Towards the middle of the mountain the trail was over really rough basalt lava flows.

The whole mountain is just steep. Really steep. I took this picture to show how steep it is. All over the mountain are these signs that say "Don't climb straight." All I can say is anyone who climbs straight up the mountain has legs of steel.

The upper third of the mountain was tough because the trail became loose cinders and pumice. It was like walking through a gravel driveway. Every step was loose and you felt like you couldn't get great traction.

Summit within view.
OK, a little about the hiking stations. There are eight total on the mountain. They are like little rest stops complete with little kiosks that sell food and drink. The eighth station has a "hotel" where people are crammed in like sheep- on the bunk beds and the floor. The prices are beyond disneyland. Like six bucks for a bottle of water or soda. Three bucks for a snickers bar.

So, I wasn't too surprised when the summit had a mini-village.

But I was surprised to see a vending machine.

So the schedule for the bus went something like this. Arrive at 5am - Leave at 6pm. When I got to the summit and looked at my clock and it said 9:45am, I realized that I had some time to kill. I decided to take a nap. You'd be surprised at how comfortable lava rock can be when you're tired enough. This turned out to be a big mistake because I got a major sunburn from it. I also walked around the crater. If you curious, it looks like a gigantic hole. No boiling lava. Yeah, I know. I was disappointed too.

After that I decided to hike down. Going up was hard - going down was punishment.

And so, four 1/2 hours up - two hours down. I've been there done that. I'm one of 200,000 people who climb Mt. Fuji every year....and I'll never do it again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fun With the 24th of July!

For those of you not from Utah/Idaho or not "Mormon" the 24th of July is a HUGE holiday celebrated with gusto. Basically, "Pioneer Day" is celebrating the arrival of pioneers to this side of the country. There's a huge parade downtown and various festivities. We went to the park next to our house with a big Pioneer Day party.
I think this is hilarious- they not only let tiny people handle the hatchet, they encourage them to THROW IT as hard as they can at a target. Hilarious. . . . and frightening!

This was an obstacle course. The monkies all enjoyed it greatly!
Rope toss around the longhorns.
Eve and Isaac with the two-legged race. (Esther and I raced as well and beat them to smithereens! )

I think the gun is bigger than her head.
I love Eve's look of concentration. hee hee
This is what I did all day- hauled those puppies from one even to another.
It was lots of fun!

The Abominable Monstrocity!

Last year we let a pumpkin (that we grew in our garden) die on the side of the porch. When the snow came, it was out of sight, out of mind! Well, it was until our front flower bed started sprouting little plants and then we put two and two together and voila! We now have pumpkin plants growing in our front flowerbed. The have been slowly creeping out further and further- but I was shocked after being gone for a week- now the pumpkin plants are taking over the lawn and the flowerbed AND the porch! Ah!!!
So, I took pictures. I only have the icamera on the laptop but there is it.
There are even a few baby pumpkins growing that I can see so hopefully we'll have some when Halloween rolls around again!

Uhm. . . I changed my hair a bit. . .

Ok, I've been threatening to do it ever since I dyed Hil's hair this color last summer. Yes, I am now the proud owner of Cinnaberry-colored hair.
It all started last night when I was reviewing pictures to make a blog entry for the 24th of July- and I looked at a picture of me and my hair was HIDEOUS!!! (See above photo) I don't know if it was because of the many hours I had driven that day with subsequent fatigue- whatever it was, I decided that the minute Hilary got home from work we were going to dye our hair! Oh yes, we both did it- we've been planning to- but not until the school year started so I jumped the gun a bit- but I don't care, I hate two-tone hair! So, here it is. I think I look like Hilary, which is a good thing 'cause she's a babe.

The Belated Party

We were going to go to WA for Esther's birthday (the actual one) but we ended up not being able to come at that time and the poor little thing's birthday passed without a birthday cake SO when we went up this week we had a belated party for the Esther-loo- with a long-anticipated LADYBUG CAKE. Ok, so the cake is pretty much the center of the party. Here are pictures of its production and being devoured!Esther getting a taste of frosting

Grandma frosting the cake- hurry up!
Ah, the finished product!
Eve helps Esther blow out the candles- yes, I know there are only two- but it's more of a design element than an indication of accumulate years!
Lighting the candles.
Waiting so very patiently
Eve is ready
The cake in its natural element
I think Esther looks more delicious than the cake!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Three Years of Esther-Loo-Who!

Esther looking at an ant.

Esther at the 4th of July parade

Ok, so I've been a little on the belated posting side lately. . . . So I thought to myself, "Hey, it's been two months, let's celebrate!"

Three years (and some change) ago, a tiny person came into this world. Nobody knew if the baby was going to be pink or blue- but the parents were ready for all contingencies. If the person was a girl her name would be Esther- a boy would be called Shaddrach. Luckily, Heavenly Father didn't want to curse a manchild with such a name so he blessed us with our tiny Esther.

She was born with a TON of hair which her mother enjoyed styling in various creative ways- which led to her being called Esther-Loo-Who. (Well, the stripey outfits helped with her Who-ification as well.)

Esther Loo was such a happy little baby- always smiling. . . and drooling. hee hee
She is still quite the happy little camper- very enthusiastic and with a great sense of humor! Our faithful readers my have noticed references to "monkies" on this blog- but if you know Esther you know that I do not say it wrongly. Esther is a climber, and explorer. She has a great sense of curiosity coupled with great intelligence- a very dangerous combination! You can't hide anything from her and I am constantly answering her questions. She learned to walk and speak with lightening speed- trying to keep up with her big brother and sister. Ah, there's just so much about Esther that is wonderful. She loves her big siblings and follows them around like a faithful puppy. She loves her parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. . . and, well you get the idea!
I am so thankful to have such a special, precious daughter!
Happy Birthday, Esther-Loo!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Proof that Darbys CAN dance!

Ok, yes, we all know that Emily can dance. That's why I married her. We needed some musical/dancer blood in the family.

Here is proof that I, Patrick, can also dance. I competed in the BYU Summer Dancesport competition on saturday. I danced in Bronze Quickstep & Samba and Silver Waltz and Rhumba. I had three different partners and basically danced for two hours straight.

Rhumba didn't go so well as we didn't make it past the first round. 

Waltz was a horrible mess. Even though I thought that my partner and I were competitive, during the first round we got cut off and ran into so many times that I was sure that we weren't going to be called back. To my surprise, we made it to the semi-finals.

Samba & Quickstep ended up being the best as we placed fifth for Samba and fourth for Quickstep. Yeah for me. Here's the proof.

p.s. Emily's show on Friday was awesome. She finally got the chance to do some solos and she blew everyone away. If you haven't seen her dance yet turn off the computer right now. Go get in your car and drive to UVU. Wait outside the theater until her next show. Yes, I know her next show isn't for several months but you don't want to miss it.