Wednesday, December 30, 2015
This holiday season saw a lot of visitors in Southworth. It began with an Eide Thanksgiving celebration that lasted three days. The Cle Elem and Lynden contingents were happy to rendezvous in Southworth. As many as sixteen people spent the night in the house. It felt good to fill all of the rooms for once. We cured our cabin fever one day and walked the Chambers Creek trail. The Christmas season saw Bjorn, Jenny and the girls up for a week, and Markus and Steph on the weekends. We went to a Seahawks game and a Nutcracker performance. The extended Bulthuis family came for the night on the 22nd. Christmas was spent with our immediate family in Southworth, followed by a night in Cle Elem with the Eides. Then Ellen spent a couple of days with us before returning to Sacramento. The last few days of break were spent recouping from all of the activity.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Yet another Central Washington anniversary weekend. As usual we held off on deciding where to go, depending on the weather. We were hoping for a Victoria trip but the Pacific low pressure system would have none of that. So it was back to our tried and true Leavenworth, Chelan, Pateros, Wenatchee destination. We left early Saturday morning and spent a few hours in Leavenworth before heading for Chelan to check out the fire damage. We stumbled upon a trail that meandered through the burned riverside acreage. We were amazed at how close the fire came to large residential areas. We spent the night at our familiar Pateros Lakeshore Inn. The morning sun on the lake and pouring in the room is one of our favorite parts about it. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the warmth of the 80 degree wind, knowing we would shortly go back to the low sixties. On our way home we stopped in Wenatchee to walk four miles on the loop trail. We came home in time to watch most of the Seahawks/Packers game:(
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
A summer is not complete without Ada and Ruby spending a few days with Papa and Farmor. Since school starts late this year, I had a few weeks before responsibilities started. Esther has been slaving away for most of August. I drove down to Portland to rendezvous with Jenny Tuesday morning and brought them back on Friday morning. Esther tried to make the most of the evenings with the girls. Wednesday I spent most of the day in Southworth, at the beach and in the yard, enjoying one of the last beautiful days of summer. On Thursday I took the girls to the Point Defiance Zoo. The girls really enjoyed it and we spent the whole day there. My favorite was the polar bear feeding inches from our heads (separated by glass of course). Ada's favorite was the snow leopard cubs and Ruby's was the elephant. The girls spent the nights in their 'new bedroom'. I set up bunk beds in one of the basement rooms. They were tickled to take ownership of the room and help do some decorating. We enjoyed their company and were missing them as soon as they left. Ada stated that it needs to be a summer tradition to spend time in Southworth. I think it already is.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Ever since we moved to our current house we have been trying to get more natural light into our main living space. Our view is to the north, so most windows in these spaces face that direction. In attempt to utilize southern exposure, I have installed an additional window and two skylights. Esther has wanted to get a glass front door for several years, but it was difficult justifying the disposal of the existing unique door. This summer we decided to go for it. We ordered a door June that has glass and a contemporary design. It was delivered shortly before leaving for Japan, but we decided to wait until we got back. Yesterday I installed it, and so far we love it. It does compromise our privacy some, but only our entry area is exposed. It takes a little getting used to but so far so good.
Friday, August 07, 2015
This being the last full day in Japan we were determined to get the most of it. Hiroshima and Miyajima were on the definite bucket list for Ellen and Jenny. Calvin and Sassa took the girls for the day because the marathon day would be too much. The newlyweds took the girls to the Osaka aquarium. Calvin and Sassa had not been there yet, so it was something new to them as well. The highlight for the girls was the penguins and sea otters. Meanwhile, the five of us ventured out without our faithful tour guides. Sassa gave us a detailed itinerary and Calvin let Bjorn borrow his Japanese iPhone-We were in business. The hour and a half bullet train ride brought us to our southern destinations. Miyajima is a postcard island with the iconic Torii Gate standing in the water next to a Shinto shrine stilted in the tidelands. We took a ferry to the island and were immediately struck by the abundance of 'foreign' tourists. Esther was delighted with several oysters snacks, and we waded into the cool water avoiding jellyfish. After lunch we returned to Hiroshima and Peace Memorial Park. Ellen and Jenny said that it was well worth the effort and one of their highlights. Being at the Memorial one day after the seventieth anniversary of the bombing made the experience seem very fresh with residual crowds and the dismantling of the ceremonial pavilion. Putting faces and names to the 140,000 victims of the bombing was very sobering. The Children's Memorial with the millions of cranes choked us all up. We worked up an appetite walking in the afternoon heat to enjoy some much anticipated Okonamiyaki at three floors of mini restaurants that all serve the famous Hiroshima dish. Chefs grill the dish in front of customers. We sped walked on full stomachs to the train station and caught an evening bullet train back to Kyoto. It was a bittersweet evening spending our last night with Calvin and Sassa.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
It was a comfortable night with AC and ample space and some privacy. A breakfast on the go saw us on a morning train to Himeji sleepiji Castle. The medieval castle was recently renovated. It stands above the surrounding landscape and presents a prominent profile. It is named after a white egret, because of its resemblance of the bird taking flight. The castle itself is a very impressive timber framed structure six stories high. We were able to climb through the entire ancient building imagining the centuries of occupants and the events the ancient walls witnessed. The entire grounds with its gates, moats and shooting holes was for me the most impressive historical site that I have visited in Japan. In the late afternoon we took a train back to Kyoto and visited the Inari Tori gates. Thousand orange Tori gates line a 4 kilometer walk to the top of a hill. Not all of our party hiked to the top, but everyone got their fill of the orange arches. Our final dinner with Markus and Steph before they head for Germany was appropriately take-out curry which was enjoyed in our rented house.
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
We left Kanazawa and Japan's west coast on a morning train to Kyoto. The heat and humidity cranked up a bit and we had to adjust to the discomfort. We were able to drop our bags off at the house that we are renting. After a ramen lunch we were off to the Golden Pavilion the sweltering heat. The grounds were crowded but the scenery did not disappoint. We still had time to go to the large temple on the hillside over looking the city. Orange pagodas and a huge ancient temple with a massive thatched roof nestled against the wooded hillside make this my favorite Japanese temple so far. We were happy to get acquainted with our rented house: authentic furnishings and woodwork, tatami rooms and plenty of space for the eleven of us. It will be nice to stay in the same place for four nights. A visit to the neighborhood bathhouse where the women were schooled in boathouse manners prepared us for a good night's sleep
Monday, August 03, 2015
Our host at the small hostel in Kanazawa is very persnickety about every detail of our stay: where to put things, when to shower, how to wash the dishes. He lives in the hostel and uses the same facilities as the guests. It is a little uncomfortable, but it gives us plenty of entertainment. We met Bjorn, Jenny and the girls at the train station where we enjoyed our first Starbucks coffee since being in Japan. We then took a bus to visit a historic tea house street and give Ada and Ruby some playground time. The city of Kanazawa is very pleasant; it doesn't have the bustle of Tokyo, yet it is very modern. In the afternoon we caught a tour bus up to the village of Shirakawago. This scenic village nestled under lush green mountains features gassho-style architecture. Crafted centuries ago the framing structure is fastened together with special rope and covered with two foot thick thatch. The result is a building that can withstand monsoon winds and earthquakes. We spent three hours exploring this unique village which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Back in Kanazawa we ate dinner and retired to our lodgings.
Sunday, August 02, 2015
Saying goodbye to the Maruyama family was very hard. We have come to love them dearly and have appreciated their generous hospitality. We caught a series of trains in the morning and made our way Kanazawa. Because the hostel we found does not allow children, we separated our party for accommodations and Bjorn and Jenny and the girls are staying in a hotel. After dropping off our luggage at our respective lodgings, we did some sight seeing in Kanazawa. Some of us went to a museum which was kid friendly while others went to a Ninja Temple, a ninja barracks disguised as a temple complete with secret passageways and booby traps. We met up again to visit an ancient garden with ponds, waterfalls and bridges. Dinner was Shabu Shabu, meat and vegetables self cooked on the table
The youth hostel was hot with no AC but the food was pretty good for a hostel. We spent the day visiting more art exhibitions and driving through mountain villages. The scenery is beautiful with lush green rice fields in every semblance of flat land. We enjoyed a couple of meals at some local restaurants and the ladies got another bathing experience while the men moved luggage around. Our final evening with Sassa's family was spend in an amazing house called the Shedding House. It is part of the art festival so guests can only spend the evening hours at the house. A group of artist took an abandoned historic house that had been modernized. The workers restored the house to its original condition and then painstakingly carved millions of divots with chisels on all the inside surfaces. The floor, walls, framing and rafters allThree thousand people contributed their labor, and the project took two years to complete. The result is stunning. We slept on spread out futons on the carved floor.
Friday, July 31, 2015
A beautiful morning greeted us; and while most of the party got a couple hours of morning sleep, the girls and I took a walk in the quiet mountainside community. After another great breakfast we were off on an art tour in the valley next door. Japanese roads don't go over mountains; they go through mountains. After just a short night together as newly weds Calvin and Sassa joined us. Sassa's parents rented a twelve passenger van and brought us to several art museums and venues near their hometown of Tokamachi. Every three years the valley takes a month in the summer to put on an art exhibition. Tourists come from all over Japan to enjoy the exhibition. Both of their parents are connected to the production of the tour, so they were eager to share the local talent. We viewed forest exhibits, the world of dirt, a traditional mountain home and a modern art museum. The highlight of the day was a surprise visit during lunch of preschoolers dressed in kimonos came to bring Sassa flowers and sing songs to Calvin and her. The teacher was the same preschool teacher that Sassa had as a child. They also sang Happy Birthday to Esther. For our evening accommodations we are staying at a youth hostel. The day ended with a visit to the local Hot Springs to experience Japanese bathing at its best;)
Thursday, July 30, 2015
The momentous day began with a great breakfast at the pension. Most of the morning was spent stringing paper cranes and prepping for wedding. We moved to the venue around noon and continued to prepare programs and take wedding photos. A quick rehearsal just before the guests arrived was just enough to get a few of our party a little worried. The venue was perfect for the number of guests. The bilingual service helped frame the union of our two families. Pastor Rich did a good job presenting a Christian marriage. The ceremony was simple and purposeful. After the ceremony the guest left the room while the staff transformed the room for the reception. Japanese receptions are a bit more formal with a lot of speeches and explanations. The 'shoe game' presented by Steph and Jenny was particularly enjoyed by the Japanese contingent. The meal was exquisite, comprised of ten courses each matched with a connection to Calvin and Sassa's relationship. Every course was beautifully presented on a new set of unique china. Dancing is usually not a part of Japanese weddings so the Bulthuis worm had to refrain themselves. Calvin and Sassa left to catch a train for a quick overnighter before having to return as tour guides. We returned to the pension and were joined by Sassa's family.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
We said goodbye to Tokyo this morning as we packed up all of our things and caught a bullet train to Niigata prefecture. A bullet train experience is not complete without a bento box and we were lucky enough to snag some before leaving Tokyo Station. The Maruyamas (Sassa's parents) were there to greet us and welcome us to the scenic mountainous valley where the wedding will take place. We piled in their two cars and a couple of taxis to the wedding venue. We spent the rest of the afternoon helping prep for the wedding. The Bulthuis' are getting pretty proficient at making origami cranes. We even got an assembly line going. The venue is wonderful. The complex features open timber framing and windows. We enjoyed a Japanese version of Italian food that was superb. It was a pleasure spending time with our new in-laws though any meaningful communication needed to be channeled through Calvin and Sassa. A bus from the pension where we are staying brought us up the foot of a mountain to our accommodations. Tomorrow promises to be an eventful day.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
One of the features of Japanese culture that our family seems to enjoy is the unique architecture. The Japanese are champions of simplicity and balance. This morning we took a trip to the Edo-Tokyo Architectural Museum. The museum has collected historic buildings from around the area and reconstructed them for visitors to explore. We spent the morning taking our shoes off and on, exploring tatami rooms and beautiful woodwork. We ate a lunch of Udon at the museum. In the afternoon, I took Ruby and Ada back to Fuchu to play in the house and swim in the pool at the church. The alternate activity fit the girls fancy well and they nodded peacefully off to sleep at a decent hour. The rest of the gang spent the afternoon and evening on a final Tokyo adventure. Ueno Park is a vast inner-city park with a zoo, temples, museums and an extensive lake filled with lily pads. After wandering through the park, the crew did some shopping at the nearby Yuniqlo store. Some of the more brave of the party pretended to enjoy eating a snack of whale meat. They next went to a geek's paradise, including the largest electronics store in the world where the weary tourist enjoyed Okonaniyaia on the 8th floor. The evening was capped off with a jamb packed train ride at 9:00.
Hot muggy weather does not invite sightseeing especially to the tune of fifteen miles. After quick breakfasts we walked to ICU campus. I stayed with the girls in the cool cafeteria while Calvin gave a quick tour. Once again we were struck by the beauty of the grounds. Next we caught a bus and then trains to Meiji Shinto shrine. Large trees helped give some shade to our walk through the grounds. Ruby in particular was irritated by the direct sunlight. After some yogurt cones we wandered through several shopping areas, stopping occasionally to make purchases. Ada did wonderful through the long hot afternoon, but Ruby had a little too much and began to melt down and embody the weariness that most of us felt. We eventually made our way on foot to Shibuya station for a look at Hachi the dog and a long anticipated bowl of Ramen. As we squeezed into trains on our homeward journey, both girls fell asleep in someone's arms. We collapsed into our lodgings at about 10. Josh deLacy dropped in after returning from his hike up Mt. Fuji.
Our long convoluted journey to Tokyo ended in midnight arrival and collapsed exhaustion. It started with a 3:30am get up in Lynden. Bria and David accompanied our small caravan to the Vancouver BC airport, as they returned our vehicles to Lynden. A morning flight brought us to Los Angeles at about noon. We met Markus and Steph for our next leg. Steph was feeling a little better from her stomach ailment, but was clearly suffering. After a four hour layover it was on to a twelve hour flight to Japan. Ada and Ruby did great considering the length of the flight. We were all exhausted from trying to sleep in a cramped airplane seat. Calvin and Sassa were at Narita to welcome us to Japan at about 8 o'clock. Our last task of the trip was to drag nine exhausted bodies and eleven bags of luggage through trains and train stations for two hours. After 28 hours of traveling, we were ready for some sleep. We are housed at two locations: Markus, Steph, Esther and I are sleeping in Calvin's apartment; and Ellen, Calvin, Bjorn, Jenny and the girls are staying at the church's guest house. Pastor Rich and wife Candice are generous hosts.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
The past couple of days we have had the privilege of hosting Esther's second cousin, Christina Andersen from Norway. She spent the last month in the US visiting family, most recently helping to babysit our granddaughters in Corvallis. Christina is a charming young lady who is very personable. It was a pleasure reacquainting ourselves with our Norwegian family. We spent a day visiting the Seattle sites and spending a few hours with George and Kirsten Eide. Christina was very excited to see her great uncle and aunt. I think she was a little relieved to be speaking some live Norwegian after a couple of weeks of only English speakers. She returns to Norway today. We hope to see her again soon.
Monday, July 06, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Last month Bjorn started his new job working for Oregon State University Foundation. He and Jenny quickly found a great house to rent that is a block off of the main drag. It is on a somewhat quiet street, but is accessible to the unique downtown Corvallis amenities. Calvin, Esther and I spent Memorial Day weekend with the new residents. Jenny was able to show us all of her old stomping grounds. We even took an extensive walk through OSU and saw Bjorn's new office. Ada and Ruby were troopers and showed that they will be ready for Japan. The weekend included a BBQ with Greg and Janette, Jeff and Whitney; the new intown family; a dinner with Mikal and friends who popped in Sunday; a visit to Zion Lutheran Church; a climb up Mary's Peak (highest in coastal range); and a visit to the local nursery to gets some landscaping started. We enjoyed Bjorn and Jenny's new house. It has a lot of historic integrity with lath and plaster walls, high ceilings and large wood trim. The back deck and yard are a great hangout place. The girls enjoy the enclosed driveway with their bikes and trikes. I am sure that we will soon be wearing our vehicles out driving the four hours down I-5 on a regular basis.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
It seems like California is our default road trip for Spring break. We had kind of planned on going to Arizona this year, but with a late start to the trip, we decided on California. The added bonus to California is the chance to spend some time with my sister Ellen. Usually our spring breaks do not coincide, but this year they did. So we were able to do some day trips with Ellen. We took our time heading down, spending a night in Ashland and Chico, with a stops in Redding, Oroville and Sutter Buttes. The weather was perfect all week, sunny and mid-seventies. Our sunroof got a lot of use and my head got a lot of burnt :) We discovered a great park on the outskirts of Chico-Bidwell Park. It gave us a chance to hike up one of the surrounding hills. Northern California is in the full bloom of spring and the wild grass is still green. It won't be long and it will turn brown.
With Ellen we visited the town of Murphys in the Sierra Foothills, stopping at a winery and browsing the town boutiques. We also enjoyed a six mile hike on the American River trail and a stroll through the capital grounds. Other highlights of our time in Sacramento was dinner of Japanese shabu and an Easter service on Saturday night at Ellen's church. Our trip home was a thirteen hour grind on Sunday with our only food stop at a casino for their Easter buffet. We returned ready to hit our schools for a close to the year.
Our Spring break began with a bang. Niece Bria and new husband David tied the knot at Rosario Beach near Deception Pass. The venue was a risky call for the end of March, but the weather gave the needed break with filtered sunshine. The ceremony and reception were a delight. The setting was fantastic-a secluded cove with camp/convention facilities on the western shore of Fidalgo Island. Our family (kids and grandkids) shared a cabin for two nights and were able to spend some time together planning our trip to the next wedding!! Esther and I got a late start to our road trip, but it was well worth it.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Two days off from work for Esther and I on President's Day gave us the opportunity for a getaway to the Oregon Coast. The weather was amazing! We would be happy for these conditions in the summer; sunny and in the high sixties. We spent one night in Seaside and one in Newport. Seaside on Sunday was a clamor of activities with the beach and streets packed with families. Our favorite part was the promenade walk. Our hotel was on the canal, but our fourth floor balcony had a great view of the town, ocean and surrounding hills. A leisurely morning drive down the coast with an open sun roof and a picnic lunch at Depoe Bay brought us to our Newport Nye Beach Hotel. We enjoyed some more walking on the beach and the streets of Nye Beach and the Deco District. The view from the cliffside hotel absorbed the last rays of a fabulous February? day. On our way home we stopped at the Woodburn Outlet mall and each found some much needed clothes.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Saturday, January 03, 2015
Our Christmas festivities began with our children converging on Southworth. Bjorn and Jenny came down Monday night and joined Calvin who came after the Messiah. The working newlyweds joined us Christmas Eve in time for dinner. After a delicious meal of ham and scallop potatoes, we enjoyed an evening of gift exchanging. The girls did well until the end of the evening when Ruby had a little meltdown. On Christmas Day we packed into two vehicles and drove to Cle Elem to join the Eides for a celebration. The cabin was cozy, but the men were kicked out so that the women could have a 'Woodland Tea" The men enjoyed a hike in Roslyn and a trip to Suncadia and a tour of the house under construction. Oyster Stew and Clam Chowder were followed by a gift exchange. The next morning it was the customary sausage balls and peppermint jello. Some of the party took a walk near the cabin before we all went to Suncadia to view the lodge and house as well as appetizers at the winery. In the evening, Markus, Steph, Calvin, Esther and I drove to Lynden to pick up Ellen from Doug and Pam's. Saturday we brought Calvin to the Vancouver airport for his trip to Japan. We spent the day enjoying the sights of Vancouver. Ellen and Steph had not been in Canada for a long time. Fortunately, the filtered sunshine allowed us to enjoy Stanley Park, Granville Island and Canada Place waterfront before dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. Sunday we headed back to Southworth, stopping to watch the Seahawks game at Steph and Markus as well as meeting the Bishops in Tacoma to see Rebecca and Olivia. We had a leisure New Years week. Bjorn, Jenny and the girls joined us for New Years celebrations on their way back from Oregon.