Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Night hiking

On Tuesday we'd planned to go on an afternoon hike with our friends Brian & Julie ... we got a bit of a late start and the sun had already set by the time we set out. We still had a great time together. Julie and I turned back once my shoes started sliding down the icy path, but Brian & Jason (& Maddy the boxer) made it to the top!

Oh the beauty!

Re-entry into the US has left us filling our lungs as full as possible with the beautifully clean air ... and that was when we arrived into Los Angeles! Never has LA air seems so pristine!

We were fortunate enough to have a long lay-over and got to spend a couple hours at Venice beach in the 75 degree weather, munching on In-N-Out burgers and visiting with my good friend, Christy. What a way to come back!

Arriving in Spokane at Jason's parents always feels like I am going on a retreat ... their house is situated on a lovely hill and is surrounded by trees. I dfon't think we could get more opposite than Shanghai if we tried! A special treat for us is that we had snow on Monday evening and it's stayed cold enough for it to stick the past few days. So completely beautiful!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Barn Sour

This is a term I grew up hearing in reference to whenever we were homeward bound and moving perhaps a bit faster than we should have been. I think it's original reference was used to describe a horse who could sense the moment you turned it back toward home and would move at an incredible fast (and sometimes uncontrollable) pace. I got to experience this first hand and can say it was not a good experience ... it ended with me flying off of the horse :)

Anyhow...we are homeward bound for Christmas and are most definitely feeling barn sour. We've got about 15 flight hours in our future and another 8-10 hours of hanging out in airports, but what's important is that we're heading to family! Whoo-hoo!!

We woke up this morning to this beautiful icicle outside.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Last week, we decided to take some time to do some exploring with some new friends of ours. Pankaj & Chandra are both very artsy, so I thought a trip to Moganshan Lane 50 was in order. It's an enormous warehouse which has been converted into many small art galleries and has created a sort of art district in the surrounding area.

We had a great time exploring together ... and agreed that probably the best "art" we saw all day was the graffiti we enjoyed on the way there!

Chandra & I were also fascinated by the old style Shanghai homes which are being razed in order to build high-rise apartment complexes. Although the new apartments are probably needed, it seems so sad to see these beautifully, historic homes destroyed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Street Potatoes

There is a never-ending variety of street food for sale in Shanghai. As the weather has cooled down, I've noticed people selling roasted sweet potatoes. Last week while out with friends, I decided to capture the purchase process of these delicious smelling treats!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Plants are Cheap!

We went to our nearby flower market this week to get some plants for decorations...I had heard plants were inexpensive, but I had NO idea I would walk away with 6 beautiful plants for the equivalent of $10!! We didn't even try to bargain at all since it already felt overly cheap. It made me want to go back and deck out the entire house in poinsettias.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marathon Man.

Jason ran his first marathon in China today! In spite of the poor air quality here, he finished with a personal best time at 3 hours 31 minutes!!!

It was an early start ... he left our place at 5:45. Sadly, I couldn't go with him to the starting line since one of us needed to stay here with our young charges until our Sunday coverage person arrived.

I was able to go and wait for him near a half-way point. While I waited, I was appalled (although not entirely surprised) at some of the road rules for racing in Shanghai! At some points, officials stopped all the runners to allow traffic to go through and often even though police officers were telling scooters, bikes and pedestrians to stop they continued right through the running lane, forcing runners to break stride and run around them like a bit of an obstacle course!

Is it a bad thing that my husband looks so happy to be running away from me???

Our lovely friends, Natalie & Ed, joined me at the finish line to cheer Jason home!!

Jason's found some new friends!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being thankful for ... squat toilets?

We've found Shanghai to be a city of many toilets. I have been amazed at the number of public toilets available (for free) throughout the city. Learning to use a squat toilet successfully has left me feeling quite proud of myself ... and now that I've also learned to never leave home without my own TP, I feel right at home :)

Here's a couple picts of one of our many public toilets:

Even with the vast number of available public toilets, the below is an all too common sight. Men just use any wall as an available urinal - even if it is 10 feet from a toilet. While running one morning this week, I ran past 3 men all in a row relieving themselves and we find that we often have to be on the lookout for fresh "rivers" running down the sidewalks as we walk.

On a more serious note, one of the biggest things I've been thinking about this year as Thanksgiving time has come and gone is how thankful I am to the many people around the globe who have adopted us in one way or another. I feel so overwhelmed by the unselfish love people have shared with us, often while we've still been strangers to them. This unexpected, gracious generosity is something we continue to experience and something we will never forget.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Taroko Gorge Day

Enplane from Taipei to Hualian ... the adventure has begun (with a 5:15 am start time - ouch!)

We were excited to already see some wonderful mountains as we disembarked from our plane. Soooo beautiful!

This narrow hiking path is the road to a local village!

Jason's already trying to decide if he could do a backflip into the water below.

Enjoying some delicious coffee made with nearby mountain spring water.

Due to the number of rocks that fall here each day we were all required to wear hard hats and walk close to the mountain in the hopes that any plummeting boulders would bounce out and away from the mountain allowing us to live :)

We stopped for lunch at a lodge/restaurant serving traditional Taiwanese Aborigonal food which was actually quite tasty!

Eternal Springs Shrine - in memorial to the men who lost their lives making the road through Taroko Gorge.

Largest hot water pot I've ever seen ... I hadn't even noticed what it was until I noticed a staff member filling up his tea pot from it!

Final tour stop at Chi Hsing Beach ... it was a tad windy!

Our final destination on our Taiwan adventure, Taipei's tallest building - and the world's second tallest building - Taipei 101. Not a great shot, but we were in fact there :) Sadly, we got their too late to get up to the observatory for the view...but with the rain, it might not have been great anyhow.

Our final thrill was getting to travel at 430 kilometers (about 260 miles) per hour on China's magnetically levitated (Maglev) train from the airport to a subway line. Whew! It was fast!