Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's just another day...


So, I originally took the shot below last Monday when I went to lunch at N's Garden with my friend Patti. It was intended to lure my friend MaryBrown into visiting with memories of her heavenly Parisian chocolate croissants.
And it worked! Before I even had a chance to post the picture, Mary emailed me that she is coming for a visit next week! Woohoo! I've been excited for days now.
Some more big news...the cherry blossoms are blooming!
The blossoms come in so many shades of pink.
Chris and I had an incredible Saturday when we headed back to the New Year's Day beach for a little R and R. We packed a lunch, loaded up a dog, and headed north. At some points the day got a little cloudy, but it was a great day to be out.
Plus, we decided it was time to try out Rana's backpack. We were shocked - she loved it!
Chris making some adjustments:
And Rana running around like it's nothing (I love this picture):
Since it was the first time we didn't put too much weight in it, but we did add weight in the form of sea glass and shells throughout the hike.
Look at our little explorer:
We tried for a family photo, but boy was it bright!
We saw a man putting his boat in the water when we got there and then didn't see a soul for the four hours we were there. It was incredible. We had been hiking for about an hour when we noticed a hole in the vegetation meeting up with the beach. Nobody was around, but we found a great camp area:
There was this open air kitchen and a raised platform area to sleep on, as well as an outhouse. There was no road as far as we could tell so whoever uses it must have to hike everything in. It was sweet! They had a small garden and some papaya trees:
I'm not a fan of papaya, but the flowers smelled heavenly.
We'd love to camp here sometime, but have no way of getting in touch with whoever runs it. Maybe next time we'll run in to the owner.
The hike included some rock scampering and forging through the water to get around rocks. It was a great adventure. On the way back someone was looking sleepy:
I know it has been a good day when Rana falls asleep in the van before we've driven for 10 minutes.
Sunday morning I went for an 11 mile run in preparation for my Valentine's Day Half. Tiffany and I recently added another runner to our pack, Bri (not pronounced like the cheese, but with a hard I sound).
The run was fun, but very wet. We took a new route that had us near the river/sea wall. Despite the rain it was beautiful. I had planned on taking my camera, but left it in the car because of the rain. Maybe next week there will be pictures. I did get a picture of the 3 of us at Starbucks warming up with a hot beverage after the run.
Still looking good after a long, wet 11!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Walkman

I recently started teaching an Explore Your World class at the Youth Center. It's a series of classes that cover hiking, wilderness first aid, orienteering, Leave No Trace principals, and basic camping skills. This week's session was going over basic hiking tips and I thought I had found a good worksheet in an old 4-H booklet. Apparently, I didn't realize how old the booklet was.
The worksheet was a list of items the kids could take on a hike and they needed to mark them "essentials", "nice, but not necessary", and "not needed".
Things were going well until about 5 minutes into the worksheet one kids calls out, "What's a walk man?"
After laughing I respond, "Well, a walkman is like an old fashion mp3 or iPod, but with a cassette player." Blank looks were my response so I continued, "Well, a cassette is like an old fashion CD." That garnered some more recognition so I thought we were good to go.
A few moments of silence pass and a different kid says,"Oh wait! I need to change my answer. I thought it was some guy that walked you through the woods. "
Get it? A walk man.
Aren't kids great? It's times like this that make me love working at the Youth Center. It's also times like this that remind me I am getting old.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weekend Round-Up

So far my 2010 to-do list success rate is off to a great start. I'm down to one diet soda a week, I've done yoga once a week for 3 weeks in a row, and we've been very good about trying new recipes. For the one this week we made a dish that used tofu that was actually made right here in Okinawa. Pretty cool, huh?
Months ago my mom had sent me a citrus sesame pasta with shrimp recipe. I modified it to have tofu instead of shrimp, but other than that kept it the same. The sauce had fresh orange juice, soy sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, and some other stuff. Along with the tofu, the dish included whole wheat pasta, carrots, and green beans (meant to be snow peas, but you take what you can get at the commissary). The final product was delicious. And I like it because you could change out the veggies or the protein to fit your tastes.
We started the weekend off with dinner with our friends Mary and Jason.
They introduced us to a great Korean BBQ place. We couldn't really read the menu so we just ordered what they got. We were not disappointed! The food was great and came in ridiculous quantities.
Here we are digging in:
The only problem with this place was that it's traditional Japanese seating - very low tables and you sit on the floor. I was ok, but Mary has a bad back and the boys have traditional boy inflexibility so everyone was pretty anxious to get up by the time we were done feasting.
On Saturday I did a community service clean up with the Youth Center's leadership club. It's a great way for them to make a difference and get volunteer hours. I thought we were going to be doing an easy beach clean-up, but it was hard work. They had us back in the jungle hauling out tires. Here's before:
And after (I know there's still 1 tire, but a tree had grow up through it and we couldn't get it):
Here are the tires we removed (remember this is the work of 4 women and 5 girls):
They gave out cotton gloves which were nasty by the end:
This crab was found out in the jungle about 200 yards from the beach. This guy was going to move him back to the water. I said he looked pretty fat and happy and we should leave him where he was, but nobody listened. Who do I think I am - a fisheries biologist or something?
While I was working Chris was keeping his private pilot's license current (you'd think the number of hours he has as an Air Force pilot would count, but they don't). He took his friend Chuck up for a little island tour. It was a gorgeous day for it.
Sunday we went hiking with Chick and his wife Katie. They took us to a waterfall north of Nago.
It was so cool because you had to walk in the creek bed to get there. It was literally so cool because that water was freezing! After a few minutes your feet went numb and it stopped hurting.
After about a 30 minute trek we were rewarded with this beautiful site:

Boys will be boys and climb trees, but it had Rana very nervous for Chris.

This was an absolutely perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
On the way home from the falls we got a call with a dinner invitation. We agreed and we ate at the barrel restaurant, also known as Tonneau.

I was a little leery, but the inside was really cool.
My food was only ok, but Chris' was some of the best he's had on island. My favorite part of the night was when we were leaving and Chris says "we could live in a barrel." It's times like these that I wonder what I've gotten myself into!
I hope everyone had a great weekend and thanks for reading.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mommy and Me Yoga

In an attempt for continued success with my 2010 to-do list I did a little yoga video at home this week. Rana was only too happy to help.

Here she is trying to figure out what I'm doing.

At this point she's still not so sure:

But then she caught on and was absolutely fantastic at downward dog:

She makes it look so easy! I can never get my heels down in this pose.
Stay tuned because we had a packed weekend including Korean BBQ, waterfall hikes, and eating in a barrel. Updates will be posted in the next couple days. Have a great week!

How do you say milk in Japanese?

Apparently not with pictures of mountains and cows.
Recently we ran out of milk. We didn't really run out, but the carton we bought tasted funny. It was still in date, but tasted plasticy. Being the loving wife that I am I didn't want poor Chris to have to go 2 days without cereal for breakfast so I stopped at the Family Mart and picked up this:
Doesn't it look milky? Alpine mountains, happy cows. Looks like milk to me. Chris wasn't so sure:
So he smelled it:
And he tasted it:
Verdict?
Not quite milk. He said it didn't taste bad, but it wasn't good if you were expecting milk.
Here's a little video to add to the humor:

video

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

I love my body...

Not because it's perfect and there's nothing I want to improve, but because it allows me to accomplish amazing things. After almost 3 weeks off from any real cardio I went for a 5 mile run on Sunday and I was fine. I was more than fine. It felt great to run!
How did I do it, you ask? With my Relax Flavored Water, of course.
I've mentioned before that I love that there are vending machines everywhere here in Okinawa. It means I don't have to carry a water bottle, just a 100 yen coin and I'm good to go. At the end of mile 4 I knew I only had a mile left, but I was parched. This water, which was really lemon flavored not relaxed flavor, helped me push through. What's something that I don't take on runs?
That's right, Rana is the worst running dog ever! Let her off leash at the beach and she will tear it up with speed and boundless energy. Put her on a leash and take her for a run and I swear you can hear her spotty feet dragging on the pavement. She just gets bored out of her little dog mind. I can make her suffer through a 2 mile loop, but that's about it. Any suggestions?
Alrighty, enough dog talk, back to the run. I was trying out a new route that Chris had told me about. The one thing he forgot to mention is that on weekends there is a local market (think flea market mixed with farmer's market) lining both sides of the narrow street. At first the congestion annoyed me because I didn't want to slow down, but then I got all zen and went with the moment. Some of the locals clapped and cheered me on with "Gambate!" (You can do it! Keep going!) It was fun and made me feel like a rock star. Besides some thirst and tired legs on the last uphill I felt great the entire run. The human body is amazing.
Backing up a little, last weekend Chris and I were on a mission to wear out the dog. We decided that we would walk her to Kurashiki Dam, let her run around, and come home. The dam is a little over 5km away from our house. So we wound up going a total of close to 7 miles that day. We had a great time.
We're convinced that Rana is meant to be an agility dog so we had her jumping over chains and walking on walls.
From a distance we saw this floating bridge that looked like fun and seemed to lead to a little wooded island. We were bummed when we got to it and found out it was closed. I guess we'll just have to go back another time.
On the way home we decided to speed up the journey and run a little. We made it maybe 2km and it ended in a coughing, spitting mess. I guess I wasn't ready to jog at that point. I know this isn't an overly attractive picture, but Chris' expression cracks me up.
For a little cultural highlight, here's a treat my student, Michiko, brought me. It's very common to bring back small presents for friends and family when you travel. Michiko is from Ishigaki, a small island close to Okinawa known for its beauty and its huge spring triathlon. Apparently, they are also known for their salt. Michiko brought me a little box of chocolate bars that contain Ishigaki salt. I was a little hesitant, but it is delicious! It's the perfect combo of sweet and salty!
This Saturday we had our friends, the Wheelers, over for a game of Settlers. This just might be the best board game ever!
It is all about strategy and creating cities and settlements. You have to protect your cities from pirates and robbers by purchasing knights. It really is fantastic. My sister, Monica, gave it to me for Christmas. When I told her we had played she sounded very doubtful when she asked if we had fun. When she was buying it she had read the description and had decided that this is not a game you could play while drinking cocktails. I'm with her on that assessment because I was sober as a judge and was still having difficulty keeping up with every aspect of the game. If you're looking for a great game that can fill an afternoon, definitely check out Settler's!
I hope everyone has a great week!