Monday, November 20, 2006

St. Louis 1

In the begining of November we took a short weekend trip to St. Louis to celebrate my birthday. While recently rated the most dangerous city in the U.S. (no small feat I'm sure) St. Louis is about 3.5 hours drive from here, and we had only driven through on our way elsewhere (I went when I was a kid).
Our first destination was the Gateway Arch, a 690 foot arch of stainless steel built in the 1960s to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase and the Westward expansion of the U.S. We were not able to get tickets for that evening to go to the top, though, so we just walked around the park and along the Mississippi River for a little while before heading over to our hotel in the downtown loft district.
We had a great dinner (and sake flight!) at an Asian fusion restaurant, Red Moon. I realize it's hilarious to take photos of your food at a nice restaurant, but for a few months now, I've been into documenting meals while traveling. I suppose I could have stranger habits!

The view from our room, toward the arch.

On Sunday morning, we walked over to the arch with a brief coffee stop along the way. To me, the most surprising thing about the arch was the super strict security measures they had in place at the enterance. It was worse than most airport security, they almost made the children behind us cry! Once we were through that though, we waited for our ticket time to ascend to the top in a circular five foot pod with five other people (not sure about the numerology there). This is quite the experience! The four minute ride to the top is cramped, but the view towards Illinois and over the city of St. Louis is quite nice, and it's a neat experience to look down and see the majority of the structure that you are in.

St. Louis 2

We continued our Sunday at the Anheuser-Busch brewery, where we learned that half of the beer drank in the U.S. is A-B, for a total of 1,200 bottles every minute! Although we are not A-B drinkers (it's microbrew at our house), the facility was really interesting, we saw the famous clydesdale horses, and of course we enjoyed our free sample beers and pretzels at the end of the tour.

After all that big corporate culture, we headed to Shafly's, a local St. Louis microbrewery for a tasty lunch and some different beer! Our last stop was at the St. Louis Art Museum, complete with statue of St. Louis himself out front.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fall Break

So, I have some catch-up blogging to do. This post is really about our mid-October Fall Break. KU gives us a four day weekend in mid-semester, which turns out to be a good time for a four day weekend, as the leaves are usually changing, but the weather in Kansas is still pleasant. Joe took some time off of work, and we had planned on taking a four day camping trip, but alas, the weather was not with us. So, we instead took a one night camping trip at nearby Clinton Lake State Park, and spent some serious time in the kitchen, making butternut squash ravioli and homemade pasta, as well as pumpkin pie. It was quite the fall feast. In a way it was a nice harvest celebration, as we were using the last of the local organic veggies from our farmer co-op, Rolling Prairie. For those of you not in the know, a farmer co-op is like a vegetable subscription service. We give a downpayment in early Spring, and commit to getting veggies from a group of 8 farmers all season long, which is about half of the year in our climate. Every week we pick up 6-8 servings of seasonal local veggies and pay our fee at the begining of each month. So, we had some pumpkins and squash to use, and the sage in our backyard garden was also in need of use. Anyway, it was fantastic weekend of cooking, camping, hiking, and relaxing. :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Ok, so it's not travel related, but I just felt like posting some silly photos of my pets, just because.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A little over two weeks ago we headed out West for the Labor Day weekend, driving across the sunflower fields of Kansas to our neighboring state of Colorado. Joe and I found a nice site up in the San Isabel National Forest near the Collegiate Peaks. The great thing about National Forest camping is that it is often free and dispersed-style, essentially meaning you drive along a dirt back-road and camp at a nice spot, though there are no amenities like tables or outhouses, and you have to know where to go either from experience or on the advice of a local. Because of the rugged nature of it, not very many people do it, which is great for us! Our site was a good twenty minute walk from any other people, and had wonderful mountain views. We spent the weekend hiking in the mountains with our dog Montana, and relaxing under the clear skies at our camp. :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006


So I've been back in the states for 3 weeks now, and 2 weeks ago Joe and I went to Chicago to visit family and friends. We flew up on Friday and after a delayed flight (thanks to no liquids being put into effect the day before) we arrived and had time only to have dinner and visit with family. On Saturday we went out to DeKalb, home of Northern Illinois University (our alma mater). The first photo shows the drive out, about an hour. We ate a late lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant (veggie everything!), and went around campus and town. We headed back to the suburbs, where we stopped at both Ikea (!) and the Japan festival at Mitsuwa market!

On Sunday we went down to the Field Museum to see the huge King Tut exhibition and spend the day downtown. The exhibition was fantastic (and very crowded), and we had a good time with my parents looking around other sections of the museum. The picture shows them in front of Sue, the most complete T-Rex ever found. We were also really excited to eat VEGGIE CHICAGO HOT DOGS in front of the museum. How cool is that?!?!? The weather was beautiful all weekend, and we had a great time walking around our hometown. :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Well, it's late and I'm still packing, but I figure that's ok because it will help me sleep on the plane. This will be my last Japan post, so I would like to list some things that I will miss very much:

- Mini-stop
- Store clerks saying "Irashaimase!"
- The sewer covers that are different in every town and include representative cultural items. In Okazaki it's the castle and some fireworks.
- Cell-phone charms. Everyone from junior high kids to middle-aged salarymen have them. I will also miss the jingle of the bells that accompany them.
- Mustard flavored rice chips
- Japanese vending machines
- Hello Kitty everything!
- Tile roofs
- Kitsutsuki lunch, both the food and the company
- Walking home by the big lake
- Shinkansen
- Strawberry pan breakfast
- Japanese flowers and gardens
- Puri-kura
- Adventuring around every weekend (ok, so I do this alot at home too...)
- The huge tofu section at the grocery
Ok, there are so many more things I will miss, too many to list, but these were the first that came to mind. It has really been a great experience to be here, I have made so many wonderful friends, seen many amazing places, and learned so much Japanese! Having said this, I'm sure I'll be back soon, and of course there are many things I miss about the U.S. too, and many people I will be happy to see.
Stay posted!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Just a few pictures from around Okazaki. I'm quickly approaching my return to the states, but I will maintain this blog after I return. Joe and I usually travel once a month or so, and I plan on posting from our travels to other places both domestic and international. I'll probably also post things from home if something interesting comes up.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tokyo Friday

Well, it was my last weekend in Japan, so I headed for Tokyo with Nadja. It was all that one would expect from the largest metropolis on Earth- crowded, big, buzzing, confusing, and one heck of a good time. After our Shinkansen ride we walked what felt like miles through subway corridors to get to our hotel near Tokyo Tower. In the evening we met up with Nadja's friend Chris and had some tasty Indian food before spending the evening at a very crowded club near Ginza.