Friday, July 29, 2011

Because I always forget - RIP

This is an old post that I started back in January that I never got back to. Since I'm sitting on a plane with nothing to do I was reading the names and as the original title suggested - I'd forgotten some of these folks had passes away in 2010.

Thanks for the memories and rest in peace.

Dennis Hopper, Lena Horne, John Forsythe, Corey Haim, Gary Colman, Barbara Billingsley, Tony Curtis, Rue McClanahan, Patricia Neal, Eddie Fisher, Lynn Redgrave, Teddy Pendergrass, Leslie Nielsen, Jill Clayburgh, Tom Bosley, Merlin Olsen, Peter Graves, Dixie Carter, Art Linkletter, Don Meredith and finally Elizabeth Edwards.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 25, 2011

Discovery Park

Central Park in New York, Stanley Park in Vancouver and Griffith Park in Los Angeles - that's what I think of when I explore Seattle's Discovery Park. Though distinctly different from the parks above Discovery Park is a gem of a park in an urban setting. Kent and I took in a hike through the park this past Sunday so I thought I'd share a few pictures!

Check it out sometime while in Seattle - it's a great place to run, hike or take in a beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains.

Later - Jim

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alaska Cruise

We leave a week from today on our Alaska Cruise with both our families and a couple of friends. We stopped by the dock this morning and took a picture of the ship we will be on - the Holland American - Oosterdam. It's the ship in the foreground.

We are getting excited!

Later - Jim

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Security Camera Hummingbird

This is so interesting! This is a picture of a hummingbird captured on one of our security cameras. Kent placed a small piece of pink paper in front of the camera lens in an attempt to reduce glare and the number of automatic emails we get when the camera detects motion. Sometimes the sun is enough to set it off and we receive way to may emails. Apparently the humming bird thought it looked delicious! I'm glad he did and that we captured this shot!

Security Camera Humming Bird

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Later - Jim

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tokyo Trip 2011

As I write this draft which I'll post later it's now the day before I left Tokyo. From door to door I'll actually get home in Seattle the day before I left Japan and that's with a several hour layover in LA! How weird is that? I am glad however to get my day back that I lost traveling to Japan!

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Conrad Hotel where we stayed was very nice.  The picture below was taken in the hotel bar.  It was a bit spendy but several nights we enjoyed a drink while relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view.

Lobby Bar of the Conrad Hotel
This is a daytime view of the Park you can see from the lobby of the hotel which was located on the 28th floor.
View of Hama Rikyu Garden from Hotel Lobby
Finally this is a picture of the hotel taken from the park and me relaxing in a hot bath.  This tea house in the park was a great place to relax and enjoy a cup of green tea and desert.  Very traditional style including removing your shoes and sitting on the floor.
View of Conrad Hotel from Hama Rikyu Garden

Time to relax after a full day of touristing around!

The flight between Tokyo and LA was nice. The plane was for the most part empty. I've never seen fewer people on an international flight. There was no one else in my row so I was able to use all three seats in my row and lay completely down! That was a nice treat! I slept for about 6 or so hours.

Japan made the 15th County that I have visited. Kent and I keep a running list. He's got a few more than I due to business travel but its pretty close. We are already thinking of our next international trip. We are thinking Australia sometime next year. I need to get at least one international trip in a year in to maintain Gold status on Delta. Not that it did me much good on this flight. There were tons of open seats in 1st class but there were no upgrades. Not sure why - Delta is usually pretty good about that. I guess I can't complain though - I was able to get a special deal and rack up triple air miles for this trip - over 30,000, enough for a free ticket.

As I said in an earlier post - I had a great time in Tokyo. It worked out perfectly for Kent's schedule for us to have 3 and a half full days together. It was more than enough time to see everything that I wanted to see - although we were on a dead run the entire time.  Below are a few pictures that I've already talked about or places that I visited before Kent was dome with work that I wanted to share.  The picture below was taken on the grounds of the imperial palace.

Nijubashi Bridge with Fushimi Tower in the background
I loved photographing the Tokyo Tower at night.  It was a beautiful evening and we got some really cool pictures.
Tokyo Tower at night

Tokyo Tower
I already posted on the events of the first couple days so I will start after my morning visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market.  What a great experience it was!  I'm not so sure it would have been for everyone.  It was very busy with workers and chiefs buying, kind of a frantic pace with forklifts running all over the place and I already mentioned my run in with the police! 

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

Kent had to work until three on Thursday so I mostly spent the time after the fish market exploring the city by train.
Monorail to Odaiba Island

Took the line to Odaiba Island which as far as I can tell is a major tourist destination featuring high- tech buildings, exhibition sites, museums, malls, and a man made beach all on an artificial island. I stopped off and took some great pictures of the city. This is an area where Kent has stayed in previous trips so I visited some of the places he recommended.

This is a view of the city from the island. 

City view from Odaiba Island

 I'm not sure why but there was a statue of liberty out on the island as well.

Everybody needs a Statue of Liberty - Odaiba Island

This is a couple of the high tech buildings located on the island. Apparently the first one is a TV station and the round part is part of an antenna or satellite from what I gather.  The second one is a convention center of some sorts.
Odaiba Island
Odaiba Island

To get acquainted with the city and to pass the time I took a train ride all around the city on the Yamanote line. It basically circles the city. I was confused about how much to pay and ended up "sneaking" out of the train station having not paid the entire fair.

Yamanote line
Extensive Train System which Kent mastered!

When Kent got done with work we went over to Hama Rikyu Garden across from the hotel and toured the garden and then caught a river boat to tour the Sumida River. The river excursion took us by the famous bridges of the city and through the history and development of the city.  The pictures below were all taken from the river cruise. 

New tower under construction in Tokyo
Kent on the Sumida River

View of Asahi Beer Hall from the Sumida River

From there we made our way to the Senso-ji Temple the oldest temple site in Tokyo. There were street vendors and shops making for an exciting evening. From there we made our way to the Ueno Park area for dinner at the Hardrock Cafe.

Senso-ji Temple

Five Story pagoda on Senso-ji Temple grounds

After seeing how nice the area was around Ueno Park the evening before we decided to start the day there. It’s a beautiful urban park famous for its cherry trees and magnificent lotus pond.  As you can tell by the number of photos below I loved the lotus pond.

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Ueno Park Lotus pond

Ueno Park Lotus flower

Ueno Park carp

Ueno Park lotus pond

From there we decided to take a train ride out of the city to Kamakura. Kamakura was the shogun's capital from 1192 - 1333, this seaside town has ancient shrines, gardens, and the famous Daibutsu Buddha statue all within an easy train ride from Tokyo. We took a 3 mile hike through the forest and visited several ancient shrines along the way. I would highly recommend the time it takes to visit Kamakura.

Kamakura  - Daibutsu (Great Buddha)

Temple in Kamakura

Temple in Kamakura

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Bamboo forest on hike between shrines

Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine

Washing hands before entering shrine

Washing money in shrine for the promise of wealth

The next day may go down as the day we pushed our limits the furthest! Mind you it was hot in Tokyo but I really wanted to get a nice run in at least once. We started the day with a nine mile run from our hotel through the Ginza and around the Imperial Palace grounds. Beautiful albeit hot run!

Hot 8 mile run around the Imperial Palace grounds

Hot 8 mile run around the Imperial Palace grounds

We went to the Roppongi Hills area to the Mori Tower for beautiful views of the city and Mt. Fuji from the observation deck. Nice way to see the city. We also took in the Mori Art Museum.

View of Tokyo Tower from Mori Tower

View of Mt. Fuji from Mori Tower

View of old cemetery from Mori Tower

We visited the Meiji Shire and saw a traditional Japanese wedding march and the famous Ichi no Torii gate.

Ichi no Torii gate

Grounds of Meiji Shire

Happened upon a traditional wedding procession

Meiji Shire grounds

There is a little known Richard Gere movie called - Hachi – A Dog’s Tale from 2009 about a guy that has a dog that meets him every day at the train station after work. One day the owner of the dog does not show up at the station - he has died. The dog continues to come to the station daily looking for him until the dog dies of old age. The real Hachi was born in Odate in 1923. After the death of his owner Hidesaburo Ueno in 1925, Hachi returned to the Shibuya train station the next day and every day after that for the next nine years. A photo of his statue in the Shibuya train station is the last image shown before the credits roll. Kent visited the statue the last time he was in Tokyo so he took me there. What a great story.

Hachi statue

Kent and Hachi

We visited Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens which as it turns out was one of my favorite gardens in Tokyo! The garden was designed in 1629 and is Tokyo’s oldest surviving gardens.

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

We saw the final Harry Potter movie in Tokyo. It was an experience in of itself! Loved the movie - loved the experience! It was a very hot exhausting day so it was nice to relax in a movie theater. Expensive however $22 for a movie ticket!

Harry Potter billboard

We had some great meals while in Tokyo.  Here are a few pictures from our dinning experiences.

Syabu-Syabu fixings

Shrimp Tempura

Syabu-Syabu pot

One of the places we ate and had a great meal

Our last full day was a final push to get in the sites outside the city. We signed up for a tour that started on a bus ride up to Mt. Fuji. Although it was not completely visible it was still a site to be seen! Our bus took us abbot half way up the mountain for a quick stop. Here we sent postcards to our parents, ate barbecued squid and corn on the cob before hopping back on the bus.

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji hidden in the clouds

Bus ride half way up Mt. Fuji
Grilled squid - it was delish!

Views from Mt. Fuji

More views from Mt. Fuji bus ride

We then took the bus to Lake Ashi where we took a short boat cruise. We then caught an aerial cable way at Mt. Komagatake overlooking Hakone National Park. What an experience! From there we took a bullet train back to Tokyo before having a pasta dinner near the hotel.
Kent at Lake Ashi

Boat we took out on Lake Ashi

Kent and I from Mt. Komagatake overlooking Mt. Fuji

View from the boat on Lake Ashi

Views from Mt. Komagatake overlooking Lake Ashi
View from Mt. Komagatake of Mt. Fuji
Final meal of pasta - needed comfort food for the long flight home!

Although I have posted many pictures in this post if you are interested in seeing all the pictures from our trip I have included a Picasa photo album at the bottom of this page  - just scroll to the bottom. 

Have a great day!  Looks like it will be a nice weekend here in Seattle.  We have one more week before we finally leave for our long awaited trip to Alaska!  We are getting excited and looking forward to having Kent's and my family together for our week long adventure!  Of course I'll be blogging!

Later  - Jim