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January 8th, 2009

Highlights of 2008

What a great 2008 it had been! As I was creating a draft for this post, I realize what an eventful and travel-full year we’ve had, that somehow writing about it will not be enough put them all together.

But first off, I turned 30 in 2008! Coming to that age of big 3-0 didn’t really make me any different. As I have mentioned before, I’ve reconciled to the fact that age is just a number. And I still don’t feel a day over 25! However, a few hairs has been showing off my age. Sadly each week, I find new gray hairs popping out. Also, Matthew turned 2-years old and Hubby turned SEXY-years old.

And then there was hubby’s retirement from 22-years service to the Army, which consequently started our summer with leaving Japan for the United States. We left japan with much reluctance from my part and came to the United States. But before settling in to our new home here in Alabama, we lead a summer trail to different parts of United States.

On our first trail, we vacationed in Hawaii for a week. Matthew had his first taste of salty waters and played with the Waikiki sands. Our days in Hawaii was filled with family fun and made me forget that the days ahead had much uncertainty. And then we came to the mainland in Florida and finally met my in-laws. They welcomed us and made us feel at home in their home. With my in-laws, we travelled to Michigan and Delaware and met more relatives. On the way there and back, we had a chance to step on Georgia, Carolina and other states in between. Then finally, hubby got his current job here at a military boarding school. Alabama became our new home sweet home. This all happened last summer. It was exciting and exhausting!

It kind’a went boring since then except when we travelled to Florida during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Related Post:

July 19th, 2008

Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Little Bavaria

When we arrived Michigan on 7 July, our first destination was at Frankenmuth. It’s one of Michigan’s tourist spot famously known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” for it’s Bavarian(German)-themed shops and attractions. We spent three fun days there. [Click here to view more photos.]

We enjoy these attractions:

Background:

  • Bavaria, with an area of 70,553 km² (27,241 square miles) and almost 12.5 million inhabitants, lies in the southeast of Germany and is the geographically largest state (Bundesland) of Germany. Its capital is Munich. Bavaria shares international borders with Austria and the Czech Republic as well as with Switzerland (across Lake Constance). Bavaria has long had one of the largest and healthiest economies of any region in Germany, or Europe for that matter.[Read more.]
  • Frankenmuth is a city in Saginaw County in the U.S. State of Michigan. The area was settled and named by conservative Lutheran immigrants from Franconia (now part of Bavaria), in 1845. The German word “Franken” represents the Province of Franconia in the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the German word “Mut” means courage, thus the city name Frankenmuth means “courage of the Franconians”. [Read more.]

Jellystone Park Camp Resort

We probably spent most of our time at the Jellystone Park. It’s a camping resort. They have grounds for almost all types of camping style – comfort camping – (camping with RV (recreational vehicle) or trailer homes) or the traditional – the one with tents and lesser comforts.

We were parked right by the playground, and a few walks away from the indoor pool.

On 9 July, my in-laws celebrated 42nd Wedding Anniversary. We were glad to have joined their celebration. It’s the first time in so many since their kids left to be on their own, that one of their kids (dear hubby) was around for their special day. At the campsite in Jellystone Park, we had wine and steak dinner that Dad-IL prepared and Matthew had noodles, that Mom-IL prepared.


At the Jellystone Park. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge photo.

At the Jellystone Park.
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



At the Jellystone Park. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge photo.

At the Jellystone Park.
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



At the Jellystone Park. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge photo.

At the Jellystone Park.
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



At the Jellystone Park. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge photo.

At the Jellystone Park.
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008



At the Jellystone Park. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge photo.

At the Jellystone Park.
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008


Bavarian Inn Restaurant

We had dinner at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, where we sample some german food and drinks. Dear Hubby sampled 4 types of german beer. He then concluded that he liked the American Style beer the most. (No surprise there). While we enjoyed a platter of 5 different meats cook in different styles, Matthew would only eat the noodle soup. The waiting staffs were entertaining in their german costumes and upbeat hospitality and the accordian player entertained us and Matthew especially.

Aside from the restaurant, the Bavarian Inn also has a few shops and bakeries.


At the Bavarian Inn. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

At the Bavarian Inn
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008



At the Bavarian Inn. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

At the Bavarian Inn
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008



At the Bavarian Inn. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

At the Bavarian Inn
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008


Frankenmuth’s Main Street

The main street is the location of most of Frankenmuth’s shops, where a variation of items are available from genuine leather, fudge to flavored coffee or some unique items. Cherry flavored coffee, colorful toys, genuine leather belts and personalized items are among those that we found interesting.

With its well-tended flowers and lush greenery and the authentic Bavarian architecture and landscaping, the Main Street is the area in Frankenmuth that reminded me of Huis Ten Bosch. Huis Ten Bosch is a tourist spot in Nagasaki, Japan. While Frankenmuth is built after a Bavarian town, Huis Ten Bosch is built after a mediaeval 17th century Dutch town. But unlike Huis Ten Bosch which is an amusement park, Frankenmuth is a business and residencial town.


Frankenmuth's Main Street. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Frankenmuth's Main Street
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008



Frankenmuth's Main Street. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Frankenmuth's Main Street
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008



Frankenmuth's Main Street. Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Frankenmuth's Main Street
Photo taken on 7 Jul 2008


River Place

The River Place is a location of more shops. It’s an extension of the Main Street where architecture and landscaping is authentic Bavarian.


At the River Place. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

At the River Place
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008



At the River Place. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

At the River Place
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008


Bavarian Belle Riverboat

We took a riverboat cruise along Caas River, which flows through Frankenmuth. It was refreshing to feel the breeze and enjoy the sights while we listened to the narration of the history of Frankenmuth and its residents.


Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008



Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008



Bavarian Belle Riverboat. Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Photo taken on 9 Jul 2008


Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

It’s Christmas in July for us and Christmas everyday at the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland! It prides itself as the World’s biggest chrismas store. Bronner’s building is the size of 5.5 football fields. I was simply overwhelmed by the really big selection of everything Christmas! What’s also amazing is that all year round, the half mile long lane around Bronners are decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. It didn’t surprise us to know that the electric bill costs a thousand dollars each night.

We also visited the Silent Night Memorial Chapel. It’s a replica of the original Silent Night Memorial Chapel found in Oberndorf, Austria. We walked around the chapel and browsed through plaques with the hymn Silent Night is different languages with the Silent Night hymn as background music.


Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bronner's Christmas Wonderland
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bronner's Christmas Wonderland
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Bronner's Christmas Wonderland
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008


Mini Golf

I totally forgot the name of that place where we played the mini-golf! It really looked nice from the outside, the landscape, includig the falls.

Matthew joined in the fun by taking the golf balls from where it landed and putting them on the holes himself. When our strikes are getting too plenty, we always joked that we needed Matthew’s help. Of course, Dad-IL had the highest score. He is afterall a skilled golfer.


Mini-Golfing. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Mini-Golfing
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



Mini-Golfing. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Mini-Golfing
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008



Mini-Golfing. Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008. Click photo to enlarge.

Mini-Golfing
Photo taken on 8 Jul 2008

[Click here to view more photos.]

July 11th, 2008

Fun Facts About Florida

Lightning Capital of the World

The Sunshine State is also known the Lightning Capital of the World. Florida is not the Lightning Capital of the World for nothing. I have seen lightnings even in broad daylight. The odds of being stuck by lightning are like the odds of hitting the lottery, but if you live in Florida your odds are unfortunately greatly increased.

Florida averages 10 deaths and 30 injuries a year from lightning. Since 1959, Florida has had more than 350 lightning-related deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. [Read more]

State of Lakes

Florida is also known for its lakes. There are more than 8,000 lakes in Florida of varied types and sizes. In every turns and corners in Florida, a sight of lakes and houses with docks in them are so common. [Read more]

El Lagarto (The Lizard), The Alligator

I have seen a few alligators, but they are too small or too quick for picture taking.

The highest populations of alligators are found in Florida and Louisiana. In Florida, alligators can be found in almost every single body of water, with the highest concentrations being in the Central Florida to South Florida region. [Read more]

Ain’t No Mountain in Florida

At 345 feet (105 m) above mean sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida
and the lowest highpoint of any U.S. state. Needless to say, there are no mountains in Florida!

July 3rd, 2008

Day 6 in Hawaii, Aloha means Goodbye

This is the sixth and last in the series of our Days in Hawaii. All photos are taken on June 13, 2008. Click photo to enlarge the photo.

Days in Hawaii:

Driving at Waianae Beach
Driving at Waianae Beach. Click photo to enlarge.
Driving at Waianae Beach. Click photo to enlarge.

The good thing about renting a car on vacations is that vacation does not actually end even after checking out of the hotel. We checked out of the hotel at quarter ’til 11, had lunch, and off we drove around O’ahu Island in the afternoon.

Our flight  to Denver, Colorado connecting to Tampa, Florida wasn’t until early that evening that we had an afternoon to spare. We visited sick Tom (dear hubby’s younger brother) in his place at Waipahu and then we drove O’ahu Island upto Waianae for sightseeing. We saw more beaches with higher waves and a few more mountains. It was great way to calm down and quietly say Aloha Goodbye to a wonderful Hawaiian Vacation.

July 2nd, 2008

Day 5 in Hawaii, Pearl Harbor and Beach Bumming, Part 2

This is the fifth in the series of our Days in Hawaii. All photos are taken on June 12, 2008. Click photo to enlarge the photo. Click here to view more photos

Days in Hawaii:

So we went back to Pearl Harbor to visit USS Arizona Memorial. The day before we couldn’t get a ticket for the ferry ride to the memorial. So we came early. At 7am, the line was too long that dear hubby decided that Matthew and I should stay in the car while he wait in line to get our tickets.

An hour later, Matthew was getting fuzzy in the car so I decided to pack him in his stroller so we can look for dear hubby to give him a break. When we found dear hubby he was almost at the front. It was a good thing that we got to him before he reached the front since you can only get a ticket for yourself and not someone who was not there. Or I’d be out of luck (again), since he won’t be able to get a ticket for me. We got our tickets and waited for our turn. We have a lot of hours to spare so we decided to tour the Museum again.

A brief movie was shown about USS Arizona and an announcement was made – Silence must be observed at the memorial. It is afterall, the final resting place of more than 900 sailor, who were killed that day in 1941. It never occured to me that a lot of souls could still be wandering around that area.

USS Arizona Memorial.

Photo taken from Remembering Pearl Harbor: USS Arizona

Arriving USS Arizona Memorial.

Arriving USS Arizona Memorial.

Wreckage of one of the gun turrent foundation.

Background: Wreckage of one
of the gun turrent foundation.

The wall of names.

Background: The wall of names
of the fallen crew members.

The battle-scarred and submerged remains of the battleship USS Arizona are the focal point of a shrine memorial erected by the people of the United States to honor and commemorate all American servicemen killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. [Read more.]

When we got there, we saw a few remains of the battleship. We thought we could see the ship under through the waters but the waters was too dark that day to see anything. The massive wall of names of those who died there, and who could still be down there, is depressing, but we were happy to be there to learn about their sacrifice to their nation. Matthew, except for a few moments, behaved well and was also whispering throughout the whole time.

The tour at the memorial was brief but it was worth the wait and coming back for.

Beach Bumming. We dedicated the afternoon of Day 5 at the beach. After our failed attempts in Day 2 to get Matthew to the waters, we tried again. This time, together, dear hubby and I, we held him in the waters and jumped for every wave that came. Somehow, having us together, made Matthew calm down. And having to jump at the waves gave him something to look forward to (jumping) for every wave that came along. Although, his grip was still tight, not crying this time was definitely an improvement. Later on, he was enjoying the waters and would let go of one of us.

Sleeping Matthew At the Pikake Terrace Restaurant.

At the Pikake Terrace Restaurant

At the Pikake Terrace Restaurant.

At the Pikake Terrace Restaurant

Later that day we strolled Kalakaua Avenue for dinner. Matthew, too tired from the day’s activities at the beach especially, slept while we were looking for a decent place to eat. We decided that we will follow our noses. We shall go for any place where we can smell something delicious. Our noses led us to a hotdog stand. But we went further to this lovely poolside restaurant. At the front area there’s a stage, where it seemed like a show was coming up. It looked interesting. It was at Pikake Terrace at the Sheraton Princess Hotel.

With the poolside ambiance, the music, the good food, what made the restaurant extra special is that dear hubby and I can finally just dine like it’s a date. With only a sleeping baby to look after since Matthew was sleeping throughout dinner, we were able to just dine and enjoy the night.

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