Boys’ Troop Took 1st Place at Klondike

Yes, you are seeing it right. This year, there was no snow on the ground for Klondike. So the troop converted their sled with wheels and enjoyed warmer weather. They had just switched troops from 725 to 594. And this year, 594 beat 725. 594 took 1st and 725 took 3rd. Great time!

Zachary was in the orange hoodie and Nathan was in the blue plaid jacket.

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Operation Tutu

operation_tutuJust had to share a very fun adventure with friends… Inspired by the Tutu Project that supports cancer patients on chemo, on a rainy day in June, a bunch of my friends got together at Bradley Lake in Puyallup in tutus. I was the lucky one chosen to capture it all on film. You can find at more about our ‘Operation Tutu’ on Facebook at¬†

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Hainan – Sanya

hainanWe got to¬†visit the Sanya area of the Hainan Island, the most southern part of China–“their Hawaii”, we found a gem in the China Pacific, the the Pullman Sanya Hotel Resort on Yalong Bay. Yes! We arrived on Friday, May 4th and departed on Tuesday, May 8th. Some of our criteria for finding our dream resort was access to beach (walking from room to beach preferable), an affordable price, clean, good food and a great pool. Our greatest desire was to be able to eat, play, sleep and swim all from an attractive resort. Our thoughts were, why would we come to Sanya to sight see with 30 degrees Celsius with 92+ in humidity, clear blue water and light sand? I have always dreamed of being able to walk from my hotel room to the beach and being able to see my feet in the ocean water.

At this resort, my dream wasn’t perfect, but the short ride, few minutes on what they call ‘the buggy’, which is a electric super-sized golf cart, took us to an amazing beach with tasty food and drink bar, hammocks and lounging chairs. The water was clear and a warm 27 degrees Celsius, the service was nice and the beach was everything we had hoped for and we did not miss having foot access to the beach. Kids had a blast surfing the waves in with a body board we purchased for 100rmb from the shop at the hotel and catching little light colored crabs on the beach. Our beach, which was shared with the Ritz Carlton and Hilton Hotels, does get little moon jellyfish. They are clear with purple/blue tentacles. We had the luck of swimming with a few of them while there. The sting was not bad, but having Basil Oil from Young Living (yes, the spice) on hand back at the room was a winner and calmed the sting and itch.

We booked our Thai Villa with the same .com company we purchased our inexpensive flight tickets from. I read over and over in the reviews to get the Thai Villa. So we did. Oh my, were they right. It was the best decision on the trip and it was surprisingly affordable. The whole darn trip: Flight, room, drinks and food, was less than it would cost for the five us of to fly to Hawaii. And where in Hawaii, could we afford, even one nights stay in a villa? The Villa had two buildings, a very large pool, a gazebo resting area, two lounge chairs and a gate as a front door with a little garden too. The main building had the massive bathroom with two showers–indoor and outdoor and a Jacuzzi big enough for four and master bedroom with walk in closet, couch and sliding door access right into the pool. The other had a sitting room with a small mini bar–sink and dining table. For us, this building was rearranged to house the kids. Two twin beds were brought in and a bed was made on the couch for the other. It worked out well. The rooms were clean, air-conditioned and well maintained by the staff. The few times a day we went to get a meal or go to the beach, we would call for a buggy. We figured the call, alerted the staff the Villa needed cleaning because we would return to a fresh towels, made beds and new items in the bathroom.

We ate at the Bar, American Grill, Chinese and the Buffet. All were good. The Bar was great for lunch time. They offered sandwiches, pizza and a yummy iced mango tea–the kids and I could not get enough of. We had an late lunch one day over a dinner. The American Grill was very tasty and a nice treat since we have been living in China for a long time. Grilled chicken & steak with the bread and fresh veggies were our favorites. The Chinese restaurant serves all kinds of dishes from lots of areas in China. We enjoyed the Sichuan food. We are all fond of spicy. Bonus, the food in this restaurant was more affordable than the Buffet. No endless dessert though, Briana was sad. The Buffet was great for dinner and breakfast. Breakfast was included in the room rate and the dinner themes varied: One night Seafood, the next BBQ, etc. The breakfast is very filling. We found ourselves eating the Chinese breakfast foods over the American style. Funny how our taste buds have changed over time here in China.

The kids’ favorite part in the morning was to go out to the pond and feed the fish the bread in the basket. Wild eaters and fun to watch, those fish were. With the heat, we found a good breakfast and a dinner was all we needed each day with some drinks down at the beach. The hotel had three main pools. With our pool at the Villa, we found we did not want to hang around the main pools of the hotel.

The Thai Villa was by far the best part of this whole experience. The pool is large, warm and so amazing to swim in anytime of the day or night. We practically lived in it the entire time. I think we all would have slept in it if we could have since it was a wonderful temperature and size for the five of us. Ours was the best causing us to pinch ourselves often and rub our eyes in disbelief to how amazing our time here was. We kept wondering, is this real? What a way to end our stay here in China! Ending with a dream fulfilled. Thanks, Mike! Enjoy the photos…

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Huangshan – Nine Dragon Waterfall

ninedragonUpon rising with the ever-honking buses and loud speaking maids outside our door, at 6am we were up and ready to blow the joint. Passing up the breakfast from yesterday, we decided to head out for Hangzhou and Mike added a scenic route on the roadway that found us at the Nine Dragon Waterfall trailhead. At the entry was a sign saying this was one of the seven most famous waterfalls in all of China. How could be pass up viewing that? All was good until we realized there was the dreaded ¬†S T A I R S … again. Oh, the kids were ready to hang it up. But I so wanted to see it so I convinced them to push on. I told them, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and this fat lady is not singing!” It made them laugh and figure if Mom can make, they can.

We took the trail as far as it was open, which allowed us to see a good portion of the waterfall. All 984 feet of it. Very impressive. The water was clear and the air was fresh. What I loved was the ancient Buddhist Temple at the base of the big climb. Its days are numbered because on the other side of the river, they are erecting an¬†astounding, jaw dropping¬†new temple. Not even done, and it gave me goose bumps. By the looks of it, it will be completed this year. Oh, found another cute butt picture… This was of a little one not even old enough to walk on its own.

After leaving here we continued to Hangzhou and West Lake, our hotel was very nice, but the amount of people and the dreary weather left us going… what?! The sky was gray to the ground and never have seen so many people in my life. More than we saw in Beijing. It was unreal. So the next morning, we walked out to the lake and fought our way back to the van headed home to Suzhou. Obviously, Labor Day weekend was not a good time to visit West Lake. From what we heard, it never is. Hope you enjoy the photos…

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Huangshan – Yellow Mountains

huangshanReputed to be the most beautiful mountain range in the country, the peaks of Huangshan have for centuries been celebrated by poets and painters. Although the main peak is under 6,200 ft, the 70 sheer rock cliffs are a challenging hike with the people-crowded, winding concrete steps that go on forever up and down. They say even when shrouded in mist, the scenery of the peaks and ancient pines are awe-inspiring. Unless, of course, the mist is thick clouds and the sky rains continuously throughout the day.

Yep! That was the weather conditions we visited this place in. We never got a good view from the top peaks. The weather was a thick pile of mush… hmm… or was that us? Both, actually. ūüôā Well, what we could see was moving and we could easily tell this has to be one of the most incredible mountain ranges ever. No wonder it is so heavy poeted and painted. We have never seen anything like it before and wish a bit of clearing would have graced the landscape, but we still had an eventful time.

We started the day with a Chinese breakfast with Rice¬†Porridge, sticky buns, soy sauce soaked hard-boiled eggs and tea. Then we hiked across town to the bus station that took us to the entry of the Park. (Couldn’t drive there.) After arriving and paying the¬†hefty¬†fees for entry and gondola ride up the first 2,000 feet, we became the stair-masters of stairs. We thought Mt. Emei had a lot of steps. Not! This place was tops.

China does not keep normal walking trails, like we find in our mountains. They instead concrete a pathway all over the darn place. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Some of the stairs even had sheer drop offs on one side with little railing protection. Yikes! Mike and I agree. We can walk all day on normal paths, but stairs wear us out too fast. The funniest part about this hike was we were only a small walk over to a gondola that would have taken us back down. But no, we made a wrong turn and took the steepest and longest route down the mountains to a much lower gondola, which we barely made in time before it closed. Always an event for us!

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