Tag Archives: Park

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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/OperationTutu/.

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Wuxi – Lingshan Buddhist Scenic Area

lingshandafoAs most of you know, Mike received his license last year and has been driving around town for months now. All the driving has developed a large amount of courage in his ability to drive beyond Suzhou. Already having drove to a nearby city of Changshu, Mike was ready to travel farther.

I had found an article in an Expat magazine about a Buddhist-styled theme park north in Wuxi. Since it touts as having one of the tallest Sakyamunis in the world, we just had to go. Located in the Maji Mountain area, the park was nicely thoughtout with the tallest mountain behind the Grand Buddha, hills on the side with the view of Lake Tai (where the gardens in Suzhou attained their rocks-you have seen them in past garden posts). The Buddha was erected near the 1000 year old temple of Xiangfu, where many come during the Spring Festival to hear its bell rings for luck in the following year. The Buddha (Da Fo) is made of tin and copper and weighs over 700 tons. Standing over 100 feet taller than our own Statue of Liberty, this Buddha leaves an impression. On its left hand is the symbol called “Shi Wu Wei” with its intent to reduce suffering in the world, the right hand has the “Yu Yuan” symbol for happiness and the chest has the ancient symbol of solemnity and virtue.

Interestingly, this place was built by Japanese investors in 1997. In the recent years, the overdone, elaborate palace was built. We were in shock as we cruised through it. It was way beyond anything enlightened, i.e. humble, mild and meek. It was over-the-top; beautiful & tacky. We spent most of the day here. Mike only took one wrong turn, that paid off for us… we found all the strawberry farmers. They were super sweet and juicy. We ate one large bowl on the way there and purchased three more on the way home. Yummy!


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Western Adventure, Day XXV – Utah at Casto and Limeklin Canyons with Dirt Bikes

Casto Canyon

Casto Canyon

Back to what we do best, we took off on an adventure on our motorcycles with lots of water, food and a map. In little time, we discovered the provided map of the area was pathetic. How did we know? Well, when you are supposed to be traveling on a nice dirt road, but instead you are driving through a field full of cows and you find a rancher staring at you with the face of what the heck do you idiots think you are doing, then you know the map is worthless.

Being off track immediately upon leaving, we ended up on a forest service road that took us in the opposite direction. It made sense with the map, but is sure didn’t look right when we moved a gate and was greeted by 40 cows. Over 20 miles later, a few turns here and there, we finally made our way into Casto Canyon. What a beautiful sight too! It was the best visually pleasing trail we had ever ridden. The landscape was copper in color with several crystal clear small streams to cross. Very fun! We continued through the canyon to a small town on the other side, filled our tanks up with gas and had a tasty pizza for lunch before heading back through a new canyon called Limeklin… a well named canyon too. The sediment layer of this canyon has copper in it so the ground was green. We never did stop to take photos, since we were short on time.

To make a long drive short, we did get turned around once when we crossed Highway 12. I suggested one way… Mike said let’s go the other. We went his way and spent a significant more amount of time riding into the cold night. Thank goodness the kids all got bigger bikes, so we could travel faster. (Briana has a 200cc, Zachary 150cc and Nathan is on my old 100cc.) The photo of Briana sums up how she felt about the ride by the time she got into her bed… lol. We plan on heading further north to Marysvale UT for more riding.


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Western Adventure, Day XXIII – Utah at Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Another nice day in UT. We headed southwest to Zion National Park. If it wasn’t for our wonderful navigator for the day (me), we would have been in Zion much sooner. I sent us on a scenic drive through Dixie National Park on Highway 14 to Cedar City. We spent a lot of time on the road. Oops! All was not lost though. We did get to spend a bit of time at the top of the pass on Highway 14 in the snow at Navajo Lake. At this time, UT was still at 200% on snow totals for the year. Much of the pass was entrenched in deep snow. The dogs and kids loved it.

Interestingly, on this road there were numerous lava fields with no apparent volcano. Our curiosity was solved when we saw signage explaining that at numerous locations in the Dixie there have been recent (in the last 1500 years or so) lava fields formed from lava just coming out of the ground.

In Cedar City, we found a tasty Mexican food restaurant and a health food store that carried goat cheese. Yeah! We were so close to the north entrance of Zion called Kolob Canyon, we headed there first. The entrance is also the exit… a dead end. Not many people were at the this entrance. I imagine most wouldn’t take the time to come here for only a short 15 mile drive. But the views… wow! Most of the views didn’t look real. The roadway was paved neatly in the same color as the rock. Gorgeous.

The South entrance was significantly different from the North. Where you can drive yourself in the North, at the South you have to park and take a shuttle up the canyon. The shuttle is free with your park pass. There were steep cliffs on each side of the South Entrance with the Canyon floor having enough room for a road, the river and a bit of land here and there. Conveniently the bus stops almost everywhere along the way up to the final stop of Temple of Sinawava. At the Temple, there was a nice paved 1.5 mile walk up to the Narrows, which we walked. The trail was full of wildlife.

The Narrows is probably the most famous of trails here. It is the trail that leads into the canyon on the river. Since the river was flowing about 6500 cubic feet per second, the Narrows was closed. Normally it runs under 70. According to the bus driver, he said it flows at the rate of 15 to 50 in the summer. Did you know that last December they had the worst flooding on record? The Virgin River was flowing through the valley at over 60,000 cubic feet per second. It was the first time they had to close the park for flooding.

Returning to the bus stop, after walking the trail, we discovered tons of people. We didn’t feel like waiting for the bus, so we headed down the road on foot. Oddly the canyon got foggier as we walked, and then we came upon our empty bus stopped. The shuttle driver told us a large amount of rock fell right in front of him. He said it was the first time in his twelve years to happen. The boulders were the size of three man rock and there were white marks on the ledges above marking the path the rocks took as they fell.

The driver wouldn’t let us continue on foot, nor did we want to. So we got on the bus and headed back to the truck since it was getting dark. Our last goal of the day was to drive the one mile long tunnel. We managed to get back to the trailer by 11pm. Long day.


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Western Adventure, Day XXII, Arizona to Utah at Bryce Canyon with Dirt Bikes

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

We survived the winds and headed north to Utah. Our goal was to get to Bryce Canyon City. There’s the Ruby RV Park located just outside the National park and it has motorcycle trails all around it. After getting settled, we got the bikes out and rode around to explore the surrounding area. One of the trails took us right up to the Bryce Canyon National Park rim.

Where Monument Valley was terracotta in color, Bryce was peach, orange and white. Beautiful. We found the Bryce Canyon entrance sign. So we stopped by and got our photo in front of the sign with the bikes. Now that was cool!

Have to share a funny story. Nathan popped a wheelie across the park entry road right in front of a Sheriff. Then he proceeded to make a turn right in front of him in the parking lot. We all thought we were going to be ticketed. Lucky for us, the Sheriff just kept driving on. It’s okay to ride on the roadway in Utah, as long as, you are geared up. Thank goodness! Tomorrow we plan on heading down to Zion National Park.


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