new server - Adventures, ponderings and day-to-day of Cheryl! Tisland - Part 4

Japan Trip

Several months ago, my brother, Anthony, announced that he had asked Nana to marry him and that they were planning the wedding in Japan.  Last week, we were in Japan for the wedding and it was fantastic and beautiful.  Mom and I had never been to Japan and weren’t quite sure what to expect.  We flew out on Monday from Phoenix to Los Angeles and then on to Korea for a five hour layover where we discovered Soju at 7am when the bars opened.  Soju is a Japanese distilled beverage which is sort of like vodka.  I then bought an Asahi to help wash the Soju down, but it still was a bit too harsh to drink at 7am.  We then went from Korea to Osaka (about a two hour flight) and the whirlwind really began.  Nana and her brother picked us up from the airport after we made our way through customs.  Riding in the car to our hotel was about an hour drive and we took in all of the visuals along the way.  Once we arrived at our hotel and settled in, we went out for a walk around and found shops everywhere.  What we found throughout the week is the amazing plethora of shops above and below ground and it seems everyone in Osaka (maybe all of Japan) has really mastered the art of shopping!

Later that first night, we went out to dinner with my brother and Nana and her family.  The restaurant was on the 38th floor overlooking downtown Osaka and the Osaka Castle.  It was a wonderful dinner and mom started to learn how to use chopsticks.  Nana’s family does not speak English, but Anthony and Nana translated for us.   The food was amazing as was the atmosphere.  Getting to meet Nana’s family and seeing their mannerisms and the intro to their personalities was something I found to be very enjoyable.

The next day, we left early in the morning for breakfast and then all went to Kyoto to see the temples and had a VERY long walk through the city of Kyoto.  The temples and scenery were all very beautiful.  We had a very nice dinner after and then all sang in a karaoke room.   It was definitely a jam packed day of activity and we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived back at the hotel which I think was around midnight or so.

The wedding day was breathtaking and beautiful. I think everything about it was perfect and as soon as Nana started walking down the aisle toward my brother, the tears just started to flow heavy from my eyes and down my cheeks and I don’t think they stopped until we were into the reception.  The food was amazing and while we ate, we enjoyed listening to the various speeches and toasts.  Anthony’s best friend gave a speech while his wife translated in Japanese.  Anthony’s former boss gave a speech that was also very impressive and talked about Anthony’s dedication, hard work, attitude, loyalty, etc.  Hearing that speech and knowing my brother, I was filled with pride.  Halfway through the reception dinner, Anthony and Nana left for a while and then came back dressed in komonos and again were just breathtaking.

On our last full day in Japan, we all took a trip out to Nara to see the temples and deer in Nara park.  The scenery was perfect as was the weather and Nana’s nephews enjoyed petting the deer.

We left on Monday afternoon for the long journey home.  Although the total travel time was 27 hours, we arrived home Monday night in Phoenix (due to the time difference).

It took me quite a while to sift through the hundreds of photos that we took during this trip and pick out a subset to include in this blog entry.  Be sure to click the link to view with PicLens to easily scroll through them, or click on each thumbnail individually to view full size as many are very beautiful.   I hope you all enjoy them. ;)


Bear Canyon Lake Camping Weekend

A bunch of us went up to Bear Canyon Lake Arizona for a weekend of camping.  Our campsite was perfect as it was tucked away and private.  There were five adults, four kids and two dogs and it was fantastic.

Chicago To Phoenix Trip

We left early Monday morning from Chicago.  It has been a wonderful visit with family and friends.  We have a couple days to get home before needing to be back at work, but there is time for some sight-seeing along the way and we so love exploring old Route 66.  We certainly didn’t get to see as much as we did when we had 10 full days to do Route 66 three years ago, but we ended up having a really great time and seeing a lot in the two days that we had.

We even found a cool old cemetery along the way just by chance after making a wrong turn in a small town.  Most of the graves were from the mid to late 1800s and what we found fascinating is that there were many adults who had been born in Ireland and many children who had died in infancy.   That seemed very sad and we wondered what could have caused so many infant deaths.  I so love exploring old cemeteries.

We made it home in 51 hours which included a couple of naps at the truck stop parking lots.

36th Annual Family Reunion in Tinley Park Illinois

The weather was perfect and we all gathered together for our 36th annual family reunion.  Wow!  36 of these!  That means the first one happened when I was just 4 years old!  My mom says I was at the first one.  I wish I knew where those photos were.

The turnout this year was great and I saw family I haven’t seen in many years and even met new additions to our family.  We have a LOT of cousins due to my maternal and paternal grandparents having a lot of kids.

Every year we do games such as balloon toss, shoe kick, bags, etc. and there are prizes for all.  It was a ton of fun and overall a fantastic day!

Uncle Mikes Memorial In Chicago

My Uncle Mike (Mom’s brother) passed away a year ago and it was a very tough time as my mom and Aunt Kathy and Uncle Skip sifted through his belongings and tried to make sense of it all.  They decided then to have a memorial for him and scheduled it to be the day before our 36th annual family reunion.  It was a great day for all and a bunch of family came together who we hadn’t seen in years.

June 2011 In Chicago

For a couple of days after arriving in Chicago, we simply ate, drank, relaxed, and prepared for my Uncle Mike’s memorial service.

It was definitely a nice change from the hard core constant go, go, go that I had been used to recently.

2011 Drive To Chicago

Mom and I headed out at 9pm on Monday night for our road trip to Chicago.  We had two days to get there, and time to do a little bit of sight-seeing along the way.  We stopped at a dinosaur museum, and several route 66 spots along the way.  We also had a great Italian meal in Clinton, Oklahoma and saw a cool collection of Route 66 memorabilia which we had never seen before in Fanning Missouri.

It took us a total of 46 hours from Chandler, AZ to Carol Stream, IL including a couple quick naps in truck stops.

Power Weekend of House Tasks

We started off early Saturday morning getting started on our tasks that we wanted to accomplish.  The list included sprinklers, deck wash, landscaping and moving the furniture for laying down the carpet remnant that we just bought.

For the sprinklers, I didn’t know too much about the status of the system since it has never worked since we bought this house a year ago.  All I knew was that there are sprinkler heads around the front and back and side yards and that the water had been disconnected at the water source due to issues and leaking.  My first task was to get the water source reconnected and that required digging a bit to find out where the original pipes were near the water source.

Mom wanted to use the new pressure washer she just bought last week and finally get that nasty dirty wood deck cleaned.  It probably hasn’t been cleaned for many years before we bought this house last year.  As she started pressure washing the boards, I was absolutely amazed at how clean it was looking and the grains and colors of the wood were starting to appear.

Lucas was determined to finish the last portion of landscaping rocks that go all the way around the pool.  The only part that was left was a small section between the pool and the wood deck.  He cleared the area, laid down some landscaping plastic to prevent weeds and then started laying the rest of the new rocks in place.

We purchased two remnants of new carpet off of craigslist for $40 and $30 to put in the living room and Mom’s room.  We managed to fit in time to move all of the living room furniture and get the carpet laid down on top of the crappy pergo floor.  It looks so nice.

I then did some more testing of the sprinklers, turned the water source on and found a couple places gushing up that I capped off and a couple places that just needed new sprinkler heads.  Quite an accomplishment!  I should be able to get us to the point of growing grass in a couple weeks.

At the end of Sunday, we ordered pizza and salad from Nello’s and then put our feet in the pool with a glass of wine while gloating about all of our amazing accomplishments over the two day weekend.

New Living Room Patio Doors

At 7am this morning, our favorite contractors came over to rip apart the back of our house and put in the new 9 foot sliding door and two windows.  We have been working toward this for a full year now as we so hated the crappy doors and windows that were there.  Check out the photos.  It isn’t quite done yet, but it looks SO amazing!!

Outside Water Valves

This morning, our Plumber From Down Under came by and helped us get our old ghetto water valves fixed up and also install a pressure vacuum breaker assembly for me to start tackling the sprinklers.  I have 19,000 square feet of yard to figure out sprinklers for.  I think there will be a lot of trenching and PVC assembly in my future for sure.

The pressure vacuum breaker assembly in the final photos below brings us to code and is where I am going to tie into for the water to the sprinklers.  He also set it up so that we can turn off the main to our house without turning off the sprinklers and vice versa.  Pretty neato!

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