Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday Ethan!

Ethan turned 8 on Thursday.
We had the chance to go on a tour of the port of Long Beach that day.  All the California cousins were there, which made Ethan's day very special. 
He was very happy about getting checked out of school. And enjoyed learning about the cargo shipments and how it all works.
Ethan requested a baked Alaska for his birthday dessert.  I don't think he had ever had one before, but heard about one last year and knew thats what he wanted.
And, as is his way-he did all the decorating himself.  He decided on an Artic theme.  He found and printed off pictures and made his own sign for the cake.
Other birthday requests were German Pancakes for breakfast and Beaurox, Soup and Salad for dinner.

Monday, March 6, 2017

San Jose/Santa Cruz

Last weekend James and I were able to have a quick get-a-way trip to Northern California.
We didn't have much time so hit the ground running...or biking as soon as we landed.  Stopping at Googleplex for tour.  We enjoyed the bikes all over campus to grab and explore on our own.
We also made a stop at Apple headquarters before making our way toward the beach.
We loved our hike in the redwoods.  James was successful in his goal to find a banana slug.  We actually spotted 5 or 6 along the trail.
It was perfect hiking weather and the trail was gorgeous.... least what was left of the trail.  The rain the previous week had washed out quite a bit of the trail and some of the bridges.  Which made for some adventurous hiking.
we loved it.
we made it to Santa Cruz by late afternoon and stopped at natural bridges state beach.  It was too cloudy to enjoy the sunset, but still fun to be there.
The next day we were able to walk a long the boardwalk, beach and pier in Santa Cruz.
 There was a clam chowder cook off and festival happening.  It was so fun to watch the preparation.
Booths had to make at least 10 gallons, but most were making much more than that for the crowds to be able to taste.
We found an uncrowded beach to enjoy a sample.  It was so good.
While we were away the kids loved having some time with their Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ecuador-Saturday, December 31st:Traveling Back Home

We had time Saturday morning to stop by the markets on our way to the airport.
The trip, of course went by way too quickly.
Every single flight we went on, Preston was fascinated with the airplane safety instructions.  He still asks about airplanes daily.  The travel home went smoothly.  We got back just in time to celebrate the New Year.  James' dad picked us up from the airport and we watched the fire works as midnight hit on the drive home.

The summary movie James put together of the trip. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ecuador-Friday, December 30th: Salinas

Left Guaranda after a breakfast at the hotel.  It was about a 30 minute drive to get to Salinas.

Salinas has an interesting history.  It is named for its salt mining but until 45 years ago was a very poor area.  We hiked out to the salt mines.  Going into the drying hut where the smoke was pouring out hurt all of our eyes, but was interesting. 
In the 1970s an Italian missionary helped to establish a fair trade co-op.  The locals worked together to produce cheese and share profits equally.  After that proved successful, they created other small businesses all as part of the co-op.
As we drove into town we were able to see people bringing in milk.  
Brought in my llama, donkey, motorcycle, or even just strapped to someones back.
It is a long daily trek made after milking the cows to get the milk to the cheese factory.
The milk is weighed and tested and the farmer is given a paper slip that is used to track their contribution.  We got to see the cheese being made and tasted some of the different kinds.  Our favorite was basil.
At the center of town, we got to witness election day.  What was interesting is it was divided by gender.  We were able to hire a guide to take us to some of the other factories.
We went first to the yarn making factory where they process sheep and alpaca wool. 
Their machines were donated from Canada and were built in 1915, but they keep them working. 
They keep the sheep and alpaca wools separate.  There were piles everywhere.  Brielle and Ethan found it so funny when my mom told them "We're going to see some dying next."  They do dye the wool in all different colors.
We then went to the textile store where they sell things they've made with the yarns. Brielle bought a poncho she loved. 
We stopped by the chocolate factory to see the process and taste the result.  Aji and Maracuja were new kinds of chocolates we tried and liked.
Next stop was the soccer ball 'factory' it is a family business run by 2 people in a small upstairs room. 
All the balls are handmade.  Each piece is cut out one at a time.
The boys were both very excited to choose balls to purchase. 
Finally we went to eat pizza for lunch. It is made with all local ingredients and was very tasty. 
It was time to hit the road after that. On the drive we ran into a few El Viuda groups (men dressed as widows), they were creating traffic stops with logs across the road begging for money.
Apparently it's a New Year's Eve thing, but these groups were starting a day early.  After handing them a few coins they will move their blockade and let the car past.
Preston serenaded us during our drive with his made up songs.  One of his favorites showed he was picking up on some Spanish.  Sort of.  The lyrics went: "Muchas Galasidas and a Happy New Year."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ecuador-Thursday, December 29th: Baños-Guamote-Guaranda

We enjoyed our last morning at the beautiful cliff house in baños. 
The girls enjoyed hanging out in the hammocks to work on journals and seminary together.
We again purchased fresh bread from the baker that drives through town for breakfast. It is such a yummy treat, everyone especially enjoyed the nutella that Mom purchased to put on the rolls.
Preston helped mom make scrambled eggs to go with the fresh rolls.
We made a couple stops in town before heading out. Going to get smashed pennies (Nickles actually at this one) at the hot springs and see the waterfall that comes into town. 
We found a chocolate empanadas stand also to try. It had been on our list but we hadn't gotten them yet and we're glad we did. So yummy.
A lot it the day was spent driving. It was about 2 ½ hours to get to Guamote. There were some amazing views of the volcano and farming lands along the way. 
And we saw a lot of people hauling their goods on their backs.
Some on their way to or from the markets.
The locals would pile up in trucks or big buses to come from towns near and far.
Guamote has an open air indigenous market on Thursdays.  I wanted to experience the cultural aspect of seeing a traditional market and this was indeed that. 
There were pigs and sheep every where and piles of produce, chicken, fish, bread…everything being sold. It was not a touristy place, so we stuck out being the only white people walking around. 
We tried to be respectful, or at least sneaky about getting pictures of things and places there. 
They were staring at us as much as we were at them though. The kids didn't seem to care about it as much as the adults did, but I loved it and enjoyed walking around.
So much to see
as we wandered around I was surprised every time to turn a corn and see more tents set up.  It was huge.
And the people are beautiful
each tribe has a different hat style and clothing
From there we drove about 2 more hours to Guaranda. It was another pretty drive up (14,500 feet was our highest point) next to Chimborazo. 
We loved seeing all the vicuña on the side of the road. Kids did well with the drives. They love the connect game that grandma taught them and tinkered with backpack toys or slept.
Once we got to our hotel the boys had some energy to burn. There was a small playground on the property that I took them to before dinner. Dinner was good, but there were t.v.s playing kid's movies and the kids were glued with tired glazed over eyes. Everything came with potatoes, rice and salad. So all the adult were full after their own meals.