Posts tagged ‘vacation’

Colorado & Utah Vacation – Part III

Here’s part III about our vacation!


Day five, Hisa and I went over to Arches National Park (pretty much a 10 minute drive from my grandparents’ house), and hiked up to Delicate Arch. It’s one of the most famous arches in the park. The hike is not easy though. I found it easier this time around, however, than when I last made it a few years ago. I like to think it’s because I’m in better shape now, but it’s probably because I had become acclimated to the elevation after being in the mountains for a few days already.
We also hiked to Fiery Furnace and Sand Dune Arch, before heading back to my grandparents’ house for lunch.
In the afternoon, we went to town and walked around looking at all the shops until the evening.

Hisa and me right before beginning the climb to Delicate Rock.


Mid-climb up the slick rock.


Nice view.


Hisa in front of Delicate Arch. It was so windy up here!


A closer view of Delicate Arch.


Yet another view.


There’s a little side trail from the Delicate Arch trail that leads to these petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings). I thought they were pretty cool.


Fiery Furnace!


And he says I’m over dramatic!

View of Arches National Park and the Le Sal Mountains in the background.


On the way to Sand Dune Arch…


Some nice man offered to take our picture for us. 🙂


It was very sandy on the way to Sand Dune Arch…which is why it’s called Sand Dune Arch.


Where’s the temple with the holy grail?! I know it’s around here somewhere! Indy?!


Sand Dune Arch


I love little hidy holes in the rocks. I’m just cool like that.


I found another little crevice/cave up behind Sand Dune Arch, so naturally, I had to climb up in it. 🙂


Then Hisa had to climb up in it.


Wheeeeere’s Hisa?


Wheeee! Another little cave thingy!


Hisa took this pic as we were leaving the area. This was an amazing place.


More fin-like rocks in the park.


Day six, my grandparents, Hisa, and I all drove up into the La Sal Mountains where we had a picnic for lunch. It’s always really beautiful up there, but at early May, it was still pretty chilly! No snow fortunately, but the wind was cold.
After finishing lunch, we headed back down the mountain, and back to the house. My grandparents both wanted to rest for awhile, so  Hisa and I went to town to check out this coffee and gelato shop. They roast their own coffee, and who can say no to gelato, right? So we had coffee and gelato, then headed back to the house.

Grandpa, Grandma, and Hisa


Me, Grandpa, and Grandma


The Quaking Aspen trees (my grandparents call them “quakies”).


It’s always so beautiful in the mountains there!


Day seven, we left Moab, and began the long trip home. We drove all day, stopping at Gunnison for lunch where I had an awesome breakfast burrito (I know, a breakfast burrito for lunch is weird, but I don’t care!), and spent the night again in Colorado Springs.

Day eight (last Monday), we drove all day from Colorado Springs all the way back to Oklahoma. We left around 8:30 in the morning, and we got back to my parents’ house around 7:45pm. It was a loooong drive, and after spending about 5 days driving in the mountains, driving through Kansas was so incredibly boring. I know North Eastern Oklahoma is not much of an improvement, but there was some slight variance in the terrain, and honestly, by that point we were so glad to be back in Oklahoma and almost home, that we didn’t care.

Last Tuesday, we had to go to the city (yes, we refer to it only as “The City” out in these parts) to return our rental car and run some errands.

Since getting back from out trip, Hisa and I have been packing like crazy!
My parents are going to be moving the first week of June, so Hisa and I have been helping them pack, since they’re both so busy with work.

This week, Hisa and I are going to Houston, because Hisa has two job interviews (fingers crossed!), so we’re trying to get as much packing done as possible while we’re here. It’s kind of the final countdown as it were, since there’s only a few weeks left until they move, so things are busy here!

That being said, I probably won’t have as many posts in the coming weeks, but I’ll still post when I can! And hopefully I’ll also have some Houston/Austin trip pictures when we get back!


May 14, 2012 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Colorado and Utah Vacation – Part II

On to part II of our trip!

On the third day of our trip, we left Colorado Springs and drove the scenic route through the mountains to Durango. We got there in the early evening, so we walked around their historic little streets (very cool), checked out the narrow gauge railway, then had dinner at a Mexican restaurant followed by frozen yogurt at a little shop on main street.

On our way to Durango, driving through the mountains.


We stopped in Salida for lunch at a little restaurant we found. They served an awesome veggie sandwich and Greek salad! The bread, vegetables, everything was so fresh! It was lovely.


Crossing Wolf Creek Pass in the mountains. I was surprised at how much snow there still was. I kept telling Hisa that it looked like somewhere I bear might suddenly appear, but fortunately, we didn’t see any bears.


Over Wolf Creek Pass, but still in the mountains, getting close to Durango.


Finally in Durango! This is the Narrow Gauge Railroad station. It was actually closed by the time we got there, so I just took a picture of the station.


Main Street! Another cute little street with lots of shops and restaurants. There was even a band on one street corner playing bluegrass music. It seemed so fitting!


We had dinner at this great little Mexican restaurant. I’m always amazed at how different New Mexico/Colorado Mexican food is from Oklahoma/Texas Mexican food. I think New Mexico/Colorado Mexican food uses more chiles and is usually spicier in my experience. Both are wonderful though!
Here, I got a sopapilla (a kind of Mexican fry bread) stuffed with chicken, onions, and spices, and covered with melted cheese. I got both the red and green chile sauces on the side so I could try them both. Amazing.

After dinner, we walked to a frozen yogurt place on Main Street and got frozen yogurt. It was one of those self-serve frozen yogurt places. I’ve heard of them, but I’d never been to one myself until now. It was so cool. They had about 7 or 8 different flavors of frozen yogurt, and then an entire buffet of toppings that we got to help ourselves to. Like most buffets, it was quite easy to lose our heads, but if you can’t lose your head on vacation, when can you, eh? 😀

The fourth day of our trip, we drove to Mesa Verde, where we saw the cliff dwellings. If you’ve never been there, it’s really cool. Some of the cliff dwellings, you can go look at by yourself, but the really cool ones, you have to go with a ranger on a tour. We went on  a tour to see Cliff Palace, the biggest cliff dwelling in North America. It was really an amazing place.

The view of Cliff Palace before we hiked down into it.


Me in front of Cliff Palace.


Here’s the view of the canyon. The cliff dwellings were located on the inside walls of the canyon where the rock had been washed away into a semi-cave like area.


Cliff Palace! If you don’t know, the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park were built by the Anasazi Indians when they lived in the area, around 600 – 1300 A.D. They planted crops on the tops of the mesas, and then created these dwellings in the sides of the canyon walls. We were told they were the most peaceful of all the Indian tribes, being farmers and traders.


It’s amazing how extensive this place was. I can’t imagine how long it took the Anasazi to build it. For a long time it was a mystery why they left, but it’s been discovered that they migrated down south to New Mexico and Arizona probably due to drought.


After finishing our tour of Cliff Palace, we were hungry, so we went to one of the park’s food/gift shop places, and got some Indian Tacos.
Mmmmm, I love Indian Tacos. ♥


After lunch, we explored some more of the cliff dwellings that were open for people to walk around themselves.


This Kiva (a circular room used for religious ceremonies and also cultural use) people could actually climb down into. When I was really little, my family came to Mesa Verde for vacation and saw the cliff dwellings. The only thing I really remember from that trip was not being able to climb down into this Kiva. My brothers got to climb down in it with my dad, but I was too little at the time… Well, I waited 20 years, but I finally got to climb down into the dang Kiva!
It was cool. 🙂


Prof. Ueki: Now, if you look over here at Kiva #6…


After hiking to some of the other dwellings, we drove around to viewpoints of even more cliff dwellings.


Here’s the view of Cliff Palace from the other side of the canyon. They told us that Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. If you ever get the chance to stop by Mesa Verde, you really should. It’s totally worth it. Also, try to go on one of the tours to Cliff Palace. The ranger’s explanation of the place, the Anasazi, and their lives is fascinating.

We ended up leaving the park around 3pm, and then drove on to Moab, Utah, where my grandparents live. We got there in the evening and then had dinner with my grandma and grandpa.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about the rest of our trip in Utah. Check back soon!

May 11, 2012 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Colorado & Utah Vacation – Part I

Well, Hisa and I made it back from our vacation to Colorado and Utah Monday night!

I know what you’re probably thinking.

Wait, you went on vacation?

Yeah…sorry about that. It was sort kind of a spur of the moment thing.
And by spur of the moment, I mean the idea was only even came up about a week before we left.

The thing is, in August, my whole family is planning on visiting my grandparents in Utah. They did it last year, but of course Hisa and I couldn’t go because we were in Japan. I haven’t seen my grandparents in several years, and Hisa has only ever met them briefly once, so we really wanted to go see them.

The problem is, Hisa will probably (hopefully!) start work within the next couple of months, and he probably won’t be able to take a week’s vacation right after he starts working to go see my grandparents. So we may not be able to go with everyone in August. We’re not sure at this point.

Hisa had the idea that he and I just take a road trip up there and see them now, stopping along some fun sightseeing places along the way.

I love it when he has these kinds of ideas.

So, after some planning and discussing, we decided to go for it, and take a week long trip.

We spent the first day driving to Colorado Springs.
If you’ve ever driven through Northeastern Oklahoma, Kansas, and/or Eastern Colorado, you’ll know that this is an incredibly boring drive. Nothing to see.

The second day, we went to the top of Pikes Peak via the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway in the morning; and visited the Miramont Castle Museum, toured the Historic Manitou Springs, and checked out the Broadmoor hotel in the afternoon.

Here’s the station where we boarded the cog railway to take us to the top of Pikes Peak. It was already a little chilly at this point!


Heading to the top of Pikes Peak…


I think the conductor said we passed through three different climate zones as we climbed. By this point we were above the tree line as you can tell. The whole area was so beautiful.


I took this right before we got off the train. It was cold! Beautiful, but cold!


A nice man offered to take our picture for us. That’s his finger in the corner. A lasting momento so we won’t forget him.
Notice all the ice.


They make these special high elevation donuts at the store/restaurant at the peak. They can only be made above 13,000 feet, so we got one to try out. It was yummy. It was also nice to sit down, because after walking around for a few minutes, I was so light-headed from the high altitude.


The temperature at the peak while we were there was 22 degrees F with a wind chill of 12 degrees F. That wind was bitter man. It hurt my teeth to smile!


See that lake in the distance? It’s frozen. 🙂


After getting back from Pikes Peak, we found a Polish restaurant at the nearby Historic Manitou Springs. I had the cabbage rolls which came with potato dumplings and a cucumber salad. So. Good. Seriously, I think these were the best cabbage rolls I’ve ever had.


Hisa had the pierogi (a kind of stuffed dumpling) with various fillings. These were also really really good!


“Are you done taking pictures so I can eat now?”

The Miramont Castle Museum. A huge Victorian mansion built by a French Catholic priest. Very cool.


The dining room. Everything was antique and accurate to the period. Even the wall paper.


My favorite room in the house. The kitchen! This was the coal burning stove. It has a kettle, fry pan, iron, waffle iron, pan for baking potatoes, and a large granite stone for placing in one’s bed to make it warm.


Everyone needs a suit of armor and a smoking jacket in their library/study.


Here I am in front of the grand staircase. It was amazing how huge this house was. It had four floors, and I don’t know how many rooms. This staircase was of course only for the priest, his mother, and their guests. There was a separate (tiny and narrow) staircase for the servants, who lived in tiny rooms on the fourth floor.


The bathroom.

The priest’s mother’s room. Very big. There was actually a separate room room that was originally supposed to be her room, but her 13-foot four poster bed wouldn’t fit in it, so they had to build a bigger bedroom, and made the smaller room her designated dressing room.


After leaving the Miramont Castle, we headed back to the Historic Manitou Springs, pictured here. We looked around at all the shops, which was fun.


Afterwards we went to see the Broadmoor Hotel. We didn’t stay here, because it’s pretty expensive, but we’d heard a lot about it, so we wanted to go check it out. Rather than just a hotel, it’s more like a miniature city. They have a large number of buildings, they’re own little lake (which you can see in this pic), a few gold courses, shops, etc. It was a really pretty place, and fun just walking around, even though we didn’t stay there.

After leaving, we went back to our hotel for a little bit, then headed out to have dinner.

Tomorrow, I’ll post part II of our trip. 🙂

May 10, 2012 at 10:28 am 1 comment

Vacation and Birthday Celebrations

My husband and I got back from visiting my husband’s family yesterday. Yesterday was also my 25th birthday! I’m a quarter of a century old now! *gasp* I’m still the youngest amongst all my friends, my husband’s family, and my family (except for my brother’s wife who is the same age as me), so I don’t mind, hehe. It’s hard to believe I’m already half-way through my 20’s though. I feel like I just turned 21. Such is life!

I had a great time visiting my husband’s family. They live in Tochigi in a town at the base of the mountains, so almost every day we were there, Hisa and I would drive up into the mountains (which a large portion of is a national park) and go hiking. It was so lovely and cool up in the mountains! It was great!



I also got some new hiking boots as a birthday present from my in-laws. They’re Merrell hiking boots with Vibram soles, and they are awesome! I tried them out on one of the more rugged hiking trails we went on. They’re so comfortable! Next month we’re planning to go to Nagano where we’re going to hike in the Japanese Alps for three days. I’ve never been to the Japanese Alps, so I’m super excited about that. And I’ll be able to use my nifty new hiking boots.

While we were visiting family this past week, we had a joint birthday party one night. My birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, Hisa’s cousin’s birthday, and my sister-in-law’s sister’s birthday are all within a week of each other, so we celebrated them all at the same time. We even had a birthday cake with all four of our names on it.

Group shot from the birthday party.

My sister-in-law’s niece, who I wanted to take home with me.

Yesterday was mainly spent driving back home and going grocery shopping to replenish our refrigerator. In the evenin, however, to celebrate my birthday, we went to my favorite French restaurant (where we only go on special occasions), and went to the best cake shop in town, La Cote d’Azurl, and got a cake. It was fun and delicious.

(note: I don’t like using the flash on my camera in nice restaurants, so all the pictures were taken without flash, and are thus, slightly dark)

Dinner started off with a glass of champagne.

My hors d’oeuvre plate. Yum.

Chilled soup. Also yum.

The main course. Shrimp and scallops cooked in champagne and served in a pastry pocket with a delicious, creamy sauce and mushrooms. This was so good, but so rich. It was also served with a salad and fresh bread. Super duper yum!

For dessert, Hisa had the pear tarte.

I had the grape sorbet. It was so good!

…And then we went home and ate birthday cake! Yay!! In case you’re wondering, the cookie says “Rachel” in Japanese after the “Happy Birthday”.

We were both really full from dinner, so we just had a little piece of cake each. It was so good though! I’m looking forward to eating the rest of it…

That was pretty much how our week went. It was a lot of fun, and great to take a break. I love vacation, but then, who doesn’t, right? Hopefully I’ll have some new recipes for you this week and some new lunch ideas.

August 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan for July 18 – 22 (and My Trip to Kamakura)

A typhoon is currently making its way up the East coast of Japan. It’s supposed to hit the Tokyo area around tonight or tomorrow, but it may already be close. Of course we live far enough inland that if a typhoon hits, it just means we get a lot of rain and sometimes a lot of wind. Nothing too bad.

I’m glad the rain didn’t hit until today though. Yesterday (Monday), was a national holiday in Japan, so Hisa and I took a little mini-vacation over the three-day weekend.

We traveled to Kamakura (a historical city in Japan that was once the capital. There’s a huge number of temples and shrines) and Enoshima (a small island near the Kamakura area). In Kamakura we visited a lot of beautiful shrines and temples, met up with some friends for dinner, walked around Enoshima island (and saw Mt. Fuji from the observation tower on the top of the island), went shopping around Kamakura station area, and enjoyed local foods (and local beers). Before coming home, we went to the biggest aquarium in Japan in Yokohama (Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise). That was a lot of fun. I got to touch a huge seal! *happy squeal*

It was extremely hot and humid, and as we were outside most of the time, Hisa and I downed a lot of sports drinks every day to make up for how much we sweated (I think I sweat about 5 pounds every day we were there). I also got a little sunburned on my neck and legs, but nothing bad. Despite the extreme heat, it was still a ton of fun! I love traveling vacations! Especially with my husband.

After three days of walking all day in the head, I’m pretty tired today. Hisa had to go to work this morning, but I’m just resting at home (Sorry Honey!). Although it was just a short vacation, I’m still a little bummed it’s over. It’s always kind of a downer to go back to your normal ritual after vacation. Especially when it was a really fun one.

Still, Hisa and I have a barbecue with friends to go to this Saturday, and then we’ll be going to Tokyo where we’ll be spending one night. The reason we’re going to Tokyo is that we have an interview at the U.S. embassy really early Monday morning, which isn’t really fun, but I’m sure we’ll find something fun to do while we’re in Tokyo. So I’m sure we’ll be having another fun weekend this week.

Menu Plan for July 18 – 22:

  • Vegetable curry and steamed rice
  • Lemon-caper chicken pasta and tossed salad
  • Meatloaf, friend potatoes, and corn on the cob
  • Meatloaf sandwiches and tossed salad
  • Soba (buckwheat noodles) salad with spicy peanut sauce and hot and sour soup

Here are a few pictures from our trip.

Inari sushi and nori-maki sushi from a local restaurant. This was their specialty, so it was really good!


On the grounds of one of the many temples we visited. The area was so beautiful.


Hisa’s sweet potato ice cream and my green tea ice cream (both so good!). As it was so hot, we found it very important to have an ice cream break each day.


One of the many beautiful statues we saw during our trip.


Hisa and I near the entrance of the biggest shrine in Kamakura.


Monkeeeeeeey!! I shook his hand! Yaaaaay!!!


Hisa and I on Enoshima island.


Lunch. Tuna sashimi and baby sardines (nama shirasu) served on rice. Served with miso soup and some small side dishes. Very good.


The famous Daibutsu statue of Kamakura. It was much more impressive in person than I expected. And bigger than I expected.


Creme brulee ice cream. I repeat creme brulee ice cream. This was so good it was wrong.


Hisa and a penguin sizing each other up.


Jake the seal in a summer festival outfit.


My mint-chocolate chip ice cream crepe. Yum.


My purchase from the aquarium. Tell me that isn’t the cutest seal stuffed animal you’ve ever seen?! I just couldn’t resist. I tried, and failed miserably. His name is Shiro-tan. The little one on top is a cell phone strap version of Shiro-tan in a turtle costume. *girly squeal of joy*


July 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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