Travel Adventures

Adventures in Boston | 2014

A couple of weekends ago I was in Boston and let me tell you, it’s beautiful this time of year! Can’t say I missed the triple degree heat of Texas ;). There’s so much history to this city and even though I’ve been to Boston, I was able to see a ton of stuff I didn’t catch on the last trip. Here’s some photos and maybe they’ll convince you to go check Boston out for yourself :).

While checking out fun food places and the Freedom Trail, my good friend Mikey and I also had a chance to cruise the Boston Harbor. Oh so pretty!

Waiting for our boat

I attempted to pose the same, but didn’t quite turn out that way 😉

The Freedom Trail throughout Boston is marked by red brick, so it’s easy to follow!

Then there was Bunker Hill. We didn’t really know what to expect, so when they said “go on up! The wait isn’t that long!” that’s exactly what we did.

Internet. It’s like 300 steps up.

In tight quarters.

I was huffing and puffing more than the big bad wolf y’all. And here I thought my new workout regime was going good. What’s vacation though, without sweating and working out those quads right? 😉

Yep….it’s tall.
But the view was so pretty!
Evidence that I made it to the top!

I also got to see Harvard (you know, my college back up plan ;). Such an old and beautiful campus.

Then there was Fenway Park! This was such a great tour (and baseball ranks right there with golf in sports I like watching). From the history to all the stories – I definitely recommend taking this tour if you find yourself in Boston.

These seats are the same seats from the early 30s. So if your grandparents have a ticket from those days, they would match up!

The red seat represents the longest Fenway homerun, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946. The guy sitting in the seat at that time had fallen asleep and was hit in the head with the said homerun (he lived). Lesson learned right?

More of pretty Boston:

I believe this is Paul Revere. I didn’t take notes and clearly I thought my memory was better than it really is, so we’re sticking with Paul.

Before I headed to the airport, we stopped by the gem of all gems: The Boston Public Library. I WANT ONE.

ASLAN!!! They may not call him that, but close enough.

Look how pretty they are.

Whoa! Lots of pictures – hope you enjoyed them! We also did a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery, but that’ll get a post all on it’s own :). So readers, have you ever been to Boston? What’s one of your favorites cities?

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Travel Adventures

The Day They Stormed the Beaches

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy’s coast, beginning the end of the Nazi hold on France and World War ll. Thousands of lives were lost that day, and the world saw what heroes were made of, what sacrifice and courage look like and the cost of freedom. They truly were a great generation.

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle…let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

I had the opportunity to be in Normandy on the 60th anniversary with my family and it was, of course, an incredible experience. I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of that trip (back in the days of my first Canon film ;).

We were in the towns of Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux, as we headed to what was known on D-Day as Gold Beach (where British landed). Since it was so chaotic (understandably), we ended up teaming up with a few American tourists, a French guy visiting from another part of the state and two other French men who lived in Normandy. We were a rag tag team finding our way through northern France and I remember when we were thanking one of the French men (he pulled up on his bike with a baguette in the front basket – I jest not ;)) for going to get his car to drive us, he said no thanks was necessary, “It is because of America, we are free!” The perfect statement for that day!

This was one of my favorite sights throughout the town.
Such inspiring men!
I love French towns.
Gold Beach

It as such a life-changing trip and I really want to go back to Europe after going through all my old pictures! Are any of you WWII history buffs? Or how about family stories? I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the words from the poem as well:

Dear Veteran,
I’m writing to say “Thank You,” and through me, there are thousands of children speaking to thousands of Veterans.

Like us, you were young and carefree, but when you were only twenty years old, Liberty called – called you to say:

“I’m dying, come and save me!”

And you arose, full of courage and zeal, to answer that call.

You underwent training, day after day, for “D” Day, and one day in June, you arrived by air and sea.

And you fought with the heart and soul of a free man, so that we, too, might be free.

You saw your fellows fall on our beaches and in our fields and, in spite of your grief and your injuries, you stayed on and fought side-by-side with us.

And so, dear Veteran, I want to tell you, regarding those dear to you who sacrificed their youth and are now resting in peace, the sleep of the just, that,

WE ARE CHILDREN THEY NEVER HAD.

And to you, dear Veteran, who offered your bravery and your most promising years for this our land, I say to you,

WE ARE YOUR SONS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY,
who want to say to you today,
a heartfelt THANK YOU!

Other D-Day related posts:

D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour – and Giveaway
! (A tour of WWII inspired fiction)
The Guardian’s Interactive D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now
BBC’s iWonder
The real lessons of D-Day

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Seattle, Washington | 2014

A couple of months ago (as you can see, I’m right on top of blogging about it) I got to hop on a plane to hang out with some amazing women I have the joy of calling friends. Seriously, I don’t know where I would be without these ladies. My friend Sheena blogged about the trip and I absolutely loved what she wrote – it’s beautiful and exactly how I feel (Plus she takes some pretty amazing/beautiful photos, so go check them out!)

But really, I love these women and even though we’re all over the world (we rep two countries and 5 states!), we make it a point to get together once a year. Sometimes it’s for babies, sometimes it’s for weddings (my friends know how to celebrate love!) and sometimes it’s for random adventures. We’ve been to New York, Austin (woot!), San Francisco, Wisconsin, Portland, Hawaii, and Seattle. If there was a stronger word for blessed, I’d use it. I’ve known most of them since college (I love how God brought us all together – I’ll have to tell y’all one of these days) and these annual adventures have become a breath of fresh air, where I know we’ll laugh till we can’t breathe, see all kinds of fun things, eat fabulous amounts of food and chat late into the night. Although I admit, I’m usually the first to doze off :).

Seattle is a beautiful city and we had a ton of fun. I definitely plan on going back one of these days and I’m already counting down until Chicago 2015 :).

Seattle has a set up that for every city funded project, some type of art work also pops up. It’s awesome.

I want a floating house!

Why wouldn’t you have a cat who looks like Yoda?

The flowers in Pike Place Market are beautiful!
This didn’t scare me at all.

For the most part we actually had gorgeous weather, but it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have at least one rainy day right?
Snacks
Gas Works Park
So three of us found the Sleepless in Seattle house and were trying to get close to it, but chickened out with all the NO TRESPASSING signs screaming at us. For the most part, we try to be law abiding citizens ;). So pretty though!
By the Ballard Locks

What adventures have you been on this year? Or if you haven’t, where would like to go next if you could?

Travel Adventures

Bambi and Baboons | Miyajima Island, Japan

We liked Miyajima Island so much, we went twice. Plus the hour long street car ride from Hiroshima is perfect for recovering from adventures, people watching and being in air conditioner. Known for the numerous deer that like to be your friends, one famous gate and a beautiful view from a top the mountain, this place reminded me once again how incredible this country is.

The sweet little guy
Ohtorii Gate in front of the Itsukushima Shrine

The first day we made it when the tide was low, so we were able to take pics right by it. We came earlier on day two, so tide was high and it looked so pretty floating on the water!

Then we took these to the top of Mt. Misen and guess what? Beautiful! We didn’t really know where we were headed, so there were surprises left and right!

Sometimes the ride was a bit shaky…
Beautiful view!

On our way back to the ferry we thought we’d skip the bus and walk back down ourselves. We missed the turn (obviously) ;), so we ended up having an added nature walk as part of our adventure. This was where we spotted a baboon. I froze, slightly panicked and then began prepping my ninja moves. Why you ask? I mean, have you searched baboons on YouTube?? Once I was convinced my life was no longer in danger, I added that to the list of cool things I’ve seen in Japan.

Okonomiyaki is a dish this part of Japan is known for and even though I really had no idea what was gonna happen, I dove right in. Mom and Dad you can add that to moments I’ve made you proud. It was tasty too, so thanks Japan for the food adventure!

Oh and if you’re ever eating at the Spanish-inspired restaurant by the train station in Hiroshima, “cheese fries” aren’t fries covered in cheese, but rather fried cheese balls. That’s our free lost-in-translation lesson for you ;).

Travel Adventures

August 6th, 1945 at 8:15 a.m. | Hiroshima, Japan

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m., an American B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb used against humankind exploded about 600 meters above Shima Hospital in Saiku-machi, utterly destroying all people and property below it.

Among the burned ruins stood the skeletal of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (now the A-bomb Dome), a grim reminder of what had been (*info taken from plaques around the A-bomb Dome).

Because the blast struck almost directly above, some of the center walls remained standing, leaving enough of the building and iron frame to be recognizable as a dome.

The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. By December 1945, over 140,000 people died as a result of the bomb.

Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

“I fought with myself for 30 minutes before I could take the first picture. After taking the first, I grew strangely calm and wanted to get closer. I took about ten steps forward and tried to snap another, but the scenes I saw were so gruesome my viewfinder clouded with tears.” Yoshito Matsushige
The children’s memorial
“これはぼくらの叫びです これは私たちの祈りです 世界に平和をきずくための”
“Kore wa bokura no sakebi desu. Kore wa watashitachi no inori desu. Sekai ni heiwa o kizuku tame no.”
“This is our cry, this is our prayer: for building peace in the world.”
“Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”
This monument embodies the hope that Hiroshima, devastated on 6 August 1945 by the world’s first atomic bombing, will stand forever as a city of peace. The stone chamber in the center contains the Register of Deceased A-bomb Victims. The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer of peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.

Lord, may your peace reign.

Travel Adventures

Another Day, Another Adventure | Kyoto, Japan

Hello friends! Thanks for joining me on adventures :)!! Day two in Kyoto included conquering the beastly heat, seeing the oldest temple in Kyoto and exploring Gion. Just so you know, the day included a nap too – I know, we’re pretty awesome!

Kiyomizu Temple is the oldest and most visited temple in Kyoto. It’s made only of wood and they didn’t use a single nail. Wha?? I really would like to have seen it being built. I mean, I can barely get legos together. So yeah – pretty awesome. It’s more than just a tourist place too. Many people make the trek to worship.

I think I might need to come back in the fall – I can only imagine how gorgeous it is!

People pay for holy water throughout the temple.

No nails people. No nails!

As we walked the streets of the Gion district, there was so much to take in. Whether there were random shrines, cranes or people bustling through the streets, there was always something to see.

And here’s one of the two amazing ladies I get to explore with. And yes, every picture we are glistening ;).

So anyone want to pay me to travel and take pictures yet? Anyone???

Travel Adventures

Jet Lag and Hilarity in Japan

Since jet lag is still hanging out and we’re up before things open, what better thing to do then blog? So here’s a few iPhone pics of the adventures so far! We’re in Kyoto for the next few days and I know it’ll be amazing. The history of this place is incredible (Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years) and I can’t wait to explore!

My first Japanese sunset on the way to Nagoya from Tokyo.


Erin and I arrived after (for me) about 26 hours of travel. It was so nice to have the three flights finished!


Kicking it off immersing ourselves in the culture 😉


The Bullet Trains and insane! When one flew by as we were waiting for ours, it came by so fast and loud, it scared the McDonald’s out of me.


Our hotel was only 10 minutes from the station, but it may have taken us an hour and a half to find though. What! What!


This is the prefect picture of how we felt while sweating our faces off searching for our place 😉I almost passed out when I saw they had a Cafe du Monde in Kyoto!!


The photo booths in Japan are hil.a.r.ious. They made our eyes huge! We could not stop laughing!

Alright internet, thanks for sharing in the hilarious journey so far!

Love and Faith

The Valley of Vision

A couple of years ago around Christmas, my church did a sermon series based upon prayers from this book. It was an incredible series. Valley of Vision is composed of prayers and meditations that have been a great edition to my devotional times.

While I could probably type out every day’s prayer, here’s a few of my favorites:

Take of the things of Christ and show them to my soul;
Through thee may I daily learn more of His love, grace, compassion, faithfulness, beauty;
Lead me to the cross and show me his wounds, the hateful nature of evil, the power of Satan;
May I see my sins as
the nails that transfixed Him,
the cords that bound Him,
the thorns that tore Him,
the sword that pierced Him.
Help me to find in His death the reality and immensity of His love.
– The Spirit’s Work

Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of
atonement achieved,
expiation completed,
satisfaction made,
guilt done away,
my debt paid,
my sins forgiven,
my person redeemed,
my soul saved,
hell vanquished,
heaven opened,
eternity made mine.
– The Spirit’s Work

Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.
The Precious Blood

Thy name is excellent,
thy glory high,
thy compassions unfailing,
thy condescension wonderful,
thy mercy tender.
– Living for Jesus

Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.
– Continual Repentance

I thank thee for the temporal blessings of this world –
the refreshing air,
the light of the sun,
the food that renews strength,
the raiment that clothes,
the dwelling that shelters,
the sleep that gives rest,
the starry canopy of night,
the summer breeze,
the flowers’ sweetness,
the music of flowing streams,
the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends.
Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort.
My cup runs over.
– Evening Praise

Strengthen me to give thee no rest until Christ shall reign supreme within me,
in every thought, word and deed,
in faith that purifies the heart,
overcomes the world,
works by love,
fastens me to thee,
and ever clings to the cross.
– Meeting God

Have you ever heard of Valley of Vision? What do you think of some of these meditations? I hope you are encouraged like I was!

Author Interviews

4 Questions With New York Times Bestselling Author Seth Casteel

Y’ to the all. Where do I start with how excited I am about this 4 Questions Interview?? I mean for.real. Especially since Seth Casteel’s first book (and Bestseller) combines three things I could never live without.

1. Photography
2. Books
3. Puppies!!! (I call all dogs puppies no matter the age, just roll with it)

The genius and creativity behind Underwater Dogs makes me smile every single time I see one of the images. You should really follow him on Facebook and Twitter. It’ll make your day. And remind me of how much I want a dog (don’t tell my Maxie though).

Seth Casteel is an award-winning photographer with a passion for working with animals. His series of underwater dog photographs have brought him worldwide attention, entertaining and bewildering millions of animal lovers. As an established member of the animal rescue community, Seth has been recognized by TIME Magazine, The Today Show, and The Humane Society of the United States for his efforts, and his underwater dog photographs have been featured in The New York Times, on Animal Planet, and in hundreds of other outlets.

He is based in Los Angeles and Chicago and is the proud “dad” to two dogs, Nala the mini-labradoodle and Fritz, the Norwich Terrier.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
That images of dogs jumping into swimming pools would bring smiles to millions of faces around the world.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Nothing.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Adopting my dog, Nala.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Dogs inspire us!

And just when I thought I couldn’t die from any more dog cuteness, Casteel recently announced he’ll be releasing Underwater Puppies!! Thank you again so much Seth!!

 

Family Life

Auntie’s Girls!

I’m currently going through Auntie withdrawals. I miss my girls!

My sister recently had her second precious little girl, so I made my way to Cali just as quickly as I could. It was a great few days helping my sister, hanging with the fam and of course, spending time with the two sweetest and cutest girls on planet earth!

I brought my camera (of course) and had a quick/informal shoot. Most of these my mom took (since you know, I’m in them 😉 ), but I think its safe to say that I’m the luckiest Auntie there is!

I can’t wait to see them again!