Welcome 2016

Where should I even begin? Obviously I’ve been slacking in writing. I’ve been slacking in giving myself enough me time. But it’s a new year, and I plan on changing some things. Starting a new year makes me reflect on my past year and think about my continuing future goals.

I’m going to start with where I left off. I finished my third semester of school, began an internship at Piñon Hills Community Church with the marketing director working on graphics, improved immensely on all my graphic design skills and website creation, and of course stayed on top of workouts, having a boyfriend, and doing various projects (mostly cooking related).

I like to tell my story through pictures, so here’s yet another gallery.

As you can see I had quite a full semester. Will do a separate post about my graphics work and school, as well as what I plan on doing this year. I have made it a goal to blog once a week this year (or a minimum of twice per month). I really enjoy sharing parts of my life with you and writing. I hope that you are inspired to do more and to enjoy life. I need to take my own advice and slow down enough to stop and write every once in a while. 🙂

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Pumpkin Spice Season

Fall, my favorite season is here and it definitely feels like it. I find it funny that pumpkin spice has been such a huge thing this year. Sometimes it’s fun to obsess over random things. I have to say I like pumpkin spice (haven’t ever tried a pumpkin spice latte), but I pretty much like everything about fall.

It has been such a wet summer and fall is expected to be the same. Summer was fun and exhausting. I certainly stayed busy. School, work, dating, and working out seem to take up all my free time. As always, I find it easier to say what I’m up to with pictures.

About mid July I went to Montana to visit my aunt and uncle who I haven’t seen a couple of years. As soon as I got picked up to the airport I was told we were going to have dinner…and guess where that was? Olive Garden. We got a nice employee discount on our party of 17. Sometimes it’s nicer to be served, than to serve…actually more often than not it’s more fun to be served. It was a really nice evening to reconnect with my cousins.

Spent far too much in planes and cars on this Montana trip. We drove to Glacier National Park which is no where near Big Timber. It was a great vacation to get away from everything at home. I was able to rest and do whatever I wanted.

The rest of this summer has been filled with cooking, projects, work, school, and so on.

It’s Finally Summer

I am still here. Of course busy as ever. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed blogging and writing. This spring semester got really overwhelming as I picked up a job. I started working at Olive Garden as a busser 25 to 30 hours a week. On top of that I was taking five classes (17 credit hours) at the college and working out 5-6 days a week. But I survived and I’m not really sure how I managed it.

After a month and a half of bussing I started being a server at Olive Garden. I like the job pretty well. The days can be really long and exhausting though.

I’m still working out. I’m so glad I have a workout buddy, otherwise I’m pretty sure I would not be going to the gym nearly as often. We completed Insanity during my spring semester (hence 5am workouts). Now we’re swimming, rock climbing, running, and weight-lifting. I can finally do a pull-up and chin-up!

As if serving wasn’t enough, I’m still working at the bed and breakfast once a week as well as house sitting. The “extra time” I have I spend hanging out with my boyfriend, cooking, and keeping up on chores. Life certainly has provided me many opportunities to stay busy. I can’t seem to make myself say no.

Okay enough talking about myself. It’s picture time.

Camera Language

Taking good pictures, even with a decent camera is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. There are so many aspects of “creating” a good photo. This semester I’m taking an introduction to digital photography so I thought I’d share a few. I still have a lot to learn. I hope to share more at the end of the semester.

Return to Engineer Peak

Last weekend I went to Engineer Peak again. This time with three different friends. I was disappointed in the fact that the flowers weren’t as vibrant, but the hike was still fun. We packed a lunch and ate after hiking to the summit. Last time I didn’t get to climb to the top because my friend had a dog with him.

Engineer Peak is almost a 13er. I felt quite accomplished getting to the top, as it does require a bit of rock climbing.

And because I made it to the top…I have a few more pictures to share.

Engineer Peak Engineer Peak

If you look closely, you might be able to see me and my friend climbing down.

If you look closely, you might be able to see me and my friend climbing down.

At the summit Made it to the top Engineer Peak Engineer Peak

A hike through the flowers

Okay it’s time to jump back into the blogging world. I thoroughly enjoy blogging. This summer I’ve just let other things take priority, but this is important to me. So I will try a bit harder to set aside time to write.

I just wanted to share some pictures of a three hour hike I took with my friend this past week. These pictures really don’t do the hike justice, but it was just with a point and shoot camera. I was more focused on enjoying the scenery myself. I don’t remember what this place is called, just that it’s somewhere north of Purgatory.

Shanghai Part 2

April 19th-21st

And we’ve come full circle. Back in Shanghai. At this point of the trip, I’m quite exhausted and ready to go home. Not because I don’t like China, but because I was getting physically sick and it was too much moving around. Living and being around so many people also just drained the energy out of me.

And that’s it. That was my whirlwind of an adventure in China. I got on the plane the day after visiting Zhujiajiao. All went well and I got home in the US the same day I left China. I still have a few filler posts to do about food and a couple of extra stories. In some respects I don’t feel like I had enough time to soak it all in. I hope to go back on day and live in one area for an extended period of time.

Finding the Great Wall

April 17th

Destination: Simatai Great Wall

A two-hour drive outside of Beijing. Such a refreshing change from the masses of people.

As we were approaching the turn off for the section of the Great Wall we wanted to see, we read every sign. Ended up missing the turn and had to turn around. Every time you have to turn around on the highway you end up paying an additional highway toll.

Turns out at Simatai hasn’t been open for four years (closed in 2010), even though the only information we had about it was that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The high way exit ended up being a place called Water Town. We guessed it was the right area because one of the buildings said 司马台. Yes, it was only in characters not pinyin. I’m glad someone in the car could read Chinese, because it wasn’t me.

We drove to the entrance of Water Town and still weren’t exactly sure if we could get to the Great Wall. Chinese tend to be quite vague in their answers. Perhaps it seemed more vague because I had to listen to the translation?

But long story short, we were able to walk through Water Town to get to the Simatai section of the Great Wall. Water Town just opened up this spring, so there were hardly any people. It was kind of eerie. Felt like a ghost town. There were mostly empty buildings. Also, it was clearly built for tourists, so we had to pay to walk through the town as well as pay an entrance fee to the Great Wall.

Water Town was fun and beautiful, but it did not compare to the beauty and awesomeness of The Great Wall. This was one of my most memorable and favorite days in China, so I’m going to subject you to a walk through of it.

Simatai

Here’s the only sign I saw that said Simatai Great Wall. Would have been helpful to have this marked on the highway.

We walked 1300 meters from Water Town to the great wall and kept stopping to take pictures. It was my first glimpse of the wall.

We walked 1300 meters from Water Town to the great wall and kept stopping to take pictures. It was my first glimpse of the wall.

We didn't get to walk on this part of the wall, just got to see it from the distance.

We didn’t get to walk on this part of the wall, just got to see it from the distance.

The Great Wall

Water Town is just far enough away to enjoy the wall.

Water Town is just far enough away to enjoy the wall.

The great thing is that they haven't reconstructed the wall much.

Much of Simatai has not been reconstructed which makes it all the more worthwhile to visit.

Absolutely amazing. I know why The Great Wall is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Absolutely amazing. I know why The Great Wall is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

I walked with some Chinese tour guides to the tenth tower. It was their first time at the wall. They were taking notes so they could take tourists.

I walked with some Chinese tour guides to the tenth tower. It was their first time at the wall. They were taking notes so they could take tourists.

The steps were so steep at some points I felt like I was going to fall backwards. It didn't help that the steps were different widths, sometimes too small for my foot.

The steps were so steep at some points I felt like I was going to fall backwards. It didn’t help that the steps were different widths, sometimes too small for my foot.

The Great Wall

A step back in time.

The Great Wall

I walked through all ten towers, which is entirety of the section that is open to the public.

I walked through all ten towers, which is entirety of the section that is open to the public.

The Great Wall

We rode the cable car down back into Water Town.

We rode the cable car down back into Water Town.

Goodbye Water Town

Goodbye Water Town and Simatai.

We discovered a gem. I’m afraid it won’t last long because once there’s momentum there will be thousands of people flocking to visit Water Town and Simatai. Somehow we lucked out and were able to be one of the first here. I’m fairly certain we’re the first (or one of the first) foreigners to visit Water Town. It was definitely worth every penny.

 

 

Beijing

April 16th-April 18th

And the fun just doesn’t stop. Beijing was filled with people, and people, and people, and more people. Here I saw the most foreign tourists. Immediately I felt like I related more to them than the Chinese faces I saw.

I didn’t have a chance to see much of Beijing. We went to Tiananmen Square and toured the Forbidden City.

Flowers and Grottoes

April 14th: A train ride and the peony flower festival

Train ride number 2 from Guilin, Guangxi, to Luoyang, Henan.

peony

Part of the peony flower festival in Luoyang.

peony petals peony garden peony flower festival peony peonies

April 15th: A morning at the Longmen Grottoes

misty bridge

The rain and cold weather dampened our day at the grottoes.

Longmen Grottoes

Longmen Grottoes contains over 2300 caves and niches.

Longmen Grottoes

Vairocana Buddha is over 56 feet tall. I regret not taking a picture with a person for comparison sake. Maybe next time…

Longmen Grottoes

Carving began in year 493. It continued through the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties.

Ten thousand buddhas Longmen Grottoes  Longmen Grottoes

Although it was quite rainy and cold the day we went to the Longmen Grottoes, it was definitely worth seeing a part of Chinese history that has lasted so long. Pictures can’t do the carvings justice in their detail and size. The amount of work put into the site is astounding, especially considering the kind of technology that was used when they were carved. Here is more information about the caves with descriptions and stats of how big they are. The UNESCO site gives a brief history of the different phases and dynasties involved in carving the grottoes.

Luoyang was the smallest city we visited with less than 2 million people.