Archive for August, 2008

Andrew 修理我们的博客

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

张东用 PHP 改进这个博客。 你们可以现在在这里写中文子。 让你们评论!

Nick’s Week Long Trip

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The week after we arrived back in America, my young men’s group had scheduled the yearly week-long trip. I departed, not sure that it was a good choice; plus I was a still little tired from traveling. It turned out to be one of the funnest week longs I’ve been on!
Morning on the Second Day

This is a picture of the morning of the second day. As you can see, the scenery was wonderful!

We were canoing down the Green River over a distance of more than 60 miles. It took us 5 days, Monday through Friday, and each day had its own story.

On Monday at 8:00 we began our drive from home to the launch site. Two leaders, Cameron, Allan, Ben, Ian, and I were the crew on this voyage. We cast off into the cool water around noon and set course for the first camp sight. Well, we didn’t really have to set course or cast off or anything because the water moved us along in the right direction. Downstream.

The first day, my canoe buddy Cameron and I were weaving all over the river. We probably went 18 miles instead of the 13 or so that we predicted. I was bad at steering :) When we arrived at the campsite a few hours later, we got camp set up and had dinner. We also swam across the river and back just to see if we could do it without getting swept away. We all survived. I caught a frog and tried to catch a really big lizard but it ran into a bunch or thorny brush that I wasn’t thrilled to go into with my hands or my shorts. Night came. Sleep was good that night.

The second day was nice and sunny to begin with, but there were a few clouds that cooled it down, so it was even better. I realized quickly that I had a couple of nice dark sunburns on the tops of my legs from the first day. I wore more sunscreen from then on, but it wasn’t always necessary as you will see in a few paragraphs. We rowed through canyons of red rocks, it was very nice! Cameron and I did much better this time; I was in the front so I was no longer the pilot, I was the engine. We enjoyed the scenery and took it easy for a while.

Rowing Day 2 This is a picture of what my view looked like from the front of the canoe. Notice the threatening clouds. And notice how the string is inside the boat and not outside. There is a very good reason for that, mostly for playing “Get the Beef Jerky From Allan.” Getting caught by the front is pretty much check-mate. You may have noticed the odd number, 7 people. Canoes usually have 2 people in them. We had three canoes, but one of our leaders dubbed himself “The Lone Woof” and took his one-man kayak along. There is no better word for “cheating” than “kayak” when we were playing River Tag. Got to a spot that we thought might be a good camp site and we hiked around in the canyons.

Hiking a Canyon

I caught a little lizard and a crawdad. We got 6 crawdads that we boiled for dinner later. Ben donated his hat to the cause.

Crawdads in a hat

We also saw some cacti too, which proves we were still in a desert.

Cactus Field

We moved on to a different and better camp site later that day. We made dinner and swam around. My camera got soaked, so my pictures are only from these first two days. Here’s a picture of the trees by our camp site.

Camp #2

We loved the shade! Wind came hard that night, it was blowing my tent flat despite the poles and stakes. We think the wind may have gotten to 60 miles per hour. The rain began.

Morning on the 3rd day wasn’t bad, we got up and the sand was a little wet. At least it wasn’t hot! I made breakfast first, then the others followed. That’s the way it usually was, I was the first to meals and I got the leftovers. We canoed some more. We played games of tag and such. We got going pretty fast when we were playing games, we think maybe 5-6 miles per hour or more. Pretty good speeds for canoes. It sprinkled a little throughout the day. Camp site #3 was cool, it was very big and open with a lot of sand. We played Ultimate Frisbee, the leaders and I were on a team and we dominated! There was also a hundred year old message written on the wall of the cliff across the river that said “Launch Marguerite 9/1/1909.” September 1, 1909; that’s pretty cool. We thought of coming back on September 1, 2009 just to celebrate the centennial anniversary, but no plans have been made. It was written with a tar-like substance that was probably used to fix the boats. It was cool to find something 100 years old!

The 4th day, Thursday, was funny. We rowed a little ways down the river when the clouds covered the sky. We hoped for a little rain to cool it down, but what came was more than we expected! It started raining harder, and harder, and harder, until we had to pull up on the shore and get to cover. There just happened to be a nice big rock that fit almost all of us underneath it. The rock was nice because it gave cover, but also because it gave us front row seats to a view that was once-in-a-lifetime. The water had formed waterfalls all along the red-rock cliffs across the river and it was pouring down like no other waterfalls I have seen before! Some water was shooting out 50 feet before falling 150 onto the shore. I looked down and saw a cactus plant, this sure didn’t seem like a desert! How amazing, waterfalls in the desert! The waterfalls disappeared quickly after the rain lessened. After the rain calmed down, we got back in the canoes and went to the final camp site. I spotted it first, it was a nice open sandy beach that was like our 3rd camp, but smaller. I made a fishing pole out of a long stick, but I didn’t catch anything. We had dinner and we went to bed. Bed was a little restless for me, but most of us got to sleep after the others stopped singing camp songs like “Alice the Camel” and a modified “Row, Row, Row your Boat.”

The last day, Friday, we rowed to the pull out spot and got picked up at 12:00 noon. We voted to go home. The drive was long and a little rainy, but I like the rain. I enjoyed the crazy weather! I don’t think the trip would have been as much fun if it was just hot and sunny all the time. I enjoyed the hard winds and the heavy rains. It was cool seeing the waterfalls. I liked the adventure and the challenge. It was a very memorable, fun trip.

Leader and Allan in a canoe resting

Visiting Tiger Hill

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Suzhou’s gardens really are very famous, but according to one sign we saw, Tiger Hill is the #1 tourist attraction in town.

We we to Tiger Hill with no real idea of what we would find there. We had heard that there was a famous spring, a big rock, a leaning pagoda, and a few other things, but we didn’t really know what it would be like. It turned out to be both interesting and fun. Oh, and very hot!

The entrance to Tiger Hill is across a small canal. It looked like an interesting place to ride a boat, but we didn’t try that. Maybe we should have tried it, because the boat ride would have been pleasantly cool. Instead we forged up the hill in spite of the heat. On the way up the hill we passed a well and a spring with a legendary history. According to the legend, a monk was trying to carry water up the hill and he became exhausted, then he saw the spring where none had existed before. There’s one part of this legend that makes a lot of sense to us… climbing the hill is definitely hot and exhausting work. We noticed that some places on the hill were much cooler than others, and people had built homes and studies in those cool places. One scholar’s home was built as a cluster of separate buildings in a shady nook that seemed very pleasant to me. It would have been a very pleasant place to quietly read and learn.

Here’s a picture of the well,

and here’s the sign over the spring.

The focal point of the hill is the pagoda. It’s both older and taller than the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, and it leans more. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to go inside, but the caretakers at the base of the pagoda had caught a very large beetle. They tried to give the beetle to Jacob, but we told them the beetle would die if we took it, so finally they took it back. It was pretty cool, but I don’t know what we would have done with it. Here’s the beetle. That’s not silk thread it’s tied with – that’s baling twine.

While we were at the hill, I got a book about Suzhou’s gardens. It was an attempt to figure out which garden to visit next, and it filled that purpose. It also gave me an excuse to sit down in a shady spot and read for a minute. Since I really love to read, and the location was comfortable, I didn’t even notice when somebody snapped a picture. It’s not hard to imagine why the scholars loved to spend their time in this beautiful place. And although this picture was taken in a modern place, not an ancient scholar home, I also appreciated the way the scholars arranged their buildings to create quiet corners where people could read or study even when there are many other people around. I sometimes wish that my own home had more quiet places to read and study in spite of the business going on all around the house.

We don’t know these people

Monday, August 4th, 2008

This happened all the time in China!

While we were visiting Tiger Hill in Suzhou, some Chinese women noticed our family and asked Carol if all four of the boys were hers.   When she said “yes,” the women asked to take a picture with her.  I didn’t hear what they said, but I understand that they were surprised that Carol could have four boys and still look so young and cute.

This happened everywhere we went, especially at tourist sites.  Jacob was the most common target, but everyone got asked for pictures sometimes.  We think most of the Chinese people who asked for pictures were probably tourists from areas that don’t get many foreigners.  It probably took some courage for them to approach us for a picture, and we respect that.  We also learned that they would often be very excited if we took the same picture they were taking, so we started taking pictures with the Chinese tourists when they took pictures with us.

Sometimes we felt a little awkward being a tourist attraction, but we remembered that some of the pictures we took probably made Chinese strangers feel the same way.  So we took the picture requests as a sign of friendship and a chance to return the favor of being allowed to see and photograph China.

Cold Mountain Temple

Monday, August 4th, 2008

We stopped to see a beautiful place called the Cold Mountain Temple.  It’s a Buddhist monastery, very different from the kind of temple we know in our religion.  Many elements of the temple were unknown to us, and we hope we didn’t offend anyone by failing to be reverent in a special place.  We’re not used to the idea of inviting visitors into a temple.

The centerpiece of the temple was a huge golden Buddha inside a tower.  We were able to climb to the second floor of the tower and look down on the surrounding roofs.  Others were throwing coins onto the roofs.  Apparently getting the coins to stay instead of bouncing or rolling to the ground is a sign of good luck.  We joined them in tossing coins, but with several energetic children we had an advantage:  the boys were willing to stay on the ground and gather up the coins that got away.  As a result, we were eventually able to get most of our coins to stay on the roof.

The temple also had a bell tower, and we were all able to ring the bell.  We don’t know why, but it was important to ring the bell exactly three times.  We each took a turn doing that.

As a sign that we were  in a real, practicing temple, we found some trees covered with red ribbons.  Someone had purchased each ribbon and written a wish on it.  While it’s not the way we worship, we understand that people have important desires and want help to obtain them.  And we have experiences with asking for help in our own way.  We hope that the people who left prayers on the red ribbons will receive what they need.

There was also a courtyard filled with incense smoke.  I have heard that incense smoke also represents prayers.  Even though  we don’t pray that way, we appreciate the fact that people are expressing their desires and wishes.  There’s a certain vulnerability in publicly demonstrating that you want something, and I think it takes some courage to do that. 

We also managed to capture a cool picture of everyone looking into a little planter full of water lilies.  Maybe Nick was trying to catch frogs?