Monday, May 30, 2011


Please allow me to introduce my newest granddaughter, Rawlings Riley, born yesterday.  She is a 6 pound 2 ounce bundle of wonder.  She was a little early, but is still a lengthy 19 inches (said she, of not much height).  Mother and baby are doing fine, and the proud Papa is certainly glowing.  It's not a great photo, I know, but it is the only one I have right now.  I'll be meeting her next weekend (at the baby shower!) and will be sure to bury anyone interested in more photos than you care to view in a week.

There will be a China update later this week.  I have finally caught up!  The pesky Edmonds Arts Festival has been taking up a lot of my time since I returned from China and I think I have it all under control now.    I will get to a new post soonest!  

I promise.

Monday, May 23, 2011

China Report, Part 1: Tiananmen Square

Our first stop on the China Tour hosted by Odyssey Tours was Beijing.  Beijing is a whopping big city, by any one's standards, and it has more of everything!  The traffic in Beijing defies description and I can only say, with total relief, that I am so glad I don't have to drive there!

The morning of our first full day we drove to the ultimate Beijing tourist site, Tiananmen Square.  It really is as huge as rumored and I can now understand how you could conceivable fit half a million people within.

Tiananmen Square is definitely a major tourist site to the Chinese people themselves, much as Washington, D.C. is to Americans.  I really enjoyed seeing the tour groups of Chinese touring one of their national sites.

I was surprised (I don't know why, exactly) to see the food coach parked within the square.

The large rectangular thing in the above photo is a TV screen that shows pictures and words.  I wish I knew what it says there, but alas, I don't.  We were in Tiananmen Square just before May 1st, International Labor Day, which is a three day holiday for the Chinese.  Besides having three days off, many Chinese will take a weeks' vacation about that time and many travel to other areas in China, to have a break and visit a new place.  While it was exciting to see so many Chinese out enjoying their beautiful country, it did make for extraordinary crowds as some of the places we visited.

This photo of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the Father of Modern China, is across the square from the famous portrait of Mao Zedong.

Besides Chairman Mao you can see Debbie and Rhoda, from my travel group.  Rhoda was the liaison between the UWAA and Odyssey Tours, and a fine tour leader she was.  Debbie was her roommate in college, and remains one of her dearest friends.  The two of them were among my favorite of the people on the trip.  I just connected with them both---fine, friendly, funny and intelligent women that they are!

This tall gentleman is our Beijing city tour guide, "Bill."  His real name is Lian, but he answers to "Bill" to make it easier on we tourists---those of the inept ears and thick tongues, who consistently mangle and injure the Chinese language.  He was an excellent guide (all our local city guides were excellent) and probably my favorite of all the local guides.  We had a tour guide, Peter Wong, who traveled with us throughout China, and Peter was not only a guide extraordinaire, he became a true friend.  More about Peter later.

"Bill" had a great little parasol with the image of a giant Panda on it.  Since he was so tall, and the parasol so unique, we could always spot him, even is a huge crowd (such as we had one afternoon at the Summer Palace).  It looked a little silly, but it was so effective.

There was a group of Chinese military men (I think they were military, not policemen, but please correct me if I am wrong) practicing for something, probably for some sort of display for May Day.  These young men were obviously chosen for their height and handsome looks.  They were a very good-looking and snappy unit!

We enjoyed a very fine Peking Duck lunch at the Beijing Roast Duck Home Cooking Restaurant.  It was delicious!  We had wonderful meals all over China.  I was very pleased that Odyssey took so much trouble to try and expose us to a wide variety of Chinese food, taking us to restaurants that featured regional cuisine.  I certainly didn't lose any weight on this trip!

It is the little details that I find I remember the most from travel.  Those little things that are really quite familiar, but just slightly different from home, that make the big impressions on me.  The Chinese characters in the metal at the base of a lamp standard, for example, leaped out at me on a street in Beijing.

Everywhere we went in China we had people approach us to take our pictures, usually with them, but sometimes just by ourselves.  They were including us in their good times, their memories.  I wonder if they know how the kindness and welcome that we felt everywhere we went was the most precious gift we brought home with us?  I hope so.  China opened wide her arms and bid us welcome.

I had a glorious time!

Next time---The Forbidden City.....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jet Lag and a Few Teaser Photos

 We returned home from China on Friday after a loooooooooong flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco and a "short" flight from San Francisco to Seattle.  Yesterday I was scheduled with Edmonds Arts Festival volunteer work, so I had no chance to work on my photos.  This morning I found I had slept almost 10 hours straight, an occurrence of rarity in my life.  I usually manage six to seven hours.  I will admit to being gobsmacked when I saw what time I awoke, and then only because the phone rang!  I'm not functioning on all cylinders today, so will only post a few preliminary photos as a sort of teaser to try and lure you back to my blog in a day or two, when there will be a proper posting with better photos.

The above shot was taken from the hotel in Beijing, the name of of which escapes me at the moment.  For that matter, my name escapes me at the moment....oh, this jet lag, it's a KILLER!).  The part I found interesting is the old factory smoke stack in the background.  There used to be a very big factory of some sort right in the midst of this rather residential area.  The factory is closed and most of it has been demolished, but the smoke stack remains still.  I gather it, too, will soon be gone but it is a rather interesting juxtaposition of the "old" China and the "new."  More high rises will be built on this site, probably residential apartment buildings.

This shot was taken from my hotel window in Beijing in the early evening.  You can see how the area is becoming more developed and how the high rises are creeping in.  Soon it will be a forest of high rises.  The symbol of the new China is a building crane!

Here we have an exit gate from the Forbidden City.  I'll have more photos of the amazing Forbidden City in a day or two.  It looks, truly, as it was portrayed in the movie The Last Emperor.  I felt like I was on a movie set the whole time I was there, having just re-watched the film.

And here is one of the treasures inside the Forbidden Palace museum, a Foo Dog or more properly, a Lion, made of carved coral.  There was a burglary there while I was still in China.  I gather the thief found it easy to walk off with several ladies compacts that were a part of a collection on loan from a collector in Hong Kong.  I don't remember the items, but I would think, having just been there, that it would have been very difficult to swipe something from the museum.  But, then, I am not a burglar!  I'm happy to report the man was caught.

Tomorrow (or the day after) I'll have a proper post.  I am wading through well over a thousand photos and it takes time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hong Kong

I took this photo on my last trip to Hong Kong, in 2001.

I have a few nights here in Hong Kong before I have to return to the States.  I plan on going to the Bird Park and to take the Star Ferry several times, to do a lot of shopping and gawking and eating and tea sipping.  I LOVE Hong Kong and it is the prefect place to end my time in China.  

Stay tuned to this blog.  There will be postings coming soon after my return home.  I hope you'll come see where I have been and what I have been doing.  It's so much more fun to share a trip, don't you think?  I promise no three hour slide shows.  

Really.  I promise.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Photo by Wikipedia Commons

We will be in Shanghai for three nights.  I'm sure I could spend three weeks here and not see enough, but I promise I will make the most of my time in this City of the South.  Shanghai is another Chinese city that has long held a great fascination for me and it really is a dream come true to be able to come here, to see the Bund with my own eyes.  

Friday, May 06, 2011

Chongqing and Yangtze Cruising

Yangtze River
Photo from

Today I am in Chongqing and will be boarding a Victoria Cruises ship late this afternoon for a cruise down the Yangtze River.  I have long wanted to see the Three Gorges, so this is an exciting day for me.  (Not that the whole trip isn't exciting, this is just especially so!)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Photo from Wikipedia Commons

I have two nights in Xi'an as my China trip continues.  Besides the famous Terra Cotta Warriors I will be seeing the Wild
Goose Pagoda (built in 652 AD) and the Shanxi Provincial History Museum, which is a Tang-Dynasty style pavilion.

I'll have photos and more posted here after my return mid May.  Be sure to come back and read all about the trip.