With fresh snow on the ground and with temperature of 14º F (-10º C) that we trekked down to the nearby tree farm. It’s that time of year again to choose a Christmas tree.
From our previous experiences, it usually takes us several minutes (though it feel like hours) to go up and down the line after line of trees, before we could pick the “perfect” tree.
Not this time.
On the first line of trees that we approached, we already made our choice. We did it in less than a minute! It is a record!
Here’s a close up photo of our Christmas tree with my wife tagging it with our name.
We’ll be coming back in two weeks to have this tree cut and bundled and for us to bring it home.
Since we did it so quickly, there was plenty of time for me to eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate inside the tree farm’s store.
Actually I was looking for Santa, who usually is sitting inside this store, to give him my Christmas list. But he was not there. Perhaps he’s still busy preparing the turkey for the Thanksgiving.
(*photos taken with an iPhone)
Would you like to be a driver or a passenger?
Many of us would probably choose to be the driver, for we want to be in control. However, there are certain journeys in life where being a passenger is more delightful. And just enjoy the ride.
Eight years ago, I was a passenger to my son’s playful dream (see original post here).
Today, I am really his passenger.
Even though it can be uneasy, I will savor this passage.
Who knows what’s next on this journey, but I am looking forward to it.
(*photos taken by the passenger)
In follow-up to my most recent post, “The Runaways,” I now feature the “Watchers.”
(*photo taken during my morning run)
(*photo taken with and iPhone)
It’s mid August. In about 2 months it will be time for the Des Moines Marathon, in which I plan to participate in the half marathon run. I have not registered though, because I’m still feeling myself if I would be ready for it.
It has been a while since I posted progress of my training. As you already know, I even have a running app to track my pace and distance to aid me on my training. The farthest distance I covered so far is 6 miles in my current training period. I also was able to get my pace under 11 minutes.
But that was about a month ago. Since then, I am struggling. I even am sliding down on my distance and pace. So I was hopeful that today, I can steer my course in the right direction.
By the moment I went out this morning to run, I was captivated by the sunrise. For some reason it has a different hue or color. It’s orange-red. (Sorry, but the photos I have below do not give real justice to the striking splendor of the sunrise.)
Then I thought that it could be from the many ongoing wild fires from California that is giving the sky a different haze, even though Iowa is 1,500 miles away from California. My thoughts and prayers goes out to those who are directly affected by these wild fires.
Back to my run, I was able to complete a 3-mile run, but not to the pace I wanted.
What’s my excuse this time? Stopping and taking too many photos of the crazy sunrise!
Yet in life, sometimes we are so engrossed in the task at hand that we don’t appreciate the beauty around us. We don’t stop to smell the roses. Or stop and admire the sunrise.
In my case, I have no regrets of stopping and capturing the moment. Have a good week everyone!
(*photos taken with an iPhone)
I like playing chess. It is a game of intelligence, strategy, and mental stamina. However, because it needs thoughtful moves and concentration, that is if you’re serious on winning, playing it can be time-consuming. Considering that you have a worthy opponent too. Did you know that the longest game on record took 269 moves and it ended in a draw? All those moves for a draw!
The shortest game can be won in 2 moves, but it can only happen if your opponent is so naive. Thus this is aptly known as the “Fool’s Mate.” By the way, the word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” which means “the King is dead.”
I taught my son to play chess when he was still little, and since then he always wanted to challenge me, hoping to outwit the ‘master’ who taught him. Well, he’s not so little anymore now, and he has become a worthy opponent.
Recently we were in a place so idyllic, that we don’t mind spending a lot of time there, even if we were engaged in a serious game of chess.
Don’t get me wrong, we are far from being world-class level, nor do we have the crazy delusion that we are Grandmasters in chess. Grandmaster is a title that is only awarded by the world chess organization to players who have ascended to the highest level of mastery of the game. There are specific and strict criteria of earning this prestigious title.
Yet since we were playing chess in this particular place, I think we can be called ‘Grand’ Masters. At least for the time we were there.
(*photos taken at the “Grand” Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan)
Nestled between the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan is a place where time stood still. The Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, is a popular tourist attraction due to its certain appeal. This place has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration and is considered a National Historic Landmark.
I have heard of this place from a partner of mine when we moved to the Midwest more than a decade ago, but it was only recently that we were able to check this place out.
Mackinac Island is only reachable by a ferry from either Mackinac City or St. Ignace. These are fast hydro-jet ferries and only takes less than 20 minutes to get into the island.
As winter can be brutal in this part of Michigan, most businesses on the island, hotels included, are only open from May to October. Though there are residents that stayed on the island even through the winter.
Visiting Mackinac Island is like walking back in time, as houses and buildings are mostly built from the glorious era of the past, or at least they are made to look that way.
The island is not only for history fans but also attract nature lovers. There are lots of beautiful sights to enjoy, either cultivated or natural.
Tourists who visit Mackinac Island are called “fudgies.” I believe the reason for this is that the island has several fudge stores, and all of them offer free samples. So the tourists definitely take advantage of this, us included. But we also brought some home, as we felt obliged to buy after sampling a lot of them.
One of the most unique feature of the island is that there are no cars here. All motorized vehicles are banned on the entire island since 1898. There are only three motorized vehicles in the island: an ambulance, 1 police car, and a fire truck. So to get around, you either walk, bike, or take a taxi. Of course the taxis are horse-drawn carriages.
When you’re on the island, time is not an essence. People here take their time leisurely. And even if you are in a rush, you cannot hurry the horses. The horses rarely trot, and most of the time they walk. They don’t gallop. If you’re a fast walker, it may be even faster than riding the carriage. As I said, time here stand still.
Horses rule the island. They have only one physician in the whole island, but they have three veterinarians available here. So you know where their priority lies in this place.
One of the down-side of having many horses walking the streets, is that the roads are littered with their manure.
The smell is undeniable and sometimes can be overwhelming. But there are many people employed here as a “pooper-scooper.” They even have a mechanized street sweeper or cleaner. Of course it is also horse-drawn (photo below).
Beside the horse-drawn carriage tour, another faster way than walking, to tour the island is to go biking. And that’s what my family and I did. The whole island is only 8 miles around, though there are some steep hills that may be challenging to ride up.
One of the most iconic place in the island is the Grand Hotel which opened its doors way back in 1887. As the name implies, it really is grand. It even has its signature horse-drawn carriages available for their patrons.
This hotel has hosted many presidents, dignitaries, and famous people in its existence. Even if you don’t stay in this hotel (as it is a little pricey) you can still tour it for a minimal fee. It remains one of the most visited place in the island.
The hotel is also known in the popular culture as this is where the classic movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, was filmed. The film is about a time traveler who fell in love with someone in the past. They chose this location for the obvious reason that the hotel have not changed much even in the passing of time.
Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Mackinac Island. Even though we are not time travelers, perhaps we can be considered as such, as we felt like we visited the “past.” And we definitely fell in love too from something in the “past.”
From Mackinac Island,
(*all photos taken with an iPhone)
I took these photos few days ago. Can you tell me where am I?
Somewhere in the tropics?
Perhaps in Asia?
Maybe Hong Kong?
Nah! I am still in Iowa. All photos were taken in downtown Des Moines.
Though a travel back to Asia would be nice. Maybe someday. Soon.
(*photos taken with an iPhone)
Here’s what I did last weekend:
1. Helped my wife cooked tuyo (dried fish) in our outdoor grill.
2. Chased a deer during one of my morning runs.
3. Scavenged for bargain art item in the streets downtown (Des Moines Art Festival was this weekend).
4. Got lost among the corn (visited a friend’s farm).
5. And lastly, summoned my indigenous spirit or maybe my hidden pyromaniac nature and did a fire dance.
(*all photos were taken by me with an iPhone, except the last photo which was taken by our friend)