30 December 2007

Bomb Threat

30 December 2007
Eric's work - Supreme Court

We thought it was strange, when I drove Eric to work this morning (New Year's Eve), and noticed a lot of the staff standing across the street from the court. Then we were directed away from the parking lot by several police officers, later learning that there had been a bomb threat. We don't know any of the details, but, fortunately, nothing came of it.

Wing Beach

I hope you're not getting sick of all of the beach pictures. This is a beach we hadn't tried yet for snorkeling, and it was gorgeous - white sand, bright blue sea, and lots of green vegetation. Probably not the best for snorkeling, though. The waves are a lot bigger than what we're used to, so they were tossing us about, but it was fun regardless.

You can't really see the waves because the reef is just outside of the frame.

Eric swimming around a coral garden. The coral is nice to look at, but it hurts.

This reminds me of a dream I had once...

After the beach, we decided to stop by the zoo. We didn't actually go in (admission is $15), but Eric wanted to show me this tiger who you can see from outside of the zoo. After the tragic incident in San Francisco we were curious as to how fit the enclosure was here. I think the height was fine, but it was still a sad little habitat. I was wondering how they actually got their zoo animals here on the island so after a bit of browsing I found an article stating that the latest group of 21 animals all came over on the same cargo plane from Guam. (including a tiger, a lion, a black bear, monkeys, foxes, bobcats, etc.).

25 December 2007

Filis Pasgua & Filis Anu Nuebo!

25 December 2007
It's been a busy week! Despite being over 7000 miles away from family, it's been an awesome Christmas. Everyone was so sweet to invite us into their homes to join their Christmas celebrations.

We got to spend Christmas Eve at the Cabaels where we experienced our first Filipino feast. Half the branch was there so that was nice, especially since we had to miss the branch party.

These close-ups are always so flattering!

Leona, Maryana, Emelaine, Vanessa
Traditional island dancing. These girls are awesome!

Maryana, Emelaine, Tori, Elisa
They've got skillz!

Christina & Leila
We're tempted to kidnap Leila every time we see her. I wish she was smiling in this shot; she has the cutest smile/dimples! (You do too Christina.)

Isn't she adorable? You can't tell in this picture, but she has a "grill", well, 2 silver teeth in front. I love it.
Jenny, Jen Jen, Melissa, John
And we topped the night off with a little Christmas Karaoke. Good times.
I don't have any pictures from Christmas day, but that was fun too. I woke up around 8:00am, and stayed in the kitchen until 3:30pm, when we had to leave for a small get-together, with the Rider family and another couple.
As usually, I made way too much food....banana bread, mint chocolate fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate cream pie, raspberry cream cake, onion dip, and a cheese ball. And I would have made pink salad if it weren't for every store on the island being out of cottage cheese.
I better hurry up and eat all of those leftovers so I can start my New Year's resolutions...

22 December 2007

Forbidden Island & Christmas Parties

22 December 2007

We've been on Saipan for about 5 months now, and we're still finding great new places to explore. Saturday morning it was Forbidden Island.

I was a little bit nervous about this one because, although it's one of the most highly recommended spots on the island, it's also one of the most dangerous - hence, the name "Forbidden". Several people have drowned there, mostly from being swept away by the large waves and strong currents. This warning sign at the trailhead was posted as a result of 4 college students who lost their lives back in March.

The hike took about 30-45 minutes. As always, it's much easier going down than up, but well worth it. We were walking along a cliff for a lot of the trek, and the wind was pretty intense so that added to the thrill of it all.

Eric, trying to figure out how to get from Rock A to Rock B.
King of the mountain.

Homemade Lemonade

After our hike to Forbidden, we decided to stop by our neighbor's house for a bit, and I'm so glad we did! I got to help Katrina make freshly squeezed lemonade from the lemons right here at Facey Farms. It wasn't quite as lemony yellow as the picture above because we used brown sugar as the sweetener, but it was still delicious. We also ate some mandarin oranges right from the front yard.

Cookie Party!
Eric replaced a woman named Deb at the court, and she's been so kind to us. She's treated Eric and I to lunch, she's given me several food and travel tips, and yesterday she invited us to a quaint little cookie party. This is her gorgeous patio (she and her husband are both lawyers). I tried to take pictures of the ocean view, but the sun was too bright.

I only have 2 regrets - not taking a cookie plate home and not taking a picture of the impressive spread. Just ask Eric, I love cookies! In fact, I'm a little bit of a cookie monster.

Work Party

Getting our grub on...
Katrina (neighbor and GF to the clerk of the court), John, Eric
I love Doll for getting Eric to dance! And to Blue Suede Shoes no less! He was not only dancing, he was doing the twist and the shimmy! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Katrina & Jonathan (clerk of the court)

Eric competing in a tongue twister contest. You can't see the audience, but there were about 70 people there spectating. By the end of the night we won 2 gift certificates for 60 min spa treatments! Woohoo! Maybe that's what we'll do for Christmas since we're not getting each other gifts (aside from a small vacation). :)

20 December 2007

Elf Dance

20 December 2007
This is complete silliness but fun nonetheless. If you want to see our little jig, click here. Or you can make one for yourselves...

19 December 2007

Yay for passport stamps

19 December 2007
We are officially going to Bali!

What is it about getting those stamps in your passport that is so gratifying? I'm not sure about the old ones, but the new passports have 20 pages for stamps! Can you imagine? Well, my passport is good until 2017 so if we go on 2 trips/year...I'm kidding of course. Right now I'm just excited for Bali.

In other news, Eric is in his first week of wearing contacts! I snuck into the optometrist's office behind Eric so I could watch the contacts go in for the first time. The assistant actually did it for him, and it was hilarious. It's not often that you get to see your husband squirm. Actually, I say "squirm", but he was sitting completely still. There was just something about his facial expression and his eyes that was just so pained...and priceless. I was trying my best not to laugh. Is that mean? The important thing is he's starting to adjust to them now (I think). Although, the first day, while at work, he put them in a case without any solution. The Dr didn't really bother to tell him about proper contact maintenace so Eric didn't even know that solution is kind of a must. Luckily, we were able to salvage them before they dried out.

Other than that, Eric was "warned" about a calling on Sunday. I guess I'm not supposed to tell you what it is yet, but let's just say that it's the calling he fears most. If only Bro. Bylund were in this branch...

16 December 2007

Little nudge

16 December 2007
I think it's a sign (or at least a reassurance). "Top Ten Islands" right on the MSN homepage this morning. I was excited to find Bali as, not only on the list, but at # 1!

A nice thing about Bali is that everything is so affordable. You can stay at a hotel for $10/night (& a really nice hotel for $50-60). So that makes this trip a little easier, BUT my wish list keeps getting longer and longer which means our wallet will be getting lighter and lighter.

Here are some of the things that I would LOVE to do & see (in no particular order):

  1. The volcanoes
  2. The temples
  3. The art, craftsmen and women at work
  4. The traditional dances
  5. The huge turtles
  6. Swim with the dolphins
  7. Elephant safari!
  8. Underwater tour
  9. Dinner Cruise
  10. The rice terraces
  11. The waterfalls
  12. Cremation ceremony
  13. The monkey jungle (where you can actually feed the monkeys)
  14. Camel ride
  15. Paragliding
  16. Bungee Jumping
  17. White water rafting
And, the list goes on. Unfortunately, we can only afford a select few from that list, but the thought of doing even a couple of those things makes me absolutely giddy!

15 December 2007

The weekend that left me sleepy

15 December 2007
BIRD ISLANDWe've been to Bird Island lookout a time or two before (pictured above), but we decided to hike our way down today...

Eric and his co-worker, Robert, actually swam across to explore the island. I wanted to join them, but I was fully clothed and decided to stay that way. Eric even climbed his way up to the top - barefoot. He returned slightly bloody and bruised, but he assures me it was all worth it.

Robert has perfect timing. He took this picture of me right as I was falling. You can see Eric below preparing to catch me.

This was yet another Saipan adventure that involved ropes/repelling. We never know exactly what we're going to get when we go on these hikes. A few more, though, and we'll be ready for Survivor. In fact, Palau is right next to us (Season 10); Maybe they'll do a Survivor Saipan next.

We found several of these hermit crabs along the way. Here's Eric having a heart-to-heart with one. Click on the photo to enlarge if you want a better look at his beady little eyes.
Sometimes it's nice to stop and take a look around...or up...

Here we are doing our duty as chaperones at the Youth Dance on Saturday.

Manny, Melissa, Kyle
Bernard & Jen Jen

Rima, Elisa, Madison, Leona

14 December 2007

I could almost smell the rice terraces

14 December 2007
We were SO close. I had the travel agent right there in front of me with Continental on her ear and Visa in hand, and then it happened - a day later, and the return flight is completely booked! That hurt. Apparently, we're staying put for Christmas. Maybe it's for the better. This way we don't have to rush our travel plans, and we'll save money by not travelling during peak season. It's a bummer because I was looking for a happy distraction over the holiday to not miss the family and traditions as much, but I still have something to look forward to. We're now thinking Jan 6 - Jan 13.

12 December 2007

I'm dreaming of a Bali Christmas

12 December 2007
Ok, so I probably shouldn't blog this because it's not a sure thing yet, but while all of the kids in the world are dreaming about candy canes and tonka trucks for Christmas, this is what I've been dreaming about - a trip to Bali, Indonesia. Ever since talking to my neighbor, who told me that airfare is cheap right now, I haven't been able to think of much else. The past couple of days have been filled with travel guide DVDs, lonely planet guidebooks, web browsing, and travel agents.

For some reason I've always wanted to go to Bali. I keenly remember a day, back in my teens, when I was sitting in Rapunzel's hair salon and rudely eavesdropping on one of the nearby conversations. The hairstylist had just returned from Bali, and she went on and on about how incredible it was. I know it's strange the things that stick with you, but that's where the fascination began.

If not Christmas, than hopefully sometime soon!