Sunday, July 27, 2008

She's my Cherry Pie....

Remember the song from the 80's glam rock band Warrant?... "She's my Cherry Pie...." I sing this song all the time - who knows why? I usually sing it to our dog Opal...she likes it. Maybe its because I LOVE Cherry Pie. I could eat the filling straight from the jar. We have two big cherry trees in our yard. Wookie likes to eat the cherries that fall to the ground. The other day Trevor was talking to our old man neighbor who told him that they looked like pie cherries. Excuse me? Do you mean to tell me that the yummy goodness of the cherry pie is growing on a tree in my yard? Its been there for 7 years? Well that sounds like a challenge old man....
I found a recipe online for pie made from cherries picked from your own tree - it had pictures and the cherries looked like ours, so I figured they wouldn't kill us. I put Trevor to work....

You can see Opal helping him here - I think she is singing..."I'm mom's cherry pie."
I have the best husband in the world...he is even inspecting them to make sure we get the best ones.
Somehow I convinced him to pit the cherries too.
"Dad....I'm mom's cherry pie"
Here it is....ready to be put in the oven. Here it is. Just out of the oven.
Okay, so we cut some pretty big pieces.
Added a little bit of whipped cream and had at it.
This pie was so amazing. The idea that it came from something that grows in my yard makes me incredibly happy. I want to pick all the cherries and freeze some. That way I can make a homemade cherry pie for Thanksgiving dessert! I could also make turnovers and muffins and jam and who knows what else.
Even better...we have blueberries that are just about ready. We think they would be good on ice cream. We also have apple trees that have about another month before they are full of apples. The possiblities are endless.
Trevor tells me we'll plant a garden next year and then I'll have all kinds of fresh, healthy yumminess. I know I'll dream of this tonight...if I can stop dreaming about eating the rest of this cherry pie.
Warrant was right when they said..."cool drink of water, such a sweet surprise". Regardless of what they were talking about....this cherry pie ROCKS!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

8 years!

It has been 8 years since Trevor and I had our first date. So hard to believe. We went to dinner last night to celebrate. We took our obligatory anniversary picture. We have one from every year framed on our coffee table. Its a great way to see where we have been. This year is a good one I think.

We had a fabulous dinner and spent our time talking about what the last year has brought and what we expect to accomplish in the next year.
This morning was our mini triathlon. During this past week, Trevor got some pedal clips for his bike and readjusted his seat height. These two things have suddenly moved Trevor into the number one spot of bikers in our household. Last week I was basking in the fact that I was better than this one thing. Now I am sad because its all gone. He's better at this too. I spent quite a bit of the ride feeling discouraged and then realized that how he does has nothing to do with how I do. We finished up the ride, finished up the run and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that can only come from a 90 minute workout on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pictures of Final Day in China

The day after the run - in our rickshaw.
We can't go anywhere without finding a Starbucks.
Tea Ceremony

One of the best parts of our trip was this guy - our guide Bing. A sweet, generous man. We will never forget him.

Pictures of Great Wall Marathon

A villager hard at work, while we were playing.
This hill was a nice surprise around mile 9.
I hope I don't break my ankles on this.
So happy - this was before we started.
Proud finisher of The Great Wall Half Marathon.
I'm proud too.
This is the home stretch - Trevor kept running up ahead and then turning around and taking my picture!
These two did not seem to be impressed by our performanace.

China pictures

In front of the Bird's Nest - the Olympic stadium that is being built. We are only about a mile away. Nice air quality.
Locals praying at the Lama Temple. They were probably praying for the tourists to go away.
If I had no job and lived in Beijing - I would sing with this group at the Temple of Heaven. They were not very good. I would fit right in.
These are the 750 stairs I mentioned - this was how we got from the wall, back to the square.
In front of the sign that says, "The Entrance of the Great Wall".
There was a bit of a traffic jam here....see the stairs ahead of us.
We had just come down some stairs that looked like what we are about to go up.
Trevor on the wall during inspection day - on the right of him is a drop off - nothing but down.

More Pictures from China

Me at the Emporer's Palace.
Trevor at the Emporer's Palace.
Trevor in Tiananmen Square - he blends right in.
The summer palace - right before the pouring rain began.
This was one of the better toilets....and I am not kidding....

Pictures of China

Trevor on our run the first morning in Beijing. That fog looking stuff...its smog.
Good news...I could get a newspaper job in China, if we decide to move here....
Me, after our run - in front of the largest building in Beijing.
This was how it looked when we were waiting to go through Immigration in the Beijing Airport.

Everyday is an adventure

Starting a business. This statement can mean many things to many people. Unless you have actually done it - started a business - I don't think you can truly understand what it means. This process that began for me and Trevor back in January has been eye opening. Scary - exciting - frustrating - maddening. We have pushed through the hardest things and are now getting to the fun (I hope). On Monday the construction will start on the store. We have set our opening date for Monday, August 25th - this will be the day the store opens its doors. We'll have a grand opening event sometime in Sept or early Oct. Right now, we just want to be open for business.

We've started our marketing - Trevor has been out talking to people and distributing magazines. We have decided that I will be the Advertising Director and I have been working on newspaper ads. We have our business cards, our T-shirts. We have sponsorship of events set up. Everyone we talk to is excited for the store to open. We have 5 weeks to drum up the excitement so we can hit the ground running.

We decided a few weeks ago that we want to do a triathlon. Because running isn't enough. We have to take it from land to sea. This is a minor problem for me, because I don't swim. Well, I guess I do now - I took swim lessons a few months ago and have been working up to it. The first time I swam a lap in the pool - I looked at Trevor - who was easily swimming laps in the lane next to me (Why is he better at everything?!) and I told him that one lap was harder than the entire 13 mile run on the Great Wall. And I meant it. Its still hard, yesterday I swam 8 continuous laps - two times in a row. This is progress. Our first event will be on August 2. Trevor will do the sprint distance - which is a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, 3 mile run. I will do the novice which is a 1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 3 mile run.

We have been having our own little triathlons on Sunday - we go to the gym and swim, then ride our bikes and run. During these I have found one thing that I am actually better at than Trevor - riding a bike. I have been doing it all winter long - I set my bike up on a trainer so I can ride inside. Trevor hasn't ridden a bike in years. Sadly for me, in another few months, he'll be better at this too - for now, I excel and that's good. I figure that any time he beats me on the swim, I'll make up on the bike ride - so we should finish about the same time - if I don't drowned during the swim.

So we have been spending ALOT of time working out to get ready. Oh, I almost forgot, Trevor has been planning all year to do an amateur fight. One of his goals at the beginning of the year was to do that and he is hoping to have that fight in Sept or Oct.

With all of this going on - everyday is an adventure around our house. You just never know what the day will bring.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Final Day - leaving China

Monday, May 19, 2008

I was ready to come home. Really ready. We got up and headed down to breakfast. Our bags were all ready to go - we dropped them at the bell desk so they would be ready for the bus. Our bus was leaving around 8:30 - we had some time to visit with everyone one last time. It was sad to say goodbye to these people that we had shared such an experience with. We hope we'll see them again someday. We compiled a list of email addresses from everyone on our trip, so we can keep in touch.

We got on the bus and headed the airport. I was not looking forward to the long trip home. I bought 4 bottles of water at the airport, after security. As we were getting on the plane, they did a bag check and took my water. I just about had a panic attack - I was getting on an 11 hour flight with no water of my own. Not a good way to start this trip. The plane wasn't completely crowded - it was very full. Our plane left right on time. Then began the movies and the food and before we knew it - we were back in San Fran. We got through customs, had breakfast and headed to our gate. Our flight was delayed a bit, not too much. On the flight back to Portland, I slept the entire time. We had left Beijing at noon on Monday and we arrived in Portland at 1 pm Monday afternoon. All that flying and it was only an hour later than when we left. By the time we got to our house, we had actually been awake for over 24 hours and we were so tired.

Our pets were so happy to see us and we were so happy to be safe and sound at home. This trip was really a once in a lifetime adventure. I learned a lot about a very different culture. The people were just like us - working day to day to make a life and a living. I suspect it is the same everywhere. I learned a lot about myself - I really can do anything I put my mind to. I also learned that I can survive through some pretty strange conditions. I am blessed to have made this journey with Trevor. I could not have a better partner in my life. Now we have to figure out what our next adventure will be...

China - Day 6

Sunday, May 18, 2008

After the best night's sleep in a week, we got up around 5:30, showered and headed down to breakfast. We couldn't wait to hear how everyone else did yesterday. Every one in our group finished what they started. How amazing is that. There were many stories shared over breakfast of the event. We were all quite proud of ourselves. Several people were hobbling along - hurting from their achievement - most people looked great. A few had even gone for a run before breakfast!

After breakfast, we boarded the bus for a relaxing day. The first stop was a trip via rickshaw through old Beijing. When you hear this, you would think we were going to the part of Beijing from hundreds of years ago...not so. There have been massive changes in Beijing in the last ten years. A city that used to be full of one story homes and alleyways is now a city of high rise buildings and constant construction. This "old Beijing" is what is left of the the one story houses. It is a neighborhood in an enormous city. The residents of these places have all be relocated - either out of the city or to tennament buildings. It is hard to imagine this change happened so fast. In 2001 - they completed 10 high rise buildings per day in Beijing. The people are still adjusting to these changes.

Trevor and I got into our rickshaw, sat back and enjoyed the ride. Our legs loved the rest - while a nice Chinese man pedaled his heart out! We made a stop at the house of a "regular citizen" of Old Beijing. This was our propoganda stop. I doubt that very many regular Chinese live in a nice one story house and allow tour groups to come in and visit. The man's father had been in the miliarty and was apparently very important. This was an interesting stop and I didn't really know what to think about it.

We got back to the rickshaw, back to the bus and headed to lunch. After lunch we went to a tea ceremony. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. They showed us how to make tea from loose leaves and how to drink tea - what each type of tea was good for. Then they let us shop and I spent way too much money here - I'll have enough tea to last me 5 years!

Then it was off to the silk market for some shopping. This is a 5 story market full of kiosk type shops. This experience was unlike any other in my life. Talk about high pressure sales. We were mobbed as we walked through the shops, "hey pretty lady", "look at this", "you like", "hey mister - buy this for your pretty lady", "want a suit made". It was unreal. I bought two beautiful silk shirts - I love them - I hated every minute of the purchasing process. It was half an hour of bargaining. I probably still paid too much - I was just ready to get out of there. We agreed on a price and the women told me that she wasn't going to make any money, it was so cheap - but she felt like I was her sister, so it was okay. We then realized we didn't have enough cash. She told us about an ATM and walked with us to it. We got there and realized we had taken our debit cards out of the wallet, all we had was a credit card and we weren't going to give her that. She was disgusted and began bargaining again for the cash we had on hand. We finally said forget it and. started to walk away. In utter disgust, she said she would take what we had and that she was losing money on the deal. So it all worked out in the end!

We walked back to the hotel and got cleaned up for dinner. Tonight was a gala dinner for the marathon. All the participants got together for a banquet and awards. We were so tired, we really just wanted to go to bed. It was our last night and we knew we needed to go to the gala - so we did. We sat and waited while they did all kinds of awards - we couldn't hear a word that was said - we were sitting all the way at the back. It was finally time for dinner around 8 and we devoured it!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel - got to bed around 10. We were all packed and ready to go in the morning

Saturday, July 12, 2008

China - Day 5

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today is the day! What we came here to do! We woke up with no problem at 3 am. When you go to sleep at 6, that makes it easier! We got on the bus at 4 to take the same 3 hour drive we took on Thursday. We had the same box breakfast and it was yummy. We stopped at the same rest stop and it was even more gross than on Thursday. We got to the race start on time and were ready to go! Our run started at 7:40 - the full marathon had started around 7:15 and then 10K and 5K people would start after us. I was so nervous and just anxious to get going. Trevor normally runs faster then me, we decided on this day to run together - how can you truly experience something like this if you aren't together?

We got going and started our 3 mile uphill battle. It was slow going - I watched my heart rate and made sure I didn't push it too hard - we had a long way to go. We got onto the wall and it wasn't as disorienting at on Thursday - I knew what was in store for us, so I wasn't so worried. This time, it went much faster, it took us about an hour to get through the entire wall. The weather was perfect - cloudy and about 60. Those stairs getting off the wall were killers again! We made it! Now that we were off the wall, I knew we only had 7 more miles to go and I was expecting they would be flat and easy.

It took a while to get into a groove after all that up and down on the stairs. We got going pretty good, I thought - we headed down a main road and then into a village. This part of the run was so unexpected. The people from the village were all out watching us. When I say village - I mean a very rural village - probably no running water - thatched roofs - some people were out tending to their gardens. The children were the best - they all wanted to practice their English - so they would say "hello" "nice to meet you" "run faster". It was very sweet. We were all practicing our Chinese - "Nee How" which we all think means Hello and "sha sha" which we believe means Thank you. It was so amazing. These people probably don't see westerners except during this run. What do you think they think of us? This run has gone on for 10 years - I really wonder what they thought that first year. By now they understand when it happens. It was quite an experience.

I was all caught up in this excitment - enjoying the flat dirt road - right around mile 9, we turned a corner and there was a steep, rocky uphill. Not funny. This was our terrain for about two miles before we reached the highest point in the village, then we headed back down and onto the main road. We made it back towards the courtyard, passing a woman laying on the ground, with her feet up, being helped by medics. We came into the finish area and heard our names being called - Trevor grabbed my hand and we crossed the finish line together. This was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and easily one of the best days ever. This run was more than I ever expected it to be - I was worried we were not ready for it- we were totally ready. I felt good when we were done - not beaten down or exhuasted. Instead, I felt energized, like there was nothing I couldn't do...

Our finishing time was 3 hours and 22 minutes. Every other half marathon we have done - our times have been right around 2 hours for Trevor and 2:15 for me - so this was a bit more challenging. We went and got our lunch - a subway sandwhich and watched people finish. The man who won the full marathon finished in 3 hours and 20 minutes - he ran 26 miles two minutes faster than we ran 13 miles. We saw one of the men from our group and he was finishing 7th! We also saw Margret finish - she's the 85 year old woman - she did the 10k - so she had to run up the big hill and then the wall. It took her 4 hours. She said it was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life. When I'm 85, I want to be like her.

We hung out for a little while, then made our way to the massage area where we got a free massage - it felt SO good on my tired legs. We then got on the bus for the long 3 hour ride back into town. By the time they dropped us off at our hotel, we were very stiff. We decided that Pizza Hut was so good to us before the run - we should have it again after the run. The plan was that Trevor would go up to the room and drop off our stuff - I would go directly to PH and order our pizza. I did this. Trevor came down just in time for the pizza to be ready - we took it up to our room and ate the whole thing (and the left overs from last night) in about 3 minutes. I love pizza hut stuffed crust pizza. Very happy and satisfied - we took showers and walked a few blocks to Baskin and Robbins for an ice cream. YUM. We were on our way back to the room and saw some people that had done the full marathon and they were just getting back to the hotel - we were very thankful that we hadn't done the full marathon because we were ready for bed!!!

Another early night and again, we went right to sleep.

China - Day 4

May 16, 2008

Last night was the best night of sleep yet - I woke up around 4 and finally got up around 5. We had breakfast and headed out for the day. Our first stop was to see the Olympic Stadium. They are really excited here for the Olympics -there are countdown signs everywhere. There are billboards talking about how it is a civic duty to make these games a success....Two suggestions I have for that....get rid of the smog and the traffic. That is all it will take. Oh wait...make that three suggestions - how could I forget about the bathroom situation?

We were only about a mile away from the stadium and we could barely see it - the smog was so thick.

We then headed to the Lama Temple - a buddist temple. We saw large buddah statues and many people praying to them. It was very peaceful - except for all the tourists.

Next stop - Temple of Heaven. This is where I would hang out if I lived in Beijing and had no job. It was a big park - with people playing games and signing and dancing. Everyone seemed to be having so much fun. It was really humid today. That was making me really tired - we have a big day tomorrow and I don't want to get too tired out - so we took it kind of slow and just relaxed.

After this we headed back to the hotel. Trevor and I decided to play it safe - there was a Pizza Hut right next to the hotel and while we don't normally eat there at home, it seemed like a safe bet here. It turned out to be good - we ate almost a whole pizza and had a yummy ice cream sundae for dessert.

Tomorrow will be an early day - bus leaves at 4 am. We went to the room and were in bed at 6 - our intent was to just watch TV - instead, we were fast asleep by 6:15...sweet sleep.

China - Day 3

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I was awake at 2 am. We had to be on the bus at 5 am - today was our "preview" day out at the race site. This was our opportunity to see what we were in for - what we came all this way to do. I layed awake and thought about it - am I ready for it or will I realize we have made a mistake, come all this way to do something so much bigger than us that we cannot complete.

We got up around 4:15 and got out to the bus. They had box breakfasts for us - a hard boiled egg, a ham and cheese sandwich, a few pastries, yogurt and a banana. Not bad. We settled in for a three hour drive out to the country. This was the first time since we got here that there was no sitting in traffic. The first time that when we asked, "how far of a drive is it" our guide didn't answer "about 20 minutes without traffic". The first few times we asked that question and heard the answer, we were happy to know that we only had a 20 minute drive. Then we realized that there was never a time of no traffic, so it never took just 20 minutes to get anywhere. I think the guide knew that if he said - "with traffic, it will take us about 3 hours to go 10 miles" all hell would break loose. Better not to know I guess. Anyway....when we asked how long it would take - he said about three hours. And he was right.

The ride was beautiful - we got out of the city into the suburbs. You could see people getting up and heading into the city for work. Our guide told us that most people can't afford to live in the city - so they live outside the city and commute. Our guide, Bing, lived about an hour out of town - so today he got up around 3 am to get on the bus and be in town to meet us by 5. He was with us until about 10 last night - didn't get home until around midnight. Sounds exhausting...he keeps telling us that a tour guide job is one of the best jobs in Beijing and that his friends are jealous. Wow.

After about two hours we were really out in the country. I don't think I mentioned that our bus did not have a bathroom...this was a problem for many reasons. First, we are a group of runners, getting ready for a big run on Saturday. We are all trying to keep hydrated. This is tough when you get on the bus and don't know when the next bathroom break will be. Most of the time, I found myself trying not to think about how bad I had to pee! The great thing was that everyone else was in the same boat. When we would get somewhere, there was always someone running to the front of the bus, needing to be the first person off, so they could get to a bathroom.

Speaking of bathrooms...this was the biggest shocker for China, they don't have toilets like we are used to - they have holes in the ground and you squat. This is everywhere - even the new bathrooms at the airport are 90% this type of toilet - they have a few western toilets and that's it. These holes in the ground usually flush - there is no toilet paper provided. It took me a few days to realize that and finally we just threw a roll of toilet paper in our bag and brought it with us every day. The bathroom situation was really gross. I did not get used to it - it bothered me every single time I had to use it. Our hotels had regular bathrooms - so we did get to use those in the morning and at night, the rest of the time, we just had to deal with it. Whenever we went somewhere and they had western toilets - there was a buzz through the tour bus..."did you use the bathroom here? wasn't it great? if you didn't, get off the bus and go use it!!!"

I think of this now because after about two hours on our morning drive - we stopped at a "rest stop". This "preview" day was for everyone doing this race on Sat - about 1700 people and they were all being bussed up there - they were all stopping at this rest stop and we were the last buses. I cannot express you to the depths of disgusting that were experienced at this rest stop. Many people went behind the building into the fields to go to the bathroom because they couldn't stand it.

With that out of the way - we had about a 40 minute drive up the winding hills of the mountains to get to where the race would start. The part of the Wall we were running on was one not visited by tourists. It was remote. We drove through several small villages - the people were looking at this line of buses - knowing what we were there for - thinking we were crazy foreigners!!

We got to the meeting point. The race would being at an old fort - there was a courtyard, surrounded by bleacher seats. All the race participants sat there and the race organizers went over all the details of the run. Today we were going to be bussed up to the Wall, so that we could walk the 3 miles of the wall that we would be running on Sat. This would give us a chance to take pictures and be able to prepare our strategy for Sat. It was sunny and about 90 degrees already by the time we headed up to the wall.

The race would start at the courtyard and we would run about three miles to get to the wall - today they drove us those 3 miles...they were uphill...all uphill...not a little uphilll....steep uphill....that concerned me a bit - I tried not to think about it.

We got to the wall and walked up some stairs to actually get on the wall. It was so steep that I felt disoriented...I had some vertigo and thought to myself "this was a big mistake"...I said to Trevor, "we aren't ready for this" . After a few minutes, my mind acclimated and I felt better- we spent the next two hours walking up and down steep stairs, climbing, crawling. The stairs were all different heights - some a few inches, some more than a foot tall. There were no flat portions. There were portions that weren't brick, just rock - with no wall on one side - just a drop off. It was on these portions that I learned something new about the man I am married to - that I have known for 8 years - he is afraid of heights! Who knew.

At the end of the wall, in order to get back down to ground level - we went down about 750 stairs. Your mind starts to play tricks on you and you lose your balance and stumble and then you wonder how you will run 3 miles up a hill, 3 miles on this wall, make it down these stairs and then run about 7 miles. Again, I tried not to think of that!!!

We finished our walk - they fed us lunch and we got back on the buses to head back to town.

There were three buses in our group and usually people stayed on the same bus every day and sat in the same seats. We were on BUS 1. We sat in the front with our tour guides - Bing from China and Lee from Boston (originally from China). Behind us were Jim, May and their daughter Stephanie from Boston. These three were so great - we spent most of our time with them and loved every minute of it. We also had a woman named Margaret on our bus - she was 85 and had run 60 marathons in the last 20 years. Amazing woman - she was on this trip alone and not afraid of anything.

On our trip back to town, we somehow got some new people on our bus -they had come from bus 2. They apparently didn't understand how we do things on Bus 1....on Bus 1 - we wait for people, we are always the last to leave and the last to arrive and no one cares. We sit and we wait and we are happy about it. We sit in traffic for three hours and we don't yell at our tour guides. These people, didn't understand that. So, when we sat and waited for people and were the last to leave - these Bus 2 people decided to yell at Bing and Lee. Really yell. They were from New York and so they knew how to yell. They yelled before we pulled out, they yelled after we pulled out - about 40 minutes later, they were still yelling. Us Bus 1 people, didn't like it....we did what we do and just sat and listened. Finally we had enough and Jim from Boston said, "We love Bus 1, if you don't like it...go back to Bus 2". That was the end of the yelling. Now there was silent hatefullness at the back of the bus and we were happy again!

Two hours later, we made a bathroom stop at the airport. Crazy, but it worked!!

We got back to the hotel around 4 - there was a dinner that night - Peking Duck. Trevor and I had planned to go - then Lee was telling us about the dinner and how they raise the ducks. This was too much information and I decided I didn't want Peking Duck. Instead we went to a place called Lan Club for dinner. We had the most excellent dinner! We had spicy chicken, fried chicken, fried rice served in little bamboo baskets, steamed dumplings and a fabulous chocolate cake.

We walked back to the hotel - were in bed at 8 and asleep by 30 seconds after 8.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

China - Day 2

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We woke up Wednesday morning around 3 am and didn't go back to sleep. So, not only were we 15 hours ahead of our time at home - but we lost a day!

We got out of bed around 5 and went for a run. The city was quiet and peaceful. There was smog, it wasn't so thick that it bothered our breathing, you could just tell it was there. During our run we saw several others from our group pounding the pavement. We saw some Chinese heading to work on their bikes, street vendors setting up their carts and newspaper delivery folks delivering their bulk drops. It felt good to be out and moving around.

Breakfast was served to us in our own banquet room. It was set up buffet style - american breakfast! We knew these foods! Eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, coffee, danishes, hashbrowns - even pasta and sauce. We ate, then headed up to shower.

We were on the bus around 8 and ready to head off for our first full day in Beijing! First stop - Tiananmen Square. Beijing is the capitol of China - so it was much like begin in Washington DC. Tour groups everywhere - from every country you could imagine. Government buildings surrounded us. Our tour guide - Bing - gave us alot of information.

Across the street from Tiananmen Square is the Emperor's Palace. If you saw the movie "The Last Emperor" - it took place here. You cannot imagine the expanse of this place - it went on for miles - I believe it is about two miles long. We would walk into a courtyard and then walk through a doorway to another courtyard...they seemed to be never ending. We spend several hours here - learning about the life and times of the emperors.

Quite unexpectedly - we went through the last doorway, expecting to see another courtyard or the exit - instead - we were in an enormous garden, full of trees, shrubs, gazebos and water features. It was so beautiful. I could have stayed there all day.

We were literally herded back to our bus - we took the hour long ride out of the city to the Summer Palace. This was where the emperor's mother spent the summers since it was so hot in the city.

This place was amazing. It was huge - lush and green surrouding the biggest man made lake I have ever seen. There was an endless covered walk way. We made good use of this - it started to POUR while we were there - we were able to stroll along under cover and not get drenched.

We cut our stay here a little short due to the rain. We ran back to the bus and started our trip back into the city. It must have been about a 10 mile drive. Due to the rain - there was the worst traffic ever - it took us three hours to get back to the hotel. Every direction you looked, it was bumper to bumper traffic. We moved at a snails pace. At one point I said to Trevor, "we flew from Portland to San Francisco in less time than this bus ride to go 10 miles". I was getting very cranky and could not stand being on that bus any longer. We had dinner plans to see an acrobatic show. We got to the hotel around 5:30 and were to meet in the lobby at 6 to get on the bus. There was no way I was getting back on that bus. Trevor and I decided to stay at the hotel and just eat in the restaurant.

The menu was in Chinese and English - yet we still weren't sure what we were going to get - we tried to keep it simple - we ordered chicken and spicy beef. When they put the chicken on the table, the first thing I noticed was its feet. The first thing Trevor noticed was its beak. They gave us the whole chicken. It made me sad and so I didn't eat too much of it. The beef was really good - I was really wishing they had served it with its head and feet so I could be sure it really was a cow. After dinner - we headed up to our room and went to bed early - it was an exhausting day!

China, Day 1

I have been meaning to put my journal into an electronic format since our trip in May. I am finally able to get to it. Better late than never...

Day 1 - May 12, 2008

We flew to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. Our flight to China was leaving around 11 am and I didn't want to worry about flying from Portland to San Fran this morning and missing a connection.

We woke up pretty early, wanting to get to the airport about three hours before the flight was set to leave. While I was in the shower, Trevor came in and said, "you might want to come out here - there's been an earthquake in China". We had done literally no preparing for this trip (other than for the run) and so we had no idea how close the earthquake was to where we were going. We went to the airport and figured if it was close, our flight wouldn't leave.

We got to the airport early - the person at the check in counter assured us it would be fine -the quake was about 2000 miles from Beijing. We checked in and headed to the gate. We sat and looked at all the people around us - wondering who else was going to China to run the Great Wall. You could tell by looking at their shoes. Many people were wearing their running shoes - it was a dead give-away!

The flight was completely full - oversold, in fact, they were trying to get people to give up their seats. We got lucky and had bulkhead seats so we had some extra room. The plane was packed. We left right on time for our 11 hour adventure in the air. I am not a good flier, so Trevor and I were both pretty concerned about how the flight would go. It ended up just fine - believe it or not - 11 hours went fast! They showed us 4 movies and fed us three times. We left San Fran on Monday at 11 and arrived in Beijing at noon on Tuesday. The terminal that we landed into was brand new for the Olympics and it was beautiful.

We made our way to immigration and waited in line for what seemed like forever - it was a sea of people. We got through and headed to baggage claim. We didn't wait long for our bags. We headed to customs and expected another long wait. Due to the Olympics, they changed their customs procedure - unless you had something to declare - you just walked right through.

We found our tour company and set our bags off to the side. The bags were going to be taken to the hotel in a separate van. We waited for the rest of our group - there were about 60 people coming in on flights today. We got to visit with some of our fellow travelers. There was a couple from Portland - the wife was running the half marathon. There was also another woman from Portland who was doing the full marathon. Funny to travel 6000 miles to meet people who live 15 miles from you!! We met another man who had run a marathon on every continent except Asia and this was it. Lots of interesting people with amazing stories.

We got on the bus and headed for the hotel. It was about an hour drive. Out the window you could see there was work being done everywhere to beautify the roadways. There was new construction everywhere - we must have passed 100 cranes!

We got to our hotel - the tour guide had given us our keys, so we just went to the room - our bags were already there. Talk about exhausted. What a long day....and it wasn't over yet - we were to meet in the lobby in a few hours for our trip to dinner. We layed down to take a nap and woke up about 10 minutes before we needed to be downstairs. I was really hoping Trevor would say he didn't want to go - I could have gone right back to sleep!

He didn't and so we went to dinner. They took us to a "local restaurant" - there was singing and dancing - performances going on while we ate. The meal was served family style - they brought plates of food to the table and we all shared. Most of what we were served was unfamiliar to us - everyone was hesitant to try these strange foods. Finally rice showed up and everyone had that!! We had been given instructions not to drink the water (even brushing our teeth in the hotel was to be done with bottled water), not to eat raw vegetables that could have been washed in water - only cooked. I had a bit of the meats they served and was ready to head home to bed.

We got back to the hotel around 9 pm and went right to sleep.