Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fun Temple Night

Yesterday evening was great. I work at the temple on Wednesday nights so Susannah and I headed on over.
On our way, we saw Adam riding his bike! That was pretty random. He raced us and won.
Susannah had a meeting after her session and came back to pick me up after the meeting. While I was waiting, I whipped out the camera and took some pictures. I was messing with the shutter speed. It was also very humid and I think my lens fogged up. I like this shot, though!Here's one that's a little lighter and more clear.There were lots of tiny little snails by the water fountain in the front.This picture makes me so mad! It won't turn the right way. It's turned right in my photo program and on the uploading view, but once it gets on my blog, it's turned this way! Aarg! I wanted to put it in to show the scale for how little the snails were.
I took a lot of flower shots, but I just put on one for your viewing pleasure.
Susannah, Kim, Adam, and I went to Gringo's after that for some dinner. The waiter put a fake nose in the "to go box" he brought for Susannah. It fell out when she opened the box to put her food in. They thought it was pretty funny. So did we!
We saw the new Batman movie on the IMAX after that. It looked awesome on that big of a screen and the sound was incredible. That is definitely a guy movie.

Landscaping

I finally bit the bullet and had some landscapers come over to help me with the front yard.
They were hindered for a bit (15 minutes) by some rain, but everything went well.
They even let me take their picture after they finished. Look how lovely the hibiscus bush looks!
This is the front view. They pruned the plants I had in there, re-trenched the border, and put in sand and new rocks for the border around the flower bed instead of the bricks I had there before.
Here's a side view to show the border. I love it. They even refilled it with black mulch - my favorite!

Marker fight

The pictures will do most of the talking in this post.
We were at Adam's house the other night and he started a marker fight.
He majorly LOST the marker fight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Beach

We had a ward activity at Crystal Beach in Galveston. We picked up trash and then just played and ate hot dogs. It was a really fun day.
After the sun went down, we started roasting hot dogs. I finished eating and went to rinse my hands off in the ocean. As I was walking back I noticed light coming from under my feet when I'd step. It was on the partially wet sand. When I'd step, water would come out and that water glowed. At first we thought it was a reflection from the moon, but it did it even after we shielded the sand from the moon. I think it must have had some sort of bioluminescent stuff in it. It was awesome, whatever it was. Anyway, I tried all sorts of stuff to get either a video or picture of it, but it didn't work, so you'll have to imagine it while looking at this picture of my feet.
There was a full moon that night and it was BEAUTIFUL with the reflection on the water! I messed with the shutter function on my little camera to take some photos. They show up a little dark on here. They look a bit better on my camera. This is Adam and Susannah facing each other.
Susannah's doing a ballet pose and Adam's doing something weird in this one. I don't know how well you can see it.
I took a few with the flash on. I love the faces in this one. The guy in the middle is Aaron.
Here are some of the others near the dying fire. I love this one of Nate (on the right).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Random Fun

This post has a few events that aren't necessarily related, but were fun.
Adam's brother Jared came to Houston for a visit. We hung out with them several times. We had to take a "brother/sister" picture.
For FHE last week, Abraham had a fun activity. He packed flour into a plastic cup and then turned it upside down on a tray and removed the cup. He then put a Hershey kiss on top. Each person in the group had to take turns cutting edges off until the tower collapses. The one who makes it collapse has to put his or her face in the flour to retrieve and eat the kiss. It was a lot of fun.
We played 3 times and boys lost each time. We were pleased to see that Abraham was one of them . . .
and Adam was another.
This last one was just too funny not to post. We had Adam try on my hat the Julie Clifford made and he was making all sorts of faces. We also liked that the colors sort of matched his skin and hair tones.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stragglers

So, I know I've really overloaded you with pictures from our trip, but our friend, Katherine just got home and we got the pictures from her camera. Rather than upload them to the posts where they'd fit (and never be seen), I thought I'd just pick a few favorites and do ONE LAST POST FROM OUR TRIP.
I actually didn't know she'd taken this picture of us sleeping on the roof in Jerusalem. I also didn't know that the vein in my head pops out when I'm sleeping. Yikes!
This picture is of the supposed birthplace of Christ. It is inside the Church of the Nativity and I never did get a clear shot of it since there were so many people in there.
The doorway to get in and out of the Church of the Nativity was ridiculously small.
Katherine posed for a picture in Jerusalem holding one of our favorite foods we ate there. They were these little hazelnut pastries that were SO good.
I might have to make this one my favorite picture of the moment. I believe Susannah uploaded this one as her new Facebook profile picture. It's a great shot of the Dead Sea and a great shot showing her right on top of that buoyant water.
This is a picture of our mini-bus driver who took us from the Taba border back to Cairo. This was at a restaurant on the way where we stopped for lunch and for a break for him to smoke a Shisha pipe. These were a common sight in both Israel and Egypt. I believe the boy is his son, but I'm not sure.The bus driver had a bit of a crush on Katherine. She was somewhat freaked out by it. He wanted his picture with all of us and her face in this one with the two of them made us laugh pretty hard.
I think I mentioned that we all had to smash into a taxi just outside of Cairo from the mini bus. This is a picture we had our new Canadian friend take for us trying to show how squished we really were. There were 9 of us in a very small station wagon. Not the most fun I had in Egypt.
We all took a picture like this with the pyramids, but I like hers the best.
Katherine's shot of Susannah dismounting the camel is also way better than mine. It shows the angle and why it's so hard to stay on when they're sitting down (and getting up for that matter).
video
She shot a cool video of us on the camels at the pyramids. It shows how bouncy the ride was; we rode for an hour and a half!
This is one Katherine took in Luxor after Susannah and I left. It was too beautiful for me not to post.
I also liked her shot of the Nile with all the feluccas on it with a fantastic background!

Youtubes

There are two Youtube videos that I've seen recently that I wanted to share. Be warned that they are completely unrelated in content!


This first one is a video the church put together using Elder Holland's talk that he gave about continuing revelation. It's a great missionary tool to use.

The second is one that Chris Potter sent me on Facebook. It made me laugh out loud. I thought it would be appropriate to share since we have a big luau coming up the beginning of August!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Knapps

We met the Knapps toward the end of our journey. We attended church at the only branch of the LDS church in Cairo. It meets on Friday mornings for two hours. Anyway, we were talking to a member of the Branch Presidency, Eric Knapp, and found our we were related through Jesse N. Smith and even closer through Joseph West Smith. From that point on, he and his wife Dorothy sort of adopted us for the remainder of the trip. The took us tons of places and showed us a side of Egypt we may never have seen otherwise.
After church and a big dinner at some humanitarian missionaries' house, the Knapps took us through a place called Garbage City. I actually don't have pictures of it because we were driving right through the streets and there were people everywhere looking at us. Dorothy said she'd taken pictures before and they'd thrown garbage at her. Anyway, Garbage City is a whole little city and sorts through Cairo's garbage and recycles what they can for money and uses and repairs things. They also make treasures out of trash, such as taking rags and clothes that have been thrown away and making them into rugs and other things. It wasn't the best smelling place I've ever been, but it was cool. We drove through Garbage City and came to an awesome Christian area. There were tons of carvings on the walls of the mountains.
This is the entrance to a Coptic Church there. The Coptic Church is the largest Christian church in Egypt.
I have tons of pictures of all the carvings, but I'm just posting a few. I loved this one of the 10 commandments in Arabic.
This is inside the church. It was like a giant cave and was really cool. If you look to the back walls you can see that there are carvings there as well.
We also drove by the City of the Dead. The City of the Dead is a 4 mile long cemetary where people also live and work - maybe to be close to their ancestors. It really stands out in Cairo because they're all one story buildings were the rest of Cairo stands pretty tall.
The Knapps then took us to a big 4th of July celebration that was put on by people in the US embassy. It was free and all you needed to get in was a US or Canadian passport. They had hamburgers and hot dogs and all sorts of entertainment. Eric Knapp bought us these Marine t-shirts which have become our trip t-shirts and had us pose with the Marines who sold them to us.
They had the flags from all 50 states hanging around the covered area. We had to get our picture by the Arizona flag.
We then joined Katherine for a photo with the Texas flag. We had to since the Knapps started calling us the Texas Trio!
They had a humongous cake there. It was actually pretty tasty!
There was a great jazzy band playing and during the breaks they played some classic American songs. At the end, they played "Proud to be an American" and we were belting it out here. The guys in the picture are some friends we met that are from Westpoint Academy and are out in Egypt learning Arabic. They were very nice.
We got this picture with us, the Knapps, and another guy from the branch named Will just as we were leaving the party. It was definitely a unique and fun 4th of July. The sad part was that there were no fireworks! :(
After the party, the Knapps took us to the 4 Seasons for some delicious ice cream. It was a lot of fun!
After our short trip to Alexandria, Dorothy took us out to the Saqqara and Dahshur pyramids and then we all went on a dinner cruise on the Nile. We went on this boat called the Maxim and it is run by Marriott. It was super nice.
They gave us the best seat in the house. We were front and center to the stage. They started off with a small band and some lounge-type singers. Then, the big band came out. It was very cultural with some awesome drums and wooden flutes. The music was INCREDIBLE. That's also when the dancing began.
The first and most amazing dancer was a Sufi dancer or "Whirling Dirvish." He spun for at least 20 minutes without stopping while doing various little stunts. It was very cool to watch.
After the main part of his performance, he walked around while spinning part of his skirt and got his picture with people. Katherine was lucky number 2 and after this picture said our favorite quote of the trip, "I've been whirling dirvished." I don't know why but it really struck us funny.
They had a belly dancer as well. I was going to stick on some video of her dancing but . . . it didn't quite seem appropriate. She was posing by people after her dance as well. She was actually dancing right behind Katherine for a bit. Wow!
They had these two guys that danced as well. It was a little weird. We think they called them belly dancers as well, but we were really glad they didn't show their bellies. They pulled Susannah up to dance with them. She did really well. They tried to get Katherine and I up there but we were too chicken.
The night before we left, we went on a felucca ride on the Nile. They're just boats you can rent for about 30 EP an hour which ends up being around $6 an hour. It was very relaxing and a perfect way to end our trip. The Westpoint boys came with us too.
We sailed for a couple of hours and watched the sunset. It was beautiful.
I snapped one last picture of the Knapps. We love them! There was another family from the branch there, but I didn't get their pictures. They're a cute family. The father works for the FBI at the US embassy. Pretty cool.
And here we are - loving our last night as the Texas Trio on our amazing vacation!