Saturday, October 29, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

northwest pumpkin patch

we did, incidentally, pick *the* rainiest day in october to go pumpkin patching this year. which was also, like, the only day of the week the apple cider doughnuts were *not* being served (which cider doughnuts are pretty much the reason i go pumpkin patching).

so an all around parenting planning win, for sure.

we couldn't even go out and pluck our pumpkins straight from the field #likeaboss, and instead had to rummage through what had already been picked #likeregularpeople.

epic raining sigh.

BUT, turns out the wheeler kids don't care about stuff like good weather, apple cider doughnuts, and cutting pumpkins from vines. they had an awesome time anyway.

(actually, missing out on the doughnuts was a definite blow. nothing a little gourmet candy corn from the country store couldn't fix, but, still, a blow).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

caleb goes camping

finally snuck along with his dad on a boy scout campout.

in the big leagues now.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

part 4: ha long bay

the grand finale.

in a trip of many highlights, ha long bay, a cluster of intricate limestone islands off the coast of northern vietnam, was probably our favorite.

we booked a private junk boat tour for two days and one night through indochina junk. techically, we spent most of our time in bai tu long bay, which is a bit more off the beaten track than ha long bay proper.

an amazing view of the bay (but not our boat).

our boat.

our way cool and rather philosophical tour guide, an. 

stopping at a man made beach. getting ready to kayak!

emily relaxing.

bryan relaxing.

emily and bryan relaxing.

the chef onboard the boat (a really, really good chef) carved three giant food sculptures for us for dinner. this was just one; it's made from radishes. side note: we have never been fed so much food in our lives as we were fed on the boat. it took bryan two days to even feel hunger again (which, if you know bryan, is a tres big deal).

rowing out to visit the floating fishing village.

there are over 1,600 formations in ha long bay. 
this one is thought to resemble a man with a mustache.  

a part of the fishing village.

pearl farm in the background.

heading home.

tạm biệt, vietnam!

Friday, October 21, 2016

part 3: hội an and mỹ sơn

okay guys, i have it on good authority that vietnam will be a four part series, so just hold tight a little longer -- pictures of the adorable children will be back soon. 

for now: hội an and mỹ sơn.

the day we ventured away from the beach and spent touring around the area was, in fact, the hottest day of my life. at first we kind of thought we were just pacific northwesterners with no tolerance for heat, but when all the vietnamese people we ran into started complaining that it was really -- and unusually -- hot, we knew we weren't crazy.

hotness aside, we saw some way cool stuff.

first, mỹ sơn (pronounced more like "me son"). so the dominant external cultural influences in most of vietnam are chinese and buddhist. however, from the second to the nineteenth centuries, there were a collection of cham kingdoms that extended from south to central vietnam. in mỹ sơn, these people built a complex of temples dedicated to the worship, most prominently, of the hindu god shiva. eight groups of seventy-one standing monuments exist. it's really an amazing sight to behold in the middle of the jungle.

we were a little alarmed that we could get so close to the structures. 

then on to hoi an. bryan really wanted to get an amazing three piece suit made for him by the famous tailors in hoi an (and just like the guys did on top gear), but unfortunately, we didn't have enough time. 

this is the only covered bridge in the world with an attached budhist temple. back in it's heyday, hoi an was an important trading hub. this bridge separated the japanese section of town from the rest. first constructed in the 1590s. 

inside the bridge and budhist temple. (emily's face glistening with heat.)

choco pie was on every alter we saw dedicated to ancestor worship. 
we brought home boxes of the famous treat for our kids (who loved every bite).

the notes in the cages are the names of ancestors. 
you can pay to have them bask in the haze of the temple incense.

lunch: a white rose (bánh bao bánh vạc - bông hồng trắng) 

anh huy was our driver from the airport to the hotel our first night in da nang. when bryan discovered that he didn't speak english, he promptly hired him to drive us around my son and hoi an.

back on the peninsula, with parts of da nang in the background.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

part 2: da nang

so back to the beginning.

taking into account the twenty hours it would take us to get to southeast asia, and the jet lag incumbent in such time travel, we decided we wanted more of what bryan termed a "soft start" in vietnam. he used a few of my favorite words like "beach" and "resort" and "beach," and i was sold (hook, line, and sinker) on beginning our journey in da nang.

we stayed at a truly otherworldly resort that's sort of on its own private peninsula in central vietnam. it was the off season for most tourists, so we ran into about ten other guests total the entire time we were there.

and i'll tell you what: coming off that cramped and stuffy plane to lounging on a gorgeous beach that we practically had to ourselves (sipping coconut milk? eating exotic fruits?) was not a bad way to play it. not a bad way at all.

note: bryan, of course, has "lounged" all of five minutes in his whole life, so he sought out the water-sports the resort had to offer almost immediately. i don't have any pics of his excursions because i was busy letting the crashing waves lull me to a beautiful, tropical sleep, but he did manage to capsize a sailboat in the crashing surf, so i'm sure his adventure needs were duly met.

said five minutes of lounging:

the view from our balcony at sunrise. vietnamese fishing boats out on the water.