Tag Archives | travel

lititz PA

Lititz, PA, a tiny town just to the north of our little apartment in Lancaster won “America’s Coolest Small Town in 2013”.  {really! it did, here’s proof!} So, we just HAD to check it out.

and it was really cute. there were cute little shutters on every window and lots of americana decoration around because it was the weekend after the 4th of July.  Lititz1

there were lots of things to see, lots of shops, there were a few cafe’s and coffee shops that we want to go back and visit. lititz small


but what proved that it was the coolest little town was that Husbuddy’s prof and friends from Gordon Conwell Seminary just happened to be headed to Lititz the same day! Husbuddy had tweeted that we were headed to Lititz for a “daycation” (as he likes to call it) and luck would have it, they saw the tweet as they were driving into town! they texted us and we met up for coffee!


how fun is that? life is crazy sometimes, and it’s so cool when something small and totally awesome, like randomly running into dear friends, happens.


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a little bit of Colorado love

i’m sneaking a few moments to document our trip to Colorado this past week.  by “sneaking”, i mean that i should be studying. my 4th ARE test is on friday. eek! that’s where i am this week… your prayers are coveted.

so with that, i leave you with a few Color-full images 🙂

it seems the main time i got out my camera was one smoke-free afternoon that my sister and Husbuddy explored the Garden of the Go. the glory of the place really can’t be shown in photos. some day, you’ll have to go visit!  Garden of the Gods-sm Garden of the Gods visitors-sm

other moments included an afternoon/dinner with the bestest of friends, lots of food and games with family, quality time with my sweet sister and seeing my little brother for a split second before he went climbing(…again…lol)

group collage

can i just say, i LOVE Colorado? and i miss it and everyone there already!!

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japan, finally the last one… {part 7}

let’s start this post with just a little bit of wandering around a food market.

IMG_1760_food street

of course we must start with the department stores. they are just gorgeous. think of the makeup counters in our department stores- how sparkly and shiny everything is- now multiply that times 20 and make it food. amazing: IMG_1722_department store

right before we step into the oldest food market in kyoto we stopped by a little stand that had a lot of cherry-blossom-flavored food… because of course you need to celebrate the season with food that’s pink!  IMG_1731_streetfood

and we may have found the donut stand… IMG_1732_st food mom and bec

good thing we did that before we walked through the market though… the food in the market was…mostly…unappetizing…

IMG_1729_street food

things had eyeballs still…
IMG_1744_st fd

sashimi: IMG_1735_st fd sashimi a beer stand:
IMG_1739_st fd

plastic sushi anyone? IMG_1742_st fd

fish flakes: {let me tell you, i actually tried some…these are GROSS} IMG_1750_fish flakes octopus on a stick? yes. they walk around chewing on these like they are chewing on a corndog at a ballgame.

oh. my. goodness.gracious. these grossed me out! IMG_1756_octopus

piles and piles of octopus on  a stick:  IMG_1764_octopus

some sort of sea creature: IMG_1757_st fd

look at those crabs: IMG_1759_stfd

it was so overwhelming taking everything in: IMG_1769_street

but on the way back to the hotel that evening we followed some geisha…


yes. i was that creepy person taking pictures of some stranger. HA. but at least i didn’t run up ahead of them and turn around and try to take a fast picture of them in front… i’m not even going to mention who did that…*cough*dad*cough*

hee hee.

alright, the next day we found the Fushi Inari Shrine and gates.  the artist in me really loved this place. my family got a little overwhelmed with all the orange… i’ll let you decide if you like it or hate it.  IMG_1781_bec and mom

i have no idea what the difference was between all the temples.  IMG_1784_red shrine

but there were a lot of guard dogs hanging around: IMG_1785_red temple dog

on one side was a happy dog and one side was an angry dog usually.  IMG_1793_red dog i actually love this map. we only made it about 30 minutes up the hill. apparently it takes 1.5 hours to get to the top!  IMG_1786_red shrine map

there were different areas with large gates and small gates: IMG_1792_orange gates

my engineer Father really didn’t like that there was no uniformity in the columns. that cracked me up! but it was a little crazy that they built them right next to each other and they would be just a slight variation of its neighbor. IMG_1797_pathway and we were trying to decide if the writing was advertising or not.

{can you tell some people in our group were rather cynical that day? lol} IMG_1803_orange gate

yay! orange gates! IMG_1815_fushiinari gates

and another dog: IMG_1817_red dog

my mother being adorable: IMG_1820_cute mom

they had a LOT of beautiful lanterns around the grounds. they were all different too. i loved it: IMG_1830_red lantern

everyone was kind of sick of orange by the time we made it back down the hill.

this is back at the beginning:  IMG_1835_red temple

and, my stalker-ish-tendancies come out again… how CUTE is she?! adorbs as my little sis would say: IMG_1839_little girl

the cherry blossoms were really pretty that day. IMG_1841_lantern

as this was our last full day in Kyoto we decided to finally try japanese style tea. “matcha tea” is a green powder that they whisk in to the hot water: IMG_1870_matcha tea

as a tea lover, i decided it wasn’t really my favorite. i loved the colors and texture of that cup though!
IMG_1873_matcha tea

after our lunch we went for a walk along the famous “philosopher’s path” to see the cherry blossoms.    IMG_1884_bec and mom

us… and the rest of Japan.

it was a little disappointing that this is one of the “most beautiful” places in Japan and it was just a little path along a ditch-that must have been a river in it’s day. it was gorgeous to walk amoung all the trees, but it just wasn’t as impressive as we were expecting. it probably would have been a little better environment had it not been a sunny sunday afternoon with everyone else in all of Kyoto IMG_1893_philosophers path but we saw some pretty houses along the way. IMG_1908_kyoto

and a random wood temple. i actually think this was the gate and the temple was up the hill, but we didn’t see it. IMG_1916_kyoto wood gate

then… SHUT UP. we found Colorado.

some people were pretty excited about it:  IMG_1922_colorado in kyoto!

we actually found another family from Colorado standing in front of the sign! it was hilarious! the wife of that family actually walked in and tried to explain that she was from Colorado but they just looked at her confused. hahah. so, it’s our little joke, i guess. Becca felt like she was home.


the next day we began our LONG journey home:
IMG_1929_kyoto train station

the train station actually had a sun deck which was so nice on a sunny day where we had to wait for a few hours: IMG_1947_bamboo

momma misses her Becca so much. IMG_1949_becca and mom

and so do i.

{please note, this picture was take 12 of like 20…the first 11 were of Becca trying to lick my ear… let’s just say when we’re together we go a little overboard with the teasing. lol}  IMG_1951_becca and me

this was the train station. i was really impressed with the space! IMG_1954_train station

and a last 3-person family photo.  IMG_1971_family at train station

and a last japanese lunch:
2013-04-01 02.10.01

tempura bar! so fun! 2013-04-01 02.11.14

and it was a delicious last meal:
2013-04-01 02.12.47

then we began the trip home:

a 2 hour train ride + 2 hr wait at airport + 9 hr flight to San Fran + 3 hr flight to Denver +1 hour drive to the Springs (we spent the night in Colorado Springs)  then i got up for the rest of my 3 hr flights to Chicago + 2 hr layover + 3 hr flight to Boston…and home. oh my goodness longest travel day ever.

but oh such a great adventure! thanks for sticking with me these last few weeks as i’ve been so busy and it’s been so hard to get all the pictures organized!

if you’d like to see my other japan posts please click here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6

thanks, friends!

xo-kimberly renee

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in kyoto, japan {part 6}

oh hello again. ready for a few more pictures from japan?

note to self. when traveling in japan, always find this:

IMG_1718_western stlye

much better than the alternative. ha. i just wanted to let you know that.

anyway, now we are in kyoto. i wanted to show you our little hotel room with my silly sister:

IMG_1515_kyoto hotel room

ok, it wasn’t that little. i’ve heard that there are some really tiny hotel rooms in Japan! we, thankfully, didn’t stay in any of those.  but check out the toilet. i thought it was so genius to use the rear-toilet water as a sink before it went into the tank! seriously! how genius is that?  IMG_1511_kyoto toilet

and also note the fancy controller on the side… heated toilet seats, anyone? or fancy bidet buttons? {those got us into trouble… not going to lie…hee hee}

ok. this whole post is not about toilets. i promise.

it’s about pretty architecture and little details that i saw in Kyoto! it seems like every other photo that i took was of roof lines… so, there ya go… Japan has cool roofs. you’re inspired now, right? IMG_1670_rooflines

anyway, our first day in Kyoto we went to The Golden Pavillion. Can you believe it’s right in the middle of the city? it has a large preserved area around it, which is really beautiful.

{our tour guide went a little crazy this day trying to get a lot of family photos…lol} IMG_1533_golden pavilion family

but isn’t it pretty… oooo sparkly…

and it’s ALL GOLD LEAF.  IMG_1537_golden pavillion nice

wow, right?! how crazy is that? and this isn’t the original temple! apparently in the 50s a monk {that wasn’t all there, if you know what i mean} thought that it would look really magnificent on fire… so he set the 500 year old wood structure on fire. our tour guide said it burned down in like 7 minutes, so that monk was the only one who got to see “the beauty of it”. ha! so…not only did they cover a building with gold leaf, back in the day for some emperor… but they had to do it again after the crazy monk burnt it down! HA! well, i think they have to reclad it with gold leaf every twenty years or so… cause it doesn’t really hold up to the elements the best. {i’m actually impressed it lasts 20 years!}

IMG_1543_golden pavillion

that is a phoenix on top of the temple. the legend is that when Japan has a perfect government, a real phoenix will appear. HA! when do you think that’s going to happen for any country, i ask you?!

another rule of japanese architecture is that apparently it is bad luck to have a “perfect” building. so they added this fishing hut on the back to keep it from being perfectly square. how funny is that? very different from european architecture which worked for “perfection”.  IMG_1557_golden pavillion

after a long morning walking around all the shiny-sparkly-gold building we headed to a favorite restaurant of the tour guides’ for Udon and Tempora. yum!

IMG_1587_noodles +tempura

after lunch we went to another temple. this temple had a million cherry trees in bloom so it was a really gorgeous walk. IMG_1599_flowers

and aren’t my parents’ just the cutest?!  IMG_1608_mom and dad2 and i love this girl to death 🙂 IMG_1619_becca

so this shrine was for a rock garden. uhh… a rock garden. there were 15 rocks in about 30’x70′ space- you could only stand on one side because there was a tall wall around all the 3 other sides…and  if you stood in one place, maybe you could see all 15 at once… and you’d get good luck…

IMG_1627_rock garden



i was a little more distracted by some of the other details around the temple grounds:
IMG_1637_wd work details

really really old wood work that is just gorgeous! IMG_1642_wdwork details

it’s just so perfect, without nails, or any of our fancy fasteners from today. IMG_1644_wd deatls

and this pretty window! IMG_1582_woodwork

and the cypress trees were even beautiful

IMG_1649_cypress tree

group shot in front of the cherry tree again: IMG_1655_family and flowers

then we stopped by the Kyoto Castle. this castle is a lot different than the other castles we’ve seen because it was built in a time of peace. the emperor just wanted a “summer” home or something in Kyoto. IMG_1680_kyoto castle

we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but inside were the original “nightengale floors” were to protect the inhabitents from ninjas! the floors were designed to squeek when you walked on it. there was no way to walk across it without making it squeek! cool! 🙂 made me wish my silly-totally-into-that-kind-of-thing Husbuddy was there with me to see it. 🙂 this is how a nightengale floor is designed:

*thanks for the nerd-moment there*

a couple more detail shots from around the castle:

IMG_1656_rain gutter

pretty wood carvings were throughout the whole castle: IMG_1686_kyoto castle detail

a pretty bridge post:

IMG_1701_kyoto castle gate after all the site seeing at castles and shrines, we were pretty worn out. the tour guide took us to a really fascinating food market… but that will have to wait for another day!

to be continued…

xo-kimberly renee

if you missed any of the previous japan posts click here:

part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 


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japan -another cute little town {part 5}

ok, y’all getting tired of these japan pictures?

oh well. sorry, it is going to take a few more posts to get through them. 😉 but in an effort to get it done, this is a super long one. don’t say you haven’t been warned!! fun fun!

while in Becca’ neighborhood of Yabu, we had a few adventures, driving in her car,  and lots of time to catch up on relax in her tiny apartment.

please note: car is backwards and it is tiny. it’s hard to tell just how tiny. should have taken a picture from outside. doh.

IMG_1506_becca driving

we made the obligatory visit to Becca’s school where she works and where they love her to death. and of course we had to take a family photo:  IMG_1399_family

this is her school: IMG_1405_becca's school

after a morning talking with her friends and fellow teaches, we ventured to this town: Izushi. it had a pretty old clock tower and castle ruins and cute little streets: IMG_1416_town with castle ruins+ clock tower

a map of the tiny town:

IMG_1505_Izushi map

and it was really the only pretty day that we had while in her area of Yabu:  IMG_1417_becca and mom and clock

look at how giant the produce was! those carrots. and then some strange root right next to it… wow: IMG_1421_town with castle ruins+ clock tower

i think the clock tower was pretty,  but the family would not pose for me: IMG_1423_town with castle ruins+ clock tower

a road side map to castle:  IMG_1433_Izushi

i think this was my favorite little bridge in all of japan. IMG_1437_Izushi

IMG_1438_Izushi after you got through the gate: another little castle tower! so pretty! IMG_1445_Izushi

and a pathway up the mountain with this gates: IMG_1458_Izushi

another view of the “tower” from inside the wall area, looking past a shrine:

there really wasn’t any part ofthe castle left. just a wall and a couple of towers and a couple of shrines. i think it’s funny that the tower overhung the wall, they couldn’t build the wall exactly the right angle or something? IMG_1476_Izushi

from underneath:

another lantern? i don’t know, i just thought it looked funny with a giant rock on top of a tiny wood lantern area: IMG_1480_Izushi

had to beg for a picture of me: haha. IMG_1487_Izushi

Becca and i got a kick out of these dragons. on one side of the path were happy ones:
IMG_1489_izi dragon

and on the other side they seemed grumpy. Becca was trying to make it happy: IMG_1490_becca playing with the animals

not sure it worked, sweetheart. still looks grumpy even with the hug! IMG_1492_hugging animals

i think this may be one of my favorite photos of the whole trip:  IMG_1497_dragon water fountain it’s a dragon water fountain! how fun! it’s actually so you can wash your hands before you go up to the temple but i just thought he looked awesome.

one of the other days while we were there Becca and i went for a hike up in the mountains above her apartment to visit a 1000 year old cherry tree. let me say that again: a cherry tree that is 1000 freaking years old! how cool is that? my dad wasn’t feeling very well so mom stayed with him for a while and it was a nice little sister hike. check out how pretty the path was:

1000 year old cherry tree path

in case you didn’t know, cherry trees are kind of a big deal in japan. Becca has had it explained to her that every year when they are in bloom, it is a cultural thing to go sit under the tree and drink sake until you’re drunk. this brings good luck or something because according to the japanese you’re not your “real self” until you’re drunk and all of your inhibitions are gone. oh boy. but apparently sitting under the cherry that’s 1000 years old brings extra good luck? anyway, it was a bit of a hike straight up the mountain… can you image coming down that when you’re drunk on sake?!

anyway. this sign was pointing out the 1000 year old cherry tree to all the sake drinkers:

1000 year old cherry tree

there wasn’t anyone else there because it wasn’t quite in bloom yet.  but check out how giant this tree was. it needed scaffolding to hold it up and keep it from falling down the mountain!! and i had to crop the photos together to get the whole picture!  1000 yr old cherry tree

we think maybe that sign meant that  something like “trespass at your own risk”  but we really can’t be sure. and all we did was look at the tree a little bit closer…
1000 yr tree becca being funny

but we don’t know for sure!

1000 yr tree becca

bawhaha. ok. she could get into trouble maybe for this one. but we don’t know what it says for sure, so really, could she? really, we’ll never know.

while in Yabu Becca also took us to her favorite sushi place. japanese sushi coming to you on a conveyor belt anyone?! how cool is this place?! you can just pick and choose which kind of sushi you want. you can also order it on a screen. then you pay  by the plate:

sushi plates and becca and it was really tasty: sushi

don’t we look excited?!


ha. we had a great time exploring the area where Becca lives. she is going to be there for at least another year! i’m so impressed by her. 🙂 the next leg of the trip was Kyoto.

to be continued…

{to see the other posts about my adventure in japan click here:

Osaka: part 1, Osaka: part 2, Tondabayashi part 3, Himeji castle: part 4}

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japan {part 4}

you guys, i’ve been sick. SO sick. cold/fever/cough from japan! oh man!

{hey that rhymed!}

i come to you today trying not to cough the entire post, but i wanted to keep going with getting these pictures up! so it will be a quick one.


after a couple days we left Osaka and headed to the mountains.

“I want to see mountains again, mountains, Gandalf!”

-Bilbo, The Lord of the Rings.

{betcha didn’t think you were going to get some literature quotes with this post, did ya?}

Becca lives in a tiny little town up in the mountains between Osaka and Kyoto. it was a lovely train ride. but before we really got into the mountains we stopped at this amazing castle that i wanted to see.

can’t you tell from this map that it must be a beautiful place?!  a castle on top of a hill. beautiful moats. lots of winding streets:

IMG_1347_himeji castle map

see? we’re so excited to enter the gate:

{well, actually Dad is sick-aka THE SICKNESS I HAVE NOW}

that and the weather was being super helpful with  a freezing-bone-chilling-drizzle of rain.

but just think, as soon as we walk through this gate, it’s going to be a gorgeous castle on top of a hill!  IMG_1339_himeji castle family

womp womp: IMG_1341_himeji castle

it was in a BOX. thank GOODNESS SAKES that they put up a big poster of what it was supposed to look like, cause, man. would i have been disappointed if i didn’t have that.*

{*slight sarcasm in case you didn’t notice}

SAD DAY for this little architect.

AND this amazing park that was supposed to be around it was just a little disappointing…
IMG_1357_himeji castle

but i quickly got over it and focused on the details. they were still pretty!

and we actually got to go up inside the box and see the castle up close and personal. it also showed how they restore it. which is actually pretty cool! we kept telling ourselves that if the box wasn’t there we wouldn’t have been able to do that:

IMG_1363_himeji castle

and look, because it was being restored there were architectural/structural plans for us to check out:  IMG_1368_himeji castle

and models! look, they even showed what the box looked like… in case you couldn’t see from, i don’t know, standing outside.*

IMG_1370_himeji castle

luckily i have a hilarious sister who always makes things fun:  IMG_1372_becca

bawhahahah. ok i’m officially dead meat since i put up that up there. good thing she is still in japan for another year or more.

i guess the cherry trees were starting to bloom. that was pretty. and there were a couple pretty walkways. and my sister is pretty:

IMG_1379_himeji castle

and there were these cool little archery-holes. i don’t know if that’s what they were. i just guessed. seems like a good plan to me though. tiny holes, different shapes, surprise surprise, is the arrow coming at you from the rectangle or triangle?!
IMG_1380_himeji castle IMG_1381_himeji castle

haha. ok. i’m a dork.

but so are these two: and i love them anyway: IMG_1384_himeji castle becca and mom

we found lunch at a tiny hole in the wall down the street.  there were about 6 tables in the whole restaurant. 3 were typical japanese style where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor at a low table with your legs crossed. the other 3 were “western” tables with civilized chairs. we kind of thought it was hilarious that all the japanese in the restuarant were sitting at the western tables and all the japanese tables were open, so we had to sit on the floor… kind of made us wonder, why don’t they just give up on the whole japanese style thing if they’re all just going to go for western style anyway?

{note, we had the same discussion about the toilets…always a line for the western style and always open squatty-potties…but seriously, this is lunch, we won’t talk about that here}

i had chow mein: {i have no idea what that meat was. not bacon. not really pork. well maybe. i don’t know} it was pretty good though:: Photo Mar 27, 2 43 30 AM

and then we hit up starbucks before getting on the train.

you think i’m joking.

but we were wet and cold and grumpy (from sitting on the floor) and needed a little encouragement. ha.

and we knew were headed for the boonies, so might as well get it while we can!

but look at this amazing view from the train! ::
IMG_1388_train ride

i love how the mountains stick straight up! and the land was totally flat going up to it- no foothills! not like colorado at all.

and we saw some pretty cool looking farm houses: IMG_1389_train ride

and i got to sit with my sissy, make jokes and laugh at our dad snoring from his cold…

little did we know we would get our revenge 2 weeks later… {cough cough cough}
IMG_1391_train ride

{please note, if i’ve said anything rude or un-fun while trying to be funny, i blame the cough syrup and take no responsibility.}

xo- this girl who stayed up past her sick-bedtime{7 pm} to write this.

ps- if you’ve missed any of my other posts about japan, check it out: part 1, part 2, part 3


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