New Zealand

A long time ago, Abby went to New Zealand as part of her degree in Playing and Having Fun. That’s a real degree that she got at BYU for going kayaking, water-skiing, hiking, and playing Ultimate Frisbee a lot. Not 100% sure how it works, but there must have been a general authority whose son or daughter wasn’t too into book lernin’ but wanted to graduate from college anyway. Somehow Abby found out about it and made all us classical studies types jealous because we didn’t know it was a thing until we were practically graduated with solid employable skills. But I digress. Point of all of that was, she had a great time adventuring in New Zealand as part of her degree and so when we sat down one time to talk about where to go on our home leave, New Zealand was a place we thought of with great positivity.

New Zealand isn’t really close to anything–you think it’s close to Australia, but it’s still over a thousand miles from there. That being said, at roughly 5,000 miles from Tokyo, it’s still about 2,000 miles closer than it is to Portland, so we decided to go there for Christmas. Betsy followed a friend’s recommendation for a travel agent, and things kind of spiralled out of control. Seriously. As part of working abroad for Nike, they provide a “home leave” benefit, which means they’ll fly the family home one time per year–or–you can take the cost of those flights and apply it to travel somewhere else. And when you’ve got a family of six, that can add up to a significant vacation. And there’s zero benefit to not using it–you can’t receive any money, buy anything else, and if you don’t go, it just disappears. (Even so, I asked my boss if it was truly cool to look into spending thousands of dollars to take my family on a vacation, and he was pretty firm with his “of course”.)

So, we rode a hot air balloon at sunrise.

Went to an observatory at midnight.

We rode go-karts down winding mountain paths.

Twice.

We bungee jumped.

We went mountain biking, sailing, and spelunking to see glow-worms.

We went zorbing, rode the Haag-lund at the International Antarctic Center in Christchurch, rented a Porsche, and slept in a Hobbit House.

We went to a traditional Maori pig-fry, a real wool-farm, and went mini-golfing.

We went water-skiing, visited Hobbiton, hiked to waterfalls, and went white-water rafting.

We went to the beaches, playparks, tide-pools, amusement park rides, zoos, and hot-springs.

And we did it all in full family super-hero T-shirts. The Super-hero shirts were a fantastic hit–everywhere we went, we were treated like the cool family that people wanted to have around–a serious improvement on the normal response of mild annoyance when people see a lot of kids. We also did it with Michelle and Brian. They were the family that was most able to be adventurous at that point in time. They flew themselves over to us, and we all fit in the car we had rented, and into the hotels that were covered by our budget, and it was awesome.

We flew into Queenstown and made our way north to eventually fly out of Auckland. The Porsche was amazing, but, of course, broke down after three days. We had to drive on the wrong side of the road, but did just fine. New Zealand was amazing in its beauty. We had a GPS unit that was apparently set on “avoid freeways” but we didn’t know it so we found ourselves often turning off of perfectly wide roads to take narrow, winding country lanes and having to stop when we’d come upon pastoral scenes of such beauty that you could not focus on the road until after you had stopped to get out and appreciate it. flocks of sheep being managed by sheep-dogs with no shepherd in sight, lakes so startlingly blue it beggars belief, mountains, valleys, rivers and leas that astound in their beauty, and a vista of stars that take your breath away. If it was closer, it would for sure be ruined by too many visitors, and we would be among them.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

This was really fun. We had never been on a hot air balloon before, and I think I expected to notice the movement more than we did. It rose so gently into the sky that you were hardly aware of any movement until you suddenly realized how far away things had gotten. And since you move with the wind, there isn’t any blowing on you. We got to help get the balloon going and all had to pitch in to pack it up. Betsy had a few moments of panic when the kids tried to climb up to see better. The vistas were amazing, and our balloon pilot pointed out several places where notable scenes from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were filmed.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

These luge-style go-karts were awesome. They have mild steering capability and pretty good brakes. And somebody paved a fairly wide sidewalk down a mountain. You ride a ski-lift up, strap on a helmet, and race down the mountain. They had a few levels of speed and tortuousness, and if you decided to go too fast around a corner, well, that’ll teach you, because you’re going to crash and it’s nobody’s fault but your own. This was a generally accepted mindset throughout New Zealand: be responsible for your own decisions, because you’ll surely be bearing the consequences. The boys were tall enough to ride their own carts, and the girls had to go with an adult. It was on a run on this event that Brian (with his video camera recording) crashed with Lea and bloodied her leg and his arm, and then tried to convince her not to tell me and Betsy about it. We forgive him–that’s what cool uncles are supposed to do. We could have spent all day doing this, but eventually we had to move on–to crazy scare-you-to-death swings. Most of us screamed, but Reid stoically clenched his jaws and affirmed that he wasn’t scared in the slightest. I screamed louder than Afton for sure.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Brian and I went Bungy jumping, and it was AWESOME. And terrifying. There’s a true primordial fear that crawls up from your belly and out your eyeballs and mouth as you look down and realize that’s the ground. It completely overrules your conscious mind that is trying to remind you that you are tied to something that will catch you and screams, “we’re gonna hit the ground right there!” I think I squeaked a little bit. Brian went off backwards, hoping that doing that way would lead to a more severe heart attack, while I sought the beauty of the superhero pose. I was wearing Superman, after all.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

We rented bicycles in a town that I honestly can’t remember the name of and spent a full day pedaling. For non-bikers, that’s about 4 or 5 hours too long. We rode out to this great town where we stopped and picked berries and had some ice cream and the kids played a bit on some play-structures. We should have turned around at that point, but instead we soldiered on and kept going to a town where we got some terrible pizza, played darts while it was heating, and then turned around. Sadly, the wind didn’t turn around, and the gentle breeze at our backs became a gale in our faces for the next few hours. Michelle was the smart one, because she saw it coming and played sick. She was really just hiding the fact that she was very recently pregnant, but we left Lea with her and the rest of us went on the ride.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo & New Zealand: Dec 2014 and New Zealand Trip &emdash;

We rented a sailboat with a skipper. I can’t remember his name, but he was a “salty dog” a la Pirates of the Caribbean. He had a trimaran and we went out and saw the place where Chuck Norris picked Scissors against Rock in a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. (Obviously, he still won.) We had a blast climbing around and enjoying the wind as we went around the island to an amazing beach place where no one else seemed to have been and we had a great picnic lunch while we explored. It was really neat because the tide was out when we started exploring and then came in before we got back and we had to get wet in a number of places where there was mostly dry ground before. We paused at one point so we could all jump in and swim around, and Lea was not happy with my insistence that all the kids would jump in.

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Spring Break 2016: Bali


Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Work lately has been pretty demanding—I got nominated to participate in Nike’s Xcelerate program, a leadership development effort that combines some elements of a condensed MBA and a strategic priority project with a global team. Marshall likens it to having two jobs for six months. It has required a bit more travel than we prefer, and when we were planning for all it would require, Betsy said, “that’s all fine, and I will support you but WE ARE GOING ON A SPRING BREAK AS A FAMILY.” She didn’t shout, but I wasn’t to argue.

So she booked us flights to Bali, a smallish island in Indonesia, and found us a little villa that was absolutely amazing. It was spread out with several structures; the kitchen/dining room/living room was more like a pavilion with open sides, and the bedrooms had walls; the bathrooms were outdoor, shower privacy was provided by plants. It was fairly remote, outside a pretty small town called Ubud, and we went on several lengthy walks and saw nothing but rice fields and irrigation ditches.

We lazed about in the humid hot air, swam, got sunburned, and did a few activities. Among them, Betsy signed us up for a Batik class. You outline a drawing with beeswax, then paint it. The beeswax keeps the colors from mixing and then you boil it out so it looks pretty cool. We managed to hook up with Chloe, who was in our ward in Tokyo but moved to Hong Kong a couple months ago for that. We also went to a place called monkey forest, which is chock full of smallish monkeys that aren’t afraid of jumping on you and stealing your tissue that you brought in case you need to pop a squat with runny poo again because you aren’t sure what you ate for dinner. They’ll then get in a fight over it and try to eat it. Stupid monkeys. We went to Tanah Lot, a cool temple on a bit of rock out in the ocean. While there, we ran into Joey, Afton’s school teacher and his fiancé (whose name might be Gabbi). We went to an amazing ropes course place with about a dozen different courses with increasing difficulty, ranging from easy for Lea to hard for me. Their philosophy on safety was fully aligned with mine—they told you to be safe, showed you how, and then it was up to you. I loved watching the kids exercise safe practices and then letting them go off on their own way up high. Only saw a couple times where one of them accidentally unclipped both safeties.

We were supported by Made and Agung, a cook and a driver. They helped us a ton, were friendly and kind, gave the kids rides on their scooters, and Agung even invited us to his home where the kids met his family and were completely oblivious to the fact that they lack many of the things we take for granted, being happy to hold the puppies and goggle at the pigs and chickens.

All in all, Bali fully lived up to its reputation as one of those exotic islands somewhere in the Far East that you hear about amazing adventurous families visiting and wish you could someday be that cool.

There’s a whole collection of pictures here and a sampling below.

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2016.03 Spring Break &emdash;

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Cambodian Thanksgiving

The kids get a break from school for Thanksgiving, even though we’re in Japan, thanks to attending the American international school. Someone Betsy knows had recently gone to Cambodia and told her it was the greatest place since Disneyland and so we started looking into it. Trevor Hall served his mission there and also gave us some good advice.

For reference, Cambodia is in Southeast Asia, in between Vietnam and Thailand. It shares a great deal of cultural heritage with Thailand and is home to world heritage sites like Angkor Wat. It’s where Lara Croft found some cool treasure in the movie Tomb Raider.

Starting in about 800 AD, there was a big empire based out of Cambodia and they built a lot of awesome temples that are now amazing ruins. A few are really famous but for every famous ruin, there’s a dozen equally cool but somehow not famous options to explore. We spent a few days with a Tuk-Tuk driver taking us around and stopping whenever we said we wanted to. (A Tuk-Tuk is a chariot but the horse is replaced by a small engine scooter. You can hire one for a day for around $20.) Whenever we stopped to explore, we took turns letting one of the kids lead our explorations, and the Cambodians seem share my view of safety—which is to say, they hope you stay safe. The ruined temples were awesome with maze-like layouts, with varying levels of decay and stability. We definitely climbed on stuff that wasn’t safe and Betsy for sure had some heart-squeezing moments but nobody died.

Lea’s absolute favorite part was that we got to ride an elephant. It was about as fun as you’d expect—slow and slightly wobbly. But the girls’ elephant handler played a tune on a fat leaf and Lea talks about how awesome it was still. They let us overpay for some small pineapples and feed them to the elephants, which was cooler than the actual ride.

Our hotel had a salt-water swimming pool and we forgot water wings for Afton and so she learned how to swim. We’re pretty happy with how that worked out. One of the days, we went to a local street market and there was a barber who would cut the boys’ hair for $0.50 so we eagerly signed them up. Sadly, Reid’s haircut was so bad that we didn’t make Porter follow him into the chair. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever seen a worse haircut. Luckily it was Reid who went first—Porter’s got a lot more vanity about how his hair looks and gets pretty worked up if it gets cut too short and we ended up buzzing Reid’s head when we got home. All through the market, people kept trying to touch Afton and Lea and whenever they were able to speak English, they told us how lucky we are to be able to have four kids.

Reid had been studying the life-cycle of a silk-worm at school and Betsy found an opportunity for us to go to a silk-worm farm that was really fun to see. They showed us the whole process from larva to woven cloth and it was one of those things that makes you pause and say, “yeah, but what made that first guy say, hmmm…if we boil this cocoon in this odd liquid, and then use a funny fork, we can get a really delicate string that…” I mean seriously. The fact that we humans can innovate like that is amazing.

All in all, great trip that we highly recommend.

Here are some selected photos and the full album is here

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Nov. 2014 Cambodia trip &emdash;

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Taka’s Studio

We like to get family pictures taken each year around Thanksgiving. The timing stems from our habit of using the photo in our Christmas cards. I mentioned it at work one day and Stewart said that Taka was an amateur photographer whose father owned a studio and he might be interested in taking our pictures.

We had a great time with Taka and it was fun to watch his father giving him tips and helping him out but definitely letting him run the show. We were joined by Stewart and Tara and their daughter, Amu.

The full shoot is here and below are some highlights.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Family Portraits (studio) 2014 &emdash;

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Camping at Lake Motosuko

When we moved to Japan, we really didn’t think we’d be spending much time outdoors. So we shipped most of our camping stuff back to America. We kept sleeping bags, since they see more use as sleds down the stairs than as actual sleeping accommodations anyway, but we got rid of the dutch ovens, the tents, and I don’t even remember what else you normally have on hand for pretending you’re part of a civilization that hasn’t developed power tools and insulation. Whatever it is, we’re about out of it. But I am a big believer in rope. You really can’t have too much rope. Or line–line being a thinner version of rope. I usually have three or four different lengths of line on me at any given time, because you never know when you’re going to think, “Dang, if I only had a bit of line…” Well, I rarely think that. I learned a long time ago that if you carry a bit of line around you find a use for it most days. (We’ll come back to the rope in a bit.)

Imagine our surprise when camping turns out to be a fairly common practice for the Tokyo 1st ward! God Bless the USA, because the Air Force base at Yokota has a pile of land for the airmen to enjoy getting in touch with nature. It’s got campsites, ball fields, even a bit of a putt-putt course. And best of all, it’s free to military and something like $2.50 for families they invite. We camped there quite often. On the flipside, camping is also surprisingly popular for Japanese residents of Tokyo, but it’s a bit different. It starts with the gear. I’m used to going to target or walmart and seeing some pretty cheap camping gear. I know that there are high-end camping stores but I’ve certainly never bothered with them–why should I when I’m generally driving to my campsite? Well, not the Tokyo crowd. There are no $35 tents or all-purpose tarps to use as groundcloths. Only $3,000 tents and custom fitted groundcloths for them. I feel like you can get a Lodge dutch-oven in the US for less than $50, but the only dutch oven I could find in Tokyo was too small to feed six and cost $200. And having the best technical gear is part of the experience for them, and when people on my team at work heard that I was taking my family camping, I saw some seriously shocked folks. When we got down to the reason for the shock, it was primarily around what they imagined we had shelled out to equip the whole family with the thousands of dollars worth of camping gear. When I explained that most of our camping cost us $2.50 plus a bag of marshmallows, they really didn’t believe me.

So, when Bishop Linder invited us to join with a number of other families to go camping Japanese-style, we said sure, having experienced only the Tama Hills Recreation area style prior to that. It wasn’t quite the same. The site was a lot more expensive, and you camped pretty much on top of the other campers, could have fire only in special metal cages, and even then, only with charcoal. There was a convenience store at the camp manager station, and the site was much more like camping in a park than in the wild. Quite luckily, I had a bit of rope and was able to rig up a tire-swing with an old motorcycle tire we found lying around. We got a few angry looks for the happy child noises, but nobody fell and everybody came home with all their limbs. It was actually really fun, and we got to know several families better than we would otherwise have, like Chloe Anderson, the Robisons, the Humphries, and of course, the Kartchners. And we did a fun hike to the top of a foggy hill and go row-boating on Lake Motosuko.

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

The very next day, it was Canadian Thanksgiving and our great friends, the Aufderheides, invited us over to celebrate. So we all put on our Team Canada hockey jerseys and had a fun time with them and the Farnsworths. (Nate Farnsworth, by the way, is famous on youtube for eating disgusting foods and talking about how awful it is. I can’t even play Beanboozled without losing my lunch, and he videos himself eating peppers that make your innards flee and Japanese delicacies that exist only to torment diplomats when negotiations are going poorly.)

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Oh, and Porter hates his hair buzzed like this. He is reluctant to get a haircut of any sort because he is concerned it will end up looking like this again.

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Of Course We Did…

Betsy tends to plug in to social groups wherever we move–whether it’s a group of runners or a facebook association that she stalks without comment. This has helped her twig to some pretty amazing things for our family to do. One of them, of course, was to dress up like Mario Brothers and drive street-legal go-karts around Tokyo for a date. It was awesome, and reasonably priced. We ordered some pretty cheap Mario-Kart costumes off amazon and went over. The employees were a bit surprised to see that we brought our own costumes, and they had a great selection if we had wanted to use theirs. (We had to go with the two brothers, because the cheap options were Mario & Luigi, or Mario and risque Princess Peach. Of course I thought Betsy would look great in the Princess Peach outfit, but she wasn’t comfortable flashing that much skin around town.) The Karts went pretty fast, but didn’t have speedometers, so we couldn’t be too sure exactly how fast. We drove them to our house, to say hi to the kids, swung by the Wares’ house, and of course, buzzed Shibuya crossing and Omotesando and Harajuku. It was pretty awesome, and to top it off, when we went to church the next day, Nate Farnsworth had been in Shibuya and caught us on video!

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Russell Anderson: Tokyo: Sep-Oct 2014 (Fuji hike, Tokyo Game Show, MarioKart, typhoon, lake Motosko camping, halloween) &emdash;

Posted in Family | Comments Off on Of Course We Did…