Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh, Alaska...

We've been in Alaska for almost 2 weeks, and the weather has been cold, but glorious! We took a drive to Dyea, just 8 miles away(where the Chilkoot Trail begins...check your Gold Rush History). It was a beautiful day!

Actually, it was quite scary standing on this tree over the water...
Ella was also terrified...but she's a good actress...
Jared standing in a less-dangerous place...

The kid hanger...

Ella's photography...
It's a good thing Alaska is this beautiful, otherwise we'd have a hard time leaving Mexico!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our New Store!

It is finally time for me to announce that we have a new store! We still have our old store, which has frontage on Broadway (the main shopping street), but we also have a 2nd location just around the corner. They are physically connected only by their storage rooms in back.  The "back" store (the new store that is not on Broadway) is 1/3 of the rent...and is in a similar location as our original store in 2005.  Jared didn't want us to have it too easy this Spring/ we settled on this new project.  We will also have our first employee ever for this coming season.

But with the new store comes a lot of remodeling/painting to do.  The previous renters that have been in our "back" store  have never had color or zest in their stores.  So, we have brought some of our Mexican inspiration with us. Here are some before-and-after shots as we've been repainting in the last few days:

Now which store would YOU prefer to shop in?  White and drab?  Or shockingly colorful?

Maiya and Ella have stayed fairly entertained.  Ella helps keep Maiya busy (wow!  She's being obedient AND helpful...let's hope this keeps up!!), and when Maiya is napping, Ella rides her bike in circles around our store.  Thank goodness for that bike!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our New Cargo Trailer

When we packed up our van in Mexico, we discovered that we didn't have room for half of our back row of our van. So, we left it there. We had actually left the other half in Washington State already, so we drove up North without a back row whatsoever (it left so much more room for packing everything else)! However, we wanted to pick up the other half in Washington so we could have it in Alaska, and more importantly, we wanted to have room to take other things as well. Blah blah blah...

So...we finally bought our dream cargo trailer, a Yuppie Wagon! Not our dream color, but we saved 40% by going with a less popular color (the dealer gave us the choice between Orange and Camouflage). So, orange it is!!

We immediately took a trip to Costco, and stocked up on a 6 month supply of Diapers, baby wipes, laundry detergent, peanut butter, Olive oil, beans, apple sauce, and virtually everything else we knew we'd eat/use over the summer! You should have seen the looks we got walking out with THIS supply of items! The guy at the register said, "I'm glad I'M not changing all of those diapers!"

We then returned to Quincy and stuffed it full with everything else we could fit (bath towels, shower curtains, keyboard, trash cans, etc....) from our previous apartment we had in Washington State. Every nook and cranny has been filled!

And thus begins the last leg of our trip to Alaska. We leave bright and early Thursday morning, and we will hopefully arrive in Skagway on Saturday time for Easter Sunday, and the community Easter Egg Hunt! Wohoo!!

Happy Easter, and we'll try to blog again when we have internet connection (which may be awhile...considering Jared and I have to put together a new Hughesnet Satellite internet dish, and install it ourselves...hahaha!).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hiking Tepalo Cañon in Ajijic

We hiked up Tepala Canyon in Ajijic within our first few weeks of being in the Chapala area. However, it was such a painful experience, that is has taken a long time to blog about it!!

The short hike to the "waterfall" is pretty nice, and the trail is well-traveled. Unfortunately, the waterfall was completely dry while we were there (the dry season).

Since the trail continued up the mountain side, we decided to keep going ...not really knowing how long the trail would go.. After hiking for several hours, we realized that we weren't far from the top.

The views of Lake Chapala were amazing!!
Maiya fell asleep on the hike until the last hour (of the 4 total), when she started to cry. It was during this last period of time that we thought we were so close to the top, so we didn't want to turn around. But her crying made it unbearable, not to mention the HEAT ( was probably 80 degrees...WHOA!!! Talk about temperature shock!). The hike became much harder near the top as it steepened, and the trail became more and more narrow (making it harder with a baby on a backpack who was getting whipped in the face by branches, etc).
We guess that we were probably 15 minutes from the top when we realized we HAD to turn around. We had to go get Ella from school.

Jared had Maiya on her back on the way up, and I carried her on the way back. After the trip up, Jared was nearly dead. Seriously, he says he had heat exhaustion (we weren't well-prepared for a long hike like this), and my legs were KILLING me on the way down. I couldn't walk normally for about 7 days. Ouch. But I managed a smile for the photo...
We ran into some frightening wildlife on the trail as we were heading down. Wild horses!!!
What do you do when wild horses are on your path? We had NO idea!! Bears--YES. Moose-YES. HORSES--NO!!

So, with 2 of them standing in our way, we simply stood there, waiting...not sure if we should risk passing, or not. Eventually they moved out of our way...and we moved on. Weird. :-)

Our simple hike (haha) ended four hours later when we rushed out of the woods to pick Ella up from school. We were JUST in time!!

Needless to say, the hike pushed us too far for our first trip out, and we didn't hike the rest of our stay in Chapala (unless you count shopping at the markets as hiking)!! Maybe next year?
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The (Not-So-New-Now) Walmart in Lake Chapala!

Just after our arrival to Lake Chapala in early November, we were surprised and excited to learn that the new Walmart was nearly complete!

Outside of the Walmart parking lot a huge crew was working hard to lay the cobblestone entrance. In this particular section, they were filling the cobblestone cracks with concrete rather than dirt (making it a bit easier to drive on), but it was amazing to us to see how long the still worked to complete this relatively small section.

Within a few days, the Walmart was complete, and had a grand opening! Of course, it was PACKED, and I had to take a photo of one of their newly erected parking signs:
Only in Mexico would you see a lime display this large...
One of the culture shocks when we entered Mexico was figuring out how to purchase pastry and bread items at Walmart. By watching others, we finally figured out the Mexican way. This is how it works: In the bread section you claim a tray and some tongs, and then you make your selections from the displays. Then you take your tray to the sales counter where they weigh it, price it, bag it, stick a price tag on it, and send you on your way!! We loved it! Our favorites were the super cheap bread rolls (10 cents), and the yummy pink frosting donuts (30 cents)...our splurge on many Walmart trips!
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La Cristiania Park

Back in November we were exploring Chapala, and came across a seemingly deserted park called La Cristiania Park. We had to pay a small admission to get in, and we then found ourselves in a very large, quiet park. It is located right on the lakeside.

The lake has risen to its highest level ever in the past year, and it has left destruction in its path. Here is an example of the walkways destroyed by the rising waters.

I had to borrow this photo from my friend's blog (thanks, Carrie!)...but this also illustrates how the lake has risen well beyond its previous years. Oops!

Plaza Galerias

Well, we are back in the US...but I'm not quite up for posting about our 8,000 mile trek, yet. I haven't even finished Mexico! So, I will probably be switching back and forth between past Mexico posts I have wanted to do, and current US posts. Oh well...such is life :-)

Back in November (yeah, 5 months ago), we went to the Plaza Galerias in Guadalajara. It is across the street from Costco, and next to a very large Walmart. It is 3 stories high, and is quite the place!

Don't try playing in the fountains, though. They don't like it (as we learned).

Notice the Hooters, Chilis, and Outback Steakhouse?

And when we left the mall, I was blown away by the AMAZING, colorful trees at the entrance!

I kept getting closer and closer and closer to the trees, taking photos. When I got within a few feet, I finally realized that their florescent pink color was just as unbelievable as I thought. In other words, blow this photo up (click on it) to make the same discovery I did...

And of course, how could I forget the mall security guards with their very intimidating guns? Can you imagine this in the US?! Well...perhaps we'd have less random violence in the US if our security looked like this, too.
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