Cathedral of our Lady of Los Angeles

AJ and John in front of the LA Cathedral.

AJ and John in front of the LA Cathedral.

In the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi (Italy) was given the small chapel of St. Mary’s in which to use as a base of operations. It was not a very good chapel and had to be rebuilt, which is said he did by hand after hearing the world of God come to him and say “Go and restore my house.” According to the story while praying in that chapel during Mass he got another vision that said to “go forth and preach penance and conversion to all mankind” and so was born the Franciscan order in the Catholic church. In the Franciscan order this revelation is celebrated on August 2nd.

Fast forward to Wednesday, August 2, 1769, Father Juan Crespi, a Franciscan priest accompanying the first European land expedition through California, led by Captain Fernando Rivera Y Moncado, talked about a “beautiful river from the northwest” located at “34 degrees 10 minutes”. Recognizing the amazing coincidence of the date, and seeing as though they were Franciscans they named the river Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de la Porciúncula. Thus Los Angeles got it’s name.

In the hallway of the Cathedral of our Lady of Los Angeles is a sacred stone from the original St. Mary’s Chapel in Assisi, Italy. The stone symbolizes the spirit for which Los Angeles got it’s name. Los Angeles is a place to be explored and so is the Cathedral.

Old murals mix with new paintings.

Old murals mix with new paintings.

A modern painting meets visitors upon entry.

A modern painting meets visitors upon entry.

This wall contains paintings highlighting the original 21 California Missions.

This wall contains paintings highlighting the original 21 California Missions.

A sacred stone from the original St. Mary's Chapel in Italy.

A sacred stone from the original St. Mary’s Chapel in Italy.

The main altar in the cathedral.

The main altar in the cathedral.

The final resting place of Chief Justice Malcom Lucas who presided over the California Supreme Court for a number of years. I think they will update his cover later.

The final resting place of Chief Justice Malcom Lucas who presided over the California Supreme Court for a number of years. I think they will update his cover later.

Many of LA's past Cardinals and Bishops have been laid to rest in the Cathedral.

Many of LA’s past Cardinals and Bishops have been laid to rest in the Cathedral.

The refurbished stained glass windows are impressive.

The refurbished stained glass windows are impressive.

The chapel containing the remains of St. Vibiana, a third century Martyr.

The chapel containing the remains of St. Vibiana, a third century Martyr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Los Angeles Cathedral sits on a huge plot of land on Temple St. that overlooks the 101 freeway, which intersects the heart of Los Angeles. It was opened in 2002 to replace the Cathedral of Vibiana, which had previously been the cathedral of Los Angeles, that had been severely damaged in a 1994 earthquake. There was a lot of back and forth on what would be done with the damaged cathedral, but in the end the old cathedral became a public library and the Catholic Church constructed a modern cathedral.

As a modern cathedral the lines a very sleek and minimalist. Though minimalist in nature there are antique touches throughout the building. One of my favorite example of this is downstairs in the mausoleum. The mausoleum is very modern looking in with clean lines, housing the final remains of important and famous people such as Gregory Peck, Chief Justice Malcom Lucas, Bishop Thaddeus Amat y Brusi (first Catholic Bishop of Los Angeles), and even Saint Vibiana (a martyr from the 3rd century). Despite the modern look, the mausoleum is decorated with the stained glass windows from the old Cathedral of Vibiana.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles CA

disneyfrontA few years ago when AJ was little and I (John) was out of town on business Denise went out to downtown Los Angeles with AJ in a stroller. Being a downtown LA explorer, Denise has been encouraging me for sometime to take the audio tour.

I am not sure I can add anything to the knowledge of the Walt Disney Concert Hall that you can’t readily access via Wikipedia. The Disney Concert Hall was finished in 2003. It is located on Grand Ave. and is in walking distance to both the Civic Center and Pershing Square Metro Red Line.  It is home to both the LA Philharmonic and the LA Chorale.

Tickets at the Walt Disney Concert Hall can be expensive, but the good news is that the audio tour is free. All you have to do is leave an ID card for collateral for the tour wands.

balconytour disneyaudiotour

 

 

 

 

It should be noted that there are elevators, but there are a lot of stairs in the concert halls, so make sure you have some comfortable shoes, although I did see one lady in high heels walking up 5 flights of stairs (how did she do that?!).

disneystairs2 disneystairs

There are a lot of small spaces in the concert hall such as the Wellington Music Room (currently exhibiting Jazz singers).

There are a lot of small spaces in the concert hall such as the Wellington Music Room (currently exhibiting Jazz singers).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

disneydelfinrosefountainThe tour was interesting, but I have found that when it comes to architecture I prefer more flourishes and decorative touches. The would paneling of the concert hall gave it a warm feel, but the overall simple ascetics of the was too bland for me. My favorite part of the tour was the back of the concert hall where they had a little garden. In the garden they have a rose fountain made out of Delphine China. Apparently Mrs. Disney was a big fan of Delphine China and collected it on all of her travels. Her favorite flower was the rose. The architect decided to make a fountain out of Delphine China. According to the story there is cheap china and expensive china. The architect went out to find cheap china but when Delphine found out what they were going to use the china they insisted the concert hall use the expensive stuff. So the fountain has a bunch of very expensive broken plates in it.

 

Even in downtown LA all Disney tours end at the gift shop.

Even in downtown LA all Disney tours end at the gift shop.

September 2016 Randomness

Haven’t been very consistent on the blog lately but life as always moves on. In September there were four major happenings for the Pedroza family. In this blog I will talk about our trip to Arizona, Denise’s Birthday, and Amy’s graduation from Bible school. Yeah that is only three but I am kind of pressed for time and I am hoping to write about the fourth event later when I have more time, but my guess is most people reading this blog already knows what happened.

Arizona Trip

Denise has a large family which means we have a lot of nieces and nephews, I guess it doesn’t have to mean that, but with us it does. This month one of our nephews in Arizona turned eight and he invited us to his baptism so we took a little road trip. In addition to going to the baptism and visit with relatives we were able to able to walk around both Tucson and Phoenix. I play a game called ingress where you get little patches for visiting different points of interest, so it was fun walking around and getting to learn about new places.

Some mosaics I got while playing Ingress in Phoenix and Tucscon

Some mosaics I got while playing Ingress in Phoenix and Tucscon

An interesting sign I saw in Tucson. Sadly the troops did not come home in 1971.

An interesting sign I saw in Tucson. Sadly the troops did not come home in 1971.

AJ shows the cowboys in Picacho his technology

AJ shows the cowboys in Picacho his technology

AJ and Denise enjoying pork belly sandwiches in Phoenix

AJ and Denise enjoying pork belly sandwiches in Phoenix

Phoenix City Hall has cool building features.

Phoenix City Hall has cool building features.

Dogs on a Short Leash has some interesting hot dogs. All of them come in nan bread instead of buns.

Dogs on a Short Leash has some interesting hot dogs. All of them come in nan bread instead of buns.

Now you know where "the hole in the wall" comes from (and a spider bug mobile).

Now you know where “the hole in the wall” comes from (and a spider bug mobile).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denise’s Birthday

denisebirthdaySeptember is Denise’s birth-week (yes it is not a birthday). This year Denise turned 40. Most women would not talk to you ever again if you published their birthday, but not Denise. Quite the opposite, she is more than happy to tell you all about her age. One of greatest attributes of Denise is that she is very comfortable in who she is. I (John) know she met with lots of people for her birth week, so I can’t say all of what she did. With AJ and I, we spent the day at miniature golf and at Chipotle.

Amy’s Graduation

amygraduationThis month I (John) also went down to South Gate, CA to see my sister’s graduation from bible school. For the last two years she has been going to Teen Challenge bible school. Bible school may seen trivial to some but for my sister this is a great achievement as it means that for I think in the first time in her life she has a purpose in life. Which the lack of which can destroy you, so for her to have one makes me happy. I am excited for her future prospects.

So with that life moves on at the Pedroza household. AJ is very excited about Halloween coming up. He has told me he wants to be a dragon, should be interesting. Denise says she is planning to have less items on her “to do list.” I (John) plan on being occupied with work stuff for the next few months. If I am lucky I might be able to get out and do a few weekend trips here and there.

Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

AJ and Denise among the Tokyo lights.

AJ and Denise among the Tokyo lights.

When night falls the Tokyoites come out to play.

When night falls the Tokyoites come out to play.

In many ways Japan is very normal. It is a land of hard working people that get up and go to work every day. On the other hand Japan is very different from the Western world. There are things that you will see there that you can’t even imagine back home. Case in point is the Robot Restaurant. I asked Denise to describe the place and she said, “it is proof that Liberace can still exist in the modern world.” The decorations are over the top but it is more than just decorations.

You really can't miss the entrance to the restaurant.

You really can’t miss the entrance to the restaurant.

Making the decision to go to the Robot Restaurant was one that I (John) hesitated on. It was for one thing kind of expensive, about $80 per person which included a bento meal. The second thing is it is located in the middle of Kabukicho (the red light district). It used to be that you had to be over 18 to get into the show and early reports said that it was not a place that any respectable person wanted to be caught in. Other reports however gave a different picture, saying that the show had changed and was now more family friendly. In fact when I was doing my final research I found that there was a discounted children’s ticket. Knowing that there were decency laws in Japan we decided to take a chance and buy a ticket.

Tickets for the show were very popular and we had to book several days in advance. The day we were able to get tickets just happened to be the same day AJ and I (John) were scheduled to return from our Mt. Fuji hike. The tickets we got were for 7:15 p.m. and we were scheduled to return from Mt. Fuji at 2:30 p.m., except it took us longer to get down the mountain than we thought and ended up getting back to Tokyo at 4:30 p.m. It was just enough time for AJ and I to take showers, get changed, and run out to the metro station. As a result of the short rest my feet were still pretty sore from the climb, but I was able to hobble my way to the show.

Shinjuku station is always a bustle of activity. At night it is even more so, as the night lights come on, the Japanese come out to see them. The short walk to the Robot Restaurant was very colorful. There was lots of people and lots of flashing lights, but there was no mistaking where the Robot Restaurant was. It was the flashiest of all the places in Kabukicho.

The stairs don't have handrails but there is plenty of stuff to grab on to if you think your going to slip.

The stairs don’t have handrails but there is plenty of stuff to grab on to if you think your going to slip.

The waiting lounge was I think inspired by Liberace.

The waiting lounge was I think inspired by Liberace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outside of the restaurant was just a preview of what was to come. Inside the building was even brighter than the outside. The rules were very clear that there was no flash photography allowed but the lights inside were so bright, that taking pictures were no problem. The first thing we were told to do was wait in a lounge, which was very over the top decorated. There we were entertained by a guy dressed up as a robot playing an electric guitar. At the bar there was a little robot that would speak broken English.

After the man with an electric guitar finished we were let down some flashy stairs to the basement for the main show. The seating was assigned and was very compact. Denise and I got sushi bento boxes and AJ got a beef and rice bento that was heated with a built in heating element. The show is hard to explain but it is a high energy, in your face (literally), high volume show. It was broken into four acts in which there was a break so that they could set up for the next act. It was a very engaging show if only for the fact that you never knew what or who was going to show up. The show was catered mostly to foreigners in that the dialogue was all broken English with English and Japanese subtitles.

Here is a little video to give you an idea of what we saw:

 

enjoyshowThis kind of show is kind of a once in a lifetime thing, I am glad we saw it once, but I doubt I would pay to see the show twice. Looking out to the audience it was hard to say that this was an authentic Japanese experience. I was told that the manager was an American. I only saw two other members in the audience that looked like they were from Japan. Yet, this was a show that I have never seen anything in any other part of the world and for that I will call it a Japanese experience. I am still sure what we saw, it was kind of like a dream, but a dream I definitely will not forget.

The drummers made a very dramatic entry to start the show.

The drummers made a very dramatic entry to start the show.

One of many dancing robots.

One of many dancing robots.

For being robots, these two were very wobbly.

For being robots, these two were very wobbly.

This lady on the left was the MC/Ringleader who gave an introduction for each set.

This lady on the left was the MC/Ringleader who gave an introduction for each set.

They pulled this airplane around before the show to show you how close the floats were going to get to you. That is to say when those wings head for your head you better duck!

They pulled this airplane around before the show to show you how close the floats were going to get to you. That is to say when those wings head for your head you better duck!

AJ and Denise with their bento boxes.

AJ and Denise with their bento boxes.

When they put up the chains and the evil robots came out we knew the show was going to get crazy.

When they put up the chains and the evil robots came out we knew the show was going to get crazy.

 

#28 Climb Mt. Fuji in Japan

It was an expensive but the "Goraiko" (sunrise shot) was worth it.

It was an expensive but the “Goraiko” (sunrise shot) was worth it.

Getting up to the top of Mt. Fuji was for me (John) a long and strange journey. 23 years ago I had been a California Youth Ambassador assigned to Japan. My job at the time was to promote California by going to different places in Japan. In the four months I was in Japan I went everywhere and everywhere I went was Mt. Fuji. On a clear day it dominates the Japanese skyline as it can be seen from almost anywhere on the main island and sometimes even on the smaller islands. As I traveled the land I saw Mt. Fuji over and over again. It seemed to call out to me and I remember starting to call it Fujisan (my friend Fuji). Even though I called Mt. Fuji my friend, it was a friend I didn’t really know and so I knew someday I would have to come back to visit.

Short Version:

The Yoshida trail is very well marked.

The Yoshida trail is very well marked.

On July 1st, AJ and myself (John) set out from Toyko to go and climb Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters high, which comes out to about 12,389 ft. tall (half the size of Mt. Everest). It took us 24 hrs. to reach the top from the 5th station (the tallest point you can get to by bus). Our goal was to see the sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji, which we did on July 2nd, 2016.

Long Version:

Even though we trained for three months, we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, even after summiting we weren’t quite sure what we had done. Despite that, looking into the rising sun struggling to break free from the clouds we knew instinctively that we had done something significant.

The beginning of our hike up to Mt. Fuji started at Shinjuku station in Tokyo. Transporting over 3 million passengers per day, Shinkjuku station is registered by Guinness World Records as the busiest transportation hub in the world. To give you a hint as to how big this station is, it has 51 railway lines that cross it. The bus station is on the 4th floor. It is amazing in itself to see how they drive these giant highway buses in some very tight corridors. It had already been a busy morning, since Denise and I had been to the Tsukiji fish market earlier in the morning. AJ and I arrived at the Shinjuku station at about 8 a.m. It took us awhile to find the right platform, but thanks to a tourist information center on the first floor we found our way to the bus ticket sales counter. I had prepared the day before by having the concierge service write down “I would like one adult and one child ticket to Mt. Fuji” on a piece of paper. I handed it to the sales lady and she responded “ie”, that means “no” in Japanese. At first I thought the paper was written wrong so I mustered my broken Japanese and muttered “Ni kippu kudasi Fuji”, which means “two ticket please Fuji”. Again “ie” but this time she handed me a timetable which clearly marked that all the bus tickets were sold. “Great!! All this way to be told I am idiot because I didn’t make a bus reservation.” I was told that there was a train that I could take but it would cost me double the amount of the bus and I wouldn’t get to the 5th station until 2 p.m. This was a problem. Starting a hike up Mt. Fuji at 2 p.m. would get us up to our mountain hut in the dark. Doable, yes, but not a fun way to start an epic hike. So while I tried to figure out what we were going to do, AJ decided he was going to do what he does best, twirl around like a mad man. I guess it worked because after a few minutes of him twirling a lady handed me a paper with the number 252 on it and said that if I came back at 9:52 a.m. I could try to get a cancellation ticket. I thought “what do I have to lose” so I took the number and we came back at 9:52 a.m. and to our surprise they called our number. We were very happy to get a seat on that bus. So happy that I made sure that I reserved and pre-paid for a 12 p.m. bus returning to Shinjuku station. I didn’t want to be stuck at the Mt. Fuji 5th Station without a return ticket.

At the third station there was an amusement park called Fuji-Q.

At the third station there was an amusement park called Fuji-Q.

The adventure started at Shinjuku station in Tokyo to catch a highway bus.

The adventure started at Shinjuku station in Tokyo to catch a highway bus.

This was our version of carbs-loading for the climb.

This was our version of carbs-loading for the climb.

The Fuji Subaru line is a highway only open during the summer that leads to the 5th station.

The Fuji Subaru line is a highway only open during the summer that leads to the 5th station.

At the base of Mt. Fuji there are many picturesque villages.

At the base of Mt. Fuji there are many picturesque villages.

The 5th station kind of looks like the gift shop section of Disneyland.

The 5th station kind of looks like the gift shop section of Disneyland.

A picture from the shrine at the 5th station.

A picture from the shrine at the 5th station.

My mom always told me "remember the day you left on" so we took a picture.

My mom always told me “remember the day you left on” so we took a picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bus trip was about 2 hours long. As we slowly headed into the interior of the country, things went from metropolitan to very green. At the base of Mt. Fuji are many different towns and villages. The side we were ascending from was from the Shizouka prefecture. The bus made a stop at the third station which is home to an amusement park known as Fuji-Q. From there we turned up a road called the Fuji Subaru Line. The Fuji Subaru Line is a road that is only open in the summer, which is the when Mt. Fuji is officially open for climbing.

The trail from the 5th station to the 6th station is mostly very gradual with lots of trees and shade.

The trail from the 5th station to the 6th station is mostly very gradual with lots of trees and shade.

The Mt. Fuji 5th Station, or as they translated it on the bus, the Mount Fuji Fifth Step, is kind of a weird preview for the hike that was about to come. That is to say, it didn’t represent at all the hike that was about to come. The Mt. Fuji 5th station is basically a tourist trap. It is like that part on Main Street USA at Disneyland where you walk through the shop just to find a door that opens right into another shop. There were hikers there, but there were also photo spots, horse rides, vending machines, and a very colorful shrine. They sold these souvenir walking sticks there as well. We had our own hiking sticks but bought a half a stick so that we could put it in my backpack and get branding stamps along the way. They also had ice cream at the 5th station. It was kind of hot when we got our hike started (at 12:30 p.m.) so we felt mountain berry (tasted just like strawberry to me) ice cream cones were the way to go.

The trail from the 5th station to the 6th station was kind of deceptive, in that it was very easy. It was a little bit steep in some places, but it was very well maintained, and it had lots of tree cover that offered nice shade. There were a lot of signs warning people not to go too fast and each sign had an estimated time of arrival to the next station along with the distance. There were also signs at the beginning telling people not to do a “bullet run”, go up and down the mountain in one day. The sign said we would get to the 6th station in a little over an hour which we did in about 40 minutes.

AJ waiting at the donation center at the 6th station.

AJ waiting at the donation center at the 6th station.

There are lots of signs warning people not to try to go up and down Mt. Fuji in one day.

There are lots of signs warning people not to try to go up and down Mt. Fuji in one day.

The first marker of the Yoshida climbing trail is very beautiful with the fog and the trees.

The first marker of the Yoshida climbing trail is very beautiful with the fog and the trees.

The first part of the 6th station trail wasn't too bad, just a bunch of gravel.

The first part of the 6th station trail wasn’t too bad, just a bunch of gravel.

The ranger had a 4x4, which he used to patrol the trails.

The ranger had a 4×4, which he used to patrol the trails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the 6th station we thought the hike was going to be a lot easier than we expected. We happily paid our 1,000 yen (about $10 USD) conservancy fee (completely optional, but who doesn’t want to protect the trails) and continued on our way. Right after we paid our conservancy fee, the trail changed dramatically. First of all, there were no longer any trees. Second of all, the dirt trail turned into a decomposed volcanic (Mt. Fuji is really a volcano not a mountain) rock trail. Then finally, we started to climb up the first of many steps on the trail. Despite this new development we pushed on.

About 200 meters (think two football fields) away from the 7th station we came upon two interesting things. The first thing we came upon was a television crew. At first we marveled at the fact that there was a television crew on top of Mt. Fuji and started to wonder what they were filming. Then they saw us and got really excited. We knew that July 1st was the first official hiking day of the 2016 Mt. Fuji season. What we didn’t know is several locals had reported to the ranger station a story about this little American boy attempting to climb Mt. Fuji. So, the local news station got a hold of the story and sent a crew to find this American boy. And so there, right at the cooled lava flow, which is the other different thing AJ spoke to a news crew. AJ was not at all shy, anyone who knows AJ knows that he will talk to pretty much anyone about anything. The news crew I think got a little more than they bargained for, not only did they learn that his name was “AJ” and that he was from California, but they also learned that he is “8 and a half years old and goes to Madison Elementary School” and that he “is strong and prepared for the hike because he does jogathon at school.” The news crew was a little bit confused about what a jogathon was but they smiled and thanked us for the interview. AJ was very excited about being interviewed and told everyone on the mountain how “famous” he was, which kind of turned out to be true, because pretty much all the hut owners and workers knew AJ’s name going up that mountain. Whether it was by word of mouth or because of that interview I can’t say for sure, but his fame did get him some privileges on that mountain.

Lunch break at the 7th station was sandwiches courtesy 7/11.

Lunch break at the 7th station was sandwiches courtesy 7/11.

Getting close to the 7th station the trail got very rocky.

Getting close to the 7th station the trail got very rocky.

It also got very steep.

It also got very steep.

Going up the mountain, I had enough cell service on my phone to capture a few portals on Ingress (location based game).

Going up the mountain, I had enough cell service on my phone to capture a few portals on Ingress (location based game).

AJ eating his sandwich at the 6th station.

AJ eating his sandwich at the 6th station.

On the way to the 7th station AJ was interviewed by a local news crew.

On the way to the 7th station AJ was interviewed by a local news crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AJ made lots of friends along the way. This girl was from Winchester, CA (very close to Riverside). She climbed and spoke with AJ from the 7th to the 8th station.

AJ made lots of friends along the way. This girl was from Winchester, CA (very close to Riverside). She climbed and spoke with AJ from the 7th to the 8th station.

After leaving the news crew we started to climb up several lava flow formations. These lava flow formations were very rocky and pretty steep. Steep enough that to navigate them you needed to use both your hands and feet. No rope was required, but they did have guide ropes that showed you the way up the trail. Starting at the 7th station, we started to pass by a series of huts, which we used as rest stops. At the first 7th station hut we stopped and had our lunch, which was some 7/11 sandwiches that I had bought for the trip. At each hut there was a bathroom that you could use for 200 yen (about $2 USD) and different things for sale. The higher you went, the more expensive things got. While at one of the 7th station huts, AJ made a friend of a 15 yr. old girl from Winchester, CA. Winchester is very close to Riverside, CA, so those two had lots of things to talk about. AJ’s friend walked with us a long time on that trail.Which is good because it took AJ’s mind off the constant pace of the trail.

 

 

As we were almost to the 8th station my legs started cramping pretty bad. I don’t know if it was due to altitude or the length of the climb, but every time I had to scramble up a big rock my legs started to spasm. AJ was like a billy goat and loved the big rocks, but not me. Just as I was about to get to the first 8th station my legs seized up so bad that I slipped and fell on a stairway. It was so sudden that I barely had time to break the fall with my walking stick and arms. I fell on my behind really hard and it hurt even more. It took about 10 minutes of rubbing my thighs with my hands before I got my knees to bend again.

There were a lot of very long tour groups climbing Mt. Fuji.

There were a lot of very long tour groups climbing Mt. Fuji.

A shrine at the 8th station.

A shrine at the 8th station.

John arriving at the 8th station. Took me resting on both poles to stay upright.

John arriving at the 8th station. Took me resting on both poles to stay upright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, my climb from the 8th station to the 8.5 station where our hut was located was very painful. At the Mt. Fujisan Hotel, which is the biggest complex on the mountain, but still a hut and definitely not a hotel in my opinion, AJ’s friend left us. It was just me and AJ going up the mountain together to get to our hut. It was very painful climb and just before arriving I experienced another muscle spasm episode and literally crawled up the last set of stairs to the Goraikoukan hut.

A view up to the 8.5 station shows how steep the climb was.

A view up to the 8.5 station shows how steep the climb was.

AJ and John at the 8.5 Goraikokan station.

AJ and John at the 8.5 Goraikoukan station.

I chose the Goraikoukan hut for two reasons. The first reason was that it was the highest hut you could stay overnight in on the mountain. This would give us the most amount of sleep time and yet have the opportunity to make it to the top of Mt. Fuji by sunrise. The second reason is that as part of their package they offered a hot dinner (it was about $150 for the both of us). There was a little confusion about our reservation, but I had my pre-paid reservation number with me. Also, the hut owner recognized AJ and decided it was big honor to have him staying at his hut so while we were at the hut AJ got to stay in the fire circle, which is something normally only the workers were allowed to do, but for AJ they made an exception. Our bed for the night was a futon mattress on a tatami mat. It wasn’t anything luxurious but after a full day of hiking it was all that we needed and I slept with no problems.

At 1:30 a.m. I could start to hear the movement of hikers and AJ told me that he needed to use the bathroom. I told him that once we left the hut, we could not come back and that we would have to start our hike up the mountain. He was OK with that so we got our stuff together, went to the bathroom, and started to hike up Mt. Fuji in the dead of night. I had packed two headlamps, but decided it would be better to have AJ use his headlight, put him in front of me and we would both be guided by his light. I had my headlamp on standby in case something happened to his. Right when got out of the hut we were faced with a big gust of wind that blew both of our hats off our head. We found my hat later in the morning, but AJ’s pokemon hat was never found.

The top of the crater was EXTREMELY windy.

The top of the crater was EXTREMELY windy.

AJ and John at the shrine at the top of Mt. Fuji.

AJ and John at the shrine at the top of Mt. Fuji.

The crater was very foggy and windy. From our view it looked like if you fell in it would be instant nothingness.

The crater was very foggy and windy. From our view it looked like if you fell in it would be instant nothingness.

Inside the hut it was warmer, but at 12,000 feet it was still cold enough to warrant keeping our cold weather gear on.

Inside the hut it was warmer, but at 12,000 feet it was still cold enough to warrant keeping our cold weather gear on.

AJ put in a 1 yen coin at the 9th station tori gate for good luck.

AJ put in a 1 yen coin at the 9th station tori gate for good luck.

AJ trying to touch the crater marker beacon.

AJ trying to touch the crater marker beacon.

Two guard dogs are said to guard Mt. Fuji at the 9th station by causing fire, wind, and thunder.

Two guard dogs are said to guard Mt. Fuji at the 9th station by causing fire, wind, and thunder.

To get goods up the volcanos huts use little tractors up the down trail.

To get goods up the volcanos huts use little tractors up the down trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going up in the middle of the night was slow progress. We were tired both physically and mentally, but there was nothing to do but to go up so we did. At the 9th station we found a 1 yen coin and decided to put it in the tori gate for good luck. I also saw what looked to be a memorial cross, a little reminder that you didn’t want to mess around too long at the top of Mt. Fuji or you could be next. At the 9th station we saw the stone guard dogs of Mt. Fuji that legend says protects Mt. Fuji by sending down wind, rain, and thunder. The legend says that they make sure that only those with real intent make it to the top of Mt. Fuji. We were tired, but at that point nothing was going to stop us from making it to the top.

The top of Mt. Fuji is marked by rocked carved shrine and a obelisk declaring the shrine the 10th station. We climbed a little more up to the crater and found another obelisk that we believe was marking the highest point in Japan. The top was very cold and windy. We were told that the weather was -23 C (-10 F). It was COLD! It was so windy that while at the crater I had to grab AJ because he kept blowing away. At the top there were some wooden pallet looking benches which we sat next to to wait for the sun to rise. It was very foggy and it looked like the sun, like us, was struggling to get through the clouds. We had wanted to get a branding stamp at the top of Mt. Fuji, but because of the wind and cold, all the structures (including the shrine) were closed. We took several foggy pictures and decided to start heading down the mountain.

A view of the 9th station tori gate on the way down.

A view of the 9th station tori gate on the way down.

The first part of the down hill climb was particularly slow because we had to use the up trail. Normally there is a different trail for climbing down Mt. Fuji as there is going up, but because of a mini avalanche a few days prior the first part of the downhill trail was inaccessible. We dodged all the uphill climbers and eventually got back to the 8th station where we were able to go down the downhill trail. The downhill trail is composed of crushed volcanic rock and is kind of slippery. It is also used by the hut workers to drive these little tread tractors up the mountain, which is how they get their supplies up and down Mt. Fuji.

The downhill was very long. After the 8th station there was no water stops and we ran out of water at the 6th station. AJ kind of lost it a little and cried just about 300 meters from the 5th station. I knew he was dehydrated, because I was as well, but I told him that there was nothing we could do about it until we got to the 5th station. It seemed like forever to get to that 5th station but we did. We finally got to the 5th station at 12:30 p.m., which means we were on that mountain for 24 hrs. It was a long time. So long in fact that we missed the 12 p.m. bus that I had pre-paid. Luckily, I had enough money and there was space on the 2 p.m. bus (it cost about $26 USD one way).

It looks like there used to be a rescue hut at the 9th station but now it looks like it needs rescuing.

It looks like there used to be a rescue hut at the 9th station but now it looks like it needs rescuing.

AJ decided to take a stab at the ice pack on the way down.

AJ decided to take a stab at the ice pack on the way down.

These concrete structures are meant for you to run inside and shelter in the case of a avalanche.

These concrete structures are meant for you to run inside and shelter in the case of a avalanche.

Even though it was July there was plenty of snow to be seen.

Even though it was July there was plenty of snow to be seen.

The downward trail takes you through the heart of a very dusty side crater.

The downward trail takes you through the heart of a very dusty side crater.

A downward view of the Fujisan Hotel at the 8th station. The Fujisan Hotel is the largest of the hut complexes on Mt. Fuji, but to call it a hotel is a stretch.

A downward view of the Fujisan Hotel at the 8th station. The Fujisan Hotel is the largest of the hut complexes on Mt. Fuji, but to call it a hotel is a stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got back to our hotel about 4:30 p.m. and you would think that after an adventure like that we would just crash in our beds, but that was not the case. We had just enough time to take a shower, get ready, and move on out because we had an appointment with the Robot Cafe for that evening, but that is another story all together.

Here is a little video of our thoughts while climbing:

Nevada State Capitol, Carson City, Nevada

The Nevada State Capitol Building

The Nevada State Capitol Building

As part of our continuing quest to visit all 50 of the state capitals we visited the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City, Nevada. Kind of like Arizona we found that the original State Capitol is old (built in 1871) and only houses the Governor’s offices. Originally, the building also held the Supreme Court, Legislature, and state library. All those functions now have their own buildings close to the State Capitol building.

The State Capitol building is currently undergoing refurbishment. Looking at the various plaques on the walls it looks like this has been done several times. Inside we met with a State Capitol Police Officer. He was very friendly and invited us to ask him any questions. He handed us a map and told us we were free to pretty much go wherever we wanted. You might be skeptical of that claim, but it was true. The building was really quite open. They let us go into the offices, sit in the old Supreme Court chairs, and even let us examine the inside of the state safe! Which by the way despite having very heavy doors was very ornate with murals on the outside and inside doors. The only place we couldn’t really go was the old assembly chambers because of the construction. Other than that though everywhere was open.

John at a Legislative Desk

John at a Legislative Desk

The Assembly room was under refurbishment.

The Assembly room was under refurbishment.

"Please arise for the Honorable Chief Justice Pedroza" (yeah right). At first Nevada had three supreme court justices, now they have seven.

“Please arise for the Honorable Chief Justice Pedroza” (yeah right). At first Nevada had three supreme court justices, now they have seven.

Loved how they were able to reuse the door hinges when they remodeled.

Loved how they were able to reuse the door hinges when they remodeled.

A look into the Governors office.

A look into the Governors office.

The safe inside the Secretary of the State's office.

The safe inside the Secretary of the State’s office.

They were really nice and let me look inside the safe. It has a beautiful painting on the inside.

They were really nice and let me look inside the safe. It has a beautiful painting on the inside.

The trim was interesting with all the different minerals found in Nevada.

The trim was interesting with all the different minerals found in Nevada.

AJ in front of the State Capitol building.

AJ in front of the State Capitol building.

The old Senate chambers holds a little museum on the story of the Nevada Capitol.

The old Senate chambers holds a little museum on the story of the Nevada Capitol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just outside the building is a park with many memorials and other government buildings. The main ones to note were the Nevada State Assembly Building and the Nevada State Supreme Court. The city of Carson City is kind of a mid sized city. Like all Nevada cities, there are casinos, but they are not outlandishly flashy like the ones seen in Las Vegas. The city still retains it’s late 1800’s charm and we enjoyed the short drive out to see the Governor’s Mansion.

Kit Carson is of course the founder of Carson City.

Kit Carson is of course the founder of Carson City.

The Bliss Mansion is a great example of late 1800s architecture

The Bliss Mansion is a great example of late 1800s architecture

Cactus Jack's Casino kind of shows what the casinos in Carson City are like, lots of neon, but not like the crazy stuff you see in Las Vegas.

Cactus Jack’s Casino kind of shows what the casinos in Carson City are like, lots of neon, but not like the crazy stuff you see in Las Vegas.

42nd St. Downtown retains the feeling of the old west.

42nd St. Downtown retains the feeling of the old west.

The Nevada Fallen Peace Officer's Memorial

The Nevada Fallen Peace Officer’s Memorial

The new Supreme Court Building is just next door to the State Capitol Building.

The new Supreme Court Building is just next door to the State Capitol Building.

The Governor's Mansion is not far away.

The Governor’s Mansion is not far away.

The Nevada State Legislature building is also next door to the State Capitol Building and is where the Nevada Assembly and Senate meet today.

The Nevada State Legislature building is also next door to the State Capitol Building and is where the Nevada Assembly and Senate meet today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a little video of us walking the grounds:

 

 

 

 

The Nevada State Capitol Building is located at 101 N Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701 in downtown Carson City. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

We are Selling Our Bikes

P1160247 P1160248 P1160249 P1160250 P1160251 P1160252 P1160253 P1160254

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are moving and need to sell our two bicycles. Both bicycles have night lights on them.

The first one is a
White Electra Three Speed Townie Women’s bike. Like the name implies this is a good town bike. It has a gearless 3 speed changing system. It has a mounted basket on the front. It looks fine but it has not been used for over a year so it probably needs a bike tune up.

The second one is a
Black/White/Blue Giant Alux 6000 Series Butted Tubing Road Bike. This bike is made for off road biking. It has shocks in the front. It is 10 speed. I have installed a rack and baskets in the back. It has a flat tire. I have not used it for six months so it probably needs a tune up as well.

I will also include in the price the rack that we put the bikes on. It is a lean-to rack that allows you to stack two bicycles without any nails. You just lean it on the wall and can stack bicycles. Very nice for apartments.

I am selling both bikes as is and you must take both bikes or neither of them. Basically, I just don’t want to move them. The $300 prices is firm, the bikes are both worth way more than $300. I am accepting cash only, no checks, no rainchecks, must be paid all at once, and you must haul them away yourselves. We have no way to deliver them. We move April 23rd, if we don’t sell them by then I will put them in the moving van and then after I am done moving sell them to the scrapper.

If interested call us at 951-823-5883

Why Yes! We are Made of Money! El MIDE, Mexico City

You know your famous when they put you on the money.

You know your famous when they put you on the money.

When you think of Mexico, you might think of poor people. Or, maybe you think of super rich drug cartel owners. Both do exist in Mexico, but the reality is the majority of Mexicans are just a bunch of hard working people just trying to make a living. While Mexico may not be the richest country in the world, it is by no means the poorest either. The fact is that Mexico has a lot of natural resources and when you realize how functional the country is despite sometimes inept government structures, you start to realize how much the country actually has to offer.

The concept of money is a universal concern. The MIDE (Museo Interactivo De Economia, Museum Interactive of Economics) tries to not only explain where money comes from, but where it can take us. The museum lives up to it’s title by being very interactive. Getting caught up in all the different displays it became very apparent how money affects us. It also became very apparent that I did not want to be stuck on a deserted island with AJ because we all “died” when he refused to trade with us.

The museum was located very close to the Bellas Artes Metro station and didn’t cost too much. It was $90 ($5.06 USD) pesos per person or $200 ($11.25 USD) per family of four. For an extra $20 pesos ($1.15 USD) we were able to design our own money, which was a fun little souvenir.

Click to enlarge photos:

In this exhibit they showed you all the anti-fraud mechanisms used in money.

In this exhibit they showed you all the anti-fraud mechanisms used in money.

This exhibit had bags that represented amount of goods.

This exhibit had bags that represented amount of goods.

Mexican pesos are a lot more colorful than US dollars. These frames are made with shredded money.

Mexican pesos are a lot more colorful than US dollars. These frames are made with shredded money.

For some strange reason the torture museum was next to the economics museum.

For some strange reason the torture museum was next to the economics museum.

The MIDE is a very fun place for families to explore.

The MIDE is a very fun place for families to explore.

An old coin mint.

An old coin mint.

On the top floor you started the tour by learning about the enviroment

On the top floor you started the tour by learning about the enviroment

AJ and Denise enjoyed the fact that some of the displays were in English.

AJ and Denise enjoyed the fact that some of the displays were in English.

Mexico's first pesos were printed by the Bank of London.

Mexico’s first pesos were printed by the Bank of London.

Friki Plaza, Mexico City, Mexico

 

It is probably better we don't have a place like this in California or I would spend too much money.

It is probably better we don’t have a place like this in California or I would spend too much money.

When people think of Mexico I think most people in the USA think of either beaches or ancient times such as Pre-Hispanic or Spanish Colonialism. Mexico is that but when it comes to Mexico City people need to understand that it is a major metropolis. As such, there is A LOT of new things in Mexico City. All of that gets incorporated into the cosmo of Mexican Culture.

Point in case is Friki Plaza. Friki Plaza is a four story anime/game/geek store. All four floors, plus the basement of the mall are dedicated to the pursuit of the Otaku culture. On the ground floor you have cell phones, DVDs, and Comic books. The second floor was dedicated to card games such as Pokemon, Magic, and Yugigo. The third floor had all sorts of Otaku snacks such as ramen, soft serve ice cream, okonomiyki, and takoyaki. The fourth floor had every game system you could imagine, which for a small fee you could rent and play. The basement was dedicated to cosplay, things like make up, hats, and wigs.

I liked this pokemon mural, very creative.

I liked this pokemon mural, very creative.

Denise like the Storm Trooper riding a horse.

Denise like the Storm Trooper riding a horse.

AJ and I spent $25 pesos (about $1.50 USD) to play video games for an hour.

AJ and I spent $25 pesos (about $1.50 USD) to play video games for an hour.

One of the many murals, this one was a of a green dragon.

One of the many murals, this one was a of a green dragon.

On the second floor they had benches where players had non-stop card tournaments.

On the second floor they had benches where players had non-stop card tournaments.

For $75 pesos (about $4.20 USD) you rolled two dice and could potentially win a very good card.

For $75 pesos (about $4.20 USD) you rolled two dice and could potentially win a very good card.

A lot of Magic the Gathering cards. Interesting was that they preferred English cards.

A lot of Magic the Gathering cards. Interesting was that they preferred English cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Describing it sounds very Japanese, but it somehow it wasn’t. It had Japanese stuff but the environment was somehow very Mexican. Once again Mexico took a modern idea and made it into their own.

Pasteleria La Ideal (Ideal Bakery), Mexico City

idealfront
Pasteleria La Ideal is locate at number 18 on Av. 16 de Septiembre Street in downtown Mexico City. About 4 city blocks from the Bellas Artes Metro Station. The bakery was opened in 1927 and was originally called the Ideal Bakery. Opened right in the middle of what is known as the Cristero War (Mexico vs. the Catholic Church) the bakery keeps things pretty simple. It makes a lot of classic bread at really cheap prices. The business model seems to be working because we went on a Thursday morning and they had already sold out of bolillos (mexican rolls), but there was more than an abundance of other bread to find. Also, not to be missed was the cake demonstration room on the 1st floor(as opposed to the ground floor). Some of the cakes there were 10 layers high.

Mexicans love jelly cakes.

Mexicans love jelly cakes.

A selection of filled turnovers.

A selection of filled turnovers.

Grab a tray and some tongs and pick away. Everything on this table was 5 pesos (about .28 cents)

Grab a tray and some tongs and pick away. Everything on this table was 5 pesos (about .28 cents)

The sign says a kilo for 75 pesos (2.2 lbs for about $4.50 USD)

The sign says a kilo for 75 pesos (2.2 lbs for about $4.50 USD)

I put AJ in this frame so you could start to get a feel as to how high these cakes got.

I put AJ in this frame so you could start to get a feel as to how high these cakes got.

La Ideal keeps up to modern day with this Yoda cake. Basically, you give them a picture and they can make a cake out of it.

La Ideal keeps up to modern day with this Yoda cake. Basically, you give them a picture and they can make a cake out of it.

AJ and Denise looking through the bakery.

AJ and Denise looking through the bakery.