San Francisco, here we come

While we were in CA for vacation we took a trip up to San Francisco to visit with my lovely Brandy, who was there for a library conference. We took BART in and took the cable car to Pier 39. It was the girls’ first cable car experience that they can remember, and they enjoyed it greatly though they didn’t appreciate the line to get on.

I’ve been to SF tons of times, but it took being away for me to realize how much I love the look of the town.

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Two intrepid travelers.DSC03864

Two more!DSC03867

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There was a lovely layer of mist over the Golden Gate.DSC03902

The girls found a friend.DSC03914

The girls are now enamored of wax museums (YAY!) so we made a stop at Madame Tussad’s SF location to compare. DSC03925

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They have feelings about Zuckerberg. (Ok, not really, I told them to do this. But it made me laugh.)DSC03937

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They have an exhibit about how they make the wax works (there’s one in the Tokyo version as well) and Neil Patrick Harris is the model for the SF version.
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Posing on Abbey Road, which they totally recognized.DSC03943

Miss Audrey with Miss Audrey.DSC03947

This may be one of my favorite pictures ever. DSC03952

And a special picture for their daddy, looking tough with Steve McQueen. DSC03957

For this one you’re supposed to pose with Elton John.
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There was only one problem.DSC03961

Elton left! DSC03963

We went out to see the sea lions, but this little guy was all alone.
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The weight of all of our expectations tired him out.DSC03976

My sweet Brandy! It was so lovely to spend time with her and enjoy San Francisco!DSC03981

Heard Wildlife Sanctuary

I just created a new category for this blog! Now there’s a check box for Texas posts. How exciting!

When we were in McKinney to find our house, we took a day and went to Heard Wildlife Sanctuary. We hiked around for about an hour and didn’t see a 1/4 of it, and we didn’t go into the science museum either- I think repeat visits will be necessary. It’s a gorgeous place, we all loved it.

There’s a butterfly enclosure with lots of variety. There are few things I like better than getting a good picture of a butterfly.

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The hike included a bunch of different eco systems, including Texas Blackland Prairie, one of the rarest eco systems in North America.DSC03754

There was also marsh.DSC03756

And lots of wildlife!DSC03757

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The swamp might have been my favorite.DSC03762

This flower looks like electricity.DSC03763Here’s to many more adventures at Heard!

Magic at Meguro Gajoen

Today B told us that he had a surprise, and we headed into Meguro. We went to Meguro Gajoen, a really beautiful building that I’ve never been to before. Inside was the most amazing exhibit. It will be seriously difficult to describe, and anyone who lives in Tokyo should make every possible effort to go before the exhibit closes on Aug. 8. Like, move mountains to go. As I was looking at the pictures tonight I realized that it felt like a real life incarnation of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus- full of wonder and oddity and magic. Tiny literally sobbed when it was time for us to leave. We’re going back again next week. (My camera ran out of batteries part way through and so I will post again with pictures of everything I missed this time.)

Meguro Gajoen was originally built in 1931 and functioned as a gorgeously decorated wedding complex. Only part of it still remains in its original form, and this area contains the exhibit. 100 stairs go up, and there are intricately decorated tatami floored rooms off the landings.

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The first room contained a collection of Japanese creations. Lanterns,

 

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hair accessories,DSC04125

wood cut prints, DSC04128

glassware. Beautiful, but normal enough.DSC04130

In the next room was a 3 dimensional display.DSC04141

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Details on the walls of the room.DSC04149

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The next room was stunning in its simplicity. We all wanted to stay there for a long time. It was full of wind chimes.

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There was a fan blowing so that the windchimes tinkled softly. One wall was filled with a diorama of bamboo (my picture came out blurry) and another had these cut, lighted bamboo stalks.

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The next room was my favorite, and it was at this point that things stepped up in the awesome, weird department. The room was full of these strange containers (see the third picture down) with incredible dolls inside.DSC04173

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DSC04193There were glass balls around the room in different configurations so that things reflected oddly- it was unreal.

The next room was full of gorgeously lighted leaves. I wish I could have gotten more pictures, but my camera was losing it at this point. I will take more next week.

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Then there was the washi paper lantern room. All of these are made of washi paper.DSC04208

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DSC04209The last room was full of lanterns.

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I seriously cannot describe how wonderful it all was. Each room was like a present, a lovely magic surprise. Tiny declared it her absolute favorite place we have been in Japan, and I very well might agree with her.

 

 

Trick Photography Museum

The Trick photography Museum is set up with a bunch of optical illusions that you can pose in for pictures. The paintings on the wall have the illusion of depth, so if you pose correctly, it looks like you’re part of the scene. The girls caught on to it more as we went on, but it was pretty fun.

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The bench she is “sitting” on is painted onto the wall. DSC03399

Not a real door.DSC03404

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The mirror in this room is messed up.DSC03433

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Making a mess of a painting. DSC03478

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DSC03503I think we’ll go back with Bruce, I have the feeling he’ll be able to figure out better angles than I could. But we had a great time!

 

Madame Tussad’s Wax Museum, Tokyo

We went out to Legoland earlier this week, and they had a deal running with Madame Tussad’s which is right next door. For 500 yen more ($5) you got admission into Tussad’s, and kids paid nothing additional. None of us has been to a wax museum, and I wasn’t sure if the girls would dig it, but I figured, why not. I am SO glad we went. The girls had a blast. You could take pictures with any of the figures, and they had costumes and props you could use as well.

Johnny Depp. The girls had no idea who he was until I told them he was Willy Wonka.

DSC03289Zoe the Queen is skeptical.

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Tiny the Queen might order someone’s head off.DSC03296

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They tried to match the feeling of the figure, hence their calmness with the Dalai Lama.DSC03310

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Sit ups with a David Beckham figure that looked nothing like him.DSC03316

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All the Single Ladies, indeed.DSC03320

One of the AKB48 girls.DSC03325 And another.DSC03328

Singing backup for Elvis.DSC03332

This one is for their Grandpa- Ryoma Sakamoto.DSC03338

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The girls saw Shakespeare and literally started jumping up and down. They were so excited, you’d have thought the man himself was actually there. He was the biggest possible deal to them, and it made me super happy. They were also really excited about Da Vinci.DSC03347

DSC03350 Z’s best Mona Lisa impression.DSC03353

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Tiny and the lady she was named for.DSC03360

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This is Matsuko Deluxe, a cross dressing columnist who hosts various TV programs. We know him as the “Hot Pepper Beauty Lady”- Hot Pepper Beauty is a free magazine full of beauty product ads, and he has been on the cover. (His cross dressing appears to be a stage persona from my research.) Anyway, Z was overjoyed that he was in the museum.DSC03384
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And I’ll end with a question for you. If you were going to commemorate Brad Pitt’s face in wax, is this the look you’d go with? DSC03388

Hamarikyu Gardens

Bruce found out about these gardens and took us all there the day that my parents left. What a way to end a Japan trip!

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I said no to the offer of an audio guide before I was informed it was an “ubiquitous audio guide”. Now I will forever regret not getting it.DSC03141

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The garden is on the bay, and the water in the lake comes in from the bay.
DSC03182I’ve never seen aquatic life like this in the wild- it was so incredibly cool.

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Zoe with a wish. Or a truffula.DSC03232

This actually happened. Sometimes life in Japan is surreal.DSC03247

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Go firemen, go!DSC03273

So many statues.

My parents did a lot of exploring while they were here, and they found a really neat set of temples that we went out to one day. They had a bunch of really cool, really unusual statues. I present them here without comment because I really don’t have any answers for you.

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