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Archive for April, 2008

Terry and Kriss came down from Seattle this weekend and hosted a fun evening at the Wine Cellar in Irvine. It is actually a wine storage building that we used for our private party. The Bordeaux was flowing from about 5pm until closing. Following are a couple of pictures from the evening.

Here are the 3 birthday girls: Joy, Kriss and Kim.

And here are the Real Housewives!

Real Housewives from Orange County

It was a very fun evening albeit a bit chilly in the 57 degree temperature controlled wine locker but a wonderful relief from the 90 plus degree temperatures in SoCal this weekend.

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The boys had their 11th birthday this past week and we celebrated by taking them out to Champagne Bakery (their choice).  They ate strawberry crepes for dinner.

They also had a sleep over with their friends and had homemade chocolate fondue (again their choice).  Are you sensing a French theme here?

They then stayed up and played video games until two in the morning!

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Track Meets

Nikhil is continuing with his track workouts during the week and has started participating in meets on the weekends. This is his first season of track and field.

Last weekend he participated at the Swift Invitational Track meet in Gardena. He ran his fastest 800M at 3:09 (in his second meet) and his first 1500M at 6:20.

On Friday, he ran at the Newport Beach City meet and ran a 400M and 800M. His 400M time was 86 seconds and his 800M was 3:12. He placed third in both of his heats and qualifies to run in the SCMAF (Southern California Championship meet) in June. Lots of time to practice until then!

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Back to Normal

So we are back to our daily routine. The boys had a campout this weekend for Boy Scouts and Annika had a softball game.

Anjali took the boys and I went with Annika.

I got a lucky picture of her hitting the ball!

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On our last two days in Ecuador, we headed south of Quito on the Pan American highway to the village of Banos. It is known for its Tungurahua volcano which is an active 5000m high volcano site. It last erupted in Nov. 2006 and was said to have released steam on the days that we were there.

Fortunately, all we saw was a peaceful mountain and amazing views.

Here is a picture of the “spa” we stayed at in Banos at the base of the mountain. It is in a picturesque location underneath a waterfall.

The spa itself is a cheesy motel about the quality of a Motel 6 or worse but is was the best in town.

As you can see, the kids can have fun anywhere.

In the morning, we took a ride on the “terabithia” which is essentially a tram that goes across a gorge and ends in a waterfall. Banos is known for these “cascadas” that sit at the edge of the rainforest.

The one that we rode was 500m long and 100m above the ground. Check out the video of the ride. They stopped the tram about 2/3 of the ride and just before the waterfall.

After the ride, we headed back to Quito. On the way, we stopped off for some ice cream in the town of Salcedo which is known for its ice-cream. There must have been 100 ice cream vendors in the town.

After about a 4 hour ride back to Quito, we had a quick dinner at our favorite restaurant called the Magic Bean and were entertained by our little angel!

It was an amazing experience overall and one we will remember forever. Special thanks to Anjali for researching and arranging the whole trip!

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On one of the few remaining days after the Amazon, we went to the equator, also known as the middle of the world.

Here are the kids on the equator line.

We visited a museum that had a water demonstration supposedly showing the coriolis effects. On the equator line, the water drained from the sink straight out. On either side of the equator line, the water drained out with a whirlpool effect. It was even clockwise on one side and counter clockwise on the other. Pretty cool demonstration, but I find it hard to believe how just a few feet on either side of the equator can make a difference.

Here we all are posing for the Tustin News. We had our picture taken for the “Where in the World” section of the paper.

Another interesting feature of the equator is that one can balance an egg on a nail head. Supposedly, the gravitational forces at the equator are neutral allowing one to balance the egg. Once again, I’m not sure I buy the logic, but sure enough, it did work and it sure impressed the kids! We should now try it at home to disprove this theory. Any physicists in the house with a hypothesis as to why this works?

Vikram got to shoot a blow gun. See the arrow in the cactus.

After the equatorial museum, we headed off to the Otovalo market. On the way, we stopped off for lunch at a restaurant at Lake San Pablo with a wonderful view of the Imbabura volcano in the background at 8000 feet.

Otavalo is about two hours north of Quito on the Pan American highway (also known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes) . Otavalo is one of the oldest and most famous markets in the world. The Indians make and sell their handicrafts at the market.

This is a real hagglers paradise. Be warned though, as I bought two large size T-shirts that both shrunk to a youth size!

We have two more days left in Ecuador and tomorrow, I’ll post some more pictures from our trip to Banos and a different rainforest.

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Each day, we went on a canoe ride and did some hiking. Here is a video of one of the canoe rides. Listen to the sounds of the jungle and see the amazing variety of plant and animal life.

On one of the days, we climbed up to the top of a 135 foot (40 meter) kapok tree and viewing platform. It sits just above the rainforest canopy and provides the opportunity to view the birds and monkeys from a different vantage point.

Here are the boys looking thru the telescope at the birds.

Here is a picture Nikhil took of a toucan thru the telescope.

The next day, we went to the top of a 90 foot (30 meter) suspension bridge. Here is a video of the walk across the bridge.


At the top, we saw more toucans just sitting on the bridge. Six in all.

Here is a picture from back down at the bottom, looking up at the suspension bridge. It looks scarier than it is.

Ont the way back to the lodge, we saw a fungus called a champagne cup.

Here is a school of squirrel monkeys. They traveled in packs. If you look closely, you can see 3 of them. We saw several of them up close and personal.

And here is me and my better half taking a break.

On the ride back to the lodge, we were surprised by a fast approaching thunder and lightning storm.

We made it safely back to the lodge and enjoyed another wonderful meal.

The Amazon is a truly awesome experience and Sacha Lodge was a great place to see all that it has to offer.

I still have a couple more posts of the equator trip and a trip we took to a volcano in Banos. Stay tuned!

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