Leon's trip to the U.S.
Late in March, during his spring vacation, Leon went on a trip to southern Utah to ride horses and experience the American West.
One day, Leon and his group rode for over six hours.
Leon borrowed this pair of sun glasses from his mom.
Here's Leon with Mr. Hiroshi Miyamoto or "Boss." Mr. Miyamoto runs the riding school that organized this tour. Leon really likes "Boss." By the way, this picture gives you a good sense of the scenery in Monument Valley where they did some of their riding. Monument Valley was the site of the classic Western "Stagecoach."
As part of the tour, participants were given opportunities to shoot pistols and rifles. Most of the participants were adults. Leon was the youngest. As parents, we weren't enthusiastic about the idea of him shooting but Leon enjoyed the experience.
The man with the white beard (Alan) lives in Japan and helped organize the tour. Everyone was shooting at his brother's ranch.
Mom came to visit from mid April to the end of the month. I missed the beginning of her visit because I had to go on a business trip to New Zealand but enjoyed the remainder of the time we spent together. We all noticed an improvement in Leon's English this time around. He and Grandma had some real conversations.
This picture was taken in our living room. Being put in Leon's shirt is an example of the kind of treatment Cheese tolerates on a daily basis without complaint.
Here's Mia doing her homework. She asked to have this picture taken . . .
. . . obviously proud of herself.
This was not the first time for us to visit this bridge (click here to see a picture from an earlier visit). Unlike last time, however, this time we got to see water being let out of the sides of the aquaduct. This feature was originally built into the bridge to allow sediment to be cleared out of it but now now water is let out of the sides like this for the benefit of tourists for often than to clean out sediment. (Leon, by the way, took this picture.)
After we stopped by the bridge (Tsujunkyo) and had lunch at a rural home that had been converted into a restaurant we went to our main destination, Unoko Falls. The was the first time for Mom to see this place but we used to come here rather frequently (click here to see some pictures from an earlier visit). I thought that Mom would like the place but I had forgotten how difficult the walking was. The footing was not very good and we had to hike quite a ways to get to the falls but Mom handled the ordeal very well.
Leon found this spot to rest on our way to the falls.
When we stopped to rest toward the end of our hike Mia got out a pencil and paper and started to write some haiku (at Mariko's suggestion).
A day or two later (the day before mom had to go home) we went to a town on the western coast of Kumamoto called Ashikita. This picture was taken at a "roller luge" facility there. The kids drove carts with a steering wheel and brake down the track you see behind Mom. The kids love this place.
If Leon had been going at his normal speed he would have left Mia in the dust but today he was being a good big brother and making sure Mia got down the hill alright. By the way, you can see Mom and me toward the top of the picture.
The hill is quite big so they have a lift to get up it. The kids always came down by cart but we rode the lift down.
The wooden bridge that Mom is standing on allows people to cross the "roller luge" track without being run over by the little speed demons.
After letting the kids play at the luge place in the morning, we went to lunch at an Italian restaurant by the sea.
On the way home, we stopped by a beach. It was too early in the year to swim but the kids enjoyed the sand and the sun.
Mia seemed especially invigorated by the wind and sun. I think she imagined the piece of driftwood she found to be a club. (When you look at this picture on a Windows machine the sky may look odd. Something happened to it when I adjusted the color of this picture. Sorry, but I don't know how to fix it.)
Before Mom left, Mariko took a couple of pictures of her. Here she is at the gate to our garden.
And here she is in front of our house. We were all sorry to see her go. The kids are looking forward to seeing her and their aunts and uncles and cousins this summer. This year we will put the kids on the plane and they will fly to the U.S. by themselves.
This picture isn't from Mom's visit but I thought I throw it in anyway. It was taken on the school yard which is just a few minutes from our house.