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And it is time to post about our annual summer trip back to the States! As usual, we went first to Seattle for a few days, and then this year I really wanted to go to Tampa, FL to visit my brother and family, so I was able to meet a lot of people there and enjoy a great trip!

First off is Seattle. There were a lot of events, such as finally being able to visit the Seattle Aquarium, SeaFair and the Blue Angels, and also my dream of seeing Mt. St. Helens finally coming true!


Looking down at cool-colored water from the plane


And Mt. Rainier from the plane


We went to Kenji’s parent’s house for a nap, then relaxed with dinner and taking pictures in the yard


And a trip to the grocery store for snacks and fun stuff we can’t normally get in Japan!

The next few days were various activities, relaxing, and enjoying the nice (chilly!) weather after the heat of Japan. We went for dinner one night to Alki Beach with Kenji’s parents for some fish and chips, and also spent some time downtown and at the Aquarium, which we hadn’t been able to go to the year before. We also had fun watching the Blue Angels perform for SeaFair from the house. Finally, we went to another beach north of Seattle to run some errands and take some pictures. A lot was packed into a few days!


Starbucks and cupcakes from going to the mall our second day! We spent a lot of time shopping for various things we needed, then headed back for a rest before heading to Alki Beach in the evening.


Night views from above Alki Beach and a fish and chips dinner!


Random picture of me


Watching the Blue Angels over a few days of them practicing.


A video (click to watch) of the Blue Angels over the house!


A Thai dinner one night, and later, meeting friends of Kenji’s for a reunion!


On the waterfront and an amazing yummy meal before heading to the Aquarium!


Petting pond! Yay!


Can you tell which one is real?! ;p


A video (click to watch!) of the octopus. Unfortunately, right before I took this it did this cool color-change to white and back to red thing, which I wasn’t fast enough to catch. And of course, when I started the video, he didn’t do it!


Cute little fishy!


A cool dome-shape with the ocean above us


Awwww, otters!


My new hat?


Walking around Downtown Seattle after the Aquarium and visiting the highest Starbucks in the world!


Another night view, now from above Seattle!


Train tracks and a North Seattle beach area

Next are pictures from my favorite part of the trip, Mt. St. Helens! I was so excited to go!


A talk at a the first station leading up to the mountain on what happened and the after effects. The pictures the ranger is holding up shows the mountain before and after the explosion… a HUGE change


A quick snack break…


And our first views of the mountain!


Getting closer and closer to the mountain…


There were still so many dead trees and patches with no growth.


About as close as you can get by driving, it is easy to see the destruction the blast did to the mountain.


From the highest point we were able to drive, we hiked for a bit on paths around the mountain, but decided not to go too far. It was hot!

Mt. St. Helens was really awesome, but then it was time to go to Florida for a week! We had a rather grueling travel time, but were excited to get there! We went exploring the island on scooters with Mason, cooked a yummy shrimp taco dinner with Curtis and the family, explored another aquarium with Manatees, and went to the beach with everyone! The highlight was the last day, when we took a boat out onto the water for a day.


But first, my adorable niece, Makaira, making funny faces at the camera!


Getting picked up at the airport!


Relaxing at home and showing everyone pictures the first night


Mason watching Makaira


On the way to the beach


Beach day! Makaira’s cousin Riley playing in the sand, and Kenji trying to keep the sun off!


Mom and Makaira!


The whole group out


Shopping in the evening for stuff for Taco Night, I caught sight of yummy watermelons!


Taco night! Yuuuum!


Christy’s friend Maryann and kids came over to visit later too!


Yummy breakfast in the morning


And a tiny bit of shopping!


Kenji, Mason and me renting scooters to explore Anna Maria Island!


Our first stop was at a beach at the end of the island with some birds as companions!


Kenji put a GoPro camera on his helmet, which looked pretty silly!


Lunchtime!


Other side of the island now, by the Rod and Reel Peer


Two of Kenji’s pictures from later


What is this…


Water and birds!


Next, the aquarium! A video (click to watch) of some of my favorite kinds of jellies, who lie on the bottom and face up towards the top! So cuuuute!


More jellies and a cute little box fishie smiling at the camera!


Kenji and Mason at the Aquarium


HOLY CRAP MANATEES!!!!


How do you stand up to a manatee?


And an awesome video (click to watch!) of the manatees at the aquarium. They are my new second favorite aquarium animal ever, replacing Otters as the number two. Number one will always be jellyfish, but manatees are pretty close. And they make better stuffed animals.


Case in point…


And a video (click to watch!!) of the ridiculousness that results when you have two manatees in the car.


Showing her pictures later in the evening!


Waiting for the trolly to the restaurant


At a nice dinner restaurant the night before the big boat trip. Makaira liked the fountain!


We never managed to take a picture all together…


Sissy trying to get Makaira sleepy

Our last full day, my Brother borrowed a friends boat to take out to Egmont Key to enjoy the day. We got a bit of a late start, but had a great time out on the boat and on the island!


At the Rod and Reel Pier again for breakfast in the morning


Trying to get close to the bird, but…


Mom and Sissy getting settled, while Brother poses with Brenna and Makaira!


Dropping the anchor at the ruined and abandoned fort out in the ocean in front of the island for some swimming, snorkling, and drinking!


Banzai!


A video (click to watch!) of Mason dragging up the anchor so we could move onto the island


Parked boat


On Egmont, the recent hurricane had knocked a lot of trees down, and the high seawater had taken its toll on others…


On our way to explore the abandoned fort on the island


The paths were about the only things that had survived age and weather


Mason being a monkey and climbing up the walls of this abandoned building


Another bird!


The only restored building on the island, other than the lighthouse


Speaking of which…


Kenji and Mason discussing how to take the best pics of the tortoises on the island


…one of which let us get up close!


A video (click to watch!) of just how close we could get to it!


Heading back to the boat, time to swim… but shhhhh, Makaira’s napping!


Me and big brother… I’m wearing all that so I don’t sunburn!


Everyone having fun


On the way back, Makaira looking chill and me driving!


Moving to the front of the boat to enjoy the breeze!


“Sit like a lady!” “Okay, fine, like this?”


Pictures in the evening

We headed to the airport the next morning after breakfast, and went back to Seattle for a night before getting back on a plane the next day for Vancouver. We stayed the night in Vancouver before the plane back to Japan the day after that. It was a lot of exhausting traveling, but it was a great trip! It’s good to be back home in Japan though!


My last cupcakes from Seattle!


The manatee approves this last meal in the airport.


The monorail in Vancouver… I left my camera at the hotel at this point, so that’s where the pictures end!

And that’s it! where, long post!