Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hike to the Big Tree

Sunday, September 13, 2015
Craig and Paisley Callister called us to see what we were up to and if we wanted to hike to the BIG TREE.  Jeff was just about to leave for a flight but they came up to the cabin anyway and the rest of us hiked it.  They were babysitting their nephews so there was a big group of us.  Jens also had Keyne Christensen come up and hike with us.  It was a gorgeous day with perfect weather.  


It was the first time anyone from our little family had ever hiked it.  The Callister kids found this cool tree hut and climbed clear up there to sit on it.

Even though I watched them climb clear up there and back down again I still have no clue how they did it.  The growth was so thick that it was hard to see.

We finally made it!  Cade almost didn't make it and Molly was ticked off that she had made it!  "It was a stupid hike and she was never doing it again!"  (which she did the following month....)  We ate some granola bars, drank a bunch of water, took some pictures and headed back down.


Jeff had Agel World September 15-24, 2015 in Lyon, France this year.  I flew out and met him there.  Mark and Allison came with us.  It was SO fun and so pretty!  The first place we stayed was called Chateau de Bagnols.  It's a 13th century castle, built between the years 1217-1221!  It was restored in 1987 and believe it or not, it is used as a hotel and restaurant!  It never ceases to amaze me how old things are in other countries, and how they're not even considered "old" by the citizens.  America wasn't even discovered until 1492 and so really - we are just a baby to the rest of the world.  But anyway, we had the opportunity to stay here!  What a breathtaking place!  It sits in the city of Bagnols, about 35 minutes away from Lyon.  It sits nestled on top of a hill surrounded by vineyards. 

The castle once had a moat but it's now filled in with grass.

The bedrooms were huge and the sitting area for sure once had to be the chamber maids area.

The bathroom was something out of a book!  The toilet was truly a THRONE!  I didn't like using it at all.  It felt..... weird to be on such a giant..... throne!

These tables were actually antique coffins.  So weird.  

This is the sitting area which had to have once been the chamber maids area at one time.

These old chairs were just sitting - out.  Like in the open for people to sit on if they wished - - I guess.  maybe people knew to stay off because they were so old, but still the same, they weren't behind glass in a museum.

another old coffin used as a side table.

This fireplace in this dining hall was H-U-G-E huge!  Several men could have stood up there and had plenty of space.  Not only was it wide, but it was tall too.

We left Bagnol's and drove to Lyon.  What a beautiful city!  Its old buildings and the architecture on them are amazing! 

It had a beautiful park which people compare to Central Park in New York

We went to Agel's black tie dinner at Paul Bocue's resturaunt.  He is a 5 star Michillan chef.  What an absolute delight to eat there!  Paul Bocuse is the inspiration for the famous chef that Remi aspires to be in Disney's movie Ratatoulli.  

I had the most unbelievable lobster bisque that I have ever eaten - - check that, the most unbelievable that I've ever even smelled!  Even watching the waiters server was pure entertainment.  I didn't know this but apparently you go to college to become a waiter in France.
After our stay in Lyon, we flew to Paris for the remainder of our stay.

We not only stayed in a hotel a few minutes away from the Eiffel Tower, but we also dined up in the Eiffel Tower one night!  What a cool experience.  We spent a small fortune on dinner - like $200 per person!  The meal was a seven course meal.  The food was good but it was definitely the experience that we paid for.  Seeing the Eiffel Tower light up at night was also a neat experience!  It lights up every night on the hour starting at 8:00pm and goes to 12:00am.  It stays lit for 5 minutes each time.

We loved getting crepes!

Especially ones filled with bananas, ice cream and nutella!  Except Alli's dripped out all over her shirt!  It was too funny because her shirt said, "all you need is chocolate".  We all laughed.

We went down to the Moulin Rouge and the famous red light distrtict

Notre Dame

Arch de Triomph 

A monument dedicated to George Washington

The Lourve

Paris city official's started taking the famous Lock Bridge down in June of this year because the weight of all the locks were starting to collapse parts of the bridge but we were still able to see some locks along the sides of the bridge.

We went inside of the Notre Dame.  Really amazing - the architecture of it but I just can't help think that cathedrals are dark and a little gory sometimes.....

Even the outside of the Notre Dame is really something to behold.

We went to the Palace of Versailles.  WOW!  All I can say is W O W!

Stunning.  Really stunning inside and out.

We spent hours there and didn't even have time to see half the gardens.  Versailles is a must see!

We rented a car and made the 3 hour drive to Normandy.  We toured the WW2 sites.  Normandy and Utah Beach.

I can't even imaging trying to climb up this mountainous area.

The Normandy memorial site was a really humbling experience.  
"They gave up their future to ensure ours."

Then we drove over to Utah Beach.  Jeff's grandpa Ralph Higginson arrived here.  He fought and battled hard.  The soldiers who landed on Utah Beach are the ones who were able to give us the upper hand on the war.  He was in Paton's 3rd army and he walked clear across Germany.  He went 19 days straight without removing his boots once.  Keep in mind, he was married and a father when he was drafted into the war.

You can still see battle scars on many of the buildings from the war.  I loved Normandy!  Many of the people who live there lived there during the war or they are the children or grandchildren of those residents.  They love Americans and are still grateful today for us liberating them.  There were statues of soldiers, US, Australian, Canadian and more in dedication to soldiers who fought.

After we left Utah Beach, we drove to Mont St. Michel.  A M A Z I N G!!!  This is one of the worlds wonders!

It was one of the coolest places that I have ever ever been!  It was and still is a city with monks and other people who still live there.  The castle / cathedral was built on an area that's surrounded buy sinking sand.  When the tide is high, it's surrounded by water.  When the tide is low, its surrounded by sinking sand.  The enemy was never able to get to them.  I felt like I was in Pinocchio's land in Disneyland.

The stone houses / restaurants / hotels / etc were built on top of each other.

This is one place that I want to come back to and stay here! 
This trip was so much fun.  I love that Mark and Allison could come with us.  We have had so much fun together all our lives.  Grateful for wonderful friends!