Thursday, November 28, 2013

One, Two, Three, Wildlife Too Many @ Monterey Bay

One sea lion
Two breaching whales
Three Colliding Jellyfish
Wildlife Too Many

All wildlife pictures above were taken from Monterey Bay, California.

The whales were taken from the boat, while all the other three pictures were taken from the Coast Guard Wharf, Monterey, California. This is one of the popular places in Monterey for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and well, just simply enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. 

Timeless Cruise Experiences from Thomson

What can you expect from a holiday with Thomson Cruises? Relaxed entertainment, fantastic destinations and pleasant, traditional surroundings, with a timeless appeal that keeps cruise-goers and holidaymakers coming back year after year.

Thomson Cruises offers a wonderful blend of modern and traditional, with a fleet of five well-equipped ships and a growing number of exciting ports of call on their destination list. For instance, you could visit the familiar bucket-and-spade beaches of the Mediterranean, soak up the sun in Turkey, haggle to your heart's content in the bazaars of Morocco, or sail away to paradise shores in the Caribbean.

Another popular destination in Thomson Cruises' remit includes the Canary Islands, and the chance to visit the volcanic sandy beaches of Tenerife and to experience the hustle and bustle of the island's cosmopolitan capital, Santa Cruz.

And for an intoxicating clash of cultures, a trip to Egypt is a must. Both the Red Sea and Ancient Egypt are available to discover as part of a holiday with Thomson Cruises, and each area offers a long list of wonderful things to see, do and experience. On a Red Sea itinerary, for instance, you could enjoy the golden sands of Sharm el Sheikh, where you can explore the coral reefs of Ras Mohamed, before heading off to explore magnificent sights like Jordan's ancient city of Petra. Other must-see sights include Safaga, for Luxor, where you can experience the Temple of Karnak and the incredible Valley of the Kings.

Whatever style of cruise holiday takes your fancy, you'll find a wide choice of itineraries through a tour operator like Cruise Thomas Cook. Check out their range of holidays through Thomson Cruises, here - The great thing about using a tour operator is that you can compare holidays across all the major operators, and weigh up the best itineraries by price, and other factors like departure dates and onboard facilities.

So whether you want a voyage of discovery through ancient lands, or a laid-back cruise to golden beaches, an escape with Thomson Cruises is a timeless experience that will live with you long after you return home.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Day at the Bay

Instead of going to the beach today and catch some waves to ride, we took a leisurely walk at the bay instead.
Mission Bay, San Diego
While walking along the bay, we stopped to see a boat race.
One of the Boats at the Race

My Time Capsule

I have a knack for keeping small items that have a significant meaning in my life. I treasure the little wild flower that my little boy picked while we were walking. I kept the small hankerchief I used to wipe off my son's tears when he had his first break-up. I have all the small notes my daughter pinned on the fridge reminding me of her dance class. I used to keep all of these in a shoe box, however, I think these memorabilia deserve more than just a shoe box. I recently purchased three small wooden boxes, and I personally designed each and every box where I now keep those precious little tokens that I received from my angels. I now have three "time capsules" that I can share with my kids. I will purchase three more and encourage my kids to build their own time capsules. This will fuel up their creativity to personalize their own box and best of all, it will teach them to value the small and memorable things in life.

- by Ai-

Camera Shy Sea Otter

camera shy sea otter picture taken by ktl

Camera Shy Sea Otter To KTL: " Did I tell you to not please take me a picture? Oh no, I have to cover my face again!"

~photo of sea otter taken by ktl, at: US Coast Guard Wharf, Monterey Bay, California. The US Coast Guard Wharf has to be one of the best places to se wildlife in Monterey.

What time is it?

A perfect timepiece that suits any personality is a G-shock watch by Casio. I love the crazy color white and gray digital model. The features are amazing! It is shock proof and water resistant up to 200 meters, saving me the cost of buying another wristwatch when I go diving. Another top notch feature that I enjoy is its capability to show world time in 31 time zones and 48 cities. I never have to go online to check the local time whenever I call overseas, and with a battery life of 5 years, this is definitely one of the best purchases I have made this year! 

- by Ai -

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rainbow After The Storm

Yesterday's Rainbow, After the Storm 
I was busy Facebooking yesterday, when all of a sudden, I heard some excited sound, calling out to me. :)


I went out of the room, to find hubby smiling so happily. 


Oh, he just knows exactly what is a perfect surprise gift for me! I gave him a hug, kissed his cheeks, took the camera out, and had a good time with the rainbow. :)

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
- Dolly Parton -

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cruise Lines

An online travel blog says cruise vacations are growing in popularity. In 2012, the total number of vacationers who took a cruise exceeded 20 million. This represents a ten percent increase over the previous year.

According to the blog, this number constitutes 11.5 million Americans, 6.2 million Europeans including 1.7 million Britons and 2.9 million holidaymakers from other parts of the world. Several cruise associations compiled the statistics. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) are just two of many examples.
Me And Some Sights On Our Prince William Sound Glacier and Wildlife Cruise

Fun Friday: Through The "not so many" Years

Blogging for Fun Friday again! What's great is that it is Friday :) Our theme this week is "yesteryears". However, I lost my childhood pictures. :( I no longer have proof to claim that I was cute when I was a baby. :) haha! All my photos then were in my albums and were neatly filed in my closet. However, they were swept away by a big typhoon that hit our province and flooded our house. I was not home that time since I was in Manila for studies. I could not blame anyone if no one took care of all my things in the closet, because at that time I understand everyone's safety was the priority. We actually lost a lot  of our things in that flood.

Thus, what I am sharing here are some pictures from my "yesteryears" back when I was still in the Philippines. The photos were not scanned, I just simply took pictures of my old pictures using my camera.
Simple Happiness, Forever a Beach Bum :)
Just modeling my newly cut hair :)
Enjoying Life
year 2001- my last full year in Philippines
An how am I now in this new land? 

year 2011
Well, I aged, but aside from that, I believe I still am enjoying the same "Joys of Simple Life". 
Hiking and Geocaching: two of My Simple Life's Pleasures in San Diego
Boogieboarding and Snorkeling are the other two of my  simple life's pleasures, because of life's simple pleasures at the great outdoors, I HAVE NO TIME FOR SHOPPING!!
I have grown to love photography, for photos of me, thankfully, I have a hubby who does not complain each time I ask him to take me a picture :)
"Through the years", life always was and is something to celebrate.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Benefits of cycling

Cycling is not only a professional and international sport but it's also one of the most popular forms of exercise because it appeals to a wide spectrum of people. Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise and can be done indoors or outdoors. Additionally, cycling can be done on an outdoor bike, a stationary upright bike or a recumbent bike.

Most gyms have upright or recumbent exercise bikes for you to use. Additionally, many gyms have an indoor cycling class that uses a spin bike, which is designed for people to easily adjust resistance, pedal fast and stand up on the pedals when riding. Check out your local gym to see about getting a free gym pass or a cheap gym membership so that you can try out these bikes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding Refuge and Healing In Nature

Though it is heartbreaking to see the wrath and unforgiving forces of nature, but....nature has and will continue to be my haven, my source of rejuvenation, a place where I find healing....calming me down in the midst of turbulent winds and seas.

These may be same old, same places I frequent here in San Diego to take get healing from everyday's toll....but nevertheless, they never fail to bring me a sense of peacefulness, and thankfulness.

My weekend is a routine I know, a routine of finding strength and energy in nature. We planned to hike to a canyon between Gliderport and Scripps Coastal Reserve from La Jolla Shores, but the tide was so high we could not walk on some areas for the waves were crashing right next to the cliffs that we ended up retreading and took a relaxing walk instead on top of the cliffs.
Torrey Pines Gliderport (top) and La Jolla Shores (bottom)

Then, we took a relaxing hike at Lake Poway. 
Lake Poway from the hiking trails

A little boy I met at the trails asked me, " did you catch a lot of fish?" I told him, "no, I am simply hiking." Then, a few yards after passing him, hubby pointed out to me a school of fish swimming.

3 Free Online Platforms that Make Exercise, Yoga And Healthy Eating Easy

If there was ever a time to start living a better life, that time would be now.

This is because lifestyle professionals like personal trainers, yoga teachers and food specialists are using the power of the Internet to make valuable routines and insight available for free.  Now, instead of paying outrageous fees for personal trainers and "healthy recipe" newsletters, you can get everything online without ever paying a cent.

But there's a flip side to all this.  The Internet is home to more unqualified lifestyle instructors than it is to qualified ones.  Where qualified instructors make it their mission to educate the world through health-conscious practice, unqualified ones have a different agenda.  They're either trying to monetize their site with ads or are simply unqualified to instruct individuals about how to improve their life.
You can rest easy though.

Here, I'm going to show you some of the best online wellness platforms that offer valuable instruction for free.  All you have to do is take some time out of your day and use this instruction to improve your life.

Best Free Exercise Platform –

Coach Kozak leads this website with the help of some other fitness gurus.  He believes that everyone deserves the chance to be healthy and satisfied with their appearance, all without ever having to pay for a gym membership.

In addition to writing fitness articles, he also provides users with an entire library of interactive fitness videos.  Many of these videos – all available through YouTube – don't require anything except some raw ambition and a pair of light dumbbells.

HasFit also offers free monthly routines to keep you on track and motivated.  My favorite routine is the 90-Day Warrior Workout Routine.  Not only did it increase my fitness level, but kept me from having to purchase a gym membership and spend more than 30 minutes per day working out.
Don't get me wrong, it feels good to work out, but if I had to choose between a one-hour long gym workout and a 20-minute HasFit workout, I'd always pick the latter.  Why?  Because you get as much bang for your buck in less than half the time!  You also don't waste time traveling back and forth to the gym and don't waste money on a gym membership.

According to the website, "HASfit will always be FREE because we believe that every Heart And Soul deserves to be fit."

Note: To get even more out of Coach Kozak's interactive exercise routines, try integrating different exercise equipment into your workouts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail

Hiking @ Los Penasquitos Canyon

Last weekend was our first time to hike at Los Penasquitos Preserve and Park. I wonder why we never hiked this trail before. But I am glad that at least we were able to finally find another nature park that feels like an escape from civilization, yet, still is within San Diego City limits and very near the comforts of home. 

The hike here can be as short or as long, depending on anyone's interests. One can hike at the vast open space ( canyon's meadows) or in the rich oak woodland lining the Penasquitos Creek.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Time to Help, A Time to Pray, and A time for Rest and Relaxation with Nature

First, I would like to thank friends, colleagues and family here in USA for showing their concern and praying with me for my family's safety. Each time I got text, FB message and email, sending me prayers for my family, I could not help but feel so thankful for all the goodness I feel around.

Thursday, I was a little bit worried too, because my father was not picking my call (unreachable) and not answering my texts ( I knew they had no power). Thankfully, I was able to reach my father Friday, assuring me he was in very good condition, and that our place was spared from the devastating path of Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines ), the strongest so far in world's recorded history. Though relieved and thankful my family is safe, still, it's hard not to feel sad for the victims and their families. Some I personally know had lost their homes but thankfully not their lives. It is very hard for me to watch the news, and to see pictures, especially of places which have in some way brought meaningful memories.

I pray for comfort, strength to recover and rebuild to the victims and places that were affected by Haiyan and the other natural calamities that just struck our country. 

During these times, despite feeling sad for the victims, I feel also very thankful for the goodness I see around. Here in San Diego ( where there are a lot of Filipinos), local Catholic Churches have very active fund drive in direct association with Catholic Relief Services to be stewards of the help given for the victims of Haiyan. The local church here is also a key in giving emotional and prayer support to families here in San Diego who still have not heard anything from their family. The Gawad -Kalinga USA based in San Diego, is also very actively organizing relief funds right now for victims of super typhoon Haiyan. If you are called to help but do not know how, please check this link of charitable organizations which assist and help affected areas by recent natural disasters. If you know of family and friends ( or maybe localities) who may be in need of help right now for recovery, you may want to directly send your help to them who directly need help for recovery and rebuilding. I am also happy to learn from the local news that the US military is speeding aid to the Philippines. It is inspiring to see in this very tough times in Philippines the goodness and kindheartedness of people all over, sharing and giving in any way they can.

Having a very long week, both mentally and emotionally, I felt I needed much rest and relaxation therapy. Nature has always been my way of gaining strength and feel rejuvenated. Saturday, we had another date with the fishes at La Jolla Cove. Investing in a warmer wet suit really helped us enjoy water longer.
Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove, November 9 1013

When before, we usually spend most of our weekend on the slopes, this time, we kind of divide our time between the slopes and the water. I will share with you in my later posts, our weekend hikes as well, which we alternate with snorkeling.

Anyway, what was the story from today's snorkeling? Pardon me for this very little story. :)
Girabaldi: "Hey, gotta hide from that lady, she carries something in her hand, I am afraid what she'll do to me!"
Girabaldi: "Ahhhhh, she points that white thing in her hand, but she does not get me!"
Girabaldi: " Hey, lady, what is that you are pointing at me?"
Lady: " A very tiny camera, to take a picture, to have a beautiful memory of you!"
Girabaldi: " Oh, okay, now I can swim freely and safely now. Bye bye!"
Lady: "One smile for me girabaldi, please?"

Work Shirts

Customers looking for shirts to suit their work needs will find a variety of options with the Dickies brand of clothing and accessories. Depending on the type of work that an individual does, Dickies has plenty of work shirts.

Men working in a casual atmosphere will find plenty of button-down and pullover shirts in solid and lightly printed shirts. Such simplicity is generally welcome in a casual office environment.

A long-sleeve work shirt features stain release for simple care, moisture wicking to keep sweat at bay, a separate pencil section in the left chest pocket, doghouse sleeve packets and match the coordinated work pants.

The size range will easily accommodate anyone, with choices from small up to 4X-large. Choose colors such as airforce blue, black, charcoal, dark brown, dark navy, desert sands, gulf blue, khaki and white.

The Dickies short-sleeve work shirt also comes with stain release to keep care easy, moisture wicking to stay cool and comfortable throughout warm days and generous fit across the chest and shoulders. The square tail design of this shirt makes sure it stays tucked in, but it also looks fine untucked, so men also get versatility in being able to wear the shirt in different ways.

The sizes for the short-sleeve work shirt include sizes from small to 3X-tall, and the color range is impressive. Men will find the sharp English red makes a strong impression, but they will also have their selection of an array of blues, as well as simple black and white.

Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron

I want to write something, but sadly my mind is so fried, that I can not write anything substantial :( I just feel so tired, I guess, I am still holding on to summer break :) haha! I am not complaining though, I so love my new  students, they have been angels, and have been really awesome in our first week. But maybe what tires me most is having to combine both teaching and schooling, both lesson planning and doing my own homework, after 2 months of summer break! :) I still am not used to waking up early at 5:30 in the morning.

 I am usually drawn to black crowned night herons because they look so unusually focused. The stare is so deep which reminds me of a person in deep meditative thoughts. Unlike most birds where if I come a little bit closer, they would fly away, but the night herons usually would show unperturbed with my presence. Its  focused on what is down the water can not just be disrupted. Night herons are known to be patient hunter, they stand quietly for very long periods of time waiting for a fish or frog to pass by. Sadly though, they also raid the nests for the young of other herons, terns, and gulls for their foods. :( 

Common places where these birds can easily be sighted in San Diego are:
Famosa Slough
Wild Animal Park
Lake Murray

Friday, November 08, 2013

Practical and Comfortable Living Abroad

Renting lodging apartments while traveling abroad provides more benefits than staying in a hotel. Aside from being more affordable, it provides a sense of security and the feeling of "being home away from home." Lodging Apartments provide amenities that allow you to be self sufficient and make their own meals instead of relying on hotel menu fare which could be quite expensive.

Spain and its Mediterranean neighbors extensively offer this type of accommodation for short or long term rentals. There are single room apartments, houses or villas that are available in areas close to commercial districts, historical sites, or beaches. They are usually accessible to public transport, providing an easy way to get around leaving more time to mingle with the locals and  know about the culture.

A reputable company, LodgingApartments, offers easy online booking and reservation to the best rental apartments in Barcelona, Ibiza, Costa Brava and Marrakech. Their website is user-friendly and highly informative.  They offer a wide array of properties to choose from, fully furnished and functional. 

You will love the spacious, modern and fully equipped Lodging Apartments in Barcelona. Whether you're on a holiday or in town on business, you will be provided with an apartment that is perfect for you. All the advantages of a hotel room, while at the same time having the flexibility of an apartment in the center of Barcelona. For a reasonable rate of  82 € per night,  you may be able to rent an 80 square meter apartment in Gracia. The property has 2 bedrooms that sleeps 5 people, has 2 bathrooms, and a kitchen. Amenities included are a refrigerator, oven, microwave, coffee maker, shower, bed linens, cot, elevator, and wifi access.

The living room kitchen and staircase of Duplex Gracia 2

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend
We probably have to go back to this place again for better pictures, since when we went here last spring, it was just not the right time to take pictures. Frankly, I failed to do enough research about Horseshoe Bend since my research on Page was more focused on Antelope Canyon. You can find my post about Antelope Canyon here
After having a grand time at Antelope Canyon, we still had enough time to explore the other interesting places at Page. From Antelope Canyon, we went to Glen Canyon Dam, and made a choice where to spend the sunset, either at Lake Powell or at Horseshoe Bend. Both places are magnificent, and we decided to stay closer to our hotel, so, we went to Horseshoe Bend. There will be other times anyway as we know we would still go back to this part of Arizona and Utah, which is called the Grand Circle. You can find my Grand Circle itinerary post at my group's blog, The Salitype Society. Those who plan to have a more orderly trip in the Grand Circle, you can check the itinerary and places to see in my Grand Circle Itinerary post
We made our mistake going to Horseshoe Bend close to sunset. Little did we know that Horseshoe Bend at late afternoon is directly facing the sun, thus it was so hard to take pictures with the glare of the sun facing us. Plus, there were a lot of flying insects that would block our camera's viewfinder that taking picture was really a challenge. Thus, we just enjoyed the scenery and imagined there were no flying insects at all. I could imagine however how it would be perfect to take sunrise pictures here!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park, Music and Video

I recently stumbled upon an old album in one of my portable external hard drives. It was from a time when my younger brother visited us in San Diego during his work related trip/assignment at the Bay Area. Though we toured my younger brother to a lot of places in and around San Diego during his short stay with us ( just short since he had to go back to the Bay Area for work assignment ), but somehow, it was the pictures from Joshua Tree National Park that inspired me to make a video of our picture stills.

Words inspired from Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Trees ( with Arms Opened Wide Like in a Prayer of Thanksgiving or Supplication )

Very inspired to make a video of our pictures of Joshua Tree, I chose the song "Desert Sky" by U2 from their Joshua Tree Album. I am a big fan of U2 and I have some of their albums. However, after I completed the video, and uploaded in you tube, I was told I can not use the music because it is protected by copyright law. :( Aws! I am so sorry U2, I am so naive I guess, I did not know I could not use some original music. Thankfully, one of my favorite songs, where the title of my blog was inspired from, allows a re-use to share because Karl Kohlase's goal is to spread the word of Christ in songs. So, here is the video of our picture stills from Joshua Tree National Park, with "Simple Life" as background music instead.

our collection of still pictures @ Joshua Tree National Park during my younger brother's visit
( music courtesy of Karl Kohlase's Simple Life )

I guess I just have to listen to the video I made using "Desert Sky" from the U2's Joshua Tree album at home. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Snorkeling and Nature Walk Weekend

The joys of simple life..... slowing down to enjoy nature's relaxing gifts.

Weekend started after work Friday. I asked hubby for a Fri-date. My idea of a Friday date or "Fri-date" is not about fancy dining out nor watching a movie, but swimming together with the fishes. It was low tide, and I had a hunch the harmless leopard sharks would be around following their food chain.

Not all sharks are born equal, unlike the other sharks, leopard sharks are harmless to humans

First, they have very small mouth that could only feed on very tiny sea creatures such as crabs, clams, shrimps, and fish eggs.  

Second, they do not bite nor chew their food because they have very small teeth, instead they swallow their foods without chewing at all.

Third, they pretty much are bottom feeders and not interested at all of big fish. The seals and the sea lions are safe with them, as much as humans are also safe with them.
Wonderful Fri-date with the Leopard Sharks at La Jolla Shores

Being surrounded by so many leopard sharks while swimming was one of my best underwater experiences so far. It's just so amazing to be so close to them, almost inch away from them. I actually would have to move away from them since my underwater point and shoot camera ( Panasonic Lumix DMC TS25 ) is not wide angle enough to be able to take them picture when very close. Despite its limitations though, I really love my underwater camera for a cost of $116. I chose Panasonic Lumix DMC TS25 because to get an underwater casing for my dslr would cost me more than $1000, and I am not at that level of taking very serious photography underwater to be swimming with that weight, and oh oh, money! :(  I will have more detailed review probably later.   

If our Fri-date was snorkeling with the leopard sharks, our Satur-date was snorkeling with other fishes at La Jolla Cove. 
Snorkeling Satur-date at La Jolla Cove ( that's me above, and hubby below )
La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove actually are very near each other, you could swim from La Jolla Shores to La Jolla Cove about 1 mile ( 2 miles round trip). A lot of swimmers do that, but I don't! I am afraid to pass the canyon which takes a sudden 500 ft plunge, reaching depths of up to 600 ft. This abrupt drop in depth and rich marine life is the reason why migrating gray whales can be spotted very close to the shore.

Here's a video I made from Fri-date's and Satur-date's snorkeling. Hope you enjoy it!

Save Time with Mid Size Jets

Traveling is not at all 100% pleasant. I wish sometimes there are some aspects of travel I could get away, such as flying.
taken from inside a commercial plane on our way to Washington
Flying is the last thing I would do if there is a choice. It is the most unpleasant part of the trip for me. :( However, my desire to visit my family and to explore our wonderful world defeats the unpleasantness and stress of flying.

Let me count the many ways why flying is stressful for me:

1. The long wait at the airport. The long line and the hassle of inspection ( both for luggage and security inspection ).

2. In sitting position for a very long time! It is back breaking. I need more leg room for freedom to stretch. If the flight will take more than 2 hours, I must choose the aisle seat for convenience. So that I am more free to stand and walk without bothering others.

3. The "unsecured feeling" of getting to my destination safely, and having my luggage with me. I experienced luggage delay several times before. It was just very stressful, having to go through the process of reporting your lost luggage, and waiting for it since it had been flown to a different destination.

4. Lack of sleep! I just could not sleep in a very uncomfortable sitting position. The 18 hours flight to Philippines is always an agony for me. I just wish I could be transported so quickly by a jet machine!

It is for these reasons why others whose comfort, convenience and time is most important that they travel in charter flights. It's not only for luxury, because for professionals whose time is most important, they would lose a lot of money if they travel in common way, since they would be wasting so much of their precious time. Thus, most business trips these days avail of charter flights in Midsize Jets because time is important. They reach their destination faster, without giving up the comfort. Because mid-size jets have only 7-9 passengers, they have roomier stand-up cabins. Mid size jets offer the same luxury amenities seen in larger jets such as enclosed lavatories, roomy luggage compartments, and advanced entertainment and communication technology.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Snorkeling Fri-date with the Leopard Sharks

We had an amazing Fri-date swimming with the leopard sharks. Though the water is a lot colder now, and the wind has some chill too, but, it definitely a lot worth it to be swimming with these amazing harmless and friendly sharks, the leopard sharks. I was like inch close to them, almost could touch them, ahhhh, and like I was practically surrounded by them. Today, was so far my best swimming experience with the leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores. Here are the bigger pictures I used for the collage above.

Leopard sharks are bottom feeders, have very small mouth and feeds only on very tiny sea creatures such as the crustaceans. They have no interest eating big fish because of the size of their mouth. So, unlike the great white sharks, leopard sharks are very harmless to humans. They are not known to attack people. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Finding A Special Decoration To Commemorate The Birth Of Christ

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, it is time to get the decorations organized and ready to place in the home. Christmas is a popular time to get the house ready to celebrate the birth of the Savior. Each family will have traditions or decorations that make this time special.

Some of the most popular items that a home will display at this time of year are nativity sets. These decorations began centuries ago. They were displayed at churches all through the year. In the mid 1500s, these items were made smaller and entered people's homes. Today's nativity scenes are made from wood, porcelain, or ceramics. They usually contain at least five pieces; the manger, stable, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.  Other pieces are added to more expansive sets. These types of decorations are meant to help a person remember the true reason for the Christmas season.

There are various types of nativity sets available. A children's set will be the least complicated and usually will have the smallest amount of pieces. These basic sets are normally made from a durable and unbreakable material. They are the most common for indoor display.

Oregon Caves National Monument

Oregon Caves National Monument was one of the many nature parks we visited on our last Klamath Circle of Parks trip. This park is between Crater Lake National Park and Redwood National Park. Oregon Caves is located in the Siskiyou Mountains, and aside from the marble cave, 
there are also four hiking trails through the ancient forest within the park.
The cave tour must be with a guide, the cave is huge that one can get lost here. The fee is $8.50 per person for the tour, however, since we have a National Park Pass, we did not have to pay for the tour. Being close to the many National Parks in the West, we usually just buy the annual pass which is only $80.00, just 4 visits to any National Parks, we already get our money back since most National Parks have $15- $25 entrance fee. Just in Oregon Caves National Monument alone, we would have to pay $34 for the tour if we did not have a National Park Pass. 
My problem with our guide however is we did not really stop for pictures, as a result, my pictures were taken in haste, and with very low light in the caves, it was a challenge to take pictures and not be left behind by the group. We did take stops, but that was to explain about the history and formation of the cave, and though he told us we can take pictures while he talks, but then, all of us in the group were too respectful to take our camera out, whenever he talked. We only took our camera when we had to resume from walking, and those who wanted to take pictures took a quick stop to shoot. It definitely was a challenge having too little time to shoot for pictures and to rush getting back to the group :(
The tour was described in their site as moderately strenuous, however, it actually was not really that moderately strenuous. It included climbing more than 500 stairs and a total climb of 230 ft. In some passageways, we had to duck down and squeeze through very narrow pathway. The tour lasted for 90 minutes. 
Tourists planning to visit the cave must not be wearing flip flops, open toed shoes, sandals, and other considered to be unsafe shoes, otherwise, they may not be allowed entry to the cave. It is for safety, since the trail is so slippery, there ware water inside the cave, and it is dark as well. The temperature in the cave is at 44 degrees Fahrenheit ( 6.7 degree Celsius) regardless of outside temperature, warm clothing is recommended. Like most caves, backpacks, large purses and tripods are not allowed because of low ceilings ( we had to dock down to pass several times ) and narrow passageways. 
According to natural history, the marble rocks of Oregon Caves were once a tropical reef that was pushed under the continental edge to a depth of 12 miles and then uplifted 4,000 ft above sea level. 
Oregon Caves National Monument's unique geology is composed primarily of bits and pieces of ocean crustal rocks. The park is well know for their botanical diversity. Being close to the Pacific Ocean, the region has very comfortable temperatures, both winter and summer.