Ready for another adventure? Last weekend, my hubby and I decided we would try zip lining. I actually bought a package on Groupon last month for his birthday and we didn’t have a whole lot of time these last few months, so we sort of forgot about it. Now that I’ve graduated and we’ve settled down a bit, I decided it was time. We were both super excited to try something new!
This place is literally in the middle of nowhere. Hidden away in a little town called Shoals in Indiana, it is about an hour from Bloomington. It’s so far out in the country that I lost cell reception at the end. I guess that is the kind of place that a zip line area would be though! I was really excited to be flying through the wilderness.
Look at us go! There are 10 ziplines in the normal zipline package at Lark Valley Zip Lines. They start you out with the shortest and slowest zipline and then gradually increase the speed and length with each line. Each of the lines has you stopping yourself in the dirt, which can be a little tricky. I actually bit the dust on the 5th line and landed on my butt. It didn’t hurt or anything, but it was not the most graceful entry haha.
I was really nervous at first about zip lining, but surprisingly after I did the first one I wasn’t scared at all. It feels very safe, and is over quite fast. It feels amazing to be soaring through the trees! A few of the lines have you zipping by trees that are pretty close to you, which can be a little freaky. Two guides go with your group on your tour, and one of them stays on one side to help you land and the other stays at the beginning of the line to make sure you are hooked onto the line properly and ready to go. I never felt like anything would go wrong!
The 8th line has two lines, so you can race a partner. I was so excited (my competitive nature coming out haha) to race my husband. He cheated somehow and beat me! Pfft. We got to go over the lake twice, which felt awesome! All of the lines took about two hours to complete, and the time flew!
We both had such a good time at Lark Valley Zip Lines… I was a little nervous because it was in the middle of nowhere, but the owners were really kind and friendly to us and we didn’t feel any awkwardness at all. There is a well displayed sign along the road telling you where to enter… make sure to follow the sign and not your GPS!
Each tour group goes out every 30 minutes and they sell water and cans of soda for $1 on-site. One downside is that they only accept cash, which we didn’t even think about so we had no money to spend! We were dying of thirst too, haha. I felt bad because people tipped our tour guides but we didn’t bring money so we couldn’t tip. So bring cash if you come here!
They recently just opened two more zip lines that are longer and faster which they offered us to add onto our package. We didn’t bring cash so we couldn’t do it, but the lines looked really cool! Maybe next time.
You can check out Lark Valley Zip Lines on their website or their Facebook Page.
Have you ever went zip lining before?
Onto the view! Hands down, the view from the top of Okayama Castle was my whole reason practically for buying the entrance ticket. I knew it was going to be beautiful with the lake and gardens around it!
There is a famous garden called Korakuen Garden right across from the castle, and you can get a combined entrance ticket for both the castle and the gardens usually. Because there was a special exhibit in the castle, they wouldn’t let me buy a combined ticket, which was such a bummer. It is much cheaper that way! It ended up being a blessing in disguise though, because I wouldn’t have had time to enjoy both fully if I had to do them on the same day.
The views were beautiful! When I first got to Okayama, I was surprised by how neutral everything was. I guess I had the stereotypical view of Japan that was basically only the glitz and glam of Tokyo. Being in a smaller city is sooo much different.
Here, the people are more conservative. I never really saw any crazy fashion or huge compounds with flashing lights. Nothing sexual on display, if you don’t count the adult magazines in all of the convenience stores. Talk about culture shock! It was so awkward to see men just flipping through adult magazines like it’s normal in the convenience store.
You can see a bit of the Okayama Castle compound from the top too. Surprisingly there was no one outside… it was packed!
The golden gargoyles were amazing. So shiny and eye-catching! I was doing all kinds of ninja moves to get good pictures out of the tiny castle windows LOL.
What a beautiful sight. That little bridge there takes you over to the Korakuen Gardens. The weather was so nice and bright, and the trees were in full bloom! If Japan does anything right, it’s keeping nature everywhere looking beautiful.
You can rent little paddleboats on the lake as well, which I decided not to do because I would probably make a fool of myself.
And that was my trip to Okayama Castle! It literally took all day, but it was totally worth it. If you ever find yourself in Okayama, I would definitely recommend a stop at Okayama Castle. Even if you decide not to go in because of the entrance fee, seeing the outside of the castle is worth the trip because the exterior is amazing.
You can find more information on Okayama’s official website here.
I hope you enjoyed my little adventure to Okayama Castle. What is a landmark that would like to visit if you had the chance?
Birchbox time! I was pleasantly surprised with my Birchbox this month… dare I say I was actually satisfied with what I got?!
Indeed I was.
So what did I get this month in my May Birchbox?
Cargo | Water Resistant Blush
This waterproof pigment stays put and gives skin a gorgeous flush. Full-size, $26
Coola | Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face
This mineral sunblock is infused with organic antiaging ingredients like evening primrose extract and borage seed oil. Full-size, $32
Marvis | Classic Mint Toothpaste
A stylish Italian import with an invigorating peppermint flavor. Full-size, $6-$10.50
Miss Jessie’s Original | Jelly Soft Curls
Seeing is believing: This brand new gel boosts shine and tames frizz yet doesn’t leave hair crunchy. Apply it post-shower to damp hair. Full-size, $14
Pilot Pen: Acroball PureWhite Hybrid Ink Pen
I’m especially psyched about the Cargo Water Resistant Blush in Bali. It is a beautiful rose pink shade. Can’t wait to put that one to the test!
What did you get in your Birchbox this month?
The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival is in full swing! Along with the extremely talented movie makers comes the glitz and fashion from the attendees… my favorite part! I was pleasantly surprised to see so many modest dressers this year. I picked out a few of my favorites.
TOP: Aishwarya Rai in Elie Saab Spring 2013 Couture, Berenice Bejo in Alexis Mabille Spring 2013 Couture, and Carina Lau in Elie Saab Spring 2013 Couture
BOTTOM: Fan BingBing in Elie Saab Spring 2012 Couture, Samantha Barks in Dior Spring 2013, and Kirsten Dunst in Michael van der Ham Fall 2013
Hands down, Aishwarya Rai and Fan BingBing are my absolute favorites in their stunning dresses from Elie Saab Couture. So elegant and classy. They were a picture of beauty for sure.
Who are your favorites so far during this year’s Cannes Film Festival?
Onto part two of my day trip to Okayama Castle! Sorry for the delay in blog posts lately. I’ve been job hunting and negotiating a job contract and it is so stressful… I’ll be so relieved when I finally have the contract finished. I’m actually getting a job overseas, so it is even more stressful trying to wrap things up here to leave in the future too.
Whew! Let’s see what $12 gets us in Okayama Castle.
Honestly, the inside of Okayama Castle was a little boring. There were a lot of displays with cultural artifacts, but all of the signs were only in Japanese so I wasn’t sure what anything was.
Funny story… I wasn’t supposed to take any of these pictures, LOL! I was so excited to visit this castle that I just kept snapping away right when I entered and since none of the signs were in English, I didn’t pay any attention to them. Near the end I realized that there were no picture signs everywhere… woops!
The artifacts were so amazing… I’m guessing this gargoyle was maybe an original part of the castle before it was destroyed in the war? The new gargoyles are golden.
An old map of Okayama pre-war? I had to do some ninja moves to get this photo because it was in a really small space. I loved the colors!
Coolest armor ever! I wish I knew more about it. That was basically my entire thought process when I was checking everything out. I guess Okayama Castle isn’t one of the bigger tourist attractions in Japan, so they didn’t have any foreign language support. Too bad!
This sword looked so awesome! The design was really unique… it kind of reminded me of the tribal designs in Africa and the Middle East.
There are several floors of the castle. On the bottom floor, there are some activities that you can do. Some were free and some were not. There were a selection of old Japanese games to play, and for a fee you could make pottery and games yourself.
There was also a small area with different room setups. I seriously wish I knew what was going on here! I couldn’t really tell what they were for exactly… check out that no camera sign that I totally ignored.
The coolest thing that made it worth it is the kimono area on the bottom floor! If you are a foreigner, you can sign up for free to try on the kimono and check out a Japanese tatami room. The lady was so nice to me and helped me try the kimono. I couldn’t help cracking up after I saw my pictures! It was really heavy. I didn’t wear the headpiece because that would have looked crazy… but the option is always there.
So the interior of the castle was interesting, even though there weren’t English explanations. Next, I headed up to the top floor to see the views of Okayama…
I’ll save that for my last post on my beautiful visit to Okayama Castle. Until then my friends, enjoy life~
If you missed my first post on my visit to Okayama Castle, you can check it out here.
Looking back at my pictures from my travels and daily life in Japan, it is almost hard to believe it ever happened. I was only there for three months, but at some point it seemed like home. I felt like I went through three stages while in Japan; At first, I was so excited by everything! Then, everything became normal and I settled into a normal routine and I felt an attachment to my life there. Then, homesickness set in right before leaving. Oddly enough, I found myself longing for Japan once again after I returned home!
One of the first things I did when I got to Japan was to visit the famous black castle of Okayama. This castle is famous for having a dark black color which is rare. Unfortunately, this castle was destroyed during the war and was later rebuilt in 1964. The original castle was built in 1573. I felt so sad that it was destroyed… imagine how much more beautiful it would have been! The castle is surrounded by a beautiful stream that was beautiful to take a rest by.
Being in Japan really made me notice nature more and realize how beautiful a simple thing can be. I see a lot of stone statues around castles, shrines and businesses and it feels so nice to be surrounded by natural materials.
The weather was beautiful and families were out in full force. In fact, there seemed to be a school or something doing some activities on the lawn inside the castle grounds. I was in full tourist mode at this point, since I had just arrived. Did I mention I rode my bike 20 minutes to get here solely using google maps? I was a rebel.
Just the exterior and surrounding area around the castle were enough to explore for quite some time. You can only enter through one gate, but other small gates surround the castle that are closed. I wanted to sit on these steps and just soak in the beautiful weather. So peaceful.
A few people sat down by the stream. I was a woman on a mission that day, so I didn’t stop to sit. I loved visiting Okayama Castle and I went back so many times. I noticed a lot of couples took advantage of the stream and scenery to have a picnic lunch. I even saw one man on the other side of the stream painting the beautiful landscape with the castle.
After entering through the castle gate, you will enter through another huge door and go up some steps. The courtyard in front of the castle entrance is super crowded! So many families were having picnics.
The castle is absolutely stunning. It has golden fish shaped gargoyles along the roof that seriously gleam in the sunlight. Before the castle was destroyed, the entire roof was covered in gold. What a sight that must have been!
Unfortunately, going into Okayama Castle isn’t free. I believe I paid about $12 to get in, because there was a special exhibit. There is a small lobby inside that you may enter for free, but there isn’t much to see. I decided to go on in just for the heck of it… plus, I really wanted to see the view from the top of the castle.
To be continued! I have so many pictures to share but I don’t want to overwhelm you. In my next post, I will share the interior of the castle and some of the activities you can do in the castle for fun (and free!)
What do you think of Okayama Castle? Have you ever visited a Japanese castle?
Every month my Birchbox posts get later and later. Nothing ever really jumps out at me from my box each month so I tend to forget about it after I’ve checked it out. I was cleaning my front room today and found this month’s Birchbox wedged in between my couches. Woops!
So what did I get in my April Birchbox this month?
1. Nexxus | Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir
It’s not just your skin that needs antiaging help. This new shine-boosting serum cures dry strands and reduces the odds of age-related breakage. Full-size, $20.99
2. SKIN&Co Roma | Cleansing Body Gel with Olive & Sicilian Orange Extracts
You won’t be able to go back to regular soap after trying this freshly scented, antioxidant-packed shower gel from Rome. Full-size, $17.50
3. StriVectin | StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles
A beauty editor favorite, StriVectin’s cream uses a patented molecule peptide to diminish fine lines and reverse the look of puffy circles. Full-size, $65
4. Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics | Anti-Shine Mattifier
Matte is in. Dab this shine-zapping balm onto your T-zone before applying foundation. Full-size, $36
Beauty Extra: Weleda | Body Lotion
A creamy lotion that uses sustainably harvested plant oils and natural hydrators to restore skin’s moisture levels. Full-size, $16.50
I actually really liked this month’s box. I was pleasantly surprised to see a rather large sample size of StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles! In fact, all of the samples this month were pretty big. The beauty extra was a really great addition in my opinion. I love Weleda!
Did you get the April Birchbox? Did you get the same things or did you receive something different?
I love tea. It wasn’t always that way though. Tea isn’t really popular in my family, and I didn’t know a lot of families around me who were into tea either when I was growing up. Fast forward to college and my travels in Egypt and I feel like I was introduced to a whole new world. I got to try milk tea, a staple drink to most Egyptians I know. I later married an Egyptian and milk tea was basically an everyday thing for me. It is so delicious to drink a piping hot cup of tea every morning.
After that, I grew quite fond of tea. My husband isn’t as adventurous as I am, but we like to find new teas to try out. I recently received a $20 credit to Rue La La, and Tea Forté was having a flash sale for their website. I couldn’t resist!
Yay for tea! I actually had already tried a few of Tea Forté’s teas because they sent out a sampler in Birchbox of their Skin-Smart teas. I really loved them back then! The teas that were sent were targeted for skin health. I was a fan of the cucumber mint!
I decided to purchase their Sencha Green Tea as well as their Coconut Chocolate Truffle Tea. I think the reasoning for buying the Coconut Chocolate Truffle Tea is self explanatory. I love coconut and chocolate, so I can’t wait to try this one out. I was really excited to see Sencha Green Tea on their website because I’ve been craving green tea like mad since I left Japan. I can’t seem to find a good quality green tea in my town that tastes like the Iyemon bagged version that I drank daily there. I’m hoping this one will match the taste and color!
I also decided to pick up the Luci Loose Tea Infuser in butter yellow. I’m already in love with it! I didn’t have a tea infuser so I thought I would pick up this one to enjoy the loose leaf teas that I purchased from Tea Forté. The infuser is super adorable and fits perfectly in my tea mug. I love that it comes with a little matching tray that you can put your infuser on after steeping your tea to catch the drips! Very convenient.
Usually, my tea is in bagged form. I’m looking forward to trying loose leaf! One of my friends swears by loose leaf and says the flavor of the tea is stronger and more delicious or pure. I hope so!
I opened the canister that held the Coconut Chocolate Truffle Tea for just a second and the delicious smell is still lingering, hmm! Have you tried any teas from Tea Forté?
Spring is almost over, but the spring collections are still rolling out! Spring is my favorite time of the year, and spring collections are usually full of styles and colors that are just so appealing to me.
Zeena recently released their Spring 2013 collection and I was psyched! I like Zeena. You won’t find anything too crazy or out of the box in their collection, just pieces that are pretty timeless. Everything always looks comfortable and suitable for everyday wear. I like that about their brand!
I took a minute to highlight my favorite items from their new collection! I’m loving these trendy yet functional shirts!
Drape Neck Cotton-T, $42.00
Everyone needs a nice comfy piece like this Drape Neck Cotton-T. Even better with long sleeves!
Classic Collar Dress Shirt, $52
I love this one! Work place friendly and great for the summer months coming ahead when it is going to be scorching hot! Cotton is definitely my friend in the warmer months.
Classic Hi-Lo Shrug, $58
This one is my absolute favorite! The material looks so comfortable and it is still super trendy with the hi-lo hemline.
You can check out the rest of the items from their new collection on their website, Simply Zeena.
What do you think about Zeena’s new Spring 2013 collection? Would you rock these looks?
I have such a love/hate relationship with HauteLook. They know just have to get me, too! I can’t pass up a sale, especially if it is for a brand that I’m in love with. theBalm Cosmetics is on sale until Tuesday on HauteLook, and there are so many pretty shades of lipstick to choose from as well as their Nude ‘Tude eyeshadow palette. You definitely want to check out this flash sale!
Their Overshadow eye shadows are gorgeous!
Click on the picture above or click here to go to the sale page. Happy shopping!