Category: first class flight

Wyoming wedding!!!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been stateside for 2 weeks now already.  There have been good days and bad days, culture shock has ebbed and flowed, old friends have been reconnected with and new friends have been made, and lots of life changes have been set in motion.  But the main event of last week was my dear friend Rachel and her wonderful new husband Ryan’s wedding.  Next weekend’s event is Chris’ wedding, and I’m crazy busy getting ready for that and grad school, but I figure that I should catch up before I get super behind!  So here goes – fall 2012 wedding #1 (out of 4!)

I suppose I should tell you first about my trip to America, though.  On a whim, I checked my flight status online right before I left to catch the bus to the airport in Korea.  Guess what??  It was cancelled.  Yeah.  Super unfortunate.  So I called United Airline’s customer service line, all in a panic, and they basically told me at first that there were no flights, even from nearby airports, until 2 days later.  I begged them to keep looking.  They finally found one flight, but at that point I had to leave to catch my bus, so I couldn’t confirm my booking.  So I said a prayer, crossed my fingers, and left the house, hoping that I would have a ticket on some plane upon my arrival.

And check out what happened….I love how God always has our backs.  I showed up at the airport, to find out that not only had I successfully been booked on a different flight; but I had been upgraded to business class – at no extra charge.  And, because business class customers have a higher baggage limit than economy class, I also didn’t have to pay any of the almost $200 in excess baggage fees that I was expecting.  Praise the Lord!!  And man, let me tell you what…business class is the way to go.  Seats with so much leg room that they can be reclined into fully horizontal beds, free wine and champagne, 4-course meals….they even gave you little slippers, so that you could relax your feet!  I don’t even like wine, but I had some just to be able to say that I did.  It was heaven :).

So anyway, I arrived into Jackson, Wyoming, around 11:00 pm on Monday night – jet-lagged beyond belief, but safe, with all my luggage, and ready for a week of wedding madness!  Rachel’s bachelorette party was all day on Tuesday – we spent the day at Yellowstone National Park, and then had a really nice dinner at a fancy restaurant to cap the day off.  It was a lovely day, and a needed breather between Korea and the craziness of wedding planning that would follow for the remainder of the week.  The best part, I think, is that we combined Rachel’s bachelorette party with her lingerie party – we made her unwrap a scandalous present at every stop we made in the park.  I’ve never seen her so embarrassed in my life.  It was great.  I love that girl ;).

The rest of the week went by in a blur, mostly with wedding preps, but punctuated by fun stuff, such as dancing at the famous Million-Dollar Cowboy Bar, trying buffalo steak at the Gun-barrel restaurant, or checking out the quaint and charming town of Jackson; and always underscored by the love and support of some truly incredible people.  The Murphy’s (Rachel’s new in-laws) are honestly some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my entire life.  They are constantly loving, giving of themselves, thinking of and serving others, and glorifying God.  It was a crazy week, but also a very edifying and encouraging one.

And the wedding itself was beautiful.  Goodness.  So precious.  I am so honored and blessed to have such wonderful people in my life, and also to be a part of their lives.  I will treasure the memories of the Ryan and Rachel Murphy wedding forever.  Many pictures from the wedding and the week leading up to it below!! 🙂

My reaction at being in business class 🙂
The leg-room in business class – it was incredible 😀 

Course #1 – out of 5!!

Wyoming scenery – the storm literally split the sky in half!!  So cool!!

Rachel’s bachelorette party at Yellowstone – and yes, that IS her doing a handstand on a pile of logs in the middle of the river…. 🙂

Old Faithful blowing faithfully!

A famous lodge on the park grounds – possibly the coolest building I’ve ever seen

Wyoming is gorgeous, plain and simple.

Yellowstone is aptly named…

Sisters!!  Elsha and Shannon Murphy

The mud pits of Yellowstone – they bubble and pop and sing to you! 🙂

So yeah…the water was a bit cold…

Rachel trying to avoid a tanline – that’s how much she loves Ryan ;).  Haha…

More sisters!  Rachel and Sarah Leslie 🙂

My wedding present to Rachel – a personalized cookbook with old family recipes and stories and pictures from her past

I like this shot – Rachel’s engagement ring has the silhouette of the Teton mountains in them.  It’s lined up perfectly with the actual mountains 🙂 

Wedding prep!  Making programs – they were really complicated.  We had to get really creative to save time 😀

Anddddd…..a week later, the finished product!!

Korea is infectious.  Hahaha 😀

The million dollar cowboy bar.  Thus named because the knotted wood that the bar is mostly made of is a very rare anomaly, and literally costs millions of dollars!
Gunbarrel restaurant.  I tried buffalo steak – soooo good!! 

Yes, that arch is indeed made entirely of antler horns! 

The rehearsal dinner

I tried slack-lining – basically it’s a tight-rope that’s really close to the ground.  Sooo hard!!

The wedding!!  Check out the mountains in the background!  I love this shot… 🙂

Sarah (on the left) made both of the wedding cakes.  They were incredibleeeeee!!!

Me and my escort, Seth, walking down the aisle

Japan

By the end of my journey, my endurance was starting to wane.  To put it simply, I was tired, and all the more so because I had done nearly all of my traveling alone.  There’s something about traveling with a friend that really energizes me, and makes even the most frustrating situations more bearable.  But I had planes to catch and memories to make, and I didn’t plan on missing a single opportunity!

When I was in middle school, my family befriended a Japanese girl who was studying in America at the time.  We took her on all sorts of family outings, and got really close, but then she moved back to Japan, and we kind of lost touch.  But I also held the memories of Naoko close to my heart, and when she found me on facebook about a year ago, I saw my grant year in Korea as a perfect time to reconnect!  She’s married and has a son now, and I’m a college graduate, so we certainly had a lot to reconnect about!

So anyway, Naoko and her husband (Shilla) and son (Hiro) met me at the airport in Tokyo, and we headed back to their house for the evening.  The next day we headed to Kyoto, and 2 slow trains and 1 bullet train later, we arrived and walked around for a while to do some sightseeing.  It was fun and exciting (and also CRAZY expensive!!), but Hiro was getting tired and antsy (I’m sure we’ve all experienced children in the throes of the “terrible twos!”), so we all went back to the hotel early and called it a night.

On the bullet train to Kyoto!

There was crazy massive snow falling somewhere in the middle of Japan.  Thankfully, we only experienced it from the warmth of the train! 🙂

A traditional Japanese Maika dance

My splurge of the week.  If I had realized just how much it was in dollars I probably wouldn’t have bought it…but it was good, nonetheless 🙂

Yay for old friends <3

The next day we went on a bus tour of the city.  It took us to the Golden Pavilion – one of the most famous landmarks in all of Japan, the Silver Pavilion – which is misleadingly named; it’s not silver at all!, and a bunch of other landmarks all over the city.  When it finished, we had lots of time to kill before our train left, so Naoko and I left the boys sleeping in the mall, and we went to a traditional folk art museum.  That was COOL.  We got to see demonstrations (some live, some on video) of all SORTS of different traditional Japanese arts – sewing designs for kimonos, and goldworking, and jewelry making, and basket weaving, and doll making, and rope braiding, and wood carving, and painting….basically anything you could think of, was probably represented there.  I’m not generally a huge museum fan, but this museum was different.  This was a living history museum, a hands-on interactive museum that fused the past with the present, and I found it fascinating.  I was rather glad that we had had so much time on our hands :).

The golden pavilion!!

The silver pavilion….more like the dull brown pavilion =/

More sightseeing….

Drinking from this fountain is supposed to be good luck 🙂

That dog is BA!!  He’s got a saber!!

The traditional folk art museum

The next day we all slept in, had a rather lazy day, and then I headed to the airport to go home.  Upon boarding the plane, I was surprised with the blessing of being bumped up to first class – which happened to also be on the second level of the plane, which just made it all the more cooler.  I don’t know if you’ve ever flown first class before, but I have been ETERNALLY spoiled.  The seats were super comfy, had a sinful amount of leg room (you could literally recline the seat into a completely flat position, be laying straight out on your back, and still have room to spare!), the meal was delicious, and the in-flight entertainment extensive.  They even had soothing background music and mood lighting!  It was certainly a nice way to recharge on my late flight back after so much travel turbulence over the past 2 weeks.

So that’s it!  One bus, four countries and times zones, six trains, eight cities, 12,000 nautical miles, countless memories and priceless friendships later, I’m back where I started….much poorer financially, but in the long run oh-so-much richer.  What a blessing this Fulbright grant has been to me!

That’s a fountain that spurts different designs…gotta love Japanese technology!

Poor Hiro was all tuckered out!

First class deliciousness 🙂