Over the holiday weekend we went to Chicago for a reunion with Mike's family. It was great to see everyone! Here's a photo recap. (Most of these pictures I've stolen from others, muahaha.)

The "Bean."

Playing at the splash pad thingee. (Jeff, Mike and I were enjoying sushi while this was going on.)I believe this is the 'preying mantis' shot... (I think Ben wins the Best Imitation award.)Sam found some dirt.The kids buried Mike at Lake Michigan. Mike and a sleeping JJ.
Waiting for the fireworks to start.Mike, Claire, and a great looking chocolate cupcake.Bob and JJ enjoying the fireworks.Us on the boat tour where we got a good feeling for the history and architecture of the Windy City.
At the Museum of Science and Industry! This museum was one of my favorite parts. They had this massive sub that was really captured from the Germans in WW2, plus hundreds of other displays. Plus, this is where our nephew Sam decided he liked me. It's always a victory when you win over a kid. (I just hope he remembers that he likes me next time he sees me...)
At Taste of Chicago. As you can see, it was packed! The watermellon was particularly yummy on such a hot day. Relaxing with The Buns.At Navy Pier, where Mike enjoyed his oysters and I enjoyed my Hagan Daas.Skyline. The rest of the crew went to Nauvoo after this, but we had to go back to work so this is where we parted. Thanks for the fab trip! It was great seeing you guys!


It's Like America, but South

Guess what? We went to South America. I know, awesome. So here is a (comparatively) brief recap of our awesome trip.

There was only one bad thing that happened the whole trip: Delta cancelled our flight out of Chicago and therefore made us miss the first leg of the trip. The tragedy is that the first leg of the trip consisted of Machu Picchu. Yes, we missed Machu Picchu because of Delta. Talk about disappointment. Delta, you're fired. Mike and I eventually made it to Peru and hung out in Lima for a day while we waited for his parents to return from Machu Picchu (their flight wasn't cancelled. Freaking Delta.)

On the bright side, Lima's not such a bad place to kill time. We walked around downtown, went to the Gold Museum which it turns out has nothing to do with gold, saw some Aztec ruins, and had some pretty dang good Peruvian food. (Dad, it's just as good as Inca Mamma's. :D)

So here we are in Peru:

Mike spent a large portion of every night writing a big paper for law school to try and get on a journal. Amazing diligence, Hot Buns. Once we met up with Bob and Deanne, we traveled to Brazil. Our first stop was a city in the Amazon called Manaus. Our sweet lodge was so remote we had to take a boat to get there.
Our lodge greeted us with frogs in the sink. Nice touch.

Bob eating lunch with one of the neighborhood parrots.We made friends with the local wild Amazon monkeys

Then we fished for Piranhas......and caught one! (Actually just our guide caught piranhas. We caught a couple sardines though.)Manaus
We went Caimen hunting one night, and caught a young one.
Don't worry, we put it back after we all took turns holding it.
Some local "Natives" did a traditional dance for us, and pulled Bob into the fun :)
We visited a local "floating village" on the river. Everything is on stilts to accommodate for high/low tide.
Vacation in a nutshell:Merging of the waters! They really don't mix- it's pretty amazing.Swimming in the Amazon! Yes, we really went swimming in the watery home of piranhas, crocodiles, and boa constrictors, and lived to tell the tale.Our last day in the Amazon we went on a Jungle Walk. We saw all sorts of creatures and plants, including these huge (and very heavy) turtles.Jungle swing! These are the same kind of vines Tarzan uses to swing from tree to tree.Goodbye Echo Park!I believe the sidewalk is supposed to represent the merging of the waters.The boat returned us safely to civilization. We then toured the Manaus Theatre in the center of town.Mike has a mission companion who lives in Manaus who we were able to meet up with one night.Our super ritzy hotel :)After Manaus we flew to Salvador, Mike's old mission stomping ground, where he is still known as 'Elder Wilde.'
We consumed a large amount of coconut water, which is exactly what is sounds like- some dude pulls a coconut out of a cooler and cuts a hole in the top with a machete and sticks in a straw and you drink. YUM.

Annarita (one of Mike's converts) and her boyfriend fed us dinner one day.
Then her boyfriend (I can't remember his name...) let Mike and Bob ride his motorcycle- wicked gnarly.
I thought it was interesting to see how some people lived in nice apartments:
Passable apartments...Not so nice apartments...And super run-down holes. I guess that's Brazil for you.You can see the big elevator in the back- it takes you down to these markets on the coast. Very cool.

Fried beans and shrimp - still in the shell. Don't know why I'm smiling.Another family Mike baptized from his missionary years.
Part of the underground crypt in one of the cathedrals we visited.
Our crew with Sara Jane, a girl Mike baptized who kindly showed us around Salvador and prevented the market venders from ripping us off too bad.
I like Brazillian phone booths better.
After Salvador, we went to Iguasu Falls! They really are amazing. See for yourself.
The scene inspires romance to all who encounter it...

Sorry about the sqinty eyes. It was really misty.
You Portuguese speakers out there will appreciate the humor in this translation. (Apparently "leve o brasil no peito" means "keep Brazil in your heart" or something. I like their version better.)The next day we went to the Argentina side of the Falls. I think the Brazil side had more cool views, but Argentina has Devil's Throat- which is simply incredible.We took that little boat for a Maid of the Mist type venture into the water and got appropriately soaked.I am convinced that the bridge you take to Devil's Throat is not safe. But still, it gets you right to the edge.

Brazil is obsessed with pregnant women. Statues like this are everywhere. It's creepy.
Next stop, Sao Paulo! We didn't stay very long, but we managed to get in a trip to il tempio.

The drink of choice in Brazil: Guarana!Their avocados are the size of my head.Some lady trying to sell necklaces to Bob.  I think she needs a lesson in supply-demand economics.
Last stop: Rio! Here we went to the Cristo Redentore statue. Unfortunately, it is currently completely covered in scaffolding. We enjoyed the view anyway.

Even though it was very cold and windy this day, Mike decided to go swimming in Ipanema Beach. And he's glad he did.We stopped by the botanical gardens in Rio. Here we are in a bamboo garden
Apparently we have a lot of smoochy pictures.
Sunset in RioWe found this monkey chilling on our balcony one day. Famously colorful stairs in downtown Rio:
Acai! Travelling to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain:Smoochy pictures run in the family. :)
Breakfast everyday.The markets in Rio. Brazil's version of Banana Stands.
Braving the rains in Rio.At the National Museum:
Enjoying our last serving of coconut juice before coming home.
I will miss the mangoes, coconut juice, exotic flowers, inviting beaches, friendly people, and cobblestone streets.
Mike is not going to miss navigating the entire country for us. :)

Goodbye South America!
(Here's one last video of Iguazu:)

Phew! Now do you see why it took so long to blog about this?? We did so much every single day, it's hard to boil it all down to a blog post. Suffice it to say, it was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks Mamma and Poppa Wilde!