Vancouver Island

Saanich, Victoria, BC

Saanich, Victoria, BC

We followed Aly over to Vancouver Island for a few days to visit family, celebrate Toryn’s birthday, watch Aly in her sweatshop and work (me).

I spent a day working down on the Inner Harbour in Victoria while Dani worked on the Skog stall. Toby (who is afraid of heights) went climbing with Nikki, Fabio and Allegra. On Thursday night we all lay out on the deck watching the meteor shower (which was pretty good – just a shame about the light pollution sneaking over to the island from Vancouver!).

Aly in the laser engraving sweatshop!

Aly in the laser engraving sweatshop!

Toby Rock Climbing

Toby Rock Climbing

Working at the Inner Harbour

Working at the Inner Harbour

Last night we had a great meal with Colin down at the harbour in front of the Legislature. There’s a dragon boat festival going on which is making me contemplating joining a dragon boat team in Richmond (although I’m a little concerned that I would really only be a fair-weather dragon boater which might be a problem for a team sport!).

Food with a View

Food with a View!

Tonight we’re headed back to Richmond and then Zoe and I leave for a few days in Kelowna first thing on 17th.

On Aug 22 I’ll be embarking on the Richmond Eats challenge with Richmond Food Security which means that for a week I’ll only be eating produce grown on our island, meat raised by our farmers, and seafood caught by local fisherman. It’s going to be an extremely vegetable-laden week! I’m not sure what I’m going to do without all those nice cups of English Breakfast tea.

We get 3 single-food exclusions. Since there are no grains grown in Richmond, I think I’ll choose rice as my first. There is no oil to cook with so I pretty much have to pick an oil as my second – I’ll go for olive oil (and am hoping this means I can eat olives too, but will need to check!). I’m not sure about the 3rd. I’m thinking maybe something sweet – maple syrup perhaps? A lot of people go for salt. Decisions decisions. Perhaps I’ll just wait until I start and see what I’m most desperate for!

The challenge helps raise funds for Richmond Food Security Society, a community organization that works to fight hunger and increase local food production. If you’re able to sponsor me, please go to http://raiseathon.ca/richmondeats.

aaaah…. Whistler

whistler-mountain

Before we left on our US Road Trip Adventure, Sascha and I had a lovely weekend in Whistler – thanks to the gift of a Bear Safari from the Vancouver Island folks (thanks guys).

We dropped Zoe at her best friend’s house for the weekend on our way out of town and then went to the Britannia Mine Museum which was really enjoy but can’t quite put my finger on why since it turns out mine trains are slow, and mines are wet, cold and extremely dark. I did keep expecting to see seven animatronic dwarves to appear singing a jolly little song!

We checked in the Westin and had massages, sauna, hot tub and a quick swim. When we got to our room we didn’t have to fight with anyone about who got which bed! It was a lovely, quiet weekend before the mayhem of the road trip commenced!

It was very strange to see Whistler full of bike racks instead of skis and snowboards and to watch all the bikes getting hauled up the mountains on ski lifts!

whistler_bike_lift whistler_bikes

The safari itself was great – it was just the two of us, along with our guide, Jason. We headed into the Olympic park and quickly saw a black bear in front of us. After visiting the various Olympic venues we found a cinnamon black bear on the slopes beside the ski jumps. The views from everywhere we went were amazing and the weather was perfect.

whistler_car

Bear Scratching Post

Bear scratching post!

Black Bear

Black Bear

At the top of the Whistler Ski Jumps

At the top of the Whistler Ski Jumps

Cinnamon Black Bear

Cinnamon Black Bear

whistler_us whistler_waterfallWhistler

I felt like I was in a vacation coma for the first week back. It had been years and years since I’d taken a vacation without doing any work and my brain had truly gone into shut down mode apparently!

Zoe was in a (learn-to-ride-a) bike camp last week and had a great camp. She’s almost there with riding. Unfortunately she’s between bike sizes – hers is now too small and Toby’s old one is just a bit too big.

Aly driving lessons have been going well. Sascha and I have been taking turns. We’ve graduated from parking lots to roads in our neighbourhood and she’s been an excellent student. On Wednesday she headed over to Victoria for the rest of the summer to stay with the family and help out with the Skog [link] business down at the Inner Harbour.

aly_driving

aly_driving2

 

Oh Canada! – Niagara, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa

thumb_IMG_5378_1024

We had about a 4 hour drive from Albany to Niagara. I had been to Niagara years ago with really high expectations and had been disappointed (I think I was expecting higher falls and less general tackiness!). This time I went with low expectations and really enjoyed myself.

There are 4 Travelodges in Niagara – Travelodge Bonaventure, Travelodge at the Falls, Travelodge By The Falls, Travelodge Falls View. We eventually tracked down the right one (which was fortunately not the one with a haunted house in the basement and very loud soft play area/shooting gallery in the parking lot).

After checking in, Sascha and Aly headed back over the border to return the US rental car and then walked back over the Rainbow Bridge to the hotel.

thumb_IMG_5334_1024

Once they were back we wandered down to the falls where a full moon was just beginning to rise. It made for one of those magical evenings.

thumb_DSC_7044_1024

In true Niagara-style the boys hit an arcade and the girls hit a haunted house (I ended up carrying Zoe around the whole thing with her eyes shut after she asked to go in and then changed her mind after the first room)!

thumb_IMG_5394_1024 thumb_IMG_5402_1024

Next day we squeezed (literally) into a new, MUCH smaller rental car. We took a short drive to our next hotel at the Toronto airport. We decided to take things easy and get some rest before the long drive to Montreal the next day.

thumb_IMG_2469_1024

I also managed to meet up with Paul, a friend I had met in Florida when I was a 16 but hadn’t seen since! It’s been quite the reunion trip. Paul and I had a lovely meal, great catch up and are hoping to do some work together this summer.

thumb_IMG_2470_1024

Onwards to Montreal via a very strange pub/hotel in an old jail in the town of Cobourg for lunch.

thumb_IMG_5440_1024

thumb_IMG_5414_1024

The nicest prison yard I’ve ever seen!

 

thumb_IMG_5425_1024

In Montreal we were staying at an airport hotel again (they were cheaper). We drove into Old Montreal for a walk around and for dinner. I fell in love with this beautiful old city. It feels SO European but we couldn’t really place a specific French town it reminded us of. I guess it really is its own thing. French is the first language spoken by everyone but without fail they all spoke English and would happily switch as soon as they figure out you were an Anglophone. Quite often their greeting would be ‘Bonjour, hello’. I realized quickly that the easiest way to get myself in trouble was to answer ‘bonjour’ because that would be followed up with a long question or comment in French and I would have to confess that I’m a bit useless!

We couldn’t persuade Zoe to speak French to anyone (not even to explain to everyone that the rest of her family is terrible at French!) but she did come in handy translating some signs.

thumb_IMG_5475_1024

thumb_DSC_7194_1024

thumb_IMG_2532_1024

We had an anniversary dinner at a lovely sidewalk restaurant – Papillon (Butterfly). The food was absolutely amazing. Afterwards we wandered around the streets of Old Montreal and saw Notre Dame.

thumb_IMG_5487_1024

thumb_IMG_5485_1024

Papillon

thumb_IMG_5501_1024

thumb_IMG_5507_1024

thumb_IMG_5493_1024

Notre Dame

 

After a slow start the next day we went to the Biosphere Environmental Museum on Île Saint Helene – the site of Expo ’67. It’s an open dome because of a fire years ago. It was right up Aly’s street so she was VERY happy.

thumb_IMG_5516_1024

thumb_IMG_5525_1024

Studying air and water pollution in the lab

thumb_DSC_7120_1024   thumb_IMG_2498_1024

thumb_IMG_2510_1024

We drove around the Formula One track on Île Notre Dame (Montreal is made up of lots of islands) and then checked out the Olympic Stadium and went up the funicular to the top of the 45 degree angled tower. For dinner we headed back to the Old Port in Old Montreal and ate at JR Esquire.

thumb_DSC_7126_1024

On the Formula One track

thumb_IMG_2520_1024

Olympic Stadium

thumb_IMG_5551_1024

thumb_DSC_7168_1024

View from the top of the tower

Next day was our final city stop – Ottawa. Although we were sad to leave Montreal, we were not sad to leave their terrible roads including this interesting overpass we kept driving under to get into the city!….

thumb_IMG_2478_1024

This time we were at a great hotel just a block from Parliament Hill. We were too late to get any tickets for inside the parliament buildings but we took a tour around the grounds (in true Aly fashion she asked and answered lots of questions and was very disappointed when it was over!)

thumb_IMG_5744_1024

Centre Block

thumb_DSC_7233_1024

The Eternal Flame

 

thumb_IMG_5623_1024

thumb_IMG_2550_1024

We took a look around the town, watched a military ceremonial performance and ate dinner at Zak’s diner – a 50s diner that we all loved. Zoe declared that this was her favourite restaurant ever – she loved everything on the kids menu AND they had a whole bottle of her favourite brand of mayo right on the table! Aly got to play some music on the jukebox so she was happy and they had gluten-free toast so I was happy.

thumb_IMG_5682_1024

thumb_DSC_7260_1024

thumb_IMG_2568_1024

The Rideau Canal

After dinner it was time to head back to Parliament Hill for their free evening light show. The show was one of my favourite moments of the entire vacation. We all sat on Parliament’s front lawn while they projected the story of Canada onto the front of the Parliament buildings. The show was fantastic and I was surrounded by the people I love in the country I love J

thumb_IMG_5730_1024

Next day, in a very unlikely scenario for the sleepy-Williams-family, Sascha was in line at 8.30am for tickets to get into tours in the East Block and Centre Block – even then he only managed to get the last time slot we could have got and still been in time for our flight that evening.

We started off at the East Block – the old building (the one that hadn’t burnt to the ground in 1916). There were only 4 families on the tour so there were lots of opportunity to ask questions. Zoe even got to use the big old key to unlock the door to the room where the Privy Council used to meet.

thumb_IMG_5767_1024

Zoe unlocking the door

 

thumb_IMG_5768_1024

Privy Council Chamber

thumb_IMG_5657_1024

East Block

Next up was the Centre Block – home of the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. In an uncharacteristic moment of bravery (and despite having a migraine), Zoe put her hand up to answer a question that was stumping the 40 or so people on our tour (why everything in the Senate chamber is red – it’s because it’s the colour of royalty). At the end of the tour we were able to go to the top of the Peace Tower (who knew there was an observation deck under the clock?!). When we came out, people were eating picnics and playing frisbee on Parliament Hill. I love that it just feels like Canada’s back garden.

thumb_IMG_5795_1024

thumb_IMG_5828_1024

thumb_IMG_5862_1024

thumb_IMG_5896_1024

View from the Peace Tower

thumb_IMG_5894_1024

All too soon it was time to head to the airport. We all had very mixed feelings about heading home – we definitely all had reasons for getting back home – not all sleeping in one room, nobody needing to sleep on the inflatable mattress, the joy of not having to inflate the inflatable mattress every night, the joy of not having to repack every morning (even though we had got very efficient along the way), our own bed, own food etc. etc. but we were all going to miss the adventure. Zoe was going to miss the swimming and I think Toby was going to miss the access to junk food.

A statistical analysis of each family member’s favourite places throughout the trip showed the most popular locations to be:

  1. Ottawa, Ontario
  2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  3. New York, New York
  4. (tie) Orlando, Florida / Chincoteague, Virginia / Boston, Massachusetts / Niagara, Ontario / Montreal, Quebec

I’m not sure where our next travels will take us but would love to think we would spend more than two nights somewhere on our next adventure!

As for August, Aly is heading to Victoria for the month. Toby, Zoe and I will join her for a week and then the 3 of us will go to Kelowna for 3 or 4 days. Summer is going to fly by!

New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont!

Connecticut

Mystic

After failing to get into the home of the hamburger – Louis’ Lunch (it’s closed on Sundays) we turned off the road into Mystic, Connecticut because it sounded interesting. It was a beautiful little town. We only had ice cream, but wished we had time to visit the maritime museum (the biggest in America) and all the old ships.

Ice Cream in Mystic

Ice Cream in Mystic

We got to Boston mid-afternoon (by which time we had travelled through 5 states – New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut). Our hotel was out the other side of the city so we decided to see the city before checking in. I had some how managed to never visit Boston even though Sascha had been a couple of times.

All the freeways are under the city which makes it a very walkable city. We started off at Boston Commons where Zoe had a carousel ride and was having a loving time wading in the wading pool/ice rink until she got splashed. She seemed fairly outraged that children were splashing around in there!

Boston Commons

Boston Commons

From there, Sascha managed to conjure up a great walking tour covering the old and new State Houses, various old churches, Boston harbour and Quincy Market (where Aly spent a lot of time in a comic book store and I discovered Uniqlo). Boston was one of my favourite places we visited. It looks like a very livable city. I felt very comfortable there – it seemed like a pretty relaxed city (or maybe that was only because we’d come from New York and Washington!). Definitely another one to add to the visit-again-one-day list.

thumb_IMG_5220_1024thumb_IMG_5270_1024 thumb_IMG_5257_1024 thumb_IMG_5243_1024

thumb_DSC_6900_1024

Boston

New State House, Boston

Next day we had a long (5 hour) drive. We headed up to Maine (through New Hampshire) drove through a couple of covered bridges in Bennington, Vermont, and finally back to Albany, New York, to break up the journey back into Canada.

thumb_IMG_5293_1024 thumb_DSC_6935_1024

Bennington

Bennington

New Jersey and New York, New York

thumb_DSC_6830_1024

For the sake of finances we had decided to stay in New Jersey rather than New York. I had stayed at Newark airport several times, but always gone directly into New York so we pleasantly surprised to look around New Jersey for once. I’m not convinced it deserves the bad rap it gets!

Speaking of finances, early on in the trip we had been buying 3 meals a day. Eventually we wised up and started grocery shopping for breakfast and sandwich options. We also tried to buy a few meals we could make with only the use of a hotel coffee maker – it’s a little limiting and perhaps not the healthiest of choices, but breakfast and lunch usually worked out. I was pretty excited on the few occasions where we actually had a microwave in the hotel room and loved whenever we had a freezer compartment in the hotel room fridge because it mean it didn’t have to fill a bag with ice from the ice machine in the hotel and stuff it into the lunch bag we had bought along the way. Salami sandwiches have pretty much been our staple food as we figure it’s the least likely to go bad along the way.

We figured we’d take it easy the afternoon/evening ready for a long day in New York the next day but around 9.30pm we suddenly decided to drive into Manhattan (since we figured the traffic would be ok at that time of night – it’s like we hadn’t learnt anything from our Washington experience!). We (I say ‘we’ but Sascha did the driving thank goodness) drove from downtown to midtown. We say the Pokemon Go crowds at Central Park and ended up in Times Square (nighttime really is the time to see Times Square). It was definitely chaotic. Getting used to all those pedestrians leaping out on you takes some getting used to.

Times Square, New York

Times Square

Next day we took the ferry from New Jersey over to Ellis Island. While Sascha and the kids got the ferry over to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, I headed to midtown to meet up with Brian, an old university friend who I hadn’t seen since I was 19.

New York

Ellis Island

New York

On the Ferry to Manhattan

thumb_DSC_6704_1024

thumb_DSC_6709_1024

Getting to my lunch was quite the ordeal.  We were meeting at 12.30pm so I got the 11am ferry and then hoped on a hop-on/hop-off bus since that was how we had planned to see New York. This was the SLOWEST bus on the planet. The traffic was horrific and there is only one-direction you can get on the bus which then does a huge loop before ended up back the original spot and then heading up the edge of Manhattan and not stopping anywhere on the way. In the end I hopped off at the first stop and ended up standing in the middle of road frantically trying to flag down a cab to take me to Gramercy Tavern near Park Ave. Fortunately Brian had hit the cocktails to pass the time while he waited for me so he didn’t seem to mind too much. The maitre d’ was expecting me and suggested I never think about taking a bus in New York again!

We had a delicious lunch and wonderful catch up. Afterwards we walked up 5th Ave and popped into a furniture store where every single customer had brought their interior designer with them (of course).

Gramercy Tavern

Lunch with Brian

My plan was to meet up at the Empire State building after Sascha and the children had been to Times Square again but by the time they got there it was pouring outside and we decided the hour long wait might only get us to the top of a building we couldn’t see anything out of. Instead we had lunch in the base of the building and then hopped back on a very crowded hop-on/hop-off bus. The bus then refused to pick up anyone else on the route as they wouldn’t let anyone stand because someone had slipped the week before. The incredibly slow bus would periodically stop at bus stops to argue with annoyed customers who hadn’t been able to get on a bus for an hour or more. I don’t know if we missed most of Chinatown, but living in Richmond has made every Chinatown seem very puny!

The one thing I desperately wanted to do while we were in NY was head to ground zero. Sascha and I had been back and forth to NY regularly in the 90s but I hadn’t been back (except to touch down at Newark) since the towers had come down so our last stop was the new Freedom Tower and memorial. The tower is quite something. It’s the highest in the Western hemisphere apparently. It was a much quicker ride to the top than it had been to make it up 4 floors in our hotel from the previous night and there was a great overlay of New York through the ages on the way up.

thumb_IMG_5174_1024

Freedom Tower (from the base)

thumb_DSC_6745_1024

thumb_IMG_5138_1024

Poor Toby does NOT love heights and we always drag him up the tallest building we can find!

thumb_DSC_6791_1024 thumb_IMG_5143_1024

thumb_DSC_6814_1024

Photo-phobic Zoe strikes again!

thumb_IMG_5147_1024

I was really impressed with the memorial – there are 2 holes where the foundations of the twin towers were and water continuously pours into them. There is a deeper hole in the centre each. Around the railings are the names of everyone who lost their lives. It’s a beautiful tribute.

New York

We had a great view of Manhattan at dusk as we took the ferry back to New Jersey. I had very mixed feelings about leaving so soon. There is so much I love about New York (the skyline, the energy, the fact it never sleeps), but some things are just a little much (stifling heat, crazy traffic, the general busy-ness). I liked the idea of living here at one point, but I think I might be past the city-living part of my life. I become too used to my nice quiet bubble!

Manhattan, New York

Maryland, Washington DC and Pennyslvania

thumb_IMG_4733_1024

Next up was Washington DC. We made a pit stop in Annapolis for lunch so Sascha could look wistfully at all the boats. We ate at Pusser’s (it was very strange to be in a Pusser’s that was not in the Caribbean). Annapolis was a beautiful old town – another one I’d like to come back and spend some more time in.

We arrived in DC late afternoon. After hanging around the hotel and unpacking we made the questionable decision to drive into the city since it was evening and should be ‘quieter’. DC apparently equal traffic mayhem at any time of the day or night. Merge lanes don’t seem to exist so it was quite ‘exciting’. As we were driving in, the president flew in overhead after a day in Texas. We were not there quite quick enough to see him land on the lawn. The perimeter around the White House is apparently HUGE so there was no more of a glimpse of a white building somewhere in the distance on our drive. We got to take a quick look at all the major sites.

thumb_DSC_6537_1024

Next day we took the 20 minutes train ride back into the centre. We headed to the Capitol Building (which is unfortunately covered in scaffolding both in and out at the moment in preparation for the next inauguration). It’s no longer possible to go for a wander around the way we had in the past, but it’s now strictly guided-tours only. We took the tour and probably learnt more than we ever had in the past! I was a little sad to have to throw away my full bottles of bug spray and sunscreen before being allowed in the building. Food and water were also a no-go. Things have definitely changed in the 16 years since we last visited.

thumb_IMG_4777_1024

Capitol Building

 

thumb_IMG_4752_1024 thumb_IMG_4755_1024

We took a very long, very hot walk down the mall and then headed into the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum. I thought it would look familiar but I hadn’t been back since I was a child and I didn’t remember anything about it. After the obligatory astronaut ice cream we decided to go to the Natural History Museum via the sculpture park. Bonus – all the museums are free – yay!

thumb_IMG_4791_1024

thumb_IMG_4818_1024

The Original Wright Flyer

thumb_IMG_4831_1024

Sculpture Garden

thumb_IMG_4823_1024 thumb_IMG_4841_1024 thumb_IMG_4844_1024 thumb_IMG_4846_1024 thumb_IMG_4852_1024

Before leaving we walked over to the White House which was a little more visible than it had been from the road. After that we headed for the train before we all melted. This was by far the most tiring day of the vacation so far for me (and would have been for everyone if it hadn’t been for the 4-Disney park day!).

It was around this time that I began to break out in mysterious hives. A few days later we decided it must have been the “Awesome” brand $2 bottle of laundry detergent that was available at the campsite in New Bern and ended up having to re-wash all my clothes once we got to Washington. By the time we got to New York I didn’t look like I had the plague anymore but the rash would last for another week or so.

Next day was Pennsylvanian Dutch (Amish Country) day. We made a pit stop at the Hershey Chocolate Factory and made some customized chocolate bars. I enjoyed the factory but reconfirmed the fact that I do, indeed, still detest the taste of Hersey’s chocolate. They’re so proud of the ‘delicious’ flavour and I just kept wishing it were a Cadbury’s factory!

thumb_IMG_4907_1024 thumb_IMG_4910_1024 thumb_IMG_4913_1024 thumb_IMG_4938_1024 thumb_IMG_4992_1024

Sascha did all of the travel and accommodation arrangement for the holiday and has done a fantastic job. He surpassed himself with the converted cork factory that we stayed in in Lancaster.

thumb_IMG_5032_1024

We managed to squeeze in an Amish buggy ride before the end of the day. The guy arranging the buggy rides called the driver on the cellphone to have him come and pick us up which was a bit of a surprise. I had read that some Amish do use phones for business purposes. Sascha was also amused by the 2 guys in their buggy making a 7-Eleven run for Slurpies.

thumb_DSC_6595_1024

thumb_IMG_5023_1024thumb_DSC_6608_1024

I was hoping we might discover something about Amish culture but we had the most monosyllabic tour guide (much to the dismay of the loud guy from Alabama next to us who was peppering the guy with questions only to get a shrug). The introvert in me really appreciated the peace and quiet are we drove through the farms. They were ploughing the fields with horses (although the horses we pulling a plough with a motor on it interestingly). They were growing corn, peaches, apples and cherries. I don’t know why but I’ve been fascinated to see what eat state grows. In Florida it was oranges (and they also seemed to sell baby gator heads (!) at the orange stands – we had eaten some delicious gator in Ft Lauderdale, but gator heads?), Georgia was peaches and South Carolina was pecans.

We finished up with a lovely home-cooked meal (meatloaf and soup).

 

 

 

North Carolina Part 2 and Virginia

IMG_4427

Wright Memorial

IMG_4419

Flight Path Markers

Kitty Hawk

Wright Flyer Reproduction (we will see the original at the Smithsonian Institute)

 

DSC_6231 Kitty Hawk

We made our way to Kill Devil Hills (Kitty Hawk), North Carolina and stayed just across the street from where the Wright Brothers made their first flights. It’s a great museum. In the evening we headed to the beach for sunset.

IMG_4453 IMG_4541 Kill Devil Hills

Next day we left Kitty Hawk – amused by the drive thru liquor stores dotted along the road on the way out of town.

"Brew-thru"

“Brew-thru”

We took the crazy long bridge-tunnel across Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. We stopped halfway across one of the bridges to do some sight seeing (including some dolphin-spotting) and stopped at the gift stop.

We listened to the audiobook of Misty of Chincoteague on the way to Chincoteague. Just as we were about to arrive in Chicoteague we happened upon Wallops – a NASA launch site complete with visitors centre. Sadly there were no launches planned until mid-August.

Wallops

Wallops – NASA launch site

After checking-in at our horse ranch/hotel we headed over to Assateague Island to see the wild ponies that still roam there. There were also a LOT of birds (I wish I knew what they were) and some deer. Sascha got to play with a huge horseshoe crab at the visitors centre and we all got bitten to death by mosquitoes.

Pokemon Go has struck. All 3 kids spontaneously went for a ‘walk’ together in the evening which has never happened before! Toby is a little devastated that we won’t let him have data roaming on so he’s permanently on a wifi hunt.

DSC_6411

 

DSC_6351 DSC_6334

DSC_6426Chincoteague

 

Feeding time at the hotel:

IMG_4663

..and apparently this guy came with the room:

DSC_6441

Before leaving we squeezed in a pony ride for Zoe and a riding lesson for Aly on a relative of Misty of Chincoteague.

DSC_6399

DSC_6454

DSC_6463

Anyone who has ever met us knows we are not very good at getting up early in the morning but with check-in generally not being until 3pm and our drives usually being around 3 hours we are generally at the next hotel just as the room is available.

The children have been fantastic on the drives. We got upgraded from a RAV4 to a minivan – not my usual choice but in this case we were incredibly grateful for the extra row of seats and extra storage space.  The kids are usually pretty entertained by their iDevices and take turns to charge them. Eventually we’ll play a game or listen to an audiobook. So far we have played Story Cubes, I-spy and the license plate game (only 12 states left to go – although a call to Uncle Pete in Hawaii might be required to get that one – we have SEEN his car after all). Our latest audiobooks were The Five Children and It and The Hobbit. That reminds me, I need to download some new stories from the library via OverDrive and Hoopla.

We’ve got our packing and unpacking down to a fine art – each person has a backpack and packs 3-4 days of clothing in there.  Each 3rd day or so we haul everything into the hotel room so we can replenish clothes for the next few days.

 

 

 

South Carolina, North Carolina

After leaving the Point South KOA (Beaufort), South Carolina we stopped in Charleston, South Carolina which is a beautiful, beautiful little town. I wish we’d had more time to hang out and explore more. Soon it was time to head up the coast to the Dunes Village in Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach is crazy. There are 30 mini golf courses! We spent a couple of days having a quick seaside holiday – beaches, body surfing, boardwalking, attractions, a Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not, all-you-can-eat-buffets, mini golf etc. etc. Sascha got a chance to visit his old haunts from the winter he spent living in Myrtle Beach as a teenager.

IMG_4183

IMG_4237

IMG_4268

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Last night Aly and I headed off to Broadway at the Beach (in Myrtle Beach). It’s like a giant version of Downtown Disney. Everyone seems to be nocturnal in Myrtle Beach. The toddlers are all still out at midnight. All the stores are still open and the mini golf course are packed – but only from about 7pm onwards. This night we had left it until 10pm-ish to head out. It was still 93 degrees and very humid so we decided to do some ziplining across the lake to cool down. I’d forgotten how much I LOVE ziplining. Maybe I could get one rigged up from our balcony down to the garden at home!

Today we were back in the car (listening to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). We are deep in the heart of the bible belt. There were a few clues that led us to this conclusion…

Bible Belt

We headed to an historic little town (New Bern, North Carolina – the home of Pepsi) where we are staying in a camping cabin on a lake. We spent some time exploring the town and now are back at the cabin ready to roast some marshmallows so I’d better go!

DSC_6176

DSC_6179

Tryon Palace

Our cute cabin:

IMG_4385 New Bern Cabin

New Bern

IMG_4373

Florida Part 2, Georgia and South Carolina

We had a low-key day hanging about at the hotel and exploring the new Disney Springs area..

IMG_3916

Disney Springs at Sunset

IMG_3906

IMG_3883

IMG_3873

IMG_3897

We had one last day at Disney. Sascha, Aly and Toby opted for the insanity of 4-Disney parks in a day. Since Zoe was still recovering, she and I opted for ‘just’ Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Thanks to our 3 fast passes with the magic bands it was a pretty efficient day. We squeezed in a dozen or so rides and got to see the new Soarin’ Over the World ride which was excellent.

IMG_4012

Hollywood Studios

 

IMG_3947

Animal Kingdom

 

IMG_4063

Epcot

 

IMG_3973

Magic Kingdom

IMG_3976

IMG_3990

Yesterday we headed out to Beaufort, South Carolina. We stopped briefly in St. Augustine (Florida) – the oldest (continuously occupied) town in America to look around the fort. It was 37 degrees (47 with the heat index) so after a quick look we all staggered back to the car’s A/C to recover and drive around the rest of the town. It’s taking us temperate-climate folks a little while to get used to life down here. We may have to (gasp) start getting up a little earlier when it’s still cool!

IMG_2089

DSC_6113

DSC_6107

We headed to Savannah (Georgia) for dinner and a thunderstorm. We were thinking about some Southern Comfort Food but ended up at a Thai/Japanese fusion place!

Finally we arrived at our home for the night – the Kaboose in the Point South KOA, South Carolina. 3 states in a day – it feels like our road trip is underway!

IMG_4127

Point South KOA

DSC_6125

After experiencing all the Point South KOA had to offer (the swamp and the wine bar) it was time to move on.

Points South KOA

Point South KOA Wine Bar!