Travel

Spring Break ’13 – Starved Rock

Last week was Spring Break for Marla & the kids.  Mike had to work.  So Marla took the kids to Starved Rock, south of Joliet for a mini-vacation including some hiking and playing games in the lodge great room in the evening.  Pictures are HERE.

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Summer Picture Catch-Up

Yeah, it’s been a while.  How are you?  I’m doing well, thanks.  We did, in fact, do stuff this summer and I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures of it all.

First, Aaron played in the Section 6 tournaments again this year, and we won a few medals.
Then, my new emloyer had their “Take Your Kids To Work Day“, complete with Mr. Freeze.

Then of course we enjoyed the 4th of July festivities.

Lastly, we took a trip to the Oregon coast for our family reunion.

I have a few more random odds and ends, which I will hopefully post soon.

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Back to School

School has started, everyone’s back to their routines, and everyone seems to be adjusting to their new grades (and new school, in Justin’s case) very well.  Aaron is in eight grade and Symphonic Band, which means he has to practice every day at 7:20 A.M.  Wow, seems like school starts a lot earlier than when I was a kid, but hey… it’s Symphonic Band, I guess that’s the price you pay.  Ethan’s in third grade and high math.  Justin’s starting 1st grade.

All the soccer schedules are out, and amazingly we have very few conflicts.  I’ll miss one of Aaron’s games because I have to coach Ethan’s team (in a game).  Otherwise, overlaps are minimal.  I’m coaching Ethan’s U10 team, and assisting Aaron’s U14 team.  Marla is my assistant coach on Ethan’s U10 team, and she’s coaching Justin’s U8 team.  Games, practices, and school… that’ll be our life for the next eight weeks!

By the way, if you’re on Facebook, look for my video page (friend me up, if you haven’t already) and you’ll see some cool videos of our trip.  Enjoy!

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Cruise & Vacation Videos

I’m still sorting through the videos from the trip.  A few have been uploaded to my facebook wall… if you’re a friend, have a look.  Some will get posted here via YouTube once I have time to sort through the YouTube machine.

I’m torn on posting a review of the cruise itself.  I start to write it, then I putter out.  I’m not sure if my audience really cares about the minutae details of the boat.  School & Soccer season starts soon, and there will be plenty of blog material to post as that gets started.  Meh, I’ll figure it out and let you know.

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European Vacation & Cruise – Recap and Highlights

So for those of you too tired, bored, afraid, or otherwise uninterested to look at all the pictures, in all their glory, or read all the blog entries, after the jump I’ll post some pictorial highlights from the trip.   There might be one or two more posts about the cruise, but it’s all starting to wrap up now.  Note: I haven’t gone through any of the pictures and deleted the stupid shots, finger-in-the-lens shots, or anything else boring.  You have been warned.  Now, where’s that pesky “more” button?  Oh yeah, here it is.

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Hotel Review – Marriott London County Hall

Before and after our cruise, we stayed in London.  For five days before our cruise, and one day after, we toured London from our base camp at the Marriott London County Hall hotel.  Here are my experiences.

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Justin’s Sleeping Vacation

Justin has a rather special skill – when he’s tired, no matter where he is, he can sleep.  It’s not that he’s narcoleptic or anything, he doesn’t fall asleep first thing in the morning or in the middle of playing.  But as the day progresses, and especially when he’s had a full day, he’ll fall asleep when he’s tired… no matter where he is, or what position he’s in.  I thought I would show you a few of the places and positions that he found.

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Disembarkation – Southampton – London – Jack the Ripper

After 12 days and 9 ports, it’s time to disembark.  A fitting picture for today, as it’s the end of our cruise…

We made our way back to London, to the same hotel we stayed at prior to our journey.  We had traditional English tea at tea time, and then rested up prior to going on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour.  This tour takes you to some of the locations where Jack the Ripper struck.  Pictures are of London around Tower Hill, where we waited for the tour, and then the tour itself, and then some pics from the Tube ride back home.

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Cruise Port 9 – LeHavre & Paris

Our last port before we disembark was LeHavre, in Normandy.  We chose the Princess tour to Paris, which included a brief city tour as well as a guided tour of the Louvre, then lunch at the Eiffel Tower.  It’s pretty hard to say you didn’t experience Paris, after you’ve eaten lunch at the Eiffel Tower.  The Louvre was not surprisingly crowded, but surprisingly hot, which made it difficult to keep  the kids engaged.  But we did see the Venus De Milo, Winged Victory, and of course the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa was interesting. This is a piece of art that many humanities and art teachers refer to, to demonstrate the introduction of “point perspective” – that is to say, oversimplified, that artwork began to use visual angles to give the appearance of perspective.  All boiled down, you’re supposed to view Mona Lisa from various different angles, and no matter where you view her, her eyes are always “looking at you” – not forward, but toward you.  But you can’t.  There are ropes keeping you surprisingly far away (I would have expected to be able to get just a bit closer – it still required a bit of optical zoom on the camera to get a good shot) and getting to the front of the rope isn’t managed at all – just a big muddle of people jockeying.  Moving from one side at the ropes to the other side of the room, still at the ropes, would have required an iron constitution.  A queue would do a lot of good here.

The Louvre tour was expectantly short, only about an hour, then we made our way back to the bus and toward the Eiffel Tower for lunch.  You can’t help but be a bit overwhelmed, eating lunch in a fine dining restaurant on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.

After lunch, we were a bit pressed for time and the elevators going back down were all full, so we had to take the stairs down.  Yes, there are stairs.  Back on the ground, we made our way back to the bus, and then started the long (2.5 hours) drive back to the ship at LeHavre.

It was a great experience for everyone, albeit a bit crowded and hot.  Not sure I’d do it again, but I’m glad we did it this trip.

Some picture commentary: First, we made our way from LeHavre to Paris, and arrived at the Louvre around DSC03648.  Mona Lisa at DSC03669.  Then, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower, arriving about DSC03686.  Then, we started making our way back to LeHavre about DSC03694.

DSC03703 forward shows some pictures from the last day on the ship, like the Baked Alaska celebration after dinner on the last night, and Flat Stanley at our room.  Then the IMAGXXXX photos are Marla’s, starting back at the beginning and working forward again.  Worth a look through those, as she got better pictures of Mona Lisa.

SLR long & wide lens pictures are HERE.

Tomorrow, we disembark 🙁 but we’ve got one more day in London before we go home, and we took a Jack The Ripper walking tour, which I’ll talk about.  Then, I’ll do some reviews of the ship, excursions, and hotels that we stayed at.

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Cruise Day At Sea 2

My original plan was to celebrate our anniversary by renewing our vows on this, the second, sea day.  But the captain’s schedule didn’t work out for it, so our renewal of vows was on our first sea day. No big deal, but it left us without any real solid plans for Sea Day 2.  Which was fine, because at this point we needed to rest up.

The kids spent most of the day at their “clubs” – these were great activity centers for the kids that kept them busy in the evenings and on sea days while we relaxed, went to shows, and played in the casino.

That said, we were invited to visit the captain on the bridge on Sea Day 2, and we took some great pictures.  Enjoy!

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