Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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NYC, what is it about you?

August 18, 2010

Sung to the Annie Tune…NYC, of course.  And yup…we were in NYC this weekend.  Aunt Megan had been living there all summer and I was determined to get down while she was there.   Typical, this meant that I would wait until the last weekend she was there – but we made it.  We made a reservation, packed Maya & all of her stuff in the car and off we went.  We planned the trip perfectly with her first nap (which has been at least 2 hours lately – often 3)…perfect!  It took her a little while to fall asleep, but once she did it was perfect…for an hour!  Why is it every time you plan on a nap it’s WAY shorter?  So the rest of the trip involved me turned around from the front seat entertaining her!

I will say, she did pretty well.  Not too much fussing…as long as we were paying attention to her.  But we made it.  We listened to lots of kids music, and I discovered one thing about our kids CD that is in the car…it holds Maya’s new favorite song – Ring Around the Rosie.  The song plays twice in a row, music interlude, two more times, music interlude, and two more times.  Every time we heard the musical interlude…Maya started making the ‘more’ sign.  And everytime the song really ended she did it again.  I think we listened to the song itself at least 18 times, on the way there.  Each time we got a gigantic smile and wiggle dancing from the back seat!

Once there we unloaded and headed out to the city.  Subway ride to Columbus Circle, met the fam (Grandma, Grandpa, Erin & Megan were all there), had some lunch and then on to Lincoln Center for a poetry slam.  A stop by Times Square to see the ‘Kissing’ statue, a visit to Toys R Us, walk to Bryant Park for snacks, continue on to Washington Square Park for a NY Pizza Dinner & then home for the night. Not a bad day in the city!  Top it off with an early Sunday Brunch & a walk to Wall Street & through Battery Park to see the Statue to Liberty & you pretty much have the perfect 1st trip to NYC (for a 1 yr old).  Maya was great the whole time!  She skipped naps, and slept okay, but with so much to see she had a GREAT time!  As you can see through some of the pictures.  I was nervous about the trip, but it turned out to be perfect!  Exhausting of course & I was pretty useless the next day, but it was worth it.  We topped off the trip with a stop to visit the Andreopoulos’ and their new little one Alex in Longmeadow.  It was a good stop considering Maya woke early from her nap yet again.  All in all NYC was a success…what’s next?! 🙂

Riding the subway

Dancing in Lincoln Center

The girls in Times Square!

1st NY Pizza in Washington Square Park…mmmm,mmmm

Almost home…we can make it!

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Plum Island prep…

July 12, 2010

It’s that time of year…PLUM ISLAND!  You can learn all about our PI adventures here: https://barrybliss.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/plum-island/.  This year though…we’ll have Maya!  It’s going to be different there’s no doubt, but Andrew will still try to complete everything on this list I’m sure…with Maya in tow of course!

Now it’s packing time.  What to bring for a week at the little house for everyone…everything!  Packing is tricky, Andrew has lists (none of which include necessities of course).  And I have multiple lists!  My uncle Kevin is an excellent list maker.  I wish I had enlisted him to help us out here.  He has a perfect list for everything.  With a kid now I’m starting to see the real potential in these detailed lists.  To give you an idea of the difference between my list & Andrew’s it goes something like this:

Andrew: Fishing poles
Me: Food for Maya
Andrew: Headlamps
Me: sunblock and sun shade
Andrew: Kayaks
Me: bed for Maya, Pillows etc…

It goes on like this for while.  Andrew gets all the fun stuff – I get all the boring stuff.  But such is life.  At least he takes on the task of getting it all into the car (that has no air conditioning).  It will be a true geometry exercise.  I’m just hoping that the things that ultimately get left (there’s bound to be something that doesn’t fit) aren’t on my list!

There are stores for us to get anything we need of course, but given that we can’t leave the house once we get there…we have to make sure we have it all.  This year we’ll also be celebrating Maya’s 1st birthday on the island.  There will be more to come on that later.  But all in all it will be an adventure.  Maya’s sleeping habits aren’t the best so I’m hoping she doesn’t keep everyone awake all night.  Fingers crossed this adventure goes as best it can!  I won’t be able to post from there I don’t think…but I’ll keep track of all the stories for you & recount when we get back!

Anyone out there have favorite kid travelling stories?  Wish us luck!

Plum Island on my Due Date 7/4/2009

Side note – this time last year I was VERY pregnant!  And was at PI a week after my due date. too..I never thought it would happen!  This year will hopefully be more comfortable!

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Plum Island

August 19, 2008

Every year we look forward to spending time at Plum Island. Andrew has already started thinking about Plum Island 2009 and it’s August 2008. He just loves the place. We get to spend time relaxing with his family at the Minihaha (Laughing Waters). That’s the name of the house. No idea where it came from, but I’m sure someone knows…most likely Nana. It’s a great little place right at the end of the island. It’s on the water at the mouth of the river which means good swimming and a nice big beach at low tide. And of course there’s fishing and kayaking and eating and football and fishing and eating. Basically what happens is, we arrive at Plum Island after work and I don’t see Andrew until it’s time to leave :). He has much to get done before our time there is up. Things on the MUST do list:

1. Catch a fish. This usually requires a large amount of time because they often do not cooperate.

2. Kayak. This also takes a lot of time because every area must be explored for birds. And maybe more fish (although I have YET to see him catch a fish from his kayak).

3. Football. A football must be thrown at least once a day, a frisbee is an okay substitute.

4. Swimming. I almost forgot swimming. We ALL must swim at LEAST once a day in the FRIGID waters. I’d guess somewhere in the 60-65 degree range. This year I managed to only swim once…brrr!

5. Bait shop. We must visit the bait shop at least once during the trip. Usually because the fish have stolen (without being caught) the first round, so we need more. And maybe we’ll get a hat or new fishing paraphenalia while we’re there.

6. Walk/Run to the open ocean. It’s a pretty walk, I must admit. Plus we can check to see if other people are catching fish down there – in case we want to try that spot too.

7. Eating. There is lots of eating: hot dogs, hamburgers, guacamole, pasta salad, ice cream, chicken, chips & salsa, Devil Dogs, Twizzlers…and sometimes we have salad or fruit! 🙂

8. Fireworks. Typically these are handled by Rob. He is the fireworks master. This year we got treated to fireworks both times we went (but neither time by Rob). The 4th fireworks were great, you could see them from all the different towns in the area & along the coast. The other fireworks were set because the Tall Ships were across the river in Seabrook. A fun family event always.

9. Play Games. This can be done during the day or night, but usually at night. We get the nieces around and play card games, board games, word games. All sorts of games. Always a good time!

10. Adventure. This one is key. Each year there must be some sort of unplanned (usually somewhat frightening) adventure. The first year I went it was when Andrew flipped me over into the frigid water on the sailboat (we had only been dating for a month!). This year it involved his nieces.

There they all were, Michael (bro-in-law), Julia (11), Sarah (9), Lily (7) and Andrew. Far away from the shore hunting for clams (to fish with of course!). They had the kayak & row boat. After being out for a while Sarah & Andrew decided to come in on the Kayak, just as a CRAZY storm was headed over them! It came in quick, but it was pretty clear it was coming. After a little while longer Michael, Julia & Lily decided it was time to come in on the row boat. Well – the storm wind was crazy and Michael couldn’t control the boat by himself to get them in (nevermind the fact that it was pretty low tide so there was no great way to get to the shore). So he jumps out of the boat to try to swim it in, leaving Julia “paddling for her life” (in her own words). They are drifting further & further away. Meanwhile the rest of us are watching from shore trying to figure out the best way to help them. Did I mention lightning & thunder are striking too? Anyway, to make a LONG story very short, they finally drift to an area where we can get to them. We leave the boat tide to a dock (which is now on the sand since it’s low tide) and will go back for it later. All parties are okay…but it was a scary adventure none the less.

So. As you can see there are MANY things that MUST be done while at Plum Island. For this reason I see Andrew for about 20 minutes the whole time we’re there, but that’s great. He is like a kid again whenever we’re there & loves every minute of it! What could be better?

Our time at Plum Island always ends with a sunset. It could probably be one of the 10 things you MUST do, but we’ll leave it in it’s own category. It is usually beatiful and always a relaxing time of night. I probably have more sunset Plum Island pictures than anything else. So I’ll include a few here for you since this year was particularly good. While this post is late (we were there in mid-July) I couldn’t let it go by without sharing.

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Rainy Rainforest

June 13, 2008

The RAIN in the Rainforest falls mainly…on our tent! On Saturday June 7th we headed up to Cairns and headed to Cape Tribulation immediately. While Andrew waited for me to arrive he got the car and visited the grocery store to get all sorts of yummy treats. He made it all by himself while driving on the left side of the road! Amazing!! 🙂 He picked me up and we were off to the rainforest!! We pitched our tent at the campsite and walked to the beautiful beach which was practically empty, it was so nice and relaxing. We cooked a little camp food, sat out and relaxed under the starts before heading to bed early…again! Overnight it rained, but we stayed nice & dry in our tent. The next morning…still raining! But it dried up relatively early and we went for walks along the beach and explored the area. We stopped for lunch at some picnic tables and had yummy PB&J. Just as we were finishing I heard step…step…step…slowly through the leaves, turned around and there was a Lace Monitor (Goanna Lizard) sneaking up on us. Yup…I jumped right up, and Andrew followed. A girl nearby said they wouldn’t bite, but they might scratch you up! Let’s just say we grabbed our PB&J (which the Monitor absolutely wanted) and high tailed it away. Andrew has affectionately named it the Peanut Butter & Jelly Monster and does a pretty good impression, tongue and all! After lunch we went for a walk along the beach and through the rainforest. We were going to stop by and close up our tent, but had a reservation for a fruit tasting we didn’t want to miss so we left the tent open to air out. BIG mistake! About halfway through tasting some VERY exotic fruits, it started to DOWNPOUR! Thankfully we weren’t too far away and Andrew got back to close it up before everything was too wet. But the rain followed us for the rest of the night! Meanwhile the fruit tasting was great. We tried many fruits that can’t really be found in many other places because they don’t transport welll…and well, they’re pretty ugly on the outside, but they were good on the inside!

The next day we had scheduled our trip out to the Great Barrier Reef with the Rum Runner. After an interesting trip through low tide to the boat we boarded and met the crew. Australians who live in Cape Tribulation are a little nuts. Let’s just say one of the guys lives in a ‘Tree House’ with no windows where the animals (snakes, birds and insects too) visit whenever they like…what?! But they got us safely out to McKay’s Reef, a beautiful small sand bar in the middle of no where. Granted, the high winds made the hour ride out to the reef VERY choppy. We sat outside in the front of the boat & got SOAKED! But it was still pretty fun. We took our first snorkel as soon as we got there & Andrew quickly spotted a reef shark, pretty cool! It was amazing how calm we were about it…and how disinterested in us it was! They’re not man eating sharks…don’t worry! The reef itself was amazing. Everything was so alive. Not only the fish, but the reef was beautiful! As we were heading back to the boat we also spotted a sea turtle cruising along the bottom. A small one, but so cute! After a yummy lunch we headed back out for our second snorkel and saw two more sea turtles and more beautiful reef. Of course, it started to poor while we were in the water…but thankfully it didn’t really matter since we were already wet! 🙂 The ride home was MUCH smoother than the ride out to the reef, but still we had 2 of the other passengers lose their lunch of the back. Andrew was struggling through the ride, but managed to get through the whole thing and was happy to see solid land! A successful trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I couldn’t be happier!

It rained again for the rest of the night, so hard it kept us awake. Every time it stopped, Andrew would open the tent, and every time he did it would start raining again…after a while it was pretty comical! Needless to say at 5am on our last day we were ready to go! We waited for a break in the rain, packed up the tent and headed out!! We loved Cape Trib, but were ready to go by the end! We headed down to the Daintree River for a Crocodile Sighting tour. Since we were ridiculously early, we took a small nap in the car! At 9:30 am we were ready for our tour, and were very successful in seeing some crocs! They are such cool animals. We saw mostly smaller crocs, the big one didn’t want to come out of the water at that time. I had no idea how long it took these animals to grow large. The 1 year old was very small, and the 2 year old wasn’t much bigger. The largest one we was a 30 year old female. So neat! It was a great end to our trip. We spent the rest of the day exploring Cairns and had a nice dinner. Cairns has really changed since the last time I was here, it’s a nice place to visit. All in all, this was another great part of our trip. Next we head to Sydney & the Blue Mountains!! The last leg! More soon. Love to all!

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Sitting in the Melbourne Airport

June 6, 2008

Well – this is another leg of the trip that Andrew & I ended up on separate flights. We got up at 3:30 am this morning & to the airport by 4:30 so Andrew could catch his 6am flight. My flight got changed from 9:30 to 11am…so now I am hanging out in the airport for 5 hours & figured I’d catch up from where I left off last night since I have more time.

The last 3 days: After we picked up the car we headed down to the coast. We stopped in Torquay (Tor-key) at the visitors center to get an idea of where to head. Torquay is a pretty cool town in itself, very big surfing area. It’s right near Bell’s Beach, which is where the final scene of Point Break is filmed (should anyone remember that movie with Keanu Reeves). We saw the beach & the waves were crazy. SO many surfers out on the ocean catching long rides! I think these people might be officially crazy. After Bell’s Beach it was on to the Great Ocean Road with beautiful views all the way to Appollo Bay. We stopped off at a random country club along the way where Kangaroos just hang out all day (see post below). I was amazed at how close Andrew got…though we think they feed the animals to draw people to their restaurant. Still pretty cool. Australian animal 1…check! Next we were on to look for Australian animal 2…the Koala. Another pull off of the road lead up to an area deep in Eucalyptys Trees. We drove slow & looked up and sure enough…there were little blobs up in the trees! Koala’s are pretty lazy animals. None of them were moving much, but they are still so cool to see! Andrew of course wanted to hold one, but from what we know…they are pretty vicious cuddly animals! So we drove on. We drove all the way on to Apollo Bay where we spent the night in a nice campground on the ocean. Our time has not yet fully adjusted, we were in bed by 7pm…and up at 5am!

The next day we woke up to a great sunrise over the ocean…which finally happened at around 7am. After packing up, we headed off in search of the famous 12 apostles. Along the way we stopped in the rainforest, which was cool, but we didn’t see much and at the lighthouse where the first morse code connection was made to Tasmania. It was the 2nd most southern point in mainland Australia, pretty neat, especially since we got to climb to the top! Afterwards we finally were on our way to the Apostles and they didn’t let us down. This sight is absolutely beautiful! The gigantic rock formations seem to rise out of the ocean and the colors are spectacular when the sun hits them. The pictures don’t nearly do justice to the greatness of this area, the rock formations are simply huge! After taking some pictures we also headed on to the Arch, the Blowhole and the Grotto, all of which were also pretty cool! Moving on from there we thought we’d stop to see some nursing Right Whales which are supposedly a guranatee at this time of year. Of course, whales are afraid of me…so we saw none!

We ended the day in Port Fairy with some dinner & another 7pm bedtime…actually, maybe it was 8…such late nighters we are! We were up again at 5am and got right on the road back to Melbourne…we wanted to beat traffic, which we ALMOST did, until we hit Melbourne at 9:30 am of course! Anyway, we checked into the hotel, took a nap (in preparation for our late night at the Footy game). Then we had a chance to walk around Melbourne, which Andrew hadn’t really done yet. Melbourne is a great city on a Friday night, there was live music, carousels, beautiful lit restaurants along the river. It was really a nice night to be out. And of course Andrew consumed his first meat pie…it’s true love! 🙂

We ended our stay in Melbourne with a Footy game, North Melbourne Kangaroos versus the Geelong Cats. We were North Melbourne fans of course! Our seats were great, 5 rows back from the field. the stadium is HUGE, and round so there are plenty of seats for everyone! Footy is a crazy game, but very exciting, and of course more exciting with all the crazy Aussie fans around. Though they only had 1 cheer, and it was pretty bad ‘North Melbourne, clap, clap, clap’. And the don’t know how to do the wave, which could be SO cool in this stadium. But we had fun none the less…and Andrew ate yet another meat pie! Only to realize afterwards just how much fat was in each…ha! He’s on a fruit & veggie diet for the next 3 days :). Sadly, the Roos lost to Geelong, they were clearly the better team, but we certainly didn’t give up with out a fight! It’s the closest scoring I’ve seen since I’ve been here…and I’ve seen a lot of Footy since that’s all that seems to be on TV here! So…here we are, I’m at the airport waiting to start the next part of our adventure, and Andrew should be just about in Brisbane if he hasn’t landed already. We’ll reunite in Cairns around 2pm and head up to the Rainforest/ocean of Cape Tribulation…where it’s about 80 degrees and sunny…yay! I’ll try to write again from Cairns on Tuesday! Love to all in the US!

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The Great Ocean Road

June 6, 2008

I’m going to keep this quick since I only have a few minutes of internet time left but I just wanted to update you all on our last few days.  We took 2.5 days to drive down the Great Ocean Road which is west of Melbourne.  After Andrew adjusted to driving on the right side of the car & the left side of the road.  And after I adjusted to the fact that he could actually do so safely, we headed out and had a great time!  We camped in Apollo Bay the first night, right next to the ocean and in Port Fairy the next night before driving back to Melbourne bright and early in the morning.  The sights were beautiful and the weather worked out great.  Here are a couple of highlights.  I’ll update more when we are in Cairns.

Kangaroo

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Day 2 – Melbourne

June 3, 2008

After managing to get a good amount of sleep (with the help of maybe 1 sleeping pill) and a HUGE breakfast I headed out to tour Melbourne while Andrew went to the conference all day. I walked up to the city from our hotel to have a look around. The main city is pretty much ‘a city’ similar to NYC in many ways. Though it does have many little side alleys that have fancy cafe’s and eateries. Yum! I wandered all around the city for about 2 hours and then headed back to the Yarra River (the main river running through the city). I followed it along until I ended up at the Rod Laver Tennis Arena and Olympic Center from the Melbourne Olympics…I think they were here in the 80’s. The river walk was really nice. I was AMAZED at the number of people working out in the middle of the day. It seemed to me that most of the people should be working…but I guess not. I reached the Rod Laver Arena to find out it was on Batman Ave…ha! After that I decided to walk along down the street following my map to the Chapel Street area. This is a long street with all of the fancy shops and restaurants. It’s just outside of the city and I thought it would be more like a Rodeo Drive. Oddly enough, all the fancy shops are mixed in with 7-11’s and other random ‘low class’ stores, pretty funny in my opinion, but still fun.

After Chapel street I thought I would be led straight to my hotel…boy am I bad at remembering where I started. I ended up walking WELL past my hotel and had to backtrack though another neat area of Melbourne. A street lined with office buildings, but also with trees. And at the bottom of each office building there was a cafe, bar or restaurant where people were hanging out and relaxing…at 3pm! 🙂 While it was very neat…I was EXHAUSTED from walking! All in all I walked for 5.5 hours straight! Guess I got my exercise for the trip! Needless to say we did not do MUCH at all last night. We had a nice dinner and delicious dessert (the Chocolate Bomb) at the hotel restaurant with some of the people on Andrew’s trip. So nice that pretty much all meals have been on Illumina so far! Andrew’s talk went great yesterday and it’s clear that all of the Aussie’s love him :). We were in bed by 10 and asleep by 10:05. Of course it’s 4:30 in the morning here now & we’re both wide awake and watching random TV, but we’re too excited about the next part of our trip to sleep. Today we head off to pick up the car, drive on the left side of the road and head out to the Great Ocean Road. We can’t wait to see some beautiful sights and hopefully Koalas! It will be a few days before we can write again. Hope all is well!View of Melbourne from the Yarra River

Rod Laver Arena on Batman Ave