Words to sum up all of the gratitude, blessings, love and support from family and friends, old and new.
An incomplete list of the people and places that helped make our journey so amazing:
Kia Beth Kofron
Gunnar in Iceland
Ragga at Viking Horses
Trudy, Shannon, Kristin and Joss in Ireland
Gede, Jody and Jeff in the Baltics
Xavier in Brussels
Pierre Marcolini in same
Shirley and Ahmet in Paris
Kees and Karol in Amsterdam
Mirek in Prague
David and Marketa at Laibon in Cesky Krumlov
Ian, Sound of Music Superman, in Salzburg
Ema, Nat, BONNIE (and even Napoleon), Hans and Ralf in Murren
Antonella and Luigi in Venice
Flavio, Micheloni, Franco and Jae in Bellagio
Hicham in Rome
Joel, Ellen, Clare and Peter the Professor through Greece and parts of Turkey
Levent in Oludeniz
Arzu and Muammer in Urgup
Erdem, Didim and Nurjan in Istanbul (at the fantastic Elanaz Hotel)
Rahul, Tapas, Krishna, Arjun, Belbil, Shipra, Radej, Monica and Pradip in India.
Dendup and Ganga in Bhutan
Mikey and Pop in Thailand
Sammy, Kevin, Ao, Win-Win Htwe and John Baker in Burma.
Chai at Tamarind Cooking School in Lao
Khoi, Anh and the Red Bridge Cooking School in Vietnam
Winser Zhao in China
The wonderfully multitalented Wayan Jaya in Bali
Sanshi, who can play a Didge like nobody’s business, in Freo
Sushi E in Sydney for two of the best dinners of the trip
Binna, Skippy John and Linda in Port Douglas
Ailey, Robert, Helen, Mackenzie,Phillip and Kristy in Queenstown
Wayne and Linda in Taupo
Norm and Shelagh in Paihia
Melissa and OGO in Rotorua
Kingyo restuarant in Vancouver
Kanoa, Darryl, Dave, Ginger, Leta, Vonda, my girl Luana, Libby, Duncan, Maka, Lee Na, Gavin and Savannah on the Big Island.
Dava, goddess of customer service, cupcake tasting and overall fabulousness at the Onyx Hotel in Boston
The Founding Farmers restaurant in DC
My BFF in FLL, Erica and my mommy and many lifetime friends who I got to reconnect with at our class reunion
My MIL, BIL and SIL and nephew in Marin
But, most of all, my husband and our son. I could not be more humbled and gratified by you two, for putting up with my craziness, silliness, crankiness, snarkiness and occasional snoring. Team Snoop FTW.
We visited a lot of monuments and museums in DC.
I loved visiting the National Geographic Museum. It was down the street from our hotel. My favorite room there was the one with all of the magazine covers back to the very first one that looked like it came out of a typewriter.
I also liked the Newseum. It is a museum to learn about the different kinds of news. They had a lot of exhibits about JFK, who used to be President, but, he got assassinated. They also have a big piece of the Berlin Wall.
There are almost 20 museums that make up the Smithsonian Museums. Did you know that you can go into them for free? That was really cool. Just like when we were in England, the British Museum and others were free. Anyway, we got to see the ruby slippers that Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz movie (they do not really have rubies, they are sequins that are glued on), and Kermit the Frog. We also saw a lot of amazing dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum. They have the BEST rock and mineral collection of any museum I have ever seen. They even have the Hope Diamond. I could have spent all day in there. We went to the Air & Space Museum and saw the Flyer, the Wright Brothers first plane, and the Hubble Telescope and a lunar lander and all kinds of rockets.
We saw so many monuments, I can’t even remember them all. My favorite was the one of Abraham Lincoln.
The Washington Monument has scaffolding all the way around it, so, you can barely see it.
I liked the museums in DC, but, I was a little creeped out by our excitement for the week. Some random man was digging his hands into some other random person’s backpack. Dad called him out on it and the man got mad and wanted a smackdown. Meanwhile, Dad took off up the escalator so the man could not see him.
Did you know that New York has the largest population of bedbugs in the world. Their subways are confusing. And, it is a really busy, big city. We are staying in an apartment in Chelsea. It is walking distance to a TRADER JOE’S. We were so excited we went there and bought tons of food, especially their sea salt caramels and the S’More Squares. They are so incredibly yummy.
The Statue of Liberty was cool, even though we couldn’t get off the boat. The statue was damaged in Hurricane Sandy. It is going to reopen in July. She was the coolest giant, oxidized copper woman I have ever seen.
We also went to visit the 9-11 Memorial site which made us all very sad. It has all the names of the deceased people on the walls of a long square plaque that is wrapped around a waterfall.
Then, we went to Times Square which is huge and also very busy.
Did you know that there are 22 different colors of M&Ms? I tried them all. Each color is equally delicious. – The Mint, dark chocolate ones are super yummy.
We saw two shows. Wicked, which is a classic and is funny. We also got to see Peter and the StarCatcher. It was very creative and funny. I loved seeing it because I loved the book series that it is based on.
We are staying at the Onyx Hotel. I like it because the people are super nice.
The two main things we did in Boston were walking on the Freedom Trail and visiting some of the schools in Cambridge.
The Freedom Trail connects all of the major historic attractions across the city. It was interesting to see the old buildings, and to find out more about the US becoming its own country. Have you seen the movie National Treasure? We saw the Old North Church from the first movie. And, we saw where Ben Franklin’s parents are buried.
The best thing for me was walking around the M.I.T. campus. It was SO COOL.
They have a magnetic laboratory. There is also this long long long corridor called the Infinite Corridor (it does have ends), and the cool thing is that there are lots of windows into all of these labs so you can see what people are working on. It would be an awesome place to go to school if the winters weren’t so cold.
We walked around Harvard too. In my opinion, M.I.T. is way cooler. And, they have a COOP.
Also, we tried the top 3 cupcake bakeries here, and, the best one was Georgetown Cupcakes, especially the red velvet kind.
Today, we are at the Marriott in Niagara Falls. We are staying on the top floor of the building (23), and we are overlooking the falls. This is the best view from a hotel room I have ever seen.
We took a boat to the Falls and got really soaked. It was sooooo fun!
We also did the Journey Behind the Falls where you can walk behind the big horseshoe shaped part of the Falls and see the tons of water coming down. Did you know there are trillions of gallons flowing here?
Then, we did the Whitewater Walk and we saw Class 6 rapids there. When we were in New Zealand, I thought there were only 5 classes of rapids, but Class 6 is basically unraftable.
We are in Vancouver for 4 days. It is a pretty city with not very many cars. It is like a cleaner version of some cities in the USA. I like it because there is an awesome sushi place called Kingyo right down the street from our apartment.
One of the highlights and not-highlights of the city is the aquarium. They had a fantastic jellyfish exhibition and I learned a lot about jellies.
I was also really depressed watching the belugas because one of them kept going on the monotonous journey across their small tank. It did the same thing over and over and over. The other beluga mainly stayed still, and, every few minutes, it would go to one corner and then go back to its spot just sitting. I think they should have a way bigger house and some toys to play with.
South Island http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PiDCVbQ-eg
North Island http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tc-u7Aj59I
Mother’s Day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_atnwq0LXv0
Great Ocean Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx6qR7P10LE
Southern Tasmania http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAfp6F5uPCk
Northern Tassie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILM3ADAevbQ
Cruise Highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VVh7X_koOA
We stayed at Hapuna again. It feels like a second home to me because everyone remembers you. I like seeing my friends Ginger and Maka. I have known them since I was little. They have a really good breakfast buffet with little round waffles and awesome coconut syrup. It is my favorite place in Hawaii. It also has the best beach.
On Tuesday, we celebrated finishing an entire year of travel by swimming with wild dolphins. We got into a zodiac and chugged along. About 5 minutes later, we saw 4 pods of dolphins swimming together but the water was choppy and they were moving fast, so, we decided against going in the water right then.
An hour later, there were around 100 dolphins hanging out in the water and we jumped in. At one time, I was maybe 4 inches away from one. It was an awe inspiring experience having something so big be so playful. Being with the dolphins makes you feel so happy inside and out. I would do this again in a heartbeat.
This is our first stop back in the United States. it is kind of weird to hear people talking in American English, and seeing all green dollars after almost a year.
We are staying in a condo at the beach. It is pretty and very green here.nWe went to Poipu beach and this man told us there have been 12 fatalities at this beach this year already. The ocean here has a strong riptide.
We met two beautiful Golden Retrievers that live here, Rosie and Ginger. it makes me miss our dogs.
We went to a place called Hanalei to see Puff the Magic Dragon. It was a total ripoff. Puff is really only a bunch of mountains.
My favorite things on Kauai are the Roy’s Restaurant across the street, the Shave Ice at Uncle’s, and all of the yummy lilikoi products (that is what they call passion fruit in Hawaii).
I think I like the Big Island better.
Today we took a road trip to MY beach, Cooper’s Beach. We collected rocks and looked for sea glass, but, the water was kind of cold, so, we did not swim.
For lunch, we went to the world famous Mangonui fish and chips restaurant. it was delicious. we ended up taking a different path home and ended up driving for hours.
This trip has made me easily amused. Without my 58 Popsicle sticks and a rubber band, I would be bored right now.