Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mexico -Cancun 2015

Our dear friends the Joslins invited us to join them in Mexico.
It was one of those things where it sounded nice, but I wasn't really sure we would ever go.  We don't normally book trips that far in advanced, we don't usually stay in one place when we travel, resort vacationing wasn't something we usually do. 
 The beach and the all inclusive were very appealing and we decided to make it our big travel for 2015.

My first pictures might sum up the vacation the best.  The warm caribbean sea and the flora- fauna we don't see in the midwest.

We didn't have a phone plan or free wifi that allowed us to post pictures. Jane had to save up her instagram duck face selfies until we reached the states. Dad and I photo bombing her. 

Getting there:

I wasn't expecting much with the budget airline that is Spirit Airlines. Overall our experience went well. We didn't pay to have assigned seats but we were still seated together. The staff at the airport and on the plane, all pleasant enough.  I am short and petite so the seats didn't bother me much, I can't imagine being tall and enduring that flight. 

Not sure who dislikes air travel more, Elliot or me. We both put a brave face on and deal with it. I kept telling him if we can handle the 16 hour flight to Hong Kong then a three and half hour flight to Mexico will be a breeze.  I like how fast it gets me to places, but I can't help but face my mortality every time I am in the air. 
Elliot decorated the bags letting everyone know what to do with them in case they were needed.

 It was  pleasant warm air that met us when we headed out of the Cancun airport.  The forecast for the week was rain and more rain.  Needless to say rain does not make a resort beach vacation the best of time. I was determined to make the best of it, we prayed and hoped for some sun. The weather ended up cooperating, we had only a little rain, most days were dry and allowed us hours of enjoyment on the beach and at the pools.

 The Caribbean
 Cabo. Old Mayan ruins are the cultural attraction for Mexico. Here the boys are doing their imitaion of the head in the wall.  Cabo was nice, according to other people who visit Chichen Itza you don't have to deal with vendors and it is still in the jungle not in the open. 
The guide said that the Mayan language is closer to English than Spanish and it is easier for native Mayan speakers to learn English. Also according to him the round Mayan calendar is not an accurate depiction it is more like rectangles layered on top of one another. 

 We found our tour a bit rushed. We weren't sure if that was intentional by our guide. The tour was included in our resort package.
 The Ceynote ( sinkhole) was Nathan's favorite. A fresh water sink hole full of minerals the Mayans referred to it as a fountain of youth. I only put my feet in and did find them very smooth afterward. It is a bit cold compared to the Caribbean for those who are use to freshwater in the north it was still warmer than any "Great Lake" eight months out of the year. 
 My favorite was sitting on the beach. 
 It is why I went and it did not disappoint. 
The sunrise in the morning was a great time to be out, because hardly another person was there and it was quiet. I am thankful the rains did not come.
 The sushi bar was one of my favorites.  They keep the food going with breakfast, then snack bars available until dinner when the restaurants open.
 These kids have been friends since they were babies.
The kids in 2007

The swim up bar, where they could ask for their daiquiris
 "no alcohol" 
Jane actually did get served a drink with alcohol in it by mistake once at a restaurant. Thankfully the server noticed it first and told us.

 A dessert from the member dinner.  Reading reviews I wasn't sure the food was going to be that great, but I was overall happy with the food that we were served in all the restaurants. Nathan loved the nachos with the different sauces that were offered at the buffet style restaurants.  I did enjoy the waffles with the sweetened condensed milk at breakfast.  I did try different dishes as much as possible.
 Taking the bus to the market. 
 Jane didn't do the full out hair braids but had this done instead. 
Kim and I waiting for some delicious food at one of the restaurants. 
 This man prepares a variety of flavored coffees with a special fiery ceremony. Fun and tasty. 
Elliot decided to be adventurous and try a pina colada. He decided he liked it. 

Mexican wrestling is entertaining to watch. Elliot found some mask while we were in the market. He got quite a bit of attention wearing this and quickly removed it as a result. 

The kids are hoping this won't be our last resort vacation. It was definitely a relaxing time and it was fun to go with friends. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fall Camping just the boys

Nathan and Elliot headed north to do an overnight camping trip. Nathan has a friend who owns some property and generously has offered him a place to camp anytime. 

Mild 70 degree weather was a nice surprise this Autumn. The warmest October in a long long time. The day Nathan and Elliot hit the road and head a little further north the first snow of the year appeared. It was funny because it was sunny and still relatively warm in Zeeland but an hour away and it looked liked this. That is the unpredictability of living in Michigan. 

We had missed the colors when we went to the UP but they had finally arrived on this trip. 

We don't own enough land for Elliot to shoot his BB gun whenever he wants, this was a good opportunity for him to give it a try. 

The property is close to an elk herd. At night you can sometimes hear them.

Best part of camping, being cozy in the tent, reading comics and listening to the radio. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Oh Canada..

Stratford Ontario is home to the Shakespearean lovin' community that is built around the business of the theater.  Nathan took me there on our first official date, we then honeymooned there and went back and celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Nathan had the idea of taking Jane to see The Sound of Music.  
We decided that just dad and daughter would go to the play, but the whole family would make the trip across the border. 

The Festival Theater is the largest venue in the city. 

It was rainy and cold on the day of the play.  But Elliot and I kept ourselves busy and spent some time at the local library. 

Inside the theater.  

Elliot fitting into Canadian life by wearing his Red Wings Hockey sweatshirt.  Tim Hortons in Canada French and English on menu. 

During our visit we went to a thrift store and Jane found an Anne of Green Gables doll still in the box for $3. We scored some Kinder chocolate eggs.  The kids miss those treats from our time in  in Hong Kong and they don't sell them in the US.
Elliot got some hockey cards for a $1. 

 Although a majority of the Canadians we come across in Ontario are similar to us Michiganders, parts of the city
do feel European in the way it looks and you can pretend you are across the ocean. 
Mom and son hanging out at the park. 

In total it takes about  5 1/2 hours to get to Stratford. We broke the trip up by staying over night at Port Huron.  Jane and monkey ready for the ride.
We have talked about returning with the kids  maybe in milder weather so we can explore more of the city and be there for more events.  We would like to get to Toronto to watch a baseball game maybe we will do one big Canada trip this year. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Frakenmuth 2015

On our way to Canada we made a stop at "Little Bavaria" Frakenmuth, Michigan.  

Is it  possible to visit Frakenmuth and not go to Bronners? I'm not sure it is.  Bronners calls itself the largest Christmas Store in the world, and once inside you can believe it. The store in it's advertising writes Christmas like CHRISTmas, indicating they are honoring who Christmas is really about.  One thing I find fascinating is the pictures of all the famous people who have come to visit the store, celebrities, governors , President etc.
I noticed this time pictures of the "real" Maria Von Trapp, this was fitting since we were traveling to Canada for Nathan and Jane to see The Sound of Music performed live on stage in Stratford.

Pictures from the kids first visit to Frakenmuth in 2007

I was hoping to get a Nativity set, but I couldn't decide on what I wanted for the price. We for sure left with ornaments. Jane got a special  "Domino" ornament in honor of the baby turtle we kept this summer.  Elliot a popcorn ornament,  his favorite "food."
Two hours later we officially wore the kids out and headed to Port Huron.