Thursday, June 30, 2011

New York and New Jersey trip!

At the beginning of the school year we asked Madison to pick out a big treat if she were to get straight 'A's on her sixth grade report card. She said the she wanted to go to NY to see family and the Cake Boss! We were so proud that she actually achieved her goal so we set up the trip to deliver on our promise to her...

We started out our trip in upstate NY with Scott and the kids. On Saturday we managed to squeeze in a 4 mile race to benefit a local cancer charity (running stuff here).


We stopped by the house that Michael grew up in (and where we got married:)) on the way to the Make A Wish foundation event in the afternoon...


The kids had a great time at Make A Wish, especially when the firemen turned on their hose and let them all get soaked!

 

The boys got pretty excited with the barman turned on his beer hose too...


The next day we had a fantastic monster breakfast...


...and relaxed by the beautiful Hudson river...


We even stopped by the farm on the way home...


 In the afternoon we headed out for Manhattan. Maddy hadn't seen the big city for a long time but she took it all in her stride...:)


We stayed in a fantastic apartment in Tribeca, right by the World Trade Center site (thank you Karrie:)). For dinner we walked down to to the river to watch the sun set over the city...


There is still a lot of construction at the WTC site. One of the new twin towers is currently as high as the surrounding buildings and is still only halfway done. It's going to be beautiful...


The following morning we walked all the way across the city to Times Square. There's a landmark on every street corner it seems and some of the people are just as amazing to watch! There's just nowhere quite like New York City...


We went to the Pompeii exhibition, which houses the largest collection of Pompeiian artifacts in the world outside of the city itself. I found the whole thing completely fascinating. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD thousands of people perished and the city of Pompeii that had flourished for over 700 years was buried in volcanic ash. The residents were caught completely off guard since there was not even a word for 'volcano' in the Latin vocabulary at that time. The dust that settled was very fine so the body casts archaeologists were able to form in the voids left by the victims are incredibly detailed. On one of the casts you could even see the little boys eyelashes. It was tragic and amazing...


Maddy and Mike loved the Harry Potter exhibition next door too which had clothing and props from all 8 movies. They spent ages talking about spells and muggles while I played around in the gift shop trying on sorting hats. I love hats :).


We had a lovely picnic and snooze in Central Park where Mike first asked me to marry him...


We recharged our batteries with some pizza. You can't visit NY and not have pizza, right?


The next day Maddy and I set off for Hoboken, NJ (the birthplace of Frank Sinatra) and more importantly Gregory Early;) We took the PATH train...


Greg and his mini-me!


Maddy and Gregory...


We had a gorgeous picnic on the other side of the river where you get an even better view of the NY city skyline!


On the way back from the park we stopped by Carlo's bakery (from the "Cake Boss") and couldn't believe that the line didn't look too bad...


...and then we realized that you have to 'take a number' and line up on the other side of the road...for over two hours...


It was so lovely to see Lynda and we had a lovely Italian dinner together that night...


In the morning we got up at 6am and tried Carlo's bakery again. There was only a handful of 'die-hards' at that time thankfully!


Inside it got packed really quickly and you could see some of the bakers going up and down the stairs. We saw Frankie...


...and my favorite, cousin Anthony!


 Maddy was thrilled with her cake and I have to say it was completely delicious!!!


But the one thing that Maddy loved most of all about her trip was of course...her baby cousin...:)

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Now we need a nice vacation to recover...:)

Maddy's Third BCR Camp!

Maddy had a fantastic time at her third Big Cat Rescue summer camp! This year was particularly special since she got to spend it with a young animal advocate called Breawna who made the following video highlighting the plight of Tony the Truckstop Tiger (thankfully Tony will be relocated soon thanks to the efforts of Big Cat Rescue, people like Breawna and Madison and even some celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio raising awareness of his plight.) Check out Maddy's blog for her take on summer camp!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Beloved' art class

I had such an amazing time at Donna Downey's 'Beloved' mixed media art class in the Villages! All of the details on the crafts blog...here :).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has been on my list of things-to-do-when-I-have-a-free-day forever since it's only about an hour north of where we live in Tampa. So Maddy and I took the trip up today to check it out. The spring (there's only actually one there) was developed into a roadside attraction by Newton Perry in 1947. He was a former U.S. Navy man who had trained Navy SEALS to swim underwater during WWII. He invented an airhose to allow performers to spend sufficient amounts of time underwater in order to provide entertainment to an audience seated in a special underwater viewing area. The concept flourished throughout the 50s and 60s and even Elvis himself paid a visit during Weeki Wachee's heyday.

Today, Weeki Wachee is kind of like a cross between a tiny Sea World and Butlins (the Brits will know what I mean) with absolutely no effort made to modernize in any way. There's a peculiar charm about the place and I can honestly say that we had a great day out there!


Me and Maddy outside the water park area...


Do mermaids eat Doritos? They certainly should...


We loved the little boat ride on the beautiful Weeki Wachee river...


Maddy started getting a bit fed up of all of the photos on our boat ride. Evidently the woman behind us had had enough too...


The mermaid shows take place in a small underwater viewing area which looks out at the spring which is supposedly the deepest in the world and they have never been able to reach the bottom :)...They show old moviereel of the mermaid performers during the 1960s on the TV screens throughout the shows in case you needed any reminder that there has been absolutely no modernization since that time :).

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The sea turtles are just part of the show at Weeki Wachee...

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Then just when we were having a good laugh about the whole thing they demonstrated an amazing stunt that the mermaids have been doing for over 50 years. Basically one of them swims 117 feet down into the spring and then gives up her breathing tube at the very bottom before coming up to the surface. Our mermaid held her breath for 2 minutes and 28 seconds. It was totally amazing!

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Then just as we were starting to feel impressed they added some live music to the show ;)

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No expense spared on the costumes either...here's Chester the turtle...


Can the cheese-o-meter get any higher? Hang on we could always...


You know, for some reason, I just feel the urge from time to time to watch an old black and white Godzilla episode or Tarzan movie or drink a real Dr. Pepper out of a bottle with a straw. If you know exactly what I mean and ever feel nostalgic that way too, you'll love crazy Weeki Wachee - we did!