A Postcard-Image-Worthy Hike

Norway is a country filled with incredible drama in its natural landscape. As you can imagine, this land of numerous fjords, lush green valleys, and enormous glaciers offers unending opportunities for creating awe-inspiring images. One of those is called Preikestolen. Preikestolen_Board10 My husband first brought this place up a few months ago when he was planning our annual sojourn to the motherland. In a 2-3 week family vacation, we have plenty of time to visit family, relatives, and friends, and insert an excursion to parts of Norway we’ve yet to see. One of the images you’ll often see in a Norway postcard is that of Preikestolen or “Pulpit Rock.” Preikestolen_Board01 Preikestolen_Board02 Pulpit Rock is as dramatic as they come. Sheer drop-offs over 600 meters (or about 1800 feet) with no guardrail in sight to secure any curious tourists reminds us that we are no longer in the States. Here, you accept the risks and consequences of your actions. If you happen to fall over the edge, well then, that’s your fault. Nobody to blame; no one to sue. I like that philosophy…but I digress. Preikestolen_Board03 Preikestolen_Board04Preikestolen_Board05 A 2-hour hike to the top and a 2-hour hike to the bottom. Couldn’t be that bad, right? I mean, my hikes to St. Josephs Hill at home should have been good preparation for such a journey, right? Hahaha Well, it was and it wasn’t. Perhaps the idea of trudging uphill for a couple of hours didn’t bother me because of the weekly St. Josephs Hill hikes. But I didn’t expect that most of the way up to Preikestolen would be along paths created with various sizes of uneven rocks. Ugh. I hadn’t counted on the fact that it would take a bit of concentration on my part to pick out my line along these steps. And some of those steps were rather high, at least with respect to the level of flexibility and strength I have with my artificial hips. Preikestolen_Board06 Preikestolen_Board07 Preikestolen_Board13 Preikestolen_Board11 Preikestolen_Board09 Ugh. I’m sooooo glad I was never curious enough to see if anyone provided a description of what this hike would be like (on the Internet) beyond elevation and duration. All I knew was to bring my hiking boots. Had I known the path would be a rocky one, I may not have attempted it at all.

Hiking uphill is far better and easier for me than hiking downhill. After all, hips are what help slow me down and that strength is still building. Then again, hiking uphill does take strength to move from step to step, especially the big ones.

We took frequent rest stops as our girls ran up ahead to check things out and wait for us to catch up. I was a little worried that our girls would get bored, tired, and whine most of the way. Not so. Not at all. They were as curious and bouncy the entire way up and down as I could have hoped. They are in great shape from their hours of sports and their youthful curiosity kept them going until we returned to our car. We often caught up to them standing atop a nearby boulder ready to point the way forward. They were also very good about showing me the smallest steps up the rocky pathway for me. Once we reached the top with the rest of the early crowd, it was truly breathtaking. Did I mention the absence of guardrails? Preikestolen_Board12 Preikestolen_Pic02 I could feel my legs get a little wobbly anytime I got a little close to the edge. The view over the sheer drop is enough to make you a little dizzy and lose your balance. Because of that, we crawled to the edge to take a quick peek. And that was all we needed. The all encompassing vista was easily and safely seen from at least 5 feet from the edge. The views down and around the fjord were nothing less than spectacular. I don’t have enough adjectives at hand to justify the beauty of the site. Let’s just say that you have to see it to experience it.

Likewise, the climb itself offered several postcard-worthy spots. Of course, there were several brave [or stupid] tourists who sat with their legs hanging over the edge. Did you know that only two people have lost their lives falling over the edge? It was not an accident, though. They had created a suicide pact together and Preikestolen was their choice for death by elevation.

The climb down the mountain took just as long as climbing up. It wasn’t an easy descent because you still had to pick your lines along the same rocky paths you took uphill. And for me, it was a little scarier making sure I didn’t get going too quickly, lose concentration, and miss the next step. Preikestolen_Board14 Preikestolen_Pic01 But I’m glad I did it. I knew my legs would be screaming at me the next day (and they did!) but it would be a soreness well earned. One that would remind me, painful though it might be, I did it!

An original post by mommytwingirls for It’s Never Easy…But It’s Always Fun blog.


2012 Summer Vacation Day 1

First day after school let out for the summer and it was a busy one. It wasn’t intended to be that way but somehow…. Oh yes, I have registered my girls for summer camps this summer. The thing is that the first one doesn’t begin until Thursday this week. School let out last Friday. There are 3 days when my girls and I are hangin’ out. Today was Day 1…and I didn’t feel like staying home and cleaning up the weekly mess that usually amasses in the entryway whenever my girls simply drop their school stuff (e.g., backpacks, lunch bags, miscellaneous school worksheets) inside the front door each day.

After my early morning appointment, we headed off to breakfast at Los Gatos Cafe. If you’ve been going there for years, you know that the major reason to stop by there is to indulge in the giant homemade 5″ high cinnamon roll – its luscious gooeyness of syrupy cinnamon oozing between each layer, topped with a heap of cinnamon sugar butter. My girls LOVE it! And so do I…but I had to resist. My friend, Akemi, and her boys joined us for breakfast and she had never heard of this cinnamon roll. Whoops! That’s probably because I can resist ordering it when I don’t have my kids around. Her boys’ eyes widened in envy and of course, my girls shared part of the roll with them…after I reminded them that they *never* finish the roll themselves anyway.

Next up…the 11am showing of Madagascar 3. While I don’t necessarily love this series of movies, this one was entertaining and I had to laugh at several scenes. Normally, I wouldn’t want to be inside on a beautiful summer day but it was in the mid-90’s. Time to find a nice spot of air conditioning.

Leaving the air conditioned theater for the streets inspired another idea – frozen yogurt. This time, we tried Willow Glen Frozen Yogurt in Campbell and wouldn’t you know it? They offered both frozen yogurt *and* ice cream. My girls changed their minds and found a lemon sorbet and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I ordered *small* bowls for each of us not realizing that the amount of ice cream and frozen yogurt would dwarf the height of the bowl. Small, apparently, is relative. The scoops of frozen creaminess amounted to twice the height of the bowl! Not only that, there was a serving of selected toppings in the middle of the ice cream *and* another on the top! This may just beat out Yogurtland as our main stop for frozen yogurt.

My curiosity got the best of me as we made our next stop. Frost Cupcake Factory. Did I mention that one of our favorite TV shows is “Cupcake Wars?” Luckily it was Monday and that’s the *only* day they offer mini cupcakes for sale. Otherwise you have to order them. Thank goodness for the small things, eh?

After a little stroll through downtown Campbell, I decided it was time to head back home for a bit more air conditioning. Yes, I have a delicate constitution when it comes to mid-90’s degree weather and above.

At home, the summer workbooks awaited my girls. Yea, I wish it could be all fun and games in the summertime but the Mommy in me says, “Tsk, tsk.” To prevent any potential homework meltdowns when my girls jump into 3rd grade, I’d better make sure they keep their minds working. Besides, it helps to relieve some of the guilt in letting them get up late in the morning and laze around for a bit. Luckily, they didn’t seem to mind much…today. They finished the 8 pages of math and language arts I assigned them rather quickly and had a chance to play Legos before we headed off to their last horseback riding lesson for a while.

Garrod Farms. Hard to believe I thought this was so far away when we first drove there last summer. I guess that after you drive to and from a place a few times, it seems to get shorter each time. My girls have come to LOVE their Monday afternoons knowing it was time for another horseback riding lesson. They giggle most of the ride there. It was an extra special lesson because Pappa would be able to watch them. They knew that Pappa jumped horses when he was a kid. They couldn’t wait to show off for him.

And that was Day 1 of summer vacation. I think it was a pretty good start to a nice summer break. My girls thought so, too.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

The Ultimate In Free Choice Camps

So, my girls spent a couple of days at Steve and Kate’s camp this summer. I think this was the first year it was held at a local Los Gatos site. I’d heard it was coming before summer began but wasn’t so sure whether it would be right for my girls…or me. Besides the fact that it was one of the more expensive camps, there seemed to be no structure to the days’ activities. So, I crossed it off my list of camps to consider. But as the summer went on, I ran into other parents I knew who’d put their kids there. And the reviews were mixed – from simply amazing to not right for my kinda kid. Of course, this made me rethink my earlier decision to cross it off the list. I mean, the reviews were somewhat extreme. I didn’t hear a single “it’s okay” from anyone…and I felt that I should let my girls try it out.

On their first day, I joined the little group that toured the camp. I was really impressed with the equipment and plethora of activities available to the kids – making a short movie using one of the videocameras, recording their own CD’s, an electronic drum set, a sewing room with looms and sewing machines, a game room with an air hockey table, video games and Karaoke machine, a lounge with Legos and other building type toys…and that was just indoors. Outside, there was a rather large soccer field with inflatable sides and rubber ground, the weekly entertainment of a Jurassic Park-themed inflatable jumpy house and slide, an area to cook, create pottery on a pottery wheel, clay for more freestyle ceramic pieces and more! As we toured each studio and activity area, my girls’ eyes got wider and wider. It was all they could do to contain their excitement.

The reviews of the first day were grrrrrrreat…then mixed. Both of my girls said they’d like to go back and were looking forward to the second day. But later, one of my girls made a comment that the camp made her think of me and she was sad. What? She meant that she’d felt lonely there sometimes. This came from my more social one who has no problem going up to another kid and asking to play or to say Hi. Hmmmm

The next day, there was no protest from either girl. In fact, they couldn’t wait to get there so they could start a few more projects. One wanted to make a  movie while the other wanted to weave a hat for her new baby cousin. Whew!

Later that day after I’d picked them up, they both seemed very happy. Both asked if they could return but the summer would run out before we had any more time to spend a day there. I told them, maybe next summer. A few feeble protests and we rushed off to Tae Kwon Do class.

Overall, I think the experience was a good one. They now know what to expect and can plan their projects accordingly for next summer…if we return. You see, I’m not sure yet. My daughter mentioned again that she was sad and lonely and missed me at certain times during the day. She had to hold her cries because she didn’t want anyone to see. So we chatted about it and I think I know what happened.

You see, since kids can run around to any activity they want, whenever they want, they’re all going to be on their own schedules…except for lunchtime and brief huddles. And when Storyteller finished a project, she went outside to look for her sister and her friends and could find noone. Hence, the loneliness. And this is what surprised me. She’s the twin that can play by herself quite happily. She’s the one that can make friends quite easily. She’s the one that has several interests to keep her busy. I asked her about the new friends she made. Her response was that she only made a few and she didn’t get to really play with them. So, she didn’t feel like she knew them very well. And she couldn’t find them when she was done doing whatever she was doing so that she could play with them…and get to know them better. And therein, I believe, lay her problem with the [lack of] structure in this camp.

I really thought both of my girls would looooooove Steve and Kate’s camp…and they did. But I think that what was missing for one of them was the camaraderie that builds from more structured camps through Los Gatos Rec, Camp Galileo, Destination Science and Girl Scout camp. Each of those have more group time together where they create projects together or solve mysteries together or play games together. For a kid that’s very friendly and highly social, I think she would like those settings where kids are brought together…and she has a chance to meet and play with them…to get to know them. Hmmmmm… again, this experience did not turn out the way I’d thought it would but it did show me other sides of my girls I hadn’t contemplated. Do I think we’ll return next summer? I’m not entirely sure but I’m leaning toward Yes, I think we will. My girls absolutely loved the things they got to do…whenever they wanted to do it. And as for the loneliness? Well, I think that she’ll be another year older, the camp will be familiar to her and she’ll learn to work it out. As much as I’d love to make sure she doesn’t feel that way again, I have to let her deal with it herself…knowing she will.

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Lovin’ Their Summer Camps!

Well, well, well…even though I totally procrastinated on the whole summer camp planning thing, it seems my girls are quite happy with what I chose. Whew! Given vacation schedules and such, there was really only 5 weeks of camps I needed to schedule. My daughters’ only requirement – that another friend was there. Easy-peasy, right? hahaha Let’s just say that I was assured that at least *one* of their friends would be at each camp…sometimes more.

The Great Teddy Bear Adventure started off their summer camp season with fellow Brownie Girl Scouts at Camp Metro. Not only did they get to create and name their new friends, they got to make clothes, feed them and build a house for them. This was exactly the kind of thing my girls love to do.

Next up? A couple of Los Gatos Recreation camps – Destination Imagination and Mission Possible. This is the first summer they’ve offered camps at Union School District locations. And not only do my girls like the themes underlying the crafts and activities, they love the field trips twice each week – a day at Memorial Park, running around the Silver Creek Sportsplex, splashing in the LGHS pool and an afternoon movie (The Smurf Movie). Did I mention these field trips are included in the cost of the camp? And that kids can be dropped off as early as 7:30 a.m. and picked up as late as 6:00 p.m. without additional “extended care” fees? These are certainly the most cost-effective camps around and ideal for families with working parents.

I don’t know why I missed out on these LG camps before. Over the last few summers, I’d stuck with Camp Galileo and Destination Science. Both are fantastic camps and my girls loved them. But admittedly, they are expensive. And I had signed up for them in February when they were offering significant discounts on them along with the extended care. But as I mentioned, I procrastinated…and that has worked out well this summer.

This coming week, they’ll be sampling Steve and Kate’s Camp for a couple of days. I’d heard about these before summer. Apparently, the Los Gatos location is a new one for them. But I worried about the lack of structure in the camps…and the cost. It’s a free-choice camp – kids choose their own activities and their own meals and snacks. Like any other parent, I worry that there would not be enough supervision or that my girls would feel left out or shy and not take advantage of the myriad games and activities. This last thought is not a big concern but still…the cost is up there.

School is peeking around the corner and there are only two more weeks until it starts. This week will also include a few days at vacation bible school at their extended care place, which they like because several of their friends will be there and they always get to do some really cool arts and crafts.

My original plan for the summer with my girls included a week free of camps the last week before school started…but it was not meant to be. We’d been meaning to get them into a basketball class for a while now and hadn’t found one that suited our schedules. We finally did…and that’s where they’ll be in the mornings.

I kinda thought we would mellow out and hang out at home as school approached…but it seems that things sped up. Hmmmmm…I’m certain it was my fault somehow. But oh well. I can’t help myself. I’m still in that mindset of letting my girls try new and different experiences. After all, they’ll only be this young for so long.

Original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Legoland!

Had Legoland been around when I was a kid, I’m certain the number of times we visited Disneyland would have been far less. I don’t know what it is about it but it has a charm all its own.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Legos when I was a kid. I remember being more entranced by Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I did play with Legos, it just wasn’t a big thing to me. This is contrary to my husband’s childhood experience who was/is still very much into Lego building. Luckily, he has developed such an addiction in our twin daughters as well.

That being said, I love Legoland. I may not have been a kid who gravitated toward those colorful bricks whenever possible but I can appreciate the awesome things people create with them. Like the prisoner transport airplane one of my daughters built one day and the prison that my other daughter created for those prisoners. Or the shopping mall one daughter built while the other created a police station. I love that my girls’ imaginations are so inspired by these simple, colorful blocks and accessories.

And Legoland, the amusement park, is just as entertaining. The life-size animals and people or the miniature versions of buildings throughout the world built with Lego bricks are truly awesome. I’ve seen these before but I’m amazed every time I peruse them again.

We had gotten an early start to the day because a handful of rides opened up early – 9:30am – before the general park opening at 10:00am. The Volvo Driving School was one of those rides – last time we visited, we waited one hour to get on that thing. So, after the Safari Trek, we headed there. OMGoodness, talk about grrrrrrreat planning. There was barely a line. We must have waited for 5 or 10 minutes, at most. Whew! Favorite ride – check!

This was the second time we’ve taken our girls to Legoland. We decided to see the park from the opposite direction we had in the past (turning right instead of left from the entrance)…and discovered several rides and sections we hadn’t seen before. We bypassed these areas in past visits because by the time we got there, we were on park overload and ready to leave. We also saw one of the many shows throughout the park for the first time – one of my daughters got to participate as a jouster. What fun!

Legoland includes a great mix of extensive play structures and rides to accommodate my 7-year-old girls’ need to be in constant motion. In fact, at many rides, there’s a mini play area furnished with tables of Lego bricks next to the waiting lines for rides – simply genius! While parents wait in line, kids expend their energy building things within the play area. When the parents approach the beginning of the line, there’s a gate for kids to exit the play area directly to their waiting parents. Such a fantastic idea.

Though I didn’t take advantage of it, there’s a package holding/dropoff service available. Essentially, you can purchase any item at any retail location throughout the park and leave it there. Within the next two hours, an employee will bring your package to the front of the park where you can pick it up before you leave. Isn’t that the best? No need to worry about carrying and keeping track of your purchases throughout the park. Another great idea.

And there’s this enormous water play structure (Soak ‘n Sail) next to the water rides in the Pirate Shores section. Water shot out from everywhere but the two huge buckets at the top ensured that you were completely drenched. Luckily, I’d brought a change of clothing for each of our girls, just in case.

After 9 hours, we were ready to go home. We didn’t do any souvenir shopping mainly because the girls had [each] already won a rather large stuffed animal (puppy dog) at one of the game booths, as well as a cute little chameleon. And because…we bought season passes. Hahaha  Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? Particularly since we don’t live in southern California. Oh but the price of a season pass will be earned back in a second visit. And what are the chances that we’ll be there again in the next 12 months? Good. Very, very good.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Disneyland!

This summer vacation would not have been complete without a trip to the happiest place on Earth. Hahaha  This was the girls’ fourth time visiting the theme park in seven short years. Does that seem a bit much? Not by a long shot. After all, one of those times was at the invitation of Disneyland PR that we couldn’t pass up. But mostly because I grew up in San Diego and being so close, my own parents took us there as often as possible – at least, it seemed that way.

I gotta say though, that Disney magic hasn’t gotten old. The anticipation of going there puts a smile on everyone’s face in our family. And while the sun may beat us down as we stroll from ride to ride and the waits in lines test the patience of a couple of restless 7-year-olds, somehow we bear it and at the end declare what a wonderful day we had. That’s gotta be a certain kind of magic.

This time around, we seemed to spend quite a bit of time in ToonTown. Our girls were particularly taken with Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses, wanting to return there after we’d thought they were done with it and had moved onto several other sections of the park.

Our girls were also done with princesses. Now, I knew they were done with playing dress up but I was a little surprised that they had no desire to check out the Princess Faire, though I pointed it out to them a couple of times. They still love watching the princess movies but for some reason, they had no particular interest in seeking them out at D-land.

The faves of the park? For both, it includes Buzz Lightyear and Peter Pan. For Songwriter, the Indiana Jones ride and the Go Coaster are additional faves. And Storyteller loves that Jungle Cruise (so many animals!) and Dumbo ride. Thrills versus animals – I shoulda guessed.

The collection of souvenirs included a collection of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jesse and the space rangers. That Toy Story movie series made a real impact on them, I guess. They’re looking forward to bringing them all home to play with Bullseye, the horse.

11 hours after we arrived, we wearily trudged to the tram to take us to the parking garage. We seem to be on an every-other-year schedule for our Disneyland visits. And unlike other amusement parks, I don’t worry that they’ll “age out” of going there. Disneyland is one that appeals to all age groups. I should know. The thought of going there still puts a smile on my face…and I can’t wait to go again.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Souvenir Shopping

Well, when the weather doesn’t cooperate and a wet forecast proves true, what’s the next best thing to playing cards and games at home? Souvenir shopping, of course. And our girls just looooooove it. hahaha

We tried a little sightseeing but there were several flooded roads, making it not so easy or quick to get around the island. And there weren’t any kid-authorized movies for us to see. So, souvenir shopping it was for our little antsy, stir-crazy family.

Our little shopping venture also became a teaching opportunity and math practice for our girls. We gave them a budget to work with and they chose their own purchases. We told them that whatever they got had to remind them of their St. Martin vacation – we were hoping this would derail any requests for things like stuffed animals that they could easily find at home. I think they did a rather good job – sea shells, a purse out of coconut shell, bird house made of coconut shells and reeds of some sort, handmade flutes, keychains with St. Martin/St. Maarten written on the, etc. etc. etc. It was quite fun. Brought back memories of my own childhood collections of stuff I’d get from souvenir shops as we toured the States.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Island Hopping By Boat

Boy, did we luck out! Amidst several days of scattered showers and downpours, we went boating on a warm, dry day. We escaped the rainstorms on St. Martin by going out on the water to visit other islands. We worried the previous day because the showers were frequent and non-stop. But like I said, we got lucky.

Our vessel for the day was a 26′ Boston Whaler with twin Yamaha 225 hp outboard engines. Truls is completely comfortable skippering the boat since he grew up doing so (being Norwegian and all). We had plans to head out to four nearby islands – Tintamarre, Ilet Pinel, Anguilla and Sandy Isle.

I was soooooooo sore by the end of the day. The rides out to the first island and back from the last were very bumpy. A few slams on the waves here and there while I held onto a couple of scared little girls were enough to make me feel pretty beat up by the end of the day. Truls, though, did the best he could to navigate the smoothest rides  through the very choppy waters and roiling waves. It was pretty windy as well. He had a tough job balancing the speed or slowness through the sea against the potential motional sickness bound to be experienced  by me…and perhaps one or two daughters. I did take my Nautomine (like Dramamine but with caffeine to avoid drowsiness) but with the waves as they were, I could still start to feel…ill.

The bumpy rides between islands made us appreciate the stops at the islands and beaches all the more. When we arrived at the first island, Tintamarre, the main beach was deserted. It was nice to have it for ourselves for a bit before any other boats showed up. Storyteller and Songwriter have become quite the confident swimmers and easily swam into shore themselves. They immediately found a few shells in the sand and see-through silver-ish fish swimming in the water. They did not want to leave…but it was time for lunch at the next island.

There are three restaurants on Ile Pinel. Truls had wanted to try one of them in a previous visit but my lack of kayaking skill derailed that plan. So, this time we boated there. The water is very shallow where we anchored our boat and we were able to wade in from the boat to the beach. And the first thing that caught our eye was the cage of live lobsters. One family was making a choice at the time.

Unfortunately, the service was slow at the restaurant we chose. It took over one hour to receive our meals and another 30 minutes to get our check. Ugh! We realized later that our long wait at this place took away the time we wanted to spend at Sandy Isle. Oh well. At least the girls were well entertained when they discovered the colony of iguanas living at the back of the restaurant. I couldn’t believe how large the population of creatures  was there.

We hurried as best we could out to Anguilla. Anguilla is known for the deserted white sand beaches and emerald colored waters. We pulled up to deserted Rendezvous Bay. Just like the other islands, the water was warm and inviting. We couldn’t hang out too long as we had one more island on our itinerary.

Sandy Isle is the star of many a postcard on St. Martin. Tiny and deserted except for a single restaurant, it sits all alone just off the coast of Anguilla. It is surrounded by coral reef, so it’s not an easy island to approach. And unfortunately, we no longer had the time to figure it out. We had to make our crossing back to St. Martin. At least we got our photo opportunity.

After 8 hours, it was time to head back to St. Martin. It looked like it had been raining there a bit. Seems we picked the right day to get away to other islands. I was ready, though, to get back to our villa, take a shower and relax.

It was a great day but I’m still pretty sure about one thing and that is I’m not a boater…or a sailor. I may have  been born in the Philippine islands but I’m pretty sure there’s a strong emphasis on the “-land” part of that heritage.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Rain…Again

Vacationing in the Caribbean in the off-season has its ups and downs, I have to say. On the up side? Almost everything is less expensive. Plane fares, availability and costs of places to stay, open tables at the best restaurants, no crowds to contend with, empty beaches, minimal traffic and more, I’m sure.

The down side? The weather. Rain, thunder, perhaps lightning. And in this area, hurricanes. If you’ve traveled through Europe during the summer, you get quite used to the occasional shower here and there. But the next hour (or day) will likely be sunny, warm and filled with bright sunshine, the clouds completely forgotten.

And here in St. Martin, we’re living with the down side right now. In fact, we’ve lived with it the last few days…except for yesterday (in fact, a great day for boating as we did…fodder for another post). The nice thing is that it is certainly comfortable, wet yes, but not cold. We still walk around in shorts and t-shirts and look out for puddles everywhere. It’s not really a problem to go swimming in the pool as well – you’re going to get wet anyway.

And just like at home, we got stir crazy hangin’ out in the villa all day. Time to take a drive. Not a lot of people strolling in the streets but there were many cars cruising; probably feeling just as cooped up as we were. Several streets were flooding, slowing all the cars down to a crawl for short stretches along our route.

But hey, it’s all part of the experience of traveling in the off-season to a Caribbean island. At least, we’re not here during the hurricanes.

We kinda thought today might be a good day to see the fort at the top of this hill but thoughts of wet gravel and muddy paths deterred us from such a thing. Another day….

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Summer Vacation 2011 – Plane Spotting at Maho Beach

You’ve probably seen the YouTube videos. Pretty dramatic. Huge jets [seemingly] descending upon the masses of people on the beach. It is, in fact, that dramatic. And Truls decided that he needed to make his own video and have our own photos of these events particularly since we’ve been to Maho Beach a few times before.

Truls was prepared. He’d checked the list of airline arrivals for the next few days, looking for future arrivals of the largest airplanes. A 747 would be the best – huge jet, short airstrip, multitudes of onlookers at the beach, deep descent just above the fence . His GoPro video camera was mounted on his new, lightweight monopod, ready to capture every moment of the descents…and the [Canon] 50D, of course.

Last time we hit this bar/cafe, it was pouring rain and the decks were packed with people trying to find shelter between descents. This time, though it poured earlier in the day, we lucked out with a break in the weather.

We shared a table with another couple and set in to wait…as we ordered lunch. We caught the Air France AirBus just as we sat down. We knew the next airplane would be small. We didn’t bother getting into position to catch it…and we kicked ourselves. It was a DHL Express plane coming in rather low. Other people saw that as well and it seemed the entire crowd stood up to watch a lot closer. It looked like it barely cleared the fence around the airfield, mere feet in fact. I believe the pilot knew he was putting on a show…but I wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the recipients of any package onboard if he’d miscalculated.

We settled in for the show. Plane spotting is a popular pastime at this cafe. Truls raised the monopod and took some footage above the umbrellas at our cafe (and our girls playing around). He grabbed his 50D and planted himself near the road. I found some space at the edge of the deck at the cafe. We had no desire to get blasted by the hot jet air as the huge jets landed – which has happened to people too close to the action on the beach and at the fence. From our vantage points, we knew we could get the shots we wanted.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.