New York Trip Diary Volume 1

Posted in animals, Travel on March 24th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When my family travels, I like to take notes and make a diary of our activities.  I figure it will be fun to read later when the kids are grown up and will also bring back many memories that might otherwise be forgotten.  Now that I’m keeping a blog, I decided to just keep the trip diaries in my blog; that way I don’t have to write them twice and they’re automatically saved for us in cyberspace.  Last weekend, my husband had to go to New York on business, so we decided to make it a family trip and take the kids along.  Here is a log of our activities:

NEW YORK TRIP – MARCH 20-23, 2009 – TAYLOR: 9 yrs, SAMMIE: 4 yrs, DISNEY: 2½ yrs, CHRISTOPHER: 8 mos

Friday, March 20 – We left the house bright and early, only twenty minutes past our goal of 8 am.  Disney and Christopher had kept us up until 2:30 in the morning the night before, so we were dragging a little, but they slept in so at least we could tie up loose ends without them.  Sammie and Taylor were big helps in the morning!  The kids were very good in the car even though Christopher got a little crabby toward the end of the first leg.
We arrived at the Cleveland Zoo 11ish – not my favorite zoo.  I’m not one to complain about any zoo, but Cleveland had lots of walking to see a small amount of animals.  I think part of the problem was that they were undergoing a lot of construction, so that made for more walking around the construction areas and also to some animals being off exhibit.  They have koalas, but one was sick and the other was sleeping.  I’m glad I got to see it anyway though since seeing koalas is a rare experience at zoos, but now I know why many zoos don’t have them – they sleep 20 hours per day!  Cleveland Zoo also has lots of steep hills, which was a “bear” (pun intended, wink wink) when pushing a double stroller, but luckily for me, that was my husband’s problem.  As we were walking past the zoo’s hospital, an employee told us to come inside because a baboon was about to have a physical.  This is a really cool feature of this zoo – they have glass walls in their examination rooms so that zoo visitors can watch animals’ procedures.  Unfortunately, the baboon was not cooperative, and they couldn’t get it sedated so we didn’t get to see it.  We waited for about an hour, but we really wanted to fit in Akron Zoo in the same day as well, so we decided not to wait any longer.  Here are my girls waiting for the baboon’s physical:

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-005

Cleveland Zoo also has a cool rainforest exhibit which normally costs extra admission, but our Toledo Zoo membership got us into ALL THREE zoos we visited on this trip for FREE!!!  What a bargain AND an extra special Valentine’s Day gift from my husband that keeps on giving!  The rainforest exhibit had a cool 2-story monkey/squirrel exhibit, and a really nice view of a swimming gharial (a crocodillian with a long slender snout).  But overall, the animal habitats were lacking.  Thank goodness they are building new ones, but I wish they were building one for the giraffes.  There were probably more than 10 giraffes confined to a tiny indoor room – at least it was only their winter quarters, so once it gets warm, they can go back outside and have room to roam.  Hmmm…  maybe when I’m done with this trip diary, I’ll have to  develop a zoo rating system – that would be fun.  Then I’d have an excuse to visit even more zoos, and re-visit some of the old ones!

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-001Here are the kids in front of the lion exhibit at Cleveland – then it was on to the Akron Zoo.

“Just Akron, cold beer, and poor poor thing for 2 weeks?”  you ask?  Well, not for two weeks, we were only there for about 2 hours, but I wanted to throw in that line from the stage play Harvey (and later, the movie starring James Stewart) that was running through my head for the two hours.  Stay tuned for Akron!

Vacation Diary – Chapter Six

Posted in Travel on November 25th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NOTE:  This is the final part of a 6 part series about a family vacation to Florida

Friday, October 24, 2008 – We slept in (at least I did – my husband got up with the kids) and packed up and decided to depart early.  We were toying with the idea of renting an air boat to take into the swamp, but it was overcast again, and we weren’t sure how the kids would fare in the swamp.  So we headed out of the Orlando area, and we stopped at two beaches.  The first one was not memorable, and I don’t remember where it was – somewhere south of Flagler beach because we stopped there next after heading north up the coast.  The first beach had crushed shells for sand and it was still overcast and windy which made it a little chilly.  It was really cool to see two different moods of the ocean this trip; especially since we’re used to landlocked Ohio.  Well, we have Lake Erie, but that’s not the same as the ocean.  On the way there, it was a beautiful blue/green with soft, rolling waves.  On the way home, it was gray, and the waves had white caps and sometimes a large one would sneak up and catch us off guard and soak us.  At Flagler Beach, we found a coconut and a log, which we took with us – only after asking the park ranger on duty, of course.  He was friendly, and he said that coconut must have come a long way – and now it calls Ohio home!  Flagler Beach is a Florida State Park, and it was very nice.  There was a ramp leading down to the beach for the wheelchair-bound or strollers.  And the bathrooms were very nice for being outdoor state park bathrooms – they should have been a step away from port-a-potties, but these were really nice and clean too.

Since we were ahead of schedule, we decided to spend the night in a hotel, so we stopped outside of Savannah, Georgia at a Comfort Suites in Pooler.  It was a nice place, and we went swimming in the morning.  I think their chlorine content in the pool was way high because my husband’s eyes were burning and for weeks my girls and I had problems with our hair.  It was getting tangled really easily, and it wasn’t smooth or soft anymore.  My husband held my ponytail up to the hair closer to my head and there was a huge color difference – the ends of my hair were shades lighter than the top!  I have long hair, so I think the bottom part of my hair which was in the pool the longest got bleached by the chlorine.  I actually haven’t had the time to go and get it chopped off, but it seems to be getting back to normal now, thank goodness.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 – The hotel had a breakfast, which was actually kind of crowded, but we enjoyed bagels and cereal before our morning swim.  Got on the road about noon, stopped around 1:30 for lunch in the car.  I had an avocado sandwich (good!) from Atlanta Bread, and the kids had Bojangles Chicken, which has really good fries.  Chicken is pretty good too.  Stopped at a Shell gas station around Spartanburg, South Carolina, where we were approached by a man who had “run out of gas”.  Luckily, he had plenty of jewelry on display inside his coat to sell, so hopefully he wouldn’t be stuck at the gas station for long.  Traffic got a little backed up near Asheville, and it was bumper-to-bumper, but for only about 10 or 15 mins.  We decided to get off of I-40 to enjoy the mountainous scenery since we’re not usually in the mountains when there’s daylight on our trips down south.  In the peak of autumn color-changing season at sunset, the mountains were nothing short of gorgeous, and we pulled over at a few scenic overlooks for observation and picture-taking.  We stopped at a wonderful little restaurant in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee called “BBQ Garden Cafe”, and I can’t say enough great things about the place.  The ribs and corn were the best of each that both my husband and I have ever hadAnd that’s really saying a lot because we are tough critics when it comes to food at restaurants.  Unfortunately, as we chatted with the owner we learned that they were days away from closing – just not enough business in the mountains.  It’s a real shame too – best food I’ve had in a long time.  And it was a family owned place, so the owner got your order and went to grill it himself, and he even had his kids helping – a really nice family, and a really nice family atmosphere also.  I really hope that by some miracle the place doesn’t close – I was going to make sure we go back there every time we’re in Tennessee.  Here is the address, just in case you’re in the area; I can’t say enough how much I recommend the place.  You might want to call first though, since they did say they were closing down!  It’s located at: 3323 Cosby Hwy, Cosby, TN 37722

After the delicious dinner, we headed for home in Ohio, and we arrived at about 5 in the morning, a little early compared to usual.  But that’s ok, we needed the day for catch-up on sleep, laundry, unpacking, etc.  As you can see, I’ve been busy ever since which is why it took me a month to finish the trip diary.  But now I have, and all I have to do is cut and paste all 6 parts into one diary for our family to read for years to come.  Thanks for letting me share it with you; here is a picture of the autumn Smokies at sunset: