Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy Birthday Evelyn - Saturday, December 3

Evie celebrated her 5th birthday on Friday, December 2.  Luke and I had just gotten home from our "big" trip on Sunday, I drove home on Tuesday and it was party time on Saturday.  I drove down to Cincinnati on Friday night and Sara, Evie and I went to see the new Disney movie, Moana.  It is a lovely movie about the Hawaiian islands which is so appropriate since Evie was born in Honolulu.  The music score was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote Hamilton and I must say, the man is a musical genius!

Post movie birthday party!

Today, I am 5!

This year, for Evie's very special 5th birthday party, Sara and Matt had it at the Cincinnati Zoo.  It was a very pretty day and she had some of her closest friends from school and several of her cousins in attendance. Everyone had a really great time.  The party was at 10 am so we had the entire zoo to ourselves.  I guess most of the public were waiting until 4 and the Lights Festival.  The kids made enrichment for the birds in the bird house and Evie got to present hers to the cockatoo in person.  They also had some animal visitors. A Hairy Armadillo, which I had never seen or even knew existed and a tortoise (not nearly as large as the Galapagos, but still about 30 lbs.)  The highlight however was after the party when the kids played on the outdoor playground!  We also visited the new Hippo exhibit.  It is very nicely done.

"Sleepy, sleepy" Hippos

Evie and her cousins, the girls don't seem to mind that Nolan is being eaten!

Happy Birthday, Evie!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Galapagos Adventure~Farewell To the Endeavor-Friday evening & Saturday, Nov. 25-26

A week ago Luke and I were flying from Baltimore to Guayaquil, Ecuador not really knowing what to expect other than it would probably be a pretty dog-gone spectacular journey.  I guess I probably knew a little more of what to expect but to actually see this trip happening was like a dream come true.  Now, here we sit, feeling as though we are at home in the lounge of the Endeavor where we have spent the last week.  We have met new friends, learned new things and been introduced to wildlife that can be found nowhere else in the world. We have hiked and snorkeled and kayaked the islands and waters of the South Pacific and can proudly say that we have seen the Galapagos Islands.

Tonight the passengers aboard the Endeavor's final voyage  met in the lounge for a Farewell Cocktail Party with Captain Patricio Jaramillo and the naturalists that have made this excursion so very special. The Captain awarded the kids and teens with their Zodiac drivers license. (Remember they had the opportunity to learn how to drive a zodiac on Thursday.)

The Young Explores that earned their 100+ points during the week were also recognized and were given hats that said Junior Naturalist on the back with the Nat Geo logo on the front.

two very happy Junior Naturalists
We had dinner with Ari and his parents, David and Gretchen and talked about all of our favorite things we had done during our week. At 2045 hours (8:45 p.m.) Paula made the announcement that we were getting close to crossing the equator and were invited to the bridge to watch.
I know it's blurry, but I didn't want to blind the Captain with my flash. We watched the numbers click down to 0 degrees longitude and then Captain Patricio hit the air horn and one of the crew rang the bell.  We all cheered as we crossed that imaginary line that divides the northern and southern hemispheres.
At our afternoon briefing we had learned that the flight out of Baltras airport had been changed and we would be departing earlier than previously expected.  Luggage had to be outside the cabin by 0600 hours and breakfast was 0600-0645.  We would disembark for the final time at 0700 hours. I can't imagine how the crew must have felt to be leaving the Endeavor for the very last time.  I know my heart was breaking and I had only spent 7 days on board.  The boys were still excited because they knew we would all be on the same flights to Guayaquil and Miami and they still had one last night together in the hotel in Guayaquil.  None the less, it was difficult to leave this magical place!
I let Luke sleep while I put the luggage out and took one last stroll around the outside deck.

We had a perfect week of weather and it looks like the beginning of another beautiful day!

The library

One flight of the many steps I grew to love (and hate).

Our Cabin door,  #208 will forever be my lucky number

My last port hole photograph.  Good bye dear friend!

Besties forever!

Our last zodiac ride

Luke was thrilled that he was seated next to Evan on the flight to Guayaquil

Luke with his friends Bodhi and Scarlet

Paula, our Expedition Leader, leaving the airport for her home in Quito, Ecuador.

We spent the rest of Saturday at our hotel, the Hilton Colon, around the swimming pool. We did take a quick 10 minute walk to the Mall to buy Luke a Barcelona soccer jersey.  He was pretty excited when he found it.  I must say I was not a fan of the mall.  I'm not much of a shopper anyway but there were so many people..... and the sporting goods store was packed because there was a home soccer game between Ecuador and Barcelona on Sunday so it was probably even crazier. The soccer stadium in Guayaquil holds 90,000. That's a lot of futbol fans!  We had a nice dinner in the hotel with two of the families we had become close to. Evan's family is from Boston and Ari's family lives in Bethesda, Maryland. The boys seemed so grown up and Luke ordered for himself, (he picked the $47 steak) while I had the $20 beef tenderloin.  I loved seeing how independent he had become over the course of the trip.  I didn't even mind that I was replaced mid-week by other 9 year olds.  I was happy that  he was happy!
The pool had warm, warm water but I think I enjoyed the snorkeling more!

Our hotel in Guayaquil

Breakfast buffet 6 a.m.

Our last bus ride with friends. We saw each other briefly in Miami going through customs but from there everyone took different flights to get home.

Celebrating a successful trip while waiting for our flight in Miami!
Something that I have always found to be true when I am traveling is that the world is full of good, really good people.  I know that more often we only hear about the bad things that are happening and it is scary but I need to believe that there is a lot more good than bad in the world.  My wish for Luke and all my grandchildren and their generation is that they can always believe in the good.  That they will search for the good in all people and every situation.   I am so thankful that I have been blessed to share this amazing trip with Luke. I hope this experience taught him more than geography, natural history and science. I hope it taught him to dream.  To dream big, limitless dreams, to embrace the unknown with an adventurous spirit and to always, always believe that there is good in our world.  And realize that we can add to that goodness one smile, one act of kindness at a time.
We thank you for sharing this "Grand Adventure" with us through our blog. For more information about the Lindblad/National Geographic expeditions you can visit:
Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth. Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.
-Chief Seattle