Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka

We just got back from a whirlwind Christmas vacation, and are now enjoying a shockingly sedentary New Year's Day (we've been enjoying our own quiet company and the snow and eggnog and wood-heat and are about to pay-per-view "Transformer" and wash it down with popcorn)...

We drove down to NYC for a day at the beginning of our break, which always calls for a visit to the American Museum of Natural History...Ben loved the "Mythic Creatures" exhibit, and as always, the dinosaurs...


In the picture above, he can be seen touching an ACTUAL dinosaur tooth...this exhibit allowed visitors to contrast the tooth design/shape of carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs by feel...


Next, we went over to check out the actual skull-plate of a Pachycephalosaurus (also known as bonky-saurus)...touching this 65 million year old piece of the Earth's history is very different than just reading about their thick skulls...


The next thing we took a look at was a dinosaur egg, one from a clutch of about 30 that you can see behind the glass...Ben had some great questions about dinosaurs and eggs...


Later that afternoon, we went up to visit with Grandma for a while...




I can't help using the video camera, and this one was cute...


Anti-Sarah took this reach-around picture after we got home...they're so cute together...


We opened up some presents, including some great books that we could bring along on the trip down to the Florida Keys that would begin the next morning...


We spent a lot of the next day traveling, and got to the house after dark, but when we woke up the next morning, the Sun was rising over the water...we hung out on the beach in front of our rented "home for the week", while waiting for everyone else to wake up...


We spent most of the week completely by ourselves on the beach in front of our house...the houses on either side were empty, and we just had occasional people walking by...


Fuz was the first one up, and came out to join us in exploring a bit with coffee in hand...


Ben soon discovered the small swimming pool, and was in heaven...he spent hours every day swimming in the pool and playing with gazillions of pool toys...


After hours of swimming, he finally agreed to get out and eat some lunch, including some jellied toast that got his mouth dirty out to his ears...


This is the view from the porch out by the pool...for real...yes, it was perfect...


Ben almost always had someone willing to play in the pool with him...like his Anti-Sarah...


Or Uncle Brad...Sarah did not have great success reading undisturbed at the far end of the pool...


Ben found his facemask and snorkel and loved playing with them...


We covered the bottom of the pool with drowned rubber duckies and other pool toys so that Ben could hunt them while snorkeling...


Lunch was usually a casual pause in the swimming/sunning/reading/napping to grab a bite...here you can see Ben enjoying lunch with D...


Ben, for reasons known only to himself, enjoys practicing his "Hairy Eyeball"...here's a great example from one night during dessert...


The next morning, Ben and I went out on a walk across to the next key along a raised pedestrian walkway that paralleled the causeway...there were tons of people fishing as we walked along (about 40 feet above the ocean ...it was beautiful), and a really nice couple offered to let Ben fish for a minute...he did a great job of holding the pole against the pull of the tide, and when we felt a nibble we set the hook and...eventually, reeled in this pretty little fish...


Gratuitous Art Shot


On the night before Christmas, Anti-Sarah and Muz read to Ben...yup..."The Night Before Christmas"...


The next day, one of the presents that Ben opened was an archaeological game/activity...you have to dig out the playpieces and then brush them free of the stone fragments...only after everything is dug out can you play the cool pirate game that all of the pieces work together to make...




Another film...this one of the archaeologists in action...


Here is a picture of Gail out by the ocean on Christmas calling her family in Maine...on the dock in front of her, up on the dock between the trees I can see (you probably can't see) the profile of a Great Blue Heron that spent each morning and evening fishing in the shallows off of our beach...


Anti-Sarah gave Ben a cookie-cutter-like-dealie that could be used to make an impression on toast that would turn regular old boring toast into ultra-cool PIRATE TOAST!!!


One afternoon we went down the rest of the way to Key West, and had a great time visiting, among other things, a great Pirate Museum...Gail and Ben enjoyed a lemonade (and took the time to take this super reacharound picture) while I went inside the nearby "Hog's Breath Saloon" to log a webcam geocache and enjoy a gratuitously large and generously poured margarita...


Despite the stunningly realistic effect, the above is really a picture of Ben and his Anti-Sarah...


This picture is really Gail and I posing in the same cutout...

After (and during) continued application of fruity warm-weather drinks (I switched to Pina Coladas...mock me, I dare you), we went to Mallory Square to enjoy the sunset along with the daily pre-game show (which consists of street performers)...Ben loved posing with this pirate...



These performers were awesome, they juggled flaming things and pokey-cutty knives and had superbly trained (and cute) dogs...Rocket (the basset hound) and Daisy-Mae (a mutt with bunny-soft ears that Anti-Sarah fell in love with, and wanted to take home with her)...


Ben loved watching their show, and wandering around the Mallory Square spectacle in general...


The sunset was phenomenal and we had a great time before, during, and after...




Another movie...of the sunset...


Ben went home with Muz and D while we stayed in Key West for more fun...fruity drinks and some great food at Fogarty's before heading back along the causeways to our short-term home...


The next day, Ben and I went geocaching, finding 5 of the 7 caches that we went looking for during our outings in the morning and afternoon...


One of the ones that we found was reached over this cool boardwalk along/above a beautiful beach...


We found another cache, a 3-stage multi-cache, with Anti-Sarah in the afternoon...hot and buggy work in the woods, but fun and satisfying nonetheless...


Another fun cache took us to a great spot where we were able to feed huge tarpons off of the end of a dock...these fish were ginormous, some must have been 5 feet long and could have fit Ben's head in their mouths...


Tossing the bait-fish into the water caused the tarpons to thrash the surface into foam and we had a blast feeding them buckets of food...


The pelicans on the dock were hungry and fearless, and we had to be constantly alert lest they mug one of us...they had a habit of sidling in while you were watching the fish and then acting all surprised and innocent when you busted them about to stick their beaks into your bucket, and then they would take a step or 2 back and look at you a bit indignantly, as can be seen above...



A final video of the tarpon on our awesome Florida vacation!!!


We had a great time in Florida, and were able to forget the 3+ feet of snow surrounding our house in Lake Clear...when we got back to NYC, we were able to go out a couple of times while Ben got in some last-minute playdates with Muz and D, and to go out and celebrate Anti-Sarah's birthday in style...Thanks for everything you guys!!!

2 comments:

nature girl said...

Superb shot of the pelicans!

I LOVE YOU said...
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