Saturday, September 29, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Thur.9/27)

We have grandparents for Phily!

The boys tried patching the crack with some bubble gum, but alas their help was not appreciated.

We learned a ton about Benjamin Franklin – a very likable nut. As we pondered the “high treason” the signers of the declaration were committing, we thought Benji's best quote was “We must all hang together or certainly we will all hang separately”.

I never got sick of learning all the different things that Franklin was involved with, but Frankie's house: this was a bit of a “Plymouth Rock experience” - yes quite underwhelming. It's a hole in ground that you can look down in and see some old bricks about 10 feet below your feet... Anyway, as creative as the Frankster was, I don't think he would be too impressed with this. We like Philly– but one day will do ya'

Top left: No explanation required
Top right: Benji's hole
Bottom Left: I was trying to read the monument outside the park visitor center when I noticed there were some kids climbing the back of it – so disrespectful. I'm beginning to see a pattern...
Bottom Right: Independence Hall – the old state house. The boys wanted to reenact the part from the movie “National Treasure” where Nicholas Cage and crew snuck into a forbidden area. Great...

Valley Forge, PA (Tue.9/25)

We did our first Driving Tour: You use your cell phone and dial the correct extension for the correct area of a big loop. This is the perfect lazy American tour – it encourages you to drive while on the cell phone. You don't have to get out of the car. You just drive around on your phone and take pictures out the window, what could be easier?!

An incredible area reminding us of our forebearers courage and resolve.

New York, NY (Thur.9/20)


M&M world... well, maybe not the hottest stop on the NYC tour, but, they've got chocolate – and how. The boys picked out their favorite M&M color and each got a smashed penny.

Central Park

Central Park is amazingly large. There's a lot of people who run around the park, but we walked less than half of its length and took a bus back, sigh...

We rented a bat and ball and a Frisbee. The boys climbed rocks, got soaked at the water playground, and spun around so much on the whirlee-bird that they almost lost their M&M's (which, by the way, are all the same color at this point). We like Central Park.

Shae watching Kobe “warm-up” his M&M's

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I missed most of Met as I was getting Mary Poppins tickets and I didn't get any volunteers for filling out this part of the blog. The brief summary: it was good, real good, especially the ancient Egypt section.

We may not have had a Dirty Water Dog from a street vendor, but we did have a cockroach visit our lunch as we ate in front of the Met.

Mary Poppins

I've always wanted to see a Broadway show but were a bit short on pennies (regular and smashed) and long on fake $10 bills, so Kim and our most theatrical boy Elan made it to the show.

When I heard we were going to see a musical on Broadway, I was really excited! (I've always wanted to see something on Broadway.) The time went by so slowly until we got on the bus to it. Once we were inside I looked around the theater. It was amazing! Many cool designs and carvings on the walls. I can't even explain how cool and interesting it was. Then it started. I didn't know what to expect, but if I had an expectation, it was underestimated! It was the best thing with music I'd ever seen/heard! Every song was amazing and very well put together, including new songs; “Practically Perfect”, “Temper, Temper”, and “Brimstone and Treacle”. Then there were the original songs; “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. I loved every moment, especially when Mary Poppins “flew” over the crowd. The actors were great as well. I had a great time! -Elan

New York, NY (Thur.9/20)

More NY pics...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Bollacke family - New Fairfield, CT (Thur.9/13-Mon.9/24)

Introducing the Bollacke's, we met them Aug 30 in Acadia National Park. We mentioned them last month – the great family we met... Well, our plan was to visit them for a few hours in Connecticut on our way to NYC (staying in Long Island). Mike knows the city well and after showing us how Long Island is really... well... Long and that the train commute from there would be at least 2 hours, we decided to stay with them a little while... make that 12 days.

They are like family and I know the one about how family are like fish... but that hasn't been true with our biological family and it certainly wasn't true with our new adopted family.

After meeting Mike's mom “Omi” and Lisa's, parents Richard and grandma Dorothy, we can certainly say that they are from good stock. They truly are Salt of the Earth people.

Their neighbors Harry and Joanne can testify to the love that flows out of this family (by the way Harry who's nearly 90 years young, has a great wood shop and house full of his creations that I was privileged enough to see).

Here's the kids in full costume and face paint in the middle of filming their own “Wizard of Oz”

Allow me to introduce Michael

Mike was teaching me the way things are done Out East. Not how you honk and yell at other drivers for the smallest things – no, that I was learning on my own. But Mike still knows how to play hard ball. We took a boat ride and went out to eat. I caught the waitress first, secretly handed her my credit card, explaining how nobody likes to see a fight over the bill. She thanked me for it as she tucked the credit card away. Mike stepped out to catch the waitress after we were almost done with our meal only to find out that I had beat him to the punch. Mike then tells the waitress how he tips better (above the built-in 18% large group gratuity tax) and convinces her to take his card. She believed Mike, took Mike's card and handed me back mine. You're familiar with the Chicago way, the out East way (honk early, honk often), but here's the Bollacke way. We paid for almost nothing while we were there (from food, to Kim's haircut) and were so greatly encouraged by them – both directly and indirectly. From discussing life's deepest to seeing their kids respectfully interact with the rest of the family, we were blessed!

Mike is very very talented. He is an artist with a video camera. He has filmed every big game including Super Bowls and World Series. He has won Emmys for some special feature clips. In the last few months, he has interviewed the likes of Jeff Gordon and Tiger Woods. At first hearing this, I thought “Lucky” - in a Napoleon Dynamite sort of way.

I really can't say enough about this family. To think of meeting someone while camping and then crashing at their place for 12 days with 4 kids – it's just Weird. The love of God has never been more clear to me than in this family. The greatest Bed and Breakfast and lunch and dinner ever! I like to joke, I occasionally speak in hyperbole, but straight – up this is the best family. period. But praise God and not the Bollacke's, the giver and not the gift. It feels much like when we left friends and family in Minnesota. A bit sad to leave, but our tank is full (nay, the tank runneth over). When I see Jeff or Tiger on TV, I'll be reminded that Mike might have filmed them, but I will mostly think of how “Lucky” they are to have gotten to know Mike.

If you're in Connecticut stop by and see them, heck stop by and stay for a couple weeks!

The Bollacke family - New Fairfield, CT (Thur.9/13-Mon.9/24)

A few more shots from our time with the Bollacke's.

Lisa: w/ ice cream: The lady of the house serving up Root Beer floats

Sunday movie night

Mystic Sea Port / Groton, CT (Thur.9/13)

One of my few claims to fame is my brother who was an officer on the nuclear submarine USS Dallas... We couldn't tour the Dallas this time but were able to tour the first Nuclear submarine USS Nautilus. It was good for the boys to see the sleeping arrangements of the sailors in case they had any ideas of complaining about their sleeping quarters.

We were able to visit the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream shop which we had fond memories of during our visits to see my brother Dayton in Groton.

Clever... I've always said Dr. Lusch was an Optimist as much as an Optometrist..

Friday, September 21, 2007

New York, NY (Thr .9/13,Tue.9/18)

We've had a couple days in New York City now. One of the things the boys wanted was the “I heart NY” t-shirts. They were 2 for $5, I tried to haggle with him, but they were firm on their price. I know it doesn't cost them $2.50 a piece with the volume they order them in, but I paid the money anyway. Heck, we're in NY let's live a little. Now, having 4 shirts, but $10 poorer (I'm not complaining about the $64 to take the train in) I started looking for a t-shirt for myself. Specifically to capture my sentiments I wanted a “I tolerate NY” t-shirt. I really think they might sell.

We met a really nice man who sold us smoothies. He gave large samples to the boys (an effective trick to draw in the parents I know) and was really nice. We walked away happy but found that he gave us a counterfeit bill. Nothing says I Heart NY like a counterfeit 10 dollar bill. The kicker is when I asked a police man what I should do with it, he hemmed and hawed a bit and after confirming that it was counterfeit, said “you should try to pawn it off on someone else”.

The statue of liberty was kind of fun though you can't go to the top anymore. Security has greatly increased. We had our lunch packed but made the mistake of bringing a “real” butter knife. It was confiscated by security – I imagine a huge bin of butter knifes somewhere in the back. But the good news: we weren't able to assassinate lady liberty. Safety first. Though Mr. Spoon doesn't work as well as Mr. Confiscated knife for spreading cream cheese. We took a bunch of pictures but you can do a google image search and find better ones online so I present my best picture to you of a statue about 4 inches tall available in the gift shop. Also here's a picture of the boys picking the nose of replica lady liberty. Sure to make the French proud.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cape Cod, MA (Mon.9/10-Wed.9/12)

The boys played some great games including: rules for starting their own colony, collection of sea artifacts – organizing, categorizing. It was cool that they were applying what they learned with making a contract for their new colony, but I was a little leery that we would have a coup on our hands. The sea item collection was going well until my 10 ½'s stepped on the bit crab shell they found – it didn't make that “I'm now broken sound” it made that “I'm totally and completely destroyed – way to go Dad” sound. End of crab, but the other items are still a nice collection.

We tried letterboxing – a game where you find a box given certain clues. In the box you find a stamp to label your personal notepad and a place to use your personal stamp to leave trace of your attendance. We only found one of the 3 boxes that should have been along the trail, but it was getting dark and hard to see.

We went for a bike ride along the canal and down to the beach for a mini-swim – yes it's cold North of Cape Cod

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Plymouth, MA (Tue.9/11)

In danger of overusing the picture collage option, but – we did cram a lot in today

Plymouth Rock

Yep, it's a rock all right. We confirmed it as a family, we took a picture. I watched a guy with a very expensive camera take a picture of the rock and so I figured he knew what he was doing so when he was done I moved into that spot to get that perfect picture of the rock... Gosh, I've tried to build up the rock thing but the fact is, it's just a rock. If you look closely there are a few pennies on it – I think they are there to help people get perspective... unless people thought it was a wishing well in which case I bet people were wishing it was a bit more interesting. A bit underwhelming. It's nothing to write home about, but I am anyway I guess...

Mayflower II

The 1:1 replica of the Mayflower is over 50 years old now. It did travel from Europe to Plymouth and has made a number of trips since to raise money and such. It was swell. They had the role playing people and all. The poor food and water, the dark and damp traveling conditions – this was not the Love boat to be sure. Maybe that's why they were so excited when they saw a rock.

Cranberry Farm

We got to see a cranberry farm – way cool! I love Cranberry juice! (and not just when I have a urinary track infection – though I do hold it especially dear during this time). There were lots of free samples too. The cranberry machine has a bounce tester – because everyone knows that every good cranberry has a bounce to it. The cranberries get 6 chances (6 strikes and your out – apparently a very liberal cranberry machine) – a bit hard to see but it's in the middle row, far right. The lady who was helping us is the lady who was on the Ocean Spray cranberry juice container for a couple years in the early 90's. All the fame went to her head and she got a big money agent who knew she was worth more and then had an injury and couldn't smile properly at the next photo shoot and then before you know it she was on the street looking for a new cranberry contract. I don't know that for sure, but it's so typical in the cranberry industry...

Sandwich, MA (Mon.9/10)

Some more pics from Sandwich – apparently a highly photographed area – we found out why!

Sandwich, MA (Mon.9/10)

Sandwich Glass
The lost art of Glass blowing. The demo was very quite excellent, the boys were able to participate, we got out of their without breaking anything.

Dexter's Grist Mill
A couple experienced gentlemen provided a tour of their mill. We saw it in action and bought what came out. The stone is over 300 years old and they guess can go 1000 more (the stone is “dressed” about every 20 years or so). I give this little tour a 5 star rating – it was great!

Thorton Burgess
We toured the Thorton Burgess museum. Yes, you know, the one who wrote brer rabbit. Well, Thorton is no longer with us, but brer rabbit lives on.

Hoxie House - Cape Cod salt box classic home style dates prior to 1675 -- lived in by just 2 families from 1675 to 1953. Answers the unknowns of today's vernacular such as: “Sleep tight”, “dead as a door nail”, “tying the knot”, “spinsters”, “whistle while you work”, “don't throw out the baby with the bath water” and on and on. Who knew? Now knowing the origins of some of these, maybe we should have let them die, but very interesting none the less.
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