Travel, Walt Disney World, WDW 2012 Live

Day Two II – Who needs kids as an excuse to get a picture with Aurora – or, how to make a rodent angry

When we last spoke, we had returned to the hotel and Leah was sleeping. She had to be awakened shortly thereafter to head for a dinner engagement, and this is what she looked like shortly before rising:

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Travel, Walt Disney World, WDW 2012 Live

Day One – Now with room keys

The power of the breakfast burrito

Like the idiots that we are, we scheduled a character breakfast at 8:05 am this morning at Hollywood & Vine inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which we still refer to as MGM). Since the girls went to bed somewhat early last night, it actually wasn’t too bad getting everyone up and out on time for the quick drive over to DHS in our red Dodge Grand Caravan rental car. At the Grand Rapids airport yesterday shortly after parking our car in the parking deck, Aly asked me “Is someone going to be renting our car while we are renting a car in Florida?” – priceless.

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Travel, Walt Disney World, WDW 2012 Live

Day Zero – Getting Here & Value-Added Chicken

If you read my trip reports from last December’s Disney trip, you might recall this nugget:

This has really been a tale of two trips – the parts where Aly has “been a shit”, as my mom used to say about me with some regularity – sorry mom, but it’s true, you did say that about me a lot, and I’m sure deservedly; and the parts where we’ve been able to have fun as a family, where Aly has had lots of fun.

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Family, Life in Holland Michigan

A walk in the woods

A few Saturdays ago, the little girls and I headed out to Sanctuary Woods nature preserve for a short hike. It’s a beautiful spot just off the edge of Lakes Macatawa and Michigan, with a few parking spots, but I’ve never seen the lot full. After parking, there’s a short loop around the lower area, with a few bridges crossing a tiny creek.

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Travel

Adventures with Aly

First, though

a bit of wrap-up from yesterday. When Rachel and I returned from hiking yesterday, we encountered Aly boating with Grandpa Bill in the peapod and Leah playing on the rocks with Grandma Jan, having a great time with their grandparents in Maine.

Now, onto the aforementioned adventures

Aly fancies herself an adventurer, and at low tide, we can trudge out to two islands, so we did that this morning. The first island has the oft-photographed storage shack and two lobster cars, which are floating pens that are used to stage lobster, though these two particular lobster cars always seem to be on this island instead of in operation. The island also contains a lot of various junk, including tires, transmission components, cables, ropes, etc. It also has some brightly colored tide pools which make fine photographic subjects.

One final note. Leah says that vacation is tiring.

 

And here’s Aly in the same “camping bed” at a slightly older age.

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Travel

Settlement Quarry

Worth a second look

On Sunday morning, we took Leah to Settlement Quarry, which is just a short drive from downtown Stonington. We’ve been by the quarry before on our way to various nautical experiences with Bill Baker at Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, but had not hiked through it previously. Part of the Island Heritage Trust, there are scant few parking places at the trailhead. It takes about ten minutes of uphill walking along a two-track trail to reach the top of the quarry, but the scenery while hiking along the trail is gorgeous forest. We also encountered an abandoned furnace near the summit.

 

The payoff

Upon reaching the summit, we were immediately rewarded with spectacular views across the entire range of vision. The blasted remains of granite sheets stretched downhill all the way to the water, though the slope is not too treacherous for easy footing. We enjoyed this so much that we came back on Monday with Aly for another fun hike.

 

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Travel

Fog & Tide Pools

Saturday morning

arrived with what the folks around here call “ribbon fog” weaving around the islands in our view. It made for a picturesque view of the old lighthouse and some neighboring islands.

 

The fog didn’t seem to hamper the sea gulls’ ability to pursue the bait boat as it made stops around the harbor.

 

Ocean’s eleven

Degrees, that is. Aly got the idea that she really wanted to go swimming and after wading in to about waist depth, she used her singsong sweet voice to request my presence in the water. In a moment of temporary insanity, it sounded refreshing and I agreed to put on my suit and join her. Without a doubt, this is the coldest water I have ever submerged myself in. If you’ve ever watched males try to wade into cold water, they seem to get very timid when the water is just below waist level. Well, let me tell you, this water made my knees hurt and my quads hurt before it even got to that level. After a few minutes of whining, I finally flopped into the water, swam out a little bit, and then decided I’d better swim back in, since the cold had knocked all the air out of my chest. It was not refreshing.

 

I asked Aly later if she’d go back in and she said “I don’t think so, Dad.”

After that, Grandpa Bill took the girls for a boat ride in the water tender, the lone motorized vessel among his armada.

 

Leah enjoyed a quick snack in the kitchen before dinner:

 

Sunset and seaglass

After dinner, I wandered out with my camera during low tide and got some pictures of the contents of a few tide pools.

 

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Family

The blue eyes of summer

A morning with Lele

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Family

Leah or Aly II – 18-month edition

How many can you get right?

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Travel

North Bar Lake at Sleeping Bear

Newsflash: Lake Michigan is cold

– even in July. After freezing in the water at the other beaches we visited, we decided it was time to try some warmer water. Just south of the scenic drive, there is an inland lake called North Bar Lake that connects to Lake Michigan. It’s an easy drive with parking available, so we headed there in the early morning. This is a shot of North Bar Lake from one of the overlooks on the scenic drive (gives you an idea how it connects to the big lake).

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