Saturday, December 29, 2007

Maui: Day 5

On day 5 in Maui, we went on a submarine ride - a first for all of us. The weather was getting worse, but luckily the sub was still running as it's calmer under the ocean's surface.

As we waited, we visited the Banyan tree I remembered so well from our last visit. This is actually ONE tree with its main trunk in the center. Roots hang down in various places and in many places they've reached the ground forming secondary trunks. (I'm not sure of what they're really called.) So, it looks like a park full of trees, but it is really ONE tree. Amazing!

Here's some info from this site.
Through the years, gardeners from the Japanese community hung large pickle jars, full of water, beneath aerial roots sprouting from the banyan's long limbs. Hanging just out of their reach, the tree's roots lengthened until they reached the prepared earth bed. Once there, the light roots began to thicken, and eventually formed a series of supporting columns for the ever-lengthening branches. More than twelve decades later, standing 60 feet tall and measuring nearly one-fourth of a mile in circumference, this one tree covers more than two thirds of an acre.

Here's a photo of the sub we went on. I got seasick on the boat out to the sub and again on the sub.

Here's a video of the sub coming up out of the water - our first view of it.

A school of fish from our sub window.

My husband and Alexandra watching out the sub window - there was a window for every 2 people so we all had "front row" seats.
More fish and some coral.

Here's a view of our resort from our 9th floor balcony. It was such a beautiful view!

That night the winds kicked up and the waves got really high. If you enlarge this, you might see the surfers. This was the only day we saw them surfing off of "our" beach.

Maui: Day 4

Ok. I'm going to try to finish up posting about our trip to Maui! It seems like a long time ago, and it wasn't even a month ago!

This is Alexandra and her new friend (a Webkinz), Katie. They are in front of the pond at our resort. You can see some of the flamingos in the upper right.

We enjoyed watching as the resort got decorated for Christmas! We actually watched some of the chefs as they made this gingerbread village. It's a lot fancier than our little gingerbread house!

I missed a lot of great shots of the sky, but we really enjoyed watching the clouds, sunrises, etc. (Somehow, I don't think we ever caught a sunset - it was usually quite cloudy by evening.)

On this day, we ate seafood at Bubba Gump's. We were right on the oceanfront and saw some kids at the next table leaning out talking about crabs and how they could climb right in the window. We looked out our window and were surprised to see several crabs at the water's edge!

By the time we finished eating, it was storming and they closed our windows. We had to walk through flooded streets to get to the car (which my husband went to get for us as it was several blocks away. But, we still had to cross 2 streets.) I've never been able to wear flipflops, but thankfully I finally found a pair that would work just the night before! I put them in my bag that day and changed into them before we went out into the flooded streets. It sure saved my sandals! And, I had to wade out in the street to catch Alexandra's flip flop which washed off her feet. I even had to stop cars at the intersection. What a sight!!!

There was a free whaling museum just a short walk away from our resort and we went there twice. This was my big learning event of our trip. I read a book about whaling and went slowly through the museum and so did Alexandra. It's an incredibly fascinating part of our history and I'll have to share more later.

These are cut up "sheets" of blubber they call Bible sheets.

This is a model of a whale's skeleton - unfortunately, I've forgotten what kind! (I think it must be a right whale or a sperm whale - I'll try to figure it out.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Geese & Ducks

For the past 2 days, we've went down by a creek here in Kansas to look at the geese and ducks. There are hundreds of Canada geese on this one little stretch of creek and this is definitely a site we don't see in Houston! There are also a few dozen ducks - mainly Mallards, but some other kinds, too.

These geese were swimming towards some people to be fed. We took our own bread today.

This chunk of the creek is still frozen. In fact, I guess that might be why the congregate here - there is ice to get out on and they can also get into some unfrozen water.

Here's a male Mallard and another beautiful duck that I think looks kind of like an alibino Mallard, but I know it isn't. There were actually several of these kind. Anyone know their ducks? I don't even have my bird book to look it up.

Video of the NOISY geese.

There were 3 geese that were a different species, though I don't know what kind. Anyway, they were really honking at us. They followed us around on the ice, too. And, it was funny to see them "ice skating." (Oh, and check out the green "splatters" on the ice. Wouldn't want to be walking on that - even if it could hold me!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Maui: Day 3

On Day 3, we drove up the volcano, Haleakala. It was actually windy and rainy at our resort, but it was sunny... and cold... on the volcano. The crater is at a little over 10,000 meters and we passed through the clouds to get to the top.

Above is a photo of a silversword plant. This plant was near extinction in the 1920's and is now protected. It is found only in Maui in the Haleakala National Park. The plant only blooms once in its life, usually in June or July, and then it dies.
Above is a silversword that has already bloomed.

This is a photo of our family at the rim of the crater of Haleakala. The crater is huge at about 7 miles across.

The crater is dotted with numerous cinder cones. You can actually hike down into this area, but we didn't. And, many people get up at about 4 in the morning to drive up the volcano and watch the sunrise. But, we preferred to sleeep in.

Alexandra took part in earning her first Junior Ranger badge, which you can earn after you turn 7. When she handed in her workbook with her answers, which we all learned from, the Park Ranger spent about 10 minutes going over her answers with her and discussing things with her. It was a great learning experience. She even took a pledge to protect wildlife, etc, when she was done. Then, the Park Ranger announced that they had their newest Junior Ranger and the 20+ customers applauded.

Here's Alexandra with her Junior Park Ranger badge.

That evening, we watched a wind surfer. It was amazing. He would travel so fast and go so far out! The first time, I was worried that he couldn't make it back. But, next thing I knew he was zipping back in towards shore. Then, back again out into the ocean. What a fun ride!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Maui: Day 2

On Day 2 in Maui, I went SCUBA diving for the first time ever! My time started with a lesson in the pool where we learned about all the equipment. We also learned what to do if our mask filled with water, if we lost our mouth piece, if our tank ran out of oxygen... all those scary things. Then, we tried it out in the pool. This was the same pool Alexandra was swimming in - well, she was around the corner. (That's me on the left in profile.)
We then put on all our gear and our tanks and walked the short walk to the beach. We got in the water, inflated our suits, got on our back and put on our flippers. Then, we swam out deeper. The deepest our dive went was 25 feet.
I was kind of disappointed that I hadn't thought to bring our underwater camera, but I was also grateful I didn't have one more thing to worry about. I was actually quite nervous and wasn't sure I could do this! But, it all worked out fine and I will do it again any time I get the chance! I wish my guide/photographer would have taken more photos (he only used 12 of 24) and especially taken more of the coral, fish, etc. But, I'm grateful for what I have! (And, I'll just have to go diving again!!!) Above is some coral. We collected 3 nice size pieces of this white coral on the shore. We didn't see any shells - just coral.

Me with a large anchor. The instructor said a boat had found this deeper and they'd brought it in closer. I'm not sure if it was specifically for the divers or what, but I enjoyed seeing it. It is covered in coral and possibly other things.

Another photo with the anchor.

A photo of just the anchor - you can see the coral growing on it.

I meant to look this up, but I think I'm holding a sea urchin. It was fat and puffy, but hard and bumpy on the surface. The instructor gently picked it up and handed it to me and I was impressed with how he put it back exactly where he found it.
I was amazed at how the only thing you hear while you're diving is your own breathing. (It's actually quite peaceful.) Well, actually twice I heard myself give out a muffled yell. :-) Once when we spotted the sea turtle and once when I thought I saw an eel, but it wasn't. Both times I felt kind of silly as no one could hear me. And, it's a little frustrating when you can't get anyone's attention to show them something, like a neat fish I saw.
Here's me with the sea turtle! That was the coolest thing I saw and it actually happened just minutes into the 45 minute dive. I actually got to pet him! (Wish that would have been in the photo.) He was covered in green algae or something. Just a really neat experience!!! In fact, my souvenir for our trip was a carved sea turtle.

Me again on top of the coral reef. There was lots of coral everywhere we swam. Besides coral and the sea turtle, I saw lots of fish, though none bigger than a foot or so. The colors were beautiful as we weren't very deep. I also saw lots of sea urchins, though very different from the one I'm holding. Most of them had lots of long spikes and they were hidden within the coral. There were beautiful colors - purple, red... I wish I had photos!

My instructor/photographer motioned for me to make this sign. :-) (If you enlarge the photo, you can see a little black fish with a white tail under my belly in this photo.)

Me again. I wasn't sure what to do as you really can't smile. :-) (In this photo, you can see some more colorful coral in the foreground.)

Me in the front with my 2 diving buddies in the background. They were from Seattle, I believe. He'd went diving once before but it was her first time, too.

The rest of the day we spent on the beach. This was only our 2nd day and our last day of nice weather, though we had some nice weather moments. Besides running in the waves, Alexandra and I spent some time making sand art. The sand is just perfect for making sand art. I even taught Alexandra how to make a tunnel in the sand - something she'd never done before. (This is a photo of my starfish.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Maui: Day 1

I have SO many photos from Maui (about 500!) that I'm not sure where to start. :-) I wanted to go by "themes", but I think going day by day would be easier. So, here's Day 1.

We were staying at a resort and they had a pond with koi, a pair of geese, and some flamingos in it. Before breakfast, we went to the pond to feed the koi. Well, this goose came up wanting some food and Alexandra fed him. He ate right out of her hand!

We ate at the outdoor buffet every morning for breakfast (except for the last day, because of weather) and there were so many birds around! As you can see from this little sparrow, they even landed on our chairs! Anytime people left a table, they flew over to the table and hopped on the plates looking for something to steal. It was pretty funny! I had to go out and buy a Hawaii bird book and I'll share more of our birding experiences later.
That night, we went to a luau. The weather was beautiful and the food was good. And, of course we were entertained! Our favorite was the fire dancer.

Here's a photo of Alexandra and I in our matching Hawaiian dresses. We actually went to Maui just about 3 years ago and we'd bought matching dresses at that time. Of course, Alexandra's is much too small now (but, mine still fit!). So, we went hunting for a dress for her. We were so surprised to find they were still selling this dress!
I guess I have these photos out of order as this was a photo from before the luau as we were waiting in line by the beach. Not too bad of a place to wait in line, huh?

This was our main activity at the beach - running from the waves. As the week went on, the weather got worse & worse and the waves got higher & higher. So, there was more to run from! Alexandra had a blast doing this and I loved watching her... and joining in sometimes.

At the pond at the resort, there was a waterfall you could walk behind. This is a photo from behind the waterfall. And, the sunglasses were on the bed - on a bunny made of towels! Alexandra wore them all week. They also left her 3 rubber duckies in the bathroom - 2 girls with leis and a boy with an innertube. And, they'd spelled "Alexandra" on the tub wall with wicki stix.

Lastly, here's a kind of blurry video of the fire dancer from the luau.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Aloha, everyone! Sorry I've been absent. We just spent a week in Hawaii! We had lots of fun. We played on the beach and laid out by the pool, went swimming, went to the top of a volcano, did a little hiking, some bird watching, went in a submarine, and I went SCUBA diving for the first time ever! I have hundreds of photos to work through, so it'll take me awhile to share it all. And, I have PILES of laundry to do. :-) But, it was so nice to just take off for awhile.

So, start checking back and I'll hopefully get some photos of our trip to Hawaii posted soon - hopefully tonight!

Hope everyone is enjoying their December and preparations for Christmas. I haven't even bought 1 Christmas present yet, but I'll get it done. And, of course, no Christmas cards have went out yet. And, I'm so thankful we got our house decorated over Thanksgiving while we had family here to help.

We'll take the rest of today "off" and then get busy for the holidays and try to squeeze in some more school! I think we'll actually be trying to squeeze in some field trips, too!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chicago - Day 5 (last day!)

On our last day in Chicago, we went to Shedd Aquarium. Here's a photo of Alexandra in front of some jelly fish.

We really enjoyed the dolphin show - though it was only 15 minutes long! It was nice that school was back in session as there were not very many people there. They said up until a few days earlier, the place had been packed!

Although many of the computer games were broken, when they worked, they were one of our favorite things! In this game, you tried to save the sea horses!

Chicago - Day 4 - Hershey

Another of Alexandra's favorite places in Chicago was the Hershey's store. Yum! She got to crank some handles and fill her own bucket of chocolate (which we're still eating on).

And, she got to design her own cupcake. Wow! Chocolate cupcake with chocolate fudge icing and Hershey bars for a face. It was yummy, but she (we!) barely ate any of it and then accidentally left it somewhere.
After this, we went across the street to the Ghiradelli store and my mom & Alexandra shared a sundae while I had a chocolate shake. Delicious! (And that was pretty much dinner for the night - great mom, huh?) :-)