Tag Archives: Family Trips

Capture the Moment!

Fontana Trevi, Roma, Italia
A crazy man in the Trevi Fountain makes for a unique photo opportunity (Rome, Italy 2009)
Towel Animal, Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
Attack of the towel animal aboard the Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (May 2012)
Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Tossing a coin for good luck, Fontana Trevi (Rome, Italy 2009)
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Obligatory pic holding up the Leaning Tower (Pisa, Italy 2009)
Carrer dels Tallers, Barcelona, Spain
Devan loving the music stores on Carrer dels Tallers (Barcelona, Spain 2009)
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
You need to pick up schnauzer poop at Park Güell (Barcelona, Spain 2009)
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Gotta love Gaudi at Park Güell (Barcelona, Spain 2009)
Cannon, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Another cannon makes a comfy seat (Dubrovnik, Croatia 2009)
Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, St. Paul de Vence, Eze,  France
Baguette and gummy bears to devour in the back of the rental car in Nice (France 2009)
Statue of the Fallen Angel, Parque de Retiro, Madrid, Spain
Mooning Satan at the Statue of the Fallen Angel, Parque de Retiro (Madrid, Spain 2009)
Parque de Retiro, Madrid, Spain
Interesting statuary at Parque de Retiro (Madrid, Spain 2009)
Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish food…. MMMM (Stockholm, Sweden 2008)
Stockholm, Sweden
Excellent warning (Stockholm, Sweden 2008)
Fortress of Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Peek-a-Boo at Fortress of Suomenlinna (Helsinki, Finland 2008)
Fortress of Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Taking aim at the Fortress of Suomenlinna (Helsinki, Finland 2008)
London, England
Love how the Brits tell silly folk not to bash their heads on low ceilings (London, England 2008)
Dublin Skate Park, Dublin, California
Skate stop at Dublin Skate Park (Dublin, California 2008)
Dublin Skate Park, Dublin, California
Dublin Skate Park (Dublin, California 2008)
Petrified Forest, Calistoga, California
Petrified at the Petrified Forest (Calistoga, California 2008)
Muir Woods, California
Muir Woods (California 2008)
Lombard Street, San Francisco, California
That’s quite a flagpole (Lombard Street, San Francisco, California 2008)
Chinatown, San Francisco, California
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil (Chinatown, San Francisco 2008)
Deadwood, Monterey, California
Monterey deadwood (2008)
Hawaii, Family Vacation, NCL Pride of America
The face says it all (Hawaii 2007)
Hawaii, Family Vacation
Someone liked his first Hawaiian adventure (2007)
Cadillac Diner, NCL, Pride of America, Norwegian Cruise Lines
Family time in the Cadillac Diner aboard NCL’s Pride of America (2007)
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Kauai, Hawaii
Ready to swoop over the Na’pali Coast with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (Kauai, Hawaii 2007)
NCL Pride of America, Norwegian Cruise Lines
Classy tea drinking aboard NCL’s Pride of America (2007)
Parker Ranch, Waimea, Hawaii
Devan’s new friend at Parker Ranch, Waimea, Hawaii (2007)
Funny street names, Oahu, Hawaii, Peepee Falls
Gotta love the street names in Hawaii. I know it’s pronounced peh-eh-peh-eh, but it’s still funny 🙂 (Oahu, Hawaii 2007)
Mauna Loa Nut Factory, Hilo, Hawaii
A bunch of nuts at the Mauna Loa Nut Factory (Hilo, Hawaii 2007)
Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii, Human Sacrifice
Human sacrifice at Volcanoes National Park (Big Island, Hawaii 2007)
Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America
A boy and his uncle (NCL Pride of America 2007)
Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
Horror at the Bishop Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii 2007)
Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
Two statues at the Bishop Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii 2007)
Musclemen, Honolulu, Hawaii, Waikiki Beach
Three musclemen at Waikiki Beach (2007)
Pali Lookout, Pali Highway, Oahu, Hawaii
Blown away at the Pali Lookout (Pali Highway, Oahu, Hawaii 2007)
Skateboarding, Grandma Tarzana, California
Teaching his “Nanny” (grandma) to skate (Tarzana, California 2006)
Boating, San Diego, California
Someone’e having fun (San Diego, California 2006)
Brasstown Bald, North Carolina
Working hard at Brasstown Bald (North Carolina 2006)
Brasstown Bald, North Carolina
Devan making a new friend at Brasstown Bald, North Carolina (2006)
Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Mini Golf
Bear Hug (Fort Myers, Florida 2006)
Torture Museum, Tallin, Estonia
Ouchie at the Torture Museum (Tallin, Estonia 2008)
Archery, Tallin, Estonia
Funny how a pretty Estonian girl incites an interest in archery (Tallin, Estonia 2008)
Norwegian Cruise Lines, NCL Jewel, Towel Animal
Happy times with a towel animal aboard the NCL Jewel (2008)
Berlin, Germany
Ruminating over his time in Berlin (Germany 2008)
Copenhagen, Denmark
My now Army Soldier was a toy soldier just a few years ago (Copenhagen, Denmark 2008)
Backpack, Copenhagen, Denmark
That’s one heck of a backpack (Copenhagen, Denmark 2008)
Denmark signs rock, Copenhagen
Why don’t we have signs like this in the U.S.? I love it! “Shut up, you monkeyface. It is good!” (Copenhagen, Denmark 2008)
Berlin, Germany
German love for America (Berlin, Germany 2008)
NCL Jewel, Norwegian Cruise Line, Towel Animal
Devan and one of his many towel friends (NCL Jewel 2008)
Norwegian Jewel, NCL
My Superman, aka Super Travel Buddy (Norwegian Jewel 2008)
Hard Rock Cafe, London, England
Good to know (Hard Rock Cafe, London, England 2008)
Royal Guard, Buckingham Palace, London, England
Making friends with the Royal Guard (Buckingham Palace. London, England 2008)
Hyde Park, London, Naptime
Weird place for a businessman to take a mid-afternoon nap (Hyde Park, London 2008)
Coco Cay, RCCI Private Island
Monkey Boy at Coco Cay (2012)
Key West Key Lime Shop, Key West , Florida
Devan never saw it coming at the Key West Key Lime Shop (Key West 2012)
Towel Animal, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines,
Taking out the towel animal (Royal Caribbean, Independence of the Seas 2012) NO TOWEL ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PHOTO SERIES
Towel Animal, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines,
Taking out the towel animal (Part 2, RCCI Independence of the Seas 2012) NO TOWEL ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PHOTO SERIES
Towel Animal, RCCI Independence of the Seas
Taking out the towel animal (Part 3, RCCI Independence of the Seas 2012) NO TOWEL ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PHOTO SERIES
Senor Frogs, Nassau, Bahamas
Universal Truth at Senor Frogs (Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Fort Fincastle, Nassau, Bahamas
That’s quite a cannon ball (Fort Fincastle, Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Palace of Versailles, France
Devan as the Masked Man of Versailles (France 2010)
Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida, Indian Trace Elementary Field Trip
Fourth grade boys being fourth grade boys at Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine, Florida 2003)
Nassau, Bahamas
Public Service Announcement (Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Nassau, Bahamas
Karate Kid meets Nassau (2012)
Senor Frogs, Nassau, Bahamas
Truth at Senor Frogs (Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Nassau, Bahamas
My pirate (Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Graycliff, Nassau, Bahamas
Fending off the statuary at Graycliff (Nassau, Bahamas 2012)
Nassau, Bahamas
Giddy’up (Nassau 2012)
Nassau, Bahamas
Discouragement, Bahamian Style (Nassau 2012)

RCCI 0515 0204

Bavaria, Germany, Tyrolean Hat, Bavarian Hat
Devan thought he looked like an authentic Bavarian with his tourist version of an Alpine / Tyrolean Hat (Germany 2005)
Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck, Austria
The Tyrolean hat made its way to Austria with Devan (Schloss Ambras, 2005)
Manhattan, New York City, New York
The parking enforcement officer reinforced what the sign clearly stated (Manhattan, New York City 2005)
Las Vegas, Nevada, Excalibur
Devan joining King Arthur to claim Excalibur (Las Vegas 2004)
Mount Charleston, Las Vegas, Nevada, Dummkopf
Devan greeting one of the Dummkopfs at Mount Charleston in Las Vegas (2004)
Maui Tropical Plantation, Maui, Hawaii
My mom’s husband finding his way through the ginger at Maui Tropical Plantation (2007)
Top of Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
My mom pretending the revolving Top of Waikiki restaurant spins a lot faster than it really does (2013)
Hawaii, Caves
Dev was disappointed not to find any cave monsters at Hawaii’s west coast (2013)
Rainbow Drive Inn, Honolulu, Hawaii
My mom was sick of me taking photos during our trip to Hawaii in 2010. This later became her Facebook profile picture. (2010)
Hawaii
I don’t believe he was playing John Travolta, but it looks like he was (Hawaii 2010)
Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Devan being sucked into the volcanic crater (Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, 2007)
Thurston Lava Tube, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Dev as the Thurston Lava Tube Monster (Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, 2007)

I love photography and wish I had more time to dedicate to learning how to become a better technical photographer. For the time being, I do the best I can with my mediocre skills, camera and lenses. But, I’ve learned that an eye for aesthetically pleasing composition, a fancy camera and high end lenses are most definitely not requisite for capturing special travel moments on film (or really, the digital equivalent).

Some of my favorite photos from my travels aren’t of beautiful scenery or spectacular buildings I’ve beheld, but rather many of my favorite trip pictures capture a feeling, random silliness, a facial expression or an unusual finding during my vacations shared with loved ones and friends. I do love beautiful photography of amazing sights and sites I visit, but anyone can take a pretty picture; I could buy a postcard with spectacular photography in hi-gloss hi-resolution far superior to any snapshot I could grab. However, I would look at that photo and, while appreciating the beauty, still be left cold.

Yet, when I look back at photos I’ve personally taken, whether they be of my son having fun hamming it up for the camera, of some peculiar sign we happened past or of some other fashion of a random moment that was too special not to capture for posterity, my heart is warmed with the fond memories of the travel time shared with my son, friends and family in a way that an aesthetically pleasing photo can’t possibly evoke.  Remember – those moments are fleeting. Do what you can to freeze them in time and hold on to the special emotion those memories instill forever. I can’t remember the last time in recent history that I smiled as much as when I went digging through the droves of my photographs to dig up the pictures contained within this post.  A picture really does convey MORE than a thousand words. They project so very much more than simple words could hope to express.

 

Bull of Wall Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Look out below! Devan in a precarious position with the Bull of Wall Street (2005)
Lady Liberty, New York City, Manhattan, New York
Devan as a gangsta Lady Liberty (NYC 2005)
Devan had to have the silly touristy version of a Tyrolean / Bavarian hat, and the graphic depiction of what a dog isn't allowed to do at one of Ludwig's palaces made this photo particularly special
Devan had to have the silly touristy version of a Tyrolean / Bavarian hat – and he wore it in almost every photo I have of him on this trip; the hat and graphic depiction of what a dog isn’t allowed to do at one of Ludwig’s palaces made this photo particularly special (Schloss Linderhof, Bavaria 2005)
United Nations
Sign at the U.N. If they couldn’t manage to keep track of the Oil For Food Money, we shouldn’t expect them to be responsible for our wallets.

Milwaukee……..A Tourist Destination?!

I frequently struggle with trying to schedule visits back home to Wisconsin to visit family and friends on account of my limited vacation days from my job. It’s most certainly not because visiting family and friends isn’t a priority to me, but rather because of my addiction to traveling to new and interesting places. What I’ve learned is that you can actually translate a visit back home into a family/friends trip combined with a new travel experience even when visiting a place where you lived for many years.

Everglades National Park, Florida
Finally visited Everglades National Park after 25 years living in Florida

This epiphany materialized when family and friends from various locations around the country have come to visit me in South Florida. When visitors come to town, I like to play the tour guide and show them some of the unique experiences available in South Florida, whether it be an air boat ride in the Everglades, a “duck” land/water ride along the streets and canals in downtown Fort Lauderdale, a drive through Lion Country Safari in Palm Beach County or a boat ride from Bayside in downtown Miami around Star Island to take in the views of the mega-mansions of the rich and famous. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed not only the company of friends and relatives whom I’ve introduced to some of the local offerings in the Fort Lauderdale area, but also participating in these “touristy” activities in which I’d otherwise never have engaged.

Coral Castle, Miami, Florida
Coral Castle in South Miami made for a perfect day trip destination

In recent times, I’ve made a point to experience something new in my current hometown area of South Florida, even without the impetus of out of town visitors spurring the activity planning. South Florida has so much to offer that many locals never think to take advantage of – water sports, such as wave runners, paddle boarding or parasailing; attractions such as Coral Castle, Miami Metro Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, Jungle Island, the aforementioned Lion Country Safari, Morikami Gardens, Butterfly World, Flamingo Gardens, Schnebly Winery and so much more; countless sightseeing opportunities including various types of boat rides along canals, in the Everglades or out into the ocean; amazing encounters with nature in the nearby Florida Keys, through the Everglades along Alligator Alley, up and down the Atlantic Ocean coastline or while exploring the many parks and nature preserves in the area.

Lake Michigan, Port Washington, Wisconsin
Lake Michigan offers some spectacular winterscapes (Port Washington, Wisconsin)
Cedarburg, Wisconsin
One of the Milwaukee area’s little gems — Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Kettle Moraine Forest, Wisconsin
Beautiful fall colors of the Kettle Moraine Forest, Wisconsin

Even though I spent the first 18 years of my life in southeastern Wisconsin and  the Milwaukee area is not on the “Top 10 Must Visit List” for most travel aficionados, my visits back home have made me appreciate the many virtues of this unlikely vacation destination. It’s very easy to take for granted what is right in front of you every day. But having lived in South Florida for such a long time, going back home to Wisconsin in recent years opened my eyes to the many simple splendors of this chunk of the Midwest. While Florida is certainly beautiful in its own right, Wisconsin offers spectacular scenery of a different kind – rolling hills, endless forests, quaint little towns with distinctive character, breathtaking views of Lake Michigan from overlooking cliffs, myriad pristine lakes of all sizes and bursting colors of fall foliage during the changing of the seasons. When I go back home, I drag my family out to the Kettle Moraine Forest, to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural wonders, to Port Washington in the winter to see the naturally forming icescapes along Lake Michigan, to the Basilica of Saint Josaphat on the south side of Milwaukee which rivals the beauty of many European cathedrals and to the Domes, among other interesting places one might otherwise not consider while visiting this simple little Midwest town.

You really don’t have to travel far, to an exotic international destination – or at all – to experience a new place or activity. And sometimes, playing a tourist in your current or former hometown helps you appreciate the little pleasures in life which might otherwise go unnoticed.  So take a look around you from a new perspective, and see what you might have been missing all along.

Hawaii Again??????

Ohana in Oahu
Ohana Visit to Hawaii (circa 1975)
Ohana Oahu Hawaii Vist
Yes, we suffered through our visits to Hawaii (circa 1975)

“Hawaii Again!?!?!!?” was my brother’s and my exclamatory response to my parents when they informed us as small children that our upcoming trip would be to Hawaii. Their reasonable (somewhat lighthearted) reply was, “You ungrateful little brats!” or something to that effect. One might ask, who in their right minds would ever utter the words “Hawaii again!?!?” with such dismay and chagrin. Apparently, a couple of kids (right minds being debatable) who had been there quite a few times at a very young age and who had a hard time sitting next to each other for approximately 10 hours of air travel without World War 3 erupting.

Looking back, I find it extremely difficult to fathom ever having felt going to Hawaii to be a hardship of any fashion. Not only is Hawaii spectacularly beautiful, but my brother and I are fortunate to (seemingly) be related to the good majority of the inhabitants of Oahu. Our amazing Ohana (family) in Hawaii is reason enough to go there are often as time and finances allow. Being that my son has always been quite a bit more diplomatic (and probably appreciative) than my brother and I were regarding our youthful travels, he never complained about my having “dragged” him to Hawaii three times in a six year time span. We were able to attend our family reunion during Devan’s second and third visits, and despite our family’s numerous trips to Hawaii over the years, these visits were the only ones when I was able to attend our huge Ohana gatherings. Being surrounded by so many of our relatives in one place (between 300-500 of them according to some counts!) at the reunions made me realize how much I’ve missed growing up so far away from my mom’s home state.

Western shore of Oahu
Stumbled across this while exploring western shore of Oahu (2013)
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Hanauma Bay (2013)
Waimea Bay, Oahu
Waimea Bay, Oahu (2010)
Hilton Hawaiian Village Fireworks
Hilton Hawaiian Village Fireworks (2013)
Barbers Point Beach Cottage
View from Barbers Point Cottage (2010)

Since I love visiting and experiencing new places and activities, getting back to Hawaii is not easy to manage, since it’s neither a close nor inexpensive place to visit. While our trips to Hawaii are more about family than tourism, I do try to factor in an element of playing tourist while there and also to incorporate some new things along with the typical “things to do in Hawaii.” For me, certain things and sites are “must do” during a stay in Hawaii. I can’t imagine not taking my son surfing on Waikiki, climbing Diamond Head or having a Mai Tai and Hula Pie at Duke’s while in Honolulu.  Matsumoto’s, Baldwin’s, Uncle Clay’s, Kokonuts and Ice Garden are all on my long “must visit” list for shave ice when I’m in Hawaii; Shimazu’s is on my “must visit practically daily” list when on Oahu, since my day is not complete without a red velvet shave ice from this glorious little store.

Paddle board ride, Hale Koa, Waikiki
Devan giving Nanny a paddle board ride at Hale Koa, Waikiki (2013)
Skydive Hawaii, Farrington Highway
Nothing quite like trusting your life to a complete stranger! (2013)
Skydive Hawaii Landing
Devan coming in for a landing at Skydive Hawaii (2013)
Surfing White Plains Beach, Barbers Point , Oahu
Surfing White Plains Beach, Barbers Point (2010)

But, since I do love expanding my scope of experience, I try to be sure that each visit to Hawaii (and elsewhere) always includes a new place to visit or activity I’ve not yet tried. I’ve managed to find some places to visit that my mom had never seen, despite the fact that she lived in Hawaii for the first 18 years of her life and the fact she’s visited numerous times over the years. While my mom hasn’t always physically participated in some of the more “outdoorsy” things my son and I have done, she’s been along to share the experience with us. My son even took my mom out for a paddle board ride on Waikiki during our last visit; even though “Nanny” was just a passenger on my son’s board, she enjoyed the ride – and would never have “paddle boarded” if not for Devan playing gondolier for her. She was all smiles during and after the ride, which proved my theory that new experiences some of the things that make life richer and more rewarding.

Flying in a helicopter over the Nā Pali coast, hiking to see Manoa Falls, seeing the “moonscape” view from atop Haleakalā National Park, wandering through the sugar cane trails to find the commotion at Kipu Falls, riding horses and taking a tour of movie sets at Kualoa Ranch are just a handful of inclusions during our wanderings throughout the Hawaiian Islands in addition to the more standard sites of Waikiki, The Road to Hana, Blow Hole, Hanauma Bay, Volcanoes National Park, North Shore, International Marketplace and too many other old favorites to mention.

US Army Museum of Hawaii, Honolulu
US Army Museum of Hawaii, Honolulu (2010)
Shrimp Shack, North Shore
Shrimp Shack, North Shore (2010)
Pali Lookout view of Kaneohe
Kaneohe from Pali Lookout (2010)
Byodo-In Temple, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Oahu
Byodo-In Temple, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park (2010)
Rainbow Drive-in, Honolulu, Oahu
Iconic Rainbow Drive-in for Plate Lunch (2010)
Chinaman's Hat from Kualoa Ranch, Oahu
Chinaman’s Hat from Kualoa Ranch (2007)
Haleakala Crater, Maui
Haleakala Crater, Maui (2007)
Volcanoes National Park, Big Island , Hawaii
Volcanoes National Park, Big Island (2007)

While it may not be as easy to find new things to do during each subsequent trip, we always manage to add something to our visit’s repertoire to keep things interesting. During our most recent visit back to Oahu in 2013, my son and I saw fit to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, courtesy of Skydive Hawaii off of Farrington Highway. That jump literally gave us both an entirely new perspective of the island…one from an altitude of approximately 12,000 feet! I don’t know when we’ll be able to make the trek back “home” (while I never lived there, Hawaii does feel like home during each and every visit on account of our warm and welcoming Ohana making us feel as though we belong) again, but I can’t imagine, should opportunity arise, that the words “Hawaii again!?!?!” would ever again flicker between the neurons bouncing around my grey matter.