Monday, November 08, 2010

Disney Cruise!

So hey, wow, it's been a while!  And we've been traveling a bit here and there but I've not posted much, because many of the places are not so new...a return to the lovely Pine Terrace Resort last summer with kids and grandparents, a lovely week of fishing, canoeing, swimming, Nisswa Turtle Races, reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and gazing into an evening campfire while listening to loons...always so nice to get up to the lake in Minnesota.

Then, this fall turned into a travel extravaganza for me and for John.  The wedding in Maine last September was so fantastic, and the girls feel in love with the Maine coast.  October has been a month of tag-team travel for me and John, with kids so into school and activities.  For me:  Austin, TX (that's a whole nother entry) and a quick overnight in NoVA (that's Northern Virginia if you're not from my neck of the woods).  For John:  last-minute chance to go see Bob Dylan in NC with a high school friend from NJ...seventh-row center, to boot.  Then a weekend in NJ to attend an event in honor of his dad's 40 years of service to an area credit union...then last weekend, Tallahassee.  One more trip in his future, and then the BIG ONE...

Grandparents are taking us on a *D*I*S*N*E*Y***C*R*U*I*S*E!!...Before I had kids, something like a Disney Cruise would have sounded like something to run far away from, and quickly.  But I have heard so many great things about the way the ships are set up to allow kids-only, adults-only, and family spaces, and if there's one thing you can say about Disney, they certainly do attend to every last detail.  So we are surrendering to the Mouse...and it's going to be fabulous.

How are JieJie and MeiMei, you might wonder?  3rd and 2nd grade this year, loving school, still asking "will you take us there someday?" every time they learn of a new destination.  And to tell them about the cruise, we got on Skype with grandparents, who were wearing mouse ears to pique their curiosity...when the girls found out about the trip, JieJie had many questions about logistics (as you might predict) and MeiMei just bounced up and down, squealing "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  So there they are in a nutshell...never a dull moment!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

10,000 HITS! & Your Turn

Coincidentally, I recently attended a travel writers' panel discussion at the annual Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA.  Thoroughly enjoyed the event, but I remember hearing the comment that "the average blog has a readership of ONE."

Well, what began as a Yahoo Groups newsletter to keep close family and friends updated on adoption trips to Chongqing has now topped 10,000 hits.  I love looking at the readership map and seeing that people have found FTJ from all over the globe!

Comments have been turned on (though I'm moderating them to keep spam at bay).  I would LOVE to hear from you.  Where are you from, and how did you find this one tiny blog in the gigantic blogosphere?  Was it a destination search, adoption related...?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Destination 2010: Maine

So 2010 has a few travels in store for the Globetrekkers...all written in pencil at this point.  And thanks to Ye Olde Recession, we are changing the way we think about travel, trying to make sure we know exactly where funds are coming from and not just saying "eh, we'll just put it on the credit card."  I think for many people, those days are over for a while.  Until our adoption trips, we never let balances get so high, but when you're buying airfare to Asia, it just kind of happens, you realize the sky isn't going to fall, and you get used to seeing large balances on those statements.  Last year we added onto our house, and it happened again, but thanks to Uncle Sam and some other miscellany, we'll be back to zero soon enough.  Austerity measures!

This doesn't mean we're having zero fun this summer though.  Plans are to take a week, ten days, two weeks at the most (depending upon, you guessed it, budgets) and head to Maine and possibly a bit of Ontario.  I've written about Peaks Island before, and it remains a favorite destination.  Peaks, and its sister resort islands Great Diamond, Little Diamond, and Great Chebeague (among others) jut out of the bright blue waters of Casco Bay, with ferry service from Portland.  Peaks is somewhere we've always meant to take the girls.  We've invited my folks to join us and revel in the beautiful crisp days, the great sleeping weather at night, the oodles of lobster at cheesburger prices, the peace of the island and the very cool boutique/pub atmosphere of Portland, Maine.

Just the other day I was talking with a neighbor who also looked into a Maine cottage rental for this summer.  They are SO much more affordable than going to the Outer Banks, Rehoboth, Ocean City, the Jersey Shore, any of the crowded mid-Atlantic destinations.  A week on Peaks can run as little as $600!  There's a little general store on the island in case you forgot to pack anything important, a couple of cute restaurants, a couple of quiet's a total book-and-hammock destination.  Now that the girls can ride bikes, there's that much more we can do together since quiet roads crisscross the relatively small island.  You can ride from the sheltered harbor side all the way to the crashing rocky ocean side in maybe 10-15 minutes (at kid speed)...lovely. On the way to Peaks, you can see the famous Portland Head Light lighthouse (below).

In September, we're headed back to Maine (probably flying for that trip) for a destination wedding in the York/Ogunquit area.  There's a travel connection here too...the groom of the couple was one of our students when we led a group of a dozen JMU'ers to Florence, Italy in the summer of 1996!  He had just finished his freshman year and did the Florence program.  We spent our first anniversary in a spacious faculty flat just steps from the Oltr'Arno side of the Ponte Vecchio.  Side trips to Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Rome, Venice, Fiesole, and I'm probably leaving some out...what a beautiful trip that was!  And our student (the one who's getting married) loved the experience so much, he ended up going on two more study abroad trips before finishing his undergraduate career.  He and John have kept in touch...he's now a history teacher and more of a colleague than a student.  Yet another gift of travel...friendships forged during great adventures.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy 2010!

Just wanted to say Happy Holidays. We hosted grandparents over the winter holidays and had a blast just sticking close to home. No word on the China trip, and it may need to be a year later (2011/2012) to give us time to save up. With the economic shakedown, I feel less comfortable using the credit card in such big chunks like that & would rather save toward a trip rather than pay afterwards. Live now, pay later is not de rigeur!

Best wishes for great travels--Samantha Brown and Rick Steves will have to suffice for now.


You can search FTJ for past posts, e.g. China info...