Friday, August 31, 2012

Mercedes Museum, Germany

On our tag-a-long trip to Germany with Matt, who was at Stuttgart for work, we decided to make a detour on our way home and head to the Mercedes Museum. Emory loved it the cars and sound effects. The girls liked the photographs showing events of the eras related to the models of cars through history. Arleigh loved the elevator, which resembled an ugly, futuristic time capsule that rockets visitors to the top of the museum so they can wander down in a spiraling manner back to the entrance desk. 

The building is massive, and they boast their brand over an entire city block including a sports arena there, among other things. But now, when you buy a Mercedes, I know where your money goes- It lands in this museum. There are tons of cars, buses, trucks, race cars, and people dressed in steward like pant suits walking around eyeing the visitors' every move to be sure they don't smudge anything.


Loved photographing something new. This time to subject was shiny, fun to look at, and remained still. The complete opposite of the monkeys that I'm usually chasing after with a camera. (OK, admittedly, the monkeys made it into the Mercedes photos here and there as well).

A few years yet Arleigh- give it time buddy. You'll be behind the wheel of a car all too soon.
(Not likely a Mercedes unless you win a lotto, nevertheless, an auto.)

When our visit of the museum was over, we headed back to our crumb filled Chevy Traverse and rolled away. Unless someone is gonna hand over a Mercedes on a silver platter, I have to admit, I'm not all that interested. A car is a car- the more reliable, the more efficient, the better.
Nevertheless, the place was definitely eye candy for the car connoisseur.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last Summer Fling

This week we took one more, last fling at summer. Camping in Germany (toting along while Matt went to work), playing a painting pottery, visiting museums, bike riding, and swimming. Stay tuned- more to post from our last adventure before the school year starts up again
(after I escape from piles of laundry and prep the backbacks).

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kessel-Lo Swimming

We're seeking to beat the heat in any way possibly this week. Today was a trip to Kessel-lo park for some playground and outdoor pool time.
Just look at those bathing beauties will ya?

Damme-Brugge swim

Matt signed himself up for his first open water swim. He participated this weekend with several hundred other "swim joggers" to swim 4 km of the canal from Damme to Brugge.
The kids and I tagged along to be his cheering section. While Matt took a "Swimjogger" bus we hiked the 4 km via canal paths past idyllic windmills to the start of the race, which was quite a serene, picturesque walk, but hot. Heat wave in Belgium this week topping off at 97* most of the day, made the trek a bit of a drag coaxing 4 kids along. (But very scenic I tell you).

Just before he jumped in the canal we had him pose with the fan club.

 Matt was cap # 36 and we walked alongside as he swam past lilly pads, rescue boats, other swimmers, and at times, right past Arleigh who was shouting at his lungs fullest. "Dad, when you're done, can we get an icy pop?" "Hey dad, I'm here!" "Dad, you're losing! Swim faster!" "Dad, I really want an icy pop. I'm hot! Is the water cold?"

Yes, the entire 4 km Arleigh shouted, when we weren't carrying the kid.
Emory put it best, as he picked weeds and flowers for a finish line bouquet, "Dad's a champion today!" The kids were quite proud and the event has Addie considering a possible canal swim as well.

Matt stopped occasionally to put his head up and wave hello to the kids. (He shaved down for the race but left his beard. I swear that's Matt with my kids.)  He finished at the line where a canal boat marked the race end and after a few bananas and orange slices, we headed off for the beach nearby. His fan club was there when he climbed out to help him carry his gear and give him hugs. Matt says he didn't finish as well as he'd hoped, but considering that he's still recovering from a significant car/ bike accident 3 weeks ago, he did pretty darn well.

I'd never been to the Belgian coast, but Matt and the kids have. Ostende was a lot like Virginia Beach, which both disappointed and surprised me. In fact I think I prefer VAB. There was trash all over the beach at day's end and the place was crawling with vacationers. A little sad really.
After dinner the kids took an unplanned dip in the North Sea under a lovely honey coated sunset. Once fully dripping wet and covered with sand, we packed them in the car and headed home.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our Family Vacation, the European loop

Brussels to Switzerland, Camping de Glaciers

Our family summer vacation began with much fervor. The recovery of Matt’s bike accident (he was hit by a car within the week of our departure) made for a subtle but interesting backdrop to the camping preparations for our “grand European loop”. We had planned to camp throughout and visit various places we’d not been to yet, around 9 different countries in Europe.

Let me begin with an apology. To all the Europeans who tolerated our boisterous, annoying, whining, disorganized, maddening family on vacation which included no less than 5 temper tantrums and multiple conversations with locals employing charade type hand gestures. Dear Europeans, your countries are quite lovely and we thank you for the hospitality, campground bread, and Alps- each of which are unforgettable. Thank you.

If our trip could have been charted like the NASDAQ there would be gradual rises with several peaks sloping to a low valley (in Vienna), and then reaching a gradual rise again. But did we have fun? Is Betty Ford a clinic? Is the Pope Catholic? Why of course, it was fun. And, at times, challenging, but yes, fun.

Day 1- Brussels to Switzerland, Camping de Glaciers. Estimated driving time 8 hours. Actual time 10 hours.

Quote of the day “ Arleigh, tent lines are not to eat….Please do not put the ropes in your mouth…Are you hungry? Please stop biting the tent ropes."

It’s never a good sign when the GPS tells you “turn around when possible” but you’re still sitting in your own driveway and haven’t even started the engine. That’s exactly how this family vacation began. At 6 am August 1st we set off on our grand European loop. I needed coffee the way Kid Rock needs help with an IQ test, but our coffee pot was left clean, along with the rest of the house.
We weren’t on the road 20 minutes before Arleigh asked to stop to pee and Stella commenced antagonizing the rest of our tour group. I toyed for a moment with the idea of grabbing her by the ears and drawing my knee into the small area between her ponytails, but this would only have led to further time delays and more noise. As we passed through Belgium, Luxembourg, and into France, I tried to think of circumstances less congenial than this, but aside from being in attendance at a Backstreet Boys concert, I could think of nothing. We continued our journey, occasionally at ear piercing volume levels, whilst bugs exploded colorfully against the windshield as we made our way though France and finally into Switzerland.

France was a bit of a speed bump on the time clock because we made numerous stops at roadside places searching for a breathalyzer test kit. Technically we were driving illegally because French rules of the road now dictate that each car must carry heir own breathalyzer test. Rather silly that we were stopping at each rest area to ask if we might purchase an alcohol test kit when we’d only drunk OJ and water but we were trying to be good citizens, to oblige the rules. One shop in particular in Alsace seemed to be equipped with everything- to handle Ebola virus to bomb disarmament and anything in between. However, after gesticulation and very very very poor French communication, (seriously, we asked for a breathalyzer test kit and might as well have had the lady slap a dead toad on the counter.) it was deemed that we’d needed to find a pharmacy to make this breathalyzer purchase so we abandoned mission and set out on the road illegally.

Continuing into the 9th hour on the road, it was determined that our children find the words “fart”, “bugger”, “poopy” and “butt” (and consequentially Ausfart - “exit“) giggly amusing to the point of absurdity. Nevertheless, our tolerance was rewarded upon arrival at Camping de Glaciers- an amazing little place tucked between the mountains of the Alps in Switzerland where the air is as refreshing as the mountain views.