Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School for the Monkeys right into a vacation

After a little more summer ...

Legoland- lines were long, because the German's are on holiday as well, but we still had fun.

 New student orientation.  Sam went as a Freshman and Emma went because she was giving tours as one of the Ambassadors of the school (She got picked with 19 other students out of over 60 that applied)
 New hair cut and style for senior pictures

Temple trip with a stop at Chipotle!  Yummy, yummy!
 Rob got hit by a car on his way home from work.  He hasn't biked much since.

It was time to go back to school *sigh.*

I was ignoring the start of school this year, so I had very few things ready.  I stuffed random supplies into backpacks (I lost the list of supplies), had them buy lunch the first day and didn't take pictures until the end of the day.
  Here is Joe doing an awesome impression of "I'm actually headed to school, not already come home!"
 Yes, I send my child in filthy clothes most days- um no!
 Not really fair to Emma and Sam who had sports after school, but I forced them to anyways.

 I told Emma I would get better pictures the next day, but as I was running out the door, I yelled, "take a picture of yourself."  And they did!  Serious, Mother of the Year candidate, right here!

* Sigh* is right.  I am with the kids on that one.  Summer is fabulous with that whole sleeping in thing!  Of course, Rob hates it!  He is so glad to have us all back to getting up early, so we go to bed on time!  You know Rob and sleep.  It's his biggest issue in life.   
They only went to school for 4 days before Rob had a vacation and then we all had a vacation together.  I don't quite understand why they start that way, except maybe they are trying to slowly wean them off of vacations.  So after 4 days of school, Rob and I went downtown Stuttgart to the Wine festival, while the kids went to school.

There was some yummy food.  Rob ate a huge ox meet sandwich.  I had spatzele with mushrooms and artichokes in a mushroom gravy sauce.  It was super yummy.  We walked around and admired the different booths and then went to the Rathaus to check out the open elevator. 

Not only does it go up and down continuously and you just jump on and off, it slides to one side at the top.  The sign said everyone off at this point, but we kept wondering if we could ride it when it slid to the right or whether it collapsed a little when it slid over and that's why they wanted everyone off.  Darren (one of the friend's we went with) decided to just jump on and try it out.  He actually made it out alive, so we all tried it.  I don't know how he had the guts to do it, because it gets really dark and you have no idea what is going to happen to you when it starts sliding over.  Amusement ride for adults!
The next day we got up early and drove to Berchtesgaden.  We went up the very windy (as is winding, not blowy) path with sheer drop-offs.

 Rob kept trying to get me to take a good long look, but that is not one of my favorite things.

 We saw the Eagle's nest at the top.
 Joseph lost a tooth up there and threw it over the side of the mountain.  Now there is a piece of Joseph in Palmyra, New York and one in Berchtesgaden, Germany.  We are seeing if we can grow another Joseph.

    We also went and saw the Konigsee

 and went to the salt mines.

The salt mines was definitely one of our favorite things!  The spiel was in German, so we just admired everything and had fun sliding down the railings, riding across the lake and getting scared over and over again by the tour guide, who took a liking to scaring Emma, particularly!  I would say, from the look of his age, he was flirting with her.
Sunday we did a Sound of Music biking tour

and even though it started to rain half way through it was definitely a favorite thing.  Such a fun way to see the city.  Here are some of our favorite things:
 Salzburg, Austria- home to Mozart and the Von Trapp's
 Music hall that the Von Trapp's gave their last concert in before running away- at least in the movie
 cemetery that was used as a pattern for the one in the film- they couldn't get all the film equipment in here, so that's why they had to build a set instead.
Big huge pretzels with chocolate and hazelnut or cinnamon sugar or just salt
The oldest and best bakery, according to the tour guide.  We had to take her word for it, because they weren't open on Sunday's.  They moved all the dead who were in the market place under the bakery's water wheel, but apparently they still make great rolls.  Eww!
 Maria's wedding church
 Hohensalzburg fortress
 Back of the Von Trapp mansion or the mansion they used to say it was the back and the lake that they all fall into.  They forgot that Gretel couldn't swim and had to cut quickly and fish her out.
Singing Doe, Ray, Me with the music that the tour guide kept on the entire time and finding the answers to her challenges!  I got the one about who lived outside of the fortress walls right- the executioner!  And the kids found the match to an art piece.
 A different house was used as the front of the house- I skipped along the gate just like Maria did when she first arrived at the house.  We also touched the gate that Julie Andrews touched!

The abbey with the red roof- no pictures, sorry.
 The Dwarf garden

 Mirabell Gardens
 The Gazebo, that you can no longer go into because an 80 year old decided to recreate Liesel's scence and fell and broke her hip.  Crazy old lady!

This pear tree was pretty cool.  It was close to where we stayed in Austria in a little skiing village.
 They were having a peasants festival and all the towns had some scene with straw people.

Our last favorite thing was the chicken picture in our apartment.  It was painted by the owners "husband" he said.  Rob said, I am sure he meant "wife."  And then we all said, "are you really sure.  An artist name Cazien? Sounds like a dude to me."   Rob was flummoxed.  In the end he was right, it was a "wife." She came out when we purchased the painting.  It's now hanging on our walls.
Quick, fun trip, before school really started.  The next week seminary started also and now Emma is taking pictures of Sam sleeping in cubby holes and across benches, anywhere he can find.  I have to get those pictures from Emma.  They are kind of funny!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

They are giving the Beach away!

We had a couple days at the end of the summer to spare on one more trip.  Sam couldn't go with us.  We waited until after his football camp,
Sam after a hard weekend of football camp where he won two awards
 but the day afterwards, they started 2 a day practices and those were the main try-outs.  I talked to the coach and he said, "technically try-outs aren't done until after the first week of school, but..."  Yah, so he stayed with some friends- Thank you Pickerings!!- while the rest of us ran down to Camp Darby, Italy!  After this year, there will no longer be an American beach- we are giving it back to the Italians.  I wanted the kids to see where we used to go every year for vacation.  We drove to Camp Darby, set up our camp and then headed over to see the Leaning tower.

It really is beautiful. 

We weren't sure of the parking and didn't want to get a ticket, so we parked way far away and walked in.

That seemed to be a theme for our Italy trip!  The next day was supposed to be a yucky day, so we decided to go see Cinque Terre- 5 beautiful towns on the Italian riviera.

So, apparently, did everyone else!  We set off late, so we skipped the town we were going to park at and then take the train up to the first city.  That was our downfall.  I thought it would be quicker to just go to the first town. Nope!!  We got turned around and told no parking- move on.  At least that is what I thought they were saying.  Italians don't speak English for the most part and I don't speak Italian.  We found a spot way up on top of the mountain to park and hiked all the way down.  We checked out the town

and got ready to do the walk to the next town and found out that the path was closed! 

There was no way to get there except by train, which we just missed.  We could have waited for the next train, but it was getting late and we still had a huge hike back up the mountain.  We made it over an hour later back to our car.  So yes we hiked Cirque de Terre, not just the way you are supposed to.  And yes we saw it, just not up close!  It was still gorgeous!  
The next day was beach day.

The red flags were up, so you couldn't swim, but you could go up to waist height without them saying a thing to you and since we just wanted to body surf and crash through the waves, we had a great time.  Apparently, if you had a surf board, you could be out there as well, because there were a ton of surfers doing their thing.
We were supposed to stay one more night, but the kids all got burned bad, even though we put on sunscreen a couple of times.  And the mosquitoes were killing us.  We tried citronella candles, bug spray, long clothes and dryer sheets all over us and they still kept bitting us.  Those are some seriously crazy bugs down there in Italy. 
 He's eating my S'more!

Emma at the swimming pool on base showing you that she can stand at 8 feet 2 inches!
We looked like we had a case of chicken pox after two days- all of us.  So we packed up and spent a night in Garmisch at the very nice Edleweise Inn.
 The Zugspitze in the background
The Hammersbach in the background- what Joseph climbed for scout camp.
We drove through the Dolomites on our way.  Such a pretty area.  
The next day we drove home via Linderhof palace- one of Ludwigs palaces (he of the Cinderella Castle persuasion.) 

So pretty, yet so tiny.  Everything is going to be tiny to us, now that we saw the palaces in Russia.  I think the Russians meant us to come away thinking that!
Rob kept asking me if I remembered this or that.  Things were a little different.  I don't remember the Tower begin so pretty.  I know the base had more facilities than it does now.  Now it's not even properly a camp.  It is overseen by a Major and they are part of Vincenza base.  The beach I do remember!  The girls all seemed to have gotten modest, though- no topless anywhere.  Just lots of bums eating swimsuit bottoms.  Still I am glad that my kids got to experience a little of what I did on vacation as a youth.  So sad Sam didn't get to enjoy it with us!