Friday, August 29, 2014

Re-Entry :)

Safe to say, all four of us had a wonderful end to summer :)  We drove back to Virginia and immediately got in gear for KINDERGARTEN!!!  We went shopping for shoes and a First-Day-of-School shirt.
 We also got to attend Kindergarten Orientation before Labor Day Weekend.  Yesterday we got a sitter for Graham and took off for our new school!!!  Our elementary school is called Pattie Elementary School and is only about five minutes from our house.
 First order of business, check out the school bus!
 Jackson has been on a school bus with a couple of pre-school field trips, but many rising Kindergarteners have not.  I thought this was a great idea to help families prepare for the first day of riding the bus!
 But, the building that houses Kindergarten and First Grades is still labelled as Washington Reid.  This was the original building, then the new building was built across the street, but was already over capacity, so both buildings are used now.
 RUNNING into the building :)
 Second order of business (after listening to the principal's opening words): Visit the classroom!  I cannot believe I don't have any pictures of this!!!  We met Jackson's teacher, Mrs. LeBel, walked around the classroom, found Jackson's cubby, picked up some paperwork, and met a family that lives on our street!

Third order of business: Practice Going Through the Lunchline--also brilliant!  They even had a sample meal prepared: three hot choices, three veggies (choose 2) and two fruits (choose 1).
Checking out where his Lunch Money card is.  We are all SO excited for Tuesday!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Alaskan Cruise: Last Day

We got up in time to have one last breakfast at Garden Café.  It was so sad since we knew they were going to have a whole new group of passengers on board in just a few hours.  That was us a week ago :(  We were in no hurry to get off of the boat, so we took our time eating and getting down to the reception area.  We disembarked, retrieved our luggage, said good-bye to Larry and Michelle, checked our luggage at a hold area, and took off towards Pike Place for a ltitle more sightseeing.  Mom and Dad hung out and people-watched while we did one more run through the Market.  We ended up heading back to pick up our bags and find a taxi sooner than later.  That was just fine since the airport with four adults is no big deal compared to the airport with two children ;)  We ate lunch in the airport and were lucky enough to get seats all together in the exit rows!  Hurray!  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Alaskan Cruise Day 7: Victoria, British Columbia CANADA

This day was definitely different in that we didn’t dock in Victoria until 2:30!  We slept in a bit, but I didn’t want to sleep away more time on the ship!  We ate breakfast at O’Sheehans and then ended up meeting everyone else in the lobby.  I was trying to get some various questions answered at the front desk, and there happened to be a really good band playing in the front lobby, so Mom, Dad and Josh got a table there to relax and listen.  I headed back to our room to get as much packing done as possible before joining them to read/listen to music.  We met Mom and Dad at Topsiders for lunch and ate near the pool.  We were anxious to get off the boat right away, and as we were deboarding, Michelle and Larry called out to us.  They were hoping to find us and hang out with us as we explored the city.  Josh explained his plan to geocache around Victoria and some of the things we would see, and they were game, so off we went!  
We started off right by the pier by walking along The Unity Wall out to the lighthouse for a pretty view.  

On the way back, we ducked down to walk right along the water on the rocks.  
From there we walked up to a park area for a couple of geocaches and to walk over to the Terry Fox Memorial.  This is a really cool story, so you should click the link and read about it.  

Josh had a geocache at St. Ann's Schoolhouse, which was a cute old schoolhouse with pretty good history.  
We wandered through parts of Beacon Hill Park which included seeing a cool sundial, beautiful rose gardens, the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club and a really cute pond with different obstacles for radio-control boats!  

We really got into the downtown area next, and we walked through some neat art fair stalls and street performers on our way to see Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Parliament building.  Both of these were beautiful buildings!  

Victoria is famous for its gardens and hanging baskets around the city—everything was gorgeous!  

We stopped at a really cute coffee shop because the owner had a cache hidden INSIDE the shop!  It was a perfect stop for a smoothie snack and a little free wi-fi J 
 We took a break for a bit of souvenir shopping...
 ...and posing with some fun Canadian friends :)
   We began walking around the Inner Harbor, which was really pretty.   
 Jackson's Ice Cream Shop!
 It ended at Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf which was a cute area to walk around, but it included Float Home Village.  This is a village of houseboats!   
 Some of them were SO adorable!  It was really fun wandering up and down the docks checking out the cute decorations. 
 Check out the adorable mini-double-decker bus!
 We headed back to the ship around 8pm, and we really felt like we got a nice tour of the city.  It was beautiful, and we would love to go back to visit!  Mom and Dad were already on board, so we regrouped and met for dinner at Azura.  It was a late dinner, so we hurried back to our rooms to get our luggage out (the suitcases were picked up before midnight so they were ready for pick-up in the morning).  Then we met back up for one last night of relaxing and game-playing in O’Sheehans.  

Our last towel friend: Mouse!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Alaskan Cruise Day 6: At Sea

We were all ready for a day on the ship after three amazing days sightseeing in Alaska!  We had a general gameplan to meet to play shuffleboard at 10:30, but we all slept way past that!  I think Josh and I finally rolled out of our room at 11/11:30!  The decision to not pay extra for any windows was perfect ;)  LOL  We managed to find the other four, and then we did go play shuffleboard for a little while!  

 It was another beautiful day out, and it was fun to play together.  We all ate lunch together next at Garden Café and then split up to relax.  I think we all took books, but we went different places.   That afternoon was just what I needed to work on my notes about everything we had done, read, and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery!  
We all met at Tsar’s Palace for dinner, which also happened to be the night with the Chocoholic Menu for dessert.  We tried at least one of everything!  
We headed right to the show, which was touted as a big performance since it was really the last night (the next night we will still be in port in Victoria until 9pm).  The show was really spectacular!  At the end the ENTIRE crew of the ship was on board, and it was so fun to see all of the people we were able to recognize after sailing for so many days together.  We headed back to O’Sheehans for more game time and drinks—this is becoming a lovely way to end the days!
Monkey towel waiting for us!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Alaskan Cruise Day 5: Skagway, Alaska

Our excursion wasn’t to meet until 8:15am, so even though we docked at 7:00am, we slept in a bit before getting breakfast at Garden Café. 
 We met briefly in Stardust Theater until our tour was called, and then we disembarked and got on our tour bus.  Our driver was Doug for the day, and he did a wonderful job leading our tour up to Yukon Territory.  There were about 24 of us for the day.  
 We drove up Klondike Highway all the way to Yukon.  
  The views we saw were beautiful all the way up and down the highway.

 We made several stops  on the way up including our lunch stop!  It was a cute café with a small buffet of sandwiches, fruit and pie J 
 After lunch we stopped at Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world.  
 Then we saw Emerald Lake, which had colors to match its name.  It was breathtakingly beautiful! 
   We headed to Carcross for about an hours stop.  We started off with Josh's first international cache find!!!  
 BEAUTIFUL view from the little beach area in Carcross
 This sign was so cool!
 Josh and I found a few geocaches which allowed us to do a quick walking tour of the cute, small town.  Almost most importantly, we got our passports stamped!  We got back on the bus and began our drive back to Skagway with plenty of scenic stops along the way.  Doug’s interests in history, geology, photography, and the general area made for such an interesting day.  
 Bove Island
Doug told us all about the history of Skagway and how it’s origination was linked to the goldrushers heading north.  We learned that the journey to pan for gold included much more than just a strong desire for the gold.  People wanting to go into Canada to pan for gold had to not only make the physical journey, but had to have WITH them enough goods to last a whole year!  He told us about a few specific people and their journeys.  At one point, we were able to see remnants of one of the camps that sprung up along the trail where travelers could rest and regroup.  
And excellent stop for photo ops with the British Columbia sign...
...and the Yukon sign!

Man in his element :)

The whole reason for our trip!
We love waterfalls :)
We saw the train based out of Skagway, and when we finally got back into town, we got off the bus in downtown Skagway.  Josh went to do some more geocaching while I meandered around and bought the rest of the souvenirs I was looking for.  
Train going through town
We got back on board for all aboard time at 5:00, and Josh was quick to snag one of the super-comfy seats in Spinnaker Lounge and got some great shots of the scenery as we sailed away from Alaska.
At 7:00, we all met to have Teppanyaki at the Japanese Steakhouse specialty restaurant.  It was a really fun show with delicious food!  

After dinner we played a fun game in O’Sheehans and had some more dessert and drinks.  Josh, Mom, Larry and I wandered down to the casino and chatted and gambled for a while before heading to bed...

....and saw this Towel Bunny!