A Travellerspoint blog

Spring in Arizona

In April, Quinn had a work trip back to Phoenix and I tagged along so I could visit our family and friends. We didn't take as many pictures as we normally do, but I will share what we have.

Our friends are multiplying! We really enjoyed meeting the newest members of their families. Quinn and I spent time holding babies, catching up with friends, and enjoying meals, drinks, and laughs with our gang. The pictures below include a dinner with Pat, Sarah, and Suzanne, some hang around time at Sarah and Johnny's house, a trip to Tempe art festival with Erica, Rene, Sarah, Monica and my Dad, an afternoon lunch with Sam and Chris in a park, afternoon at Missy and Dusty's house including their tiny library, and breakfast with Jackie. When you put it all in one sentence you can see how this trip was a jam packed week!

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This is one of my favorite series of photos from the trip. Sarah dressed up Claire in the cutest little outfit to prepare her for blog pictures and Quinn snapped a shot before Sarah could get her cleaned up from lunch. Erica and I seized the opportunity to rib Sarah a bit (since she is such a good sport). Then we took the "official" blog photo.

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We sneaked in a quick morning hike with Sam and her adorable large eared puppy Mina. This was such a nice hike, I am sad I never did this one when I lived in Phoenix.

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I also spent some time with my family and enjoyed a three generation luncheon. The Camelback Inn is a perfect backdrop to while away an afternoon with my fam!

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Quinn and I also had a nice evening with Granny at a Lebanese restaurant. The food and company were fantastic.

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We headed out to KK and Randy's for an overnight and to meet their newest family members. This picture captures the moment perfectly. They treated us to a fantastic dinner and we enjoyed catching up and seeing their pictures from their recent trip to the Dolomites. I hope I can be as active as they are when I grow up :)

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A special shout out goes to Erica and Rene for hosting a sushi dinner get-together and Monica and Robert for hosting a "resort" backyard BBQ.

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I really enjoy Arizona in the spring and this trip was no exception. I felt like I saw Phoenix through new eyes and that my city was all grown up with its very own light rail system connecting all of the newest and swankiest places around. I spent 5 days without having to drive a car and was able to meet up with friends and go all the way to Tempe from Phoenix with public transportation. This was such a treat and I am thrilled that Phoenix is embracing mass transit.

It is always a little difficult to go to Arizona for visits because I am so sad to leave. It was so nice to see that my family and friends are all so happy and doing well. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Posted by trackers 00:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sun Chasing in the Netherlands

We cruised up to the Netherlands for the weekend to find some some and get out of the rain! We spent the long weekend based out of a town near Delft and then we also meandered over to The Hague and Rotterdam.

Our little cheap drive in type motel was located right next to a beautiful park filled with birds! Each morning, we enjoyed a stroll through the park along the water to check out the birds and let Ethan sniff.

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The first day we walked around Delft, a town known for their blue and white pottery. They also have a nice park, many canals, cute Dutch Architecture, and a leaning clock tower.

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There was a functioning mill built in the 1600s. You could buy flour that they had milled right on site.

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More pictures from Delft

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They have really delicious thin waffle cookies with honey sandwiched in between. The market was selling warm ones. Yummy.

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Brewery and fancy drinks. Quinn had a dirty chai which was chai tea with a shot of espresso and I had ginger tea with lemon, cucumber, and cayenne pepper.

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Next up, the Hague. This is where the international court of justice is located. Much of the city was damaged during WWII so many buildings are reconstructed. It has a mixture of modern and historic style architecture.

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We ate rice table at a delicious Indonesian restaurant. We got the smallest option but it was still huge!
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Apparently, beer pong has made it to Europe.
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Our last stop was Rotterdam. This city was completely rebuilt after the war and used very modern and successful planning techniques. Quinn was really excited about the tourist information office with interactive multimedia displays on how the city was rebuilt. I must admit, it was a well done information center. The first couple of pictures are of some cube houses that are located right over a major roadway and shopping plaza. It was a very interesting way to add housing to the middle of the city.

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Birds everywhere.

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Train, boat and industrial park along the harbor.

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International food market. You could get whatever style food you wanted in food court type atmosphere. So cool! This would be a great perk of living here.

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Last picture is of the park near our little hotel. One of the most stand out aspects of the Netherlands is their emphasis on parks and walking/bike riding places right in the city. It really makes every city that much more inviting.

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Posted by trackers 05:27 Comments (0)

Florida Surprise

My Cousin Stacy planned a family weekend in Saint Augustine for my Mom and Bob's 25th wedding anniversary. Of course, I had to be there because 25 years is a truly momentous milestone.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast right in the center of Saint Augustine which allowed us to walk everywhere in town. I flew in the night before my Mom and Bob arrived and surprised them by being in their room when they arrived. I think they both were in shock because they just keep staring and me and then started pinching me to see if I was real!

We spent the weekend eating, drinking, and trying to stay warm while we walked around St. Augustine. We also did a ghost tour/pub crawl. This one was like drinks and a show. The tour guide was very theatrical in her presentation which made it all the more entertaining.

It was really special to have time with my family and sit around a table together laughing and sharing memories.

Here is the group all bundled up. I am not lying when I say there were very small snow flakes dropping from the sky.

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The happily married couple.

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My Aunt and cousins!

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Such colorful cocktails and a fun presentation of a fish.

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Group shot!

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The owner of the BnB takes her breakfast very seriously. Two course breakfast served on fancy pants plates.

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Florida bird.

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I spent the rest of the week in South Florida and had a little bit of individual time with my family members. Bob and I had a day to ourselves and we were busy! We went to to the Loxahatchee preserve (swamp) and watched some birds while relaxing in amazing rocking chairs, we had a sushi lunch, and then we hit up a brewery! It was such a fun day with Bob.

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I spent another day with my Aunt and Cousins. We ate some amazing sushi and then hung around on the couches catching up on their life adventures.

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I also got to spend an evening with my niece Jessica, working on her homework, watching her create art, and hearing about her time at school and girl scouts. A night with a kiddo isn't complete without a trip to an ice cream shop!

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I also dragged my mom away from work and we spent a couple of days tooling around some stores, eating lunches, and going to the zoo. Yes, we still love the zoo even though we are both adults! The Palm Beach zoo has quite a few nice exhibits and a ton of nosy Ibis that are just freeloading on the zoo animals' food.

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I also had a night on the town with my step sister Tracey. We cruised around Delray checking out the scene and laughing for most of the night. Here is a picture I took from her Facebook.

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We had one last big family get together the day before I left. It was fun to see everyone one more time.

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A big Thank You goes out to Stacy and Cheryl, the organizers of this trip. Without them, this trip would have never happened. It was so fun to have a family trip. We have to do it again.

Posted by trackers 11:15 Comments (0)

Hiking and eating in Sardinia

We hopped on over to Sardinia which is an Italian island directly west of Rome. This was our last traveling adventure with Ian (Megan is already back in the States). This trip consisted of eating ridiculously delicious and inexpensive seafood followed by hiking to attempt to see some of the grandeur of the landscape. No, grandeur is not too big of a word for the mountainous rugged landscape of Sardinia.

On the first night we enjoyed some craft beer in a cave with a really cool shaped bottle and our server scored us a reservation for the number 1 rated fish restaurant for the next night.

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We ate dinner in a little cave restaurant and all had pasta and/or seafood. I so wish we had some pics but I think we just inhaled all of the food before we realized what had happened. We had quite the walk home with Quinn assuring Ian and I that we were nearly there. I think it was about a 90 minute walk back to the apartment.

I want this car. Look how the doors open.

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The next morning we checked out a bird sanctuary that was in the middle of a salt mining area. It was disappointing because all of the flamingos were so far away we could barely see them. Don't the flamingos know they are on display?? Each area of the salt ponds had a different color to the water.

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Next up, hiking to the Sella del diavolo (Devil's Saddle). It had a great view of the area and some historic ruins of a fortress.

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We were only able to get a reservation for 10pm. We took naps to fortify ourselves and then had some more beers in the craft beer place next door. When we arrived at the restaurant we had to ring the doorbell to get in! Then we were let inside a warm little cave that smelled like the sea and was filled with about 6 tables and 30 people. There was one little table left for us. The server provided a detailed explanation of the food and asked us if we trusted her to choose our wine. Of course! She recommended the seafood sampling appetizer. It came with 6 different dishes of seafood that nearly filled us up and we barely had room for the next course. The platter was only 25 euro and that truly would have been enough for normal people. But us gluttons just had to try something else because all of the food was so wonderful so we ordered two pasta dishes. We ended up taking both home in doggy bags because we couldn't fit in anything else. I was really sad because I wanted to try their sea bass but there was just no way I could eat another morsel. We decided to brave the 90 minute walk home again because we really really needed to digest.

The next morning, we took a little drive out to the west coast near Porto Flavia and took a walk along the waterfront pedestrian path. There were a bunch of birds feeding. I am not sure if the picture conveys the beauty of their dance/flight but it was incredible.

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Then we hiked up to a mine. Unfortunately, it was closed but we had some great viewpoints along the way.

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We were getting really hungry and there was absolutely nothing open in any of the towns. Finally we found a "bar" that was serving lunch. I was very skeptical because "bar" in Italy usually means pastries and drinks and some microwave oven pizzas. This totally blew my mind. We had a 3 course lunch for less than 20 bucks and included mussels, a dish I am going to call Italian style seafood Paella, wine, and more fish. It was incredible. No pics though. Sorry :(

When you see such a nice beach along the way, you have to go for a walk. Quinn and Ian both have such long legs I basically have to trot to keep up. Luckily Quinn was having fun with the camera.

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These two yahoos were trying to get a picture without getting wet. They were semi successful. You can see the risk taking with the wave picture! I was yelling out warnings from the dry zone.

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We had pizza for dinner and they weigh pizza to determine the price. We were able to chose about 12 different little slices of pizza and multiple craft beers. There was a disagreement on the price and the owner said that we paid 4 euro too much. We though we had paid 8 euro too little so we definitely were not going to take more money from him. Finally, he settled the agreement by taking the 4 euro he wanted to give to us and putting it in the charity donation jar. Have you ever been to a restaurant where the owner insists you overpaid even when you have underpaid? I sure hope this place can stay in business because the food and owners and service is fantastic! This was our last night out on the town with Ian and we spent it bar hopping. We hopped over to one bar and stuck around there for the rest of the evening. We enjoyed some Limoncello and Mirto (alcohol made from berries, only found in Sardinia) and the hilarious antics of two bartenders who were quite talkative and couldn't seem to keep track of the drinks they were pouring. Good problem to have.

On our last day we had one last "hike" around Cagliari. This city has a ton of hills and really neat serpentine-like old city streets and walls.

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We finished up the eating fest by enjoying a Sardinian fast food meal. We chose our fish from a cafeteria line and watched the chef put it on the grill and sear the tuna. He fried a bunch of calamari and scooped out some octopus salad for us. All this deliciousness only cost about 10 bucks a person including a bottle of wine. If I lived here, I would probably never cook!

Sardinia's natural beauty is (insert whatever positive attribute here) and the seafood is plentiful and inexpensive. We barely even scratched the surface on all there is to do in Sardinia. We are thinking of going back in September. Any takers?

Posted by trackers 01:34 Comments (0)

Christmas and New Year in France

On Christmas eve we spent 9 hours in the car zooming down the highway and paying highway robbery size tolls to (hopefully) find sun in Southern France.

First stop- Aix-en-Provence (2 nights)

This city had a Christmas market that we strolled along at night with lights all around the city. It was very quiet on Christmas day and we had the whole place to ourselves to tour the beautiful architecture.

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Can you find Ethan?

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This is my new favorite statue.

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Warm water from a natural hot spring fills this fountain

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So as usual, we found our way to the outdoors for some hiking. The region south east of Marseilles is a rugged coastline formed by glacier movement (fjords) also known as Calanques in French. We hiked to Calanque d'en Vau and saw a few other calanques along the way.

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Can you see the face in the rock?

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The town of Cassis was the starting point for the calanques area and had a beautiful boardwalk that went out to a lighthouse and looked back on a castle on the hill. The castle is now a hotel.

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Next stop- Moustiers-Saint-Marie (2 nights)

This was supposed to be a 3 night stop but every single one of the 25 restaurants in the town was closed for the week between Christmas and New Year. This made it difficult to find food! Also, the owner of the B&B we stayed at smoked inside, so we had to get out! We spent our first day there sipping wine on the patio and enjoying her incredible view of the mountain and olive grove and then checking out the little town built on the hillside. We walked up to the church at the top and had a great view of the town.

Random town along the drive to Moustiers with an incredible old gate.

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The neighbor's curious deer.

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Views of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

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We spent the second day hiking in the Verdun gorge (which is a major attraction of the area).

A little town on the way to the gorge.

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The gorge

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Dinner that our hostess made for us. She was a good cook; good thing, because we had no other option!

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Since we skeedaddled out of there early, we had a little bit of a car ride to our next destination. Quinn let us catch up on some zzzzz

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Third stop- Arles and Uzes (1 night)

The city of Arles. I have been wanting to check out this city for some time because it has a very famous coliseum. We had the best meal of the trip in Arles. We also pretty much had the place to ourselves. I really love the French style

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Our friend Jeremy convinced me to buy this red coat when he came to visit over the summer. I am glad he did. It is fun to wear red in the winter.

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Door to a kitchen of a restaurant. Who doesn't cook in a cellar?

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Creepy!!!!!

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We didn't take many pictures in Uzes but it is one of our new favorite towns. It is very quaint and we are looking forward to seeing it again in summer.

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Over the summer we bought some wine that we love from an Inn where we stayed. We went to the winery where it is made to buy more but no one was home! We were so sad. The winery is a small one and I think they are in the process of renovating this property. It is going to be so cool one day.

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Fourth stop- Perpignan (5 nights)

When we arrived at our rental apartment we were quite surprised to learn that we would be staying in a senior center! They rent out empty units to travelers and are very inexpensive. It was well decorated and so spacious and it was really fun to interact with the seniors as we were coming and going from our place. It turned out to be a great spot, but it was just a little weird to check in at a nursing station!!

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Views around Perpignan

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We drove out to Casteil to do a little hike that turned into a pretty big hike. The refuge at the top had the best view around!

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An abbey in the valley.

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Ethan diving into the leaves, over and over and over again.

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On the way home we stumbled upon the most amazing of stumbleupons. An old city wall. Completely intact. Around an actual operating town. I have never been able to truly feel what it would have been like to live in a walled city until we visited Ville-Franche-de Conflent. Quinn wants to go back and spend a whole day taking pictures. There are only two little streets with buildings lining each one. It is really hard to describe. Hopefully, his pictures will give you an idea. There are tons of aerial shots online that might help.

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There are two or three gates that serve as entrances to the town and on top of the hill is a fortress for defending it. It is so remote in this valley I can't imagine that it needed so much defense. I guess that is why it is still intact today.

We celebrated the New Year in Collioure. France is not particularly known for its public celebrations for the New Year, but Collioure is one place that has a big street party with stands set up on the coast serving champagne and fresh seafood including oysters, which I tried and will not be trying again.

They also had an animated light show set to music projected onto the church wall that jutted into the ocean. The unique thing about this town is that the old town is built right on the water and the harbor/beach area is surrounded by the old buildings. It makes for a perfect opportunity for a party. An older woman befriended us and insisted on buying us food and wine and drinking with us. She was the life of the party, and spoke very little English. She talked away in French with English sprinkled in, but it didn't matter, we had a great time. The theme for the evening was 60's so we saw some great outfits. People were dancing and so friendly, and the longer we stayed, the more people talked to us. It felt like we knew the whole town.

First a view of the town from up on the hill, before it got dark.

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One of the narrow streets. They were all filled with art vendors and restaurants.

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The light show also had music and movement. This just gives you a tiny taste of what it was like. We were super lucky to score a table at a cafe just before the show started! Quinn has eagle eyes and cat reflexes.

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The party animals.

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The DJ booth. There was a lot of Michael Jackson!

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The next day we cruised around Perpignan and saw the castle on the hill. Of course, there are more obligatory food pictures.

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Adults having fun with bubbles.

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Our drive home was 10 hours long. Here are some random things you see on European road trips.

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Who needs a pick up to haul something when you have a jaguar?

Whew! That was a big, fun, exciting trip. Ethan needs a nap.

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Posted by trackers 12:58 Archived in France Comments (0)

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