Saturday, October 20, 2018

Back home

I thought first I call it "Birthday celebration #2 and #3". You will see why.

Wednesday October 10 we arrived home about 6 pm. We love to travel but then, it is nice to come home too. As nice as it is, we miss the kids when we are gone. So, Helen had asked shyly whether we could help her out Thursday morning and bring William to school. Of course but it would be easier for us if he could spend the night. Happily she brought him at 8 pm and Ben was there too because William had to finish his science project to take to school the next day. Ben was great explaining to him how you purify water and he understood.

After school on Thursday James and I took him to the zoo. It is not far from their house and they have a family membership. Needless to say that William ran off some steam.

At about 5:30 pm we all had to be at the school. I am not sure what the event was but it was very interesting. They had challenges in different rooms and the children had a piece of paper to sign off on it when they had done a station.

I have to try this one when I have 15 minutes, or, when I have 1 marshmallow.

For afterwards Helen, Ben and William had invited us to dinner. Guess what dessert was?

VIDEO!     (0:33)   You see that not only William wanted to help blow out the candles but also the A/C.

As one of the birthday presents Helen parted with "golden eggs". Her "ladies" gifted a dozen. Very much appreciated. Helen knows which egg was laid by which hen.

Ha, Friday was William's first day of fall break so he spent the night again. He was so good and it was a lot of fun. We have a Wii in Nashville and he is very good at the tennis and golf and baseball. It's a saver when it is cold and miserable outside.

But later in the day it got warmer and the sun came out. We picked Helen up and went to Cheekwood. We have a membership there. Every fall they have a display of a good number of different scarecrows made by different clubs and organizations. It's always fun.

And William always likes to go to the train display. They had totally redone it about a year or so ago in a different place but we think it is not as nice as it used to be. A shame.

Lunchtime. There is a cafeteria. William and I waited outside on a table in the sun. James and Helen were inside getting the food. It took a while and William was getting impatient. I gave him my iPhone and ideas what to photograph. 

Mommy through the glass door. 



Another photo by William.

Oops, no picture of the large pumpkin house but William wished for a pumpkin and took a while to select the very best one.

All day Saturday we drove Nashville to Glen Allen. About 600 miles. 10 hours with a few breaks. Luckily the weather was kind and the traffic too. No ball games anywhere.

Sunday was packed full. Church of course. Nice to see our friends. But we couldn't stay for the spaghetti lunch because we met Sherry and John (friends from Grace Church in Paducah Kentucky) for lunch. They were here for a wedding the day before. It was nice to see them and we all talked a storm.

But, we had to leave right from there because we had opera tickets. First ones of the season. We always like to go to the pre-lecture about the performance. The lecture was great. The opera not quite our thing but still, it was an experience.

Oh yes, Monday was a full day too. The reason why we had to come back from Nashville in a hurry. My pre-op lecture and tests. Coach James had to attend too. Well, not had to but it was recommended. It was very good and impressive but I ended up with information overload. Good thing I have a lot in writing. I have to do exercises and all sorts of things to get ready for my new knee.

In the evening we were invited to dinner "over the river". The children couldn't have been any cuter. Papa, Papa, Omi, Omi. Who doesn't melt then?

Loved to see their art work. Their Nanny Robin has many good ideas and activities.

I had been in a baking mood and brought some fresh chocolate-pumpkin cupcakes. Sarah stuck one candle into one of them and we sang happy birthday for James.

These two photos are from Sarah. Colin is out-of-focus because he was jumping happily.

 Owen has a funny way to eat cupcakes. Always like this.

Tuesday morning James got some of his birthday presents. Fresh eggs which are not kept in the refrigerator do not cook the same as bought ones. Also, they are not all the same size. I was lucky and he deemed them good. Next time only 4 minutes instead of 4 and a half though.

When I texted Helen this photo, the reply was "Patsy and Oreo".

I try to do a little walking in the neighborhood. Is this bush blooming?

Yesterday our good friend Julie invited us for dinner. She reads all my blogs and even complains when there is none for a while. At the end of dinner she said mockingly  that she was disappointed that I had not taken any photos of her food. Yes, she does read my blogs. 
I agree, the dinner was very nice and the presentation of the veggies outstanding. I should have asked for permission. This WAS dessert:

We had fun!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Panama Day 12 - leaving Panama

Wednesday October 10

Going home!

Octavio told us we could go with the bus at 5:30 am. We were ready and in the lobby at 5:15 and so were some others. The hotel had already provided a coffee station but I could not be bothered to make some tea. Besides, my cup was in the suitcase. Octavio was there to take care of everybody. I think of the 23 participants we were 12 leaving at this time. One couple had to leave even earlier.

There was not that much traffic yet so the drive to the airport took not long. 

Checking in, security etc etc not a big deal but a bit more then we are used to. Shoes off, patting. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the corkscrew in my backpack so that is gone. I never had trouble with my little folding scissors in my tatting bag. You could not hurt anybody with that but it’s gone too. 
When we were through all of it we had plenty of time of course. We decided to have a little bite. Having a coffee con leche and sharing a pastry hit the spot.

James again like with the long flight to Panama hat picked 1 aisle and 1 window seat hoping the middle seat would stay empty. A risk but it worked out again. Makes it a little bit more comfy.

Lift-off at 9:24 am. The weather looks so nice. But we all had heard about the looming hurricane Michael. We hope nobody has to cope with that.

The photo says that this is Colon, Panama. I think it's great that "the gadgets" give you information like that.

Oh, yeah, airline food. Ha-ha.

I like it when the plane has the flight tracker. 

Atlanta. Through immigration and customs and security again. 2:30 pm and hungry. Japanese soup.

Leaving Atlanta at 5:36 pm.

And since we are at home now a week later I need to share this with you too. James' sister Jane gave this to me at her last visit. She reads my blogs. Do you think she noticed something?

And another trip is history. How fast the time went. I knew what a canal was and had been through locks before but didn't have an inkling about THIS canal, the country and the people. 
Surprise, surprise.

Again we were very happy with our tour guide. Octavio was a very nice young man who tried hard to make us all happy, all 23 of us. He was fun and helpful and very knowledgable. It was not his fault that James and I and several others had been under the impression that the group size was maximum 16 people. He was unbelievably organized to make the most of the short time. It was nice of him to also take photos for/of us and share them. You probably saw several in my blogs "shared by Octavio". That was beyond the duty of a tour guide. We wish him and his family the best for the future.

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On October 11 we all received an email from our Tour Director Octavio and here is an excerpt:

Dear friends,
I hope you had a safe journey.
I miss you all and sending you my summary.
In name of Overseas Adventure Travel I will like to thank you for your visit to Panama and “THE PANAMA CANAL & PANAMA, A CONTINENT DIVIDED, OCEANS UNITED, ”
We took local and unique transportation: Local Fisherman Boat ride to Isla Iguana, Panga Ride on the Discovery and most of you tried the Kayak experience in Canal Waters

  • Colonial Quarter´s Squarer’s.
  • Our Controversial Topic at EL CHORRILLO neighborhood.
  • La Chorrera’s Fruit Market.
  • Home-Hosted Lunch at Edita’s and her delicious food.
  • Belkis and William the Pollera (National Dress) artisans.
  • Randof Drum carving .
  • Samuel’s hand made pottery.
  • Darios Mask Making and Dirty Devil Dance.
  • The Grand Circle Foundation and School visit at the Embera Drua Village
  • Embera's Baskets and Cocobolo wood Carvings.

In 12 days we visited 6 provinces of Panama: Panama, West Panama, Cocle, Herrera, Los Santos and Colon.

Visit 5 Nature Reserves: Isla Iguana, Sarigua National Park, Chagres National Park, San Lorenzo Protected Area and part of the Panama Canal Watershed.

We visited 3 important UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Old Panama City, Panama City's Colonial Quarters and Fort San Lorenzo.

We travel around the Panamanian communities of Panama City (Old Panama, Central Avenue and Colonial Quarters), La Chorrera, Chitre, Guarare, Las Tablas, La Arena, Parita, Coronado, Fort Clayton and the Embera Drua community.

Learning and Discoveries are what makes GCCL special, so let me share with you some of the learning and discoveries:

We were able to go across a the Panama Canal on the 3 possible ways there are: Bridge of The Americas, Centennial Bridge and the Ferry System at the Atlantic end bypassing the New Atlantic Bridge under Construction.

Learned and saw the Largest Earthen Dam on the Panama Canal (Gatun Dam) and how it holds back the waters of Gatun Lake to supply it into the Locks.


Transiting on a Small Vessel made it special. Being able to see all different angles. The First part was the Miraflores Lock crossing, than the Pedro Miguel Locks. We got from sea level to Gatun Lake level that morning. We sailed on the Culebra Cut and Continental Divide into Gatun Lake.

That afternoon we were able to do kayaking and boat ride activities on Gatun Lake where a delightful closure with the monkeys and sloth around us.

Following day, we had the experience to drive over the New Locks Gate and went to see the Agua Clara Locks live operation. we continued our northbound transit together with the Bulk Carrier on Gatun Locks to reach sea level at the Caribbean side.

To wrap things up, we visited the Panama Canal's Headquarters and some of the American memorial monuments.
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