23 January 2014

We're White and Nerdy

 I saw a groupon for a Segway tour of Annapolis, Maryland, and since that's a place we'd been wanting to go, I bought it.  We signed up to go on our tour in the middle of November since there was a Saturday when the weather was relatively mild.

Annapolis is located right on the water, so those are boats in the harbor you see behind us.
We had a 15-20 minute lesson on how the Segway works, and then we were out on the sidewalks and roads. I like the pictures below because you can see there were lots of pretty fall colors still on the trees.
We were surprised how small the town of Annapolis was, considering it's the capital of Maryland and the US Naval Academy is located there. The dome behind us in the photo below is the Naval Academy Chapel.
 On our city tour we stopped at the Maryland state house, or capital building.  The Governor's mansion was around the corner.
We went past this small liberal arts college, founded in 1696, making it one of the oldest educational institutions in America.
 And we rolled past quite a stretch of the fence around the Naval Academy.
 Yes, the State House again.  I put the one above in because it shows the awesome Maryland state flag. We got off our Segways here and had a break while our guide told us about the buildings around us.
After the hour-long Segway tour, Kent and I had crab cakes for lunch (a Maryland specialty), then walked to the Naval Academy visitor's center and chapel.
 John Paul Jones was popular at the Naval Academy.
  This is the entrance into the chapel, the dome of which I mentioned above.
Here's a view of the inside.
 Now we know that John Paul Jones's crypt is located underneath the US Naval Academy Chapel. Where else would it be?

 We really liked riding the Segways and will definitely be on the lookout for Segway tours of other cities.  Before the end of the tour our guide let us zip around a park as fast as we wanted to go.  It was a blast, so who cares if we looked White and Nerdy??  (Click to see the Weird Al video)  

22 January 2014

What We Did in January

We finished off the Christmas season with a trip to see a festival of lights at the Richmond Botanical Garden.  We invited our friends the Jeos and the Andrews to join us.  The Andrews live in southern Virginia and the Jeos live about 20 miles north of us, so Richmond is a central location for all of us to meet.
I'd read about the festival of lights at the Botanical garden in previous years, but never made it before this year.  I was glad that they kept the gardens open into the month of January, since we were too busy to go in December.  Another added bonus was that the gardens weren't at all crowded.
Here are some shots from throughout the park

Kent especially liked these flowers made from recycled water bottles and large bulb Christmas lights on sticks, and was inspired to make some for our light display at home next Christmas. Now he keeps his eye out for water bottles with a good shape to make into flowers.
I couldn't resist this pose in front of a butterfly.
The tree we're standing in front of was amazing, full of decorations with the theme of the birds and the bees.
These glasses were available to try on, and made the lights on the trees look like stars or snowflakes.  As you can tell, these guys are a fun-loving group, who served together in the Bishopric in Germany.
Another weekend Kent and I met up with the Jeos again to go on a 5K volksmarch at a state park very near their house.   This park was the location of a skirmish during the Civil War.
  As you can see by our light jackets, it was a very mild day for the middle of January.  The very next day it snowed about 6 inches, so we were glad we went when we did.

We took this picture because it shows Kent and I on a dock going out into the Potomac River.  The sign below Kent's arm shows the Maryland state line, which is only 20 or so yards from the edge of the Potomac River.  In this picture I'm standing in Virginia and Kent is in Maryland.  Kinda unique.
 Here's one of the cannons left over from the Civil War battle.  You can see that the cannon is pointing out towards the river.
 The remains of a house built in 1825, with Kent and the Jeos in the background.
One other thing I did in January was to sew some Valentine wall quilts for my daughters-in-law and for a friend.  (I finally got around to making one for me in February.)  I'd made Valentine wall quilts for my daughters and mother a few years ago before the boys were married, so didn't make these for my girls.

 I didn't have a pattern, but had seen a picture of something similar on the internet.  It was fun to figure out the design and to use up some Valentine's day fabric I had leftover from the wall quilts I made before.

16 January 2014

Off to the Caribbean!!

I'm waaaay behind on my blog posts, so I'm determined to get this post done tonight and then I'll still have several more posts before I'm caught up.

I found a great deal on an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic that included airfare from Washington, DC, so we signed up for it, and so did our friends, Jim and Bonnie Jeo. 
Our flight out of DC had a layover in Miami, then on to the city of Puerto Plata, on the northern side of the island.  We flew over lots of the Atlantic Ocean and saw lots of island archipelagos, and since it was a clear day, I took some pictures.
Here's Kent on our first afternoon after our arrival, on a Thursday
On Friday we took a tour of the city of Puerto Plata with the Jeos.  Below is the main square of the city.
I took a picture of this fort because it reminded me of the old fort we saw in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was also settled by the Spanish.
We went up the only cable car in the Caribbean, which wasn't too far away from the resort where we were staying.
Here are some lovely views from the cable car.

 At the top of the mountain is a statue of Christ the Redeemer, much smaller than the one in Brazil.  I took the picture below because it was momentarily clear.  Most of the time we were on the mountain top it was foggy.
 Like this.......
The next day Kent and I took a three-hour bus ride to get to the capitol of the Dominican Republic, the city of Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo's claim to fame is that it's the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the new world.  The Jeos decided not to join us. The bus was very clean and modern, not like the ones you see in movies with chickens and pigs on it.  And it only cost $20 each round trip.
Here's some of the countryside we saw as we drove the width of the island to get to Santo Domingo.
 We stayed at a Marriott hotel in Santo Domingo, and this was the view out our window.  I chose this hotel because it was close to the LDS temple.
 After getting a city map from the front desk of the hotel we walked to the temple grounds, but didn't go inside.
 It's a large temple for the size of the country, and was opened in the year 2000 and was the first temple in the Caribbean.
Our next stop was to go to the city center via taxi, and the statue of Christopher Columbus in the picture below was in the main square in front of the first Catholic Church built in the new world. 
This is the main entrance of that church.  The date on the church was 1523.
 Here we're standing in front of a fort built during the early 1500's, and Columbus allegedly stayed in that building behind us. We hired a private tour guide to take us on a walking tour of the city.  The people of the Dominican Republic seemed to be quite proud of Columbus.
 He showed us where the first street and the first hospital was built by the Spanish in the Americas.  I think that's what the signs in the following pictures are saying.

 I thought this was a pretty view of the city, also taken from our hotel window.
On Sunday morning we found the LDS church in Santo Domingo and went to Sacrament Meeting.  That afternoon we took the metro bus back to Puerto Plata. We were back at our resort in time for a banquet for the evening meal, with the best food we had in all the time we were there.  The desserts weren't ever very good, but the fresh pineapple was awesome.
 On Monday Kent and I had heard about the "27 Waterfall National Park" as being one of the top attractions in the Dominican Republic, and it was only 30 minutes away from our resort. We read the reviews saying it was really fun to slide down the waterfalls.  The Jeos didn't join us on this excursion, either.

 So we hired a taxi to take us there.  We were woefully unprepared for what we were about to experience.  Here we are crossing a rope bridge on our way up the hill to get to the waterfalls.
 For one thing, we were told not to worry about having water shoes, because we could rent them at the park.  I had to show a picture of them, since they're not at all what I expected.  They were ill-fitting rubber men's shoes, which were totally inappropriate for the 30-minute hike through rocky terrain, streams, and up hills, we had to take to get up to where we could start sliding down waterfalls (which we only slid down about eight of them, not all 27.  That was a longer excursion.)  By the end of the trip a three-inch spot had been rubbed raw on my left foot and was very painful.
We're smiling in all these pictures, but as we were climbing up rope ladders and swimming through freezing pools of water to get to the next waterfall, I wondered why in the world two senior citizens like us were doing this!!
 We had two young men as private guides to take us on this excursion.  I handed my phone to one of them and he took all of these pictures and video with the camera on the phone.  He did an amazing job of keeping the phone dry as we jumped or slid between 10 and 30 feet into the pools below us.
 Oh well, we survived it and have the big stories to tell.  I'll admit it was the highlight of our trip.
 The scenery was beautiful, and the water a lovely aqua color, though very cold and deep.  After we were on our way up the hill the guides asked us if we could swim.   I don't know how we would have been able to do the trip without being able to swim!!
 Our guide took several videos, but for some reason the one below is the only one that would load.
video

 After this vacation I came to the conclusion that I'm definitely not a person who enjoys the beach.  We only spent one morning swimming in the ocean, which was fun, but once in the six days we were there was enough for me.  Of course I managed to get sunburned even though I thought I was being careful and wearing enough sun block.  I think we're done with the Caribbean, at least for a few years.