Paris in December (with a baby)

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In December we met Nate in Paris for about 10 days. Our plan was to meet there and then travel together to the Midwest for Christmas with our families. Nate arrived a few hours before us on a Saturday morning, and once we exited customs we hopped in a taxi to our AirBnB apartment.

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Parisian buildings in the late afternoon sun

As you might imagine, there is lots of info on the internet about what to do in Paris. Museums, markets, shops, restaurants, etc. There is not, however, a lot of info about what to do when you’re there with a baby, especially one that is crawling around and starting to develop a sense of independence.

Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing so many baby-centric posts (yes, two is a lot as far as I’m concerned) and if you stop reading now I don’t blame you. I would have before I had a kid.

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Late winter sunlight makes for a lot of beautifully-lit photos. In this case, the Hotel de Ville.

That said, here are my tips for managing Paris with a baby:

  • You can find lots of good baby foods, like pouches, snacks and applesauce at the grocery store. But if your kid is addicted to peanut butter, bring it with you.  We found pouches with no added sugar that were really inexpensive and M loved them.  That beautiful Eiffel tour photo at the top? We asked a stranger to take a family portrait with that background, but M had a pouch that he would not let go of.  So instead of having a photo with a screaming baby, we have a photo with a brightly colored pouch reflecting the flash. Like I said, he loved those pouches.
  • Rent an apartment. M loved having the space to crawl around and explore, and each evening Nate played with him while I bought ingredients for dinner and a bottle of wine. We would eat lunch on-the-go or at a restaurant each day and then we’d eat dinner in our apartment.  It worked perfectly. Plus, everyone sleeps better when you have your own room, especially when you’re jet lagged. Our apartment was in the Marais near the Bastille metro stop, and the location was amazing. We could walk just about anywhere, and the metro and bus were really convenient. We were near a farmers market on Sundays and there were wine shops, produce markets, grocery stores, patisseries and boulangeries all close by. Having an apartment (and therefore a fridge) also means you can buy all the cheese you want .
Most of these ended up in our apartment fridge

Most of these ended up in our apartment fridge

Each night we tried a new bottle of wine with dinner in our apartment. Our favorite was the Bordeaux in the green bottle towards the middle.

Each night we tried a new bottle of wine with dinner in our apartment. Our favorite was the Bordeaux in the green bottle towards the middle.

  • You can let your baby crawl around at the Petit Palais (free admission) and in parts of the Musee d’Orsay. You can not let your baby crawl around in the War Museum. We let M crawl around the exhibits at the uncrowded Petit Palais, and when a museum employee came walking by I thought she was going to yell at us, but instead she smiled and waved at M. At the War Museum we did get yelled at. In the Musee d’Orsay there’s a kind of lounge area by the impressionist wing with big leather chair things and a huge clock. It’s also by the gift shop where there are lots of neat things. The gift shop by the impressionist wing is better than the gift shop on the main level.
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Big clock, tiny baby at Musee d’Orsay

  • You can find nice free bathrooms at department stores and at the Petit Palais. I’m sure there are other places too, but these came in handy for us.
  • You can take your stroller into the Louvre and the Orsay.  You can not take your stroller into the Orangerie or the buildings in the Versailles complex. A word on strollers in the Louvre: finding functioning elevators that take you where you want to go is HELL. Seriously, it was bad. The problem was that it looked simple, and each time we thought we were just one elevator ride away from where we needed to be. So we never folded up the stroller and carried him because it was always “just five more minutes.” This went on for over an hour. At the Orangerie, we entered with our stroller and then we checked it and they gave us a small stroller to use. Another note about the Orangerie: if you are taking photos with a DSLR camera and your flash is turned off (as it should be), you still might have a light that flashes when your camera is focusing.  Turn this light off or a museum employee will give you a talking-to. For Versailles, I’d recommend bringing a baby carrier along with your stroller. But don’t bring a hiking pack because you can’t take that into the buildings either. You have to check your stroller when you enter the either of the Trianon buildings or the chateau. You can use your stroller in the gardens, including the area between the Trianon buildings and Marie Antionette’s hamlet. However, make sure it’s an all-terrain stroller because it’s rocky, sandy and uneven in parts. Whew, that was way longer than expected.
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We got lost in the Louvre trying to find elevators. Luckily we stumbled across a small window with this lovely view.

  • Babies love art museums. All the big colorful paintings, statues and sculptures are fascinating to tiny humans. Even more so if you take the time to point out the animals. But expect the fascination to last for a limited amount of time.
  • There are farm animals in Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles.  M could have spent hours there, and wow did he scream when we left. I felt kind of bad because this was one of the first things we did that he enjoyed, and our time there was sadly limited. We let him walk along the fence line and try to feed dead leaves the animals.  He had so much fun.
  • Go out for a late lunch. You’re in Paris, so obviously you want to eat the wonderful French food.  With a baby, the best time to do this is lunch.  It’s less romantic than dinner, so you’re not ruining it for anyone else if you have a fussy baby. We’d eat lunch around 1:30 or so, towards the end of the lunch rush. Restaurants were less crowded, which is important since hardly anywhere has high chairs and there is more room to stash the stroller. On a related note…
  • L’ Esmeralda by Notre Dame and Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler have high chairs. L’Esmeralda seems to have mixed reviews, but we enjoyed it and for a restaurant right by a seriously touristy place like Notre Dame, the food was genuinely good and not expensive. I could have eaten at Cafe du Marche every day. That place was awesome. I’m sure there are lots of other restaurants in Paris with high chairs, but these were ones that we found easily that served us well.
  • If you have a stroller, the metro is a pain in the butt.  Lots of stairs and no escalators or elevators. The bus system is really easy and takes you everywhere you’d want to go.

Also, a few notes about Paris in December:

  • It’s amazing, do it!!! It never got that cold (it was generally in the 40s), and we only had a few hours of light drizzle one day. The crowds are less, and there was hardly anyone at Versailles when we went.  Granted some of the statues were covered, the fountains were turned off, and parts of the gardens were closed, but there were only 20 other people in the Hall of Mirrors.  It was incredible.
  • You can get mulled wine in the street and raw oysters. I remember walking around by Notre Dame looking at the Christmas lights and watching all the people our first afternoon there with a cup of mulled wine in hand, never ever wanting to leave. And we ate so many raw oysters at the farmers market. It was awesome.
  • The Christmas Market on Champs-Elysees was kind of a bust. Most of the stalls were selling stuff you could find just about anywhere. Although there were a lot of stalls selling good mulled wine.
  • You can find good Christmas decor and ornaments at the garden and flower market near Sainte Chappelle. Plus, you can easily do all of your Christmas shopping in Paris.  You’ll come home and you won’t need to worry about it!
  • You don’t get the harsh summer sunlight in your photos and nearly everything has perfect lighting. 

Okay, I think that’s it. I’ve got other posts in the works for our other trips we’ve taken (I’m working on focusing on the good things that have happened over the past year).

Oh, I should add that Nate sat with M for the return flight and I sat by myself on the other side of the plane and it was amazing.  I watched movies, napped, raised and lowered my tray table and window shade when I wanted, and sipped my drinks as slowly as I wanted. I will never again understand people when they say “OMG I have this super-long 10 hour flight. Whatever am I going to do with myself?” Um, you can do whatever the hell you want, dude. You’re by yourself.

Pura Vida

A few weeks ago we met up with Nate in Costa Rica.  He had one last R&R and we wanted to go someplace with a beach, but no super-long plane rides, in the same timezone as the Midwest, and Costa Rica fit the bill perfectly.

Dude, Costa Rica is AMAZING. We were in and out of the airport in less than an hour, and it was so easy to drive around and explore. We had a fricking awesome time, even though M got some stomach bug and we spent the first several days cooped up in our beach house. Thank god we had a washing machine and dryer. But this was our view, so even that wasn’t too bad.

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The view from our front porch: coconut trees and the Pacific

The house we rented was about 30 minutes west of Quepos, along the Pacific Coast.  We spent the whole time in that area, exploring literally everything the guidebook had to offer. Here are some of our favorite things we did.

Marino Ballena National Park: This is a beautiful national park with uncrowded pristine beaches. The majority of the area protected by the park is aquatic, which is pretty cool. There are several different beaches, and our favorite was Playa Pinuelas.  It was slightly protected from the open ocean so the waves weren’t too big, and we could drive up to the beach, so we brought beach chairs, sand toys, etc.

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Playa Uvita at Marino Ballena

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Playa Pinuelas

Cascada Nauyaca: You can hike or take a horseback riding tour to this waterfall.  We hiked, and it really wasn’t too bad.  It was 5 miles roundtrip, and we were lucky on the way up because it got cloudy just as we were hiking a long section with no shade. It was nice to have hiked there on our own rather than going with a group because we could stay as long as we wanted.  It was so amazing and the cold water felt awesome. I would avoid doing the hike during the rainy season because you’re either going uphill or downhill at least 90% of the time and the trail would be a muddy slip-n-slide.

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Nauyaca waterfall

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary on a mountainside provides medical care and rehabilitation for wild animals that are injured, taken out of private homes where they were pets (the law prohibits keeping animals other than dogs or cats as pets in Costa Rica), or are somehow unable to keep living in the wild.  We toured the sanctuary and saw the animals they weren’t able to release back into the wild for one reason or another.  They do an amazing job caring for the animals, and the tour was really interesting.  Afterward we had cocktails and enjoyed the view.  It was a great way to spend a few hours, and M really loved watching the animals, especially the monkeys.  The monkeys were cute and definitely interesting.  One of them kept hurdling rocks at the cage and another was on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

The view from the sanctuary/hotel patio

The view from the sanctuary/hotel patio

Manuel Antonio National Park: This park is beautiful, there is tons of wildlife, and the beaches are ridiculously picturesque.  For all these reasons, there are also lots of people. The park does limit the number of people allowed in each day and you can avoid the crowds if you get off the main paved trail that runs through the park. We packed sandwiches and went in with the idea of hiking the trails and then going to the beach, enjoying whatever wildlife we happened to spot along the way. This worked out well.  We saw lots of tour groups crowded around a telescope or with binoculars, and there was no way M would have had the patience to literally stand around and wait for a butterfly to open its wings. Frankly I don’t think I had the patience for that either given how hot and humid it was. We saw lots of monkeys, a sloth, raccoons, a deer, and coatis.

Manuel Antonio beach was very popular and the water was quiet

Manuel Antonio beach was very popular and the water was quiet.

The raccoons were out of control. They would dig through unattended bags looking for food, and Nate watched 3 raccoons and a coati duke it out over a sandwich

The raccoons were out of control. They would dig through unattended bags looking for food, and Nate watched 3 raccoons and a coati duke it out over a sandwich

Sunsets and cocktails at the beach: Each evening after we got back from our daily excursion, I’d make a cocktail and sit on beach and read. Nate and M would play in the sand and have fun, and it was glorious.  The sunsets from our beach were stunning.

One of the many sunset photos. I haven't even edited this!

One of the many sunset photos. I haven’t even edited this!

Other things we enjoyed were Hacienda Baru (nice hiking paths and lots of wildlife), Cascada Verde (nice little waterfall that you can slide down with lots of shallow pools; follow the signs from Uvita and stop right before the security camera signs where there is parking on the right), and exploring restaurants along the coast. Our favorite was Por Que No? in Dominicalito. It reminded me of The Village in Pohnpei. We loved everything about this place.

We avoided Quepos and the Manuel Antonio area. Both were completely crowded shit-shows.

Here are some general tips for Costa Rica (keeping in mind that we only explored one small area of the country and I’m not an expert):

  • Rent an SUV. And know that you’re going to have to pay for car insurance. Unless you’re sticking to paved highways, you’ll probably encounter seriously steep unpaved roads. As for the car insurance, this was a shocker for us. Our seemingly cheap rental car suddenly cost over $600 for two weeks. Luckily they upgraded us to an SUV for free.
  • Bring sun screen, bug spray and reusable water bottles. Sun screen and bug spray are expensive and tap water is generally drinkable.
  • Buy a SIM card by the baggage claim in the airport.  They cost $20 each and include two gigabytes of data.  We had either 3G or 4G almost everywhere we went. Our hotel was near the airport, but the car rental shuttle took us to a facility in the middle of nowhere.  We would not have been able to find our hotel without those handy SIM cards and google maps.
  • Buy alcohol in the duty free by the baggage claim. There didn’t seem to be a limit and it was much cheaper than what you can find in stores.

Thailand vacation: Dolphin Bay

A sight for sore eyes!

A sight for sore eyes!

After a few days in Bangkok, we headed to Dolphin Bay Resort, around 3 hours south of Bangkok, and about 30 minutes south of Hua Hin.  We wanted to go to a beach within driving distance of Bangkok where we could just relax and do nothing, and this fit the bill perfectly.

The hotel (it’s definitely not a resort, despite the name) is across the street from the beach, and has a few salt water pools and a good restaurant.  The beach isn’t the pristine aqua blue water beach that you see in the Thailand guidebooks, but it was shallow, there weren’t many waves, and the water was nice and warm.

There were massive jellyfish that washed up on shore  each afternoon as the tide was going out, but luckily we didn’t encounter any in the water.

The view down the beach across the street from Dolphin Bay Resort

The view down the beach across the street from Dolphin Bay Resort

It’s definitely a family-friendly hotel, and everyone there either had kids or was retired.  There are a bunch of excursions you can go on, and we would have taken advantage of that if we thought M could have handled it.  But we were pushing the baby envelope enough by introducing him to water, sand, heat, having to wear a hat, and swimming pools all at one time.  So we just hung out on the beach, by the pool, and in our air-conditioned hotel room.

The hotel also has a spa  where you can get Thai massages and other stuff.  One afternoon we took turns watching M and each of us got an hour-long massage.  It was heavenly.

If I’m being honest, my favorite thing about the hotel was going downstairs every morning for breakfast and being greeted with the smell of bacon.  Every morning, I ate bacon.  It was wonderful.

The hotel restaurant was good, not spectacular, and slightly expensive for Thailand, but inexpensive for a hotel restaurant.  The panang curry, however, was extraordinary, and I can be picky about restaurant food.  The burgers were also better than expected.

After a few days of eating at the hotel restaurant, we decided to venture out a little, and we discovered a wonderful place called Meaw Restaurant that had tables and chairs set up in the sand by the beach.  The food was better and less expensive than our hotel, so we went back for lunch and dinner every day after that.  Plus the waitress would bring our food and then take M, fan him, and coo at him while we ate.

We almost didn’t give Meaw Restaurant a try simply because of the name.  It looked too much like “meow,” which is a little ridiculous, but we wouldn’t go to a Woof Restaurant or a Neigh Restaurant, so there you go.

One night while we were eating dinner at Meaw, a very nice young lady asked if she could hold M.  We said yes. Then she gestured, asking if she could take him to the open-air bar next door.  She seemed harmless enough so we said yes (questionable parenting choice? maybe.), and she was back less than a minute later because M was starting to get fussy.  Apparently she walked up to a dude there, claimed M was his, and that he needed to give her money.  Ha!

Overall, we had a nice, relaxing vacation in Thailand, to the extent that that is possible with a baby. Neither of us wanted to leave!

Thailand vacation: Bangkok

We had a chance to get out of Dhaka for about a week, so we headed to Thailand.  Since this was our first “vacation” with M, we wanted someplace where we wouldn’t have to do too much in order to have a nice, relaxing time.

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Temples in the Grand Palace complex

We spent a few nights in Bangkok when we arrived, and then another night the day before we flew back to Dhaka.  We had one full day before heading to our hotel on the beach, and I thought it would be feasible for us to see the Grand Palace and one of the other temples.  Well, we decided to shlep to a bagel shop for breakfast that was further away than we thought (everything looks so close on the map… but it’s not) so we didn’t get in a taxi to go to the palace until about noon, and then traffic was horrid.  We arrived at the palace around 1:00, made our way through the literal hordes of tourists, and by 3:00, M had reached the end of his baby rope and was screaming bloody murder.  So we hopped in the first taxi we found and went back to the hotel.  We knowingly fell victim to a common taxi scam where the driver quotes you a flat rate probably twice the price it would cost with the meter running, but we needed air conditioning as fast a possible, so whatever.

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The entrance to the Emerald Buddha temple. Except it’s actually made of jade.

We didn’t make it to the other temple I wanted to visit, so I guess I’ll have to wait until the next time we’re in Bangkok to see the world’s second largest reclining Buddha.  That’s traveling with a baby: you are no longer in charge.

The main highlight of our visit to Bangkok was finally getting to see Star Wars.  Nate cared about this more than pretty much anything else, so we utilized the hotel babysitting service and went to a nearby theater. The total cost for 4.5 hours of babysitting, movie tickets for 7:30 on a Friday night at a nice theater, popcorn and soda was about $55!  In the U.S. it would have been at least double that.

Oh, we also found this nice grocery store called Food Hall or something like that, and I was in grocery store heaven.  It was aaaaaamazing.  It was basically a Thai Whole Foods, and I bought mangosteens, avocados, dried fruit, and Ghiradelli chocolate chips to bring back to Dhaka.

I could have spent another hour there, at least, but once again M insisted that things be done on his schedule (are you sensing a theme here?). I’m making the kid sound like a terror, but really he wasn’t that bad.  He did a good job considering how much time he spent in his Ergo and how stinking hot it was.  And honestly, there were times when he cried that I would have cried too, I was so hot and tired of the crowds, but it’s not socially unacceptable for adults to do that.

The first two nights we stayed at Ibis Siam, which is super convenient if you want to get out and walk around and do stuff, with a sky train station practically in front of the hotel.  There’s also a 7-Eleven in the lobby, which was awesome.

The night before we flew home, we stayed at the Swissotel Nai Lert Park, and it was fabulous.  I booked it specifically because the hotel had a babysitting service, and the more I thought about using a hotel babysitter, the more nervous I got, but the babysitter was a very kindly older Thai lady that M took to immediately.  When we got back from the movie, he was in his pajamas, sleeping soundly.  This hotel also has an amazing pool and a super tasty breakfast.  I ate so much for breakfast (crepes! pastries! donuts! bacon! waffles! roasted pork! dude, they even had dim sum!) , if I’d eaten another bite my stomach would have exploded.

Not the best photo, but you get the idea

Not the best photo of the Swissotel’s pool, but you get the idea

We booked the hotels through Agoda.com, which has the best rates I’ve ever been able to find anywhere.

Also, if anyone else is like “OOOOOO there’s a bagel shop in Bangkok?!” here you go: BKK Bagel Bakery near the Chit Lom BTS station.  It’s near the Haagen-Dazs, kind of on a side-street, next to the Kipling Store.  We bought a baker’s dozen to bring back to Dhaka with us, and they are actually pretty darn good bagels.  The sandwiches in the store are also tasty.

We really liked Bangkok, and since it’s so easy to get to, I know we’ll be back!

A weekend in Charleston

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Over the weekend Nate and I headed to Charleston, South Carolina for the Charleston Marathon.  Nate ran the full with a friend from his A-100, and they both rocked it!

I had signed up to run the full marathon, but when I realized my knee wouldn’t be able to handle 26.2 miles I switched to the half.  Then I tripped and fell walking home from work, banging my ouchy knee on the pavement.  I was thinking maybe I’d run/walk the half, running as much as I could and then walking when my knee started to hurt.  Then on Friday I got a cold.  I decided it was the universe’s way of telling me to just take it easy, so instead I cheered for the runners.

Runners coming up King St.

Runners coming up King St.

Cheering for the marathoners was fun, and it was time for me to give back to my fellow runners by being a good spectator.  So I cheered for all the runners, didn’t tell them they were almost done until the finish line was in sight, and clapped until my hands hurt.  Now I understand why people use cowbells.

A statue of John C. Calhoun, who apparently had big hair and was a jerk

A statue of John C. Calhoun, who apparently had big hair and was a jerk

Anyways, we ate at some truly amazing places in Charleston and I’m only sad that we didn’t stay there longer!

On Friday night we had dinner at Coast, which had pretty good Yelp reviews but was a bit of tourist trap.  The crab dip was boring, but the shrimp and grits was tasty and Nate liked his fish entree.

Saturday night we did a pretty serious restaurant crawl.  We started out at Slightly North of Broad, which was awesome.  The cocktails were super (especially the sangria), and we shared the charcuterie and cheese plates.  I’m a sucker for some good chicken liver mousse, and their’s was great.

Then we headed a few feet down the road to The Gin Joint.  Wow, talk about phenomenal cocktails.  Nate had the Ichabod Crane, which was one of the most unique drinks I’ve ever tried. The food was alright; this place is definitely more about the drinks than the food.

After than we went to The Ordinary.  I’m glad this was our third stop and I wasn’t exactly hungry by the time we arrived here.  Otherwise I would have ordered the entire fricking menu.  The food was spot-on perfect.  We had the oyster sliders, scallop hush puppies, and the seafood platter.  The food and drinks here are both killer.

We rounded out the night at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.  We were so stuffed at this point, we just took our biscuits to-go and ate them at the airport the next morning.  The blackberry jam biscuits were my favorite…. soooo good.

Words to live by

Words to live by

We’re going to try to make it back to Charleston again before we leave, but our weekends are filling up quickly.  My parents are coming to visit before we leave, we are taking a short trip to Boston, there’s the Cherry Blossom 10-miler and then FACT training, and we’re trying to spend as much time with our friends as possible!

An eventful vacation

We’re back!  We drove home from Parry Sound, Ontario on Saturday and today is Nate’s first day of A-100.  This week we get  the bid list!

We had a blast at the cottage, although our time spent there was not without minor hiccups.  We were there to open up the cottage and get it ready for habitation during the summer months, which involves fun things like putting the water pump in the lake, catching the mouse that has been living large in the kitchen towel drawer, cleaning, etc.  Overall we had a lovely time, ate lots of yummy food, visited with good friends, and soaked up the sun on the dock and in the water.

But there were some slight hiccups.

This was my first time “putting in the water,” and it was baptism by fire.  Thank goodness we are friends with the cottage neighbors, as they proved truly indispensable.  We spent maybe 6 hours on Sunday trying to put in the water, having discovered several leaks in the rubber tube running down to the lake.  We replaced the old tube with a chunk of new tube and we were good to go!  That is, until about 5 pm that same day, at which point we had no water again.  The next morning we headed out again and discovered that the new tube was just a tiny bit wider than the old tube, so it came apart.  That’s an easy fix: just tighten the metal clamps that hold it all together.  After that we discovered that there was a broken valve in the water pump itself.  So after another 5 hours of putting in the water, we (or, more accurately, Nate and our neighbor) finally conquered it and we had no additional problems with the water for the rest of the trip.

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that at one point I said “I’m tired of doing this,” and I left and took Athena for a walk. And then I puttered around the cottage and ate lunch. Thankfully Nate and our neighbor were more dedicated to the task than I was.

Athena and I relaxing, which is exactly what we're good at

Athena and I relaxing, which is exactly what we’re good at

And then there was a mouse.  It was a brazen little mouse, running freely around the kitchen while I was standing there preparing dinner.  Sadly the mouse is not longer with us.  We would have preferred to catch and release it someplace in the woods far from the cottage, but setting a mouse trap and dealing with the consequences is far easier than trying to actually catch it without injury.

However, I balanced out my creature-killing karma by helping not one, but three, turtles safely cross the road.

Saving the best “minor hiccup” for last, we, along with four neighbors, got stranded in a stalled motorboat in Georgian Bay.  It was a beautiful evening, and we were headed to a restaurant only accessible by boat.  We were motoring along, taking in the sunshine and stunning scenery when all the sudden the boat stopped.  Nate and I thought someone had intentionally stopped the boat to give us more time to enjoy our surroundings, but sadly that was not the case.  After spending 20 minutes or so, with no one coming by to help, trying to figure out what to do next, we finally saw another boat in the bay. It was heading straight towards us, and it turned out to be the guy who lived on the private island we were anchored near.  He (Charlie was his name) towed us to his dock and we all climbed out of the boat onto the private island.

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The no-longer-functional boat tied to Charlie’s dock

A word about private islands: Georgian Bay is loaded with them, and many of them have houses built on them.  As you might imagine, not everyone can have a house on a private island.  First you need to be rich enough to buy a fricking island.  Then you have to be rich enough to build a house on it, which involves bringing in supplies by boat.  Obviously not a cheap endeavor.  So, we enjoy the private islands and their fancy houses from afar, pointing out the ones that are our favorites, knowing that we’ll never be rich enough (or have friends that are rich enough) to have one ourselves.

As you might imagine, finally setting foot on a private island was pretty darn exciting.  This particular island had a massive log cabin-mansion and a gorgeous deck with a hot tub, complete with an amazing view of the Bay and the setting sun.  Charlie invited us inside, and I made a bee-line for the deck.  I figured if we were stuck, I might as well leave the problem-solving to everyone else and make the most of my surroundings.

So, I sat there, enjoying the view (and wondering what we would do next), and a boat came by.  The people on the boat waved to me on the deck and my first thought was “Holy shit!  I wonder if they think I live here?!”  I waved back, thinking to myself “Why yes, friendly people on that boat, I am here because this is a beautiful place to be, not because we are stranded!”

Ultimately we paid Charlie to motor us back to our dock, and then we grilled brats for dinner.  The next day we used a different boat to motor to the restaurant, tempting fate by taking the exact same route.  We made it there and back just fine, which we know is due to the fact that this time we were all very well prepared to be stranded.  We had flashlights, the Coast Guard phone number, sun screen, bottled water, several fully charge iPhones, and other necessary items.

Athena had a great time swimming, chasing the squirrels and chipmunks, treeing a raccoon, playing fetch, sunning on the dock, and snoozing in her favorite lawn chair.  She was also very happy that this summer she didn’t have to get in any boats, especially in the dinghy, which is her least favorite of all. Athena did very well in her crate on the 13 hour-long car rides there and back– good practice for the eventual flights when we leave for our first post, wherever it may be!

Athena sunning herself on the dock, and, yes, Nate is wearing a swimsuit

Athena sunning herself on the dock

Off we go

This weekend we are heading to Canada for a week.  A week!  Nate and I are really looking forward to it, and I know Athena would be excited if she understood what was happening.

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Water, sand, and a doggie obstacle course. What isn’t to love?

Normally there is no way that I would tell the internet and anyone who might happen to read this blog that we are leaving our house unoccupied for a week as of this weekend, but I know no one will read this post until after we get back.  In fact, no one will read any of this blog until after we already know where we will be posted.  It is all part of my plan to ensure that I remain employed at my job until at least August 1, at which point it will rain flowers and chocolate, the angels will sing, and I will be 100% vested.

So, yes, I am blogging knowing that no one is even reading.

Anyhow.  Nate’s parents have a house on the lake in Parry Sound, and we have gone there almost every summer since I moved here.  Athena loves it more than anyone.  She gets to go swimming, explore the woods, piss off the squirrels and chipmunks, pretend she’s a person and sit on the deck chairs, and basically run free the entire time.  It’s doggy paradise.  There’s still a lot to do before we leave (important stuff, like buying s’mores fixings) but the plan is to leave early Saturday morning.

She knows there are squirrels and chipmunks up there somewhere.

She knows there are squirrels and chipmunks up there somewhere.

It’s a little crazy knowing that when we come back it will be time for Nate to start his A-100 class.  Time flies!