Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Science!

My younger brother and I check out stuff under a microscope.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Betrayer -- a stop motion animation skit by Amelia

My daughter did a claymation project at her day camp at the Ann Arbor Art Center.  I think it turned out awesome.

A quick summary of the plot:

An alien asks the shark why the ocean is following him, then the alien leaves in his spaceship.  Then, a rocket falls and kills the shark.  The alien returns, and the spirit of the shark destroys him.

Yes -- this came from the imagination of kids!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Trip to Arizona, Part 6: Goldfield Ghost Town

Friday was John's golf day, so the kids and I found some fun on our own.  We first did a little Geocaching in Scottsdale. This turned out to be one of the coolest caches we have ever found!  The GPS location lead us to a pile of rocks on the embankment of a water spillway (which was, of course, dry as a bone). We then found a fake rock with a small container.  The container only held one thing:  a doorbell!  It said to ring the doorbell, and find the main cache.  Amelia and Ryan took turns ringing the doorbell.  Fortunately, my daughter has very good hearing, and was able to hear a faint "ding" right away.  She echo-located the source quickly, and we found the main cache tucked underneath some rocks.

Amelia and Ryan happy with their latest geocache.

After we finished up our geocaching, we headed East of Phoenix to a "ghost town" named Goldfield.  It is an authentic ghost town that was abandoned in the early 1900's after a local gold rush.   The town is next to "Superstition Mountain."  The town has been rebuilt as a tourist attraction.

Superstition Mountain

After arriving at Goldfield, we checked out a few shops and took a ride on their narrow-gauge train.

Waiting for the train.

Another view of Superstition Mountain and an old mining train.

A view of Goldfield from the train.

After our train ride, we had a "mine tour" (not a real mine -- but a nice replica only a few feet underground). The kids also "panned for gold" at Prospectors Palace.  They mostly found fool's gold, but they still had a good time.

Our mine tour guide explains what at "honey pot" is.  Ewww.


The sillies continue.
Trying to escape.

That's one large cactus!  We found out that it is likely a few hundred years old.

We had lunch at the ghost town, and had an old fashion picture taken. We headed back to the resort in Scottsdale shortly after lunch.

To my delight, the resort featured a bagpiper at sunset.

Nice kilt!
We dropped the kids off at the resort's evening kid program, and John and I were able to get in a nice evening for ourselves.  We wandered the resort for a bit after dinner (no need to pick up the kids early!).

Date night!

The resort had rattlesnakes in the lobby!  I'm not kidding!  Fortunately, they were contained in aquariums.
On Wednesday night, John went down to one of the restaurants to have a drink. When he came back to the room, he told me that he was *sure* he had seen Dr. J (Julius Erving) at the restaurant as well.  We got a confirmation that John was not imagining celebrities when we checked out the agenda for a conference going on the resort:

Dr. J was at our resort!
After enjoying our evening without the kids, we picked them up and headed back to our room.  Our vacation is almost over!

A view of the back of the resort.

The kids accumulate a herd of stuffed animals on the trip.  We continued our traditional of giving the kids a "vacation allowance" for souvenirs.  I think most of the cash was spent on stuffed animals.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trip to Arizona, Part 5: Scottsdale and Phoenix

We arrived at our resort in Scottsdale on Wednesday evening. We found our room, and had dinner at the resort.  To my surprise, we had landed a "VIP" room -- we had to use our key card to push our floor's button in the elevator!  I started to feel like Jay from Modern Family when he realizes there is more floors above the "elite"  Excelsior floor.  Wait a minute, if we are on the VIP level, then what is above us?  There was at least 3 floors above us!  

Anyway... we were invited to meet with the concierge and she told us about various activities around the resort, including the kids programming, which has a "scavenger hunt" around the resort where the kids could collect pins from each location they found.  My kids were quickly off and running trying to collect all the pins.  
The view from our room.

Happy family after we arrived in our room.

Amelia and Ryan styling with a statue in the lobby.

Ryan with his lanyard and pins from the resort.
On Thursday, Amelia was determined to get some more pool time.  So, we spent an hour or so at the resort's pool.  For lunch, we ate at another "Drive-ins, Diners and Dives" place call "Over Easy."  They serve breakfast and lunch.  We all found something to our liking, and the portions were huge.
Ryan and daddy taking the name literally.

Amelia gets a chance, too.

Good food!

Ryan is showing off the latest fashion -- two hats.
After lunch, we drove to the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix.  The Museum is mostly an outdoor trail through a Native American ruin and replica buildings.  Amelia and I enjoyed the stroll (though it was definitely hot -- the Museum provided shade umbrellas!), and took in the history and sights.  Ryan had fallen asleep (again) and John decided to stay back in the car with him.

Hohokam Native American ruins in Phoenix.

Amelia in one of the replica buildings.
A replica building.

Ruins of the sports arena (they played a ball sport).
We spent less than an hour at the Pueblo Museum, so we had time to visit one more museum in Phoenix -- The Heard Museum of American Indian Art and History.  Ryan decided to wake up for this one, and we toured the children's area of the museum, and a few other sections.

John and Ryan show off next to a fake cactus. 

Amelia and Ryan hang out in a replica of a Native American canoe.
Silliness ensues. Ryan does his best imitation of Titanic.  Meanwhile, Amelia has fallen off.

John tries out the canoe, too.

Amelia flexes her muscles.

A painting at the Heard Museum.  Most people in this picture are famous or of significance to the Museum.  Who can you find?
After lunch and two museums, we headed back to the resort in Scottsdale. Another nice day!

Entrance to our resort.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Family Fun at Liberty Fest

We had a nice afternoon / early evening out after the kids' last day of school at Liberty Fest -- our town's annual festival.   We all played games, rode a few rides and (of course) had an elephant ear!

Dragon coaster ride.  The kids are in the first seat.
Happy kids.

Amelia tries to shoot herself a prize.
John flipped some froggies onto lily pods, and won me a bear!  My teenage-self was squealing with joy.

I mustache you a question... 

From the top of the Ferris wheel.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Vacation to Arizona, Part 4 -- From Sedona to Scottsdale

This is a continuation of my journaling of our trip to Arizona (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  On Wednesday, we exited our room, and found at least 6 deer outside!

We all headed to breakfast, then Amelia and I went to an watercolor painting class at the resort.  Ryan and John headed off to play some golf (though they only latest through 3 holes before Ryan wanted to head back to the room).
"Hugs" between sibs at the resort.

An eagle statue at the resort.  I thought it was cool.

An agave at the resort starting to bloom.

The spa at the resort where I got an AWESOME massage.

The resort even had a teepee!
Before we left the resort, I took another short hike through the park.  Meanwhile, John and the kids decided they needed more pool time.

On the trail path.

Fun at the pool!

More silliness!

And more silliness.

Photo bomb!
After we finished up with pool time, we left our resort (Enchantment Resort) and had lunch in Sedona at the Red Planet Diner -- which had some really cool alien decorations.

Amelia hanging out with an alien.

Spock watches over us.

The family after lunch.
Before leaving town, Amelia and I convinced John to let us stop at one more Geocache.  We had to climb a small hill, but we found it!
Another geocache!
About midway between Sedona and Phoenix is a state park where some Native America ruins reside. We took a quick pit stop here.  The ruins were very impressive;  Amelia and I enjoy reading about the history, but Ryan was tuckered out, and didn't really want to wake up and look at rocks.

Montezuma's Castle, a Native American ruin, which has nothing to do with Montezuma.
We made it to our hotel in Scottsdale (outside of Phoenix) by early evening.  We had dinner at the resort and found our room.  Another great day in Arizona!


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