Traveling down the muddy river…


Taking a break from Europe today to share images of our trip via boat yesterday. It wasn’t far, just around the bay bridge area of the Annapolis harbors/river area. But it was a blast! Dylan and Raven weren’t happy at first being in Lab’s Lair and on the water. But once Dylan got to come upstairs and sit with the adults he was fine. Raven came up, looked around and then she was fine as well. I started out geeking on the new Radar/GPS system (they work together or separately) as well as the new depth chart system. It is a really cool single screen from Raymarine. That took 20 minutes but everyone knows I am a super geek. I need to read more about the capabilities of the system. We headed out of the marina, pulling into the fairway and then cruising down the river. The traffic was light, and we had a slight breeze from the southeast. It got to be a stiffer breeze once we got out and away from the buildings near the marina (and the hills. The marina is nestled next to the creek, which is at the bottom of a hill).


We have a sailboat there on the right side of the picture. In the distance we have the Bay Bridge. Having sat on the bridge on a Saturday or a Sunday for an hour (or more) end to end, it was wonderful to see the bridge from the water side. I must say it is a lot calmer on the water side than it is when you are stuck in traffic. Things just seem different on the water side. There is less to rush, less to worry and more to see. Boating is not like driving. Where with a car you are mostly concerned with directly ahead, directly behind and sometimes you worry about drivers and passenger side issues with a boat you are always watching 360 degrees. Jakki and Barb both took turns at the helm, they both did really well. They both kept us heading into the wind, and as much as possible out of the rolling chop. Like I said they both did really well. Dylan had come on top by the time this sailboat was seen there in the distance he was quite happy to look out of the window and being an adult.


It was really cool wandering by the four other Marina’s on the same creek as us. Along the way we pass the various channel markets. Each of the channel markers (ok just the two I looked at closely I didn’t see Osprey’s on all of them because I didn’t look) had Osprey nests on them. I had never seen an Osprey in the wild before. So of course, like my father I bounced a little as I took a picture. The picture didn’t turn out, due tot he bouncing. But unlike my father and Bald Eagle pictures in a canoe, I did not because of my bouncing nearly flip the boat. Our boat is a little bigger so one bouncing Scott doesn’t risk the canoe flipping. Still, homage to my dad, he taught me well. I see cool things like that and I have to take a picture. I am my father’s son. Had a blast, got out, saw a little of the world. Did not go anywhere near Ego Alley (that’s what locals call the section of the river where really big boats go and parade themselves around Annapolis). But we are slowly learning. Getting better and more confident.


Boating Fan!

More on Lunch, and a picture for my father. (a the first of many postcards for Barb)…


Another lunch conversation. We had a number of them, moments where we could stop and reflect on what had happened that day. This one in the Panorama Restaurant, LEGOLAND. Also between the occasional appearances of our server. By occasional I mean 4, One to seat us. One to get our order for water. The 3rd time when we called her over because we needed more water (you drink a lot of water when you are walking all day) and then suddenly with the check. I understand why people in Europe don’t tip like we do in the states. I described the floor to ceiling windows in the restaurant yesterday, over Jakki’s left shoulder (and Barb’s right) is the pool area. It was quite beautiful. There were Lego figures back in the restaurant but none were near the pool area. There was a party with kids behind us. Just over the wall (we were on the lowest level of the restaurant) was a group of tourists enjoying their lunch as well. The atmosphere was nice.


I took this one for my dad. He was the person I watched everything NASA and everything IU Basketball with. He and I would argue and disagree on many things but never NASA and IUBB. We were a united front on those two. Dad was involved as a regional coordinator of the various NASA education programs. The recreation of the Kennedy Space Flight Center in LEGOs was simply amazing. The detail and care taken in the construction of the facility was amazing. Dad took us to see it many years ago (back when it was Cape Canaveral). I will never forget as long as I breathe the joy of sitting with my father at 2 in the morning as Neil Armstrong made a slight jump and pushed away from the ladder of The Eagle. Gentle landing on the dusty surface of the moon. “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Dad and I were transfixed. In the family room of our house in Sherwood Oaks. July 1969, it wasn’t the first NASA viewing data and I had made. It wasn’t the last.  I still pay attention to what NASA is doing today. Not only because I love the idea of space exploration but to honor my father.


Barb wanted her own picture postcard images of Amsterdam. Her family is from Holland originally. (sad story won’t go further). So she wanted to have the picture postcard picture. Here is the first, although in Denmark, and made of LEGO’s. Well you get the idea. There are many 100 picture postcard images of Amsterdam to come. The recreations that had to take weeks or months to create were amazing. Down to the roofs, the houses that lean in towards the street. The cobble stones of the streets themselves. Each detail making the image that much closer to the real thing. You can’t tell at a distance (although looking that the original image take by the camera, you can zoom in and tell). I think my favorite part of the park overall had to be the recreated cities. Amsterdam and its airport, Copenhagen and its port. I have traveled to both those cities. I love both of those cities. They are easy to get around in and offer fantastic food choices. Without a doubt two of my all time favorite cities. Seeing them here, from above was just amazing.


Wandering LEGOLAND

My wife is a mosaics addict. And more LEGOLAND Denmark!


A mosaic (Barb of course took this picture) with Lego’s on the way to the restaurant. The restaurant we choose was a buffet in the hotel connected to LEGOLAND. So we got our hands stamped climbed the stairs (some rode the elevator). Then walked across the connector between the hotel and the park and then into the hotel. Then across the lobby to the restaurant. All of that effort for an average (and very expensive) lunch. I guess at this point we were spoiled by the excellent food on the boat so having an average meal was a downer. Service was horrible we waited for 15 minutes for water, and then it was nearly a 1/2 hour before we saw our server again. Oh well. I guess you have to take the bad with the good to make everything into an experience. We went to lunch early so that was a good deal. Right at 12 noon. Most of the folks in the park seemed to hit lunch around 1 pm so we were in and out fast. If only the service had been a little better. Well that and if only the food had been a little better. Still, Jakki and I were the ones that really wanted to go to the restaurant and sit down so in the end it was what it was. The mosaic however was quite lovely. Barb likes to take the occasional picture. To date I’ve shared a few of the ones she took. I guarantee if you place a mosaic somewhere in our path, we had a picture of it.

In our 13 days in Europe Barb took around 200 pictures. More than 20 are of mosaics. I am just saying…


Another Barb original.

This one is from the main area of the hotel (long corridor leading to the hotel’s front desk). I suspect, given the cost of the lunch we ate that the hotel was very expensive.

We didn’t see room quality or anything other than the corridor, bathrooms, lobby and the restaurant. The windows of the restaurant were floor to ceiling and the entire back wall was windows. So you did have a nice view as you were eating. I am glad I didn’t order a special coffee, we would probably still be there, waiting for it.

That isn’t fair, we would have gotten it within 30/45 minutes max. It just would have cost an arm and a leg.


Star Wars! I am in awe of the people that put all these models together. When I was a kid I had Lego’s. I wasn’t into them all that much but back in the day you could build a few things. I had a Lego competitors castle kit that I got on my way to Bangkok. I’ve looked for that castle kit every time I’ve gone to Europe, it was so fun. Draw bridge that worked, various ladder repelling devices you could add. Flexible in that you could build the castle four or five ways. It was also about 240 pieces. Not the more than 4000 in the Lego Castle. Larger blocks so those of us without fine motor control could easily install and play with it. People that can work on this scale with that many parts amaze me.  Each display was simply breathtaking. The recreations of the various cities were amazing. Not as large as Madurodam but just amazing. Painstakingly placed blocks that took hours upon hours to do. I don’t think I have the patience to do that. Plus, the Legos I used to play with built houses, (often unique in that I didn’t follow directions).


Family Historian LEGOLAND fan

As a parent I cannot say how cool it is to see 100,000 Legos on or near the ground and NOT HAVE TO PICK THEM UP OR STEP ON THEM!!!!!


First off, it is wonderful now but it has always been, to go on vacation with this crew. Jakki has become a great map and expedition leader (which frees me to take pictures). Here they are examining the map of LEGOLAND planning our day’s activities. This visit made all the times I’ve stepped on Lego’s at 3 in the morning worth it. First off, to have a vision and be able to make it real is a skill that impresses me. Secondly because there was just so much to see, so much to do that day. We hit the ground (after this brief map stop) and except for lunch we were moving. LEGOLAND Sharks, not stopping until we had seen all the creations. This map is just past the image of the tourist I shared yesterday. Just past the main entrance pavilion where there were restaurants and shops. We wandered into the shops at the end of the day but there wasn’t much there that we wanted. Although, I did as mentioned before get a LEGOLAND cap! It is fun to walk around Maryland in a LEGOLAND cap.


The buildings recreated in many cases are real. Where in Amsterdam there is Madurodam which is a recreation of the city of Amsterdam with Lego, here they recreated so much more. These are normal every day Lego blocks (they kind I stepped on many times). I suspect in order to prevent vandalism and damage during storms that they are glued. But that makes the construction even more significant. Imagine building this and gluing each piece. If I were doing it, building this recreation of a palace and out buildings, it would have taken me 2300 times, with 2299 glued semi formed pieces in the recycle bin because I made a mistake. Tedious work. Back in the day when they were cool the boys used to love Bionicles. I hated when they got them at first, because the day after Christmas or the day after their birthday Nick would come downstairs with the box and say “dad please put this together.” So I did for a long time. Then one year Nick didn’t come downstairs. I didn’t think about it, but later on I noticed he had built the Bionicles himself. Then I loved them. The boys had actually started building their own!


The next areas was the Star Wars area. I acknowledge that all three of my children love Star Wars because of their dad. I watched the original movie when it came out 5 times in the theaters. I have loved those movies since the day in 1975 that the first one was rumored. I even took my little sister to the movie. The scenes recreated with Lego’s from the movie (and of course by default from the Lego Star Wars movie as well) were amazing. Some of them were using the NXT technology and could move. Others were sitting on tracks and ran via more traditional automation. Like a model train they would move along their tracks forward and backward. The Star Wars area consumed our interest for the first 1/2 hour or so in the park. Barb doesn’t love Star Wars. Her claim to fame is going tot he original movie when it came out with a group of friends and falling asleep. We all love her anyway and forgive her for falling asleep. But we also made her stay in the LEGOLAND star wars area far longer that she wanted to!


Former foot injured Lego parent…

From sea to land to LEGOLAND!


We left Kristensand (and Norway) in the wake of the boat. This is the first images of Day 5. As is my tradition I got up every morning between 4 and 6 am local time. This particular day it was 4 am. There was no coffee on the boat until 630 so the early hours and the early blogs were hard a couple of the really early days. We were on our way to Denmark and the tug below was there to help us guide into port. You don’t move a big boat like this easily. Even with the bow jet’s it doesn’t turn fast. So the tug is there to gentle nudge the beast into its slip. We didn’t in the first five days have a single rough sea day. That made the journey a little easier for Nick and Jakki. They both get horribly sea sick. Jakki was wearing the sea sick bands and said they helped a lot. Nick said the calmer seas made it easier for him with only Dramamine.  After all my years of traveling I can honestly say, going to places I love with my family is so much more fun. Travel at the time was interesting, travel at the moment with my family is amazing.


We were now disembarking on the other side of Denmark from Copenhagen. Our first official guided and managed expedition. We had, in Norway used the self-guided tours. But this one we would be hoping on a bus and heading to the original, the first, LEGOLAND! Jakki had announced the day before that she had always wanted to go to LEGOLAND. I guess I didn’t listen well. Now we were boarding a bus to go to the original LEGOLAND. I had the opportunity once to go to the interactive Lego build display in Amsterdam (Madurodam) and had loved it. I was really looking forward to spending a day in the land of Lego’s. SO off the ship (here) and wander to the buses. We had our stickers on telling us which bus to ride. We cameras and we were ready for a day of wandering and fun. The bus ride through the Danish country side was nice. I am always reminded that green space is green space. People came from Europe to America and well looking for commonalities. So when you drive the European countryside you realize that America looks a lot like Europe. There aren’t a massive number of differences.


Just inside the park. Lego tourist. He didn’t say much, but I loved his shies. I guess, since I didn’t see a way for him to take them off that he also wore those sun glasses at night. It also answers the age old question what can you build with Lego’s? Anything. We arrived a little after 10 am that morning and started off into the park. The kids were leading the way. Actually Jakki was the map keeper for most of the trip. She had successfully led us through three Norwegian Cities and was now leading us through LEGOLAND. The opening of LEGOLAND looks no different than Disneyworld, King’s Island, King’s Dominion or for that matter any of the 10 or so other amusement parks I’ve been to over the years. You have a gate where you share your tickets and then an open area where you can buy hats, souvenirs and stuff with the park theme. Yes, as is my vacation tradition I bought a hat. I buy them, and then wear them on the walks the boys, Labs and I take everyday. LEGOLAND is now in that rotation!


Family Historian

Get into my belly. My apologies for using the line from Austin Powers…




This door (Kristensand Norway) was for of all places, a Sushi restaurant. If it hadn’t been 9:30 am local time (and the place wasn’t open, other than the outer door opening) we would have been in there enjoying Sushi. All of us (Barb tolerates Sushi) love Sushi. Like my father before me I didn’t learn the lesson of if your kids don’t like something you think they might later like, have them try it again. Many years ago dad did that to me with steak. I made the same mistake with Jakki, and then with all three of them with Sushi. Oh well. I guess things don’t go from one generation to the next always. Anyway all three pictures are of the door to the restaurant in various stages of open and closed. I know it shouldn’t have caught my eye. Frankly I could have walked by. But then again I couldn’t. My guess is many patrons walk into the belly of the fish and then walk out with a belly full of fish. So I had to take the pictures.


The shopping district was actually closed off to cars so you could wander safely. I love the old cobblestone roads. They were a little slick with the rain but so cool. We wandered up and down the street seeing what could be seen. Stopping only in the GameStop that I’ve mentioned before. Once we turned the corner we did find a pet store. We went into the pet store looking for something we could take back for the Mighty D and her majesty Queen Raven. We didn’t find anything uniquely Norwegian for them in the store so we ended up waiting until later in the day. We finally found a sealed collection of various meats that we took home for them. Reindeer, Moose and Whale meat. I can honestly say that Bear (Dylan’s nickname, short for Pooh bear because he is so mellow and sweet) and Raven loved the meat most of all. We also brought them a stuffed Reindeer from Norway. Raven caries that around when she is not comfortable it is her baby.


As we wandered back towards the boat (we walked from the art museum to the fish market and then the ship) I found this sign. I would love to say more but well I don’t have anything. I just saw the sign. giggled like a 5 year old and took the picture. I am quite sure that Dolly’s Simples are amazing. But naming an entire store for them is a little overkill. We stopped for Ice Cream just before we crossed the pride back over the river and into the harbor area. The entire area where the cruise shipped moored was actually new. It was quite easy to get in and out of as a walker, riding the trolley or for those who took tours via bus. The inner harbor (pleasure craft) was clear on the other side of the Peninsula from the larger commercial harbor ships. At the end of the 109A5450area where we were moored there was a mine shaft. Unexpected so I captured that moment. Today is a heavy pictures day because of the Sushi restaurant and now the additional mine.

Dolly, I am sure, would approve of sharing all the pictures.


Family Historian with a bad sense of humor

Of art, street, museums and life.


Barb has a great love of performers. She acted for many years (high school and then community theater). So street performers are right up her, I have to go talk to them alley. This young man, on the street in Kristensand Norway.  The universal language of camera, picture move on. Oh yeah and leave a Euro for the artist. We saw a few street performers while in Europe. There are a few on the streets in the US as well. No more or less in either place it is just fun to see the common practice between the two. I guess though, since our family all emigrated from various parts of Europe I suspect we would see common things where we are, and where we were. We wandered the shopping area for about 40 minutes. We ended up only going into the electronics store. While we looked for Norwegian sweaters we never really found ones that we loved. Most of the ones I saw while walking started in the 200 Euro range (around 220 bucks while we were in Norway. Around 205 bucks when we ended up back in the states.


This fountain is in the pleasure craft harbor of Kristensand. As we wandered around the shopping museum Barb found a great local artist museum. We ended up wandering around the local artist museum. The docent charged us for Barb and I, but since the kids are all students they were free. The artists on display (local talent in Kristensand) were amazing. There was a video display that was just breathtaking. There was an artists display of eggs, representing his mother that moved me deeply. I stared at the eggs they shared for breakfast for a long time. You could feel the love, the bond between the artist and his mother in that moment. There were also more traditional paintings and some amazing sculptures. The museum was three floors and each floor had a theme. I think Barb would be still be there. I know I would still be in the paintings of old and new Kristensand. An artist took a painting from the 1850’s and updated it in 2010. The exact same location. The image was uncanny and amazing.


Enclosed boat cabins. I was struck by those. I understood why, the weather isn’t as nice as often in Norway. My mom and dad also took a similar cruise to Norway and also stopped in Bergen. They were there in October and mom said it rained like crazy.  So cabins are critical.  I just enjoyed seeing the boats. Just sitting on a boat makes me happy. Feeling the water rocking beneath me is relaxing. I was probably meant to be a sailor, except I like hanging out with my family too much. Life is a series of moment. Seconds that we, as children, trapped in a jar. Moments that are captured by pictures or sounds. But those moments unshared eventually disappear. Are lost to the fading reality of time. When you share them, put them out into the world they grow. They find friends and become more. Stronger they return to you. They are the fabric from which our lives our built. We cannot be held down by fear if we share our fabric with the world. Once shared it will never be gone.


The world can be a scary place.