Sunday, February 28, 2010

Very long day....

Friday was a very long day for us. We left Okinawa on Friday morning and then had all day Friday in Hawaii (since we arrived just before midnight on Thursday). Grace had a lot of fun playing on the playground at the air terminal. Her friend (who was on our flight) would help her get to the top so she could go down the slide!
{Playing at the terminal}
We finally made it to my parents house around 12:30 and we found LOTS of new toys! Grace had a good time going down the big slide and playing with the puzzle.
But by dinnertime somebody was VERY tired!

just a few videos

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

We made it!

After a lot of waiting around in the air terminal we got back on the airplane for another flight. This time it was a bit shorter - only 7 hours! We made it to Kansas around 8:00 this morning and now we are at my parents house trying to rest up from the long days of travel. So after about 46 hours we are finally in a house again!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Aloha!

Yes, we are in Hawaii! Well, just Grace and I. Dustin had to stay back at home and work. We got on a flight on Friday and landed in Hawaii very late Thursday night. And, yes, you are reading that right - we arrived in Hawaii the day before we left. Dustin was able to book a couple rooms at the inn (the last rooms anywhere nearby!!) for all the passengers on our plane. We got a little bit of rest, a cold shower, and now we are back at the air terminal waiting for our next flight. If all goes as planned I should be back in Oklahoma sometime Saturday afternoon!!

Grace, as usual, did excellent on the plane. She didn't sleep like she has in the past but she did take a good 2 hour nap and then was up and ready to play for the last 6 hours. One of the crew gave us a very good compliment and said she was the BEST behaved child he has EVER seen on any of the flights! And I was able to stay nice and toasty while the other people on the flight were huddled under the heaters (this type of aircraft can get VERY cold!!!) with the BIG blanket that Grandma Phyllis sent Grace for Christmas.

Now we are in the USO infant room where they have cribs, a changing table, rocking chairs, books and toys just killing time. We will probably be here for most of the day because there isn't much else to do since we have all of our luggage.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Little Chef

Dustin had the day off on Monday so we spent the morning running a few errands and then came home for Grace's nap. After she woke up we took her to Comprehensive Park so we could go for a nice walk and she would have an opportunity to play. After we got home we made a pizza together. Grace is such a good little chef.

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Homemade Pizza
1 pkg. yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbs. oil
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Pizza Sauce
Cheese
Choice of Toppings

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in oil, sugar, salt, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Gradually add the remaining cup of flour until you have a nice ball of dough. Place the dough on a floured surface and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out and place on a pan. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes or until the crust just starts to brown. Add your pizza toppings (we use pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, cooked hamburger meat, black olives, and then more cheese). Bake for about 10 more minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coming to an End - Sydney

After spending 2 more days at sea we made it back to Sydney. The ship docked and we were one of the first groups off! The hotel we were staying at was only about 2 blocks away so we just grabbed all of our luggage and walked. It seemed a lot further with Dustin having 2 big suitcases and the car seat and I had the stroller, a medium sized suitcase and the big diaper bag. Once we got to the hotel we arranged for the airport shuttle to pick us up so we could go get our rental car. It would have been better to just use a taxi but we had booked a round trip ticket when arrived in Sydney 2 weeks earlier. But we finally made it to the rental car place and after a little shuffling got the car (they told us to wait for the silver Camry but it turned out there was ANOTHER person behind us that had a silver Camry too and we were almost ready to pull out when they figured out they gave us the wrong car). We had decided that we would spend that day at the Blue Mountains which was about a 2 hour drive from Sydney. Well, we picked a HORRIBLE day to go to the Blue Mountains. There wasn't much we could do since we had reservations at the zoo the next day and we were flying out the next so we just made the best of it. There are not many pictures from the day because the ones we did take (maybe 5!) all look something like this:
{A Beautiful Waterfall disguised by the fog and mist}

It was WAY too foggy to see the Three Sisters. We walked down to another waterfall but we didn't take the camera because of the rain. Then we decided to at least take the cable car and the gondola ride which ended up being funny since we were just running from one place to another trying to stay as dry as possible. It is a good thing Grace likes the water because she was pretty soaked! The cable car was REALLY, REALLY steep. When we got on it we were almost laying down and once we started going down we were almost leaning forward. I noticed a sign that said no small children allowed. Oops! I guess they don't enforce it because they saw Dustin holding Grace on his lap and they told us the best way to sit on the way down.
It took an extra long time to get back to the hotel because 4 mudslides had shut down the highway we were on. We were stuck in traffic for quite a while and it was dinner time. Grace was a good trooper... but she had Elmo to keep her entertained!

The next day was our zoo tour! The couple who were with us on our tour in Dunedin had done this before the cruise and told us all about it. It sounded pretty neat so we said we would look into it. That night they brought everything we needed to book the tour and get there! We were really glad we were able to do this because I think it was the highlight of our time in Sydney.

{At the entrance}

From our hotel we walked to the ferry and took it over to the zoo. From there we rode in a gondola up to the main entrance. It was really cool looking down at the zoo! We had a little time to kill so we looked around in a gift shop while we were waiting on our tour to begin.

Once out tour guide met us he led us to the Australia section of the zoo. He told us a lot about some of the animals and gave us the chance to get up close to some of them.

{We got to feed this emu!}

{Grace got to pet the Wallaby}

Dustin, the wallaby, and our guide}

After seeing the kangaroos (which are HUGE) we were off to the Koala bears! Since koalas can become stressed very easily and a stressed koala loses a third of his life we were not able to touch it. They have 7 bays of koalas at the zoo so none of them have to "work" more than 1/2 day every 2 1/2 days.

{This is Darwin}

Then we got to go and see how the food is prepared. Afterwards they gave us some of the glider food to try which was really sweet. It was made from mostly honey!


After we left the kitchen we went into a small room to see a feather tail glider which was really little. They had some funny stories to tell about the little gliders!

{behind the scenes}

I am not sure what this animal is but the guide brought him out to the hallway so we could see him. Then we got to go INSIDE on of the marsupial exhibits to see a big glider. There was a little animal called a pottaroo, which is the smallest type of kangaroo. It was about the size of the animal in the picture below. His name was Eddie and he had a foot fetish. But Grace thought he was the funniest thing ever and I think he liked Grace too!

Then it was time for lunch. Our tour ended at the cafe where we had "tea" but we went ahead and ordered some fish and chips for Grace. I think the birds like fish and chips too!


{Laughing at the bird}

Then we decided to take Grace to the kids zoo area. They had this really neat play area with water tables! I had brought Grace an extra shirt (since the day before we tried to find one at the gift shop because she was so wet but had no luck) so we took off her socks, shoes, and jeans and let her play. She was actually wearing more than any of the other kids at the play area.





After she played for quite a while we decided we would finish up our day with a seal show. The seals were very well trained! After seeing the seals we walked by some more exhibits on our way to the exit. It was a great day!!

{seal show}

{Great view from the zoo}

{our ship and the Opera House}

That afternoon we took Grace swimming at the hotel and then after a bath we put on PJ's and had pizza from Pizza Hut. The pizza definitely tasted a little different and the size was WAY different. We ended up getting large pizza because the medium was about the size of a small and the large was like our medium.

The next day we had a late flight so we had lots of time to kill. We had pretty much seen everything we wanted to in Sydney so after we checked out of the hotel we headed to a mall. Then we went to another mall because after asking a few people where we could find an indoor play area (we wanted to take Grace to a park but it was raining again) a lady suggested another mall on the way to the airport. I got to shop in Target and KMart and as we were leaving we saw the Australian Wal-Mart - the Big W. I wish I could have looked around in there but we needed to get to the airport because we had heard they were very strict about check-in times. Oh, well... we didn't have enough room to take anything else back! Again, Grace did very well on the flights. We had overnight flights which were nice because she would normally sleep during that time. The lady next to me was a bit concerned that I had not woken Grace up to eat when they brought by food. I wanted to ask her if she normally has a meal at 2am!

When we made it back to Okinawa, Kelly and Maggie were there to take us home. Grace was SO excited to see her friend again! And I think Maggie was pretty excited that she got to go in "Heather and Dustin's" and play with Gracie's toys before going home. Now we have been back home for 2 weeks and I am starting to get ready for our next big trip. Grace and I will be leaving sometime soon for the states!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Sounds

Our last day in New Zealand was spent aboard the ship cruising the sounds. First we entered Dusky Sound and it was pretty chilly and windy! Dustin went out early to save a place for us but after Grace fell down in a water puddle I decided to just change her clothes and take her to play group. We were able to see almost just as much from inside :-)

Next it was off to Doubtful Sound. We were cruising through this one at lunch time so as soon as the buffet started serving lunch I took Grace in and found us a table with a great view. We tried to make our lunch last as long as we could so we wouldn't get chased out since they had said that after you were done with your meal you had to leave so the tables were available to people wanting to eat. I am sure if they didn't do this people would be taking up the tables ALL day long. Meals at a buffet with Grace are already fairly long since we have to take turns making our plates!

And then finally, the best for last again, we made it to Milford Sound. Our waiter told us that this was the first time he had seen snow on the mountains because every other time it had been too foggy. We had great weather! We couldn't see as many waterfalls since there was no rain but I think that was OK. We saw about 50 dolphins swim up next to the ship as we were on our way to dinner!

Here are some pictures from our day

{One of the amazing views}

{braving the wind and cold}

{entering Milford Sound}

{taking it all in}

{another view of Milford Sound}

{beautiful backdrop}

{I think that is one of the waterfalls in the background}

{Snow capped mountain}


{waterfall}

After seeing all of this we spent two days at sea before arriving back in Sydney.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dunedin

So it seems that I have saved the BEST for last! After this post I still have 2 more to go and the very last one and this one were by FAR our favorites! Our very last day in port was in Dunedin, NZ. Oddly enough, our upstairs neighbors are actually from Dunedin. It was nice being able to talk to them about things to do in NZ and what the weather was like so we would have a better idea of how to pack. And then it turned out that Dunedin was our favorite port!

We had done some research and decided on booking a private tour. We wanted to go to the Cadbury Factory and see the endangered yellow-eyed penguins. None of the ship tours included these but it turned out that booking a private tour was the best thing we did. We arrived in port with enough time to walk into the Port Chalmers, which is where we were docked, about a 25 min drive from Dunedin. Since it was a Sunday all of the shops were closed but we ended up getting some shopping time at the end of the tour. We always had to try and make sure we got a postcard from each stop! Then we walked back to the ship where the tour company was waiting for us. When we contacted the company we were told that they already had a tour going that day that we could join which would save us some money so that is what we did. It turned out that there was only one other couple on the tour!

Our first stop was the Cadbury Factory!
We got to walk all the way up inside the purple silo. As we were walking up the stairs we noticed that EVERYTHING had chocolate splattered on it. When we got to the top the tour guide turned on the chocolate fountain and we watched a TON of chocolate fall from the ceiling!! That is the only use of that chocolate and the purple silo.

Then we continued on our tour. We got to taste chocolate and we got to take home a bag full of candy bars we have never heard of before. This was one of the highlights of the entire vacation.
Unfortunately, we were not able to take anything with us on the tour so these are about the only pictures we could take.

Then we drove to the Albatross Colony, where the other couple had a guided tour booked. While they were stuck in a room looking at an albatross we walked around outside, saw some seals, and got to grab a little snack. We spent most of our day on the Otago Peninsula which was absolutely spectacular!

{Amazing!}

{Our Ship in the distance}

{we had views like this all day}

After their tour at the Albatross Colony, we headed to Penguin Place which is a Yellow Eyed penguin reserve. It was neat to think that several years ago my Grandma and Papa were at this very same spot!

{We saw more seals}



{another amazing view of a nice beach}

{And we saw several cute little penguins!}

We were able to get pretty close to the penguins which was really neat!

But all Grace wanted to do was climb stairs :-)

Here are a couple more pictures of the amazing views we saw while on Otago Peninsula!


Then we stopped by Larnach Castle where we were able to walk through the beautiful gardens.


{Grace enjoyed smelling the flowers}

{The Castle}


Everywhere we went in NZ we saw sheep just roaming the countryside. It reminded me of all of the cows we have in Oklahoma!

We got to decide whether we wanted to spend a long time at the castle and go inside or if we wanted to go to the city center of Dunedin and do a little shopping. We all chose shopping! We wanted to get a few souvenirs and we had some NZ dollars left to spend. Plus, antique furniture is not that appealing to all of us.

We stopped near this cathedral and did a little shopping. We got Grace another new hat and a t-shirt. Then we went back to wait for the other couple and let Grace play in the grassy area that was right next to our van. She ALWAYS loves to run!

{The Cathedral in Dunedin}

When we got back to the ship and were on our way to dinner we decided to go outside and get a few pictures from the ship of Port Chalmers. And again, we had a band playing for our departure. This band was playing Amazing Grace when I walked outside!

We had a great time in Dunedin! The tour company had already taken car of paying for admission to everything and making our reservations for us. We told them what we wanted to see and then we saw it! We also got to see a few things that we hadn't mentioned to them - the worlds steepest street and the train station. We just drove by those to take a quick look because there were so many other things that we wanted to see so just getting a glimpse was an added bonus. Our lunch stop was at a little hotel cafe with the best hamburgers I have had in a long time. After the tour we really wished we would have looked into private tours in more of the ports because it was so much better than the tours with the ship.

So next up is the Sounds, which will most likely be a picture post. And then I will finish up with our last few days in Sydney where we had another day that was just as much fun as Dunedin!

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