Thursday, May 31, 2012

he's in the jailhouse now...

 Ethan had an all-day field trip to St. Augustine. We rode in nice tour buses with bathrooms. The kids all seemed overly interested in using the bus bathroom.

 Our first stop was to Gator Bob's Old Jail Museum. This is Bob. And his gators.

There were so many pirates off the coast of St. Augustine, the Spanish would melt all of their precious metals and make them look like rocks. When the pirates came aboard, they would see these rocks and ignore them. When the Spanish got to wherever they were going, they would heat the rock and separate the metals.

 After the kids went through Gator Bob's museum, they were locked up because they were too noisy. I guess this guy was next in line.
While we were waiting our turn to go to jail, the sheriff (who had a strong Suthen' accent) made the kids repeat the rules. No touchin', no cussin', no spittin'. When the kids repeated it back, they suddenly all had strong Southern accents, too. :)

 Peeking through the pie hole, into the cell block.

 This is the warden. He's a statue. Ethan's head is blurry here because suddenly the statue began to talk and move. It surprised everyone.

 Locked up

 Ethan's cell mate didn't have much to say, and just stared at the floor like that for a while.

 Trying to escape. Unsuccessfully.

 We had to pass the gallows on the way to getting finger printed.
I guess they save the gallows for kids who spit and cuss and touch things.
 The kids were locked up while they awaited their final sentence.

 When we were finally able to escape Creepy Statue Warden, we hopped on a "trolley" to take a guided tour of St. Augustine.
It's a lovely city with so much history.
 Yes, the fountain of youth was only two blocks away. No, they didn't let us stop and take a sip.

 Thomas Edison helped build a generator for this small (but amazingly beautiful) college. He also wired it for electricity. How cool is that?

Martin Luther King preached at this church while he was in hiding. Again, very cool!

 The Trolley dropped us off at the Castillo De San Marcos (aka The Fort). We got to see a bunch of soldiers fire a cannon at an imaginary pirate ship. It takes about fifteen minutes to load the cannon (which was apparently stuffed full of  gun powder and white bread that day).
Fifteen minutes would seem like an eternity during a war.
 The guide said you could only use a bayonet if you had teeth, because you had to rip the packet of gunpowder open with one hand. If you didn't have teeth, you could only fire a cannon. This guy was lucky, he had teeth.

 Crossing the "dry moat" of the fort. In an emergency, they would put their animals in the moat to protect them, so the people wouldn't starve.

Several decades ago, someone decided to fill the moat with water, but realized the walls absorbed moisture, and they began to fall apart.
 Here we are, up-close and personal with the fort wall. It is made of Coquina.
That's tiny shells, to all you gringo land lubbers.

Admiring one of the original Spanish cannons.

 Ethan is in a green shirt in the back row, about to be pushed off the top of the fort by someone's flying curls.

 This is one of the rooms in the fort. Because the walls hold moisture, and because the fort is next to the ocean, these rooms are excessively humid inside.
 As the interior rooms became smaller, the humidity increased. This room was used to store ammunition. Then the soldiers realized the humidity was ruining their powder, so they sealed all their garbage in it instead. When excavators opened the door, they found rooms full of trash.

 You can see that not only are the rooms getting smaller, but so are the doorways to get into them. I decided I didn't need to go inside the last room. But the kids thought it was pretty fun.
 Ethan said it was So Cool in there, despite being so hot and humid.

And here's one last look at the view from the top of the fort. Beautiful!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Magic Kingdom

Before we moved to The Swamp, we had to sell more than half of our belongings. Knowing we were moving to Tourist Country, and that we'd want to see a few things while we lived here, the money we made from that massive yard sale was put aside for future theme-park use.

While Brett's family was here, we decided to put that money to good use and go with them to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

 We took a ferry ride over a lake to get to the park's entrance. I think you can see the princess castle by Brandon's ear in the picture below.
The cousins were excited to hang out together in such a cool place!

 The first ride they all wanted to go on was Space Mountain. Josh had never been on a roller coaster before, and it never occurred to any of us that it probably wasn't the best ride to take him on first thing in the morning, for his very first time riding a roller coaster.
You can't see it very well in this picture, but Josh covered his eyes the entire time. Poor kid. When he got off he said, "That was the worst day of my life." He talked about how much he didn't like it the entire day.

To make him feel happier about Disney World, we went on the nice slow, totally unscary Buzz Lightyear ride, where we got to shoot at targets. He loved it!
But according to this picture, I was a bit confused about what I was supposed to be doing. Or maybe it was the flashing lights making me look like that. Or maybe I just always look like that. It's hard to say...

Then the kids got trapped in a cage with Zerg. Ashley had to save them with her super-strong muscles.

When they met Buzz, Josh was so excited. He said, "I love you to infinity and beyond!" Buzz did his space arm thing, but I didn't catch it on this little video.

When I saw this picture, I thought it was tipped. It took me a minute to realize THEY were tipped. I guess that's how pre-teens make a carousel ride fun.

Josh is a dancer. He can't help it. When he hears music, he has to dance. He got down to the dumbo music while we were waiting in line. Ashley didn't want to join in.

The shortest wait was surprisingly for Pirates. We went on it several times. Josh was a bit nervous, but loved it enough to go again. We decided to become pirates after seeing how much fun it was to be one.

Chris didn't like being thrown into the briar patch...
but the boys in the front of our log did. They got all wet and wanted to do it again. Too bad the line was always too long.
 Josh didn't like Splash Mountain. When we stepped out of the boat he said (loudly and with much conviction) to the people in line, "Do. Not. Get. In. That. Boat! Do. Not. Get. In. That. Boat!"

It was so hot, we had to buy an iced lemonade after dinner. Ethan and Josh had a hard time finding a place where they could both drink at the same time. They finally compromised and ended up on the ground.

The kids cooled off by getting spit on by some tikki heads and also a giant camel. Nice way to end the day.

We didn't stay too late, we hopped on the monorail about 8pm, but you can see everyone but Josh was worn out. He was planning out which rides he'll go on next time.

By the time we reached the car, everyone was ready to sleep. Our GPS took us on back roads instead of the freeway, and we became a little nervous, not knowing where we were, or where we were going. It took us through a city, where we were supposed to get on the freeway, but the on ramp was blocked by fire trucks and police. So we drove for a while until the GPS could figure out that we weren't going to make a U-turn, and gave us a new way to get to the freeway.

The kids had school in the morning, and it was hard to wake up, but we all agreed it was worth it. We're glad Brett's family came, and that we had the "fun money" put away to join them at the Magic Kingdom!