Sint Maarten…

AKA St Maarten, is an island in the Caribbean that is split between the Netherlands and France. We stayed on the Dutch side, at Dawn Beach. By ‘we’, I mean Julie, Wayne, Steve, and me.

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We were in an lovely condo and could look out from the living room onto the balcony, over the next building to the ocean. I’m not sure why, but I really liked the view through the doors to the balcony.

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This was our view…

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Even the cloudy days were beautiful…

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In case you are wondering, I took all of these photos with my iPhone using the Camera+ app.

We walked on the beach…

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I’ll post more photos from our trip over the next few days. It’s nice to re-visit the ocean!

Selfies…

I have never been much for selfies. My arms aren’t long enough and my nose always looks too big!  But I decided to go for it on this trip and Steve went with me…

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I’ve decided that the key is to get over yourself. No one has long enough arms.

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Also, it takes some manual dexterity to take a selfie with one hand. I’m not always successful, but I’m better than Steve who was not remotely interested in taking them.

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I also decided that you only need so many selfies. We did not overdo it.

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Jeff surprised us all by coming prepared with a telescoping selfie stick. He acknowledged that if that had been my idea, he would never have gone along but we were all glad he had it. You can fit 4 people and scenery into the frame if you can move the phone far enough away :-).

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NYC and MOMA…

Jeff and Steve and I went to the Museum of Modern Art today, mostly to see the Picasso sculptures. 

  
This very early piece that’s almost not a sculpture was perhaps my favorite out of more than 100 pieces. 

  
This orangutan was also kind of fun. Picasso did a lot more with found objects than I remember from art history classes. You can’t miss the toy car….

  
But here’s the thing. A whole lot of what I saw did not pass the ‘garage sale’ test. Meaning that if I saw this for sale at a garage sale, would I buy it? In many cases, no. I’m a Philistine. 

I really love looking at people looking at art, whether that is a stranger…

  
Or if it is Jeff and Steve…

  
 We did more today. I shopped for a new lens at B & H Camera. I’ve shopped with them online but never in person. Such a cool photography store!!! I got a 14-150mm lens for my new micro four thirds Olympus. I have to stop lens shopping now, darn it!
I baked pies in an unfamiliar kitchen. I think they’ll be good. Jeff cooked dinner and now we are back in our hotel room on 54th Street. Life is mighty fine :-). 

More from the Iowa State Capital…

The library inside the Capital smelled like old books, which is a nice smell! It’s a tall space with two amazing spiral staircases. 

   
The books were pretty on the shelves. I would have taken many more photos but we didn’t get to stay long. 

 
Also seen on the tour were mosaics which made me want to play with tiny tiles…

  
And spiral stairs to climb up and down to the dome. I got a little dizzy and my thighs are still sore. 

  
We got to look outside from one window when we were high in the dome. I guess squirrels don’t come through the gap in the screen…

   
I was surprised to find the signs of the zodiac painted on the ceiling on the ground floor. 

  
There were quotations in many places. Every politician should take this one to heart…

  
And then we went outside where I had noticed a gold building. It was, not surprisingly, built to reflect the Capital!

   
   
I think this last photo may be my favorite one of all. 
 

The Iowa State Capital Building…

I was told that this was a must-see Des Moines site so yesterday morning Catherine and I went to see it for ourselves.

If you are in Des Moines, you are likely to see the capital’s golden dome gleaming from far away. We took the tour so I can tell you that that is real gold leaf, thinner than a hair, and that it has to be re-applied every 20-25 years.



The architectural details, both in and out, are really amazing and, now that I think about it, the whole place was really clean!

If you look down you’ll notice that the tile designs in the floors are varied and quilt-like…


  
  
But when you look up, your jaw will drop.



If you take the (free) tour, you get to go up to the the balcony high in the dome, just below the banks of lights that illuminate the space. I was standing there when I took the following photo, looking up…


…and then looking down to the floor far below, where the ‘x’ is. That’s a person walking away, to the right of the ‘x’.


Even the smallest details were not forgotten…

door hinge

door hinge

 

thermostat

thermostat

 

window pull

window pull

 

sconce arm

sconce arm

There’s more to share tomorrow but for now let me say that this really is a nice place to visit. Way to go, Iowa!

Piece O’ NYC: Camp Lolanor Recap

Our apartment is back to being quiet. We had a lot of fun with Camp Lolanor! We did a lot, ate a lot, and enjoyed observing teenagers — they’re like research experiments to us! Ella and Lola are both great kids. I hate how fast Ella is growing: it breaks my heart. That’s what having and giving these fun memories with her is all about though, I suppose. We asked the girls to name their favorite things that they did while at camp, and it was the smaller things — like finding latte art — that got to me and squeezed my heart. While I hate to see them grow, it’s nice that they’re developing an appreciation for chilling like adults. It blew my mind away that Ella just wanted to sit in the park and read a book. How nice is that?! We’ve got too many similarities now, Ella. Sitting, reading, and drinking coffee is what I’m all about.
 

We did several touristy things, like going to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, a musical, Times Square for the Toys R US store and a Hunger Games Exhibit, etc… We even took them on a sailing trip (but I don’t recommend the Friday sunset sail with two teenagers — it sorta ruined the romance for other couples we think … lol). We also played it by ear and made impromptu visits to Top of the Rock, walked to a cool bookstore in Brooklyn, and had a spa night where us girls put up our hair and put on face masks. It was loads of fun!My husband was the best camp coordinator and went to the musical with them (I took the night off). He also very adorably eaves-dropped on their conversations because he’s a ‘nosy’ uncle and all (I knew he wanted to be sure they weren’t talking about boys, he just won’t admit it…). And though we’ll miss our little coffee partners in crime, camp season is officially over for us! I’m whooped and poor Jeff had to catch a red-eye to Brazil the same night he dropped Ella off at the airport. I can’t wait to have him home for a little ‘us’ time.

More pics can be found below. I took plenty of the girls together, so that’s the stream you’ll see mostly. They’re the cutest “besties”!

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Kauai, last day…

I know that a 3-week vacation is extravagant, but if you can do it you definitely should. I am almost ready to be heading home which is good. We leave Kauai tomorrow and have not quite 2 days on Oahu and then, BAM, it’s back in Sherman.

We went to Po’ipu today. More sitting on the beach except that I did take my laptop and work on supply lists until the battery ran out. Thankfully it only took 1 1/2 hours. Then I looked up and saw this:

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We sat in the shade at the far end of the beach by the ‘kiddie pool’. This is a great place to sit! Everyone snorkeled but me but, gotta say, I’m just not that much into fish so i was good with that. I did swim a bit but the surf was way up. I took photos of waves that were completely average so I deleted them. The world can live without more photos of waves.

We saw green sea turtles early on, near us…

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And there was a Hawaiian monk seal on this almost-island…

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If this is not the laziest mammal on the planet I’m not sure what is. She hardly moved for hours on end. She was on the sand on what turned almost into an island at high tide. In the photo below you can see the beach on the right and a line of people walking deeper into the water. They are walking on a spit of sand that at low tide is above water and, here, is rapidly disappearing under water. I think when I took this photo the seal had swum off of the small island you cannot see for the water on the left.

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We also went to spouting horn…

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Water rushes in and the up through this hole. The bigger the wave…

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The bigger the splash.

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I also saw chickens. If you have been to Kauai, you’ve seen chickens. They roam the island freely, and they are really cute until the roosters wake you up well before dawn.

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But let me say that I prefer chickens and roosters to mosquitoes. I wish we could trade.

Tomorrow we fly to Oahu. We are staying in Waikiki. We have one full day and then we fly home. I’ll post to instagram but may not find time to post. Once I’m home it’ll be a day or so before I post again. So, if you don’t hear from me until next week, aloha! Mahalo (thank you) for sharing this trip with me!