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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Piece O’ NYC: Camp Lolanor has begun!

Camp Lolanor is underway. We have not been killed by glitter or hormones…yet ;p. So we’re all pretty happy. We’ve done many things already and still have a couple of days left! Today was a Brooklyn Bridge kind of day, so we woke up early and headed out to see the bridge. Neither Lola or Ella have seen it, so it was lots of fun!


All campers have to agree to the camp rules!


Then we parked it and had some lunch. Built NY supplied us with a few lunch bags/totes to help us keep our picnic goodies extra cold. Aren’t they cute? After testing them, I’ve gotta say – I really love the large one. It held a smaller lunch tote inside of it, three bottles of water, and various other things. After all of those things inside, I thought it would weigh a ton, but surprisingly it didn’t (super plus!). It’ll come in handy when I have to take my work lunch, laptop and books for classes to work this semester too. Ella likes using her own tote as a purse, it’s pretty cute ;p.




Yeah, a typical Camp scene… Technology wins over talking any day it seems.

Jeff is taking the girls to see a musical tonight and they’re all currently making some sort of goodies in the kitchen right now. What more could kids want from camp?! They’re being fed, we’re letting them stay up late, and we’re watching all of their favorite movies! I’ll show more pictures next week, because there are tons…and these kids are super cool.

If you’re interested in sending your kids to Camp Lolanor next year (we’ve already gotten a few of Lola’s friends who want to attend), send me a million dollar prepaid check and I’ll think about it ;p.

Puna Lu’u, the black sand beach…

I’ve been without internet for a couple of days so I’ll put up more than one post today.

On Thursday we went to Puna Lu’u, the black sand beach which is called that for obvious reasons…


We got there early enough to snag a great spot on the shade….


This is a great spot for snorkeling. That’s Steve,in the water. Snorkeling is not a sport that results in exciting above-water photos.


Puna Lu’u is a reliable place for spotting amazing fish and Green Sea Turtles.


After lunch we headed back to Volcanoes National Park to the end of Chain of Craters Road. This area didn’t use to be ‘the end’ of the road, it used to continue on to Hilo and beyond, around the island. In the 1980s the road was covered by an impressive expanse of lava.

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If you have been here before, but not in the past couple of years, it has changed. What used to be “the end” now goes farther. The park service carved out a gravel road. After walking about a mile to find ‘the end’ we gave up.

There was walking involved to get see the lava, and it was hot. Even so, we did stop for photos, but not always of the same thing 🙂


On the way out we stopped at a pullout. What’s especially cool here is the fact that we are high up, and in the distance the water at the horizon is unexpectedly high. It’s just weird when you see it in person as you drive down the hill.



This may be on next year’s Christmas cards—many thanks to Amanda for this shot!

From Kiluea/Volcanoes National Park

We hiked today, and my feet are sore. I’m happy to report that after Steve’s MaiTais and dinner, they are less sore :-).

We hiked in and around Volcanoes National Park, and across Kiluea Iki. Luckily we got to the park before the crowds and parking was easy. And it was not terribly hot on the hike across the crater.


There was some posing for interesting photos…


The next shot was taken on the walk out and back up the side of the crater. We walked down the far side that you see, across the flat part, and up the other side.



Steve, Amanda, and Keith were brave, almost looking over into a crevasse…


There was some stopping to at least attempt to smell the flowers…


That’s ginger, by the way. An invasive non-native that needs to be eradicated. It is also pretty.


We hiked Devastation Trail… there’s a story that goes with the name but darned if I can remember it.


Off in the distance, you can see the steam erupting from Halemaumu.


Back in the day, Steve and I and students could (and did) hike out to that spot, but not now. It’s too dangerous. This is us, then. That sign is probably still there…


Here we are today, 11 years later and still going strong :-).


Tomorrow we are heading to Puna Lu’u, the black sand beach!

From the Big Island of Hawaii…

We spent the day hiking, looking for birds and looking at nature. It was fun and it’s late so I’m not writing much, just sharing photos :-).


We started with the Pu’u O’o Trail hike, which starts off of the Saddle Road. It’s not a long hike, lots of stopping for photos and looking for birds, and taking photos of people (Steve and Keith) looking for birds.

Of the nearly 200 photos that I took today, only a few turned out well. I’m still working on manual focus, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Maybe, by the end of my 52 Week Photo Challenge class, I’ll be much better. As it is, I’m happy with the photos that did turn out well and the rest are gone!



This next one cracks me up… who is looking at what?

beckygoldsmith-BigIsland-1-52In the afternoon (after lunch at Sompat’s Thai in Hilo) we went to Volcano National Park and did the Pu’u Hulu Hulu trail this afternoon.


That’s Amanda, sitting next to a broken lava dome.


This is a spent Ohi’a Lehua blossom. I’ll have more of these later on.beckygoldsmith-BigIsland-1-34

Amanda got a nice picture of me—many thanks to Amanda! I don’t look as bad in the hat as I imagined that I did!


This is a branch from an Ohi’a Lehua tree. The look of the tree changes depending on where they are. I am doing my best to take interesting pictures that are in focus and not over or under exposed, manually. I love it when it works!


We saw several rainbows today and this one, on the way back to our rental house, made us stop to take pictures. The ends of the rainbow were both in the crater. So cool!


I hope to post more photos tomorrow. I hope that you are enjoying your life right now as much as we are :-).

Piece O’ NYC: Getting Away

We follow a serious trend among city dwellers: we leave. We get away from the city at least once a year. We used to do this for vacation and fun, but now we travel because we really need to separate ourselves from the stress of NYC. (We’ve also gotten incredibly lucky with various opportunities and have collectively visited ten different countries and all but two continents.)

That said, I am PETRIFIED of flying. I don’t know what changed — for years I was ok and swell with flying, but now I have to take panic attack pills… So, the flights I take have to be non-stop to help reduce opportunities for me to freak out. Fortunately, due to the three large airports around us, we have a lot of non-stop flight options. And this year we’re enjoying Turks and Caicos (yes, there’s a non-stop flight to this tiny island! YIPPEEE!!!).


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If you visit, please go to Da Conch Shack. I fell in love with conch because of this place.

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Colorful doors always make me think of Becky.

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If you stay at the Grace Bay Club, ask about the Beach Buffets. Jeff had five servings of food and I had to roll him off of the sand…he was so happy.


Jeff and I have been having fun with hobie cats and the crystal clear water. We’re staying at the Grace Bay Club and I really don’t want to ever go home. Next year’s trip is already planned too, and it’s going to be super memorable. Jeff and I are ‘surprising’ Becky and Steve with a trip. They know it’s coming, but they don’t know the destination or details ;p. Help them guess! We’re not revealing it until Christmas.

More from Nova Scotia…

We went out exploring on our 2nd day in Nova Scotia, which was actually a few days ago. I’ve been teaching for the Mahone Bay Quilters since then. It’s taken me this long to go through the photos and get them posted.

We went back toward Hirtle’s beach, through Lunenburg, along many of the same roads as the day before, but on this day it was clearer and not raining. We decided that stopping to take pretty-house-photos would slow us down too much so I did drive-by photos with my iPhone. I am surprised at how well they turned out.

Hirtle’s Beach is very pebbly/rocky. On the way into Canada I jokingly said that my suitcases were heavy but I didn’t have rocks in them. Can’t make that claim on the way home. Surely a baggie with pebbles won’t add that much weight…


We could not help but notice that there are many modern houses around Hirtle’s Beach. Look close and I’ll bet you spot the ‘Sliding House’ in the next photo. Click here for more info on it.

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The ladies in my classes told me that most of these are summer homes and that there is some dispute over the fact that they have been built in a fragile ecosystem. But, putting all of that aside, I loved each and every one. If I could tear down my house and build again, I would build ‘modern’.

It’s interesting to note that ‘modern’ does seem to also be ‘colorful’, at least on the outside of these houses. That’s often true of the houses I see featured in Dwell magazine.

The hiking trail at Hirtle’s Beach takes you around Gaff’s Point. It was a very nice walk.

When we were in Lunenburg I took a nice photo of the big sailing ships with the colorful shops and houses behind. It is a place that poses well.

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Mahone Bay is a lovely town as well, I just didn’t take as many photos there. But I did take this shot of the 3 iconic and photogenic churches on the road into town. I lectured in the yellow church on the left and I taught 3 classes in the church on the right.


Sad to say that the congregations of these churches, like so many others in other parts of the world, are shrinking. It’s a real problem when a local church landmark does not have the money or people to keep it going. But that’s a whole other discussion.

My 52 Week Photo Challenge assignment this week was “the road”. It’s nice that I was in Nova Scotia, riding on so many photogenic roads, for this assignment. I posted my ‘road’ photos on this Smugmug page. Tomorrow we are going to see the Bay of Fundy. I hope to have more photos to share soon.