#1. Oliver Mills Park, Middleboro
if a bit clumsy.
And for my friend Alex..a snake 🙂
2. Jenny Grist Mill Pond
A boy duck
and a girl duck with a ‘”come hither look”
As I occasionally remind myself, this blog was meant to be about my travel experiences. I tend to digress since when you only have 2 – 3 weeks vacation it’s easy to run out of stories to share. That’s when I fall back on the local color. But I had a productive travel planning day yesterday so I thought you deserved an update.
Back when I went to Florida in January my time share rewarded me with a 4 day cruise for 2. The cruise is free but I would have to pay the port fees and taxes and of course any tips and miscellaneous expenses or excursions.
The first hurdle was who to ask to go with me. That was solved because as soon as Joe (JR) found out about it he jumped on the chance to go. The Cruise line is Carnival, known for its lively, activity packed cruises.
There were 5 itineraries to choose from:
BAHAMAS…Port Canaveral, Freeport, Nassau
BAJA MEXICO…Los Angeles (Long Beach), Catalina, Ensenada
WESTERN CARIBBEAN…Miami, Key West, Cozumel
BAHAMAS….Jacksonville, Freeport, Nassau
WESTERN CARIBBEAN…Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, Tampa, Cozumel
We decided on Western Caribbean..leaving from Miami, Port of calls Key West and Cozumel. We felt that leaving from a Florida port was the most economical way to go. I’d love to see Baja but the cross-country flight would add time to the vacation and cost. So by going from Florida we had Caribbean or Bahamas to choose from and we’ve both been to the Bahamas. We’ve both been to Key West too. In fact JR. lived and worked there which is how I got to visit. We both love it so Key West and Cozumel are the ports we want to visit.
I’d called the booking agent a few weeks ago to get some general information and what the port fees would be and now I was ready to book the cruise! It was pretty easy. The agent walked me through everything answering questions as we went along. The cruise leaves on a Monday at 4 pm so I might fly down on Sunday and get a room for the night or since it doesn’t leave til 4pm I might fly in early on Monday. I’ll make that decision as it gets closer to the big day.
We’ll arrive in Key West at 7:30 am Tuesday and have until 2 pm to explore. Then it’s back on the ship to head to Cozumel. We’ll arrive there at 1 pm on Wednesday and be in port until 10 pm.
Thursday is at sea all day but according to the brochure this is one of the FUN SHIPS and there are lots of things to do.
We arrive back in Miami at 8:00 am on Friday. I may add a couple more days on and stay in Miami so see the sights…Miami Zoo, and The Everglades for starters.
I was so excited when I finished that I had to call JR and let him know it was all set. He better get his passport! When I reached him he had another project on his mind.
He’s coming up to visit in June. He wanted to know if I still wanted to go to Acadia (Bar Harbor, Me). We’d talked about it but hadn’t made any definite plans. I jumped at the chance so through the wonders of the internet we both searched hotels and motels in the Bar Harbor area. We settled on a Monday, Tuesday Wednesday visit and drive back home on Thursday. I have a Hotels .com account so I booked the room. Then I headed off to work where I put in a vacation request for that Thursday. It was approved.
$250.00 on a credit card and $500.oo cash (debit card) and 2 vacations are not only booked but paid for! That’s the way I like to roll! Even nicer because Joe will be paying part of that so I will have money coming back to me when he gets up here..money I can use for “spending money”.
So for vacations…thus far I have a June “mini” vacation to Bar Harbor, Me., a July “mini” vacation to Portland, Me, and a full vacation (6 days) in September to Glens Falls/ Lake George, NY. to visit family.
Then to start the New Year off, we’ll be cruising to Cozumel in Jan 2013. Looks like I’m going to have some material to share with you all this year. 🙂
Still pending but soon to be booked is THE GREAT ALASKA CRUISE.
And I’m sure there will be plenty of “day trip” adventures over the summer too!
It was a beautiful day for an adventure with the kids. My friend Nancy’s kids that is. I picked up Nancy and her daughter Dawn and son Alex at 11:15 for the drive to Worcester to the Ecotarium. We’d checked out the website but still weren’t sure what we would find.
When we reached Worcester we decided to stop for lunch before we went on to the Ecotarium. We had a nice (if slow) lunch at a Friendly’s Restaurant. They were doing a good business but were clearly under staffed. I have to give our harried waitress a pat on the back. In spite of being pulled in many directions she maintained her pleasant attitude.
Finally out of the restaurant we found we were just around the corner from the Ecotarium. Worcester streets are not easy to navigate but we finally found it.
You buy your tickets at the gate as you drive in. Then follow the signs to the parking area. There was ample parking while we were there. There were several trails out of the parking lot. The one we took led to the main visitor center. As we passed along the trail we stopped to look at the Bald Eagles and 2 Barred Owls. All of the animals here are rescues. They have some injury that has healed but was severe enough that it left them crippled. The Ecotarium tries to give their animals a good quality of life.
Eagles mate in the air but these two are unable to fly so it makes mating difficult. The female eagle is currently sitting on a nest and has laid eggs. This has happened before but the eggs have always been infertile. It is too early to tell about this year’s clutch.
The owls also have a handicap so will not be released and will live out their life here in their habitat.
At the courtyard in front of the Visitor Center there was a sundial and another sculpture made of different sized pipes. You can blow in the pipes or hit the tops of the pipes with an over-sized sandal to see how different sized pipes create different tones.
As we entered the Visitor Center we were assaulted by the noise. I think it would be safe to say we had found the other families! There were tons of exhibits ranging from a terrarium where you can put you head in from he bottom to a hurricane wind chamber. There was a machine that made mini tornado and an interactive room for budding engineers.
There was a rock wall for climbing and at the top of the wall a mountain lion was waiting.
The Africa gallery was a beautifully done series of dioramas.
The kids were running from one exhibit to another. They were being exposed to science without even realizing it. Everything was interactive so they could try it and to them it was just fun.
Eventually we got outside to another walking path. The animals along this path were skunks, porcupines and a large ‘possum. Near the playground were two gorgeous red foxes. From the Red Fox enclosure we walked down to the “pond”. We could see loads of fish swimming in the tea colored water.
By now it was almost 4:15 and the last chance to grab a ride on the little steam engine so we hustled back to the station. That was a fun ride. It even went through a tunnel.
Ride over, we made a quick stop at the gift shop as they were getting ready to shut down. We took the long path back to the car so that we could go by the otter habitat. Unfortunately the otters were in hiding but as we crossed the wooden bridge over the marsh we could see loads of frogs. A lady was there with a net trying to catch tadpoles.
If you are looking for a Zoo you will be disappointed. There are only a limited number of “live animal” exhibits but if you are looking for a nice day with lots of “hands on” exhibits and some lovely walking trails I would give the Ecotarium a big thumbs up!