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Distant Lands

Tuesday, 08 January 2008


I'm not familiar with leeches in other settings, but after years of rainforest treks in Malaysia and Indonesia, I can give you a few tips about leeches there, just in case your kids see one of the cute little buggers standing up and doing its dance on a leaf.

Southeast Asian leeches are tiny.  They are so tiny they can wriggle into your hiking boot between the laces.  They are so tiny they can burrow through normal socks to get to the yummy feet within.  However, once they start eating, they swell like balloons and can't get back out.  If they are on exposed skin (like your leg or arm) they'll just drop off when they're full, so a lot of people recommend wearing hiking sandals (like Tevas).  This way you can see any leeches on you and get them off (Constant Vigilance!) or, if you miss one, you won't have the special lifetime memory of squelching around in a boot filled with your [...]More

Wednesday, 02 January 2008

Interactive Family Activity Map of Great Britain

We love good maps.  Whether topographical, city, hiking, historical, nautical chart, or hand-drawn by a local on the back of an envelope, the best ones are kept with our photos as a snapshot of a place at the time we were there.

The internet changes the game a little, and enhances it - no more so than with some of our favorite travel-planning maps.
This one, from Britain's Telegraph, allows cross-referencing of region with activity type, cost, and location.  You can drill down further with 'child-friendly', then pick a date range and hit search.  Whammo - you have a map of activities tailored for you - free trying-on of armor and a European Christmas market in Tower Bridge not too far from each other.  Oh, the potential.  Kudos, Telegraph [...]More

The National Mall

Taking a toddler to DC is a challenge - the crowds can be maddening, and many of the displays are too high for them to see on their own (hello upper arm exercise!).
But go early to the museums on the Mall (NMAI, Air & Space, Natural History), miss the crowds, and you'll have time for the best part: cruising the pigeon-chasing child-wearing-out strip of picnic and kite-flying green that is the centerpiece of DC's tourist area.

Along the mall, we checked out the monuments, compared sizes, and found the shapes that made up each structure. She paged through her Clifford goes to Washington book and squealed to see the matching place life-size, and right before her eyes.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Longwood Gardens vs. The Grinch

Two days before Christmas and it might never stop raining. 

We were embittered, damp, and filled with the joys of cabin fever.  But then the rain let up long enough for us to wade to the car, and we were off.  Longwood Gardens, in Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley, was far enough away to dry us out and cheer us up, we thought.

We had to drive through a monsoon to get there, sparking the comment "This is Crazy and Stupid!"  But we kept going.  Bathrooms were mentioned while still driving, prompting cries of "I have to go NOW!" from the backseat.  We kept going.  We were going to see Christmas lights and get some holiday spirit, darnit.

By the time we pulled in, it had stopped raining again, and dusk had fallen. The lights in the trees strengthened everyone's interest in not giving up and turning around.  $16 adult tickets (toddlers enter free) dealt with, [...]More

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Christmas in Bavaria

Back in Munich, exploring the Christmas market again for nativity scene gifts.  The kids were all pressed up against the big display windows of a couple stores, which had been transformed into snowy wonderlands of animated trains, stuffed bears, flying planes and sleighs, sparkling castles, and waving dolls.  One toy store had life-size models of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger made of Legos.  Even the things that are there all year, like the mechanized clock, the trams, and the escalators that don't move until someone's on them delighted the kids (and the kids-at-heart), and every restaurant we patronized welcomed the baby and made much of him.

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