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Distant Lands

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Five February Possibilities

As the last of the winter months approaches, I find myself making lists of places we could go to shake the blahs without hitting the slopes - maybe this year, maybe next. 

  • mpicf_429885g_r0_429885_1168445024000.jpgQuebec Winter Carnival -  seventeen days of ice-related fun, including a children's village, ice sculptures, horse-drawn carriages and more.  Perhaps enough to make me like February a little more.  The carnival's mascot still creeps me out a little though - too much Smurf meets Pillsbury Dough Boy.

  • Hershey Pennsylvania's Chocolate Covered February - Okay, so the maybe hopping up the tot on kisses and cocoa isn't the wisest, but the home of the Hershey bar has a lot going for it - and, seriously - Chocolate!


Sunday, 20 January 2008

How (not) to get an Infant's US Passport in 27 Easy Steps

  1. Visit www.travel.state.gov/passport and attempt to find the right forms.
  2. Download and print same.  Fill out all information.
  3. Read and re-read the special information for minors applying for passport.  Wonder if it is sleep deprivation or if some of this is really confusing.
  4. Locate one of the "over 9,000 Passport Acceptance Facilities" by clicking the tiny link halfway down the page somewhere in there to go to http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/ and put in our zip code.
  5. Take off from work, as this (now by appointment only) facility operates 9am-4:45pm M-F.
  6. Pile into car with husband, infant, birth certificate*, all 3 Social Security cards*, forms, wallet, check, and our passports.  No photos, because this facility has "photo on site" clearly displayed.
  7. Wait.
  8. Wait. Note our scheduled time passing.  Watch attendant at "Passport Acceptance Facility" go on break.
  9. Grind teeth.  Change

Thursday, 17 January 2008


Visiting Athens with a child has serious ups and downs.  On the plus side, Greeks love children (I hate to generalize, but after 2 years with a baby in Athens, I can say that Greeks love children.  Tough men driving dump trucks would pull over to chuck the baby's cheeks when we were walking with the backpack).  So you will have lots of tolerance and actual help.

On the minus side, Athens hates strollers.  Not Athenians, Athens.  Last year a government survey stated that 50% of the sidewalks in Athens were unfit for use.  I think they got this number by looking at every other meter of sidewalk…sometimes every other meter is usable, but not often.  And that's where they have sidewalks.  And where no one has parked or set a dumpster on the sidewalk.

When there is a stretch of usable sidewalk, it will either be too narrow for a stroller (or wheelchair), usually due to the trees planted in it to keep people from parking on it; or it will be in use by the plethora (that's a Greek word) of scooters [...]More

Monday, 14 January 2008

Winter's Ocean Breeze

 We've done this year after year - picked a weekend in January or February and gone to the beach. 
It's very quiet and, yes, sometimes wickedly cold.  You can get a quaint beach house a couple blocks from the ocean with a fireplace and a kitchen for a reasonable price, and a hotel room for even less.

Plus, there's no bad time for getting sand in your shoes and a nose full of sea air. 

Rehoboth, Delaware is our beach of choice year round.  It has a family-friendly side that sends you back to a different era.  That side would be the Pines area of Rehoboth - where wide streets and older beach cottages abound.
On the beach, the light is amazing. In town, restaurants and shops are open, though the local market, Lingo's, isn't.  And even in January, we've hit more than our fair share of days where we didn't freeze to the [...]More

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
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