Birthday kick-off

Today we started my birthday with an Ocean breakfast / brunch in Laguna Beach. Saskia created a birthday present on the spot. First for the day 🙂
I also got balloons delivered and Saskia, Sylvia and Benjamin made decorations for the house. We had a nice dinner at Andrea in the evening. There were two cakes.. enough to get us through the rest of the week.


Local to Scottsdale 

Today the plan was to go visit Scottsdale. There’s an interesting art district as well as many little boutique stores. Roos decided to stay at the hotel and instead it was just Alex and me. We did some good shopping. We bought mom a birthday present (shhh… it is soon) and Lexi got the perfect pair of sunglasses. We also had ice cream and I almost bought thr wall decoration below. Lexi’s lukewarm reaction probably prevented me from buying something I would regret. 


Hogwarts and a frog

First we slept in today. Yesterday was a long day. After brunch we went to Universal studios park. This is where the Wizardring World of Harry Potter is. Roos had already been here in 2011 but Alex really wanted to go as well. We started off with a butter-beer and then went into Hogwarts castle. Both Roos and Alex claimed that they kept their eyes shut during the ride, so we might have to try that again tomorrow.

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We also saw Poseidon’s adventure. At 7pm the Halloween event started and the girls didn’t like that so we went back to the hotel. The hotel has a large pool with a lazy river. Lexi was able to catch a frog in the bushes along the pool. It maybe was Trevor, the frog of Harry’s friend Neville Longbottom….

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Fall break in Florida

The girls already have vacation again. It feels the summer break is hardly over and this is already the second week of their fall break. Two years ago Roos went to see Harry Potter land in Florida and had a great time. Now Alex is getting into Harry as well. I had already read her the first two books in the spring and from a friend in school she got a Harry Potter spell book. Time therefore to go to Orlando again. This is probably the last time because they have started building a Harry potter theme park in Los Angeles as well. It will open in 2015.
Yesterday the girls prepared their packing list. Roos is bringing Hercules, her alligator. He is originally from Florida as she brought him from there two years ago.

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Tomorrow we have an early start leaving at 8.00am from LAX.

Desert tour and trip home…

Today was already the last day of our vacation in Arizona. We got up early in the morning the go on a desert tour and this time not on a horse but in a Hummer. The Hummer is a military vehicle that can go places where most other cars can’t go. The Hummer we went with was slightly converted and had a viewing area in the back so we could see more of the wildlife and plants as we were crossing the desert. The tour guide was a very friendly guy who was originally from the US Military and he knew a lot about the desert. He showed us which cactus you should eat to survive in the desert but also which ones to stay away from. Some cactus have salt water in them and that is a very bad thing as it will dehydrate you very fast. We also saw some cactus that needles so strong t hey would go through a car tire yet some birds are able to make holes in the cactus for a nest similar to woodpeckers.

We left very early in the morning for the tour (7am) as it is nice and cool in the desert but today during the day it got quite hot in Arizona. As we were driving back this afternoon, the temperature indicator in the car showed 120F (50 C) outside temperature on the highway. This is not abnormal for Arizona but it also not very common. It was an official ‘heatwave’ day and schools were closed. The highest recorded official temperature (not above the extra hot asphalt on a freeway) is 126F in Arizona. Only California gets hotter with a highest recorded temperature of 134F (57C) in Death Valley.

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In the picture below, Robby our tourguide is showing Roos and Alex about survival in the dessert. In the background on the right can see the fuzzy ‘teddy bear’ cactus. It contains valuable fresh water but the needles are extremely sharp and dangerous. The very large cactus in the background on the left can contain extremely large amounts of water (the largest ones can hold up to 200 gallon or 700 liters) but it is salt water that you can’t drink.

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We arrived home at about 11pm and tomorrow is relax day with lots of Wii time 🙂