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.


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.



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

Wild West …

This morning we got up really early.. actually a little too early for Roos and Alex. The alarm clock was set at 5am as we were being picked up at 6am to go to a horse ranch. It was quite a large range with over 100 horses.
One of the cowboys on the ranch took us on a tour through the area. We learned a lot about nature in the dessert. We rode past cacti that were 400 years old. They were large as trees and there were many different types.



We also visited a little ghost town and the girls got to do some real Wild West activities including shooting with real pistols. They also tried throwing a lasso and that is a lot harder than it looks.


This afternoon we will keep it calm and quiet with a movie and hanging out by the pool.

Day at the pool

The first day of the vacation we mainly hung out at the pool. Roos and Alex both love the Wibit ( a kind of bridge made up from floating platforms ). Last night they couldn’t run across the water without falling into it and today they can do it backwards.


Tomorrow we will go out with real cowboys into the Arizona dessert. Since it is very warm during the day, we will go very early in the morning ( 6 am ). We will go on horses and explore. There are a few ghost towns around from the days of the Wild West and we will also have a cowboy breakfast.

There is also an option to take a hot air balloon over the Grand Canyon but perhaps we skip that for another year. The girls weren’t quite certain how they felt about dangling in a basket under a hot air balloon.

Roos’s plea for a phone

Dear Mom,

I would really love a phone. Almost everyone has a phone. I have put a lot of thought into getting one. I am almost going to middle school and I think I should have the responsibilities of an adult to have a phone. Not one of those flip phones but an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s when it comes out. Here are reasons why I should have a phone.

What happens if I get lost and there is no public phone (maybe there is and then I don’t have any change to call) How can I call you to come get me? I can’t ask a random guy for his phone. You’re going to say go to a guy who works here and stay with him till I find you, we’ll that’s gonna get me in more trouble. That’s why I should get a phone.

What if some guy comes and takes me. Then I can’t call you because I don’t have a phone. I won’t see you ever again. But if I had a phone I can call you and 911, and that guy can be arrested. That is another reason why I should get a phone.

Suppose I am stuck at a friends house and there is a thunderstorm. And the thunder shuts off the lights and the house phone. But it doesn’t shut of my friend’s phone, but she doesn’t have you in her contacts and I don’t know your number. I would have you on my phone and I take it out………. Oh wait I don’t have one. How will I ever get to your house if the road is badly damaged? I could have called you and you could have told that person’s mom what I need to eat and I can stay there until the road is fixed. That is why I need a phone.

I already know what you are going to say that I shouldn’t get lost or I should pay attention or that it is too expensive. But I have a question for you, if you can pay for your phone why not for me? Anyway what if I am paying attention and there is this guy in the store and be is following us and the store is so busy that we don’t know that he is following us. But with a phone I can call you and you find me back. What if I’m looking at some t-shirts and one minute you’re standing next to me and the other minute you’re gone. Instead of asking someone for their phone I can get mine and we can find each other again.

You can take me to the Apple store and we can buy one on Saturday. Or if you say you don’t have time to go to the store you can order one of amazon. These are the reasons why you should get me a phone and I hope you can take my reasons seriously. And then for once you don’t need to worry your head off about me.

Love, Roos

Vacation in Arizona

The girls and dad are on a short vacation in Arizona. Today we drove for about 6 hours to get to Scottsdale, AZ. It is quite warm here ( say hot ) but it is a dessert heat, so very dry and not humid. The hotel has a number of water slides and pools but we also hope to do a few things in the area. We’ll tell you more in the next few days..


Fathers day 2013

Today was Fathers day in the US. Roos and Alex surprised me in the morning with coffee in bed and I also got gifts. Oma Agnes had also left some gifts behind that I got today and that I really liked and they found a nice place in the house. After a lazy morning we went for a late lunch to a nice restaurant in Aliso Viejo. Because it is almost vacation we also bought a few board games that we can play besides Monopoly and ‘Mens-erger-je-niet’. The girls also both got a science set. Roos wanted an ant farm and Alex wanted to have a ” rock tumbler. “. The ant farm is based on a special gel that the ants will use to dig in as well as eat. Because it is in a transparent housing, you can see the tunnels. Alex’ Rock Tumbler will turn ordinary rough stones that you can find here into shiny gems. Both the antfarm as well as the rock tumbler require quite a bit of preparation work so it was a busy afternoon. Roos has prepped her farm and will need to go ant hunting tomorrow and Alex’ rocks are tumbling tonight with a coarse sand to get the first polish.

Lexi's rock before it goes into the tumbler.
Lexi’s rock before it goes into the tumbler.
Roos carefully preparing her ant farm gel.

Alexandra’s birthday party

It happened quite a long time after our little girl had her actual birthday but yesterday Alex’s 9th birthday party for friends and neighbors finally happened. Alex wanted to have a bowling party for her and her 14  friends and so we did. Mascha put together a birthday cake that was very appropriate for a bowling alley birthday 🙂

Doughnut birthday cake


derecho (n.): a large cluster of thunderstorms that produces widespread wind damage

This week a derecho went through the mid-west of the US. Luckily in Los Angeles everything is normal: nice temperatures and everything calm. The pictures from the East coast this week are something to remember however..

Severe Storms Pass Through Chicago

Summer concert

The school year at Vista Verde is drawing to a close. Roos has been playing the clarinet this year as part of music lessons at school. Tonight was the evening where the school held a concert and Roos was one of the performing artists. While there was some classical music on the play bill, there were also lots of catchy more modern tunes such as ‘Axel F‘ and the theme from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.


summer concert