Flashback: March 2010…Off to the MidEast!

With these flashback pieces – from nearly a year ago! – you are really going to start thinking that Mike is something of a world traveler. Heck, I’m thinking that too…

Late March took him to Bahrain and Dubai. One of the things that struck me was that I also have a friend who is a nurse participating in an international program. She is working at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – and traveling as much as possible. You ought to see her photo albums on Facebook…they are amazing!

Back to Mike…

Besides the amazing views from the Westin and driving around, Mike encountered a small issue in his hotel room. Like getting the lights to come on (yeah, this is one of the kids’ favorites!)…he could not find a light switch anywhere. So, after stumbling around the room for a bit, he used the light from the glare of his phone screen to find the phone and call the front desk. And…all the lights in the room are activated using the room key – there is a scanner just inside the door that “notifies” the room that you are there. Good to know…in case you go to Dubai.

View from Dubai Westin

Other things of interest? There are very few wheelchairs anywhere (Mike saw none – not even in the airport), and the people are AMAZINGLY gracious. They place a very high value on service and family (coming from their culture of being herders and sheperds…not oil sheiks), and they are just down right nice. Not so much what you see in the press, is it? And, of course…beautiful mosques…

The importance of family:  Display in a co-worker’s house
One of the mosques…beautifully lit at night

Unfortunately, Mike did not swim with the dolphins at the Atlantis hotel…I think that’s a good reason to go back – and take me! He did get a great picture of this unbelievable glass sculpture in the lobby…can you imagine what the rest of the hotel looks like?

Atlantis glass lobby sculpture…it’s HUGE!

And, in case you are wondering…the worst part of his trip?  Getting from Washington, D.C. to KC once he got BACK into the US.  A large thunderstorm moved through KC – causing a redirect to Omaha.  During that part of the flight, lightening hit the plane (no injuries and no engines out) – and the plane couldn’t come to KC.  So…Mike and some new friends took a car to KC.  It was either that or fly to Denver, Chicago or back to DC to get a different flight to KC.  Really?  Those are the choices?  The lines at the rental counter were rrrreeeeaaaalllly long…


Flashback: September 2010…Straight to Sydney (Part II)

I’m baaaacccckkkkk with Part II of the Australian adventure!  Let’s just jump right in…

Sydney Opera House – who hasn’t seen pictures of one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world? And who thinks that the new Kauffman Center in Kansas City looks quite a bit like it? This pic is one of Mike’s favorites…it’s of more than just the Opera House, but who needs more of just that? This one definitely scores more points!

The Opera House (and Sydney) at night

Sydney Harbor Bridge is the world’s largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge with the top of the bridge standing 134 metres above the harbour. Construction started in 1924 and took 1,400 men eight years to build at a cost of £4.2 million. Six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction. (I’m seeing a theme with how long it takes projects to get done in Australia…) But the BEST part about the is…Bridge Climbs! I seriously want to go! (You can get me a gift certificate here…)

Sydney Harbor Bridge…and a bird

Sorry to say that we didn’t a family pick in our souvenir T-shirts (yes, we all got one and no, they do NOT match) to round out this flashback…maybe next time!


P.S. – While I find it hard to believe this would happen, if you missed Part I, you can find it right before this one.  But I’m sure you already knew that!

Flashback: September 2010…Straight to Sydney (Part 1)

Probably because I’ve always wanted to go to Australia (and really I don’t know why but Mara feels the same way), this particular post about Mike’s trips to the various contentinents is actually going to be TWO different ones.  I know you are thrilled – so we might as well dive right in…

As if going to Lake Powell for a week isn’t enough fun, Mike heads directly from there (by way of Denver) to Sydney, Australia. Makes for interesting packing – oh and a visit to the MD to get some Ambien first. That jet lag can be a killer on productivity, especially on a 24-hour flight. Wimp. (See, it pays to be the one writing!)

Back to the update at hand…the trip was for work or the remainder of the Peek clan would have mutinied. Not that we’re the jealous types or anything. But, seriously, doesn’t everyone want to go to Australia?

Self-explanatory, right?

The one day Mike got to really tour the city – and to get some surfing in – didn’t have the best weather. Or at least not the best weather for surfing. Still, he did quite a bit of walking and we all got souvenirs! We almost never get souvenirs (unless you count foreign currency)! Maybe it was leftover effects of the Ambien…

Here are some the sights and highlights…

Hyde Park is Sydney’s central open green space and it was named after the Hyde Park in London, however, its origins are somewhat different. Originally the Park was a racecourse and sporting ground playing host to all manners of competition.

Aboriginal statue in Hyde Park which is just filled with this kind of stuff

St. Mary’s Cathedral sits on the east side of Hyde Park. It is one of Sydney’s oldest buildings. The first cathedral was ruined by fire in 1865 and reconstruction is completely finished 63 years later – 100 years after the architect’s death. Wow…that’s even longer than some of the highway projects around KC.

It looks small – it’s not.  No wonder it took so long to build!

Australia is known for its beaches: Bondi, Manley and Coogee being the ones closest to Sydney. So, no surfing for Mike really…but hey, he got to see some man o’ wars which brought back memories of Max in Hawaii (hee hee…that never gets old!).

Manly Beach…where is everybody?

So – that’s Australia, Part I.  I bet you can’t wait to see Part II!


Flashback: September 2010…Mike Does Lake Powell

One of the best things about the lifestyle we have as a family is that we do great things as a family – enjoying time together and making great memories. We also think it’s important that each member gets to enjoy their own things, too.

If you’ve been around a bit (and it doesn’t even have to be that long really), you’ll recognize one of the themes here is being outside, enjoying the sunshine and water (when it’s warm enough – not so much into the Polar Plunge even for a great cause). Water, boarding and sunshine…it all comes together for one last hurrah at Lake Powell for Mike in September.

Around mid-September (although sometimes later), Mike and a group of guys (including his brother, Tom) head out to this lake to “camp” on a GIANT houseboat with wakeboard boats in tow. Days of boarding, surfing (yes, surfing behind a boat), hanging out and eating guy food…in the sun and on the water. Mike calls it the most beautiful place he’s seen – at least in the continental U.S. That’s saying something ‘cuz he’s kinda picky. 

This could be Mike…or not

Geography lesson alert!  Lake Powell is 186 miles long with a shoreline longer than the whole western coast of the continental United States.  It’s part of Glen Canyon National Park – which will explain why 1) there is no development; 2) no cell phone service; and 3) the pics below.

Imagine how big it is if you’re really there…
….or here…

We love that he gets to do this – and that each of us has our own thing as well as what we get to do and see as a family. Now…we’re just trying to figure out if we can get the RV with the boat behind it out there next summer…where did I put that atlas?


Flashback: Late August 2010…Mike Does London

Mike loves rainy weather especially when it lasts for days and days, so he was thrilled to go to London. Or not. Having not been to London, I don’t really have an appreciation for that comment. Although I’ve heard Gwyneth Paltrow say the same thing in interviews so it must be true.

Fortunately, he took some awesome pictures and filled us in on the details of it all – without the rain. Given that my view and recent knowledge of London is based on audiobooks I’ve listened to with the kids (The Red Pyramid (affiliate link) and The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones (another affiliate link)), I had to do a little studying to be able to bring you decent highlights. I know how much you appreciate that!

I don’t know what I thought the London Eye was but I didn’t think it was a big freakin’ ferris wheel. That description doesn’t really do it justice, but that’s still what it looks like in the pictures. A well-positioned huge ferris wheel but…I’m just sayin’. Ok, you can see up to 40 km in all directions from it – not sure if that’s on a clear day or on a rainy one. It is the biggest paid attraction in London (open since 2000) and gets about 3.5 million visitors each year. I’m not sure what number Mike was in 2010…let’s call him visitor #2,330,432.

Mike’s comment on all of this? He was thrilled to figure out a way to get into the “express line” to go up in it…something to do with having bought a 4D ticket (yes, 4D) – I really should listen closer. And the view was incredible…even in the rain (which you can get a glimpse of in the picture. (For my part, I sorta felt that way being in the ferris wheel at the top of the City Museum in St. Louis but being in London seems more exotic.)

London Eye – before the ride…
…and during…dang, that could be 40km!

Of course, there were also the required pictures of the guys with the big fuzzy hats (beefeaters, right?),   Buckingham Palace, Westminster Palace and Big Ben (via webcam!). It’s nothing if not traditional – just like you’d expect. Too bad this was before the big engagement announcement…

I need a hat like that!

Westminister Palace and Big Ben…I think

 On a related note, Mara is really looking forward to her own trip to London in June 2011 with People to People. I’m sure there will be lots of pics from that trip – if she can keep track of a camera that whole trip…and it doesn’t get rained on.


Check Out Our Travel Interview!

A good friend of mine, Janis Jones, owns her own travel business (Venture Time Travel) and has a great travel blog to boot.  We are being featured in the “Traveler Chats” section – woo hoo!  You can check out the interview (with great family pics) here.

Plus, don’t forget to go back to the main page of the blog and check out the whole blog.  Janis and her husband, Jeff, have had some fabulous trips and offer a great point of view on their travels.  And, hey, it’s like taking your own little trip right from your living room, office, couch…


Missing Hawaii…

And not just because there is snow piling up outside right now…

Ok, the snow piling up definitely helps!

Snow Day!

So…lacking any current plans to head to the islands, I did what I could.  I ordered some treats that remind me of the Maui…thank goodness for online shopping.

One of the things I discovered while the kids were scarfing up Ono Gelato (see their last taste here) was very yummy and a little spicy local dressings and sauces by Jeff’s Jams and Jellies.  I was living in memory of these really fresh items until just a couple of months ago when they opened up online ordering.  Woo Hoo!   My faves are the Mango and Papaya – but I’m branching out and trying the Thai dressing this time.  Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with any of Jeff’s creations (which he makes on his own). 

Now…time for some Julia’s Banana Bread – truly the best in the world!  Sure, it won’t be quite the same adventure…but we can eat it while we are reliving the drive.

Even if you haven’t been to Maui, these folks are great local food artisans, and it is so worth it to give them a try (even if you have to save up).  Just think about how much cheaper it is than flying over there…