Mostly harmless (corto) wrote,
Mostly harmless

Bermuda 2008, Another Family Adventure

This is the Vacation Journal of this years "family adventure".
We traveled to Bermuda and much fun was had. :)
I've put all the photo's into this post...
None of that thumbnails and "click me" stuff.
And this is very picture heavy.

Feb 22 Day 1. Awake

Okidoki... Yesterday was a bit of a lost day. Thursday was all about work until quite late, but there was much ready-getting to do. The kids had in their heads that “staying up” would be fun... Note: we needed to leave for the airport at 3:30 am. Kids are kids, however, so they were passed out on the sofa by 1:00. At about 2:20 I was as ready as it’s possible to be... car packed, clothes changed, utter readiness... So I sat down to cruise blog land and the first thing I saw was commentary on that night’s episode of LOST!! Ahhh! I had totally forgotten about LOST... but thankfully, my PVR didn’t forget. So at 2:30 I sat down on the floor, sleeping kiddies behind me, and watched LOST. :D 3:30 arrived, children – bleary eyed – were woken up and we piled into the vacation mobile and we made for the airport. Air travel, with 2 little kids ... was a total breeze. We got to go to a new-to-me part of the TO airport with long moving sidewalks to change terminals, and after some de-icing - weird bright green foam all over the plane – we were on our way. The in-flight in-seat entertainment system was working so I got to watch most of “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium... (and I resolved to see the last half hour on the return voyage). Note: The little airplane “safety card” has this truly bizarre icon that appears to tell passengers that, in the event of an emergency landing, they ought not to slide down the emergency exit-ramp, but rather should magically fly away from the plane!!
Zee and her mom met us at the airport and we cab’ed back across the island to “Southampton” and out little rented cottage by the sea.
1. They drive on the left... crazy people...
2. Our “cottage” was an extension on this families home... very nice... and
3. Not “sea” but ocean. We are in Bermuda... surrounded by shipwrecks, cold Atlantic water and almost no “phytoplankton”??? So the water is unbelievably turquoise. :D
The home-owners have two little, lovable dogs... brothers... and they were the best! Constant companions while we were at home. :) We had two bedrooms, a huge kitchen, a family room with TV and a digital cable box – which amounted to never-ending “Nick-Teen” TV – a BBQ, and all that jazz... :) very nice... We toured the “beach at the end of the street”... “church bay beach”. The reef-outcrops are amazing!
By this time, we had been awake for about eight years... or 36 hours... not sure which... and we could not stay awake! ZONK!

Feb 23 Day 2. Badges? We don’t need no stinking Badges!

Saturday... was a full day adventure. We went to the naval dock yards – using our “good for the week bus-passes. Note: Tiny narrow roads, no sidewalks, lots of walls = scratched up busses. We had a big lunch in a hundreds-of-years-old building... We explored the castle and fortress there, all constructed to defend Bermuda from invaders that never came... and then enjoyed a total “dolphin adventure”. Very cool beans. :)
We explored Horseshoe Bay Beach – conquering a bit of an inaccessible grotto, then home again as the sun finished setting. Hotdogs and soup for dinner with much blessed coffee. I even dared to have a glass of wine... (I can’t normally drink – migraine issues, but this went down nicely). I kept trying to find a random wifi signal for my little Nokia 770... and never managed to get sorted. :(.
After we started out evening “chill”... Zee and Geo were on the trampoline (the cottage has a big ol’tramp out back... er... a trampoline, not Heather Locklear, in a pitch black night, and then ... bang!!! A truck screeches to a stop on the road way out back – behind trees – and all this noise kicks in... tromping, stomping, yelling... I rush out and find?... a dozen army dudes with machine guns setting up a road block. Wa??? After a while, I managed to approach them and listen to them tell me it was a random thing set up as a “practice exercise” for the Bermuda Brigade! ... very trippy. I talked to the homeowner the next day and apparently stuff like this happens a lot in the “off season”... surprise.

Every Bermudian male (note: only the males) must serve training time in the Brigade... I’m not sure how long but it’s measure in years.

Feb 24... Day 3. Climb!

OK, so Bermuda is definitely not the “Caribbean”. I say this because... it’s cold. I mean, ok, it’s not Ottawa cold – I’m in shorts having a go about how cold it is in Bermuda while Ottawa is buried under yet another snow storm... kill me now. :) But you need your hoodie in February here.
Today was a bit of an off-day. Most things are closed on Sundays... add that to “most touristy stuff” is closed during the “off season”. (um... it’s the off season now, btw)... and, so, Sundays are just kind of “off days.”
We ran into the “Brigade” again today when we took a short-cut through a bit of a hillside forest, shortening the paved path to the “Horseshoe Bay Beach”. We stared with pancakes and then packed up snorkeling gear imagining that we were in the Caribbean... and took a bus along the South Rd. to the beach. It’s basically one beach after the other along this coast of the island... they break up into semi-private affairs for resorts and public-parking-lot accessed parks.
So... I’m not used to guns. I mean, I just don’t have guns in my life anywhere, so turning a corner with Geo in some woods... following a well worn path and seeing the backs of a camo-dressed troop that have just seconds ago, silently passed this spot, resplendent with their loaded automatic riffles slung across their backs... gives me a bit of a pause – I gather Geo to my side and then selecting the most opposite direction possible to head-off in, and head-off!
We climbed massive reef’ish outcroppings, and then, after getting past the bitter cold of the water (ok, not horrid, but like... 65F), Geo and I swam to, climbed over, swam again, and picked and poked our way up these cliff structures that were totally out of science fiction and far flung planets. We got a point where Geo said “Ok, this is getting to be something I think I shouldn’t be doing...” (and he’s absolutely fearless). We were at the beginning of a narrow path of sun-kilned reef between one low and one much higher large out-cropping, fifty feet in the air, over stunningly churning seas. Dramatic bass-drum-like rumblings from surf pounding into oddly shaped erosion cavities... spray reaching thirty feet up ... and an endless chorus of a million watery voices carried on torrents of surf splashing over and running down the reef walls. When we considered our position ... we acknowledged it’s terrifying’ness and turned about to head back the way we’d come. :)
I put on the mask and snorkel and lay in the water in this tiny sheltered beachy-lagoon and was awestruck by hundreds of neon yellow and silver stripped fish... like six inches long but in schools, scooting between underwater rock formations.
The Beach Time gave way to bus time and the bus took us into the “city” (lol... six blocks long, three blocks wide, densely packed city) of Hamilton. We hunted groceries and made our way home to cook up a big burger bbq dinner and settled in to watch Oscar be boring.

Feb 25 Day 4 Poncho!

Waking up is haaaaarrrrd to do.
Fortunately, I’m not Neil Sedaka... We struggled out of bed at 9:30, after spending the entire night waiting for the Oscars to be exciting. This never actually happened. I think part of the problem with the Oscars this year was the fact that all the freaking movies this year were horrible, somber, death, murder, betrayal, life-totally-sucks, evil will suck your brain, movies. (It was oddly entertaining to see the unbelievable apple-plug with Stewart using his iPhone... they even zoomed close ‘nuf to see the little apple thing.)
We packed up to go downtown again... this time, taking the ferry from the dock yards. Our goal was souvenirs... and we did that... but we also bought ourselves a matching set of cheep plastic ponchos, seeing as it was pouring out... it rained enough to fill the starving water tanks of the islanders to less than 10% off their desired targets (everybody collects rainwater via their white roofs... This is the only source of totally fresh water. There are a lot of wells too, but they tend to be a bit salty. We caved into curiosity and ate lunch at the only “western fast-food joint” that has ever been allowed to setup shop on the island... KFC – and it was good. We went to the Bermuda Undersea Exploration Institute and took a tour... very cool. It’s amazing how many shipwrecks there have been through history around this place. Oh, and if you put this place in a ring with the Cape Cod “Woodshole Oceanographic Center”... the Bermuda place would kick the crap out of the Hole.
Clear skies returned (“this is Bermuda” goes the the weather changes completely from hour to hour). We took the ferry home again... and had a cook everything in the fridge dinner. I admit that part of my goal is to empty the kitchen of everything but breakfast foods so that we can “go out to dinner”. I don’t mind cooking on vacations... I mean... no big, but ... I do very much enjoy going out to dinner. :D
I had a chance to talk to “the homeowner” for a bit... talked about wifi ... she has a router and yadda yadda, but it was a classic mom-has-no-clue-and-will-ask-15-year-old-son-about-wap/wep security on the router. (in the end... wifi never worked out, so we stayed off-line... which may make you say “dude... you’re on vaca??” but no matter how you slice it... it’s nice to be able to google things, r&d stuff about the island – for example, or just get maps and stuff...
The dogs continue to be a real treat ... and the evening ended with a giant dose of Nick-at-night, with the kids watching what appears to be endless episodes of iCarley, or Drake & Josh, or SpongeBob, or Zoey101... gah!

Feb 26. Day 5 Can You Hear Me Now?

Now that’s what I’m talking about!!! A perfect day in paradise. Sunny skies... and time to enjoy it. We put it all together for another trip to Horseshoe Bay beach, and this time turned left instead of right... This took us to another beautiful beach area, between more massive reefs. The water continues to be c-c-c-c-cold, but – in stark contrast to my normally very wussyish self when it comes to cold water – I totally conquered the water. I swam out far enough to be pushed under and over and all around by the churning surf and swells. There was something beautifully unreal about laying in 12-16 feet of absolutely transparent turquoise water, with the sun lighting up the bottom of the ocean ... the rocks, the sand... all so bizarre. Cold... but wonderful.
In the summer, the water is supposed to get soupy warm, the beach pushes out another 40 feet and the place is packed with tourists sweltering in 100 degree temps and endless humidity. In late February... not so much. :)
We went back to the cottage... had lunch and then zoomed downtown to see a performance of the Bermuda “gombey dancers”. Essentially they are the jungle variety of break-dancing buskers in outstanding African tribal dance costumes. We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called “Tratorias” (sp?)
My MIL (if I haven’t mentioned it yet... My MIL is here every year for the month of Feb, and Zee came down to spend a week with her, and then the boys and I joined her for our own “family week”. MIL had a lovely little cottage – again, an add-on to someone’s gorgeous Bermudian home, and we had ours. She hung with us on many of our adventures... it was very nice... she knows this place like the back of her hand. :) Dinner was little home-made pizzas for the boys and pasta for us... What I wanted wasn’t on the menu but they made it for me anyways... (angle hair pasta, arabica sauce – spicy spicy bolognaise, with garlic and shrimp – just fantastic).
Home again... after dark... on the bus... to watch more nick-at-night, and this time to cut our teeth on the “George Lopez show”... hahahaha... what a laugh.
Ps. Everybody here has a cell phone... little kids, old folks...... everybody... and they’re constantly on-the-phone. I mean, while their driving around on their scooters they’re blabbing on the phones... AND on the busses... like... twenty phone convo’s going on at once. Not a bad thing, btw... I’m all for it... just noting how pervasive it was.
Pps. I sunburned my head... my little bald spot was quite angry with me.

Feb. 27 Day 6 Blow

Woke up after a very strange night of dreams. Paris Hilton did a guest bit on the epi of George Lopez we watched last night and then did a guest bit in this weird weird dream. Something about one of our pieces of luggage, buried in the sand, Zee’s sister, and Paris arguing about something... it was just weird. The thing is, I woke up from it when I “laughed at them”... and I was sitting there in the deepest of pitch blacks... unaware of reality... still in dream time... and only snapped back when Zee, awakened by my laughing, calmly asks from the darkness... “what?” Then it was instant-on, snap-back-to-reality ... so I laughed again. :).
Dawn arrived with some wind. The day seemed bent on finding bad weather, but brilliant moments keep winning the battle. We bussed the full length of the island to St. George’s to watch the “ducking of the wench”, which clearly should be called “the dunking of the wench” but this is not to be. We ate the “best pizza” on the island at “Tavern On The Sea” I ate an enormous amount of food. We rolled me back to another bus... and ended up at “The Crystal / Fantasy Caves”. Un-measurably old caves. Lots of pictures. As the rather monotone-ish tour guide led us towards the entrance to the first cave, he told us about the local flora. We were invited to break a leaf off this one tree and smell it. Guesses all around but none of us got it right. As the guide said “I always thought all-spice was a collection of many spices, but no... it’s that leaf... from the All-Spice tree.” More buses... and still full! The wind kept picking up... and now it’s blowing like mad. TV weather is calling for “gale force winds”... warm gale force winds. Our nights still end with nick-at-night and getting the littlest guy to take a shower. Did I mention the wind? K... wow!

Feb 28 Day 7 Saucy

So, our last night was kinda wicked. The wind kept at it and turned to a full on thunder and lightening deal causing both kids were relocated to our bed. Dawn arrived with cloudy skies but dead calm, no rain... We lazed about for a while. MIL came over for coffee. Downtown again to hunt for tee shirts and more little treasures. We bought lots of sauces... nice stuff for neighbors and family. We snagged a bag of sand at the beach... yes, to bring home. :) More of the “eat everything in the kitchen” and packing n’stuff. A peaceful easy day. We scoot for the airport tomorrow.(084-085)

Feb 29 – Leaping at Day 8. The White Phone is For Loading and ...

A travel day... not much to say... except that I got to watch the end of Mr. Magorium and then watched two-thirds of Michael Clayton. As we arrived in Toronto... it became increasingly obvious that things were amiss. We couldn’t see more then 25 feet away in any direction. White... everywhere. We got off the plane, cleared customs, and were told our flight from TO to Ottawa was nadda – cancelled. “Please use the white-phones to contact Air Canada to re-book your flight.” Everything was cancelled... except a flight at 8:00 pm or tomorrow. We managed to get rebooked on the 8:00, which ended up delayed to 10:40... then 11:00. We got home at 2:00 am. The kids were amazing, all things considered. It was mayhem.
Home means laundry... and work... and groceries... and stuff. :(
Vacation ... is way better. :)

Videos... will come another day. :)
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