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Las Vegas and Death Valley For my kids winter break, we looked up what flights were available for cheap points on Delta. After comparing most of the US, Las Vegas came out cheapest for the days we wanted. I have been all over the US, but have never been to Death Valley so we decided to combine the two.

Thursday midday, we (my mom, my sister, me and three of my four kids) flew from JFK to LAS. We landed midday, rented an SUV and drove to Pahrump, about halfway to Death Valley. We stayed at a really nice Holiday Inn Express that had everything we needed - 2 beds, a pull out couch, microwave and refrigerator plus free breakfast. The hotel was pretty new, clean and the staff was friendly. It was too cold to use the pool. Right across from the parking lot was a casino/bowling alley/movie theater/bar type place and the hotel gave us coupons to get free drinks and tshirts there.

The next morning we drove out to Death Valley. The ride itself is unbelievably beautiful and only a precursor to the amazing views in Death Valley itself. Our first stop in Death Valley was Zabriskie Point - it's a paved path with unbelievable views. The topography is so different from anything I've seen. It's no wonder Star Wars had scenes filmed there! Unfortunately, the weather wasn't very cooperative. It rained most of the time we were there, which is very strange for Death Valley! It almost never rains there. We also drove down to the salt flats and walked on them. It's very cool and very unsteady walking.

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After Zabriskie Point, we checked in at the hotel. We stayed at the Furnace Creek Ranch. It's a beautiful, clean older hotel. We had two adjoining rooms with a terrace and an amazing view.

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On the grounds of the hotel is the Borax Museum, a gift shop/grocery store, restaurants, a pool fed from a hot spring and horses. It was a really nice place to walk around on Shabbos.

Sunday, we were supposed to take a Jeep tour of Titus Canyon, but flooding made it impossible so we changed our destination to Echo Canyon/20 Mule Canyon. We drove up to the mine and were able to poke around a miners shack and see a mine from the outside. The views are breathtaking but the rain made it hard to capture. Then we went to 20 Mule Canyon where my kids loved climbing on the weird hills. We stopped at Borax Works which was okay and drove through mustard canyon.

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In the afternoon, we hiked through Golden Canyon. It was a great easy hike where my kids could climb the walls.

Monday morning, we checked out and drove to the Salt Creek Interpretive trail, a nice boardwalk with a desert river.

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After (and the highlight in most of my family's opinion), was the Mesquite Sand Dunes. You park the car and just walk along these large sand dunes that go on for miles and miles. My kids really enjoyed rolling down them!

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The final stop in Death Valley was Ubehebe Crater. I don't know what I was really expecting, but it is an absolutely enormous crater in the ground. It's extremely windy at the top so hold on to your hats. We originally planned to hike around the rim, but you could really see the entire crater from the parking area. There are no guardrails or anything and it's kind of creepy standing at the edge.

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We drove out of the park and stopped in Rhyolite, a ghost town in Nevada. You can drive around and see the school and some buildings. It's interesting to see, but not worth driving too far out of the way.  Then we made our way to Beaty,  where we stopped at their free museum. It's nothing to write home about, but was a place with a clean bathroom and a place to stretch our legs, followed by the drive to Vegas.

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In Vegas, we had planned to stay at the Fairfield Inn right off the strip. Free breakfast for my kids is a big deal - they eat a lot and it makes the rest of the day easier with respect to food so no strip hotels for us. We had booked a "two room suite" which turned out to be the tiniest suite I've ever seen. They say it can fit 6 people, but if you pull the sofa bed out, there is no way to walk past, blocking in anyone on the beds. I'm surprised fire code allowed that. We spoke to the manager who told us it's a common complaint and put us at the nearby Residence Inn, honoring the Fairfield rate (we are Marriott Platinum members, that might have helped). The Residence Inn was perfect for us - they had a shuttle to the strip, free breakfast and a really nice pool.

In Vegas, we explored the strip. We stopped in many of the hotels to see/do what was unique there. My kids loved the arcade at the excalibur because there was a claw game that you played until you won and only cost $1. They loved seeing the Volcano erupt at the Mirage and the circus acts at Circus Circus and watching people gamble when they could. Our favorite activity in Vegas was the High Roller, the really tall, slow ferris wheel. It takes about 30 minutes to go around full circle. The cars are spacious and the views are terrific and kids can move around inside the cars.

From Vegas, we took two day trips. One was to Hoover Dam, which was an incredible engineering marvel. I'm an engineer for a utility company, and this really impressed me.

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The other trip we took was to Red Rock Canyon. Hiking there is incredible. Everything is easily accessible and you can rock climb all over, with no skill necessary. My 5 year old had absolutely no problem keeping up with her 7 and 8 year old brothers.
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I loved the juxtaposition of the nature at Death Valley and Red Rock Canyon to the glitz and glamour of Vegas. We flew home Saturday night on the red eye and we all survived. My kids even slept on the plane.


March 28, 2017, 10:57:20 PM
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Are you a travel snob? When people tell me they are so excited to go to Florida or some other common place I wonder "Really? You are so excited to go there? There are so many fabulous places to go why are you going back to Florida/LA/Lake George or wherever mundane place they've chosen" Nothing against those locations, but after you've gone, there are so many other places to see in the world.

Or when my coworker told me that he and his fiancee are going to Jamaica on their honeymoon and his fiance is so excited because she's never been out of the US. She grew up 3 hours from the Canadian border!

I don't consider myself particularly well traveled and there are so many places I've never been to.  I know lots of people who travel more, have been to more places etc.  But I think I've turned into a travel snob.

May 04, 2017, 08:00:26 AM
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Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
That is funny about the schools but they are probably comparing to free public school and for us 15k is normal (or cheap) for a frum school (especially HS) and they offer the students SO many more educational options and activities!  ;D

+1 Drivers are very aggressive and insane, parking is difficult and Uber is so cheap, I don't think I'd personally rent a car even for a long term stay.

Where did you end up going and staying?  Anything you definitely recommend doing if we go back?

We stayed at the Marriott. It was on point savers so 5 nights was 40,000 points. The hotel was very nice but the area was not great and a decent walk to restaurants. It wasn't bad (like 20 minutes) but annoying enough.  We also used a 1 night anniversary cert and 1 night "regular" points.

We loved taking a boat ride through the Panama Canal.  It was absolutely the highlight of our trip (and really the reason we went to Panama!).

We also did Monkey Island, which was amazing. The monkeys come to the boat to eat.

We went to El Valle and that was great. It has a cool zoo of animals in the region, we went on a hike up a mountain (not for little kids! It was really steep).  They have thermal pools with mud masks (not a must). We missed hiking to the square trees and I so want to do that!

We took a tour of San Lorenzo fort and Soberenia National Park and hiked the rainforest. We saw a ton of animals. That was really fun but not a "must see."

We did an overnight in San Blas Islands. It's like pure paradise with amenities to boot (meaning, the light bulb in our room was considered luxury LOL). I'm not sure I would bring little kids along, though you totally could. We snorkeled and swam and toured deserted islands and saw star fish.

We toured Casco Viejo / San Felipe and that was kind of eh. The colonial buildings are pretty cool but the tour was unnecessary.

I would also skip Prime Grill - the entrees were pretty gross there.

May 25, 2017, 02:00:49 PM
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Re: Keeping Up With The Kushners
Confirmed. Modern orthodox is conservative.

Eye roll.

June 16, 2017, 12:42:24 PM
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A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR When I turned 34, my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told her that in 1 year, I wanted her to watch my 4 kids while I went on vacation with my husband. We hadn't gone away alone together since we went to Japan back in 2007. We were long overdue for a solo trip! She agreed. We figured at that point, our youngest would be just about 4 years old and really ready for both of his parents to be gone for an extended period of time. We had to work out schedules for both our jobs, my mother's travel schedule and my sister's availability to help my mother and we landed on going in May.

We considered many different places but wanted the following criteria:

1) Bucket list item
2) Easy to travel to (language, currency, access)
3) Lots of activities and things to see
4) Kosher food (We don't normally mind the tuna packets, but wanted to with a nicer vacation this time)
5) Good for a week of travel, including travel time

Panama hit all the items on the list. I have always been fascinated by the canal, how well designed and built it was, how simple gravity helps ships navigate through the mountain ranges in Panama. Panama also has no visa requirements for US citizens and uses the US dollar as currency, so no changing money. They officially have their own currency, the Balboa, but no one uses it.

Since our schedule was flexible, we were able to book United Saver award tickets EWR-MIA-PTY for 35,000 United points each.

The Panama Marriott was also on point savers, so we book 5 nights for 40,000 points. Our original plan was to fly in PTY, spend 5 days exploring the area and then fly up to David to see the coffee plantations and do some amazing rafting and hiking, but by the time we tried to book those flights, they were very expensive. We decided that instead of doing a day trip to San Blas, we would rather stay overnight in San Blas.
Google
We wanted to plan a relatively active trip, but didn't really feel like renting a car so we decided to book day tours. We looked into a lot of different tour companies and finally settled on Almeza Tours (also known as My Friend Mario). Our friends had recently come back and used them and been very happy. They were also willing to negotiate on price and provide us transportation to and from the airport. This checked off our easy to travel requirement!

With our plans in pace and childcare settled, we were ready to go!

For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, our pictures were taken on a Samsung Galaxy S5, an iPhone 5s or an Olympus TG-5. 

Leaving from Newark

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Our first view of Panama City



When we got to Panama City, we were greeted by Mario, who would be our tour guide for a few day trips. His car had many license plates stacked up on top of each other but we never asked him why. Sometimes, you just don't want to know the answer.



He dropped us off at the Marriott and we checked. We chose the Marriott because we had enough points and was on point savers discount. The hotel itself is beautiful. It has that old world colonial charm. We got a standard room which was quite spacious and had a mini fridge. The bathroom was perfectly nice and clean, the beds were comfortable and everything was as you expect from a full service Marriott. The hotel had a really nice pool area with a pool, hot tub, hammocks and lounge chairs. It's fully enclosed and you can enter through the gym. We requested a low floor and were put on the third, right next to an accessible staircase. It worked out very well for shabbos.  However, if I were going back, it would not be my first choice of hotels to stay at. The Hotel is sort of in the middle of nowhere. The kosher restaurants are a 20 minute walk, the shul was a 30 minute walk and wans't in the eruv. We knew all that before going, but I didn't realize just how humid Panama was.









After settling in, we walk to Jeffrey's Bakery, where we picked up empanadas for breakfast and lunch for the next day. Then we went to Aroma Cafe for dinner. Aroma is a beautiful restaurant and very white. We walked in during early dinner hours so the restaurant was empty. The staff didn't speak a word of English (and we speak enough Spanish to ask for cerveza fria), but they had an English menu. Fish is amazingly cheap there, so a large portion of sea bass was around $16. They served delicious bread to start and we ordered focaccia, sea bass, fried mushrooms and a margarita. Everything was delicious - it was one of our favorite restaurants.















July 18, 2017, 08:56:09 PM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 2:

Mario picked us up at our hotel at 7 am and we drove out to the boat dock on the Chagres River. The scenery is amazing. The blues and greens are so vivid everywhere!





We boarded the boat, which took off in the direction of Lake Gatun and Monkey Island. On the way, we passed large cargo containers traversing the river and you can see many barges and cranes for boats to load/unload their cargo. Once we made it out to the Monkey Islands area, we drove around to a few different island to see the monkey. The monkeys come right on the boat to eat peanuts and fruit and will snatch it directly from you. One monkey defecated on the boat. They are direct and a little aggressive but not harmful and it's a lot of fun to feed them. Make sure to go early in the morning to make sure the monkeys are still hungry! We also saw iguanas, turtles, birds and alligators.











Next, we drove to San Felipe/Casco Viejo. Parking is really hard to find in San Felipe. The streets are really narrow and there just aren't many spots. Finally, we parked in a lot and found a car that basically used saran wrap to keep the back half on.



Honestly, I found it to be one of the least interesting parts of our trip. It's the old part of Panama and has a nice, colorful history, but it wasn't amazing. We liked looking at the juxtaposition between the old, dilapidated buildings that weren't updated and the newly fixed up in old world style buildings. It has a lot of cafes and bars and apparently the nightlife is fun, but we never made it back for the night. The views of Panama City are beautiful and there's a small market near the water. We enjoyed our time there but I don't think it's a must see (ducking the rotten tomatoes).













After San Felipe, we decided to have a rare early afternoon. We were originally going to go to Amador Causeway but decided that since we were going on Sunday when we went for a canal boat ride, we would rather relax at the pool. After a refreshing dip in the pool, we went to Metsuyan for dinner. I don't remember what anything we ate was called, but everything was delicious. We ate early again and the entire restaurant was empty. We stopped at Jeffrey's to get more (amazing!) empanadas.






July 18, 2017, 09:33:09 PM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 3:

Mario picked us up at 7 am for the drive to El Valle de Anton. It's about a 2 hour trip outside of Panama City. The initial roads are fine, but once you get up near El Valle, the roads are windy, curving and climbing. There aren't too many guardrails either. We didn't do the driving ourselves but the roads were good. El Valle is a town that was built inside a Volcano crater. Our first stop was the zoo. Inside the zoo, there are lots of animals that are indigenous to the area and some that aren't. We saw toucans, macaws, emus, monkeys, frogs, jaguar, and lots and lots of chickens for some reason. I even saw one of those crazy stick bugs in the wild! I find it really creepy that the bug looks exactly like a stick but it moves. The views from the zoo was amazing and we enjoyed our stroll through. We were there for roughly 1-1.5 hours.











Next, we went on a hike up to the Sleeping Indian. It was billed as a moderate hike, but boy was it rough. The incline is 45 degrees on wet, slippery leaves and you hike through the rain forest. It's really slippery and the air is humid. Once we got above the trees, the views were breathtaking. It feels like you can see the entire world from up there. We decided to eat lunch near the top and then work our way back down, my husband jokingly cursing me the whole way for having him dragged him up such a crazy hike.









We stopped at the town market (eh, we bought a pineapple, the rest of the stuff was chinese junk). Then we went to the thermal pool. We put on mud masks and soaked in the warm pools. They weren't very warm though, much more like tepid. There were a whole bunch of other tourists there when we came. It was enjoyable. The place had changing rooms, bathrooms and some facilities for kids.



Unfortunately, we didn't have time to see the square trees. We drove back to Panama City and went straight to Hilel Sports Bar and Grill. The food there was fantastic. We had tacos, fajitas and some sausage dish. The staff was very attentive and kept refilling my agua caliente.







July 18, 2017, 10:05:30 PM
2
Re: Writing a trip report? Here's how to add pictures.
Moved them to Flickr!

I misread your first post.

That's what I ended up doing, but that's annoying when they are already hosted.

July 20, 2017, 07:52:28 AM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 4:

Our original plan was to go to Lake Bayano and go in the caves, but after the strenuous hike the day before, my husband asked if we could redo the plans for something easier.  We decided to go to Colon instead.  Mario picked us up, we picked up two of the most annoying women I've ever met, and then we drove out to Colon. Colon itself is just a regular city but we got the narrative about the businesses in the area. Apparently, Jews own most of the businesses, followed by a lot of middle easterners. There is a staunch juxtaposition between the wealthy and the poor. 

Then we took a vehicle ferry to drive to Soberenia National Park, a rainforest on the Caribbean side of Panama. There's a paved road throughout and we tried to find animals as we drove. We say many - toucans, monkeys, butterflies, sloths, lots and lots of insects. After driving on the road for a while, we all go out and took a hike through the rainforest. The rainforest is very noisy - the monkeys are shouting, wild pigs are snorting, every insect is humming and the birds are chirping. It's really serene and enjoyable to just stand and listen to the sounds of nature. One of the most amazing things we saw was a huge line of ants marching through the rainforest, each holding a sizable piece of leaf. Every day, the ants replace the lining inside their anthill with fresh leaves. It was incredible to watch the synchronization and order of these tiny ants that each know their part. Here's a video that shows a tiny portion of the ants running:  https://1drv.ms/v/s!At4HWeqiFYNvh6NsRHro0_IwdUIbUw

On the Ferry:


Sloth in a tree:



Monkeys in the wild:



Termites!:


We even found a monkey skull!



Rainforest:


After we finished our hike, we went back to the car. We started driving and our guide stopped and pulled over. He starting feeling his neck and pulled off a tick! He was the only one in the group who didn't douse themselves with bug spray. We had all used the super strong, deet filled off and were glad we did. No one else in the group got a tick and the guide used our bug spray after that.

Next up was Fort San Lorenzo. The fort had been the main protection to Panama City way back when because it guards the Chagres River, which was the easiest route to attack Panama City. There's a long history of pirate attacks and failures, until the pirates banded together and decimated Fort San Lorenzo. One soldier escaped and warned the people in Panama City, who escaped to South America. The pirates didn't have much to loot when they finally got to Panama City. The views from the fort are incredible - you can see the Chagres River and the Caribbean and the view goes on for miles.





We found bats!


After a tour of the fort, we drove to the new Agua Clara locks. The new highway isn't built yet, so there is a road that drives right over the lock during times that the boats aren't moving. We drove across and got to the see the locks up close and personal. The road is not always open so check on the times, but it's worth a trip across the road. When you get to the other side, you can turn around and go back.







We drove back to Panama City and then got ready for Shabbat. A few days before, we had stopped at the shul for them to photocopy our passports. Since we weren't staying in the eruv, we couldn't carry them to shul and you need your passport to get in. When we were there, we met Rabbi Laino and his wife and they invited us for dinner friday night. We went to shul friday night (services were long!) and then went to the rabbi's house. The rabbi also had another couple who was traveling from NY, a woman who was traveling on business and a local family, who were immigrants from Canada. When we mentioned that we were going to San Blas, they told us their long horror story about going to San Blas, including having to bribe their driver on the way out. We were kind of concerned about our upcoming trip, but they gave us some advice that turned out to be helpful, like bring your own towels. We also had an opportunity to talk to them about life and Jewish life in Panama, which was really interesting to hear about. Yeshiva tuition is a fortune there too!

July 23, 2017, 07:51:05 AM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 5:

For Shabbat, we went back to shul. The shul itself is amazing. There's a large courtyard in the building, a small sanctuary, a large sanctuary and lots of rooms. Everything is clean and beautiful. The main sanctuary is stunning. The women's balcony overlooks the men's section below, and you can see the Torah reading. Services were very interesting - after every aliyah, someone else got up to give small dvar torah (in spanish, so I have no idea what they said). The sanctuary is enormous but only a fraction is filled.

After shul was over, everyone went downstairs for kiddush. When I say kiddush, I mean a full, sit down lunch called a kiddush. The food was great and people were so friendly! A nice family invited us to sit down with them. Turned out we had friends in common (hey, Jewish geography!) and one of them was originally from NY. They expanded on life in Panama and we had a really nice time. I highly recommend going to shul if you are there.

Saturday night, we went out to Kava. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Sortis and is a very funky restaurant, with nice decor. You can sit inside or outside, but we opted for inside with air condition. We aren't panamanian and are definitely not used to the crazy humidity!!  It's a definite scene on saturday night. The food was incredible!  We had sushi pizza (an absolute must!), fish nachos (delicious, but once was enough) and a sea bass dish with mashed potatoes (also delicious, but a small portion).





July 23, 2017, 07:59:56 AM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 6:

This was the day I had been most looking forward to. We were going to take a boat ride on the canal, pretty much the reason we came to Panama. We started our morning with an early climb to Ancon Hill. The path is paved so you can't really call it a hike, but it is fairly steep up. It had rained a few hours before but had stopped and the animals were out in droves. We say poisonous frogs, toucans, sloths, vultures, this weird rabbit like animal who's name I can't remember, salamanders, and lots and lots of birds. Apparently, seeing the poisonous frogs is pretty rare so we were lucky. The views at the top of Ancon Hill were amazing - you can see for miles and see beautiful skyline views of Panama City. At the top is also the location that Panamanians fought to put their flag, where it now stands proudly. We loved going there and would highly recommend the walk. It's paved so you can bike or push a stroller (though that might be really hard with the incline!). We did pass a lot of local bikers and runners. After Ancon Hill, we drove passed a monument to those who tried to raise the Panamanian flag and some graffitti art dedicated to those who were involved.

Here's a poisonous frog:


Views from the top:




Flag atop Ancon Hill:


Graffiti Art:


Next, there was some time before we had to get to Amador Causeway for our boat ride, so we stopped at a local fruit and vegetable market. It's the kind that restaurants and hotels go to get their food. We stopped at a stall and got fresh pineapple cut for us. It was delicious and sweet.



Next stop Amador Causeway: Amador Causeway is really nice if you are local and looking for a place to bike a walk. It's nothing special IMO if you are a visitor and definitely not a must see. There's a new museum there and it's where the canal boat ride group met, but otherwise wasn't a must see even though everyone seems to talk about it like it is. It has really pretty views of Panama City and a very nice playground. We stopped to take pictures at the Panama sign (like every other tourist) before boarding a bus to the boat launch.



I can't even begin to describe what an incredible experience going through the canal is. No trip report can do it justice. We opted for a half day trip, which was a good amount of time. Since it was off season, the boat was pretty empty. We got the front seats on top deck and had a great view the entire time.

The first notable thing we passed was a crane called "Herman the German". It used to be used by the Nazis and is now used for Canal maintenance. It's a pretty interesting piece of machinery.



We also passed by this welcome sign:

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The boat ride is narrated with just enough information that makes you feel like you learned about the canal, but not so much that you can't have a nice conversation floating down the river.

Going through the locks is very expensive, and wastes a lot of fresh water, so usually multiple ships go through at the same time. Our little ship went through with a sailboat and a cargo ship. The route we took has two sets of locks - the first is a single lock called Pedro Miguel and the second is the double locks at Miraflores.

Approaching the Pedro Miguel locks:



Our lock mates:



Opening the gates for the ship:


The way the canal works is very simple. The boat moves into the first lock. They open a set of valves between the lock and the next chamber (or body of water) and let the water level equalize. Then the gates open and the ship(s) move through.


People in the Miraflores visitors center watching the ships go through:



The gates:



Exiting the Miraflores lock:


I can't stress enough that the experience in really incredible. It's a real feat of engineering, especially considering how long the french tried and failed to make a canal system in Panama. It's very old, well designed and even though no one really knew a lot about concrete back then, the walls are holding up well. It is well worth the pricey cost of the boat ride (about $150/pp).

That night we opted for Pita Plus for dinner. The food is simple and incredible. Their yuca fries are delicious, as was everything we tried (we didn't try their burgers though!). We also picked up some food for San Blas the next day.










July 30, 2017, 08:47:57 AM
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Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR Day 7:

After eating out on Day 6, we stopped by the smaller kosher supermarket and picked up supplies for San Blas. Then we went back to the hotel and packed up. We left most of our things at the Marriott while we went away. We were a little nervous about going to San Blas because of the couple we had met on shabbat. They had a terrible experience and described a really hellish experience. We weren't sure what to expect, but we did borrow some towels, soap and shampoo for the road. Which turned out to be a very good thing!

Our driver came bright and early to pick us up, around 5:30 am. We climbed into a beautiful, spacious SUV for the drive out to the boat launch. The first half of the trip was great - the drive was smooth, the view was beautiful...until we got to the Guna Yala territory. We paid the $20 fee per person at the guard station and then kept driving. The roads changed - there were potholes everywhere, the inclines were ridiculous steep and the road curved all over the place. I get bad motion sickness and I thought I was going to die. Really, the ride is pretty terrible (my husband was fine). When we got to the boat launch, I almost turned right back with the driver.  Instead, we doused ourselves with bug spray and waited for the boat to arrive.

Boat Launch:


Boat to the islands:


The boat left and went out to the Caribbean Sea. It stopped at what they called a pueblo, which was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. It was basically a small island with houses built out of trash. Literally. Shacks were erected with random pieces of wood or metal and used tarps and cardboard and random things to put a roof up (I didn't get a good picture of it). The boat got gas, which basically meant they poured gas from large containers (no standard - there were all sorts of plastic containers they used and definitely ones that were not made to store gas!) into gas cans on the boat.

Pueblo:



We rode out to our final destination - a tiny island that you can traverse in ten minutes if you walk slowly. The ride out was beautiful. The water is a beautiful shade of blue and besides for the occasional piece of trash, all you see are tiny islands. The islands really look they were out of a movie - they are tiny, have some palm trees, white sand, and absolutely nothing else.



When we booked, we used a tour company that a friend of mine had used on a previous trip, Guna Yala Explorer . It was horrifically expensive ($225/night per person) and more than I've ever spent on a hotel room (and no points redemption options!) but we wanted someplace we felt we could trust. It included round trip from/to Panama City, a tour of the islands and food. We booked an overwater bungalow because we figure we may never get to Maldives or the South Pacific, so we should grab the experience while we still can.

They call the bungalows rustic and they are. It's a fancy place because they have a light bulb available all night long so you can see on your way to the bathroom, and the bathroom is fully functional, but that's about as fancy as it gets. There were two bedrooms (you get the entire bungalow, but can fit 4 people if you want), each room with a double bed. There's a small bathroom with limited water pressure in the shower (and bring your own soap for washing your hands!). There's a covered deck for dining and a hammock and you are literally in paradise. Off the end of the deck was a gate to a ladder, where you can go snorkeling and swimming right off of. It was pricey but well worth it.













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We sat down and ate the last of our real food from Pita Plus for lunch.



We took a walk around the island. The entire island takes about ten minutes to get around if you stroll. We saw a lot of interesting things on our way.

Solar power:


The plumbing system:


A noose:


Canoe:


We also bumped into a native who decided he was going to teach us spanish. Si senor! Then we went snorkeling. I didn't realize that we need to bring our own snorkel gear, but they lent us a set to use. I'm not sure if there is normally a charge, but after they tried to tell us something a few times and I didn't understand, they just said "Gratis!"

The snorkeling is beautiful (it doesn't compare to the great barrier reef or anything, but it was great). There's a ton of coral and fish right around the island.







For dinner, we asked them for whole fruit (thank you google translate!) and they gave us some delicious bananas, pineapple and oranges. We also had some bread with us. It was a stormy night, so we sat on the deck watching the sunset, then showered in the really limited water pressure showers and went to bed early. You can hear the water gently lapping against the shore all night long and it was really relaxing.


August 02, 2017, 09:15:33 PM
3
Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR
great pictures and report.  If I'm not up for the rustic accommodations, do you think a day trip would be enough time to enjoy?

You can but it's a long day. It's like 3 hours in each direction plus a boat ride to islands (maybe an hour depending on where they take you) plus time on the islands. Can your kids handle a 12-14 hour day?

The rooms were clean. The bathroom worked, although the water pressure in the shower was not what you would normally find. The toilet flushed regularly. The beds were perfectly comfortable. It's really the lack of regular electricity and wifi that makes it rustic.

So yes, doable, but a totally different experience.

August 03, 2017, 07:21:45 AM
1
Re: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama - saw50st8 TR We woke up with sun (so late for my normal schedule!) and enjoyed looking at the view. The clear, turquoise water spreads out for miles with nothing to block the view but small, deserted islands. At one point, the island kids took their boat out to go to school (there are like 10 kids on the island, so they congregate at a larger island for school). We saw a crab climbing around on the rocks beneath our bungalow and listened to the quiet noises of paradise.

For breakfast, they brought us more whole fruit. Then we packed up, took another stroll around the island and then went out for a tour. Our first stop was deserted island #1. I'm sure it had a real name too. There is a small hut in the center of the island so someone must have tried to live or stay there at some point, but it was uninhabited now.  It's really interesting to be on an island that's totally deserted.



We found a crab (and some beautiful shells).


Next, we went another deserted island. That island had an incredibly shallow depth of water all around it. You could walk out hundreds of feet and the water was only up to your knees.

This picture was taken with me standing in the water, not on a boat:





We could have kept going out much farther. It was weird to feel like you are walking in the middle of the sea.

Here's my husband out in the middle of nowhere.


While we were exploring that island, our tour guide left to catch fish for lunch. Here's what he caught, I wasn't sorry not to eat the fish with all the teeth!:







Our last island stop was at Starfish Island. The water surrounding the island is littered with starfish. The water is deep and clear and awesome to swim in.







The natives themselves though have houses built of basically trash, which made our accommodations feel like we were in a 5 star hotel in comparison:



Everyone else ate the fish for lunch and then we were off for our final stop - I don't remember its name but it was this flat sandy area under the water in the middle of the sea. It was kind of like an underwater island that you could stand up on. We were exhausted at that point, so we didn't get out, but a bunch of the people we toured with did. Then we went back to our island to pack up for the trip back to Panama City.

The way back wasn't as bad as the way there. I don't know if it was because I knew exactly what to be prepared for or because the twists and turns were at the beginning of the ride, but we arrived back in Panama City in one piece. We checked back into the Marriott and then headed out for dinner. We stopped by Jeffrey's to pick up some food for the way home and some empanadas for my mother. I wanted to give her a nice gift for watching my kids, and she hates stuff, but knew she would love empanadas. Spoiler alert - she did! Our plan had been to go to Darna Dairy for dinner, but we got there at 8 pm so they were closed. Instead we went to Prime Grill.

Meat empanadas were delicious:



Soup was fantastic:



The main dishes were awful. Although we ordered two different dishes, it was basically impossible to distinguish one from the other. Both of them tasted like someone dropped an entire bottle of soy sauce on it. We aren't picky eaters, but it was really gross - one was "meat special" and the other was "rice and meat dish" (paraphrasing because I don't remember the full spanish names). It was a disappointing way to end the trip.





After dinner, we walked back to the Marriott for our last night in Panama. We woke up in the morning and flew back home. We immensely enjoyed Panama and I would go back there in a heartbeat. The country is beautiful and it has some of everything - mountains, beaches, rainforest, culture. The only drawback is the humidity :-)

[It feel good to actually finish this TR!]

August 03, 2017, 06:42:08 PM
5
Re: Lancaster, PA (And Hershey Park) Master Thread
Planning an itinerary for Harrisburg next week, going with kids aged 1-8. Staying at Sheraton.

Considering how many here visit Lancaster and Harrisburg, the wiki is severely deficient. Here are some options we're considering:

1. Lake Tobias https://www.laketobias.com/
2. Indian Echo Caverns http://indianechocaverns.com/
3. Crayola Experience http://www.crayolaexperience.com/easton
I've been to Crayola, wasn't crazy about it but apparently the kids love it. It's about midway between Monsey and Harrisburg, so a good way to break up the trip. There's also a Groupon available for $14 (website rate is $18, on location is $20). https://www.groupon.com/deals/gl-crayola-experience-easton-pa
4. Hershey's Chocolate World https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/en_us.html

Anyone been to any of those places? Any reviews?
What are the minyan options? Kesher Israel has a 6:45. Does Chabad have minyanim during the week? Can i expect pick-up minyanim at the Sheraton?

Any info would be appreciated. I'll update wiki with the above attractions.


Indian Echo Caverns is really fun! I personally hated the Turkey Hill Experience. It's pretty useless. Go to a grocery store and get a few tubs of ice cream instead.

There's a Harley Davidson Factory in York but kids need to be 12+ to attend tours.

On the way from NJ, we stopped at Hopewell Furnace (https://www.nps.gov/hofu/index.htm) which was amazing! Great demonstrations on iron smithing.

Crayola factory is fun if your kids like arts and crafts kind of stuff.

Kilgore Falls is about an hour south of Lancaster and it was a really fun hike to a waterfall. We went there on our way to Maryland.


August 25, 2017, 02:40:47 PM
1
Re: Hairgate I don't think this is on the school. I think this is on the parents for patronizing schools with ridiculous rules. People like the rules otherwise they would vote with their feet. Even in Lakewood, you have autonomy. You can choose to bus your kid to a school outside of Lakewood if the rules bother you or you can homeschool or you can move or you can start a new school. You aren't stuck. If you choose to be a part of the greater Lakewood community and choose to utilize the schools in the community then you are agreeing to the rules.

Do I think the rules are crazy? Absolutely. As a student, I fought hard against any rule that wasn't in the handbook and refused to remove things like my ankle bracelet since there was no rule against it. A few years after I left the school, they implemented a rule "No stylish haircuts." Crazy, but it's not a school that I would ever consider sending my kids to. I send my kids to a normal school with rules that make sense to me or rules that I can live with.


September 04, 2017, 09:52:12 AM
1
Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure Incredible! Both the setting and your photography.
September 19, 2017, 07:56:02 AM
1
Re: Which States Have You Been To?
MT!

People that have been to all 50 need to say their favorite places...

Wyoming and Montana. If I had to pick one, it would be Wyoming.

I think least favorite is a harder question to answer!




September 20, 2017, 01:08:49 PM
1
Re: HOT: SAS - Kids fly free with adult ticket US > Scandinavia - Gr8 for lg fams
Please report back, maybe even post a screenshot :D

I got it to work on www.flysas.com - but I haven't checked out yet.  I'm trying to finalize the plans/dates.  The flight I chose is about $600/adult and then $55 in taxes for each kid Thanksgiving week.

September 25, 2017, 12:14:59 PM
2
saw50st8 TR to Tennessee My 9 year old had been bugging me to fly somewhere for our summer vacation. We usually drive because there are so many places to see near NJ and my kids are all really close in age, so the thought of dragging 4 really little kids on a plane was really not appealing. But at this point, my youngest would already be 4 so I agreed that if we could find cheap flights somewhere, then we could fly. I was playing around on google flights one day and found non stop flights from EWR to TYS for $120/pp. I've been to Tennessee a few times and always wanted to go back to the Smoky Mountains. I logged onto Chase and those flights were slightly more expensive, but I booked them anyway. We got all 6 flights for under 60,000 UR.  My son was so excited when I told him!

Next up was looking for a hotel. I wanted a hotel that was convenient for all the activities and also big enough to have the 6 of us in one room. We chose the Holiday Inn Express in Downtown Gatlinburg. It had a spacious room and when the couch bed was open, there was still plenty of room to walk around.  The room came equipped with a decent size fridge, microwave and my absolute favorite feature - a second sink outside the bathroom! The hotel has a wonderful waterpark with 3 water slides, a heated indoor pool and two bathrooms in the waterpark/pool area. The hotel is also connected to a Holiday Inn Vacation club resort so you can use the facilities there including the other two pools and two hot tubs. In addition, the resort has daily activities that you can join. It's about a block off the main road in downtown Gatlinburg and really convenient to most things you would want to get to. I will say that Gatlinburg itself is everything I think it wrong with touristy places (like Ripleys Believe it or Not and all the other tourist traps) but being even a block off the main, road, we didn't see much of that, except to drive by.

Outside of the Hotel:



Hotel Water Park:



After a short flight, we drove from Knoxville to Gatlinburg. The views are incredible right away. I'm not exactly sure where our GPS took us (or why because the route didn't make much sense), but we ended up driving through the Smoky Mountains and stopped for lunch at a creek where went wading.

Drive to Gatlinburg:



Creek:


We found a snake in the water:



We drove to our hotel, checked in and then went grocery shopping at Food City, a few miles from the hotel. They had plenty of kosher bread, frozen food (including cheese pierogies!), canned goods and of course junk food. Prices were pretty good too.

After our food run, we had a blast at the water park. My kids could have stayed there for hours, but we put them to bed early to get ready for a long day.

October 09, 2017, 09:08:33 PM
3
Re: saw50st8 TR to Tennessee Day 6:

The day started off rainy and wet. Our original plan had been to drive to Cades Cove in the morning and hike in the afternoon but we figured the animals would be hiding in the rain so we switched it up. We drove up to the Trillium Gap trailhead for our hike to Grotto Falls. The ride is on narrow roads that twist and turn up the mountains. The drive is not for the faint of heart, but the roads are well paved. There is limited parking but we had no problem finding a spot.

The trail is well marked and has a warning sign for spotting Llamas on the trail. Much to my kids chagrin, all we saw was llama dung.  The trail winds up the mountains amongst lots of foliage with some breaks in the trees that highlight the beautiful views. It's an easy climb up. The hills aren't too steep. There are a lot of roots to climb over but nothing my 4 year old couldn't handle.  Most people made the climb in about 45 minutes, but it took us about an hour and ten minute or so.

At the top is Grotto Falls - a beautiful waterfall you can walk behind and there is a small cave behind them. The trail continues on, but we stopped at the waterfall and went back down the mountain.

On the way up:



Grotto Falls:



Local Wildlife:




We left Grotto Falls and drove towards Cades Cove, passing beautiful nature the entire way:




Cades Cove is basically a beautiful scenic drive with wildlife roaming around and a visitors center midway. Everyone drives really slowly to see the animals and views and there are plenty of places to pull over. We saw wild turkeys, deer, all sorts of birds and horses.








We pulled into the visitors center and started walking around. We were excited to see deer and then went to the old mill.





We also saw the largest spider ever (picture doesn't do it justice):




There are some old houses including "Aunt Becky's" house.



We walked to the back barn area, when a ranger came up to my kids and said "Hey, come look at this." He shows them a set of prints and asks if they knew what it was. My son answered "Deer prints." The ranger walked a few feet and said "Now what's this?" My other son piped up and said a bear print. Then the ranger asked them if they were a deer, where would they run if they were trying to get away from the bear and they pointed to the woods just a few feet away. The ranger responded "Great! That's what happened, only the deer didn't make it very far." He pointed into the woods where there was a deer carcass and a young black bear pacing back and forth. We got to watch the bear wandering around his lunch. It was an incredible view of nature.



We drove back to the hotel to get ready for Shabbos.

Day 7:

We had a nice, relaxing shabbos at the hotel. The staircases were accessible, well lit, and unlocked. We went down for breakfast, hung out downstairs playing cards and games. After lunch, everyone napped and then we walked to the main street in Gatlinburg to look around. It's all extremely cheesy touristy things that were fun to wander around, including a wood artist carving a large bear with a chain saw.

Day 8: Time to leave. No one wanted to go. My 4 year old was so sad when we went to the airport and asked if we could go back again. Yes we can little buddy.

Goodbye Tennessee!


October 19, 2017, 09:47:56 PM
2
Re: Arizona Master Thread I just came back from a vacation in Arizona and here are some of my comments:

Tucson: We spent a lot of time at Old Tucson. My kids loved it - it's an old studio for western movies and they have live performances all day long.  We also love Saguaro National Park .

Phoenix: Hole in the Rock is a really fun, quick hike with a great view.  The Desert Botanical Gardens is pricey and only ok. We also went to Pueblo Grande Museum which is small but a nice stop to learn a bit about Pueblos.

Sedona:
Pink Jeep Tours live up to their hype and price.
Palataki Ruins - great place to see cliff dwellings/cave drawings but you need a reservation during popular times

Flagstaff:

There's a new Residence Inn in Flagstaff that was a great place to stay. The staff was super friendly and accommodating, they had plenty of kosher breakfast options and the rooms are spacious. The prices were ridiculously cheap too ($88-93/night) for a double queen with pull out couch and kitchen (no oven, just convection microwave  and fridge). The pull out couch is small so if you want 6 people in your room, make sure they are small kids.

There are so many things to do in the area besides the Grand Canyon. Here's what we did:

See the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook
Homolovi State Park - walk to a pueblo ruin and hunt for pottery shards. You can walk anywhere in the structure but you can't take pottery. My kids had a blast digging around in the ruins. It's really peaceful and quiet.
Winslow Arizona - stand at the corner, see La Posada
Meteor Crater - it's a little expensive, but really interesting to see the huge crater formed by a meteor.
Sunset Crater National Park - you can hike (or drive) through lava fields from an old volcano. It was really unexpected!
Wupatki National park - lots of Pueblo ruins to see including ball courts. These are really accessible and don't require hiking if that's not your thing.
Lowell Observatory - great place, lots of interesting lectures and information on space. The best programs are in the evening. There really isn't anything for younger kids though. They have a really cheap family membership ($70 for 2 adults/4 kids)  which can be used at many other science centers.
Montezuman's Well - we stopped here on the way back to Phoenix. It was a nice stop - cliff dwellings with a watering hole. It's right off the highway too.

January 29, 2018, 08:09:44 AM
1
Re: I Owe Chase $25k from CC Can you take on some extra work to pay the debt down faster?
February 01, 2018, 02:15:14 PM
1
Re: Dating in the jewish world while disabled I think shidduchim is one of the few places it is ok to discriminate. No person should have to compromise if they don't want to. It doesn't matter how superficial it is or what others think. I've read some people's lists of requirements and thought they were pretty crazy but it isn't my life to lead.

That being said, I can empathize with how tough it must be to be "different" in some way in the shidduch world.

February 13, 2018, 01:43:52 PM
2
Re: Dating in the jewish world while disabled I'm really scratching my head at jumping from mixed gender socialization at appropriate ages to one night stands.

I grew up MO in Monsey, went to a RW elementary school and then a MO high school (my sisters on the other hand ended up at Bais Yaakov and frummed out/shidduch dated). I don't think any of my friends at any point had one night stands. Besides, if you are talking about socializing singles who are looking to get married, presumably they would be looking for a real relationship and work towards that, same as a regular shidduch. (Never mind that I've heard some really creepy stories from friends who shidduch date) I can't think of a single negative reason for there to be separate seating for singles who are looking to get married at a wedding.


February 14, 2018, 07:36:21 AM
2
Re: United award flights Didn't mean to delete while everyone was responding. I realized that after I posted. Thanks everyone.
March 05, 2018, 06:19:29 PM
1
Re: The Pros And Cons Of Where You Live
FYI, the power outtages were for 60 mph winds that knocked down trees and caused cars to crash on utility infrastructure. The day with the significant power outtages also had under an inch of snow accumulation in most places. Snow doesn't typically knock down power alone.

I'm a utility worker and dealing with all the aftermath so I'm well aware :-) A lot of snow storms come with wind though and I would think the midwest would have more of that.  Although my perception is midwest winters is along the line of "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder so....

March 07, 2018, 08:34:02 AM
2
Re: The Pros And Cons Of Where You Live
It is not THAT long ago that people in Lakewood were complaining about the same thing. Old fogies like me still do.

All communities change. Lakewood used to have a decent MO community. The Monsey I grew up in had a sizeable MO community that has basically died off and Monsey has changed drastically. Neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx have completely shifted.

Change and growth are part of the normal circle of life. Everyone complains about change in their communities though.

March 08, 2018, 08:20:28 AM
1
Re: Iceland trip - February - via DD icelandair deal Incredible pictures! I want to go back in the winter.
March 20, 2018, 05:49:26 PM
1
Re: Minneapolis, Minnesota Minnehaha Falls:





Target Field:





Prime Deli:



Little House Wayside:







National Eagle Center:







Frontenac State Park:





State Capital:







Mall of America Mirror Maze:



Ropes Course:



Ziplining:



Aquarium:






May 08, 2018, 09:25:23 PM
2
Re: Which hotels have Two bedroom suites? Residence Inn by Marriott sometimes have 2 bedroom suites.
June 13, 2018, 12:22:19 PM
1
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
Looking for photography classes for woman, in Lakewood, nothing intense just for hobby
Does such a thing exist? tnx!

www.joleephotography.com does classes. She's an awesome teacher and taught me a ton.

May 19, 2019, 05:21:16 PM
1
Re: Thoughts on abortion, religion, and morality
If people are against Plan B, than this has nothing to do with life. Pro lifers love to trumpet that the fetus is a   biologically distinct entity, which is patently false during so called "Plan B timing".
Being anti Plan B is a purely Christian idea.

Yes but so much of the anti-abortion lobby is purely Christian. Catholics have zero tolerance for abortion even for saving the life of the mother. No one is trying to regulate based on halacha, nor should we be advocating for that.

June 03, 2019, 08:15:38 AM
1
Re: Prison
Nope. I guess i have homework.

It's about an innocent man from Alabama who was on death row for many years. Not exactly the same, but I thought he made some really interesting points about prison.

November 26, 2019, 09:27:49 AM
1
Re: Panama Master Thread
We are planning on going to Shevet Ahim for davening. When did you show them your passports in order to get in, since there is no eruv?

We stopped by during the week with our passports. They made copies and we were good to go for shabbos.

December 17, 2019, 07:18:48 AM
1
Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR Day 2:

Our first stop Monday morning was a swamp tour at Honey Island Swamp with Cajun Encounters.  The tour takes you through marsh and swampland to find as many animals as you can find. They do warn you that in the winter, you are less likely to see alligators and it was freezing when we were there (high 30s, low 40s). Our tour guide did a great job of finding 4 small alligators for us to see. We also  saw egrets, a bald eagle, nutria, wild boar and raccoons. The swamp is really beautiful. The tour guide was funny and took us to areas without a lot of other boats. Cajun Encounters also has a relatively well priced gift shop and my kids convinced me to get an alligator head for our fireplace mantle. Considering that it is one of the largest swamp tour places, it didn't seem crowded or overrun.













DSC_6357


After the boat ride, we drove to New Orleans and stopped at Waffles on Maple in Metarie. Everything we tried was delicious and it was by far my kids favorite place we ate out the entire trip. We tried both sweet and savory waffles, paninis, pizza, grits and crepes.





We checked into the SpringHill Suites on Canal. It is in a shared building with Townplace Suites. The hotel has a parking lot about a block away but we opted for the lot across the street. It was $6 for 12 hours or $20 for 24 hours so we opted for paying every 12 hours by app. You get in and out privileges (it is basically an unattended lot) but they do check. We saw a few people who got a boot overnight. After dropping all of our stuff at the hotel, we walked to the French Quarter.

The first thing that we saw on our way was the hard rock hotel catastrophe. The area has been cordoned off and supposedly made safe, but the catastrophic destruction is evident. My kids were fascinated by the scene.






Next, we continued on to the French Quarter. Our plan was to do a self guided walking tour, but we decided on a whim to do a 5 in 1 Haunted History Tour. The tour office billed it as “family friendly” but it really was not. My 11 year old loved it, but my younger kids didn’t get as much out of it. It was still worth it – we heard about Pirate’s Alley and lots of stories about ghosts, zombies, hauntings, voodoo and the history of New Orleans.  It is definitely gruesome so if you don’t want to hear about a young man falling and having his entrails spill out, this tour is not for you.



We walked back to our hotel via Bourbon Street so we got to see the street lit up at night.






January 29, 2020, 01:46:37 PM
1
Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR Day 3:

We started our day at the Barataria Preserve, as recommended by  @skyguy918 . Unfortunately, there were no ranger guided tours that day. The trails are on boardwalks and well maintained. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife (it was cold!) while we were there but it was a nice nature trail and close to New Orleans. We did see birds, shells, cypress trees, beautiful swampland and the tracks from a wild boar.











We drove back to New Orleans and went to the Aquarium. We debated becoming members so we could also go to the Zoo and Insectarium as that was more affordable than purchasing individual tickets but we weren’t sure if we would be able to go to the other places. There is a parking lot right outside the Aquarium and it is a fortune.  The aquarium is relatively small but my kids had a great time.  We started with the 3D IMAX movie , which is included with admission. There are many places to stand and see fish swimming all around you or over you. They have some really weird fish (like ones that look like rocks!). They have a few shows to see the animals too – we watched a sea otter show and penguin feeding. We also opted to feed the stingrays ($2/pp) which was definitely a highlight.  Then we went into the bird sanctuary – hordes of birds swarm around and land all over everyone. They go anywhere – inside your sleeves, inside your pockets, on your hair. We had to tear my kids away from this area when it was time to leave.



 










Then we walked along Woldenberg park, where we passed the Holocaust Memorial. We continued on to Café Du Monde. The beignets are absolutely light and fluffy and just as delicious as I remembered.  My kids would have eaten as many as we would let them, but we opted for 2 each. We walked around the French Quarter a little bit more, stopped to watch the streetcars (we didn't ride them)  and then returned to our car.











For Dinner, we went to Kosher Cajun,  a deli inside a grocery store and if you have realistic expectations, the food is delicious and fun. We tried jambalaya, rice and beans, fried “shrimp”, a fish fillet sandwich, deli sandwiches and the requisite hot dog for my picky son.












February 05, 2020, 07:53:07 AM
1
Re: Teaneck, NJ
Candidly, for its size, I think Teaneck's restaurants are pretty weak.  In a head-to-head with Crown Heights for example, it loses out by a wide margin.

I think that the meat restaurants are OK. The dairy restaurants are pretty mediocre and that's being generous.

February 19, 2020, 10:30:32 AM
1
Re: Panama Forever in our Hearts Great TR!
February 25, 2020, 04:17:19 AM
1
Re: Bird Feeders and Backyard Critters We've had a lot of success at our birdfeeders and have added mockinbirds, woodpeckers, wrens, catbirds and chickadees (in addition to our usual sparrows, cardinals, robins, starlings and blue jays). But the absolute best thing I've seen so far was a cardinal get pooped on by another bird and then decide to just keep eating.

DSC_3573 by saw50st8, on Flickr

DSC_3577 by saw50st8, on Flickr

June 02, 2020, 08:15:43 PM
1
Re: Bird Feeders and Backyard Critters We are currently having sparrow wars:






The squirrels and birds are coexisting:




A puffed up starling:




June 07, 2020, 08:02:59 PM
1
Re: Bird Feeders and Backyard Critters
Have you had any luck at the mesh feeder? I tried nyjer seed in three types of feeder with no success.

I have a goldfinch that comes around every couple of days, sits at the top of the feeding station for a few seconds and takes off without eating.

Here's the one I'm using now. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000HHHEAA/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_i_HXy3EbGBQHDAJ

Nothing is eating the thistle unfortunately!

June 07, 2020, 09:18:20 PM
2