Happy Memorial Day!!!
Happy Memorial Day!!!
Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.
Well, we’ve been back for two weeks and it’s been cold, dark and rainy on Long Island ever since we got back (with the exception of the past two days…the sun is FINALLY starting to peek out.) All this dark and dreary weather is leaving me with the burning desire to be back in Hawaii soaking up some sun on the beach!
Our home base for our Hawaiian adventure was the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, directly across from the famed Waikiki Beach. One of the first things we did when we arrived in Waikiki was go out and explore the beach! After 11 1/2 hours on a plane, you just want to get out and stretch your legs, and what better way to stretch them than a walk on the beach? So we went out walking and soon discovered that there is more to Waikiki than just a beautiful sandy beach. Scattered throughout the various beaches that make up the Waikiki Beach strip are all sorts of different statues and stone surfboards covered in information which we later learned were part of the Waikiki Historic Trail. Later in the week, we grabbed a historic trail map and followed the trail, learning all about Waikiki.
As we were exploring, I came across this statue….which has inspired today’s post
At first, I was like, “what an adorable statue of a seal and a surfer…I have to go take a picture of this!” And, as I was snapping away, I noticed a plaque describing “Makua and Kila” and explaining that this sculpture by Holly Young was dedicated to Fred Van Dyke’s story, Makua Lives at the Beach. I’d never heard of the story before, so, of course, that night I was off to Google search to see what I could find out about the story.
It turns out, Fred Van Dyke was a teacher, author, and surfer, who moved to Hawaii in the 1950’s. According to his website, he has published four books, one of them, Two Surf Stories For Children, contains the story I was looking for, the story of the statue! Apparently this story is quite well known on the island, somewhat akin to Alaska’s Balto. So grab your beach towel and come explore surfing and the beach with us and these classic characters from Mr. Fred Van Dyke.
Makua Lives at the Beach tells the story of a boy named Makua and his unusual friendship with a monk seal named Kila. The two spend many happy days surfing Sunset Beach and the other beaches of Oahu’s Waikiki area. If you’re a surfer, you can experience the same joy of the waves that Makua found even if you don’t have Kila leading you to a great surf spot. Just grab your gear and hit surf line.com to check out where the best waves on the island are in live time. Not a surfer or in the area with children who haven’t learned to surf yet? There are TONS of places to take surf lessons in Waikiki. For a fairly comprehensive list of surf lessons available in the Waikiki area check gohawaii.com. I’m not much of a swimmer (we’ll talk about that later) so surfing wasn’t on my to-do list, but I really enjoyed watching all the surfers out there showing off there skills.
Van Dyke’s story emphasizes the importance of “ohana” or family in the Hawaiian culture. If you’re interested in Hawaiian and other Polynesian Island cultures, you’ll definitely want to either spend a night at a Luau or take a day and head over to Oahu’s North Shore for a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I’ve always been interested in learning all I can about other people and other cultures of the world, so both of these were “must-do’s” on our visit. We attended the highly recommended Paradise Cove Luau and splurged for the “Deluxe Luau Package” and all I can say is, it’s TOTALLY worth it! We and an amazing evening, had such grey views of the dancers that I was able to take detailed videos back to my music students in New York and definitely ate our fill while making new friends and truly experiencing “ohana” with our hosts and fellow guests.
Later in the trip, we drove out to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Although you can purchase packages which include transportation, I’ve got to recommend renting a car and heading out there yourself. It was really easy to find and the drive was GORGEOUS!! Upon arriving to the center, you’ll find a complete offering ranging from a day a the center to fully guided experiences in the different cultural villages and then culminating in a luau style dinner and the much acclaimed evening show, Ha! Breath of Life. We elected to experience the villages on our own, but I’m sure the guided experience would have been amazing. There is so much to see and do, especially if you have children, who will love the hands on, audience participation nature of each of the villages. Don’t worry, the center offers return visits for free with the ticket stub from the first day you purchase! If you’ve read Makua Lives At the Beach with your family, be sure to visit the Hawaiian village and learn more about Makua’s family and culture.
But what about Kila? Well, the odds of you swimming out in Waikiki and happening to bump into a monk seal unfortunately truly aren’t that great. Your best chance to explore all the local sea life is with a visit to Sea Life Park. You can see turtles, dolphins, sharks, sea lions and, yes, even monk seals! Sea Life park happens to be a designated Conservation Center for native Hawaiian monk seals. You can tour the seal rescue center and learn how Sea Life Park is saving, rehabilitating, and protecting these animals, just like Makua did when Kila was injured. Spend some time learning about these amazing creatures and be sure to look out for any of Kila’s family members and see if they might share some of Oahu’s secret’s with you, just like Kila did with Makua. And for an even more amazing visit, check out some of the special experiences that can enhance your day at Sea Life Park.
You might also catch a glimpse of Kila’s relatives if you head out on a snorkel or scuba dive excursion off of Oahu. We went out snorkeling with waikiki.com. We had originally booked the Hilton’s Spirit of Aloha snorkel sail with lunch, but technical difficulties with the boat led the company to place us on the West Oahu Ko Olina Dolphin Snorkel and Sail. We saw a whole pod of bottle nose dolphins which was cool because they were supposed to be migrating away. The sail was great and the snorkel spot was fabulous…or so my husband says and his underwater pictures confirm. I, however, made it exactly 15 strokes away from the boat in my first time EVER swimming in the ocean (which is crazy since I grew up and still live in the Hampton’s), anyway, as I said before, swimming is not my thing, so I swam out away from the boat and was totally terrified so I got back on the boat, but the water was clear enough to see all of the fish while enjoying some delicious traditional food and sandwiches on deck. I even saw the turtles and the octopus one of the guides got to climb on the rescue buoy so that those of us on the boat could see that too. We didn’t see any monk seals, but they’re out there so if you head out snorkeling or scuba diving you just might see one!
So, order yourselves a copy of Fred Van Dyke’s Two Surf Stories For Children and share the story of Makua Lives At the Beach with your family and then start planning your visit to Makua and Kila’s Waikiki Beach. We’ll be waiting here, reading and planning your next amazing adventure through children’s literature!
It’s the first Saturday in May and you know what that means….get your fancy hats on, make up some Kentucky Fresh bourbon mint juleps, sing My Old Kentucky Home and get ready for the kickoff to the horse racing Triple Crown…it’s time for the 142nd Kentucky Derby!!
And, for some horse inspired literary travel, check out our past blog about some crazy fast wild horses that might give today’s bunch of 2 year olds a run for their money…
Here’s a blast from the past from my visits to the 137th and 138th Derbys 🙂
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss,
They say the pages of a book are a great place to begin an amazing journey, well what an adventure we have just had! We’ve just arrived back home from a wonderful week exploring Hawaii!!
You can all look forward to quite a few upcoming posts exploring different elements of our Hawaiian vacation, but I knew that I absolutely had to start with our day at Volcano National Park first! Hawaii and volcanoes are almost synonymous with one another…how could you possible visit the state without at least a one day stop over on “The Big Island” and a chance to explore Volcano National Park in all its glory?
Before leaving for Hawaii, I looked through dozens of picture books about volcanos. There were far too many to choose from. Many focusing on Mauna Loa and Kilaue, but did you know that the Big Island is actually made up of 5 volcanoes? Yes…FIVE!! We learned all about each of them on the most amazing tour EVER, more about that in a second. First, what book did I finally settle on?? Well, after looking through all of the picture books, I really wasn’t feeling them. Sure, they had amazing pictures and many were full of facts, but there wasn’t really a “story.”
Then I happened upon this book on an internet search; Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Fergusun’s Rage of Fire (Mysteries in Our National Parks Series). The book is part of a larger series published by the National Geographic Series following children on their adventures through our National Parks…and, since it happens to be the 100th Anniversary of the National Park’s Service, this was the perfect book to go with!
The story follows Jack, his sister Ashley, and their new-found friend Danny on a journey through Volcanoes National Park as they try to elude the mysterious stranger who keeps seeming to be following them…is it the volcano god Pele? Why would she be chasing them and, most importantly, how can they get away?? For the answers, grab your family, especially third through fifth grade children, and dive in. For a mysterious and magnificent journey all your own, pack your bags, hop the next flight over to The Big Island and make sure to get in touch with Scott and Becky Bier of The Volcano Van.
In the story, the children are staying on the Big Island and exploring Volcano National Park with their family. the majority of the action takes place along the Devastation Trail on the Kilauea Iki crater and around the Thurston Lava Tube. You can use the links provided by the National Park Service to plan your own walk through the area…but watch out for Pele and remember to bring your hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and a sweater….although it’s very hot on much of the Big Island, its quite chilly up at the National Park – especially at the craters!!
On our vacation, we didn’t plan for more than one day at the Big Island. We were staying on Oahu and only had one day to explore the awesomeness that is the Hawaiian volcanoes. They don’t just call it the Big Island. The Island is MASSIVE…I had no idea it was going to be soooo big! There were many different “big bus tours” available for people like us who were flying in just for the day and wanted to see as much of the island as they could. We found a bunch on our favorite travel tour booking site…viator.com.
But what we were looking for was something a little more private, more personal. and we found it with Scott and Becky and The Volcano Van. Instead of being rushed from site to site with little time to really explore on our own, this tour was at our own pace, allowing us to see what we really wanted to see, to stop at a moments notice for pictures (or coconuts and pineapple) and to get a real feel for the Big Island and its volcanoes from someone who truly LOVES volcanoes- Scott Bier! We looked through all of the tour options and decided to try The Big Island Big Volcano Adventure. It looked like the best way to see both the traditional sites of Volcano National Park and some more unique sites…like the other volcanoes and boy was it the perfect tour! We arrived in Kona nice and early at 8:00AM and Scott was there to meet us for our days adventure. Scott was an amazing fountain of knowledge about the Big Island and about everything volcano. I learned more about how volcanoes work, the different types of volcanoes, the different types of lava and more in our day together than probably ever in school! We got to experience the Big Islands diverse climates (aired, subtropical, tropical, jungle, junglier and “Mount Doom”) and ben stopped off for a visit to Akaka Falls State Park. There was hiking, exploring, a visit to the bay, delicious Portuguese strawberry stuffed malassadas and then the grand finale; the Kilauea Caldera! And the best part — no lines, no waiting, no rushing or crowding….no mandatory souvenir shop stops…no touristy tour (my favorite way to explore). this tour is hands down one of the best tours I’ve EVER been on…believe me I wouldn’t be writing about it otherwise! We arrived on The Big Island expecting to see volcanoes, we left feeling almost like we’d spent the day with a long time friend named Scott who just happened to have a van and wanted to show us the magic of his island.
Although we didn’t run into Pele (there wasn’t any flowing lava that was accessible to the public during our visit) and we didn’t have any strange encounters like Skurzynski and Fergusun’s characters, we certainly had a wonderful day that I’ll definitely remember forever!
So, grab yourselves a copy of Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Fergusun’s Rage of Fire (Mysteries in Our National Parks Series) and start planning your amazing adventure on the Big Island at Volcano National Park! I’ll be busy deciding which of our Hawaiian adventures to share with you next 🙂
Wishing a very happy Earth Day to Mother Earth and all of our followers!
The sun is shining, the grass is green and it’s a perfect day to grab the kids, head over to the library and read some books celebrating spring!! We recently wrote a post that might inspire you to get started…check out Spring Has Sprung for some book ideas.
Whatever you choose to do today, make sure celebrating this beautiful world we live in is a part of it!!
“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.”
― Benjamin Franklin
They say that April showers bring May flowers and that is EXACTLY how this weekend started out. That’s when I started thinking…what book could you and your family enjoy on a nice rainy day that might lead to inspiration for travel the next time the weather’s looking bleak?
I’ve been wanting to write a post about this book for quite some time and yesterday’s weather was just the thing to get me going. What goes better with a rainy day than some reading and some coloring; unless, of course, you’re little Duncan and you’ve just learned that all of your crayons have quit! Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers have created an adorable story in The Day the Crayons Quit, reminding all of us that even crayons can have feelings, too. Children of all ages will love this whimsical tale about Duncan’s crayons and their reasons for leaving. I love how each crayon’s “voice” can come to life through the note they left behind. And if you enjoy this book, you might also want to check out the sequel, The Day the Crayons Came Home.
Duncan’s crayons may have quit, but there’s one place where you’re certain to find hundreds of crayons ready and willing to work just for you – the Crayola Crayon Factory in Easton, Pennsylvania. Or, if it’s more convenient, you can visit the newer locations in Orlando, Florida or Minneapolis, Minnesota – the success of the original Crayola Experience in Pennsylvania brought about the two newer locations in the Orlando Mall in 2015 and coming soon to the Mall of America in 2016. Whichever location you visit, you’re in for a one of a kind activity sure to take a gray and cloudy day and turn it into a rainbow of fun…and I’m sure none of the crayons will object!
So, what does on do when they visit the Crayola Experience? Well, first you’ll want to head up to the Second Floor and the Crayon Factory and learn how your favorite crayons are made. The kids will love it, even the older ones won’t be able to resist learning how their favorite colors come to be in that amazing box of 64 crayons. And for the adults, you’ll be transported right back to that day when Mr. Rodgers first took you there on his weekly TV show! After reading The Day the Crayons Quit, you might want to share this with your children to prepare them for the trip.
Learning how Crayola crayons are brought to life isn’t the only feature of the Crayola Experience. The four story building is brimming with hands on arts and crafts activities that will have everyone clamoring for their own home art studio. Paint, draw, color and design and then bring your creations to life at the various interactive experiences including Art Alive!, Rainbow Rain, Be a Star, and Color Magic. There are also exhibits dedicated to some of Crayola’s other art products including one of my favorites, model magic and the ever popular paint products. Be sure to check out the Activity Studio for a special rotating project and Doodle in the Dark for some extra special fun.
And when the day is done, head on over to the Crayola Store and get some art supplies so the creativity inspired by this amazing day can continue the next time you and the family are stuck inside on a rainy day.
So get out there and get coloring , we’ll be busy reading and looking for new adventures you can plan with your family through children’s literature.
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
― Anna Quindlen,
I was totally stumped about what to write about this week! I hate it when that happens…a million wonderful children’s books…a million ideas and no single idea jumping off the page to inspire a fantastic travel plan… So, I was doing what I always do when I find myself with a case of writers block…randomly browsing the internet. And then, there it was…the inspiration for this weeks post! Did you know that, according to holidayinsights.com, this week is “National Read a Road Map Week” in the United States? Now I know most of us haven’t even thought to touch a road map in years due to the wonders of GPS, but everyone loves a good road trip! Soo many of my childhood travel memories are in the back seat of my parents car, off on another random family road trip. I think back on our drives throughout the northeastern United States and I think that might be where I caught the travel bug.
So, in honor of “Read a Road Map Week,” I invite you all to gather the family, strap on your seat belts and join me on a literary road trip with this adorable book I just discovered, Roger Eschbacher’s Road Trip. It’s a cute story told in sometimes corny rhymes that covers all the bases of a good road trip – postcards, motels and, of course, road maps 🙂
The family in the book is on an adventure across the country to visit their grandparent’s house. It’s a throw back to the road trip days you might remember from your past – a car full of family trying not to kill each other and occupying the hours with sing alongs and silly games (you know, before everyone was plugged into their own internet device, ear buds on drowning out the world; back when you had to look out the window at the scenery instead of the TV screen strategically placed in the herders of the seat in front of you.) Eschbacher has actually inspired me to plan a good old fashioned map reading road trip for my family this summer! OK, well maybe not map reading…I never was too good at that. I’ll have to leave the navigating to Garmin but I’m hoping to arrange all of the other activities on the trip to be full of silly, interactive family fun. No techy gear products invited! For some family friendly road trip inspiration of your own, check out some of these articles I found tonight.
You might want to travel cross country with your family, or you might want to start off on a smaller scale. Whatever road you choose to take, there are now some fabulous internet sources that can help plan the perfect road trip adventure. That’s right, no more just getting in the car, getting out the map and hoping for the best…you can literally plan every detail of your road trip with these online planners.
So, whether you and your family are headed over the river and through the woods or across the country like Eschbacher’s Road Trip family, we hope you enjoy planning your perfect family road trip through the lens of children’s literature!
“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ”
And that, my friends, is what I have right now…Spring Fever on this windy, blustery, SNOWY first day of Spring on Long Island….
In the fall, we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox with a list of some of our favorite “Fall books” for a fun filled family stay-cation. I thought it might be fun to repeat the idea tonight, but with a bit of a Spring Fling theme in mind. In case you don’t know, a new trend taking on up here in the northeast is the stay-cation. It’s like a vacation, but in your home town or local area. It’s ideal for todays busy families; a chance to go out and explore your home and find some new things to do. Stay-cations don’t involve a lot of time, money or really advanced planning. The adventure is up to you to be as large or small as your schedule allows and the choices this fall are too numerous to list. So get out the flowers, veggie garden list and directions to your local farm or petting zoo to celebrate the furry spring babies as we begin our salute to Spring!!
Or, get ready for the season together with:
“It’s Spring” by Samantha Berger
“The Spring Equinox” by Ellen Jackson
“Spring” by J.P. LaRue
Gardens Full of Green Thumbs
Spring is planting time…..if you don’t have a garden of your own, now is a great time to plan and plant one. Get the whole family involved…choose bright flowers that will attract butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinating insects to your yard to enjoy all season. Plan out a vegetable garden and try growing your own produce this season…its fresh, its inexpensive and you’ll know exactly what’s going into the fresh fruit and veggies you’ll be feeding your family all year. No where to plant a garden of your own? Try joining a local agriculture farm or co-op with the kids. You can sign up to take time and work in the fields with your family, tending the crops that will end up on your table later in the season. For me, that means a visit to Amber Waves Farm or Balsam Farms in Amagansett, NY. You could also set up, join or volunteer your time in a community garden or with the local beautification association if you have one in your area.
Before you get your green thumbs on, get everyone together for my favorite planting books:
“Once There Was a Seed” by Judith Anderson and Mike Gordon
“Planting a rainbow” by Lois Ehlert
“The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle
“Inch By Inch” Leo Lionni
Hunting For Signs of Spring
Spring is all about bright new beginnings (unless you’re here in the snow….). What better way to welcome the season than to gather your family for a nature walk?? Get the Sunscreen, camera, and maybe some binoculars (and the Claritin…it’s pollen time again…)ready and go take a walk in your very own woods or just around your neighborhood. Every you look, even the youngest of hunters will be able to identify signs of spring like budding trees, colorful flowers, birds, or maybe even baby animals like the family of deer that spent the afternoon in my yard recently. You could also visit your local nature conservency or wildlife refuge. You’ll have a chance to check out the blossoms and maybe even catch some of your local wildlife with their new families. Not sure if there’s a conservancy or refuge near you? No worries, head over to the National Wildlife Refuge System to find out. You might also want to see if you have a local Botanical Garden. If you’ve got one in your area, they can be a great location for a spring hunt. There are often tours the whole family can enjoy and learn about signs of spring.
Before you start hunting, here’s a few spring books that you might enjoy with your little ones:
“A Nest is Noisy” by Diana Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
“Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Conney
“When Spring Comes” by Kevin Henkes
Spring for Our Animal Friends
The new birth and new beginnings of Spring are not just for people; our animal friends are celebrating new families and fluffy babies this spring, too. You can learn all about animals in spring at your local zoo. Spring is a great time to visit the zoo because the cooler weather is great for long walks to visit all of the animals. Zookeepers are also aways on hand and can share information and answer any other spring questions about animals and their babies your curious little ones might have. You can begin learning about animals in spring by reading any of my favorite books on the topic including:
“Baby Animal Families” by Gyo Fujikawa
“Baby Animals” by Garth Williams
“Are You My Baby” by Kathleen Rizzi
Wherever your spring adventures may lead, we at Child’s Eye Travel hope that where you are, Spring has Sprung!!!!
Check back soon for some more travel ideas with our favorite spring reads!!
“When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;”
–William Butler Yeats, “When You are Old”
The magical month of March is upon us!! Spring is in the air, rainbows are popping up all over and everyone is getting ready to chase to the end of the rainbow in search of the leprechaun and his long sought pot of gold. What better way to usher in this magical month than with a salute to Ireland.
I had planned to share a book about traditional Ireland, or one of my favorite Leprechaun stories, (and who knows, I still might post about Ireland again this month) but to begin this magical month, I wanted to share something I just discovered today – Matthew McCafferty Morris’ The Pirate Princess: Return to the Emerald Isle. If you and your family like Harry Potter and other tales of mystery and magic that somehow find their way into the present day, then you’re going to love the story of Meg Murphy and her strange journey from Connecticut to Ireland. Morris’ book weaves a tale of Ireland’s history and folklore passed down through Meg Murphy’s family until one night Ireland’s magic show up in Meg’s bedroom. What follows will have your family begging for a trip to the Emerald Isle to see the magic for themselves. And, in case you were wondering, no need to worry that the main character is a girl. The magic and mystery combined with Meg’s adventurous spirit will engage even the “biggest boy” in your family.
So, how can you experience the magic of Ireland just like Meg? Pack your bags, look for the next Aer Lingus flight to County Galway, and say “Ceade mile failte” (a hundred thousand welcomes) to Ireland for yourself. When you arrive in Galway, there will be plenty of magic and mystery for your children to explore. Get out your walking shoes and explore all the city has to offer. Or, if walking’s not your thing, take advantage of a hop on – hop off tour that will being you to all of the sights.
Not far from Galway are some definable “not to be missed” sights. Hop on a tour headed out to the Cliffs of Mohr and be ready to be amazed by nature’s magic. At 702 feet at their highest point and stretching down 5 miles of the Atlantic Coastline, on a clear day (which can be rare in Ireland, but we got 7 of them) you can see forever. Gaze out over the water and search for magic…or pirates….you never know when either one of them might pop up.
Another “must do” is a visit to “The Burren.” The Burren is the smallest of Ireland’s Six National Parks. It’s name literally means “rocky place,” and that’s exactly what it is…a vast desert of rocks with very little vegetation or signs of life. There are, however, signs of magic including Dolems, Celtic Crosses and ruins of ring forts. Maybe Meg’s ancestors visited here in the past? Maybe this is where the magic is from? Maybe we should have brought a better map when we ventured out of the city….
Meg’s adventures landed her in Inishbofin, a small island off the coast of Connemara in County Galway. Be ready to imerse yourself in Irish history, culture and heritage as you explore this rustic island. You’ll also want to check out the many opportunities for ecotourism on the island which prides itself on its dedication to “sustainable tourism.” Also make sure to allow time to spend some time on the water just like Meg and her pirate ancestors would have!! For an even more authentic experience, head back to the mainland and visit Connemara Wild Escapes to book your very own adventure on a traditional Galway Hooker….just what Meg’s ancestors would have sailed on.
Wherever you turn, the magic of Ireland will be sure to find you!!
So it’s time to get your Irish on…get yourself a copy of The Pirate Princess: Return to the Emerald Isle and keep on planning your family adventures through children’s literature right here 🙂