Adventures and Photographs

A blog about my life as an Au Pair, the places i see and the people i meet.

Holiday Time In Chicago April 18, 2014

Filed under: America,beach,birthday,Chicago,Family,geocaching,holiday,Lake,travelling,walking — Sophie Harris @ 9:18 pm

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So the day has finally come … my family are here in Chicago!! It’s pretty crazy as i wasn’t sure if i was going to be able to get them all the way out here but they did it and got through the 9 hour flight arriving in Chicago O’Hare Airport :).

I picked them up and after a little bit of time at the car rental place i drove back to the house with them following behind (which actually a little scary as some of the roads out of the airport are hard enough as it is without adding that America drives on the right … IMG_0789we made it though yay). We chilled out for the evening meeting my host parents and showing them around the house and the local area. Having only just lost all our snow around here a couple of weeks ago i was a little worried that the weather would stay cold but actually we got the best week of weather we could have hoped for.

Early the next morning we got the train into the city and anticipating that the second day would be better for views out of the John Hancock observatory I swapped our activities around and we headed towards the Shedd Aquarium first. We’re all kind of into Geocaching as well so we picked up a few along the way as well which was a cool way of seeing Chicago. The Aquarium was amazing although we were limited on time as it was closing early but we managed to see the Dolphin show and look around pretty much everything. The Beluga whales were pretty cool and they had some crazy looking fish i don’t think I’d seen before anywhere. It was great to take my younger sister Holly along as well as she had never seen a Dolphin show before.

We checked out Millenium Park on the way back through the city and stopped by Buckingham fountain which was sadly still off for winter. After our packed out day of sightseeing we checked in to the hotel and had some dinner next door. The next day the morning started off a little misty and it rolled in over the top of the buildings so to give the sun some time to burn it off i took them to Navy Pier for the morning. It was Holly’s birthday so wIMG_0799e checked out some nice shops and looked around for a sports shirt as well as having Bubba Gump for lunch which was yummy as always. I took them to the end of the pier which compared to last time had a little less ice and snow thankfully and we were able to get a clear look back to the city.

We then took a trek up the Magnificent Mile to the John Hancock Observatory where we went up and got an amazing view of the city with Lake Michigan shore line, Navy Pier and off into the distance across Chicago. It ended up a beautiful day so we were really lucky with the view we got. After that we walked back down towards the train station, checked out the Chicago river and ended up getting an earlier train back home to make a birthday meal for Holly and save our feet anymore walking. It was a great dinner and i surprised Holly with her first icecream cake. Tomorrow we set off for Milwaukee (not too sure whats there but its somewhere i haven’t been before so that will be nice).

 

 

St Patrick’s Day Chicago Style!! March 17, 2014

Filed under: America,Au Pair,Chicago,travelling — Sophie Harris @ 7:35 pm

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I’ve never really done St Paddy’s Day before but Chicago put on something extra special so we made the trip into the city to check it out. At 9.30 before we actually managed to get there they were dyeing the river green. I think it’s some sort of leak detecting powder normally but for St Paddy’s day it was leprechaun Magic!

We got down to the river around 10.15 and made our way along and across the river taking lots of photos. The river on a normal day is kind of green anyway so i wasn’t too sure how green it would get but we were totally surprised with a proper irish green! It was pretty awesome being there with crowds of people lining the sides of the river.

Once we had taken a million photos and met up with other girls we walked into the mayhem that had become of Chicago’s streets. We were aiming to go and watch the parade that they put on each year but the roads and parks were blocked off in so many places we couldn’t find a way through. It was a bit of a shame but we had fun checking out the street performers and all of the crazy costumes people were wearing. Not knowing the city too well and where best to go a few of us made our way home while the rest stayed to join in with the crazy crowds. It was a great day though and the river was an awesome sight to see!

 

I Went To Mardi Gras!!! February 26, 2014

Filed under: America,holiday,kids,travelling — Sophie Harris @ 9:46 pm
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What an awesome weekend ticking off another of my bucket list items … Mardi Gras in Louisiana!!! My host mum here has family down that way and the chance to go down to join in came up and we decided to go. They live in Shreveport which is at the top of Louisiana so it wasn’t the true Mardi Gras in New Orleans but im not sure anyone would want to take their kids to that one haha.

It was a 14 hour dIMG_0539rive down to we stopped half way for the first night at a hotel before continuing down the next day. It was great to be finally out of the sub-zero temperatures in Chicago and back into some shorts!! The kids Grandmother has been involved in the parade for years with the Crewe of Centaur so we mainly went down to watch her and get a behind the scenes look at the parade. On the friday night they have something called a bead loading party where the public are invited to go down to the headquarters of the group running the parade and catch a few beads and collect specialty beads which have a pendant of sorts relating to each float. The idea is to collect as many as you can and trade around to get them all. Each float only has a limited number so your pretty lucky if you get more than a few. We spent a couple of hours there meeting lots of people and checking out all the floats before tomorrow parade.

The next day we did some shopping for masks and Mardi Gras outfits before making our way down to a friend’s house who was on the route of the parade. It was crazy how many people where there lining the streets and setting up cooking stations and coolers to sit the day out waiting for the evening. There were 40 floats in the parade although not all were throwing out beads and tIMG_0625hey had some bands and dancing groups so it took a good hour and a half to go past. The theme of the parade was Fables, Folklore and Fairy Tales so there was everything from Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan to Vikings and Jesters … all the floats were awesome!! The idea during the parade was pretty much the same as the day before … you stood down on the road as they went past and danced and shouted to get the people on to the float to pick you out and throw you some beads or a toy or anything else they had. Then you would load yourself up around your neck or back in the main bag and go again haha. We came away with rather a lot and had some trouble dragging it back to the car a mile away but it was worth it :)

I’d love to do another Mardi Gras and get down in to New Orleans at some point but the whole trip was great to be able to share with the kids and see another part of the country. Louisiana was really nice and actually felt like England in places … I am sooooo going back!!

 

 

An Ice Cave In Chicago February 16, 2014

Filed under: America,Au Pair,Chicago,kids,Snow — Sophie Harris @ 4:59 pm

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Month three of snow and it’s starting to get a little boring but we have done some awesome things with it. Its been snowing on and off here since before Christmas and its been a winter that’s been even unusually cold for Chicago so its pretty crazy in comparison to England.

We are lucky enough to have a couple of hills close by for some sledging and enough snow to make a pretty cool jump to go over as well. When my dad and sister came to visit even they had a chance to see snow for the year and go on the slopes. Me and the kiIMG_0487ds also attempted an Igloo early on using recycle boxes and managed to make the shape but didn’t get too much further as the kids had to go back to school and the weather warmed up a bit.

A few weeks ago we got a good 8 inches over three days and me and the kids had another shot, this time aiming for a snow cave instead. I saw a video online and we copied that by piling up snow from all over the back yard and swashing it down with our sleds. The second day we piled it up more as well as starting to carve out the entrance. At the moment it’s now big enough inside for me to sit up and the twins to crawl in either side … no room for claustrophobia haha but its pretty cool.

Finally the weather seems to be getting warmer with the temperature finally going above 0 so it looks like things might start melting although im sure the ice cave will be there for a while yet!! The kids are really proud of it and its something i will have to remember for the next time i see that amount of snow come down!

 

Alligators, Miami And Back To Chicago – Day 9+10 January 19, 2014

Filed under: America,animals,Family,holiday,travelling — Sophie Harris @ 7:23 pm

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Day 9: Finally we had some amazing weather … of course it’s on our last full day here but we’ll take it! We all really wanted to go and check out an alligator farm while we were down here and the one that seemed to have what we wanted was all the way down near Miami so there was a little bit of a drive but it was totally worth it. The place we went to was called the Everglades Holiday Park and apparently is wIMG_0452here a TV show is based from with the Gator Boys.

We went on a boat ride first through the saw grass and water ways. We could have been a little luckier with our alligator sightings as they have so many in the local area but we got to see two which was quite cool. Once we finished we went into an alligator show where a volunteer talked about them and sat on one to show us show strong they were and do some crazy tricks. Charlotte at the end held a baby alligator which was pretty cool and we got to see a few up close.  It was quite a short day really with some pool time and room service to relax and sort our things out for tomorrow.

Day 10: The plan was to leave early and get down to Miami Beach to have a look around but when we got down there we found it totally manic … there were people everywhere and pretty much nowhere to park. So i can say I’ve seen Miami Beach fro20140109_141348m the road but not much more. It was a shame and i would have liked to have been able to get some lunch and have a look around before the airport but oh well. I was a little worried about Chicago and whether the planes were up and running so the extra time at the airport was good to make sure everything was going to plan this time haha.

So that’s it .. I’m back in Chicago until June and Dad and Charlotte have gone home to England again .. Its been an awesome holiday and i have no idea how we managed to fit so much in. We all left saying we had done something we’d never tried before from Segways (for me), room service, holding an alligator and visiting a hundred awesome places we never knew we’d get to see. Thank you so much for a great holiday Dad .. it was so awesome to see you both out here :).

 

My First Segway Ride – Day 8 January 17, 2014

Filed under: America,beach,Family,holiday,sea,travelling — Sophie Harris @ 3:05 pm

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Today took a while to get started as we had no plans already arranged and we wanted to wait till tomorrow to go to an alligator park as the weather would be nicer. Me and Charlotte did some research and finally settled on a two-hour Segway ride around Palm Beach.

After a spur of the moDSC_0034-001ment idea and a quick pack up and go we managed to get to the place on time for the start of their tour. It was my first time on a Segway unlike Dad and Charlotte who had been a couple of times in England and i was a little nervous. We were joined by a couple of nice ladies who also hadn’t done it before so we spent some time in the shop learning how to ride one and practicing our turns and stops.

We were taken out and around Palm Beach to see all the nice houses and how the land was developed in the area. It was pretty cool to actually get out and see the place rather than just sitting on the beach. There was also a small chance we could have actually seen some wild manatee in the bay but we lucked out and didn’t see any which was a shame. The whole experience was pretty cool and I’m glad I’ve finally managed to get on a Segway ride somewhere!

We finished the day chilling out on the beach and going to the hotel restaurant for dinner … tomorrow we’re going to spend our last full day at an alligator farm and hope its warm enough to check out the hotel pool :)

 

The Kennedy Space Centre – Day 7 January 16, 2014

Filed under: America,Family,holiday,travelling — Sophie Harris @ 11:03 am

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We got an early start on the day and packed up our bags before leaving the Hard Rock Hotel and heading out to our next destination by way of Cape Canaveral. We had planned on maybe visiting an alligator park on the way over but the weather had decided to start raining and we didn’t think it would have been much fun so we headed straight to the Kennedy IMG_3415Space Center. I’m not sure what i expected to be honest but we had a really good day out and saw so much more than i think any of us thought we would when we walked in.

Because of the weather the park was pretty empty when we arrived although after Orlando it was nice to be able to walk around with some space and be able to see everything. We went in a couple of exhibits and an activity center before getting on a bus for a tour around the space center where we saw the building where some of the space rockets and shuttles were built as well as the huge tank like vehicle that pulls them out to the launch point. They took us all around the various areas of the Center before dropping us off at another area where we saw lots of information about the first landing on the moon. I think it was especially cool for dad as he was able to see in person the things he watched on the television when he was small. DSC_0035

We caught a bus back to the main complex and went in to see the space shuttle Atlantis which they had somehow strung up in one of the exhibit rooms. It was pretty incredible to be able to see first hand the size of them … I thinks it’s the kind of thing you have to see to believe. I know people have been to the moon and sit around in space stations and send all sorts of things up there but until then you can’t really imagine the size and believe it’s not just a movie or something.

To finish off before hittingDSC_0016 the shops for some souvenirs me and charlotte went on a shuttle simulator that gives you the feeling of taking off. Basically we just sat in a chair that tipped all the way back till we were lying down and then shook quite a bit for take off before leveling out haha. Once we were done we got on the way again down to Palm Beach. I’m not totally sure what was up with the weather but as we got to about 40 mins away from our destination we were caught in quite a large storm. It had been raining anyway but it went a little crazy until we were crawling along behind another car trying to make sure we were in the lines and looking for the first exit. It was safe to say i did not enjoy it one bit and we were lucky to find a rest stop quite quickly. We took a break to let it calm down before carrying on … where it decided to go mental again although this time we were a little more prepared for it and just kept going following the cars in front and staying nice and slow. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen rain like that before or will again … i just hope I’m not driving in it at least.

When we got to our hotel it was still going but we just headed up to our room, ordered some room service and chilled out. Tomorrow im not sure what we’re doing but these last couple of days are a chance to chill out and go to the beach a bit :D

 

 
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