Adventures and Photographs

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

Road Trip To Milwaukee April 23, 2014

Filed under: America,animals,Family,geocaching,holiday,Lake,travelling,walking,waterfalls — Sophie Harris @ 10:46 pm

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While some of my family were out here in the states i decided that i wanted to see somewhere new with them. We thought about St Louis but after travelling through the city on the way down to Louisiana a couple of months ago i didn’t really like the look of it so we picked out Milwaukee, Wisconsin instead. It would be a new state which they could say they had been to and there were a couple of interesting things for us to look into.902350_435792639889958_5865447650153997511_o

We got some shopping in on the way up before finding our hotel and going back into the city to have a look around. It was nothing compared to the day before in Chicago although the lake front looked nice and we walked the streets a little. The next day we decided on the Milwaukee County Zoo which was apparently one of the best in the country. It was either spring break that week and everyone was away or spring break was over and all the kids were in school but either way the zoo was pretty dead. It was pretty great to be able to walk round a quiet zoo though even if they were still in winter mode and some of the bears asleep and the shows not running. We were able to get really close to some lions who were walking backwards and forwards down a long glass window that you could go right up to and they had a lot of animals i don’t think i’d seen before. They had a couple of AfricIMG_0861an Elephants which were an impressive sight and a tank that held all of the common fish from Lake Michigan which was fun to think about. We finished the day with some Geocaching as there happened to be a trail of them down the river outside our hotel. We managed to find all but one and saw some pretty cool hiding spots (some of which took us a while to find).

Before we made our way back to Aurora we went to the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson Museum. It was pretty awesome to see all the old school bikes from way back at the beginning of the company. They had lots of gadgets and games for the child in me to play on as well as some bikes for us to sit on. I’ve never really ridden one apart from a dirt bike one time but these new models which could seat two of us were soooooo comfy!! I think it would be a pretty cool ride on the back of one of those going across the US or something.

To finish off the week before they flew home again i took them to their first baseball game watching the Kane County Cougars. We had good seats one row back from the front just behind first base (on second thoughts we realised that we were in the spot most likely to get fly baIMG_0862lls come at us but we were lucky the whole game and none came our way). We had a really good time and i got to show them some of the American game food like funnel cake and dipin dots. Our last full day together we spent at Starved Rock State Park and i took one of my friends I’ve made here along with us. Compared to the last time i went, there was a bit more water around so the waterfalls were flowing and we got some great photos. It also happened to be one of the warmest days of the whole week so we melted our way around the canyons. It was really nice to be able to get them out there to see something other than the city or suburbs.

And then it was Sunday which meant a bit of present shopping and a new bag to pack up most of my things and send them home at the same time. Luck would have it that i could send pretty much everything home for free on their tickets so i took advantage and sorted my stuff down to only the essentials that i will need on my upcoming trip across the US at the end of my time here. The weather could only last out so long and i actually left them at the airport with an approaching storm which ended up delaying their flight for a couple of hours while i had to battle home in the crazy rain. It was an awesome week and i LOVE that they were able to come over and spend some time with me. I’m so looking forward to being home again in a few months for longer than three weeks this time haha!! Thanks for a great holiday! x

 

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 :)

 

 
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