Thursday, December 20, 2007

Island Life

Hi all - Toby Cassidy and their new friend Alex (daughter of the owners of our lodge) are watching Alladin so I can try writing more.

We are staying at the Lodge at Swans Cay which is at the far end of Isla Colon, at the opposite end from Bocas town. In the first 10 minutes we arrived in Bocas we saw more gringos than we had in a month in Boquete. Mostly young surfer types but lots of others too. It is about a 45 minute rough road taxi road out to here which is a point of land on a gate locked road with about 10 gringo houses and this one lodge on it. Ironically, this place is run by a very nice family from Durango Colorado! Their daughter Alex is 7 and she and Cassidy are fast friends. There is a very nice small private beach below the house which is shaded by coconut trees. About a mile walk away is an absolutely gorgeous beach with no houses in sight. The waves are very mellow, sandy bottom and the best - there is a fresh water pool 20 feet above high water mark! We went there today with Toby's new boogie board and the kids dug a channel from the pool to the ocean that became a rushing river that we could ride down with the board! Then we headed out to the main road (which is basically sand) and did some snorkeling and then had dinner at the outdoor seafood restaurant where Toby lost his 4th tooth (see photo)!
We are having a blast with grandpa Bill and enjoying the relaxing island life. Dave and I hope to go snorkeling without kids tomorrow and Bill is going surfing Saturday. No big Christmas plans - boogie boarding and swimming??!
Hope you are all taking some powder runs for us
The Meyers

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lodge at Swans Cay Bocas del Toro

update from Toby: Hello! I am Toby, I think you have met me before. I am having a great time in Panama, have you ever heard of Panama? This is where we are staying in the picture of the house above ok?! I hope you like it. Ive been having tons of fun in the ocean and have gotten a new builder truck with a trailer. Bye see you later!"
More from me later!

Lost and Found

We left Boquete on Sunday morning and headed to Bocas del Toro by way of the Lost and Found EcoHostel we heard about through a random post on the lonely planet travel blog. The owner is a great young Canadian named Andrew who picked us up in Boquete then drove us to Bocas the next day for less than a taxi ride would have cost us. Since the road in between is the most dangerous road in Panama, we were psyched to be in his care and not in an overcrowded bus with a maniac driver (the odd thing about panama is they are super laid and usually late, everywhere but behind the wheel of a car!). The Lost and Found is in La Fortuna national park, a seldom visited cloud forest park. We had to hike uphill through dense beautiful forest for about 15 minutes to reach it but it was well worth the walk. We saw lots of unidentified birds and transparent butterflies. The lodge is open air except for the rooms and had a great low key vibe. They have a pet kinkajoo that was rescued and a wild animal something like a coati mundi that visits at night and eats bananas from your hand (see photo). We hike out to see a gynormous (toby word) tree and then played risk under the metal roof to the sound a pouring rain! We met some super nice people and were treated very well (delicious dinner) by Andrew and his Panamanian wife Stephanie. The next day we headed to Bocas, up and over the continental drive and down towards the Pacific. The road is wild (and driven very wildly by most) and we could see the remains of many big accidents (usually big rigs rolling over in single vehicle accidents). It is the only way to access Bocas by road except from Costa Rica. The landscape on the other side of the divide is very different, as is the culture. The caribe influence is stronger and you begin to see africans. Im not sure what the indigenous tribe is on the drive, I think Comarca, but there are lots of very rough shacks along the road with naked children running about.

We got to Almirante, a very hot and depressing port town, around 1 and took a half hour water taxi over to Bocas Town. Within the 10 minutes waiting for our ride we saw more gringos (tending towards young and surfer/backpacker look) than in a whole month in Boquete. More on Bocas and our house in the next post!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Horse and Immigration, last week in Boquete

We just finished our last day of school at Habla Ya. For anyone considering language school it is a great place. It is relatively cheap, the teachers are fabulous (total immersion) and Boquete is a great, low key place to live for a short time (or long). The temperature is perfect here. Unlike in David, the city we flew into where we just spent the good part of two days trying to extend our tourist visas so we could stay beyond 30 days. The first day we went down after class with Carlos, the director of our school. Thank god, because we needed to have proof of a flight out of Panama and a bank statement showing we had more than $1,000 or actually have $1,000. They looked at our statement and didnt want to accept it because it wasnt from Panama! As if people on a 30 day tourist visa would have a panamanian account. We had heard of people who had taken 6 hrs to get it done (and they had 4 little kids!) Carlos squared away this and other problems and we thought we had breezed through the whole process easily when they came out and said the person who had to sign them had just left for the day!! Our kids were amazingly patient it the hot cramped little office and we hated to do it again but we had to! We left town at 7:15 this morning to try to be the first ones there - we were second, and got the process completed with another hour of forms and waiting. Could have been worse! We went with the other fellow from our class who is Swedish. It was his second attempt (the first was too early?!) and they sent him away saying he didnt need one after many phone calls to Panama City. He called his consul who then called him back after we were almost in boquete saying he DID need another so he has to go again next week just to leave the country!!
On Tuesday the kids needed a diversion so we splurged on a horse back riding trip in Caldera, a village slighly below boquete. Cassidy rode with me and toby on his own horse but led by the guide. The kids liked it but only lasted for an hour - it was pretty hot. Cassidy and my horse was 14 yrs old and decided at the top that he wouldnt walk down! So eventually the guide had to lead us to. very embarrassing!! Toby told us he pretended he was Almanzo from "Farmer Boy" riding across the prarie while he was riding.
Hard to believe it is almost Christmas. I try again to climb the Volcano tomorrow (hoping for no more rain!) and then Sunday we head to a jungle hostel between here and the Carribean for the night then over to Bocas del Toro (Islan Colon) to meet up with Grandpa Bill for a tropical Christmas.
Love to all!!
Shannon and fam

Monday, December 10, 2007

Climbing in Panama

There is a great little sport crag right on the edge of town. There are about 20 routes from 5.9-5.12b. They are short but steep; a bit reminiscent of the moderates in Rifle, without the posers, Front Ranger egomaniacs, and polish. They are well bolted basalt and the climbs either ascend the broken ends of columns (like this picture) or cross horizontal columns (desperate slopers) or climb columns vertically with stemming and friction. The approach is about 30 seconds from the road. The locals have done an incredible job cleaning and the routes are well done. There are a handful of climbers here but this crag demands power so they are strong. If we had a crag like this in Carbondale, 2 miles from town with a 30 second approach, we would all climb a lot harder. They are working on a new cliff nearby that climbs out of a huge cave. They are finishing a new 4 pitch sport route that they think will go at 12b and it looks like there is lots more potential. Eduardo and Marcol also guide here and those passing through can get out cragging without bringing their gear. I recommend the guides- they are strong climbers, low-key, and willing to tolerate my Spanish even though they speak good English. Amazing to find high quality rock here and to learn that the word "pumped" is exactly the same in Spanish.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Week 3

PHOTOS: Cassidy and our neighbor John at their property above Boquete picking oranges. The kids in their loft bedroom. A view of Volcan Baru (volcano) from John and Annes property.

We just finished week 3 of our stay in Boquete and language school. Things are going well here. It is really a very relaxing place to live. There arent a ton of activities for small kids except the public gardens and one very basic playground but fortunately there is nice space around our house to play outside a little. Dry season started last weekend but the weather hasnt heard the news yet. Still pours rain at night and some in the afternoons but mornings are usually nice. We are invited to a BBQ at friends of friends Sunday - American & Panamanian (Rick W's friend Kirt).
Our typical weekday is like this - awaken around 7 (roosters wake up at 5 but we all go back to sleep thankfully!). A quick breakfast and some cajoling to get the kids dressed and out the door and a call to our friendly taxista for a 5 minute ride downhill into town (too early for the half hour to hour walk depending on the size of the walker!). Class is from 8 to 12 with one 20 minute break during which we buy one of the only 3 donuts in Boquete for the kids to split! After class we usually have lunch at the little cafeteria close to the school where all our teachers eat. Lunch and drinks for all 4 of us - big, hot and delicious - is around $6 or $7 and is our big splurge for the day! If it is raining we usually take a taxi up to home and entertain ourselves there. If it is sunny we stay in town, go to the park or garden, do food shopping (usually every day) as it usually is in a foreign country we can occupy a good hour or more taking care of basic shopping tasks going one place for bread, one place for fruit and another for everything else. Ice cream cones are 30 cents and are a nice post shopping treat! Walking home with the kids takes an hour but there is lots to see on the way, beautiful gardens, colorful houses, dogs (!!) behind gates :), horses in back yards etc. In the afternoon the kids entertain themselves at home while we do homework and then we cook a basic dinner at home. Night falls dramatically at 6:15 every night so it is pretty easy to get the kids to sleep by 8!!
Two other cabanas out of the 4 by us are occupied by retired americans. Our kids are sort of their surrogate grandkids and they are very nice to us.
Next weekend we leave Boquete and head over Bocas on Sunday/ Monday where we stay until Dec. 26th and then head to Panama City to see the canal and rainforest.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Its December?!

Top is Cass in her new dress like the indigenous women and girls here where watching the independence day parade. It went on ALL Day! We only watched for 2 hrs but heard there were a total of 69 bands - lots of drumming!!

Above is Cassidy touching a Kinkajou at the animal rescue center we visited and toby looking at Macy, the Howler monkey in a diaper who was playing tag with them!

Left is a picture of the building our school is in.
We are tired after our first full week of school but happy. The town is great, weather is nice though today is the first day of dry season and we have had a fair amount of rain. But when it rains it usually only pours at night and mists during the day. Great temperture. We have met a few american kids here and had 2 play dates - one with a local girl who only spoke spanish and one with an american boy who was very wild (kicked out of school here already!) The kids like their school and we think their teacher is a saint but it is hard to get them to go in the morning. Dave went rock climbing (!!) yesterday witha guide and of course made friends with him and will go again for free. He was with 5 columbians so practiced lots of spanish. I hope to go climb the local volcano next weekend which the director of the school doesnt think is appropriate for women (!!!!). Tomorrow we are going bird watching (dave early, us a bit later to join him). Cant believe we are half way through our time in Boquete - I feel a lot of pressure to learn spanish faster and faster!!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Finalmente!! Photos!!

I finally found another internet cafe that is configured to take our USB photo thingy! I have a horrid cold and no voice but otherwise we are well. Toby has decided he likes learning spanish which is a good thing since they started with full morning lessons today. Dave and another guy from Sweden have now joined our class previously of two and significantly ratcheted up the level. Vicky (from England) and I are struggling!! This weekend we did two cool excursions. We went Saturday to El Explorador - a totally wacky garden with found objects, piped classical music, play things, inspirational sayings and flowers. The kids loved it. Sunday we hired a cab to take us to the end of the road below Volcan Baru to the ranger station where the Quetzals trail started. You need 4wd to get there and then hike a very rough road for acouple km then join the trail. Beautiful cloud forest, towering trees, wild epiphites, wild green parrots, rushing rivers, mud, sun, sheepherders. We just finished reading Heidi and the first part of the hike was almost like Switzerland - sheep, herders huts, pine trees, flowers, then you drop ontot the otherside where it turns into cloud forest with thick trees and lush undergrowth. Mostly indigenous folks work up in the mountains (Ngobe Bugle). The kids did great with the hike which took almost 4 hours and involved getting Cassidy´s new red shoes totally mud coated (minor fit here). Unfortunately, the hike did me in and my cold set in for real. Here are some pictures from the hike and garden and our house.
from Toby; "We went to the Explorador, we saw funny things there . there was some sewing machines which had faces which were funny. We went to the mi jardin es su jardin, and there was cool bridges shaped like golden gate bridges but you couldnt drive on them you could only walk.there was wooden sculptures and a little salted sea village which had been recovered from water. and there was a tunnel covered with vines. this is back to cassidy
from Cassidy "I had fun at the Explorador. There was a little science cab. I had so much fun on the swings. we played billy goat gruff on the bridges.

Friday, November 23, 2007

First week

I have a few more minutes to post this time but still no picutures. Hopefully Monday! I am just finishing up my first week of classes, it feels frustratingly slow because I want to be able to communicate right away but my teacher says we are zipping along. We better be because Dave joins us next week and he is definitely more advanced than me! The kids like their teacher (who speaks no English which frustrates Toby sometimes). Cass will sing in class (Barney in spanish) but not talk much. We worry that 4 hrs a day will be too much for them next week but that is how long our class is - they will do lots of activities but we may have to find a way to make it only 3 hrs then one of video. They are struggling a bit to adjust, they like it here but get cranky very easily. Toby hasnt been eating much even though we are trying to replicate US food for now. He loves rice fortunately, he just seems to have lost his appetite. Cassidy does great and then has these fits that scare everyone!" Im sure it will just take some time for them to settle. Fortunatley our cabana is great and a very comfortable place to hang out. There is a great yard to run around in.

Boquete is a nice town, definitely cenral america but you randomly see gringos wandering the streets all the time. In the hills we were live it is mixed between luxury houses and shacks for coffee plantation workers. Just beyond our house is a big plantation and most of the workers seem to be natives - Ngobe people. It is one big cinderblock dorm with outdoor bathrooms and no windows. The kids smile and wave at us and I think how completely different their lives our from ours. Its hard for our kids to even fathom their life and they are practically across the street.
I am hiking up the Quetzal trail with my class today and hopefully with the kids this weekend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here we are on our 2nd full day in Boquete. The travel from FL was uneventful but tiring - cassidy fell asleep on the taxi ride to our hotel in Alujela CR. I am on a short break from spanish class so wont write much and this keyboard stinks. Spent the night in CR then took the morning flight to David Panama - HOT!! Big bus shuttle took us to Boquete (Cass immediately fell asleep) arrived midday. The temp here is great - there is usually a cool breeze or light mist. It is encircled by mountains, fruit trees everywhere. We are living in a litle cabana with an upstairs sleeping loft (spiral staircase) and downstairs bedroom. Very light and clean with a nice small yard. It is a 30 min walk down into town or taxi or bus ride. I have taken 2 days of spanish and the kids start one hour a day today! Town is loud but nice, glad we are living up the hill though it will be a bit of a pain. Gardens everywhere that Cass loves. I will try to post photos soon. Kids are being great travelers despite all the upheaval. >love to all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We will be staying in Boquete and Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro - all at the west end of Panama. Check it out on this map!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Headed South

Well this is it folks! Dave and the kids headed to Tampa FL yesterday for some extra time with Susannah, Brad, Allison and Timmer and grandpa Bill. I needed to put in one more week of work so Im going to miss out on Busch Gardens, the zoo, beach etc :(. Poor me!
I arrive in Florida Friday, we head to Miami Saturday and Sunday morning we're on a plane to San Jose Costa Rica. We spend one night there and then fly on Monday to David Panama. From there we head up to Boquete in the Chiriqui Highlands for 4 weeks of spanish school. We have rented a small apartment right in town and all four of us will take classes in the morning and then have the afternoons free to explore. There is an internet cafe downstairs from our school so I imagine we will be online several times a day. We will be anxious to hear from folks while we are traveling and the kids in particular would love emails from friends if parents are able to get there kids to dicate a few messages!
Dec 17th we head to the islands to meet up with Dave's dad for Christmas. We have rented a house on Bocas del Toro right on the beach and Toby has high hopes of learning to surf from his grandpa!! The day after Christmas we head to Costa Rica overland through Puerta Viejo and eventually end up in Monteverde for the month of January. We are renting a small house there and volunteering with the Cloud Forest School ( ), a bi-lingual preK-12 environmental education school. After Monteverde we stop through Florida again for 5 days before heading to Chile and Argentina on Feb 7th and finally return to the states June 2, spend a few more weeks in New England then drive back to Colorado by July 1. So that is the overview of our next whirlwind 7 months. Wish us luck!! We will miss you all!!

Contacting us: Email is going to be the best way to reach us the whole time. Mail to Panama supposedly takes forever so I wont bother giving you an address there. We can get mail c/o the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde and it should take only 10-15 days (dont send boxes, only envelope packages and letters). That address is: c/o Andrea Paltzer, Program Coordinator Centro de Educacion Creativa Apartado 23-5655 Monteverde, Puntarenas, COSTA RICA

Halloween in VT

After a month of decorating Meme's house for trick or treaters (to fully understand the irony of this you need to try to find E. Barnard on a map - it is in the middle of NOWHERE!) Toby and Cassidy were VERY ready for Halloween. Thanks to my aunt Gale's amazing forsight both kids have had costumes since August. Toby was a blue M&M and Cassidy a cheetah. Since the Village of E. Barnyard (as the kids call it) only has 9 kids (including ours) and the houses are few and far between we decided to head to the realtive metropolis of Woodstock with their friend Hannah for the big candy haul. Woodstock focuses all of its trick or treating energy on one street which is closed off to traffic. The town Rec Dept. buys candy for the residents to give out and they really go all out decorating for the onslaught of kids. I have never seen more creatively carved pumpkins in one place (did you know you can hang pumpkins in string hammocks from your trees for a great effect?!) and skeletons, spider webs, ghosts, graveyard - they take this holiday seriously!! Supposedly the headless horseman comes out later in the evening but we missed him.
The extra special treat for us all for Halloween was that Heather L (Cassidy's godmother) was able to join us for the night as a side visit on a recruiting trip for CRMS. She was very impressed by the quintessential vermontness of the whole scene and we all had a blast. No one even threw up from all the candy they collected!!

October Visitors Park 3-Grad School Friends

The second to last week in October was Missoula week for us. We got to see 3 different sets of friends from our time at graduate school in Missoula. Meg and Sidney were visiting the lower 48 from their home in Alaska, Kathryn and Carl were visiting from Idaho and Katy who lives in Burlington VT! Carl had just gotten back from fly-fishing guiding in Mongolia (for trout like fish that are as big as Cassidy) and they were visiting Kathryn's mom in Cornwall VT. Kathryn and Dave actually went to 5th grade together in Woodstock and realized their shared history when we met up thru the EVST program in Msla! Meg and Sidney spent a nice sunny day with us hiking around the woods near Penny's house trying to find Olivers Cave (unsuccessfully) and then we all met up with Katy (Toby's godmother) and her awesome fiance John (congrats guys!!!) to see a great bluegrass show in Montpelier. Katy and John spent the next day with us which unfortunately was pouring rain! Of course, all of our visitors got to either press cider or eat a heavily apple focused meal :) We feel so fortunate to have such great friends from our MT years that we stay in touch with!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

October Visitors Part 2 - Bowdoin Reunion

Our great friends from Bowdoin College, Pam and Eric Loeb and Matt and Jen Samuelson and their 2 and 3 kids respectively all gathered in E. Barnard Oct 20th weekend for a mini-reunion of sorts. Toby and Eli (9) were outnumbered by girls pretty heavily but they weathered the girl drama very well by burying their heads in legos and periodically coming up to run around outside. It was our first chilly weekend of the fall so the Baltimore (Loeb) contingent looked a bit cold but we all had a blast. We picked apples and made cider (of course!) and did a short hike on the Appalachian Trail and otherwise hung out at our friends the Woodwards house just over the hill who so generously lent their house for the weekend. It is so fabulous to see the kids of our good friends becoming good friends themselves. We got to see the Samuelson family (Matt, Jen, Emily (6), Hannah (4) and Paige (2)) again last weekend at their house in Manchester and the kids had a blast. We think Cassidy is ready to secede from our family and join theirs – they have the girl thing down perfect. Cassidy came out of the girls rooms and said in a dreamy voice “those girls have some really PINK rooms!”. I think she probably wore 10 different princess gown, ballerina, fairy combinations in an 8 hour visit! Toby and Emily had a great time and he introduced a new level of testosterone in the house. We taught Matt how to do the mentos and diet coke experiment in preparation for Emily’s birthday party with 9 girls and 2 boys!! Good clean (I mean messy) fun!

October Visitors Part 1 - COUSINS!

October was our month of visitors – perfect because we were all really starting to miss our Colorado friends. (I will break this up into several posts to get the photos to work)

Dave’s sister Susannah and her kids Allison (4) and Timmer (2) (Martz) came for the first week of October from Florida. We were a bit worried about that many kids in Penny’s small house particularly because the girls (9 weeks apart) had a serious love hate thing going last year when they were three and Toby struggled with his boy cousin in his toddler years but turns our all our worries were for naught. The kids got along amazingly! Cassidy and Allison were inseparable from the start and were so happy hanging out with each other. They were even roomies for a few nights. Timmer absolutely adored his big boy cousin and his uncle Dave and Toby put up very well with being followed around by an admirer. He learned to tell Timmer that he wasn’t ready to talk yet in the morning (since he normally wakes up 2 hours after T and T would be pretty wound up by the time he came downstairs for breakfast). Then Timmer learned to turn that language around on us when HE woke up from his nap and would say “I not ready for talkin’, I gouchy (=grouchy)”. We had two visits with the Middlebury cousins while the Florida crew was here which was fun. Unfortunately I had to work that week so Suz and Dave did major kid duty and Suz in particular had the littles for a lot of the time. Toby and Dave had boys night out and saw the opening of the new Chris Sharma climbing movie in Hanover – Toby loved it!

Eating Vermont Style

Eating Vermont
Living in Vermont has shown all of us how amazing it can be to live in a verdant land. There are about 8 apple trees on the property (including one “Papple” tree which is a pear tree that cross pollinated with its neighboring apple tree) so we have apples coming out our ears! We have been making apple cider every weekend and drink nothing but that, water and milk. We have apples for snacks, apple sauce is a fun kid project and there have been many apple pies, apple crisps and apple cobblers! (We will welcome the change to mangos and bananas when we head south!). The garden has been producing all fall thanks to the unusually warm weather we’ve had here (global warming anyone?!). Aside from a splurge on broccoli now and then we have been making salads solely from the backyard – the kids love the process of harvesting the food and then revisiting it at the dinner table. We buy eggs from a neighbor down the hill who usually throws in a few purple potatoes because it thrills the kids so much. Since there are actually still working dairies in Vermont you can buy local milk and cheese at most stores and the local store sells beef from our neighboring farmers whose kids Dave went to school with. The kids usually make bread with their Meme once a week. There is a diner outside of Woodstock about 15 miles away which was mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver’s new book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” called the Farmers Diner which is typical diner fare but primarily with local ingredients – and its not any more expensive than the Red Rock Diner in Cdale!! . It is really inspiring how seriously Vermonters take the idea of eating locally and how truly easy it is here. Inspires me to plant a better garden next year in Carbondale but unfortunately we will be getting a very late start!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

September in Vermont

Toby and Cassidy in the cornfield and with their new friend Hannah Smith in the leaf pile.

Highlights of September include: going to the Montshire science museum (LOTS!), having a harvest party with cider pressing, doughnut bobbing, pumpkin carving (check out our awesome scarecrow. . . ). Shannon started working for Lyme Timber in Hanover NH and rides her bike the 20 hilly miles to work about once a week (dodging wild turkeys!). Dave visiting the White Mountain School, Gould Academy, KUA, the Mountain School and climbed in North Conway with his new climbing partner Bob. Toby has made a friend who lives down the hill, a 1st grader named Micah. Cassidy and Toby play really well together and share a friend - Hannah, our friend Tao's daughter, who is 6 and is in half day kindergarten and comes over usually once a week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

to Vermont then visiting Rochester

It has been SOO long since we have written, largely because we now have only a dial-up connection. I now need to go back and reconstruct the last month and I’ll start where we left off. We left Maine a few days after labor day weekend just as the weather started getting chillier. The three hour drive to Vermont seemed like forever because Cassidy claimed to be “getting’ car sick” half the time which we believe means she is “sick” of being in the car rather than any real malady!! We were very happy to arrive here and see Meme (Dave’s mom Penny). Her garden was in full bloom and we were able to have fresh lettuce, tomatoes, basil, parsley, string beans and zucchini whenever we wanted. Her apple trees were also fully loaded but more of that in the next post!! Our original plan was to head to Cape Cod two days later to see the Stanton cousins but we decided everyone just needed to stay put. So we stayed in VT and Penny went to the Cape. We got settled in, Toby sleeps in a little cubby bed in the upstairs hall and Cassidy is in her Auntie Q’s (Dave’s sister) bedroom. The house, for those of you who haven’t had the chance to visit, is a cobbled together little 200 year old farm house perched on the top of a hill above the “village” of East Barnard (184 residents or something like that!). She has about 7 acres of garden, mowed grass, hayfields, apple trees and forest and a fabulous view of the surrounding hillsides. It definitely feels like someplace you could settle in and fend for yourself if the rest of the world goes haywire. We can call up a neighbor to order some local beef or walk over the field to another neighbors to buy fresh eggs ($2/dozen!).

Wednesday morning we headed to Rochester NY to see the Korfmacher cousins and do all the fun city stuff they told us about. Given that the drive was 6 hours the kids did amazingly well. We left early planning on a couple long stops but they were so excited to see their cousins they only let us stop once at a playground we passed en route. We arrived just as Ty and Stefan were done with school so we had lots of play time at their big beautiful house. They have an awesome rope swing and a zip line and great sidewalk loops for bike riding so there was lots to do. The big draw as far as Toby was concerned was Rochester’s National Museum of Play (Strong Museum). It is huge and by far the best kids museum I’ve ever been to. In addition to great exhibits of every variety they have historical exhibits of toys from the last two centuries. The big hits were – the butterfly garden (indoors with 30 varieties that land on you), adventures in storyland, making wizard hats, crowns, design your own bugs, miniature pirates, treasure chests etc, dance dance revolution (toby loved but never really figured out!) and a kid sized grocery store. The next day we hit up the Rochester zoo and then back to the Strong museum with my kids who would have moved in there if they could. Saturday got chilly but we went to watch Katrina play soccer (I almost got enlisted to play but a sub showed up and saved me from playing in my Capri pants and running shoes that didn’t fit!) and the kids rode bikes around. We decided to drive at night rather than deal with our recalcitrant travelers so we left after an early dinner, watched one video in the car, stopped for a potty break and put pj’s on the kids and crossed our fingers. Cassidy through a big but short fit until Dave squeezed into the backseat between them and they both fell asleep on his shoulders (very cute). So much for actually talking to each other in the car while they slept!! The next day was the perfect cool Vermont day and we went to the Tunbridge World’s Fair – a huge country fair about a half hour away with everything from antique motorcycle racing to historic reenactments, prize oxen raised by Penny’s old students, a 700 pound pumpkin raised by a class of pre-schoolers, pig racing, ferris wheel (kids and I rode), cotton candy, fried dough (with maple butter!!) and everything in between. We actually saw the only two families around our age that we knew at that point at the fair (among easily several thousand fair goers!) And the next day Shannon started work at Lyme Timber in Hanover!! Phew … more to follow when I can download some photos.

Monday, September 3, 2007

To the Coast!

Today is Labor Day and we are thinking of all of you as school probably starts up for most (who havent already started) tomorrow. Temperatures here are cooling down and letting us know that our time in Maine is coming to a close. We will head to Vermont to live with Dave's mom on Wednesday and sadly say goodbye to the Lake house and summer fun. Labor Day weather here was great and we did a lot of swimming and sailing with my parents.

Last week we had a great treat - meeting up with our Carbondale friends the Gavettes in Bath Maine at the house they rented. Toby and Cassidy were ecstatic to be with their two best friends Levi and Gretta again and we all had a blast reconnecting. Lori is on sabattical from CRMS as well so we all bonded over the wonderful but odd limbo we all find oursevles in for this hiatus. We spent two full days at Popham beach (where the Costler flick "Message in a bottle" was filmed") with perfect beach weather. Toby learned to boogie board and was so into the ocean that we had to drag him home sand drenched at the end of the day. He got pummeled so hard by one wave that he came up with a full sand helmet but went right back out for more. Cassidy tried it to, but just on the little waves and had fun. Their house was on a small pond and a few minutes from Dam Cove where the kids slipped in the mud and caught hermit crabs. The third day we were there the 8 of us rented sea kayaks and explored around and then we took our kids to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath - lots of cool ship models (cassidy thought it all smelled bad :) ). Then we headed south to Gorham Maine to see our good friend from Bowdoin, Renate and her husband Sean and kids Madeleine and Alex (10 and 8). Toby and Alex bonded hard over legos and Madeleine pulled out all her Barbies and horses for Cassidy so both kids were in heaven!! Finally back to Bethel with so very tired kids!!

Next post will come from Vermont!!! Hope you are all doing well. Drop us a comment so we know if people are reading these or not :)

Shannon, Dave, Toby and Cassidy

Monday, August 27, 2007

Canoe Camping

Our latest adventure was a canoe camping trip on Lake Mooselookmeguntic in western Maine with Nana, Pop and the Korfmachers (Shannon's sister Katrina, husband Karl and boys Stefan (8) and Ty (10). We had perfect weather for the 30 minute canoe to our campsites on Students Island. Once there we played in the water, fished, learned Karate from the oldest cousin, played games, chopped wood, took hikes and generally adventured around. Everyone had a fabulous time, no rain, no bugs (only problem was a late night squirrel assault the last night!). Toby says his highlight was "the WHOLE THING!" and Cassidy's was making Fairy Houses (the Fairy's left the kids thank you notes! The kids all got along well but predictably started squabbling when we returned home from the trip. Cousins leave Wed and we head to the coast to visit our friends from Carbondale, the Gavettes!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Maine at Last

We are now living in Bethel Maine on Songo Pond (in Colorado it would be called a lake but Yanks are masters of understatement). The weather has been alternating between gorgeous, warm and sunny and pouring rain and so far none of the humid heat you often get in the summer here. We have been doing lots of boating, swimming, blueberry picking, biking and hiking. We had a great outing with my parents the other day, Dave and I biked to Step Falls and kids and grandparents drove there (18 miles). Step Falls is a Nature Conservancy Preserve with a creek that forms cool pools with natural rock slides flowing in to them. The water is frigid but it is worth it to take a slide, splash in and jump out again (see photo of Nana and Cass about to take the plunge). Nana and Pop then rode home (downhill :)) and we drove with the kids stopping to buy a homemade raspberry pie from a self serve roadside kiosk and again to buy 25 cent creamsicles from a little store - very Maine. The highlight of the week for Toby and Dave was a trip to the venerable Fenway Park to see the Red Sox in action against the Devil Rays. Toby outfitted himself for the big day (the night before!) in his Sox outfit - blue shorts, blue Sox shirt, Sox hat and then asked me - "do we have something I could paint my face blue with and put a red B on my face"? Though the Sox lost, it was a great game and he loved the whole Fenway experience with Meme and Dave's Aunt Glee (another rabid Sox fan) - Fenway Frank, blue cotton candy, massive pretzel etc (see photo ). My sister and family arrive tomorrow night and our kids cant wait. They are a little starved for playmates.

The Road Trip

We are now two plus weeks into our big family adventure and are having a blast. We headed out from Colorado on August 1st in two batallions - the kids and meme/Penny/grandma flew to Boston from Aspen and Dave and Shannon started driving east. We took I-70 and pretty much blasted through to reunite with the kids as fast as possible. We did bring our bikes and stopped each day of the drive to ride. I had done some internet research and found some cool rail-to-trail conversion rides to do which made things much more interesting. There were no such trails in Nebraska so our first day we just pulled off of I-70 and road through rolling farmlands for an hour and half then raced the storm clouds back to our car, pulling away just as the rain hit! In addition to getting in rides, our other goal for the drive was to not eat at any chain restaraunts. This proved challenging in Nebraska because by the time our bodies decided we were hungry, the change in time zone meant that everything in the towns were closed. Instead of caving in so early in our trip, we stopped at a small town grocery store, got local produce and had a very healthy dinner as we sped along the highway!
After a night in Lincoln Nebraska we were on the road again, this time stopping just before Des Moines Iowa to ride on the Raccoon River Trail. from Redfield. This trail was a little oasis of shade and habitat surrounded by the ubiquitous corn fields of the midwest. We finished up with a dip in the river then a great lunch at the "Dairy Shoppe" - $3 hamburgers anyone?! We highly recommend the rest areas on I-70 in Iowa and Nebraska, shade, playgrounds and Wi-Fi- access, great spot for a picnic dinner that night then on past Chicago to spend the night in Howe Indiana. Our goal the next night was dinner at my sister's house in Rochester NY so we were out again early, this time stopping in Ashtabula, Ohio for another rail trail ride (hot and HUMID and unfortunately no river to dip in but very pretty trail that was mostly shady). The highway was no longer fun with tolls to pay and traffic to contend with so we were happy to arrive in Rochester and see the Korfmachers and their new house. We didn't have nearly enough time to hang with Katrina and family but the mom sensor was kicking in hard and I needed to see my kids!!! We took off the next morning at 10 and were in Andover by 4:30 - where we were greated by the clamourous chords of the "Wild Beavers" a new eclectic band featuring Pop on the accordian, Nana on cello, Cassidy on piano and Toby on the guitar!!! The kids had been on their absolute best behavior for the plane flight with Meme and the following three days with my parents. They had been to the beach, the aquarium, the swan boats, the library and local trails -slept well, ate well, said their pleases and thank yous and generally charmed everyone. So of course, they immediately fell apart when we came on the scene :)! After a visit with my aunt and uncle the next morning we finally headed out as the four of us to my parents lake house in Bethel Maine - the first real leg togethe as the "meyer family travelers" (or perhaps now to be renamed the "Wild Beavers"??. Next post I will update on our time so far in Maine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hi all - this is my first ever blogging attempt so let's hope it works! I know we aren't leaving Colorado for a month but we wanted to have a site set up before we left so we could direct all of our Cdale friends to it before we say goodbye. I'm hoping that we can use this to keep in touch with everyone and give the kids an easy outlet to communicate with their friends. Maybe their classes will be able to use it for some geography lessons too! That's all for now as this is really just a test.

You can email us while we are traveling at