More ATV fun

We tried to go for an ATV adventure on Friday but we were turned back by heavy rain. Sunday was fine so off we went. Out through the woods and down the big hill to the creek.

We came down there!

We came down there!

Alana was keen to go rock hoping and to see how far we could get down stream without getting wet. Her mantra – “never give up”. We managed to stay dry and that’s a plus.  There were challenges of course: stone skimming and biggest splash and this …….

Concentration was needed to balance those rocks

Concentration was needed to balance those rocks

Having come down the big hill meant that we had to climb it on the way back. It’s a lot of fun with the ATV at odd angles over rocks and grooves cut out by heavy rainfall. Nothing fazes the action girl and she really enjoyed to ride back up.

Not for the faint hearted

Not for the faint hearted

Once we had reached the flat stuff I jumped on the back and let Alana take the controls. She’s managing just fine and has good throttle and steering control. As she remarked “we didn’t go into a bush this time”.

Life Death and the unknown 

While Alana and I were away enjoying ourselves, Mr Rob was having his own roller coaster ride at the farm.

First we had too many roosters in our last batch of eggs so all is not happy in the coop and some of the smaller chickens are being picked on. We lost one of them on Wednesday. So we need to get rid of at least 8 roosters. Although on a brighter note we hatched 8 more eggs and they are doing well, hopefully they are all girls.


Then Thursday he could hear a lot of commotion in the garden and went out just in time to see  a hawk fly off and then one of the ducks come staggering up the garden with a gash on her neck. He has treated it with vetricyn and she seems to be fine for now, so fingers crossed.

Last but not least one of our cats, Bobtail,had gone missing. We are hoping he will either just turn up again or that he has found another house that he prefers to ours.

Animals bring a lot of pleasure but also a lot of distress 

Day 5,6 and 7 – Universal Studios

First, let me start by talking about the Hotel, it was a pretty good package deal. Nice hotel, great room and a fab pool area that was open 10am to 11pm every day. The hotel, Loews Royal Pacific, is also on the Univeral Studio property so literally a 5-minute walk to the parks. The cost of the hotel  included entrance to the park for 3 days, express passes and early entrance to Harry Potter. I added on the dining pass which gave us lunch, souvenir mugs with unlimited refills and a snack every day. It was a great way to manage the spend and also made it easy for Alana to not worry about what she could and could not have.

Here are the views from our hotel room, love the water lilies

DSC01337 DSC01334

 

Now let us talk about the food – have to say it was generally pretty poor. Hot dogs and beefburgers looked underwhelming. Pasta was not too bad and there was one shining light though and that was the fish and chip lunch at the Harry Potter restaurant. It was cooked to order and was really tasty.

Going to a theme park with an 8-year-old is very interesting, Alana is a complex mix of a daredevil and a scaredy cat. It was only the height restriction that kept her off 2 of the roller coasters but she just made the height limit on the dragon ride and so I was propelled at very fast speeds through a number of loops both upside down and sideways yeah!

DSC01307

Yet some of the rides that were dark and had spiders meant my hand was clenched very tight.  Although I think we both decided that the Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb was both of our favorite ride in both parks. We made the mistake of thinking that we had picked the one water ride that would not get us very wet, well we got that wrong. We were both drenched right through. Did not help that we ended up in the front seat.

IMG_0403

Thank goodness the hotel was close so we were able to go back and get changed. We had the typical heavy thunderstorms every afternoon that we were there, but we managed to pick indoor rides so missed most of the heavy rain.

The Harry Potter area in both parks was very well done and the rides there were great. Alana bought a magic wand and they have places around the area where you stand and make a certain shape with the wand and it triggers things to happen, like water spouting or things moving in the shop windows. Very cool but also a great money maker. As you can imagine the wands came with a high price tag.

IMG_0416 DSC01321 DSC01301 DSC01329

I also learnt that Hello Kitty is not cool but Scooby Doo and Sideshow Bob are

IMG_0437 IMG_0426 IMG_0420 IMG_0432

My little daredevil  tried her hand at rock climbing, she did really well. She is strong, agile and fearless.

DSC01314

Most nights Alana went in the pool after the park and I was able to sit and read while keeping an eye on her. We were lucky enough to have poolside service so a nice cocktail helped relax me a little.

On the last night, we had an early dip in the pool then got ready and went out for dinner at City Walk.

IMG_0448 IMG_0446

Long drive back to Atlanta tomorrow but all in all, it has been a great week.

 

 

 

Day 4 Orlando 

We left St Agustine mid morning after a quick stop at the mall to buy a new dress for the little one and some shorts for me. We made good time until we hit the outskirts of Orlando and then we were in the typical traffic that they always seem to have around the park area. Just after we arrived at the hotel there was a heavy downpour with thunder and lightening so we were very lucky to miss driving in it. The hotel is really nice and themed on a Hawaiian Island.  So they presented Alana with a lei at check-in.


Our room wasnt quite ready so we sat in the lounge and I taught Alana to play rummy. She of course had managed to pick it up quite quickly so we will be playing a lot more. It helps pass the time between adventures.


Not long to wait till the room was ready and of course Missy quickly picked the bed that she wanted


Once the rain stopped we went over to city walk which is the main dining and entertainment area. It was only about 5 mins walk away and we had a good look around so the we could plan for the future. In one of the stores it seems that zombie alpacas are all the rage these days!


We went off to play a round of crazy haunted golf and clearly there is something special about the 17th hole as Alana managed a hole in one again! She is really doing very well for a beginner and we had a good laugh. The course was very well done but more Scooby Doo horror than anything more sinister,


Time for dinner so we shared a pizza and then we walked around to the Portofino hotel so I could show her what fake Italy looks like. Before we walked back to our own hotel


When we got back to the hotel, the lagoon pool was still very busy so we had a mad dash upstairs so that Alana could get her swimming costume on and go play in the pool till 8.30 of course she managed to make friends with some girls her own age and had a lot of fun. We are off to the park at 7 tomorrow as we have early admission tickets for the wizarding world of Harry Potter,

Day 3 Rrrrrrrrrrrrr me hearties

Today was pirate day, after breakfast we went back into the town. Started the adventure off at the pirate museum which is reputed  to have more actual pirate memorabilia than any other location globally.The tour guide was dressed in authentic costume complete with long flowing hair and a Scottish accent, he was also very informative. They give the kids a treasure map and they have  to find 12 hidden drawers in the museum and write down the code word. Alana found all 12 and was able to pick her “treasure”

Off for an early lunch and then onto a game of mini golf. Alana managed a hole in one on the 17th, woo hoo 


We then made our way to the highlight of the day, a trip on a pirate ship. I had bought the coin waist band at the Renaissance festival some months ago and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for her to wear it.


We boarded the ship and got ready to set sail


Just before we left, Captain Hook and Blackbeard boarded the ship and stole our treasure.

Once we were at sea, Alana and the other children were taught how to sword fight.


This was followed by singing some sea shanties and some face painting.


Oh no look who is coming after us, it’s Captain Hook and Blackbeard in another boat and they are firing canons at us 

Luckily when they tried to board again the kids were ready for them and fought them off.

They were also able to regain the treasure chest and they all got a share of the booty.


Before we left the ship we had time for one last picture with the crew 

All in all it was a great day.

Only read on if you are not squeamish, I got bitten quite a few times on the legs by yellow flies (thank goodness they did not bite Alana) well they have reacted quite badly. Hopefully they will get better soon. Off to Orlando tomorrow.

Day 2 alligators and St Augustine

Early drive to the Okeefenokee  swamp Park near Waycross Georgia after a quick chat with Great Nanny Wales. We were some of the first people there and so we had a quick look at the nature center and then off to the boat ride through the swamp.

We saw lots of alligators from Babies through to full grown males.


The swamp itself was very interesting with all sorts of plants and wildlife. This plant digests bugs in its flutes.


There are also just a lot of really pretty water lilies and other water based plants. The guide recommended hiring a boat and doing the swamp from Fargo in April when all the plants are at their best.


Much to Alana’s amusement I nearly walked into the Web of a banana spider, and we saw a lot of other spiders, all about the size of Alana’s hand! 


After the boat ride we took a small train ride around the park, we stopped at a recreated pioneers homestead. There was a blacksmith there making knives out of railway ties


The engineer also allowed Alana to blow the whistle on the train.

Next came the talk at the nature center, the guide talked about the various snakes and turtles that they had there. Alana was allowed to hold Bumper a young male about a year old. These will grow as big as dinner plates over time and can live longer than a 100 years.


Before touching  the snake she had to wash her hands to make sure she did not smell like food!


We then went outside with the guide to see the black bear, they have 4, mum dad and two youngsters. They reckon there are about 7000 living wild in the swamp. This is dad, he is about 15 years old.


Once we finished at the park, we started our drive to St Agustine. After checking into the hotel Alana went into the pool and of course made friends with some other kids.

Off into the town for dinner and a walk along the shoreline, we also booked our adventure for tomorrow but you will have to wait to hear what that one is 😀

Girls Road Trip

The day started well as two of the chick’s that Alana put in the incubator 20 days ago hatched. So glad that she was able to see the complete cycle.


As you can see there is another egg ready to hatch and indeed when we spoke to Mr Rob we are now up to 4

Miss Alana and I left early for the first leg of our trip, Douglasville to Brunswick. We made great time and got there just before 2. Quick check in to hotel then off to St Simons Island for some ice cream. We then hired some cycles, which brought back memories of living in Sweden. The bikes are the same there, no gears, no hand brakes and you stop the bike by pedaling backwards. 


We had a few stops along the way. First stop was for Alana to play with the sand on the beach. 

We also walked along the little pier, there were plenty of people fishing and we saw our first horseshoe crab.


Alana also saw her first pelican but it was a bit too far out to take a worthwhile picture.

Rounded off the day with dinner at Applebee’s and we are now watching Rio the cartoon movie.

Don’t look Ethel, don’t look !

As Miss Lynne was going to be busy in the home office all day, it was important that an adventure was found for Miss Alana. Another bike ride. This time around the lake at Callaway Gardens. It’s a nice safe site with plenty of bike trails and lots to see.

Butter wouldn't melt fly

Butter wouldn’t melt fly

Starting out at the discovery center to find out the time for the bird of prey show, it was then a short ride through the woods to the butterfly house. Miss Alana enjoyed the life cycle of the butterfly.

There were other creatures to spot on the way around too. Turtles, chipmunks, ducks and Alana even spotted a heron.

Turtles tag

Turtles tag

Next stop, the birds of prey. The mid-day sun was brutal so the normal show was cut short with an improvised lecture in a shady grove. It’s good to see big birds in action.

Red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk

Great horned owl

Great horned owl

Barred owl

Barred owl

The bird theme continued over a quick cafe lunch. A couple of small brave birds would swoop in to collect any crumbs dropped. It was very amusing as Alana nearly lost her nuggets while she was away from the table 🙂

Back on the bikes, we stumbled upon what became the main event. A tree top adventure including lake crossing zip line! At the sign-up station, Alana did her best stretch to reach the minimum height requirement and showed no qualms about being high in the air. After a short conference, the staff gave the thumbs up and she was in. The next start time meant a speedy ride around the lake but someone had quite an incentive.

Kitted up and ready

Kitted up and ready

Starting with a pretty rigorous safety talk and demonstration, the 15 or so adventurers started climbing and crossing and zipping. Miss Alana was a natural. No fear, no hesitation. She was soon leading at the front with everyone racing to keep up.

High wire fun

High wire fun

Clipped into a safety wire at all times, there was a variety of challenges to overcome. The zip line  crossings looked a lot of fun from the ground.

Zipline princess

Zipline princess

The final challenge took her to a platform 70ft up a pine tree.

70ft up!

70ft up!

From there is was a series of three zip lines that crossed the lake, high in the air.

is it a bird .....

is it a bird …..

So the day ended with an unexpected, exhilarating high wire adventure  ……. oh …. and soda, ice cream and finally winning the bet with Mr Rob about staying awake all the way home.

Nanny had a hard day working and tending to the animals.

 

ABC – Alana Bats & Cookies

Alana is such a happy little girl, and pretty easy to keep happy. She is content with her own company yet perfectly happy to mix with others. Listening to her giggling while watching some of her videos on youtube is very comforting.

At last, we were able to get a better picture of our bat, he is doing his best to eat as many mosquitos as he can. Between him and the chickens they really are keeping the bugs under control.

Visiting Bat

Visiting Bat

Yesterday we had a baking day, Alana helped me make butter cookies, they are embossed with Alpacas and some were made alpaca shaped as well.

IMG_0362

We then made strawberry and rhubarb crumble ( crisp ) Mr Rob’s favorite.

IMG_0363

Alana and I went to the cinema to see Finding Dory even though  we already found her yesterday at the Atlanta Aquarium. We might have stopped off at a Dairy Queen beforehand for a mini blizzard ice cream but shh don’t tell Mr Rob.

 

 

We Found Dory

While I was back working this week, Mr Rob and Alana settled into a routine of looking after the animals and swimming in the pool. In the meantime we had some critters come to visit as well. On Tuesday we had this huge lunar moth camped out on the kitchen window.

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

And on Friday night we had a wee little scorpion come in to say hello.

Scorpion

Scorpion

The bat has also been back but he is too low down in the shutter to get a good shot of him. Tuesday Mr Rob took Alana to the trampoline club and she had a lot of fun and also made a friend.

Wednesday Alana went out the back with Mr Rob and he took her down to the river where they had fun looking for lizards and snakes

Exploring the creek

Exploring the creek

Alana found a lovely heart shaped stone that she then wrote on as a surprise gift for when I got home from work – awww!

00EFEE7D-E017-44BE-A83D-6095510D1534 9C54A9F4-B6A5-4AB5-8BDB-063907533A05

Thursday Alana went on a guided nature hike over at Sweetwater with about 12 other kids. It was about 2 hours of walk and talk through the forest and down by the river. She said it was a lot of fun.

Friday they packed a picnic and went on a 20 mile bike ride on the Silver Comet Rail trail. They had plenty of stops to get a rest and admire the scenery.

Hard work in the sunshine

Hard work in the sunshine

Silver Comet Trail riding

Silver Comet Trail riding

Saturday was my turn and Alana and I went off to the Georgia Aquarium for the day, it was a lot  of fun although very packed.

IMG_1397 IMG_1389 IMG_1382 IMG_1381 IMG_1371 IMG_1363 IMG_1362 IMG_1361

 

And look, last but not least …. we found Dory

 

IMG_1357