Feathered Aspen


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Summer in Utah Act 1: Capitol Reef

At the beginning of the month, I wrapped up the school year and officially started my summer break. (Woo hoo!  Year seven in the bag.)

After a few days at home, we packed up the truck and camper and headed out to Utah.  I planned to run the Bryce 100 on June 17 (more on how that turned out later).

In typical Feathered Aspen style, I filmed our getaway and am making shorts to share.  Here is the first of what will likely be three acts.  I’ll try my damnedest to post one each day for the next few days.  Enjoy Act 1: Capitol Reef.


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Best of/Highlights/Lessons

Best Taco – Tacos de Pescado (y Cilantro) – Aguachiles, Playa del Carmen

Best Drink – Mojito – El Mariachi Loco, Tulum

Best City – Tulum

Best Beach – Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Best Restaurant – Mango Cafe, Isla Mujeres (with Qubano a close second, also on Isla)

Best Meals – BBQ Empanadas (Mango Cafe, IM), Sopa de Lima (Checandole, Cancun), Coffee (100% Natural, Cancun), Quesadilla (Mando Cafe, IM), Tacos (Aguachiles, Playa), the Elena y Tostones (Qubano, IM)

Best Swimming – Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, and Gran Cenote

Best AirBnB – too hard!  But probably Gladys’ studio on Isla.

Highlights

  1. Ferry Ride to Isla (this is Lily’s favorite, too)
  2. Cenote Azul
  3. Snorkeling on Isla
  4. Evening Beach Combing on Isla
  5. Yoga in the Jungle
  6. Playa X’pu ha – jumping in the waves, eating tacos under a palapa
  7. Riding the collectivos
  8. First night in Isla, walking to Punta Sur, walking the path along the ocean, and meeting Goddess Ixchel
  9. Xel ha!  So fun 🙂  Especially the lazy river through the mangroves.
  10. Shopping in Tulum
  11. Biking in Tulum
  12. Gran Cenote – the birds, the turtles, the cold water
  13. Golf Cart rides on Isla
  14. Hammock hangs in the Jungle
  15. Chatting with our airBnB hosts
  16. Playa Norte – swimming, sand castle building
  17. Laguna Yal ku
  18. Seeing sea turtles in Akumal
  19. Fruterias with cheap, gorgeous produce
  20. Limes and Tacos
  21. ICE CREAM
  22. Pool days in Playa
  23. First night in Cancun – swimming, eating

Lessons Learned Traveling with Kids

  1. Slow Down – walk less, play more.
  2. Use Public Transportation/Taxis – Joshua and I love to hoof it, but using public transportation and taxis are also a pretty authentic traveling experience for the kiddos and cuts down on transition time, exhaustion, and overwhelming heat.
  3. NAP.  Make time for a nap.  Even when it’s hard.  The down time is good for everyone.
  4. Empathize.  Traveling can be hard.  It can be uncomfortable.  The more I acknowledged this, the more sympathy I had.
  5. Make compromises.  Fulfill whims/wishes.  Pool? Check. Ice cream? Check. Juice? Check. Xel ha? Yeah, baby. Boat ride? Let’s do it. Spend more money to do things that the kids will enjoy.
  6. Read a parenting book.  I don’t care what it is, new strategies and perspectives always get me into a better frame of mind.
  7. Remember to be thankful and tell the kids.
  8. Which reminds me of highlight number 24.  On our last night in Isla, our last night in Mexico, we walked down to the water just before bed.  We stood where the waves would wash in over our feet, and we took turns thanking the water, the seashells, the flowers, the cenotes, the birds, the cooks, the taxi drivers, Leon, Florencia, Gladys, Gunther, the air conditioning, the bug juice…  We just tried to think up everything that we were thankful for, and Lily got into it to, thanking the iguanas and the fishies and the waves.  It was a good moment.  We could see a cruise ship in the distance, lit up.  The moon.

And that’s a wrap.  That’s our trip to Mexico.  Joshua has a few videos coming and I have one more post of photos, but there you have it.  Not sure I’d do the same trip again, but I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to do it, to do it with my family, and to experience it all.  Until next time.  xoxo


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A Mexican Farewell

On Wednesday, Joshua and I woke up and took turns running along the Caribbean side of the island.  Listening to the waves crash against the craggy shore and watching frigates circle made the six miles slide by nearly unnoticed.  It’s nice too because there’s sidewalk and even paved path for the majority of the coastline, so I could really get into flow without having to worry about rogue taxis or motorcycles.  And the flowers.  I have a thing for flowers and so do islands.  So, love.

We left the studio a bit later this morning.  Lily was not in her finest mood, but overall, really, she had much improved by the end of the trip.  Whereas in Akumal I have this vague sense of one explosive moment after another, things really started to get better as soon as we acknowledged the problem, began problem solving and simply:  gave the poor child a nap (despite her many protests).  I think other things helped, like cutting down on the amount of walking, cutting down on the amount of time spent sweating profusely in the hot Mexican sun, and upping the amount of time spent in playgrounds, at pools, in ecoparks, and eating ice cream.

Taking the golf cart, we went to the Turtle Sanctuary where we got to see little baby, teenage, and full dang grown sea turtles in both above ground pools and a partitioned section of beach.  Their mosaic backs and slow movements really are so lovely.

But also, it was hot.  So I was all like, “oh wow.  Yes.  Look at the turtle.  K.  Can we go now?  May I hurl myself into the ocean now please?”

So we packed back into the golf cart and made our sojourn up to Playa Norte.  We camped out at one of the beach restaurants to nab a little shade and a hammock, and while shade and hammock were just the ticket, the restaurant was a little baffling.  We ordered a couple of drinks and snacks and every time we ordered, it was like pulling teeth.  I was like, sooooo do you not want us to order anything?  Literally I would go up to the people working at the restaurant and they would grunt in the direction of another employee and I would be passed around until I arrived at the original person who would then begrudgingly take my order.  And then when I went to close the tab it was like I was asking them to switch out the moon with Jupiter or something.  Very strange.

We went in and out of the water, and I would have loved to have spent more time just swimming through the blue water, neither of the girls was feeling it.  Lily had been complaining of a tummy ache all morning, and we began to suspect (after neither one of us could recall the last time she pooped) that the ache was probably due to some pretty serious constipation.  Poor thing was not a happy camper.

Lu had been pretty game the past couple of days to play in the water as long as she was getting lots of cuddles, but today she was over it.  She whimpered or cried the whole time.

After hanging out at the beach for a couple of hours, we walked into town to get some ice cream.  Sadly our favorite place (paradICE) was closed and we ended up going to a far inferior establishment where the ice cream tasted a lot like the somewhat salty science experiments I would do with my sixth graders.

From there, we took a taxi back to the studio (having dropped off the golf cart).  While the girls took a nap, we read, and when they woke up, we jumped on the bikes and rode to greenVerde, a restaurant recommended by our airBnB hosts.

The bicycles had seen better days and the road to greenVerde was not great for biking, so by the time we made the 2 mile trip to the restaurant, we were both soaked in sweat and a little exhausted.

Joshua ordered the mole and I ordered the stuffed poblano.  The stuffed poblano was a little bit like chicken ceviche (so, gross), but Joshua’s was super tasty.  The restaurant itself was pretty cute, all made out of reclaimed building materials.

We biked back home verrrrry carefully, but even so, it was the sort of ride where I just sort of wanted to kiss the ground and never get back on the bike once I was finished.

That night, Lily was up quite a bit, writhing in pain.  She sat on the toilet with great patience and some weeping, just praying for her bowels to cooperate.  In bed, I had her lie in child’s pose, and I led her through shavasana, helping her relax every little muscle.  She was a champ, game for any suggestion and miserable but really quite sweet.  Poor girl.

Still no luck by morning, so we gave her a cup of coffee and I even took her on a mile run.  Back at the studio, she waited to leave in a full squat, crying.  I rubbed her shoulders and tummy, telling her that she was doing everything right.

We stopped by Mango Cafe on our way out.  The food was incredible, but neither of the girls was in a good mood.  Lily was beside herself with constipation, and Lu couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be in a lap or on the table or on the floor, she just arched her back and complained no matter what I tried.

The food:  coconut french toast with almonds and fruit, breakfast quesadilla, and Mayan scramble with cinnamon coffee (which I normally would have loved, but it was hot and I was already hot and I’m sweating just thinking about it).

We finally made it to the port.  I ran off 15 minutes before the ferry was supposed to leave to go buy a pair of earrings.  Because me and earrings, you know?

I made it back just in time, with a pair of gorgeous oyster shell earrings swinging from each lobe.  Not cheap, but super beautiful.

The ferry ride back wasn’t quite as magical as the ride to the island, but it was still amazing.  Music + Blue Water + Breeze + Boat Ride = Happiness.  Even the pained Lily had smile on her face.

From the ferry terminal, we took a taxi to the ADO bus station where we caught the bus to Cancun airport.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so we spent a good bit of time walking around the airport, soothing the poop challenged Lily, and being really annoyed by the cost of water ($5!!!!!!).

The plane ride home was four hours, which should be a snap, but because we had already been at the airport for four hours seemed like eons.  We also ended up circling the airport for a while due to a storm and then lines were really long….

But we got back.  All in one piece.  And as soon as we got home, Joshua went out to buy Miralax and Kombucha and Kefir.  We’re on day three of probiotics and laxatives, and I’m happy to report that although Lily was quite miserable on Friday, she has since pooped three times and did not complain of a tummy ache at all today.

Lu is doing well.  She’s pulling herself up on EVERYTHING, and she’s even started cruising.  Her new favorite thing is scaling anything with steps.  It’s kind of terrifying.  Also, when you remove her from said stairs, she has a genuine toddler tantrum.  Like, LADY! I was in the MIDDLE of something, and put me back NOWWWWWWW!!!

In other news, we had pizza night on Friday and it was at that fateful gathering that we got everrrrryone sick.  Yup.  Apparently the Great Illness of Mexico was not food poisoning.  Apparently it was a virus.  And now everrrryone has it.  Grandma. Stacy. Ellison. Weston. Melanie. Nana. Pukes. Poops.  The works.  Sorry guys.


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Isla Mujeres pt 1

That ferry ride though

That ferry ride though

Hair in the wind

Hair in the wind

just...

just…

perfect

perfect

Lu on the ferry

Lu on the ferry

Listening to the man on the ferry

Listening to the man on the ferry

Stupid blue

Stupid blue

Chasing pigeons

Chasing pigeons

Eating ice cream and watching a kitty

Eating ice cream and watching a kitty

Love this painted Sol advertisement

Love this painted Sol advertisement

Mom and Lu through a forgotten entry on the Caribbean side of the island

Mom and Lu through a forgotten entry on the Caribbean side of the island

Evening walk

Evening walk

Best time of day on Isla

Best time of day on Isla

Looka that sunset

Looka that sunset

Happy.  So happy.

Happy. So happy.

One of the Mujeres

One of the Mujeres

Goddess Ixchel

Goddess Ixchel

Patinaaaaaa!

Patinaaaaaa!

Sculpture garden / Punta Sur

Sculpture garden / Punta Sur

Sculpture Garden / Punta Sur

Sculpture Garden / Punta Sur

Cairns

Cairns

Bliss

Bliss

Come, walk with me

Come, walk with me

Ixchel y yo

Ixchel y yo


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Domino

Well, it’s been a few days since my last post, and you’ll see in a moment why.  Here’s a somewhat more brief synopsis of each day.

Wednesday:

We had planned to wake up early in order to get to the ruins before the crowds, but then Joshua hit the snooze and we ended up sleeping until nearly nine.  We were exhausted after our day at Xel-ha.

Once we were up, I went on a little bike ride with Lily to pick up some fruit for breakfast, and then Joshua made us juice.  He’s pretty good at it, carving up the pineapple and mango, tossing in a banana, and then squeezing the juice of two oranges in.  With a few cubes of ice and a cup of water, they’re smooth and sweet.  And since the cost of fruit is next to nothing, a juice like that for all of us is less than two dollars.

Around 11, we finally left the studio.  We biked along the path to the ruins and then paid our entry.  The walk from the gate to the ruins was a bit buggy and quite hot, and all of us were sweating by the time we got to the wall of the ruins.

Once inside, Joshua and Lily went on an iguana scavenger hunt, and Lu and I went in search of shade.

To be honest, the whole experience really reminded me of our visit to the Acropolis in Athens.  Hot and painful.  I started to feel sicker and sicker, wandering around in the heat.  There was hardly any shade, and I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm Lily felt over the iguanas.  I think that normally the ruins would be absolutely stunning, situated as they are on a bluff over the coast, but I couldn’t get over the massive piles of seaweed.  The smell made my stomach churn.

We left around 130, and I biked home as quickly as I could, Lu crying and writhing the whole way.

Back at the studio, Joshua and Lily decided to go get lunch, and Lu and I stayed back under the fans, resting.  Two hours later, I was beside myself with worry.  Joshua and Lily hadn’t gotten back, and our lovely birthday girl had refused to sleep a wink.  We’ve been riding without helmets this whole time (helmets aren’t really Mexico’s thing), and while we’ve done our best to be careful, I was definitely imagining the worst.

They came back.  Apparently “get lunch” had meant that they were going to a restaurant to sit down and eat, not pick up stuff to make lunch back here.  I cried I was so relieved they were all in one piece.

While Lily took a nap and Joshua did homework for his geography class, Lu finally fell asleep.  I read and took a nap too.  Right now, I’m reading The Whole Brain Child to try a get some tips on how to deal with Lily’s tantrums.

After nap, I chugged some water, and it wasn’t until that point that I really started feeling better.  I know.  Shouldn’t that have been obvious?

We got dressed and headed into the center on bikes, stopping at the playground on the way.  (Where Joshua and I were told by a policeman not to swing on the children’s swings…  Oh, the mortification.)

Back on the main road, I was put in charge of picking the restaurant, a job I do primarily by scoping out atmosphere and a healthy amount of other customers.

I picked a place with a cute, painted Bug parked out front.  It had been converted into a juicer, and inside, the decor was tastefully beachy.  And they were playing Bruce Cockburn, Mark Knopfler, and Ziggy Stardust, so they had that going for them.

The tables had candles inside of brown paper bags, and when the waitress brought us the menus, they were pretty chic.  Guarapa means “snack” and each snack came with a complimentary (in taste, not price) craft cocktail.  The other patrons were beautifully tattooed, with edgy hairstyles and very skinny jeans…

I ordered the Mayan guarapa and mojito (which had habenero!).  Joshua ordered the Azteca.  The tacos came on beautiful wooden cutting boards, and the cocktails had stir sticks of raw sugar cane.  Fancy, right?

Afterwards, we walked along the main road, in search of hammocks at a good price.  The place with the cheapest price yesterday named me a price 100 pesos more, so the best I could do was to just get them down to the price they had been the day before.  (But now we are the owners of two glorious hammocks!  Yes, two! ((so we don’t have to argue over them))).

Thursday:

So the story of Thursday really starts around 10 PM on Wednesday when Joshua started puking.  He started, and then he didn’t really stop puking until, oh, 5 AM.

Poor guy.  It was definitely an ultramarathon.  He’d come back to bed after a bout, only to groan loudly and get up again a minute later.  And while I really don’t hold this against him, it’s worthy of noting that he is the LOUDEST puker I have ever heard.  I mean, how the girls slept through it all, I’ll never know.  But I am quite thankful that they did.

After an epic night of vomitting, Joshua switched to pooping his brains out.  I mean, I knew that going on this trip Joshua would get sick at some point (with his delicate GI, it’s pretty much guaranteed), but this was a truly spectacular episode of sick, even for Joshua.

The next morning, Joshua was exhausted, and I wasn’t too spunky either, having been serenaded by horrific sounds all night long.  I took charge of breakfast, but then I disconnected the blender from its base just as I was about to serve our juice, dumping the whole mess all over the floor.

Lily had a stupendous melt down, and though I tried every trick I’ve learned in my book The Whole Brain Child, none of them worked.  I ended up taking Lu and going to buy more fruit to make yet another breakfast.

We packed up as best we could, Joshua taking breaks to poop or lie on the bed in exhaustion.  At some point in the past 24 hours, my GI had also begun complaining, and I also was making plenty of trips to the bathroom.  As Lily said sagely to her little kitty doll, “Both Mommy and Daddy have diarrhea.  It’s the both and.”  (Which is hilarious because “the both and” is a special joke in our family.)

Florencia, the AirBnB owner of the studio, came to collect us at 11, and she dropped us off at the main road so that we could catch the collectivo to Playa del Carmen.  Joshua was pretty miserable, but I love the collectivos.  I think they’re brilliant.  So cheap (less than 100 pesos for a 45 minute ride for all four of us) and a great opportunity for both Lily and Lu to get their flirt on with the locals.

From the bus station in Playa del Carmen, we took a taxi to our next place, a fancy-pants two bedroom apartment in the heart of Playa.  We were early, but they stored our bags and gave us free reign of the pool.

Lily, of course, was beside herself with joy.  The pool is pretty great.  A good third of the pool is shallow and really designed with kids in mind.  The sides of the pool have loungers and mats set in about six inches of water, and then there’s the deeper part which is never more than 4.5 feet.  So, pretty much perfect for a three year old who desperately wants to know how to swim but isn’t quite there yet.

Around 2 PM, we were let into our room and then we went in search of lunch, walking down to La Quinta.  La Quinta is kind of like New Orlean’s Bourbon, so yeah…  Not our favorite place in the world.  We did, however, find a little Argentinian place to have pasta.

From there, Joshua and Lily went back to the apartment to have a nap, and Lu and I went for a little walk.  We didn’t get too terribly far because it was hot and the beach kind of grossed me out (seaweed and bros in board shorts).

After nap, we went in search of a little mercado and some ice cream for Lily.  Leaving the tourist district behind, we walked a good ways.  Lily said to Joshua, “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to travel.”  Which pretty much felt like the greatest success ever.  She also said, “I like walks.”  So, win.

Friday:

The next morning, we headed for the pool, and then we hung out there, chatting and playing with other kiddos and parents either who lived in the complex or were visiting.

We took a break for lunch at Aguachiles where we ordered the shrimp tacos, and then back at the apartment, Lily took a nap.

I went for a run on the treadmill (ick), and when Lily woke up, we swam again and then walked down the length of La Quinta and over to a Trattoria for pizza and a glass of wine.

It was a day primarily spent swimming, and although we could be in a pool anywhere, we decided that this was good.  We’ve been telling Lily that traveling with the family is about compromise, and staying in Playa with a pool was our vacation within our trip, a compromise for the girls.  It’s been really nice, and while Playa isn’t our favorite, Lily has been happy as a clam.

Until Friday night, that is.

Saturday:

So, apparently eating pizza in Mexico is a VERY BAD IDEA.  It gave Joshua his terrible night (that’s what they had eaten out for lunch), and then it gave Lily a terrible night.  It’s a good thing there are three beds in this apartment, because once Lily would puke all over one, we’d move to another.  It just kind of sucked after she had puked all over every bed and every stitch of bedding in the entire apartment.  Pobrecita.

At one point, both Joshua and I were cleaning up puke and comforting Lily and I had piled pillows around Lu to make sure that she didn’t fall off the bed onto the hard, stone floor.  At some point earlier in the night, I had knocked a glass over and it had shattered on the floor.  We were a little busy, so we said, “be careful and we’ll sweep it up in the morning.”

But then, guys, probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever seen happened.  I went in to check on Lu, and there she was, draped over the pillows, hanging head first over the floor.  She was just dangling over the floor with shards of glass, and I don’t understand how she hadn’t fallen, given the position she was in.  I grabbed her and ran to tell Joshua what had happened.  As I lay in bed with her little body against mine, I just felt like there had to been a guardian angel watching over her.  Needless to say, I’m not going to put her to sleep on a high bed anymore.

The next morning, we went for breakfast and then Lily took an early morning nap.  Lu puked a few times and had some pretty explosive poops, so she was the third domino to fall.  Luckily, both girls are sort of crazily good natured when they’re sick.  They puke and within a few seconds they’re smiling.  It’s bizarre.

During nap, I went for a hot, sweaty run, and when I came back, Lu was asleep on Joshua, so I went down to the pool.  I found The Girl on the Train on a free bookshelf and it’s pretty compelling, so I’m almost 2/3 of the way through.

The family came down and joined me after nap.

After swimming, we walked to get ice cream.  We had planned to walk by the water too, but I wasn’t feeling so great, and the seaweed really smelled terrible.  We went back to the apartment and I took Lily for a swim while Joshua walked to get some food for dinner.

By the end of the night, I was pretty sure that I was the fourth domino to fall.  I had a massive headache and I felt terribly nauseous.  I rolled into bed, praying that I’d feel better in the morning.

Sunday:

Today, I woke up and although I’m feeling a bit better than I did last night and I’m didn’t puke, I’m still not feeling great.  Neither is Joshua.  Getting sick has definitely been another low point for us.  Parenting is just extra hard when you feel miserable.  Plus, it’s no fun to see your kids in pain.

Joshua took the girls and left me to rest and write, making breakfast for the girls and starting to pack up.  Today, we’re taking the collectivo to Cancun and then we’ll take the ferry to Isla Mujeres for the last leg of our trip.  We’re all feeling a bit worse for wear, but here’s to hoping that our last few days will be full of fun and less full of…  Sickness.

xoxo