Author Archives: Bill

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation in Panama: Part Two

Hooray for Coco Mango!

Hooray for Coco Mango!

Coming back from Guna Yala we were dropped off at the airport in Panama City for a cross-country flight to David.  David is the biggest city in western Panama and the gateway to the highlands around Volcan Baru, the tallest mountain in the country at just over 11,000 feet in elevation. Because we were all in need of a night of air-conditioning and a comfy bed, we opted for a room at the new business hotel near the David airport where we got a great deal on a family room with breakfast.  Our birding guide had suggested that if we wanted a more Panamanian experience, we should go to the foothill town of Volcan on the western side of the volcano instead of the American expat haven of Boquete on the eastern side.  We headed out in the morning!

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How I Spent My Christmas Vacation in Panama: Part One

Too much to do...

Too much to do in Guna Yala!

The first day after school got out I found myself driving north with my family toward Panama. Living outside Seattle, this has more to do with funky airline ticket pricing than a bad sense of direction. My wife had found flights out of Vancouver cheap enough to warrant the drive and the cost of parking the car for a couple of weeks. So our trip to Central America started with a short trip to Tim Hortons. Read more »

The Pancake Blog

The Bunny Pancake

The Bunny Pancake

I first started making pancakes when the kids were really little, in animal shapes with chocolate chips melted in for the eyes, nose, and mouth. There was Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny, and Clifford the Big Red Dog, but they were basically variations on the same theme. Over time I tried all the various kinds of pancake mixes, and “won” the pancake basket at one of the kid’s preschool fund-raising auctions. I used white chocolate, mint chocolate, dark chocolate, and butterscotch chips. We quickly tired of basic “syrup” and became conversant in the various grades of maple syrup. One Christmas some friends gave us a waffle maker which further diversified my repertoire. Every Saturday morning I was ritually mixing batter. Sometimes there was bacon. Read more »

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The BIG Maze at the National Building Museum.

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation in DC

After we had our tickets clipped and entered the BIG maze I expected to accompany my 12-year-old daughter through the special exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. But she was already gone at the first turn. If I didn’t want to run to catch up I’d be going it alone. I expected to run into her at each of the many dead ends, but she was never there. Even when I finally made it to the center of the maze, where I could see over the shorter walls, she was nowhere to be seen. Finally I emerged out the other end hoping to find her. When I turned around, she was already coming out of the maze for the second time. Such is the crazy energy that takes hold of kids when they face amazing things like an indoor maze made out of plywood with walls ranging in height from 3 to 18 feet. Read more »

Two Days In Taipei

We only had two days in Taipei on our way to Thailand last winter.  You can read all about it on my guest post on The Mother of All Trips blog hosted by Mara Gorman.

Descending the stairs of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Descending the stairs of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

 

Big Changes in Thailand

Check out my article about revisiting Thailand after 19 years away.  It’s on Wandering Educators.

Photo by Zoey Richards!

Photo by Zoey Richards!

Memories of Thailand – Bill

Buddha2Next week my family is heading for Thailand for the Christmas holidays.  We are all very excited to be heading to a destination that combines unique culture and great people with delicious  food and tropical beaches.  This will not be my first Thai experience however, but that does not make it any less exciting.

I first went to Thailand in 1989, on my way east from traveling for several months in Nepal and India.  I was initially disappointed at how easy it was to get around.  I could jump on a water-bus on the Chao Phraya River to get to most places that I wanted to go in Bangkok.  Or catch on a cheap minibus on Khaosan Road to get to almost any place in the country that a backpacker would want to go – north, south, east, or west.  There were no people aggressively asking me for money or competitive jostling in long lines to buy tickets.  It took me several days to relax. Read more »

Blast from the Past

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

There really are windmills in The Netherlands.

The whole third section of our book is devoted to reinforcing the memories of a trip well taken and exploring the cultural diversity offered in your own hometown.  But what I neglected to include in those chapters is the memory boost offered by electronic blasts from the past.  Every couple of months I get an e-mail message from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum.  Even before I open it, it brings me a little smile.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.

Back in 2007, when the kids were seven and four, we took the whole family to The Netherlands for a scientific conference.  On an off day we took a train and a bus to a museum that was supposed to be fun for kids while documenting the everyday cultural heritage of the region.  We had a great afternoon walking through the period buildings of the “Open Air Museum” and interacting with people in period costumes doing traditional labor like milling grain or smithing. Read more »