Today we had to scurry to finish our school work because we had a field trip in the afternoon. We visited the Historic Stranahan House in our home town of Fort Lauderdale. I thought everyone in our family had been there. My daughter informed me that everyone had been except for her. I was more than happy to remedy that. Stranahan House started as a trading post and eventually became home to one of Fort Lauderdale’s early pioneer families the Stranahans. Ivy Stranahan was Fort Lauderdale’s first school teacher. The Stranahan’s were one of the few pioneer families that treated the Seminole’s with fairness and respect. Besides vintage antique the house has some beautiful Seminole patchwork. They also have the china set given as a wedding gift to the Stranahans by Henry Flagler. I would give yourself two hours to visit Stranahan House. The docents are very informative. The view of the New River is lovely.
The end of summer is always bittersweet for me. On one hand I’m sad to see summer go. This summer seemed to go by faster than usual too. On the other hand the start of a new school year is always so loaded with potential. I am really excited about what I have planned for this year. With out a doubt the kids felt the same way. It’s hard to say good bye to all day in the pool, the beach, fun trips, and summer camp. To ease the transition I promised them if they got all their work done we’d take a mini field trip at the end of the first day. Our mini field trip was definitely science themed. Liquid nitrogen ice cream seems to be all the rage. Shops are popping up all over. I really liked Chill’N because they really showed the science of liquid nitrogen. I also loved their nod to the periodic table. If you live in Fort Lauderdale or visit our fair city Chill’N is a fun and educational place to get ice cream. The ice cream is great. We all look forward to going back and trying other flavors!
In the Montreal Botanical Garden there is an insectarium. It was very interesting. Outside the insectarium there are these clear orbs. At first glance they look like garden art. After closer inspection there are bugs in the orbs. They were fascinating to look at. There was also a really cool station that replicated the eyes of a bug and what they see.
The bugs inside are so well displayed and interesting.
I had my children watch an inspiring TED talk by Janet Echelman. I featured it a few months back (here). As we were walking around Montreal my twelve year old suddenly became so excited. She was jumping up and down and pointing. She had spotted a piece of art by Janet Echelman. It was even more stunning in person. Pictures do not really capture how the form gently mooved in the breeze. It is such a wonderful feeling when a lesson is remembered and makes an impression.
When we arrived in Quebec we asked the kids what they would like to see and do in Canada. My daughter’s request was to eat some really good macarons. She jumped on her i pad and before long settled on Maison Smith. My son’s big Canada quest was to see a beaver. He loves beavers. They are the lego builders of the animal world. Like my daughter he hit his i pad. No luck… So my husband and I got on our laptops. We learned that beavers are nocturnal and some what tricky to see in the wild. Luckily for my son he saw a beaver in the wild in action while running a 5 K in Michigan. That chance encounter was what sparked his interest. Not easily detoured, I finally found that the Montreal Biodome had beavers. So the biodome it was. My husband and I were luke warm about visiting the biodome. All four of us absolutely loved it. The exhibits were engaging. It wasn’t very large which was great for us. We wanted to see a lot of Montreal and had a very short window to do it. We spent roughly two hours at the biodome which was perfect. Yes, my son saw his beaver. Luckily for us they have a beaver den cam. Both the biodome’s beavers were sound asleep when we arrived. Luckily, one of the beavers woke up (I willed it to happen) and decided to get working.
Ohhhh Poutine! If you are not from Canada this delicacy might sound a little exotic. Traditional poutine is basically french fries with gravy and cheese curds. I know, it sounds crazy but it is so good. Many restaurants in Canada have gotten creative with poutine. There were different versions in every restaurant we visited. The best “gourmet” poutine that we ate was at Restaurant Bistro sous le fort in Quebec City. Their poutine wasn’t greasy and had the most amazing peppercorn gravy. It was so delicious. I should also mention all four dishes we ordered in addition to our poutine at Restaurant Bistro sous le fort were outstanding. For kids Poutineville is sure to be a hit. Poutineville is so much fun because you design your own poutine. When you sit down you are given a large checklist. You are able to select your cut of fries, type of gravy, cheese topping, meat, vegetables, etc… We each ordered a small and it was huge. A fun time was had by all at Poutineville. If you are taking a field trip to Canada don’t miss the poutine.
When we travel the kids are included in the process. My daughter’s big request for our Canada trip wasn’t really a surprise. She has a serious love of sweets and anything French. She wanted French macarons. I told her to research where to go. She settled on Maison Smith Cafe. Her homework paid off. The macarons were divine. If you are in Quebec City I would definitely recommend treating yourself to some of the wonderful French delicacies. There are many quaint bakeries. For little girls macarons definitely are pleasing to the eye and tummy.
I would absolutely love to say that it was my idea to hire a tour guide. I must give credit to my husband. Normally, I plan our trips almost to the minute. I research on the internet for months. I try to tie our excursions into what we’ve been studying. A tour guide would have been researched and arranged well in advance…not this trip. Our Canada trip was a little spur of the moment idea so we didn’t go into it as well planned as usual. Fortunately for us Quebec City has a very large accommodating visitors center. My children would urge me to include that the visitors center has public wifi. It was here we secured our wonderful walking tour guide. I was a little skeptical at first. The tour was 2 1/2 hours. While my kids can definitely handle a 2 1/2 hour tour that doesn’t mean they always enjoy it. Keep in mind we pretty blindly signed up for this tour. It turned out to be a great decision. Our tour guide Robert Vandermeer was wonderful. He was so entertaining that we all agreed we couldn’t believe how quick 2 1/2 hours flew by. Quebec City has a fascinating history. It is really worth taking a tour from someone who can share it with you. Robert brought the cities inhabitants past and present to life. He entertainingly covered religion, architecture, history, socialism, current problems, it was great! We all learned so much. We all fell in love with Quebec City. From the beautiful architecture, friendly people, art everywhere, street performers, amazing food and fascinating history. I think the solidifying moment for me was walking down one of the many quaint streets I heard my favorite operatic piece “The Flower Duet” from the opera Lakme. After turning the corner I realized it was the local opera company performing in the street for all to enjoy. There is music and art everywhere in Quebec City. It is truly amazing. We all loved it and look forward to returning. Here are a few pictures from our trip.
This is a wonderful time of year to visit Quebec City. The Québécois are celebrating Les Fetes De La Nouvelle France or what we would say in English “New France” (Link to Calendar of Events). There are wonderful festivities taking place all over the city. We particularly enjoyed the parades, military reenactments, and aboriginal displays. I will say the first time we accidentally came upon a military reenactment we almost hit the deck when several muskets were fired simultaneously. It was probably a little like the city inhabitants felt when the British attacked the city in the 18th century. We had an amazing time visiting Quebec. I will share more of our trip once I manage to finish unpacking and sorting my pictures. In the mean time here are some videos I shot of Les Fetes De La Nouvelle France.