Sunday, March 30, 2014


I have been getting frustrated with my camera since I got it.  It's an upgraded/fancier version of my old one, and it's smarter than me.  It would probably help if I took a class or two, but I haven't yet.  I so love taking pictures, and I don't know a better way to preserve our memories here than by taking a picture of every single thing my eye sees, but a nicer camera is worthless if the person using it can't use it the way it's meant to be used.  So I was extremely thankful to a friend of mine who came over to my house Friday morning with a book that explained everything I kept getting jumbled in my brain.  Perfect timing too, because we were leaving for the Tulip Festival in Holland that night!  

This trip was another day trip I booked through RTT Travel.  They're another travel company just like MWR but RTT seems to have a few more options (but are a little more expensive).  We were departing at 1:30 a.m which meant leaving our house by 12:45 a.m.  Eric and Isabelle went to bed for a few hours before we left, but not me, I strategized by taking a nap later in the afternoon and then staying up until we got going on the bus.  Neither of our strategies worked though, being awake in the middle of the night and then on a bus for any amount of time after is exhausting no matter how you slice it.  

After a 6 hour bus ride, our day started with a traditional Dutch breakfast at the Clara Maria cheese & wooden shoe farm!  It was a gorgeous morning!

This part of our trip was Eric's favorite.  Breakfast consisted of cheese, meat slices, toast, coffee, tea, juice, and chocolate sprinkle sandwiches.  Yes, chocolate sprinkle sandwiches- they are a staple in Dutch homes.  Isabelle could not have thought of a better breakfast if she tried!

The owners of the farm were great!  The wife is an American ex-miliatry brat, married to a Dutch farmer for more than 20 years- he was hilarious!  They were gracious, funny, and their cheese was amazing (we left with four different kinds)!  We got to see how they made their cheese and how they made their Dutch wooden shoes.

You know what they say about a man with big feet ;o)

Next was the Keukenhof Tulip Festival!  Keukenhof (Koy-ken-hof) is only 35 minutes away from the cheese farm so we had the entire rest of the day to spend at the park!  
So far, my pictures were coming out nicely, but the Tulip Festival would be the real test....

The Keukenhof flower park is jam-packed full of different flowers laid in different designs.  It is the largest flower park in the world and is world-famous!  They plant more than 7 million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths covering 79 acres, and is only open for 8 weeks during the spring.  There is a petting zoo and playgrounds spread throughout the park for kids, and seven different "inspirational gardens" that are the size of a typical backyard that made for adorable picture opportunities!

This is my most favorite picture that I took the entire day. 

Me and Eric at one of the inspirational gardens. 

We spent a good hour at the petting zoo because once our girl sees any kind of animal she's a puddle of mush.... this kid is drawn to all animals...caterpillars, fish, flies, bugs, lizards, puppies, cats, it doesn't matter, and they're drawn to her too.  She is so gentle and loving, it's like the animals know that about her.

Eric and I got a good pouty lip from her when we said it was time to go, but if we were going to make the bus home we had to leave.  
Isabelle and I had an absolute blast!  We loved every part of the flower park!  Eric though, he said "it's not my cup of tea."  He loved the cheese & shoe farm, but "flowers aren't my thing."  You woulda thought that living with two girls he'd have gotten in touch with his feminine side already, but oh well, we loved it!

And I'm really proud of my pictures!  I think I did a pretty good job yesterday!  I've still got so much to learn (I'll probably never learn everything), but I am so so happy to say that every single picture was shot in manual mode!!!!  I'm still working on getting the background blurry with the focal point being sharp and clear, but that's just going to take some practice.

Welp, this was the last bus trip we've got booked for now.  I'll keep watching the websites, we really want to go to Lake Lucerne, Switzerland through a RTT/MWR trip, and I'm hoping to re-book another trip to Innsbruck, Austria, but otherwise we need a break from the long bus rides for a little while.  So it's a good thing we're taking our own comfy vehicle to PARIS this Thursday!!!!

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