Palm Trees and Warm Sand

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After a combination of snow and sickness prematurely ended our time in the High Sierras, we are happy to report we are in recovery mode in the warm waters and sunny skies of Desert Hot Springs, California. Not only is our home for the next few weeks a great place to pitch a tent and enjoy some family-friendly hot spring pools, but the location just outside of Joshua Tree National Park will give us many opportunities to explore the park itself..

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The view of Joshua Tree National Park from our campsite.

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Perhaps it’s the mineral rich waters (or maybe just that we are in a set place for more than a night), but the string of stomach bugs is (hopefully) finally coming to an end. We are looking forward to some memorable trips in and around Joshua Tree in the coming weeks, including rock-climbing, star-gazing, date farm touring. and lunar eclipse watching. After moving right along for almost two-straight weeks, it feels great to have some time to catch our breaths and explore the area in and around Joshua Tree at a more leisurely pace.

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Pizza Para Todos

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No matter where we travel, one dinner remains the same: pizza. Although we don’t eat dairy products, the beauty of pizza is how adaptable it is to accommodate any taste or incorporate any available ingredients. Starting with the simple yet delicious pizza dough recipe from Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny, Five Spice has whipped up some some pretty spectacular pies.

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Here in La Paz there is no shortage of fresh pineapple, so naturally this ingredient has made its way onto our pizzas. Mixed with some crushed garbanzo beans and barbecue sauce (both easy to find in Baja), the combination makes for a very popular pizza. Five Spice also experimented with spreading sauteed garlic, olive oil, and nutritional yeast (something we haven’t been able to find in Mexico) for a base and covering the pizza with locally available vegetables. The results were well received by all.

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One of the adventures of making pizza is getting the dough ready. The heat of the desert yields a much stickier, quicker rising dough then we have experienced before, but in the end a bit of extra flour tamed the dough and made it workable. If watching the Muppet Show has taught us anything, we realize we should feel fortunate that our struggle with the dough did not turn out much worse.

A Parade of Heroes

When we first started making plans to attend the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade in Charlottetown I was really nervous. The parade is billed as the largest street parade in eastern Canada and it attracts thousands of spectators. I had visions of trying to maneuver the kids through massive crowds and sitting in traffic for hours trying to make our way in and out of the downtown. To try and calm my fears I went online and searched for tips about parking, the best place to view the parade, and where to find restrooms. Every search came up with nothing. With no way to know for sure we headed out Friday morning to find out for ourselves what the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade was really like.

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Luckily for us my fears were unwarranted and the parade was a very family friendly experience. It is hard to imagine that 50,000 people were there with us watching the 2 hour long parade. We didn’t experience any jostling crowds and we didn’t sit in any traffic jams. We all enjoyed the variety of floats, balloons, and entertainment, and the length of the parade was just right. The hero theme of this year’s parade was right up the younger Fives’ alley and they really enjoyed seeing some of their favorite super heroes as well as dressing up for the event themselves. Plus the fact that The Muppets made an appearance made their day, especially when Animal gave them all high fives.

To calm the fears of any other first time visitors and fill a much needed void on the Internet here are our tips for watching the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade:

The Parade Route: Take a look at the parade route ahead of time and plan out where you want to see the parade from. We decided to watch the parade from the very beginning of the route so that the kids didn’t have to wait so long for it to begin and so we could leave the city ahead of the crowds. This was a more residential area but if you want to be closer to restaurants and shops you would want to view the parade near the Confederation Center area.

When to Arrive: If you want your pick of good seats along the parade route plan on arriving a few hours early. We arrived a good hour early and we just snagged some of the last remaining sidewalk along the street.

Parking: Think about where you are going to park. Street parking didn’t seem like a major issue in the residential areas of Charlottetown. However, just in case we had located a nearby elementary school on Google Maps and parked in their parking lot. That way we didn’t need to deal with curbside parking or searching for a free spot.

Parade Balloons: If you really want to see the parade balloons completely inflated make sure that you pick a viewing area where there aren’t any low hanging trees or wires. Along the beginning of the parade route the balloons couldn’t be fully inflated because there were just too many trees and telephone wires. Our kids didn’t mind but it definitely upset some of the spectators near us.

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Staying Comfortable: Bring comfortable chairs or cushions. Since we don’t travel with folding chairs we spent two hours sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk and by the end we were all a bit uncomfortable. We also didn’t spot any restroom facilities or portable toilets near the parade route so if you have little kids definitely make sure you make a pit stop before the parade starts.

Donations: Make sure to pack some Canadian money to drop in the parade fundraising buckets (nets) when they pass them around at the start of the parade. We didn’t expect this and didn’t have any cash or change on hand to donate.

Waiting: Don’t forget snacks and activities for the long wait before the parade. The kids were super excited to walk to the parade and get their seats but waiting for the first floats to appear is definitely hard. We brought lots of reading material to keep them occupied.

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We hope that you enjoy PEI’s Gold Cup and Saucer parade as much as we did!

Happy Birthday, Our Muppet of a Boy!

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It’s official! High Five is now two years old, and we’ve spent the day celebrating in grand Muppet style.  Kermit, Beaker, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and the rest of the gang adorned the walls as we played the birthday music and lit the candle lights.

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After cake and presents, we had some balloon fun before starting up our queue of Muppet movies, including The Muppets and The Great Muppet Caper. Despite a few movie glitches, including some annoying skipping and intruding clips from The Lion King, the day kept moving right along and the birthday boy was in Muppet heaven from start to finish.

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It truly was the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational birthday we’ve ever experienced!

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Million Puppet March in Pictures

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Proud to have the freedom to show our support for public media.

Hopefully Romney gets the message.

Some of our favorites.

The rally begins.

A much deserved snack break.

So many marchers, so many puppets, what a great time.

The march begins!

Animal loves Public Media and kisses.

Meeting our fellow marchers.

Alice Apple interviews Vic the Viper.

The sun peeks out as we gather in Lincoln Park.