June 12 to 24, 2005
Galapagos and Guayaquil, Ecuador
June 12 to 24, 2005
Joan planned this exciting and educational trip with grandchildren to Ecuador and the
Archipelago. The travelers were Joan and I, Gage and Lily C., Hanna W., Florence D., and Michael I.. On Sunday, June 12, Joan and Tom flew to Houston and met Hanna, who flew in from Dallas, and Lily and Gage, who flew in from Denver. We met Florence and Michael, who flew from Boston to Houston. The flight connections went smoothly. We left Houston at about 7 pm and arrived at Guayaquil a little after midnight, June 13.
Passage through the Guayaquil Airport customs was fast since the flight was not full and the airport is small. Arrived at the Hampton Inn in downtown Guayaquil just a little over an hour after landing at the airport. The hotel was only 15 minutes from the airport.
Two days were spent in Guayaquil before flying to the Galapagos
Archipelago, allowing one day for the children to sleep in (as it turned out, they did not sleep in), and then a day for more serious sightseeing. Activities during the first two days in Guayaquil included:
- Walking the Malecon 2000, a 2.5 km-long modern-day boardwalk along the river. It had statues, towers, a monument to Bolivar and Martin (the liberators of
Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, and
Peru), a museum of contemporary art and anthropology (MAAC), an IMAX theater, rides for little kids, a commercial area, restaurants, a large garden, and an attractive boardwalk.
- Lunch at the Verde Guayas (Green Tree). That was interesting, since no one at the restaurant spoke English; none of us can speak Spanish; there was no English on the menu; and we did not have our Spanish to English dictionary.
- An open-air double-decker bus tour of Guayaquil. Had four grandkids standing up front on the upper deck, ducking tree branches, and generally having fun and enjoying the sights.
- Iguana Park, which was much fun. Arrived at the time the green iguanas were being fed. They came out of all the trees to have their lunch. A few were so anxious and excited that they fell out of the trees; others climbed over each other when approaching the feed area.
- A morning at the Historic Park. An excellent guide showed us around this urban-architectonic and ecological complex. The park is subdivided into three zones: forest life (plants and local animals and birds); traditions (buildings from old times); and the urban-architectonic zone.
- We all played in the workout room at the Hampton Inn; then the kids played in the [hot tub]-sized swimming pool (not a hot tub), having fun splashing around.
- T-Rex movie at the IMAX theater in Spanish (filmed at the Denver Museum of Natural History).
- Dinner both nights was at the hotel's dining room. The Hampton Inn is located on 9 October Street, the main commercial street in Guayaquil and 3 blocks from the Malecon. While waiting for dinner, the kids sang (softly) a funny song, "Won't my mommy be so proud of me"!
Flew from Guayaquil to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island on Wednesday. The airport was virtually in the city, about 1-half mile from the center of town. We landed there instead of the airport on Baltra Island, because the runway at the Baltra Airport was being renovated. Landing at San Cristobal required a 2+ hour rough boat ride from Puerto Baquerizo to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The boat ride was long and uncomfortable, although the driver tried to avoid the waves as best he could.
The Galapagos Archipelago
It took nearly all day to get to our hotel, the Silberstein
Hotel, in Puerto Ayora, arriving at about 3 pm. Had a late lunch at the hotel, and then were taken to the Charles Darwin Research Station / Galapagos National Park headquarters for a quick tour of the tortoise hatchery and the tortoise area. Saw Lonesome George, the last of the tortoises from Pinta Island, several other large tortoises, and a dozen 1- to 5-year-old tortoises. On the way back to the hotel, stopped at the Van Straelen Exhibition Hall. Upon returning to the hotel, the four kids and Tom swam in the pool at the hotel, while Joan and Florence watched from the patio.
The Silberstein Hotel was a nice place to stay. It had 20 to 30 rooms, served us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or at least arranged for lunch during the days when we were out on tour. The rooms were small, but comfortable. The pool was small, but large enough for the kids to have fun playing in it almost every day. The plants and flowers in the gardens and the general landscaping gave the hotel an attractive appearance. Additionally, the staff at the hotel couldn't do enough for us. The hotel manager was a Silberstein, the son of the owners, and a friendly and gracious young man. He always had a smile on his face, and the kids all loved him and his dog, Rocco. The Silbersteins are one of the old-line German families.
The Silberstein Hotel is associated with or operates the touring agency, Servicios Turisticas Galextur CIA, LTDA. They arranged our daily tours and guides in the Galapagos. The hotel address is:
Av. Charles Darwin s/n y Piqueros
Telefax: (593-5) 526277
Sta. Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador
We found the Silberstein Hotel on the Internet. It did not have a phone number listed and referred us to a travel agency,
Latin America Reservation
Center, Inc. (LARC)
P.O. Box 1435, Dundee, Florida 33838
Our contact was Judy, at [
firstname.lastname@example.org ]. She did a fine job of orchestrating all the arrangements with the Silberstein Hotel, the Hampton Inn in Guayaquil, and the several Ecuadorian touring companies.
By the time we left for the Galapagos, Gage and Hanna were allowing the 8-year-olds only 20 questions a day. Lily quickly bought herself several more questions a day by letting Hanna sit by the window on the bus and plane, etc.
Santa Cruz Island
North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island were our destinations on Thursday. To get to these places, we had a 45-minute bus ride over the lush highlands from Puerto Ayora to Itibaca Channel and a 1½-hour ride on Esmeraldas Yacht to North Seymour. The bus ride took us through the wet weather zone, which has rich grazing fields, farmland, and lush forests. Highlights of today's activities
Our guide was Victor. He was outgoing, entertaining, and informative; and was our favorite guide.
- On every boat trip, landing crafts (blown-up rafts [pangas] or wooden taxi boats) are used to get from the larger travel boats (yachts) to and from shore or the dock. Stepping onto and off the landing craft required our guides to provide a steadying hand.
- North Seymour Island is a small, flat island, with a land surface of only 2 square km. Like all the islands at sea level, North Seymour Island is in an arid zone. The primary plants are the palo santos and the opuntia, a prickly cactus.
North Seymour Island
- Sea lions on the basaltic rocks greeted our landing craft upon arrival at North Seymour Island. Also saw many sea lions along the ocean front on the west side of the island, including a few young ones (one to several months old). They played in the water and sunned themselves on the rocks.
- While touring islands, tourists are required to be led by guides and stay within crude trail markings. This requirement is necessary to prevent tourists from damaging the fragile ecology of the
- Saw many blue-footed boobies on our mile-long walk on North Seymour Island. Their nests are not much more than bird scratches on the rocks. The birds are very tame, allowing us to walk within a few feet of them. We could have touched them if that was permitted. Some boobies had young chicks; one would be notably larger than the other.
The guide explained that boobies lay two or three eggs about a week apart, and, thus, the chicks are born a week or so apart. The younger chicks often do not survive, because the older ones get all the food.
- The next interesting birds were magnificent frigates. They are black, and the males have orange chests, which they puff out to show off so as to attract a mate. Frigates nest atop bushes.
- Saw marine iguanas, which are black, along the west coast of the island. Marine iguanas eat organic matter from underwater. They can spend only a limited time in the water. Then they get out and sun themselves in order to raise their body temperatures to normal levels. Consequently, they spend many hours looking in the same direction, mostly in the direction of the sun. They don't move much while on land; they just sun themselves.
- The yacht took us to Las Bachas Beach for snorkeling. Tom quickly found that he and Lily could not snorkel at the same time, so first he helped her, and then he snorkeled while she played in the shallow water or on the beach. While snorkeling, Tom saw several varieties of small fish. Horseflies were a problem in the area where we snorkeled, so we left that area sooner than planned.
- Florence and Joan saw three hammerhead sharks at the beach. Hammerheads are common in the Galapagos, are
3-feet' to 6-feet long,, and are harmless.
- Walked to a shallow pond just inland from the beach, where three flamingos were feeding.
- Returned to the Silberstein Hotel earlier than planned. That allowed the kids to spend extra time in the pool and gave Tom time to walk around town.
- En route back to the hotel from his afternoon walk, Tom went through the harbor area and the Puerto Ayora Malecon. A group of six men were playing musical instruments, and four women were dancing and getting the audience to dance with them to the lively Latin music.
- In the morning, Joan had walked to town and gotten lost because she thought that the hotel was away from the water, whereas it was actually on Avenue Charles Darwin, just across the street from the bay. She finally found a person who could speak some English, and that person flagged down a ride to take her back to the hotel.
South Plaza Island and Carrion Point on Santa Cruz Island were our cruise destinations on Friday. After taking a bus to Hibaca Channel, we loaded onto Santa Fe II Yacht. Our guide, Victoria, tried very hard, had a great smile, and was pleasant. Highlights of today's activities included:
- The Plaza Islands are a few hundred meters east of Santa Cruz Island. Only South Plaza Island is open to tourists; North Plaza Island is reserved for scientific research.
- The vegetation on these islands belongs to the arid zone and is represented by annual plants such as sesuvium and opuntia cacti and sesuvium edmonstonei. The sesuvium are green during the wet season and red during the dry season of May to December.
- About 1,000 sea lions inhabit the island. They gather around the disembarking area and elsewhere on the rocky shorelines.
- Saw many land iguanas. They are yellow-brown in color and live off the sparse vegetation. Mostly, they stayed in one spot; i.e., very little movement.
South Plaza Island
- The 20-meter high cliffs on the south side of the island were most interesting due to all of the birds flying around and nesting, including swallow-tailed gulls, tropicbirds, frigates, blue-footed boobies, nazca (masked) boobies, and pelicans. The birds were the highlight of South Plaza Island, the way they fly rapidly around the cliffs, etc.
- After walking a mile on the designated path, we returned to the yacht, and the yacht cruised 200 meters to the south shore of North Plaza Island, where it anchored. Hanna and Tom swam and snorkeled. The water was deep and kind of rough (waves), so Lily, Gage, and Michael did not want to snorkel in this area. Saw a number of fish up to 12" to 18" in length. After snorkeling for a short time, the lunch bell sounded, and Hanna and Tom got back on the yacht. Other tourists from the boat continued to snorkel, and they got to swim with a sea lion.
- As we finished our lunch, the yacht headed for Carrion Point on Santa Cruz Island for swimming and snorkeling. Carrion Point creates a sheltered lagoon with beautiful, turquoise water. The water was very smooth, and Tom was able to touch the bottom. That allowed Lily to snorkel. The calm water gave Gage and Michael more confidence, and they snorkeled. Saw numerous fish and growths on the bottom. We all enjoyed snorkeling here.
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz
A glass-bottomed boat tour in and around the Puerto Ayora Harbor
(Academy Bay) was the Saturday morning activity. Florence, Michael, and Hanna did the cruise to Bartolomé, but Joan, Tom, and the Conrad kids did not want to spend 3 hours each way on Santa Fe Yacht. The big attractions on Bartolomé are the penguins, which are
12-inches to 18-inches high, and good snorkeling. Hanna got to snorkel with sea lions. They enjoyed their long day, leaving by bus at 5:30 am and returning at 5:00 pm. Our activities in Puerto Ayora included:
- The harbor cruise in the glass-bottomed boat was from 9 am to 1 pm. Our guide, Juan Carlos, was enjoyable. He was descriptive, good with the kids, and friendly.
- The boat took us to the Isla Coamano, a small island 1 km off-shore and about 4 km from Puerto Ayora. That is where we looked through the glass bottom of the boat. The
[C.'s] were able to see many fish and one sea turtle. Joan could not see anything with her dark glasses on.
- As the boat drifted along just outside the rocks, Juan Carlos suggested that we snorkel because there were a dozen sea lions playing on the rocks and in the water.
It would have been fun to snorkel with the sea lions, but the Conrad kids did not feel confident to snorkel in the water there; the water was rough (waves) and the rocks were imposing.
Tom didn't snorkel because no one else was snorkeling. In hindsight, Tom should have snorkeled anyway because it would have been a neat experience.
If Hanna had been with us, she would have wanted to try it (the question is, would Grandma have let her?).
- En route to Isla Coamano, the boat went by the German District of Puerto Ayora. Although on Santa Cruz Island, the only way to reach these houses is by boat; i.e., no road.
The houses are neat and attractive (typical for Germans).
Germans came to the Galapagos Islands in the mid-1930s to get away from the Hitler regime in Germany.
- Passed by the Angermeyer Restaurant, which had been the first
and was at the point at the end of the bay.
The second Angermeyer Hotel is where we stayed. The last of the original Angermeyers who migrated here in 1935 died several years ago, and their hotel was sold to the Silbersteins.
Tortuga Bay and Academy Bay
- Docked the boat in a narrow harbor on Academy Bay and walked to another beach through an arid vegetative area (cacti and succulents). Saw many marine iguanas at this other beach, which did not appear to be suitable for swimming. A sea lion was laying under a bush in an area that was not a normal place for sea lions. We got close to the sea lion, and it snapped at me. Juan Carlos thought the sea lion was sick, so he took photographs to show to the National Park Service staff.
- Boated to Divine's Bay, parked, and went to German Beach, which is a sheltered, sandy beach. Gage snorkeled alone, and Lily and Tom snorkeled together. Where it was shallow, Tom helped Lily snorkel. In deep water, Tom snorkeled, and Lily rode on his back and observed from above the water; that worked out well in this calm water. During our snorkeling, there were a dozen or so sea lions in the rocky area. We saw many fish, particularly in the area of the rocks. As we approached the closest sea lion, it looked as if he was using his fins to wave at us to join him. We got within a few feet of the sea lion.
- Our tour ended at the pier at Puerto Ayora. Walked back to the hotel for lunch.
- While the kids swam in the pool, Tom walked to Tortuga Bay via the 2.5 km-long trail. The trail was
4-feet wide and built with paving tiles and mortared rock walls on each side. It was a pleasant but hot walk. The primary vegetation along this route was the cacti. Tortuga Bay was pretty with its 1+ km long white sand beach. However, the winds had whipped up by this time in the afternoon, and waves were coming in every 10 seconds - not good for good surfing. Only a few people were on the beach.
Shortly after dinner, at around 8 or 9 pm, everyone went to bed, except Tom.
Since it was Saturday night, Tom had to check out the downtown area.
He walked to the center of Puerto Ayora; no music was being played on the Malecon.
Many young kids (2 to 10 years old) were playing there. A few people were in bars, and music was being played, but the bars were fairly quiet.
Daphné Major and Caleta Tortuga Negra were our activity on Sunday.
Victor was our guide again today, J, and our boat was Esmeralda Yacht. Daphné Major and Daphné Minor are tuff cones located about 6- km west of North Seymour Island. Daphné Minor is the older cone, and ocean water erosion has reduced the original cone to a cylinder-shaped island with sheer cliffs.
Daphné Major has kept its full cone, with a main crater and a second lateral crater on the south rim.
Daphné Major is considered to be a fragile tuff cone. Only groups of 12 or less are allowed to go to this cone.
Thus, it was a real treat to be allowed to go there; Joan and Florence agreed that Daphné Major was a treat once we all got back to the panga.
Like the rest of the islands at low elevations, Daphné Major is in the arid zone. Its limited vegetation consists of croton, palo santos, opuntia cacti, and sesuvium.
The main animals on Daphné Major are birds, consisting of a colony of blue-footed boobies, which dwell on the floor of the higher crater; magnificent frigate birds, which are found on the slopes and rim and on the floor of the lower crater; and Nazca or masked boobies and finches on the outer slopes.
As we walked up the side of the cone, masked boobies were on the trail.
They had absolutely no fear of us humans; in fact, they would not move off the trail, and we had to walk around them.
Landing on Daphné Major and walking up the steep sideslopes was the excitement of the day and the trip.
It was kind of like a cliff where we landed. There were footholds for us to place our feet and hands to scramble up the side to where the trail started, and then a steep trail from sea level to the top of the crater - about 400 feet in elevation.
Joan was extremely nervous about the kids sliding or falling into the ocean. Actually, the kids were more sure-footed and coordinated than us adults.
Joan and Florence were less coordinated, and were, therefore, nervous about the grandchildren.
Joan claims that Tom was stumbling more than anybody, but he felt secure the entire time.
After Daphné Major, the yacht took us to Caleta Tortuga Negra on Santa Cruz Island, a swampy mangrove area where marine turtles and rays reside.
Pelicans were spotted both in the trees and flying. The turtles are very shy and difficult to see.
Saw one swimming close to the boat and several in the mangroves.
Saw a school of golden-orange-colored fish (rays?). The panga traveled slowly part of the time we spent in this lagoon area, and part of the time, the panga just floated, while we waited to see fish or turtles.
We all had to be very quiet.
Baltra Island - Galapagos
Next, the yacht took us to the beach on Baltra Island for snorkeling.
Saw many fish, some of which were colorful (pretty). After leaving the snorkeling beach, and as we were approaching the dock to catch the bus back to Puerto Ayora, we realized that Gage did not have his eye glasses. Our guide, Victor, had quickly picked up the towels from the beach to hustle us onto the boat, and Gage's glasses had been left on the towel.
The yacht turned around and went back to the beach. Victor was able to find the glasses, and the day was saved.
Not much was done in the evening. The kids swam upon returning to the hotel.
After dinner, it was bed time. Lily and Michael swam so much every day that their swimming skills improved notably.
Santa Cruz Island Highlands was our morning activity on Monday.
Our guide and van took us to a farm in the hills to see Galapagos Tortoises.
Tortoises are very shy; when people approach, they retract their heads and legs.
We saw some in the undergrowth and watched one eat the fruit that drops off the trees.
Another tortoise that we photographed was in a shallow pond.
While watching the tortoise eat fruit, Lily and Tom stepped on an anthill and were attacked by fire ants, tiny little creatures that bite.
Our feet and ankles were covered with these creatures. We brushed them off as best we could, and Tom carried Lily back to the parking lot and made sure that all the ants were off. Nobody else got bitten; they did not step on the anthill. Before going out again, Gage and Lily put on boots to prevent ants from getting on their feet.
Fortunately, we did not step on any more anthills; we were being a lot more careful about where we walked.
Those bites really hurt!
There was a sort of market area by the parking area. Joan and Tom bought sweaters and a coat made of llama fur.
They looked great, but when we got home, we found a major problem with the sweaters and coat - a putrid odor was attached to them. Joan is going to try to solve that problem; if not successful, the garments will be given to Goodwill or Purple Heart.
The next activity was a walk through Lava Tunnels, which are formed by the upper part of lava flows cooling and solidifying due to the cooler air, and the rest of the lava continuing to flow toward the sea.
Once the lava flows ran out, tunnels were left behind, ranging in height from 10-feet to over 50-feet.
The tunnel we walked through was about 500-feet in length.
Returned to the hotel for lunch; then walked back to the Charles Darwin Research Station.
We were not allowed to go into any of the research facilities; however, we took a much more leisurely and careful tour of the tortoise hatchery and farm.
Saw many more tortoises than we had seen when we toured the facility on Wednesday.
Watched the movie about the Galapagos Islands and the research station in the Van Straelen Exhibit Hall.
Spent a leisurely rest of the afternoon. The kids swam, and then went with the women to souvenir shops to buy goodies to take back to their families.
After that, we had dinner and went to bed early because we had to leave early the next day in order to fly back to Guayaquil.
After a 5:30 am breakfast, we boarded a speedboat at the Puerto Ayora Harbor and had a very rough ride back to San Cristobal Island.
This ride was rougher than the ride from San Cristobal Island to Puerto Ayora because we were riding into the wind, which was from the southeast.
Gage felt nauseous, but he did not upchuck. We were then bused to the airport and waited 2½-hours for our plane.
The airport is quite small. It only has one gate, so it can handle only one plane at a time.
In fact, our plane had to wait a few minutes for the plane that had already been loaded to pull out of the loading area before it could let its passengers off so we could get board the plane.
Galapagos National Park and Darwin Station
Our Guayaquil guide, Pilar, met us at the airport and transported us back to the Hampton Inn for our last two nights. Upon arrival at the hotel, we had some downtime and then walked to the Malecon, where we had dinner at the Aroma Café. Returning to Guayaquil was anticlimactic. We all were ready to go home, but had to wait two more days because Continental Airlines switched from daily flights to flights 2 or 3 times per week.
Wednesday was our hacienda visit day. Pilar and a beginner assistant guide, Eduardo, loaded us into a van and drove us (1½ to 2) hours to a hacienda. This turned out to be a great day. Pilar told us a lot about the Ecuadorian economy, roads, agriculture, and history while driving to the hacienda. We had a wide variety of activities at the hacienda, including:
- A snack that included papaya juice and juice made from the pulp of cocoa trees.
- A tour of the banana and cocoa orchards. Banana trees grow to heights of about 20-feet. Once the bananas start to form on the trees, bags are put around them to protect the fruit against insects. After one harvest, banana trees die, but new shoots come up. The trees grow very fast, and bananas are harvested year-round. The banana orchards are irrigated during the dry season.
Cocoa is the other major crop. A hybrid cocoa produces the best yield. It is a 10-feet to 15-feet high tree/bush that produces cocoa "flowers/pods." Eduardo picked two of these flowers/pods and split them open to show us the inside. The innards consist of a pulpy substance around "nuts". The pulpy substance can be refined, and that is what we drank earlier for our snack. It is very rich and sweet, and only a limited amount should be drunk. The "nuts" are the cocoa beans. They are bitter until fermented, dried, and processed. Once fermented and dried, the meat is taken out of the nut shells and processed to make chocolate. We watched the farm laborers manually screen the cocoa nuts that had been dried. Before that, the cocoa nuts had been covered with a plastic tarp for week to allow them to ferment.
- Visited a fenced-in area with crocodiles. The crocodiles were sleeping in the water and on the shore. We disturbed them by throwing rocks, and then we watched them snap at the air. Mean, mean critters!
- Visited some caged animals. Most, if not all, of them had been in a distressful situation or had been injured, and were brought to the farm for recovery and possible later release back into the wild. Saw wild pigs, monkeys (which were on an island so they couldn't get away), two bears, macaws (which had spectacularly beautiful colors), smaller birds, and anaconda and python snakes.
- Looked at the shrimp ponds and the tilapia fish ponds.
- Lunch was typical Ecuadorian fare -- tilapia, beans, and rice.
- Saw cowboys on horses herding cattle.
- All four kids rode horses around a corral. That was a highlight.
- Gage was a virtual magnet for insects. All of us applied bug spray; Gage had applied bug spray four times, but he still got many bites. Tom's bites started getting itchy as we were flying home the next night.
- At 4 pm, the cows came in from the fields, and the workers started to milk them, manually. The kids and Tom were allowed to try to milk the cows; none of us were able to get much milk out of them.
- Swung on a rope across a lagoon. Lily was too small to do it, so Pop had to fill in for her. Because she was the smallest, she got the nickname, "Sputnik".
All-in-all, the hacienda was a highlight for all of us. It was well worth spending an extra day in Guayaquil. Tom also enjoyed his early morning walk to Guayaquil University and the Maleon Escala (along a lake or estuary).
Thursday was generally a lost day. We just fiddled around, killing time until we had to leave for the airport at 10 pm to catch our 1 am red-eye flight back to Houston. Guayaquil's last day activities were:
- Tom walked the Malecon to Santa Ana Hill and summitted the 444 stairs plus the 35 additional steps to the top of the lighthouse. Great views. Within the lighthouse was a history lesson about lighthouses; the first lighthouse operated in the Fifth Century BC.
- Visited the Guayaquil General Cemetery. It is a very large cemetery and is all above ground, probably because of the lava underground is extremely difficult to dig into. The cemetery was as interesting as the ones in New Orleans.
- Florence wanted to go see a missionary home. She took three different taxis, all of which said they knew where the place was, but none of which were able to find it. She spent several hours and approximately $10 for "nada" - nothing!
- Walked the 444 stairs up Santa Ana Hill, again, plus the lighthouse stairs, with the kids.
- Ate lunch in a cafeteria-style fast food place at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Anthropology (MAAC), and then toured the Museum. The MAAC building was very interesting, and the art was nicely displayed, but the art itself was generally mediocre. The anthropology portions of the museum had not yet been set up. The kids were antsy - Lily and Hanna were "swing dancing" through the exhibits.
- After the museum, we walked through the gardens; hung around the Malecon; the kids road a little kids' "train"; played on exercise equipment; and generally killed time. While on the exercise equipment, we had the most serious kid accident- Gage fell on a 4" high beam and bruised his shin.
- Watched Thrill Ride at the IMAX Theater. The movie presented the history of thrill rides, we think. It would have been much more enjoyable and informative if we understood Spanish.
- Had dinner at a restaurant at the Malecon.
- Returned to the hotel and laid around waiting for Pilar to pick us up at 10 pm to take us to the airport.
- The Continental flight left on time at 1 am and arrived promptly at 6 am in Houston. Tom was not able to sleep well, even though he had three seats to himself.
- Had breakfast at the Marriott Hotel, and then took the kids to catch their flights to Denver and Dallas. Florence had an earlier flight to Boston, where she returned Michael to his parents, and then flew back to Dulles Airport.
- After our kids boarded their flights and the planes took off, we returned to the Marriott Hotel and met Buddy and Diana Green for a 2-hour visit before catching our flight to Dulles Airport. Our flight was on time for both departure and arrival. It was good to get home. We had a great time with this experience through the grandkids' excitement about their adventures.
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