Columbus, Melbourne, Australia


Posted Nov 15, 2011, 9:29 am
Hi Toytravelers,

My name is Columbus and I am a little bear.
Today I decided to go on a journey. I hope I can see a lot of our fantastic word.

Right know I am sitting with my mom in Stuttgart, Germany and we are enjoying the beautiful weather outside. It is sunny but cold. Afterwards I want to take a little nap. Life is so interesting!

Posted Dec 9, 2011, 3:57 am
Columbus arrived in Iola, Kansas today!

Posted Dec 9, 2011, 3:58 am
Columbus got to see the ethanol plant in Garnett today. They distill corn to make ethanol fuel, as well as a very high protein cattle feed. It always smells like delicious yeast around the ethanol plant.

Posted Dec 10, 2011, 3:27 am
Columbus visited the Neosho River today. Host mom said that this place, by the dam, is one of her favorite places in town and she likes to come here to see how the seasons affect the landscape.

Posted Dec 11, 2011, 6:48 am
Columbus visited Chanute today and got to see the cement plant.

Posted Dec 12, 2011, 3:43 am
Columbus met host mom's finished project today... Imp Midna from Twilight Princess Zelda.

Posted Dec 13, 2011, 3:35 am
Columbus wanted to see what was for dinner... yummm!!!

Posted Dec 14, 2011, 5:08 am
Columbus  went to the middle school Christmas concert today!

Posted Dec 15, 2011, 3:18 am
Columbus went to host moms Christmas party in her Iola office today. He thought the food was both beautiful and delicious!

Posted Dec 17, 2011, 3:37 am
Columbus had never seen sushi this big! What an amazing thing!

Posted Dec 18, 2011, 3:13 am
Columbus and the other TVs visited the Strawberry Hill Museum in Kansas City, Kansas! They were all disappointed that there were no pictures allowed inside because it was so amazing, with all the cultural displays, but they did get some of the outside!

Posted Dec 18, 2011, 3:14 am
Columbus was very curious about the Mongolian BBQ... it looked very delicious!

Posted Dec 20, 2011, 4:45 am
After a long day of shopping, the host family took Columbus out to China Star!

Posted Dec 20, 2011, 4:47 am
Columbus learned how to line dance and got to watch an indoor "snowball" fight at the Classique dance studio Christmas party!

Posted Dec 20, 2011, 4:47 am
Columbus learned how to line dance and got to watch an indoor "snowball" fight at the Classique dance studio Christmas party!

Posted Dec 21, 2011, 4:26 am
Columbus enjoyed the elementary school's Christmas program! The theme was peace on earth.

Posted Dec 23, 2011, 2:22 am
Columbus enjoyed helping host mom organize and wrap Christmas presents! :)

Posted Dec 23, 2011, 2:27 am
Columbus went to host mom's work Christmas party in Garnett and learned about making fry bread!

Posted Dec 24, 2011, 6:13 am
Columbus went to Pizza Hut for lunch today :)

Posted Dec 25, 2011, 4:06 am
The host family took Columbus to church this morning, for a special Christmas program. There were songs and Christmas themed stories, and a Nativity play!

Posted Dec 25, 2011, 4:09 am
In the afternoon, Columbus went to Garnett with the host family, to take a friend home. They stopped at the South Lake to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

Posted Dec 26, 2011, 2:32 am
Columbus had so much fun watching the kids unwrap their Christmas presents!

Posted Dec 29, 2011, 2:12 am
Columbus hung out with the boys this afternoon!

Posted Dec 30, 2011, 3:15 am
Columbus hung out with the kids again today! They went to the elementary school playground. The school just got a new fort, which was made and donated by one of the janitors! The kids said he must love them! :)

Posted Dec 31, 2011, 4:30 am
Host mom painted her daughter's fingernails!

Posted Dec 31, 2011, 9:53 pm
Columbus helped make the last breakfast of the year! It was a delicious sandwich made with slices of granny smith apple, peanut butter, and toasted raisin bread! :)

Posted Jan 1, 2012, 6:04 am
Columbus met ferrets today!

Posted Jan 1, 2012, 9:49 pm
Columbus liked the costume host mom finished today... she said it's called Whismur!

Posted Jan 3, 2012, 2:30 am
Columbus went to Aquarium Wholesale and watched the saltwater fish today. This pretty yellow one was quite shy!

Posted Jan 5, 2012, 2:43 am
Columbus looked at all the books on host mom's shelf when she took him to her Iola office today!

Posted Jan 6, 2012, 4:18 am
Columbus helped host mom run some errands on the town square in Garnett today. The city hall is really pretty!

Posted Jan 7, 2012, 2:55 am
Columbus doesn't know what this is, but it's looking very interesting!

Posted Jan 7, 2012, 11:03 pm
One of the TVs in our group has a life goal of visiting cemeteries, so host mom took us to see the old Iola cemetery. Some of the headstones date back to the 1800s. Some of them are quite elaborate, while others are quite plain!

Posted Jan 8, 2012, 6:15 am
Columbus and the other TVs helped host mom to test out her new Christmas gadget. Yum!

Posted Jan 8, 2012, 6:17 am
Columbus went to Youth Group with the host family. There were crafts, great food and songs!

Posted Jan 10, 2012, 4:38 am
Host mom said the weird thing in the kitchen is called "Exploud" and it's a Pokemon.

Posted Jan 11, 2012, 1:26 am
Host mom is working on some very unusual boots!

Posted Jan 12, 2012, 2:18 am
Host mom said she is making progress on the boots... they are beginning to look rather, erm, purple!

Posted Jan 13, 2012, 1:11 am
Columbus and Draper were all ready to help with clearing the snow!

Posted Jan 15, 2012, 12:36 am
Today we went to a magical kingdom... full of duckies! It was a wonderful place to play!

Posted Jan 16, 2012, 4:48 am
Columbus went to the Kansas City Reptile Expo today. There were soooo many things to see! Some were cute and some were rather creepy crawly... and some were just a bit scary!

Posted Jan 18, 2012, 2:31 am
Columbus and the other TVs were quite curious about the strange projects host mom was working on. She said they're coming along, but they aren't finished yet. :)

Posted Jan 21, 2012, 4:01 am
Host mom says she still isn't finished, but she's making good progress...

Posted Jan 22, 2012, 3:35 am
Columbus met an adorable dwarf rat today!

Posted Jan 23, 2012, 3:59 am
The kids had art lessons today and Columbus rather liked this one! :)

Posted Jan 26, 2012, 4:32 am
Host mom took the TVs to her favorite place at the Neosho River today. Usually it's iced over and covered in snow this time of year, but this year- just low water and naked trees.

Posted Jan 28, 2012, 2:49 am
Host mom brought doughnuts for breakfast! Yum! :)

Posted Jan 29, 2012, 2:47 am
Columbus went to church with his host family today, and had a grand time at church supper!

Posted Jan 30, 2012, 3:56 am
Host mom made a herd of zombies today!

Posted Jan 31, 2012, 3:36 am
Today we ate lunch at a Mexican food restaurant in Topeka. The food looked yummy, but it didn't taste nearly as good as the food at our favorite local restaurant, El Charro.

Posted Feb 2, 2012, 12:59 pm
Columbus helped host mom make dinner tonight!

Posted Feb 3, 2012, 4:07 am
Today we went to Children's Mercy Hospital for an orthopedic appointment!

Posted Feb 3, 2012, 4:09 am
We had delicious Indian food at Korma Sutra!

Posted Feb 3, 2012, 4:11 am
Today was a 13th birthday celebration! So many wonderful presents!

Posted Feb 5, 2012, 6:01 am
Columbus helped host mom make lunch today. She called it "pasta with hit the pan salsa." It smelled amazing and tasted fantastic!

Posted Feb 5, 2012, 6:03 am
The Thayer SDA youth group was really fun tonight!

Posted Feb 6, 2012, 3:02 am
Columbus and the other TVs crowded around to see Anastaysia's new dress that host mom made for her!

Posted Feb 8, 2012, 4:57 am
MMmmmmm! Dinner looked and smelled good tonight!

Posted Feb 13, 2012, 4:53 am
Columbus was very excited to go to Naka-Kon, a big anime convention! The first night was just checking in and checking out the hotel. He also got to go to a discussion about "lolita fashion."

Posted Feb 13, 2012, 4:58 am
Day two of Naka-Kon, and Columbus enjoyed hanging out in the hotel room between events! The host family was so excited to have won an award in the cosplay contest!

Posted Feb 14, 2012, 4:07 am
It was the last day of Naka-Kon. So sad to say goodbye. We went and took one last look at the dealer's room!

Posted Feb 14, 2012, 4:09 am
On the way home, we took a side trip to Topeka and ate dinner at Red Robin before heading home.

Posted Feb 15, 2012, 3:53 am
It snowed, so Snakiey and I went outside to play. We found plants peeking through the snow!

Posted Feb 15, 2012, 3:53 am
Valentine's Day is so much fun!

Posted Feb 17, 2012, 5:02 am
Columbus poked through host mom's stack of current favorite CDs to find something good to listen to :)

Posted Feb 18, 2012, 4:48 am
Host mom and her daughter finished sewing a skirt for the daughter (that matches Anastaysia's dress), so we tried it on!

Posted Feb 19, 2012, 4:56 am
We went to the Great Plains Mall and looked around today!

Posted Feb 20, 2012, 3:48 am
It was lovely outside, so the host family took me and the other TVs for a ride in the countryside! It isn't quite spring yet, but there are signs that it will be here soon!

Posted Feb 21, 2012, 3:18 am
Columbus couldn't resist trying on the dress that host mom made for her littlest daughter. Host mom says she has one more to make, so that the girls can be matching dark angels in a play they are practicing for.

Posted Feb 22, 2012, 3:28 am
Host mom was sewing again today... all the TVs gathered around to see what she'd done to this black hoodie. Hiding in the pockets were little zombies, whose pocket homes on the hoodie make them toys who will do a lot of traveling!

Posted Feb 24, 2012, 2:27 am
Today is Columbus' last day in Iola, so host mom took him down for one last look at the beautiful Neosho River. Tomorrow, he will leave for New Jersey!

Posted Feb 25, 2012, 4:04 am
Columbus climbed into the envelope and headed to New Jersey today!
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 1, 2012, 4:58 am
After four days in my travel envelope, I have finally arrived at my destination in New Jersey, greeted by my new host, Spac the Bear!

I immediately got to meet some of Spac's friends. They are tree-sloths named Grimace and Pumice. They're like family to Spac and though they don't live here, they're staying with him for a while.

It was already evening when Spac got home from work and got me out of my envelope, so there was not much to do except have some dinner. We shared a plate of asparagus with black beans and corn. Spac is a vegetarian. Who's ever heard of a vegetarian bear??

I had such fun in Kansas with Mami Tig and I am sure that new adventures await me here in New Jersey. I'm so excited, but for now, we'll call it a day.
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 1, 2012, 11:18 pm
Happy Leap Day!

It's my first full day in New Jersey and it snowed! Only for a little while though, then it turned to rain.

Today, Spac took me to this big office building where he works.

There, I met another one of his friends, a bunny named Nibbly, who likes to help Spac at the office. Soon, I was helping, too!

Then I met Patch, a friend of one of Spac's co-workers. This place is very toy friendly. I'm sure I'll fit right in.

Coffee break!

We tried to get a photo of the snow coming down outside the window from the office, but it was hard to see. But it really was snowing!! Oh well, maybe it'll snow again soon.

Spac told me that it has been an unusually mild winter here and that it only snowed one other time so far this winter. Typically, he said, they're covered in snow and ice during the month of February with temperatures between -5C and 0C,  but not this year. It has been consistently between 0C and 10C.

After work, Spac got a call from his friend, Lee (@LeelandGugler), who suggested going out for dinner and drinks. So we went to Spac's favorite local restaurant/bar Maggie's Town Tavern.

We drank beer and ate pizza and eggplant and had a great time.

But it started to get late and eventually, it was time to go home. Spac tucked me in nicely on the guest sofa before going to bed in his room and we all went to sleep. Night night!

Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 5, 2012, 11:36 pm
Happy March!

So where exactly am I in New Jersey?

I am staying in a small town (seven square kilometers) called Little Falls. It's a nice town with friendly people, shops and two rivers that run through it.  Don't let its small size fool you, though. There are more than 1,500 people per square kilometer here.

As American towns go, it's pretty old. You can see on this sign that it was established in 1711. My host, Spac told me they had a big 300th anniversary celebration last year.

Today we are visiting the town's public library. Spac likes to come here a lot.

Like most places in this town, it's not big, but it's got everything Spac needs.

I think I'm going to like Little Falls. It's a good small town for a small bear like me.
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 7, 2012, 12:16 am
Today my host, Spac the Bear, was feeling a bit down. And all of us bears know that the best thing to cheer us up is FOOD!

So he recruited all of his pals and, together, we made pancakes and a big omelet to share.

Grimace (a tree sloth) measured out the whole wheat pancake mix.

His twin brother, Pumice, poured in the milk.

I added the egg whites.

Nibbly the bunny added the canola oil.

Spac's new bear pal, Tickles (a future Toy Voyager!), mixed it all together.

Spac and I poured the mixture onto the griddle...

...while Nibbly demonstrated her skills with the chopper, hopping up and down on it to chop up onion, garlic and tomato for the omelet.

The twins and I decided that the next batch of pancakes should include blueberries and shavings from this brick of unsweetened dark chocolate that I'm holding.

Oooooh.  Look at that!

Meanwhile, Tickles was tending to the egg white omelet...

...and Nibbly was chopping up a red potato for a side of hash browns.

Time to feast!

After all that yummy food, Spac was happy again. We were ALL happy with our bellies full!

Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 7, 2012, 11:41 pm
New Jersey has quite a lot of shopping malls. I am told that the state is well known for this. Today, my host took me to a the Bergen Town Center in Paramus.

According to what he has read, Paramus generates more retail revenue any other single "postal code" in the entire country! (That "postal" distinction is important. Paramus beats New York and other big cities because those places comprise several postal zones.)

This particular mall is big and shiny.

Maybe I will get to visit some of New Jersey's other malls, too, during my stay here.
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 17, 2012, 3:17 pm
It was unseasonably warm here in New Jersey today. They tell me that 22C in late winter is very strange.

My host, Spac, works with someone that lives near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, so he asked if she would take me home for the evening and take pictures at the beach. She agreed and I got to complete one of my life missions! I saw the ocean!

It was big and blue and vast. And it was such a sunny day that I just felt like sitting on the rocks and taking it all in.
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 20, 2012, 10:18 pm
Today I went to the Big Apple! The Capital of the World! NEW YORK CITY!

My host, Spac the Bear, was invited to a birthday party downtown and told me I could tag along!

We took the train from Montclair Heights in New Jersey, not far from where he lives.

This is the NJ Transit rail map. They have a lot of train lines running through this state. We will be taking the top red one.

I've got my ticket and I am ready to go!

Here comes the train!

All aboard!

The seats are nice and comfortable and the train was rather empty, so we felt like we could stretch out a bit.

See? Not a lot of people on this train.

An hour later, we made it to Pennsylvania Station in New York City!

One of the first things I saw when we got upstairs to the street was the Empire State Building!

I asked Spac if we could walk through midtown Manhattan for a while before we went to the party. I have come so far from Germany (and Kansas!) that I did not want to miss an opportunity to see some of the sites of the big city.

This is Herald Square, home of the famous Macy's store - they say it's "the world's largest store." This is where the annual Thanksgiving Day parade is held every November.

Let's go inside!

It's so big, but there's so much more to see outside, so let's go back out and keep walking.

Times Square! This is where the big New Year's celebration is held every year, where they drop the big ball of lights to ring in the New Year.

If you look very closely at this photo, you can see the blue New Year's ball still lit up above the Toshiba advertisement.

Broadway! People from all over the world come here to see big theatrical productions like the ones you see here.

We also went inside the big Disney store!

I even got to eat a real New York City street vendor pretzel. Yum!

I told the vendor I was visiting from Germany and he asked, "Where in Germany? Stuttgart?" 

How did he know? Can NYC street vendors read minds???

It's a big M&M store! A whole store devoted to chocolate candy beckoning me to come inside?  How can I resist?

Those are all filled with M&M candies!

Now that's a yummy looking Statue of Liberty.

Thanks for taking a picture with me, Mr. Blue M.

We walked some more along Sixth Avenue until we reached Radio City Music Hall, a world famous concert venue!

And NBC Studios, where many television shows are broadcast, like 'Saturday Night Live', one of American television's longest running shows (37 years!).

This is the GE Building at Rockefeller Center also known as "30 Rock".  I am standing where they put the giant Christmas tree each December.

Another famous landmark of Rockefeller Center is the ice skating rink. All the countries' flags of the world surround the perimeter. I wish we thought at the time to get a picture of me by Germany's flag!

That's the GE Building, as seen from across the plaza.

This is St. Patrick's Cathedral, a very old and famous Catholic church.

Trump Tower.  Where's Donald??

The Apple Store.  This giant glass enclosure is just the entrance.  The whole store is underground.  Wow.  I thought they sold apples there, but it turns out they sell computers and lots of neat electronic gadgets.

One of the city's most famous toy stores is FAO Schwarz. I wish we had more time to go inside, but it was starting to get late and we had a birthday party to go to.

But not before seeing a few more famous buildings... the Chrysler Building...

...and the United Nations building.

We decided that because we had walked so far it would be best to take a cab downtown to our destination. My very first New York City cab ride!

Here we are at our destination, the Crocodile Lounge.

With every beer you purchase, you get a free pizza!

It's very crowded in here!

We had a lot of fun, but eventually it was time to leave. This time, we hopped on the subway to get back to Penn Station.

We took the L train across town from Third Avenue and 14th first subway ride!

Then the E train up to 34th Street and Penn Station.

I'm just a little bear in a huge city, but being here and getting to see some sights was awesome. Time to go back to Spac's place in New Jersey!  What a day.

Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 26, 2012, 11:19 pm
Oh my, I almost forgot!

While in New York City, I saw a performer in the subway! He sang a lot of old rhythm and blues songs from the 1960s.

Here is a video of me dancing to his performance of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World".
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 26, 2012, 11:40 pm
Today Spac and I met up with a friend who lives in a town called Parsippany- Troy Hills. He is not sure why the town has two names, but he did tell me that it is a very large township - it is 66 square kilometers and, with more than 50,000 people, the most populous in Morris County.

Here I am cruising west on Interstate 80 to get there from Little Falls.

We're here!

We had dinner at a place called the Rattlesnake Ranch.

First things first - time for a beer!

Now, let's see what is on the menu.

Spac, Grimace and I feasted on enchiladas and lots of chips with salsa. YUM!

Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 27, 2012, 10:50 pm
Today I helped Spac with his grocery shopping.

We went to a supermarket called Shop Rite.

Spac is a vegetarian bear, which is so funny to me! We spent most of our time in the produce section. Look at all this lettuce!

...and these apples and pears! He loves this stuff!

Ah! Now here's something I like! Cakes!

Ben & Jerry's ice cream! They have a flavor called Phish Food, named after the band Phish. And as Phish likes to sing, "Won't you step into the freezer?"

Don't mind if I do!

When we were all done, we loaded the bags of groceries into Spac's car. I liked playing around in the colorful bags. I may have eaten a thing or two while I was in there. Don't tell Spac. Hee hee!

Later that evening, we went to Spac's friends' house in Clifton. The children there are the owners of Tickles (you may have seen pictures of me with him in my travel log), whom Spac is going to send on some Toy Voyagers adventures.

They also have a dog named Mickey (short for MacGregor). He was friendly.

It was St. Patrick's Day, so we ate Irish food and green food and we had fun.
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 29, 2012, 12:12 am
Because he doesn’t want me to be lonely between adventures, my host, Spac the Bear, takes me to work with him every day.  There is not an awful lot to do there, but I try to stay occupied.

Sometimes he brings along another stuffed friend with whom I can pass the time.  Today he brought Pumice, the tree sloth.  We played with Spac’s 24-sided die…

…and enjoyed some of that crazy vegetarian bear’s salad…

After work, Spac took me to a local historical site – the Morris Canal Preserve.

As you can see from this sign, there’s a lot of history in this little canal.  Though it is no longer used, and most of it doesn’t even exist anymore, there are now walking trails through many parts of where the canal once existed.

There is even a little park area where I was able to ride this colorful dolphin.

The canal was built in the 1800’s to connect this inland New Jersey area and its long, winding Passaic River to both the Delaware River (on the border of the State of Pennsylvania) and Newark Bay (where the Hudson River and New York City could be accessed).  Lots of commercial goods were transported through it. But eventually, with trains and then automobiles, it was not necessary anymore.

The canal met up with the Passaic River right here in Little Falls.  And there are the little falls that give the town its name!

Farther up the river, there is a town called Wayne.  This area gets flooded a lot when there are heavy rains. There are houses all along the river on both sides and they have seen some pretty tough times with hurricanes and such.

The section of Little Falls that borders Wayne has its own name, Singac, which is a Native American name. That is why there is a picture of a Native American on the sign.

And right near that sign is an outlet store for Entenmann’s, a company that mass-produces baked goods.  They’re not exactly good for you, but I was about to find out how yummy they are!

Look at all these donuts!

And cakes!

We ended up buying some donuts, ginger snaps, a cake, some anisette toast, and a few loaves of specialty bread.

I am ready to eat it all!
Spac the Bear

Posted Mar 29, 2012, 11:20 pm
Today, Spac took the day off from work because he had a lot of errands, including a few in the City of Passaic.  He took me along and showed me some of the sights along the way.

I learned a lot about the history of the City of Passaic.  It must have been important if it shares the name of the river that runs through it and the county as well.  Did you know this city was home to the world's first commercial television network?

A lot of famous people were born in this city. In the 1960s there was a famous singing group called the Shirelles. They went to school right here...

A few years ago, to commemorate their ties to the city, the local government re-named the street after them.

Here is a sign which shows some historical significance from the American Revolution...

We also drove through the city's downtown area. The city has had its share of hard times, but some businesses do OK here.

Still, there are a great many people that live in poverty here.

Most of the city is of a Hispanic or Latino background, which means a large part of the population speak Spanish. Unfortunately, a lot of them ONLY speak Spanish, so it was hard for us to talk to the folks here since Spac speaks English and I mostly speak German.  Oddly, there is an entire section of town that is Orthodox Jewish. That makes for a strange combination and, as one would imagine, they stay quite separated.

One of the city's great treasures is Third Ward Park, also known as Passaic Park.  Can you see me sitting on the stone monument?

Let's zoom in so you can see me better and read what the monument says.  Ah, it is dedicated by the local Italian-American organization, honoring Christopher Columbus' arrival in America.

This park has pretty lakes and streams.

Here is another monument. This one is in honor of the local residents who fought in the Second World War.

There are a lot of ducks and geese around here. They're nice to look at, but they also leave a lot of...droppings.  Careful where you step!

Another monument.  This one honors the Passaic residents that died in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and 1970.

Even though it was a beautiful, sunny day on the first day of spring, the trees still looked like winter, with their bare branches. There I am sitting on a branch with Spac standing below.

Spac and I have become such good friends and he enjoys being in the pictures with me!

There is a playground in the park, so we went on the swing.

Two pals, hanging out on a park bench.

Spac sure picked a lovely day to take off from work.  That's all for now!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 3, 2012, 11:26 pm
Today the whole gang got in the car and took a drive to Hoboken, where some of Spac's family lives.

From left to right: Terence, Pumice, Grimace, me, Nibbly and Tickles. Spac was driving.

Terence and I have never been to Hoboken before, so we took a picture at the sign.

One of the neat things about Hoboken is that it is located on the Hudson River, so there is a perfect view of the New York City skyline, which looks especially great on a nice, clear night like tonight.

After visiting in Hoboken, we went to the Clash Bar in Clifton to see Spac's friends' band, Dr. Void and the Death Machines.

This photo was taken with a flash. That is why I am so bright and the band is so dark behind me.

But this photo was taken without flash. You can see the band, but it is difficult to see me. We could not quite get it right!

Afterward, they let me take a picture with their bass drum.

It all made for a fun Saturday!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 4, 2012, 11:05 pm
I learned today that if you travel any great distance within New Jersey, you will either take the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway.  Today, we took both!

This photo was taken on the Turnpike as we were about to get on the Parkway (they intersect only in this spot).

Time to pay the toll!

Once at our destination, I met Spac's half-brother, Baby Beau Bear.  He is awfully nice and really cute.  We had a fun day together.

On the way home, we stopped at the Pepperidge Farm outlet store in Franklin Township.  Pepperidge Farm makes all kinds of yummy crackers and cookies, and we bought a whole bunch of them because they are much cheaper here than at the supermarkets and grocery stores.

That is all for now!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 5, 2012, 11:16 pm
Spring is getting sprung here in New Jersey.

We had a wave of unseasonably warm weather early in the month, but now things are more as they should be in March - chilly evenings and mornings but pleasant, sunny days.  Tickles and I are happy to see the trees starting to bloom!
Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 8, 2012, 4:38 am
Today we gathered around to say goodbye to Tickles. He is going on his first big adventure. And, of all the places in the world to go, where did he decide to go? 

Germany! My home country! Good choice, Tickles!

I probably will not be here in New Jersey when he returns, so I gave him a big hug and helped Spac put him in his travel box. I told him not to worry and that even though it is a long trip, he will be alright. My advice to him was to take long naps (like, days-long naps - hey, we are bears and we can do that) so the trip will go quickly.

Godspeed, Tickles!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 8, 2012, 4:52 am
Today, Tickles and I went for a drive with Spac to visit his friends who live in Rockaway Township (not to be confused with Rockaway Borough, which is next to it, but is a separate municipality).  It is located directly off of Interstate 80, about 10 miles past Parsippany, where we went the last time we came out this way.

On the way there, we saw this lovely pond and decided to take a photo.

This may be my last photo with Tickles, as he has found a host and is excited to begin his travels abroad!
Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 9, 2012, 11:50 pm
Terence and I took a trip with Spac to Long Island this weekend. We spent Easter with Spac's family.

First, we got on the bus from Little Falls.

The bus took us through residential towns like Lyndhurst...

...then onto the highway (Route 3) where we passed Metlife Stadium, where the American football teams Giants and Jets play...

...and then through urban areas like Union City...

...until we were finally close to New York City...

...where we entered the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River.

Then we were out of the tunnel and on the island of Manhattan, the heart of New York City.

The bus stopped at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and that is where we got off.

Outside of the bus terminal, the first thing I saw was the building for the New York Times, one of the most widely read newspaper in all of the USA.

Also outside of the bus terminal was this statue of Ralph Kramden.  Ralph was not a real person, but rather a character on television played by Jackie Gleason back in the 1950s.  Ralph was a New York City bus driver on the show 'The Honeymooners'.

But we were not to be hanging around in the city for long.  We had to catch a train to Ronkonkoma, which is near where Spac's folks live.  So we walked from 42nd Street, along Eighth Avenue, to 34th Street, where Pennsylvania Station is located.

Midtown Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon:

There is the Empire State Building.  Last time I saw it, it was all lit up at night.

That is Madison Square Garden.  It is one of the most famous arenas in the world.  The Rangers play hockey there and the Knicks play basketball there, but Spac goes there for the concerts.  He has seen Phish there many, many times.

The Pennsylvania train station is actually underneath Madison Square Garden.  I have been here before, but to take the train to and from New Jersey.  This time we are going east to Long Island.

Here comes the train!

We got on and found a seat.

The train took us into another tunnel... we could cross the East River and get into the "outerborough" of New York City called Queens.  Hmmm...not very scenic.

Eventually, we left Queens and New York City behind us and entered Nassau County, which is more suburban and the first of the two counties of the strip of land called Long Island.

Finally, after an hour and 20 minutes on the train, traveling around 60 miles, we made it to Ronkonkoma.

All told, the trip took around three hours.  But Spac's family was at the train station, waiting to pick us up. 

We then rode in the car along part of the Long Island Expressway, the main east-west road on the island.

I had a pleasant Easter with the Spac's whole family, but I miss my home in Germany, too, so I want to wish a very happy Easter to Blubb!!!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 12, 2012, 12:52 am
Today, Spac's half-brother, Puppy Graham (a fellow Toy Voyager), came home from his trip to Phoenix, which is in Arizona, almost all the way across the USA from here.

He brought home lots of souvenirs from his adventures!

And we had a lot of fun looking at everything.

I told Graham all about my adventures here while he was away and he told me all about his adventures in Arizona.  What a night!
Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 15, 2012, 12:53 pm
Spac had some errands to run in a town called Montclair so he took me along.

Montclair is an interesting place. It is located next to Little Falls, but the border between Little Falls and Montclair is also the border between Passaic County and Essex County. 

There are a few different areas of Montclair - one section has huge mansions on the hills, where the people must be very wealthy. Another section has low income housing with some relatively poor people. And in the middle is a nice downtown area that, while not as thriving as it once was, still offers a lot in the way of nightlife, arts, music, independent film, boutique shopping, and lovely little cafés. The slogan is "Where the suburbs meet the city".

One thing Spac needed to do here was buy a ticket for a concert he wishes to attend at the Wellmont Theatre.

The Wellmont was a movie theatre many years ago but was closed and falling into disrepair for a long time. It was reopened a few years ago as a concert venue and has doing well ever since. They even continue to make repairs to make it better.

This banner says there will be a film festival here next month.

Downtown Montclair has many antique shops.

They have an art museum, too.

Another place Spac had to go was the Fleet Feet store for runners. He had to pick up some supplies for his big marathon race this Saturday.

This looks like a nice toy shop! The sign says it was voted "Best toy store in New Jersey" by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.

Next, we went into this old book store. Spac tells me that New Jersey does not have a lot of book stores left, and the ones that are still around are big chains like Barnes & Noble. But these little independent stores are special because they sell old, used, and rare books and there are some people that really like that. They even sell old vinyl record albums (which is what made Spac want to stop in!)

Lastly, we stopped at this Coffee and Tea House. We contemplated going inside because it was a chilly day and some tea would have been nice, but it was getting late and we had to get home. I would like to come back and go in sometime.
Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 25, 2012, 1:19 am
Another German Toy Voyager came today! It will be so nice to meet a fellow voyager from my home country.  Hurry, Spac, open the envelope!

What a cute little bear!  His name is Paddington and I am sure we will get along very well.

He even brought a postcard from our homeland of Germany. He is from Essen.

Paddington told us about how his dear friend Fridoline is a Toy Voyager, but is missing.  How sad!  But Paddington has decided to take Fridoline's place by going on great adventures and living out Fridoline's life missions.

Speaking of adventures, we were all too happy to tell Paddington that in only a few days, we will be departing on a grand adventure.  We are all so excited!

Spac the Bear

Posted Apr 27, 2012, 1:11 am
Today we departed on our grand adventure!

My host, Spac the Bear, is a marathon-running bear, so he is taking the whole gang (Graham, Nibbly, Terence, Paddington and me) along with him to Rhode Island to cheer him on.  After the race, we are going to go to a place called Block Island.  That sounds it an island shaped like a block?  I guess I will find out!

With Spac at the wheel, we headed north out of New Jersey on the Garden State Parkway and into New York state on Interstate 287.  I have already been to New York City and Long Island, but New York state is big - at 141,300 square kilometers, it is more than a third the size of all of Germany! Even still, we were only passing through the southern end (just north of New York City) and we crossed the Hudson River at the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Ready to go over the bridge, Paddington?

Here we are on the bridge.  There is a lot of steel that makes up the structure. It was difficult to get a picture of much else!

We continued along Interstate Highway 287 through Westchester County, New York, until we reached Interstate Highway 95, the road on which we spent the bulk of our three and a half hour trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island. Before long, we were in the State of Connecticut. This is now the fifth U.S. state to which I have been!

The Connecticut portion of the trip was long and we were getting hungry, so we stopped at a McDonalds for something to eat. Here's Paddington, Graham and me after our lunch.

After quite some time, we exited Interstate 95 and rode on U.S. Highway 1 and got to the town of Westerly in the State of Rhode Island.  I'm up to six U.S. states now!

Near the sign where we took that last photo, we saw a memorial honoring American war veterans and casualties. We thought it would make for a good photo.

Finally, after driving through residential areas and then away toward the beaches of Rhode Island, we made it to the town where Spac would run the Gansett Marathon, the town of Narragansett.  We were so excited, we took a group photo at the sign...

...but I wanted to get my own photo, too!

From there, it was not far to our destination, The Village Inn, which is right on the beach of Narragansett and where the starting line was for the race.

That night, we joined Spac for the pre-race dinner party where we ate lots of pasta and salad and had our first taste of the town's very own beer - Narragansett Beer.  Their slogan is "Hi Neighbor!"  It's a friendly beer company!

Then it was time to go to bed.  Spac wanted to get to bed early because he had a big day ahead of him.  I don't know much about bears running 26.2 miles (that's 42.2 kilometers), but I do know that we bears like to sleep, so I had no problem with the early bedtime.  The hotel room was very nice, with two big comfortable beds.  One for Spac's friend, Lee, who also came along to cheer for Spac, and one for us.  Ahhhh, it's just right!

Good night!

Spac the Bear

Posted May 1, 2012, 1:26 am

It is awfully difficult for a bear to wake up at sunrise, but that is exactly what my host, Spac, is doing today because he is running in the Gansett Marathon.  That's 26.2 miles (42.2 km), so the least Terence, Nibbly, Graham, Paddington and I could do was wake up and cheer him on.

Good luck, Spac!  We know you'll do great!

So Spac ran the marathon and the rest of us took a nap.  After that crazy bear was finished, we did some sight-seeing in the area of Narragansett Pier.

How about a group photo on the beach?  It was a nice enough day.  More like May than April!  We were lucky!

We then went to the Point Judith Lighthouse.  Spac said he ran past this during the marathon and wanted to show it to us.

That evening, we went to dinner at a place called Pancho O'Malley's.  We all laughed when we saw the name and its slogan "The Irish pub with Mexican grub", so we knew we had to go there!

This is where we are staying tonight - the Scarborough Beach Motel.

Tomorrow, we go to Block Island.  I am excited because Spac, Graham and Nibbly have told Paddington, Terence and I so many wonderful things about it!

Spac the Bear

Posted May 2, 2012, 1:21 am
Oooh! I'm so excited!  See that ferry behind Graham, Paddington and me?  We will be onboard that ferry soon to go to Block Island, one of my host Spac's favorite places in the world.

We are currently at Point Judith, Rhode Island, the only place where there are year-round ferries to Block Island. During the summertime, there are ferries from three other places, but on the "off-season" this is the only way to get there.

I asked Spac what made Block Island so special and he told me about how it is a quaint place, with no tall buildings, very few cars, and no chain stores or franchise restaurants. But best of all, he said, you leave your car on the mainland and you are simply AWAY for a while.

Sounds good to me!  Let's get on the boat!

Out at sea!

Block Island is 19 km off the coast of the mainland, and it takes about 45 minutes on the boat to get there, but it was a clear day, so we could begin to see the bluffs of the Block Island beach before long.

Pulling into the Old Harbor.  I can already see how much different it looks on the island.  It looks lovely.

This is where we are staying.  It is the Dodge Cottage, named after the Dodge family, some of the earliest European settlers on Block Island, way back in 1661.

The cottage has many rooms and we stayed in the one around the back. We even had our own private entrance from outside.

We agreed that we were all quite hungry, so we went to the Poor People's Pub for some lunch.  Inside, we saw this hobo chap so we posed for a picture.

We then went to the Block Island Chamber of Commerce to see if there was any information about special events happening on the island this week. But it was closed on Sundays.

Before long, it was evening, so Spac took us out to a jetty near the harbor where he says he likes to watch the sunset.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy, so there was not much sun to see.

It still looked quite pretty to me. It is not often that this little bear gets to watch the sunset from a place like this. I am sure I will enjoy the next couple of days on Block Island.  What adventures await??

Spac the Bear

Posted May 3, 2012, 11:51 pm
It is a beautiful morning on Block Island!

Our cottage is near a farm and there are roosters there, so we woke up with the "cock-a-doodle-doo" of the rooster.  My host, Spac, told me all about the yummy breakfast that we were about to have at the 1661 Inn (at no extra charge!).

But first we took a photo at the Statue of Rebecca.  Spac takes a photo here with whomever he is with every time he comes here, so now I am a part of his annual tradition.

That's Graham, Paddington, Spac, Terence, Nibbly and me (clockwise from left).

So, just who is Rebecca, anyway?
Here is what it says about her in the Block Island Guide


We also walked past the Harbor Church on the way to the Inn.

Here we are at the 1661 Inn!

Well!  That is a nice buffet spread.  And that's not all of it.

Graham, Paddington and I shared some eggs, a waffle and a slice of canteloupe.  We also had a mimosa - orange juice and champagne.  This is the life!

Bellies full, it was time to explore the island.  Here we are at Old Harbor.  That jetty made of big rocks in the background is where we sat last night to watch the sunset.  We will try again tonight.

Crescent Beach.

We found this already constructed on the sand, so we had to take a photo!  As John Lennon sang, "All we are saying is give peace a chance."

We decided to rent bicycles and do a tour of the island with Spac as our host.  We were able to cover a great deal of it in the three or four hours we rode.  Here is the airport.  Only small aircraft can come through here.  It is the only other way than the Point Judith Ferry to get to the island at this time of year.

Even though Block Island is small and is home to 900 residents plus varying amounts of tourists, it still has a lot of natural beauty intact. Hence, the Greenway Trails where you can hike through woods and forget that beaches are only a few kilometers away.

This section of the trail is called "Rodman's Hollow".  Read about it in the Block Island Guide.

This is one of the trail heads.  That is Spac's friend Lee in the background.  We only walked a little bit of it today because we were having so much fun on the bicycles and only had them for a little while.

This is Champlin's Marina and the New Harbor.  It is very empty right now, but it gets filled up with private boats and ferries from other locations during the summertime.

Another one of Spac's favorite places on the island is the cemetery.  Should I be scared?  Spac says that it is, in fact, quite beautiful, especially on a nice day like today.  But he said we will go in and look at all the old headstones tomorrow.

This is called Settler's Rock, with a plaque honoring the first Europeans who settled here, back in 1661 (that's what gives the Inn its name!).  But before even those men got here, it was "discovered" by a Dutchman named Block.  Of course, there were many Natives living here and, sadly, throughout the next century, the Europeans all but completely killed the Native population.  That is sad.

That rock is at the northernmost point of Corn Neck Road, which runs along the eastern edge of the island.  Beyond that, there is a lighthouse and, the very northern tip of the island itself.  If you look at a map of Block Island, you can see that it comes to a point at the top. 

The only way to get there is to walk along the beach, but we are going to that point!

But first we had to pass the North Lighthouse.

At the lighthouse, there is a bench that is placed in memory of Derek O. Sword, a victim of the terrorist attacks on America on 11 Sept 2001.  He lived in New York City and Scotland, so we do not know his connection to Block Island, but it is a lovely memorial nonetheless.

Here I am at the very northernmost tip of Block Island!  The island really does come to a point and fades into the ocean.

Later that day, we returned the bikes but then took a walk to the other side of the island to see the Southeast Lighthouse.  On the way, we walked up Pilot Hill Road, which had this plaque on a stone:

From there, we walked all the way to the Mohegan Bluffs.  We took a bit of a risk sitting on those dead branches (it is a LONG way down, as you can see!), but we got a great photo.  And you can see the Southeast Lighthouse in the background.

After much more walking, we made it to the Southeast Lighthouse!

But it was approaching 7 p.m. and the sun began setting quickly, so we jogged a bit until we finally got back to the jetty on the Old Harbor.

Drat!  Cloud cover again.  We will have one more chance tomorrow to see the full sunset.

Until tomorrow, good night!

Spac the Bear

Posted May 9, 2012, 1:34 am
Good morning, Block Island!

I do so like this place!  I have been having such fun these past two days.  What shall we do today?

Spac said he wants to hike the Greenway trails today.  Excellent!

But first, we are off to another delicious breakfast!  Let us take a group photo first!

That is Paddington, Nibbly, Terence, Spac, me and Graham, from left to right.

Here we are on the back porch of the 1661 Inn.  Lovely view.

After breakfast we began our hike.  First, we walked through town to get to the Greenway trail head.  This is the New Shoreham Town Hall.

New Shoreham is actually the name of the town, while Block Island is the name of the island itself.  It is kind of funny because they are both the same thing.  Why did they not call the town Block Island?

On the way to the trail, we saw lots of different animals, like goats...

...and horses, on this pretty farm.

A rooster!

We are at the Greenway trail!

It is still the very beginning of spring, so even though it feels like summer (it was at least 26C), the trees are still bare.  The grass is nice and green, though!

First stop off the trail, the cemetery.  We stopped here quickly yesterday, but today we are going to go in and see more of it.  There are some very big and very old tombstones here.  There are entire families buried at some of the plots, like this one - a couple and their infant son.

Speaking of infants, some of these stones go back to the days when infant death was much more common, so there are more than a few of those.  They are both sad and fascinating.

Two prominent families on Block Island for more than 400 years are the Dodge family and the Ball family.  Many of them are buried right here.  But we thought it was funny that their stones were next to each other so it looks like it says the name of the popular game Dodgeball!

Some of the headstones are truly magnificent, like this one for Capt. John W. Smith.

After a while, we set about to find the oldest headstone we possibly could.  We thought we found it with this one, another member of the Dodge family, Tustrum, who was one of the original settlers of Block Island in the 1600's...

...but on the reverse side of the stone, it stated that while Mr. Dodge did die in the 1600's and was buried there, that stone was erected in the 1800s.

However, we then found this!

It seems Mr. Dickens died in 1718 and this stone looks old enough to be almost 300 years old.  Wow. 

Mission accomplished, it was time to get back on the trail.  After some more hiking, we came upon a vineyard.

As we traveled north on a dirt road toward the Great Salt Pond (the big body of water in the northern part of the island), the views were lovely.

We were not sure where we were headed and had no particular destination, so we kept walking until we reached a beach on the western side of the island.  Too bad there was so much debris on it.

Still, we continued on until we reached a no-longer-active U.S. Coast Guard station.

Finally, we made it to the Great Salt Pond.  It was completely empty! The sky was a perfect clear blue, the air was warm, and the water was cool and still.  We could not resist going for a dip!

It was well into the afternoon and the sun was beginning to take its toll on our little bodies.  On our way back to the cottage, we took one more photo by the cemetery.

We also took a photo in front of the office of the town's weekly newspaper, The Block Island Times.

According to this map, it sure is a long way back to Europe! Do you see the part of the island on the western edge that does not quite connect around the Great Salt Pond?  That is where we were earlier.  We walked quite a distance!

It was getting late, so we met up with Spac's friend, Lee, and at dinner at the Mohegan Cafe.  Afterward, we had one more chance to see the Block Island sunset, since this was our last night on the island.

And we were finally lucky enough to see it, with no cloud cover and gorgeous weather.

I will be sad to leave this place tomorrow, but I am so happy to have had such wonderful adventures in this beautiful place with my new friends.

Spac the Bear

Posted May 11, 2012, 1:18 am
It is another beautiful morning on Block Island.  I do not know how we got so lucky with the weather, but it was fantastic from the minute we got here, right up until now as we leave.  I am rather sad to say goodbye to this lovely place.  I can see why it is so special to my host, Spac.

And so, we are on the boat, heading back to the mainland of Rhode Island...

...and leaving Block Island behind us.

Back at Point Judith.


Passing through the state of Connecticut again.

While in Connecticut on our way home, Spac's friend Lee had a great idea.  We still had most of the day ahead of us, so why have some more fun?

We decided that Mystic Seaport would be an interesting place to see.  Even Spac had never been there before.


The seaport is like a boat museum.  There is nothing magical or mystical about it - Mystic is the name of the town.  We learned that the seaport had a great deal of historical significance for the Americans who passed through there, lived there, and worked there in the early days of the country.  There are many old boats docked there and we were able to sit on and go inside a few of them.


On this boat, the Conrad, we learned how to raise the rigging and even participated in a demonstration. We were taught sea shantys like "Blow the Man Down" and "Dance Gals, Give Me the Banjo" and learned how to sing them while pulling the ropes.

The historic Amistad ship is also docked at Mystic.

One of the seaport's biggest projects is the restoration of an early 20th Century whaling ship called the Charles Morgan.

We learned about how they're doing the restorative work.

And we were able to see them doing it!

Even with all that work being done on the underbelly, we were able to climb aboard and look around.

Here is one of the crew's sleeping quarters. Not very comfortable, but at least Graham and Paddington make good bunk mates!

Ah, the captain's quarters. Much more spacious!

I guess this was a storage area.

Eventually, we had to face up to the fact that we needed to get home because Spac has to go to work tomorrow.

On our way out, we took a photo with this little tugboat.

And we were back on the road again, heading over the Tappan Zee Bridge toward home.

What an amazing six days I had with my whole host family - Spac, Graham, Terence and Nibbly - and my fellow German voyager, Paddington.

Just one question - why is the state of Rhode Island called "Rhode Island" even though it is part of the mainland and not actually an island????

Spac the Bear

Posted May 15, 2012, 1:22 am
Tonight I attended my very first rock music show!

My host, Spac, is a fan of a band called Portugal the Man.  They are not a big, well-known band, but they do have a lot of fans and keep getting more and more popular.

This is where we saw them - the Starland Ballroom.

Before the band went on, Spac, Paddington and I had fun drinking beer and enjoying each others' company.

The place has a capacity of around 2,000 and it was very crowded.  The floor in front of the stage was especially packed, as you might imagine.  There was even a mosh pit in the middle.  But my host, Spac, was brave and got right into the pit and worked his way up to the front, just to get this photo of me:

What a fun night.  I think I like this band!
Spac the Bear

Posted May 16, 2012, 1:37 am
My host, Spac, needed to fix a few things around his apartment, so we went to the Home Depot today.  It is an enormous, warehouse-sized store for do-it-yourself home improvement.  We have stores like it in Germany, like OBI, Hornbach and Baumarkt, but I think this Home Depot is even bigger.

The main thing on Spac's to-do list was to get new blinds for his kitchen and living room.  There were many to choose from, but he found the ones that best fit his windows.

Paddington and I wanted to see what else the store had, so we looked at kitchen appliances...

...toilets (which we thought looked funny, hanging up there in a row)...

...doors and windows...


...light fixtures and fans...

...and anything else you could imagine for home improvement!

We also went to the barbecue section because Spac needed a new grill and utensils for his barbecue.

Some of these barbecue grills are huge!  Good thing this isn't fired up!

All this talk about barbecues is making me hungry.  Let's go home and eat! 

Bye for now!

Spac the Bear

Posted May 18, 2012, 1:21 am
Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today - "the Fifth of May"  - is considered a celebratory day for Mexicans in the U.S. and also in regions of Mexico.  Of course, many Americans use it as an excuse to drink lots of tequila, but who are we to argue?  Paddington and I have our sombreros and are ready to party!

Truth be told, we were really going for a car ride to Hoboken, New Jersey (about 27 km from Little Falls where my host, Spac, lives), to visit some of Spac's relatives.  It is nice to be back in the car with the gang, even if it is for such a short trip.

That is Terence, me, Paddington, Nibbly and Graham.

According to local history, the very first organized baseball games in the world were played right here in Hoboken.  This town is also famous for being the birthplace of the great American singer Frank Sinatra.  Today, it is most well known as one of the gateways to New York City.

New Jersey has many, many diners.  It is one thing the state is well known for, above all others.  What makes New Jersey diners so unique is that they are open all day and all night, 365 days a year, and they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert all day long, every day.

This is Hoboken's popular Malibu Diner.

We did not go in the diner, today, however.  Maybe some other time we will go to one of these places.

Instead, we decided to take some more photos in the town.

As I said, Hoboken is known for its proximity to New York City, which lies just across the Hudson River.  People pay a lot of money to live on the east side of the town, just so they can have this view.

The big building in the distance is the new Freedom Tower which is being constructed in the spot where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood but were destroyed by terrorists in 2001.

At the end of the night, we went to the Clash Bar in Clifton, New Jersey, to see Spac's friends' band play.  I did not take any pictures because I had already been there to see them before.

At the end of the night, we went to White Castle for some good-tasting but bad-for-you food.

Good night!

Spac the Bear

Posted May 25, 2012, 9:08 pm
Zum Muttertag!
Happy Mother's Day, as they say here in America!

Today, Paddington and I went with our host Spac to Long Island, New York, to visit his grandmother for this special occasion.  I had already been there once before so I did not take a lot of photos on the way there.

When we got there, Spac gave this gift of a fruit arrangement to his grandmother.

Then we took his grandmother shopping at the Smith Haven Mall.

Look!  It's a Build-a-Bear Workshop, the best place to buy teddy bear clothes!  Spac buys his clothes there, but we are too small for those clothes.

Then we had a lovely dinner at Spac's grandparents home.  We actually spent the weekend there and it was lovely.

Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 2, 2012, 3:38 am

Back in the car with my friends for another night out! Where are we going today?

First we had dinner at the Brick House in South Plainfield. We ate pizza and it was yummy.

Then we went to the Edison Valley Playhouse to see a musical production called 'Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris'.

We could not take any pictures during the show, but it was very entertaining and we had a great time.

Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 6, 2012, 1:32 am
It was a beautiful day, so Paddington and I went for a walk through the town of Woodland Park, a town that neighbors Little Falls where my host, Spac, lives.

There is a lovely walking path along one of the main roads through the town.  Remember when I went to one of the areas of the old Morris Canal?  This walking path is along another section of what used to be the canal.

In fact, it is one of the few areas that actually still has parts of the canal intact.

The trees lining the path and the running water in the canal made us almost forget that there are two busy roads on either side of it.  We felt much safer on the path than on the road, that is for sure!

At the end of the walking path, there is a park... we went on the swings...

...and the slide!

It was a nice day out, getting some exercise and some fresh air.
Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 7, 2012, 1:12 am
It was another beautiful evening, so I went for another walk today with my Toy Voyager friend Paddington and our host Spac.  This time we had a specific purpose...

We walked to the movie theater in the next town over to see 'The Avengers'!

The movie theater is in the township of Wayne.

The movie theater is located next to Passaic County's largest shopping mall, Willowbrook.

Here we are!

The smell of popcorn is so yummy.  We are going to buy our tickets and then get some popcorn to enjoy during the film.

Beyond these doors is the movie we have been waiting to see!

And it was amazing!!!!  We may even go see it again!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 12, 2012, 1:28 am
Today we visited the 9/11 memorial in my host Spac's hometown of Little Falls. People from all over this area of New Jersey died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, so many towns have memorials to remember them by.

Those steel beams came from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 24, 2012, 4:42 am
We took a long walk today! 

We walked from Little Falls to Clifton, where my host had to take care of his friends' pets while they were away for the weekend.

At one point we had to cross a bridge over a big highway called the Garden State Parkway. It is the only major highway that stretches from its northern border with New York state to it's southern end at the Atlantic shore near Delaware's border.

We also had to cross a bridge over State Route 46, a highway that traverses the state from its eastern border with New York state and city, to its western border with Pennsylvania.

Spac's friends live in a section of Clifton called Athenia.

They have a dog named Mickey (short for MacGregor)...

...a bird named Calypso...

...and two cats - a black one named Demon and a white one named Angel. Unfortunately, the cats are very shy and did not want to have their photos taken.

On the way back to Little Falls, we watched the sun set behind the houses in Clifton.
Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 27, 2012, 1:22 am
Today we out to Long Island again. But this time, we did not go to Ronkonkoma as we have in the past. Instead, we went to a place called Centerport, which is on the north shore of the island. We were there for the the birthday party of one of Spac's relatives who turned 90 years old.

We did not take any photos during the party, but we did get a few pictures at the yacht club where many of the family members gathered afterward.

A yacht club! We had never been to one of those. And neither had our host, Spac. That is where wealthy and fancy people spend time (and Spac is neither)!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 28, 2012, 1:15 am
Oh boy, what a fun adventure we are having this weekend!

Today we rode a bus to Atalntic City, which is more than 100 miles south of Little Falls. It is quite the tourist attraction, especially in the summer, because it has big casinos in fancy hotels, giant retail outlet stores for all-day shopping, and Atlantic Ocean beaches.

But we were not going there for any of those reasons. We were going to a three-night concert series by Spac's favorite rock band, Phish! I have listened to them with Spac (he plays their music all the time at home), but now I can see them play live.

We arrived in Atlantic City in the afternoon and started taking pictures of the big, fancy casino hotels from the bus:

There is the Trump Taj Mahal...

....and there is Showboat.

It was a beautiful day. So when we got off the bus, we took our time and walked around before getting on a train to Absecon, a neighboring town, where we were staying in a less-fancy hotel.

Caesars is another big casino and hotel, with an ancient Roman theme.

And Trump Plaza is in the middle of the main downtown strip.

Near all the hotels and casinos is a section known as "The Walk" - several streets containing giant outlet stores for retail brands like Nike and Disney, as well as other clothing, home goods, and entertainment brands.

Then we got on the train to Absecon, checked into the hotel, and got right back on the train into Atlantic City again. There is the city as we approach it:

Once we were in the city again, we went to the concert field, which was actually the site of what was once a small municipal airport. It was a perfect place for a concert because it was a large piece of flat open land with both grassy areas and pavement (the Tarmac for the airplanes).

The band started playing while the sun was still out.

There were tens of thousands people having fun. There was even a Ferris Wheel!

As it got darker outside, the lights onstage got brighter and we moved a little closer to the stage. The band sounded great! And the speaker system was excellent because the sound was clear and loud.

Phish fans have a custom that dates back to 1997 in which they throw lots and lots of fluorescent "glowsticks" up in the air and around the audience during certain parts of songs. Here is a photo of some flying glowsticks!

The very end of the show was loud and bright. We took a short video of the very end.

After the show, we took a bus back to Absecon. But before walking back to the hotel, we stopped at the nearby Phoenix Diner for some late-night food.

There is nothing quite like New Jersey diners. The state, in fact, is known throughout the country for their diners. I asked Spac what makes New Jersey diners unique. What makes them different from other restaurants?

He explained to me that they are all open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all day long!

Let us look at the menu!

The menu is enormous! There are several pages of selections. Look at all the choices!

This is amazing! If I wanted a sirloin steak at breakfast time or belgian waffle in the evening, I could?

How do they do it? I think the cooks must be magicians.

We decided on an omelet with egg whites, feta cheese and spinach, some hash brown potatoes, rye toast, a glass of orange juice, and a cup of decaffeinated coffee. Perfect meal for 2 a.m.!

We learned two other special things about New Jersey diners. The portions are BIG and the cost is small!

After we filled our little bear bellies, we walked back to the hotel. Time to go to sleep. It was a big day...and we still have two more to go!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jun 29, 2012, 7:13 pm

It was another beautiful day in southern New Jersey!

After sleeping late and eating some breakfast in Absecon, we went back into Atlantic City and straight to Bader Field (the concert site) for another night of Phish.

As the sun began to set, the band went onstage, but we decided to spend the first half of the show in the outlying area and the parking lot.

I asked Spac, "There is a rock concert going on and you want to stay in the parking lot?" He explained to me that the parking lot of a Phish show is special. The fans set up their own little marketplace, selling food, clothing, souvenirs, and other merchandise that other fans enjoy. They call it Shakedown Street. It is a tradition started by fans of the group The Grateful Dead many years ago which has continued on with Phish fans.

Plus, we could hear the music perfectly from there!

After eating two big burritos and drinking a few beers, we went into the concert grounds.

As it got darker, we continued to stay on the outskirts of the audience, where the audience members have extra room to dance. And we joined them, dancing the night away to the groovy music!

The area around the perimeter contained many vendors of food and drinks. Our bellies were full from the parking lot, but we decided to take a look at what they had to offer.

For the second half of the show, we kept moving forward through the crowd, little by little, until we were up front, though a bit off to the side.

Look at all the people behind me!

Click the following link to see me dancing to the song "Golgi Apparatus". Check out the bright lights and all the glowsticks being tossed around!

After the show, we decided to spend some time walking the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk because it was such a pleasant night (if a little breezy). All the casinos, restaurants and hotels are in the eastern border of the city and they are lined up along the boardwalk which is along the Atlantic Ocean beach.

Here we are in front of Boardwalk Hall, an indoor concert hall where Spac saw Phish two years ago in the autumn.

Caesars, all lit up at night.

Three bears on the Boardwalk at 2 a.m.

We had a lot of fun today, but it is time to go back to the hotel in Absecon now. Good night. More fun to be had tomorrow!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 5, 2012, 11:30 pm
We sure have been lucky! Three gorgeous days in a row in Atlantic City!

Instead of taking the train, we took the bus from Absecon to the city today.

We spent a little more time today walking around the city before the show, and I am glad we did because we found this statue of my namesake, Christopher Columbus!

Each day, we walked through the residential neighborhood of Atlantic City to get to Bader Field for the concerts. It is strange and a bit sad that a city with so much money coming in from casinos and hotels can have areas that seem so much less affluent. But the residents seem to have a tight sense of community here. I would see them gathering together and enjoying each others' company.

Each day before the shows, we stopped at this neighborhood pub for a beer, to mingle with the locals and pay much less for a drink than we would in the concert grounds!

And then it was back to Bader Field, walking along what used to be an airplane runway for one more night of Phish.

Once again, we spent most of the first set on the outskirts, dancing and singing along with other enthusiastic fans.

And once again, we worked our way forward to be up close for the final set of the weekend, this time on the opposite side...

...and directly under these speakers!

Look how close I am!

Watch me dancing as the band plays "2001" in this video:

And here I am rocking to "Chalk Dust Torture":

But eventually, the concert had to come to an end, as all good things do. We had great fun, but it was time to go back to the hotel in Absecon for one more night before going home tomorrow.
Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 13, 2012, 12:05 am
This morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel before getting on the train one more time to Atlantic City where we would get on the bus back to New York City.

We took a few more pictures in Atlantic City before getting on the bus, like at the Atlantic City Convention Center...

...Bally's casino...

...the Korean War Memorial...

...and Tropicana casino.

We also learned that the popular American board game Monopoly, in which players buy and sell real estate, is based on properties in Atlantic City. Street names such as Baltic Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, and even the Boardwalk, all show up in the game.

It was a nice afternoon, so we decided to go down to the beach to see the Atlantic Ocean one more time before finally getting on the bus and going back to our host's home.

It was a long bus ride because there was a lot of traffic going to into New York City. We have never seen so much traffic before! And then we had to get on ANOTHER bus to get back to Little Falls, where Spac lives.

When we finally got there, we were greeted by our friends, Puppy Graham, Nibbly the Bunny, and Terence the Digi...and there was a package on his doorstep!

It is another Toy Voyager! He is a monkey astronaut named  Major Trevor Bananas! He is from the city of Chicago, in the State of Illinois in the USA, and this is very first Toy Voyager trip! He even brought his own towel!

We had such fun telling Maj. Bananas and the gang about our Atlantic City trip and told him that we were excited for him to come along on our next adventure with Spac.

But there will be plenty of time for all that later. Now, it was time to go to sleep after a long and fun weekend!

Good night!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 16, 2012, 2:29 pm
When we were in Atlantic City, Paddington and I bought postcards to mail home. Today we went to the post office to do just that. Paddington sent his card to his home in Essen, Germany, and I sent mine to my home in Stuttgart, Germany. Our new Toy Voyager friend, Major Trevor Bananas, came along too!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 19, 2012, 1:18 am

Spac took all of us Toy Voyagers to his workplace in Woodland Park today. We offered to help out hoping it would be fun. But it was not.

I answered the phone while Maj. Bananas worked the keyboard and Paddington worked the mouse.

But that is OK.  Spac said we have another grand adventure coming soon!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 27, 2012, 12:05 am
Today, Spac told us all to get in the car for a little local educational adventure.


Spac told us about the Great Falls, just a few miles down the Passaic River, which passes through his hometown (which is called Little Falls because it has a smaller waterfall). He said that Paddington, Major Bananas, and I could see them if we wanted. It was a nice day, so why not?

So we passed through the borough of Totowa as we followed the river.

Then we continued to follow the river into the borough of Woodland Park until we arrived in the City of Paterson, where we followed the river some more.


There was even a World War I memorial on one of the bridges over the river.


There they are! The Great Falls! At 23 meters high and 79 meters wide, they are quite big for being in the middle of New Jersey.

In 1976, the area was designated a National Historic Landmark, commemorated by this bell and plaque.


But a few years ago, President Obama (formerly a senator from Maj. Bananas' home state!) signed a bill that turned it into a National Historical Park, which means it is now governed by the National Park Service and receives funding as such.

Did you see that bridge in the picture before? We're going to go up on that bridge to get a closer look!

So what makes these falls so special, anyway?

Well, it looks like they have some historical significance that goes way back to the 1700s.


It seems this fellow, Alexander Hamilton, envisioned these falls as the epicenter and power source of the USA's first fully industrialized city. Paterson was to be that city.


Unfortunately, because he got gunned down by a man named Aaron Burr, Hamilton never got to see his dream realized, but eventually, the Great Falls did indeed become a power source for Paterson's industrial mills in the 1800s until the development of electrical plants. And even now, the falls produce hydroelectric power. Hopefully, you can zoom in an read the interesting facts on this sign.


Leaving the park area, we saw a trail across the road. Spac mentioned that he had never noticed it before, so we all decided to take a look.

Sadly, this city has no shortage of vandals that write graffiti in public places, but if you can read over the graffiti on this sign, you can see that this trail was once a raceway for the water flowing from the falls through the system of mills, back in the 1800s.


On the way home, we stopped at Veterans Memorial Park, also in Paterson.

What a fun and educational day. I learned a lot about the history of this area of  Passaic County!
Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 27, 2012, 12:26 am
We went to Franklin Township today to go to the movies.

It is 60 kilometers away, so why did we go that far just to see a movie?

Because we went to visit Spac's step-brother, Baby Beau Bear, and see the movie with him!  That's Beau on the left next to Spac.

They were excited to see each other and to see the movie "Ted", in which a Teddy bear comes to life. It was a very funny movie because the Teddy bear grows up and becomes a foul-mouthed troublemaker.

After the movie, we went to Starbucks for some icy coffee beverages.

It was nice to see Beau again and go to the movies with him. He will be coming on our next adventure, too!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 29, 2012, 1:00 am

Phish tour continues!

We had such fun last month seeing Phish with Spac in June, so we are very excited to see four more shows in two different locations.  Plus, Paddington and I get to go to two more U.S. states! AND, we got to be there while our new Toy Voyager friend experienced his very first Phish show.

The first two shows are on Long Island.  Paddington and I are very familiar with Long Island because Spac takes us there with him to see his family.

Today, we went to the southern shore of the island to Jones Beach. There is an ampitheater there and that is where Phish played.

It took a long time to drive there - but we are used to the tough drive through New York City.

Finally, we arrived!  That is the ampitheater behind us.

From left to right, that's Major Trevor Bananas, Paddington, Spac, Terence, Puppy Graham, me and Nibbly.

It was such a beautiful evening and there was still some time before the show, so we decided to go down to the beach for a while. This was Maj. Bananas' first time at the Atlantic Ocean!

Spac played some songs for us on his guitar while we enjoyed the warm sand and cool water.

New Jersey beaches are nice, but they are more known for their fun activities and boardwalks.  Long Island beaches, however, are very special in a different way. 

Most other U.S. Atlantic beaches face east, which means the sun is in front of you in the morning, but behind you in the afternoon and evening.  But Long Island beaches like Jones Beach face south, which means the sun starts on your left and moves across the sky to your right. It is never behind you!

It was nearing showtime, so we started heading back to the ampitheater.  We thought this seahorse on the sidewalk would make for a nice group photo.

Time to go inside!

Our seats were around the middle of the theater.  It was a good view, but it is too bad we could not move up close like we did in Atlantic City.

And the concert is underway.  Our fourth Phish show!

Phish is very new to us, but Spac told us it was quite a special show because they played a song they had not performed in more than 20 years!

We had a fun time dancing and meeting new people who asked why we two bears were at a Phish show taking lots of photos. 

At the end of the show, Phish played the Rolling Stones song "Shine a Light" and when they sang, "May the good Lord shine a light on you", the lights were REALLY bright, shining on the audience.

What a fun night.  I can not wait to do it again tomorrow!!

Spac the Bear

Posted Jul 31, 2012, 1:39 am
It's Day Five of my Phish tour!

We stayed the night with Spac's family, who live out on Long Island.  It made the trip to Jones Beach much easier for the second day.

Back at Jones Beach Ampitheater!

We were in the top section for this show, but the view and the sound were still great!

After the show was over, there was a lot of traffic getting out of the venue, so we took the opportunity to take a picture of us with that tower you see in the background.  That tower is sort of the symbol of Jones Beach.

We finally made it back to New Jersey, safe and sound.  What an awesome two days of shows.  I can't believe we're going to do two more!
Spac the Bear

Posted Aug 4, 2012, 2:55 am
It's a big weekend for us Toy Voyagers, but it's also going to be a very special weekend for our host, Spac the Bear.

It's big for us because we get to go to two more Phish shows and visit another new state! 

It's extra special for Spac because we'll be retracing the steps that led to his birth eight years ago. You see, he was born while his human was on Phish tour back in 2004. During that tour, Phish played at a venue in upstate New York called the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC, as the people call it. The human and his female counterpart had such a great time at SPAC (and had such fun saying it, because it does sound funny), that when they visited the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory the next day and brought their new bear into the world, the female had the idea to name him that funny name. The male loved it. And so, Spac the Bear was born.

So it's a weekend of Phish and joining Spac on his homecoming in Vermont.

But first, we had to get there. It is a long drive to Saratoga Springs. We crossed the northern New Jersey border into New York State.

After an hour or so, we passed Saugerties, where Woodstock '94 and '99 were held.

Finally, after around three hours, we made it to Saratoga Springs!

We took a group shot in the car before we split up. Spac, Major Bananas, Paddington and I went in to the SPAC venue for the show while Graham, Baby Beau Bear, Wheatley (the happy toast), Terence and Nibbly, stayed in the parking lot to hang out and tailgate.

I don't know what that building is but it looked really nice. And along with the pool, it made for a great photo.

So great, in fact, that this total stranger wanted to get in the picture with us!

It's so funny to see my friend's name everywhere!

And there's Phish! My sixth Phish show!

We had such a great time at the show, but we didn't take a lot of pictures tonight.  Tomorrow is our last night of Phish tour, so we'll definitely take more, then!

Spac the Bear

Posted Aug 9, 2012, 1:03 am
Breakfast at America's Diner, Denny's!

Let's see what's on the menu!

So much from which to choose!

We ate pancakes and eggs and hash browns. Yum!

Back to SPAC for the last show of our Phish tour!

We weren't very close to the stage, but we were near one of the screens and sound was good there, too!

We danced so much and had such fun, we forgot to take more pictures again!

When the show was over, it was time to meet up with the rest of the gang and go back to the hotel in Glens Falls. We have a big day tomorrow. 

I can't believe that a month ago I had never seen Phish, and now I have seen them seven times! Maybe they will come and play in Germany again sometime. Spac told me they played in my hometown of Stuttgart in 1997. It is time for them to come back!

Spac the Bear

Posted Aug 15, 2012, 1:11 am

Phish tour was done, but one adventure still remained.

Today, we went to the state of Vermont to visit the Vermont Teddy Bear factory and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream factory!

Spac and Graham were born in Vermont, but none of us other Toy Voyagers had ever been there, so we were very excited to see another new state.

We drove for a long time through upstate New York, along the eastern border, where the Hudson River continues all the way up to Lake George. There, we took this photo together. So scenic!

From left to right, that's Paddington, Major Bananas, Puppy Graham, Baby Beau, Spac, Terence, me, and Nibbly.

Farther north, we came upon Lake Champlain, which actually has a connection to Phish and Ben & Jerry's - all profits from the sale of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream are donated to help keep the lake clean. Phish originated in Vermont, so the lake is dear to them.

It is quite a pretty lake.

We crossed this bridge over the lake and we were finally in Vermont!

Finally, we made it to the Vermont Teddy Bear factory, the place our host and friend Spac, was born!

What a colorful building!

Look at all the different bears that are born here!

Though the company's very high quality bears are each sewn, assembled and stuffed individually and with great care, people can also come here and buy one of these pre-sewn skins and have them stuffed to their liking. That's how Spac was born. So many kinds and colors from which to choose!

A big shrubbery bear!

I know the Toy Voyagers rule is that we are supposed to be in every photo, so if you would like to see pictures of the factory floor and of Spac's surgery (he got a stuffing infusion and a head re-shaping), click here:

Before long, it was time to say goodbye to the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. We wished we could have stayed longer...

...We still had another stop to make at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory!

Getting ready to take the tour.

This is where the ice cream gets made!

This was our tour guide. She was funny and very nice. Spac asked her whether the guys in Phish actually came here to help develop their flavor and she said they really did!

And this is the "Flavor Lab" where new flavors get created and tested.

At the end of the tour we were given samples of that day's batch of ice cream. Yum!

On the wall in the hallway were posters of the all-time most popular Ben & Jerry's flavors. Phish Food was number five!

They had some old Ben & Jerry's advertisements, promotional items and news articles on display.

On our way out we saw the "Cowmobile". I wish we could have taken a ride in that!

It was getting late and we had a six hour drive from northern Vermont to New Jersey ahead of us, so we hopped back into the car and drove through the Green Mountain State.

But Spac had one more surprise for us before going home. Instead of going west from Vermont back into New York, he drove directly south and took us to the Massachusetts border. Another new U.S. state for us Toy Voyagers!!

And as the sun set and we drive into the night, we were all happy that we took part in such a grand adventure together.

Spac the Bear

Posted Aug 19, 2012, 10:35 pm
We've received some sad news. My new friends Graham and Terence fear they have lost someone dear to them - a fellow Toy Voyager from Arizona named Travis.

Travis is a "Digi", born in Arizona of Cox Communications, and a cousin to Terence. He is also Graham's first travel buddy. They met in California while staying with Pink and Gray Bunny, then traveled together back here to Graham's home to stay with Spac before going to Travis' home with Bart K. in Arizona.

Travis went on a trip to Europe this year and somewhere in Munster, Germany, became lost. His host there said she would send him home, but he never came.

We all tried to console Graham and Terence in their sadness.

At least we have Travis' travelog, still here on the Toy Voyagers site, by which to remember him.

Spac the Bear

Posted Aug 21, 2012, 12:44 am

Today we said goodbye to Graham. He is going to visit his friends in Arizona and they are taking him to see the Grand Canyon! It will be nice for him to be with them, especially as they mourn the loss of their friend and brother, Travis.  He calls them his "Arizona family".

Goodbye Graham.  It was nice getting to know you.  I will be with my next host, in Utah, by the time you back.  I had a lot of fun with you on our Phish tour and trips to Rhode Island and Vermont.

We packed Graham up in his box and wished him well on his journey.

Then we brought him to the post office.

Saying goodbye to my new friends is difficult, and since my time here in New Jersey is coming to an end, I am going to have to do a lot more of it.

But I am very happy that, just like Graham, there are some great new adventures in my future!

Spac the Bear

Posted Sep 7, 2012, 8:49 pm

The time has come for Paddington and I to leave New Jersey and our friend and host, Spac the Bear. We had such a great time with him these past six months. We had so many wonderful adventures!

But now we must say goodbye.

Goodbye Major Bananas. We had fun on our Vermont trip, didn't we? I shall miss you.

So long, Terence. It was great getting to know you as you settled in to your new home here in New Jersey.

Bye Nibbly! You're a good little bunny! It was fun spending time with you!

Spac and Paddington...farewell, friends. I shall miss you both very much.  It was great fun going to concerts and taking trips in the car, on the bus, and on the train with you. I shall never forget our good times and I will remember you both always.

Time to get into our travel envelopes. Safe travels Paddington, my buddy! Have fun in Oklahoma! I'm Utah-bound!


Posted Oct 16, 2012, 4:02 am
Finally!  I have arrived in Orem, Utah!  It has taken me a long time to get online to update my travelog.  Part of the reason is because the computer here recently broke and it took a long time to replace.  But I'm here now and can't wait to show you some of the places I've been so far.  Mostly, I've visited Salt Lake City on a number of different occasions.  crashtestrider says she'll be sure to get me out to see some more of the local areas, now that her schedule has let up.

One of the very first places I visited when I arrived was Temple Square in SLC.  The Mormon temple was built by pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when they settled here in the 1800s.  It took them over 40 years to build!

The grounds were very nice to stroll in, with lots of flowers and grass and trees, something I don't see much of out here!  Mostly everything is brown and grey, since it is pretty much a desert area.

Here I am with my TV friends, Peculiar and Greeny delMonte!  We all went across the street from Temple Square to the new shopping mall, called City Creek Center.  It is HUGE!  It covers two blocks, has a creek running through it, and also has a retractable glass roof.  We decided to rest our feet here, on the bridge between the two blocks and over top of Main Street.

On another day, we went to watch crashtestrider run in a 5k race in Sugarhouse Park in SLC.  She had us stay in the car, though, so the photo isn't very interesting.  You can tell how early it is-  the sun is rising behind us!

After the race, she took us to see the farmer's market downtown.  We didn't get any photos there because our hands were full with lots and lots of great fruits and vegetables, but we did get a photo on the rooftop of the parking garage!  Haha!  This is memorable only because when we got there and put the produce in the car, we found out that the car would not start!!!!  We thought maybe we'd have to stay and see more of the city (which would have been fine with me!), but finally, after 20 tries, it did start again, and we were able to take our yummy food home to wash and eat before it went bad.

I expect to post many more photos in the next couple days and hopefully some interesting stories, too (though, none, I hope, where we are stranded!)

Posted Oct 18, 2012, 9:43 pm
I just wanted to share a couple more photos with you.  I am getting around a bit more now!  Here is my "luxury" transport from which I see most things :) :

I have ridden along on alot of different errands.  Yesterday I came on a trip to pick up the oldest child from school at the end of the day.  We had to drive there because the school is just a bit too far to walk, yet too close for the children to ride a bus.  We waited in the parking lot for the bell to ring and the children to come out, and I thought the tree we were under was so beautiful in the afternoon sunlight!  Do you think so, too?

Posted Nov 13, 2012, 9:46 pm
Boy, these hosts don't have any problems putting their guests to work!  I have been very busy helping to pack up lots of things in the house and getting them ready to go to the new house, about 30 minutes down the highway, in a small town called Santaquin. 

It is still a fun time, though.  Rappelling down the boxes with a big roll of packing tape is awesome!

And, look!  One hand!  Whee!

Haha!  I felt bad for the toys that will have to sit in their boxes for a couple weeks, but I think they know that their children will be eager to get them out again as soon as possible.  Hey, it beats spending a couple weeks in a tiny envelope!  :)

I have been up to so much, and the autumn season has been beautiful here.

I attended a race...

...saw a really great storm come in...

...and even went to Walmart! (they don't like you to take photos inside the store)

One particularly interesting day, we went in search of letterboxes.  They are hidden containers (much like geocaches) that have stamps inside them that the finders will collect in a notebook.  Then, the finders leave their own personal stamp in the letterbox logbook.  Searching for these boxes can take you to many unique places!

Like this one, that took us to a beautiful park in the small town of Pleasant Grove...

...or another, which took us to an old historic house that used to be the childhood home of the letterbox owner.

I've still got some work to do, helping this family to move, but I'll keep writing and updating some photos.  The Thanksgiving holiday is next week, and I am excited to see and try all of that yummy food!

Posted Jan 1, 2013, 7:25 pm
Wow, was this a busy holiday season!  Thanksgiving was a wonderful meal- I am sorry I did not take photos because I was too busy stuffing myself with turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, and fruit!  But the day afterward, I went and did something really unique!  Here I am, waiting for Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to arrive at the local shopping mall...via helicopter!!!

Wow!  It was so exciting- the helicopter was so loud and the wind from its propellers blew all around us.  Santa and Mrs. Claus got out and waved to us all and greeted a few children before going indoors, where Santa got to visit with children all the way up until Christmas Eve!  On that night, we tracked Santa's journey online, where we got updates from his elves and Santa himself even answered some questions that we emailed him.  I saw that he visited you in Germany a few hours before he was scheduled to arrive here.  I hope you were on the good list and got lots of gifts!

We also decorated the tree that night.  Normally, it is done much earlier, but this family was so busy with their move, that it took them that long to do it this year!

Christmas morning was wonderful!  The children here must have been very good this year!

We got a couple blizzards the few days before Christmas.  Finally we dared to venture outside, and look how high the snow was outside the door!!!

I offered to help, but it took me a long time to shovel as much as crashtestrider could with just one sweep of her large shovel, so I went back inside where I could watch and be warm- brrr!

Two days ago, we took a trip up to Salt Lake City again, this time to try a restaurant and to see the Christmas lights on Temple Square.

It was a much longer trip from the new house, but did you know that the car has a DVD player built in?  So, Peculiar, the children, and I all watched the movie The Lorax on the way up.  It was a nice way to pass the time.

The restaurant was called Bruges Waffles and Frites.  They make a sandwich there called the Machine Gun, which was featured on a television show!  It is a French baguette, with a lamb sausage, and frites on top, with a special sauce.  And their yeast-dough waffles were SO good!  They used special pearl sugar in the dough.

Next door was a great Italian market called Tony Caputo's.  We looked at all the sausages and cheeses there and decided we would like to come back sometime and taste them.

Finally, we made it to Temple Square!  There were so many people there!  I wish I could have taken photos of all the lights, but there were just so many- it was beautiful!

Merry Christmas!

Posted Jan 1, 2013, 7:30 pm
I had a very nice birthday!  Mine and Peculiar's are just a day apart- isn't that interesting?  crashtestrider made us each a card and a hat for the celebration.  The real treat was a cupcake from The Sweet Tooth Fairy bakery.  Their cupcakes won an award on a television show called Cupcake Wars.  It was soooooo rich and yummy, I could hardly finish it!

Posted Jan 2, 2013, 4:58 pm
I do not know why, but I put a post on here and it is not showing up in my travelog!  Oh, well, here goes another try....

Thanksgiving was great!  Lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and fruit!  I was so full.

Then the next day, we went to go see Santa Claus arrived by helicopter at the local shopping mall!  It was so awesome!  When he got out of the helicopter with Mrs. Claus, everyone cheered!

On Christmas Eve, we decorated the tree and then tracked Santa's flight using a special website, where Elves came updates and even Santa himself answered some of the questions that children emailed him!  I saw that he visited you in Germany a few hours before he must have come here.  I hope you were good this year and got lots of presents!

The children here must have been very good, because they received lots of wonderful toys!

We got several blizzards around Christmas time.  Finally, we decided to go outside and try to shovel the snow, but look how high it was when we opened the door!

I tried to help as much as I could, but it was hard work.  crashtestrider told me to go ahead inside where it was warm, while she finished.

A few days later, we decided to go visit Salt Lake City again, to try a restaurant and visit the lights at Temple Square.

It was a long trip, but the vehicle had a built-in DVD player, so we got to watch The Lorax on the way.  It made the time go by much faster!

Here is the restaurant!  It is a tiny place called Bruges Waffles and Frites.  They have a sandwich called The Machine Gun that was featured on television.  It consists of a lamb sausage in a baguette, with a special sauce and frites on top! We ordered that, plus some vanilla yeast-dough waffles with pearl sugar inside.  It was all delicious!

Next door was an Italian market and deli called Tony Caputo's.  We looked at wonderful sausages, cheeses, olives, and chocolates and then decided that we would like to come back to taste some!

Finally, we made it to Temple Square.  There were so many lights and it was so beautiful!

Merry Christmas!

Posted Jan 2, 2013, 7:38 pm
Happy New Year!!!

Posted Mar 9, 2013, 6:17 pm
Today I fulfilled one of my life missions!  About 30 minutes from crashtestrider's home is a real ghost town, called Thistle!  It became a ghost town when, in April 1983, a landslide blocked the Spanish Fork river and flooded the town.  There are several remnants of the buildings left, and I even heard that there is a car stuck in a living room of a house.

It was hard to get too close to the buildings, because of the busy highway traffic (lots of big semi trucks!), plus, many of them are still partially underwater!

Plus, it was wintertime, so much of the water was frozen- I was not brave enough to step onto the ice, for fear it might crack and I would get hypothermia.

I think this is the remains of the old schoolhouse.

It was fascinating.  On the way out of the canyon, we passed by a wind farm!  The winds here are so strong, that they built windmills to help provide energy.  Look how big they are!

Posted Mar 10, 2013, 1:38 am
Well, I am off to new adventures now!  In a recycled envelope, apparently....I will miss the baby of this host family- she and I became good friends.  But I am eager to see what awaits me in Finland!  The snow is just starting to melt here in Utah; do you think it is springtime there yet?  :)

Posted Apr 10, 2013, 7:35 pm
Hi Mom!

I arrived here in Finland just before Eastern. And I have new friend Pika, he is a TV and from Germany too.  :D We celebrated my arrive with chocolate eggs and birdies. Our host has had problems with her health, but is getting better now.

Love you Mom!

Posted Apr 10, 2013, 7:43 pm

Finally went out. We take a walk on little lake near our host’s home. Spring is coming, and this was final changes to walk on ice. We walk from shore to shore of whole lake. I like it very much, especially because weather was so nice. It is kind of funny feeling to know, there is lots of water under you. I also made little snow bears.

We also saw something interesting. There was big hole on ice. Our host told us that people keep that hole open from ice whole winter. And can you believe Mom, people go and swim there in that ice cold water.  :rolleyes: It’s very good for your health, they say. I’m glad we didn’t try that.

I’m sure we have lots of fun with Pika and Susanna
Kisses Columbus

Posted May 12, 2013, 5:41 pm
Hi Mommy!

Our host is slowly getting better from her upper back pains, with help of  her physiotherapist. She is also back at work now, and last Sunday she took me and Pika with her. She works at library’s children and youth department at the moment. 

First we met the most important character of department. This big Mole, and boy he is really…big.  :) We told him about ToyVoyagers, he said voyaging sounds interesting, but he loves to be at library, mostly because he gets so many hugs and kisses from children every day. Maybe it’s better, he would need his own seat at airplane or train or bus and it would be expensive.

There were many other things to see also. We tried these cute mushroom stools, and these huge seats made of inner wheels of tractor. Of course there are lots and lots of children’s books in colorful selves. They also have these little nests, where children can spend time and read.

They have special youth space too. We hanged around in big leather couch and listened some music.

Last we met these funny fellows. They are characters of famous children’s author Mauri Kunnas, and from his version of Finnish national epic Kalevala. Mom I can’t understand, why our host sometimes is tired of work, because she works at such a fun place

Weather is getting better and spring is here. We are about to go out and enjoy new green colors.

Kisses Mom!

Posted Jun 1, 2013, 5:21 pm
Hi Mommy!
Summer is finally here. Today we went out and saw it ourselves. Pika and me asked our host to took us to same lake we went at winter. And it looks soooo different, as you can see. It’s hard to believe we walked on it just a while ago. But water is still cold, I tried.  :rolleyes:

Forest is green and beautiful, and we also found these cute little flowers. We saw other kind of flowers too, but our host told us it wouldn’t be good idea to go see them. They grow on swamp and although we are not heavy, swamp can swallow us. Spruces also have new spines, but they are really soft. We found this little pond covered with this green stuff (some kind of plants). It looked something straight from a horror movie.

We had nice walk, although there were some mosquitos bothering us.

Love you Mom!

Posted Jun 30, 2013, 7:24 pm
Hi Mom!

Last weekend we celebrated Midsummer here in Finland. Actually we didn’t celebrated much, just eat well and enjoyed peacefulness. Cities are quiet at Midsummer, because everybody who can goes to summer cottages. At Midsummer Eve me and my host went to market place to buy delicates. Market place have changed place here in Lahti, because they are going to build parking lot under market place. They are doing archeological excavation there at the moment. We took a peek. They have found interesting things there from former Lahti village before it burned down in 1887, and evidence of settlement centuries before that. Interesting.

Market place is now located just by my host’s workplace. This white building is Lahti City library. And the other concrete building is Lahti City theatre.

When we got home we started to prepare meal. New potatoes; you just wash them to get rid of peels. And of course we have fried sausages. There was so much to eat, that me and Pika shared one plate of it. Afterwards we have strawberries, they were sooooo sweet. This time of year is called time of  nightless nights. And now I know why. At last picture it’s almost eleven p.m., it’s very bright and sun is just going down.  :rolleyes:
It’s hard to get any sleep.

Love you Mom

Posted Jul 1, 2013, 6:35 pm
Hi Mom!

Tomorrow both I and Pika are leaving Finland. I will travel to my next host and Pika is heading home. So our host decided, that we should have farewell party. But before that she has suggestion for me. She thinks, that I looked little…well how do you say “traveled” and I should take a bath. That was O.K with me.

First she put me in big bathtub…too big for a little bear like me.  :stare: Bathroom sink was much better. I really enjoyed my bubble bath. After that she repaired my travel tag a little and put it in new chain. Don’t I look fancy Mom?

Then we have some sweet strawberry cupcakes and drink something bubbling. It tickled my nose, hih! In last picture you can see us in our travel boxes. Bon Voyage Pika, Bye Bye Finland.

See you next time Mom!
Love Columbus
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 7, 2013, 5:34 pm
i am fine, just back from hollidays
Hello from China!
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 8:59 pm
our first stop - Ternopil, that is toun on the East of Ukraine, my houst Family were to wedding there, I with other tvs took to old castel
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:01 pm
it was long wedding, we just went around in town
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:05 pm
we on the way to Black are my friends Columbus , Pinky Bear  and Basukarna
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:08 pm
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:11 pm
we visit Voroncovskiy palace
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:16 pm
i enjoing  san, Beach, Water...............on the las Pictures tray to see is mounting named cat....can you?
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:21 pm
i was taking san bath......fall asleep....can you see what my friend did to me????????????
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:24 pm
here is: 1. the biggest squer in Euorop, 2. "face" of Kharkiv town, 3. colorful due.
Julie Hansen

Posted Aug 10, 2013, 9:26 pm
Now we back to Denmark, Columbus took to Finland, and we only three left here

Posted Nov 5, 2013, 12:52 am
Hi Mum!

Yesterday I arrived in Australia!

I was glad to get out of my post bag and meet my new friends.

Hi Betty Bear, Anton, Lotta and Huli Hutu! My name is Columbus!

All the other toys are very friendly.

To celebrate my arrival, we did some baking. We made the Babka from Host Sister's cooking magazine.

I think the Babka and things like it are found in many cultures. It is filled with dried fruit and a rum syrup is poured over the top. Here I am mixing the flour and the eggs together.

Now the dough is all mixed together and kneaded. Next we need to wait a while so the dough can rise.

Next Host Sister rolled the dough out into a biiiig rectangle. It's so big, maybe we can play football on it!

Then we sprinkled the filling over the dough. There are dried apricots, which had been soaked in schnapps for a few hours to make them plump, and some chocolate. Unfortunately in this picture, to me it looks like tomatoes and bits of meat, perhaps chopped roast beef! Am I making a pizza??!

Host Sister then rolled the whole thing up into a big log. Smile, everyone!

We cut the log up into slices and arranged them in a greased baking tin.

After baking, it doesn't really look like the photo in the magazine, but I'm still going to taste it!

While the Babka was cooking, Host Sister made a syrup from cherry brandy and sugar. We poured it over the top of the babka buns.

It was delicious!
Host Sister says the weather in spring time here is often very rainy. Hopefully it will be better in a few days so I can go out and have a look around.
Bye Mum! xx

Posted Nov 14, 2013, 10:36 am
Hi Mum!

Today I went to work with Host Sister. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very nice, but we went to see some sights in the City at lunch time anyway. We went to see the "Top End" of the city.

Right at the top end of Collins Street is the Old Treasury Building. It was built in 1862 during the Gold Rush times. Miners were digging up so much gold, and the Government earning so much tax from them, that they needed somewhere special to keep all the gold. Of course, they didn't call it the "Old Treasury" then, just the "Treasury"! ;) After the treasury was moved to a new building, it became a museum. Part of it is also the Marriage Registry. Every day there are always lots of couples and family having their photos taken on the steps.

Host Sister says this is where she got married!

Here we're looking down Collins Street from the Top End. This is also called the "Paris End" of Collins Street, because of the leafy trees and all the international designer stores here (Armani, Gucci, etc.).

The centre of Melbourne was built on a grid one mile long and half a mile wide. It slopes from the Government buildings at the top of the hill down to Docklands on the bay. The top end of the city is considered to be the most beautiful. All the old buildings from Gold Rush times are here, most of the theatres and many parks.

Next door is the Treasury Gardens. It's a small park, but it's one of the most beautiful in Melbourne. Next to it there are more government buildings. The leader of Victoria (the Premier) has his offices in the closest one.

It's about to rain, time to go back to work!

Bye for now!
Love, Columbus xx

Posted Nov 19, 2013, 9:48 am

Today was my birthday, so we had a party with cake and lollies!
Aw, isn't that nice? The cupcake was really yummy.

Happy Birthday to me!
xx Columbus

Posted Nov 27, 2013, 10:34 am
Hi Mum!

Today we said goodbye to Betty Bear.  She is leaving Australia to go to Alaska in the U.S.A.
We had a lot of fun and we will miss her, but we wish her well on her journey.

Love you Mum!
xx Columbus

Posted Dec 2, 2013, 9:48 am
Hi Mum!

Today we welcomed Sally Seal. She's travelled all the way from Germany.

We all gave her a big hug.

I nearly got lost in the grass! But I found this lantern in the garden to help me find my way.

We had a little party.

Talk to you again soon!
xx Columbus

Posted Dec 12, 2013, 9:40 am
Hi Mum!

Today we went to Fitzroy Gardens. It's a traditional English-style park on the edge of the city. The early pioneers in Melbourne decided that the city should have lots of parks, so Fitzroy Gardens was founded in 1848. There are lots of paths for people to walk on, and interesting things to look at throughout the park.

Look, off in the distance! A wedding!

This is the Model Tudor Village. It's got Shakespeare's House and lots of other buildings. We weren't allowed into the village, but just looked from the edge.

I'm hiding in the ivy! Can you see me?

I hope you're well, I miss you!
xx Columbus


Posted Dec 26, 2013, 10:19 pm
Hi Mum!

It's the night before Christmas and we're having a Christmas Eve dinner. But first we're going to open some of the presents!

For dinner we had roasted vegetables and meats, it was yummy.

Then for dessert we had trifle, a Yule log lamington, and some apricots from Host Sister's tree.

Merry Christmas!

Love from Columbus

Posted Feb 23, 2014, 9:47 am
Hi Mum!

Today we went for a walk by the Yarra River. It's been very hot recently, but today was a little cooler so we went out at lunch time. Along this part of the river is the Melbourne Aquarium and Flinders Street Station.

On the far side is Southbank, where a lot of new skyscrapers are being built. There's Eureka Tower, the largest building in Melbourne. A bigger tower has just been approved for building though, so it won't be the tallest for long!

The air was very hazy today, why was that? We checked the new bushfire information website to find out if there are any fires in the state of Victoria at the moment. There are some, but they're far north of here. Host Sister says that no-one was hurt, so that's lucky.

This is the view from the building where Host Sister works. The building on the right is going to be demolished soon. The brown one in the centre is a heritage building that used to be a brewery.

See you again soon!

Posted Mar 4, 2014, 8:00 am
Hi Mum!

Today we welcomed Bernie Bear, who has travelled all the way from China to visit.

To celebrate, we baked some vegemite and cheese scrolls!
Here is the dough in the breadmaker.

We tipped the dough out of the tin and pressed it flat.

Then we made it into a rectangle shape and spread Vegemite and cheese all over it.
The Vegemite smelled disgusting, but Host Sister says it's delicious. I don't know about that!

Then we rolled the dough up, cut it into scrolls and put them in the baking tin.

Here they are cooked. Wow, they grew so much bigger!

We all enjoyed the bread straight out of the oven with some butter on it. Yum!

Talk to you soon!

Posted Mar 10, 2014, 9:47 am
Hi Mum!

Today we said goodbye to Lotta. She is travelling to Canada.
She had a lovely time here and we wish her well.

Talk to you soon,