Monday, February 22, 2010

Band of Brothers - Part II

Once the salty old dogs had finished with the Paris scene it was time to round up the next generation for an educational outing.

The scholastic experience began with an interactive multimedia experience that took place in the backseat classroom. Lincoln acted out the part of the Allied Forces in the Normandy invasion while Graham and Eli tried to watch "The Longest Day".

Next we disembarked at the gun emplacements at Longues de Mer, unleashing the troops to storm the batteries with snowballs.

After what was probably not enough time out of the car we moved on to the cemetery above Omaha Beach, (the one in Saving Private Ryan) - which is an incredibly moving experience I highly recommend - and which was only a bit marred by the challenge of explaining to Lincoln why running around with snowballs and screaming was not just not OK. There is also a great museum with displays that help younger audiences put the sacrifices and horrors of D-Day into a context they could grasp.

Lesson learned, our final stop of the day was Pointe de Hoc - where an intrepid team of U.S. Rangers scaled ridiculously sheer cliffs under enemy fire to capture and disable gun emplacements threatening the invasion fleet, taking something like 70 percent casualties in the process... The area has also been heavily bombed, which leaves the sense of a battlefield, and the boys took the opportunity to re-engage the enemy (the older generation) - hiding in bomb craters and ruined gun emplacements and striking from the shadow with snow, ice and even bare hands.

After an overnight in a quaint old town, and a breakfast of baguette and cheese we set off to see Mont Saint-Michel - passing tantalizingly close to Alligatorland - to the disappointment of the youngest brothers in the band...

Perhaps humbled by the accomplishments of the "greatest generation" - our band was able to scale the countless steps all the way to the top of the famous abbey, and also managed to keep the youngest brother away from various dropoffs of a hundred feet or more.

After one last meal punctuated by cheese and crepes we headed off to liberate Paris, and send the off our brother in arms - until the next adventure - wherever and whenever that might be...

The past and future of the Armored Cavalry (Matt this one's for you)

The victors of the Battle at Longues de Mer

The Band of Brothers in their Barracks

Cemetery above Omaha Beach

Lincoln's method for beating the cold

Cliffs at Pointe de Hoc

Before the sneak attacks...

The Counter-Offensive

Making the pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel

Almost to the top

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Band of Brothers - Part I

Being in France it was a particular pleasure to enjoy the "Fraternite" of a frat house veteran - and lifelong role model, my brother...

Sneaking in before the summer rush on our guest bedroom, we squeezed in full itinerary on a long weekend - hence the need for two installments...

Our big boy day started out with braving the cold for some sightseeing

Strolling along the Seine - note the fashionable man purse

Hitting the classic sights - and for the record we did actually go inside -
and did not pretend to be Quasimoto (while inside)

Then a short break to warm up

Ooops, that's the wrong picture -
(of the "agile bunny" in Mont Martre)

This is was our break from the cold
(a nice warm fondue dinner in a cozy Latin Quarter restaurant)

and an obligatory stop on the way back home...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Paris highlights

Well, winter in Paris has turned wet, which just makes it colder than snow - and much less fun to play in. Cameron remains undeterred by the freezing waters of the duck pond (and our efforts to prevent her escapades) - but has not yet caught any waterfowl.

The boys are enjoying school activities, especially a gymnastics unit (see below) - and some special friends. Eli is suffering a bit of teasing from having a friend who is a girl - but seems more than willing to pay that price for his special friend...

We also had the chance to meet Secretary Clinton when she came through town. The boys got to shake her hand, Dad was relegated to fetching papers and beverages for her... Typical.

Hope this finds everyone well

Nightly Ping Pong Tournament Chez Swaney on our high-end custom made table

Eli at Gymnastics

Iron Graham

Lincoln showing some of his "moves"

Boys meeting Secretary Clinton