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There really is no place like home. No matter how interesting it is to discover new places, I breathe a sigh of relief and relax when I step on to U.S. soil. A few weeks ago, we went to Ohio for our home leave. I know how things work in the U.S. I can speak English freely and I understand how people behave….and the space. There’s so much space to walk, drive, park and play!

The trip over can only be described as the trip from hell. We should have taken it as a sign when we saw a tornado when we arrived at the Rome airport. I won’t bore you with the gory details. However, it took two days to get to Ohio and we missed stopping to see family in New York for a couple days :-(.

A tornado in Rome? We were traveling to the Midwest where there are always tornados, yet we see it one in Rome!

Once we arrived, we had a great time. The boys experienced their first country fair in Lancaster, Ohio. This fair is a big deal. Some kids get a week off from school because the animals that they have raised are competing for prizes. Our boys loved the rides.

Some good-looking chickens

Their first Ferris wheel ride

Look at Russell’s expression…

Like me, I think Duilio will love rollercoasters.

We also went to Old Man’s Cave, a beautiful hiking area in Hocking County. Here are a few web sites that about Hocking Hills in case you ever happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s well worth a visit.

http://www.hockinghills.com/old_mans_cave.html

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/743/default.aspx

Duilio exploring

Checking things out

Old Man’s Cave

Nature is beautiful

We got to see foliage!

My Mom’s new home is lovely. The boys enjoyed riding bikes outside. Duilio mastered riding without training wheels so he was excited. We also got to see many relatives. A really happy trip!

Now here are pictures of some things you probably won’t see in Italy.

Not much call for deer skinning in Italy….

Not too many religious bumper stickers, either. I liked this one.

$4.00 take-away coffees. Insane, but as you can see, I really needed it…looking tired.

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I forgot about these pictures on my little camera. There are mostly of Elba. I just had to post them.

This is my Marilyn Monroe moment. Thank goodness I was wearing a skort!

Check out the boys hair!

Russell was having a blast in the wind tunnel created on the side of the ferry here. He was pretending he was superhero, of course!

This was a lovely port – Porto Azzurro

Here’s a picture of the boys in the school grembiule. Russell likes his because he says it’s his scientist coat.

 


The Island

Elba is a beautiful island. Napoleon didn’t have it so bad when he was exiled there in 1814. Although I suppose having your dream of world domination shattered was probably depressing for him. In any case, we enjoyed our weekend there. It’s a great place for a vacation with plenty of activities. Not only are there beautiful beaches but there is also scuba diving, boating, hiking, biking and historical places to visit.

It seems to be a very active island. While we were on the island, there was a classic rally car race including a Ferrari expo (http://www.rallyelbastorico.com/index.php?c=3) and the Elbaman. There were two Ferraris next to us on the ferry ride over!

The Elbaman

Luca was a finisher! This in itself is a huge achievement. Can you imagine swimming 1.9 km, biking 94 km then running a half marathon? Mama mia! Naturally, he’s already thinking about how to improve his performance for the next one. Here’s the link again: http://www.elbaman.it/default.asp

There is a cool little video posted.

On Saturday Luca had to check in his bike and we checked out the course. We had driven around the bike route while touring the island. It was really hilly. Yikes!

You check your bikes in the night before in the transition area.

Lots of fancy triathlon bikes around….Luca’s not so fancy. Can you see where that’s headed?

The pink area is where the professionals transition. They don’t have to check in until the morning.

Swim course

The day before Luca seemed a bit nervous since it was his first long distance triathlon. The morning of the race he was pumped up and ready to go.

This was the beginning of the full ironman distance swim.

While Luca was busy for the day, we decided to have some fun and take a boat ride. It was a boat that had the windows below deck to see the underwater life. The kids loved it!

We just may have to return to Elba for vacation next summer.