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Learning and Exploring

Pompano Beach, Florida Family Vacation

My dad found out maybe a year and a half ago that he would be offered a retirement package, so we had family (marrieds and all) vacation planned for ages. We went to Pompano Beach in the Fort Lauderdale area (which is near West Palm beach where all the celebrities and such are; we were driving behind a Ferrari through that area). We left a few days after Christmas and came back a week into the new year. Most of use drove and so we stopped in St. Augustine on the way there and walked around a bit. The weather was too cold to do much, but we did see some pretty, old buildings.

We are usually a Gulf family. We went to Jekyll Island, GA a couple years ago (our last vacation as an entire family I believe), and I wasn’t impressed by the water to say the least. Now, the water was less gross here, but trust me, its not the Gulf or San Diego. Mom and I weren’t really impressed with the beach overall although the lighthouse was lovely (the loveliest was the first night with the pink sky behind it . . . I didn’t have my camera or phone then), but we enjoyed it for what it was.

We were able to get into the water a couple days, and visited the beach almost everyday. I came back with a nice selections of shells and coral (first time for the latter) which I hope to put into a shadowbox. The house wasn’t on the beach but had private access through a corridor, under some trees, over a bridge, and through some grass. We traversed this a couple times before noticing the trees were FILLED with HUGE iguanas. EEP. Actually, it was hilarious to watch them in their perches. Apparently, the NYT had an article mentioning that it was so cold iguanas were falling stunned from the trees; we didn’t see that happen.

We played tons of new games that many of us received for Christmas, one of the favorites was a game called “Things.” We watched some movies and comedians (you know, real ones, not the goofs in our family), swam in the heated pool, and some people went golfing, played tennis, and went putt-putting. Dad made his traditional Alton Brown recipe doughnuts for New Year’s (I thought they were his best yet). We ate at a Cuban restaurant for one lunch, and we picked up doughnuts twice from a local bakery.

We mostly saw birds (quite a variety) on the beach after passing through Iguana Headquarters, except one or two days when we say these freaky Portuguese Man O’Wars. If Mom hadn’t said something, I probably would’ve stepped on them since they look like plastic bags. We saw pretty long white birds (they looked so thin they would break) along the highways by standing pools of water, but not much else (my sister and brother-in-law left early and went through the Everglades and saw tons of alligators), except for (we think) dead pumas on the side of the road (I think twice, I’m almost positive once; I am sure I saw a massive cat’s tail and what else is that particular shade of tawny?).

We had tons of fun, took family photos, and then returned home to the cold although I think we missed the near-to-zero worst of it.

 

I Finally Bought the Ancestry Test

Things to Bear in Mind (watch this video, focus especially on his explanations after the comparisons).

1. DNA test are new, sketchy, and general and humans are dumb.

2. In order to determine ethnicity matches, we must have reference populations. These are MODERN, so may/probably don’t reflect when my ancestors came over. For non-Europeans, the modern reference groups are much smaller or non-existent which distorts their results.

3. It only takes a few generations back before you reach ancestors from which you receive 0 DNA because DNA is halved every generation.

BUT

4. DNA is random. Don’t expect a perfect halved percentage of your ancestor’s ethnicity and don’t expect your siblings ethnicity percentages to match yours closely.

OKAY. So I bought my DNA test through ancestry.com via a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. I had previously built a tree with a free trial plus got an extra two weeks for this. So hopefully I will get some matches.

Now, I want to try and predict my results based on what I know from my grandparents and my research and estimating with help from this previously mentioned study. Like I’ve mentioned before, from what I’ve seen on my ancestry, my family REALLY matches the patterns described in David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed.

I’m looking at the averages for European Americans and then at the charts plus factoring in what I know.

~60-70% British
~30-40% Western Europe (Germany and Switzerland for me specifically because I know)
~Above average (0.19%) African American
~Average (0.18%) or below Native American
~Wondering about European Jewish?

I realize anything less than 1% isn’t going to show on the test, but I really don’t have anything in my family stories to safely assume anything more. The alleged Native American ancestor was quite far back plus I saw a photo, she looks European to me. And my European percentages are variable because like I said, ancestry doesn’t equal exact ratio. And my Dad’s history is empty of immigrants after the 18th century, so I assume a massive if not entirely British heritage from that fact and their locations.

My (Lack of) Travel Experience

I’ve been reading a lot of travel blogs lately (am I late to this or have they particularly exploded recently?). I’m not well-traveled, but I’d like to improve that. But I will never be a traveler of the sort on these blogs. I’m a homebody, I burn out easily, and I’m not usually ever all that interested in one thing (rather extreme and also, boring, imo), so I’d prefer travel as a part of my life not THE focus. And I’m afraid I would start to quickly not see it as exciting and interesting; I’d rather keep it a bit rare and special (that is a theme with me; if I read or watch something to many times I can almost hate it). Anyway. I thought I’d highlight some of my and my family’s travel experience. I will be in Florida soon!

My mom’s family took road trips all over the days when she was growing up. My grandparents have taken many trips all over the U.S. in their retirement. They’ve visited Canada and Israel as well, and my grandmother visited Switzerland. My Dad’s family moved from Texas to our current (my and my Mom’s family’s) state, but I don’t know if they ever traveled again. I was born in Michigan as my Dad worked there for several years after college, and then we moved back. Dad’s job has taken him all over the world, but he isn’t adventurous. Even though we were home-schooled, he didn’t take any of us with him overseas. We have, however, traveled with him domestically. Travelgirl has traveled to the Caribbean, Central American, and Oceania (she lived there for several months). I have my passport but haven’t used it yet. I hope to use it within the year at least once.

We (as a family) stayed in the South and Midwest until the end of 2006. Florida is where everyone goes around here. Or the Smokies. I have visited a few less than half the states, but I haven’t explored all the ones we visited. Sometimes we went with Dad to boring places and stayed in a hotel and swam. I’ll only mention states in which we visited an interesting place.

Arizona. We visited the Grand Canyon. And driving through the state and seeing the landscape is an experience.

California. I’ve been twice. We visited San Francisco and Monterey Bay area in January of 2007 with Dad on a work trip. We visited the San Francisco Bay in a boat, the Sourdough Factory, Muir Woods, Point Reyes, Monterey bay aquarium, a winery, and various seashores. Then we visited San Diego in May of 2016 during our epic two-week road trip. We visited the zoo, La Jolla Cove, and the beaches. I think Mission Beach the prettiest I’ve been to.

Colorado. We drove through here on the way back. Colorado is another one of those states which driving through is an experience.

Florida. My parents took me to Disney and Sea World as a tiny child. I barely remember it. We’ve visited the Gulf at least three times, once to St. George Island.

Georgia. Visited Jekyll Island. The Island is gorgeous but the water brackish. We saw two turtles released to the ocean.

Illinois. Chicago once. Chicago area later to visit friends. We ate Chicago style pizza that time.

Kentucky. Mammoth Cave.

Michigan. Holland.

Missouri. St. Louis twice.

New Mexico. Beautiful, another of those driving experience states. We visited Albuquerque.

Tennessee. We visited Chattanooga. We’ve been to the Smokies three times.

Texas. Dad’s family is from there but we aren’t close to his side, so we’ve only made one family trip to see his grandfather on his ranch. We drove through (another experience) North Texas and visited friends in the Fort Worth area during our grand trip. We also stopped at Palo Duro Canyon.

Utah. So beautiful. An epic drive, but we also visited Zion and Arches.

Virginia. Williamsburg twice, and Monticello once.

 

Link Love: Genealogy and DNA

I mistakenly assumed that my DNA ethnic breakdown would exactly match my siblings. I also assumed it would proportionally match my ancestry. Genes are far more complex and random than that. For example, my grandfather is of 1/4 Swiss ancestry. Yet, his DNA might not show 25% Swiss genes nor mine 6.25% although it could. I found this out via this article, and the concept is further explained in this article.

This fascinating study of a small sampling of people attempts to analyze the backgrounds of the three main ethnic groups in the U.S.: European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans. Now, there is no way of knowing if this is a representative sampling, as they note, but I think it is still great for general information. Be sure to look at all the maps. This is something to regularly refer back to.

And in a similar vein, this map displays subgroups and migration patterns and typical generation length in U.S. This matches with my family’s genealogy and some of David Hackett Fischer’s explanations. We’ve always moved West, quite literally.

And if you are ever in the market for DNA testing, this is a thorough analysis of the pros and cons. I’d like to test a couple people in my family for a variety of these tests. The ethnicity one is interesting, but the Y-DNA is probably most helpful for genealogical research.