So our much anticipated escape from the city has come & gone way too fast, but the experience was great! After a 12-hr shift at work, we packed the Rav-4 (and the ever-growing crack in the wall with various cardboard boxes so the dog couldn't escape from the yard while we were gone... pix to follow!) and headed out into the desert to our destination 180km west of Abu Dhabi. Situated on the southern-most coast of the Arabian Gulf lies the island of Sir Bani Yas which we were told was once connected to the main land 17,000 years ago. The late Sheikh Zayed (the founder of the UAE) established the island as a natural wildlife refuge to increase the population of dwindling species of native (and non-native) animals including giraffes, cheetahs, Arabian oryx, African antelope, swarms of peacocks, African cranes and many, many species of gazelle. Our stay began with a boat ride to the island followed by a short bus ride to the resort on the northern most point. Every aspect of the hotel was definitely 5-star and our suite was amazingly lavish and we fell in love with it immediately. Included in our stay were many activities to choose from though the first night we ordered room service and went to sleep early! We were even able to request a full size portable crib for Izzy, so we all slept soundly. The next day we woke early for b-fast and went on our first endeavor; a mini-safari in an open jeep around the different wildlife reserves. Needless to say; even in the early a.m. the heat was out and it was quite hazy so unfortunately the cheetahs were not out in the open, there was one curious giraffe however who poked his nose in the jeep to stare at Izzy. I'm not sure which was more mesmerized by the other! Later while the girls enjoyed the pool, I braved the elements and hiked around the large lagoon and the hills beyond to go geocaching and returned sweaty and dehydrated, ready for the pool myself to find that my girls had indulged in the plush bed and slept the whole time! We spent the rest of the day relaxing, enjoying the pool and of course I squeezed as much adventure on the side out of every possible last minute before we checked out the next morning by going on an early a.m. kayaking trip out to a buoy and snorkeling around the reef. We headed home unwillingly after our short stay determined to come back again soon!