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T.J. third-grader and dad take trip ‘around the world’

Published: Friday, April 11, 2014 11:33 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2014 2:05 p.m. CDT

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Patricia Baker, 9, often has the staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School wondering: “What is this girl going to do next?”

The wavy-haired third-grader once convinced other students she was a vampire for an entire school year. She has dressed up like Pippi Longstocking, The Grinch and Jace Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” just this school year and has plans to be a U.S. president and an author when she grows up.

So how does a child as imaginative as P.B. — her nickname — top even herself? The solution came from her father, Kirk, who got the idea that the two should “go around the world,” for spring break.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and Paris — I thought Paris was pretty cool — and we wanted to go through Europe a couple of different places like Italy and Greece, but it’s expensive,” Kirk said. “We had to budget for what we could afford for and in Australia, its summer time right now, so it seemed like a good idea to go there right now.

“And if we went to Europe then to Australia, then we could go all the way around the world, which is something we thought would be pretty cool,” he continued.

Kirk and P.B.’s two-week journey had them travel through Texas; Denver; Los Angeles; London, England; New Delhi, India; Paris, France; and Carnes, Melbourne; and Sydney, Australia. They spent five days in Paris, four days in Sydney and spent three days in Carnes.

“It was awesome. It was fun. It was sweet,” P.B. said.

“When we were in Paris, we got to see a lot of neat stuff. We went to The Louvre our first day,” Kirk said.

During their global adventure, the duo snorkeled in The Great Barrier Reef, took selfies from atop the Eiffel Tower, pet koalas, visited an alligator farm, explored the catacombs under Paris and immersed themselves into a number of different cultures.

“We saw the Mona Lisa,” Kirk said.

“It’s really small. It’s like this big,” P.B. said, mimicking the shape of the painting with her arms.

“We saw a lot of cool things at the Louvre,” Kirk added.

Wherever they went, they tried local delicacies, including octopus, escargot (snails) and frog legs.

“I’ll eat anything,” P.B. said.

Kirk said his favorite part of the trip was just watching his daughter smile and knowing that this trip was going to help make her a better person.

“I thought it was nice to teach Patricia that it’s OK to go places and try some new things,” Kirk said.”To see that the world is a big place and there’s a lot of stuff you can do and a lot of places you can go. You can go and do anything you want.”

P.B. said one of her favorite parts of the trip was visiting a “Love Lock Bridge” in Paris. At a Love Lock Bridge, you write your name, and the name of a person you love, on a padlock, attach it to something connected to the bridge and throw the key into the river, which symbolizes having an unbreakable love.

She also enjoyed getting a chance to learn about and interact with so many different animals, although she was disappointed she didn’t see a whale or “friendly” shark who wouldn’t eat her.

After they returned to the U.S., P.B. and Kirk brought souvenirs for all of her classmates and teachers and even gave a presentation about the trip.

Kirk wanted his daughter to learn about the world during their trip, and her ability to easily spew various facts — like “kangaroos’ and wallabies’ favorite food is corn” and that Australians “really do say ‘mate,’” when they speak, indicate he was successful in his goal.

“I feel like I know a lot more — but it kind of sucks that I learned over my break,” P.B. said. “That was kind of a bummer, but it was fun. I loved seeing the koalas and the joeys (baby kangaroos). They were awesome.”

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