One of our favorite trips in 2009 was to Panama, and more specifically to the Panama canal. It is impossible to describe just how fascinating it is to watch mammoth cargo and cruise ships go through the canal, especially when you consider the technology is essentially the same as when the canal was first opened in 1914. The canal operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can accommodate an average of 35 ships a day. A ship is charged based on it's passenger capacity or the number of cargo containers on board. A few weeks before our visit, the most expensive ship ever to use the canal paid over $400,000 in fees. Many of the vessels that pass through the canal are called Panamax (yes, it's a real word) ships, meaning they are the maximum size (965 feet long by 106 feet wide) the canal can manage. Plans are underway to expand the canal for even larger ("New Panamax") ships. Caleb and Isaac loved watching the boats pass through so we visited the canal twice in 3 days.