Friday, August 28, 2009

RV Trip - Part 5

Sunday, August 2nd

Me and the kids slept in while Kelly got up early and hiked to the top of Sharp Top. It was raining by the time he returned so we decided to continue driving south on the parkway. I was a bit bummed out by the rain, it being our last day and all. So I focused myself on taking pretty pictures from the passenger seat. There is just something about country roads that I think are beautiful. Here is a sample:

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We stopped at Mabry Mill and had a late lunch. By the time we were finished eating the rain stopped and the sun came out. This brightened my spirits a bit as well and we walked around to enjoy all the interpretive displays. The also had a folk music band playing and little makeshift stage for the locals to dance a jig. It was a really beautiful place as you can see from the pictures.

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We left there made a concerted effort to get home, which only took a couple hours not including the dinner stop. Once we got back though, we had to unload the RV and get it ready for drop off the next morning. Just writing all the activity in the trip down from beginning to end makes me tired. We had a good time but didn't get much rest. Our next vacation will consist of going to one place and staying for a few days. We'll wait until both kids can really enjoy it before doing the RV thing again.

We took several hundred pictures on this trip so if you think you can stand more here's the slideshow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

RV Trip - Part 4

Friday, July 31st

We left pretty early deciding to just snack for breakfast and continued our way down the Skyline Drive. We wanted to finish the whole road. We ended up stopping at a mexican place in Waynesboro for lunch. After that, we headed toward Douthat State Park. The GPS said it was an hour and half away. It took us two and half with the dogs and kids and such. It was during this stretch of driving that we were on the interstate and all the sudden I get a visual in my mind that if Elisabeth has a diaper blow out she will probably start eating it (she had been having some diarrhea the past couple of days.) Well, lo and behold, I turn around and see her doing in the flesh what I had just imagined in my mind. I tell Kelly we need to pull over, but he doesn't want to just pull over on the shoulder, and, of course, the next exit ended up being 6 miles down the road. In the meantime, I'm grabbing wipes and cleaning up what I can without getting Elisabeth out of the carseat, all the while trying keep my balance in the moving RV. We finally get stopped, and I get her cleaned up while Kelly cleans up her carseat. Then we get her strapped in and continue our drive to Douthat. We got there around 4:30 and were disheartened to find the campground was completely booked. After checking our maps and information, I called another Virginia state park to confirm if they had space available. So we ended up driving another 1.5 hours or so back across the Blue Ridge Parkway to Smith Mountain Lake State Park. While it wasn't the ideal situation, I really loved the area we drove through getting to the park. The campground wasn't our favorite - it was very functional but not very picturesque - designed more for the boaters and fisherman who come for use of the lake more than for family vacationers. Here's a picture of the view on the drive and another at our campsite.

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Saturday, August 1st

We got free passes to the swim area with our campsite fee, so we decided to go swimming and then move on to "greener pastures." They had an immaculate swim area, and the water was cool and refreshing. Afterwards, we retraced our route from the day before to get back to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We took a meandering route and went back through Bedford. It was a very quaint little town. Of all the places I've been in Virginia I thought I would possibly like to live there. Here's a couple of quick pictures taken as we were driving through town.

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We drove through another interesting town called Buena Vista before getting back on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Once on the parkway, we stopped at a couple of overlooks. On the last stop, we decided to hike a short distance to a waterfall. It turned out to be a bit longer than we expected and the view of the falls wasn't very good. On top of that, I realized on the way back that we walked through several patches of poison ivy. Here is a picture of Kelly doing his SuperDad thing - carrying both his kids - approx. 55 lbs of extra weight up the trail.

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After wiping down our legs and shoes and socks for fear of poison ivy, we piled in the RV and went up the road a little ways and set up camp at the Peaks of Otter. Elisabeth ended up going to bed early for once, and Jonah watched a movie in the RV after dinner. So Kelly got to build a big huge bonfire, and I got to chill out for few minutes and do nothing. We enjoyed some s'mores and jiffypop popcorn by the fireside.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Strolling Along

Elisabeth is now getting up on all fours and maneuvering to a standing position all on her own now. We have been encouraging her to use the walker for the last couple of days and here she is showing off:
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I got this stroller the other day for Jonah so he can push a baby doll around as wildly as he wants instead of his sister's stroller with her in it (paid $1.50 at a consignment sale in case your wondering). Well, I guess that got old, so he turned into one of his "projects." He loves to collect little objects and bind them together in someway and then fly or in this case stroll it around the house. So here is a picture of him and his creation. Just for fun see how many items you can identify that makeup his creation and post it in the comments. Whoever guesses the most items will win a prize. (Not sure what it will be yet; just came up with this idea.) All comments received before the end of the month count. As Jonah is fond of saying, "Come on; it'll be fun."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Surprise!

Okay, breaking news here.... Just got back from the grocery store. It was almost uneventful. (Sometimes I think this stuff only happens to me - but good fodder for the blog)

So I'm almost done with the grocery shopping. Grabbing one more thing off the shelf - my mommy instincts are saying "Time to go." Jonah was starting to show me everything that had any interest to him and I could smell that someone had a turd. So definitely time to get out of the store.

 I went to the checkout lane and there was a lady in front of me with a basket full of stuff. I started unloading my groceries and trying to suggest to Jonah to help - just to give him something to do. I ask Jonah if he has a poopy and he says, "no, baby sister." I think, "yeah it probably is her." I go around to the back of the cart where she is sitting to get the sodas from under the cart, and what do I see?  A big glop of poop hanging out of her diaper!

I put the soda's on the conveyor belt and grab the wipes out of my bag and move back around to where she is to grab the glop, but too late - it's gone. I look down - FOUND IT - on the floor. I wiped up the floor and went to grap a plastic bag to put the dirty wipes in while Jonah obediently puts things on the conveyor belt. Just when I think, I've accomplished damage control, I hear him say, "Mommy, there's poopy on it." Now what? To my dismay, I look up and see a glop of poop on the 2 liter of soda I just put up on the counter! So, I calmly take another wipe and go clean off the bottle and then come back to Elisabeth to wipe up the remnants around her leg and on the cart.

By this time the lady in front of me is just now paying. (I was never so thankful for a person to be in front of me at the check out line.) It didn't appear that anyone else even noticed what was going on and I tried not to draw attention to the whole thing. The cashier rang us up and I was unruffled enough to load my own cart AND hand over my grocery store card and coupons. I then wheeled my own cart out and changed Elisabeth's diaper in the car.

As I was putting Elisabeth down for nap a few minutes ago I was thinking about the whole thing and started chuckling to the point I was afraid I was going to wake her up. I'm glad some intense moments turn into funny memories.

11th Anniversary

Saturday was our 11th wedding anniversary. My mom's 1st cousin Patty (I think that makes her my second cousin once removed?) and her husband Tim live nearby and graciously agreed to watch the kids for us Friday evening so we could go out. We went to dinner and to a play at the Raleigh Little Theatre. We thoroughly enjoyed "Lost in Yonkers" - a dramatic, comedy set in 1942 Yonkers, NY about a dysfunctional family whose matriarch is a german immigrant who shut herself off emotionally from her children when they were young. It had a couple of intense moments but had lots of comic relief to soften the intensity. I highly recommend it. It makes me want to go to more theatrical performances. The number of times I have been to the theater could easily be counted on one hand - you would think I didn't enjoy it; I guess movie going is just easier somehow and slightly cheeper.
When we arrived home, the house was quiet and the kids were a sleep - it was nearly 11 pm. Patty and Tim related how Tim and Jonah played hide and seek, but Jonah didn't get the concept of keeping his eyes closed for 10 seconds. When he finally did, Tim hid behind the chair in the corner of the room. When Jonah was about to find him (with Patty's help) Tim jumped out and scared Elisabeth to tears. She is pretty sensitive that way though. I guess Jonah went to bed pretty easily, but Elisabeth gave a fuss on the first attempt but went down easily on attempt 2. I have to say this was one of my more relaxed evenings away from the kids. Elisabeth being older and less reliant on mom certainly helps.
The next morning Jonah comes running out of his room asking, "Where's Patty and Tim?" After saying this he looks over at the big chair in the corner as if he's half suspecting Tim to jump out from his hiding place. Thanks to Patty and Tim for watching the kiddos and to Gina for watching them earlier in the day so mom could get some pre-event pampering. Thank God for good friends and family!

Monday, August 17, 2009

RV Trip - Part 3

Sorry for the long hiatus - computer issues are now resolved....

Thursday, July 30th

This was my best day on the trip. It was perfect. Instead of jumping right into worrying about breakfast and all that, I decided that I needed to "stop and smell the roses." So I put Elisabeth in the stroller, grabbed the camera, sippy cups and a couple of snacks and took the kids on a relaxing stroll around the campground. This was the walk I referred to in my post, "Defining an Adventure." The morning was beautiful - it was cool and bright and didn't look like it was going to rain - hallelujah! I enjoyed taking pictures of a deer and some butterflies and just enjoyed the scenery and the kids. It was a lovely way to spend a morning.

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Afterwards, we had a nice breakfast and then drove to a nearby trailhead for a hike down to Dark Hollow Falls. We strapped Elisabeth to my back, but Jonah had to hoof it down on his own two feet. The sign at the trailhead said 2.1 miles round trip.

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The water at the falls was icy cold but refreshing after the hike down. After some time down at the falls we started back up somewhat dreading the climb. We assumed Jonah would have to be carried at some point. I took the keys to the RV and went ahead. Elisabeth and I made it back to the RV in good time and I started to put sandwiches together expecting Kelly and Jonah to show up a bit later. To my surprise they were only 7 minutes behind us and Kelly reported that Jonah had walked the whole way back. Woohoo! Mom and Dad were very impressed as were others on the trail who commented on his endurance as they passed. We were all ready for a break and some food as it was 1 or 1:30 by this time. This was one of the times I really appreciated having the RV with a refrigerator and a place to comfortably eat some lunch. This was also when we took my favorite picture of the kids while on the trip - they look like they are having a great time.

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After lunch, we drove a short distance back to a spot across from the Big Meadows Visitor Center. It was such a picturesque area. We just walked along a dirt road that ran along one side of the meadow. We walked probably a good mile and half going through meadow and forest areas before turning around. It was a lovely walk with some great scenery. Again, Jonah walked almost the whole way. He rode on Dad's shoulders a bit toward the very end.

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Here you can see the visitor center in the background. The Skyline Drive skirts the meadow and passes just in front of the visitor center.

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My feet were aching by this time. So we drove down the road a bit hoping the kids would go to sleep so we could shower and chill out before dinner. They did, but on arriving back at our campsite Elisabeth woke up pretty quickly. Jonah slept on though, but then he did walk about 4 miles that day! So mom and dad got showers and had a little down time with only one kid awake. I gave Elisabeth a bird bath and got the kids in some clean clothes and we walked to the lodge for dinner. Here is a a picture of Elisabeth during a game of peekaboo with the napkin.

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We ended the evening with a little stargazing and actually saw a couple of shooting stars. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

RV Trip - Part 2

Wednesday, July 29th

By this time I had figured out that camping with Elisabeth now versus 1 month ago was a bit harder. She is much more mobile now which made it difficult to keep her happy. We would have to block the steps in the RV so she didn't fall down them (Jonah even stumbled out the door on one occasion.) And if you put her outside on a blanket she would be in the firepit eating charcoal before you knew it. So she pretty much had to be in the packnplay or in the stroller for much of the trip. And like any human being, she didn't really like having her freedom taken away.



The weather was rainy so we packed up pretty quickly and left the Mathews Arm campground to continue our drive on down the Skyline Drive. At one point, a huge owl swooped down in front of us and soon thereafter, we spotted our third and final bear of the trip.



Since the weather was still wet, we just enjoyed the drive and didn't make any stops on our way to the next campground. Big Meadows was great - except for the fact that you have to pay for the showers ($1 for 5 minutes).

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The campsites are all flat and grassy and there are deer everywhere. Walking to the showers, I came within 5 ft of one deer and it just looked at me and then continued grazing.

Deer along the drive:
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A doe with triplets grazing in the campground:
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A buck grazing near our campsite:
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Our setup at Big Meadows:
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After getting our campsite set up and having some lunch, we drove back down the road to an overlook where there was a short little spur trail.

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It was trying to rain again so we went back to camp and just hung out a bit, made some dinner, and then went for a walk around the campground. It tried to rain on us again but we were rewarded with a rainbow.

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We checked out the lodge and found a short little trail to a vista point and enjoyed watching the sunset. Kelly took some really amazing photos of that. You'll have to check our our flickr page to see all of them.

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So, yes it was quite a day. More to come......

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

RV Trip - Part 1

Monday, July 27th

We began our journey when we picked up the RV rental in Durham and brought it home to load all of our gear (i.e. sheets, towels, food, clothes, dogs etc.) We were bummed that we couldn't pick up the RV before twelve noon that day. By the time we got it home and loaded, installed the carseats (had some issues there) and made sure everything was working it was 4:30 p.m. before we got going. Leaving as late as we did, we had to alter our original plan and decided to stay near Richmond, VA at Pocahontas State Park. It was dark when we arrived, so we hooked up the RV to the water and electric and started getting ready for bed. We used the showers at the campground, deciding to keep the RV option as a last resort.

Tuesday, July 28th

The next morning, we had a nice breakfast after which Kelly and Jonah took a bike ride. We then decided to head out wanting to get to higher ground for the more pleasant climate. However, this state park had an Aquatic Center. Having worked in parks and recreation this was a major paradigm shift for me. In my experience, swimming pools and aquatic centers are typically the purview of municipal park systems. To see one in a state park was bizarre. We decided to check it out and it was a definite hit with Jonah. It was like a playground in a shallow pool with water shooting out everywhere. It was very refreshing for all of us and even Elisabeth seemed to enjoy it. Here is a picture of her afterwards, asleep in my arms.



We left there around noon and went to a Chick-fil-a for lunch. We then headed north to Front Royal the northernmost entrance to the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Once on the Skyline Drive we were quickly rewarded when we saw a Mama Bear and her cub. I have seen black bears before but don't recall ever seeing a mom and cub before. (The pictures are a tad blurry because the RV was still moving. Kelly couldn't stop because Toby was barking and acting like he was going to jump out the window.)




We drove on down the road and stopped at Mathews Arm Campground for the night where we had some typical camping fare - hotdogs. We had to pack most things away before bed as rainy weather was eminent. Here's a couple of pictures of the campground and our setup.




Stay tuned....

Monday, August 03, 2009

Defining an Adventure

We just returned from vacation yesterday evening. One morning while away, I took the kids on a walk around our campground. As we set off and got further from our campsite, Jonah asked, "Where are we going mommy?" I told him that we were going on an adventure. "Oh, okay," was his response. Too keep him engaged, I rather absentmindedly asked him if he knew what an adventure was and he said, "no." And then I began to define what I thought an adventure was which made me have to think about it more deeply than I originally intended. I told him, "An adventure is when you go some place new and don't really know what is on the road ahead." I would add that any adventure has a mix of excitement, fun and challenges to overcome. Adventure gives us depth of character and hope for tomorrow. There are many adventures in life and life in itself is an adventure. Some seek out adventure, other's run from it, or like me desire adventure but with certain caveats. Over the next few days I hope to share from our most recent adventure that involved taking two small children on a week long trip in an RV (yet another Adventure in Motherhood.) Now if I can just find the time to get the pictures downloaded in the midst of all this laundry and unpacking. (smile)