Monday, July 30, 2018

Roanoke Gargoyles

When visiting other cities, I always like to track down gargoyles on older buildings.  But Roanoke has a couple of gargoyles, too, standing on either side of the street.  Some people would call these grotesques, because they aren't on a building a do not have spouts.  But most of the folks around Roanoke speak of them as the gargoyles.
 They are kind of off the beaten track.  You really have to want to see these gargoyles to find them. 
I suppose they were meant to keep evil out of the neighborhoods.  A lady that lives nearby tends to them if they get any damage.  I'm glad they are still standing - they have so much character. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Udvar Hazy National Air and Space Museum

Reid in Pierce are smitten by all things aviation, so we took them to a branch of the National Air and Space museum that is located outside DC, near the Dulles airport.  It has a huge observation tower to watch planes taking off and landing.  The boys were going crazy running back and forth from side to side, trying to see every plane.

They did a number of flight simulators.  There were several different types to choose from.

Of course, one of the highlights was the Discovery space shuttle.  We enjoyed watching a video of its last flight.

With two hangers and the tower, this is a huge museum.  We spent about 4 1/2 hours going through it. 
It was much less crowded than the Air and Space museum in DC, which was also nice (plus, the boys had been to the one in DC before).  Being Smithsonian, admission is free. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Day in Baltimore, Part 2

You may remember a couple of summers ago I took the boys to the Edgar Allan Poe house in Richmond.  There is also a Poe house in Baltimore.  It's located in a seriously scary neighborhood (like so bad I didn't want to stand outside to take a picture), but we decided to brave it briefly.  This is the attic bedroom of the tiny old house.

After we headed back towards downtown so that we could visit the Poe graves (there are two markers).  This was the boys' favorite part of the day.  The cemetery is mostly 18th century and is so interesting.

There are graves and catacombs all throughout the churchyard.  It was fun exploring.

Here is the newer Edgar Allan Poe marker.  It's on the corner by the street and has easier access for visitors.

Isn't it an unusual cemetery?  And the graves were willy nilly all over the place. 

Here's the original burial place for Poe.  You can see that visitors have left tokens at the stone recently. 

There are a number of prominent people who were buried in the cemetery.  Historical markers are dotted throughout.

And then look at this section - it actually tunnels under the church.  There are even graves located beneath in the crawlspace. 
It was a memorable ending to a full day.  And all three of the boys loved this cemetery the most. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Day in Baltimore

We headed north for a couple of days last week.  We spent a day in Baltimore.  I wanted to take the boys to the National Aquarium.  Here they are petting horse shoe crabs and stingray.

There was also a tank full of jellyfish to pet.  Even though we got there right when they opened at 9 am, it was still busy.

I've always like these fish.  They seem friendly and kind of have a smiley look to them.

In the Amazon section.  This aquarium is huge and wraps around and around.  There is so much to see.

Maryland is well known for its crab cakes, so we had to take a break from the aquarium for lunch at Phillips.

Only Reid will eat crab cakes (despite Cort's drawing).  But he was suitably impressed.

After finishing up the aquarium, we found a fun playground.  Tunnels and merry go rounds.

And stretches of music making instruments.  We spent some time hanging out here. 
 
 
As fun as it was, none of this was the boys' favorite thing we did in Baltimore.  Any guesses as to what was?  It'll surprise you.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beating the Heat with a Waterfall and a Mine

I've blogged about hiking to the Cascades before, but it was about 7 years ago.  We were overdue for a visit.  It's always much cooler there.  We left at around 6:30 in the morning to get an early start. 
 It can get crowded at the Cascades, but we timed it right and there weren't many people around.  It's a two mile hike to get to the falls.

 I have never been there when the water was warm.  Even though temps all week had been in the mid 90s, you can see from Cort's face that the water was shockingly cold.

 The falls are higher than they look in the pictures.  This one of Cort at the base gives you a better idea of their height. 

I fell on some wet rock steps on the hike back and busted my elbow.  While I tried to clean it up with a first aid kit, the boys discovered butterflies all over.  Here, Reid had two that landed on his hands. 

Aside from the crash down the steps, it was a fun hike.  Afterwards, we took a massive detour to go to the Beckley Coal Mine Expedition.  I had fond memories of a visit there with my cousins when I was a kid.  Here are the boys getting ready to ride down into the mine.
I think the boys were impressed by the history on our tour.  They asked a lot of questions.  It was a full day, but one we all enjoyed. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

My Kids Didn't Know About Tubing

We decided to take the boys tubing for father's day.  Paul and I hadn't been since the mid 90s, so we were pretty excited for a relaxing day on the Pigg River.  We were alarmed to discover that morning that our kids didn't even know what tubing was!  We had to explain to them about the intertubes they would float on and the river.


The water was a little chilly initially, but it was a warm day so it felt refreshing.  We had a short hike to the spot where we put in.

All smiles and ready to go!  The water was flowing gently.  There were one or two spots you had to walk a few steps, but overall it was perfect.  We saw frogs, a turtle, and three snakes.

It took about 90 minutes total to float the whole stretch.  Here we are at the end. 
It was a really fun experience, and the boys are all begging to return.  Turns out they are big fans of tubing!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Rising 6th Grader

Yesterday was Pierce's 5th grade graduation.  It's hard to believe we have a middle schooler now.

For Pierce, the highlight of the day was getting to go up in the ceiling crawl space of the school.  He's been asking the P.E. teacher, Mr. Banks, to go up there since he was in Pre-K.  Mr. Banks always told him he would show him what was up there on the last day of 5th grade.

Pierce got to take a few of his friends up the ladder to walk to cat walk.  It sounded like a herd of elephants in the ceiling.  He was so thrilled to get up there.

We are excited to see what adventures middle school holds next year.  Most people don't seem to have the best memories of the awkward middle school years.  But Pierce has always been such a happy, curious kid, who adores learning and school, so we are hoping he will thrive there.