Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 4 - Driving home

We were sad to leave Bubbe, but we still had a couple more days of driving before we got home. On Monday morning, we got up with Bubbe, had some good, long hugs, and waved goodbye.

Our first stop on our drive was the Birmingham Children's Museum. Our Aunt Susan (Bubbe's sister and Hallie's grandmother) met us at the museum to show us around. There was a lot of cool things to see at the museum. Since we were there so early, we got a lot of individualized attention from the staff, including some neat magic tricks. Mom even took a video of Dad levitating.

My favorite part of the museum was (of course) the dinosaur exhibit. Mom and Hazel loved going down the big slide, and Hazel found an animation section where she could draw. Turner was still pretty tired, so he wasn't his normal cheery self.

After the museum, we drove all the way through Mississippi to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Our hotel had a pool and we all really wanted to go swimming. Dad asked the woman at the front desk if the pool was indoors - it wasn't. He asked if it was heated - it wasn't. He asked if it was too cold to swim in. The woman replied "Sir, you are in southern Louisiana. That water will not be cold" Sure enough, it was unbelievably warm and nice. We all went night swimming before having a healthy dinner and drifting off to sleep dreaming on being home the next day.

The next morning Mom and Dad had planned to go on a swamp tour near our hotel. However, the weather was looking threatening, and the tour was later in the day than they wanted so we decided to just drive home. When we got to the Texas state line (hooray Texas!), we stopped at the Texas welcome center.

That turned out to be what Mom called "the best welcome center ever". In the back, it had a huge bridge that went way out into a swamp. We saw turtles, a Great Egret, and even an alligator! Mom was so happy to see an alligator after all. I was happy to get a Texas map.

Our next stop was a few hours later in Brenham, Texas at the Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Ice Cream for everyone!

We finally arrived home at around 4pm in the afternoon, happy to be home. The adventures aren't over yet though - the next day was my birthday!

You can see all of the pictures from our road trip here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 3 - Atlanta

The Discover Space Shuttle!
We had fantastic time in Pennsylvania, but eventually we had to continue on to the next part of our roadtrip. Our next stay was with some cousins in North Carolina. On the way, we stopped just outside Washington DC at the Air and Space Museum.

The Air and Space Museum had all kinds of neat airplanes for us to look at, and it was a great stop for us to run around and stretch our legs. Our favorite part of the museum was definitely the space shuttle. It was gigantic.

When we got to North Carolina, I was excited to meet my cousins Randy, Michelle, Matthew, Staci, Darryl, and Hallie. Randy, Michelle, and Matthew were nice to let us stay with them, and they even gave us some fun bubble toys to play with when we got there. The next day we went swimming with them, had a quick nap, and then headed over to the Marbles Kids Museum.

Future Hockey Player
This children's museum had a lot of neat things, including a hockey court, which Hazel loved. She has a mean slap-stick. They also had a gym, an electric grid, a playscape, and other fun areas. We were happy to wear ourselves out there before meeting Staci, Daryll, and Hallie for dinner.

The next morning we said goodbye to our North Carolina cousins and drove straight to Atlanta. Like on our trip to Pennsylvania, we surprised Mom and Dad by electing to skip children's museums along the way to get to Bubbe's house in time for dinner.

We did a lot of fun things while we were in Atlanta. On Thursday, our first day, we went to see Bubbe at work at her dental office and get our teeth cleaned. All three of us did well. I was a little shy around the X-ray machine, so Bubbe had her teeth X-ray'd first to show me it was okay. I agreed to do the X-ray the next time we're in Atlanta. That night we went to a big outside party with Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jonathan. It was great to see them again. All of kids impressed Bubbe with our potty-training, and our ability to pee outside when necessary.

On Friday, Dad, Mom, Aunt Laurie, and Uncle Jonathan took me, Hazel and Turner to the Fernbank Museum of Natural Science. They had an awesome exhibit on dinosaurs there. I've been reading a lot about dinosaurs on our trip and immediately identified the giant dinosaur fossil in the main room as an Argentinosaurus. Bubbe and Aunt Laurie were impressed. Dad's favorite part of the museum was a section on wales and evolution. Hazel and I used the computer to make all kinds of fat dolphins, which we thought was hilarious.

Friday night we had planned to go swimming and show Bubbe how great our swimming skills were, but it starting storming. So instead we stayed in and watched Frozen on Bubbe's TV. It was really fun.

On Saturday we got up early and went to the Atlanta Aquarium. Our favorite part was the dolphin show. I especially liked it when the dolphins swam backwards standing up. I told Mom those dolphins were crazy. After the show, I went up to one of the dolphin trainers and asked him how deep the water was (30 feet) and how many gallons of water it held. He asked me to guess and I guessed 24,000 gallons. He said good guess, but it was actually 2 million gallons! That's a lot of water! Another highlight from the aquarium was the penguin exhibit. Like last year, I managed to attract a lot of penguin friends.

We came home for a nap on Saturday and then Saturday night we went to Stone Mountain for the laser show. Bubbe was impressed with how well we all did staying up late. All of us really liked the laser show and fireworks, and Turner especially liked the Frozen tribute. Dad liked the Devil Went Down to Georgia tribute.

After such a busy week, we took it a bit easier on Sunday and stayed at Bubbe's house. The weather was nice, so we played outside with her hose, sprinkler and pools. It was a great way to spend the day.

Saturday evening, we had a small birthday celebration for Mitch with cookie cake, ice cream, and homemade snow-cones. Then we said a sad goodbye to Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jonathan, and packed up, ready to begin our drive home the next morning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 2 - Pennsylvania

When we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Pennsylvania, we were very glad we skipped the museum and got there in time for dinner. Grandma welcomed us with pizza and subs from one of Mom’s favorite restaurants,Rocco’s, and several kid pools full of water to play in. We had a really relaxing dinner outside. Mom and Dad were happy to catch up with everybody and not get in super late too. The weather was perfect, the birds were chirping - it was a great way to kick off our visit.

The first morning we were there, we all went to the farmers’ market in York with Aunt Lauren and Mianna. It was great to see them again.

While we were in PA, we took a couple of big side trips. We went to the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, with Grandma, Aunt Lauren and Mianna. It was so fun! We got to do all kinds of drawing, coloring and painting. We got to mold melted crayons into fun shapes and make designs on a plate with spinning melted crayons. We made puzzles out of pictures we drew, designed our own custom magic markers and crayons, and did all kinds of other fun things. Our favorite thing was probably Art Alive, where we got to draw pictures on computers and then see them projected on giant wall, moving, spinning, and bouncing around. We liked running up to the wall and touching the things that we drew.

We finished up that awesome day with a stop for dinner at the Tropical Treat on the way back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Hazel was in Heaven at the Crayola Experience
On the Fourth of July, we went to New Freedom, Pennsylvania, to Steam into History. We rode a steam train and learned about Civil War history with Grandma and Grandpa. Mom and Dad liked the history and the relaxing ride. Hazel, Turner and I were super excited to be on a train! Turner fell asleep on Grandpa on the train. Still it definitely made an impression on him - when he got back to the house, he made a train out of chairs and his stuffed animals.

We finished the holiday watching fireworks in York with Aunt Lauren, Uncle Ryan, Grandma, Uncle Daniel and Uncle Ryan’s dad, Jim. It was a blast! (Did you get the joke there?)

All Aboard!!!
Dad and Mom each got to enjoy some grownup time while we were in Pennsylvania. Mom was happy to spend lots of time with Aunt Lauren, with and without us kids around. One afternoon, Mom got to run errands with Aunt Lauren by herself. Even though they just ran errands, Mom was happy to have time just with Aunt Lauren. One evening, Dad went to watch the World Cup with Uncle Ryan and some of his friends. He had fun having a boys’ night.

We also had the chance to spend some time with Mom Mom and Pop, my great-grandparents, while we were there. We had lunch with them at Cross Keys Diner one day before we went to see Grandpa at his office. Another day, had lunch with them at the Famous Hot Weiner, one of our favorites. It was really good to see them. Hopefully next time we can visit their ghost JJ too!

We went to Gigi’s house one day while we were there. We had a nice time swimming, and while it was sad for Mom, being there brought a lot of memories back for Mom, who was thinking about all the fun she had there when she was a kid.
Kayaking with Grandpa in Maryland

The most fun we had at Grandma and Grandpa’s was just hanging out and seeing everyone. We were super happy to see Mianna, and spent a ton of time outside laughing with Uncle Daniel and Bruiser. It was nice being able to have lots of picnics without being super hot or being attacked by millions of bugs, like at home. Grandpa and Grandma read to and snuggled us, and we spent the last day of our visit swimming with them at their boat, where I had the chance to kayak with Grandpa! At the end of the day we went back to the house to watch the movie Aristocats, which really made us laugh!

It was great visiting and sad to leave our Pennsylvania family. But we knew we had more adventure in store on the rest of our trip.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 Road Trip Part 1 - Kentucky

For the past month or so, I've secretly been helping Dad plan a summer road-trip. Mom and Dad got me a road atlas and I've been using it to look at different routes we could take to visit Grandma, Grandpa, Bubbe, and the rest of our family in PA and Atlanta.

Finally, a few weeks ago, it was time to leave. We got up super early in the morning - it was still dark outside - and all climbed in the car. Hazel, Turner, and I were all still in our jammies.

Dinner on Route 66
Our first stop was Dallas, where we went to the new Dallas Children's Museum. Outside there were giant frogs for us to climb on and a little stream for us to splash around in. Inside, there was standard children's museum fare - a small grocery store, a sandbox, and a climbing area. After we played for a while, we went back outside and had lunch by the frogs and stream. It was a great way to break up the drive.

After Dallas, we drove up to Oklahoma. This was exciting because none of us had ever been to Oklahoma before. We drove on old route 66 (which reminded us of a great kids poem we know, "Highwire 66," which is about some people in a circus) and stopped at a fun place for dinner. We finally arrived at our hotel for the night. The hotel was a bit disappointing (the pool was too cold to swim in, the breakfast food had ants all over it), but fortunately, we were only there a short time before moving on.

Lunch under the Gateway Arch
The next morning we got up super early again and headed east to Missouri. We had a picnic lunch underneath the Gateway Arch in St Louis, which was pretty neat. After quick drives through Illinois and Indiana, we finally arrived in Louisville, Kentucky to visit our friend Bowman and his parents Mike and Tabby (and their dogs Zoey and Oscar).

We spent a few days in Kentucky. After catching up on some sleep, we grabbed a delicious breakfast at a restaurant where we could sit outside and drove to Lexington, Kentucky. Our first stop was the Kentucky Horse Park where we took pony rides. We all really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it started to rain before we could do anything else at the horse park, and it rained too hard for us to do a campus tour of University of Kentucky. So, we headed back to Louisville for the night. We all agreed that we were ready for a day of no driving.

The next day we spent the entire day in Louisville. We went to a really fun splash pad right on the Ohio river. After that, we decided to walk across the Ohio River into Indiana on a giant bridge. Dad and Mike rented a fun bike and we rode and walked up the bridge ramp. By the time we got to the top, Dad and Mike were pooped, so Mom and I drove the bike on the flat part of the bridge. We went all the way across and all the way back. By the time we were done, it was time to head back for naps and dinner.

A really fun thing we did at Bowman's house was catching fireflies. There were lots of them around, and Hazel was really good at catching them. Mike even gave her a jar for her to put them in.

During our time at the house, we all had a blast playing with Bowman. He is almost 2 years old, and it was like having a new little brother. He was really good at sharing toys with us.

One other neat thing that happened just before our trip was that Turner finally potty-trained. He was so excited to start wearing underwear. For night-time and the long car-rides, he still wears pull-ups just in case, but when we stopped, he got out and went potty along with the rest of us. We are all very proud of Turner.

After a couple of days in Kentucky, it was finally time to continue our road-trip. We left super early in the morning again and headed up through Ohio, West Virginia, and on to Pennsylvania. We made good time and stopped for lunch in Pennsylvania. Dad gave us a choice of going to a children's museum in Pittsburgh or driving for another 4 hours to get to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner. We surprised him and Mom by choosing to keep driving!

So we headed down the Pennsylvania Turnpike (much to my delight) and got to Grandma and Grandpa's in time for dinner!