Thursday, July 28, 2016

2016 Summer Road Trip - Pennsylvania

Our next stop was a week in Pennsylvania with Grandma and Grandpa. We left Kentucky very early, and despite a long stop to get Mom's sore throat checked out, we made great time. We even got to Grandma and Grandpa's in time to have dinner with them! We ate outside, where it was nice and cool, and Aunt Lauren, Sadie and Uncle Daniel joined us for some great Rocco's food. After that we even had time to jump in a wading pool with Bruiser and then catch some fireflies.

The next day, we met up with our great-grandparents, Mom Mom and Pop at the Famous Hot Wiener. It was really nice seeing them for a nice lunch.

Our next big thing was Saturday, when we went to Pinchot Park and camped on Grandma and Grandpa's RV. It was a really great time. We hiked around, launched jump rockets in a nearby field, caught more fireflies, kayaked, played lots of cards, and played with our new friend Lana and Sadie. We also had the chance to go swimming on a lake beach and make banana boats and s'mores over a campfire. I had a big moment when I enthusiastically washed everyone's dishes one night.

On Sunday, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's to do laundry and meet up with Mom Mom and Pop and Uncle Ryan's dad for chicken and waffles at a really nice restaurant, the Altland House. Mom was excited to eat one of her old favorites, and to see Pop and Mom Mom again.

For Fourth of July, we went to a party at Aunt Lauren and Uncle Ryan's. We went to Uncle Ryan's cool media room and watched the entire Harry Potter movie. After listening to the story in the car, it was fun to see how they portrayed the characters and compare the differences between the book and the movie.

For dinner, Uncle Ryan made burgers, Aunt Lauren cooked corn on the cob, and Grandma brought watermelon and other yummy side dishes. After dinner, they had a birthday party for me and Sadie with cake, pie and presents! I got a metal detector which was super fun at our beach stop later in our trip. I also got some great books, games and a sling shot. Since it was raining we didn't watch any fireworks, but we did play with sparklers. Uncle Daniel lit a whole pack of sparklers at once, which was very cool and scary at the same time.

Tuesday, we had a fun breakfast with Aunt Lauren, Sadie and Mianna at the York Market. After breakfast and shopping, Mom and Hazel headed to see Aunt Chris and Uncle Larry. They had a nice visit; Mom was very glad to spend some time with them. That evening we went to Tropical Treat with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lauren, Uncle Ryan, Sadie, Amy and Mianna, and Uncle Daniel. We ate tons of yummy food and ice cream and Turner got to feed a goat.

Our last day in Pennsylvania we visited Gettysburg. It was a blast. When we first arrived, a Park Ranger asked if we wanted to join the kids' army. We signed up and were told to meet outside at 11 a.m. That gave us enough time to go watch the movie and see the cyclorama. Both told the story of the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. We all asked a lot of very good questions about why they were fighting, and tried to understand why people would fight wars. After the movies were over, we went outside to join the Army. Mom and Dad had to assure us that we wouldn't really be fighting in a real war.

There was an excellent park ranger who brought all of the kids up front, gave us a quick physical and inducted us into the army. He then explained what it would be like to be in the Army during the Civil War. He showed us the uniforms, the food and how to load a rifle. Then we put on our foraging hats, grabbed our rifles and started training. We practiced marching, learning how to turn, about face, and march in line. We practiced loading our rifles and firing, which took nine steps. Finally, we were ready to go to battle. We marched into position and the park ranger asked me to be the lookout scout. I went ahead of the group and called back that the enemy troops were approaching. After that we marched into position behind fence, and used our rifles the way that we had trained. We won the battle and came back to cheers from our adoring families. Finally, the park ranger called up each of us one by one to congratulate us and give us our discharge papers. It was loads of fun.

Turner and Hazel were pretty tired after all of that, so they headed back to the car. Dad and I did a quick run through the museum; I wish we could've spent more time in there - maybe next time. We also never made it to the actual battle field, so that will give us something else to do next time we visit.

That afternoon, we went swimming at Gigi and Uncle Darrell's pool. Aunt Lauren, Sadie and Grandma joined us, and it was a lot of fun. Hazel went down the slide about a million times, and eventually talked Turner into doing it a few times too. It was a blast!

We were sad to leave Pennsylvania, but we left very early the next morning for the very long drive to Atlanta. Listening to the second Harry Potter audiobook, we made very good time. We even had time to drive a bit along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We saw some beautiful scenery, stopped at an Alpaca farm, and had lunch at a Blue Ridge Music Center. We managed to get in to Atlanta in time to have dinner with Bubbe.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016 Summer Road Trip - Kentucky

We had a great couple of days in Kentucky. We were all careful to wear blue (and especially not red) while were there.

The best part of the trip was Whispering Woods Riding Stable, where we all went horse back riding.  Turner and Hazel hopped on Huckleberry and King and were led by the awesome stable hands. Mom and Dad were surprised when they put me on Apache, showed me how to control the horse using the reins, and just let me go with no one holding the horse. But I did really great, and really liked it. Dad's horse was Papi and was a pretty good horse. Mom got a rambunctious horse; Dad was surprised to find out it was Mom's first time riding a horse. Once all of us were on our horses, we rode them on a trail. It was really fun.

After the horseback ride, we played on a fun playscape they had there and went back to the house for lunch. Later that day, we went to the old James Pepper Distillery that Dad's friend is renovating. We got a tour of the building, which is still being finished out, and grabbed a flight of ice cream while we were there. Dad got a growler of sour brown ale to take with him too.

We started our second day in Kentucky at the Kentucky Arboretum where we walked along the really pretty flowers, trees, and vegetables. Everything smelled very pretty and we found lots of vegetable gardens and spices. There were also some really, really old tree trunks we could climb on. Dad and I counted the rings on one of them and it was over 100 years old!

After the arboretum, we went on a tour of the Old Kentucky Chocolates factory. It was neat seeing how they mixed the chocolate. Mom got especially nervous when Turner and I got really close to one delicious looking chocolate mixer. They were making all kinds of delicious treats like chocolate covered cherries, and chocolate shaped pictures. After the tour, we got to try samples of chocolate covered potato chips and pulled cream. Then we each got to pick out a treat from the store. Dad and I got chocolate covered bananas, while Mom picked out some chocolate pecans. Hazel got chocolate mints and Turner got chocolate candies. We saw an awesome chocolate tooth that we thought Bubbe would love, but didn't think we could get it to Atlanta without it melting.

After a fun two days, we left Kentucky and drove to Pennsylvania through West Virginia. We were all very impressed with how pretty West Virginia was; Dad even liked driving on the road there.  We stopped in Morgantown for lunch at the Core Arboretum, and got into Pennsylvania in time for dinner.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Summer Road Trip - On the Road

As much fun as we've been having this summer, it started to get pretty hot in Austin. So we decided to pack up the car and head out on a summer road trip.

Our first days' drive was through Dallas up to Arkansas. Mom and Dad had a special treat for the car - we listed to a Harry Potter audiobook. Dad was careful to stop after each chapter to ask us what happened and make sure we were able to follow it. Hazel was really into it right away. I took a while to warm up to it, but really started enjoying it in the later chapters. It was harder for Turner to follow the audiobooks, though he really likes the storylines.

Our first stop (except for fairly frequent bathroom breaks) was at Buc-ee's. Mom and Dad got some breakfast burritos while we picked out a few treats from the famous Wall of Candy. Turner and I each picked out chocolate covered pretzels while Hazel went with her old standby of saltwater taffy.

After another couple of hours, we stopped at the Perot Museum in Dallas for lunch and a quick run of the awesome science museum. My favorite part was racing a tyrannosaurus rex; the T-rex was on a screen next to a track and we raced to a finish line. The T-rex beat me every time.

After getting to run off some energy, we hopped back in the car and drove to Arkansas. The hotel we stayed at had an indoor pool, and mom brought pool toys for us to play with. We swam until we were all very tired, had a nice dinner, and went to bed excited about our next day.

We got up early the next morning and drove to Memphis. The Memphis JCC has an unbelievable outdoor water park that we got to swim in thanks to Mom's connections at the Austin JCC. Dad, Mom, and Hazel went down the giant water slide, and we all rode on the lazy river. Turner and I played on the various water playscapes. We had a nice lunch, showered and hit the road again.

Our next stop was dinner in Nashville at the intersection that has a White Castle and a Krystal. We picked up food from both and did a taste test of burgers, fries, and milk shakes. The decision was unanimous that Krystal is better, and Mom declared that we can skip this stop in the future and just go to a more convenient Krystal.

We arrived in Lexington Kentucky pretty late at night, staying in an absolutely wonderful apartment that Dad's friend owns. She was super nice to let us stay there. After unpacking the car, we took a well deserved nights' sleep.