Monday, July 29, 2013

Vacation Day 9

Sunday June 23, 2013

This morning we got up and into the city to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Both are free to see, but you have to get a ticket and appointed time at Independence Hall. We got our tickets and had some time before the tour, so we decided to see the Liberty Bell first.

The line was rather long, but moved quickly. The building it's housed in has a lot of other items and information about the Liberty Bell also.

By the time we were done there, it was time to walk over for our tour of Independence Hall.

The tour was informative, but, unfortunately, they don't let you see much of the building. Really, just two rooms downstairs. That was a little disappointing.

One thing we found ironic is that we were there to see the birthplace and symbol of American freedom, but you have to go through security (where they search your bags and everything) to get into both places.

By the time we were done there we were all hungry and decided that since we were in Philadelphia we should probably have a Philly Cheese Steak. So, we walked a few blocks and bought sandwiches. Let me tell you, they are very proud of these sandwiches in Philly. Four sandwiches, a couple of fries, and drinks. $51.00!!! Holy Cow! The sandwiches were good, but they weren't $51.00 good.

After the sandwiches, we stopped next door and got some frozen yogurt before walking back to the car and getting back on the road.

But, once we were on the road and ready to head out of town, we remembered the Philadelphia Art Museum. We didn't go inside, but we couldn't resist a chance to 'go all Rocky'.

Trust me, we're all so tired that there was no running up those steps.

After this, we did make our way back to the car and headed to Harrisburg where we're spending the night. It's good to just take it easy a little.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vacation Day 8

Saturday      June 22, 2013

Today we got up early, got the car loaded, and headed to Jamestown Settlement. I found Jamestown to be more interesting than Colonial Williamsburg. I guess it was really more of what I was expecting Colonial Williamsburg to be.

Anyway, in Jamestown Settlement it is set up with a port, and Indian village, and a fort where the settlers would live.

They have demonstrations of the cannons on the dock and it was almost time for the next one when we arrived so we headed to the ships first.

It's really amazing how small the ships actually are inside and how many people sailed on them each trip in order to come to this new world.

Once the demonstration was over, we made our way to the fort.

From the fort we headed into the Indian village. It's really amazing all of the stuff that was out and available for us to touch and look at. They had several of these skins hanging and tools beside them to try your hand at removing the hair. I guess they don't worry about people taking the tools because it's a deer hoof still attached to the leg bone and who wants that?

Once we finished up at Jamestown we made the drive over to York Victory Center. They also have it set up like it might have been at the time.  Although it's set up as the soldiers would have been during the battle. We stopped and watched a talk by the 'doctor' which would likely have little experience and limited medical equipment. It was quite interesting. And we hung around for another canon exhibition.
After we were finished with our tours, we got back in the car for the long drive to Philadelphia where we spent the night. We got in late and rather than drive around trying to find somewhere to eat we just had pizza delivered to the hotel. So, we ate dinner and called it a night.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Busy Weekend

We interrupt this vacation blogging to recap the weekend.

Dax and Wyatt played in a charity golf tournament on Saturday. They played golf, got fed lunch, and won a trophy. What more could you ask for, right?

Except, this is the trophy they won.....

.........because they came in 'dead ass last'. But they did have fun and it's the first tournament outside of school that Wyatt has played in. I think that's good practice for him.

Meanwhile, miles and miles away, Addison was in a Watermelon Festival Parade in McDade. It's a very small town but there were lots of entries into the parade. The parade route was only three blocks long and I know there were over 70 entries in the parade.

And honey was it hot out there!!!

We spent the rest of the afternoon inside trying to escape the heat and then we all went for snow cones after dinner.  It was a kind of long day but it was a fun one.

Sunday we met up with their grandparents for lunch and then the kids went home with them for the week (or more, who knows). They always love to go spend time with them. I would say that it gives Dax and I a break but not so much because now we have their dogs to take care of. lol

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vacation Day 7

Friday    June 21, 2013

Today we spent the day in Colonial Williamsburg. It's a really big place with much to see. There's so much to see and so much information being shared with you that it all starts to mush together and it's hard to keep it straight after awhile.

I found it interesting that in the Governor's house weapons were kept on grand display to prove his power. The walls were covered with swords and firearms.

There were lots of houses, public buildings, and businesses to look around and they had people in them that wore period clothing and told you about what went on in that place and how it related to life in the colony in general. Like I said, a lot of information.

When I was in the gun maker's shop I notice this poor little girl peaking in the window....

There was so much to see and learn in Colonial Williamsburg that we didn't do anything else today.
Once we left there we just went and ate and called it a day early. Hit the pool when we got back to the hotel and hopefully just relax a little.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Day 6

Thursday  June 20, 2013

We slept in a little this morning since we're all exhausted and sore. I thought vacations were supposed to be relaxing!

I had planned some battleground tours east of Roanoke today but we decided that since we were this close, we would drive up to Charlottesville and tour Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello.

It's an impressive house and the grounds are equally as beautiful. The tour of the house was very interesting and we learned a lot.

They had several things set up for the kids (or adults) to do like writing using a quill pen and and ink well and a few games that they might have used from the period that Jefferson lived.

We spent quite a bit of time at Monticello so when we left it was time to make the drive to Williamsburg, VA. There was a lot of driving today.

When we got all settled in at the hotel the kids headed to the pool and I used the guest laundry to wash some clothes. I washed two loads of clothes only to find that neither one of the dryers was working. I found out where the nearest laundry mat was and Dax and I raced over there. We had barely enough time to get the clothes dry before they were closing. Seriously, the woman locked the doors behind us.

Tomorrow we'll get up and see what Colonial Williamsburg is like.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vacation Day 5

Wednesday    June 19, 2013

This morning we headed back into Gatlinburg for a little bit. But this time we drove and parked a little closer to town. Our first stop today was the aquarium.

We really enjoyed it. There was lots to see.

(these are sea horses)

(As you may have noticed, Abigail is the only one that will pose for me.)

Once we  had seen everything at the aquarium, we did a little shopping in Gatlinburg. Dax and I did some moonshine tasting. We tasted the traditional old recipe (Ick!) and some other flavored ones where you can't taste the alcohol at all. But let me tell you, that is some powerful stuff.

After we were done in town we decided to head to Grotto Falls to hike to the falls. One of the locals had told us how nice it was. Unfortunately we still don't know. Dax didn't like my other map app so found a new one for me to download and use. Well, it took us on a wild goose chase once again. I finally stopped and asked someone for directions and those at least got us to a state park where we stopped and did some hiking. It was beautiful.

After our hike was done and we got back in the car and started on our way out of the park we found that if we had driven to the very next parking lot the trails from it would have taken us to Grotto Falls. Gaah! Oh well, we saw pretty scenery anyway.

By the time we left the park it was getting late so we decided to hit the road once again. Tonight we're staying in Roanoke, Virginia.

We've done a whole lot of walking in the last few days and my whole body hurts. But, there is plenty of walking still to come so I guess all the soreness will surely get worked out.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vacation Day 4

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Today was packed with activities. We started the day out with a trip to Ruby Falls in Chatanooga. It's a tour of underground caverns.

The waterfall is completely underground. This is the climax of the tour.

It is beautiful to be sure. I kind of wish they didn't use the colored lights to light it up. I would like to see the rocks and waterfall in their own beauty. It's really funny though, because on the way to the falls the tour guide tells about how it was discovered and points out different areas of interest and all the things you expect. When you get to the waterfall, it's completely dark and they turn on the lights for a set length of time and then it gets dark again and that's when it's time to leave. On the way out of the caverns, the tour guide didn't say a word. It's like they're done with you at the waterfall and you're on your own after that. It was just weird.

Anyway, as you would expect, the tour dumps you out into the gift shop. I had to get these two out of there.

(He's sexy, no?)

Once we left there we walked up to the top of Look Out Mountain where you could see all of Chatanooga. It was pretty nice.

Then we jumped back in the car and continued up the mountain a little more where we rode on an incline train. We started at the top of the mountain and it takes you down the side of the mountain into a little town. We looked around a bit in town and then rode the train back up. I don't like to be high places and this ride made me nervous to say the least. I did fine on the ride down but the ride back up was awful for me. Especially at the top where it feels like you're just hanging there and they keep talking. I just wanted off!! Anyway, I think Dax and the kids enjoyed it.

While we were in town from the train ride we saw a little pizza and ice cream place and we decided we'd have lunch there. When we got there the place was packed with kids from some local camp so we had plenty of time to sit and relax while we waited for our pizza.

After we finished our pizza and ice cream we headed for the National Medal of Honor Museum. As luck would have it, the directions on my phones map app took us right into the ghetto and a vacant lot where the museum should have been. Nice! We drove around for 30 minutes at least even trying to get there!! I called the place and got a better idea of where they were and found that we had to go back to almost where we had started. Sheesh!!

The museum is in a mall which is kind of weird, but we did find it and it's a nice place with lots of information about the recipients that are featured in there. And the volunteer working at the time was very knowledgeable too.

Once we left the museum we headed onto Gatlinburg, TN, which was our scheduled stop for the night. Our hotel is right on the river and the rooms have a balcony where we could sit to enjoy the view.

When we first arrived, the kids and I were standing on the balcony looking around and saw a beaver walking around in the yard across the river from us. It was kind of neat to see.

It would have been nice to just sit on the balcony above the river, but instead we walked into town to see what was going on. We did a couple of things like a 5D movie ride call The Earthquake. It was okay but still a little cheesy. After that we went to one where you sit on a mechanical horse during the movie and shoot at the bad guys on the screen. And you're actually competing with everyone else in the theatre. It was fun. We looked around some more and decided it was finally time to eat dinner. We decided on Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The food was good and our waitress was very nice.

After dinner we went to another 5D movie by Ripley's that was really good. It was a lot of fun. Then we decided to call it a night since it was getting late and we were all tired. Although, the mile walk back to our hotel after we were all so tired seemed so much farther than it did when we were walking into town.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vacation Day 3

The day started off as planned. Another early morning with some driving.

Our first stop of the day (not counting Dunkin Donuts for breakfast) was at Moundville Archaeological Park. It's the sight of an old Indian civilization.

It took some effort to see this one. It was at the top of these....

The grounds had a lot of interesting information and a museum with some really well preserved artifacts from the area.

There was also a nature trail that we went down. I think it was about a mile each way and it sure is pretty.

It started raining again today, so we had to wrap up our tour at the park and got back on the road. We stopped and had lunch and to let the weather pass. We were back on the road and headed to Birmingham when I discovered that the place we had planned to visit was closed on Mondays. Rather than spend a night there, we headed on to Chatanooga, TN for the night.

We stayed at the Sheraton Read House in downtown. It's a nice hotel and Kirsten was thrilled because there is a Starbucks downstairs.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Vacation Day 2

Up and at 'em early today. We had breakfast and hit the road. I guess the late night and early morning were a little much for the kids because while Dax was doing this....

there was a lot of this going on.

We headed to Natchez, MS where we toured the Melrose House Plantation. They are making some repairs to the exterior of the house, but we were still able to tour the inside, and Wow! what a house.

And the grounds were beautiful too.

When we finished there we went on into town and toured the William Johnson house. His was an interesting story. He was born a slave, later freed, then became a wealthy business man with slaves of his own.

Once we left there we walked over to a bar-b-que place in town called The Pig Out Inn. It was pretty good stuff. They had pig decorations everywhere but these made me laugh.

I think it was the little pink babies that did it.

Once we were all fat and happy, we parked down by the river and just looked around.

Once we were done in Natchez we continued on to Vicksburg. We bought a cd and did the driving tour through the battle grounds. We had only made a stop or two on the tour when it started to rain. It was just sprinkles at first which was no big deal, and then it started to pour. It got to the point that it was raining so hard we could hardly see 10 feet in front of the car. As it was, we were trying to hurry to get through the tour before the park closed and they locked the gates. We had just enough time to do it in without the rain so this really put a kink in things. Then, as luck would have it, we made a wrong turn and found ourselves about half way back to where we had started. That REALLY put a kink in things. But luckily we were able to find our way to the park entrance/exit and they hadn't locked the gates yet.

After all that excitement, we decided to call it a day and head on to Jackson, MS, where we spent the night. For the first time we got the kids their own room instead of the 6 of us staying in a suite. It made me a nervous wreck but everything worked out great and the kids really loved the independence of being in their own room. Dax and I are just so grateful that we have great kids that can be trusted to stay in their own room!