Monday, August 29, 2011

Allegany State Park, NY

Our next stop was Allegany State Park in New York.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.

The lodge (with a good restaraunt on the second floor):



Our campsite was filled with all kinds of wildlife!  The chipmunks were very aggressive--I thought they were going to climb right up my leg while I was cooking!  Joseph saw a huge raccoon before it even got dark--and the racoon was going in and out of occupied campsites.  One night we saw a BEAR (luckily we were in the car driving when we saw it!!!). Another night, we had raccoons in our campsite--running between our two tents and in the trees above our tent!!!  I told Marc I was going to be in the tent and not come out for anything until morning.  During the night when it started pouring down rain, I was afraid we were going to be washed away. I called out to Marc in the next tent, but the rain and thunder were so loud we couldn't hear each other.  I figured the animals were taking cover from the rain, too.  I sat up for hours hoping we wouldn't be washed away or struck by lightning. Our little Abigail who wakes at a touch on the doorknob of her bedroom, slept soundly through the whole storm.

Because of the animals, there were no trash cans in the park. All trash was to be brought to this gated and electrified area.



 There was an artist-in-residence at the park.  We went to one of her concerts--cool evening, great music, perfect night, cute baby....


We visited "Thunder Rock" in the park:




We also visited "Bear Caves":


Joseph and Marc visited the fire tower and listened to a local expert and author talk about the area (I was in the car feeding and napping Abigail):


We enjoyed the beach here, too.


August 24-27, 2011

Camping

We camped at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania. Joseph was so excited! When we arrived at the campsite he said, "Can I go make friends with everyone?"
It was Abigail's first night of camping. It was pretty chilly, but she did well.  She looked so cute all bundled up.  We had two tents: Joseph and Marc in one, Abigail (and her pack-n-play) and I in another.   

 For breakfast, we made a version of my dad's "train wreck" camping breakfast.  Breakfast came hours after we woke up. Since there were "quiet hours" we took the kids on a nature walk away from the campground (where we saw deer) and then sat in the car trying to keep them quiet until 8 am.  Joseph was full of energy and asked, "When will it be loud  hours?"

 Marc insisted I post this picture; I guess he wanted to illustrate how relaxed we were!

 Ricketts Glen had many waterfalls. We took a hike and saw several of them.


There was also a lake with a sandy beach. Joseph enjoyed the lack of waves after the water at Cape May. There were some men with metal detector and Joseph asked them if they were looking for lobster.  Abigail loved the ducks--she was fascinated.
Joseph made so many  new friends that we could barely pull him away for the campfire (I thought that didn't start until he was a teenager!!). He found friends with a skateboard that he loved to try--and has been asking for one since we got back. 

While we were at Ricketts Glen, we later learned that a major earthquake happened back home. As close as we can determine, Marc was canoeing and I was at the campsite while the kids napped at the time the earthquake happened. We didn't feel a thing.

August 22-24

Atlantic City

We included a stop in Atlantic City because they have a transportation system called a jitney. Our resident transportation guy wanted to check them out.  So Marc and Joseph took a ride on the jitneys while I fed Abigail.  We also stopped in a casino hoping (unsuccessfully) to find a good lunch buffet. When we walked in, Joseph asked, "Is this Chuck-E-Cheese?" 

We determined Atlantic City isn't our scene, but the verdict is that the jitneys are great.


August 22, 2011

Cape May Extended

We loved Cape May so much we stayed a couple extra days. We went to Cape May Point State Park where we saw a beautiful lighthouse, attended an amazing children's animal program, and took a  ranger-led nature walk.



During the nature program, Joseph got picked to pretend to be a tree on which the Australian tree frogs could sit.  Joseph also absolutely loved the nature walk. They loaned us binoculars and walked us out to see plants and animals.  Joseph stayed right by the ranger's side. At one point, he fell behind because he stayed  back with Marc to look at the birds on the pond.  When he realized the group had moved on, he came rushing up and said to me, "Did he [the ranger] say anything?" Our little sponge didn't want to miss anything.

We also visited a Nature Conservancy bird watching area. 

I stayed in the car to feed Abigail, but Joseph and Marc got to see swans.

Then, they met some serious bird watchers who had heard a rare bird had been sighted that morning and had immediately hopped in their cars and driven from Pennslyvania to come this rare bird. They let Joseph use their high-tech equipment and get the full bird watching experience.

August 21, 2011

Cape May

We escaped for a wonderful vacation in August.
It began with a perfect few days in Cape May, New Jersey with Marc's family.

Abigail and Lucy in their matching hats and matching fascination with eating the rocks.


Aunt Rachel with Abigail and Aunt Gwen with Cousin Lucy

 Joseph and I starting our whale and dolphin watching cruise with Aunt Gwen one afternoon.

 Joseph saying, "This is so awesome" as we were watching the dolphins.


Do you see the dolphin?!  We didn't see any whales, but we were thrilled with all of the dolphins. Joseph has been really into sea animals lately, so he was soaking up all the information he could get. When we boarded the boat, he asked the guy taking our tickets, "What is the difference between a dolphin and a porpoise?"


Morning cousin time: Abigail, Joseph and Lucy! 

Abigail finding trouble

 Morning walks along the beach.

Joseph and Marc kayaking

 Joseph looking so grown up!

 Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Rachel kayaking

Joseph kayaking--Abigail was too little so I stayed home with her for a nap during this outing.

 Grandma and Abigail enjoying the beach.

Joseph making friends and building sand castles with other kids on the beach. The waves at Cape May were pretty big; unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I had taken Joseph out into them. He got quite a scare, but hopefully won't be afraid of the ocean for the rest of his life!

August 18-20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Arlington County Fair

I grew up doing 4-H, and the County Fair was a place for crafts, livestock, tractor pulls, and carnival rides. Here in the big city, we at least still have some rides at the County Fair.  Joseph played on the moon bounces and then got to choose one ride--and he loved it!

The moon bounce


The swings:

 Before

 During

After

August 11, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Love these kids!

 Today Joseph wrote "The Cricket Family" on a post-it note and put it on the wall in a corner. Below it on the floor was a green toy race car. Joseph informed me that the car was for the cricket family to drive out the house.  Can you tell we've been listening to Beverly Cleary's Motorcycle for Ralph?
 Joseph went to a zombie birthday party and came home with this awesome mask (the mom sewed one of these for each of the kids!!! plus hand dipped all kinds of chocolate zombie treats and more--it was an awesome party on all accounts).

We love Abigail. And we have all loved the pool this summer.
 Today I found Abigail on her knees pulling up on the slats of the crib--a first. Baby girl is growing up!

August 18, 2011