Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Vacation

We're back from a 5 day circuit of the Eastern U.S., visiting family in Hickory, NC, and Wheeling, WV. Our trip has coincided with the massive heat wave baking the east coast - thank the Lord for air conditioning! It was in the high 90s with high humidity everywhere we went.

In Hickory, we spent the 4th of July holiday with my sister and her family. Kelly and Sam opened their home to us, and we really enjoyed spending time with them and their little boy Mitchell, who is 11 months old now. Our kids were so excited to play with their baby cousin, and it was so much fun to be around a baby again. Mitchell is a pretty easygoing, mild-mannered baby (which means he might have siblings - on purpose - someday, lol!). He's also bomb-proof, since he slept through the fireworks being set off right in front of him. Kelly and Sam's friends Marie and Josh invited us all over to their place for a cookout and fireworks. They had an inflatable water slide set up, and our kids were thrilled. Fireworks are legal in NC (unlike NY), so Josh set off all sorts of whiz-bangs in the cul-de-sac in front of their house. We had a fantastic time, and hope to get down there again, possibly over the winter.

While we were at Kelly and Sam's, we went to a kids' science center in Hickory. It had all sorts of great hands-on activities for the kids, and also an aquatic-themed center with large open tanks of sharks and rays, hermit crabs, turtles, and fish, which the kids could touch under supervision. We were there for the shark/ray feeding, which our daughter just HAD to watch. She's the nature child of the family, just like her Mom. They also have a butterfly "atrium," which we all enjoyed a lot.

We went on to Wheeling, WV, to spend a couple nights with my aunt and uncle. We always love seeing them, and this time was no exception. The weather was so hot, we just spent a lot of time sitting in the AC and talking. Aunt Beth always has lots of things for the kids to do, since she and Uncle Chris were teachers for many years. (Uncle Chris was a principal as well, and used to take us to his school over the weekend to play with all the gym equipment. Great memories!) We also saw my cousin Nicole while we were there.

To combat the heat, we went to the huge Cabela's sporting goods store there. They have massive fish tanks full of native freshwater fish and turtles, as well as enough taxidermy to please any hunter. So what did I buy there? FUDGE! They have a "general store" area that makes and sells fresh fudge. Their key lime fudge is absolutely divine, and their German chocolate is wonderful. I bought some to share later that day. Then we went to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream and smoothies.

On the way out of town on our last day, we went to the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum, something our son has wanted to see for several years now. It was a very nice museum, not huge but with some good displays. Our son's favorite part was the model trains, and they had two rooms with large layouts running. He could have stayed there all day. My favorite part was seeing some of the vintage toys (I have a hard time calling them antiques when they're from my own childhood!), including my favorite doll (a Jane West action figure) and horse (Jane's faithful pinto). My husband liked seeing things from his childhood, too. Ah, nostalgia!

We survived the drive home, and were very glad to be here, in spite of the upstairs being 90+ degrees (the AC was off up there while we were gone), and one of our cats leaving us "messages" that she was not pleased that we were gone so long (don't ask).

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