Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nov 30

Really tired tonight so I'll update more tomorrow. So I remember what we did today.
Sunny but chilly. Didn't sleep very well last night. Tucker didn't sleep soundly, I found him in the bathroom at 3:45am with Rob's hair gel all over his face. He has a thing for 'creams'. He smeared hair conditioner all over his face last week. At least he is choosing things that smell good.
Yorktown Victory center- hands on 1800s farm and revolutionary war hands on encampment. Tried on some civil war clothes. Cool learning experience for kids.
Back to Williamsburg for lunch in an old fashioned Tavern. Hot homemade apple cider for lunch with yummy beef stew. Walked around town looking at the historical buildings. Shoe maker, gunsmith, Cooper (barrel maker), watched a court case in the court.

Cooper was trying to carry the water buckets and along came a group of turkeys.
 Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.
 Watching an artillery demonstration. 
 In costume... History IS fun!
 Hanging out in the farm kitchen. It was warm inside by the fire. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nov 29

We knew it was coming and it came... the rain. All day. What to do?
Since a lot of the 'things to do' are outdoors we searched to find indoor things to do around Williamsburg. We went to the Old Hospital and Museum. The original building built in 16?? housed mental patients more so though sick patients. It burned down at some point and another hospital was built. It had a rough life but it's now the entry to the Museum. Though it houses a lot of historical artifacts and such it was very boring. The host at the front counter pointed out a few things that the kids would like. Clue #1 that kids are not all that welcome in this museum was that the 'kids' area was at the far back in a corner. It was really well done in a farm theme but there was huge plastic barricade stopping the kids from seeing any of the farm stuff and though it was supposed to tell a story it required a lot of reading. They did have a table with coloring pencils and farm animal pictures so we colored and then left. Clue #2 was when the boys were told by a non-employee to stop running. They were running but I was talking to them so it wasn't necessary to have another opinion. After such a great experience yesterday in Jamestown that welcomed kids learning and experiencing history this was discouraging.
We then ran through the rain to the Kimbell theatre to hear George Washington give a presentation and question and answer time. Now I knew this would be a long shot with a 3 year old but I had a few toys and snacks and he can hold it together for a little while. We sat at the back and quickly noticed that though there were children in the audience most were over 65. After 5 minutes I took Tucker into the hall to have a snack and then brought him back in. We'd been back in the room no more than 5 minutes, Tucker playing fairly quietly with a toy on the chair next to me and the single over 65 lady in front of us turns around and says that our kids are distracting and this is not the place for kids, they should leave. Cooper was playing the itouch and not making a sound. I was mad but speechless and I took Tucker into the hall again. Rob started having words with her and asked if she remembers having kids and she said she had 7 children and 10 grandchildren. Not sure I want to be a grandchild with this lady. I was embarrassed and mad. How are children supposed to learn to be quiet if not given opportunities such as this to learn self control? I had some choice words formed in my head for the lady but when it came down to it I realized that as a mum we try hard to teach our children the appropriate things to do and say, manners, respect, self control, and though they don't always do those things we keep trying and giving them opportunities to 'practice.' We are raising future adults. I 'm sad that a fellow mother cut me down (instead of moving further to the front.. there were at least 20 rows in front of her she could have moved down too.. plenty of waiting seats... We at least sat at the very back trying not to disturb others) and I'm reminded to give more grace to fellow mothers because we are trying but we don't have immediate control over our little angels.
By lunch time I was forming opinions of Williamsburg that included liberal and yuppy and wondering if they send their children to boarding school at birth. We decided to get out of Williamsburg as the rain had brought out umbrella welding seniors.
After lunch we went to the glass blowing shed back toward Jamestown. Glassblowing was the first product made and sold by the Jamestown pioneers. They were the first entrepreneurs in the new world. Rob thought that was pretty cool since we are entrepreneurs ourselves.
It was getting late and still rainy so we went to Yorktown and purchased a battlefield tour cd and drove around the revolutionary war battlefield. The dug outs are all still there... 200+ years later. Still quite vivid. Tucker took a short nap while we drove and by the time we were done it was dark. Yorktown was the last battle of the Revolutionary war which brought Americas independence. We drove by Moore house where the surrender papers were signed and we drove by Surrender field where the British laid down their arms. We walked from the British embankment to the second French/ American embankment and thought of all the men that died beneath our feet. We saw about 100 deer as we drove around. It was dusk and we started counting but lost count after 86 but we saw more after that. It's a national park area so they are free and undeterred by passing cars.
Cooper wanted to make marshmallows on the fire but we explained the wood was wet and he settled for a marshmallow after his dinner was finished.
So our day was a hodge podge and less exciting than others. Thought provoking. Tomoorow it's supposed to be sunny.... :)
 Looking from the French/ American embattlement line. The far middle is where the British were dug in.
 If this mound could talk.

 The British had mini forts called Redoubts that tried to stop the Americans but of course they didn't.
Eri reminders of freedom.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nov 28

Doing this blog is the only thing helping me keep the date straight.
We have settled into RV life. Boys are sleeping in the same bed and as long as Tucker goes to sleep first they do ok until the morning. We are up about 7am in the mornings though it takes us forever to get ourselves together and out the door. Oh well we are on vacation with no where in particular to be. So nice.
It's a great place for kids as it's a completely hands on experience. In the Jamestown settlement section you can walk through an Indian village and experience life as it would have been. You can lay on the fur beds in the huts, practice scraping the fur off of a drying deer hyde with oyster shells, and crush corn to make corn meal. They have people dressed in authentic costume telling you about life in that era and demonstrating cooking and basket making. Cooper and I helped scrap ash out of a canoe in the process of being made.
 Indian beds. The fur left on your clothing after laying on the beds was a souvenir.
 Indian bed was just right for Rob.
Watching a deer skin be hung to dry.
 Scraping the ash from the canoe with oyster shells.

In the James Fort we got to see life as they think it would have been. Again they had people dressed in costume telling you about each aspect of life. A musket (gun) demonstration was the boys favorite. Cooper learnt about how the people and soldiers within the Fort had to go to church twice each day and three times on Sundays. He thought that sounded like a lot but as the guide explained it was really so they could read the rules and count how many had died the night before or during the day from diseases.
We have been reading a book on life in Jamestown so we could relate the story to what we were seeing.

 Armor that could be tried on in the Fort. 
 Musket shooting demonstation. (Rob likes this effect on the camera settings.)
Inside Fort James.

Then we visited the replica ships that had brought the first Jamestown settlers. Santa Carolina (?), Discovery and Godspeed. As with the other things we could walk all over the ship, touch anything, climb in all the beds and play peek-a-boo, make mummy a pretend meal in the cooks quarters and pump water out of the boat. Tucker had the most fun climbing in and out of the captions bed.
We grabbed a late lunch which we were all ready for and headed to the gift shop on our quest for a magnet. Cooper was captivated by a large magnet filled with water and a floating ship in it, I conceded and we bought it (and another practical magnet in case that one gets broken). Magnets this time about $10, gulp. But worth it since Cooper has barely put it down and has been pretending and making up stories with it. He even said it was better than a video game.

 Tucker 'sleeping' in the officers beds on one of the boat.
 Discovery and Godspeed ships.

It was 4pm by this time and we still hadn't been to the historic Jamestown so we raced over there. The historic area is the exact place the original fort and town were on. They have excavated a lot of the area to find where the fort walls would have been and inner buildings. Some of where the fort would have been in now in the James river due to 400 years of erosion.

 The building on the left is exactly where the armory would have been in 1607. The fence is in the exact place it was built in 1607. 
 Inside the historic Fort James.

We headed back into Williamsburg for the Fife and drums parade at 5:30pm. We could hear them playing at the far end of the street so we ran to about the middle and waited for them to come down the street. Think of a group of kids in 1600's costume playing fifes (like a flute) and drums, marching down the road by the light of fire torches. (It's dark about 5:15pm here). So cool. See below, hard to describe. But it was so fun. As they passed everyone watching fell in behind them and continued walking down the road then at the end of the road the band stopped and everyone gathered around them for the final song. It was really fun. Rob says he felt very patriotic.
Cooper is really taking it all in and talking about all the things we have been seeing. He asks questions and you can see the wheels turning.

 Fife and Drums parade.
Snuggling with one of my cuties.

Back at the RV we heated up some dinner and the boys started a fire to toast some marshmallows. As boys do they started burning anything they could find. Put Tucker to bed and now it's Coopers turn. Cooper is sitting next to me playing with his magnet. He just said good night to boat. This truly could be better than a video game.
On a funny note, you know it was a good when you took 85 pictures in one day. Love digital cameras :) 
Good Night!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nove 27

Not to exciting. A travel day.
After the boys played some football and got everything unhooked and hooked up we pulled out of Asheville about 10am. (Took showers in the RV as the campground was a little questionable in the bathroom.) We were going to stay until Monday (in Asheville) but we saw the forecast for Williamsburg and thought we should get up here while the weather was nicer. Should be 70oF tomorrow. A good temp for outdoor activities. Then cooler and rainy the rest of the week.

Travel notes: Saw more abandoned cars on the side of the highway in one day than I have in the last year.  Not sure why but weird and obvious as Rob started to point them out too.

Travel casualties: Cooper dropped the iPad on his big toe. Small bruise, nothing broken despite the 30 minutes of tears. He's limping but recovering.

Travel tips: Let the 3 year old watch a movie once in awhile. It stops him from taking his seatbelt off every 10 minutes.

Tomorrow we explore the historical triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. Expect to be here 3-4 days.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nov 26

Made it it Asheville NC yesterday about 6pm. Found an RV park and was informed that the temp might drop below freezing so not to leave the water hooked to the RV. Umm... I did want to wash dishes but will leave to wait until morning.
Leftovers from Thanksgiving for dinner and the boys to bed after watching Americas favorite Home Videos.
Got up early and grabbed coffee before heading to Biltmore Estates. Biltmore is the largest home (castle) in the United States. Built in 1895 it was full of innovation and ahead of it's time. The Vanderbilt family owned most of America and thus bought 8,000 acres of property and built this gorgeous (massive) home and gardens. Our entry time was 8:45am and though we don't like doing things early there definitely was less crowd at that time.
Took about 2 hours to go through the elaborately decorated rooms all decked for Christmas. Room after room after room... an indoor pool in the basement with lighting underneath (in a time when electricity was scarce). A bowling ally in the basement, a dinning room that can seat at least 38 at one table.... it went on and on. The house is not lived in anymore but is shown to the public. It is still owned by heirs of the Vanderbilt family.
Morning tea was saved on the grassy area outside the main doors and then we strolled through the gardens. Not so lush since it is November. A surprisingly nice temperature though... 62oF.
We had lunch in the Stable cafe. It use to be the actual stables where the horses were kept and they still have the stalls with tables inside. To show the grandeur, the walls of the stable are lined with subway tiles an expensive item in those days. It's a huge stable. Delicious food and we are ready for the afternoon adventure.
Santa was in town. Wanted to get the boys picture. Cooper kept saying, He's not real so why should I ask him for something. Then he panicked because he couldn't think of what to ask for. But then he's not real. He was so torn. Ended up asking for toy cars and planes and Tucker repeated the same thing. Think presents will be easy this year!
2pm we went on a Land Rover driving ride-along. Learnt more about how to use our Land Rover and got into some pretty cool tight turns and steep hills. Was fun but a bit short.
3pm Rob had a Clay Pigeon Shooting lesson. Found out at the last minute the boys and I could go along and watch. Fun to drive over more of the property that most don't usually get to see. Saw a large deer and according to our guides it was a big one. They got pretty excited.
Out on the range Rob got the full run down on shooting etc (not his first time with a gun but not much more than that). The first clay shot off he hit it and the next and the next. Apparently, he's a natural with a gun. I fear he's going to take up a new hobby. He really was pretty good and had a good time. Boys amused themselves well.
Back at the estate we looked in some shops (magnet $3) and around the winery, fulfilled the promise to Cooper of Chocolate ice-cream and headed back to the RV.
A delightful day...
Boys in bed and time to turn in ourselves.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nov 24- Turkey Day.

Turkey placed in the oven early by Becky. We went out to Cracker Barrel for brunch with the Brubaker's and Dr. Owen. Got back in time to take the turkey out of the oven.
The boys went over to the Owens to burn cardboard and Rob decided to burn his clinic jacket as well.  What else do you do on Thanksgiving... Oh and it's 65oF. So nice. Cooper changed into his Illini football clothes and stayed that way the rest of the day.
Meanwhile back at the homestead, we were cooking up corn casserole, sweet potatoes, homemade Cranberry sauce (good job Hayes), glazing ham and making gravy. Pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream, check. A feast for 7. (Tucker took an extended nap so he ate after us. Let sleeping children stay asleep.)
Dinner was delicious. We all went around the table to tell what we were thankful for and friendship topped the list.
We met the Brubaker's back in 2002. They were attending Palmer Chiropractic college. We both showed up at a new Bible study group and the friends we made from that group are still some of our closest to this day. Pre kids we did a lot of things together. It's a blessing to count these people our friends.

After lunch we headed out to explore some more of Chattanooga. Visited the Chattanooga Choo Choo train (just google it and you'll hear the song that made it famous). Then we went cardboard sledding. Though we all had a blast it was crazy to watch Tucker go down by himself and yell for more at the bottom.
Then we drove up to Lookout Mountain, another civil war battle site and headed home for leftovers. With the boys in bed we once again stayed up late talking.

Nov 23

Slept in a little and was awoken by the boys playing down stairs. Made them some breakfast and got ready for a fun day of exploring Chattanooga.
Didn't leave as early as we would have liked but hey we are on vacation.
Went down to the AMC home office to see Jeremy and say Hi to Dr. Owen. Kids enjoyed hiding and running around.
Decided to skip the Aquarium as we realized school was out and it was probably going to be nuts there today.
Went out to the Chickamauga Battle field instead. Trying to teach Cooper about the American civil war. Realized I, Robyn was not the one to be explaining this. The reasons for the war I get but the who did what where... confusing. They had a great museum and movie explaining the significance of the battle. We then drove around the fields. Reminded us of Gettysburg and was sad to think of all the young men that had died where we were walking. Boys tried on some civil war uniforms. I forgoed $6.95 for a magnet. Gulp.
Climbed one of the memorial towers. The boys counted the stairs, 110 in a circular staircase to the top. Tucker proudly walked up and down all of them himself. He is all about 'Me do.' We were proud of him.
Had Cooper and Hayes pretend to be the North and South and we'd shout charge and they would run at each other and wrestle each other to the ground. Also, had them practice being messengers since they didn't have cell phones in those days. Was pretty funny to watch them.
Let the boys run off extra steam at a park before returning to the Brubaker's for another wonderful supper.
Made plans for our first Thanksgiving meal cooked without immediate family at hand. Stayed up way to late with good conversation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nov. 22

Tuesday. We got up nothing terribly exciting. Left the wigwam motel. We asked Siri (iPhone app) where the nearest McDonalds was so we could get on the road fast. She found us a location quite close. She found us a Starbucks too but it was 76 mls away. Guess I'll make our own coffee. In McDonalds, felt like we were in a different world surrounded by thick southern accents.
Stopped at the National Corvette Museum and Rob and Tucker went in while Cooper and I worked on school. Tucker seemed to enjoy himself since he does have a thing for cars. Corvettes run in the blood of Scranton's.
Headed off to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Another horrible drive with pouring rain and gusting winds and just when it can't get any worse it does. The fog rolls in and we are driving through mountains. Tucker nodded off after a little while.
Made it to our friends, the Brubaker's house around 4:35pm.  Great to see old friends and enjoyed talking to them late in the evening. Rob very sorely needed an adjustment from Dr. Jeremy - I feel so much better now.
Their son, Hayes is a little older than Cooper and to was fun to have the boys playing together after all these years. They really got along well together and Tucker was happy to have a fresh box of cars to play with.
Sleeping in doors for the next few nights.

Nov. 21

We awoke to the sound of continuous rain.  Oatmeal for breakfast and decide to skip Louisville Slugger Museum. Called the Museum and was told traffic very severe in Louisville and they couldn't tell us where to park an RV with towed vehicle. The thing we have learnt so far is that you can't back up the rig so we are avoiding confined spaces. Continuing down I65 we stopped to see Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home and his birthplace. Gave Cooper his history lesson and he soaked it up. Asking lots of questions. We went down to the creek where Abe almost drowned as a boy and Cooper enjoyed seeing the things we have been reading about. History come to life. Very interesting since we're from Illinois. Bought magnet to add to collection $2.95.
Head on down to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Great chance to view the worlds longest cave system. Didn't have enough time to explore the full length but we took a 2 hour tour that took us 320 ft under ground into massive underground rooms. Boys complained at first but the tour guide told a lot of stories and they got bored. Once we started crawling and squeezing they were happy. Tucker insisted on walking most of it and we were impressed at his 3 year old energy.
Came out of the caves and .... it's chucking down rain and dark. National parks aren't lit well so Rob picks up Tucker and starts to run uphill for the 1/2 mile back to the car. All of us soaked when we got back to RV.
Couldn't justify spending $4.95 on a magnet (that's our souvenir from each place we go to) so bought a key chain instead. Now regretting that... oh why did I not just pay the extra $3. -Robyn
Rob fulfilled a long time wish and we stayed in the WagWam Motel (see pictures) in Cave City. Not exactly the lap of luxury. In fact I don't think they have done any updating since they were built in 1937. Robyn not overly impressed with this choice of accommodations but she graciously slept inside with me and the boys. Beds were so old that Robyn and I spent a lot of time together in the middle of the bed.
The ironic thing was American Indian themed motel was owned by an Asian Indian man.

 Replica of Abe Lincoln's boyhood home.
Knock, knock, anyone home?

Monument is on the site where Abe Lincoln's family lived at the time of his birth. 

Walking into Mammoth Caves.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov 20

Had a great sleep last night. Boys played Wii football as the fighting Illini and We got ready to go. We drove down to Petersburg Kentucky to see the Creation Museum. Missed the road to turn into the musuem and couldn't turn around. Gps showed us a route but it took about 30 minutes and we say a lot of Kentuky. Back on track we found the musuem and follwed the path od dinosaurs to the parking lot. It's an awesome museum. Really great to see explanation for your kids that matches the Bible. Explained in a common sense way. The boys really enjoyed it. Especially all the dinosaurs. A must see for all families. Enjoyed all the exhibits. Will go back one day to see the full size Noah's Ark to be opened in 2014.
By the time we got underway and decided how far south we could get it was well and truly dark and rainy. And it stayed rainy (and dark). Decided to pull off at a rest stop north of Louisville, Kentucky. Headed to bed early since there isn't much to do at a rest stop in the pouring rain.

Saying good-bye to the Saunders.

(Adam in the Garden of Eden. )


November 19. As I was falling asleep last night I thought to myself I wonder if it's a bad idea to have the key still turned in the on position so we can keep the car in neutral as we drive. Forgot to turn it off. Too tied to go check.
Should have checked on the car. Dead battery. Lesson learned. Spent awhile trying to track down a neighbor with a battery charger and finally found one. Need to buy a fast charge Rococo battery charger.5 minutes we had the car going and ready to head to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio. Then time to unhook the car from the RV. Had a difficult time getting it off the hitch. Need to purchase hammer and screwdriver. Finally, off to Dayton.
Boys are super tired. Day may not go so well.
We got tobthe Airforce musuem in time to get tickets to the Presidental tour at 11:15am. Headed to the cafe to feed the boys and hope they improve after they have eaten. Everyone feeling better we were off to look at planes.

The Presidental tour took us through Air Force One planes that flew Kennedy back to Washington after he was shot and Roosevelts plane with elevator. Boys enjoyed going inside the planes. Fasinating to see all the research type aircraft. Continued looking through the museum after the tour. Jury was right could have spent two days there. I was looking at the World War I planes and Robyn called me and said where are you we're just about done? I said I was almost done too. I've seen the World War II planes and almost all the World War I planes. She told me I still had 3 hangers to go but time was up. After 5 hours the boys had reached their plane max and were ready to go. Back to Gerry's house and we went to get Kababs at a Mediterranean restaurant. Watched the DVR of the Illini football game. Oh Illini... Lost. Had a great timing catching up with old an friend from kindergarten. Museum was awesome. Loved it. Good start to our three month adventure!