Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trailer Cooking

I read a lot, A LOT, about using the oven in the trailer before we got it. So much of what I read centered around the oven being difficult to use because of uneven heating. I was going to buy unglazed ceramic tiles to help, as a lot of people recommend, but I never got around to it. Not yet, anyway, and I may not. I did notice a hot spot when I was trying to toast bagels, but nothing horrible. I did move the rack up to the next highest position, so it wasn't sitting so close to the heat source, and I've found that to be quite helpful.

I do need to cook things for longer than I do when I'm in a house. Sometimes a lot longer. Maybe 30% longer. But the awesome thing is, we can have oven baked things. The dutch ovens are nice, but I appreciate being able to toast my bagels (which we could do over the fire), cook up some frozen appetizers (I do so love me some fried cheese!), and make brownies (easy enough to do in the dutch oven, though not in my pan with a lid for keeping leftovers). Today I also made pound cake, which I haven't done since we sold our house.


These sweet babies are supposed to take 65 minutes in my home oven, today they took almost an hour and a half in the trailer oven. But I have pound cake. Homemade pound cake. NB came into the trailer after they came out of the oven (Bill took them all to Home Depot today for organization materials), looked at them, and just grinned. He informed me that he loves pound cake. Yeah!

Oh, and just because it's that kind of day, I injured myself repeatedly in the kitchen. I burned my fingers on the pan I made alfredo sauce in, I got hot pepper powder in my eye (OUCH!!!!), and I way overate. Oish.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Remember the Alamo!

During our stay at Canyon Lake, we had wanted to visit the Alamo and the other San Antonio missions. Since we were there really only one day, and I was exhausted, we didn't get to do that until the day we headed to Padre Island. At that point, they said there was no real parking for large vehicles and RVs and such. So we skipped it, with much sorrow. Now that we're in Kerrville, only an hour away from San Antonio (in the other direction from Canyon Lake), we tried again, without our trailer in tow. The missions are gorgeous. I'm so glad we made it.

Tree at San Jose
Bill at the San Jose Mission

The visitor's center is at the San Jose mission, so that was our first stop. We took the loop through the museum to read up on what we were visiting, and then headed out in the cold blast that Texas is experiencing right now. We spent about an hour and a half at the first mission, which left us with little time to spend at the other missions. After lunch, we headed to Mission Concepcion, which is a great one to check out since so much of it is the original work. San Jose is mostly restored, Concepcion is mostly original.

Stairs at Concepcion

I really loved the ironwork at Concepcion. It really is just beautiful. And the churches at the missions are still used today as diocesan churches. Which led, for me, to the awkwardness of taking a touristy approach to a sacred spot. But I'm glad we got to visit and that the missions are a part of the National Park Service.

The Alamo

The Alamo, for me, was the least exciting. Anticlimactic, in fact. It's in the heart of San Antonio, surrounded by the Ripley's tourist attractions, hotels, and other such establishments. There was a long line to get in, because they only let a certain number in at a time, so we missed out on the interior. We did get to walk around San Antonio, though, and check out some of the stores along the way.

While at the campground, we've been working on organization. I've re-done the kitchen/pantry, a couple of kids have added organization to their closet shelf, and Bill's got some better organization going on in the van. We'll have all the kinks worked out by the time this trip ends!

Love Me Some Piggy

When camping and having to deal with the wash water, it's super important to get as much of the food gunk out of the water as is possible. I just don't like dealing with gunky water. During the tent camping portion of our trip, we required everyone to pretty much clean their dishes with a paper towel (or 10) prior to putting them in the wash buckets. I can no longer support the deforestation process just to make sure my wash water isn't nasty. In comes the piggy.

Food Scraper Extraordinaire

I loves me the piggy. Piggy saved my life. He hacked my kitchen. He restored my faith in humanity. My mind was blown. All of those ridiculous phrases you see all over the internet and cause your brain to seize, they apply in this situation. He scrapes the crap out of my dried on eggs in the pan. Holy cow, I loves me the piggy. Seriously, try him out. He'll save your marriage. He'll renew your outlook on life. He'll at least get you cleaner pans. With less work. It's a Christmas miracle.


I have been so blessed on this trip. Very rarely have I had allergy issues, and my allergies are HUGE. Look for the song, Allergies, by the Barenaked Ladies. What a wonderful tune that is!

I remember my first allergy attacks pretty well. I had two cases of hives when my dad was stationed in MD, and then in TX when my mom and I went out to buy a guitar for me. That night was pretty non-memorable otherwise, but I had an intense allergic reaction to something. The air was thick with whatever pollen I reacted to--I remember being able to see the air.

Fast forward another 30+ years, we're back in TX, and I can't breathe again. My eyes are running, I'm sneezing big time, my ears itch, my throat itches, and I'm just not enjoying whatever is in the air. We're in Kerrville, surrounded by beautiful trees. I'm guessing they're the kind of trees trying to do me in. But I came armed with my Zyrtec and my Flonase. They help me out so very much. Not as much as Rhinocort Dry used to, but they stopped making that.

We're staying here through the New Year, cuz it's someplace to stay and get our chores done during a busy camping time down here. I'm hoping Big Bend National Park does not have whatever it is I'm reacting to so strongly. I guess we'll find out....

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Leaving CO again was a bit traumatic for some of us. Especially so close to the holidays, I think we were all wanting just a bit of home, rest, and familiarity. Having a place to stay for several days on end helped out quite a bit. Though our time in Canyon Lake was more idyllic than our time in Padre Island National Seashore!

Walking in the Fog
Beachfront Camping

We were a short walk from the beach, which was magnificent. When it was, that is. Much of our time was spent in deep fog, for which we paid heavily in the loss of power because our solar panels just weren't collecting enough. Blech. We were perpetually damp, our stuff started rusting, and our food was soggy. We did have good times, though. We got to Padre Island on Wednesday before Christmas, and my parents came in the next morning. We checked out my mom's hometown of Kingsville, TX. We got to learn about the King Ranch, check out the cute stores, and eat at a counter-style diner in a pharmacy. We also drove around and saw the parking lot that had been their home, the school my mom went to in Kindergarten, and the church the family went to shortly before leaving Texas for the north.

Visiting the Lexington

We all headed out to the Lexington on Christmas Eve day. My dad had actually landed on the Lexington at one point in his training, but the rest of us were seeing it for the first time. It was very impressive. I did decide that I would not have made a good sailor. I just did not like the tight quarters. Especially the bunks that are stacked three high. Then my dad had to one up that one and tell us about bunks that were stacked five high. Uh, no thanks. We spent about four hours aboard, and we could have spent more time, but I had to get back to the trailer to make our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of gumbo.

Christmas Eve Present Game

My mom loves to play present games at Christmas. It took some growing pains, but now it's a Christmas-must. My mom has a right-left story that someone reads, and this year we did the rotating, instead of rotating the presents. We had stellar gifts, such as: bacon brittle (not a hit), ninja erasers (a huge hit), and a fidget buster (a hit that broke quickly). The kids are getting so much better sports about this game, too, which makes the evening so much more pleasant!

St Andrews at the Sea

We attended mass on Christmas day, which we typically do not do. We're Christmas Eve mass people, typically. But I gotta say, I liked the smaller crowd, mass in the middle of the chaos, and just a healthy reminder the day of the event of why we're celebrating at all. We may be done with the kids' mass! My mom told us to meet them at St. Ann's by the Sea. Except that it's St. Andrew's by the Sea. It met all the rest of my mom's description when we looked it up, so we took a chance, and were right to go there. Instead of having mass outside, we were inside the family life center because the pews were wet from all the not-rain we were having. It was a 10am mass, so we did our stockings ahead, along with breakfast, and then after mass we had lunch and opened the wrapped gifts. After the hullabaloo, most of us went to see Rogue One. My mom opted to stay back at their hotel and just rest. I'm jealous, but I liked the movie, so I guess my choice was a good one.

Mikus Family

The day after Christmas we headed out to my mom's cousin's place. We got to spend the day with family I only see once in a very long while. The last time I saw them was for my grandma's funeral in 2012, and I can't remember when I saw them before that. We had a good time chatting, eating, and watching the kids play with the cats.

Portuguese Man o War
Flip Flop
Cleanup Crew

Our last hurrah at Padre Island was to do a beach cleanup as part of their Jr. Ranger program. NS also needed service hours for his next BSA rank, and J needed a service project as the very last requirement for his Wolf rank. Yeah!!! In addition to the Jr. Ranger badge, K and NB also got a patch for the beach cleanup. Pretty cool. NS found a flip flop while were cleaning up that ended up as home to quite a few barnacles. It was neat to see. K identified objects we kept finding as Portuguese Man o Wars. We took pictures and showed them to the ranger, and she confirmed K's identification.

Right now we're in Kerrville, TX. We're not sure how long we're staying here. It's got full hookups, which is good for our depleted battery, but we're not crazy about the site. We're sitting right off the road, with lots of traffic, and the vibe of the place isn't what we enjoy. But it's got full hookups. We're going to Big Bend National Park next, which has NO hookups, so full hookups is a luxury we hate to give up. We'll see how long we last. We have chores to take care of, so we're here for some time during the day tomorrow, but will we stay tomorrow night? Stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Breaking It In

Camping your way across the US in Wal Mart parking lots is wonderful in many ways. It's free, there are groceries just a few feet away from you, along with a restroom.... What more could you need? We've spent the last couple days camping at another Army Corps of Engineers campground in Canyon Lake, TX. The kids have enjoyed being able to get out of the trailer and run around, something we seriously discouraged in the middle of a Wal Mart parking lot. We've also been hooked up to electricity and water, so we got to try out a few of the features of our trailer unexplored previously.

Living Large
Shower Time

I took our very first shower in our new home on wheels. What a fantastic experience!!!! I had beautifully hot water, the new shower head was amazing (we invested in an Oxygenics head that decreases your usage while maintaining good pressure), and I came out clean! I love it!!!

Fabulous View
Dining Area

We've also gotten to put up a bit more of our Christmas decorations, since we're not travelling every day. So while Canyon Lake is just a short stay, we've made it a bit more like home. We even spent a couple nights watching movies. Well, one movie. The kids are into the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it turns out that Return of the King is a hugely long movie. Which Bill and I know, we've watched it several times, but it just can't be watched all at once when you start at 8pm and want the kids to go to bed at a decent hour. We're still not finished with it. Hmm....

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Weather Game

Since picking up the trailer in the beginning of December, we've been trying to outrun the weather. We took a bit longer at my parents' than we wanted, just getting the trailer ready and making Christmas treats so the kids (and the adults) didn't feel as though our Christmas was not good. But it was imperative that we leave Colorado by the 16th. And a good thing we did, because the temperatures there dropped to the negatives and the snow fell in earnest. So we dodged that, but we're taking a most circuitous route to get to Padre Island for Christmas. My parents have reservations there, so it's not as if we can change our destination. Instead of heading straight to Texas, we've gone through Las Vegas, NM and Truth or Consequences, NM. May be my favorite town name. Ever. Or not. There are a lot of town names in the US that are quirky. Today we're headed for Ft. Stockton, TX, then on to San Antonio, TX, before reaching our final destination at Padre Island.

Padre Island National Seashore is a first come, first served campground. I had wanted to arrive by the 19th to make sure we got a site, but that ain't happenin'. We'll get there now by the 21st, I'm hopeful that's still early enough to get a site. Cross your fingers, say your prayers, we need a site! The bum deal is, those sites have no hookups. We can fill up on water on our way in, we have access to a dump station, but we need to rely on the power of the sun for the electricity part. The weather for the National Seashore is looking good, so we may be good to go with electricity, since we won't need to run the heater quite as much as night. Lows in the 20s are putting a hurting on our resources.

So sad to not have a white Christmas, but so very thankful to be with family, to be out of a tent, to have our tiny home, and to be on our adventure!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Oh Canada!

It's been a while since I posted, so let me try to catch you up. We left my aunt's house to head out to Niagra Falls the night before our trailer was ready so that we could be at the RV centre bright and early. I applaud our efforts, but the falls called us, so we spent a couple hours with them.

Niagra Falls

What a fabulous day to check out the falls! It was cold, it was late fall, it was pretty empty. There were other tourists there, but not many. Since we're not crowd-loving folk, this was a perfect opportunity for us. And my goodness, what a sight to see! And to hear! Those falls are LOUD!!! Very much so worth the $15 we paid in parking, plus whatever it cost us in souvenirs. We had a great time there and the kids enjoyed learning about the falls, how much the land is receding, how the city uses the falls for electricity, and just how powerful nature is. But we did have to leave and get our trailer. So exciting--it was actually ready a full day before we had been told it would be, so that was an early Christmas present. A huge thanks to everyone at Taylor Coach!

The 8th was a cold and snowy day in Millgrove, Ontario. And the forecast to get back into the states was not pretty. Feet upon feet of snow in the Great Lakes areas. Hmmm.... We had planned on spending the night on their lot so that whatever questions popped up in our first day/night of using the trailer, we could get them answered in person. With that forecast, though, we busted through our orientation and headed out. It was a truly rough day for all involved. We did not do lunch before picking up the trailer, since it was only about 11, and I didn't want to get dinner until we were back in the States, but that meant that we didn't end up eating until about 9:30 that night. Unhappy campers. But we had a trailer!!!! The Wal-Mart we had planned on staying at overnight did not allow that, so we had to push on from there. Fortunately there was a Meijer just down the road that did allow us to stay. Yeah!!! We made the trip back to my parents' house in CO in just 4 driving days. We needed to drop off some tent camping items that we just wouldn't need any more. And it made for a great landing pad so that we could get our act together in the trailer.

Messy Messy Messy
Moving In

I know you haven't stuck with me this long for nothing. Here are some pics! I spent a couple days buying some organization stuff for the trailer and then using it. We've got a bunch of stuff! But the guys at Taylor Coach rock the llama's socks, and we've got places for everything! Oh, and we spent some really cold nights on the road, but the trailer kept us comfy and cozy. LOVING IT!!!!


Packed Up

Pantry Storage



For a look throughout the entire trailer, check out this video.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Steamtown Sign

The kids and Bill headed out one day to check out the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton. I stayed at Aunt Rita's and did a bit of cooking (and napping). But they enjoyed it so much, we all went back the next day. What a great museum, so many trains, a roundhouse, great videos explaining the history of railroading in the area. Just a fantastic trip. And free for us, since we have the annual pass.


There was a lot of work to be done for the Junior Ranger program. There is an amazing room that talks about the people of railroads that we hung out in for a while since the kids had to do some work in there for their program. My favorite sign was explaining the difference between hoboes, tramps, and bums.


These were just a few of the trains they have. There's also a train yard. Bill took the kids to walk around it, but my foot was being special, so I skipped that portion of the journey. Amazing how excited the kids get over the trains. NB came up to me at one point and said he bet he could build a steam engine of his own. So now we need to do a bit of research and work, and make that dream a reality!

Changes are a'Brewin'

Packing the Tent

The final pack of the tent. We've spent two weeks now at relatives' houses, and it feels a bit odd that our tenting days are over. We celebrated mightily the final takedown. NS was especially excited at the thought of ditching the tent lifestyle.

Pennsylvania Tree
West Virginia Tree

In our two weeks with relatives, we've gotten to decorate a few houses for Christmas, which was fantastic. We haven't spent any time with relatives other than my parents in so many years, this was truly a delight for me to spend time with family seeing what they do for their traditions. And because I do still miss some of our traditions, we went ahead and made some of our favorite cookies, along with a couple recipes of Chex Mix.


I've also gotten to spend a little bit of time preparing for Christmas in our trailer. The kids and I have been working on their stockings, and they're almost all finished. I still have to sew up NS' and then get to work on Bill's, but I think they're beginning to shape up nicely. Bill's mom went out with me to get some ornaments for our 18" artificial tree. We have a bunch of battery operated mini LEDs. I got candles that will hopefully make our trailer smell like Christmas, not just perfumey.

Hard at Work

Saint Nick brought us a train set for our trailer. Bill grew up with trains at Christmas time, and we've always enjoyed setting ours up, so it was great to get a set for the tree in the trailer. It's Lego, so the kids have enjoyed putting it together. And Aunt Rita oohed and aahed over it, which made the kids feel good. She's such a good aunt!

And now, the most exciting news of all. Our trailer is READY!!!! We got an email with pictures, and they said they'd see us Thursday. We had thought it would be ready Friday, so this is the best stinkin' news EVER!!!! So today we leave Pennsylvania to park ourselves in a hotel overnight in New York, in order to make the trip to the RV center in Ontario super short. They said we could arrive right after lunch, so that's the plan. YEAH!!!!!!

Finished Outside

The Inside
The Floor

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Musings of a Meandering Mom

Good vs. Easy. This is something I've fought my entire time as a mom. From the moment I first heard, " Is he a good baby?" And those rude dogs weren't asking if my precious baby was the spawn of Satan. What they really wanted to know was if my baby was easy....ate on a schedule, slept on a schedule, kept quiet. Goo goo'ed and gaga'd, but never really got worked up or had difficulties. It's all well-intentioned, but it also sends the very wrong message.

This may be chaotic to follow, but hang with me on this one.

I love Barenaked Ladies. I'm not ashamed. I'll say it again. I LOVE Barenaked Ladies. Their song, What a Good Boy talks about how we perceive people, from birth, and keep them captive in these perceptions. What if people are perceived as bad, when they're just challenging? When we are challenged as parents, as educators, as neighbors, what is our reaction? Do we sincerely write someone off as bad, simply because they require more of us than we anticipated, or were even willing to give?

Lost at School is one of my favorite books from when my kids were in public school. In it, Dr. Greene discusses challenging kids, disruptive kids, and how schools handle them. His discourse on Positive Behavior Systems (PBS) really made me think about something I had assumed into my thought patterns since I was earning my teaching license. How we reward kids whose natural tendencies are what we deem positive and punish those kids who are naturally disruptive. How we continue to view easy vs. challenging as good vs. bad.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

'Tis the Season

....Illness is in the air. And air is in our lungs. And thus, we are ill. Like dominoes, we all fell to whatever hit Bill in Prince William Forest Park. With the two kids we had sick in the Dulles hotel, we were almost halfway through the family. Three down, four to go. Fast forward past Thanksgiving (thankful that no one was ill on that day!), and we had two down Friday morning. And the last two on Saturday night/Sunday morning. And, being the giving people we are, we also took down Bill's brother's family.

Much of the past few days has been spent on house keeping. Cleaning surfaces, doing laundry, scrubbing toilets. You know the drill. It certainly was NOT how we envisioned our holiday, but Bill's brother and sister-in-law have been amazingly wonderful during this whole ordeal, and I'm sure feel they can check off their familial obligations for this lifetime!

The countdown continues.....10 days until trailer day!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Prince William Forest Park

Right off I-95, in the heart of congestion in Northern Virginia, right next to Quantico (FBI and Marines), lies Prince William Forest Park. 15,000 acres of forest as a respite from the hectic world of stressful jobs, wrenching traffic, and hustle and bustle of everyday life. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Very cold during the mornings, so I took to driving the scenic drive loop every morning. Sometimes with company, sometimes without. The leaves reached their peak while we were there, and the drive was just amazing. Part of that might have been the seat heater, but another part was definitely the leaves.

Farms to Forest Trail

NB's last Webelos adventure in order to earn his badge, was Webelos Walkabout. This one calls for a three mile hike. Ah, Farms to Forest fit the bill. NB wanted to bring cheese, ham, and crackers as our lunch. So we packed up, and four out of the seven of us made the hike. Bill happened to be sick as a dog that day, so NS volunteered to stay and take care of him, and J just decided not to hike. That worked well, with each group being happy with their lot. Except maybe Bill. I don't think he liked his lot in life that day. But the hike was fantastic.

NB Hiking

We had a lot of hills on our journey, so I ran down the first couple. The kids loved that. It made the hike a bit more work, but I'm sure it was good for my complaining old body. There were so many leaves on the ground that I really wanted to try leaf skiing, but it didn't work so well when I tried to slide on them. Fear not, I slid a-plenty, but not when I was actually trying.

Laurel Loop Trail

Bill did manage to feel better, so on our last day there, before we headed back out to a hotel to avoid the below-freezing temps, we walked the Laurel Loop Trail. About a mile and a half long loop, it's a very popular trail. The Quantico Creek winds through the park, and there are many small bridges throughout all the trails. This bridge, though, is the biggest one we came across, and is just cool. We were hiking this on a Saturday, so there were many more people than we'd encountered any other time in the park. Mind you, for most of the week, we were camping there with only one other person in the campground. We tried for some good pictures, but settled for just regular pictures, and then gave up the bridge so others could try for their pictures, too.

J Being Sworn In

The Jr. Ranger badge activities were awesome for this park. A lot of parks have kinda simple activities. The kids learn a lot, but they can get most of the booklets done just in the visitor center. This park had the kids actually taking hikes. It was cool. And when the Ranger swore them in, he took the kids outside, right under the flag, next to a petrified tree (millions of years old), and swore them in there. Totally awesome. I told the Ranger that it may possibly be the best swearing in the kids have ever done. Loved it!!!!!

After leaving Prince William, we headed back over near Dulles Airport for a couple more days at a hotel. The weather got cold a second weekend in a row. I just can't get my head around camping in the freezing weather. It was nice to just be warm. On our last night in the hotel, we hung out with some friends at their house. Their youngest had a rough cough, so they warned us about being sick. We headed out anyway. Bill went for full disclosure and mentioned that he had been sick the week prior. That night we woke up to two kids being violently ill. Hotel walls aren't as easy to clean in the middle of the night as you might expect. Ah, what a fun travel day we had the next day. But it was a fast moving illness, so by the end of the travel day, the kids were back to mostly good. Thank goodness. And now for the Thanksgiving fun!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Daylight Savings and Squanderings

Ah, daylight. My friend. My enemy. I hate the word "frenemy," so I won't use it here. At any rate, when we were in Banff, the sun came up around 5am and set somewhere after 10pm. That's 17 hours of daylight. Glorious daylight. That's time to do things, to see things, to feel the warmth of the sun. Alas, the sun rises now after 7am and sets around 4:30pm. Um, that stinks larger than 'potamus poo. I wake up now around 6am, and the temps are around 40 (sometimes lower, sometimes higher), and the sun doesn't really rise for another hour and a half, with it not really touching the temperatures for two and a half hours after I've gotten up. And now the kids really aren't getting up until 8:30 or later, they don't want to bounce out of bed when it's freezing out. So our day is starting slower, we're taking longer to do things, and the day ends quicker. We've got to get our dinner made, eaten, and cleaned up by about 5:30. The sun sets around 4:30, the darkness hits around 5, and we are again freezing by about 5:30.

I did not fully love the lengthy days in Banff. I wanted to sleep without sunlight. But I prefer those days (at least in Banff). We've been eating out more because of the challenges, we've been sleeping more, and I'm off kilter.

Monday, November 14, 2016

National Park for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap is a park I've gone to bunches of time to see concerts and other performances, in the Filene Center, the Barns, and even in the Theater in the Woods. So it's been on my list to share with the kids for quite a while, but today was the day it was actually on the schedule! First things first, we went to my old roomie's house that I've never seen since she and her husband bought it after we left the region. What a gorgeous house and property they have!!! And they've been busy with renovations, truly making it reflect them.

MP and J Taking Pictures
Fountain at the Gardens

Our hotel really isn't that far from MP's house, so we stopped off at Trader Joe's en route since we were so early. Got us some tasty treats, and still made it to her house on time. I'm glad we picked up some snacks, because not only did we hit Wolf Trap, but we also made it to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. What a beautiful day we had!

Taking the Stage
Crossing the Creek

Wolf Trap has so much to offer besides the performances that bring most people to the park. I haven't been to the Theater in the Woods since my days at the day care center, so it was a great trip for me. Tragically, it was not as great for everyone in my party. My NS did not enjoy himself nearly as much. He did teach MP a scout song, which we then performed onstage, so that was a personal highlight, and I think it made it a bit more fun for him.


St. Mary of Sorrows Historic Church

Because I lived in VA for so long, I've got a huge list of things I'd like to do, places I'd like to go. We went to mass at the church Bill and I were married in. It's on the historic registry for Virginia. This building was actually used by Clara Barton during the Civil War. We arrived late, so we had to sit in the sacristy, which was a shame, but we did get to look around after mass. While we were hanging out waiting for the kids to get the camera from the car (why would I have left that in there????), I saw a family friend go by. I have not seen this lady since our wedding, I think. So after running to catch up with her and scaring the bejeepers out of her, I got a really cool chance to catch up with Mrs. Lowther and see how her kids are, introduce her to my kids. What a great meeting. Yeah!!!!


After talking with Mrs. Lowther, we spent some more time on the grounds and looked at the gravestones. There are some very old graves in the cemetary, and the kids were fascinated with looking at the stones and seeing how long ago these people lived. There's even a grave from a confederate soldier. There's no death date, though, so we're not sure if he died in the war or later.

Inside the Church

I just love the inside of this church. It's not a large space, but it is absolutely gorgeous. The pastor was the presider, so we even got to meet him after mass. He asked if our kids were old enough to be servers, and we explained that we were out of town. He threw a lot of snark our way for having left town. He was a fun guy, I'm glad we got to have a little chat.

After mass, I took the kids on a bit of a driving tour of my places. We drove by the main church, did a drive by of my high school, hit my grocery store, took a look at my parents' old house (it's not blue any more!), and then made our way over to Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria where we met up with buddies. I worked as a day care summer camp leader for several years, so there are a lot of places I've visited and explored, but I can't figure out how or why I would have heard of this park. It's amazing, it's a wetland habitat in Fairfax County, but it's not necessarily where I spent a lot of time. At any rate, I've known about this place for more than 20 years, and Cici went to elementary school just down the street from the park, so she was excited to meet us there and have the chance to show her kids her old elementary school and the house she lived in so long ago.


G took this picture for me. It was cool to get to see all the frogs. We also got to see tracks in the mud, which the guys at the visitor center were happy to identify for us. The boardwalk is a nice half mile loop that takes you right over the water. We searched for birds, frogs and toads, dragonflies, beavers, otters, and possibly weasels. Bill sat looking for some little beastie for quite a while, but never got a second glimpse of it. When we were at the visitor center, Bill talked to the guys there, and they handed him a field guide. When he told them he thought it was a weasel (originally we wondered whether it was a muskrat), they said they haven't seen one there in a couple decades. Hmmm.... But he definitely saw something of that size, so who knows? It might have been a mink, but those sightings are also rare.

G on the Boardwalk

The boardwalk hike is just a fun little jaunt. We got to see turtles, too. I can't believe I forgot the turtles! They were so cool. We got to see three of them right in a group. It was pretty amazing that we got to see any wildlife, since we had seven kids behaving like lunatics. Which was fun in its own right, but they weren't the best nature observers that day.

As Good as It Gets

This is a fantastic picture for this bunch. I'm so glad they all get along. I remember having to meet my parents' friends when I was a kid, having to play with their friends' kids. It's not always a smooth thing. But all the times we've hung out since January, all the kids have played well without any awkwardness. Cool.

And we've got plans with more people and to see more things while we're in the area. I'm very excited.