Friday, June 30, 2017

Weston Area

While at Winhall Brook Campground, we didn't really have great cell signal.  We didn't invest in a signal booster, so when we're out of range, we're not connected.  It can make it a little bit challenging to find out all the different things we want to do and such.  It was such a great area.  We visited the Vermont Country Store in Weston almost everyday (turns out, we love maple milkshakes.  Who knew?), went into Manchester several times, and generally tried to visit local craftsmen whenever we could.  
On our way from NY, we stopped in Middlebury to check out the Danforth Pewter flagship store and workshop.  We got to see pewter casting (poured into molds) and spinning (pictured).  There was a tour bus group there when we first arrived, but when they cleared out, it was just us.  The manager was super friendly and explained to us how the company is run (everyone hired gets experience at all the jobs), talked about the equipment, and gave us a lot of her time.  She also challenged us all to spin four tops at the same time, and whoever could got to take a little trinket home.  Pretty cool trip.            
One of the sites we enjoyed in Manchester was the Northshire Bookstore.  A great bookstore.  They have used books in addition to new, which is always fun to peruse.  We took home a few books, of course.  We happened to do our laundry in Manchester, right next door to Mrs. Murphy's Donuts.  I stepped in and picked up a dozen donuts.  So glad I did.  They were huge, tasty, and a great variety.  Much better than any of the chains I've visited.  Glad we tried them out right before we headed out of the area!   We visited Crowley Cheese, where we not only picked up their cheese, but we also picked up smoked maple syrup. We seriously had such a great time visiting the little shops and checking out what people make and do in Vermont.  If you get a chance, spend some time in the state.

Out and About in New York

NB helped me out on this picture.  Our New York campground was WET and dreary, but as I was coming out of the bathhouse, I noticed these small flowers on the sidewalk.  NB followed me after I grabbed my camera and held up the flower so I could get a better picture of it.  I love that the kids will take a much closer look at things when I whip out my camera.  They also have taken to slowing down and looking for the little somethings to show me and have me take the picture of their find.  I love that they pay attention to the beauty of this world, and know that sometimes you have to look for the beauty amongst things that may not really draw your eye.  A little life lesson that will serve them well.          
We took an afternoon to stay local and checked out the fort associated with our campground.  While I'm sure the fort itself was fascinating, we were more taken with the shoreline, so that's where we stayed.  We met an extended family group there who really liked our van.  Turned out one of the families was from Louisville, CO!  

After the fort, we headed out to Gunnison's Orchard to get some cider doughnuts.  The pie also looked good, so we ended up taking home a carmel walnut apple pie.  Oh me oh my.  That was glorious.  We also drove around a bit.  Drove right by the set tour of the original Star Trek series.  A bit more money than I was willing to part with, so we just kept on truckin'.  

Mostly we were taken with Vermont from this site, so we kept crossing the bridge.  We need to find more campsites in Vermont.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I LoVermont

We're camping in New York right now.  But visiting Vermont.  We're at Crown Point Campground, literally on the other side of Lake Champlain from Vermont.  
I'm in New York, looking out into Vermont.  See that sky? It's raining again.  But that's ok, cuz we headed out for some tours today.                      
First we headed to Shelburne to visit the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  I've loved their bears since I was in high school, which was (coincidentally) around the time they got the factory up and running.  We paid $3 for those older than 12 for a half hour tour of their operations.  It's really neat to see how they get the bears made and learn how many people they employ.  Or how few, and yet I've heard of them.  And their operations increase dramatically around the holidays.  Our tour guide said they regularly employ 150, and they ADD about 1,000 for the holidays.  Wow.  Looking around their shop, they really lend support to small businesses in the area.  Their graphic designer is Bruce Corbett, whose snowflake photographs they had for sale.  They also had a couple shirts from Keep Vermont Weird, and they had a write up about the couple who started the business.  Sadly, when we tried to visit the store in Burlington, we couldn't find the place.  We spent a frustrating half an hour looking for them before just calling it quits.  But I love their stuff and am hoping to find more of their stuff in some local shops.  

After the tour, and the fail in Burlington, we wandered around.  Vermont is really cool about having signs for EVERYTHING, so we would see something that caught our fancy, and just pull over.  We went to the Shelburne Country Store, the Vermont Flannel Company, and Dakin Farm.  I had to keep reminding myself that these aren't the only places we're going, and I don't need to buy every cheese and every maple product I find.  But I did get a hot chocolate mix from Silly Cow Farms, which I really enjoyed.  

We've got two campgrounds lined up in VT, but I think we might stay longer.  We don't have any reservations after our two in VT until we hit Acadia at the end of July.  We picked up a TON of brochures today, plus I've got tabs open in my browser for places we saw on our way through VT to NY.  There's a lot that's calling to us in this beautiful place.  
I'll leave you with this.  It's the memorial to Samuel Champlain.  When the door is open, you're free to walk up it, so that's what the kids did today.  I hear it's riddled with spiders.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Woods Hole

As an English major, I never had heard of Woods Hole Institute.  My husband, however, has been wanting to see Woods Hole since before he and I met.  He wanted to be a marine biologist and do research at Woods Hole.  Instead, he went to WVU and became a computer/software engineer working as a government contractor.  This trip has made his dreams come a fashion.  We made it to Woods Hole!!!!  
Here they are in the model of the Alvin.  For those who don't know, Alvin is a deep sea explore vehicle.  Diving to depths of 15,000 ft or so, scientists who use Alvin have found out so much for us, it's amazing.  And there's still so much to be discovered and explored.  The whole village of Woods Hole (which one of the scientists we spoke with said is actually a part of Falmouth) is filled with research. We went to three or four different locations to learn about sea creatures, Alvin, work with different bacteria and such.  It was a great day.  And honestly, I loved walking around the town and having so many different labs around (even though most aren't open to the public).  When we were in Los Alamos, even though the town grew with the labs and the work on the bomb, the town itself was not focused around science.  You've got the government labs, but the science seems to be contained to that.  Perhaps because Woods Hole is right there at the ocean, scientists have flocked to the area and set up a huge community.  Totally cool.    
The aquarium is small, but it's free.  And it's got cool fish like these.  They talked about human interruptions to marine life.  One of the things mentioned specifically was noise pollution.  I've been getting more and more sensitive to noise, so I feel their pain.  Interestingly, as weather changes, noises actually add another layer of congestion in my head, as though it changes the pressure in my sinuses.  Wouldn't it be great if we spent some resources on figuring out how not to be the noisy neighbor next door?              
We went to the upstairs in the aquarium, beyond the displays, to where they do the actual work of taking car of the fish.  We spoke with the marine biologist who was making the fish food for all the beasties in the aquarium.  She cuts up the small fish into smaller pieces, blends them up in a food processor, adds some spinach and other veggies, kicks it up a notch with vitamins, then cuts up the mess into cubes.  Not really how I want to use my food processor.  Blech.  But talking with her was fascinating, so I'm glad we went over and talked to her when I saw her making the food.  All in all, a great way to finish up our visit to Massachussets.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beyond Boston

We started out our day with plans to go to Boston and Salem.  I'm not a huge city person.  Dragging the summer campers I used to work with into DC every summer cured me of that.  Still, we're in MA, so off to Boston, right?  We didn't have a list of things to see or do, parking turned out to be complicated, I didn't want to be there, so we honestly just drove through the city and kept on going to Salem.  Sorry, Boston!  The buildings are beautiful, but that's all I know about the city.  
Salem, much like Plymouth, took us very little time to explore.  We could have done more, seen more gimmicky sights and such, but we were good with about an hour.  This is the Witch House, the only remaining building with any connection to the Salem Witch Trials.  We stopped by the regional visitor's center, did the Heritage Trail, and made sure we got some pics.  I picked up a book on the Salem Witch Trials, which K already knew were a horrible time in our history, but she learned quite a bit with the new book, even more horrible things.              
Nathaniel Hawthorne was also from Salem, so we walked by the House of the Seven Gables.  They've got quite the tour set up for it, but we opted just for walking by it.  I'm going to have to read that one sometime, as The Scarlet Letter is his book I've read.                                      
A lot of the things we wanted to do or see were closed for renovations.  This martime historic site has no ship right now.  It's in dry dock, getting some upkeep.  The Constitution (in Boston) was away being cleaned up.  Seemed like it was all closed.  But we did still have fun walking around and such.                                    
After Salem, we were headed to Concord.  Except that the Saugus Ironworks sign beckoned us from the highway, and so we went to check that out.  G loves this stuff, and there were very few people there, so the Ranger showed us things that not everyone gets to see.  Yeah!  There was a brief film on the history of iron works, with the Puritans leading the way.  Their blast oven only ran for 20+ years, but it lead the way for US made iron.  It was a nifty history tour.  We spent a little more than an hour at this site, too, but we learned quite a bit more.              

We finished up our day at the Minute Man National Historic Site.  It's a small park, but their 25 minute film was excellent.  They used maps, three different walls, and several screens to help show us all the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.  NPS films vary in quality, but this was possibly the best one we've seen.  Definitely worth the stop.

Monday, June 19, 2017


One of the reasons we're camping at Wompatuck State Park is that it's between Plymouth (formerly known as Plimoth) and Boston.  So after mass (which was totally awesome, the music rocked, it was a family/kid oriented mass, and the homily was short and sweet with a nice prayer thrown in for good measure) we decided to just take the hop on over to Plymouth.  
That's it.  It's a chunk of stone with the year 1620 etched on it.  We did manage to catch the ranger's talk about the rock and the historical significance, which was nice.  There's also a statue of Massasoit to check out and a scarcophagus for the bones of those who didn't survive the first winter.  Other than that (and all the souvenier shops), there's not a lot going on.  The town is cool, though, and we had a blast looking around, though the visit was short.                                
And much like New Bern with their bears hanging out all over town, Plymouth has lobsters.  It was fun checking them all out.  If we had more time, it would have been fun to just walk around and take pictures of them all.  But we made the decision to make the trip out to Cape Cod and perhaps even have seafood for Father's Day.                                    
We lucked out and got to Sandy Neck Beach State Park after 5pm, so parking was free.  So we hung out, throwing rocks in the waves and looking for shells and crabs.  When we finished with the beach, we headed out to Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham, where we had some pretty kickin' seafood.  If you're ever in this area, they are seriously good.  Pricey, but seafood just is.  All in all, it was a good Father's Day.  I hope you all had a good one, too.

Friday, June 16, 2017

School Stuff

I am stressing big time.  Normally by this time, we've already begun our new school year.  The older kids are still working on finishing their math, and I'm working on figuring out the next year.  G wants to learn econ, but the first book I got on the topic is taking me a long time to read.  It's a bit boring.  But it got rave reviews, and it has good things to say, I just need to force myself to spend more time on it.

I ponder the kids' futures a lot, too.  Knowledge is such an easily acquired commodity these days, whereas it seems as though skills are more challenging.  I need to get the kids doing things to enhance some of their inherent talent, explore more of what fascinates them.  All while figuring out how to get them into college and on a good path for life.  No pressure.

Rhode Island

Oh my goodness, have we been having fun in Rhode Island.  In a fit of panic over where we would be for the 4th of July, I made a slew of reservations (oddly, not covering the 4th of July, but up through the weekend right BEFORE the 4th....that won't possibly come back to bite me), including the one at Fishermen's Memorial State Park in Rhode Island.  Right outside of Narragansett, we're pretty close to the ocean.  Beach time!!!!  
Bill and four of the five hit the beach while I caught up on checking their work in their workbooks and G did a little math.  NB got buried in the sand as a merman.   Parking at the state beaches is what costs, and since they were only going for a few hours, they decided to walk.                  
They got out far enough to really jump some waves.  This is further out than they ever got at Padre Island or Cape Hatteras.  They all put on sunscreen, but K still ended up with a sunburn.  I don't know if she's simply more sensitive than the boys, but it seems like she always gets a burn.  Blech.  This particular day I read a second article about dry drowning, too, so I was a bit panicky about them when they got home.  Too many weird things that can go on in this world.  I also read about a little girl who's Lyme disease went undiagnosed initially because it presented abnormally.  Lot of weird stuff.            
We also spent a day in Newport checking out the mansions.  We did the Cliff Walk, which was really cool.  My back was in truly bad shape, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have, but it was amazingly beautiful.  Some of the mansions are privately owned, some are held by the Preservation Society, so some are open for tours.  We simply gawked from a distance.                
The mansions are seriously close to the water (well, ok, the ones you can see from the Cliff Walk are, there are other mansions NOT oceanfront), and the views are amazing.  But the fact that you can get those views from the Cliff Walk make NOT having a mansion ok, too.                  
We also drove out to Fort Adams and from there did the Ocean Drive.  Very picturesque.  While it was not a day at the beach (which we were reminded of frequently), it was a nice way to spend the day.  Four nights in a place sounds like a decent amount of time, but with chores and such, we only got two days of exploring.  We're spending more time in Massachusetts, so I'm hoping that the kids get a couple days at the beach and we get a couple days to explore.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Are the Odds?

When we first pulled into Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret, CT, the very first vehicle we saw was a replica of ours, only in black (and minus our cool stickers, but plus a kid or two).  In my desire to have the 4th of July mapped out, I went ahead and made reservations at a ton of places, including this one.  When the ranger checked us in on Thursday night, he told Bill that the place was almost full for the weekend.  We spent our days out and about, but when we came back at night, it was buzzing with activity.  Kids everywhere, adults all socializing, people mingling in all different campsites.  We figured it was a family reunion of epic proportions, one that made us want to have a family reunion on such a scale.

How naive we were!  We're in the park with the annual homeschool group meet up campout for Connecticut.  What are the odds that we'd choose this campground during their homeschool camping trip????  Bill found this out after a bunch of people left Sunday morning.  I wasn't feeling the church thing, I'm massively stressed and the time of mass made it so making NB's birthday dinner would be a time crunch, blah blah blah.  Just excuses, I know.  But that kept us at the campsite, so my peeps went out and talked to the others while I drowned in my own sweat in the trailer making beef stroganoff--the meal NB requested.  No deli platter for him, no.  A nice fruit and cheese tray?  Nay nay, my friend.  140 sq ft heats up quickly.

This homeschool meet up surrounding us has really been a blessing.  We've been surrounded by musically driven people (some of those girls have GORGEOUS voices), we've seen kids getting to run around and just have fun with each other, and we've been immersed in a very relaxed and joyous atmosphere.

I love our odds!


Moving our way north, we now visit Connecticut.  We've been fairly busy during our brief stay here, and we've barely scratched the surface of what there is to do.  We've driven past Noah Webster's house, Nathan Hale's homestead, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Mystic Seaport, and many others.  And it seems as though we're only an hour or so from everything in the state.  Oddly, I think we're only an hour and a half from everything in Connecticut once we're in Rhode Island.  And possibly Massachussetts.  Such a difference from the Southwest, where even the bathroom was an hour or two away (ha ha).  
Man, I love our Rand McNally Road Atlas (Adventure Edition)!  Reading my atlas always shows me good things (when I can get my eyes to read that small print).  At any rate, I found the Submarine Force Library & Museum.  We spent several hours there looking over old submarines, including a full sized model of Bushnell's turtle.                  
Does this not make you claustrophobic?  You can't really tell from this picture, but if the mannequin had his elbows out, he could touch both sides of the machine.  Wow.  While the turtle failed to destroy any targets, I'm pretty amazed at the ingenuity and perseverence of David Bushnell.  And the willingness of anyone to put themselves in this thing.  No small spaces for me!!!                                  
We also got to take a tour of the USS Nautilus.  Remember the no small spaces for me comment?  I did fine, thank you very much.  The air moves nicely through the sub, and the tour is only about 30 minutes.  Even so, I was pretty sure going in that there was no way I would come out of this without a need for some anti-anxiety medication.  I faced my fear and came out on top (this time).  It's a pretty big deal for me since I've been having anxiety attacks and such.  Go me!              
But this right here is why sub life is not for me.  Each of those white curtains is another bunk.  There are four on the right hand side that you can see, and another three on the left hand side (limited on that side because of a lower ceiling).  Heebee jeebees, and that's not even taking into account the dangers of being out at sea and at war.  There was an excellent movie (they only show part I) on submarines in WWII.  Submariners sharing their tales.  Really very humbling when you think about the inherent dangers and how the technology still failed at times.  We also learned how the torpedoes would fail to explode on impact because of a design flaw and the designers blamed incompetent soldiers until an officer ran his own demo and showed that the impact of the torpedo on the water damaged the firing mechanism.  There was a survivor of a sunken sub--the sub sunk due to a design flaw, so that when they dove, water kept coming in.  Less than half the crew was rescued.  What a horrible way to die.                      
After the museum, we headed over to Mystic for lunch.  The Mystic Seaport is mighty pricey, so we skipped that, but I wanted to hit Mystic Pizza.  I loved that movie as a teenager.  They have the movie going constantly, though no sound, and tons of memorabillia from the movie.  The pizza was good and it was neat just to be able to say we've been.  We also hit the bakery down the street for dessert--Sift Bakery.  YUMMY!!!!  The kids had wanted dessert at Mystic Pizza, but I put them off in favor of the bakery.  I'm glad I did.  My aunt and I were talking about memories and how many revolve around food.  Dessert was certainly a good food memory for me!  Mystic is a cute town, the kind of small town that would be so nice to live in.  Everything in walking distance, cute shops that are kept up, visitors to help the local economy.  I enjoyed our brief stay.                                  
In West Hartford, we came across this sign.  I love clever people.  We were in Hartford to get some fajita seasoning from Penzeys.  We haven't had access to our favorite fajita seasoning consistently, and we've run out several times, so I made sure I got two packages this time.  Let's hope that keeps us for the next three months!                  
After Penzeys, we scooted over to Bristol to check out the New England Carousel Museum (another find on the atlas!).  We managed to hit the area during Open House, so the museum was free.  And, on site are two other museums--the Fire Museum and the Greek Culture museum.  Each museum was fairly small, so we finished the whole thing in about an hour, but it was good fun.  We learned about the three different types of carving, saw some incomplete carvings, and the kids got to ride a small carousel.                                
Possibly the scariest warning sticker I've ever seen.  Kinda like Mr. Yuck, but for flammables instead of poisons.  Seriously, it's Heath Ledger's Joker combined with Satan, with his hair on fire.  Not good.                    
Bill got into it by dressing up.  Quite the handsome man, wouldn't you say?  After all our fun in Bristol, we had to leave for lunch and errands.  There's a birthday this weekend, and purchases must be made.          


I read an article this morning on how LEDs are gaining in popularity.  One of the things that struck me is that they said most older homes have about 20 lightbulbs in their house, with newer houses having closer to 40.  Our 140 sq ft trailer has 20 bulbs.  I am a huge fan of light.  Especially as I get older and my eyes want to be lazy, I need light.  I can't read in the shadows, I can't tell details in poor light, nothing is good without light.  So if we extrapolate out my need for light, with a 1400 sq ft house, I'll need 200 bulbs.  Hmmm.....  Thank goodness I don't need as much light everywhere.  I can usually do without one in our pantry (though I use the one at our pantry door now quite a bit).  And I'm fortunate enough to still do fairly well in sunlight.  Just things to keep in mind as we plan out our next house.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Liberty Science Center

Moving on from Scranton, we knew we wanted to visit Lady Liberty.  We looked into it from Scranton, but just couldn't figure out the logistics.  So on to Jersey, right?  Right!  And with us came the rain...  Instead of spending the day outdoors getting wet and cold, we opted to go to the Liberty Science Center, another ASTC member museum.  Our membership has been worth its weight in gold this year!  

Truly amazing how loud school groups are.  Loud, loud, loud.  We're very blessed to do things out of peak times, so when we're in the middle of the action, it can be quite painful.  But we also outlasted the school groups, so we got to see most of what we wanted.  I wonder what the kids on those field trips get out of a visit like yesterday.  I'm a big proponent of getting out there and seeing and doing, but I'd love to be inside the minds of these kids.  It just seems to be so whirlwind.  Something I'll be thinking about for a couple more days...  
One of the first things we did was to check out the illusions exhibit.  A lot of what we saw we've seen in books before, but the ones we hadn't seen before were really cool.  The room was pretty dark, and the explanations were kept hidden--you had to use a blacklight flashlight to read the signs.  That added another level of cool to the whole thing.  As you can probably tell from the picture, the face is in segments, and as you look through the hole, it appears together.  The slices are stepped back from each other, so you can walk down the table and look at each different layer.                              
Absolutely amazing what your mind will do for you.  The kid in the background is reading a colorful sign.  Each different color contains a color word.  In the beginning, the word red is inside the color red, the word purple is inside the color get the picture.  At the end, they've mixed up the words and colors, so you're reading the word purple inside the color green.  That's hard to do, it turns out.                
There was an exhibit on skyscrapers, something we hadn't seen before in others of our journeys.  We've experienced aspects (build an earthquake-proof structure and such), but this hall had a lot of new things for us.  This beam is one that was found at the WTC site after 9/11.  The exhibit certainly wasn't about 9/11, but it was good to see this beam and one other they had.  It was interesting to read that they had a full on investigation as to why the building collapsed.  I would not think that you would expect a building to NOT collapse with the damage that was done that day.  But there was also a large section on how skyscrapers are the way for future cities, so increased safety makes sense.  Made me a little sad, though.  They talked about walking from one building to another on elevated walkways, flying cars that park in elevated spaces....all I could wonder was, would people lose their connection to the physical ground?  Lots to ponder.                      
And we did get to see the Statue of Liberty!  We may not have made it actually into NYC, but we got to see the backside of the Lady.  It was cold out, so we didn't do a whole lot outside, but I was glad we got the opportunity.  We went to Liberty State Park, just around the corner from the museum, and poked around for a bit.  K was sad we didn't go into NYC, didn't take a ferry, didn't get a stamp in her NPS passport.  It was all about what we didn't do for her.  That's hard, especially for Bill, who takes it as a personal failure.  But life is about choices.  She'll make her own choices when she's older, and we do make choices that make her happy.  Choices suck.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Church Life

Sitting in mass this morning, I had a hard time hearing the first reading because of loud kiddos in the back.  It makes me smile to hear the kids.  But then the mama took the kiddos out, and it was quiet.  Don't get me wrong, I like to hear the readings.  But I missed the kids.  Mainly because I think the mom rushed them out to appease others.  I've gotten enough stink eyes from enough people over the years to put a lot of thought into it all.  I loved the church this morning.  People seemed to know one another, like one another, be a community.  I felt welcome.  Not that anyone did anything in particular, but the vibe of the church was relaxed and comfortable.

Jesus told us that the most important commandment was to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind; the next was to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:38-39).  Love is where it's at, baby.  And when we welcome others, directly or indirectly, we offer our love to them.  We allow them space to be who they need to be, and grant them a place with us.  We join together without set expectations and allow things to unfold.

K was asking me a lot about babies because of our time with family the other night.  Babies offer such an amazing level of trust.  They're unlike any other people, they trust inherently, as part of their every day lives.  One of my favorite songs from church is The Servant Song.  Kids let you be their servant, they trust you to do what's right for them.  What's more daunting is the rest of the song--pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.  Holy stink.  And it comes for us.  It might be coming for me faster than I want.  There will be a time when I simply cannot do for myself, and I will have to put my faith in others.  Community, welcome, acceptance, and important.  As we move throughout this life, connections are vital.  I leave you with one last song, one of my favorites from my 20s, which seem sooooo long ago at this point....  Come Back to Me.

Scranton, Again

Staying near my aunt meant getting to see family again.  We were sick the last time we rolled through town, and my cousin's baby was new to this world at this time, so this was our first time meeting the baby.  Such a sweetie. Totally unsure about us, though.  We come in like a hurricane, though, so I understand.  We enjoyed dinner and a great evening with them all.  After we left, Bill got a text saying we had left our chairs, so we did a repeat the next night.  Two nights of fun, who can complain?              
On the way to my aunt's house, we saw a billboard advertising the Arts on Fire festival, so that's how we spent our day before hitting her house for the second night.  This cool train was the first thing we saw, so of course we had to take a picture.  The website had mentioned glass blowing and iron pouring, but not much else, so we didn't know exactly what to expect.  We had a good time, though!                                  
The glass blowing was cool.  Since we had been to a studio and watched glass blowing in VA, we had already learned a bit about this art form.  This gentleman, though, made a vase, which we had not seen done before.  We got to see new (to us) techniques, which is always exciting.                                    
Those little squares are sandstone, which people carved to form their own design.  The iron was then poured over it and cooled, and you got to take home your own hand designed iron block for only $5.  A bargain I say!                    
Bill did the carving on ours.  The kids had input on the design and even helped draw out ideas.  I think it turned out very nice.                      
We also got a nice little trinket from one of the artists there (Steel by Victor).  Not sure how we're going to use it just yet, but we'll come up with a way.  Great to have something to remember our journey to Scranton!