Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Big Summer '09 Vacation

Day 1

We started the drive out east. Samuel passed the time by listening to a Shel Silverstein CD.

Our big summer '09 trip begins: Samuel listens to Shel Silverstein on the way to Ohio

We stopped at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to visit the air museum. An hour was not nearly enough time to see everything, but we had a great time.

Samuel in a cockpit at Wright-Patt

Samuel in an F-4 cockpit

Then we drove to Salt Fork State Park in eastern Ohio, where we camped for the night. Other than Shawn nearly being attacked by a raccoon, we had a great time. It's been a couple of years since we camped, and Samuel was so excited to finally do it again. We need to go more often!

camping in Ohio

only when camping do 3 hot dogs and 2 s'mores make an acceptable dinner

Day 2

We drove to my grandparents' house in Virginia. It was great to see them and other family members again, and meet some others for the first time! Samuel got to meet his 2nd cousin finally, and they had a blast playing in a cardboard box. :) Wish I had gotten a picture of that, but I was so entertained watching them that it didn't even occur to me.

Day 3

Samuel and were sitting on the back porch looking out at the lake before breakfast, when he suddenly poked me and said, "Mama! That's a turkey." Sure enough, there was a turkey walking up the hill from the lake. He crossed the driveway and the yard, and I managed to snap a shot before he headed off down the road. We have seen lots of animals there, but this was our first turkey!

Later, we went for a swim in the lake, which was great. It is SO much nicer to go for a swim when there are only a few people in a nice big lake, rather than at the pool when you are always bumping into rowdy teenagers!

Day 4

Driving again - off to DC for the rehearsal dinner for my cousin's wedding. We managed to get in a swim at the hotel before heading off to dinner. Dinner was at a restaurant called Wildfire at Tyson's Corner. If you're ever in the neighborhood, their key lime pie is to die for. And I don't usually even LIKE key lime pie.

Day 5

It was an evening wedding, so we had plenty of time to take the Metro to the Mall. We took Samuel to the Museum of Natural History, which we all really enjoyed.

at the Natural History museum in DC

Samuel took this shot of the elephant that greets you at the door

giant sloth!

This is a giant sloth that once stood 12 feet tall. Seriously. You do NOT want to meet that sloth in a dark alley.

saber tooth

Samuel was excited to see the saber-tooth...


... and the mammoth! Okay, he was probably only excited because of that silly Ice Age movie.

Samuel and a leatherback

Samuel and a leatherback sea turtle! We'd just been reading about how big they are!

Samuel and a big fat caterpillar

Samuel and a big fat caterpillar. I think it may have been a tomato hornworm.

After we got back to the hotel, we did NOT go for a swim, because they didn't open the pool when they said they would. Yes, the Crown Plaza made at least 2 small children cry that day. Keep that in mind when choosing a hotel at Tyson's Corner. ;) Ah, well, the kids recovered in time for the wedding. Here they are, getting some refreshment before the ceremony.

Samuel and 2nd cousin Tristan at the wedding

The wedding and reception were beautiful, and I wish my cousin and his new wife all the best! It was great to see all my aunts and uncles, and most of my cousins, too. It had been 6 years since I'd seen some of them!

Day... what day am I on? 6?

Driving... again! Back to my grandparents' house. Most of the family came, too, and we got to visit some more. The cardboard box was also revisited. Shawn and Samuel went kayaking on the lake, too.

kayaking at the lake

kayaking at the lake

kayaking on the lake

Day 7

Relaxed. Went swimming. Went to Mass at the most awesome church ever. (You people in Front Royal are SO LUCKY!!!) Relaxed some more. Then re-packed like crazy because the next day, we were...

Day 8

Driving. Again. Back to Ohio, but the Hocking Hills region this time. The route that randmcnally.com had us take was through the mountains of West Virginia, and it was very very beautiful, but also very very twisty. We are talking constant hairpin turns as you go up and down and up and down and up and down and then Samuel said he wasn't feeling well and then he said that he was feeling worse and they he said, "Pull over! Pull over! PULL OVER NOW!" So we did.

This is the scenic overlook where we pulled over so Samuel could throw up.

This is the scenic overlook where we pulled over so Samuel could throw up.

We managed to make it through the mountains without further incident and arrived at last at the awesome cabin we rented for an early 10th anniversary trip.

Our cabin in Ohio.

We went out to dinner at Millstone BBQ, which was fabulous, and then just enjoyed our cabin.

Day... I lost track again.

For our first hike in Hocking Hills, we decided on Ash Cave. It was a fairly easy hike, and the rock formations were breathtaking, as they are everywhere in the Hocking Hills area.

Ash Cave

That is Shawn and Samuel down there in the cave. And this is the last picture I took before I broke the camera.

Yep, I broke the camera. While leaning down to put our canteens on a rock, I let the camera around my neck swing forward and hit the rock, which dented the screen. It still takes pictures, but you can't use the screen AT ALL, which really limits things. Yes, I am still kicking myself. ARRRGGG! Oh, well

Ash Cave

Samuel and I in Ash Cave

Then we went to Cedar Falls. This trail was a bit more challenging. It would help if they had better maps posted to help you plan your route. Hint, hint, Hocking Hills State Park people!

alligator snapping turtle on the Cedar Falls trail

an alligator snapping turtle swimming by the Cedar Falls trail

Samuel at Cedar Falls

Samuel in front of Cedar Falls

After all that hiking, we were ready to enjoy the cabin's hot tub that night. And after that, we put the fire pit to good use and made s'mores and banana boats.

The next day

More hiking! We went to the Rock House, which is the only true cave in the park (the others are recess caves). Here are some shots of Samuel inside the Rock House:

Samuel in the Rock House

Samuel in the Rock House

After that we were too tired for more hiking, so we played mini golf and went back to the cabin for more hot tub and s'mores. Just so you know, putting a Reeces cup in the s'more instead of a piece of chocolate is not as good at it sounds, because it doesn't get melty enough. Using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate doesn't get quite as melty, either, but is still the best option. :)

Last Day (you thought it would never come)

We checked out of our lovely cabin and headed off for one more trail. We really wanted to do Old Man's Cave, since that seems to be the biggest attraction, but it's also a longer trail, so we opted for Conkle Hollows instead. It was such a beautiful trail! Absolutely gorgeous.

on the Conkle Hollows trail

on the trail to Conkle Hollows

on the trail to Conkle Hollows

on the trail to Conkle Hollows

Conkle Hollows

on the Conkle Hollow trail

After that, we still managed to play mini golf again and browse an antique store before hitting the road for home. We discovered another great BBQ place in Springfield, Ohio - Rudy's Smokehouse. And then, at long last, we made it back home. It was a great trip, but it sure was busy, and it is nice to be back!

BTW, this is not all of our pictures from the trip. I KNOW. I totally maxed out my Flickr account this month, which I have never done before. If you want to see the rest, they are there.

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