Wednesday, October 12, 2011

East Coast Trip Sept 2011 - Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and some Grandkids!!

After a long flight, and an even longer drive from Baltimore, Md to Williamsburg, VA - we made it! Due to flooding from Tropical Storm Lee, we had to alter our travel itinerary and go to Colonial Williamsburg first, rather than start out at Jared and Debbie's in Lancaster, PA. Jared's family joined us there, and we all managed to arrive safely into Williamsburg within 5 min of each other. We both got delayed by road closures coming out of Washington, DC. When we got to the hotel, we piled into our beds and got a good night's sleep, before we began our adventures in the Historical Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestowne and Yorktown. The towns were lovely and quaint and the museums were well-done and informative. All Americans should, sometime in their life, make the journey to the earliest settlements of our nation to pay homage to those who settled our great land. This was truly a trip of a lifetime. We saw so much - we're still overwhelmed. I should have journaled daily, because now so much of it's a blur. I broke our trip down into several posts. We've never been gone from home this long - but it was so much fun and it all went so well.
So here goes . . .

Ben was beyond excited to go aboard the Susan Constant sailing ship, but disappointed to find we weren't actually going to set sail. I was relived!

Jamestowne Settlement, VA. The living history site of the original settlement gave a good flavor of what the earliest settlers had to endure. Those folks were made of stronger stuff than me. I can't imagine sailing for 3 months and landing in an unknown/hostile land without a store nearby! Ben didn't mind going inside the huts, but Hannah wasn't too keen about all the animal hides and the smell! Caleb liked grinding some corn!

Grandma and Hannah stroll in the formal gardens of the Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, VA

Having some 17th century lunch at Chownings Tavern, Williamsburg, VA

We got into a bit of trouble in Colonial Williamsburg and had to spend some time in the stocks!

After our few days together in Williamsburg, Jared's family headed back home to Pennsylvania, and we began the DC leg of our trip. Our plan was to then head up to Jared's, after DC, to end our vacation with them. Bud then headed for home and I stayed for a few more days at Jared's, then met up with Emily and Courtney in New York City. I was gone from home almost 3 weeks. Unheard of for this homebody.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Washington DC

DC was all we hoped it would be. We were so impressed with what our nation has done in the Capitol to represent itself to the world. All the monuments were elegant and graceful. The Capitol Building was all I expected it to be, and more. I think the Library of Congress was my favorite building. Our docent told us about Boris Yeltsin's visit with Pres Clinton, and how overcome he was with the magnificence of the Library of Congress that he said to Clinton "you did all this and you don't even have a Tsar??" It's a world class building. We weren't able to spend near the time there that I would have liked. The metro was easy to figure out, and we rode it all about town. Our hotel had a shuttle that dropped us off daily at Union Station, and then we were off on full days of sightseeing. We even made a trip to Ben's Chili Bowl made famous by Bill Cosby and Pres. Bill Clinton. We asked, and were told that Pres Obama has made only one token visit to the Chili Bowl. The Capitol Mall is much larger than we anticipated. Since no buildings can be taller than the Washington Monument, the skyline does get kind of tiresome to look at with all the low, squat, concrete edifices. Kinda boring. DC is a buzz of activity. We did see the Pres fly in on his helicopter, escorted by 2 other helicopters to the White House. I won't bore you with a bunch of photos of things you can see in any movie, or online, but I will bore you with the sights I found impressive.

As soon as we got to Washington, I wanted to pick out my Christmas present, and found this little gem at the Smithsonian Institution - the Hope Diamond. Loved, loved all the Smithsonian Museums. Could have spent a week just seeing them all. Got a kick out of Julia Child's kitchen, and the Space Capsules. Just nuts to fly back into the earth's atmosphere in those little pods!!

Full moon rising behind the Washington Monument with the World War II Monument in the foreground. I think I was most impressed by the WWII Monument at night. The Korean War Memorial was eerily/ghostly beautiful at night. I won't bore you with photos of everything we saw!

Apotheosis of Washington in the dome of the Capitol. Not quite the Sistine Chapel, but close! It was magnificent.

Freedom Statue in the Capitol Building. The bronze of Freedom is atop the capitol.

Sunrise peeping through the Jefferson Memorial. We were struck by how large all the monuments are. Our nation did a fine job of memorializing those who gave so much towards the birth of our great nation.

The new Martin Luther King Memorial.

Mount Vernon, Monticello, Shenandoah National Park and Harper's Ferry

Mount Vernon was fabulous. The grounds were beautiful and the estate was an exercise in self-sufficiency. We took a boat ride on the Potomac and saw Mount Vernon from the water. Also saw Fort Washington, and we could even see off in the distance the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac from DC to Alexandria, VA.
Mount Vernon was much more Washington-esque - humble, yet stately than Jefferson's Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, sits atop some prime real estate. The estate is flawlessly designed. Jefferson was truly a brilliant visionary. With all he accomplished, and all he read/wrote, it makes me wonder if he had a personality disorder, or had difficulty in his personal relationships. I wouldn't mind living at Monticello. Nice house - but only if it included staff.

A view of the beautiful Shenandoah River Valley from along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Shenandoah National Park. We hadn't planned to go this way from Monticello back to Baltimore, but it was worth the few extra hours to see this gorgeous part of our beautiful land.

We made an unscheduled stop at Harper's Ferry - the beginnings of rumblings of Civil War, and underground railroad for Slaves getting to freedom in Maryland. This is at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. 3 States border this confluence - West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Lancaster, PA, Amish Country, Gettysburg and Philly

We culminated our almost 2 weeks of sightseeing with a relaxing few days in Lancaster, PA with Jared's family. They were good sports about taking us to see some Amish countryside, and a visit to Gettysburg. We ventured out on our own to Philadelphia to see the birthplace of our nation. It was a great end to a wonderful vacation. We can't wait to go back again.

Our last stop in Maryland before arriving at Jared and Debbie's for the end of our East Coast touristy trip.

Loved visiting Jared, Deb and kids in Pennsylvania. They were wonderful hosts and took such good care of us,

We took an Amish wagon ride through some lovely farmland.

Gorgeous Amish countryside of Intercourse, PA

Hangin out with Abe at the Gettysburg Visitor's Center. Wish we'd had more time. The battlefield was reverent and massive. The loss of life on that battlefield is almost unfathomable.

Yup, that's it - crack and all!

Impressive lifesize bronzes of the signers of Declaration of Independence

Elphreth's Alley, our nations oldest residential street dating to early 1700's

New York, New York

When Emily asked me to meet up with her in NYC, while she was attending the SheStreams conference, I said "I can't do that!" Then I decided I could, infact, do that. Josh called the next day and inquired about Courtney joining Emily, and when I told him I was thinking of going - it became a done deal. We had a BLAST!! I almost felt like it isn't allowable to have so much fun. After my stay with Jared and his fam, he took me to the train station and I rode the train from Lancaster, PA to NYC. It was so fast, and so relaxing. I got off the train at Penn Station and walked the few blocks to our hotel to meet up with Em. I felt like a giddy schoolgirl walking along 7th Ave in NYC! Courtney showed up shortly after me and we 3 hit the streets running. We took in Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral and did some shopping, then went back to our hotel to change for a Broadway Musical. We were having so much fun, we didn't care about food! How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) was Outstanding. Our seats were amazing and Radcliffe truly maintained star power. We ended the evening at an Irish Pub near our hotel where I enjoyed Bangers & Mash. Our hotel was literally 1 or 2 blocks in any direction from all the Broadway theaters. Crummy hotel, great location. (we did a bedbug check and pronounced the place "clean").
Next day we took an open double decker bus around downtown, saw most of the iconic NYC buildings, ate in little Italy (cannolis are terrific) and got to see the 9/11 Memorial from the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center. We were glad to be indoors for a bit, cuz we were drenched from a downpour. Em had to leave us to attend her conference, so Courtney and I had lunch at Bubba Gump's in Times Square. We then got on the Uptown tour bus and saw lots more of the iconic NYC buildings around Central Park.
Saturday we toured some more, and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was so cool to hang out with Degas, Renoir, Rembrandt, Monet, and old Egyptian stuff. I found it remarkable how mankind is compelled to record and preserve their existence.
Saturday we shopped some more, saw Statue of Liberty and made an amazing Subway run back to Times Square and theater district to take in another Broadway Musical - Billy Elliot. Not such a great story, music was so,so, but the kids' dancing was truly amazing. Can't believe children have such talent and skill. We ended up our whirlwind few days visiting 5th Ave, FAO Schwarz, and taking a NYC cab to the airport. Thanks for the memories girlz - it was great! You can visit Courtney's blog for a more accurate accounting of how we spent our time. It's all kind of a blur to me now.

Giddy Girlz in Times Square

Filming The Good Wife at Rockefeller Center (this season episode 7)

9/11 Memorial from the World Financial Center Winter Garden

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Daniel Radcliffe came out after the show to sign autographs. He so short!!

Out front of Radio City Music Hall. No Rockettes in sight!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Baptism 2'fer

On occasion you get Serendipity. July 30th, two beautiful granddaughters were baptized on the same day into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One reason Josh's family planned their month-long trek to California, was so we could all take part in Melina's and Gabriella's baptism. Melina turned 8 on July 8th, and Gabby on July 28th, so with much planning and preparation we were able to schedule the baptisms for the same time and place. It took place in the Runyan's Church Building, which is on the same property as the Sacramento Temple - a special place for our family, since our whole family was able to tour the temple 5 years ago during the Open House in 2006. We've added lots more grandchildren since then, but we'll always have special memories of our time in the temple with the whole family.
Congratulations to two beautiful young ladies. You are treasures!

Cory & Gabriella Runyan and Josh & Melina Stubblefield just before the baptism.

Grandma and Grandpa with Melina and Gabby.

The gang on Runyan's play fort. It was great to be with so many of our children and grandchildren, but we sure missed the ones who weren't there.

Be sure to read the following post which tells all about Crazy July.

Summer 2011

This has been one of the craziest summers we've had in a long time. We started off by celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary - which is crazy that we're old enough to have a 40th anniversary, and crazy that we're still married (or crazy because we're still married??) We took a long weekend trip up to Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival. We went last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to do a repeat. We saw Love's Labors Lost, The Imaginery Invalid, and The Pirates of Penzance. All were superb. It's so lovely to sit outdoors in the Elizabethan Theatre. This year we were wiser and took jackets and blankets. We also did a jetboat trip on the Rogue River, which was fun, beautiful and exhilarating.
When we returned home, we helped the Lyons move to San Ramon. They'd decided a year of being apart was enuf - or they decided a year of living with us was enuf. Either way - they are all together again and Aaron is just 30 min from his school.
Then the crazy stuff really started . . .
The Tripp kids were here for 3 weeks. I was supposed to go to Los Alamos to take care of the crew, while their parents helped chaperone a youth Pioneer Trek, but the week before my departure they were evacuated from their home due to a huge wildfire. So they decided to bring the kids to me. We had a blast swimming and hanging out together.
Also about that time Josh's family arrived in Cali. They stayed in Roseville at Courtney's folks, other than a few nights here and there with us. You can read more about each family's experience on their own blogs.
Just after the 4th of July, my dad had a mild stroke. He went to the hospital a couple of times, then it was determined he would be better cared for and receive intensive therapy if he was placed in a Skilled Nursing Facility for 2 weeks. He did that, and made good improvements which enabled him to return home to his Assisted Living Apartment. He seems to be stable at this time, and can take care of his personal needs.
Mid-July, we took a long planned for trip to Yosemite with our 10 oldest grandchildren. Cory and Andrea tagged along with Amanda, and Megan tagged along with Tyghe and Ada Jane. We spent 2 nights camping outside the park, and one very full day in Yosemite Valley. The kids were all great sports about hiking and looking out for one another. What a treat to spend time like that with the "grands" who were almost 8 and older. They were all tons of fun and we laughed a lot.
Megan and her crew headed back to New Mexico, after being away from home for 4 weeks!
Then Josh's family came to stay with us for the last week of their 4 week vacation.
We are so grateful for our pool - which got used to the max!!
After 2 days to change beds and move a few things around, the Lyon kids came to stay for 3 nights. Emily had a conference in San Diego and I volunteered to watch the kids. It was nice to have the "Reds" back at our house. They do love their new home though.
So here's a few pic to document "July."
Yosemite was spectacular this year. All the falls were going full blast from all the snow this winter.
I will do another post with some photos of the other BIG event in July.


This is Mr. Burned Marshmallow Man. Can you find the image of a face. I was hoping to sell him on Ebay - but he got eaten.




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