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Friday, April 30, 2010

DC Trip: Gettysburg

I'm glad we decided to take an afternoon and drive back up to Gettysburg (we had driven past on our way down through PA). It was historical and interesting and we were able to enjoy it in a laid back sort of way. We stopped the newly built museum/gift shop first, which I think is worth taking a look at if you're ever there.

Is it just me, or do 3 out of the 4 look a little too happy to be standing in front of a display of Civil War era guns? Especially Lucas -- check out that grin:

And here it is -- my favorite picture of the whole trip in its original order. I've decided re-title it (thanks Tracy for the inspiration!)
Daniel and Honest Abe:

We took the driving tour of the battlefield itself which was perfect for us. The kids watched a movie in the car while Jake and I hopped out and took a closer look at things that struck our fancy, like this cannon:

The scenery really was quite pretty. I rather enjoyed rural Pennsylvania

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DC Trip: My Birthday!

My birthday started out with a very cute pink cake. Tracy's kids decided it needed to be pink since I'm a girl :). It made the whole house smell amazing while she was baking it and that along with the balloons and other "Happy Birthday" decor made things feel wonderfully festive. It was really sweet!

After cake we headed out to the Metro station to join the throng attending opening day of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was really pretty down by the Tidal Basin and I'm so glad we had the chance to be there. Jake took this beautiful shot:

The whole gang:

Then we headed over to see some of the monuments. It was a ton of walking but the kids were such troopers. That's saying a lot since between us we have 7 kids!

Joshua wanted me to take his picture near the basement of the Lincoln Memorial for no reason in particular and I just love this shot because of it! When you're seven you don't need a reason or a famous monument behind you or anything like that.

The Reflecting Pool looked much different in person than it does on TV and in movies, I thought. I didn't know it had a dirt track around it, for example.

Gary and kids at the WWII Memorial. It was pretty neat.

The Kite Festival was happening in the grassy area at the base of the Washington Monument. Luckily it was a windy day and we got to see lots of neat kites. A Jolly Roger kite in particular caught our eye. Sorry I didn't get a picture of it.

After all the sight seeing we headed downtown to join in on the Sheppard family tradition of seeing the Jazz play when they're in town. Gary is a big fan and it's always so much more fun when you're there with an actual fan (and his budding fan-lets). The Jazz ended up winning which was great, but Gary and I both felt kind of sad for the Wizards. No home court advantage or anything -- ouch.

All in all it was an awesome way to spend my birthday! It always helps when your birthday falls on a Saturday, but being on a trip and being with family you have been looking forward to seeing for ages really helps too :).

Monday, April 19, 2010

DC Trip: National Air and Space Museum

We really enjoyed our visit to the National Air and Space Museum. It was an absolutely freezing cold day that day with an icy wind so it was great to have an indoor option to take advantage of. We went to the Steven F. Udvar Center located just next to Dulles International.

They had a small plane the kids could get in. They actually let them control the wing and tail flaps. Here are Joshua and his cousin Jonathan:

Daniel & Simon:

There was a really cool stealth plane Jake got pretty excited about. It was impressive:

Here we have the "Mobile Quarantine Facility" which was neither stealthy nor impressive. But I thought it was kind of cool in a retro sort of way. Apparently they made Neil Armstrong & Co. stay in this little mobile home for like 3 weeks after they returned to earth in case they had "moon germs." I understand the need to be cautious, but confining them to such cramped quarters was downright mean!

Here are Tracy and I next to a toy that our Dad had had as a child. Not the actual toy, but one just like it. It is the lighthouse tower with the counterbalancing airplanes on the bottom left:

Joshua was absolutely miserable by the end of our trip up here in the observation tower. Apparently he had hated the whole thing. Granted, my legs were killing me by this point, but c'mon. Tracy truly put us all to shame with her energy and native cheeriness considering she is the one who was in her 7th month of pregnancy at this point.

DC Trip: Hershey's Chocolate World

On our way back down through Pennsylvania we stopped by Hershey's Chocolate World to break up the trip a little (on my sister's recommendation -- thanks Tracy!). It was a fun diversion and now we can say we've been! Unfortunately the theme park portion wasn't open for the season yet, but we still had a good time at the indoor mall.

The boys got to be factory workers and help package Hershey's Kisses.

Then we got to go on a fun little ride where the Hershey's cows sang to us about how great Hershey's milk chocolate is. The kids loved it...

...including Mr. Cheeks, here:

DC Trip: State College, PA

A real highlight for us on this trip was visiting my brother Ben's family and getting to meet our niece/cousin Elizabeth. She is such a cutie and our boys really enjoyed getting to play with her. We had a really good time taking the kids to the park with Cami and getting to talk with her. I'm so glad the kids had some time to get to know each other, if even just a lil' bit :)

I'm also so glad we were able to snag my brother long enough to come out to dinner with us. He is a very busy grad student right now in an intense program, so the odds weren't in our favor. But we beat the odds and had a great time learning more about his research and getting to catch up after what has been far too long a time.

Overlapping PhD programs with young families are just not conducive to cross country travel, but now that Jake is out of grad school and Ben will be finishing up his program in the next year or so it really should not be so long before we'll get to see each other again.

DC Trip: Rural Pennsylvania Park

On our way up through Pennsylvania (which took forever because the GPS we were renting had us going on unpaved roads) we stopped off at a park to stretch our legs. I thought the countryside was rather pretty and this park was so quaint. It reminded Jake and I of what parks were like when we were kids (although honestly I think this park is from a bit before our time, even). Our kids have it so good -- parks these days are awesome! But they enjoyed this one too and it was fun for Jake and I to reminisce. I just wanted for us to be able to remember this park, and it's a pretty good sampling of this portion of our trip.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

We're Back!

I realize some of you may not have even realized we were gone since I never mentioned it on here -- sorry! But yes, we are back from our big trip to Washington DC! The main reason for this trip was to visit my sister Tracy and her family who are living out there now and also to see my brother Ben and his family who are not too far from there at Penn State. We of course wanted to see lots of historical sites while there and managed to squeeze quite a few in. We got to see quite a bit of Pennsylvania, northern Virginia and even rural Maryland while visiting some good friends of ours from UC San Diego who finished up grad school and moved out there about the same time we moved to Portland (has it been a year and a half already?!).

Anyway, here is the quick list of the things we got to see and do (that I can remember at the moment anyway): Gettysburg, Mount Vernon, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Vietnam, Korean and WWII War Memorials, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, National Air and Space Museum, Library of Congress, The Capitol Building and White House...oh I know there is stuff I am forgetting. We did so much that there's no way I'll be able to blog about it all. Rest assured I will be posting what I can over the next little while because I definitely want a record for our family to be able to look back on and remember our very special trip. It was awesome to get to spend that time with family whom we dearly wish we could see so much more often.

Here is a little something to tide you over since, let's be honest, it will be a while before I get around to posting it all. This picture just might be my favorite from the whole trip:

Gettysburg, Daniel-style