Custom Search

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day Trip

Its great living in an area where there is so much to do. There are museums, parks, farms, etc., We have visited and seen many of them with our kids. Most of them we have visited places several times like Frying Pan Park or Udvar Hazy Museum. Last weekend my husband surprised me with planning his own trip (I usually plan all outings) and it was a place neither of us have ever been before.  I love exploring new places so I was pumped to see what he had in store for us. I also LOVED the fact that I didn't have to plan a darn thing.

Our trip ended up being going to the Natural Bridge in central Virginia. It is a decent drive, but there were so many activities we could do it would certainly be worth it. Once we arrived we had the option of taking 100+ stairs or taking the shuttle down to the bottom of the hill. I looked at my four year old, the double stroller and the baby and knew the shuttle would be absolutely necessary so we could save as much energy as possible for the day that lay ahead.  We arrived after a two minute ride, set up the stroller and I was absolutely amazed by what I saw in front of me.  I have never seen it before and viewing images of it just doesn't do it justice. The bridge was peaceful, beautiful and just awe inspiring. There were also several snakes swimming up and down the stream or resting on the rocks. Thankfully there was a nice wall separating us and them. Further down the path we visited an Indian village and  a cave that my son absolutely loved. I told him that we had to be careful about the trolls living underneath the bridge that lead to the various landmarks on the Natural Bridge map, which made his eyes full of wonder. I love his imagination and told him that if he sang a song then the troll would let us cross. My four year old belted out a tune, holding his hands in the air like a preaching gospel singer and filled the woods with lyrics from the Peter Pan play. The troll fib proved to be a good idea because you just can't ask for cuteness like that.  My son was a tad disappointed that we couldn't fully explore the cave, but thankfully my husband bought a package that included a cavern tour.

After the beauty of the Natural Bridge, we headed off to the cavern which was very close by. He loved every bit of it. There was no fear or complaint about the steps, the slippery parts of the path or the cold. He did make a few comments that we probably should have brought jackets, but after coming in from the warm Spring air it really was a welcome relief. The tour guide thankfully was patient and answered all of my sons questions about why this or why that about the cavern. He really did have some interesting questions! Although if you have a four year old we know the why stage. It can be a bit tedious at times because the questions never seem to end. I try answering all of them until they get to a silly state and my son is knowingly teasing me.

After our cavern tour, we headed off to finish our last place for the day. We went to the Safari park where you can drive your car through a park, look and feed (if you buy a bucket of food) animals. You can feed any animal with exception of some long horn cattle, Zebras and bison. I let the four year ride in my lap, so I could help him with the feed and give him the most optimal view of the animals. The animals know the drill and certainly are ready for you when you go into the park. We laughed as we fed the llamas but I absolutely refused to feed larger animals. This is just a personal preference as I think some of them are a bit aggressive for me and for my four year old to handle. My husband did not share the same preferences and fed some emu's and a ostrich. It was all fine and good until he was feeding two emus at a time and one emu got angry with the other emu and they started a pecking war at each other. That was quite amusing. My husband decided to stay out of that fight and rolled up the window. One emu noticed this and wanted his food and started pecking at the window. The memory of watching this enormous bird pecking at our window still cracks me up.  We headed further into the park and fed more animals. My son, husband and I never laughed so hard. The animals were cute and the thrill of it was just fun. At another point in the road my husband decided to feed a female moose. This animal was too large for me, so the windows went up. The moose was enjoying its feed until another female moose saw this moose indulging on food that she potentially could have so she charged the moose. The other moose did not want to back down so they started hoofing each other and kicked the car with their hoof. Note, don't bring your most prized car to the park. The hoofing was one thing, but if you roll up your window you do accumulate animal sludge from their nose/mouth on your windows and car. I would also advise to be careful of the damn camels. One car in front of us was feeding a camel and the camel stole the bucket right out of the lady's hand and dumped it into its mouth. The passenger of the car put its fist up and drove on. It was pretty hilarious. However, if you ever drive up to a camel (at least the ones that they had) there was NO way in heck I was opening my window to something thats head is as big as the car window itself. I also know these things spit. Llamas do too but they aren't quite as impressive on their height or body mass. I don't know if anyone has ever got spit on but I'd rather not take the risk.  However we ended the Safari Park laughing until our stomachs hurt. I can't recommend visiting this place enough. My husband will say his favorite part of the whole trip is watching Zaichik and I laugh hysterically. I think it made his day.

The area had plenty of other activities and places to see as well. There was a wax museum, a dinosaur park and some haunted something or other. The drive is far from Northern Virginia but you can never run out of things to do.  I recommend visiting this area to anyone regardless if you have kids, older kids or very young kids. My one year old even got something out of it as she loved seeing the animals and didn't mind snoozing on the stroller ride through the Natural Bridge site. The best part about the Natural Bridge/Cavern tour is any kid four and under is free!  If you need an idea of where to go during a stay-cation or just a day trip on the weekend, this is a must see.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Free Roam

There is a new place that I absolutely love to go to. I honestly look forward to it everytime I go for not only the company but because it brings me a little back to my childhood roots.

My mother in law (other Mom) bought a house not too long ago in a very suburban area but with a ton of land for a spectacular price. This is almost unheard of in Northern Virginia. If you live here, you know it doesn't happen...ever. She and her husband even talked about because they have so much property, that they would like to sub-divide it someday to give it to my husband and I to build a house on. If that happens then great. I certainly wouldn't turn it down. A chance to get out of the town house community to a larger area where my kids can run around in, right next door to grandparents, in a great county (not that mine isn't but its always nice moving to one that is also nice) and actually build a custom house that has everything I want... I. Its really a no brainer. If it doesn't happen I'm fine with it too. I figure its in God's hands to let everything work itself out.

In any case I love going there for the whole feeling. I love sitting outside of their partial wrap around porch enjoying the fresh air while my son runs with the wind. I hear him cackle like a crazy kid loving every minute of the room he has to run around in. My daughter who really doesn't have an opinion right now always takes in the open air and before long is snoozing away for a several hour nap. The porch reminds me of my Grandfather's. Peaceful and full of family. I guess thats why I love wrap around porches. Some of my fondest memories of my Grandparents are of us sitting on their front porch playing cards, watching the fireflies light up, listening to my Nagymama pray with her rosary and talking about everything and anything.

The wide open space is something else I just don't see much of. Its just awesome. I'm not worried about my son being in someones yard, or him being close to a busy street. He has tons of room to move around, ride his bike, and whatever other thing he feels like getting into. By the end of the day both kids are so worn out from being outside that they usually pass out in the car five minutes down the road. Its good being outside like that. I would always be outside as a kid and I think kids now days do spend too much time inside. I always try to take Zaichik outside. He benefits greatly from it as do I with requested early bed times.

Not to mention, there is a farm down the road with horse, chickens and a rooster with a farmer who is very very laid back and very kind. His rules are that that there are no rules on his farm for kids unless there is a safety concern. He tells all parents that if he sees something he doesn't like then he'll tell the kid no. The parents need not worry or feel like we're burdening him. Its nice but harder than you think. You really do learn how much you tell your kid NO when you keep having to bite your tongue.

I also just love being with family there. My mother in law as much as we had a rough start to our relationship when I was first married (with good reason but not my fault), is one of the most gracious hosts. She literally offers up her house and welcomes guests over. I also adore her husband. He really does love the kids and has a giving heart to my family.

Its my new place. Another place thats like home to me. I'm glad for it. I'm glad my kids have such a wide area to run around. I love that it brings me warm memories of my childhood and hopefully my children will have some amazing memories from there as well.