Sunday, December 5, 2010

blue ridge

When we moved to the south, we decided to make a sort-of bucket list of the things we wanted to see and do before moving on to our next destination. We figured places like New York City and Disneyworld would be places we'd visit eventually, no matter our location, so we chose places of interest that we probably wouldn't get a chance to visit after we move. In our first year in North Carolina, we had crossed off most of those places. We drove the Outer Banks, we toured DC, we went to several beaches, explored Charleston and Savannah (twice, even!), so the only place left on the list was the Blue Ridge Parkway. I've always wanted to see it, and seeing as how the majority of the Parkway is within hours from where we live, we figured we definitely needed to take a long weekend and make the drive.

What we saw was even more amazing that what we expected. We drove up to Roanoke, Virginia, close to the beginning of the Parkway, and were immediately surrounded by...autumn at its best. Golden yellows and oranges, bright reds, and shades of bright brown and cinnamon we had never seen before greeted us on our journey. In the 270 miles we traveled through the Parkway over the weekend, we saw amazing mills, mountain views, waterfalls, trails, and the cutest little towns you could imagine. Here are a few photos from our trip:

Friday, September 3, 2010

no more misadventures!

Whew! I'm glad to say that the rest of our vacation went a lot more smoothly than our misadventures with the drop zones! We took a three day weekend drive down to Charleston and Savannah, both of which I had seen, but Ben and Naomi hadn't. We took a carriage ride through Historic Charleston, which still has cobblestone streets, and learned about some of its amazing history. We saw Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were shot, some amazing houses build in the 17 and 1800's, and the first Otis Elevator in the south.

We then visited the Charleston Aquarium, home of the rare albino alligator. We also walked along the waterfront of Charleston Harbor.

We spent the night in Charleston and headed south toward Savannah early the next morning. On the way, we stopped by Morris Island to check out the beach and the Morris Island Lighthouse. It was definitely one of the coolest lighthouses we have visited so far in our east coast travels.

Once in Savannah, we were caught up in the history of this amazing city. We visited Old Fort Jackson, a fort that has stood the test of time and was used during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War; Fort Pulaski, one of the first forts targeted by the Union Army during the Civil War; Bonaventure Cemetery, resting place for many of Georgia's historically important founders and governors; and Wormsloe Plantation, which is famous for its beautiful moss-draped trees.

Old Fort Jackson

Fort Pulaski

Bonaventure Cemetery

Wormsloe Plantation

Of course, we spent some time swimming at Tybee Island and strolling down the waterfront of Historic Savannah. We saw some amazing sights and drank in the southern atmosphere.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the misadventures of the in-laws (hopefully part 1 of 1)

Ben's mom, Naomi, is here to visit for the week. We seem to have had some back luck this week, with a series of misadventures. Today's, at least, we got pictures of!

We read in the Paraglide that the 82nd was going to do a jump yesterday, and thought it'd be fun to see, seeing as how she has never been witness to one before. So we searched for directions, picked up a friend of mine, and headed out to the hills (or in this case, forest). An hour later, we arrived, only to find that this jump was private because of the presence of several congressmen. We were politely asked to vacate the premises, and to come to the Thursday jump instead. Bummed, we drove home and tried to decide whether to try again in the morning.

We decided it was worth a shot, so this morning we headed out, excited and a bit nervous that this jump would also have problems.

Problems, it had.

Today's jump site was located in an area surrounded by sand. This is not dirt, packed down and hard like yesterday's drop zone. No, this was beach-volleyball-worthy sand.

We maneuvered our way to the drop zone, only to be told by two officers in a humvee that we needed to move out of the way, as they were about to drop heavy artillery right where we were parked. We were asked to follow them back to the side of the main road. Well, we tried, but these soldiers forgot that humvees treat the sand like dirt, and my Ford, well, not so much.

Needless to say, we got stuck. Unfortunately, the guys didn't see the sticking and left without us. We both, being praying women, begged and pleaded that we wouldn't be crushed by whatever was being dropped by the helicopters that flew overhead.

After several minutes of trying to maneuver out of the sand trap, the soldiers realized we had not been able to follow them and came back to our rescue. With me driving and a mother-in-law and two soldiers pushing, we freed the car and carefully drove back to the road.

After this, we had the decision to make: do we stay or do we go? We decided to wait it out (as the jump had been postponed because of our...incident...) and we FINALLY got to witness it! Sadly, it was only two paratroopers and a few crates, but it was something!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

district of columbia

Seeing as how neither of us has been to many East Coast points of interest, we decided that we want to see and do as much of it as we can as long as we're living here. It's hard to believe I've been here for six months now, and already I've been down to Georgia, we've seen the Outer Banks, and now, we've been to DC! It was a great trip, full of spectacular sites. I'll post a few of our favorites so we can share them with you.

After we each made a list of the Top 5 places we wanted to visit in DC, Arlington Cemetery was at the top of mine. After battling construction, traffic, an interesting site in Richmond that included the freeway being shut down for two men in a pick-up truck to fill in some potholes during rush hour traffic, and some horrible directions that led us everywhere ELSE in Arlington, we made it just in time for the last changing of the guard that day. It was a surreal and wonderful moment - knowing that these guards have devoted their lives for this task.

The next day, we made it to the Metro station and headed into DC. Already, I had the camera out and ready.

We had planned to walk around the National Mall and see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the several other small memorials in the area before heading to the Smithsonian museums. What we didn't plan for was the 90 degree weather, the dust flying everywhere, and the miles and miles of walking and walking and...can you guess it? Yep, that's right: walking, that we had to do to get there. We estimated about five miles that first day, and it was five miles well worth it! We saw all the monuments, a glimpse of the White House, an amazing butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, among other things.

Around 6, we trudged back to the Metro station, headed back to the hotel, showered, and met our friends in Alexandria for an awesome Chinese dinner. After catching up with them, we drove back into DC and wandered around the mall, taking in the beauty of DC after dark. Seeing the monuments all lit up was second on my list and did not disappoint!

The next day, we awoke, tired but excited, for the next day. We started at Union Station, another of my list items, and then trekked from the Metro Station over to the Jefferson Memorial, excited to get one of the quintessential cherry-blossom-in-the-foreground-and-Jefferson-Memorial-in-the-background photos, only to find that all the cherry blossom festival activities were going strong, but the cherry blossoms were nowhere to be found. We settled for a nice walk along the tidal basin, through downtown DC, and a walking trip to a Starbucks! We relaxed there for a half hour, before heading back to the National Mall. From there, we split up, hoping to take in as much as possible on our second-to-last-day in the city. Ben headed to the Air and Space museum, while I strolled along the mall, snapping photos along the way. I visited the Museum of the American Indian, walked to the Capitol Building, and went into the Botanical Gardens. Another thing on my list was the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. Since I didn't quite have the time to really explore it, it was a few quick shots of the courtyard and back to the Metro station to meet up with Ben.

Our last day, we checked out the National Zoo and taste-tested our way through the college town of Adams Morgan. We saw an episode of Food Wars that battled out and crowned the king of jumbo pizza in DC. We visited both, and agreed that Pizza Mart was WAY better.