We enjoyed a brief, but nice, trip down to Plymouth recently to celebrate Eric’s sister’s recent nuptials and see Grandma and Cash.
It was Living History Days downtown, so the kids enjoyed seeing the reenactors dressed up, and Harlan and Eric got to see the “battle” while Elise (refused) to take a nap. We also stopped by the museum to see Eric’s granddad’s wooden boat. Kathy enjoyed telling us about being pulled behind it water skiing and Eric remembered helping to keep it watertight.
We took advantage of Harlan’s spring break to head east to Chincoteague and NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
First on the list of things to do was to get to the Wallops Flight Facility to watch a rocket launch! Parking was interesting, to say the least. Once the lot at the visitor’s center fills up, the remaining option is to park on the side of the road. Some found this to be more difficult than others…
Of course, we didn’t have that problem! Expert driver dad deftly manuvered into a fantastic spot just a short walk from the visitor’s center and we kept all four wheels on the ground.
The rocket, an Antares on its mission to resupply the International Space Station, lifted off on time and to great fanfare of the gathered crowd.
The kids had fun exploring the visitor’s center before the launch and even got to run around with some of the other kids who were playing. It was an enthusiastic crowd of young and old, and we all cheered as the rocket went up. It was a very cool experience, watching the rocket lift off and then a few seconds later hearing the roar of the engine.
After the launch we made our way back to our vehicle, got turned around, and headed over to the island where we camped. Harlan almost immediately made friends with the two boys about his age camping with their dad a few sites down from us. The KOA where we stayed had a giant bounce pillow as well as a playground that included a wooden pirate ship, so the kids were thrilled.
Our first full day on the island was spent checking out the nearby lighthouse and eating ice cream. Seriously, how can you get better than that?
We left our car plugged in at the Refuge Inn and hiked over to the Assateague Island National Seashore. The walk wasn’t too long, maybe a few miles, and took us over several bridges which required stops to look down into the water in search of creatures living beneath the waves. Elise was particularly fascinated by the wildlife, including birds diving for fish.
The Assateague Lighthouse stands tall with red and white stripes guarding the coastline of Virginia. Harlan, Elise, and Amanda made short work of the 175 steps leading to the top. Harlan said he could almost see our tent from up there.
An overcast day that was supposed to be accompanied by showers was spent a little further south in the town of Parksley, Virginia. Parksley is home to the Eastern Shore Railway Museum where several train cars and memorabilia live on to educate visitors. Parksley is also the original home of one of our puppies: Parksley! Papa rescued him from a thrift shop there about eight years ago. The shop is closed now, but we found the building.
With the storms out of the way, clouds making their way out to sea, and temperatures rising, we decided to rent bicycles and tour the refuge and national park land trails. Right next to the Refuge Inn is a bicycle rental business that will hook you up with whatever you need. We ended up with a bicycle and pull-behind cart for the girls and a tandem bicycle for the boys.
Our first stop was Toms Cove Visitors Center. The center has a few displays that discuss the environment, a touch tank where you can pick up some animals that live in the waters nearby, and a small aquarium with fish, crabs, and seabed vegetation. The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and earned their badges.
We biked out of the park for lunch and then headed back in to do another bike loop and stop at the beach. Elise fell asleep on the bike back to the Refuge Inn, but Harlan and I enjoyed splashing around in the pool at the inn before we headed out for ice cream in the evening.
On our final day before heading home, the kids fed the ponies at the inn, scored a couple more scoops of free jelly beans from the ladies at the front desk, and we took in some more of the scenery. Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home, sleeping most of the drive back, which I think is a sign that it was a good vacation!
Elise has gotten over her fear of the Easter Bunny, which was good because we saw him two days in a row this year. Saturday he was at the swimming pool where we were for the 4th birthday party of one of Elise’s friends.
Then Sunday was the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.
In addition to the egg hunt, there were games. First was the donut on a string eating contest. Elise gave up pretty quickly, deciding it was a ridiculously difficult way to score a pastry, and happily devouring it once she was allowed to pull it off the string. Harlan stuck with it, but never quite figured out a good technique.
Next up was the egg toss. Elise opted out of that one, although I did come prepared with spare clothes and wet wipes after watching it last year. Harlan partnered up with an older boy he knows from the school bus and they almost won! Harlan has never shown much natural talent for throwing and catching, but they were a good team.
Finally it was time for the egg on a spoon race. Elise made it down and almost halfway back but then looked up to find where I was and dropped her egg. Harlan was laser focused on his egg. Other kids were ahead of him, but he stayed steady, and all the front runners dropped their eggs so he cruised to victory. I wish he’d show that kind of focus all the time!