Washington DC 2018

Thursday January 4th

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...viewing ice on the Potomac River from the train foretold the severe weather we would encounter.  How cold was it?  Well, let's just say it was cold enough for David to wear socks; temperatures  in the single digits with wind chills 10-20 below zero!  

Arriving at our hotel, we noticed the sister restaurant to Founding Farmers; Farmers & Distillers was  across the street.  So we ate lunch there and it did not disappoint.  I'd say it was just a good as Founding Farmers.

Gary and Laurie were able to get tickets to enter the National Museum of African American History and Culture this afternoon.  The Museum chronicles the journey of African Americans from the days of slavery to the present; their struggles, achievements and contributions to this nation.  It is a wonderful museum, a superb and needed addition to the Smithsonian.

Sitting at the counter, learning about the  lunch counter sit-in
movement in the 1960s protesting segregation. 

Beautiful circular waterfall contemplation room in the Museum.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants for dinner, Busboys and Poets.  The food and atmosphere were still great.  Back at the hotel, we all collapsed.  I'm told it is more a factor of the early start this morning than anything related to aging!


Norman was talking about how electrifying the atmosphere in his room was last night.......? But Jinx quickly clarified it was the static electricity, that created a loud pop when she plugged in her iPhone and ruined the charger!

Our first stop today was the National Gallery to see the exhibit Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry. It is a wonderful collection of paintings.  One thing I read was Vermeer was deviating from the norm by placing his subjects in the foreground with less emphasis on their surroundings.  It was true that this placement plus side lighting of the subject gave his paintings more impact than his contemporaries.  I was reminded of Galen Rowell's photo tip reminding photographers to fill the frame with the subject!

In the paintings, we noted that ladies were often surrounded by servants helping them to get dressed.  During the day, Gretchen became our lady, needing several assistants to help her don and shed the multiple layers of clothing needed to fend off of the cold!  

Next on the agenda was lunch at the American Indian Museum, always a treat due to the varied menu and good food.  During lunch, Laurel announced that she really felt the bern...which lead her to buy a lake house in Vermont! Congratulations, that will be wonderful for your family!  We all agree that summers in the Burg are stifling hot and hugely humid, so much so that sensible people head north.....hint!

After lunch, we took in The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire, an exhibit that highlights how 20,000 miles of trails helped the Inca build and maintain their vast empire.

Next stop was the NATURE'S BEST™ 22nd Annual Windland Smith Rice International Awards Exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History.  Viewing this annual photo exhibit has become a tradition for our group.  The winning photos taken by amateurs and pros from around the world are simply stunning. Mrs. Rice was a nature photographer and the daughter of the founder of FedEx.  She died of an undiagnosed heart condition at the age 35, leaving her husband to raise two boys under four years old.

Dinner tonight was at Jaleo, one of our favorite restaurants.  We were quite pleased to eat in this establishment today to support the owner who is involved in a law suit with Mr. Trump.  After dinner, all but the Sykoras went to see the Capital Steps.  The show is always entertaining making you laugh from first song to last.  It is also up to date. The Phantom of the Opera parody was about the Fire and Fury book released this week.


First stop today was at The Phillips Collection to see the exhibit about the time leading up to the painting of the Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The painting remains the best known and most popular work of art at the museum.  I read in a note that once Renoir met his wife, women in subsequent paintings had a resemblance to her.  I found this observation to be true as I viewed the ladies in Luncheon of the Boating Party.

I'm drawn to shadows in art galleries!

Following a filling lunch at Paridiso Pizza, we headed to the Renwick Gallery which always has some unique exhibits.  This year they included a sculpture with a seemingly real cloth covering a grandfather clock which on closer inspection revealed the cloth was actually part of the carved wood;  crime scene dioramas built to train crime scene investigators and a stone sculpture of a pillow that looked like it was soft as down.

Urbana was the restaurant the Helms reserved for dinner but they had some hesitation due to reviews so we stopped by earlier in the day to check it out.  Emily quickly befriended Carlos and got the scoop; if we came for dinner, we could take advantage of the free hotel happy hour!  Well, this group could do that and ....we did!  Final conclusion? The restaurant did not disappoint,  everyone thought their food was great!


Gary and Laurel headed to the Frederick Douglass House this morning which entailed a lot of walking.  Gretchen was up for that but Tom had enough walking.  I'm very thankful my body likes biking a whole lot more than it likes walking!  So we joined the Helms and the Sykoras at the Newseum.  It is a great museum depicting the history of journalism.  One thing that impressed me was the wall honoring men and women who have lost their lives trying to do their job, uncovering and reporting the facts around the world!

Museum studio were ABC Sunday morning
 show was produced for several years.

Alas, our time in Washington came to an end and we boarded the train to Lynchburg.  But wait, three blocks from Union Station the train stopped and we spent three  hours parked  on the track waiting for an apparent brake problem to be resolved.  So our January adventure was extended a bit with us arriving in the Burg early Monday morning!  Thanks for a great trip Gary.  We all appreciate your excellent coordination and planning!


Holidays 2017


Kelley, Katie, Maggie, Audrey, Henry, Jenny and Jeff joined us in the Burg for Thanksgiving.  What a wonderful event it is to have family gathered around the table this time of year. We are blessed!

The kids got cool pajamas from their mothers who could not resist the Walmart in-store promotion!  They got furry slippers for themselves as well!  I wonder how many more years Henry will volunteer to dress in his pajamas for a photo?

The day after Thanksgiving it was time for our in-house rivalry!  The UVA drought continues for another year! (VT 10 - UVA 0)

Maggie and Kelley left for home Saturday morning.  Thanks for coming Kelley,  it was great seeing you!  The rest of the gang just had a low key day including things like a walk around downtown, getting oil and vinegar at Gretchen's favorite store in the mall and spur of the moment haircuts for Audrey and her mom.

Since we now have a tradition of going to the girls for Christmas, Gretchen and I must have been thinking about down sizing Christmas decorations.  The day we were going to decorate the tree, we both looked at each other and said, "I don't want to carry that thing up the stairs."  So, now we have a cute 4 foot tree you can carry with one hand.

It's the week before Christmas and Henry is on winter break, so he is spending the week with us.  Grandma and Grandpa loved having him in Lynchburg and this is some of the things we did.

We went to All Fired Up so Henry could make an ornament for his mother for Christmas.  He chose a ball and did a neat job painting it!

We were close to Ivy Creek Park and it was a beautiful day so we went for a hike around the lake where Henry found a tree to hug!

The week turned colder so we went for a winter hike in Riverside Park, and we saw a train come by on the tracks along the river.  A train did not pass on the track that crosses the trestle.

We asked Herny if he would like to open his Christmas present from us so Grandpa could teach him how to use it.  Of course he said yes and we began playing with Evo, the robot.  By the end of the week, Henry wrote his first computer program!

Finally, later in the week the first appearance of reindeer people occurred! One thing that happened this week was something Grandpa did to Henry's drone which I will not mention!

On Friday we took Henry home, in anticipation of spending Christmas in Hillsborough.  On Saturday, we had Christmas dinner at Katie's before playing Pokémon on our way to the Mystery Brewing Company Christmas Concert.  The concert was wonderful; there is a lot of musical talent in Hillsborough!

Sunday morning we opened presents, and then, before Audrey and Henry  left to spend Christmas with their dad.....

more reindeer people appeared! On Christmas, we had a leisurely day with Katie, which included seeing the movie Wonder, which is simply wonderful!

The day after Christmas, we headed to SC to see the Hills.  This year it was Audrey's turn to come along to spend some time with her cousin.  We tried Airbnb for the first time and successfully rented a condo in the True Blue Golf Community.  We had a great week, eating dinners together and spending time with Maggie and Audrey while Seth and Kelley worked.

One day, a cold day, we went for a ride to get out of the house.  During the ride, the girls had an ice cream craving.  Maggie's favorite ice cream place was closed and Audrey suggested getting a McFlurry at McDonalds.  Maggie said she never had one, but she really liked her Oreo McFlurry!

The cousins had a lot of fun just playing together during the week.

We took Audrey to ride the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach since Maggie really liked it last year.  The girls loved it even though Audrey kept saying she was scared of heights at the top with a huge smile on her face!

And more reindeer people appeared!

Where is Maggie?

Great holidays K&K, thanks for making them happen!


NC Bound

Wednesday October 25th

We're scheduled to watch the grandkids this weekend so we decided to go to NC early to ride the Neuse River Greenway which we could not ride in the spring because of flooding. It is a beautiful 27 mile paved trail on the eastern edge of Raleigh.


The cozy Morning Glory Inn was our home last night and will be again tonight. It's located in the center of Clayton.  We were delighted to have Katie join us today on our bike ride.

She rode 16 miles and was kind enough to share her lunch with us!

Friday morning, after a leisurely breakfast chatting with a Russian family and a couple from Asheville (both had young adult children performing in the Clayton Music Festival), we headed to Hillsborough to begin our duties at 2:50 p.m.


Since its the week of Halloween, we went to the  McKee's Corn Maze.  I will just relate our adventure at the Maze with photos! It was a fun time!!

Maze Kids

Riding the train.

Hay ride time.


Mommy brought home pumpkins last night and we cleaned out the seeds.  Today Audrey and Henry came up with designs and we carved them. They are now proudly on display with candles on the front porch!

It was a rainy day so we had time for a movie and after the rain Grandpa and Henry got in some Pokémon time.

Great being with you guys this weekend!

Fall Break

September 18, 2017 

Now that Audrey is in school, it is time for her first fall break vacation trip to Lynchburg.  We picked her up in Hillsborough this morning and look forward to a great week!  Arriving in the Burg, we got Audrey unpacked and she wanted to play UNO.

Audrey wanted to fly her kite, so we went to Peaks View Park and quickly had the kite in the air with Audrey in control!  After a spell in the playground, we headed home to play UNO!


Grandpa went for a bike ride today, so the girls had a day to themselves. They painted nails, went to the playground and got things ready to go on Audrey's first camping trip at the lake. And of course, they played UNO!


We packed the car and headed to SML.  First, we got the motor boat in the water and went to the Benders to pick up Aunt Jenny for a boat ride.  We just anchored in a cove to swim when we heard thunder and decided to move up the lake where there was blue sky and sunshine.  Well, within 5 minutes, a wild storm developed with gusty winds, high waves and rain.  We ducked into a marina for protection and got under shelter as it began to hail!

Wet, but safe and happy boaters!

When the storm was over, we motored under blue sky and sunshine back to the Benders for dinner.  We had to improvise, however, because dessert was supposed to be s'mores by the campfire, but the wood was too wet for a campfire.  So, s'mores by the microwave it was, and Audrey thought they were great!

After dinner, we headed to the sail club to tuck Audrey into her sleeping bag for her first night camping with Grandma and Grandpa! 


Grandpa was helping remodel the VISA kitchen so Audrey, Grandma and Aunt Jenny headed to the Homestead Creamery for lunch and ice cream.  However, Audrey's belly hurt and they had to cancel their plans.  When they returned to the sail club we headed to Lynchburg.  A grilled cheese and a movie later, Audrey was feeling fine once again and ready to play UNO!


The week went by quickly and we loved having Audrey with us for her fall break. This afternoon we drove to Danville to meet her Mommy so she could go home to Hillsborough! 

October 2, 2017

After a week off, we headed to Hillsborough to pick up Henry for his fall break vacation with Grandma and Grandpa.  Our first stop on the way to Lynchburg was the miniature stone village on Highway 86.   It is an interesting spot to walk around for a few minutes!  It shows how much time the owner spent building it with care and skill!

Next we stopped in Danville to take a picture of a bike rack and we found a boy hanging on it! After lunch, we traveled to Lynchburg, got Henry unpacked and found out he was really into Parcheesi!


Grandpa and Henry went to Peaks View Park to play with our Ollies and to ride our bikes on the trails in the park. After lunch, we got out the erector set and made something that came from our imagination!


Grandpa went on a bike ride so Grandma and Henry had a day to themselves.  Henry took Grandma to Peaks View Park and taught her how to play with Ollie!  After lunch, they played miniature golf and many games of Parcheesi! At happy hour we were talking about things we like but don't go together,  like salsa and ice cream.  But Grandpa said he might like we tried it.  And we all thought it was pretty good, but not good enough to add to our dessert menu!


We headed to SML.  We got the motor boat in the water, ate lunch at the sail club and then spent the afternoon on the water.  But only Henry was brave enough to go swimming! After eating at Moosie's, we headed back to the club to build a campfire and make s'mores before heading to the camper for the night.

s'mores at campfire


It was a beautiful day so we motored over to SML State Park and spent the morning hiking on the trails.  After lunch it was time for Henry to go home and Grandma took him to meet his Daddy in Danville while Grandpa stayed at VISA to help with a regatta.  As always we loved having Henry with us for a week during his school break!

Henry still loves fishing from the dock!

Labor Day Weekend

Friday, September 1st

The Morgans and Alexanders traveled to Murrells Inlet to spend the Labor Day weekend at the beach with the Hills!  We all arrived in time for happy hour, dinner and games.

Wow, a 3-D coloring book.  Great job coloring girls!

Henry teaching Grandpa about Pokémon!


Since Grandma and Grandpa were camping at Ocean Lakes, everyone came to the waterpark at the campground after lunch.  We were having such a great time swimming, going down the slides  and floating on the Lazy River that no one took a photo!

We gathered once again at the Hills for dinner.  Maggie found out that she likes chicken legs as much as Henry and Audrey!


Henry, what Pokémon is this?

Today was beach day and it was lovely.  The waves were perfect for Audrey, Maggie and Henry to get long, fast bodyboard rides.  Dinner once again at the Hills and then we watched part of the Virginia Tech game before retiring for the night! Hokies won!!


Today Katie and the kids are headed back to North Carolina.  However, after lunch we went to the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk to hunt some Pokémon and enjoy the scenery along the way.  Then the Alexanders headed for home and Maggie, Grandma and Grandpa went to the campground while Kelley ran some errands.  We played miniature golf with Maggie and went to the play ground.

When Kelley arrived at the campground, we played in the arcade, then retreated to the air conditioned camper for happy hour before going to the snack bar for an early dinner.  After dinner we said our good byes.  Maggie has school tomorrow and we're headed to Lynchburg.  

It was a wonderful weekend at the beach.  So great to have everyone together! Thanks so much to the Hills for their hospitality! Love to all!!