I can probably sum this part up by saying: It was a long, hard drive (two days), and we did our best to enjoy what we could of it. We carried along plenty of DVDs (24!) and audio books (7!), a collection that could be described as "a little bit of everything."
We had Backyardigans, Wonder Pets, Bob the Builder, Snoopy, Shirley Temple, Veggie Tales, Sid the Science Kid, just all kinds. While they would all watch almost anything, they tended to be more inattentive and restless with the newer "brand" of shows. They would be positively silent when watching Charlie Brown and the like. Simplicity. It really IS better. (And we ADORE Kipper!! Highly recommended!)
I tried to keep activities varied, rather than putting in one movie after another. The LeapPads were nice to have along for this. I just wish they were a little less bulky. The babies used small metal cookie sheets and played with dinosaur magnets. Atticus enjoyed this more than Gabriel. (Guess somebody's growing up...)
Of course, there were workbooks...
and plenty of rest stops...
Some were just begging to be backdrops for photographs in all their fall foliage and beautifully-lit glory.
We stopped in Lebanon, TN, where we dropped by the outlet stores for just a quick look and then had dinner at a local restaurant, where the kids ate grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken soup. I was especially impressed with the "baby packet" Atticus got. It had a stick-down, wipeable placemat, a disposable bib, and a wipey. Now that's convenient!
The hotel stay wasn't the most restful, but then again, we were all just a little overly-excited. And poor Paul was ever-so-slightly paranoid that someone would steal our just-purchased soft luggage bag on top of the car. (It was only packed with all our clothes, coats, pull-ups, and that sort of thing. Nothing remarkably valuable, but still.)
One thing we noticed was that the kids did better in the car once it was dark outside. It sort of calmed them down a bit. And helped them to focus better on the movies. That and keeping them FED was key!! Good thing I had packed a whole batch of granola, a batch of Brookies, soaked whole wheat biscuits, hard-boiled eggs, pretzels, juice boxes, water, fruit, and (gasp!) Z-bars. We hardly had to stop for (kid) food.
We rolled into Harrisonburg (or technically right outside it) a little later than we had hoped, but the kids, at least, were doing great. Uncle Mert and Aunt Wendy were such great hosts and had already figured out where we would "bed" all our people. We got hugs, changed into pj's and put those little ones to bed!
Official Day One of Vacation:
We spent the morning at Polyface Farms, made famous by Food, Inc. It's not very far from our family's home, but it is certainly OUT in the country. What a beautiful drive we had!! We passed farmhouse after farmhouse.
The kids loved saying "hi" to the cows.
Once there, we hiked up through thick pasture...
and over the portable electric fences to the mobile chicken tractors.
Saylor and Aunt Wendy weren't too sure they were up for that at first, but then the thought of chasing chickens was just too much, I guess. ;)
The chickens must have decided the kids had yummies for them, because they immediately came running toward us!
I think they liked us, despite the wee bit of chasing that simply had to happen...
There was a girl from Oregon already out there, and they hadn't paid her any attention. Weird. Maybe it's a sign we're suited for this sort of life. (Ha! I probably shouldn't get too far ahead of myself.) But still, I couldn't help but feel a little at home here, especially seeing our children looking so natural and comfortable in their surroundings.
Perhaps the overalls helped a bit with that.
But it was certainly a delightful place.
The pigs, we found, were quite eager to have their pictures taken.
Saylor liked them solely on the basis that they were pink. Of course.
The geese were doing their goosey thang. Hissing at strangers, mostly.
And then we bought three pounds of purely-pastured ground beef, a new Salatin book, and a t-shirt for moi. It says "Grass Fed" on it. :)
Then. As we were heading out, driving around the house...then...we saw him!! Joel Salatin himself wearing his jacket and hat and coming in from some unknown farmerly duty! He even waved to us!! Only we weren't expecting to see him, so we didn't realize it was him until it was too late to do anything about it. This was the picture I ended up with, as Paul just kept driving on around the house!
We were all set to go hear Joel Salatin speak today at 6:30 p.m. Only. We were wrong about the time!! Somehow we missed the fact that the time was actually at 10:00 a.m.!! (Can you say "way off"?) And would you like to know when we discovered this fact? 9:30 a.m.!! (Thankfully Uncle Mert, at least, has his head on straight.) Problem was...we were about thirty miles away from the event. Great. I threw on clothes, a headband, and my camera bag, and sped (not really) (okay...sort of) on down the road! I made it about ten minutes late. It was at the Staunton Senior
And I even hung back after the others got their books autographed to chat a bit with him (aka "The Man"). Minutes into the discussion, he immediately recognized me as what he called a "WAP-er." We had a good little discussion about how encouraging it is to see more and more people becoming aware of the connection between our nation's declining health and the way we eat. Anyway, it was a great conversation. And that's thanks to Wendy, my sister-in-law, who was level-headed and reminded me to get the book, get a picture taken (see below), and think of what to say ahead of time. (To avoid becoming the bumbling mess I was when I met Kristyn Getty.)
Then I took the scenic route home.
Of course, the whole great state of Virginia IS the scenic route. But I just so happened to stop and snap a few shots.
Lots of wonderful serenity here.
Then while the babies took their nap today, Paul and I took the big kids to Mount Massanutten to see what we could see. The mountain is mostly a resort for skiers, so there weren't many public places there, but we found ourselves at the end of a cul-de-sac overlooking quite a view. And, of course, the foliage everywhere was peaking so there wasn't one bad place for pictures. But this was where we stopped. Immediately upon getting out of the vehicle, Paul found $40 washed out from a drain pipe into a ditch of rocks! $40!! Yippee!!
And (to celebrate?) we took a few pics of these two.
One was more cooperative than the other. (I know. Shocker, right?)
And then we rewarded them with a ride around the Go-Cart track. (Good thing we had found that $40! Ha!)
Then we gathered up the sleepers back at home, got everybody ready, and went to check out a local pumpkin patch. Let me tell you, our Arkansas patches have got nothin' on this one. Of course, there were the standard pig races...
WHY are pig races standard?!
...and a hay ride out to the patch...
...certainly a scenic one.
And there were...pumpkins. (Thank goodness!)
Pumpkins and cuteness.
And then we headed back to the fun.
But in addition to these things was "The Virginia Carousel," a combination of three different Allan Herschell carousels from the 40's and 50's. Someone pieced them together and created this lovely and unique homage to the great state of Virginia. "Each horse is painted to represent a famous Virginian or industry." The kids got to ride, but it's inside a building, and I had trouble getting any good pictures.
Then, to top it all off, there was even a bonfire complete with marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers, all part of the admission price! NICE. Somehow I didn't get a picture of the S'more-eatin'. Boo. Oh, yeah, maybe my own sticky fingers had a little something to do with that...
Stay tuned for Part 2. (These things take time.)