East Coast Trip

Subtitle: World’s Longest Blog Post! Grab a cup of coffee and your comfy chair… you’re going to be here awhile!

Last week we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime! Well, of their little lifetimes so far. Turns out they are awesome travelers so hopefully we’ll have many more adventures!

all packed up

All packed up and ready to roll!

Day 1: We left home bright and early Saturday morning and headed to NYC. We planned to have lunch at Liberty Park, but when we got there (after sitting in lots of NYC traffic) it was cold and windy and rainy, which was too bad because Liberty Park is beautiful. There was a nice garden and awesome playground, but instead of hanging out we used the bathrooms, ran halfway out to the water and then decided to head back to the car. Good times. :) We did have fun sight seeing and we all want to go back for a few days. Hopefully a few warmer, less rainy days!

gw bridge

George Washington Bridge

aircraft carrier

In NYC we drove along the Hudson River and saw lots of cool things at the piers. This is an aircraft carrier. See all the planes?

magnet toy

This magnet toy kept Eve busy in the car for hours! Thanks Grandma!


Finally we made it to the Holland Tunnel.

liberty park

Liberty Park, in the rain.


The kids took pictures with their camera too.

hotel hall

What to do with excess energy? Run the halls, of course!

We checked into our hotel in NJ and then we went to Mark & Barbara’s house for dinner. That was a lot of fun. I think you can tell true friends because you can fall back into easy conversation after… umm… many years of being apart! Three years in this case, I think. Barbara made a delicious dinner and we all hung out until late. It was nice to see her son again (all grown up!) and meet their baby girl. I was hoping to get a picture of the kids together, but that didn’t happen. Oh well. Maybe another time.

Day 2: Sunday morning we woke up and hit the road again. Actually we hit a few playgrounds and parking lots as Alan did some work on the car.

crossing the delaware

Crossing the Delaware

packed in

Packed in tight and still happy!

chocolate smiles

Barbara sent with us fantastically delicious chocolate treats. We all wanted to eat them, so we had a few bites before hitting the playground. It's hard to dole out chocolate to kids strapped into carseats. While Alan worked on the car the kids burned off the chocolate.

king of the jungle gym

King of the jungle gym!

mcds parking lot

Picking flowers in a field next to a McDonald's parking lot. There's beauty everywhere!


She is so cool!

The night before our trip Alan and I were doing a final review of the map and we realized that our path goes right through Washington DC. Alan made the brilliant suggestion to stop at the Air & Space Museum for a quick visit. The timing worked out well and the kids loved it. Actually, Eve was pretty tired and she made her way from chair to chair, insisting on watching all sorts of random videos, but I do think she enjoyed it. Then we refueled at Starbucks (caffeine for the grownups, fruit parfaits for the kids) and got back in the car to do a little driving tour of DC. We wanted to show the kids the White House, but we mostly just sat in traffic. That added a lot of time to our day, but the kids were good and we got to see some things. Everyone decided we should come back to DC again soon for a longer stay.

at the museum

At the Air & Space Museum in DC. The kids were not interested in a photo shoot!


Millions of cool things to see at the museum and Eve decides to check out what's underneath the exhibits.

wright bros plane

The Wright Brothers plane

moon rover

The moon rover.

snack time

Snack time


I love these flowers! Wisteria?


Virginia, here we come!

When we finally got out of DC traffic we headed to Virginia to visit Aunt Joyce!!! Yay!

farm bus

Farm bus?

lex reflection

This is a cool picture.

We got there pretty late so Sunday night we just hung out in the hotel for awhile. Eve wailed when Joyce left. It was funny, except it was so late and she was so tired that she fell off the heater and scraped up her back. Poor girl.

white and tan

Look at those white arms on tan legs!

hair salon

Eve likes playing hair salon.

sleepy kids

Tired kids. They were thrilled that we let them watch some TV in bed.

Day 3: Monday morning we went to York Beach to watch the weapons ship coming in. This is where Joyce works. We saw this giant bridge open and the ship come in. It was neat to see what she does. After the bridge closed and the boat had passed through we spent the morning playing at the beach. The water was COLD, but that didn’t stop the kids! They didn’t fully swim, but they got half way in and had a great time. Then we walked across the street and had lunch at a Delly (seriously) and then up the street for dessert at Ben & Jerry’s.

eve at the playground

Joyce taught the kids how to hang from the bar. Eve loved it!

upside down lex

Lex didn't love it quite as much. :)

VA sign

Welcome to Yorktown

open bridge

We got there just as the bridge was opening. Very cool.

watching the river

Watching the river

on the rocks

On the river.

big boat

Here comes the weapons ship. See the little boat behind it? That's the security boat, which Joyce would be driving on any other day.

bridge closed

Bridge closed


Wading in the York River


Digging a river to the river

more digging

More digging

family digging

Alan came in to show them how it's done. The kids both tried to imitate him :)

eve carrying water

Eve tried to fill the pool one handful at a time. Here's she is trying to hand over the handful of water to Alan. Love the logic!

I love mom

I <3 Mom


Beach babe

tired boys

Tired boys having lunch at the Delly.


Silly girls. Eve wanted to sit on my lap, but wouldn't smile for a picture. Alan took a sneaky one.

ice cream

After lunch dessert at Ben & Jerry's

joker smile

Eve drank the melted ice cream from her cup and ended up with a chocolaty Joker smile.

big smiles

I love that smile!

eve and joyce

Eve and Joyce

After lunch and dessert Alan took the tired kids back to the hotel for quiet time while Joyce and I got mani/pedis. I love sister time. I never quite get enough of it. I wanted to get a picture of our lovely matching nails, but for all the pictures I did take that was not one of them. After that Joyce and her friend Mike babysat the kids at her house (pillow fights and peanut butter on graham crackers!) while Alan and I went out to dinner (Olive Garden and red wine on the deck!). I think we all had a fun evening.

Day 4: Tuesday we packed up again. First we had breakfast at a local pancake joint where we all ate way too much delicious food. Peanut butter waffles anyone?! Yum! Then off to another playground to burn off some sugar energy. Then back to the hotel where Joyce watched the kids at the playground while we packed up and checked out. We had a nice tour of east coast playgrounds. :)

pb waffles

Peanut butter waffles. Yum! But also a bit overwhelming!

strawberry pancakes

Eve chose the strawberry pancakes, but mostly just ate the whipped cream :)

Here is Joyce’s picture. An action shot!


At a big playground, burning off some energy. Eve, of course, always wants to swing. This time she got pushes from the front and back. She was in heaven! :)

sliding lex

This was a huge twisty slide. Lex loved it!

mountian climbing

They had a big wall to climb, then you could go over the top and down the other side. Eve tried real hard. I want one of these for our new swingset. Great muscle development!

switched sunglasses

What's wrong with this picture?

hotel playground

Back at the hotel playground we played Hyper Dash for awhile. Lex loves this game. He set the pieces in interesting, hard to reach places.

up the slide

Joyce's turn at Hyper Dash. We all got lots of turns.

It was sad to leave Joyce, but we were excited to be on the road again and heading to visit more friends!

After a journey through the rolling hills of Virgina we arrived in an even hillier Roanoke to visit Michelle and family! As I said above, true friends are those you can fall back into conversation with like no time as past. In this case it was just under a year, but other than the new house and new state, not much has changed. We had a great visit. Their house and neighborhood are large and beautiful, flowers, sunshine, good times. The kids all played nicely together and once they were in bed the grownups stayed up late chatting. I miss them!!

down the driveway

They have a great driveway for riding down. You just have to know how to use your brakes at the bottom!

lex on a bike

Lex tried riding Dylan's training-wheels-free bike. I think this is the summer for him. I want to get him a bigger bike this year, without training wheels. He'll be flying!


Lex, who never poses for me, happily smiled into the reflective overflow drain so I could take an artsy picture. It's not perfect, but it's neat :)

Day 5: We walked Dylan to the bus stop in the morning (he had to go to school), then the rest of us spent the morning at the zoo. It was a smallish zoo, but perfect for their ages. Everything was compact and they could run around and everyone had fun. By the end they were tired and hungry so we took a quick trip up hill to see the Roanoke Star, then off to lunch.

walking home

Walking home from the bus stop at 7am


Michelle's beautiful house

at the zoo

Watching the prarie dogs at the zoo.

riding the tiger

Do you see a circus act in her future?


I like this picture. Caitlin is going through a long sleeves phase like Lex did when he was that age. They are both very strong willed.

feeding time

Feeding time at the zoo. I love Caitlin's little foot on the table.

red panda

A red panda eating eucalyptus leaves.

bored kids

The kids got tired towards the end and started amusing themselves in other ways. Ring around the tree, anyone?

roanoke overlook

At the Roanoke Star with a beautiful view of the city.


The Roanoke Star - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke_Star

family pic - 1

Family picture. I like this version because I look good in it :)

family pic - 2

I look dorky in this version, but everyone is looking at the camera.

We got home from lunch just in time to get Dylan off the bus and the kids immediately started playing some more. After awhile Eve told me she was tired and wanted a rest. We largely skipped naps and quiet times on this vacation. I brought her and Caitlin in to watch a show with Alan while the boys kept playing outside. Then snack and everyone back outside. This was fun for awhile until Eve had the biggest meltdown of her life. I can’t say I blame her. She was exhausted and had been holding up remarkably well for a just barely 4yr old. She kicked and screamed and made a huge water mess in the bathroom while I bathed her (she was covered in sunscreen and grime so I forced the bath). I ended up holding her down while she screamed for awhile, then she relaxed and I sang to her and she fell asleep around 5pm. Guess who was awake at 10pm looking for dinner and friends to play with?!? :)

tired girls

Tired girls!

scooter girl

Can she get any cooler?!? Spider man helmet, pink dress, blue crocs. I love it!

snack time

Snack time on the deck.


I'm sorry I didn't get any good pictures of Dylan. Just backs of heads and fuzzy faces on bikes. He was there, I promise, and as adorable as ever! :)

I took over 350 pictures on this trip (!!!) and yet I didn’t get any good ones of Dylan and I didn’t one of the four of them together. Michelle has a beautiful wicker swing that we found on the second day and I was hoping to get them all on the swing together, but then Eve had a meltdown and that was the end of that. Oh well. Next time!

Day 6: Thursday morning we walked Dylan to the bus stop again and then packed up to leave. Caitlin was also at school that day, which helped make it easier for my kids. Still, it was probably our hardest goodbye. I think the kids (and me and Alan!) could have happily stayed a few weeks. Michelle probably would have kicked us out long before that though! :) Anyway, with chocolate on the brain we packed up, said our good byes, and headed north to Hershey, PA.

eve and caitlin

Caitlin and Eve having a serious conversation about whatever it is little girls discuss.


Goodbye hugs. They are so sweet! (Caitlin looks a little scared though :) )

Hours later we found ourselves in Hershey, PA. We checked in to a nice Hampton Inn (my favorite hotels!) and walked next door for a fantastic dinner. I talked Alan into sharing a dessert with me, but then we both regretted it with over stuffed stomachs. It was yummy though, dinner and dessert both! After dinner I took the kids to the pool while Alan exercised. We lasted about 20 minutes in the pool before Lex started complaining about an upset stomach. I hurried us all back to the room. I didn’t want vomit in the pool, or anywhere really! I snuggled them into warm pjs and conveniently found Sesame St. on TV. Everyone chilled. Then Alan snuggled with them while I went to exercise and I came back to find them all watching a crazy show about daring feats and acts of strength and people falling off giant mats into the water. They were all riled up! We all had fun. :)

tired girl

Look at this tired girl. Whenever she asked for music, instead of the audio books, we knew that meant a nap was immenent. We listened to BNL's Snack Time over and over and Eve read along with the song lyrics.

tired boy

He held out and didn't nap in the car at all, despite those tired eyes!


Welcome to Hershey!

eve series - p1

Here's a funny series of pictures...

eve series - p2

eve series - p3

eve series - p4


This looks safe, right? :)

Day 7: Friday morning, after a great breakfast in the hotel lobby, we packed up, checked out, and headed for Hershey’s Chocolate World. This place, I’ll admit, was my mistake. I thought it sounded like fun and the brochure seemed to imply there was lots to do. What I didn’t count on was the crowds and what the brochure failed to mention is that everything costs extra money and is designed to funnel you into the giant gift shops. I think the gift shops were at least 50% of the place. Anyway, we wandered around this place in a state of overwhelmedness (that’s a word, right?) for the morning, finding ourselves standing in lines for who knows what, and listening to dancing mechanical cows telling us that Hershey’s chocolate is mooo-tritious. Riiiight…. I was not fooled. We decided we could each choose one thing to buy from the gift shops. Lex chose a bucket of mixed chocolates which we have all been enjoying, Alan chose fancy chocolate that he did not enjoy, Eve chose a box of kisses which we haven’t even opened yet, and I chose a Christmas tree ornament :) Then we had lunch at the cafe there where I paid $6.95 for PB&J sandwiches that I HAD TO MAKE MYSELF! Seriously. They gave me two slices of bread, jelly packets, and tiny cup of Reece’s peanut butter. Seriously. However, I think it was karma or something because just a few days earlier I was complaining about how whenever you get PB&J at restaurants they put waaaay to much jelly on the sandwiches. So, now I got to make my own.

chocolate world

Let the madness begin!

lex on the line

Lex, working the Kisses line

factory worker

Factory worker Eve with her $7 box of Kisses

singing cows

Never believe a mechanical singing cow!

eve in the gift shop

She was so tired by this point. She latched on to this non-functioning demo in the gift shop and pretended she was working. At the moment I believe she is filling the teddy with chocolate.

We left around noon and we were all in a funky, overstimulated mood. Then we had a miserable drive through PA. Seriously miserable. The weather and scenery was totally depressing, especially coming from beautiful VA, the two stops we made were depressing and fruitless… sigh. We were happy to finally arrive in Franklin. It was cold and rainy, but we were there and out of the car. Finally.

We had a nice night in Franklin with the family. Pizza, chocolate, Hess trucks. What more can you ask for :)

Day 8: Saturday morning we got a slow start. It was cold and rainy and no one was eager to hit the road again. We played, and colored Easter eggs, and had several egg hunts. That was fun. Then we packed up and hit the road one final time. We had a great drive home, everyone was happy and calm, and we rolled into our driveway at 6pm. The best part of that trip was that despite the FB snow reports, and the inches we drove through in the mountains, we arrived home to greenish grass and no snow! Whew!

coloring eggs

Coloring Easter eggs

coloring more eggs


Pretty eggs

We had an awesome bunch of Easter egg hunts and I have more pictures but for some reason I’m having trouble getting them off my camera. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m posting way to many pictures anyway!

sound asleep

She made it all the way home, then fell asleep on our street!

Hmm… anyone still with me in this book of a post? I’ll probably find myself posting other tidbits throughout the week as I remember them. Right now I’m exhausted (it’s 8pm) and ready for bed. We had a nice Easter Sunday (more on that in another post) and the kids were in bed nice and early. Lex says he is excited to go to school tomorrow. Hopefully he holds on to that sentiment until tomorrow, and the rest of the week!

I have one more thought for this post though. I just want to mention that this trip was so great because I had awesome travelers with me! We each lost it once or twice, but overall everyone held it together very well and the kids did great in the car and in all the hotels. We really asked a lot of them and threw all schedules to the wind, but everyone came through and had a blast. One thing that helped was audiobooks. I downloaded a few books from Audible.com to see if the kids would like them. Turns out they LOVED them. We listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, two Magic Tree House books, Beezus and Ramona, James and the Giant Peach, a Magic School Bus book, and Pippi Longstocking. I paused it sometimes to do a review and make sure the kids knew what was going on and they loved them. I’m so excited. Eve even asked to listen to Beezus and Ramona at quiet time today. I hooked my phone up to her speakers and she had the quietest quiet time she’s had in a long time. Who knew?! We had a portable DVD player with us in the car but didn’t use it once, the kids were so excited about the audio books.

Lastly, in case you didn’t get enough pictures in this post, I put all of them up in my Picasa album. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading :)

5 thoughts on “East Coast Trip

  1. and thank you for writing and posting….you are a fantastic architect…building family experiences and memories…thank you again and always for sharing it with us all…
    love to all

  2. Pingback: New York City!! | Calm and Chaos: Life with kids

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