Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Taliban Internet

For a while the internet had been getting slower and slower in our house.  

I don't think it was actually the internet as much as it was the wifi connected devices.  Being directly wired didn't result in such a bad experience but the problem is nearly all of our devices are using wifi - even the television!  

During this dark period of the history of our house I would dare you to try and survive an episode of Friends on Netflix.  Every three minutes the screen would freeze and start loading up the next three minutes.  Besides staring at a frozen screen, the minutes you did get to watch were low resolution and ugly.  It was enough to make you want to turn off the television and do something productive.  

One night at dinner we were all talking about how horrible wifi was and the boy pointed out that the terrorists have no problem uploading propaganda videos and they were in the wildnerness. . . in a cave.  How do the terrorists have better internet than we have? 

That night I started researching routers and made a purchase on Amazon before going to bed.   Two days later the new router was installed and our devices were streaming video like we didn't think was possible.  

I wasn't going to let the terrorists win this one! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Belated 14

My oldest daughter made it to 14 years old this past week I failed to post it on her birthday.
Just because I failed to post this photo on her birthday doesn't mean I forgot.  In any case, she has plenty of photos of herself.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Virginia vacation: final day

Our adventure continued as we headed further south on I-81 to Bristol, TN.  The kids asked why we would come this way.

As we pulled into the famous race track parking lot the kids asked again why we were stopping.

There was no race this day but is a track that Cari and I always wanted to see in person.  Inside the gift shop the cashier told us the gate was open and we were welcome to go in and see the track!

We would have signed up for a track tour but they were preparing for a test this day and couldn't get us onto the track.   Next time we'll go back for a race!

On our final few hours of vacation we saw some beautiful scenes along I-26 just North of Asheville, NC.
 When we stopped at a scenic overlook to get this shot of I-26 the kids couldn't understand why we would stop this close to home.
They were done with vacation.

Our partly unplanned trip through an area we had never visited before was a success.  We had a rough idea of where we were headed when we left the house and as we went we discovered new places to see.  We never felt hurried to be at a place or to stop at a specific hotel.  We stopped for a sit down restaurant when we felt like it.

This is vacation done right.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Virginia: Day 3 continues

After leaving the Frontier Culture Museum we started down the highway toward the Natural Bridge.  This was one of our planned stops before leaving the state.  The Natural Bridge is a place that was a favorite place of Thomas Jefferson.  In fact he spent a few dollars and purchased it from the King of England.

Before seeing the bridge we visited the caverns next door.  This was why I brought my pull over jacket.

After returning to the surface we headed over to the Natural Bridge.  By this time we had seen many pictures of the bridge but to stand underneath it and walk the path was so much more impressive.
 look at the scale of this place with the people on the trail below:

There are a few carvings of initials in the walls - including one that is possibly George Washington's carving.

It was about dinner time after leaving the Natural Bridge and we had been walking all day.  In our quest for BBQ we found ourselves further south on I-81 in Roanoke, VA.  Mission BBQ is where we ended up and it turns out is a chain of restaurants.  If there is one near you we recommend it.

We found a nice hotel in nearby Salem to finish off day 3.  

Next up, the last day of our trip.  We had one more stop to make.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Virginia: Day 3

Our adventure continued after a breakfast stop at Dunkin' Doughnuts.  We made our way across Staunton to the Frontier Culture Museum.  This was one of our unplanned stops but sounded really interesting.

As you walk around the property you will find farms and historic housing of various cultures that influenced America's beginning.  The majority of these buildings were brought over from their original locations and re-assembled at the museum.  We visited a 1700's African village, a 1600's English farm, 1700's Irish farm, 1700's Irish forge, 1700's German farm, 1740's American farm, 1820's American farm,  1850's American farm and a 1700's Ganatastwi (indian village).

As you can see from that list, there is a lot to see here.  Every house or exhibit had interpreters dressed in period clothing ready to explain the exhibit and explain how people lived in that time and place.

Here are some photos from the Frontier Culture Museum:
Cari at the African village - LOW doors (to keep the heat out)
 Standing in front of our English home.
 Irish farm with stone walls:
 Fetching water at the well:
 That full bucket is heavy.  Living on the farm is hard work:
 Feeding the turkeys:
 A cow in the American farm exhibit:
 At the indian village playing a game.  As a hoop is tossed, throw a corn cob with a feather in the end through the hoop.

As you traveled you were encouraged to touch and explore the items in the exhibits.  This made it even better for the younger members of our family.

We highly recommend this museum if you find yourself near Staunton, Va.

Next up:  Day 3 continues in a cave and at the Natural Bridge. . .

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Virginia: Day 2

While we were in Lynchburg we came up with our version of traveling Bingo.  What kind of things could we try to find as we traveled this week?

Some of the things that made the list:
- A South Carolina license plate
- A fire truck
- A home-painted truck
- A sign that says "birthplace of..."
- "Virginia is for Lovers" bumper sticker

After breakfast in Lynchburg we made our way to Thomas Jefferson's house.  This was a place I have wanted to visit for many years and I was excited to finally be here.

The tour was excellent and very interesting.  One of the items that caught my attention was the ice house.  A large circular container under the house where ice was collected during the winter and stored here.  It would keep ice all summer long that would be used to help preserve meat and other foods.

We also took a tour outside the house that talked about the slaves that lived on the plantation.  This tour was interesting and helped explain all the industries that were taking place on the plantation.

Thomas Jefferson is buried near the house in a small cemetery.  The cemetery is fenced in but you can get close enough to toss a nickle onto the stone.  I'm not sure about the tradition but based on the number of coins laying on the stone, there seems to be one.

After leaving the house we traveled just a few miles into Charlottesville where we wanted to see the University of Virginia - also designed by Thomas Jefferson.
 The rotunda at UVA is being restored and contained a lot of scaffolding.  It was still an interesting stop to learn more about it.  
 We made our way behind the rotunda and into the yard.
The design of these buildings and the yard feels very unique and was worth the short walk to see it. 

Before stopping for the night we decided to drive over to Staunton where we found, and stayed at, the historic Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

We took an evening walk around historic Staunton and fell in love with the atmosphere and beauty of the town.

Day 3 includes a few stops that we hadn't planned but discovered during our first two days in Virginia.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Virginia Vacation: Day 1.

We decided to take one last vacation before school started and decided to make it an adventure.

Cari and I started talking about going to Virginia so that we could visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  Other than that visit we initially didn't have anything else planned for our 3-4 day trip.

The week prior to leaving we added one or two other destinations to the list and created a rough route of our travels.  Over the next week I'll be sharing some photos and stories from our trip.

Taking a vacation that is only loosely planned turned out to be excellent.  We were never on much of a schedule so it was very casual and we never felt hurried to be at any place.

We left in the afternoon the first day and planned to make it to Danville, Va so our first day in Virginia wouldn't be such a long drive.

Making it to North Carolina wasn't a special occurrence but it was part of our adventure.
We couldn't coax the older kids out of the car for taking this photo.  :)

It didn't take much longer before we entered Virginia.

As we entered Danville and looked around for a hotel we decided it that it really wasn't the place we wanted to stay.  It looked like at one point Danville was a busy industrial town, probably textile mills.  Now it looks like everything is closed up and run down.  We kept moving and found some dinner near Chatham, Va.

After dinner we kept heading North on Hwy 29 and found ourselves a nice place to stay in Lynchburg.

Day 2 would take us to Monticello and Charlottesville!