Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wright Brothers - Ohio Version

We have visited the Wright Brothers' Memorial in North Carolina. We have seen the original 1903 Wright Flyer at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Next up on our agenda: Dayton, Ohio, also known as the Wright Brothers' hometown.
How cool is it to walk through the actual building where Wilbur and Orville worked? Evelyn and I were beside ourselves.
After we checked out the Cycle Shop, a park ranger took us on a two-block walk to the site of the Wright family home. (Henry Ford moved the actual home to Michigan.) This front porch replica is located where the original one sat.
In Dayton, there are two Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park sites to visit: the Cycle Shop (which is where the first three pictures were taken) and Huffman Prairie Flying Field (where the next two pictures were taken). In the visitor's center at Huffman Prairie, a park ranger helped Evelyn with a three-minute flight simulator of the 1903 Wright Flyer.
The 80-acre Huffman Prairie Flying Field has been preserved, and nothing has been built on it. The park service built replicas of the Wright brothers' airplane hangar and launch derrick. Here is Evelyn walking the airplane launch rail.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Family Pictures

Last weekend, we girls attended my cousin Brenda's wedding in Holdrege, Nebraska. My brother, Eric, and his wife, Heather, were also there. Here's an almost-candid shot of the group, waiting for the reception goodies.
Julia really enjoyed doing her sticker book with Uncle Eric.
My dad convinced Eric and me to all be in a picture together.
This evening we had supper with Troy's Aunt Becky and Uncle Ralph on their farm near Griggsville, Illinois. Even though it was hotter than blazes, the girls loved running around and playing outside.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Union Pacific Train Yard

While driving from Denver to Holdrege today, we made a pit-stop in North Platte, Nebraska. Why? That's where the biggest train yard in the WORLD is located. Union Pacific's Bailey Yard has over 10,000 rail cars roll through each day. It is also the spot where their locomotives are maintained and repaired. Were the girls excited to visit this train yard?
Absolutely! We spent almost an hour on the 7th-floor outdoor observation deck.

We watched all sorts of freight trains roll by . . .

. . . and we saw several locomotives being shunted around the yard. We also went up to the enclosed 8th floor, where Evelyn learned more about the history of Union Pacific trains in North Platte. I'm sure the girls will request a repeat visit to this train yard - it was that exciting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Train Girl Takes Over Denver

As per both Evelyn's and my brother's requests, Evelyn brought her CSX model train locomotive allllll the way from Maryland to run on Eric's track in Colorado. He quickly programmed his decoder to work with Evelyn's train, and just like that, she could control her train's speed and direction with the remote control.
Evelyn put together her freight train, including a second (Norfolk Southern) locomotive on the front. As you can imagine, all Evelyn wanted to do at Eric's house was run trains - his model takes up the entire basement with I-don't-know-how-many feet of track for the hundreds of cars he owns. Evelyn was in train heaven!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

After a busy day running around the Rocky Mountains, we girls took in a Colorado Rockies baseball game this evening.
Julia didn't have a clue why the crowd was cheering and clapping, but she joined in anyway. Evelyn did understand the game, and she rooted for the home team. Snacking on peanuts was an added bonus for her. After we left the game (in the 7th inning, since the girls were so tired), Julia kept talking about how she couldn't wait to see another baseball game. We'll have to check the Nationals' schedule when we get home...

Rocky Mountains National Park - Day 2

Last night we stayed in a rustic little cabin by the Fall River. Evelyn's first reaction was, "I don't like this place." But once she got over the outdated furniture and realized how nature-y it was, she really liked it.
One of my favorite things about our cabin was the picnic table. Julia spilled her juice, but no biggie. We girls dropped donut crumbs all over the place, but, again, no big deal. (By the way - the "Donut Haus" in Estes Park makes awesome donuts!)After attending a very informative puppet show (about the pine beetle), we girls caught the tail-end of a ranger talk about bighorn sheep. Then we began our ascent, stopping now and then for some photo ops. The picture below has the Sheep Lakes area in the valley, with Julia's "Snowy Mountains" (also known as Evelyn's "Rocky Mountains") in the background.

The destination of the day was Bear Lake. It takes some work to get to this very popular, 1/2-mile hike. We had to park quite a ways away and then take a shuttle bus, which isn't what I remembered from the last time I was here.

Nonetheless, dealing with other tourists was well worth it. The length of the hike was perfect for Julia, and Evelyn enjoyed the scenery. I know Evelyn and I can't wait to come back to these mountains!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rocky Mountains National Park - Day 1

We got to Rocky Mountains National Park around 10:00 this morning, and we didn't waste any time finding a trail to hike. I chose a short, easy hike (Alluvial Fan) up to a waterfall, and the girls loved climbing on all the rocks around the trail.
But what Evelyn was really itchin' to do is play in some snow. So, several stops and over an hour later, I found a legal place to park near a snowy patch and let the girls play.

Although she enjoyed touching the snow and sliding her shoes in the snow, Julia didn't budge from her rock. Evelyn, on the other hand, spent almost the entire 3o minutes tromping around in the snow. It was really slick and slushy, so it's a miracle that she didn't fall down.

The picture below was taken at the windiest and chilliest spot for us today - right along the Trail Ridge Road. I just love the view of the snow-capped mountains in the background.

One of our last stops of the day was on the west side of the park, near some marshy lakes. I can't believe we were lucky enough to have sunshine the whole time we were in the park - no afternoon rainshowers for us today!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Colorado Swimming

The sign says it all:
Shortly after arriving in Colorado, we met up with my cousin, Letty, and her four children. We headed over to her in-laws' house for some play time in the pool.

Here's Julia, chillin' in the shade with her toys.

Evelyn never tired of jumping off the diving board.

After three hours of swimming, Julia had had enough. She needed some cuddle time, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kittens on the Farm

Whenever visiting my Aunt Leann and Uncle Tim's farm in the summer, Julia and Evelyn find kittens. This time was no different. However, it was SO hot and humid today, I had to limit the girls' outdoor time to 15 minute chunks. When taking their "inside break," they couldn't wait to get back outside to play with the kittens.
Since the outdoor lighting was perfect for pictures (6:00 in the evening, the girls were in the shade), I tried my hand at some portrait shots. This one of Julia is an all-time favorite. I was able to capture her genuine smile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Firefighter Story Time

This afternoon the Bellevue Public Library hosted a lunch-time story time at the Bellevue Fire Department's training facility. Julia donned a little plastic firefighter hat and began exploring. She looked inside and under all the exterior doors of the truck. She checked out the lights ALL around the truck.
Then she climbed up inside the cab of the firetruck. I asked Julia if the inside of the firetruck was the same as Mommy's car, and she replied, "Yes!" I'm not sure I completely agree with her on that one...

After crawling around and through the firetruck, the firefighters demonstrated the hose from the top of the truck. Julia didn't know what to think of all that water shooting out of the top of the firetruck. Eventually the firefighters had to had back to their fire station, but they sounded the siren as they left, which Julia thought was pretty cool.

Reading books paled in comparison to the firetruck demo, but Julia enjoyed listening to stories while munching on lunch. It was quite the exciting afternoon story time!

Monday, July 11, 2011

3 1/2 Hours at the Zoo

We girls went to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo this morning. Originally we had planned to spend most of the day at the zoo. However, the weather made us change our plans. It isn't much fun to see the outdoor exhibits when it's sunny, hot and humid. So we went to the zoo from 9:00 to 12:30. Here is what we did in three and a half hours:

- Saw all of the outdoor African animal exhibits (gazelles, antelopes, etc.)
- Fed the fish from the bridge
- Watched the sea lions swim laps
- Climbed to the top of "Elephant Hill" to see the rhinos
- Took a round-trip ride on the Skyfari (ski lift)
- Snacked on Goldfish while walking to...
- Bear Canyon
- Rode the Carousel
- Rode the Train
- Walked up a heavy hill to see...
- The Cat House
- Witnessed a female lion (literally) drooling over the prospect of snacking on my girls
- Checked out all the creatures at the indoor aquarium

If you are familiar with the expansive size of Omaha's Zoo, you know we covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We also had to pick and choose which exhibits and attractions to see and do today because there was no way we could fit it all in this morning. There's always next time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Good Times at the Lake

This evening we headed out to the Luster's cabin in Cedar Creek to play at the lake. Evelyn had been looking forward to fishing with Uncle Matt, which got Julia excited for fishing. Naturally, Evelyn had more patience when it came to fishing, but Julia thought it was fun, too. Evelyn caught some blue gill and a small catfish, but she caught more bass than anything she is with her first catch. Like I said, Julia wasn't as patient with fishing as Evelyn, so she decided to go for a swim with Uncle Matt and Grandma Luster. She loved tooling around in the water, as long as someone was holding her. She absolutely refused to put her feet down while in the water.

It wasn't long before Troy and Evelyn joined in on the swimming fun. The girls especially liked it when Matt or Troy would swim under water, their whereabouts unknown in the murky water, and pop up unexpectedly.

Group shot of all the swimmers!

Durham Day Camp

Evelyn attended an afternoon day camp at Omaha's Durham Museum this week. The theme was "Storm Warning." She learned about hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning & thunder, and different clouds. On the drive home every day, she would describe the two or three experiments her class did and how the experiments related to weather. Since she is such a weather nut, this day camp was right up her alley. She had a blast!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Evelyn had a trim at the salon this morning. She only had her ends evened out, as she is growing out her hair to donate (again). Once the stylist was finished with the cut, she asked Evelyn if she wanted her hair curly. Is the sky blue? That's a no-brainer...of course!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July in Nebraska

We love all the fun things that come with celebrating the 4th of July in Nebraska, like a cookout. We joined Troy's parents at the Fontenelle Hills neighborhood picnic. What did Julia eat? Even though all the food on her plate is usually Julia-approved, she only ate chips. And she drank Capri Sun.

Evelyn devoured everything on her plate, especially since she knew chocolate cake was waiting for her.

Then we headed over to my parents' house to do fireworks. My mom had bought snappers for the girls; Evelyn preferred the "bombs away" method to get the little guys to snap and pop.

Evelyn also did some sparklers on her own. After it got darker, we did small, festive fireworks like fountains and ground flowers. All things we can't do back home in Maryland, and all things Evelyn loved. (Julia, by the way, had to go to bed early tonight, so we saved some fireworks to do with her another day.)