Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

The Herrons have continued to explore the Washington, DC area during the second year of our tour. Highlights of 2012 included:
We extended our range outside of the Beltway, visiting Williamsburg, Monticello, Great Falls, Shenandoah, West Virginia, as well as South Bass Island (Ohio), New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Erik took a quick trip to Ukraine to observe the October elections. We also saw family and friends in Kansas, Ohio, and Michigan, including a wonderful day at our friends Todd and Diane's wedding.

We have watched Carter thrive this year. He truly loves our adventures, from visiting nearly all of the Smithsonian museums to climbing mountains in Shenandoah. He really enjoys his school, and is busy outside of school with piano, running (in addition to several 5Ks, he ran his first 8K this year), soccer, student council, and just playing with friends and with us.

More than the places we visited, we enjoyed spending time together as a family and with the incredible friends we have made over the last couple of years.

We wish everyone a healthy and happy 2013!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Long Weekend, Part 2

We hiked much of the day on Saturday, climbing to the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah, to the peaks of Big Stony Man and Little Stony Man, and along some rocky paths that used to be part of the Appalachian Trail. Despite the cold and wet weather, the day was wonderful. We made plans for indoor activities on Sunday because more inclement weather was scheduled to arrive. In addition to cruising along the Skyline Drive, we descended into the depths of Luray Caverns. 

En route home on Monday, we visited Polyface Farms, featured in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. The farm was a delight: we cavorted with chickens, rabbits, and cows, were challenged by the guard goose, watched pigs rooting in the mud from a safe distance, and bought lots of Polyface products. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Long Weekend, Part 1

We just returned from a wonderful visit to Shenandoah National Park. Last year, we missed the peak of fall color by arriving one week after an early snowfall took down most of the leaves. This year, we took advantage of the long Columbus Day holiday weekend and spent Saturday and Sunday in the park. Saturday was windy and chilly, and rain threatened us much of the day. Sunday was a washout, but we took a long foggy drive along Skyline Drive. Below you will find photos of some of our discoveries.




Sunday, August 5, 2012

Great Falls

We have almost reached the one-year mark in our two-year DC adventure, but we are still discovering many exciting features of the region. Great Falls National Park has picturesque views, fun rock climbing, and a sprinkling of history. During our Saturday visit, Carter earned another Junior Ranger badge, learning about the Potowmack Canal and the people who created and tended it (you can see a Mason's mark hewn in the stone of a canal lock below). Not only is it a lovely place, but Great Falls is only 15 miles away.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Empire State

Last weekend, we visited Erik's sister and her family on Long Island and did some sightseeing in Manhattan. Carter had strong preferences about what we would see and do in New York, including: 1) earning his Junior Ranger badge at Sagamore Hill; 2) going to the observation deck of the Empire State Building; 3) seeing the Statue of Liberty; and 4) playing on the beach with his cousins. We are happy to report that all missions were accomplished successfully.

Carter accomplished his first objective at Theodore Roosevelt's home and museum nearby his cousins' house. Carter's Uncle Scott is a ranger at the site and gave us a tour as his shift completed. We were fortunate to meet with a sound engineer from the Thomas Edison site who was at Sagamore Hill demonstrating wax cylinders and recording the local TR reenactor.

Later, we took a trip into the city to accomplish all of the other goals. We saw the city from above on the Empire State Building...

...from the water on the Staten Island Ferry...

...and from the middle of Times Square.

We also had a wonderful view of the Statue of Liberty, made more special by the appearance of a War of 1812 tall ship (or what appeared to be one. Erik was especially excited about this sighting given his current 1812 Bicentennial obsession).

Although the weather was not optimal, we even made it to the beach with cousins Jane and George. George taught Carter about the indigenous crabs and fish. They even caught a few and then released them to the wild. Carter loved our adventure in New York - especially because it gave him a chance to see his cousins.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Update

Since our last post, we have been active explorers in and around the DC area. Most of our activities have been limited to weekends, as Carter's school year ended only in mid-June (quite a departure from Kansas where summer vacation begins in May). Carter has taken on the primary role of family photographer, so many of the images that follow are his.

Over the last three months, Carter has returned to his Irish roots, seeking out four-leaf clovers. Although he is only about 1/4 Irish, he has found eleven of them since May. One of his specimens is above.

In early May, embassies from all over the world held open houses on two consecutive weekends. We visited   fourteen, including Cote d'Ivoire (above) which had spectacular entertainment and food.

Later in May, we traveled to Monticello. We had a lovely day, wandering through the grounds, picnicking in Jefferson's vegetable garden, and learning about the history of this important site.

On Memorial Day weekend, we attended a concert in front of the Capitol. Unfortunately, our evening was cut short by inclement weather - we were evacuated from the lawn halfway through the show.

In June, we took a short drive to West Virginia with Scott, a graduate school chum of Erik's. Scott is co-owner of thoroughbred horses that race in Charles Town. In addition to watching the races, we had a tour of the stables. Above, Carter is petting Queen McRace.

Later in June, Carter's grandfather Leo came for a visit. We went to the National Arboretum and took time to feed the koi, gaze in wonder at the bonsai (the tree below has been in training since 1625!), and even watch a "distant relative" stalk the koi later in the day.

Carter, Lea, and Leo spent an afternoon bird-watching at Dyke Marsh while Erik was at work. Carter especially enjoyed watching the young osprey learning to fly (see below).

In late June and early July, we were on the road again. We stopped in Cleveland to see Lea's relatives, made a pit stop on South Bass Island to visit Perry's Monument (Erik is currently obsessed with the War of 1812), and then traveled to Michigan to attend our good friend Todd's wedding and stay for a couple of days with Erik's parents. The stop at Perry's Monument was especially fruitful. Not only did Carter attend a free harmonica lesson with a fabulous teacher (he was given a really nice harmonica), but one of the creators of Carter's favorite show (Phineas and Ferb) re-tweeted a picture featuring Carter in front of the monument wearing his Perry the Platypus t-shirt.

We hurried back home to participate in Fourth of July celebrations. Although it was oppressively hot in DC, we spent the whole day at events. First, we watched the parade.

In addition to participants from (almost) every state, Bermuda and Bolivia also had delegations.

Second, we stopped in the White House Visitors' Center where Carter participated in a re-enactment of the Continental Congress and signing of the Declaration of Independence. He got to play the role of Thomas Jefferson, announcing his support for independence and signing the document.

Third, we dropped in on the Air and Space Museum to watch the Air Force's rock band (and cool down). Finally, we headed to a spot of grass to camp out and watch fireworks. It is hard to beat the Fourth in DC!