Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trip to western NY

Last week, we drove up into western NY to visit my brother Tom and sister-in-law Peggy who live in Bath,  the town I grew up in.  I go up every summer to see them and touch base with high school friends.  Kate had not been up there since she moved to England.  We got really lucky on the weather.  It was warm, not hot, and sunny every day.  Usually when I visit Bath, I get at least one rainy day, sometimes more.  We did get rain, but it fell at night, so we had wonderful days to do outdoor things.

We visited Stony Brook State Park one day.  It has a long steep glen with several small waterfalls.  The swimming pool that I remembered from my youth was no longer there, but there were shallow pools of water in many places and everyone was wading and paddling in them.  The kids had a great time getting wet, of course.  Kate and I just waded a bit.  The water was cold, but that never stops kids.  We hiked up the glen to the top, by which time, my legs were quite sore from climbing all the stairs.  We had brought a picnic lunch, which we ate at the park, then headed back to Bath.

Another day we went to Corning to visit the glass museum and a small museum that has Native American paintings and sculpture. Most of the works are by famous painters from the 1800s, who went West to paint Indians.  The modern works were by Native Americans themselves.  I love the stuff by Remington and others who painted realistically, scenery as well as Indians.   We couldn't use flash in the Rockwell, so photos of that are poor.  However, I have many pictures from the glass museum.  I love glass, almost as much as I love ceramics!  I have a small collection of art glass, but mostly not from Corning.  The things made there are rather pricey!  We saw the glass show, where they demonstrate blowing glass.  Years ago, one could look down into the factory where the blowers were working and also watch the men etching Steuben ware.  Can't do that these days.  However, the museum is very child friendly and offers various activities for kids.  It was a good place for the family to go.

Bath is the County Seat of Steuben County, so every year it hosts the county fair.  When I was a child, we lived just three houses from the fairgrounds entrance.  I thought this was great, of course.  My parents, however, probably wished they lived much further away.  Cars would park on our street and sometimes block our driveway.  (Now the police put up no parking signs on all nearby streets.)  The worst part of living near the Fair was the noise.  They used to have a motorcycle show near the entrance.  This was a huge cylinder shaped building.  The motorcycles would gather speed going round and round on the floor and then ride up the walls!  The noise of the bikes was bad enough, but a couple of years they added lions to the act.  The lions stayed on the floor on the arena and just prowled around and roared at the bikes.  At night, however, the lions roared even more and all the dogs in our neighborhood would bark and howl in response.  You can imagine what that did to the sleeping pattern of occupants of nearby homes.  Sadly (or happily), the motorcycles and lions are no longer part of the Fair.

Bath is near one of the Finger Lakes (Keuka), so we drove over to the lake and a town at the foot of the lake.  Hammondsport is a tourist town.  It has a lovely park in the center of town, with stores on two sides.  Antiques, knickknacks, pottery, fabric, paintings, food and homemade ice cream are all available.  There was also a craft show last weekend - very nice selection of crafts.  I bought a vase and the girls bought some jewelry.  The kids also swam in the lake.  My niece Terry was kind enough to swim with them, while Kate and I shopped at the craft show.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

College Park Airport museum

Thursday, we met a high school friend of Kate's for lunch at a noodle place in College Park.  The food was very good and service was fast.  They have Thai, Japanese, Italian and American noodle dishes.  Maybe Chinese as well.  I wish it was closer to where I live, so I could get take out. 

Then we went to the airport museum.  College Park Airport had a record for being the longest continuously operating airport in the US.  Unfortunately, after 9/11, it was closed for a period of time.  All local airports in the Baltimore/DC area were shut down for a time.  I had never been to the museum, despite living fairly close.  It was great for children - lots of interactive activities, including dressing up in old pilot uniforms and a stimulator where one could try to fly an airplane on the screen.  I did notice that the kids were more into crashing the airplane than flying it safely!  LOL  Kate has photos on her blog site, but I'll try to 'borrow' a couple to put here, if I can find where she put them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

down to southern Maryland

Yesterday, we drove down to southern Maryland so that Kate could visit St. Mary's College, where she graduated 20 years ago.  It had changed dramatically, as she discovered.  Along the way, we stopped to see a friend of mine who lives in Lusby.  We went down to the shore, near her house, and gathered fossil shells.  The beach is littered with little drill shells which are fossils, and mussel shells, presumably from more current times. 

We then went out to lunch in a gourmet grocery store.  It's surprising to find such a store in southern Maryland, but the area is really growing and becoming much more urban.  This store is wonderful!  I've not found anything around here to even come close.  The baked goods are fabulous.  They have a huge salad bar and hot food bar, as well as deli and sandwiches.  If there were a store like this near where I live, I would never cook at all!

From Lusby, we went over the big bridge at Solomon's Island and on to St. Mary's College.  Kate knew it would be different after 20 years, but she was still surprised at how many buildings had been added.  We walked around campus a bit, but it was very hot and humid, so we were glad to pop in and out of air-conditioned buildings.  No kids on campus, but many buildings were open, so we could peek inside.  We also went into a museum about the early settlement there.  They have been doing an archeological dig there for many years.  Interesting bits of history.  Without the kids, I would have stayed longer and read all the info.

We then drove down to Point Lookout - the tip of the peninsula to look at the lighthouse.  The lighthouse was a disappointment, as it is just a house with a light tower attached.  However, we got a real thrill in the park, as a bald eagle flew up from the roadside into a tree right in front of us!  What a sight!  I've never seen one in the wild that was that close.  He/she sat there for quite some time, watching us watching him.  On our way back out of the park, he was there again.  Must have been something really good to eat in the grass along the road and all the cars (maybe 3 altogether) were disturbing his meal.

Our final stop was Calvert Cliffs Park.  The cliffs are full of fossils, and we were hoping to find some sharks' teeth.  However, walking on the beach below the cliffs is banned now.   The last time I was there (maybe 30 years ago) you could still go right up to the cliffs.  They are clay and very unstable, so we could see why the area was off limits.  We didn't find any interesting shells/fossils, although Kate took some interesting photos.  The walk from the parking lot to the beach was 1.8 miles - further than I remembered.  With temperatures pushing 100 F and humidity almost as high, it was a long tiring walk.  More exercise than I have been getting lately.  I slept very well last night!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I stayed home

Monday, Kate and the kids went to the Howard County Fair.  Photos are found on Kate's blog.
 I had to teach my ceramics class in the afternoon, so a friend picked up Kate and family, so I could have my car.  Class went very well.  A returning student arrived.  She was last in class two sessions ago, and was very disappointed to find that I had thrown away her unfinished creations.  We have limited storage space at the center and when she didn't come back right away, I discarded her stuff, some of which had broken anyway.  She said that her friends who came with her previously were coming back for the fall session.  I hope they do, as we need more students to keep the class running.
Yesterday, we went swimming in the afternoon at a lovely pool where one of Kate's friends has a membership.  This pool is just down the road from where I live and much nicer than our neighborhood pool, with big shade trees over the seating area.  It seems to be pretty much empty on weekdays.  Next year I might take out a membership there.  I'm not much of a swimmer, but it sure felt good to spend a couple of hours in the water.  After swimming,  we headed off to Columbia Mall where Kate met a college friend for dinner, and the kids and I went to see Toy Story 3.  What a great movie!  The story was exciting and the animation was wonderful!  I loved it!  I only go to kid movies when I'm with my grandkids, which is not very often.  I feel rather silly going by myself.  However, now that I have hearing aids and can hear the dialogue in movies, perhaps I will go more often, even if I can't find a kid to take with me.

Today will be HOT, I'm sure.  I went out at 6:30 AM to water my plants.  It was already hot and muggy.  We'll be outside a good deal today, but we're tough - we can stand the heat!  It will make the A/C feel really good when we get back inside.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Friday, Kate and I went shopping while Geoff and the kids went to the city pool.  They had a blast and we enjoyed being in stores without having to worry about where the kids were and what they were doing!  We shopped in Target, where I bought a couple of paperbacks, then on to JoAnn's.   I should never go into a fabric store.  Considering that I do very little sewing, you would think that I wouldn't buy anything.  It doesn't work like that. I love fabric!  Wonderful colors and patterns.  I just don't really enjoy doing anything with it!  Anyway, I bought a small pile of fat quarters for $.99 each.  How could I resist a price  like that?  Kate also bought some material.  There were wonderful decorative buttons at 40 or 50 % off.  Again, I could NOT resist.  I may actually use some of those on ATCs.   Then we went into the scrapbook section of the store.  Stickers and more stickers and decorative paper on sale.  Got a bit of each.  It was a very successful shopping trip and lots of fun.

On Saturday, we just lazed around.  Steve and Christine left for the airport after lunch.  Kate and I did laundry and switched bedrooms, so that I was back in my room and Kate in the guest room.  (The bed in the guest room is a 3/4 size bed - not big enough for two people.)  We moved clothes and switched bathrooms, so that I and my stuff are back where we belong.  Later, Kate and I and the girls went to Walmart where the girls got some shorts and T-shirts and Kate made copies of the Busch Garden photo.  Our WalMart has been expanded and remodeled recently.  The last time I was there, the parking lot was a mess and the store was still being rearranged.  This time it was all done and looked very modern.  Of course, I couldn't find anything because it was all moved around.  I got a good deal of exercise looking for various departments and trying to keep up with the girls!  We ate an early dinner and   Kate and the kids drove Geoff to the airport for a 9 PM flight.  I stayed home and relaxed. 

Today we got up late.  (Well, actually I was up fairly early - 6:30, but the rest of them slept late.)  We went to the IHOP for brunch.  The kids and Kate had various kinds of pancakes, along with eggs, bacon, and hash browns.  I had stuffed French toast, with strawberry topping.  Everyone agreed that the  food was very good.  Then we drove up to Ellicott City, an historic city with many stores that appeal to tourists, i.e., antique stores, boutiques and gift shops.  We skipped the antique stores, as the kids aren't interested in them, but did check out the others.  Kate also took Alex to the train museum, while the girls and I shopped.  All of us women bought some summer outfits - sweaters for the girls and Kate and a dress and a sweater for me.  Everything was greatly reduced, so we really got some bargains!  I bought Kate a lovely Raku pot for her birthday (in November).  We both loved the pot, but I have so much pottery and I actually make Raku pots, so it seemed right to give it to her.  On our way back to the car, we got smoothies because we were hot and thirsty.  We are home now, tired but happy.  Leftovers for dinner.

Friday, August 6, 2010

trip to Virginia

The whole crew of us (in 2 cars) left Tuesday AM for Hampton, VA to visit Grandpa Andy (my ex), his daughter in law and grandkids.  We stayed in a really big beach house just a block from the Chesapeake Bay.  It was great to have a house, rather than trying to fit 8 of us into Andy's little house.  The house had a second-story screened porch - a delightful place to sit out on and enjoy dinner and evening breezes.

Wednesday we all headed off to Busch Gardens.  Andy works there so,we got in free!  Steve and Christine took the girls to go on all the roller coasters, several times, if possible.  We less adventuresome types took Alex around and went on rides for the younger and much older sets!  Actually I was the only one who didn't ride much.  I'm really not into rides, especially ones that go up and down and upside down!  The AM was rainy and cool, so no lines for rides.  Later in the day, it got HOT and crowded, but we had a wonderful time.

Yesterday we went to Virginia Beach in the AM, although it was noon by the time we all got organized and drove there.  It was incredibly HOT and humid.  Kate, Christine and I did not have on our suits and there was no place to change, so we just waded.  The rest of the crew had a wonderful time in the surf.  We had to drag them away, in order to meet Susan (Andy's daughter in law) and her kids at the Virginia Aquarium after lunch.  It was blessedly cool there.  Great exhibits.  The kids loved it and so did the adults.  We also visited the nearby science center, also interesting, especially for the kids.  The only down-side was that we stayed rather late and had to use the bridge/tunnel to get back to Hampton.  There was a 7 mile backup , stop and go traffic, before we got to the tunnel.  Luckily that was the only traffic problem.

When we got back to the cottage, there was a truck in the yard and people we didn't know inside the house.  Turns out they were the owner's son and daughter-in-law.  They came a day early and didn't know someone else was using the place.  Luckily we were all packed, so we just picked up our stuff and left.  We ate dinner with Andy at a steakhouse and headed for home.  There was a tremendous thunder storm while we were at dinner, but it was pretty much over by the time we left, thank goodness.  Later we heard that it did major damage around northern Virginia, but luckily we missed it.  It was very late when we got home, but the drive wasn't a bad one - very little traffic on the Interstates.

Today Geoff and the kids are off to the local pool.  Steve and Christine went back to Baltimore.  Kate and I will hit Michael's and maybe JoAnn's.  Pretty much a relaxing day for this gang.