A fun side trip to Pittsburgh

As you probably read in our previous blog post, we visited Ryan’s family in Ohio over Memorial Day weekend. On the way home, we stopped in Pittsburgh to spend the night. We wanted to break up the drive and also check out a few sites that we’ve been meaning to visit.

Our first stop was the Duquesne Incline. This incline opened in 1877 and is one of the few remaining inclines in the country—very cool!


We rode the cable car to the observation deck at the top. The track is 794 feet long and is at a 30 degree angle, and so you’re 400 feet higher when you get to the top.

Yeah, we had a great panoramic view from the observation deck! You can see downtown Pittsburgh and the three rivers (the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio).

The next morning, we headed to the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington to visit the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves trolleys—and we got to ride two of them!

Our first ride was on this streetcar from New Orleans. It was built in 1932 and was the trolley in the movie A Streetcar Named Desire.

We rode a short distance to the Trolley Display Building, and there we saw a variety of electric streetcars from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.

Our second ride was a longer four-mile trip on an open streetcar. This streetcar is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was built in 1911.

When we finished at the trolley museum, we got back in the car and headed home. Our visit to Pittsburgh was short, but we had a great time—and we look forward to checking out more sites the next time we’re passing through.

Categories: Fun outings, Pennsylvania, Trolleys | Leave a comment

A short visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house

Over Memorial Day weekend, we drove to Ohio to visit Ryan’s family for a few days. Our visit was very short, but Noah packed in the fun with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don while we were there.

One afternoon Noah helped Grandma Cindy pick out plants at a local greenhouse…

And then they went to the park!

After the park, we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to hang out in the backyard. Yeah, Noah loves to play bean bag toss…

And that night, Noah put puzzles together with Grandma and Grandpa.

We spent most of the next day just lounging outside—the weather was perfect for it. Uncle Chris stopped by too and played Frisbee with Noah…

It was a very short trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but we know that we’ll see them again soon!

Categories: Grandparents, Ohio | Leave a comment

Innovations in Flight Family Day

Yesterday we went to the annual Innovations in Flight Family Day at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Noah and Ryan went to this event last year, and they loved it—and so they were really excited to go again this year.

The Udvar-Hazy Center has two massive hangars full of military, recreation, and commercial aircraft, but we spent most of our time at the special outside display.

We got to tour a United Airlines Boeing 777. Noah has been on quite a few flights, but he’s never been on a plane this big!

Here is Noah lounging in first class…

And here he is with the pilots in the cockpit.

We talked to many pilots and flight attendants during the tour; many of them were volunteering for the day. One pilot showed us how they use electronic tablets (like iPads) to chart flight paths and navigate around turbulence and other weather obstacles. United Airlines sponsored the event, and they really went all out.

By the way, Ryan tracked the plane’s tail number while we were in line, and it was scheduled to fly to Frankfurt, Germany last night. Pretty cool!

Next we saw two planes from the Air Force. This plane is a C-17 Globemaster, which is a large transport aircraft.

And this plane is a KC-10 Extender, which is an aerial refueling tanker.

And here’s a Navy plane too…

We also saw a few helicopters. The yellow helicopter is from MedStar, and the white helicopter is from the Fairfax County Police Department.

Then we saw emergency and maintenance vehicles from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Noah got to “drive” an ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) truck—very fun!

We also saw an ambulance and airport snow removal trucks.

And then we headed inside, because no trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center would be complete without seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery. Awesome!

We checked out some of the other aircraft in the hangars too…

Yep, we had a very fun day at the Innovations in Flight event. The Udvar-Hazy Center is definitely one of our favorite places to visit!

Categories: Airplanes, Fun outings, Space | Leave a comment

A fun birthday weekend with Aunt Jenny

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Noah’s 7th birthday. He’s growing up fast!

His birthday was on a Friday, and school was closed that day—and so Noah celebrated with his class the day before. Here is a photo of Noah with his birthday hat (from his teacher) that day after school.

So we had all of Friday to goof around! This birthday was extra special too because Aunt Jenny was here for the weekend. Since it was Noah’s special day, he got to choose where we went—and so we started by getting sprinkle donuts at Sugar Shack here in Alexandria.

Then we headed to Old Town. Noah wanted to show Aunt Jenny the King Street Trolley, and then we walked around the waterfront area.

That night we had a small birthday party at home. Our good friend Barbara came over too to help us celebrate. We had Papa John’s pizza (Noah’s favorite!) and a bus cake made out of cupcakes. (Noah picked the school bus theme; his bus route is #87.)

One of Noah’s presents was a geode kit, so that’s what we did after supper—we cracked them open! (Just in case earth science isn’t fresh in your mind, a geode is a rock with a cavity lined with crystals.) Each of us guessed the color of the crystals inside the rock, and then Noah would break it open to find out who was right.

Don’t worry, no fingers were harmed! There is a nice indent in my kitchen table now though. Ha. Noah has really enjoyed learning about science lately, so this was a fun activity.

The next morning we drove to Annapolis, Maryland, which is about 45 miles northeast of Alexandria. Aunt Jenny has been to DC quite a few times, but she hadn’t visited Annapolis yet—and the weather was perfect for some outdoor fun.

Our first stop was the Maryland State House. A few fun facts from the plaques: The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol building in continuous legislative use, and it is the only state house to serve as the nation’s capitol building (from November 1783 to August 1784). Also, it was here where George Washington resigned as commander of the Continental Army and where the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War.

We also walked around the downtown area and popped into some of the shops.

After lunch, Noah and Ryan went on a trolley tour of Annapolis. They saw the harbor area, the Maryland State House (again), the Governor’s residence, the World War II Memorial, St. John’s College, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, numerous colonial mansions, and more. Here is the World War II Memorial…

And here are two stained glass windows in St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.

Also that afternoon, Jenny and I went on a boat tour of the Chesapeake Bay. We sailed on a 74-foot schooner called the Woodwind, and Jenny helped raise the sails—very cool! We saw the U.S. Naval Academy, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and lots and lots of boats in Annapolis Harbor. Yeah, it was a great day to be outside!

Noah’s birthday was low key this year, but he definitely had a great time! Thanks for joining in the fun, Aunt Jenny!

Categories: Birthdays, Fun outings, Maryland, Our neighborhood, Science | Leave a comment

Fun father and son outings: weather, planes & science!

April and May were full of fun outings for Noah and Ryan. In late April, Ryan took Noah to a special “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” event at his FEMA office in Washington, DC. The theme this year was “Service Force: Agents of Positive Change.”

Here is Noah checking out a MERS truck, which provides emergency communications and support to disaster areas.

They had a flood demonstration to show what property owners and communities can do to reduce flood risk.

And they showed equipment used by Urban Search and Rescue teams. This is a thermal imaging camera—very cool!

They also discussed earthquake safety tips, canine search teams, and the importance of having a family plan for emergencies.

Around 200 kids attended this fun FEMA event. Yeah, “Take Your Child to Work Day” is pretty cool when your office has trucks and rescue equipment!

And the day’s fun didn’t end there. After they finished at FEMA, they walked a few blocks to the National Air & Space Museum, and they saw lots of planes and NASA equipment.

Noah got to “fly” this Cessna 150—he loves this plane!

They checked out a few space exhibits too, and Noah stepped on a scale to find out how much he would weigh on different planets. He would weigh 133 pounds on Jupiter. Who knew?

For another hands-on exhibit, Noah built towers to see if they would withstand high winds. They fell down, so we’ll have to go back and try again. Ha.

Noah also tried a few plane simulators…

Later that month they went to the Aviation Museum in College Park. Noah played a few flight simulators there too.

And there was a really cool hands-on demonstrator of what it takes to fly a human-powered quadrotor helicopter. The helicopter simulated here is called Gamera and was designed by students of the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. Pedal faster, Noah!

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves all the air and space museums in the DC area. They’re always a sure bet for a fun outing!

Then in early May, Noah and Ryan attended the “Science Unrestricted” event that the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) hosted for local students. The event was held at the Mark Center here in Alexandria, and participants got to ride the school bus there.

Noah’s favorite thing at the science fair was seeing the robot built by students at TC Williams High School—awesome!

And here is Noah standing by a model rocket. Also very cool!

The event also had numerous hands-on activities, including making paper airplanes. Check it out!

Noah got a goody bag with fun science activities to do at home too. One of the activities was growing a mystical tree made from crystals. We did this the next day…

Noah has really enjoyed learning about science lately, so this was a great event! We look forward to attending again next year.

Stay tuned to read more about our recent adventures. The last few months have been busy!

Categories: Airplanes, DC, Fun outings, Maryland, Science, Space, Weather | 1 Comment

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