A fun day trip to Richmond

A few weekends ago we rode the Amtrak to Richmond for the day. Noah wanted to go on another train ride, and Richmond is nearby destination that we hadn’t visited before. We boarded the train here in Alexandria, and the ride took about two hours.

Richmond’s Main Street train station is really pretty, especially because of the clock tower. The station opened in 1901. It was closed for about three decades because of flood and fire damage, but it was renovated and reopened in 2003.

We hopped in an Uber and headed to the Science Museum of Virginia. The museum is located in Richmond’s old Broad Street train station. The station was open from 1919 to 1975. The building was bought by the Commonwealth of Virginia and reopened as the science museum in 1977.

Here are a few model trains that we saw in the rotunda area. One model is of a Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad train. The RF&P was one of the main railroad lines that serviced Broad Street.

Also in the rotunda, we saw this massive Foucault pendulum (it demonstrates the Earth’s rotation). We watched the pendulum a handful of times throughout the day, but we only saw it knock down a few pegs.

Then we started to explore all the hands-on exhibits. We started in the “Speed” area. Noah got to play air hockey against a robot, measure the speed of his running and baseball throw, and learn about the flow of air using magnets.

Noah had fun rearranging these gears and giant rubber bands to create the best setup to maximize the rotation of the main gear. He got that main gear to spin at about 200 revolutions per minute.

We saw this cool replica of John Glenn’s Mercury spacecraft (Friendship 7) too.

Another cool exhibit was a simulator of various wind speeds. Check out this short video of Noah experiencing 80 mph winds from a category 1 hurricane. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

We were extra lucky that day, because the museum was hosting the RVA Makersfest. At this annual gathering, Richmond-area businesses and groups set up interactive displays to inspire kids to tinker, create, and build.

Noah got to “drive” this cool remote control truck that was built by high school students in Richmond.

He made cool spiral designs with this circular wooden gadget made with wheels, gears, and sidewalk chalk.

And of course, no building event would be complete without Legos – lots and lots of Legos!

While we were outside, we got to see this Chesapeake & Ohio locomotive that was restored by the museum. This steam engine was built in New York and could go 70 mph.

We also got to see this “Aluminaut” submarine that was built in 1964 and donated to the museum in 1995.

Next we headed back inside for a quick lunch at the Periodic Table restaurant. Science everywhere! Ha.

After lunch we headed downstairs. Noah made designs with the giant Light Bright and learned about the Bernoulli Effect (about high and low air pressure) with a beach ball globe and air blower.

Ryan and Noah posed for a picture in this shark cage too. Ha.

Then we headed to the “Boost” area. Noah’s favorite activity here was using a computer to make music with real percussion instruments. Check it out!

Here’s a short video too. Yeah, this was really cool.

We had lots of other fun in the “Boost” area too. We played memory games, timed our biking speed, drew complex pictures by following instructions, and worked with other kids to stack play food on trays in an assembly line. (And no, we won’t be quitting our day jobs. Ha.)

There was also a cool exhibit that measures your height and weight and determines what you should be able to fit inside. Noah can fit in a garment bag!

Next we headed to the second floor to visit the science lab, Ecolab, and animal lab. We saw a beehive, insects, snakes, and more. There were more 10,000 bees in the hive, but the staff person was able to point out the queen bee – pretty cool!

We even got to see one of the museum’s rats play basketball! The staff explained that they used operant and classical conditioning to train the rats to play basketball and soccer. Noah thought this was pretty cool! Isn’t she cute? Ha.

As we headed out of the museum, we took a few minutes to spin the big stone balls. Yes, Noah got wet…

Yep, we had a great time at the science museum!

By the way, if you’re wondering if I just happen to know all the science stuff I wrote about here, the answer is no (though Ryan probably does). But I have a handy camera to take pictures of all the explanation signs…and there’s always help from Google too. Ha.

Then we headed back to Main Street station for our train ride home.

Here’s a short video of the train pulling into the station too…

It was a quick trip to Richmond, but we had a lot of fun! We definitely plan to visit again.

Categories: Animals, Fun outings, Legos, Trains | Leave a comment

Another Fun Halloween!

October was full of Halloween festivities. Check it out!

Picking pumpkins – We started the Halloween season by visiting the annual pumpkin patch at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill here in Alexandria. Noah picked out some AWESOME pumpkins.

  

Yeah, Noah always loves pulling the wagon through the pumpkin maze, but that means the big kids didn’t have to carry them. Ha. Picking pumpkins was a great way to get in the Halloween spirit.

Carving pumpkin – We also carved a big jack-o’-lantern to help decorate our house. Noah helped Ryan hollow out the pumpkin (so much pumpkin goo!), and then he watched Ryan carve the funny face.

We even roasted the pumpkin seeds…

Trick-or-treating – Noah dressed up as a shark this year. On Halloween night we went trick-or-treating at a nearby townhouse community…the same area we’ve gone to the last few years. There are a lot of houses to visit without having to do much walking, so it’s perfect for trick-or-treating. Many of the homeowners there go all out with their spooky decorations and costumes too.

We came across a few of Noah’s friends too. Here’s a pic of Noah and his good buddy from preschool.

Noah had a great time, and his pumpkin was FULL of candy by the end of the night!

Just for fun, here’s a flashback at Noah’s previous Halloween costumes. He’s been a dragon (twice!), monkey, tiger, dinosaur, and firefighter.

We had very a fun Halloween season, and we hope you did too!

Categories: Fun outings, Halloween, Our neighborhood | Leave a comment

So much fun in Florida: Part 4

As you read in our previous blog posts, we vacationed in Florida over spring break. We spent the first few days at Disney World and had an awesome time. We also made an overnight trip to Cocoa Beach, which is an hour east of Orlando.

We arrived in Cocoa Beach around lunchtime. We checked in at our hotel and then drove down the road to the Shark Pit Grill restaurant. Noah enjoyed watching the fish and the baby sharks in the giant aquariums while we waited for our food…

After lunch we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the beach! Our hotel was just a few blocks from the shore – you can’t beat that.

Noah had a blast playing in the sand. We used our popcorn bucket from Disney World to build sand castles. It did the trick – whew! Ha.

It was a little too chilly to go swimming (at least for us!), but we had a great time running along the beach and wading in the water. Check it out!

Here is a short video of our beach fun too. (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

And here are a few family pictures that a fellow beachgoer took for us. Yeah, we had a wonderful afternoon!

We had a busy few days, so that night we just relaxed at the hotel. Here is a picture of Noah eating popcorn and watching “Sing” on the iPad…

The next morning we packed up for the trek home. Here are a few photos that we took from our hotel room before we checked out. Yeah, we had a great view!

We drove back to the Orlando airport and hopped on a plane back to Washington, DC. We had a wonderful spring break vacation at Disney World and Cocoa Beach! And in case you’re wondering, the one good thing about being so behind on vacation posts is that writing them is a great reminder of how much fun we had. We can’t wait to go back!

Categories: Aquariums, Beach, Florida, Ocean, Spring break, Swimming, Vacations | 2 Comments

So much fun in Florida: Part 3

As you read in our previous blog posts, we had an AWESOME time at Disney World over spring break…and there’s still a lot more to tell.

On our last full day there, we spent the morning just lounging at the pool at the Wilderness Lodge.

After we got ready and had lunch, we took the boat across Bay Lake for another day at Magic Kingdom.

As we walked in, we came across the Main Street Fire Engine and the fire chief…

We also snapped a few family photos in front of Cinderella’s Castle as walked down Main Street USA.

We spent the rest of the afternoon revisiting Noah’s favorite spots from the previous day. We started in Tomorrowland and rode the Transit Authority People Mover again.

Then we stopped by Pete’s Silly Side Show to visit Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck.

Our next stop was Frontierland where we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again. Check it out!

And here is a short video too. (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

You can definitely tell that Noah had a blast speeding through the curves and dips around the mountain’s peaks and caverns. And don’t worry, this roller coaster was fine for Noah’s age. We never went upside down, and the dips weren’t that steep – whew!

Here are a few photos of us outside of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad too…

We headed to Fantasyland next. Our first stop was the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for a ride in the honey pots through the Hundred Acre Woods. We didn’t get any good pictures of the ride (it was too dark inside), but here’s a fun photo of Noah playing with the toy bees in the beehive while standing in line.

Then we headed to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to ride the roller coaster again. Here are a few pictures from Disney’s cameras…

And here’s a quick video of our ride. Yep, Noah loved it!

Next we headed back to Tomorrowland to ride the race cars again at the speedway. Here are a few photos of the back of Ryan and Noah’s car. I let them win! Ha.

Whew, we had a busy afternoon! We headed back to the hotel to relax for a few hours and have supper.

Then we went back to Magic Kingdom for some nighttime fun. Here are a few photos of Main Street USA and Cinderella’s Castle at dusk.

Next we headed to Cinderella’s Castle to see the Wishes Fireworks display! This was our first time seeing the fireworks while in Magic Kingdom (we’ve only seen them from afar in the past). It was awesome!

Here’s a video too…

The nighttime fun didn’t end there! Magic Kingdom was having Extra Magic hours that day (it was open until 11:00 pm), so we squeezed in a few more rides too – score! We started with riding the People Mover again.

And here is a short video of our ride too…

Then we headed to Fantasyland and rode the oversized teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride from Alice in Wonderland. Noah loved making the teacup spin and whirl faster and faster by turning the metal wheel in the middle of the teacup – whew!

And here is a short video of our spin in the teacup too…

We were also able to fit in a relaxing boat ride in “It’s a Small World.”

Here’s a short video of our ride – and yes, you’ll recognize the jingle!

It was really cool to see Magic Kingdom at night!

The next morning we rode the boat over to the Contemporary resort for one last ride on the monorail.

We had a blast at Disney World! Noah’s favorite things were the roller coasters and the monorail. My favorite part was seeing the Wishes Fireworks display at Cinderella’s Castle. We’ve still only seen a small portion of Disney World, so we definitely want to visit again…maybe in a few years when Noah is a little taller so that we can check out some new rides.

After we packed our bags and checked out of our hotel, we rode the Disney Magical Express bus back to the Orlando airport for the next part of our Florida adventure – the beach! Stay tuned for more!

Categories: Disney World, Florida, Spring break, Swimming, Theme Parks, Vacations | 1 Comment

So much fun in Florida: Part 2

This past April, we flew to Florida to visit Disney World for a few days. In our previous post, we talked about our first day there. We explored Disney Springs, went swimming, rode the monorail, and had supper with Mickey and his friends – very fun! The next two days were just as fun too! We visited Magic Kingdom for two days and went on Noah’s favorite rides and met up with his favorite characters from our last trip.

Our first park day, we took an early ferryboat from the Wilderness Lodge across Bay Lake to Magic Kingdom – we wanted to get a head start! Here’s a photo of Noah and Ryan on the boat…

And here are a few photos of us at the entrance to Magic Kingdom!

We started out on Main Street USA, where we hopped aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad for a 1 ½ mile ride around Magic Kingdom. Riding the train was the perfect way to help us remember the lay of the land. We rode by Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland…and we eventually returned to Main Street USA.

Next we headed to the Transit Authority People Mover for a relaxing mile-long ride through Tomorrowland. This was one of Noah’s favorite rides from our first trip, so he was excited to go again. We actually rode it twice! And yep, as you’ll see in the last picture, we rode by Cinderella’s Castle.

Here is a short video of our ride on the People Mover. (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

Next Noah and Ryan jumped in the race cars at the Tomorrowland Speedway – another one of Noah’s favorites!

Then we had lunch with Winnie the Pooh and all his pals at Crystal Palace. Noah got to see the whole gang again – Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger too! And they all signed Noah’s autograph book.

There were scattered rain showers early that afternoon, so we jumped in and out of shops as we worked our way to Fantasyland. As soon as the rain cleared up, we rode Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel – check it out!

And here’s a short video too…

Then we rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. This was another one of Noah’s favorite rides from our last trip! Here are a few pictures from Disney’s cameras. Can you spot us?

Here’s a fun video that Ryan took with his GoPro. (We edited out the section where we were in the dark tunnel.) Yeah, it was a wild ride through the twists, turns, and hills of the dwarfs’ diamond mines!

And here’s a video that Disney created. Jump to the 30 second mark to get to the really fun stuff!

Our next stop was Frontierland, where we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad…yet another favorite from our last trip. This roller coaster was made to resemble the gold mines of Utah’s Mountain Valley – it’s really cool! Here is a picture from our ride. Yeah, you can definitely tell that Noah loved it! (We have more photos to share of this ride from our second day at Magic Kingdom, so stay tuned.)

Then we headed to Adventureland and rode on the Jungle Cruise. This ten-minute ride took us through an Asian jungle, the Nile Valley, and an Amazon rainforest. We saw animatronic zebras, giraffes, lions, elephants, and more. This was our first time on this ride – it was pretty cool!

Here are a few pictures of Cinderella’s Castle that we snapped as we made our way back to Main Street USA…

After we finished up at Magic Kingdom, we rode the boat back to our hotel…

We worked up quite an appetite, so we had supper at the restaurant in the Wilderness Lodge. Can you guess what cabin-themed toys were there for the kids? Lincoln logs!

Yep, we had an awesome first day at Magic Kingdom…and the next day was just as fun too! Stay tuned for more!

Categories: Disney World, Florida, Spring break, Theme Parks, Vacations | 1 Comment

So much fun in Florida: Part 1

This past April, we flew to Florida for a few days to visit Disney World and Cocoa Beach. We went to Disney World two years ago for Noah’s 4th birthday. We had a great time then, so we were really excited to go back! (And yes, we’re definitely behind on a few of our vacation posts!)

Here’s Noah on our flight to Orlando…

Then we took a 45-minute bus ride on Disney’s Magical Express…

We got in really late, so we went straight to bed – whew!

Our first full day at Disney World was pretty low key. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the Disney Springs marketplace area. Here are a few photos of our bus ride there…

While at Disney Springs, we ate lunch, did some souvenir shopping, and played at the Lego store. Noah remembered this Lego store from our first trip, so we of course had to visit again! Here are pictures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the Seven Drawfs made out of Legos – very cool!

And here are a few pictures of Noah building too…

Midafternoon we headed back to the Wilderness Lodge to go swimming. We stayed at this hotel on our last trip too. Noah loved the pool then, so he was really excited to swim there again this trip. Check it out!

After swimming we had to quickly wash up because we had special supper plans at Chef Mickey’s! To get there, we took a short boat ride from the Wilderness Lodge across Bay Lake to the Contemporary resort. Here are a few photos from of our trip across the lake…

Another one of Noah’s favorite memories from our first trip was the monorail. Yeah, you know how much he loves trains! We had a few minutes to spare before our supper reservation, so Noah and Ryan hopped on the monorail for a quick trip around Disney World.

Here’s a short video of the monorail pulling into the Contemporary hotel. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

And here’s a selfie from their ride!

After the monorail ride, we headed to Chef Mickey’s for supper. Noah got to eat with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck – the whole gang was there! Noah had a great time giving high fives and hugs. He got them to sign his special autograph book too. Grandma Debbie made this book for our last trip; it was fun to use it again and compare signatures.

As Mickey would say, “What a magical day!” Stay tuned to read more about our spring break trip to Disney World. The next few days were filled with rides, rides, rides!

Categories: Disney World, Florida, Legos, Spring break, Swimming, Trains, Vacations | 1 Comment

Noah’s first kayak trip!

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that we hoped to go canoeing and kayaking one more time before the weather gets cooler – and we did! Sunday morning we went kayaking with our good friends Catalina, Craig, and their son.

We started at our usual place at the boathouse under the Key Bridge in Georgetown. Here are a few fun pictures of the boys getting ready to go.

It was a little windy, so the boathouse crew recommended that everyone use kayaks instead of canoes (kayaks are easier to maneuver in the wind). Noah has gone canoeing a handful of times, but this was his first time in a kayak – very cool!

We paddled upstream from the boathouse for a while…

And then we paddled downstream from the boathouse too and went by Roosevelt Island, the Kennedy Center, and the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington.

Here’s a short video from our kayaking trip. Yep, we had a very fun crew! (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

We were on the Potomac River for just over an hour. It was definitely a HOT, HOT, HOT morning, but we had a great time! Noah’s only complaint was that his butt got wet from the damp kayak seat. Other than that, his first ride in a kayak was a success!

Categories: Canoeing, DC, Fun outings | Leave a comment

A great afternoon for a football game

Last Saturday we went to the University of Maryland in nearby College Park to watch the Terps play Towson. This was the Terps’ first home game of the season.

Here are a few photos of the game. As you can see, it was definitely a great day to be outside!

Oh, and of course, no sporting event is complete without a giant tub of popcorn…

The Terps won 63 to 17. Yep, #FearTheTurtle!

Categories: Fun outings, Maryland, Sports | Leave a comment

Another fun visit to the trolley museum

Over Labor Day weekend, we visited the National Capital Trolley Museum in nearby Colesville, MD. The museum has an awesome collection of American and international streetcars, many of which are more than 100 years old. Yeah, as you can imagine, this is one of Noah’s favorite places to visit!

The coolest thing about the museum is riding the electric streetcars on the museum’s one-mile rail line – and this visit, we got to ride three streetcars!

Our first ride was on this streetcar from Toronto that was built in 1951. We rode this streetcar on previous visits too – it’s very cool!

We got to ride the “boat” trolley car for the first time too. This trolley is from Blackpool, England and was built in 1934. The trolley has an open top and a center entrance. Because it is a double-ended car, it doesn’t require a loop at the end of the tracks in order to turn around – it can be driven in both directions. And that’s why it has headlights and taillights on both ends. Noah loved it!

Our last ride was on a streetcar from Brussels, Belgium. It was built in 1907. This was our first time riding this trolley too – it was a bumpy ride!

We passed another trolley while riding the Brussels trolley too. This yellow trolley is from the Netherlands, and we’ve ridden it a few times on previous visits.

Yeah, it was definitely a beautiful day for riding trolleys. We had fun inside the museum though too. Noah always enjoys “steering” the model streetcar along the tracks and turning on the signal lights.

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves all things transportation, especially trolleys – so I’m sure we’ll visit again soon!

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

Canoeing and kayaking on the Potomac River

Over Labor Day weekend, we went kayaking and canoeing on the Potomac River in DC. Our good friend Barbara joined us too!

We started at the boathouse under the Key Bridge in Georgetown and we paddled upstream. Noah and Ryan shared a canoe, and Barbara and I had our own kayaks.

When we reached the boathouse again, we decided to continue on and paddle downstream for a while too. We went by Roosevelt Island, the Kennedy Center, the George Washington Bridge, and the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington. Check it out!

Here’s a short video of Noah rowing the canoe. Yeah, he’s definitely getting the hang of it! (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

We were on the water for over two hours. Whew! It got a little windy toward the end, but the weather was perfect otherwise. We all had a great time!

This was Noah’s fourth canoe ride. His first canoe trip was earlier this summer, also on the Potomac River in DC. He also went canoeing TWICE with Grandpa Rod when we were in South Dakota in July. He loves it!

We’re hoping to go canoeing and kayaking again before the weather turns too cold. Stay tuned!

Categories: Canoeing, DC, Fun outings, Nature, Summer | 1 Comment

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