Fun outings

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

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

A very fun father and son day!

A few weeks ago, Ryan took a day off from work to have a special “Daddy-Noah Day” before school started. Noah got to choose what to do – he was so excited!

They took the bus to our metro station and then rode the metro to DC to visit the National Air & Space Museum. They saw lots of planes and NASA equipment. Noah got to “fly” this Cessna 150 too – very cool!

After they finished at the museum, they hopped on the metro again and met me for lunch at a restaurant near my office. So yeah, I got in on the fun too!

After lunch Ryan and Noah headed to Old Town Alexandria. They took the metro to the King Street station and then rode the trolley to the waterfront area. Then they took the water taxi across the Potomac River to National Harbor, MD.

They passed sailboats along the way and saw planes flying overhead too. And of course, Noah always loves going under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

As you can tell, it was a nice day for a boat ride! Here’s a selfie photo of the happy duo on the boat…

When they got off the water taxi, they headed straight to the Capital Wheel.

The top of the wheel is 185 feet high, so they had a great view of the buildings and boats below and the Wilson Bridge in the distance. Yeah, they had a bird’s-eye view of their water taxi too. Ha.

Next they visited the Awakening, which is a giant cast-aluminum sculpture of a man buried in the sand. Check it out!

Then they boarded the water taxi again to return to Alexandria…

Ryan joked that it would have taken him 15 minutes to drive home from National Harbor. But instead, they took the water taxi to the King Street Trolley…rode the trolley to the metro…rode the metro to our station…and then took the bus home. For a boy that loves all things transportation, it was a perfect day!

Categories: Airplanes, Capital Wheel, DC, Fun outings, Maryland, Summer | 1 Comment

Celebrating Ryan’s birthday at National Harbor

A few weekends ago, we spent the night in nearby National Harbor, MD to celebrate Ryan’s 40th birthday – yep, a big day! National Harbor is right across the Potomac River from Alexandria…just a short drive over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

We started the weekend fun with swimming at the hotel pool. Here are a few photos that Ryan snapped…

We worked up quite an appetite, so after we cleaned up, we headed to the waterfront area for supper. We had pizza at Fiorella’s Italian Kitchen – and yep, with chocolate milk for the little kid and wine for the big kids!

After supper we did a quick stroll through the harbor area. We didn’t stay too long because a storm was rolling in. Here are a few photos we took as we were dashing back to the hotel. Yeah, we had a great view of the Capital Wheel and the Wilson Bridge against the dark sky.

After the weather cleared up, we headed back to the harbor area for a ride on the Capital Wheel. We’ve been on the wheel quite a few times over the past few years (we often take visitors there), but this was our first ride at night.

The nighttime view from the top was AWESOME! Our pictures didn’t turn out too well since the gondola windows were wet with raindrops, but you can still make out the buildings and boats below. Check it out!

The next morning after we checked out of the hotel, we walked around the harbor area again…because we of course had to visit the Awakening sculpture and the Peeps car too!

Then we met up with our good friends Dan, Lindsay, and their son for lunch at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ – messy but sooooo yummy!

Oh, and we can’t forget about Ryan’s birthday present. Noah picked out a Lego set of a Coast Guard airplane – who would have guessed, right?!?!

Thanks, Ryan, for giving us a fun reason for a weekend getaway!

Categories: Birthdays, Capital Wheel, Fun outings, Maryland | 1 Comment

Summer vacation in South Dakota: Part 3

As you probably read in our previous posts, Noah and I recently visited Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod in South Dakota. We still have a few more stories to share…because we of course couldn’t visit South Dakota in the summer without taking full advantage of the great outdoors!

One of the things Noah was really looking forward to this trip was canoeing with Grandpa Rod. Noah went on his first canoe ride earlier this summer on the Potomac River in DC. He loved it, and so he was so excited to go canoeing again when we were in South Dakota.

Noah had fun helping Grandpa get the canoe all cleaned up and ready to go.

There are a lot of great canoeing and kayaking spots by Grandma and Grandpa’s house; we chose Oakwood Lakes State Park near Brookings. And we actually went canoeing twice! Here are a few photos from our first canoeing and kayaking trip…

Here’s a short video of Noah and Grandpa canoeing too. Yeah, Noah had a blast! (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 snuck in some beach time that day too…

And Noah had just as much fun on his second canoe trip. Check it out!

Another thing that Noah was really looking forward to was riding his bike. Since Grandma and Grandpa live in the country, their roads are quiet and long. Their roads are really flat and straight too – the perfect combo! (Our bike trails in Virginia are really curvy and hilly, and congested with people too…so not quite as smooth sailing.)

Here’s a quick video of Noah on his bike too. Yeah, as you can see, Noah had a nice open space to ride!

We went for evening walks on the country roads too…

We spent a lot of time just playing inside too, especially since it was really hot some days and storming some days too. Noah, Grandma, and Grandpa played trains and cars, watched movies, played games on the iPad, and put Legos together.

Oh, and Noah wanted to make sure we mentioned the yummy donuts from Grandpa’s donut store (the Ward’s Store)! Mmmmm…

Our trip to South Dakota went by fast, but we had an AWESOME time! We’ll see you again soon, Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod!

Categories: Bike riding, Fun outings, Grandparents, Nature, South Dakota, Summer, Vacations | 2 Comments

Summer vacation in South Dakota: Part 2

As I mentioned in our previous post, we recently spent a week with family in South Dakota. If you missed our post about visiting the Watertown zoo and camping at Lake Poinsett, you can read it here.

We also spent a day in Brookings. Noah was so excited to visit the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. We’ve been to this play museum on previous trips, and Noah loved it. It’s one of his favorite places!

Noah had a blast playing with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod. They fixed the blue car (it always needs repairs!), went grocery shopping, helped build the frame of a house, used the conveyor belt to move foam blocks, learned about the movement of air and water in the “Splash” room, and made designs on the giant Light Bright. Whew! Check it out!

One of the new exhibits since our last visit was the “Airway Adventure.” Noah and Grandpa created different airflow paths in this giant structure by rearranging the tubes and adjusting the connection points. They tested their paths by watching colorful handkerchiefs blow through the tubes. Very cool!

And of course, we couldn’t go to the Children’s Museum without visiting the dinosaurs!

Grandpa and Noah worked their way through the Tangle Town maze (another new exhibit for us). Six tons of willow saplings were woven together to create this prairie maze. Awesome!

Noah found his way through an underground tunnel system too…

Yeah, Noah had another great visit to the Children’s Museum with Grandma and Grandpa!

We worked up quite an appetite, so we headed to Cubby’s for lunch. Noah and Grandpa played tic-tac-toe while we waited for our food.

After lunch we hung out at a nearby playground for a while before hopping back in the car to head home. It was a nice afternoon to be outside!

Stay tuned for another post on Noah’s recent adventures with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod. Yep, there’s more!

Categories: Fun outings, Grandparents, South Dakota, Summer, Vacations | 1 Comment

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