On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Thursday, September 29, 2011

W goes West...Part I

I can't believe that September is practically gone and Michaelmas is here.  I'm a bit under the weather so we are delaying our family celebration for a day or two and next week we will dye golden playsilks with friends.  September has flown by for our family. This is largely because we spent one week of this past month preparing for travel, two on the road to Oklahoma and back and the past week trying to recover and battling post vacation illnesses.

Our trip was wonderful.  We traveled through 12 states taking a northern route on the way there and a southern route on the way home and were able to stop in most states to do a little sight seeing along the way.  My parents came from Oklahoma to meet us in Missouri before we all went on to their house.

My mom and I also planned a trip to Kansas while we were at my parents house to visit the Little House on the Prairie museum.  All along our road trip we prepared Will to go visit "Laura's House".  We've been reading the My First Little House books for a few months now so he was very excited by this!  As we started out in the car he got a stuffed animal Bull-dog which he promptly and aptly named Jack. He also got a large brimmed straw "farmer hat" as he calls it and he was set to go. I had one or two "Little House" surprises for him each day along the way including a farmer and farmer's wife dollhouse dolls which he decided were Laura and Almonzo, a laminated sticker book of pioneer farm life, his own copies of some of the My First Little House books (we'd been borrowing them from the library) including Prairie Day and A Little Prairie House  , since we were headed towards the prairie, and a tin cup. I also gave W one of these little wagons at some point during the trip. During the ride we played Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy and Little House on the Prairie audio books which DH and I really enjoyed.   Little did I realize that wagons would become a theme for much of the trip

Okay, before I tell you of our adventures I should probably mention that DH is a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, so our vacations tend to include lots and lots of national park sites.

.  Our first stop was at the Cumberland visitors center of the C&O canal.  DH worked on the Canal down in Georgetown before W was born so he wanted to see the 184.5 mile marker up at Cumberland.  Cumberland is a sweet little town in the hills of Western Maryland.  It holds additional significance to me as that is where my grandfather purchased the wedding rings for my grandmother.  When DH and I got married on my grandparents wedding anniversary, my grandmothers rings were the ones he gave me.

Our next stop was at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania.  The site deals with the start of the French and Indian War as well as the National Road.  In general we felt the history of Ft. Necessity was probably a bit much for a toddler, but we were delighted that the park had this covered wagon playground.  DH and I took turns going through the visitor center exhibits while the other played with W outside.

Then we took a family walk out to the fort.  

 We thought this patch of mushrooms was especially fun!

 The next day we went to Dayton Ohio.  I grew up just outside of Dayton, so this was a really special day for me.  We started out visiting the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park which was established a year after my family moved away from the area.  Many of the sites within the park are places I grew up visiting as a child.  I remembered many visits to Carillon Park with my mom as a child.  It is set up as a little village of buildings important to the history of the Dayton area and includes part of the National Park site with the Wright Flyer III in one of it's buildings.  Will especially enjoyed the school house....

...and the Wright Flyer III...

 ...and riding on this amazing carousel of Dayton Innovation with Daddy.

We also visited The Wright Brothers' Memorial which is another Dayton Aviation site.   As we drove up the hill I remembered my mom and I taking picnic lunches there and making little teacups and saucers from the acorns  under the trees there.  Such beautiful childhood memories came back to me in that spot.

We also visited the visitors center museum and Wright  Brothers Bicycle shop downtown which was a new experience for me.

 We had hoped to visit the Paul Lawrence Dunbar house as well, but that will have to wait for a future visit.

We then went to the neighborhood where I grew up.  Somehow we didn't take any pictures there.  As we were driving down the street where I grew up, I saw one of our former neighbors working outside in his driveway.  I shouted for DH to stop the car and jumped out.  He had gone back in the house by the time I got there, but we were able to have a delightful, visit with them and they were able to meet W.  There's something very powerful in going back to where you grew up and seeing old neighbors again for the first time after twenty-odd years.  That neighborhood and those neighbors had a profound effect on me growing up and a large impact on the person I am today.  Such a dear place and such dear folks.  They contributed significantly to my interest in the natural world around me, and taught me to be interested in the wider world and other cultures, and were just significant loving parts of my "village" as I grew up.

The next day took us to St. Louis.  DH also worked at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial otherwise known as the Arch.  DH did one of his early  seasons with the Park Service there so he was able to catch up with some old friends and colleagues there.  He and W went up to the top of the arch.  I preferred to stay down in the museum and find things that I specifically wanted to point out to W (I'm not big on heights or enclosed spaces).  W LOVED the arch.  He claims that he now works there sometimes like  his daddy.

This covered wagon was W's favorite part of the museum, though he also really enjoyed seeing the iron spider skillet like Ma cooks in, in Prairie Day.

That's probably enough of our trip for now.  I'll do one or two more posts in the coming days about the rest of it.

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