pumpkin-y pennsylvania visit from new gramma and grampa terry.

as mentioned in a previous post, my mom and stepdad came down for a few days last week, to visit us before we head out west on our epic road trip. most of the first afternoon was spent settling in and showing off (parents and kids, respectively).

on the second day, before the rain and wind rolled in, we went to a nearby pumpkin patch to select some carve-worthy pumpkins. i won’t bore you with details. except to tell you that it cost us $27 to pick our own lopsided pumpkins and could have cost us $10 at the amish grocery store down the road that we visited on the way home for a couple of necessities. blerg.









we also managed to squeeze in some cookie decorating before the rain/wind arrived. we opted for some prepacked cookies from walmart – all cut out and with little packs of icing and sprinkles. i only wish we had picked up some actual frosting, because the icing didn’t go far or taste good.

hazel worked very hard on her cookies and completed two entire masterpieces.

anna worked at a medium pace and made sure to be smiling in all of my pics. no candids here.

isaac raced through several cookies, covering them in as much icing as possibly before i banished him for excessive icing usage. he was happy to just eat his creations and leave us alone.

did i say “as much icing as possible”? because i meant sprinkles, too.

new techniques.

isaac. sunflare. ghost.

hazel also put the sprinkles to good use. we may or may not have picked up a few extras at the amish grocery store.

once hazel’s first cookie had been perfected, she performed a taste test.

turns out, a bite mark was just the finishing touch it needed.

i lied. here’s an anna candid.

hard workers.

anna’s masterpiece.

anna and the gramma.

our completed collection.

later that night, we completed the pumpkin day trifecta with a viewing of “nightmare before christmas” and the girls snuggled up with grampa terry, who pretended he was afraid of all of the tim burton creatures.

turns out, i didn’t take many more pictures with the fam. the gettysburg day and this day are pretty much it. the returned to their homeland on sunday morning and we will spend another week here. in pennsylvania. the end.

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gettysburg national military park.

on thursday, my mom and stepdad rolled into town for a quick little visit. yesterday (saturday), we all packed into the minivan like sardines and drove to gettysburg to get some civil war knowledge in our brains.

so, it was really cold and really really windy. hazel had a fail proof solution.

derek is mad at me for ruining his “walking into the visitor center” selfie.

we opted for a car audio tour of the park. gettysburg national military park basically surrounds the town of gettysburg, so there’s a lot of distance to travel when talking about the three day battle of gettysburg. between the stops, the magical voice on the cd told the story of how the battles went down. and at each stop, it would point out different landmarks and monuments and explain their significance. i recommend it if you ever find yourself there.

cannon. first of many.

the older lid kids worked diligently on their junior ranger badges.

one of the first monuments. there are over 1300 statues and monuments.

another cannon.

and a cannon selfie.

we obviously had to stop and walk around the north carolina memorial. (we skipped a few stops to keep the tour manageable for the tiny people).

north carolina statue.

statue with fam.

the virginia memorial was pretty cool. we just did a drive by of this one, for sanity’s sake.

we spent the most time at little round top. we wandered around at the top in the tornado-y wind gusts before making our way down to do a little boulder hopping (a lid kid all time fave). there were monuments everywhere. 🙂

derek took this panoramic shot of the view from little round top, where the confederate soldiers would have been attacking from, while the union held them back from behind the big boulders.


seriously. it was windy.

the crazel and isaaczilla and me.

my view from the top. not panoramic.

more monuments.

from there, we loaded back into the car and made our way to the pennsylvania memorial, the largest in the park. makes sense, i suppose, being that we are in pennsylvania and all. we climbed the stairs to the top, where it was even more windy. and it was that this location that the wind literally blew hazel over. and when she tried to stand back up, it knocked her over again. like the worlds best mom that i am, i laughed at her misfortune.

at the top, there were these little plaque sign things, pointing us in the direction of various other cities.

our final stop was at the gettysburg national cemetery.


big monument. (i do wish i was able to spend more time reading the monuments and learning and stuff. but, with the lidkids and the weather as it was, we were a little rushed.)

the location of the gettysburg address.

we went back to the visitor center so the kids could get sworn in as junior rangers. first up, ike, who got a really cool ranger who was very serious about the process. 🙂


and then anna. her ranger understood that she was painfully shy and let her come behind the counter so that no one could hear her taking her pledge. derek stole this pic by faking a selfie.

we were starving, so we grabbed a fantastic dinner at the “gettysburg battlefield fries and cafe”. it was a weird little place, but soooo good.

evidently, these are battlefield fries. a bucket full, at that.

and i’ll leave you with this pic. of anna, gnawing at a chicken tender on a fork, while completely engaged in reading her kindle. doofus.

and. that’s the story of our day at gettysburg. the end.

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harrisburg… museum + capitol.

our current campground is about 30 minutes from harrisburg, pennsylvania, which is cool for a couple of reasons. one, there are several free museums that we can visit with our science museum membership. and two, it’s the capital. so, a couple of days ago, off we went.

we chose the whitaker center for arts and science. we were one of about 4 families visiting that day. we arrived just in time for a story and craft. anna was the only participant.


isaac found this giant bubble “wand”. he struggled to make a successful bubble launch, though.

the top floor had a pretty big area for kids five and under. and that’s where we ended up spending most of our time. hazel was a fan of the water table.

and duplo legos. i almost feel bad that i sold all of our duplos before we left.

eventually, i dragged the kids through the rest of the museum. the middle floor had a little racetrack and car building station that isaac had a lot of fun with. i didn’t take many pics because there was someone melting down at any given moment.

in the basement, there was some cool physics stuff.

and space stuff.

and some stop motion stations, which i thought they would like a lot more than they did. oh well.

anyhow, we took a break for lunch and then we walked over to the capitol building to take some pictures. but first. this tree.

then this statue. with the capitol building in the background.

finally. that actual capitol building.


and with the goons.


on the walk back, i thought this fire hydrant was super cool.

the kids insisted on going back to the museum, so i obliged. we spent the rest of our time in the five and under area. at this point, we were the only people in the whole place, so no one minded. anna and isaac put on a little red riding hood play.

hazel resumed her work at the water table area.

anna created an “old macdonald” scene.


i don’t know what got into isaac, but he decided that the kitchen area needed some intense reorganization efforts.

and then, back at the duplo table, hazel made me this dog. cute. or creepy. i’m undecided.

eventually, our meter time on the car ran out, so i basically dragged everyone out crying because i’m a terrible mom. so, i will call it a success. 🙂

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hershey weekend.

we arrived in the hershey/gettysburg area on saturday afternoon. set up camp. and headed off to hershey’s chocolate world.

it was a lot different than i remembered from the time i went when i was like 8 or so. everything was just digitally projected onto machine shaped “screens” and there was audio coming at us from like 10 different directions. music. hershey mascots talking. informative stuff on our car speaker. it was a little overwhelming. and the kids were miserable.


everyone perked up enough to get a pic and then we were done for the night.

on sunday, we slept in, had a big breakfast, and then headed back, this time to hershey park. first up, we had to measure the kids to find out what rides they could go on. anna was a reese’s peanut butter cup.

isaac was a twizzler. which didn’t matter because he wouldn’t go on any rides. i take that back. it mattered because he was too tall for the couple of rides he would agree to go on.

hazel was a hershey’s kiss.

but she preferred to hang with the reese’s pb cup.

when we were just through the gate, we ran into our first hershey character. the girls were game to take a pic as long as derek went too.

then a little warmup ride on the merry-go-round.

anna was a fan.

hazel was unsure.

dino ride. anna cried because she was worried she would lose sight of me.

so, i ended up riding way more rides than i had hoped for.

random spinny ride. the worst.

arms up for the cool kids.


hazel wanted to ride this balloon ride. no one would go with her. but, she didn’t care.

tea cups. double spinning. great.


bumblebee. another lone ride for the crazel.

ladybug. i managed to get a decent pic of all three kids before they started. and, bonus, i didn’t have to ride it!

all three of them actually enjoyed something at the same time. it’s a hershey miracle!

mini pirate ship for the girls. isaac was actually on this ride, but jumped off just before it started.

mini rollercoaster. (we’re in the back).

they had fun!!

then, we ran into the reese’s character.

train ride. hazel cried when it was over because she “wanted to go to the mainland”…

so. this is the point in the day where everything changed. after our ride on the mini rollercoaster, we got a tip that the “trailblazer” would be a good next step for the kids. they were all big enough to go on it, but with a parent. (technically, anna could ride with isaac, but he was not interested). anyhow, even though she seemed so tiny, hazel piled in with me and off we went. she loved it.

then, i ride switched, with a more apprehensive anna. she also loved it.

so, hazel wanted to ride again. and we did.

she LOVED it.

seriously. she would have gone on it all day long.

except she fell asleep. 🙂 (so anna and i went on it a bunch of times).

while hazel slept, derek entertained the older two kids while i rode some bigger rollercoasters. i’m a fan of the wooden ones.


when i was done, i found the kids playing skeeball with derek.

we began to make our way towards the front of the park. anna and i stopped for another couple of rides on the trailblazer. then, i talked her into riding the comet, which was a smaller wooden coaster that she was tall enough for. she was a little traumatized, but very proud of herself for trying it. later, she told me that she actually liked it. she’s a champ.

anyhow, it was late and dark and we had a pack of tired kids on our hands, so we wandered out just as things were getting all lit up for the evening.

and that’s our great adventure to hershey….

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eastern pa. so boring.

after our amazing five weeks in maine, our time in eastern pennsylvania was a bit of a letdown.
it started with two, back to back, 4.5 hour travel days. it doesn’t seem like much, considering we used to make the 10-11 hour drive to ny from nc a few times a year. but, with packing up a camper AND derek actually having to drive the camper and then having to settle in when we arrive, it’s a bit more stressful. we try to keep our travel days to three or less hours.

anyhow. so, we left maine. and derek’s parents were still in the portland area, so the girls and i cruised by for one more quick visit. we met them at a chocolate shop that boasts “lenny, the chocolate moose” — so a photo was in order.

we stayed in a cracker barrel parking lot, and since we got there pretty early, we made an evening trip to walmart so the kids could spend some saved up allowance (on legos) and we could pick up a few cheap sundries. and we checked out the fresh stock of halloween costumes.

the next morning, we gassed up and finished our journey….

upon arrival, the lego building commenced. i have a love/hate relationship with legos, especially in the camper. there’s not a lot of room to leave their sets and creations around. so, we are often eating around giant villages and precariously structured apparatuses.

then also, there’s the added issue of hazel preferring play-doh. she would like to play with the legos, but the big kids tend to shun her. she’s a bit destructive, to put it mildly. so, we make room for lego worlds, PLUS fully stocked play-doh studios. this particular piece is entitled “anna with three eyes and two gloves on her hand”.

we did have a bit of milestone themed excitement during our time in boring eastern PA. i noticed that anna had a pretty loose tooth on one day. a few days later, after opening a can of play-doh with her teeth and then seperating some legos with her teeth, it had been loosened to the point of dangling and obsession. just before bedtime, she freaked out a bit about what would happen if she lost it in the night. we convinced her to let us pull it with some fishing line. i won’t go into details, but suffice it to say, there was a bit of drama and terror and then the tooth was removed from her face…

i wrote about it before, but on the way to the site, we realized we were pretty close to the delaware water gap national recreation area. we had hoped to do a bit more exploring and/or hiking in the area, but a lot of it was closed for the season and the kids were a little bit burnt out on hiking. anyhow, on one of the first days, we went to the park headquarters to see what there was to do. and obviously stopped to take pics at this big old mill(?) wheel.


our campsite was sort of near the poconos, which is apparently really touristy. it reminds me of boone/blowing rock a little. lots of shopping and restaurants. we found a brochure for the “country kettle” store and decided we needed some bulk candy in our lives.

pre-shopping spree.

back at the campsite, anna pulled out the rv lego set and the lighthouse set and got busy recreating our time in maine. :). we didn’t see any killer whales or bears, though.

there are a lot of deer in this neck of the woods.

on the sunday when derek took the kids back to new jersey to retrieve hazel’s bunny, she and i laid very low back at the campsite. i cleaned and straightened and hazel played with trains. i couldn’t resist sorting them by color.

the crazel loves trains. and i’m thankful that these thomas the train mini figures are only $1.50 each. and that it are easy to figure out what trains are in each package to avoid duplicates. the kids love checking out the toy section at every store to see if they can find a new train that she doesn’t have.

also, while derek was out that day, he stopped for a few groceries and came home with this entire fall themed assortment of foods.

we introduced the kids to napoleon dynamite. isaac is a fan. anna doesn’t get it. hazel doesn’t care. but i forgot how funny it is. and how much it permeated everyone’s lives during the mid 00’s.

lastly, a campfire pic. because even in the boring places, a campfire makes everyone happy. (i think it’s actually the s’mores).

anyhow, we have moved along and are now in the hershey/gettysburg area. there’s a LOT to do around here, so i am looking forward to a little less boredom. 🙂

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new jersey day (trains and mines).

last saturday, we crossed the over the border (and the delaware river) and spent the day in new jersey. derek had picked out a few activities for us, so we could put our NJ sticker on our state map.

our first stop was at a little model train museum. it definitely wasn’t nearly as impressive as the one we went to in medina, ny. but, hazel wasn’t as into trains then as she is now, so she was a big fan, and that made it worth it. the bigger kids loved it too, thanks to their introduction and re-introduction into the world of thomas the train…

it was all decked out for halloween.

even a peanuts train.

it was a little frustrating because there was a big fence about three feet back from the tracks. so, it was hard for the kids to see. but i get it. you don’t want people touching and messing with stuff.

full view.

we didn’t spend as much time there as we thought we would, so we found a local bookstore to kill some time before lunch and our new activity. the kids each picked out a book and we bought a mad libs. you know, unschooling the parts of speech. :). anyhow, derek captured this picture of a particularly hilarious moment. probably involving poops or toots.

we ate lunch at a cheap little pizza place that derek had found. except it wasn’t cheap after we basically ordered one of each kind of slice of pizza they had. i won’t make you look at all the pictures, but here’s my chicken marsala pizza slice to give you an idea…

after lunch, we made our way to our final destination – a retired mine that had been turned into a museum and tour. we were hopeful that the kids’ love of minecraft would translate into some interest in an actual mine.

while we waited for our timeslot, we wandered the grounds outside and took pics with all the minecarts.


the tour group was huge, so we were split into three groups. our group headed into the museum-y part first. it’s the old “locker room” for the miners. where they changed and showered and left their clothes to dry out overnight. our guide was a quirky fellow. derek liked him. i was undecided.

we wandered around for awhile, checking out the rocks, fossils and minerals.






of to one side was this super cool interactive periodic table of elements. each compartment had items that contained the respective element in it. some were obvious. some were surprising.


giant shiny rock balls.

in a backroom, there was a blacklight shining on some ultraviolet rocks/minerals. so cool.

finally, it was our turn to head into the mine.

and that was as far as i got. hazel freaked out. and her crying was very loud and distracting in a tiny tunnel. so, i took her out to go hang in the store/cafeteria, while derek and the kids went on the tour. so the rest of the pictures are dereks. and i don’t have any commentary other than, “derek’s pics from inside the mine”….




meanwhile, hazel and i were eating blow pops and touching everything in the museum store. then we wandered outside for a bit. it was a lot of time to kill.

finally, one of the staff members took us to the end of the tour to meet up with derek and the kids. they were in another blacklight room, this time with dozens of displays glowing rocks and items made to glow in the dark.

and that’s where our fun begins. on our way home, we stopped to get some firewood. it was then that we noticed that we were missing hazel’s beloved “bunbun”. we called back to the mine, but they were closed. we were already about 30 minutes away, so we made the call to just go home and try to figure it out the next day. replacement bunbun was called in for duty and was begrudgingly accepted for the task.

fortunately, they had found it (and had set it out for us in case we came back). derek took the older kids out the next day to church nearby and then swung through and picked it up and all order was restored in our world. and replacement bunbun was kicked to the curb.

and now we are off to put our new jersey decal on our map…

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roba pumpkin patch.

now that it’s fall and holidays are coming at us, i’m finding that one of the hard parts of the road life is realizing that we won’t be able to do a lot of our family traditions. my timehop app on my phone keeps reminding me of things like patterson farms, pumpkin carving, baking and decorating cookies, and other halloween and fall themed activities. i’m sure it will get worse as thanksgiving and christmas get closer.

anyhow, even though some of the traditions will have to take a timeout while we are on the road, there are some that i can make happen anywhere. like a pumpkin patch trip. i scoured the internet for nearby-ish options and settled on the roba family farms, about an hour and a half away.

first things first. we measured up.

then we wandered about in the rows and rows of stacked pumpkins.


the kids didn’t want to feed the animals. i have no idea why not. but i was glad to oblige. but we did walk through and say hi to a few friendly farm animals.

there was approximately 65 photo booth opportunities and we had to test out almost all of them. some more than once.

there was an entire tiny village, filled with bunnies. the kids found this hilarious.

and chicken-ville. anna was nostalgic.

we decided to go on a weekday, to avoid the terrible crowds i had read about on the internets. but, that also meant that a lot of the attractions were closed. on the website, i had read that face painting was only available on the weekends, but magically, the face painting lady was in fact there, and the girls took full advantage.

post face paint photo – before the smearing begins.

hazel went with a pumpkin with a spooky ghost peeking out.

anna picked this rainbow-y mask thing….

it was then that we happened upon a great pumpkin themed photo booth. my favorite ever.

the theme of the entire pumpkin patch this year is the great pumpkin. they played music and sound bites over the loudspeakers. there was a peanuts themed bingo board scavenger hunt through the whole farm. and the corn mazes are made in the shapes of peanuts characters.
(not my pic, obviously)

also. these great pumpkin themed pumpkin carvings.





(linus was my favorite).

we thought this photo booth was fitting, considering we have s’mores several times a week.

a stroll through the pumpkin patch. hazel refused to participate.

the jumping pillow. it was run by a very overprotective man on a bit of a power trip.

i have seen this exactly pumpkin themed height measurer at three pumpkin patches in my life, and i have seen pictures of it online in many more. i think it’s the first thing you buy when you open a pumpkin patch.

playground anna close up.


playground hazel.

haystacks hazel.

haystacks anna.

after the playground and haystacks frolics, we rode the hayride back to the entrance area, where we partook in some delicious cider donuts. sadly, they were premade, and not straight out of the fryer and warm. but, we survived.

donut anna.

if you ever wonder why there’s more pics of the girls than of isaac, look no further than this picture and you’ll understand.

anna even fed her spider ring a hunk of donut.

crazel and the donut.

thankfully, there was a mini corn maze for tiny people and their moms. so, we gave that a try. (and even that was too long for us.)

we also stopped back for one more pic at the great pumpkin photo booth, because i was worried that the shadows were bad the first time around. you can see, folks were thrilled.

from there, a ride on the cow train. we were the only passengers. and the tractor driver made me ride along.

another photo shoot.

back towards the front, we pretended to shop for pumpkins.




and then, we left.
(with a bag of honeycrisp apples).

my review.
it was a fantastic pumpkin patch. there weren’t many people on a tuesday afternoon, so we had the run of the place. i like things that way. crowds are stressful. i was sad there was no corn pit, which is our favorite thing about “our” pumpkin patch in nc. everything was very clean and there was a LOT to do and i pretty much had to drag the kids out, against their wills.

the end.

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the crayola experience.

on thursday, i took the girls to “the crayola experience”. it’s about an hour away in easton, pa, which is where the crayola factory is. who doesn’t love crayola. anna the artist was so excited. hazel too. isaac didn’t want to go. so he spent a long and boring day at the camper with derek.

i think this is technically the back of the building, but the front was on a roundabout with no parking, so this was our best outside view. i wanted some pics in the front, but we ran out of time.

the crosswalk from the parking garage to the museum ws crayons. 🙂

our first stop was to make our own customized crayons. (allow me to take this time to make a disclaimer – i didn’t get great pics at this place. the lighting was a little weird and i was often trying to get a pic of what the girls were doing, which meant the backs of their heads.)

their customized crayons.

next up was a room where you could color a digital image and then it would be projected onto a giant aquarium wall. i made a whale. anna made a diver. hazel made a crab.

lots of giant crayons and markers and such everywhere you looked.


there was a toddler play place. hazel was a fan.

we watched a bunch of crayons get made and packaged in a mini crayon factory. this part was pretty cool. and we even got to keep one red crayon each.

when you arrive, you are given two tokens each. one for the customized crayon and one for the model magic vending machine. obviously, we were not content to settle for two colors of model magic, so we puchased several more tokens so we could have every color of clay. and then we spent a LONG time making stuff.

like trains.


and french fries (and chicken nuggets, i think?).

i made a whale. again.

anna and i made a pizza.

anna’s fries and “nuggets” and i’m not sure about the green bit.

sliced pizza.

the crumpled up sliced pizza mixed into a nice pumpkin color, so that was next.

finally, it came to my attention that we were running out of time. they closed at 4 and it was almost 3 and we had only completed one floor out of three. so we packed up and scurried around to see everything else. but first, a pic with a red marker statue.

the water table exhibit was way less cool than we had hoped. it was a crayon boat that you moved through a series of locks and conveyor belt elevators, under the watchful eye of the exhibit czar. no horseplay. hazel could reach and she was grumpy. but anna made her way through, armed with extensive knowledge of the mechanics of locks, thanks to our time in lockport, ny.

the one spot that hazel could reach and get her sleeves soaking wet. (to match her shirt front from a water fountain “incident”).

some quick painting…

and then dancing with some digital marker friends. they mimicked your motions. hazel was happy to just test out some minimal arm movements. anna went totally bonkers and made the marker look like it had four broken limbs. i only have video of this, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

the fourth floor was all about some melted crayons. first, we made crayon dripping art.

then we melted a crayon into another shape. dinosaur for hazel, crayhon figurine guy for anna.

it took four minutes to melt, shape and cool. and it was the longest four minutes of our lives.

while we waited, a pic with this cool crayola colors wall in the background was in order.

more drippy art. sadly, our time was cut short when a worker came through and packed in a bunch of new crayons to be melted for the next day. like they couldn’t have waited a few more minutes when the place was actually closed. thanks, worker guy.

(overall, i wasn’t impressed with the staff. a few of them were friendly and nice. but a lot of them were grumpy teens or young adults who didn’t really want to be bothered by anything. i heard one girl snap at a kid a couple of times. i guess i would think if you chose to work in a place like this, you’d be a little more kid friendly. or just friendly in general. anyhow, that’s my only negative on the day).

after the place was closed, we visited the store, which was the most magical, rainbowy, kid art supply-y place you’ve ever seen.

anna decided to purchase some paints. she could choose 16 colors. it was a very hard decision.

just when we were leaving, we realized we never took a pic with the world’s largest crayon, near the front. we asked a security guard if we could quickly run over and get a pic and he was very nice, and led us over and actually took the pic for us. so, not all the employees were terrible. ;). anyhow. me and the girls and the worlds largest crayon. hooray.

and that’s the end of the best day ever for the annababy. :).

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george w. childs park
delaware water gap nra

well. we are in pennsylvania.
after all of our weekend travels to get here, we spent a bit of downtime before resuming our adventures. on wednesday, i had big plans to go for a three mile hike with the kids. but, they were pretty resistant, so we settled on a 1.5 mile hike that was more like a walk.

oh. this where i should probably tell you that we are staying about 7 minutes away from the “delaware water gap national recreation area”. we realized it when we drove in. for about 20 minutes of the drive, toward the end was right through the “gap” – before we turned off to go to our campsite. we visited the park headquarters to get some info on good hiking and kid friendly areas and our friendly ranger suggested george w. childs park. so, we gave it a go…

the trail just goes down along one side of a series of waterfalls, with overlooks, and then crosses over to hike back up the other side. our first look.


all three hikers. hazel only rode in the backpack for about 200 feet.

there were a lot of stairs. it was a very easy trail.

hazel is slow, but she insisted on no help. she would say “you go ahead mom” just in case i might be tempted to offer a hand of support.

anna spotted this caterpillar making his way across the stairs. he seemed cold and slow.

more waterfalls. i didn’t take note of all the different names.

kid pic. in a little carved out section of the rock.

one bridge was directly over the falls. this was the view going down.

anna likes to stand on big rocks. it’s becoming a theme.

while anna camped out in a pavilion working on her junior ranger badge and ike and hazel ran around, i checked out this cool waterfall. it’s only a short walk from the park entrance, so it had a lot of traffic.

once the badge requirements were complete and i rustled up the other two, we took a group shot by the cool waterfall.

and one more. i was hoping for a bunch of cool poses and strategic locations, but there was a family of five adults camped out in various places around the falls. i conveniently cropped them all out.

on the walk back, we visited this old stone structure. isaac says it’s a kiln. it’s currently stuffed with leaves and trash. people are dumb.

we spotted some giant mushrooms near a tree stump. we are fans of mushrooms and fungi. and lichen, says anna.

after our brief little hike, we went straight to park headquarters so anna could get sworn in and get her badge. i’m not allowed to look or listen, but i managed to sneak this pic in before she noticed.

we are fans of the national park system. hazel loves to point out the arrowheads. anna loves junior ranger badges. ike, well, he doesn’t actually care, mostly.

so, that’s one eastern pennsylvania outdoor adventure in the books. 🙂

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baxter state park (maine).

for our last great maine adventure, derek took off work so we could spend a day hiking and canoeing in baxter state park. but first, we needed to fill up on a big fat lunch at a local restaurant. i’m glad we did, because we were able to purchase a trail map while we were there and figure out our exact game plan on the way to the park.

also. they had poutine fries!! they called them katahdin fries, but admitted that the recipe was stolen from our neighbors to the north. mmmmm.

the drive into the park was beautiful, with mount katahdin as the ever present backdrop.

behind the visitor center, we were able to walk down to a nearby lake and get this picture perfect view.

i mean. come on.

our best attempt at getting the kids pic taken was this. anna was mad at me because i was mad at her for bumping into me while i stood on that log, causing me to have to step down into icy cold water up to my ankles, BEFORE the hiking even started. technically before we even entered the park.

we decided to start at daicey pond, where we could either hike a bit, or canoe if the kids were up to it.

also beautiful.

the kids agreed to try canoeing. scratch that. anna and hazel agreed. isaac freaked out. we eventually talked him into it, but then anna started worrying about all the things that isaac was suggesting might happen. so, shortly after rowing away from the dock, this was my view. (and a screaming child was the soundtrack).

meanwhile, isaac had worked through his fears and he and derek were off and rowing.

eventually, i convinced anna that she would not die on this day and we mostly had fun.

hazel dragged her hands in the water for about 3/4 of the trip. made for awkward rowing.

derek took pics of us.

and we took pics of them.

and derek took a pic of all of us (minus himself).

after our canoeing expedition, we chose a hike that took us along a bit of the appalachian trail, out to a couple of waterfalls, called “big niagara falls” and “little niagara falls”. it smelled like christmas.

the two falls areas and the dam (which was more like a big rock blocking some water) were pretty cool.

so i took a million pics.

at one spot, we saw a river otter frollicking about. (he’s the black figure standing on a little rock, in front of the big rock in the middle of the pic).

the rapids and changing leaves weren’t too shabby.

the big kids and derek went adventuring. i had hazel in the backpack, so my balance was quite compromised, so my exploring was more limited.

this big rock that they are standing on juts out over the falls, but you can’t really tell from this pic. but it’s pretty cute either way.

more rapids.

family selfie. hazel wouldn’t look, so she got cropped out.

hazel and i braved our way out on the big rock ledge and derek snapped this pic.

cute annababy.

aaaand, more rapids.

i tried to coax hazel into a selfie with a silly face, but she wasn’t buying it.

and then. more rapids.

at “big niagara falls”, we could walk right up to the edge of the falls, which was slightly scary.


duel photos.

some falls and sunlight.

we actually didn’t get to stay at the falls very long, because it was getting late and we had a 1.2 mile hike back out. we weren’t super excited about possibly being in the maine woods at dark. so, off we went. we did stop to climb and explore a bit more on the way out.




towards the end of the hike, we let hazel out of the backpack so she could get some hiking in. she immediately fell several times and then cried the rest of the way out, while i carried her. it was a mess.

i took this parting shot of the trail sign, to prove that we were on part of the appalachian trail. the end of the trail is just a few miles away, at the top of mount katahdin. that hike is for experienced folk only and takes about 11 hours round trip. kids aren’t allowed past the tree line. maybe someday….

i forgot an important story and to squeeze it in where it belongs would require changing a bunch of captions. the path from the entrance to the park to where we started at daicey pond was pretty long and passed by a number of trailheads for serious hikes up the mountains. we started to pass a very straggly looking fellow, who turned and threw up a thumb, hoping for a ride. we realized he was an appalachian trail hiker (giant backpack, legit hiking gear, long beard, etcetera), and he confirmed when we pulled over to squeeze him in. he had reached mount katahdin that morning and had just come back down and wanted to get to a ranger station a few miles away. he rode in the front and answered all of the questions we peppered him with regarding his travels. the kids didn’t really seem to notice that we had loaded an odd looking stranger into our car, which i think is pretty telling of their flexibility at this point on the lidbom rambling road show. anyhow, we dropped him off and continued on our way, thankful for the experience of having met him and chatted with him. his name was tao.

so. that was our day.
we drove home in the dark. grabbed some dinner. packed up the camper. and pulled out the next morning to make our way back south. i love maine. it’s my favorite so far.

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