Saturday, July 25, 2009

First beach trip

This week Beth & I surprised the kids with a trip to the beach.  We took them to Bethany Beach, DE and stayed in a nice bed & breakfast called The Cedar Breeze.  They had a 2-room suite which worked out great, and they were nice enough to make extra pancakes for the girls to have at breakfast on the 2nd day.  They provided beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas, so we were able to pack lighter.  Very nice place to stay - we recommend it!

The girls really liked seeing the Chesapeake Bay as we crossed the bay bridge.  Although as we were going higher and higher, Anna asked me to get to the other side because she was scared.  It reminded me of when we lived in Florida in the early 80's - I remember crossing a very tall bridge over Tampa Bay, and you could look down through the road.  Plus one of the two spans clearly had collapsed, so that didn't help (I was excited to have recently been watching a show on the History Channel, maybe called Engineering Disasters or something, that actually had a segment about what had happened; I never actually knew till then).

Anyway, the last time we had gone to the beach was when Kylie was visiting - she was 6 at the time, and she was scared of the waves, which, to be fair, were bigger than her, and they were even knocking me around.  This time, she enjoyed playing in the waves, and the bay bridge wasn't as big as she remembered (kind of like how huge the Christmas tree seemed when we were little, but now it's so disappointing to realize it wasn't as magnificent as you remember).

When we went to the beach the first evening, we walked the girls right up to where you could see the waves crashing.  They took a little getting used to all the sand in their feet at first.  And when we saw the ocean, Anna was a bit scared and covered her ears.  Cara was fine, and Anna was fine after I explained the ocean would stay over there.  The girls had big fun playing in the biggest sandbox ever.

We saved going into the water for the next day.  For most of the day, Cara was content just playing in the sand and didn't want to venture near the water.  Anna was over her fear of the waves and wanted to walk into the water as long as I would hold her hand.  She laughed, screamed (with delight), and giggled when the water would rush over her feet and legs, then would quickly retreat, washing sand over her feet.  Cara eventually came down to the water, too, and also had big fun, until a big wave proved to be too much for her after sweeping her off her feet.  Then she was content to just play in the sand nearby.  The weather was cloudy and only about 80 degrees, so it was a little cool, but it didn't matter.  The girls insisted they weren't cold and wanted to stay more even though their hands and lips were purple.

It was a short trip, and the girls are ready to go back to the ocean.  On the way home, their stuffed animals were talking about going on a surprise trip.  Pics are on my Facebook page or in the picture gallery under Vacations and Trips -> 2009 Bethany Beach.  Maybe next year we'll try staying for a week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Andrews Air Force Base 2009

I felt like a little boy at a monster truck rally today, only I don't care about monster trucks; I went to the 2009 Joint Service Open House/Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, and anyone who knows my love for aviation will understand how exciting it must have been.  The last big air show I remember going to that featured very cool military aircraft was in Chicago.  I don't remember all the planes we saw then, but the stealth bomber and Harrier jet (the one that can hover) stick out in my memory.  But as cool as that show was, this one was even better.

I think one of the reasons was that in Chicago, everyone is basically gathered along the shoreline of Lake Michigan waiting for the planes to arrive and do their thing.  Today's event took place right on the airfield at Andrews AFB, and the first thing you saw as your shuttle (from FedEx Field) pulled in were the HUGE transport planes used by the Air Force to transport tanks & such, including a C-130 Hercules (the one where the front nose opens up).  You got to walk right up to the planes, walk inside, and talk to the pilots, and in some cases go into the cockpit.

It turns out there were just tons of military aircraft parked for you to come and see and get inside.  Everything from the huge transport planes to the B-52 Stratofortress bomber to the F35 Joint Strike Fighter to Blackhawk and Apache helicopters. They even had the B-17 Flying Fortress that was used in the film Memphis Belle.

One unexpected treat that those who came today got to see was that President Obama was departing in the morning from Andrews AFB to South Bend, IN, to speak at the Notre Dame graduation ceremonies.  They announced that this was going to happen, and we saw the three Marine helicopters come in (the President is always on one of the three, but very few actually know which one, exactly).  Then he boarded Air Force One and we got to see it take off.  Very neat.

The highlights of the show were seeing an authentic Russian MiG flying, as well as the F18-F Super Hornet, the A-10 tank killer (which is surprisingly quiet), and the new F-22 Raptor.  It's simply amazing what the F-22 can do, and after seeing the demo, I can see why everyone thinks that anyone flying against this guy doesn't have a chance.  It was also fun being right on the front row at show center and watching these planes taxi right by.  Then, of course, there were the Air Force Thunderbirds, a group of six F-15's flying in formation and doing dangerous head-on maneuvers at crazy speeds.  And the helicopter that could somehow do loops and fly upside down, which should be impossible.

I had a crappy little camera that did no good for most of the live demo shots - I would probably need an SLR camera with good zoom to get good shots of the live action.  Plus it ran out of battery relatively quickly, so I didn't get any shots of the A-10, P-51, or the F-15s flying around.  But I did get a bunch of shots from the many aircraft we were able to explore and a couple short videos of some of the live stuff.  They're in our photo gallery under Day-to-Day, 2009 Spring, Andrews AFB Airshow, and also on my Facebook page.
What little boy wouldn't get excited to climb into planes you only see in the movies or on TV, or to watch a jet zoom by silently only to be followed a couple seconds later by its sound, or have his eardrums blown out by the intense crackling and bright glow of full-on afterburners zooming by again and again, or watch a jet zoom by just under Mach 1 only to abruptly go vertical and shoot 2 miles straight up into the sky?  The answer is no little boy would not get excited by that, and this little boy/pilot had BIG fun today in aviation heaven.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Well, as life's gotten busier I've been very bad keeping this blog updated, but Cara said something today we had to put into the blog and not lose, so I'll catch up on a couple anecdotes.  Today was Palm Sunday, so Anna was telling us what she learned in Sunday School, about all the people shouting "Hosanna, Hosanna!"  Cara added that they also shouted, "HoseCara! HoseCara!"

The other day there was a spider on the floor, and when I got home Cara kept telling me about the "speeder" in the other room and how they need to just look at the "speeder" and don't touch the "speeder."  I ended up putting the "speeder" down the toilet.

Anna is a very good helper with Eddie.  She loves being the mommy.  It's apparent when she's talking, though, that she believes that one day she'll grow big enough to be the real mommy, and by that time, mommy and daddy will have shrunk down to be the babies that need to be taken care of.

Anna and Cara really like fried rice, just like daddy, so I get two boxes now everytime.  After I give everyone rice from the first box, and start to get seconds, Anna clearly gets nervous.  "Don't take too much from the box, daddy!"  But if I ask if she's afraid it will be all gone, she assures me she's not afraid of that.  But then she'll need to make sure that there's another box in the bag.  But don't worry, she's cool, nothing to worry about.

And finally, the last one I can remember for now…  Beth was telling me in code that she thought Anna was sick.  But Anna gets upset if you say that, so she spelled it out - "I think Anna is S-I-C-K."  But that still upset Anna - she protested, "No, I'm not!  I'm A-N-N-A!"