Kid Stuff

It looks like he's conducting the waves.

Before leaving St. Simons at the end of the month to continue our travels, we wanted to see our kids again.  Fortunately, the cottage we rented this month—one of the few available on short notice—is a large, rambling, old barn of a place, with several random additions.  Too big for George, me, and Zoe, but providing plenty of room for company.

Unfortunately, the weekend that my son, his wife, and her parents came down for a visit was by far the coldest that we have had here.  While Alaskan friends are bemoaning record high temperatures and lack of snow, the lovely arctic cold that they crave muscled its way down here with a whipping wind that made it too frigid to do anything outside.  We visited the lighthouse museum, drove around neighboring Jekyll Island, with its Gilded Age “cottages” (“they’re pretty … it’s freezing … let’s get back in the car”), and ate well.

Jekyll Island Club, a Gilded Age private winter retreat for the world's wealthiest, including the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Morgans

Jekyll Island Club, a Gilded Age private winter retreat for the world’s wealthiest, including the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Morgans

Patterns of live oaks seen from the lighthouse above.

Live oak branches seen from the lighthouse above.

Although the frigid temperatures abated a bit, it was still pretty nippy when our daughter arrived with our grandkids several days later.  Still, it was warmer than their home in North Carolina, where it was cold enough to snow, keeping school closed for days. Having been homebound all week, the kids had energy to burn and, despite the arctic-like conditions, were ecstatic to be on the beach.

IMG_7268IMG_7280The next day, we visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, a rehabilitation center for injured and ill sea turtles, and—most importantly for us—a warm indoor sanctuary from the cold.

From babies.

From babies.

We arrived at the turtle hospital’s feeding time, with a presentation on all of the current turtle residents, most of whom were there for cold shock, boat propeller strikes, and fishing line entanglement.

to big boys.

to big boys.

Then we all happily wandered around the educational section, which was filled with interactive exhibits geared for kids (and adults) of all ages.  It was well worth the visit.

Next morning, the temperature eased, so we drove over to Fort King George on the mainland in Darien for a little history. The Fort, which sits on the Altamaha River marshes, has been reconstructed as an outdoor museum.  It originally was built in 1721, as the southernmost British outpost in the Americas. IMG_7360Its soldiers died like flies from malaria, dysentery, and lack of provisions.  Perhaps not surprisingly, they were described as a discontented, undisciplined, wild group of indolent alcoholics. Apparently, Fort King George was not a popular posting.

The blockhouse

The blockhouse, palisades, and moat.

But we loved it.  The Fort museum is a throwback to a time when kids were able to play and explore without constant paranoia over imagined dangers in every activity. After paying our entry fee at the museum store, the kids were able to choose wooden muskets or pistols to use while running around the Fort pretending they were soldiers.  And run around and pretend they did.

With musket and bucket, after surveying the marsh from the top of the block house.

With musket and bucket for musket balls, the kids could scope out the landscape for potential invaders from the top of the block house.

View from the blockhouse

Looking out the blockhouse window

Everyone–including kids and dogs—is allowed to wander, climb, and poke around in the buildings and grounds to their hearts’ content, without tour guides or restrictions.

Ladders!

Ladders to climb.

Guardhouses to explore.

Guardhouses to explore.

Patrolling the palisades (actually this was one restricted area--he wasn't supposed to be there).  Soon remedied.

Palisades to patrol.  Oops, he wasn’t supposed to be up there–one of the few restricted areas–soon remedied.

A small group of reenactors was living there for the weekend, not putting on a show, but just going about their daily activities.  It was a playground of history—just amazing.  The kids were in heaven.

They had just finished breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked on the hearth.

They had just finished breakfast of bacon and eggs cooked on the hearth.

Pumping the bellows at the blacksmith shed.

Pumping the bellows at the blacksmith shed.

Chain mail for the kids to touch and feel its weight and texture

Chain mail for the kids to touch and feel its weight and texture

The barracks,  You can just see George (with Zoe) at the end of the table.

The barracks. You can just see George (with Zoe) at the end of the table.

Zoe enjoyed it, too.  She was allowed in all the buildings, full of intriguing smells.  She thoroughly sniffed the food smells at the baking shed and then settled in by the chimney.   She can spot a kitchen with good food anywhere.

IMG_7380I loved all of the angles and textures.

IMG_7328IMG_7415IMG_7374IMG_7358We left tired and happy.  The bliss track continued the next morning, with some final–much warmer–time on the beach, where the waves churned up impressive foam.  IMG_7456IMG_7473IMG_7448IMG_7433

Migration

New Holland - Canon Elph-107We are on our way south–part of the snowbird migration to Florida—with stops in North Carolina and Georgia.  Unlike most snowbirds, our Florida stay will be brief because we are eager to be out West again.

We left Massachusetts with the leaves just starting to turn and morning temperatures dropping into the 30s.  Time to go.

Good bye Boston

Good bye Boston

Our first stop was Connecticut, where we again visited with family and prepared for the trip.  Fall is the loveliest time of year in New England and, although we did not stay for the whole season, we got a good taste.

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Covered bridge at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, an 1830 outdoor museum. We took my Mom there for the day.

Zoe found her calling as a farm dog.  She’s never been happier.

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Surprisingly, with all of the rolling around that Zoe has done on this trip, she has not had any ticks.  And despite all of our hiking and time outside in fields and woods, we have not had any, either.  Ticks were one of our big concerns for this trip because we knew we would be in the heart of Lyme Disease country.  Plus, we hate them.  In my anti-tick zeal, I even bought light-colored, non-patterned sheets and blankets for our trailer so that any stray ticks would easily show up on the bed.  But, not a tick in sight.  I heard it was a mild tick year in New England.  Whatever the reason, we’re happy.  Let’s hope that our luck continues.

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After leaving Connecticut, we revisited Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, an area we loved when we came through in June.  Here is our previous post.

The two visits made interesting bookends on the farming season, with fields just planted in June now ready for harvest.  In the spring it was a frenzy of activity.  School was out and the Amish children were busy on the farms in the day and outside playing in the evenings.  The farmers and horse teams were working until late at night, haying, plowing, tilling, and fertilizing.New Holland -Phone Pics-100

It was much quieter on this trip, with school in session and the corn, alfalfa, soy, and tobacco still in the fields.  The big Belgian work horses were grazing in paddocks, getting a rest before their harvesting work begins.

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The manure smell was more pungent after the summer’s heat, battling one evening with the smell of skunk and woodsmoke. Not a place for the odor-sensitive.

Horses returning to the barn after spreading some liquid on the fields--it smelled like liquid manure.  The glassy water on the left is a homemade swimming hole.

Horses returning to the barn after spreading some liquid on the fields–it smelled like manure “tea.”  The glassy water on the left is a homemade swimming hole.

Stink bugs were everywhere, trying to get in the trailer, buzzing around like little armored drones when they succeeded.

The Amish women were harvesting pumpkins, gourds, tomatoes, beans, eggplants, potatoes, peaches, pears, and apples, and selling them at farm stands, along with a variety of fall products such as home pressed cider, home canned goods, apple butter, and pumpkin whoopie pies.

A dangerous bounty?

Hickory nuts

Hickory nuts

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Every morning we looked down on a thick fog below our hillside campground, which slowly dissipated as the sun rose.

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The sky was always changing, with impressionist cloud swirls.

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IMG_3036Landscapes out West tend to be in-your-face beautiful, undeniably stunning to even the most crusty old beauty-hardened individuals.  Lancaster’s beauty is more subtle and nuanced, sneaking up on you and catching you by surprise.  Turn a corner and there’s a line of corn against a streaky sky or silos poking up from the mist.

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On the weekend, the campground was full of retirees on end-of-the season trips or snowbirds heading to warmer weather.  It was mostly a big-rig Class A crew, staking out their spaces with happy hour flags and pots of chrysanthemums.  Many were rushing around to flea markets and the enormous local smorgasbord buffets.  We preferred a slower pace, walking the roads, and taking in the beauty and glimpses of Amish farm life going on around us.  It’s a special place.

Good roads for riding--motorcyclists are everywhere in Lancaster on the weekends

Good roads for riding–motorcyclists are everywhere in Lancaster on the weekends

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Parking for Sunday service, bicycles on the right, buggies on the left.

Parking for Sunday service, bicycles on the left, buggies on the right.

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