Monday, September 20, 2010


Highlights of our weekend:

We picked up our boat on Saturday. Driving it around the lake was great fun. We got it up to the top speed of about 50 mph before we read the manual and found out you're not supposed to go full throttle during the engine's breaking-in period. (You're also not supposed to tow anything during the car engine's breaking-in period. But that's what we got that car for!)

The faster you go, the smoother the ride. The kids enjoy bouncing over other boats' wakes, though. It's better than the roller coasters at Carowinds.

Backing the boat trailer down the boat ramp and getting the boat on and off the trailer is not as much fun. The first day was really stressful. The public boat ramp was very crowded. It seems everyone who wasn't at the UNC game was at the lake. We had to back the boat around another boat that was tied up at the dock. We kept waiting for them to move, but they had a dead battery and couldn't go anywhere. Luckily, we managed to get the boat in and out of the water without destroying anything.

We had planned to park the boat in our yard. We had measured out where we thought it would go, and the boat could fit. But there's not enough room to maneuver the boat plus trailer plus car. Our steep driveway is a problem, too. We parked the boat in the street in front of our house, wedged rocks under the trailer tires to keep it from rolling down the hill and crashing through the neighbor's house, slept badly, and took it to the marina the next day.

Since we had to drop it off at the marina, we figured we might as well get more practice. So on Sunday afternoon, after church and lunch, we tooled around the lake a bit, then found a secluded section of shore and tied up. The girls loved swimming around near the boat, and we all enjoyed having a picnic on the back of the boat.

The marina's boat ramp area is much better laid-out than the public ramp. Trailers are only entering the ramp area from one side, instead of all directions. Instead of docks where you have to avoid boats loading and unloading passengers, there's a little beach area next to the ramps for loading and unloading. I felt a lot safer with the girls waiting on the beach rather than on the dock, and they had more fun playing in the sand while they waited for us to get the boat down or up the ramp. After using the ramps at the marina, Scott and I relaxed and stopped feeling so panicky about owning a boat. We still need a lot of practice getting it in and out of the water, and backing it in and out of parking spaces, but now we feel like we can do it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bug Fest

We interrupt your regularly scheduled vacation photos to bring you this message about what we did today. We went to Bug Fest at the NC Museum of Natural History. Bug exhibits were set up throughout the museum and along several streets outside. We talked to bug experts about the exciting one-day life of adult mayflies, saw a beekeeper wearing a bee beard, cheered on our favorite contender in the cockroach race, learned about mummy berry blight, held bugs, ate a chocolate-covered bug larva (I was the only one brave enough to try it), and slurped snow cone syrup from a flower-shaped bowl.

The first thing we saw when we got there was a giant dead beetle lying on its back:

The most unusual thing we saw was a real, old-fashioned flea circus. Scott and I were standing in the back, so we didn't actually see the fleas, but the kids were sitting on the ground up front, and Audrey swears she got splashed when the high-diving flea landed in the tin can of water.

Scott was impressed by the real, mechanical street organ that the flea circus ringmaster played by turning a crank. Digital everything is taken for granted so much now, that anything non-digital seems amazing. Like watching a crowd scene in an old movie and realizing, "Wow, those are all real people!"

Here's Mary holding her new friend. She held praying mantises and stick bugs. Audrey petted hissing cockroaches and held a small stick bug.

The bug I ate didn't taste gross. It was chewy and chocolatey. The only gross part was picking little exoskeleton bits out of my teeth afterwards.

New York Trip, Day Two

The Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn was our destination for day two. Kerry sometimes runs in Prospect Park, but had never been to the zoo. There were two baby baboons we especially wanted to see. The babies were old enough to explore their surroundings, but they couldn't go far from mom, because before they made it out of her reach, she would grab their tail.

At an animal encounter, we met a 20 pound rabbit. These Belgian rabbits were bred for their size during the age of long sea voyages to the New World. They provided a lot of meat, and replaced themselves quickly, since they breed like, well, rabbits.

We also saw various monkeys, birds, snakes, fish, and a sea lion show. After seeing so many animals, we were ready to turn into animals ourselves!

We popped out of holes in a prairie dog town...

Narrowly avoided being eaten by a giant spider...

Hatched out of eggs...

And hopped across lily pads...

New York Trip, Day One

We went to visit my sister Kerry in New York during the last few days of August. We stayed with her in her Brooklyn apartment. It's about the size of a hotel room, spacious compared to her previous apartment in Manhattan. We arrived at about lunch time on a Saturday, so after we admired her place, we walked down the street to get some lunch from the food vendors at the flea market. Mary got some good shots of the fun we had exploring the rest of the vendors after lunch.

After we left the flea market, we took the subway into Manhattan and walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge. Nobody tried to sell it to us, but there were plenty of guys selling, "Ice cold water, only one dollar!" Kerry had brought some trail mix and small candies in case the girls needed extra energy to make it over the bridge.

That evening we ate at a Mediterranean restaurant in Brooklyn. A couple of neighborhood kids got into a fight outside the restaurant, and the owner went out to chase them away. Mary decided that New York would be a good place for a writer to live, because there's always something interesting going on.