Thursday, July 16, 2009

{Our Anniversary Staycation}

*I apologize for this late post. Our internet service was down from Friday until Tuesday night, so I've been playing catch-up with everything!*

So last Friday was our anniversary. The big 10. I remember when Cory and I got married we said that we would take a special trip for our tenth anniversary. Maybe we'd go back to the Bahamas where we'd honeymooned, or maybe we'd go to Hawaii or Europe. It's funny how things don't always work out the way we hope they will. Here we are at ten years of marriage and there are no plans for a fancy vacation anywhere in our present or future. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun!

Sasha and Clara absolutely adore a gal named Clara who works at our church child care room during Bible Study. We call her "Big Clara". Big Clara came to our house Friday night to play with the girls so Cory and I - and Dixon - could go out and celebrate our anniversary. I believe this was the third time we've hired a sitter to watch our kids since Sasha was born almost six years ago.

The girls had a blast playing with Big Clara while Cory and I took Dixon to a new little restaraunt downtown called Bistro 71. We ate awesome surf & turf outside on the patio and even splurged on a slice of heavenly peanut butter chocolate pie. And Dixon slept through the entire dinner!

We finished eating around 7:30 and debated about what to do next. We thought about going to a movie, but the two that we'd like to see didn't start until 9:30. We'd have to kill two hours and then we'd be out super late with a baby. That didn't sound like a good idea. But we couldn't go home at 7:30! How pathetic would that be? So we considered going to Totem Pole to see if they had any tickets left for the theatre. But I wasn't so sure the theatre would be a good place to bring a baby. Scratch that idea. In the end we headed over to Wilson College and walked around the equestrian center. It was a gorgeous evening and perfect for a leisurely walk. Here we are on the bridge over a bubbling stream. I realize you can't really tell we're on a bridge or near a stream, but trust me, we are.
Walking around the barns and pastures brought back so many awesome memories. I started riding horses when I was nine years old, back when Wilson's equestrian center was located where the retirement homes now sit. I rode there until I graduated from college and got married. And I loved every single moment of it. I often think about starting lessons again, but now that I'm a mom I'm reluctant to get involved in a dangerous sport. Someday . . .

The sad thing is that none of the horses that I grew up riding are there anymore. I didn't recognize any of the critters at all. :( But as we walked through the pastures I looked at the pasture names: Bucky, Dakota, Reveler, and many others. Those are the horses who taught me so much, the horses that I absolutely loved. Now they are just pieces of my past and names on pasture plaques.

I'm hoping that at least one of my kids gets bitten by the "horse bug" like I did. It just may be this guy! Dixon wasn't at all afraid of the horses; in fact, he seemed quite interested in them! This has got to be one of my new favorite photos: a horse kiss.We went home around 9:30 with plans to watch a movie "on demand". I guess we're getting old, because both of us were too tired to stay up late and wanted to get a good night's sleep to prepare for the busy weekend.

It seems like everyone is cutting back on vacations lately and doing fun local activities instead. Cory and I didn't plan on having a "staycation", but this weekend turned out to be just that. The original plan was simply to go to the Penn State Arts Fest on Saturday and come home that night. But our plans kept getting bigger and better and we ended up having a fun weekend staycation!

The first thing we did once we got to Penn State was go to the Nittany Shrine for a traditional picture. The is the third time the girls have had their picture taken on the lion, but it was obviously a first for Dixon and our new family of five.Do you see some future Penn Staters here?Then we hit the Arts Fest. Neither of us had been to this event before so we weren't sure what to expect. We go to the Virginia Beach boardwalk Arts Fest every year, so we assumed it would be like that. Well, it was like the VB festival only about ten times bigger! The art tents lined the streets for miles. There were literally blocks of streets closed down for the event. There were musicians on stages performing concerts, water play areas for kids and grown-ups alike, food vendors selling all kinds of treats, and of course, artists displaying their amazing work.It was a hot, muggy day. At one point the skies opened up and we got caught in a downpour. The girls whined from the moment we stepped foot outside the van: "Why can't I ride in the stroller? My feet hurt. I'm tired of walking! Why does she get to ride on your shoulders? I want to ride. I want to ride. I want to riiiiiide!!!!" I seriously needed a huge block of cheese to go with all the whine. Cory and I had to do our best to ignore it and laugh it off so we wouldn't be tempted to leave two little girls inside an art tent while we took off without them for some peace and quiet. It was definitely a lesson in patience!

There were some bright moments, though. Some pretty cool artwork and sculptures put a smile on the rugrats' faces from time to time.And our one purchase of the day was pretty cool. We got Dixon a train set (the one on the top shelf on the right hand side) for his first birthday. I think Cory and the girls will be playing with it as much as if not more than Dixon.Finally we had enough. We went to my grandparents' house to freshen up (we stayed there overnight instead of in a hotel since they were actually in Chambersburg for the weekend) and then we went to my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Danny's house for a cookout. They had a delicious spread of food including my favorite creamy peach pie. Yum! The kids went swimming but had to get out pretty quickly when a thunderstorm rolled in. Bummer.When I think about my childhood trips to visit family in State College, one of my favorite memories is horsing around with my uncles. So it was sort of like deja-vu when my Uncle Danny started playing with my kids and his grandson the way he used to play with me and my sisters. I think the kids tired the old guy out. :)I was super excited to meet my cousin's kids for the first time. Her son Liam just turned two and I had yet to meet him or his brand new baby sister, Lydia. Here she is snuggling with her grandma. Isn't she a cutie?Lydia is actually a couple of weeks younger than Dixon, but you wouldn't know it by looking at them. Dixon isn't so sure he wants to have his picture taken with this chick.Nope, he definitely isn't feeling the love.Thanks, Sandy and Danny for having us over for the evening! It was awsome seeing you and all the family!

The next morning we went to a State College landmark: Ye Olde College Diner. This place is known for their grilled stickies, which are essentially grilled sticky buns. We pigged out!Check out the stickies. Once we had full bellies we journeyed on to the next stop of our staycation: Penn's Cave. Cory and I had both been here before when we were kids. We watch a lot of Planet Earth and the girls love it, so we knew they would enjoy seeing a real cave in person.Here we are walking into the mouth of the cave. Once we got to the bottom of the hill we got on a small boat for the tour.Our tour guide told us all about the history of the cave and pointed out the stalactites and stalagmites, especially the ones that look like the Statue of Libery, a diving hippo, "cave bacon", and other cool objects. It was a really cool tour and the girls were quietly amazed by what they saw.There is also a wildlife tour at Penn's Cave. You can see big cats, buffalo, and other exotic animals. We opted out of that tour so we could do a different activity: ride on the East Broad Top Railroad!

It was a race to get to the railroad on time, that's for sure. The last train leaves at 3:00, and according to our GPS we would make it there with about six minutes to spare. We crossed our fingers that we wouldn't run into any traffic and off we went. Fortunately we made it there at 2:55, got our tickets, and hopped on the train.The East Broad Top Railroad was the last narrow gauge railroad operating East of the Mississippi. It's a steam train run on coal which is hand shoveled to this day. And I believe it is run totally by volunteers! Can you imagine volunteering to shovel coal on a train?

What a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. We saw lots of gorgeous country while enjoying a piece of history. I don't think Sasha sat down at all. She was way too busy looking out the windows. The only downside to this ride was the looooouuuuud train whistle and the equally loud sound of the steam as it periodically shot out of the engine. Poor little Dixon was so startled every time even though I covered his ears. So here's a tip: if you ever have the chance to ride a steam train, sit in one of the back cars!

We ended the weekend at my mother's house. She brought four giant cupcakes from Crumb's bakery in NYC home for us to try. Ooooh, baby, were they ever tasty!
It's really amazing how many fun activities are in our own backyard. Cory and I both want to spend more weekends going to local actractions. It's so much fun and very affordable. Who needs to go to Hawaii when so much is right at home ready for you to enjoy?
Happy Anniversary, Cory!


  1. Loved reading about your weekend! I remember taking you girls on the train MANY years ago! Mom

  2. I LOVE the pic of Clara and Sasha on the train! The Lion Shrine pic is awesome too. You need to blow it up and frame it! Barry and I talk about going to the caves every time we go past, but we never stop. We may have to do it this year...

  3. Annisa, I loved reading this, it looks like so much fun! You had a great time, wonderful photos!!! Happy Anniversary!

  4. I completely agree with staycations! There is SO much to do, especially in our area :) Great pics, great blog!

  5. Happy Anniversary!!!! I was quite jealous reading about all the State College adventures, its been a few months and I miss it already!! Glad you had a good weekend :)