Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 5:WV/VA Vacation - Beckley Coal Mine and New River Gorge Bridge

For our last full day of vacation we had just a couple of things left to see. We headed out for the Beckley Coal Mine first.

It was an old coal mine that had been bought by the city many years earlier and upgraded for tours. For the ripe old cost of $20/head you could ride in a little coal car and tour the mine and also walk through several old coal mine houses, schoolhouse, and church that had been relocated to their grounds. Our tour was set to leave about 10 minutes from when we arrived, and they told us it would last about 30-40 minutes which was perfect as far as Lilli's needs for a nap/bottle would run.

Our tour was completely full of older people, which really wasn't surprising since it was a Monday, but everywhere else we had been at least had a couple of other non-school age children. From the get-go I could tell this group was going to be "lively". They were all comedians, and had something funny to say in response to EVERYTHING our tour guide Melvin said. Melvin was your quintessential elderly, retired West Virginia coal miner. He had the accent and the jokes and he was LOVING this crowd.
We headed into the mine and it really was pretty claustrophobic. The opening really wasn't much taller or wider than it needed to be for passengers to be seated on the coal cart.

We didn't go too far into the mine before Melvin stopped at a slightly wider/taller opening and started his "speech". He started giving us some basics on the life and times of early miners. They really had it rough, crawling in there and basically working like that all day for very little money. He showed us how dark it was without light, what it looked like with just their little candle-lit helmets, and showed us lots of tools of the trade. At each stop he'd open up for questions from the crowd, and our crowd was FULL of questions. When people were asking where the miners went to the bathroom at the very first stop I knew there was NO WAY our tour would be over in half an hour!
The tour itself inside the mine really wasn't all that long, there were only a few stops but each one lasted a while because of all the info and QUESTIONS. A 30 min tour would've been perfect. Around 50 minutes into the tour Lilli started getting restless for a nap and a bottle. I seriously thought people would never quit asking questions - the lunch box the miners used (see below) prompted at least a half a dozen questions alone. Then Melvin asked if we all wanted to take the long way out or the short way - and of course the crowd yelled "long way"! It was fine though, it really wasn't that long out and Lilli really only got bored if we were stopped for a long time.After the tour we walked around the various coal miners houses and businesses. The guy I had sat next to on the tour came up to us in one house and said, in a massive accent "When I saw you sit down next to me with a baby I thought "oh no, here's a baby" but she was so good I didn't even know she was here!" That was a nice compliment! We had a few other people say similar things, which is always nice to hear. And with such a sweet face, what would you expect???
Coal Mining Lilli

On the tour with Dad

After we walked around Brent sat down in the really nice lobby area and gave Lilli a bottle while I shopped. She fell sound asleep!!!
The fam taking a snooze:
Look at that sweet little face!
From there we headed north to the New River Gorge Bridge. For a long time it was the longest bridge of its type in the world, but a few years ago a longer one was built in Europe. And it's on the West Virginia quarter.
It's actually a National Park Landmark. So while we were there we visited the gift shop and bought Lilli a passport book and had it stamped for this bridge. I really, really wish Brent and I had bought one years ago when we started traveling since we've visited SO many national parks , monuments and landmarks out west - especially all the weird ones we may never visit again!
Lilli was asleep when we first got there, so I stayed at the top overlook while Brent went to the bottom. Several groups came through while I was hanging out and this group cracked me up. I CAN NOT BELIEVE the one woman would not get off her cell phone for their group shot. She is what I hate about cell phones.

The New River
All the buzz woke Lilli up , so when Brent got back up we had some people take our picture. Except she didn't get the bridge in the photo AT ALL.Lilli & I

Inside the Visitor Center:
The view when you drive over the Bridge
Lilli was still really sleepy so we decided to drive until she woke up before we stopped to eat a late lunch/early dinner. We drove through Charleston, the state capital of West Virginia.

We ate an early dinner just before leaving West Virginia, and then ended the day at a really nice Four Seasons in Lexington, KY.

It was a LONG night. It literally took us 2.5 hours to get Lilli to sleep. I think she was at that point in vacation (like we were) where you just want to get in your own routine again. She wasn't crying, she just was NOT going to sleep and was standing and playing in her crib. Brent eventually took her on a stroller ride up and down the hall until she FINALLY fell asleep. And we were just a few minutes behind us!

The next morning we got up and toured Lexington a little before heading home. Stay tuned for one final vacation post!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cuteness Part 2

We may make her wear this outfit every day. (Actually she did wear it again tonight to the Fall Festival at the East Y.)

Who knew a sucker could be so interesting???

The Cuteness

More to come, but here's a sneak peek of Lilli's "Costume #1" for Halloween at last night's Trunk or Treat. (She's seen here with Dr. Rachel McD, MD.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy 9 Month Birthday!

Happy 9 months of Lilli!

Your Birthday - January 24, 2009
7 lbs, 6.5 ounces 19 inches

One Month - February (first smiles!)
9 lbs, 1 ounce (45th %) 21.5 inches (55%), head: 70%

Two Months - March
10 lbs, 12 ounces (50%) 22 5/8 inches (55%), head: 65%

Three Months - April
(No official weight/measure)

Four Months - May
13 lbs 1 ounce (35%), 23 7/8 inches long (30%), head: 85%

Five Months - June!! And starting to sit on your own with a little help from Boppy!
Unofficial - Measurement of 25 inches and weight measurements - 14.2 pounds

6 Months - July Official Stats (which is actually 6months, 1 wk) - 25 3/4 inches long (50th percentile!), Weight: 15 lbs, 8 ounces (40th percentile), Head: 75th percentile

7 Months - Unofficial Statistics: 16.2 lbs, 25 3/4 inches long (probably not right, because measuring her is "like trying to catch a butterfly") 8 Months - Unofficial stats: Weight - 16.5 lbs, Length 26.25-26.5 inches, you are a rapidly moving target.

9 Months - Official stats (9 months + 3 days) : Weight- 17 lbs 4 ounces (25th percentile), Height - 28.25 inches (75th percentile), Head: 65th percentile
Happy 9 month birthday!! What a month it has been! You really haven't added a lot of new "tricks", but instead of been perfecting everything you do. This month has been all about STAND, STAND, STAND. And faster, faster, faster with your crawling. You are into EVERYTHING. Your favorite things are now the things you can't have - the lamp in your room, anything on your changing table, leaves and grass, and anything of Pippin's, as well as Pippin himself. You two are two peas in a pod, inseparable at times which can be pretty frustrating for us. The light has finally come on in the world of the sippy cup and solid foods. You love your puffs and juice now, but haven't **quite** perfected it without putting a few up your nose or down your shirt. You love to dance, dance, dance and entertained Dr Rauth with your moves today at your appointment. You went on your first vacation this month, celebrated my birthday, and visited your first pumpkin patch. Your two words are still Dadda and Momma, but you are REALLY close to Dog. You can now clap, and wave (but only when it suits you!) You are very close to taking those first few steps as your standing is pretty steady now and it's no trouble to move along furniture. I can't wait to see what the next month holds for you, and I kind of think it may be......walking!

(On a side note, after looking at her unofficial numbers for last month and her height measurement today Brent thinks the nurse didn't get a good measurement, and I do think she is shorter than this. We'll have to remeasure her tomorrow. )

Day 4: WV/VA Vacation - Lost World Caverns & Morgan Orchard

Once we left the Greenbrier we stopped for some lunch, and then made our way to the Lost World Caverns nearby. At this point, at Cave #3, Brent asked me if there really wasn't anything else to do in these states - to which I replied "not really".
The cool thing about this cave was you could go on your own, no guide required. Virginia has a state law that all cave tours must be guided, but West Virginia does not have this rule.

When you walk in, there were all these huge rocks that had fallen from the cave ceiling over the years. It didn't exactly give you the best feeling about it!This was my least favorite of the 3 caves we visited. At this point we were all caved out. When we pulled up Lilli was sound asleep in her carseat and really in need of a nap, so I faced her in towards me in her carrier, thinking she might stay asleep/fall back to sleep. WRONG. Instead she struggled against me the whole time, arching her back, and by the end of the tour fussing right in my face. Nothing like a face full of squirming, screaming baby. The last 15% of the tour was my least favorite part of the entire trip! But, looking back on the pictures it did have some pretty cool formations! This is the cave we declared a "movie script". It just looked perfect for an Indiana Jones movie with it's big giant room with stairs and paths winding all around.There were a lot of things in this cave you could touch, as most of their formations were "dead". I think by not having tour guides people just touch things anyway, causing most of their formations to no longer be active.Standing on the stairs, with a formation in the background.Action shots. Spelunking with a baby is a definite full body workout! I was always worried I'd slip in all the wet caves, but fortunately that never happened.
Several years ago someone sat on this stalactite for 15 days to get the Guinness Record. Weird! After the cave we did a little shopping in the gift shop and then headed about 30-45 minutes away to our next stop, Morgan Apple Orchard. I had found this orchard in a W Virginia travel guide, and really didn't have a lot of info about it. Their website talked about the tons of pick your own apples they had available, and it just seemed like a lot of fun. And with GPS-man on our side, what could go wrong??

We kept heading further and further into the West Virginia country-side. The scenery was beautiful.The roads kept getting smaller and smaller, and eventually turned into a tiny country road that was truly only one paved lane, with gravel sides. Meeting other cars on this road was VERY frightening, and we really did not feel like we were getting any closer to a tourist attraction! The "homes" out here were also a little.....underwhelming - people living in tiny shacks, mobile homes and even campers. We were starting to get pretty nervous! GPS told us we were getting pretty close, and it didn't look like we were getting close to ANYTHING. Then, it told us "arriving at Morgan Orchard, on left". And we were nowhere. GPS is magnificent, but Brent's joke is that it will take you 700 miles to your destination and then drop you off a half mile too soon, which is VERY true. We've literally pulled into the wrong driveway since it usually thinks you've arrived several houses before you truly have. So, we rounded a curve - and then saw our first couple of apple trees!
Very, very glad to see this sign!The long driveway up to the orchard, apple trees on both sides!
Beautiful view from the orchard.After we pulled in we had to wake Lilli up, and then we tortured her by changing her into a cute apple onesie since I wanted to do some pics of her in the orchard (posted on here about a week ago with the leaves pics). She was not thrilled about the wardrobe change or being awoken from her nap, so I gave her a bottle while Brent went into the building to figure out how this whole thing worked. Below is the list of all the apples they currently had in season, TONS!
They had so many varieties I had never even heard of! The trees were absolutely full of apples as far as your eye could see. And, they were all $1.05 a pound, no matter what variety. Seriously, how awesome! We grabbed a basket and just started picking.

Lilli finished out the rest of her nap while we picked.

They also had a pumpkin patch!

I really wish we had something like this in Nashville! It would be so great to pick your own produce and make REALLY fresh foods. We picked a ton of apples, we just don't know what any of them are now. We're still eating on them, but only have a few left. We always eat an apple or two each night as our dessert, and share with both Lilli and Pippin. Apples are a family fave so this was a big highlight of our trip for me!

After taking some pictures of Lilli amongst the orchard and paying for our apples we headed on our way to Beckley, West Virginia. The Fairfield Inn we stayed in was our worst hotel of the trip, which really stank since our best hotel was the night before! It was full of Verizon employees, so we got stuck in a smelly room in the basement. It was just a dingy, dirty room and I will not be staying at any Fairfields in the future after that one. We did sleep pretty well that night, and slept in the following morning before heading out on our last full day of adventures to the Beckley Coal Mine and New River Gorge Bridge. Stay tuned!!