Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre

We attended a live performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at the Ford's Theatre this weekend.

It was the first professional live performance that we have take the kids to.  Everyone really enjoyed the performance and having it in THE Ford's Theatre was really impressive.  The acting and special effects were incredible.

You can see President Lincoln's booth to right of the stage in one of the pictures.

You cannot see it in the pictures, but the small theater was sold out.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The World Largest Radio Telescope, Green Bank Observatory, WV

Not far from our Airbnb in Monterey, is Green Bank, West Virginia -- home to the Green Bank Observatory.  The Green Bank Observatory is the world largest radio telescope.  It is nestled in the hills to block as much electromagnetic radiation as possible.  The area is designated as a National Radio Quiet Zone, preventing cell phone and other signals.  Even airplanes are forbidden from flying overhead.

They offer a great tour, which starts out with a video and lesson on radio telescopes and even a demonstration of liquid nitrogen on a balloon.  They demonstrated how a faraday cage works and showed up effective it was a blocking radiation from electronic devices.

Then we loaded into a diesel bus (no gas vehicles are allowed due to the radiation they emit), put our Fitbits into Faraday cages, and went up to the telescope.  No digital photography was allowed up close.  Only traditional, manual, film cameras could be used.

Believe it or not, you could fit an entire football field in the scallop shell shaped dome of this telescope.  It is impossible to describe how massive it is.  While we were watching it, it would relatively quickly swivel and focus on different areas of the sky.  They said that they had issues with the wheels early on since the original engineering forgot to account for the millions of pounds that the welding added to the structure.

The entire surface is 'active'.  Each panel on the dome has motors that can make micro-adjustments to the angle of that panel, allowing it to focus on a wide variety of wave lengths from billions of light years away in space.

Very impressive!

Afterwards, we had fun in the science center and enjoyed the food in the dining area.

Weekend Retreat in Monterey, VA

We wanted to get out of the city for the weekend, so we found an Air b&b near Monterey, VA.  Monterey is a small town (population 138) in the mountains near the Virginia and West Virginia border.  It is a beautiful area -- exactly what we were hoping for.

Our Airbnb is a 100+ year old house on 80 private acres that has been in the owners family that entire time.  It has ice cold water from a spring on the property.  It was a cozy relaxing escape from the city.

We went for a hike through the properly, played board games, and star gazed.  The night sky was crystal clear and full of stars that we didn't know existed.  The Milky Way was easily discernible.  We even saw shooting stars.

Behind us is the house with the blacksmith and wood shops, root cellar, milk and cheese and ham storage buildings, and an outhouse.

This is right out in front of the house, looking out over the valley. We had one close neighbor, but that was it; it was very secluded and quiet.

This was on our hike (above and below ^ V) and you can see I have a headscarf, only it is actually my fleece jacket wrapped around my head and neck. We should have brought more cold weather clothing and coats. The wind was super freezing and it was snowing. I finally warmed up by the exercise of hiking, and then gave my jacket to Savannah.

When I first walked in to the house, I said, "Oh! It's soooo old!!!" I thought it was great.

Upstairs, the rooms were very cozy, especially this one with the slanty roof. You can see an old vent pipe on the bricks in this room, every room has one covered up with a plate. Very old wood floors. This house was originally built to house work crew making hay in 1904. In the 1920s, the Wilson Family moved in and extra rooms were added.

We stopped at the Curly Maple, a general store in Monterey.  It was the nicest, friendliest little shop.  We had some lunch and bought a quart of some of the most delicious ice cream you can imagine.

This is your typical small-town general store that has a small restaurant in the back. We had some sandwiches and soup. They have home-baked goods and general grocery merchandise.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Crystal Peak, California

We went on an off-road adventure with Grandma and Grandpa Knight to Crystal Peak, outside of Verdi, in California.

The kids are all into minerals and they each found great samples of clear quartz crystals.

Looking for the birds.

We saw quite of bit of quartz on one of the dirt roads headed to the peak, so we stopped to see what we can find.  As Grandma and explaining to Carson how to find good crystals, she found one of the best crystals of the day.

Even Savannah took her turn driving.

Yes, that is Carson actually driving a Jeep Wrangler off-road.   Lucky young man!

Crystal Peak:

Oxbow Nature Preserve

We spent our last time with Gene and Bea at the Oxbow Nature Preserve, taking one of the most colorful nature walks you can imagine.  It was gorgeous, especially considering this is in the middle of a desert.

Family Pictures and Beth and Norman's House

Uncle Norman and Aunt Beth's yard was so beautiful, we decided to take some family pictures in their driveway.  We didn't rearrange anything for these pictures.  It looked exactly this perfect when we arrived...

Trunk or Treat at the Church

The Church hosts a 'Trunk or Treat', where the kids can trick-or-treat at the decorated cars in the church parking lot.  It was nice and quick, and the kids had a great time.

We didn't have room to bring costumes, so we used costumes from my childhood that my parents still had.

Tucker didn't waste any time going between cars.

Playing piano with Brianna afterwards.