31 May 2013

Up, Up and Away . . .

For Christmas Kent gave me a groupon for a hot air balloon ride near Winchester, VA, in the Shenandoah River valley.  We took that ride on the last weekend in April.  
We met our pilot at 6am, so that's why you can see the moon shining in the first two pictures.
Another balloon went up while we were waiting to get ours up; the black balloon isn't the one we rode in.
We were involved in the whole process of filling the balloon with big fans,

and watching it rise into the sky when the air was heated.
 It was a beautiful, clear Spring day, and we both LOVED the ride.

 I think we got up to about 10,000 feet.
Kent contemplating the view below.
 I thought it was cool to see our shadow on the ground below.
 We had a nice, gentle landing in an open field.
 Then came the process of rolling up the balloon and loading it onto the trailer for the return trip back to where our cars were parked.
 After the balloon ride we toured some homes and gardens in Front Royal, VA, for Virginia Historic Garden Week.
Here are some pictures taken in 1993 and 1994 when we lived in Walla Walla, WA, and they hosted a hot air balloon stampede each year.  I think seeing them many years ago inspired us to want to take a ride in one someday!!

 The next Saturday we spent painting our kitchen a lovely gray color to match the stone in the backsplash Kent put up in April.
 Here's the completed look.  We have now pretty much totally redone the kitchen.
Tyler and Rachel gave us this sign, which fits in perfectly with our new kitchen colors!!
And here's how the kitchen looked when we bought the house eleven years ago.

21 May 2013

A Whirlwind Trip

Elaine's parents, Gary and Lorene Christensen, flew in from Portland, Oregon, for a five-day visit starting on April 11th.  It was good timing, since the cherry blossoms were still in bloom.  We picked them up from the airport in DC and took them right over to the new Martin Luther King Memorial, since it was a good place to see the cherry blossom trees on the tidal basin.  Kent and I had never actually walked around the memorial, so it was something new for us, too.

Kent has a few other shots of him in picturesque locations looking out from a tree, so he recreated the scene with the cherry blossom trees.
Mom and Dad came in on a Thursday, and on Friday morning I took them to Mount Vernon, which they hadn't seen in over 40 years.
 It rained on and off while we were there for several hours.  The picture below was taken during a break in the rain.
On Saturday morning we went inside the gates onto the White House grounds for the semi-annual event when the grounds are open to the public.  It happens once in the spring and once in the fall.  Mom was disappointed that there weren't more flower gardens around the White House.  She was NOT impressed--noting that it was mostly just lawn with some trees.
 This fountain is on the White House grounds.  At least there are some tulips in bloom!  You can see in the background that the Washington Monument is getting covered in scaffolding to repair the damage that happened during the earthquake that hit DC a year and a half ago.
 After leaving the White House we took Mom and Dad around Arlington National cemetery, where we watched the changing of the Guard ceremony.

 On Sunday after church (we have 8:30am church) we drove to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to go to Chocolate World.  We looked around and went on the free ride, but didn't buy anything in the shop or spend any money.
 After going to Chocolate World we drove around the town of Hershey, "The town that Chocolate built."  There were some cute features, like the hershey kiss lights.  (Still can't get blogger to put the vertical pictures in the right direction.  Don't know why.)
 I don't know who gets to ride in the "Kissmobile" but it was fun to see.
 The next day, Monday, we headed over to Gettysburg.
 We went to the visitor's center there, where my parents were very impressed with the cyclorama.  It's a huge circular painting that was done in 1884 to show the major events of the Battle of Gettysburg.  The fairly new visitor's center was built to showcase this historic cyclorama.

 On the edge of the Gettysburg Battlefield is the Eisenhower home, where Pres. Eisenhower retired to after his eight years as president.  Kent and I had just listened to a book on CD about those years, so we enjoyed seeing the actual home.
We packed lots into those five days, but I think my parents really enjoyed everything we did.  Their next stop was up to Boston to vist my sister on the day after the Boston Marathon bombing, so they didn't get much chance to get out and do things up there.  They had several days to relax and recover from their time in Virginia!