Sunday, August 3, 2008

More Train pics (lots of posts below)

Family Train Pictures

Pictured above are:

1st: Will, 4 1/2
2nd: Bethany, 5 1/2(all teeth!)
3rd: Audrey, 9, and our grand-nephew (that's right!), Tyler - 2 1/2
4th: Alison, our sister-in-law, and Tate, 6 1/2
5th: Brad's Grandma Rosie, his Aunt Linda, his sister, Shellie and brother, John (who share a birthday)

* Most of the kids in the Bennett family, little ones anyway, were winter babies- so they've been celebrating their half birthdays. I couldn't forget the "1/2" part.

Cass Scenic Railroad

Another family activity this week included our trip up to Cass, WV to ride the old steam engine train they have there. We rode it halfway up the mountain and back. (I can't remember the name of the mountain. There are so many around here.) After about a 45 min. ride up, changing directions by switchbacks, which is how they built tracks up the mountain back in 1900, we stopped at Whittaker. Whittaker is now a picnic area and outdoor museum, of sorts, where they show some old train cars and timber machines, including an old meal car complete with the original kitchen equipment. There used to be a busy sawmill in Cass, but it's been closed for many years. The tour guide told us that the entire mountain had been cleared out by timber companies by 1950, and all that we saw had grown up since then. It was really amazing that an entire mountain could be covered by forest in around fifty years time. Also, this railroad was built mostly by immigrants from Italy who used picks, tools, and some black powder. They would then walk all the way to the top of the mountain at night to sleep at a little camp-like town up there, and back down again in the early morning to start work again. It's incredible to me that so many worked so hard to build railroads, and then to keep them in working and safe condition. My dad and grandpa worked for the railroad, so it was especially interesting to me to learn about all of this stuff.

The Famous Family Photo Rock

Every year when Brad's brother, John, visits WV, we go to Blackwater Falls. As we go down the 241 stairs to the falls overlook, there is a huge rock that the kids climb on top of and we take pictures. We could compare year to year to see how much they've grown if we wanted to. So, here are a few pictures of the kids -- Bethany and Mallory you can probably pick out, and the others are Audrey, Will, and Tate. They live in California, and our kids had so much fun with them this last week. They don't see each other very often, so the time together is precious.

"Mr. Shucks"

We went to a Cedar Rapids Kernels Minor League baseball game, and Mallory was absolutely in awe of Mr. Shucks, the mascot. She was always pointing toward him and whining or grunting, her way of asking for him. She was rarely distracted from looking for him unless we were feeding her some sort of ballfield treat. So, when we saw the cutout board of Mr. Shucks, we just had to take advantage.

Canoe Time

We did go canoeing at a local lake near the camp. Shannon took me and Mallory as passengers on her canoe because she knew she'd have to do all the rowing, and she has the most muscle and experience to get the job done. My dad and sister, Jess, took Bethany on their canoe. She had a paddle, too, which she dropped in the water almost immediately. But, we fished it out for her. She mostly just enjoyed the ride. Mallory was a challenge for me, though, because she wanted to put her hands in the water and try to climb into my dad's canoe. She acted like she could just walk across the water to get to them a few times. So, after a while, we passed her to Grandma who was out of the water. We had fun, and what a good workout!

My Adventure on the ZipLine

Yes, I did go on the zipline through the forest at Shannon's camp. My mom's camera probably has better pictures of it, but here is what I'm willing to show you. (even though, it's a rear view! haha) This thing was so fun! And, just before me, a young man in a wheelchair was strapped into a harness and got to experience the ride,too. That's what makes this camp so special.....these kids get to do such amazing things, no matter their disability.

Field of Dreams

I didn't pass up a chance to visit the Field of Dreams, you know, from the Kevin Costner movie. I'd love to go back with my whole family and play some baseball next time, though. Bethany was pretty tired by now, so, I had to push her to pose for some photo opps.

Iowa Trip - Spirit of Dubuque

The girls and I drove to Iowa with my parents and my youngest sister for about a week earlier in July. My sister, Shannon, works at Camp Courageous in Monticello which is a camp for physically and mentally challenged children and adults. I never knew until I visited just how amazing this camp really is. They have multi-million dollar facilities for their campers and staff, and the camp is funded almost entirely by donations. Dorms, indoor swimming complex, mini-golf, canoeing, horseback riding, farm animals and other pets, crafts, outdoor adventure activities, a dance hall, and lots of other fun things. Shannon is their Respite/Volunteer Director. We visited Dubuque and took a Mississippi River tour on the Spirit of Dubuque, which is an old river boat. The girls enjoyed going to the back of the boat and watching the rotating old-fashioned propellers. (I can't think of the correct term for those things.) The river was, of course, very muddy because of all the recent flooding. I'll post some photos, and then add a couple more posts to catch you all up on what's been going on with us.