Tuckered out!

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Tucker County, West Virginia, a beautiful part of the country which is known as a place to go for outdoor activities – skiing, hiking, camping, cycling, kayaking, caving, rock climbing…you get the picture! We rented a cabin at Timberline in the Canaan Valley, where you’ll find ski fields, zip lines and all manner of other outdoorsy things.

The focus of our weekend was getting out on our bikes and as both girls have improved so much on their bikes since our cycling adventure last Memorial Day weekend, we were keen to let them loose on one of the old rail trails. We chose the Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail, a roughly 10 mile, downhill ride, which lies on the bed of an old railway line which was built in 1888.

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It was a beautiful ride and so great to see the girls confidently maneuvering their bikes along narrow trails, over branches and rocks, and even through the odd puddle of mud. I didn’t do too badly either!

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The rail trail took up most of the morning and then we spent the afternoon taking in the local art scene in the neighbouring towns of Davis and Thomas. As luck would have it, Memorial Day weekend was also the Tucker County ArtSpring festival, so the two small towns were full of all sorts of art and craft activities – the girls even got to try their hand at a bit of tie-dying.

The other happy coincidence about visiting Tucker County last weekend was the Blackwater Classic, a mountain bike race that both Richard and the girls could take part in. So on Sunday morning we loaded up the bikes and headed to the start line. The kids were up first and as the lead adult headed off, one very determined Olive was the first rider behind him. She hung on in there the whole way, eventually finishing up fourth – the first girl home! Edie did a great job too and both thoroughly enjoyed their first big race.

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We knew that Richard’s race would take just a wee bit longer than the kids one, so the girls and I headed back to Thomas. There we had found a fantastic cafe called Tip Top – just like a kiwi one – so we refueled with coffee, hot apple cider and cake, before taking part in more ArtSpring activities.

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After a fun couple of hours dabbling in mono and screen printing, we headed back to Davis in the hopes of seeing Richard cross the line. We were just in time…it wasn’t long before he appeared through the trees…the girls were waving and cheering…and then the front tyre on his brand new bike had a major malfunction and he came crashing to the ground, pretty much right at our feet! Fortunately the mountain biking community are a friendly and helpful lot and there was no shortage of volunteers to help him back up and across the line – phew! Olive summed up how we all were feeling, “that was really scary Mum”!

Here are some official pics of the race…

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EdieMTB

RichMTB

 

So after a fantastic weekend we can highly recommend the Tucker County area as a great place to visit. We will definitely return here next winter to ski.

I’ve finally sorted through all my pics from Puerto Rico. If you click here you can check out the album I made, as well as photos from our trip to New Zealand over Christmas, which I finally got around to uploading!

On Sunday our neighbours are taking us to experience that quintessential American pastime – a game of baseball! We are off to DC to watch the Nationals – our team – play the Texas Rangers. There will most definitely be a blog post to follow – stay tuned 🙂

 

 

National Museum of the American Indian

We were invited into DC to have dinner with friends on Saturday night and decided to stay over and take the chance to visit another of the district’s myriad of museums. Olive has been studying Native American peoples at school and so we decided to make a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Opened in 2004, this striking building is the first national museum to focus exclusively on Native Americans from Northern, Central and Southern America.

The National Museum of the America Indian.
The National Museum of the American Indian.
There's always fun to be had wandering amongst the museums which line the National Mall.
There’s always fun to be had wandering amongst the museums which line the National Mall.
Winter gear is a must at the moment!
Winter gear is a must at the moment!
We knew we were in the right place when we spied this chap...
We knew we were in the right place when we spied this chap…

The opening of the museum has not been without controversy, with many criticisms aimed at the lack of ‘scholarship’ in evidence and too much focus on the present day. We all found it really interesting. The building itself was stunning; the exhibitions were varied and informative; and there was a great hands on area for kids. What struck me was the huge diversity that exists in this group of peoples that often get lumped together under the term ‘Native American’.

One of the current exhibitions features dolls dressed for 'The Grand Procession'.
One of the current exhibitions features dolls dressed for ‘The Grand Procession’.
All incredibly detailed and richly colored.
All incredibly detailed and richly colored.

In the activity center the girls tried their hands at balancing in a kayak, testing snowshoes, exploring different types of housing and listened to a presentation on weaving.

Testing our knowledge at the quiz station. Olive, no surprises, was the winner.
Testing our knowledge at the quiz station. Olive, no surprises, was the winner.
Trying out the kayak.
Trying out the kayak.
Tipi girl.
Tipi girl.
Finding out which plants produced good dyes.
Finding out which plants produced good dyes.

I have to admit to being guilty of thinking only of North American Indians when hearing the term Native Americans, but there was so much to learn about the people of Central and South America too.

There was a brilliant display of Aztec, Myan and Quecha artifacts.
There was a brilliant display of Aztec, Myan and Quecha artifacts.
Lots of gold on display.
Lots of gold on display.
Artifacts related to Dia de Muertos or the day of the dead.
Artifacts related to Dia de Muertos or the day of the dead.
Ceramics from Central America was the focus of one of the exhibitions.
Ceramics from Central America was the focus of one of the exhibitions.
So much to see and learn from.
So much to see and learn from.

After eating at an Ethiopian restaurant on Saturday night and then spending Sunday immersed in the indigenous cultures of America, we were feeling very multicultural, and so lucky to have these amazing opportunities. We had such a great weekend that we’re thinking of squeezing in another trip to DC this weekend. We’re hoping to pay a visit to Christmas in Middleburg which is held in a gorgeous village not too far from Winchester, and then continue on into DC for the annual boat parade in Alexandria. With all that is going on at the moment we may be trying to do too much (!) but our adventures this weekend hammered home just how much there is to experience here.

Tomorrow is a very exciting day for the girls. They will be singing on a float in the Winchester Christmas parade dressed as characters from Charlie Brown. I will be sure to see you back here with a report!

Lots more pictures from our weekend if you click on the link to my Flickr photos. Take care everyone – 12 more sleeps!!

Officially Springtime…

A bit of a wordless blog tonight. Thought I’d share some photos of the Easter activities we’ve been doing. And despite the fact that Easter is all about Spring, growth, new life and all that…most of these activities took place against a very white and wintry backdrop…

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On Thursday we are heading away to a house on an inlet in St Michaels in Maryland. We are very much looking forward to getting away, maybe doing a spot of kayaking and just relaxing.

Wishing you all a very safe and happy Easter xxx

Croadworks ahead!

If you’ve stumbled across this page – welcome. I’m in the process of creating a new blog about our family’s move to Winchester, VA in August 2012. Check back then to start sharing our adventures.