Thursday, July 2, 2009

Well, before I go any further (typing the date may have already gone too far), I must shout out that I wish my wife a very happy fifteenth anniversary. Thanks, Ginny, for saying “Yes”, at least sort of, when I proposed to you all those years ago. Maybe it was more of a quasi-affirmative answer you gave. Okay, thanks for not running away screaming like you could have. I appreciate that you didn’t.

Phew! Now that the formalities and other nonsense are out of the way, we can now, finally, get to the regularly scheduled symposium known affectionately as Day Six! Ahhhhh, Day Six. Smells like Crisp Linen Lysol, tastes like slightly undercooked pasta with a side of day-old, steamed tofu. Such goodness is hard to handle, but we certainly tried.

First up, of course, was breakfast. Today, just to shake things up a bit, The Boy decided that he didn’t want the sugary, artificially colored carbs for breakfast. Instead, he opted for a container of blueberry yogurt we found hiding behind the couch. The rest of us ate our usual carbs, sugary or fibery, because, well, we’re boring.

Okay. So, it wasn’t behind the couch; it was in the refrigerator. And it wasn’t just randomly there, it was one we bought on Sunday. But the idea of us feeding the boy some random yogurt we found behind the couch in our timeshare would make a much more interesting story, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, soon after he started eating it, The Boy decided that he didn’t like the not-so-rogue blueberry yogurt. I made him eat it anyway, of course, because that’s the way I roll. He eventually complied, somewhat grudgingly. But I still mark that in my victory column. Today’s score: Good guy 1, The Boy 0.

After breakfast came the packing of lunch and then the trek to diving lessons. Here are some pictures of the kids, pre-diving lesson:


This, of course, is Rosa, thinking carefully about the complex choreography of diving, getting herself into The Zone.


And this, of course, is the boy. You’ll recall that yesterday he struggled with what was like some weird kind of water-magnet in his belly, causing his belly to have an unnatural attraction to the water which resulted in repeated belly flops. As much as I wanted him to forget about all that, he did not. The score now: Good guy 1, The Boy 1 (since I didn’t get my way).

But as it turns out, this did not matter at all. With the resilience that we adults have forgotten how to have, The Boy went ahead and did his work. Early in the class, the instructor gave him a very helpful tip about reaching out to try to touch the water before leaving his feet, and then the instructor got in the water and held The Boys hands, guiding him through a super, high definition, slow-motion dive. This was apparently exactly what the diving doctor ordered. The Boy took it from there and dove like crazy, doing no more belly flops. None. And this brought much rejoicing to the land of Massanutten. The Boy 2, Good guy 1 (since the boy overcame his fear and rocked the pool!).

The Girl continued her mastery over anything she could make graceful and did a great job with the diving. After the class, the instructor recommended that she should take the advanced level of diving tomorrow; she was happy about that. The Boy 3, Good guy 1 (The Boy gets the point because they are always working together to drive me nuts).

We will clearly be taking pictures of both kids doing their diving tomorrow!

Next up was tennis. We were surprised to find that The Boy was the only one signed up for the tennis clinic today. Two instructors, one boy — that’s a good ratio if you ask me. And boy, did The Boy get into this. He worked his butt off and stepped up his efforts. The instructors were impressed. He even did some volleying with one of the instructors and did well with that. It was pretty awesome to see. He was really tired by the time it was over, though, since it was kind of warm and he ran the whole time. But it was the good kind of tired. The Boy 4, Good guy 1.

Next up was our big event for the day: Shenandoah Caverns, Main Street of Yesteryear and American Celebration on Parade. You can see their website here: We like this one because it does not seem to be as busy, crowded or ‘commercial’ as the other big caverns around the area. Oh, and they have goats that you can pet. That’s a big draw for us, too.

Anyway, there were lots of things to see. My kids have been here a number of times but, especially for The Boy (The Boy now has 5 points); it was all new to him and he was impressed to see the colors and shapes and everything. The “bacon formations”, which is one of the big things Shenandoah Caverns is known for, really impressed him. Each of the kids got “cave kisses”, which is what they call it if water drops on you. I can’t really do justice to the beauty of the place, so here’s a few pictures:


These are some bacon formations. Note how the thin strips look a lot like bacon. They’ve got another formation that looks like a fried egg… meaning they have bacon and eggs.


This one is a formation that looks like it has crystals in it. In reality, it’s just the minerals reflecting the light. They even set it up where they change the color of the lights, making individual “crystals” appear or disappear based on their reflectivity.


This one is known as rainbow lake. I think they have a better picture on their website, but it’s pretty awesome – the water reflects the formations that are hanging above it and so it looks like the formations are in the water, too. I think the water is only a few inches deep but it looks like it is many feet deep because of the reflections. The colors are manmade, though, since they’re a feature of the lights they’re using.


This is known as Cardross Castle. It looks like a castle from a Disney movie, set up on a hill with lots of paths and turns and such to get to it. It is no longer receiving water so it is technically a dying feature of the cave. In a few thousand years, it might not be there anymore. The “dust” that you see on there is actually the rock itself, deteriorating.

There was a lot more to see, but our camera chews through batteries like a goat chews through grass, so we stopped taking pictures. This meant that we did not take any pictures of the “Main Street of Yesteryear” attraction, which is upstairs in the caverns’ lodge building. It has a lot of the old displays from shops that you might have seen on a mainstreet many years ago, including holiday displays and other moving things, along with some history of the caverns.

Next, we shopped and bought some wine and souvenirs and such. I said there were goats, and that’s what I meant:


One of them was really friendly and came over to us for some loving:


He climbed up onto the fence rail and let us pet him for a while. I named him Brindlewag for no other reason than the fact that I could. Score now: The Boy 5, Good guy 2 (because I can give myself a point for naming a goat. Hey, it’s my blog entry!)

So, next up was American Celebrations on Parade, a venue for old parade floats that have been in inaugural parades, the Rose Bowl parade, etc. On the walk to the building that houses them, we saw a giant cootie and had to snap a picture:


And then, of course, there’s the obligatory creepy clown to scare The Girl:


The Score: The Boy 6, Good Guy 2 (because he had enough sense to stay away from the creepy clown)

Inside, there were lots of floats. Here are only a couple of pictures:

This one was from President Regan’s second inauguration:


Here’s some giant pelicans in a band… ‘cuz who doesn’t want to listen to pelican’s rock the house?


Some of the floats are available for you to get on, such as this one that represented The Lone Star State in President Bush’s inaugural parade:


I could keep going with more and more pictures, but then you’d have no reason to go visit this wonderful attraction.

So, we finished looking around and we did a little shopping, each kid buying a quill pen and ink well. Next up was a new (to us) attraction that was included in our price of admission: The Yellow Barn.

The Yellow Barn is, well, I’m not sure what it is supposed to be. I think that deep down in its heart of hearts, it is an event hall and meant for wedding receptions and parties. It has a couple of little shoppy things, it has a live, workin honey bee box, it has restored, antique farm equipment. It has goats… and chickens. There are chickens everywhere! Here’s one now:


Okay, so it is a picture of a picture of chickens. But trust me, there are chickens everywhere. Glass chickens, plastic chickens, rubber chickens, chickens made of wood… even some live chickens outside. Ooh, here come some now:


As an anniversary gift to me, my loving wife took something like 1,313,131,313 pictures of the various chickens hanging around the Yellow Barn. She even bought new batteries to support her chicken clicking habit. Okay, the batteries were bought before we knew about the chickens, but she USED the batteries to capture the essence of chickendom to its fullest extent.

So, we walked around the barn, got creeped out by the awesome bee hive thing (it was awesome, but seeing like a million bees all in one spot was kind of creepy) and were impressed by the fact that the Yellow Barn stocks both Pink Chicken rosé wine and Rooster Red red wine. I can sleep better now that I know this.

We ended our visit to the Yellow barn with the kids getting a ride in a weird little train:


That’s them in the back. The driver looked like a teenager without a license. According to The Girl, he drove the train like that, too.

We then went and looked at the goats and chickens, then wandered back to the car. Final score was something like 11 billion to 2 in favor of The Boy, which just proves, once again, that I never win. 

Next up for our day was our anniversary dinner. For this, I pulled out all the stops… and we went to Ruby Tuesdays. Before you get all up in my grill about how that’s not a fancy enough restaurant, let me tell you that I allowed the wife AND the kids to get dessert. Now it’s alright, isn’t it? Whatever you might say, we ate, we drank (soda and tea) and we were merry. Then we went to the store for a few supplies we were running short on (milk, a pepper, a can of black olives) and then back to the villa where we tried to convince the children to go to sleep despite their sugar-induced euphoria. That accomplished, it was another couple of episodes of “Lost” season one and then off to try to sleep in order to prepare for tomorrow, the last full day of vacation.