01. January 2015 · Comments Off on June/July 2014 Vacation Summary · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,


Our June/July 2014 summer vacation to the American southwest was fun and filled with National Park goodness.

We are grateful for the National Park Service’s “Military Annual Pass” program which saved us nearly $80 in entrance fees on this trip.

Here’s the summary of everything we did:

The next big “see America” trip I have up my sleeves will take us northward towards Yellowstone National Park, but I don’t know when that will be.

29. July 2014 · Comments Off on A Grand Canyon Preview · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I  have several posts to write about our trip out west in June, but between my full time work and making sure the kids are squared away this summer, I’ve been quite slow.

Feel free to browse these Grand Canyon photo albums and at the end of this post I’ll attach the text of the post I wrote for GeekMom about the Grand Canyon, which has a little of everything but not quite so much detail.

Drive to the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Mather Campground Elk Sighting

Grand Canyon Hermit Trail

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Visitor Center & Mather Point

Grand Canyon Sunset at Mather Point

Timmy the Junior Ranger


When Geeks Go on Vacation: Grand Canyon, originally published at GeekMom.com 24 July 2014 More »

I’ve decided it’s time for me to get my list in writing. I turn 40 later this year and I figure that’s half of my life complete (based on U.S. census tables), so it’s time to set some goals for the latter half of my life. I see and hear about things all the time that prompt me to say to myself, “I should do that before I die!” And then I tend to forget about it.

These are the big-ticket things I’d like to do one day. Most of it is traveling, but I’ve alway felt that there’s so much of the world to see and learn about.

No, I don’t have the money or time to do a lot of these things. But that’s what I have the rest of my life for, right? And it appears that much of it is visiting stuff.

Disclaimers about this list:

  • There is no timeline on most of these, except somewhat for Obergammerau
  • These are presented in no particular order
  • I am not suggesting I have the money to do all these things
  • This list will change constantly and I will bump it periodically

Leave a comment if you think there’s something else I should try, or if you have tips about something on the list, or if you want to share your own bucket list items!

Yes, I would like to do this one day: Cruise to Antarctica.

  1. Visit Antarctica
  2. Visit the Grand Canyon
  3. Climb Mount Rainer
  4. Run the Marine Corps Marathon
  5. Do the Goofy Challenge at Disney World
  6. Visit Banff/Whistler
  7. See the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
  8. Visit Yellowstone National Park
  9. Take an African safari, hopefully with the kids
  10. View the polar bears in Manitoba or Norway
  11. Go to San Diego ComiCon
  12. Visit Paris
  13. Ski in the French Alps
  14. Ski in New Zealand in July
  15. Learn to snowboard (Note: I tried to learn, twice. I’m too old for this crap).
  16. Visit Alaska, perhaps on a cruise
  17. Visit Beijing
  18. Visit Times Square on New Year’s Eve to see the ball drop
  19. See the Passion Play in Obergammerau, Germany in 2020. Take the kids.
  20. Plant a garden that will provide the sole source of produce for my family all season
  21. See Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live.
09. April 2013 · Comments Off on Alabama Discoveries 5: The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, Mobile · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
The Gulf Coast Exploreum is in a primo location in the heart of downtown Mobile. We enjoyed the museum, but it appears to need some updates.

The Gulf Coast Exploreum is in a primo location in the heart of downtown Mobile. We enjoyed the museum, but it appears to need some updates.

On the last day of the boys’ Spring Break, we took a field trip to Mobile’s Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center. I went in thinking it would be an all-day museum, but we ended up not spending much time there at all. The kids enjoyed it, but there seemed to be a lot of empty space in a seemingly very large building. It wasn’t crowded at all while we were there, our school district seemed to be the only ones in the Gulf Coast region having Spring Break as early as the college kids….

There’s an IMAX theater at the museum, which was showing Fighter Pilot. We saw Fighter Pilot at the IMAX theater at the Museum of Naval Aviation on one of our multiple trips, so we didn’t see it again.

Thanks to our military ID cards, we got an outstanding discount at the Exploreum: my admission was free (even as a Reservist) and the kids’ admissions were each $2 off.

The Scratch Factory exhibit was my motivation for taking the kids in the first place. I don’t know if it was good or bad, but I found that most of the Scratch Factory were tasks similar to what we saw at the Pensacola MESS Hall last summer. Wind tunnels, crafts that can be run through the wind tunnels, and a giant marble run wall.

My boys spent most of their time in the Scratch Factory area enjoying the marble run construction area.

Jacob's marble run.

Jacob’s marble run.

Timmy's "so tall I needed a stool" marble run. He wanted to make sure I could capture the three dimensions in his creation.  "Like Aquaduck", he told me.

Timmy’s “So Tall I Need a Stool” marble run. He wanted to make sure I could capture the three dimensions in his creation. “Like Aquaduck“, he told me.

We didn’t spend long in the Scratch Factory section. Thankfully, it was quite empty most of our time there, and a school field trip came in just as we were leaving the area.

The next section we explored was the BodyWorks section. This was a very good assortment of medical and health-related exhibits. You started by receiving a blank key-card with which you would insert the card into assorted physical tasks and the card would record data about the tasks. There were plenty of signs around attesting that the data on the cards was not kept for any reason, and the cards were erased upon their return.

There was a scale, numerous strength measurement tasks (arm wrestling, hitting a hammer to ring a bell, etc), and a few mental agility tasks. If you went around the entire exhibit, then returned the card to the beginning, this assessment would print out for you. Unfortunately, many of the assessment displays were broken.

The medical profession exhibits were really cool. The kids could explore what it’s like to do heart surgery, endoscopic surgery, and explore tools that surgeons uses.

Jacob exploring how doctors perform endoscopic surgeries. He had to rely on the camera as his "eyes" to thread one piece of metal through another.

Jacob explores how doctors perform endoscopic surgeries. He had to rely on the camera as his “eyes” to thread one piece of metal through another all inside that box in front of him.

There’s also a BeHealthy exhibit, which featured making correct grocery shopping and eating choices. I remember a similar exhibit at the Omaha Children’s Museum.

After a lunch break back at the truck (we packed leftover beef and broccoli stir fry) we headed back in to see the last large section, which was called the Hand’s On Hall. This was full of a wide variety of explorations: sound, light and physics displays. Like at the BodyWorks section, many of the exhibits showed signs of wear and some of them outright didn’t work at all.

Jacob learns about the impacts of 2-, 3-, and 4-pulley systems. You sit in a seat and use the systems to hoist yourself up. The more pulleys in the system, the easier it is to do, but you lift yourself more slowly.

Jacob learns about the impacts of 2-, 3-, and 4-pulley systems. You sit in a seat and use the systems to hoist yourself up. The more pulleys in the system, the easier it is to do, but you lift yourself more slowly.

My rock star. Pieces of PVC pipe and a pair of cheap flip flops. I could totally do this at home!

My rock star. Pieces of PVC pipe and a pair of cheap flip flops. I could totally do this at home!

We spent a total of 3 hours in the museum if you include time at the really nice gift shop.

After the museum we walked next door to the Fort Conde Visitor’s Center, which just opened last October. This area has a 4/5-scale reproduction of the original fort that sat on the same site. Fort Conde helped protect Mobile and Mobile Bay in the early 1700s. Tucked in among the more modern Mobile skyline, it’s a very short walk around the perimeter.

Timmy said "Let's pretend we're bombing!"  So they did...

Timmy said “Let’s pretend we’re bombing!” So they did…these are facing Mobile Bay.

If you've ever driven through the I-10 tunnel (called the George C. Wallace Memorial Tunnel...shudder), you will have driven right under Fort Conde. It's just above the western end of the tunnel.

If you’ve ever driven through the I-10 tunnel (called the George C. Wallace Tunnel…shudder), you will have driven right under Fort Conde. It’s just above the western end of the tunnel.

The boys and I had a fun field trip and it was a nice way to wrap up their Spring Break this year.

Our take from last weekend -- not bad!

Our take from last weekend — not bad!

This past weekend our family made yet one more trip to Orlando, so I could run my 2nd Disney Princess Half Marathon, and the boys could experience the early mornings and fun people watching with me. We stayed at Walt Disney World’s newest hotel, a value resort called The Art of Animation Resort, and we visited Sea World with our dear friends the McNabb family.

We repurposed the Incredibles costumes we wore last September, which was our plan all along. Unfortunately, my plan was for temperatures to be in the 50s like it had been most of the previous 5 years of this race. Instead it was quite warm. More »

Our family got to spend last week with Dave’s family in New York. Even though Jacob, Timmy and I get to go annually — the boys spend some time up there — I sometimes go up to pick them up from their visits…Dave hadn’t been since 2009.

We flew the family up this year, driving to Panama City Beach so we could take advantage of a low-stress Southwest Airlines route to Islip, New York…on Eastern Long Island. This made pick up/drop off easy for Dave’s parents. The boys were wonderful during the travel both to and from New York.

The enjoyed playing with their stuffed animals on the trip up to New York. They were each allowed to bring two. It sounds strange, but they play pretend with their animals very nicely and don’t fight. I’ll take it!

The family spent most of the week relaxing; Dave and the boys played with LEGOs and Lincoln Logs, and the whole family enjoyed going through box after box of photographs from when Dave was younger.

It’s a tradition — playing with Daddy’s toys.

More »

11. June 2012 · Comments Off on Summer Fun!! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

The kids are definitely enjoying their summer vacation so far!  Apparently Jacob was working extra-hard this school year because I hadn’t seen him this happy in a long time.  School and baseball just wore him out, I guess.  They’re enjoying sleeping late, staying up late at night and not having to get dressed until lunchtime.  Oh, the summer life!

Since school ended last Thursday, the kids have been doing little else besides playing games, riding their bikes and playing catch in the backyard.

Sadly, our area was hit with that Gulf Coast deluge of rain over the weekend so we were quite literally stuck in the house all weekend.  Our rain gauge is broken, but I’d estimate around 8-10″ of rain at our house all weekend.  We have good drainage so our house and our property was okay.

While under our virtual house-arrest, the boys got along GREAT and Dave and I could catch up on several household tasks.  We had visited Target on Friday and let the kids choose one video game and one board/card game each.  We enjoyed all of that and then some: Uno, Phase-10, Rummikub, chess, Monopoly, Guitar Hero and even our new “Go” board game.

I also helped out with this week’s Cub Scout Day Camp.  Even though my boys can’t go (because of our upcoming Road Trip), I had received a request to help out with some craft preparations.  I offered my assistance and I received a task that was PERFECT for this past rainy weekend: FiMo clay Star Wars action figures.  You press the clay into the molds, then bake a pan full of them at 230F for 30 minutes to harder.  They are to be used in snow globes (Hoth?) that will be made with baby food jars.

Here is a picture of what I was working on.  Cute, aren’t they?  They weren’t easy but with the rainy weather, we had all the time in the world!  I had to make 150 of these.

Of the dozen-or-so characters to choose from, there are the only ones that will fit through the mouth of a classic baby food jar. These were among the best of the batch. Most of the Yodas looks more like Gizmo from "Gremlins", and most of the Obi Wans and Chewies had no discernable faces. The molds for these were made by "Kenner" years ago. I tried to find a link to the mold product but can't find any.

More »

19. August 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip III 2011: Atlanta Braves Baseball! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

WARNING: This is a LONG post.  I debated dividing it into two parts, but couldn’t find an easy dividing point.  So instead I put in some headers to try to break up the story a bit.  

It was our entire motivation for our trip to Atlanta last weekend: we had Braves tickets!

During Jacob’s baseball season, we promised to take him to a professional baseball game in the area.  We didn’t realize it would be over an hour away (Mobile, Alabama has a AA team).  Dave suggested looking into Braves tickets, and we could take a long weekend in Atlanta for sightseeing.

I got a great deal on StubHub.com on a set of four tickets to the August 14th Braves-Cubs game right behind home plate.  Someone was probably breaking up a set of multi-game tickets, and I scored some great seats for about $20 each.  It turned out to be near Dave’s birthday, so we considered the trip a birthday gift for Dave.

Even better?  I found us a hotel room right across the street from Turner Field!  Whoo hoo!

Military Ticket Promotion

I had made these arrangements back in May, so the excitement for all my boys was pretty built-up by the time we actually made the drive.  They were so happy to see Turner Field and were incredibly excited about seeing Sunday’s game…

…so excited, in fact, that on Saturday morning Jacob and I walked over to the box office first thing and bought tickets to see the Saturday night game.  We took advantage of the Braves’ military promotion — Active duty military can get buy-one-get-one-free Upper Box seats.  (So can students and AAA members).  And they waived the $3 surcharge for same-day purchase!  Our original tickets were to the Sunday afternoon game.

The Bullpen

Happy Dave.  Sandwiches and beer at The Bullpen.  $3.50 bottles here vs. $7.00 bottles at the ballpark!  Dave opted for a solid red Braves hat.  

After Friday night at The Varsity, then Saturday morning and afternoon at Stone Mountain, we had dinner Saturday evening at The Bullpen, a burger/beer joint between our hotel and Turner Field.  We took a risk heading over there — after all, what restaurant next to the ballpark was going to have seating 90 minutes before gametime?  We thought The Bullpen would be waitress-served meals, and were expecting the worst in terms of a wait for a table.

We were greeted with a pleasant surprise: cheap food, REALLY cheap beer and plenty of outdoor seating.  Sure, it was hot, but at least we had seating.


Another nice perk — free parking since we were staying at a hotel nearby.  We found out that the local businesses near Turner Field (including our hotel) sold extra parking spaces for $20 per game!  So over the weekend we saved $40 in parking charges, and we had a VERY short walk to the field, just diagonally across an intersection from the gates behind home plate….although the main entrance was behind the outfield.

The Saturday Night Game!

It’s a sight to see — that look on a kid’s face when he see something he’s been excited for for so long.  I remember that look when my boys met Mickey Mouse.  We saw it again when the boys saw the bright green field and the HUGE video screen when we got to our seats.  For the Saturday game, we sat near the very top row, but it was essentially behind home plate.  It was hot, but at least we had a good enough view to command the boys’ attention for most of the game.  The Braves lost the Saturday night game.

These giant baseballs were all over the place — the boys wanted to find them all, but we didn’t do that.  The boys got Braves hats off a street vendor for $5 each.  They are definitely $5 hat quality, but the boys didn’t care and were incredibly excited!
I’m very proud of this picture.  This is the 1991 Braves in the upper part of the picture.  They had a 20th Anniversary reunion event just before the game.  This team started the 14-years-in-a-row of pennant winning.  Five of the players simultaneously threw ceremonial first pitches and I caught 4 of the 5 balls mid-pitch!  From the top row, too!  (the 2nd pitcher from the right hadn’t let go of the ball yet).  Hooray for our Canon camera!

The view from the top.  Not bad.  The giant TV screen (“Braves Vision”) helped us see anything we needed to see in more detail.

You can see how high up we were.
Two of Atlanta’s biggest sponsors, literally: Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A.  Each of those things are 40-feet high.

The Chick-fil-A cow does the tomahawk chop with his (her?) right arm when the (FSU Band) music played!

The boys all brought in their gloves, but we were sitting a bit high to catch a foul ball.

Plenty of gimmicks to keep us entertained.  When the Braves strike out a batter, the Gas South sign launches two small fireworks and flames fly out of the flames on the sign.  Then, if you squint, you can see the letter “K”s underneath the words “Bring the Heat”.  One “K” per strikeout.

And if there’s a home run, the 40-foot Coca Cola bottle launches a WHOLE BUNCH of fireworks!  This was during the one-and-only home run from both games: Dan Uggla in the 4th inning.  Dave took the boys to get snacks.  I saw it, they missed it.

A word about this 40-foot Coke bottle.  The area that’s usually a label is actually an LCD sign that is constantly changing.  Here you can see the tomahawks that were moving around the right.  Timmy was a bit freaked out by every single digital sign in the ballpark showing tomahawks during the tomahawk chop music.  He learned the cheer pretty early on!

The Sunday Afternoon Game: Foul Ball Drama

The Sunday game gave us a MUCH better view!  Unfortunately, the seats remained in the sun the entire time.  After 3 hours in the sun, during about the 7th inning, we moved to shady seats two rows up.

Those original seats were in the very front row of the upper deck, behind home plate.  About halfway up in the stands…definitely foul ball range!  A most-awesome view!

Statistically speaking, what are the chances of a foul ball landing in one of our original — by then, vacated — seats???  I don’t know, but that’s what happened.  A man from the group right next to the empty seats ran over to the seat and plucked up the ball, full of happiness and celebration.  I tried, but didn’t make it…

Meanwhile, my boys were in tears…Timmy ran back over to the original seats and sat with his glove at the ready for about 10 minutes.  Jacob was pretty upset for the rest of the game.  Dave — whose original seat the ball landed in — explained that he wasn’t really paying attention at the time the foul ball came in and assured the boys he might have gotten hit on the head.

So to accompany that look of delight when the boys saw their first major league ball field, was the anguish of missing a foul ball that we SHOULD have caught!  Oh well…life goes on…

Nice foam tomahawks, right?  This was before the foul ball — and the emotion that went with it.  It fell right into the seat Dave was sitting in here…except we had moved from those seats when the ball came in.

This was our view from our seats.  So much nicer than the night before!  But quite sunny…

I thought the sun would head behind the awning…instead it PARALLELED the front edge of the awning.  So hot…so frustrating.

The Running of the Bases

When Jacob and I went to the box office to get the Saturday night game tickets, we learned of this “Running of the Bases” activity the Braves hosted on after their Sunday home games.  The kids line up after the game to go down to the field and they get one pass around the field.  After yet another loss against the Cubs, not to mention the Foul Ball drama, we weren’t sure the kids were going to handle the LONG line to run the bases.  The kids didn’t know what to expect, so it was clear Dave and I were more excited about this than the kids.

But they stuck it out, with the help of some other kids in the line who had done the activity before and assured the boys that the experience was really cool.  I knew Jacob would appreciate learning how much longer the baselines are on a Major League diamond compared to what he runs in Little League.

After about a 30 minute wait (relatively not long at all), we saw the beautiful field up close!  The kids were put in a line and the whole experience — as cool as it is — is very very fast.  They are sending kids out about every 2 seconds.  I didn’t get good pictures of the running itself, but here’s a video of the boys that gives you an idea.

Yes, Timmy’s wearing a Pirates shirt.  Those two shirts came from Old Navy.

Jacob took this picture…I like it 🙂

The kids in the line leading up to home plate.  Say nothing about the boys being in Crocs (J’s wearing yellow, T’s wearing red).  I didn’t think about how much better this experience would have been if they were wearing sneakers.

The boys received free t-shirts when they finished.  The Braves logo is on the front, this beat any $20 t-shirt at the souvenirs stands!

The Braves Kids Club: A Nice Gift Idea

Photo courtesy of Field Trips With Sue.

The boys kept seeing ads for this Braves Kids Club on the video screens and on posters throughout Turner Field.  This evening I finally remembered to look up the website and see what this Kids Club involved.

Seems like a pretty cool deal.  I was reminded of the old Lego Brickmaster Club from about 2007 or so, when $40 would get you 6+ great little kits, plus coupons, and the magazine.  For $20 you get 2 Braves ticket vouchers AND 2 Gwinnett Braves (their AAA affiliate) vouchers.  Plus a ball cap, Chick Fil A coupons, a certificate, VIP access to the Kids Running of the Bases, among other things.

Since a Kids Club membership is valid for a single baseball season, we convinced the boys that this wouldn’t be a good idea this late in the season.  I put a reminder in iCal to look at the Kids Club membership thing again in mid-November for the 2012 season.

This Atlanta blogger shows how the Kids’ Club items are nicely packaged up for the holidays.

17. August 2011 · Comments Off on Wordless Wednesday: A Sneak Peek of My Next Post · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
15. August 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,
This is officially called “The Confederate Memorial on Stone Mountain”.  It’s the largest relief carving in the world…at least until the Crazy Horse Monument is finished.  We all know who the guys are…who knows the horses’ names?

As I’d mentioned in yesterday’s post about The Varsity, the only truly scheduled activity we had coming into Atlanta was a Sunday afternoon Braves game.  So we had the entire city of Atlanta at our disposal for sightseeing.

What to do…what to do…

Most families staying in downtown Atlanta would have considered the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Center tour, and/or the World of Coca-Cola.  Zoo Atlanta would have been a good option too…if it weren’t for the incredible heat.

Dave, in his typical train-fan fashion, knew of a tourist scenic railroad in the area.  So that’s what we sought to do.  We decided to grab some same-day tickets to the Saturday night Braves game, and then headed out for the day to Stone Mountain Park which is about 15 miles east of Atlanta.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect — several folks at the hotel breakfast area told us we’d have a good time and that there was “so much to do!”.

Those folks were right!  Stone Mountain Park is very beautiful and there was no shortage of things to do!  We didn’t quite dress for hiking up the mountain (and Dave’s back wouldn’t have been to happy with it either), but we were able to enjoy the scenic train, the skytram right to the top of the mountain, a ferryboat ride, and a fun — touristy — lunch where our yeast rolls were thrown to us by our servers!

Dave and I really enjoyed the Civil War history that’s been memorialized at the park — of course there’s the beautiful bas relief sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson (and their horses!).  There is also an antebellum mansion to tour, and a Confederate Museum.

One could visit the park and make a complete vacation experience out of it — from campsite to the Stone Mountain Inn, you can stay on the property.  If you want to do outdoor activities, there’s hiking, biking, golf and boating to be had!  If you prefer indoor air conditioned stuff, there are the museums, the shops and lots of exhibits and demonstrations.

Stone Mountain is a fascination in and of itself: the dome of cooled magma, which soon became granite rock, poked up over the surrounding geology, rising over 800′ above the surrounding area.  There are gentle rolling hills around Atlanta, but Stone Mountain sticks up pretty high…

While you could pay individually for each of the activities we did, we instead took advantage of the one-day “Adventure Pass”.  This let us do just about all the theme-park activities (there’s this “Ride the Duck” attraction that wasn’t included, but that’s okay).  We had a military discount of $3 off each ticket, yay!

Perhaps because it was August in Georgia, who knows?  The park was not crowded at all even on a Saturday, there were little-to-no lines for any of the activities we wanted to enjoy.

First, the 5 mile train ride around the base of the mountain.

The engine that pulled us.

This is the walking trail up to the top (as seen from the train) — it’s straight up the sheer rock surface so it can get quite dangerous if it were rainy.

Next we enjoyed a touristy Southern comfort food lunch at an in-park restaurant called “Miss Katie’s”.  They’re known for throwing the yeast rolls at you.  I didn’t get a picture of this gimmick, but here’s a picture I found off the web of a Miss Katie’s server throwing a roll, from the Epicurean Family Blog:

We enjoyed southern fried chicken and chicken and dumplings for lunch.  Along with free tossed rolls, fried dill pickles, fried sweet potatoes and free fried onion petals…we were glad we ordered 2 entrees and 1 kid’s meal for the 4 of us!

The lunch was yummy, but unfortunately was priced for tourists and our lunch for 4 was over $50.

After lunch we visited the air conditioned Yogi Bear’s 4D Adventure.  This was merely a stitching-together of 12-minutes worth of scenes from the 2010 movie Yogi Bear…the 3D version.  But we were in a theater that added in real water and wind effects.  We had seen Yogi Bear this past spring but it was fun to experience the water and wind effects.

This is what I usually get from Jacob these days when I say “Smile for the camera!”

Next we visited the Summit Skyride, which was the gondola ride to the top of the mountain.  The gondola has a capacity of 13,000 lbs., and when we were loading up, it was rather freaky seeing the load weight – displayed in tons – get higher and higher.  Luckily, everyone fit on board at 5.1 tons.

We enjoyed the views from the top of the mountain.

Can you see the Atlanta skyline out there?  Trust me, it’s out there!

I have a lot of peak pictures of Dave: here and here.  I have one of him on North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain too…but that’ll have to wait till I get home and dig into my photo archives.

I think this is the very peak of the mountain.  But I could be wrong….

Timmy was very curious about these circular depressions in the granite.  It’s from rainwater “soaking” some of the softer minerals in the rock…when the water evaporated, the dissolved minerals would go with it.

This is the very pretty — and very rare — Confederate yellow daisy.  There’s a festival in September to celebrate it’s full bloom, but they were just starting up about this time of year.

Jacob took this nice picture of Dave and me…I like the rainshower on the left side of the picture, in the background.

This black swallowtail butterfly was fluttering among the yellow daisies.  Way up on top of the mountain.  Love how my 12x zoom captured even the detail of the granite of the mountain top.  There was a tiger swallowtail, too, but he wouldn’t land anywhere for me to photograph him.

We cooled off at the air conditioned Memorial Hall Museum, which has exhibits about the geology of the mountain…and a lot of the Native American and early American artifacts found nearby, as well as exhibits about the making of the bas relief sculpture and the Civil War history in the area.

Did you know?  The original sculptor of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial was Gutzon Borglum…his design wasn’t used due to differences the artist had with his financial backers in the mid-1920s.  Borglum smashed the models of his designs and left Georgia in anger in 1925.  He went to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota to design and oversee its construction from 1927-1941.

The Memorial Hall Museum.

A view of the “Memorial Lawn” – laser light shows are held every night at 9:30pm during the summer.  We’d have loved to have seen one; apparently their lightshow rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is pretty well known.

Finally, and by this time we were all tired and sore from the walking around, we ended our day at Stone Mountain Park with a ride on their riverboat Scarlett O’Hara.

Dave might actually be sleeping here…we were all pretty tired by this point.

View of Stone Mountain from the riverboat.

We were very glad we chose a day at Stone Mountain Park over the more common tourist destinations in Atlanta!  It was nice to get some fresh — albeit hot — air, and learn more about Georgia’s nature and history.