Sunday, August 30, 2015

Long Road Home (aka Magnaball Trip Part 5)

Monday morning.  Rumors of morning rain were circulating the campground, which gave a hurried attitude to lots of campers.  Some people had already packed up and left on Sunday night.  I was in no hurry to go anywhere.  We did slowly pack everything in the van, but we lingered, taking plenty of time to hang out with our campground friends for the last time and saying goodbyes (which, honestly were sometimes tearful ones).

With the car all packed up, I loaded Blossom into the wagon once again and walked up to the festival field, checked lost & found for some missing items, looked for ground-scores on the field (and found a few good ones!), walked to another campsite in search of other friends for goodbyes, said lots of goodbyes to people waiting in lines of cars, and finally meandered back to our van.

Only a couple miles from the raceway where the festival was held is Watkins Glen State Park.
Over thousands of years, the weak rock in this mountain has eroded away under the force of this river to create a most magnificent gorge with lots of waterfalls and small pools.
When planning this trip, I had planned to stop here on our way out of Watkins Glen.  But, like the many of Phish fans there, we should have planned it prior to the festival.  We were beat.  The scene looked like half tourists and half dirty festival goers resembling zombies.
So many stairs to climb!  We did a very short part of the trail, since we were all so worn out.  Thankfully, there were plenty of resting spots along the way.

We loaded back in the car and made the four hour drive south to Hershey, Pennsylvania to relax in a hotel room!
The following morning, we chose one last adventure which was very sweet!  We toured Chocolate World in Hershey.  It had a little ride (It's a Small World style) that showed the process of making chocolate through singing animatronic cows and lots of factory machinery.  We then headed into the Chocolate Lab.
Through computers, we designed our own chocolate bars and watched them be made on the assembly line.
This was a winner for both kids, of course, and we left with delicious chocolate bars!
A sweet ending to a long trip!

I had another stop in mind on our way home after Hershey, but at this point in the trip, my funds were depleted, so about 9 hours later, we were back in Asheville!  We had such a great trip, everyone got along and had a great time (minus a couple to-be-expected 4 year old meltdowns).  We saw new places, made great new friends, and have loads of fun memories!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Party Time! (aka Magnaball Trip Part 4)

Van is packed up with freshly laundered clothes, plenty of food and well rested family.  We head southeast through the Finger Lakes to the town of Watkin's Glen and check in to Phish's 10th Festival, Magnaball!
First order of business is setting up camp ... but oh it's so rainy and windy and dreary!
We were in Family Camping, and there was plenty of camaraderie as parents helped each other stake things against the wind and set up the essentials.  Once the basics were out, everyone pretty much hid out in their cars.  ZB played Cinderella as we waiting for the bad weather to blow over.
And by the next morning, it was dry and sunny and stayed that way the whole weekend!  It was so fun to see how the Phish festivals have evolved with the crowd.  I have been seeing this band for 20 years now.  I have been to one other festival, 17 years ago in Maine.  It was NOT kid-friendly.  It was a huge crowd of 20-ish-year olds having a blast, for sure.  But now, so many of us have grown up and started families, and LOTS of folks are bringing their kids to shows, so there are lots of community-made activities and support for the youngins.

On Friday morning, we trekked to another campground where a fairy-wing vendor was hosting a Fairy Tea Party for the kids.  So sweet!
We met lots of other little girls, who all became fast friends, sipped on pink lemonade and had animal crackers together.
We met up with some of our best friends from Asheville and their 12yo son.  The boys were immediately in search of, and found, a Phish-themed Rubik's cube that kept them occupied a good part of the weekend.
And the music, oh the music!  There were two sets on Friday night, one set on Saturday afternoon, two that night, and a "secret set" late night, then another 2 sets on Sunday night, followed by an amazing fireworks show!  ZB slept through a lot of the music, as she generally goes to bed when it gets dark, and that was fine.  It's certainly easier for me to not have to constantly look out for a wandering a 4 year old.  She did have a blast at the Saturday afternoon set where she could dance and play for the whole thing.
The Secret Set was not formally announced, but was heavily rumored among fans.  There was a big screen on one side of the field that had spacey images on it, and around 1:00 am, the band hid behind the screen and played a fully improvised hour of music.
The fun kid stuff lasted the whole weekend.  There was a promotion from a guy who makes Phish and Grateful Dead band members from Lego minifigures.  He was giving away some of them to kids that made lego signs and walked to the vendor tent where we was set up. 
Phish not only delivered with fantastic music all weekend, they made a genuinely fun festival field.  There was a science laboratory, a marching band that would make sporadic appearance, stilt walkers, a mirror maze, lots of creative art installations, and of course the ferris wheel that goes to all their festivals.
We had SO much fun!  ZB and I shed a few tears when it was time to leave.  I still don't have the heart to take off my wristband!  As Phish sings, "This has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way..."

to be continued ...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Finding the Balance (aka Magnaball Trip Part 3)

After days of concerts and driving, city adventures and tourist attractions, it was time for some downtime.  We found an Airbnb rental in the Finger Lakes region.  We had our own walk-out basement apartment surrounded by a lovely farm, hikes, a pond, a pool, and even our own full kitchen.  For only $50 a night it was a win!

Our room happened to also be a lego storage room (the kids of the house were all teenagers, so these weren't played with anymore).  Both kids had a blast getting into those plus the shelves of board games.  The wildflowers alone were enough to keep Blossom happy!
I had a chance to re-freeze our ice packs, do laundry, dry out and re-sort our gear and basically get ready to be at a festival for 4 days.  A farm decompression time was just what we needed to regroup.
The hikes were especially nice, and one of the farm dogs even tagged along!
Of course the kids found treasures, even some live ones.
Doesn't that frog look like he's begging to do an obstacle course?? The kids realized his needs, and built him some challenges to encourage his athletic side.

Finally, they let Frog go by the pond as we headed out on a boat ride before calling it a day.

to be continued ...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Waterfalls to the West (aka Magnaball Trip Part 2)

After the Merriweather Phish show, we drove straight up through Pennsylvania and into New York, and straight to Four Mile Creek Campground on Lake Ontario.
None of us has ever been to a Great Lake before, and it was quite beautiful. 

If you squinted, you could see Toronto across the lake.  The campground has a small rocky beach, perfect for skipping rocks and gathering wildflowers.

We spent a couple days on the western edge of NY.  Reed is really into architecture, and we got to take a house tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin complex in Buffalo.  So cool!
We ate buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar, which is the bar that invented them.
We found a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

We saw the powerful Niagara Falls!
We rode the iconic Maid of the Mist and felt the waterfall's rush at Cave of the Winds.

After 2 fun days, we packed up our tent, took a final walk on the rocky beach of Lake Ontario, picked out a rock to take home, and headed on our way...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Headed North (or Magnaball Trip Part 1)

Whew - we just came back from a fantastic week and a half on the road!  There are too many photos to put into one post, so I'll post bit by bit.

On a Friday, Reed, ZB and I packed up into the minivan and headed East to Raleigh to see my fave band, Phish.  It was a great show!  We hung towards the back of the lawn with lots of other families, so all the kids could run around together.  Once it was dark, glow toys came out, and the kids eventually fell asleep on the blanket to the sweet sounds of Phish.
On Saturday, we headed North to Baltimore to catch the next Phish show.  On the way, we stopped in my old stomping grounds of Richmond, Virgina.
Reed was uber impressed with their fantastic park system.
We eventually wandered over to Maymont, which is right near my old house, and has huge, beautiful gardens, as well as petting zoo, aviary, aquarium, etc.
It was a real challenge to pull them away from all the loveliness of Maymont and get us back on the road again!  It was really fun to take them to places I remember so well bringing Clay as a baby over a decade ago.

A few more hours in the car got us to Merriweather Post Pavillion in Maryland.  The kids helped me sell $1 waters before the show to fund our trip... well, Reed helped while Blossom dug holes :)
The show was again great.  The lawn at Merriweather doesn't have the best sound, but there were lots of other families there, which was very fun!  We danced the night away!

to be continued...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Time for New Adventures

This week is one for new adventures!  The whole family has actually been greatly looking forward to this week all Summer.

 Bobby left for AGI, which is a summer camp of sorts, for glass blowers.  He was really excited to go spend a week with other talented glass blowers, meeting famous artists of the trade.

Clay left for his first sleep-away camp at Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania.  He saved up the tuition all by himself.  Such a rock star!  There are many different sports tracks to choose from there.  Clay chose skateboarding, and rode up there with 2 of his best friends who chose in-line skating and parkour.  They reluctantly let me take their photo before piling in the car for the 10 hour drive.
Blossom, Reed and I are still in Asheville for most of the week.  We are busy packing and planning to leave for our trip on Friday.  We are taking a trip up to Finger Lakes, New York (Watkins Glen specifically) to go to a festival put on by my favorite band, Phish.  We'll be seeing the band play a couple times on the way up, as well as hitting some tourist spots like Niagara Falls, Watkins Glen State Park and Hershey, PA.

As a little warm-up to all the live music we'll be seeing, Blossom and I went to see Dark Star Orchestra (a Grateful Dead cover band) play at one of my favorite venues in Asheville, Pisgah Brewery.  It's a very family friendly venue and Blossom had a great time dancing and playing with all the other kids!
Keep an eye on the blog for our adventures of the next couple weeks!!

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