My husband returned from deployment at the very end of March and almost immediately traveled up to Northern Virginia for training. Once the training was completed in May we traveled to Tampa, where he is from, to visit family and friends. We had a really great trip, for the most part. We went fishing out on a boat, checked out the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete and went to a Tampa Bay Rays game with his dad. His mom took the kids on a little shopping spree at Toys R Us and babysat so we could have some adult time with our friends. We went out on our friend's boat and hung out on a little island one day, took all the kids to the park another day, went out for drinks one night, and spent a lot of time swimming and just having an all around good time. Here are a few pics from our trip that already seems like it was so long ago:
|The kids with their cousins.|
Turns out the Muckdogs are a minor league team in Batavia, New York. You learn something new every day! He had a really great season. He's definitely come a long way since last year. He hit just about every pitch (the coaches pitch a few times and if the kids don't hit the pitch, then they hit off the tee) and actually caught the ball while playing first base. Any kid catching the ball during a game at this level seems to be a pretty huge accomplishment. He earned the game ball after that game and was quite proud of himself.
|Lulu wanted to play, too!|
|It's a hit!|
|E-Ray and his best buddy being goofballs.|
|Getting his trophy and certificate from Coach.|
Also, E-Ray recently began riding his bike without training wheels, so Rick and I bought ourselves a couple bikes at a yard sale so that we could go on family rides. We've only gone once so far, but it was fun, even though I ended up with three ticks on me. YUCK! More often than biking, lately, we've been hiking. My husband had to head back up to Northern Virginia for training, so we have visited him a couple times. I have wanted to go check out Luray Caverns for a long time, so this was a good opportunity to head that way. While researching the area online I read about Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and decided that would be a really great place to visit as well. We made the drive over there on June 30th and had such an incredible time. Luray Caverns were really neat, but Shenandoah National Park was a real adventure. It is our new favorite place. On that day we were looking at the map they gave us when we entered the park and thought it would be fun to hike down to Dark Hollow Falls. This was a great decision. It was a relatively short hike (it seemed a lot longer than it actually was), and our kids, even the 2 year old, were able to tag along. It was a fairly busy trail. When we got down to the waterfall there were quite a few people swimming in the water and hanging out. The kids loved it and I got some really great pictures while we were there. We loved it so much that we decided to go back on July 4th. This time we hiked down to Lewis Falls. This is a much less popular trail, so we ran into fewer people. This time there was no swimming at the bottom of the falls, but a ledge from which to view them. It was a rockier hike that was slightly more difficult than the previous one, but it was fun. E-Ray is like a little Indiana Jones. He loved leading our little expedition and it was hard trying to get him to slow down so that his little sister could keep up. I can't wait to get back up there again for more family adventures!
|Inside Luray Caverns|
|My boys climbed up the side of the falls.|
For our second trip I had accidentally left my camera's memory card in my laptop so I had to use my phone for pictures. I was SO mad!!!
Lastly, as we're gearing up for the Hubs to leave on deployment number eight, we took advantage of the great non-profit Operation Love Reunited to have some family pictures taken before D-Day. We were fortunate enough to be able to book the same photographer we used in 2010 for his homecoming on the USS Nicholas. She is so incredibly talented! Here is the first preview of the images she captured:
What did I tell you? A-MAZE-ING! I can't wait to see the rest of the photos. If you're ever in need of a photographer in Hampton Roads, Kimberlin Gray Photography is a must. Be sure to like her page on Facebook.
OK, just one more thing. My husband told me that we could vacation in Wisconsin next Summer. I just wanted to make sure I made a record of that statement since he tends to forget all of our arrangements/agreements. :)