Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Family Vacation

 
Our first family vacation was to the Pittsburgh, PA area.  Eric wanted to see where some of his family originated.  We found his great-grandfather's brother's gravestone in the West Newton cemetary on a rainy Friday afternoon. 

We had made it there after 3 pit stops.  We found out that between a 9-month old's small stomach and a 2.5 year old's small bladder one cannot get far without needing a gas station or place to pull over.  We weren't in any real hurry, however.

We at dinner at a family restaurant called the Chuck Wagon that steadily filled up as we ate.  The food was not very exciting, and in hindsight, we probably should have ate at the nice pizzeria that looked like it inhabited an old train station building along the tracks.  We took a picture of a historically preserved train station.  We drove around a bit and then we drove to our first hotel south of Pittsburgh. 

The next morning was all about the zoo!  We had been promising Anna that we would take her to the zoo for almost a year.  We were going to go during the summer sometime but never found the time, we were so busy on the farm.  We promised her that if she went on the potty all of the time, we would take her to the zoo.  So we had to follow through on that promise (she stayed dry in her big girl undies the whole trip). 

Here are some of the highlights at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium:

The Tiger
 
One of the first animals we saw.  He was pacing in front of the window, which was kind of him.  It wasn't so kind when he sprayed on the window right at us.
 

 
The Elephant
 


 
The zookeepers were washing this elephant's feet when we entered the indoor viewing room.  We watched in fascination as the elephant did as he was directed and put all four feet one at a time on the rail to be washed.
 
The Penguins
 
Anna asked over and over again to "can we see the penguins, now?"  I'm not sure which she wanted to see more:  penguins or giraffes.  Unfortunately, the giraffes were not out that day because of the cold and ice.  So the penguins won and were her favorite animals at the zoo.  They had a special "penguin walk," where they let a handful out to walk a path down a small hill and back.  We bought her a stuffed penguin, which she and daddy affectionately named "Petey."
 
The Aquarium
 
 
The aquarium was fun.  Clara seemed to especially like watching the fish.  It was also nice to get indoors where it was toasty warm.
 
The Sea Lions
 
 
I love these two pictures of Anna at the sea lion exhibit.
 
After the aquarium we drove through Pittsburgh, hopelessly looking for a kid-friendly and parking-friendly restaurant to eat lunch.  We had just given up and thought that we would head to the second hotel when we saw the Carnegie Science Museum.  I had heard that this museum was great, so we paid $5 to park.  We ate in their cafeteria and then realized that in order to see anything we'd have to pay $17 per adult (kids were free).  So after that surprise we decided to give it a chance.  It was definitely great for all ages, but Anna was a bit young for most of it.  There was a great train station exhibit and the whole 4th floor was for the younger kids. 
 
 
Here are some highlights of the museum:
 
More fish, but with a magnifying glass
 
 
 
 
 
Jungle Gym
 
 
There was so much more!  But blogger isn't cooperating in letting me post photos right now.
 
The day we drove home we made a couple of stops.  One stop was at Grove City to check out the outlet mall.  We bought overalls at Osh Gosh (of course), ate, and headed back to the car.  We also stopped in Erie and did some mall walking.  We bought a pair of shoes for Anna that light up.  She LOVES shoe shopping!  Clara had also gotten a pair of shoes at Target back near Pittsburgh. 
 
I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I had so much fun with the girls.  But most importantly, and the main reason why I loved our vacation, was the time we were able to spend with Eric.  He hasn't had a vacation since our honeymoon five years ago, and it was great to see him relax.  He was so understanding about dealing with the crowds at the science museum, and my difficulty in navigating and driving in Pittsburgh, and he tolerated with good humor sharing a bed with Anna (who wiggles all night long).  Actually, I think he really enjoyed snuggling with her, especially when she wouldn't settle down the first night and kept kissing his cheek and hugging him.  We shared a lot of good laughs about Anna's obsession with elevators, which she accidently always called "alligators," and automatic toilets.  Clara was a good trouper through it all, as long as she was well-fed.
 
 
The End.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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