Friday, April 1, 2016

There's Nothing Like a Train!

All my life I've loved the sights and sounds
of railroads.  And I've been fortunate enough
to live within sound of train whistles almost
everywhere I've lived.  Where we are now, in
Manly -- north Southern Pines -- we are a short
walk to the train tracks.  There was a train stop
in Manly beginning in 1877, ten years before 
the town of Southern Pines was incorporated.
The sparsely settled Sandhills were a prime
source of turpentine and other forest products. 
Manly, along with Shaw's Ridge (future Southern 
Pines and Blue's Crossing(future Aberdeen)
 were the loading spots.

On Tuesday, Judy and I took Bri and Hunter
to the vacant lot nearest the tracks.  We hid
Easter eggs and played games like Frisbee
and Pine Tree Tag until we heard the first 
train whistle in the distance.  We got a good
viewing position on the high bank beside the
tracks.  We listened with anticipation as the 
rumble of the heavy locomotives drew nearer.


Bri counted 89 cars.

There's the last one.  Modern trains don't 
need a caboose or conductor.  Everything
the conductor once did is handled electronically.

 Even after the train was gone, the
excitement lingered.

The tracks are clear-- lets' take a look.

Train watching is still fun!

We talked about the rails, wooden ties, gravel
bed, and iron spikes.

The very next day, Claire and Evan got to
see the afternoon freight train and investigate
the tracks, too.

DO NOT try this at home!

Here's 14 seconds worth of the excitement
if you can stand it.
video

I don't think we'll go running every time
we hear a train, but I won't be surprised
if the kids ask to go again.  There's nothing
else quite like the anticipation of the rumbling
engines and clattering freight cars zooming by.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kings and Queens of the Mountain

At our old house, we had a stream with
waterfalls, and a tree house.  At the new house,
we have a whole mountain!
Since it's the only "mountain" in Manly (North
Southern Pines), let's call it Manly Mountain.

Here's Bri and Hunter's first introduction
to the mountain. Love at first sight!

It's a long way down.  OR up.

We could call it Lookout Mountain, but
that's already taken.

The plateau at the top provides ample
play space for imaginative play.

But for sheer challenges, there's nothing
like the climb.

I'm on top of the world!

Bri and the others have energy to climb
the steep slopes over and over again.

It's a great workout.

Don't back up, Hunter!

Is that where I was a minute ago?

This is the low side of the mountain.

Evan can strike a super hero pose on
a moment's notice.

Claire keeps her balance as she follows
this ravine.

You don't climb to get to the top or bottom.
You climb to start all over again.

And sometimes, just to be different,
you try sliding.

Just look at that expression of determination.

As we were playing Roy Rogers, Claire 
took the usual role of Bullet, Roy's dog.
Lo, and behold-- I found this ancient artifact
among the rubble on the mountain.  Obviously
a German Shepherd.

Claire and the others have also supplemented
their personal rock collections from their
amazing finds.  When they find Indian Paint
Rock, they may share it with Grandma so
she can write messages on stone.

Proof that the world is not flat.

Now Claire has a sliding disciple.
Check those pants for holes, Mom.

Claire has even set up a nice office on the
mountainside, including a computer, cell
phone, and a series of gates that open by
remote control.  One gate is for spaceships.

Evan engages in a little target practice.
Sometimes with dirt clods, sometimes with
stones.  He is closely supervised by Grandpa
when he has projectiles in his hand, don't worry.

For my readers with plenty of time on your
hands, I have a series of short videos of some
of the action at Manly Mountain.

Bri scales the mountain (31 sec.)
video

Claire and Evan , movin' on up
video

Evan bounces from peak to peak (7 sec.)
video

Mountain goats? (36 sec.)
video

Mountain climbing has its ups and downs.
(12 sec.)
video

Claire agrees about the ups and downs.
(23 sec.)

video

So, we have our own almost-private mountain.
It's not The Lonely Mountain.
It's not Mount Doom.
It's not Witch Mountain.
Whatever you call it, it's FUN!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Old House, New House and New Adventure for the Grandkids

When the grandkids found out we were moving,
they were a little skeptical as to whether there could
be as much fun at the new house as there always was
at the old house.  The first 15 pictures show some of
our last good times at the old place.  Then we'll compare
with what happened at the new place.

Bri demonstrates how to walk on coffee cans.
Not so easy, but she made it look like child's play.
So to speak.

Hunter was determined to do it next,
and was most successful.

Hunter plays a few rounds of children's
Mastermind, a logic game which comes 
easily to the kids.  They'll move up to the
adult version before you know it.

Hunter worked like a Trojan to cultivate
the area where we had the last big bonfire.

Bri shows one of the first camellias of 2016.

Hunter takes freeze tag seriously.  So seriously
that he wouldn't permit himself to bring his
tongue back in his mouth until unfrozen.

Now Evan and Claire have arrived to join
the fun.  Bri chases Evan in a game of
Zombie Tag.  Chilling!

Grandma Judy shows the kids how our
transplanted daffodils are thriving in their
temporary home.

The boys get the first turn at helping make
homemade lemonade.

It looks like the boys are playing checkers,
but they're actually playing Carroms, an
old family favorite of ours.

Claire demonstrates another game you can
play with the coffee cans: Balls and Cans.
This was a popular game on Atlanta's
Popeye Club with Officer Don in the late
50's and early 60's.

The kids love sampling the fruit of their
labors in the kitchen.  The lemonade is
dee-licious!

All of the kids have enjoyed marble raceways,
but this day, Claire sets out to build the raceway
to end all raceways.  She is an awesome designer,
and that's no surprise.  She also exhibits notable
patience and perseverance.

Bri is delighted with her coloring effort.
That's something we ALL love, including
Grandma and Grandpa.

Claire is showing a spark of interest in the
piano.  In fact, all the children will occasionally
fiddle with it.  Or is that possible?

Well, that's a pretty good sampler.  At least 
one of the children feared that the toys would
all be left at the old house.
NEVER FEAR!!
Let's see just what the kids got into on their
first visits to the new (rental) house.

For one thing, they pulled out a box of 
Micro Pets and some mini stuffed pets
for a grand session of imaginative play.

And how's this for imaginative.  This puppy 
dog "teacher" arrived at pet school in the
Bat Copter. Wish I'd thought of that.

Hallelujah!  The kids are now big enough
to offer each other rides in the wagon!
However, Grandpa is still on call when 
little arms get tired.

Hunter and the others are sure glad to learn
that our special tire swings have a new home
at the new house.  Two sturdy dogwoods
willingly offer their limbs.

All four kids have tree climbing in their
genes.  And in three generations, no broken
arms or legs.  Keep your eyes crossed.  : )

Hunter knows if we're going to play Rock
School at the new place somebody, namely
him, had better do some sprucing up.

Yeah, maybe I need me a "yard man."

They like being just a short stroll from
horse country.

How about these for some striking poses?

Claire and this tree will get along just fine.

Evan is Mr. Tough Guy and ready for 
a humongous SPIN!

Can I stay up here?  I LOVE this tree!

And this tree loves ME!

These two like pet school, too.
The best toys are the ones that DON'T
do everything on their own.

Of course, Easter egg hunts are an instant
hit at the old house and the new house.
The search is fun, plus Grandma stuffs 
them with either candy or money. Oh, yeah!

I'm not sure I'm ready for this, but Hunter
is showing me his skate-boarding moves.

My junior farmers just love to suck on
broom straw, which happens to grow all
over this neighborhood.

The swinging has just begun.  The sky's 
the limit for adventure for our four
wonderful grandkids.  Because when they're
around . . .

ADVENTURE.
JUST.
HAPPENS!!!