Monday, June 30, 2014

First Landing State Park

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Our trip to First Landing State Park near Virginia Beach has been a hit.  There’s almost been too many things to do: mini golf, lots of restaurants, the ocean, the Bay, the Lynnhaven inlet, the Boardwalk, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, False Cape State Park, Park Ranger programs, hiking….  And that’s just the list of things we have gotten to.  The list is equally long of what we haven’t done!

Austin got buried in the sand for the first time, as did both kids.  That elicited a bunch of smiles from passersby on the beach for some strange reason.  I got my first jellyfish sting, though it was very mild.  Apparently jellyfish peak at the Park in about a month or so, so I am special to have done this now.  Tucker and I caught a crab on the beach, and then accidentally lost it again.  We had less luck at the crabbing Ranger program, because the Bay was a bit too choppy that night.  Tucker still liked slinging the raw chicken meat on a string into the Bay.

Molly started the week hating the waves and has ended the week liking them a lot in the little innertube floaty thing she fell in love with.  At our longest hike of the week (about 2.5 miles) Molly fell into a make-believe game towards the end, and decided the whole swamp was her house.  She made us all go back several tenths of a mile so that she could be in her “house” for longer.  Every park sign we passed was a TV, computer or a CD player, except for the sign with “M” on it, which was for mittens, and where she stores her winter clothes.  Next hike she goes on is going to involve Alice and Angelina ballerina and their house.  Unfortunately, they have a wicked stepmother so their house might be more complicated….

Norfolk Botanical Garden was fine—but it was really hot out so hard to fully enjoy.  Walking in 96 degrees and humid in the full sun kind of drains the charm out of anything.  There were some awesome children’s play areas that the kids could have really gotten into—but I know I was personally relieved to leave the day we visited.  We ended up finding a place that served gluten free chocolate chip pancakes on the way home, and that was probably a bigger hit.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Interactive Conservation Map

[Note to Midway Farm fans: this is a test entry for a work web page….]

Welcome to the local water quality and conservation map of the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro area, funded by the Campbell Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (Bay Plates)!

SAW interactive mapClick on the map to learn more about…

  • · Who has done note-worthy rain gardens or innovative low impact development (LID) projects in your neighborhood.
  • · Who has won awards for their historic reuse or exemplary conservation design.
  • · Where the protected lands, conservation easements, and agricultural districts are in your area.
  • · And much more!

How it works…

  • · Click on a point on the map for more information. If the pop-up box is obscured by your screen, use the mouse to pan the map to get a better view.
  • · Press the zoom Zoom button button in the upper left corner of the screen to zoom in or out.
  • · Press the layerLayer buttonbutton in the upper right corner of the screen to choose which layers to display at a time.  Click the box next to each layer to turn it on or off.

Additional Information on Map Layers

  • The streams layer in the interactive map does not have all stream names listed in it.  To explore streams in more depth go to USGS’s Streamer interactive web map.
  • Ag/Forestal Districts are rural zones reserved for the production of agricultural products and timber and the maintenance of open space land. In essence, a district constitutes a voluntary agreement between landowners and the government that no new, non-agricultural uses will take place in the district. An agricultural/forestal district provides much stronger protection for farmers and farmland than does traditional zoning, but is not permanent.
  • Conservation easements provide permanent protection from development. Land that is under conservation easement is restricted from future development.
  • LID is short for Low Impact Development and includes practices like permeable pavers, rain gardens, rain barrels, bioretention facilities and other landscape features to deal with storm water as close to the source as possible.
  • Better Models for Development are a series of awards given by VCC since 2001 to recognize outstanding public and private projects that exemplify the principles of better development.

For more information, contact the Valley Conservation Council.

Friday, June 20, 2014

False Cape State Park


It’s not very often you see a beach like this.  In fact, I think this was the first time I had been on a totally deserted beach.  False Cape State Park is so remote because it is on a spit of land beyond Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge which doesn’t allow vehicular traffic.  So the only way to False Cape is walking, hiking, boating or a once-daily tram (which we took) through the four miles of the Refuge.  I expected since we’d be arriving with the rest of the tram that there would be some other people on the beach, but aside from one other group who conveniently left before we did, it was empty.

The dunes were amazing; big and vast. One odd thing was seeing some trucks racing down the beach.  Apparently, some grandfathered beach-driving permits distributed long ago in North Carolina are still in circulation, but those permits are gradually dying out.


There are campsites really close to the beach so this would be a fabulous place to backpack/bike/boat into. The only drawback were biting flies, both normal sized and massive.  That could get really old camping.


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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Recent Happenings


School is out today for Tucker, but we’ve been enjoying the river already and generally pretending it’s arrived. Some highlights from this Spring….


Tucker went to a UVa baseball game with David and Austin and loved it.  It also helped him understand the game at a new level (now when we play in the yard, he makes sure to keep an accurate count of balls/strikes, etc.).  At the beginning of t-ball this year he could barely catch and by the end he made catches to get people out in games (outs are a very infrequent occurrence in t-ball).  Maybe he’s a future 3rd baseman because he can throw far too.


Yesterday Tucker hitched Clarence to our wagon and put a treat at the end of a pole so that Clarence would pull him around the yard.  Clarence just stood there and grinned.  The treat was not a big motivator.  Molly spent the night in a pop-up bus play tent behind her futon in the corner of her room, with approximately 6 water bottles—but it was hard to get a picture given the tight squeeze.

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This is Molly earlier this Spring when she bullied her friend Luke into dressing up with her.  And her at her Bible study concert—she was much more interested in snagging her favorite teacher’s lap and grinning than actually singing.  But she didn’t actually turn away and face backwards this time.

And Tucker made his debut as an altar boy this weekend while I was away.  Henny surreptitiously grabbed some photos for me.  Tucker said it was the best part of his weekend (even better than going to his grandparents’ pool for the first time this season, watching Frozen with his grandparents, or going to the river…), and that he likes being up there better than being in the congregation. He said his favorite thing was when he brought the incense to the altar for it to be used (ie his favorite part was when he was on the spot, all eyes on him, doing something he’s never done before!).  Wow.  I tried to post a video him at his author reading at school last week (video didn’t work) but they had this “about the author” blurb that the teacher read—Tucker said he wanted to be a priest.  Given that most of the other little boys picked ninja warrior, or video game designer, Tucker’s choice turned some heads!

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