Photography, travel

Chips and Caverns

Here’s another of our spring break adventures. We took another day trip to Shenandoah Caverns and the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory.


We hit the potato chip factory first (hey—gotta have your priorities straight!) Route 11 is a small company, local to the area. I especially love their sweet potato chips. Yum!


Through the glass of their small showroom, we got to see the whole potato chip process from frying to seasoning to bagging. We also learned that they remove the skins from the potatoes with sandpaper. Kinda neat. There are samples to try as well as bags of chips to buy. That day, we got to sample salt and pepper chips. Pretty tasty.

Tea Garden
Tea Garden

Around the corner from that, we went to Shenandoah Caverns. Though Luray Caverns is more well-known, Shenandoah is a lot of fun too. They also have a tiny 1931 elevator to access the caverns.

Cascade Hall

During our about one mile walking tour, we saw hanging strips of bacon, the Grotto of the Gods, and the Capitol Dome, among others. Fox really enjoyed his time in “the caves.” He learned how to distinguish stalactites from stalagmites—stalactites come from the top.

Capitol Dome

Photography, travel

Visiting with Mr. Jefferson

IMG_7546 IMG_7518

During Fox’s recent spring break, we took him on several adventures. We took a day trip to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson started Monticello at 26 and honed it for over 50 years, seeking to create his version of the ideal home.

In a time before refrigeration, Jefferson stored fresh fish for the table in this pond.

Fox knows Jefferson as the 1-2-3 president. He was the first Secretary of State, the second Vice President, and the third president. Much as The Pilot and I remembered from our own school trips there, Fox loved the clock on the wall of the entryway the best (it tells the days of the week)—though they had to cut a hole into the basement for the last three days.


We were there in very early spring so most of the grounds weren’t quite in bloom. They have a gorgeous new visitors center and buses that carry you to the top of the hill to walk around and see the grounds. (Back in my day, we had to hike from the parking lot 🙂

View toward Mulberry Row and the vegetable gardens beyond.

Even at six, Fox really seemed to enjoy his glimpse into history. Monticello is definitely worth a visit, if you happen to be nearby.

A fun perspective shot of the back of the nickel Monticello with the real thing (my mom is holding the coin 🙂



Cherry Blossoms

With Waterlouge
View of the Jefferson Memorial across the tidal basin

I grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs so I’m used to cherry blossom fever. The Pilot and I got married at peak bloom thirteen years ago so we both have a special soft spot for the delicate pink blooms. We decided to take Fox to see the blossoms at the National Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Here are some shots we took this year. I also included some shots treated with the Waterlogged app.

Another view of the tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial, and cherry blossoms in bloom.
Close-up of the blossoms.
With Waterlouge
View of the Washington Monument through the blossoms (with Waterlogue app)


Japan gifted the trees to us in 1912 and, after the first batch fell to disease, the second trees were planted all around the city, but most famously around the tidal basin at the Jefferson Memorial. They bloom for only about a week each year, an event prized by tourists and locals alike.

If you just want to see the trees, the Capitol side garden has a beautiful grove that is not nearly as crowded as the tidal basin. We actually had some of our wedding photos taken there and they are some of the best shots of all.

Reserve your paddleboat early!

We did have a wonderful time but the festival is very, very crowded so it’s difficult to maneuver around the narrow cherry blossom paths. If you want to ride the paddleboat on the basin, make sure you reserve online. The National Mall is also in walking distance, as well as the location of the closest Metro stop (Smithsonian), so you could combine your visit with a trip to one of the museums. We hit Air & Space that day too. As there is no nearby parking and traffic is very heavy, Metro transport is also recommended.

View of the trees in the Smithsonian Castle courtyard. (With Waterlogue app).
View of the Smithsonian Castle (with Waterlogue app).


They usually bloom the first week of April so if you’re planning for 2016 book now!