Thanksgiving in North Carolina

We just returned today from a week long trip to North Carolina. We went to visit my sister and we also got to see Ken's sister. We had a very fun trip and tons of pictures! So beware of a very long post!!
We drove down to the Twin Cities on Friday night and stayed with the Davidson's who had kindly agreed to take us to the airport. Our flight left at 7 am and so we decided we should leave at 5 am (getting there around 5:30, leaving us an hour and 1/2 so which we figured would be fine being it was that early). Ken set the alarm on his cell phone for 4:30 and we went to bed. Getting up that early wasn't real easy but we did and were almost ready to go when I happened to look at a clock. It wasn't almost 5 am, it was almost 4 am. Ken's phone had not been changed for daylight savings time! We ended up leaving early anyway as we were pretty much ready. When we got there however we had to wait a while for the check in place to open as we were on the first flight of the day. Fortunately I had packed breakfast which we ate while we waited.

On arriving how fun it was to see cousins and my sister. We were also ready to explore this state we had never been to before.
Mara as the oldest was popular for story telling and other creative play ideas.

Lars and Aaron had a wonderful time playing on the huge pile of pine needles.
Even Jonathan got to do some entertaining by reading a book aloud.
On Monday we braved some moist weather and went to a park where we collected sweet gum seed balls and also found mistletoe. I had never seen that growing before. Holly was another plant I had never seen growing before.
While Martha and I took the kids to the park, Ken stood in line for around 4 hours to have his book signed by Sarah Palin. Ken likes to read while he flies and had bought that book to read on the trip and then it just so happened that she was in town. It was an interesting experience for him and amazing to all of us the hundreds of people that came out and stood outside in the rain to have their book signed. Hundreds had to be turned away as she had to leave for another appointment.

On Monday night Ken's sister Luann and her husband Brian arrived at Martha's house as well. It was a blessing to be able to see both sides of our family in one trip.

On Tuesday we all took off East towards the coast. I had fun looking at all the scenery along the way like cotton in the fields, southern swamps with interesting trees and Spanish moss. We drove to Wilmington where we could visit the USS North Carolina. We found that to be incredibly interesting!

Mara, manning a gun on deck.

Megan and Heidi on deck.
Jonathan focusing and seeing where the big guns are pointing. The was up inside the huge gun that was on deck.

Then we did some major exploring below decks. It was amazing how they fit everything on. Thankfully the had arrows for us to follow and some parts blocked off or we could have gotten hopelessly lost. This boat was used in World War 2 and had over 2,000 people working on it.

Everything was set up to serve the 2,000 plus men that were there. The amount of space devoted to food preparation was amazing. They had a bakery, a veggie fixing room (those people got higher pay than most- I am still trying to figure that out), a couple of rooms for doing dishes, a couple of regular kitchens and a butcher shop. Above is pictured the meat I found hanging there. Here is Aaron in one of the soup kettles. There were about 5 of them sitting together.

Uncle Brian, Mara, Molly and Megan enjoying "lunch" at one of the many tables.

After walking and walking and going up and down stairs for a long time we finally found some beds! These were hanging five high and were actually fairly comfortable.

We learned that privacy was certainly not a part of Navy life. The rooms for this sort of crew were packed (some officers did get their own (little) room) and in the bathroom any sense of modesty would have vanished completely. As you brushed your teeth you could either stare at the row of toilets (which had little walls in between each seat but no door and the seats were simply set on a trough so you would watch everything drain under you from those at the other end- I am sorry- that is gross but we found it interesting.) or if you used the other row of sinks you could look in at the showers.
Ken with some of the ammunition.

In the powder room. (And they weren't powdering their faces.)
Lars, Molly, Heidi and Aaron sit on one of the anchors. After exploring this I would really love to ask my Grandpa a bunch of questions about his Navy time in WW2. I think I would be able to picture it better.

After seeing the boat we drove to the coastline. We had hoped to go to South Carolina so that we could check one more state off the list but it got to late so that didn't happen. We did at least get to see the Atlantic Ocean which was a first for our kids.

Here are Brian and Luann.

Megan was feeling very badly that we didn't bring swimsuits.... she was quite happy when we let her go wading. It was chilly out but that didn't seem to bother her and Aaron (Nor Mara who tried it later). There were also quite a few surfers out which was fun to watch.
Kicking up some water.

It was beautiful being there at dusk.
Jonathan had fun building a sandcastle.
At home again and ready for bed, we quieted down with a story from Daddy/Uncle Ken.

Ken got in his first game of Candy land while we were there. (At the request of Heidi.)

On Thanksgiving day after the turkey and squash were put in the oven and breakfast was over, we enjoyed a morning walk.
It was quite fun to watch a 3 year old wearing cowboy boots skip along. It surely can make you smile!
On our walk we enjoyed looking at all the plants and natural stuff including these cactus.

We did some exploring and climbing through Kudzoo vine so we could gather stuff to decorate our Thanksgiving table with. I had fun making centerpieces with our foraged items.
The turkey turned out beautifully and Martha actually stuffed it. That is the first time we have actually had stuffing that was stuffed! :-)
Brian is an artist and had fun drawing pictures of the kids and also encouraging them in their drawing. The girls are all holding the pictures that Brian did of them and Jonathan is holding his self portrait.
We collected sweet gum seed pods to use for name tags. It was very fun to use the various items that are available in North Carolina that we don't have here in MN.
Martha had figured out how to make it a sit down dinner for all of us. Even though there were 6 adults and 11 children. It was a crowded table but very fun and yummy!

Martha and I had enjoyed baking the day before (and also another guest brought over some nutty brownies and fudge sauce) so we had a good variety of sweets to eat.

After the big Thanksgiving dinner we enjoyed a relaxing rest of the day which included visiting, playing games and talking with friends and family in other parts of the world via phone.

On Friday we decided to visit the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville. It is a very nice (and free!) museum. They had neat displays and theaters as well where we were able to learn a lot.

In this picture we were preparing to "jump" out of the plane. All the parachuting pictures and videos made me think that would be pretty neat to try. The kids thought it looked cool too.

Here they are part of some consultations over in Iraq (or maybe it was Afghanistan.

On Friday evening we went to A Dicken's Holiday in downtown Fayetteville. Their were people wandering around in the streets dressed up in Victorian clothing. Their were also lots of craft booths to browse in. We didn't really know what we were going to, we just thought it sounded kind of fun. It wasn't super exciting but we did have a good time.

The streets were all blocked off so you could walk all over on them. In the middle of one round about there was this neat looking building that was just like a porch underneath but you could climb up to a room upstairs. In the room they had various displays that told about the Victorian Era. That was interesting.
Downstairs Ken had read a plaque that told what the building was originally used for- It was a place for auctioning slaves. When he told me that my stomach just felt a little sick. To think that my family was standing in the place that other families at one time had been torn apart against their will to be sold like merchandise. It is so horrific to think about! I do think it important to realize what has happened in the past so we can be sure to work so stuff like that doesn't happen now.
After that we went back to Martha's and attempted to go to bed early as we had to fly out at 6 am. (and of course get their earlier than that.)
We had a great trip and many fun memories!