Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adventures in Atlanta, GA

After the Columbus Botanical Gardens, we climbed back in the car and headed for Atlanta, GA. It was a pretty nice drive. One of the first things you see as you're entering the city is the airport, which actually goes over the top of the freeway. We had planes landing and taking off on top of us as we were driving down the freeway.
We made the mistake of hitting town right as rush hour was in full force, so traffic was NUTS!!! We drove around downtown, and headed towards our hotel. The skyline was pretty cool.
We finally found our hotel, and got settled in. It was definitely cleaner than the first one we stayed in, and we liked it a lot better. There was no pool, but we were okay with that, I'll choose clean over swimming pool any day. We ate a yummy pizza dinner, and then just hung out in the hotel for the evening to let Erik catch up on some much needed sleep. (I think Ethan needed to catch up on some sleep too, he was pretty worn out from being up late working on his presentation and than adventuring around GA all day).
Wednesday morning we got up and going bright and early. We made a beeline for the Georgia Aquarium, which is the largest in the world. It was a little bit more spendy than we hoped, but totally awesome!!!! You walk in with these huge floor to ceiling tanks on either side of the corridor. These are Jack, and each one is several feet long.
 Our first stop was at a pool full of things you could reach in and touch. Erik didn't care much about the sea critters, but he sure was excited to splash!

 There were so many cool fish here!
 A lion fish:
 I really thought Erik would get bored after a minute or two, but he seemed to love watching the fish, and never really got tired of it.
 They had a tank with two albino alligators, super cool!
 Hundreds of varieties of Cichlids...
Stinging Nettle Jellyfish
This was our favorite exhibit, and the one we were most looking forward to before we came. This is the Ocean Voyager exhibit, and it was AWESOME! It is the only aquarium in the U.S. that has whale sharks and manta rays. It was sooooo cool! There was a moving walkway that went through a tunnel under the tank so that you can just stand there and stare, but still move through the exhibit.
This is a Grouper, I think he could've gobbled Erik up in about one bite. He was HUGE!!
This is a whale shark. I love how you can see his top side reflected on the surface of the water. These guys were huge! There were four of them in the tank, and they were spectacular to watch, I could've stayed there all day. Unfortunately, there were somewhere around 2000 school kids(I'm not being dramatic, that number was given to us by an aquarium employee) there on field trips that day, and there is only so much shrieking that a person can take.
You can barely see another whale shark in the distance behind me and Erik here.
We saw so many more awesome things here, but our camera battery was dying, so we had to turn it off.
After leaving the aquarium and filling up on McDonald's, we decided to check out Underground Atlanta. It is several city blocks that are among the oldest in the city, and when automobiles came into play and started competing for space with the trains, the city built viaducts over the original roadways so that the trains could go underneath while auto traffic could go above. Consequentially, portions of 6 city blocks found themselves to be underground. It's now like a giant mall, and you can go down under the surface roads and shop in all the little stores there. It was neat, but not as amazing as we thought it would be.
When we returned to the surface, we decided to wander around downtown Atlanta and see the sights. Like this parking garage...
Did you know the main CNN studio is in Atlanta? Well, now you know.
We ended our wanderings in the Olympic Centennial Park, where Erik played in the fountain for a few minutes. We watched the fountain show (with the water jets timed to some music), and then headed back to our car.
Erik was worn out after all the fun, and slept almost the entire way home. He missed out on seeing the biggest mountains we've seen since we moved here, aren't they enormous?
This was such a fun trip!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our trip to Georgia...

This week we are in Georgia, enjoying a family road trip and some new adventures. Ethan had an opportunity to speak at a big conference in Columbus, Georgia, so we all went along for the ride. Columbus is just under two hours from Atlanta, so we decided to take an extra day or two and see the sights. Can you tell that we're all exciting to be getting out of Starkville for a few days?

One thing we love about road trips is getting to see new country. And, after being here in the south where there are trees every direction you look (literally, you cannot see anything but trees), it's always nice to see some wide open spaces like these...
 These were both taken in Alabama, which we're discovering is probably our favorite part of the south that we've been in yet. Now, you may not think this next one qualifies as open space, but come live in the Starkville area for a couple of months and you will discover that it is almost a physical relief to your eyes to be able to see for such a long way as you could here. We're so used to not seeing anything on the horizon but a line of trees that too see a hill rising in the distance was exciting.
We crossed the Chattahoochee River, and entered Georgia. This was Ethan's first time ever in this state, and my first time here outside of the airport.

We got to our hotel Monday night and Erik and I settled in to hang out while Ethan went down to the convention center to sign in to the conference and take care of a few things that had to be done before his presentation Tuesday morning. Erik was so excited to be out of the car and in a new place to explore. I was not so excited to have him crawling around on our less than clean hotel room floor, but he'd been in the car for something like 5 or 6 hours, what was I to do? So I ended up crawling around after him making sure nothing went in his mouth, and we all survived.
Ok, so this is before Ethan left, but oh well...
That night, after Ethan got back, we decided to see what Erik thought of the swimming pool. Now you have to understand that Erik has always been afraid of running water. He hates fountains, the water running in the bathtub freaks him out, and the ocean was the most terrifying experience of his life! So, we were expecting this whole party to last all of two minutes once he saw the water, especially when we got in and it was definitely on the cold side. We started by just dipping his toes in, and he didn't react, so we let him stand up to his knees on the first step into the pool. Then we showed him how to splash his hands in it and he thought that was pretty fun. Soon he was up to his neck, splashing and kicking and having a great time. I think he got half the pool up his nose, and the other half went down his throat, but he didn't care. He was laughing and chattering and just having the time of his life. We did have to take him out after about 10 minutes though because he was obviously getting pretty darn cold, though it didn't slow him down at all. We took him and warmed him up in a nice warm bath and then we all went to bed. Unfortunately, it's a little hard to take pictures when everyone is in the pool and your camera isn't water proof, so we didn't get any of our swimming fun on camera. Maybe next time we go swimming we'll see what we can do.

Tuesday morning, we all went to breakfast in the hotel lobby, and then Erik and I went back to bed and Ethan headed over to the convention center to do his thing. Erik and I spent the most part of the morning just sleeping and hanging out, but it came time to check out, so we got that taken care of and then went to wander downtown Columbus for a little while until Ethan was done. It was really cool! There are tons of really neat historical buildings, and I could've stayed well entertained for hours just enjoying the history and the architecture. As the city has expanded and threatened diferent historic homes and buildings, the city has moved the buildings to a special historical district in downtown. This means almost all of the old buildings are together in a couple of blocks and you can wander around and see them all. It's so fun! All the old mills and factories along the river front have all been turned into hotels and convention centers and University buildings, so it all looks like something out of a history book. It was so fun to spend an hour just checking it all out.
When we finally met back up with Ethan, we headed to lunch at Golden Corral (SO EXCITING! This is the first time we've had Golden Corral since we moved to Idaho!), and then we decided to go check out the Columbus Botanical Gardens. A brochure we read said that it is among the biggest botanical gardens in the south, so we couldn't pass it up! It is centered around an old farm house and outbuildings, which were built in the 1890's. The farm house is open for tours so we decided to check it out. It was really a neat house, and quite large for a homestead farmhouse.
Erik seemed to really enjoy it!
We left the farm house all excited to go and tour the gardens, but it turns out this is a fairly new park, and not fully developed yet. We saw all there was to see without hiking through 20 something acres of forest (that's what makes it one of the biggest, not the garden part), and then we were back in the car and on our way, slightly disappointed. Erik in particular was not so happy about getting back into the car! Good thing it was only about 2  hours to Atlanta, and it was naptime! :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Our gardening adventures continued...

So far my little garden seems to be doing surprisingly well. I've got tomatoes and strawberries ripening up for harvest, and everything else is just growing as fast as it can. Well, almost. I had only potted a few of my plants before I ran out of the potting soil I had gotten, so a few of my things are planted in expensive organic Miracle Grow potting soil that said it was made just for veggie gardens, while the rest are all planted in less expensive Miracle Grow garden soil. The few things planted in the more expensive soil are not doing as well, which means I may not end up getting any peppers or peas, and only one of my two tomato plants is really thriving, although they both have fruit on them right now. Here you can see the two tomato plants and the two pepper plants. The front tomato was planted in the cheap soil, while the other three things were in the expensive soil.
I learned a few days after I planted these that they are determinate tomatoes, which means that they will put on all their fruit at once and then be done for the growing season. Not exactly what I wanted. I want indeterminate tomatoes, which will produce fruit a few at a time all season long. So, I think I'm going to get some more plants started, and when these ones are done producing, I'll get rid of them and put some more in their place. The growing season here is long enough that I think I'll be able to get away with it. These tomatoes are supposed to be cherry tomatoes, but check out the size of the fruit I'm getting!
Now for the part you've all been waiting for, the shoe organizer garden! I've been pleasantly surprised so far with how this is doing. I've harvested both Basil and Parsley, and I have one little strawberry almost ready to eat! My green onions have sprouted, but are still pretty tiny. My basil is looking a bit yellow, so I need to do some research and find out what they need to perk up a bit. Other than that it all seems to be doing really well. The biggest problem I have with it is that they need very large amounts of water. They dry out super fast, and on really hot days (of which we've had several already), they really need to be watered twice a day. I don't know what I'm going to do when we go out of town, because these babies aren't going to make it for more than a day without something to drink.

Here's my crook neck squash plant. It seems to be doing really well, and even looks like it might be trying to blossom. I'm pretty excited about how big it's getting, but at the same time, I thought I had a vining variety, and I don't think I do. I don't have room for this thing to spread out, so if I can't make it grow UP instead of OUT, then it's going to have to go. Maybe I can at least get one or two squash from it before it gets so big I have to do away with it.
This little guy in the center here is my cucumber plant. Before you compare him to the big squash plant you were just looking at, remember that the squash was already 6 inches tall when I planted it, and I started the cucumber from seed, so it has some catching up to do. The little tiny guys around the edge of the pot are carrots, we'll see how they do. I'm worried they don't have enough soil depth to really get a good root system going, but I'll just have to wait and see.
Here are my two little pea plants. Also started from seed, they seem to be doing okay. They were also planted in the more expensive soil, and seem a little yellow. It's hard to know though whether they are struggling because of the heat or because of the soil. They're just having a kinda rough time.
So in addition to needing to start some new tomatoes, and probably replace my squash plant, I have three medium sized pots that my neighbor gave me that I need to come up with something fill with. Any ideas?