Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Showing Off NC

Last weekend we were treated to first-time visitors to the Rutledge household as Amy's father Craig and her half-sister Tracie made the trek from Paducah, Kentucky to North Carolina. It was Tracie's first trip on an airplane -- and hopefully not the last as the return flight was slowed by one of those frustrating 2+ hour weather delays. But the visit was a lot of fun as it gave Craig and Tracie a chance to get to know Owen, Gus, and Tess as well as reconnect with Amy. The boys completely took to Tracie, and Craig got to experience how calm and mellow Tess can be as a baby. And the trip gave Amy and I a chance to show off our area a bit and take us out of our suburban comfort zone.

The crew went into downtown Raleigh to historic Pullen Park for a picnic where the kids (and adults) had a ball riding the carousel, paddle boats, and train around the park. Then we ventured over to Durham on a gorgeous spring Sunday afternoon to check out Duke University, where despite the negative connotation that is associated with Duke (e.g. town & gown, elitist, Coach K, etc.) it truly is a beautiful place with incredible old buildings, oak- and magnolia-lined walkways, and the massive Duke Gardens.

Amy & I gladly took the opportunity of the extra helping hands as we all went out for a late lunch on a patio at a Mexican Restaurant in downtown Durham. That marked the first time we had ventured out to eat (other than takeout) with our newly-expanded family.

The weekend was a good break from the norm. We hope to be able to build on it for future visits.


Picnicking at historic Pullen Park in downtown Raleigh.

Craig & I took the boys for a paddle boat ride around the lake. Only once did we venture off course into the trees that draped over from the shore. Of course that's what the boys remember about the boat ride -- "we went into the trees, Dad, into the trees!" Next time, 2 three year-olds I know are going to be paddling while the adults "steer."

We thought the train ride around the perimeter of the park was going to be the highlight for Owen & Gus. But actually the ride on the "motor boats" complete with bell ringing and splashing took the prize in their eyes.

Tess was all smiles from her car seat perch in the stroller as she wound her way through the park.

Duke Chapel is quite a remarkable site as a backdrop to the Duke campus. It was built in 1935 for $2 million (!) and with its stained-glassed windows gives visitors a majestic sense of appreciation when you walk up to it.

I was able to snap a quick shot of everyone in the only 5 second stretch where the boys sat still all weekend....

....and I was this close to convincing Craig to take a souvenir back with him to Kentucky! ;-)

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