Apples on Parade – Winchester

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday May 19, 2014 Under Claire, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner

World's Largest Apple

1557577_10202921609015927_3712239658793744621_nEvery time we go somewhere that has themed statues around town , Claire wants to go see them all.  For example, the Outerbanks has horses and New Bern has Bears. We never seem to have time to search them out. Today was a down day, Cobey wanted to work on his online class so I thought it was the perfect chance. We set out this morning to find the 14 apples in Winchester. We accomplished the goal several hours later with a stop at Target and lunch in between.  Who knew driving around town searching for apples could make you so tired. I am glad we had the best driver and tour guide- Sue Selznick. Now that is DIAMOND service.

We had lunch at Piccadilly Public House which was scrumptious. I had the Martha Washington Salad with Shrimp. Clare had a crab cake sandwich and black bean soup. She did not care for the black bean soup but I love she is trying new foods. Sue had a burger and fried pickles. They had several gluten free options.

We love the Pineapple one because it reminds of us of how we always feel in Winchester- Welcome! Here is a link to the all. The number 6 one is missing. It blew away in a storm.

Welcome Pineapple

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Alaska Trip – Land Tour

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday May 29, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Kid's Corner, Travel



We went on a five night land tour after the cruise. Every one on our bus was part of the homeschool group except for a group of four people. I am really glad that we did the land part and encourage anyone doing the cruise add land. This was our first group bus trip. We liked when luggage magically appeared in our room and we liked not having the stress of finding places. Claire loved having the Johnson girls to hang out with and of coarse Stormy or was is Smokey. We did not like having to be on someone else time schedule. It is a definite trade off. Overall, I am glad we made the choice to do the land tour so we could hang out with cool people.

Day One- Seward to Alyeska

We first went to the SeaLife Center. Claire liked the huge Harbor Seal and the touch tank. It was good but I think it would have been better with a special tour or encounter. We have been to much better aquariums. We then went on a Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise was fabalous. We saw  orcas, sea otters, harbor seals, birds,  humpback whales, porpoises and dahl sheep. It was truly mazing and a highlight of the trip. We also had lunch on Fox Island where kids tried to skip rocks. The lunch was okay but nothing special. We then boarded a glass-domed train to Alyeska. The scenery was beautiful and I really enjoyed this part of the trip. The kids did not seem to appreciate the train ride.


Fox IslandIMG_1501











Day Two- Anchorage

On our way to Anchorage we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  They had bears, eagles, moose, caribou, buffalo. It is a great what they are doing to help the animals. But it was not as nice as seeing them in the wild and reminded me of other backyards zoos. Claire really like the hurt bear and wanted to buy something in the shop to help him. In Anchorage we meet up with my friend Molly. I got to see her new baby and we just walked around the city. It was great to be able to spend sometime with her. We then spent some time in the Anchorage Museum. The kids liked the hands-on Imaginarium. Claire loved making a video.


Day Three and Four Denali

On the way to Denali, we got to stop for a great view of Mt McKinley. We had a clear day and a great view. When we got to the park we has a guided tour. Our tour guide was very informative and told lots of fun facts about the plant and wildlife. While at the National Park we checked out a back bag of activities. It was very well put together and the kids got to do lots of cool activities. They loved making molds of tracks. They tested quality of water, made prediction and more. The next day was a free day. We booked a combination tour of a flightseeing with glacier landing and a  ATV. Both ended up being one of the favorites things of the trip.  The scenery of the flight was absolutely beautiful and surreal. The ATV riding was just fun. We ended the day having the best meal of the trip at the Salomon Bake. They had great service and great food. It was one of the best days of our trip.









Day Five- Fairbanks

The last day was spent in Fairbanks which was my least favorite town. At this point I was ready to be home. We went to the El Dorado Gold Mine were we learned about gold mining and about the Alaskan pipeline. It was really neat that Claire made a necklace out of the gold she found.


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Chapel Hill Walking TourWe had three programs at Morehead Planetarium. We first went on a walking tour of the campus which was my favorite program. We learned how Chapel Hill and Franklin Street got its name. We learned about several old buildings and the stories behind them. The tour guides were great and kept it interesting.The next program was a Human Body Test. They reviewed all the systems of the body in a fun interactive way. This was the kids favorite part but how could it not be if you set a jelly bean on fire. The last program was a Solar System Odyssey. The best part of the show was the presentation afterwards of the night sky. I really enjoyed that part the most and learned a few things. We ended our day in Chapel Hill with lunch at McAlister’s. The food was good and the service was excellent. They are so friendly and nice there. It was a good day even if we were in Chapel Hill.

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Raglan Road Irish Pub – Downtown Disney

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Sep 28, 2012 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Travel

While I was at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference, I had a free day on Friday. It worked out great because I got to spend the day with one of my favorite people – Cindy Bentley-Roberts. The highlight of the day was when we went to Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney. They don’t have a separate gluten free menu but they said they could do almost anything on the menu gluten free. I decided on Fish and Chips with a side order of Onion Rings. Yes! Onion Rings and Fried Fish. It was so delicious and I loved ever bite. Cindy tried the Onion Rings and she said you could not tell they were gluten free. The atmosphere is great and at night they have irish dancing for entertainment. We had great service also. We were stuffed after the meal so we left and walked for a little bit then came back for dessert where I had Strawberry and Apple Crumb Pie with Ice Cream . Again, it was delicious. Cindy said all of her food was great also. She had bread pudding for dessert that looked awesome. If you are gluten free, you MUST put this place on your list. Even if you are not gluten free, you should go check this place out.

That evening we meet up with Starla Austin and went Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney. It was good and they were accommodating. I had the fish tacos on corn tortillas instead of flour. It was not as good as Raglan Road Irish Pub and I was wishing we had gone back there for dinner also. We did have a great table outside overlooking the water and could not ask for better company.  Overall a great day in Downtown Disney.

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The kids and I had an awesome day today in New Bern. We spent eight hours at Tryon Palace and could have spent more.  The only complaint was it was a little unclear where to go. We parked near the Governor’s Palace parking lot and then after trial and error found the Visitor Center. It would have been better to have parked at the parking lot at the Visitor Center. There is not a sign and it is not on the website but they do have a AAA discount so ask. Even without the discount the price is reasonable for what you get.

We started with the orientation film and honestly I can’t remember much about it. I usually say always start with the film but in this case maybe not. We then took photos at the picture booth which is really cool. You can change the background and then e-mail the photos to yourself. The kids could have spent lot of time here but we made them move on. I am a little worried because I have not gotten an e-mail yet. We next went into the Regional History Museum. I really like this museum. It had lots of exhibits where you could press a button and they would tell you a story about different people. The kids loved where you could design your own store sign.

The next stop was the Pepsi Family Center. This was the kids favorite part and ended up spending hours here.  You went into a time machine that took you back in time to 1834. When you got out of the time machine you went to town square where the mayor addressed you and told you about jobs you needed to do. You could be hands on a ship, work at printing press, work in a store, help cook a recipe by finding ingredients, make quilt squares or make turpentine. It was hands-on interactive and the kids loved it!

Yes, we did get to the Governor’s Palace which is what we came for. We had a guided tour of the house where the guide did a great job of telling about the history of the palace and about life during the time period. We also went to the stables and thru part of the gardens. I found Claire praying by the foundation and I had to take this photo. The kitchen was separate and there were guides in this two story building to give you more information and answer questions. There are also two houses that you get to see- the Dixon House and the Stanley House. They say they are not guided tours but they do have staff in the homes to tell you a little about the house. One house is a Federal style and the other is Georgian so it is nice to see the difference in styles.

We took a break for lunch and went to the Cow Cafe. They have a kids menu, sandwiches, and salads. It is a cute atmosphere with a cow motif . It is very reasonably priced and the food was good. I had a salad. Cobey devoured a hot dog and Claire had macaroni and cheese. They are famous for their ice cream which if you are lucky enough you can watch them make. I had pumpkin pie ice cream and it was wonderful. It is nothing fancy but a fun place to go with the kids for lunch.

After lunch and more time at the Pepsi Family Center, we found a few more bears to take photos of. Claire wants to come back and find all the bears in town and take photos. If I had to do it over, I would have spent two days in New Bern and paid for the two days Tyron Palace pass. (It is not much more.) If you don’t have kid’s the right age for the Pepsi Family Museum which I would say 6-11, then you could do it in a day. I would like to try the navigator which comes with the two day pass if we make it back. It is a great trip if you are doing NC History or Revolutionary History .



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We stopped on our way to Edenton at the Rocky Mount Children’s Museum. It was a good half way point to take a break. We stayed an hour which was plenty of time. We had been several years ago but most of the exhibits had changed. It was free because we have a children’s museum membership.  There is a dinosaur exhibit, an exhibit that shows how your body works, a preschool gym that the kids were almost too big for, two costumes to dress up and a natural science center. The science center has a touch tank that has nothing to touch in it.  It has an alligator and a python that are living. The best part of the day was when the Rhino started making noisy and scared me half to death.  Overall it is an okay museum but I would not go out of my way to go there. It is not no were near as good as a NC Museum of National Science or a Marbles.

We had dinner at Waterman’s Grill in Edenton which was recommended by our hotel.  It is downtown Edenton and not on the water.  You could see the water from some of the tables thru a small window but not from our table. I like being on the water when I eat seafood but besides that the atmosphere was nice. They don’t have a kid’s menu except for a shrimp plate for 7.50. I hate paying money for food for Claire that she will not eat. I had streamed shrimp, Cobey had a salad with fried oysters and Claire had the shrimp plate. The kids food looked really good and they enjoyed it. My shrimp was overdone but okay. Cobey had key lime pie for dessert that was excellent.  Overall it was good but for a family with kids, it was on the pricey side.


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We spent the whole day at the warehouse and most of it in clothing. We had to take off plastic, remove hanger, fold and box. We went through boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes. We had a great time talking with the people and learning more about the ministry of GAIN.  The kids loved the job of getting into the huge boxes and packing down the plastic and hangers. The final step (pictured above) is praying over the boxes.

Mission teams take the supplies that are packed this week and distribute them all over the world. This week they were packing clothes, school supplies, food, blankets and more.

One of the best things about this ministry is that EVERYONE can help. There were infants to the elderly at the warehouse that day.  A very small child can make a difference. I think it is important to start early teaching your children about helping others and pray GAIN will continue to allow children to participate even though they are small.


Jan, the innkeeper at The Artist Inn, recommended we try out the Turkey Hill Experience. After our day at the warehouse we headed to Columbia.  We had a great time. They have cow’s you can milk, a milk truck to drive and bad bacteria to zap.  It has a ball pit, a slide and lot of interactive exhibits.

You get to create your own ice cream flavor, make your own package and then film the commercial for it. I was worried the kids would be disappointed because they don’t actually make the ice cream like you make your chocolate bar but they LOVED it! Cobey loved making the commercial and made my commercial also!  (pictured below) At the end you get to taste ice cream and beverages made by Turkey Hill. The kids agreed it was much better than Ben and Jerry’s tour and just as good as Chocolate World.  I only wish they would  have a booklet like The Hershey Story. They rushed thru the museum and I think missed some of the educational pieces. I would also have liked to heard more about the story of the Turkey Hill family. I hear it is a good one! We would go back for sure it was a fun evening!

We ended the evening with dinner at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen. We loved the atmosphere and the food was excellent. The bill was cheaper than Shady Maples and I did not even have to wait it line once.  Two great recommendations by Jan – another reason we love staying there.

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You would think after the Chocolate World ride, Create Your Own Chocolate Bar and the trolley ride, we would have heard enough about Mr. Hershey and had enough sweet, but we decided to head for The Hershey Story museum. It had been a long time since I had been and it had mixed reviews so I was a little unsure.  I decided I love the story of Mr. Hershey and reinforcement of the story would not be so bad.

If you have kids, spend the extra three dollars per kid and do the Apprentice Program. They have to find things and answer questions and they get stamps and punches along the way. The staff was AWESOME and helpful. The kids got way more out of the museum then they would have otherwise. At the end they get their photo and name put into a newspaper article and printed. They loved it! Also while we were there we also did the Chocolate Lab, where we made chocolate cobwebs and learned about how chocolate was made. The class was interesting and kept the kids attention.

If I had to choose between Chocolate World and The Hershey Story it would be a hard choice. People who say it is the same thing are wrong. Chocolate World is more entertaining while The Hershey Story is more educational.  There is some overlapping but hearing something twice is not a bad thing. However, I would do the Create Your Own Chocolate Bar at Chocolate World not The Hershey Story. It is more expensive but totally different experience. Chocolate Lab was the best for teaching them about how chocolate is made though. Cobey’s favorite thing was Create Your Own Chocolate Bar and Claire could not pick because she loved it all.  And for once I agree with Claire- I can’t choose.



We spent the rest of the afternoon at GAIN Warehouse in Mt Joy.  Claire was VERY disappointed to find out that Richard (the friend she made last time) was not their this time. We brought in four boxes of clothes we had collected from our COOP and hundreds of bracelets that the AHG girls made. It took Claire a long time to put in all the quarters and coins she had collected. I was proud of her!  We spent the rest of the time packing care packages and boxing up new clothes. It was my favorite part of the day.

On the way home, The Artist Inn is like our second home, we had dinner at Shady Maple. When we drove into the parking lot it was like driving up to an amusement park. I have never seen so many cars at a restaurant. I am not sure why I thought this was a good idea since I have never liked buffets. This is a buffet on steroids. You stand in line to pay first. It was $35 for the three of us no bad but not great. You then stand in line to be seated. After you are seated, you have to navigate through lots of people to several different lines. This is not easy when you have to do it times three. People where eating in the lines, there was spilled food everywhere and did I mention people everywhere. It was not relaxing at all. The kids liked the huge variety of food but it was not for me and I will not be back.

We finally made it to The Artist Inn where Jan had decorated the house with lots of pumpkins just for us!! 🙂  It was nice to be able to clean out the car, have plenty of room to spread out and relax. I love that place!



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An Evening at Inner Harbor

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 7, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

The drive was miserable. The GPS took us a strange way thru DC and added almost an hour to the the already long drive. We only stopped once to go to the bathroom. We ate lunch in the car with food we had packed to save money and time. We arrived at Inner Harbor at almost four. I had wanted to take the kids to the aquarium before but it is a little pricey.  For admission and the dolphin show it would have cost us 102 dollars. I found a special if you enter after five on Fridays in October so we purchased our tickets for 48 and then headed for dinner.

The place I had in mind for dinner was closed so we ended up at J Paul’s Tavern. The atmosphere was great. We ate outside looking out on the harbor.  Bruce and I had steamed shrimp, Cobey had crabcake sliders and Claire had grilled cheese. The food was excellent! We told the waitress we were in a hurry and the service was extra fast. The kid’s meals came with a great ice cream sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. They gave Cobey one even though he did not have a kid’s meal. The prices were reasonable for the location and quality but not cheap. Kids meals were 7 and entrees between 10 and 30.  It was a good meal and I would return.

After dinner, we headed for the aquarium. It was better than I remember and I was impressed with the exhibits.  There is not a huge impressive shark tank where they dive like at tother aquarium but some of the smaller aquariums were amazing. Some were just stunning.  There were also animals that I had not seen before. I loved the tanks in the rainforest exhibit because the fish and animals were so different there. We also saw a sloth and learned some facts about them.  Next we went to the dolphin show which was cute. They shared a few facts about dolphins and the ocean. The kids absolutely loved it!

After the show, we went into the newest exhibit- Jellies Invasion. This was the only time I  regretted the discounted tickets because it was packed. I was stepped on twice. Even though it was crowded, I wanted to stay because they had some very cool different jellyfish. It is a well put together exhibit and wish I could have enjoyed it more.

The last stop, besides the gift shop for Claire to buy a dolphin of course, was the Australian  exhibit. I loved it because Claire got to feed an archer fish. The fish spits at the insect in a trees to get it to fall out of the tree. The fish got Claire right in the face. She loved it!  She walked away saying this was the best aquarium in the world. The dolphins and archer fish were by far her favorite things.

The other thing the aquarium does not have unless we missed it – is touch tanks. They had staff stationed throughout telling about the animals which was great. We have been to aquariums in NC, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, and Boston. I would put it middle of the pack. This one had some of the best exhibits but I like the hands-on activities a the others.

After a long drive, the day ended on a positive note with a great dinner and great fun at the aquarium. The aquarium exceeded my expectations. I don’t know if it 104 exceed but definitely worth 48.


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Highland Games and Horn in the West

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Jul 10, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

I had heard about the the Highland Games while I was at school at ASU but never attended. They are held at Grandfather Mountain each year. We got there shortly after lunch and spent a few hours there. The tickets for adults are a little pricey I think at $30; but, the kids are only $5 so that helps. You also have to pay $5 each for the shuttle up to the event.

It really is hard to review the games because we got an inside view with the MacMillan Clan. They have tents surrounding the main field for each of the clans. Our tent even had great food which the kids loved.  There are all kinds of different sports to watch on the field. Claire loved watching the dancing and the sheep herding but did not care for the bag pipes. Cobey was fascinated with the whole thing and wanted to look up to see if we were in clan. We are still trying to figure it all that out. We are worried we may have been part of the clan that joined the Tories in the Revolutionary War. There is a lot to see, do and eat!  It reminded me of a huge family reunion with great entrainment.  I think we will now have to add a family history to our studies next year.

That evening we went to Horn in West. We got there 30 minutes early to purchase our tickets which worked out great. They have a living museum there with frontier home, blacksmith, tavern, and store. They have costumed interpreters to tell you more about the structures and items in them. We went through each of the buildings and then found our seats.

The show was outstanding. It starts with the Battle of Alamance and ends with the Battle at Kings Mountain. The kids had been to the site of the Battle of Alamance and learned about Kings Mountain. I think this made the play even more meaningful to the kids. But even if your kids do not have the background mine did,  the action will keep them interesting and the story line gives them an insight to the people during this period.  If you have an upper elementary or older student you should add it to your must do list.  When you do, rent the 50 cent cushion- the seats are hard and bring bug spray.

We had two great meals at Shatley Springs outside of Jefferson. If you are in the area and would like a great home cooked meal then check them out. We also ate at the Mountain House in Boone. I still don’t believe it is as good as the good ole days. The menu has shifted way from the country cooking and has more steaks and fish. The food and service were good not great.


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