We had a fabulous day in Clay County. The kids had previously been to Clay’s Corner doing work on a history project but I had never been. It is the smallest county in the state but it is well rounded. It had something fun to do, preserved history and great places to eat.  Our first stop was Chucky Gal Stables. We had a two hour ride that was great. We took a trail up the mountain.  We had a break by a waterfall that was nice but not great. The ride would have been even better if we had a great view at an overlook or of some falls. We were at the side of the falls at the top which was just okay.  I would ride with them again because they were great to work with and the horses were wonderful.




Old Jail - Clay County

We then headed to the Old Jail where the Clay County Historical Museum is located.  The museum has many exhibits including one of a local doctor,  a jail cell, moonshine, Native Americans and kitchen. Claire especially liked the exhibit of fabrics from old feed sacks. Down the hill there is small Indian Village replica with information on wayside boards. We checked out the the old courthouse and the square then headed for lunch.



11745599_10205991138192238_2103406100570381214_nThe true test of every county is can we find something good to eat. Clay County did not disappoint. We ended up at Chevelle’s 69. Do not be scared away with the Biker’s Welcome Sign although it did give me pause. This place is great! They have a fun atmosphere not scary, prodigious menu and great service. Cobey was thrilled with separate menu with all burgers and selected a Greek Burger. Claire got pasta and I got salmon. Claire said there was too much Parmesan cheese on her pasta. How can you have too much cheese? Otherwise, every thing else was great. Who knew you could get great salmon at a Biker Bar.  They have great specials throughout the week.  If we are ever anywhere close, we would go back for sure. You should also.


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Become a Junior Zookeeper at Indianapolis Zoo

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jun 24, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel, Zoo

11402931_10205781076860836_6230966643007750309_nWe only had a few hours to spend but we packed in as much as possible.  What I love about zoos is they all have a different twist.  There were several highlights from this zoo. One would be the dolphin show which was pretty good. My only complaint was it was hard to understand what the trainers were saying. We also went to the All-Star Dog show. It was also entertaining. They had where you could feed the birds and giraffe. They also had the now obligatory rides at the zoo. They had a train, a carousel and a decent roller coaster.

11218173_10205781074660781_4697642178762626424_nThe part we like the best and didn’t figure out till we had been there for a while was the Zookeeper Challenge. There are kiosks throughout the park where you can tap your unlimited wrist band and get started. You tap at the kiosk near of the animals and then back to the station where it ask you a question. The challenge really teaches you a lot in a fun way.   You get a reward at the end at the gift shop. We only had time to do about half but Claire loved it and it made getting the all inclusive package worth it. If you want to save money then only get the package for the kid that wants to do the activity. We only got it for Claire. She rode the carousel,  fed the birds several times and did the zookeeper challenge so it paid for itself.

We stayed around four hours. We didn’t get to hear any zoo chats and didn’t do all the rides but saw both shows and most of the animals. You could easily spend a day here or even less time if you only walked through and saw the animals. It was a good zoo and worth the visit.

Relaxing While Claire Feeds the Birds

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Great Day in Shenandoah Valley with Friends

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Aug 8, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel


Lunch at Caverns I had a fabulous day with our friends the Selznick’s. We started out at Shenandoah Caverns. We had a great tour guide. They have great stories and names of the formations. The kids liked seeing the bacon, pancakes, the Capital Dome and wedding couple. The guide was great at turning on and off the lights for effect and overall a great tour. After the tour we had lunch at the on site cafe. It was simple food but everyone seemed to enjoy it. The really enjoyed the soda that is bottled there. I brought snacks for myself; it was  not gluten free friendly. We went to see the store front windows which were interesting but not spectacular. We then went down the hill to the America’s on Parade museum. It has floats that were in Inaugural Parades and other big parades. The floats were fantastic and the kids enjoyed getting on some.  The last stop was the Yellow Barn which is basically shopping and we could have skipped that. All of that is included in one ticket price and well worth the money.

We then went to the Route 55 Chip factory. The kids loved sampling all the chips and they have windows were you can see the chip making process. The last stop was a covered bridge right down the street which ended up being the highlight of the day because we let the kids get in the river with their clothes on. They had a blast. It was another great day in Virginia.

River under Covered Bridge

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Baltimore- Day Two

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Oct 8, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Military Museums, National Parks, Travel

We had a rough start to the day. No one had slept well. We stayed at Hilton Garden and the hotel was fine except Claire did not get her french toast which is her favorite thing there. And they don’t know how to cook grits this far north. Cobey and Bruce haves colds so the first stop was the CVS. We then tried to find our way to Fort McHenry. We were very close but it took almost an hour. There was first a VERY long VERY slow train that came to a stop. We then try to find our way around the train when we find a bridge out that we had to navigate around. We were only a few miles from the fort but it took forever.

Cobey loved the visitor center. His favorite part was the interactive time line. He liked how “modern” it was. The visitor center is small but has a great movie and some interesting exhibits. The fort is well preserved and has displays in most of the buildings.  You could also walk around the outside and top of the fort. The kids did the Junior Ranger program which was okay but not a stand out at all.

The fort is famous for the battle during the War 1812 where Frances Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. The fort was also used during the civil was as a prison and World War I as a hospital. Bruce and Cobey said the fort was their favorite part of the day.

We then headed back to Inner Harbor for the Star Spangled Banner Museum and the Flag Museum.  They have a small museum with a film. The film was interesting but was hard to hear and understand. We then got a guided tour of the house where the flag that flew over Fort McHenry was made. This was my favorite part of the day. I learned the flag at that time had 15 stripes and that it was put together in a brewery across the street. The tour guide was interesting and informative. The picture is showing how big the actual flag would have been. Amazing!! Claire loved the room inside the museum where she got to dress up and pretend to cook by the fire.

We finally made it to what Cobey had been asking for the Historic Ships We first went into the USS Torsk a submarine. There is no guide, no audio and very little printed information. It is interesting to walk thru and get a size perspective. I really liked the USS Constellation. There is a great audio tour – one version for adults and one for kids. I listened to the kid one and it was very good at teaching about the boat and what life would be like on the boat. It did not get into what kind of action the ship saw. You get to see all four levels of the ship and Cobey even got to try out the sleeping arrangements.  This tour turned out really good.

The last stop was the dragon paddle boats for Claire. She had been asking to go on the them for two days. We decided we enjoyed the Sawn boats in Boston better. You got to relax more and the scenery was nicer.

We ended up getting the museum membership for the Historic Ships. It is better than a Go Card!  Our membership will last till Dec 2012 and gets us in free to over 15 Baltimore History Museums and over 30 Maritime Museums.  Some of the museums are already free so look carefully to see if it will pay off for you.  As much as we travel I know it will pay for itself very soon!

We at at Denny’s because Saturday is Kids Eat Free! We are at the Embassy Suites tonight and the kids had a great time at the pool. Now for a good nights sleep.

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Vanderbilt Home, Home of FDR and West Point

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Jun 30, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel

We started to make our way home today. It was going to be rough drive with a hurt shoulder and the radio/CD player broken. Fortunately, after a few hours and prayers I fixed the radio. Cobey was ready to just drive home but I had one surprise left and he changed his mind.  He has been wanting to go to West Point since we went to the Douglas MacArthur Memorial.  I thought he would like a tour.

The first stop we made was the Vanderbilt home in Hyde Park, New York. We had been to two other Vanderbilt homes in Newport, RI so the kids were interested in the family. This mansion is a National Park. It is the first National Park that we have been to that did not have a Junior Ranger program. We had a tour of the house and our guide was very knowledgable and interesting. This was a country estate and was the smallest and least luxurious of the Vanderbilt houses you can tour. I think it was still impressive but it the Breakers and Marble House in Newport were more lavish. And the Biltmore home makes it look like a cottage.

Our next stop was the FDR home, also a National Park and in Hyde Park. This park did have a Junior Ranger program but instead of becoming Junior Rangers they become Secret Service Agents. The program is very good and with the slant of what it takes to be a secret service agent. They earned stars instead the ranger badges.  We had a great guided tour of the grounds and the home. The kids learned a lot about the president. I did have to re-educate them on a few things. The talk was very skewed in how great of a president he was. We then went thru the Presidential Library and Museum. It has some great displays. The kids loved the oval office, the secret map room and his car.  There is also Eleanor Roosevelt’s  home as a National Park in the area.  You could easily spend a day in this area.

The last stop was a tour of West Point. They only take cash for the tour so plan according. (I was getting low for tolls.) You purchase tickets at the West Point visitor center. The tour was great and I highly recommend even if you are not that interested in West Point. It gave some great history and information. This was our last guided tour of the trip. We had lots of guided tours during this trip and all of them had excellent guides. There was not one dud or annoying guide. Cobey liked the story about Paton being a bad student and his excuse being he could not find the library. They now have his statue outside of the library. The campus is absolutely beautiful and has an amazing view of the Hudson

West Point also have a museum there which we did not have time to go to before it closed. We then headed south and made it to Baltimore.

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We slept in this morning. I think we were up a little after eight. I am wondering if my schedule will stay shifted when I get home. I doubt it! Cobey seems to be tired and dragging a little today. He is the  one that needs his sleep. It has not phased Claire in the least except I have been awake before her a few times.

Our first stop was Lowell National Historical Park. The park is about the city of Lowell and it’s part in the shift of America from farms to industry. We started with a twenty minute introductory film about how the town became an industrial city. We then took a ninety minute canal ride that told  the history of the town and how the canal works. We went into a lock and the water rose four feet and four inches. I had never done that before so that was a neat experience. We learned about the man who saved the town from two floods after he was criticized that the floodgates where not needed.  Some tours get to tour a gatehouse so if you can do that tour I recommend it.


After the tour, we took a trolley to the Boott Cotton Mills Museum which is part of the National Park. They have done an excellent job making this museum interesting for kids. When you enter the museum, the kids put on an apron and clock in. They then search for the child cutouts that tells them a little information and something to try. They got to try many of the ten steps of making fabric. They also saw the machines in action. Boy, was that loud! At the end of the museum, they can mark where their clothes are made on a map. But their favorite part was building a city with homes, railroads, factories and parks.  We then walked over to the where the boarding house where the girls lived. Girls and young woman from surrounding farms were the first workers in the factories.

We walked back to the visitor center, grabbing a late lunch at Subway on the way. The kids got their Junior Ranger badges for the park and we were off to Salem. I highly recommend this national park.  There are a lot of staff in this park and everyone was friendly and helpful that we encountered. There are cost involved in the tours and museum but well worth it. It is one of our new top National Parks. You could easily spend a full day there but you know us,  you can’t keep us anywhere for long.

We were off to Salem because Claire wanted to go to The House of the Seven Gables. My friend Mary Beth recommended it and she was right. The kids loved. The tour guide did a wonderful job telling us the history of the house and about the people of that lived in the house. She also told us enough about the story written by Hawthorne to make us want to read the book.  We then had a self-guided tour of the house Hawthorne was born in which was moved to the property.

We then went down the street to the Salem Maritime National Historical Park. We had less than an hour so we did not get to take full advantage of the park so I can’t give it a fair review. The staff was very helpful and friendly. The kids were able to complete the program in less than an hour and they learned something new. They have tours of the cargo ship and custom house. I would like to go back and take those tours sometime. Salem is one place I would like to return to and spend the entire day.

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Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Frederica

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday May 11, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel

We drove to Florida for the Disney Cruise (see May 8th post for review). On the way down we spent a day in St Augustine’s (see future post for the entire day). Part of the day included a visit to the Castillo de San Marcos. You never know how much imagination you are going to have to use when you visit a fort or battlefield. Will the battlefield be just a grassy area now? Will the only thing that remains of the fort be a few blocks if even that? You did not have to imagine much here. This fort was great and still intact. The kids got to hear information about the fort from a park ranger, watch a movie about weapons used in the fort, and see the barracks and the magazine. One of the highlights was seeing the cannon being fired. This fort was particularly interesting because it told about the Spanish history in the United States which we don’t hear a lot about. It was built by the Spaniards in 1672 and is the oldest masonry fort and only extant 17th century fort in North America. It was never defeated in battle and is quite impressive. The kids did the Junior Ranger program. The program was well put together and the kids enjoyed completing it. We let them dictate the longer writing assignments. Claire purchased Kids Passport to Your National Parks here. I highly recommend it. It gives space to keep record of which National Parks you have visited and Junior Ranger programs completed. It also has a place to make list of bird, plants and animals that they have seen.

On the way back home from the Disney cruise, we stopped in Georgia at Fort Frederica. At first look you think you will need a lot of imagination for this fort. The picture on the website is deceiving because what they show is the only part remaining of the entire town which is not much. Despite this, the site is very well laid out and it has placards at each site to tell the story. And it has the BEST Junior Ranger program we have done to date. The ranger tried to discourage us from doing it because she said it would take an hour and forty five minutes. We really did not want to have a long stop but decided to do it anyway. We are so glad that we did and it did not take us but about an hour. Again, we helped with the writing. She said the program was for eight to twelve but allowed Claire to do it. The kids each got to borrow a satchel and a period hat for the program. There was a entire town inside the fort and the program gave you the story of this community. The kids had to look through a spy glass, measure the distance of the cannon would fire on a map with a protractor and much more. It was very hands and on and we all loved it! This National Park is not too far off 95 and I highly recommend it if you are passing through. Don’t let them talk you out of the Junior Ranger Program!

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