Sunday, September 15, 2019

Grandchildren make life grand!

I love having my children and grandchildren around. I love when my grandchildren jump out of the car and shout "MaMa Berry!" as they run toward me; the hugs and kisses are priceless. The younger three still like to sit on my lap and cuddle. The older two like to sit close and snuggle.

The older three like to play board games. The younger two are more interested in knocking the game pieces off the boards! All the children like for me to read to them. The youngest, my only granddaughter, likes to sing. All the children like to dance. Life is lively when my grandchildren visit.

I enjoy watching my grandchildren run around the farm and ride their bikes and motorized tractors. We built a swing set for them and a small "ninja" course. The barn loft is their fort. I usually stay outside with them, but I can sit in our sun room and watch their play. I bought a set of walkie-talkies so we can communicate, and our two dogs stay close to them.

My children are raising their children with the values their father and I raised them, and that makes my heart sing!

The month of August flew by. I was busy writing and playing with the children.

I hosted 2019 Camp MaMa Berry, which included riding the horses. Earlier in the month we attended the Cape Charles Crab Festival and watched my husband's boating club race their skiffs. My oldest grandson enjoyed a few laps around the course after the races were over. He was all smiles.

The day before we had explored the NASA Wallops Visitor Center and Chincoteague. The boys launched water bottle rockets at NASA Wallops, then we hopped over to Chincoteague. We were thrilled to see the ponies. We need to go back. Virginia's Eastern Shore has so much to see and do.

Another highlight of August was attending the Hot Air Balloon Festival at the Flying Circus in Bealeton. Unfortunately, the fog didn't burn off early enough for the balloons to launch, but we had a good time listening to the whoosh of the fire as the balloons inflated. The Flying Circus--a good old-fashioned barnstorming air show--is a must see.

We packed a lot into this summer. We had fun and made lots of memories.

School is in session. Adventures have taken a back seat, but we still are having fun and making memories!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Apollo astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Al Worden presents “Apollo 11: Behind the Scene”

My older son, Craig, my four-year-old grandson, Hunter, and I heard Apollo astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Al Worden talk about his experiences as the command module pilot on Apollo 15 and reflect on Apollo 11 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon July 20, 1969. It's hard to believe it's been 50 years!

Worden called Neil Armstrong the second Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh, in 1927, became the first man to fly an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean. Aviation still was new, and flying nonstop across the ocean was dangerous. Worden also said of Armstrong, "He was the consummate pilot who never lost his cool." Armstrong's confidence was important when a glitch required him to land the module on the moon manually with just 17 seconds of fuel left! Worden said of the other Apollo 11 astronauts, "Mike Collins was a test pilot extraordinaire" and Buzz Aldrin, who wrote his doctoral thesis at MIT on rendezvous and docking was the "brains."

Worden was the first man to perform a deep-space extra-vehicular activity, or space walk, just outside lunar orbit, and he made 75 solo revolutions around the moon while his colleagues, David Scott and James Irwin, performed science experiments on the lunar surface. He said he saw the earth rise 75 times and wished everyone could see the earth from that perspective. 

He also talked tonight about how each NASA mission built upon the previous missions and each became more scientifically focused. Apollo 15, which launched July 26, 1971, and returned to earth August 7, 1971, was the first to utilize the Lunar Roving Vehicle. The mission was notable for several other reasons, including the astronauts spent more than 18 hours on the moon, as opposed to a few hours for the astronauts aboard Apollo 11; the spacecraft was the heaviest object to ever lift off the ground at nearly 7 million pounds; the lunar module landed 27 degrees north of the moon's equator at Hadley Rille (the equatorial pull was unknown, so that was an extra risk); the landing was at an angle of 26 degrees, the steepest approach of any of the earlier Apollo missions, and it had to cross the Apennine Range, one of the highest points on the moon; and August 5, Worden climbed out of the command module to retrieve film cassettes (digital photography didn't exist then) from the service module. He said the only picture of that historic event is of his butt climbing out of the command module. (He thinks that was by design!) However, an artist created a painting to commemorate the space walk!

Worden's reflections about the Apollo 15 patch elicited a few cheers from the women in the audience when he mentioned Emilio Pucci, a fashion designer famous for bold colors and kaleidoscopic prints. Worden said Pucci studied agricultural engineering at the University of Georgia and was a bomber pilot during World War II before becoming a fashion icon. Because a friend of a friend of a friend knew Pucci, he designed the stylized three bird motif for the Apollo 15 patch. However, he used blues and greens, which the crew changed to the patriotic red, white, and blue.

NASA didn't want to use Roman numerals on the patches, but the crew hid them in plain site. Do you see them? Look between the red and blue wings and you will see the stylized craters! 

I am sure Hunter will not remember tonight's presentation, nor do I think my son realizes the significance it holds for me. I am thrilled to have heard Col. Worden's presentation and to have had the opportunity to say hello and shake his hand. I am grateful.

I missed his radio interview this morning. If you'd like to listen, visit the link below!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Wright Brothers National Memorial

My grandsons and I had another Adventure with MaMa Berry day. We toured the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC. If you haven't been, put it at the top of your bucket list!
A few thoughts. First, today was a scorching 102 degrees, but the breeze was delightful. It evaporated the perspiration and was cooling. However, it still was miserable! However, I chuckled to myself thinking the Wright brothers definitely were on to something when they picked the area for their flight. It definitely was breezy.
Second, the sand dune may have been isolated in 1903, but it sits in the middle of housing developments, highways, and commercial businesses. Their patent surely would have fallen to industrial espionage if today had been the historic flight.
Third, I always thought the historic flights took off from atop the sand dune. I learned the sand dune was the origin of their glider flights. They perfected their designs with the information they learned during those early experiments. The four powered flights of December 17, 1903, took place on the sand in front of the dune. Orville was the pilot for the first three; Wilbur was the pilot for the fourth and longest flight of the day. I also learned Wilbur and Orville flipped a coin to see who would pilot the airplane first. Wilbur won, but crashed the plane during the December 14, 1903, attempt.
                                           The bronze sculpture depicts Wilbur Wright as he releases                                             the wing of the Wright Flyer when Orville goes airborne.
The Memorial consists of a visitors center, a First Flight airstrip, two reconstructed buildings where Orville and Wilbur worked and lived while in NC, a granite boulder where the first flight left the ground, four markers that indicate the distance, paths, and landings of each of the day's four flights, a 60-foot monument atop the 90-foot sand dune, and a recreated scene of the first flight.
                                           Orville Wright pilots the first heavier-than-air, powered and                                               controlled airplane December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills, NC.

The original Wright Flyer is in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
                                                  Wilbur Wright runs alongside the Wright Flyer to                                                     steady the wing until Orville lifts the plane off the rail. 
The federal government erected a 60-monument in honor of the historic flight atop the 90-foot sand dune.
My grandsons were curious as to where the pilot sat. They were surprised to see Orville Wright was on his stomach during the flight.
                                    Orville Wright concentrates as he steers the plane in 27-mph winds.                                                           He didn't want to make the same mistake Wilbur had made three days earlier when, after leaving the rail, he oversteered, climbed too steeply, stalled the engine and dove into the sand.
Three of the five witnesses to the first flight: Left to right, Johnny Moore, a 16-year-old who lived his entire life on the Outer Banks and worked as a hunting and fishing guide; Adam Etheridge, a member of the US Life-Saving Service at Kill Devil Hills. A life-long friend of the Wright brothers, he took care of their camp buildings when they left the area in 1903; W.C. Brinkly, a lumberman from Manteo who happened to be visiting the Life-Saving Station when the Wright brothers asked them to help with the flight.
Willis Dough, also a member of the US Life-Saving Station, helped the Wright brothers in their 1908 flights when they returned to Kitty Hawk the last time together.
The life-size bronze and stainless steel flyer weighs 10,000 pounds.
                           John Daniels from the lifesaving station snapped the shutter on a preset camera owned by the Wright brothers and captured the image of the airborne aircraft.
The Park Service recreated the historic day in this bronze and stainless steel life-size sculpture.
Two of my grandsons stand in front of the granite marker that indicates the spot where the Wright Flyer went airborne. Notice the rail in front of the marker. The rail was a crucial element of the takeoff. 
The Wright brothers launched their plane four times December 17, 1903. The granite markers indicate the path, distance, and landing spot of each flight. The first flight lasted 12 seconds and flew 120 feet. The second flight lasted 12 seconds and flew 175 feet. The third flight lasted 15 seconds and flew 200 feet. The fourth flight lasted 59 seconds and flew 852 feet.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Diggerland is everything I expected and more!

Diggerland USA is the epitome of a kid-friendly theme park! The staff is super nice and helpful, and the park is clean and easy to navigate.The heavy equipment has been revamped with governors, so little ones can drive the machines safely. 

Children 48 inches tall or taller can ride and/or drive most of the adventures independently; children at least 36 inches tall can ride with an adult. The 2-year-old is too young for all but two of the rides; but there was no admission charge for her. The 7-year old could operate most of the rides alone, and he was thrilled. The other three (ages 3, 4, 6) rode with my son when necessary, and everyone had a grand time. 

We visited Diggerland during the week and it was not crowded; the children didn’t wait in lines at all. A few rides may have had two or three people in front of them. The staff said weekends are very busy. 

Fortunately, the humidity was low, which made the high heat bearable. Misting fans are placed throughout the park, and they were a welcome relief!

Diggerland has three food establishments (food and drinks are pricey), but none of them have eat-in facilities—plenty of picnic tables and an air conditioned pavilion, but we left the park for a lunch run to an air conditioned restaurant.

We returned and visited another section of Diggerland. The boys loved driving the go-karts and the tractors. 

I noted the percentage of boys to girls at the park. Boys outnumbered the girls, but not by much. 

The park is huge; it covers 14 acres. We didn’t have time to explore all the rides even though we spent the entire day, from 10-6, at the park. The kids did not want to leave they were having so much fun.

We returned the next day for a few hours, but still there are rides that will be new to the boys when they return.

I had bought the boys season passes for Christmas because Diggerland does an amazing job of planning special events throughout the year. Because the theme park is a bit of a hike for us, I knew I would visit at least the two days, so the membership has paid for itself. I am pretty sure my sons will take their sons back at least once or twice this season.

Diggerland USA gets a definite thumbs up from the Berry family!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Old-fashioned sweet treats

H.E. Williams Candy Factory in Chesapeake, VA, is celebrating its centennial; no small feat for a family owned business. The third generation of the Williams family uses the same recipes, the same copper kettles, and the same, albeit modernized, equipment their grandfather used when he began candy making operations in 1919. 

To say this place is magical is an understatement. Lillie Mae Williams owns the business, but she leaves it to her children and sister to run the day-to-day operations. The family opened its arms to my brood. My Littles sampled the candy and left on a sugar high. 

The entire tour lasts an hour, but we got a late start and saw just the very end. No problem for antsy little ones. They watched the log of candy roll through a machine, turn into a candy ribbon, roll off the conveyor belt and land onto a work table. There the ladies chopped the strips into small pieces, sprayed water onto the warm candy, and sprinkled sugar on the entire batch. The Littles were mesmerized and all too happy to sample the warm, sugared confections. 

From January to September, the candy factory offers tours Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. From September through December, the tours run five days a week. If you want to see the entire operation from beginning to end, I suggest arriving early. The store is open five days a week for retail sales 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Please tell them MaMa Berry sent you!

 H. E. Williams Candy Company
1230 Perry Street
Chesapeake, VA 23324
(757) 545-9311

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Wonky Donkey update

My daughter found this unofficial Wonky Donkey music video on YouTube. It is worth four minutes of your time!

Put a little Love in your life!

Fifty years ago the Virginia Tourism Corporation created one of the most catchy slogans: Virginia is for Lovers. I always thought the slogan promoted Virginia as a great honeymoon destination. It may have. Today the slogan promotes the love of all adventuresome souls...those who love music, mountains, beaches, and anything the commonwealth offers.

For the last couple of years, VTC has been encouraging businesses and locales to create LOVEworks sculptures. These sculptures capture the essence of the location within the four letters: L O V E. I have seen pictures of many and several in person.

For the slogan's 50th anniversary, the VTC is encouraging LOVEworks sculptures as destinations.  What an awesome concept! Capture family photos at each sculpture and your family sees the beauty of the commonwealth as your make memories.

I embarked on such an adventure with my Littles. So far, we have visited two. As I take the photos, I will add them to my Pinterest account:!

The LOVEworks sign above is located in the VIBE district 
of  Virginia Beach at the Oceanfront library, 700 Virginia 
Beach Boulevard. The LOVEworks sign below is in front 
of the Bunny Hutch at 1165 Jensen Drive, off
 Birdneck Road, south of Virginia Beach Boulevard. 

Grandchildren make life grand!

I love having my children and grandchildren around. I love when my grandchildren jump out of the car and shout "MaMa Berry!" as th...