|My Dad, Robert's paternal grandfather turns 80 May 5th this year. We celebrated a week early in order to get more of the family together. Sarah, Robert and I made a long weekend of it, driving down Friday and driving back Monday. The trip down was very uneventful and fairly quick -- we only ran into one substantial backup (just outside of Washington). We left about 10:15 and arrived at Steve, Helen and Aaron's at about 4:30. We picked up Helen and Aaron and met Steve in Boone -- he was giving final exams over the weekend. From Boone we headed up to Seven Devils where my dad had smoked some ribs (something I'll have to try now). We had a nice walk before the ribs were ready while we were waiting for Loren, Susan, Sam and Sally to arrive from Atlanta (Kate was at Reed in Portland).
|After the walk around the block (and up and down a goodly sized hill), Robert wanted to climb into the back of Uncle Steve's pickup truck. Pickup trucks seem close enough to construction equipment to him to be fascinating. The ribs were tasty and the visiting and catching up was fun. Loren and family stayed in Seven Devils and we caravaned back to Deep Gap.
|The next day we all had lunch at Steve and Helen's with a lot of playing for Robert and his cousins. We had time after lunch for a trip to the Parkway Elementary (Aaron's school) playground where Robert got to look at the latest in hand-me-downs from his cousins: a bike, and everyone marveled at Sam's coolest birthday present: a Flybar -- pogo stick for the 22nd Century.
Sam was the Flybar master, note his height coming off the bench in the photo above and to the left.
Aaron also brought a kite that he and Helen got up pretty high on the windy day.
|And Robert enjoying the slides and jungle gym (with some help and spotting from his cousins).
|Loren and Sam played chicken on bike and scooter before it was time to change into party clothes and head to the Broyhill Center for the birthday dinner. The dinner was mostly family, with the sons and families, Lelend and Cornelia, who drove up from Columbia, and a couple close friends from the greater Boone area.
|When Robert heard we were going to the birthday party, he insisted that there be balloons strewn about the place. We did pretty well, thanks to Helen's balloon pump.
|The Broyhill folks treated us well. There was one minor bit of confusion about some changes not getting to all the staff that should have gotten them, but they quickly recovered and we all enjoyed a very nice meal.
After dinner there was present opening followed by excellent Stick Boy cake. The sons got my dad an engraved walking stick with lots of information about him and how his love of walking and the outdoors has been passed down.
I got some photos of the walking stick on a later trip to Seven Devils.
|Sunday, Loren, Susan, Sam and Sally came by Steve and Helen's for breakfast, playing, visiting, enjoying Sam on the guitar. Then we met my folks and Leland and Cornelia in Boone for Lunch before the Atlanta and Columbia folks headed back.
|After lunch we headed to Valle Crucis park for a some more outside fun in the perfect weather. Robert really likes the little houses there.
|After dipping his feet in the water, Robert fell asleep on the ride back to Steve and Helen's. My folks came over for dinner, then we got up the next day and headed back to Washington after Aaron was off to school. We stopped in Richmond and played a bit in Fox School's playground, then met up with Gordon and Martha for dinner before getting home to feed a hungry Zip Drive.