Alabama The Beautiful

It was a sad yet upbeat farewell in Atlanta. We enjoyed spending some 5-on-1 time with Juju. For our goodbye, the waterworks were tuned to a minimum. Not that there couldn’t have been a major eruption at any moment.

Saying goodbye to Juju in Atlanta

Our trusty GPS took us through some of Atlanta’s richest, then sketchiest neighborhoods as we made our way to Interstate-20, which took us out of Georgia into Alabama.

“Alabama The Beautiful” is how the welcome sign reads. We passed through Birmingham, then on to Memphis, Tennessee.

Alabama The Beautiful

Milo in sleep mode, snacks still crusted to his face.

Hollywood #1

Hollywood #2

Alabama has lots of trees, but relatively flat.

Mississippi

Truck jam in Memphis

Our campsite in Arkansas (just on the outskirts of Memphis)

Sunset near Memphis

Juju’s Compartment

We had a rest day, naturally, in Atlanta. It was natural because Atlanta is the home of Jody’s sister Jennifer (known as Juju to the kids).

Juju lives in an apartment, however when he was younger Riley always used to refer to it as a “compartment”, so we’ve often talked about “Juju’s compartment”. In fact, we have talked about it for years with Riley and now Talia too, so it was nice to finally all be there to see it in person.

She has a 1-bedroom apartment but there was no problem fitting three adults and three children in it. We spent two nights and one full day there.

Juju’s compartment is beyond comfortable and even has a stunning rooftop pool with views to the city. The pool was a great location to celebrate Milo’s 2nd birthday, which is actually on September 1st, but on that day we’ll be probably somewhere in Texas, like Amarillo, and [with sincere apologies to any Texans here] its probably just not as fitting for a celebration as Juju’s rooftop pool.

Milo enjoyed his birthday, but more than that he enjoyed riding on Juju’s elevator, which he calls “the alligator”. When we jumped back into our RV and pulled out of the driveway, he was calling out “bye-bye alligator”.

Juju’s compartment

At Juju’s pool

Pool

Pool

Milo’s Party

Milo is TWO

Blue icing, blue teeth. And 12 hours later, something else was blue too.

Cake anyone?

Mandi and Talia

Milo in boots

With friend Mandi

Heading South

On Saturday we re-boarded the RV, back in the saddle with the pedal to the metal. As hurricane Irene bared down on the East Coast of the US, we mapped out a slightly inland route to our next destination, Atlanta. We successfully avoided almost all of the storm and had a smooth ride all the way to Atlanta. It took two days and mostly on Interstates, however the last part was amazing and more on backroads, through some beautiful parts of the Appalachian range, the Natahala National Forest in North Carolina as well as north-eastern Georgia. The only photos we got were snapped on the iPhone from behind the wheel.

1030 miles after leaving Connecticut, and after passing through nine different states (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia) we finally pulled into our stopping over point at Jody’s sister Jennifer’s apartment close to downtown Atlanta.

Rain as we pull out of Connecticut ahead of the hurricane

New Jersey

Welcome to Pennsylvania

Occasional rainy patches

Hot on our tail

Welcome to Tennessee

North Carolina, near Asheville

Nahtahala National Forest, North Carolina

Spaghetti Interchange, Atlanta

Rock Cats Baseball

Riley and a few cousins had a great treat and got to go to the New Britain Rock Cats baseball game. The Rock Cats are a minor league team. It was Riley’s first baseball game and he loved it. Most of his energy was focussed on getting the various mascots to sign his shirt.

We had great seats right behind home plate.

Riley and Corrina in the stands. Riley has one of the balls used in a previous game, and had it signed by a few mascots – this ball in now a prized possession.

Mill Pond Park

I spent a morning with Riley, Talia and Milo at Mill Pond Park in Newington, CT. The various cousins were all of on other activities and adventures of their own so we had a little down time.

Tire swing

Milo

It took me a while, but I have figured it is actually not possible to get three children to look in the same direction and smile, all at the same time. If you get one, you are doing very well. Two is next to impossible. Three is… out of the question.

Looking for ducks

A cuddle on the rocks

Throwing pebbles. Just seconds after this photo was taken Milo walked into the pond, his feet were muddy and stinky.

I was treated to a private show in the band stand. I wasn’t quick enough to get this on video but I think this photo captures the essence of it.

Malachi

Malachi (age 3) is Jody’s cousin Kevin’s son – so I’m not exactly sure how you name the relationship, but I’m guessing he is technically a second cousin to Riley, Talia and Milo. Malachi lives in New Mexico, but was in Connecticut briefly for a family visit so we got together at a park close to his family.

Heading to the park. Riley and Michael hold Malachi’s hand, and behind is Chris, Milo and Jeannette.

Malachi

Milo crosses the bridge

Talia on the slide

Backyard cousin fun

Stone has a fantastic adventure playground in his backyard, which he kindly shared with all the cousins. There’s a sand box, swing set with slide, trampoline, bike trail and a zip line.

Corrina shows how it’s done.

Jake

Stone does a flip on the trampoline

Talia on the trampoline

Michael on the bike and Stone on the zip line

Milo tries the zip line, with Alan’s help

Wildwood

Spent a day at Wildwood, just north of Cape May, which is known locally for it’s boardwalks complete with full-fledged amusement parks. It was a great experience because I know that even though this is nothing close to the scale of America’s really big theme parks such as Disneyland etc, I think it is probably beyond anything of it’s type that we would have in Australia, so it was fun to experience. We just spent one afternoon at one of the piers, but there were three piers and you could easily spend a couple of days or more there (not to mention a lot of $$$) with kids. The water park alone was amazing to observe from a distance, but we didn’t go in, just saved it for a future occasion.

Riley has always had approached these types of things (i.e. rides) with trepidation, but with so many of his cousins present he found renewed confidence to push his own boundaries, take some risks and go on rides that normally he would never have wanted to do, and he did this all on his own volition, never coerced or pressured – in fact he wanted to go back the following day.

Boardwalk at Wildwood (just after rain so it is looking a bit gray)

Riley in a go cart

Michael

Stone

Chris and his Dad Al,followed by his Uncle Alan.

From the top of the ferris wheel, looking down on part of the water park, and the beach in the background.

From the ferris wheel, looking toward another pier, where there are more adventurous rides – such as “reverse” bungy-jumping and a big roller coaster.

View from the ferris wheel

Stone, Riley and Corrina on the Jack-in-the-box, a ride which raised them up, and then bounced them up and down.

Stone, Riley and Corrina on the Jack-in-the-box

Jaymes and Chris – kind of like a merry-go-round but you are lying down

Riley and Corrina

Riley and Corrina

Moby Dick – this was a pretty adventurous ride for Riley to take on, but he wanted to do it and had a great time.

Chris, Jaymes, Julie, Riley, Corrina, Briar

Riley and his Uncle Alan take to the skies.

Riley in a pedal-powered paddle boat

The paddle boat area, which is directly beneath the huge ferris wheel

Riley in a tow truck

Jake and Stone

Corrina