Family visits

Headed home

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on August 2nd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Saturday morning, we woke up, packed up, and began our journey home from Callaway. Here we are as we get ready to leave on the drive home after a great week at camp.

Time to go


We drove about two thirds of the way Saturday, and spent the night in a hotel in Christiansburg, Virginia. We drove over to Blacksburg for dinner at Mellow Mushroom and to see a bit of Virginia Tech’s campus. It was the girls’ first time eating at Mellow Mushroom, and it was very reminiscent of college for Jen and me (eating at Mellow Mushroom just off campus).

After dinner, we went in search of a treat. We found Gardner’s Frozen Treats in Christiansburg, and it was delicious. They had lots of flavors of Hershey’s ice cream, and then a few flavors of their own. Leah opted for Hershey’s rainbow sherbet, while I went for the homemade blueberry lavender (which was very different, but very good).

Ice cream stop

Molly went for homemade double stuff Oreo while Jen went for homemade pistachio. They were both delicious as well.

Ice cream

Then we got a good night’s sleep before driving the rest of the way home on Sunday. I was worried traffic would be awful the Sunday after July 4th, but it really wasn’t too bad. It was still a long trip, though, and we were very glad to be home.

Callaway comes to an end

Posted in Family visits, Field trips, Trip on August 1st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our time at Callaway was fantastic, but all good things must come to an end. The younger kids have an awards ceremony at the end of the last day (Molly’s now in a group that is too old for this). Leah was named Future President (which Leah’s talked about as far back as preschool, though she is not currently planning for a term in the White House).

Future President

Emmie was given the Natural Leader award, so I guess we’ve got some leaders in the family.


Leah, Emmie, and three of their circus performing counselors.

End of camp

That evening was the final circus, and they held the awards ceremony shortly beforehand. I won the tennis tournament (as I had done the last time we were at Callaway), and got another t-shirt (though this one was in a smaller size for Leah).

Tennis champion

The kids again paraded around the tent.

Closing parade

And then the held the final circus. Afterwards, Leah and Emmie had to get a final hug from their counselor, Jess.

Final hug

Circus counselor

Molly got a picture with her counselor, Brooke, after a very busy circus performance including the Spanish Web, the Triple Trapeze, the Bicycle Built for Five, and serving as Ring Master.

Talented counselor

Camp at Callaway was again incredibly awesome. I used to think Jen’s family was crazy for going to the same place every summer for ten years. I now totally get it. We wish we could go every year (and if any of you have a plan that might entail us going every year, I’m all ears).

Giant chair

More fun at Callaway

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on August 1st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

There were lots of other fun things at Callaway beyond those detailed in the previous posts. I’ll highlight a few of them here. For one, there are lots of great places to ride bikes. We took a family bike ride with all 8 of us. My bike is holding up my phone to take this picture, which is why it did not make it into the shot.

Family bike ride

And we couldn’t miss Bingo!


Emmie won! And Molly was kind enough to accompany her to the prize table.


We also enjoyed the pool near our house a couple times for some relaxing swimming. Or, perhaps, some flying.

And everything wasn’t always active. There was plenty of relaxing as well. Thanks to Aunt ‘Chelle and Uncle J for bringing their hammocks.




Last time we went to Callaway, they had a Hawaiian Ice truck. This time, it was replaced with an ice cream truck which I consider a vast improvement. We paid it a visit several times. Most of the time we had the girls with us, but this time we went while they were in camp. We tried almost all the flavors eventually, and this was my favorite - muscadine.

Muscadine ice cream

Lots of tennis

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Sports on July 31st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

At Callaway, I play a lot of tennis. I don’t get to play daily at home, so it’s fun to get to at Callaway. I played 4 out of 5 camp days (TreeTop conflicted on Thursday). Friday was an especially busy day. I woke up early to run the camp 5K at 7:00. Then played in the camp tennis tournament from 10 to noon. And then, we finally found the time to take the whole family out on the courts.

Family tennis

Leah backhand

Family tennis

JJ and Uncle J came out to play as well (yes, I brought enough racquets for everyone).

Tennis cousins

Family tennis

Thanks to everyone for joining me out on the court.

Tennis players

SFA Summer Theater

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on July 31st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

As part of the summer camp program, the kids all rehearse some skits that they perform on Thursday evening. Here are some of them. First, the opening number.

Leah and Emmie were involved in the same skit (though on opposite sides of the law).

And also performed a dance number.

In Molly’s skit, I have to say I wasn’t surprised that she was cast as the mom.

And she danced as well.

Nice job, kiddos.


Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on July 30th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Everyone also got to have fun at TreeTop, the fancy ropes and zipline course. The kids did the Sapling course (the low ropes course) as part of their camp.

Leah and Emmie’s group got to do the course first thing Monday morning.

Leah TreeTop

Leah TreeTop

The final zipline was the favorite part of the course.

Leah TreeTop zipline

The littlest kids (JJ’s group) were very timid at the course, Leah’s group attacked the course with confidence. Molly’s group took it to the next level, practically running through the course (they all got to do it twice because of this).

Molly TreeTop

Molly TreeTop

Their daring was especially evident on the final zipline. Molly and another girl (also named Molly) chose to hang upside down on the zipline for fun.

Molly zipline

The adults were the last to go during the week, and we got to do the high ropes course as well as the lake course with giant zippiness.


Chad too

Jen zipline

We were joined by our friends on the course, and I even got to be next to Monty in line. Monty was my first boss in a computer job. He hired me to work for him at the Naval Research Laboratory as a UNIX systems administrator when I was a senior in high school. I probably wouldn’t be the software developer I am today if it wasn’t for him, so it was great to get to reconnect.

Monty TreeTop

Jen tried to duplicate Molly’s upside down/feet in the air zipline. She didn’t quite get there, but this was impressive none-the-less.

Almost there

And the highlight (once you get past the incredibly high ladder) is the two giant ziplines over the lake. I’m not sure how long the first one is, but the second one is 700 feet and the first is pretty close to that.

Chad zipline

Jen zipline

Jen zipline

Michelle zipline

Jeremy zipline

I try to play tennis as much as possible while at Callaway, but I skip it to be able to do TreeTop. That’s how much fun it is.

Robin Lake

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on July 30th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We spent a lot of time in Robin Lake throughout the week. The kids went swimming most days at camp.


In addition to swimming, everyone had the chance to go to Aqua Island - a huge inflatable obstacle playground on the water. The kids went with their camp groups. The adults had a time during the week to go. Jen, Michelle, Jeremy, and lots of friends all went. I skipped out to play tennis.

Aqua Island

I didn’t get a picture of Leah and Emmie on Aqua Island, but here they are just after the fun.

Aqua Island

Jen and I also went water skiing on the lake. Jen went first and showed us how it’s done.

Water skiing

I remembered how to slalom, and managed to get up on one ski this time around.

Water skiing

Under the stars

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on July 29th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Fireworks weren’t the only thing we saw in the sky at night. We again went to the astronomy program and saw all the stars we can’t see living surrounded by light pollution. Last time around, Aunt ‘Chelle stayed behind with little JJ. This time, JJ was old enough to join in, so no one had to stay behind. And most of our friends joined us as well.

Here’s our family (minus me) gazing at the sky.


It’s hard to convey the sky we saw, but here’s a small taste of a tiny portion of the sky.


Circus activities

Posted in Family outings, Family visits on July 29th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Seeing the circus at Callaway was great, but we also got to participate in circus activities. The performers themselves gave us a chance on several of their apparatuses. The kids went with their groups during camp, and the adults had a few times we could choose to try things out.

Cloud swing

The cloud swing is an apparatus where you can do a bunch of tricks. They get progressively harder, so you get to keep going until you fall off. Leah, Molly, Jen, and I all got to do it. First, you lay back and catch your feet around the ropes, leaving you upside down as you swing.

Molly cloud swing

Then there’s the knee hang.

Jen cloud swing

And then the dreaded heel hang, where you hang from the back of your foot.

Heel hang

The next part is really hard, you have to pull yourself up from the heel hang. I didn’t manage to do this last time, but I got it this time (though I dropped my hat in the process).

Got it!

After that is the toe hang (hang from just your toes), but none of us managed to do that one. It’s tough.

Triple trapeze

They let the kids play on the triple trapeze, but they didn’t get to have 3 people on at the same time. Molly’s group could have 2 on together, while Leah’s group stuck to just one.

Triple trapeze


Adults and kids all got to play on the high trapeze. The kids just hang there for a bit, then let go and fall to the net. The adults hang for a bit, then swing and do a flip as they fall to the net.

Molly trapeze

They did lower the trapeze a bit for the younger kids in Leah’s group, which had to be nice as it is really hot up near the top of the tent.

Leah trapeze

Jump rope

The kids also got to use the acrobatic jump rope, though they weren’t doing flips in it.

Jump rope

Ladder swing

The kids also got to swing on a ladder.

Ladder swing

Flying trapeze

The kids don’t get to do the flying trapeze, but the adults do. I decided not to partake this year, as it was high and I was already tired. Jen, however, went on it multiple times. For us non-circus performers, you don’t release and get caught by someone else (that’s way above our skill level). Instead, you swing and do a couple tricks before releasing and flipping down to the net.

Flying trapeze


The circus

Posted in Family outings, Family visits on July 28th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Many things make Callaway unique, but one of the most obvious is its circus. The FSU Flying High Circus is one of only two collegiate circuses in the U.S.A. And every summer, they bring the circus to Callaway Gardens.

But they’re not just circus performers. They also serve as the camp counselors for the kids age 7-17. So, Molly, Leah, and Emmie got to hang out all day with these circus performers. It’s really cool!

We went to two circus performances during the week - Sunday and Friday. Here are a bunch of pictures to give you an idea of some (but not all) of the performances.

Teeter board

Teeter board

Spanish web

Spanish web

Spanish web

The second one there is Molly’s counselor, Brooke.

Acrobatic jump rope

Acrobatic jump rope

Acrobatic jump rope

The acrobatic jump rope featured two of Leah and Emmie’s counselors - Jess and Bailey.

Triple trapeze

Triple trapeze

Triple trapeze

The one on the right is again, Molly’s counselor Brooke.

Quartette adagio

Quartette adagio

Quartette adagio

The girl flying through the air was also one of Leah and Emmie’s counselors - Ashley.

Bicycle built for five

Bicycle built for five

Bicycle built for five

Again, featuring Molly’s counselor Brooke.



Russian Bar

Russian bar

Flying Trapeze

Flying trapeze

Flying trapeze

Flying trapeze

The last picture includes one of Leah and Emmie’s counselors flying through the air - Daniel.

Ring master

Ring Master

And don’t forget the ring master. Yes, that’s Molly’s counselor Brooke again. She did a lot in the show.

Closing bows

They really put on a great show.