Leif and Anna entranced by The New Mickey Mouse Club while Mary and Hyekyung look on.

Mary and I have just returned from a week in Virginia where we visited our son Nicholas and his family.  They recently moved into the house Nicholas built over the last two years in a rural area outside of Washington, D.C. called The Plains.

The first detail of our little excursion worth sharing is the remarkably cheap airfare: $550 for two round-trip fares from Seattle to Baltimore.  That works out to 4.6 cents per mile.  For a car to beat that it would have to get 100 MPG.  Love those cheap fuel prices and what they’ve done to transportation.  Of course, we had to make our trip prior to the Christmas rush when increased demand for airplane seats goes way up and prices rise accordingly.

The second detail of note is our nifty Bose, noise-cancelling headphones which Mary is wearing in the photo below on our flight to Baltimore.  They are incredibly effective at reducing ambient noise (in this case jet engine noise) and allowing clear, unpolluted noise like music to be heard.  We owned rival headphones by Sony on our flight to Amsterdam last year and they didn’t work worth a damn.  Thanks you Bose Corporation.


Mary wearing her Bose noise-cancelling headphones.

As for our week in Virginia, I suppose you could call it a working vacation, which was fine with me.  I get bored sitting around other people’s houses after about twenty minutes.  Nick told us up-front he had some wall building he wanted me to help him with so I packed work pants and my leather apron from Rockman days.

Our first morning in The Plains, however, Nick and I tried out his newly acquired road grader which he tows behind his pickup truck.  The private, gravel road leading to his house is over a mile long and plagued by potholes and washboarding.  No longer – the little orange grader did a great job of smoothing it out: 

Nick’s road grader

Next it was back to work on a stone retaining wall I had begun two years earlier when I helped him build his house.  In addition to being a pleasant, forrested two acres, Nick’s land is also a rich source of incredibly fine building stone.  In all, we set about 500 square feet of wall while I was there and 95% of the rock came from Nick’s land.  With Nick collecting the rock from his hillside and me setting the stone in place, we built just about all the retaining walls he’ll ever need: 

While Nick and I were setting stone, Mary and Heykyung were busy baking and caring for Anna and Leif.  Leif celebrated his second birthday while we were there.  He received one gift only: a toy tractor with wheels that glow when it is rolled along.  Tractors are Leif’s passion these days and he takes his tractor everywhere – even to bed.

Leif’s birthday bash

We have been invited to visit again next year.  Our instructions for that visit include: bring work clothes and a chainsaw to help clear the numerous fallen trees