When I moved back to the Wayne County area a couple of years ago, one of the things I looked forward to the most was spending time with my two grandkids, Ben and Jenna. Since it was fall break for Hagerstown schools last week, I took Wednesday off from work so the three of us could spend the day together.
There was the usual battle over where to eat with votes cast for Cracker Barrel, McDonald’s and Bub Ebbons (Bob Evans). But Grandma Julie quieted all discussion by pulling into IHOP. I had not been to the Richmond IHOP before and really enjoyed my first visit. It was bright and clean and our waitress was friendly and good with the kids. Jenna enjoyed a create-your-own pancake complete with a banana mouth, strawberry eyes and pink yogurt hair. Ben ordered the grilled cheese and fruit but bypassed the sandwich for a breakfast of fruit only. I had the omelet and a small stack of pancakes. Of course, we had to sample each of the syrup choices available and unanimously vetoed all but the classic maple-flavored syrup.
Next we headed to Glen Miller Park where the kids climbed and slid and swayed on the gigantic playground equipment. I fear I really showed my age in my efforts to keep up with a 3.5 and 7.5 year old. They were fast, fast, fast. Although the sun was out and bright, the wind was pretty strong and we soon headed to the car and some warmth.
The Wayne County Historical Museum was my next surprise and it was a good one! Before we even got inside we were entertained by a handful of fat squirrels gathering nuts in the front yard. Once inside, Ben was enamored with the toy soldiers display and the trains. Jenna liked the decorations in place for the upcoming Haunted Museum taking place this month.
I’d forgotten how hard it is to explain old technology and vehicles to children. They have no concept of what coal is or how a record plays on a phonograph. Jenna was shocked at how little space there was on the old school bus and that dead bodies were once taken to the cemetery in a horse-drawn hearse.She could relate to the old conestoga wagon since she is just now falling on love with and reading the Little House on the Prairie books
Veach’s Toy Store was our next destination. I remember taking my kids there when they were little and it was always so fun. This trip did not disappoint! I think Ben tried out every single riding toy in the store and repeated the refrain “I want this for Christmas!” many times. Jenna was more interested in the arts and crafts section and the more unique educational items. I came away with a few ideas for Christmas and birthday gifts.
Since we were only a block from the best cookie store around, we walked down to Joy Ann Cake Shop. I’ve always loved the variety of iced cookies they keep on hand, prompting the kids to press their faces upon the glass front case and say “Uuum, I’ll have that one!” Jenna picked an iced pumpkin cookie (because it was the biggest one they had) and Ben chose a blue iced smiley face cookie. Then they made selections to take home – a leaf for Mommy and a Bid Bird for Daddy. I got a bag of thumbprint cookies, my favorite! We sat outside on a bench along the sidewalk and wondered if the people in the office building next door were watching us out their windows. We made a few faces just in case.
I asked the kids if they had ever seen dinosaurs before and Jenna informed me that all of the dinosaurs are dead. But, I told her, there are still dinosaur skeletons around and I know a place where we can see them! So, we headed over to the Joseph Moore Museum on the Earlham campus. What a bright, happy place it was with friendly staff just waiting to answer questions and help us experience it all. Ben was in awe of the huge mastodon skeleton and the Allosaurus skeleton, insisting that the Allosaurus was a T Rex.
There were also skeletons of a giant ground sloth, dire wolf, and a saber-toothed cat! We spent quite some time on the hands-on activities and then traveled downstairs to see the live turtle, iguana and fish which the kids enjoyed much more than the Egyptian mummy. Kids -- go figure!
As we pulled out of the Earlham campus Ben asked how long until we would be home. I answered only 20 minutes. And, as I looked back over the day, I couldn’t help marveling at all the fun we'd had right here in Wayne County!