Gettysburg

One place we go almost every trip to DC is Gettysburg. It is only about an hour from my parents home, so it is a quick visit. Plus, you mainly just drive around, so it is a nice break for the kid’s tired legs!

We haven’t gone in the museum area because they charge an admission fee. I have a hard time paying for admission when we go to all the free museums in DC. If you are REALLY interested in Gettysburg, it may be worth paying for. Otherwise, go into the visitors center and pick up an auto tour map.

Start at #1 and follow the map until the end. There are soooo many different monuments, you could spend a week walking around looking at all of them. I am sure there are civil war buffs that do just that! We mainly hit the highlights of the tour, especially with little kids to keep interested.

I have a few stops that are my favorite. #2 Eternal Light Peace Memorial is a beautiful eternal flame that you can park at and walk around. #8 Little Round Top – this stop gives you some great views of the fields. The kids like climbing up the little castle there. #12 Pennsylvania Memorial – my favorite stop! This memorial is beautiful and the view from the top is amazing. This is always a must stop for us! It is the largest memorial in the park too. #16 National Cemetary – this is always an important stop. See where Lincon gave the Gettysburg Address. Cemetary’s are always humbling and awe-inspiring.

You can also earn a Junior Ranger Patch. I learned so much about Gettysburg doing the packet with the kids! The great thing is you only have to do ONE packet per family!!! This is soooo nice! We didn’t have to make sure the kids each finished theirs. Just all worked on one. That was so nice! Each kid will still get their own Patch (it is a patch, not a badge).

Gettysburg is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Quiet and easy to drive around. Love showing my kids history and making it come alive in their minds because they have seen the place firsthand.

 

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Instant Pot Pulled Pork

I still have many more vacation posts to catch up on, but I also have recipes to catch up on! I’ll get them all done eventually! We’ve made our favorite pulled pork in the Instant Pot several times now, and it works great! The best part is I can’t stand the smell of cooking pork. Weird, I know! I love to eat it, but the smell does me in! Cooking it in the Instant Pot cuts down on the amount of time that I have to smell it! Ha! I may have made it this last time JUST to eat the leftovers on the AuGratin Potatoes (still haven’t taken a picture). It is just sooooo good!

I cooked it from frozen. If yours is thawed, you may not need to cook it as long.

 

Ingredients:

  • Pork Roast – 3-6lbs
  • 1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • black pepper – freshly cracked
  • Garlic – to taste. 3-4 cloves
  • BBQ sauce – if desired

 

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except BBQ Sauce, in your Instant Pot. Now, mine was frozen, so I cooked on the meat setting for 50 minutes. If yours is not frozen, then you can probably reduce cooking by 10 minutes. Allow to naturally depressurize so the meat has time to rest. Shred the pork in the juices. YUM!

Instant Pot Pulled Pork

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • Pork Roast – 3-6lbs
  • 1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • black pepper – freshly cracked
  • Garlic – to taste. 3-4 cloves
  • BBQ sauce – if desired

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, except BBQ Sauce, in your Instant Pot.
  2. Now, mine was frozen, so I cooked on the meat setting for 50 minutes. If yours is not frozen, then you can probably reduce cooking by 10 minutes.
  3. Allow to naturally depressurize so the meat has time to rest.
  4. Shred the pork in the juices.
  5. YUM!
http://mismashedmom.com/2017/10/instant-pot-pulled-pork.html

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Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

I have made our Red Beans and Rice in the Instant Pot several times now, and I think making beans in the Instant Pot is easier/faster/better than the crockpot. YUM! This is not only one of my family’s favorite meals, but it is inexpensive too. I could just eat a bowl of the beans – they are sooo yummy. Considering as a child I would never have even tried this, I am so glad I’ve broadened my food horizons. While this is still excellent in the crockpot, it is also fool-proof in the Instant Pot!

I’ve gone to just SHREDDING the onion into all my recipes. It is easier than chopping the onions and you can shred it right into the dish – super easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dry Red Beans (no need to pre-soak!)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 chopped onion (or shredded)
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • garlic to taste (about 4 cloves for me)
  • 1/2 lb sausage (I used Turkey Kielbasa)
  • 2 TBSP Creole Seasoning
  • Hot cooked rice – how much you need depends on your bean to rice ratio preference. I make about 3 cups of dried rice in my rice cooker (or Instant Pot) for this meal – with LOTS of leftovers!

 

Directions:
Put all the ingredients, except the rice, in your Instant Pot. Place on the Beans setting for 40 minutes. That’s it! Make your rice while it cooks or in the Instant pot when it’s done! If the beans are still a bit crunchy (I have not had this issue after 40 minutes), just do another 10 minutes and it should be done.
?Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry Red Beans (no need to pre-soak!)
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 chopped onion (or shredded)
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • garlic to taste (about 4 cloves for me)
  • 1/2 lb sausage (I used Turkey Kielbasa)
  • 2 TBSP Creole Seasoning
  • Hot cooked rice – how much you need depends on your bean to rice ratio preference. I make about 3 cups of dried rice in my rice cooker (or Instant Pot) for this meal – with LOTS of leftovers!

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients, except the rice, in your Instant Pot.
  2. Place on the Beans setting for 40 minutes.
  3. That's it!
  4. Make your rice while it cooks or in the Instant pot when it's done!
  5. If the beans are still a bit crunchy (I have not had this issue after 40 minutes), just do another 10 minutes and it should be done.
http://mismashedmom.com/2017/10/%ef%bb%bfinstant-pot-red-beans-rice.html
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Glen Echo Park, C&O Canal, & Great Falls National Historic Parks

We also went to 3 different National Historic Parks on #2’s birthday. First stop was the C&O Canal. We were supposed to take a mule-drawn boat ride during our time here, but there was apparently not enough water in the Potomac to have the boat ride. This was a BIG bummer for my son. We ended up taking him to Dave and Buster’s later in the evening to make up for the lack of boat ride – he seemed happy with that! We will have to try for the boat ride on our next trip because it sounds like a lot of fun! You can receive a Junior Ranger badge here too!

Next, we headed to Glen Echo Park. This is the only National Park with a carousel. This carousel is AMAZING! I bought tickets for 2 rides each, but I had no idea that each ride seriously lasts about 5 minutes! It is the longest carousel ride I’ve ever taken. We could have just done 1 had I known! It is a beautiful, large carousel. Not to mention it is probably one of the best deals in DC – $1.25 per ride is a GREAT deal on a carousel ride (free parking too!). #4 was ecstatic to ride on an Ostrich! Needless to say, we will be back here again – we LOVED it!! You can get several Junior Ranger badges here. There are 2 Glen Echo badges – the regular one and the Civil Rights one. Read about the history of the carousel and the civil rights movement before coming to the park. It really made the carousel even more special to us. In the parking lot is the Clara Barton House. It was closed for renovations while we were there – bummer! (next time!). You can get multiple Clara Barton Junior Ranger Badges online though! We received both of them (I forgot to photograph one of them)

We then headed to Great Falls National Historic Park. Their visitor’s center is fun. This is a much busier park than the other 2 were. The falls is really cool. However, being from the Pacific NorthWest, it isn’t as impressive as many that we have around here. It is beautiful and fun to see, but when you are around more impressive ones, I guess I didn’t see the big deal. So It was nice to visit once, but not sure we’ll make the trip back again (although, it is VERY close to the other 2 parks – hence the reason we did them all in one morning!). You can get a Junior Ranger Badge here too, but we have yet to receive them back since we mailed them in (I know they got there because I have confirmation it was received). It’s been over a month, so I am not too hopeful about getting these badges to add to our collection… Maybe we will have to go back again…

These 3 parks are close together, so you can easily do all of them in a day and get a bunch of Junior Ranger badges while you’re at it.

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Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum

After a few days at the beach, we headed back to DC. It was #2’s 12th birthday, so we had a big day of celebrations (his birthday trip to Hershey happened a few days later). One of the places we went on his birthday was the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum. Quite the mouthful, huh? You can’t take the metro here, but it is near Dulles airport, so it isn’t too difficult to find. Parking is $15, but the museum itself is free.

We really enjoy this museum. It is a giant plane hanger with big planes that won’t fit in the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. There is also an observation tower that takes you up for an awesome 360 view of the area (see above picture). You can watch planes land at Dulles airport from up in the observation tower. We all enjoy watching that!

The Space Shuttle Discovery is probably my favorite thing to see at this museum. It is awesome to see the space shuttle in person! Seeing the damage that happens to the Shuttle from space travel is amazing to see. The Blackbird and Concorde are other favorites of mine as well.

This museum is out of the way, but if you have the time (and a car), it is well worth a visit! We went for the first time on our last trip, and obviously enjoyed it so much, we had to return again!

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Sonic the Narwhal 

This is Sonic the Narwhal. #4 named him and #3 hates the name but hasn’t come up with anything different, so Sonic it is. #4 loves Sonic. He sleeps with him every night. He took him to preschool this week when it was his turn for show and tell.

We love Narwhals! We got Sonic at the Natural History Smithsonian when we were in DC. There was a Narwhal exhibit while we were there and we were so excited about it! We got to see Narwhal tusks – it was a cool exhibit. Maybe someday we will get to see one in person… We even have a narwhal Christmas ornament.

Of course, every time I think of Narwhals this is what comes to mind:

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Assateague National Seashore

While in Ocean City, we were able to drag the kids from boogie boarding and check out Assateague Island National Seashore, which is famous for its wild horses! I was wondering if we would actually get to see any horses, but there were many to see, a couple up close too! I guess the horse poop everywhere should have been my clue that it wouldn’t be hard to see some horses. The first turn out/viewing area on our drive had a herd of them together.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw one just wandering around. It went to the outdoor showers first and got a drink of water. It then wandered around the parking lot checking out all the cars. My kids thought it was quite amusing. We kept our distance from the horses (as ALL the signs warn!), but there were many that were getting WAY too close (shaking my head!)

You can sit and play on the beach and in the water – there are lifeguards on duty! Maybe next time we’ll take an afternoon to play on the beach there! There are a few short trails that you can hike, but otherwise, there isn’t a whole lot of hiking to do. If you are wanting to take some of these trails, take BUG SPRAY! We did not have any and were eaten alive! It was horrible. Take bug spray, you’ll thank me! (on my list for next time!)

It doesn’t take long to get here from Ocean City and well worth the short drive to see the horses. We just went to the National Seashore part, but there is also a State of Maryland park area (we have a Pass for the National Parks, so it didn’t cost us… I’m not sure of the cost of the Maryland part). There is also an area in Virginia, but you can’t get to it from the Maryland side of the island in a car. The parts you can get to via car are very limited.

Your kids can also earn their Junior Ranger badge. Probably the main reason the kids were willing to leave their boogie boarding and go. You can’t print it out beforehand online, so you must visit in person. We knew that we wouldn’t be done with the books before they closed, so they gave us the address to mail them in. They mailed the badges back to us very quickly – one of the quickest turnarounds of all the parks we’ve mailed in!

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