MetamorFit

Jenny Hodges. Tampa Librarian. Book Lover. Slow Runner. Mom to Irish Triplets. Living and Traveling in the Autism World.


26. March 2017 09:11
by jennifer
2 Comments

Push Away the Screen: Patriots Point Charleston, SC

26. March 2017 09:11 by jennifer | 2 Comments

We spent Spring Break 2017 on Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Edisto Beach is a small (very very very small) beachfront community. I wouldn't call it a town or a city. It's a collection of vacation homes, some permanent residents, and NO STOPLIGHTS.  When he was a small child, my husband spent a few summers on Edisto vacationing with his grandparents. One of the memories he shared with us prior to our vacation was a day trip to Patriots Point. He vividly remembers seeing the USS Yorktown and wanted our kids to have a similar experience/memory.

Patriots Point was kind enough to host us for the day, and we drove the 45 miles from Edisto Beach to Mt. Pleasant which is just across the harbor from Charleston, SC.

 

Upon arrival it's hard to miss the USS Yorktown. 

Image result for uss yorktown


She is named after the Battle of Yorktown of the American Revolutionary War. And if you know me, you know I am a HUGE Hamilton fan. Therefore it was only fitting that I wore my "Guns and Ships" shirt which is the song where Lafayette explains how he is going to go to France for more funds and comes back with more guns, and ships, and how the balance shifts. This leads to the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, led by Hamilton, in which the Patriots WIN and the British surrender. The Revolution is over. 

Okay, back to Patriots Point.

 

This was the first time the #TampaTrio had seen a warship. They had NO IDEA how big these ships actually are. They were so surprised that the ship was like a mini town! In fact, this ship could probably house more people than Edisto Beach! Wink

I found it very interesting that the Yorktown was the recovery ship for the Apollo-8 astronauts!

They even had an Apollo 8 replica that the kids were able to go in to experience what it was like to orbit the moon and crash back to Earth.

You can click HERE to see the video Ronin took while he was sitting inside the capsule. 

On the hanger deck, each kid had the opportunity to sit in a F9F Cougar fighter jet. That was pretty cool.

And then we went below deck. The kids were amazed by the sleeping areas, the kitchen, the dental office, and the brig.

I think they forgot about someone and left him in the brig for just a bit too long!

I found a bunk where a navy man had left his mark! I can't imagine sleeping over 2 years on this ship or this bunk. 

And imagine being a cook on this ship! Check out this recipe!

That's a lot of eggs!!

The flight deck was pretty incredible. The views went on forever!

Ella and I climbed up to the bridge and she sat in the Captain's chair!

But unlike when James visited Patriots Point more than 35 years, there is much more to do now than "just" the USS Yorktown. 

There is also the USS Laffey, which is the ONLY Sumner-class surviving destroyer ship in North America. The USS Laffey was commissioned and supported the DDay landings at Normandy June 1944. My grandpa fought at DDay.

After her time in Europe, she was sent to the Pacific Theater where off the coast of Okinawa, she was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and Kamikaze, killing 32 and wounding 71 of the 336-man crew. The heroic crew shot down 9 Kamikaze aircraft and saved the damaged ship. This earned her the nickname "The Ship That Would Not Die."  There is an interactive exhibit Mount 53 which gives the visitor the experience of what it was like on the April 16, 1945 kamikazse attack. The trio did this, James and I did not. Ella was impressed by how realistic it was. She said it was so loud.

Click HERE to see a video and explore the USS Laffey.

And then we went on a submarine!!

It was the first time any of us had been on a sub. And let me say....submarines are not made for fluffy people, or tall people or people who don't like very small spaces. So....this was a little difficult for me. I had a hard time breathing and felt like the walls were closing in on me.

But it was really interesting and I'm glad I can cross that off my bucket list.

But we're still not done!! Patriots Point recently opened a brand new exhibit about the Vietnam War. I fully admit...I do not know much about the Vietnam War and this exhibit taught me a lot!

Set in a "Brown Water Navy" support base and a U.S. Marine Corps artillery fire base during the Tet Offensive and the Battle of the Khe Sanh in 1968. There are more than a dozen components that simulate life during wartime.

Ronin and I had a talk before we went into the exhibit because he often does not do well with loud noises, but he said he'd be okay, and I trust him to know when he's uncomfortable and needs to leave. He did fine. But other Autistic kids might not do as well, so just make sure you have those conversations beforehand. 

While they enjoyed walking from hut to hut what they enjoyed the most was the military car.

James and I were both very impressed by the exhibit. It was very well done.

 

We all really enjoyed our experience and I'm so glad my husband suggested that we make a visit to Patriots Point. 

If you go, this is what you need to know:

  • Open 364 days per year. Only closed on Christmas Day. Other Holidays have reduced hours, so make sure you check before you go.
  • Open from 9am-6:30pm
  • Only the USS Yorktown is accessible for visitors in wheelchairs.
  • Parking is $5
  • Admission is $22 for adults, $17 for seniors over age 62, $14 for children ages 6-11, children under 6 are free as are active duty military in uniform.

If you are planning a trip to Charleson, SC I highly recommend you take a few hours and visit Patriots Point.

 

Have you ever toured an aircraft carrier, destroyer, or submarine??

 

4. March 2017 18:27
by jennifer
0 Comments

Push Away the Screen: 2017 GASPARILLA DISTANCE CLASSIC 5K

4. March 2017 18:27 by jennifer | 0 Comments

For the sixth consecutive year our family participated in the Gasparilla Distance Classic. But unlike in past years, this year we all did the 5K. And what a blast we had!! We started off our morning like we usually do on race day. The kids pick where we go to eat breakfast. This year they picked Dunkin' Donuts. Not my choice for race morning, but it's what they wanted. I did not eat any donuts.  We arrived, parked and made our way over to the staging areas. Ronin was in a different wave than the girls and I based on how fast he can run. I told him he was welcome to wait and head out with us, but he chose to go with the first wave. He didn't want to take the chance of getting behind any "slow people." We took a quick selfie, and then he was off with his fast group. His wave left at 9:15am and the girls and I weren't going until 9:45am. I joked that Ronin would probably be done by the time we started. I was only joking, but it turned out to be true! He is one fast little dude. Haley is in a mood lately where she doesn't want her photo taken, so this is Ella and I just before the start! And soon we were off! Haley managed to get ahead of us at the start line and we didn't see her for the rest of the race! Ella and I stayed together the entire time, just walking, talking, holding hands, making goals, and just enjoying being with each other. We finished in 54 minutes. Haley and Ronin quickly found us on the bridge and we got a post-race photo! We went through the Expo so that they could see what was going on. Ella and Ronin both did the line jump.  Ronin then asked if I thought he might have won anything for running so fast. I hadn't even thought about his time, so I asked him what his finish time was and he said "oh I think like 24 minutes or something."  24 minutes?!?!?  Could he really have finished in less than half the time it took me and Ella?? So off we went to check out the race results. And you know what? He won something! We knew for a fact that he placed in the top 10% of his age group and he won a cool coffee mug. But what we didn't know until the next day is that he finished in the TOP 3% OF ALL RUNNERS!!! He finished 593 out of over 10,000 runners!!! How amazing is that?? I am so proud of him. Here's a little flashback photo. The trio at their first Gasparilla in 2011 and at their sixth in 2017. They grow up so fast.  We had a very nice time at the 2017 Gasparilla 5K and are all looking forward to 2018. Though Ronin will be in a different age-group, so he better get to training!  

23. April 2016 12:22
by jennifer
3 Comments

Push Away the Screen: runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 2016 Inaugural Event Day 1

23. April 2016 12:22 by jennifer | 3 Comments

So many feelings about this event and the entire 3 days that we spent at Disney that I honestly don't even know where to start, so I'm going to start at the beginning.    We haven't been to Walt Disney World since the #TampaTrio were 3, 4, and 5 years old. They are now nearly 10, 11, and 12 so it's been a LONG time. It's been so long that Haley's Mickey ears were reminiscent of days long ago when she loved the Disney Princesses. Ella and Ronin, at the tender ages of 3, and 4 had the foresight to think long term about their choice of head-wear and were able to easily wear their Mickey ears without embarrassment. Haley pretty much wore her ears for photo opps only and then they promptly went into her backpack. Surprisingly they do remember bits and pieces about the last time that we were there. For example, they remembered that I got spit on by a camel.  HAHA! Not a real camel, but a camel from the ride The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and they were so hoping that I'd get spit on again. Kids I tell ya. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 10am. But with parking, taking the monorail to the Magic Kingdom (the monorail really smelled like pee, what's up with that??), and then heading to City Hall for Ronin's Disability Access Service Card, we didn't actually get on to Main Street until close to Noon.  But we came at just the right time because a parade was just about to begin!! We were pretty much forced to watch the parade because once the parade starts you aren't permitted on the parade course. The kids knew all the characters and it was a nice way to get ourselves used to being at the Happiest Place on Earth.  Once the parade was over we immediately walked over to Tomorrowland. The kids really really wanted to go on Space Mountain. We used our Mickey Bands which had been synced with the special needs pass and got our return time. While we waited we went on the PeopleMover and the Carousel of Progress. I was surprised by how much the kids enjoyed the Carousel of Progress. I remember really liking it when I was a kid, so I guess the apple does not fall too far from the tree.    Soon enough it was time for us to go on Space Mountain!! Ronin and I sat together and Ella and Haley sat together. I had forgotten how dark it is in that ride. The kids loved it. Though they were surprised that it did not go upside down. I think they are so used to Busch Gardens that they assume every roller coaster must have loops.  Right after that we had our Mickey band set for the Tomorrowland Speedway. Again, I rode with Ronin and the girls each rode by themselves. This ride STRESSED ME OUT so badly. I never ever ever want to go on this again. My kids can't drive, other people's kids can't drive, it's just a nightmare of exhaust fumes and stop and go, stop and go, and bump bump bump. Never again for me. But hey, the kids liked it, so that's what really counts. But after this ride I wanted a beer so badly...but sadly, Magic Kingdom is dry.  The trio all decided that they needed more coasters so off we went to try to find the Seven Drawfs Mine Ride. We got on right away with our special needs pass. That was awesome! This was a really fun ride, but once again the trio wanted to know where all the loopy coasters were located. But then they saw Snow White's little cottage and they forgot about the loops. This attraction was so cute and they really did like it so we decided that we would go on it again before our time at the Magic Kingdom was up.  We did the Haunted Mansion, walked through Cinderella's Castle, and then decided that we needed a break, so off we went to the runDisney expo and to check in to our hotel. The runDisney Expo took us a lot longer than we were expecting. And we didn't even do any shopping on this day. It was just a lot of lines and the packet pickup was in a different building than the t-shirt pickup and it was just UGH! But then I found a beer.   And not only did I find a beer, but a beer served in a cool reusable souvenir cup! Winning!! After the Expo we decided to check-in to our hotel. We stayed on property at the Disney All-Star Sports Resort. Because we had planned to spend most of our time at the parks, and running I wanted to find the most bang for my buck when it came to the room. I reserved a standard room which would give us 2 double beds, a bathroom and a mini-fridge. But when I checked in I found out that we had been upgraded!!! Sweet!!! I didn't even realize that they offered "family suites" at All-Star but that's what we got! We now had 2 adjoining rooms! In one room was a King bed, walk-in shower, table, TV, fridge, and the other room was exactly the same but in place of the King bed was 2 double beds. We doubled the size of our room and I am so thankful to Disney for upgrading us! It really made our stay much more pleasant!  The kids quickly put on their bathing suits and immediately headed down to the pool. We went to the pool closest to our room and it was not crowded at all. But there was a little bit of rain going on and the possibility of a thunderstorm so that might have kept non-Floridians out of the pool.  But not us!     Around 7pm we decided it was time to head back to the Magic Kingdom. My feet and Haley's feet were already quite sore, but we decided to go for it. We took the Disney bus and I'm so glad we did! It gave me a break from having to worry about driving, parking, taking the monorail over and back, etc, etc, etc... We arrived and the duo immediately saw a sign that said Disney was looking to hire Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, so we decided to check it out.   In theory it sounds like a really fun thing for the kids to do, but the park was SO BUSY that I kept losing my kids as they were running down Main Street looking for the next symbol, so after about 3 or 4 stations we called it quits. We went on some additional rides including one that I have never ever ever been on.... THE ASTRO ORBITER!! Oh my goodness. What great fun this ride was and I can't believe that I have never been on it. Of course it's possible that my parents took me on it when I was younger and I just don't remember, but I'll certainly never forget it as an adult because it was a blast! And we went again on Space Mountain, the Seven Drawfs Mine Train, the Little Mermaid, and a few others but we all started to get very tired around 9:30pm, and with fireworks scheduled for 10pm, I knew that Disney transportation would be crazy busy after that, so we decided to play it smart and left. We could see the fireworks from the bus, so we didn't miss the entire show! And that was Day 1. It was FUN AND BUSY!!  Stay tuned for posts about the runDisney events we did on Friday and Saturday