Monday, December 17, 2012

Roper Mountain Science Center Holiday Lights

Day 15: Despite the flurry of activity in this household regarding Christmas preparations we still found time to enjoy the company of friends and the lights of downtown Greenville. After a day spent up to our elbows in piparkūku dough (and no end in sight!), we cleaned off the dining room table and welcomed some old friends back to Greenville. We were able to catch up over some cheese and a glass of beer, let the kids play and show them the new house before heading downtown for dinner at Grill Marks, a relatively new burger place that we first tried out on that Paula Deen day not so long ago.

Partners in crime: the cookie thieves!
If you make it to Grill Marks, be sure to order the white truffle parmesan fries – you will not regret it. The burgers are more creative than the standard cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger  and I’ve heard the shakes are good, but the four different variations of fries have got our vote. They also feature a gluten-free bun and unburgeralternatives.
We stuck around long enough to have a snowball fight and watch our friends circle the ice skating rink. Santa was in town, driving a red rig and carting around those wanting to give him their Christmas lists while enjoying the holiday lights on Main Street. With the trolleys lit up, the trees sparkling with lights and the sidewalks full of people, I can say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Everyone was full of holiday spirit, including the man in the red sweater who was nailed in the arm by a snowball – but only remarked to Lauris “you’ve got quite an arm, young man.”

Ice on Main, Grill Marks restaurant and Santa with his ride
Day 16: Piparkūkas, piparkūkas, piparkūkas. The pasta roller attachment I’ve ordered for my blender has yet to arrive and so I’m rolling out the dough by hand. Of course I’ve only had the dough rolled for me in my mother’s house (who has a hand-cranked pasta roller), so this isn’t new, but the addition of yet another distraction in the house is new; Mikus isn’t interested in baking cookies with me, he would rather drop items down our heating ducts.

What do the child labor laws say about piparkukas?
I called it quits for a quick dinner after which we headed out to the Roper Mountain Science Center Holiday Lights with the thought that maybe the rain would mean fewer crowds. We attended a Green Halloween there a month ago, at which time they had already started putting up this year’s lights. Last year almost 83,000 people passed through the 1.5 mile Holiday Lights loop, generating $150,000 for Rotary Club of Greenville charities and the Roper Mountain Science Center Association. Admission to this 21st year’s drive is $10 per vehicle (more for vans and busses, see webpage), and keep your eyes peeled for the “turn here to drive loop a second time for free” sign.

Despite the rain we stopped at the Winter Wonderland to visit Santa. There is no charge to climb up into Santa’s authentic late 1800 Portland Cutter sleigh to whisper that you’ve been behaving all year and would like “mantiņas, grāmatas, apakšbikses, piparkūkas, vilcienu un formiņas” for Christmas (or in our case, have mom explain to Santa that there are two well-behaved boys in our house who would like toys, books, underwear, piparkūkas, a train and cookie cutters” because not only have they both become completely speechless, but Santa momentarily forgot how to speak Latvian beyond paskaties as he was trying to get them both to look at the cameraman... ). Professional photographs can be purchased on site to help remember this moment.

The drive winds through the woods, sparkling with Christmas lights in the shape of holiday scenes. The rain on the windows and black asphalt reflected the lights, adding a shimmery, magical feel to what already is quite a spectacle. We listened to Lauris exclaim over every display and watched Mikus’s face light up and eyes shine with excitement, and the time to leave for home came much too soon.



  1. Wow, that's a fabulous Santa pic! One to treasure :-)

    1. Thanks Tallulah! Hoping Santa's cheeks are so red from the cold....


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