Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Field Trips in Western Ohio Area

At the beginning of 2014, I learned that the Creation Museum was running a year-long "Kids Get in Free" promotion, and made a mental note that we should definitely go to the Creation Museum sometime this year. But, the first half of the year was filled with the uncertainties surrounding my husband's heart surgery, so we couldn't even tentatively plan until late summer. We discussed going in September, but then the opportunity to spend a week with friends at the beach presented itself and we jumped at that . . .now, with winter looming, we knew we HAD to fit this trip in now or never. So, despite various attempts to combine it with dh's work engagements in western PA, we finally decided to just take a weekend and make the trip.

Thursday afternoon was spent getting everything we could possibly do ahead, done, including packing the car as much as possible. When Rodney got home from work (after the girls were already in bed) and I told him that I was aiming for leaving at 8:00, but wouldn't stress if we were a little late, he declared it impossible, and predicted we'd leave at 9:00 or after. But, the girls all pitched in and we made it out of here by 8:30!! (and shhhh . . . don't tell anyone, but we probably could have left by 8:15 if we hadn't been waiting for Daddy to shower and drink his coffee, hee hee).  And so our 9+ hours of driving began. GPS said it would take right around 9 hours, but with traffic and stops for bathroom and gas, it took us closer to 10 hours. 

The first "glitch" we ran into was that I'd loaded several mp3 audiobooks onto my tablet, planning to play them through the car stereo for Lexie and Ashlyn to listen to while Little Bit watched videos on the built -in DVD player (with headphones). We've done this thousands of times, but for some reason the tablet sound would NOT turn up high enough for it to work, even with the car's volume turned to max. So we listened to the audios that I had on CD, and then I had both big girls ride on the back bench and listen to some of the audios directly from the tablet. For some reason, they decided they could hear better if they were under a blanket, so there you have it . . . Little Bit was grouchy because Lexie had been sitting in the middle row with her and "deserted" her to ride in the back with Ashlyn.

We arrived at the hotel, ate supper, got settled in, and went to bed.

Saturday morning we headed to the Creation Museum, purchased our (adult) tickets, and got the free kids' tickets, and began exploring. While there were a lot of people it didn't ever feel oppressively crowded like is the case at some museums (Smithsonian, on weekends, comes to mind), but it WAS crowded enough that I focused mostly on keeping track of kids and didn't take many pictures. I did have to snap this picture though. The raptor was mechanical and moved it's head, eyes, etc. The sign says:

He's not friendly, and neither are the costs to repair him.

I was amused. The museum included lots of interactive exhibits and, while I'm not sure the big girls and I "learned" much, because we've studied creation science quite abit over the years. It was all very well done and informative. If I'd visited a museum like this before I started homeschooling my children, I would have learned TONS!

The main exhibit hall "travels" through from Creation to the Flood to the Tower of Babel, teaching about creation science along the way. That took us all morning, and part of the afternoon.

After the "main exhibit" there were some "miscellaneous" exhibits that didn't tie together per se. The first was  a dinosaur exhibit (the sign got in the way, but Lexie and Ashlyn are standing next to a small (about the size of a turkey?) dinosaur that was adorable, they decided it would have made a great pet!

There was also an exhibit about ancient writings. That included Torah scrolls, cuneiform tablets, beautifully illustrated Bibles from the Middle Ages, etc. The big girls and I found it fascinating, and it fit in perfectly with what we're learning about in history (we JUST learned about the illustrated writing), and what we learned last year (the cuneiform and such). Little Bit and the men weren't as interested (or maybe the men were just tired by then), so they found a nearby bench and she picked on them (or they picked on her, or both).

Finally there was an "insect room".  Shudder! Thankfully all the bugs were dead, but there were some MASSIVELY HUGE bugs on display. ICK!!! I wish it gave more information about exactly where these monster bugs live so I know to NEVER visit those places. I did find it interesting that there were some huge winged bugs (a grasshopper and something else) that seriously looked like they had "fairy wings" I wonder if the legends about fairies originated with catching glimpses of  these bugs?  They were gorgeous but I still would prefer to not have one land on me or anything!

In the afternoon, while Rodney and I were taking the big girls through parts of the main exhibit we hadn't hit in the morning, my parents took Little Bit to the petting zoo where she happily spent most of the afternoon. 

For dinner we headed into Cincinnati to visit The Old Spaghetti Factory! It's one of our favorite restaurants and for some reason, while the decor/attmosphere seems PERFECT for the mid-Atlantic big cities (Philadelphia and Baltimore especially come to mind), there are NONE on the East Coast. So anytime we happen to be near one, we try to fit in a visit. YUM!! It did NOT disappoint!

Our tickets to the Creation Museum gave us admission for two consecutive days, but it doesn't open until noon on Sunday, so we decided to see if there was something else nearby to do in the morning. We decided to drive abit farther than we'd originally planned, and visit the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park. The main focus is on the Wright Brothers who lived in the Dayton area and since the girls had just earned the OTHER Wright Brothers Junior Ranger, at Kitty Hawk when we were in North Carolina last month, it seemed like a good idea to visit this one while that information was still fresh in our minds.

I'm not sure if it was good to have the information fresh in our minds, because it kind of highlighted how much each park "took credit" for the Wright Brothers doing most of their "work" at that location, but it was certainly interesting. The museum here was extensive and well done, we enjoyed our morning exploring the museum while the girls worked on their Junior Ranger requirements.

To add to our enjoyment, we were reminded again that great rangers make national parks even better. Both rangers who were there that day were excellent! Friendly, personable and informative. The only possible "down side" in this case was that it took Lexie and Ashlyn a lot longer to finish the Junior Rangers because of the time we spent visiting with the rangers, which made us later than we'd planned heading back to the Creation Museum, but it was a very enjoyable and educational morning, at a national park site that I'd definitely recommend anyone visiting the Dayton area add to their itinerary. 

As is usually the case when we do Junior Rangers, Little Bit finished her Junior Ranger well ahead of her big sisters. So it worked out well that she discovered a "leaf bug" on the wall in the courtyard that kept her occupied for quite some time. I was busy helping the big girls, but my mom said that the rangers were talking to her about the bug and told her it was named "Fluffy" and had a cousin named "Igor" hee hee.

In addition to the exhibits about all aspects of the Wright Brothers' lives, and some exhibits about poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, there was also an exhibit about parachuting. The Junior Ranger book didn't cover it, so I didn't end up spending much time there, but Little Bit thought it was pretty cool to get to pretend to be a parachutist.

And of course, we wrapped things up in Dayton by all three girls earning their Junior Ranger badges, accompanied by some good-natured teasing from the ranger who gave it to them.

We'd packed a lunch, so we ate lunch in the car while driving back to the Creation Museum. The main thing we knew we still wanted to do there was attend the planetarium shows. After all, where else can you find planetarium shows from a creationist point of view? As luck would have it, we arrived just AFTER one of the shows started, so we had a couple of hours to spend doing other things at the museum while we waited for our show times.

The big girls agreed that they'd thoroughly explored the main exhibits the first day, so we decided to head back to the petting zoo. All three girls had fun there, and the weather was warmer than the day before so it worked out well.

After spending time at the petting zoo, and exploring the book store abit, it was time for the planetarium shows. Two shows were available, and they showed back-to-back, so we watched them both. Little Bit preferred the first one, which attempts to give an idea just how VAST the universe truly is. Not that we KNOW exactly how vast, but it at least did an impressive job of showing that it's really, really, really HUGE! The second show was about comets and I found it fascinating, and I think the big girls did, but it was rather over Little Bit's head, and not as fun to "watch" as the other had been.

By the time we finished both planetarium shows, it was only half an hour until closing, so we headed back to the book store to buy the things we'd considered earlier, and headed back to the hotel.

An uneventful trip home on Monday finished up our field trip(s).

While we loved the trip, in retrospect, I wish we'd been able to figure out to make the trip in the summer. In most cases we intentionally plan museum trips and such for the school year when less "tourists" are around, but in this case, it meant that the extensive gardens were mostly just green, instead of the flowers of summer. It was still nice to walk through the gardens, but I think we would have spent a lot more time exploring them and savoring their beauty in the summer. But, of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and we can always go back another year.

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