Category Archives: Museums

The Ark Encounter

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Creation Museum in Kentucky. That’s already an incredible achievement, and you can read about that post here, though I can’t promise it will be the best quality. I was only nine at the time and had minimal writing skill. Anyhow, there’s another thing going on on Ken Ham’s plot of Kentucky land now. For over six years the boat has been worked on, but it’s nearly finished now, and we went to visit. Who wouldn’t?

We had brought along great friends of ours, Cali and Marcus Perry, of the blog Unpredictable Perrys and now Unpredictable Perrys Continued. They had already been to the ark, and acted as fantastic tour guides on our visit.

The parking lot was far away from the actual ark, but even from there it was clearly visible; an indescribably large shape resting on the horizon, looking vaguely like a boat, but more reminiscent of a large rectangular box. It certainly didn’t look anything like those cartoon arks you see in kids’ books.

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When I stepped inside the ark, the first display was of animal quarters. Cages for larger animals lined walls, and small clay jars covered with a rough cloth would have housed amphibians. There were clay water jugs and sacks of food lining the walls, and some of the cages had highly realistic animal sculptures in them. Many of the creatures were odd, extinct beasts that we only know about from fossils, and cages were accompanied by plaques answering questions related to the animals. The giraffe family was represented, so one plaque guessed, by a short-necked variety to save space, and the dinosaurs were probably brought along as eggs or juveniles.

There was a room full of Bibles in other, even ancient, languages, some of them thousands of years old!
There was a room full of Bibles in other, even ancient, languages, some of them hundreds of years old!

After exploring this first area, we moved on to the mini-museums on the next floor. Of these, my favorite was one describing the flaws of and generally calling out children’s book authors and illustrators who taught, even jokingly, about an unrealistic and tiny boat with all the animals squeezed in tight. Those making this exhibit were even so bold as to display tons of kids’ books that had misrepresented the ark. It was a fun room.

The "Fairy Tale Ark" room.
The “Fairy Tale Ark” room, as seen from a stairway leading to the floor above.

On the third floor we reached what was possibly my favorite area in the whole ark: the living quarters. Contrary to what you might think, it was absolutely fantastic. In the kitchen, vegetables hung from the ceiling and a tiny garden grew on a shelf.  Beautiful handmade panels lined the walls, and the design was simple yet elegant.

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The bedrooms, however, were the best part. Each room had a large, luxurious bed in the wall like a window seat, and pretty woven door to closets. One room had a hammock in the middle, another a large desk, and a third a small table. The rooms were beautifully and tastefully decorated, while being simple and practical. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that with my room, even though I’ve known it was impossible from the moment I thought of it.

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It was a really fantastic day in a really fantastic museum, and I’d love to go back. If you haven’t been there yet, just know this: you’ve got to go.

Oklahoma in a Nutshell

Oklahoma doesn’t have the best reputation; it’s renowned for being frigid in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer, and when the temperature isn’t going to kill you the tornadoes might. All the same, it was a gaping white hole on our sticker map of visited states, and we had to fill it while we had the chance on our way to the Nomadic Homeschoolers Halloween Meetup in Kentucky.


After a few days in Texas (which is fairly nice, very interesting, remarkably smelly, and really quite windy), we drove on to Oklahoma, complete with unsettlingly flat lands and an enormous sun rising just ahead. There was nothing particular to interest me on the drive to Oklahoma City, so I settled down with a book and tried not to get car sick until we arrived. Finally we rolled into the outskirts of the state’s capital, and parked outside the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.


Gordon and I looked at a few galleries, then split off to check out the rodeo segment. On the way there we were sidetracked by a room full of cowboy history and techniques, and entertained ourselves by reading plaques rich in detail and examining old-fashioned barbed wire and branding irons. After we had discovered all that there was to find there, we moved on to the film area. There was a small theatre were Gordon and I watched a fascinating movie about the history of westerns, and a collection of John-Wayne-related items, including several guns of his, mostly gifts. We tried a “guess the TV show” game in which you had to pick out the show that matched a playing theme song, and also attempted to name the horses of famous movie cowboys. I did pitifully.


We finally made our way to several rooms filled with information about the rodeo business, both in the early days and now. There were videos of different events, accompanied by details. For example, you could watch bits of a calf roping competition, and every so often there would be a little box on the screen saying “The damages suffered in this event make up 8% of all rodeo-induced injuries,” or “Rope around the calf’s ankles must hold for six seconds to be considered ‘tied.’” Finally, Gordon got bored of all this and, though I was still interested, he dragged me off to the next place.
Next we examined Indian clothing, including beaded shoes and belts, roughly woven dresses, animal skin outfits, and feathered headdresses. Traditional cowboy wear was in the next room, so we looked at that, too. In an art gallery off the main hall we met up with Mom, who wanted to see the rodeo stuff we had just been looking at; we led her away, starting to shiver in the highly air-conditioned building.


The last attraction was outside: a horse graveyard. Several famous bucking broncos whom Gordon and I had read about inside were buried underneath the path, with tombstones bearing inscriptions about their lives. Five Minutes ‘Till Midnight was there, along side Midnight and Tornado, all famous broncos in their days. Each of these horses had strived to never let a man stay on them for eight seconds, and Tornado was only ever beaten once, just before his retirement. It was a beautiful courtyard garden, with streams and large, exotic flowers around every bend. After we had finished there, Mom dropped into the gift shop to find a book, Dad looked into one last gallery, and Gordon and I read outside in the shade, before setting off again on our trip to Kentucky. 

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures. I couldn’t take any, as museums usually don’t allow it.

New York City!

We went to New York City a couple weeks ago. We drove to the edge of New Jersey and parked the motor home in a Walmart parking lot. We were planning on going back to the last park we were at, so we left the car there. We parked late and went to bed right after dinner.

In the morning, at about 8:00, I woke up. I got out of bed and got dressed, then cleaned my room, brushed my teeth, and did my hair. By that time Gordon was getting up, and Mom had breakfast ready. We had decided not to leave until 10:30-ish, because traffic is so bad early in the morning. After we were all ready, Mom and I went to buy our bus tickets. We would be taking a bus, the Subway, and a cab that day. Finally, it was time to leave. On the bus Mom and Dad sat together, and Gordon and I sat a row up, to their left. Gordon was a little tired, because he always is in the mornings, but I was wide awake.

A Lego version of Rockefeller Center, as seen from above. (Photo Credit: Gordon)
A Lego version of Rockefeller Center, as seen from above. (Photo Credit: Gordon)

It took about 20 minutes to get into New York City, but when we did we were certainly there. Just a couple of blocks after we got off the bus, there was Time Square. Here’s a short interview with Gordon about it:

Me: What was your first impression of Time Square?
Gordon: It was just like “Boom!” You step off the train and there’s a bunch of buildings with lights on them, telling you to buy stuff.
Me: Did you like it at first?
Gordon: Yeah, of course! I thought it was awesome!
Me: What was your favorite part?
Gordon: Uh-uh. I can’t pick favorites. Not gonna happen.

As you can see, Gordon loved it. But at first I didn’t. Here’s kinda what my first impression was like:
“Oh. No. I do not like big crowds, I do not like all this noise, and I have to be here all day.”

Chinese singers in China Town
Chinese singers in China Town

Dad told Gordon and I to stick together and look around, so we went into the Toys R Us. It was huge, and I had to enjoy it. Besides, it wasn’t so crowded in there. We saw the Jurassic Park setup, with the big mechanical dinosaur, and the life-sized HotWheels car drivers. But best of all was the ferris wheel. The Toys R Us building is three stories tall. The ferris wheel goes from the ground on the bottom floor, through a hole in the second and third floor floors, and ends up by the ceiling of the third floor. Each of the cars is themed off a game, movie or TV show. There’s a Lego car, a Monopoly car, a My Little Pony car, a Toy Story car, a Scooby Doo car, a Barbie car, a Nickelodeon car… the list goes on. But I better continue.

I was still a little wary of this big city, but I was starting to have fun. I had been trying to absorb it all, like you would in a museum. I realized that if I just touched the surface, and didn’t worry about getting it all, I would have more fun. And that helped a lot.

Here are some of my favorite things that we saw:

Grand Central Station.
I loved it because of the old-fashioned architecture, and the constellations on the ceiling. Also because it’s in so many books and movies.
(I didn’t take any pictures, and I can’t put up pictures from the internet. But here are links to my two favorite pictures: Outside and Inside)

The Subway
We took the Subway twice. It didn’t jolt nearly so much as I expected, and it wasn’t very crowded either. I liked it.

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Central Park
I think if I lived in New York I would like that there was a quiet, garden-y, place to get away from all the noise and bustle of the city.

Hell’s Kitchen
I don’t like food, so Hell’s Kitchen wasn’t really my thing. But it has a neat story behind it: It used to be the bad part of town, but now it’s really nice. It’s one of the most popular areas in New York to get food!

The Apple Store
For those of you who didn’t know, Gordon is a huge Apple fan. And I mean HUGE! So he seriously loved going to the Apple Store, the most photographed building in the world. I don’t really care about anything phone/computer/iPad/etc. related, but it was cool to see the store. It’s an underground building, and there are spiral stairs going down. There’s also a glass elevator going through the middle.

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The Statue of Liberty
We didn’t go out on a boat, but we saw the Statue of Liberty from a little place on Manhattan Island. I don’t know what the area is called, but it was cool.

The Brooklyn Bridge
We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge! It was super cool, and one of my very favorite sites. There were little locks all over the walking part of the bridge, with names on them. People come out with friends and write their names on a lock, and then lock it onto the bridge. It looks really pretty in some parts. There are people who set up shop there, and sell selfie sticks and locks.

Some of the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge
Some of the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

The Cab
We took a cab through the city to the bus stop, because it was late and we were tired. It was really nice, and there was even a TV (Which I turned off so that I wouldn’t be distracted from the city).

-Lillian

 

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware

We’ve been super busy these past weeks, and we will be for months! There are so many things to post about, and so little time! So we will be posting digests: lots of little paragraphs about lots of different things, all in one post.  So here’s mine:

Time With Friends in Maryland 
Last year in Kentucky we met some great friends:  Anna and Gunnar. We had a lot of fun with them, and we even spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together! But this spring they moved to Maryland, So we made plans to meet up and stay at the Dickerson’s house for a few days.
The new house had a porch with about 15 steps leading up to it. This made it the ideal base for games. We played one game where there were 2 people guarding the base (armed with swords), and 2 people attacking the base, and trying to get up (also armed with swords). It was really fun.
Gordon and Anna are both really good on a pogo stick, and Gunnar and I are okay at it. So he and I had a competition to get to Anna’s high-score first. It was 83. Neither of us got to it, but I got to 55, and Gunnar got to 50. I was amazed, at myself and him.
Another game we love to play with the Dickersons is Hide-&-Seek tag. We played it both outside and in.

Going to Delaware
While we were with our friends we went to Wilmington, Delaware. We left at about 10 o’clock in the morning, and drove for 80 miles. When we got there we saw a monument in a park. It was a statue of Caesar Rodney, the first man to cast his vote that Delaware should be a state.
We also went on a long river-side walk. At the end there was a nature center, and they let us use nets and try to find things in the lake. It ran in from the ocean, but it was fresh water by the time it got there. I caught a teeny-tiny fish, then 3 snails. After that I got a flathead with its head bitten off, and a 2-inch-long clam! We identified what was found after we were done, and then we looked at some other animals and walked back to the car.

Amish Country in Pennsylvania
A few weeks ago we went to Lancaster County, PA. More Amish live in Lancaster than anywhere else in the world.  There were a lot of buggies there. (Little metal carts pulled by horses that the Amish drive) We went to an Amish farmer’s market, too. They had really good apple cider, and really good popcorn.

Hershey, Pennsylvania
We also went to Hershey Pennsylvania, were Milton Hershey grew up and invented the Hershey bar. There is a big place called Hershey World, with a fake factory inside it. There is a moving floor going through the factory, with rollar-coaster-style cars going through. There is a recorded voice that talks about how the Hershey bar is made. When you get off the ride they give you a mini KitKat.
There is also a giant gift shop that is almost like a mall, all for Hershey-related items.

But Milton Hershey did other great things. He and his wife couldn’t have children, so they started an orphanage for boys. That eventually grew into a school, and got larger and larger. After Hershey died, he gave all of his money to the school. MHS, as the school is called, is still going. It takes girls now, and not only orphans but any kids in bad circumstances. There are people called “House Parents” who take care of about ten kids in a house near the school. Thirty percent of Hershey’s profits are still given to MHS yearly, and they give to local churches as well.

Two Year Travel Anniversary: Museums

Wednesday, April 1st. was our 2 year anniversary of traveling. You can read about our 1 year anniversary here or here. If you haven’t read the other two posts, or you want to read them again, I would suggest going back and reading them all in order. But if you just want to read this one, than go on ahead!

At 6:00 in the morning Dad woke us up. Gordon was tired, as he always is when waking up before noon, but I wasn’t! I jumped out of bed and got dressed in a long sleeve T-shirt, jeans, a sweater, and a jacket. It’s cold here in Williamsburg, Virginia, and I’m not planning on freezing to death! At 6:30 we were all ready to go. Gordon and I grabbed blankets, and Mom handed us our breakfasts. (A chocolate-banana shake and a bagel with cream cheese for Gordon, and a shake and banana for me). We got in the car and started to drive. I brushed and braided my hair, and then we played the license-plate game. (A game in which you find license plates from different states). It was a 2 and a half hour drive, but it didn’t seem too long. At 8:30 A.M. we crossed the border and read the sign. It said:

“Welcome to Washington D.C.”

A Picture I Took of a Water Fountain
A Picture I Took of a Water Fountain

Soon after arriving, I saw the Capitol Building from the highway. I was a little disappointed to find that the dome was under construction, so we couldn’t really see it. But it was alright, because we could see so many other things! The first thing we went to was the American History Museum at the Smithsonian. There was one exhibit that had stuff from movies, like Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz. That was fun to see, but in the upper floor there were things I liked better. I can’t limit my favorite thing to just one, so I’ll tell my top three favorites.

One thing I saw that was really exciting was Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk. It was the one that he wrote the Declaration of Independence on! There was a note in it that said that he knew it would become something of great value and something that people came from all over to see.
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Another thing of Thomas Jefferson’s was a Polygraph. Now Polygraph means lie detector, but back then it was something else entirely. A polygraph use to be a brilliant device that had two arms with a fountain pen on the end of each. The idea was that you would hold one pen and write with it, and the other pen would copy your actions, because the arms were connected. There were also two ink pots. When you dipped your pen, the other pen dipped. It was a genius idea, and I can’t imagine why people don’t still use it today. Not only does it copy your words, it copies your handwriting!

The Polygraph
The Polygraph

Last, but  most certainly not least, is the most famous thing in the museum. Of course you’ve heard of it! You probably see at least one replica every single day! The last thing we saw in the American History Museum of the Smithsonian was The Original American Flag, sewn by Betsy Ross herself. The Flag!! The Flag That Francis Scott Key was looking at when he wrote the National Anthem!! How cool is that??? (Answer: Pretty Darn Cool)

The flag had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, because at that time there were fifteen colonies. I saw “had” because somebody cut off one of the stars years ago as a keepsake. That was before the flag was in a museum, and since nobody really thought to preserve it, it was just fine to take a piece. There are little chunks cut off of edges, too.

When people were preparing the flag to be put in the museum, they had to cut 1.7 million stitches to get off the linen backing that was beginning to wear too much.


The other museum we went to was a Japanese drawing and tea museum.

I really liked looking at the tiny, detailed drawings to try to find people. Some were fishing, carrying water, walking, or hunting. Some were just sitting inside houses, or out on boats. Sometimes there were animals, too. Little birds, or a few rabbits. They were really pretty. Sorry for the size of this next picture. It would be impossible to see the detail if it was any smaller.

This is not a Japanese drawing, but it is similar in the way that it is very small and detailed. This was one of a dozen small drawings of the style.
This is not a Japanese drawing, but it is similar in the way that it is very small and detailed. This was one of a dozen small drawings of the style.

There were little tea bowls, in another room, and clay serving trays. Some were made with two different colors of clay, each taking up half of the space diagonally. Some were weird geometric shapes, and some had drawing on them or scratched into them. They were all beautiful, each in their own way.

I won’t write about the monuments, because I’m sure this is long enough already. Next week, though, Gordon will tell about them. So stay tuned!

– Lillian

The South Carolina State Capitol

We’re currently in South Carolina, as Instagram followers know, and today we went to a very interesting and famous landmark: The South Carolina State Capitol Building!

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This is the third capitol building of South Carolina. The current  building was started in 1855. When it was interrupted by the Civil War in 1861, construction was put on hold. It was resumed in 1865, and finally finished in 1907. South Carolina had previously had the capital in Charleston, but it was moved to its more central location when those who lived inland complained of it being too far away. Construction was started on a small wooden building in Columbia, but it burned down.  A new building was built, much larger, and as fire-proof as possible. The outside is made of the state rock: blue granite. The floors inside are made of alternating diamonds of pink and white marble. The staircases are wrought-iron with sheet-metal decorations. It’s not likely to burn down any time soon.

Gordon and I with John. C. Calhoun
Gordon and I with John. C. Calhoun

I have only seen three capitol buildings, but this one was my favorite. The large copper dome on top is pretty, but the littler dome inside is just magnificent. It is built underneath the large dome, but instead of being in the middle it is far over to the left (when facing the capitol building). This is so that it can be in the middle of a large room inside the building.

As the building was finished in the Victorian Era, it is decorated in the “Modern Style” of the time. The ceilings are brightly painted, intricate works of art, and there is stained glass and glass mosaics, along with many various paintings.
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During the Civil War, several cannon-balls were shot at the building. They did only very minor damage, and the small busted sections were never fixed. Now there are six bronze stars in the outside walls of the capitol, marking what was done by the Civil War cannonballs.
-Lillian

The most and least successful cannon-ball shots.
The most and least successful cannon-ball shots.

Marathon Key Turtle Hospital

In the town of Marathon there are sea turtles, lots of sea turtles, and if there are lots of sea turtles some of them are going to get injured. That’s why there is a sea turtle hospital.

We went on a tour of it with a few friends and learned a little about the turtles and the things they get hospitalized for:

First off are the regular things like damaged shells from getting hit by boats or hurt limbs from fishing line entanglement. But then there are the weird things like air bubbles inside of their shells (from getting hit by boats) that make it hard for them to dive or tumors that grow over their eyes so they can no longer find food.

The turtle hospital is where they can get all that fixed. They have lasers to remove the tumors and weights to put on the turtles’ shells to help them dive again.

But sometimes they don’t recover well enough to go back into the wild  and they need to stay at then hospital and live there with the other turtles who have also become permanent residents. The most common turtles to become permanent residents are the ones who get air bubbles in their shells. The weights are helpful, but when the shell grows it sheds the scales so the weights can’t stay on. The hospital workers always have to put a new weight on, meaning the turtles need to stay at the hospital.

This was a great place to go to learn about turtles and how they live, in and out of the hospital.

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Our group meeting the turtles
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This guy is all healed from his tumors and ready to go back into the wild
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This guy has a weight on his shell to help him dive

 

Historic Jamestown Settlement

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on the Susan Constant
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weaving at the indian village

Okay so I’m a little bit late writing about this but here we go. Jamestown was among the first settlements in America and the first successful one. It was settled purely for the profit of farming tobacco, looking for gold and silver, and trading with the natives It was paid for by the Virginia company, a company looking only to make a quick buck in this new world (and claim some land for England). The three ships that came to Jamestown from England were called the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and last but not least the Godspeed. They were led by captain Christopher Newport who was a privateer (a legal pirate who attacked Spanish ships for the queen of England) and had only one arm (privateering is dangerous). He helped lead the colony until 1607 when he got shipwrecked in Bantam (Java) and died there. After a while the settlement still hadn’t turned a profit so the Virginia company was dissolved but the settlers who now were bringing women in were making their own tools and growing their own food and the colony survived.

We had fun going on the reproduction ships and Indian village and the reenactors were great. There was also a reproduction of the james fort which i liked a lot. There were cannons and muskets that they did demos on and there were a lot of cool things to do, overall this was one of the best historical places we’ve ever been to. -gordon

The Indianapolis Museum of Art.

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If you look very closely you can see the faint drawing.
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Making notes near a Robert Indiana. He made a sculpture of every number from zero to nine.

Yesterday we went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and it was really cool. I especially liked the abstracts and the “How deep is your” exhibit. “How deep is your” is a very interesting section that is the art of Julianne Swartz. There are lots of mechanical devises, such as miniature recorders that play back voice recordings, and clockwork systems that turn wires. Most of Julianne Swartz’s artwork has playbacks of voices or noise, but one piece using recorders that I found particularly interesting is what looks like a big, slightly twisted, piece of linen hanging on a long string from the ceiling. Really, it’s lots more than that. If you look very closely you can see tiny recorders inside the linen, playing back an odd, loud, screeching sort of noise. It was really cool to try and figure out how it worked.

A great example of clockwork use was a sort of machine that looked like a few cement blocks, stacked one on top of the other. Inside the cement blocks, there is a clockwork system, but you can’t see it. What you can see is a long wire sticking out of the blocks. That wire is stiff, but there is another one hanging down from the top. In the middle of the second wire, which hangs limp, there is an LED light. At the bottom of the blocks there is one long wire that is curled in loops around the blocks. as the clockwork system turns the dangling wire, it bumps against each coil of the wire on the bottom, completes the circuit, and makes the LED light up, just until the stiff wire at the top pulls it away.

My favorite paintings were the abstracts, as I said before, and probably my favorite of those was a blank white canvas. At the top of the canvas was a very lightly drawn shape, perhaps of the bottom of a picnic table. It was nothing more than that, but I think I understood what the artist, James Bishop, meant when he made this piece of art in nineteen seventy-four. There’s no way to know if I got his exact point, because the painting is untitled, but when I saw it I said “It’s like, You have the faintest clue of the answer to everything.”
– Lillian.

The Indianapolis 500 Museum

Inside the giant Indianapolis racetrack is a museum. A museum so cool your brain might overload from coolness and that museum has the cars of every Indy 500 winner ever, such as the Marmon Wasp by Marmon, and Boyle Special by Maserati.

The race track was built originally as a way to test the new cars the auto factories were making so they could ride them at high speeds and learn to build better cars. Then they would race them and the people watching could see which one they wanted to buy.

One icon of the Indy 500 is Parnelli Jones an Indy car driver but also a salt flats racer and a Baja racer. He was very popular and owned his own race team and a LOT of cars.

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I joyride an Indy car
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Drag-style Salt Flats racer
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with Mario Andretti’s innovative race car
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The Marmon Wasp