Tag Archives: Missouri

Walt Disney’s Hometown

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After two weeks of slowing drawing out the recounting of our trip across the country to drop Miss Molly off at school, I write the final installment. It has been crazy busy at Patchwork Farm…as you can well imagine…and the task of finding stolen moments to blog has been especially challenging. We find ourselves neck-deep in wedding preparations, back to school busyness, and the craziness of large-family living, but I wanted to share our last road trip adventure before flakes of snow begin to fall and another month or two escapes me…

Back in 2016, as part of our epic six week bus trip around the country we made a special stop for Rusty’s 15th birthday. Per his request, we stopped in Marceline, Missouri to pay homage to Rusty’s personal hero, Walt Disney, and it was the highlight of the trip for Rusty!

 

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Three years later, as we worked our way back across the country, passing through Missouri on our way home, Rusty asked if we could visit Walt Disney’s hometown once again. So we did…

This time with Braden!

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The United States has three permanent museums devoted to Walt Disney. Each is terrific in a different way. In San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum is the most spectacular—a real “E” ticket. In Central Florida, Walt Disney, One Man’s Dream, a “must see” attraction for Disney fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the most convenient to visit—at least if you’re a Walt Disney World guest. And somewhere near the center of the continental United States, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is the most personal.

We drove into Marceline, Missouri (pop. 2230) on Tuesday morning, reacquainting ourselves with this small Midwestern town that seems trapped in time, looking much as it might have when Walt was a young boy walking down Main Street with his mother.

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While there we drove over to Walt Disney’s childhood home.

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Walt’s family came to Marceline when Walt was only 4 years old. They moved from Chicago in an attempt to keep Walt’s older teenage brothers out of trouble and live a simpler life on the family farm.

Walt’s father purchased a plot of land from his brother who owned land in Marceline and they proceeded to build a home and establish themselves in this small, Missouri town.

Walt lived here from age 5 to age 9. While not a long period of time, it was a time that greatly affected his life.

Behind this home sits another important part of Walt’s time in Marceline. This area is opened to the public. Just past Walt’s childhood home sits a small parking area with this sign:

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It was down a grassy path that we found Walt’s Dreaming Tree.

. Daydreaming under this tree, a young Walt would observe the nature surrounding him. He later called these adventures “belly botany” and drew from these moments in his early works. He apparently never outgrew his need for inspiration from his favorite spot. On trips back to Marceline, Walt always put aside time for reflection beneath it, spending hours alone with his thoughts, back under his Dreaming Tree.

The Original Dreaming Tree, the place where Walt sat as a boy and let his imagination take him on incredible adventures, was hit by lightning a few years ago.

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Instead we visited the Son of the Dreaming Tree, a sapling planted from a seedling of the original Dreaming Tree with soil brought from Disneyland and water from Disney World.

As we walked along the grassy path to Walt’s barn, we passed signs that gave us even more insight into Walt’s childhood there and the significance it had in his later life.

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In the barn, also known as Walt’s Happy Place, visitors are encouraged to sign the walls and leave messages of love and hope.

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By his own account, Walt’s happiest childhood memories were of his time in Marceline and the family farm there. Walt and his sister Ruth spent many happy hours playing in the Barn. Visitors from all over the world have come to Marceline to spend time at “Walt’s Happy Place”, located in its original place on the Disney family’s old farm in Marceline.
Visit this very special Barn, which was rebuilt by volunteers in 2001, and leave your mark among the thousands of signatures, messages and memories already there to share with the rest of the world. There’s no doubt about it, when you come to this Barn, you’ll feel a special heart connection to Walt.

When we visited the barn during our first trip, we found it incredibly moving to read the words of previous visitors, and witness the profound effect this humble, inspiring man has had on so many lives.

What a joy it was to add our own names to the thousands of admirers that had been there before us…

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Rusty adding a new signature to the mark he left in 2016.

And what a joy it was to reflect on that experience as we sought out our previous signatures from three years prior.

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And then Braden added his name to the barn beams.

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From there we headed to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

The visit to the museum began with a guided tour of the first floor, where the volunteer (who was a personal friend of Walt Disney) walked us through the story of Walt’s life in Marceline, beginning with his childhood in Marceline and ending with his visits back when he was an adult.

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The museum is housed in the town’s old train depot…

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A fitting location for Walt’s museum since he was an avid fan of trains his entire life. In fact one associate said, “Walt got more joy from hearing the sound of a train whistle than he did from an arm full of Oscars.”

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In the museum there are 3,000 artifacts from Walt’s life,

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Including…

The elementary school desk where he carved his initials “WD”:

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A car from the Autopia ride he had built in Marceline for the children of the town:

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The audio recording he made from the interview he did with his parents at their 50th anniversary party:

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The Mickey Mouse dolls that were a gift to his parents on that anniversary:

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And the TV he bought for his sister, Ruth.

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When he invited Ruth to the opening of Disneyland she informed him that she didn’t like crowds, so he purchased a TV for her so that she could watch the opening ceremonies from the comfort of her own home:

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The first floor of the museum is filled with Disney movie memorabilia, hand written letters by Walt, receipts, and other family heirlooms. It really is a treasure for Disney fans!

The second floor of the museum contains:

A replica of Walt’s front porch and the story of him convincing his younger sister to paint the house with tar,

 

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A piece of the original Dreaming Tree,

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And a miniature model of Disneyland.

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Marceline, Missouri…the birthplace of Disney Magic.

I’m so glad we could visit again!

 

Lambert’s Café: Home of Throwed Rolls

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I first heard of Lambert’s Café in a children’s book I was reading aloud to the kids a few years ago. In the book the children in the story went to Lambert’s with their grandparents and there experienced the unique dining experience that is iconically Lambert’s.

I didn’t realize that Lambert’s Café was a real restaurant until we were driving through Missouri on our bus trip last year and I saw the billboards for Lambert’s Café. The tagline: “Home of Throwed Rolls”  was the giveaway that it was the same place that was highlighted in the book.

We didn’t stop there last year, but when we decided that Springfield, Missouri would be our stop for the second night of our trip I told Toby I knew just the place for dinner!

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I didn’t give much away. I just told my family that they were in for a treat. I knew the experience would be as enjoyed as the homemade southern cooking.

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We arrived just in time, walking through the doors at 8:50 pm. The restaurant closed at 9:00, but they welcomed us in with a smile and seated us at a table.

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The first clue that this dining experience would be different than other places was the table settings, which consisted of a roll of paper towels and a cup of silverware.

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Our waitress came over and took our drink orders. When she returned the kids received their second clue that this was going to be a unique dinner. The cups were huge. Rusty was thrilled. When we go out to eat my water lover always seems to be waiting on refills. There was no running out of water at this place!

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Then we ordered. The food here is homestyle, with southern classics like chicken fried steak and fried chicken being some of their top sellers.

After ordering, the fun began with a waiter yelling, “Fresh rolls!”

The kids soon picked up on how things worked at Lambert’s when they saw hands being raised around the room and rolls started flying.

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At Lambert’s Café if you want one of their delicious, homemade rolls you have to catch one.

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Don’t worry if you miss on the first try… many people do. The floor is littered with fallen fare.

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They will just send another one your way.

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Luckily we were eating dinner with Tyler, who eagerly offered to get us rolls anytime someone wanted one. He loved the “sporty” aspect to the dinning experience and caught many rolls for our table.

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In addition to the flying rolls there were also “Pass Arounds.” These were side dishes that come free with your meal. Waiters walked around with bowls of macaroni and tomatoes, black eyed peas, fried potatoes and onions, and fried okra that you could try while waiting for your meal.

We all tried fried okra for the first time and found it better than expected. Tyler was the only wouldn’t give it a try, despite the persistence of our cute waitress.

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Our stomachs were already filling up thanks to the “Pass Arounds” and the delicious rolls, when our dinners arrived.

Talk about generous servings!!

Toby and Rusty’s chicken fried steak meals came out in frying pans.

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I ordered the fried chicken and it was the BEST fried chicken I have ever had. The food was incredible. It was one of the tastiest meals we have ever had and easily measured up to our gold star standard of a Disney World Resort restaurant in both quality of food and level of interactive entertainment.

We are so glad we gave Lambert’s Café a try!

When we left we stopped at the visitor’s map to mark our hometown and record that the McCleerys were here.

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It was an awesome evening!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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It has been almost 3 decades since I was in Waynesville, Missouri.

What a surreal experience it was stepping back into past for 30 minutes!

When we planned out our route to Texas we realized that by traveling from St. Louis, Missouri to Oklahoma City, our GPS was taking us south through Missouri via Rt. 44. This route just happened to pass by my old childhood stomping grounds.

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In the late 80s my Dad was stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. It was here, in the neighboring town of Waynesville, Missouri that I attended middle school.

This was such a happy season of my life. I have such sweet memories of small town living in this one horse town that sits along old historic Rt.66.

Toby graciously indulged me as I took a trip down memory lane, eager to show off the places that held such fond memories from my life at age 10. It is crazy to think I was Tyler’s age when we moved here.

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We drove pass the elementary school that Kelly and Travis walked to each morning with my mother.

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My old middle school. (The middle school is now held in the building that was the high school when we lived there.)

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And my old neighborhood.

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Our home, where such happy memories were made, is now looking less bright and shiny then when my parents lived there. They took such pride in making it a home. My old tree house is now gone, as is my dad’s garden, and the deck where many hours were spent playing,

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But the house, fenced yard, and my favorite climbing tree are still there.

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I think the thing that struck me most was how much smaller everything looked through my grown eyes as opposed to how I remember it looking through my childhood eyes.

The front yard was so much smaller than I remember. The neighborhood seemed more compact and the streets shorter. It is funny how the places of our childhood are distorted by our childhood perception.

From there we drove downtown, passing the iconic Waynesville frog rock along the hillside leading into downtown.

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The downtown area looked much the same, just more updated from when we lived there.

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Tyler was disappointed that the Tinkle Bar,

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which I told him stories about, has since been replaced with  newer and classier establishments…

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And the grocery store that we would walk to for treats, has since gone out of business.

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But overall I was amazed by how untouched our old hometown was by the passing of time.

Who knew that a detour off Rt. 44 would lead to such a sweet trip down memory lane.

 

St. Louis City Museum- Round 2

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If you are taking a trip to St. Louis you ABSOLUTELY MUST visit the City Museum. Kids or no kids – don’t even ask what it is – put it on your bucket list RIGHT NOW.

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We first discovered it a year ago while on our cross country bus trip. Our first stop was in St. Louis and we were looking for something fun to do since it was Tyler’s birthday. We went, not knowing what to expect, and found it to be absolutely mind blowing.

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The first thing I read about (when researching the City Museum) was the famous 10 story slide (YES I absolutely said TEN STORY SLIDE) but I was not prepared for the sheer excitement, incredulous wonder, and core exhaustion that would accompany us!

The City Museum is like a living breathing work of art. An old shoe factory originally- it is evolving constantly with new additions.

In fact they have said:

“Usually, the way something gets built is a board gets together and comes up with a mission statement, and they do a search for an architect, and they go through an approval process, and they start raising funds, and by the time something gets built, they forget what it was for in the first place. When we get an idea here, we start building it that afternoon.” -City Museum

We found that to be true. We were amazed by all the new additions to the museum since our visit 10 months ago.

This place is incredible. Just look at SOME of the playground outside!

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It is no easy feat to walk through there if you’re terrified of heights like I am! It IS, however, the PERFECT place for my daredevil husband and kids…especially Tyler! Safety with the feeling of terror. There are (almost) no rules except for a few safety height requirements. The building is meant to be climbed on, in and through.

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My three boys heading in three different directions down three different tunnels!~

City Museum was collectively one of the top highlights from our trip around the country, so when we were mapping out our route to get to Texas for my brother’s wedding we deliberately routed ourselves through St. Louis so we could enjoy another day at one of the coolest places on earth!

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Here is a little history of the City Museum found on WIki:

“City Museum is a play house museum, consisting largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in the former International Shoe building.

Popular among residents and tourists, the museum bills itself as an “eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel.” Visitors are encouraged to touch, climb on, and play in the various exhibits. “Don’t touch the art” is never commanded; although safety docents are present on each of 11 floors.

The City Museum has been named one of the “great public spaces” by the Project for Public Spaces and has won other local and international awards as a must-see destination.

City Museum was founded by artist Bob Cassilly and his then-wife Gail Cassilly. The museum’s building was once an International Shoe Company factory and warehouse but was mostly vacant when the Cassillys bought it in 1983. Construction began in January 1995.

The City Museum opened to the public on October 25, 1997. Within two years, it was drawing 300,000 visitors a year.

The museum has since expanded, adding new exhibits such as MonstroCity in 2002, Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shaft in 2003, and World Aquarium in 2004.

Cassily remained the museum’s artistic director until his death in 2011.

A circus ring on the third floor offers daily live acts. The City Museum also houses The Shoelace Factory, whose antique braiding machines makes colorful shoelaces for sale.”

The entire building is one magnificent piece of art, all intended to be touched, climbed on, explored and experienced. In a world of helicopter parenting and “Do not touch” signs this “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” encourages exploration and imagination.

They make a point of not giving out maps to the museum and instead encourage you to simply explore.

Behind every corner was a tunnel entrance or the start of another adventure. For Tyler it was heaven on earth, although  ALL enjoyed it!

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The museum is comprised of multiple floors of adventures, each with its own theme:

First Floor

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“The original part of the museum, the first floor is home to a life-size Bowhead Whale that guests can walk through and view a large fish tank from the mezzanine or the always popular “Puking Pig.”

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Also on the first floor, are a number of tunnels that run across the ceiling, hiding above a sea of fiberglass insulation cut to give the impression of icicles.

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To get into these, one can climb up a Slinky, which is an old refrigerating coil (donated by Anheuser-Busch),

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or through a tree house which leads into a giant hollowed out tree that leads to a cabin on the other side of the floor.

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The floor itself is covered with the largest continuous mosaic piece in the US, which then morph their way up columns, consuming every section of this floor. In one area is a tunnel known as the “Underground Whaleway” which runs beneath the floor and into the “Original Caves.”

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Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shaft

One of the museum’s most popular attractions, the Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shafts run through the center of the Museum, and go all the way to the 10th floor.

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Opened in 2003, the Caves are an elaborate cave system hand-sculpted by Bob Cassilly and his crew.

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From every direction, a different creature is staring back.

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Since 2007, the Caves have also held a 1924 Wurlitzer Pipe Organ from the Rivoli Theatre in New York City.

The Shoe Shafts were developed from structures built for the International Shoe distribution operation. To get the shoes from various floors to the loading dock, staff would place the shoes on spiral shafts. The Shafts opened in 2003 with one three-story spiral slide, and five years later added a ten-story slide that starts at the roof and goes down to the Caves’ entrance.”

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Shoelace Factory

The Shoelace Factory has shoelace machines from the 1890s. Visitors can order custom-made laces.

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And outside you will find: MonstroCity!!!

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Located in front of the building, MonstroCity features two Sabreliner 40 aircraft fuselages suspended high in the air,

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A castle turret,

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Four-foot-wide slinkies that can be crawled through… one very high that leads to a slide,

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That is Molly WAY up there!

And two ball pits, one for young children and one for older ones, each pit being filled with large, rubber dodge balls.

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The Cabin Inn is an early-19th-century log cabin located beneath MonstroCity. Originally the home of the son of Daniel Boone, it was owned by the Hezel family for more than a century and is now a bar and entertainment venue.

The Roof

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The roof has a small old-fashioned Ferris Wheel.

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It also has a slide that goes under a small pond.

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The pond has stepping stones that go from one side to the other.

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The roof also has a school bus that had actually worked once, extending past the edge of the building.

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Visitors can walk in the school bus and open the door from the driver’s seat.

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Also found on the roof are a giant rope swing contained in a free-standing aluminum dome underneath the roof’s centerpiece; a giant metal praying mantis.

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It is possible to climb a series of enclosed metal ladders inside the dome (of an old planetarium) to an exit at the top.

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The view from the top!

The entire experience was mind-blowing…a feast for the eyes and for all the senses. The attention to detail, the creativity and artistic detail made for incredible photo opportunities, although the grandeur simply can’t be captured by a lens.

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The little details made it an photographic treasure hunt as all of us stumbled across one cool shot after another.

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We were there 7 hours and could have stayed another 7. It was definitely one of the coolest places we have EVER been. For $12.00/ person we felt we got our money’s worth 100 times over! Honestly, I cannot even begin to tell you how A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. the City Museum is. These photos do it NO justice as most of the pictures I took just looked like abstract chaos of intertwining branches, rooms, rock, tile, coils, and everything else that the museum is created from. You absolutely have to experience it for yourself – it will blow you away.

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But be forewarned – at the end of the day you’ll be utterly exhausted but dreaming of your next visit to the City Museum!

Walt Disney’s Hometown

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“A Dream is a Wish you Heart Makes”

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Rusty had dreamed of visiting the hometown of his hero, Walt Disney. This trip afforded us the opportunity to take him to Marceline, Missouri on his 15th birthday…

A  magical way to spend his special day!

The United States has three permanent museums devoted to Walt Disney. Each is terrific in a different way. In San Francisco, the Walt Disney Family Museum is the most spectacular—a real “E” ticket. In Central Florida, Walt Disney, One Man’s Dream, a “must see” attraction for Disney fans at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is the most convenient to visit—at least if you’re a Walt Disney World guest. And somewhere near the center of the continental United States, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum is the most personal.

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We drove into Marceline, Missouri (pop. 2230) on Monday morning and discovered a small Midwestern town that seemed trapped in time, looking much as it might have when Walt was a young boy walking down Main Street with his mother.

We arrived at the museum to find a lovely, older woman watering the flowers in the beautiful garden that sits beside the old train depot where the museum resides.

She sadly informed us that the museum was closed on Mondays. What a disappointment! We were so looking forward to this special birthday experience for Rusty.

She encouraged us to return later in the week when we were passing back through, but told us that there were other Disney sites that we could see around town, despite the museum being closed.

We decided to do just that and then return on Thursday (as we headed to Nauvoo, Il.) and visit the museum.

This woman is one of many volunteers that run the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. She also happened to be one of the volunteers that personally knew Walt Disney and his family when they lived in Marceline.

It was thrilling to hear her share stories of Walt and his life when he called Marceline home. She graciously stood outside the museum and spoke with us for 30 minutes before she went inside to get a map of Marceline, marked with the various Disney sites, to guide us around the town.

Our first stop was the Zurcher building on Main Street. Behind this building was a huge Coca-Cola sign that was there when Walt was a child. This sign became the inspiration for Coke Corner in Disneyland. A few years ago this mural was uncovered when the building that was built around it was torn down. The paint was so worn and faded that the original Coca-Cola sign was barely visible.

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When Coca-Cola heard about this old sign painted on the brick wall of Walt’s hometown, and heard about its connection to Disney, they sent painters to Marceline to refurbish this historical sign for the city.

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The CEO of Coca-Cola then had it photographed and turned into a Christmas card which he sent to the Disney Company for Christmas that year.

As we walked along  the Main Street of Marceline we caught glimpses of what became the inspiration for Main Street USA in the Disney Parks.

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Main Street USA

Walt made the decision that every visitor to Disneyland would walk down Main Street USA, inspired by his hometown of Marceline, Missouri.

Today, you can shop at Murray’s Department store, at the same location for over 100 years (and also the store where Walt purchased his first pair of engineer overalls), and visit other quaint shops on the “original” Main Street USA.

Have lunch in the same building Elias Disney served an oyster dinner to local farmers in hopes of organizing them inot a union.

Stroll past the Zurcher building and see the original Coke mural that inspired Coke Corner at Disneyland.

See specially designed street signs that were personally dedicated by Mickey Mouse

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On Main Street we also discovered the Uptown Theatre. A very special place in the Disney Story:

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From there we drove over to Walt Disney’s childhood home.

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Walt’s family came to Marceline when Walt was only 5 years old. They moved from Chicago in an attempt to keep Walt’s older teenage brothers out of trouble and live a simpler life on the family farm.

Walt’s father purchased a plot of land from his brother who owned land in Marceline and they proceeded to build a home and establish themselves in this small, Missouri town.

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Walt lived here from age 5 to age 9. While not a long period of time, it was a time that greatly affected his life. In fact he has often said this about the town of Marceline:

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Walt Disney’s childhood home is now a private residence, closed to the public. And while visitors can’t go inside there is a sign marking the home from the outside.

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Behind this home sits another important part of Walt’s time in Marceline. This area is opened to the public. Just past Walt’s childhood home sits a small parking area with this sign:

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It was down a grassy path that we found Walt’s Dreaming Tree.

. Daydreaming under this tree, a young Walt would observe the nature surrounding him. He later called these adventures “belly botany” and drew from these moments in his early works. He apparently never outgrew his need for inspiration from his favorite spot. On trips back to Marceline, Walt always put aside time for reflection beneath it, spending hours alone with his thoughts, back under his Dreaming Tree.

The Original Dreaming Tree, the place where Walt sat as a boy and let his imagination take him on incredible adventures, was hit by lightening a few years ago.

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Instead we visited the Son of the Dreaming Tree, a sapling planted from a seedling of the original Dreaming Tree with soil brought from Disneyland and water from Disney World.

As we walked along the grassy path to Walt’s barn we passed signs that gave us even more insight into Walt’s childhood there and the significance it had in his later life.

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In the barn, also known as Walt’s Happy Place, visitors are encouraged to sign the walls and leave messages of love and hope.

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By his own account, Walt’s happiest childhood memories were of his time in Marceline and the family farm there. Walt and his sister Ruth spent many happy hours playing in the Barn. Visitors from all over the world have come to Marceline to spend time at “Walt’s Happy Place”, located in its original place on the Disney family’s old farm in Marceline.
Visit this very special Barn, which was rebuilt by volunteers in 2001, and leave your mark among the thousands of signatures, messages and memories already there to share with the rest of the world. There’s no doubt about it, when you come to this Barn, you’ll feel a special heart connection to Walt.

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It was incredibly moving to read the words of previous visitors and witness the profound effect this humble, inspiring man has had on so many lives.

On Thursday we returned. We arrived as the doors opened and told the volunteers about our attempt to visit on Monday for Rusty’s birthday. They kindly gave him this pin as a special memento.

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The visit to the museum began with a guided tour of the first floor, where the volunteer walked us through the story of Walt’s life in Marceline, beginning with his childhood in Marceline and ending with his visits back when he was an adult.

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The museum is housed in the town’s old train depot. A fitting location for Walt’s museum since he was an avid fan of trains his entire life. In fact one associate said, “Walt got more joy from hearing the sound of a train whistle than he did from an arm full of Oscars.”

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Later in life Walt even built a miniature train track around his California home for his daughters.

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In the museum there are 3,000 artifacts from Walt’s life,

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including…

His elementary school desk where he carved his initials WD:

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A car from the Autopia ride he had built in Marceline for the children of the town:

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The Mickey Mouse flag he donated to be flown on the flag pole of the local elementary school:

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The recording he made from the interview he did with his parents at their 50th anniversary party:

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The first Mickey Mouse dolls:

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and the TV he bought for his sister.

When he invited Ruth to the opening of Disneyland she informed him that she didn’t like crowds, so he purchased a TV for her so that she could watch the opening ceremonies from the comfort of her own home:

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The first floor is filled with Disney movie memorabilia, hand written letters by Walt, receipts, and other family heirlooms. It really is a treasure for Disney fans!

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Upstairs contains a replica of Walt’s front porch and the story of him convincing his younger sister to paint the house with tar,

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A replica of his childhood classroom,

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a piece of the original Dreaming Tree,

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and a miniature model of Disneyland.

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We fell in love with Marceline, Missouri and made some magical memories in this place that was the root of  so much Disney Magic.

Happy 15th Birthday, Rusty!

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On Monday Rusty turned 15 and we celebrated our second birthday on this trip. The road trip began with Tyler’s birthday celebration and it is coming to a close with Rusty’s birthday.

We began our day with our family tradition of waking up the birthday kid with a cupcake and the birthday song.

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Rusty had requested certain foods for his meals throughout the day. The birthday menu began before we left Branson for the four hour drive to Marceline, Missouri. He asked for bacon and an oatmeal bar for his birthday breakfast.

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So we laid out all the toppings for the “create your own” oatmeal station.

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Then we were on the road, headed to Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney’s hometown, to visit the  Walt Disney Hometown Museum for Rusty’s birthday. Rusty considers Walt Disney his personal hero and has a dream of one day working for the Disney company, so it seemed wonderfully fitting to spend his special day at the home of Walt Disney.

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We arrived in Marceline and easily found the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, unfortunately in all our planning we never took note that it was closed on Mondays! All was not lost. We did visit Marceline, MO but we split our visit into two parts, and had to return a few days later.

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(I will share our visit to Walt’s Hometown in the next blog)

The result was an open day and no special plans for Rusty’s birthday, so we improvised…

and we headed into Kansas City.

We had already planned on dinner at the T-Rex Café in Kansas City so we drove there first for an early dinner.

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Rusty had eaten at a T-Rex café on our Disney World Trip, loved it, and was looking forward to revisiting it. Ozzie and I had never been to a T-Rex Café before since the family had eaten there during the 3 day period of our Disney Trip that Ozzie and I were down with the flu,

so we were really excited to see what all the hype was about.

The T-Rex Café is themed around dinosaurs.

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From the moment you step through the door you are greeted by animatronic giants that make you feel as though you have stepped into a prehistoric world.

There are different dining rooms, each themed a bit differently. There was the fern room,  the ice age room, and the sequoia room.

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We found ourselves eating in the ocean area,

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and dining beneath a giant octopus.

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T-Rex Café is as much about the atmosphere as it is about the food,

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although the food was equally delicious!

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Rusty chose the “Make your own pizza” option and had a T-Rex approved pizza… topped with MEAT!

He chose to top his pizza with BBQ sauce, chicken, pepperoni, and bacon.

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At the end of the meal they brought out a cupcake and sang to Rusty.

After the meal we surprised Rusty with a fun, very Rusty-esque experience. Rusty loves mind-benders, puzzles and riddles. So we found the PERFECT birthday experience for our puzzle master….The Escape Room!

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These escape room experiences are popping up all of the country and are become the fun alternate entertainment to movie or bowling nights. The premise behind these rooms is to put you into an interactive scene that you have to figure your way out of in a set amount of time. These rooms require problem solving, a keen sense of observation, critical thinking skills and a whole lot of team work.

Here is a little more of an overview as taken from their website:

TEAM

The best team is a group of people who can work together. Teamwork is a must when you play this game. You can come in groups of 2 and up to 16 people, depending on the room. The more players – the more chances you have to get out in time.


  • 60 MINUTES

    The team has 1 hour to escape from the room. Time is of the essence. There is a counter in every room, which shows how much time you have left to escape.


  • PUZZLES

    There are a lot of puzzles hidden in every room. You and your team need to find and solve them in order to escape. These are not brain-crashing puzzles, but aren’t childish riddles either.


  • CODES

    You have to find codes and crack them, or use them on several combination locks, in order to open boxes, crates or doors. Codes are not in obvious places. You need to seek them.


  • REAL ESCAPE

    If you ever played room escape game on the internet, it’s the same thing but in real life, and the player inside it is YOU. Live escape is the new fun entertainment you must try!


  • FUN

    When you try one of our escape game rooms, you will get addicted. Its an absolutely joyful, fun and adrenaline raising fun activity, for a price of a movie. Come and try it, and you will come back to the other rooms.

 

The escape room we chose to book was:

 

Description

This is a safe house of a secret agent. He was spying on a traitor who stole the agent list from his own agency. Your mission is to find out who the double agent is and turn the information over to the director before safehouse is compromised. You only have 60 minutes.

We arrived and were given the rules of the game. One of which was no photography (so you don’t spoil it for the next guests) and no using smart phones to help solve the clues.

It was a blast!

We were locked in the room and began scouring the shelves for clues. The set up was incredibly creative. We had to take apart a camera to find a clue within, use found combinations to unlock a safe hidden behind a painting, and observe to spy’s obvious love of photography (by the many cameras around the apartment) to figure our that we needed to look up the word “photography” in the encyclopedia that sat on the shelf to find a photo that led to our next clue.

We had to use a black light to find codes painted on the wall, use a mirror to reflect a laser beam to a spot on the wall, and unscramble letters to come up with the rouge spy’s name.

It was a thrilling, fast paced, adrenaline filled experience.

Just when we would think we were opening the door with the right code, another hidden door (behind a painting or mirror) would open, leading us into another room with more clues.

If we got stuck the puzzle master (an employee who is watching you in the room via hidden cameras) would type additional clues or hints onto the TV screen in the corner.

We did escape…with four minutes to spare!

And the first thing Tyler said as we ran out of the room:

“Can we do it again?!”

Everyone LOVED it!

What a fun family adventure!

Branson, Missouri

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We have now been in Branson for four days. It has been wonderfully relaxing.

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The first two days of our stay were spent in Silver Dollar City (more on that in our next blog) and the other two days were spent touring the town of Branson and all it has to offer.

Branson, Missouri is a fun tourist area. Known for its shows and musical entertainment, it reminds me a bit of a G-rated Las Vegas with its lights, unique architecture, and fun atmosphere. The difference, however, is that Branson is surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozarks and is completely family friendly.

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The ability to walk down the street without having to be on high alert of sights the kids needed to avert their eyes from made Branson a much more enjoyable entertainment center than Vegas…at least for me.

Our time in Branson has been spent catching up on grocery shopping, laundry and school…

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As well as enjoying our beautiful campsite.

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For the first time since the start of our trip we are allowed campfires. For much of our trip we were traveling through high drought areas that were under extreme risk of forest fire, so campfires were prohibited. The kids we very excited to find out we could have fires here.

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We have enjoyed our evenings relaxing by the fire,

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Roasting marshmallows.

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and playing games as a family.

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During the last few days we have been exploring Branson, having fun walking down the main drag and checking out the cool sites and unique buildings.

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Yesterday we drove over to the Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery. This free to the public site has a great display of local wildlife and a lot of conservation geared information about Missouri.

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“Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is the largest trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It is located six miles southwest of Branson on Highway 165 just below Table Rock Dam.

The hatchery includes a conservation center, where the public can learn more about trout culture, aquatic life, fishing and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s role in aquatic resource management. The center is open throughout the year and is free of charge.

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Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery produces between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of trout each year. Both rainbow and brown trout are raised at the hatchery with 80 percent of production going into Lake Taneycomo. The remainder of the fish are stocked into other Missouri trout management areas.

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Construction of the hatchery began in 1957 and production of trout in 1958 with the completion of Table Rock Dam by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This dam created a large, deep lake that varies in water temperature from surface to bottom. The water near the bottom stays cool, averaging 48 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. During hydroelectric generation, this cold water is released into Lake Taneycomo. Although the cold water release caused the loss of the native warm-water fishery, it created the ideal environment for trout, a fish that thrives at lower water temperatures.”

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It was fascinating looking in the various tanks that displayed turtles, frogs, spiders and snakes from this area, including the five venomous snakes that call Missouri home.

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Tyler was especially enamored with the hatchery itself, where thousands of brown and rainbow trout are raised for release in the lake.

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The kids were even able to feed the fish by inserting quarters into the fish food machines located around the hatchery pools.

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Tyler was in heaven and could have spent all day watching the fish and exploring the different displays in the conservation center.

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It took the doors closing at 5:00 pm to get him out the door.

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Here are some of the cool facts we learned at the conservation center:

“Less that 1% of Black Widow bites result in death.”

“There are no known deaths attributed to the bite of a tarantula.”

“Geese and Bald Eagles mate for life and raise their young together. Only the death of a mate will cause the bird to search out another mate.”

The way to tell a cottonmouth from a non-venomous water snake is by observing how it swims through the water. Copperheads swim on the surface of the water while non-venomous snakes swim with their heads above water but the rest of their body below the water’s surface.”

“Armadillos can now be found wild in Missouri. This is not the result of humans introducing them to the area, but simply the northern migration of southern armadillos.”

“You can tell the air temperature from a cricket. This is one of the more amazing facts of nature. By counting the amount of trills a cricket emits in 15 seconds and then adding 37, this will give you a close estimate of the temperature in Fahrenheit.”

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The following day we headed into Springfield, Missouri where we continued our fish-themed entertainment with a visit to Bass Pro Shop. I have fond memories of visiting here as a kid when relatives would visit us in Missouri. I knew Tyler would LOVE this stop, and since he has been such a good sport about touring places like the Titanic Museum, it seemed only fair that we do something Tyler loves…which is to look at fish!

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Affectionately known as the “Granddaddy of all Outdoor Stores” this 500,000 square feet wonder is dedicated to the beauty of the outdoors. The Springfield, Mo Bass Pro Shop is the original and largest of all the Bass Pro Shops and we had a blast exploring it.

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When we walked in we were greeted by this magnificent site:

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The store was filled will beautiful taxidermy dioramas:

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Aquariums filled with fish,

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and alligators,

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and even a turtle aquarium.

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Everyone enjoyed exploring the store and all the unique, special details,

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but none was more enamored than Tyler.

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It was a fun, free way to spend the day!

The Titanic Museum

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For those who might be wondering where we have been and why we have fallen off the radar… we have spent the last few days in Branson, Missouri enjoying this wonderful area of the country.

It has been so nice putting down roots for more than a night and enjoying our campground for an extended stay. The lack of travel means a lack of time to blog, as we have been making the most of our last week of vacation, making many memories and enjoying our family time together.

Today we headed into downtown Branson, to visit the Titanic Museum.

The girls and I were especially excited about this museum tour, being lovers of history and stories of human nature.

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We went into the experience knowing that photography would not be allowed because of federal copyright laws, a bummer for this blogger who loves recording our experiences with photos, so instead the photos you will see from inside the museum were all taken from Google images.

(We were able to take some photos of the outside of the museum…an impressive piece of architecture in its own right!)

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Everyone knows the story of the RMS Titanic. The remarkable sink-proof luxury ocean liner that met disaster on her maiden voyage, becoming the the largest maritime disaster of that time. The loss of life was horrific. Over 1,500 men, women and children perished on the night of April 15th, 1912.

This museum, dedicated to educating the public through interactive displays walks you through the story of the Titanic- from building the ship, to boarding, to the fateful disaster.

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Our self-guided tour can not be described as “fun.” It was too solemn an experience for that, but it was incredibly moving and thought provoking as we viewed photos of the faces of those that excitedly stepped on board the ship in the United Kingdom. The world was watching and the people were excited as the largest ship ever made set sail for America with First, Second and Third Class passengers.

While waiting in line to enter the museum, we were each handed a boarding pass with the name of a passenger.

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The little boys were given the boarding pass for young male passengers (2 of 133 children that were aboard the Titanic), and the rest of us received boarding passes for men or women that were on the Titanic. My pass bore the name of Emma Bliss, a 45 year old stewardess who was the oldest female crew member on the ship.

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Toby was:

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Grace was:

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Molly was:

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Rusty was:

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Ozzie was:

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Tyler was:

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As we toured the museum we kept our eyes open for mention of our individual passengers in the various displays.

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Entering the Titanic museum felt almost hushed, as we began to move through the exhibits, solemn as though we needed to pay our respects.  We were each given an audio wand that corresponded to numbers throughout the museum. We would punch in the reference number and hold the audio wand to our ear to receive additional information about that display. Often the recordings would be actual testimonials and stories of Titanic survivors that were recorded in their own voice before they passed away.

The last survivor passed away in 2009, so to have these audio journals of the survivors is a real historical treasure.

(There were separate numbers on the displays that corresponded to a recording describing the display that were more kid friendly in their length and information…Perfect for Tyler.)

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As we walked through the museum we learned just how long it took to build the Titanic and how many workers it took. We saw how large the Titanic truly was thanks to a scale model.

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We also viewed rare photos in the Father Frank Browne collection. Father Browne sailed on the Titanic from Southampton, England to Queenstown, Ireland via Cherbourg, France where he departed the ship, even though he’d received an offer to accompany a wealthy American couple to NYC. I can only imagine the relief and despair he must have felt at news of the disaster just days later. Father Browne’s photographs are some of the only photographic evidence of life on the Titanic before the fateful disaster, and integral in telling the story of the Titanic as they offer that human element that reconstructed rooms and surviving artifacts alone, fail to do.

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His photos are the faces of the Titanic. Some of his photos include a picture captured of the Captain and his dog.

PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN BY LATE IRISH PRIEST INCLUDED IN BOOK TITLED 'FATHER BROWNE'S TITANIC ALBUM'

This is one of a collection of photographs of the Titanic taken by the late Irish Jesuit Father Frank Browne. “Father Browne’s Titanic Album” has been reprinted to mark the centenary of the demise of the massive liner. Father Browne became a prominent documentary photographer and a much-decorated chaplain in the British army in World War I. (CNS photo/courtesy Father Browne S.J. Collection) (April 10, 2012) EDITORS: Mandatory credit as given. For one-time use with TITANIC-BROWNE April 10, 2012.

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Another moving area of the museum was the musicians’ room, an area of the museum that tells the story and celebrates the heroics of the seven musicians on board who bravely stayed on deck and played as the Titanic sunk below the icy waves in an effort to calm the passengers in the midst of the tragedy.

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The head musician was Wallace Hartley.

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While there is some debate which song was the final song played before the ship sank (There are 5 different songs that passengers record as the final song) It is widely believed that “Nearer My God to Thee” was the final song played.

The story of Wallace Hartley was told by a member of the crew in the music room. Upon completing his oratory of this unsung hero the worker sat down at the grand piano that sat in the middle of the musicians’ portraits and biographies, and played “Nearer My God to Thee.” As we quietly walked around the room looking into the eyes of those black and white portraits, and listening to the hymn play, we had the opportunity to consider their unique bravery in the Titanic story.

“Nearer My God to Thee” was not only the final song he played but also the song that was played at his funeral, as it was always his favorite hymn.

From there we climbed to the second floor of the museum along a scale replica of the beautiful Grand Staircase where a costumed docent checked our boarding passes before granting access to the First Class quarters.

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We stopped for a moment to really take in the grandeur of that staircase, so familiar to those who have seen the Titanic movie.

In the museum, in addition to enjoying magnificent Titanic artifacts like the menu of the final dinner, we were also able to see a replica of a 3rd class room, a 1st class suite,

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and the bridge where Rusty’s  boarding pass crew member tried to save Titanic from the inevitable collision with the iceberg.

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There were a mere 37 seconds to try to change the fate of the ship from the moment the iceberg was spotted until contact was made. Then only a short 2 hours and 40 minutes from impact until she sank below the waves, taking many lives with her.

From the bridge we stepped onto the promenade which was cooled to the chilling air temperatures felt on the deck of the Titanic the night of its sinking.

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The reality of what it would have been like on the deck of the sinking Titanic is brought to life with a display where we were able to  try to walk up a mock ship’s deck which is slanted at varying degrees as the ship sank:

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The ship at 1:50 am as it tilted at a 12 degree slope.

The ship at 2:05 as the ship tilted at a 30 degree slope.

And the ship at 2:18 as it tilted at a 45 degree slope.

It was chilling and unreal to imagine trying to move to safety as the ship tilted at such extreme angles.

 We also learned how to send an SOS signal and we were able to dip our hands into 28 degree water (the temperature of the water the night the Titanic went down) to see how long we could keep our hand under the water. It was painfully cold and none of us could hold our hand in place longer than 30 seconds. I can’t even imagine the pain those passengers felt in their final moments as their bodies splashed into those frigid waters.

One of the final displays we passed was of the only surviving Bible of the sinking of the Titanic. It was handed over by a male passenger to his sister in law to be passed onto his wife at home. Later it was donated to the museum. It sits on display, open to the passage of scripture it fell open to when workers put it on display:

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John 6

“16And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. 22The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered

Before we exited the museum into the gift shop, we walked through exhibits that showed the recovery of the Titanic. We also learned if the person on our boarding passes survived. Grace, Molly, Tyler, Ozzie and my passengers survived, but Toby’s and Rusty’s passengers did not. As I looked around at my family, the reality of the fate of many families that night, hit me. Families were torn apart that night in a heartbreaking tragedy.

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 This is not a feel good museum but it is an incredible museum.  The Titanic Museum is somber and quiet, and lends an atmosphere of thoughtful reflection. I was moved and can honestly say it is one of the most fascinating, beautiful, well done museums we have ever visited.

Mark Twain’s boyhood home

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover” – Mark Twain

This morning we found ourselves in the charming, riverside town of Hannibal, Missouri, home of the beloved author, Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name of Mark Twain..

Knowing that a stop in Mark Twain’s hometown was on our itinerary we decided to add The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to our summer reading list. Every morning, while the kids ate breakfast, I would read a couple chapters from the book. I knew the older four kids would enjoy  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A few had already read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and liked it. I was surprised, however, how much Tyler liked it. He found Tom to be a hoot and very relatable, commenting often, “He is just like me!” (I don’t know if that is a good thing, but I had to agree!) 😉

After reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer all the kids were excited for this stop.

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We found parking at the riverfront and walked across the street to the Mark Twain Visitor Center.

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There we purchased our tickets and began our tour. The admission tickets include entrance into the Huckleberry Finn House, Mark Twain’s boyhood home, the Becky Thatcher House, J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office, and the Mark Twain Museum, all of which were located within a block radius.

The tour began in the interpretive center where we walked through a timeline of Mark Twain’s life. Many of the displays were narrated with Twain’s own words from his autobiography, printed on the walls.

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As we walked through the building reading the story of his life, penned by his own hand, we were blown away by his gift with words and for story telling. He truly was an artist and words were his medium.

Next stop was Huckleberry Finn’s House. This was a replica of the childhood home of Tom Blankenship, a childhood friend of Twain’s from which he based the character of Huck Finn.

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It was fascinating as we moved through the various exhibits and read the stories of his life in Hannibal, Missouri because we could see that so many of his beloved fictional characters were reflective of the people of his childhood.

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The next stop was Mark Twain’s boyhood home.

It was fascinating to walk through the home that served as a catalyst for so many of his stories.

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Outside the home was the infamous white washed fence that Tom Sawyer tricked the neighborhood boys into painting for him when he was sent out to paint it as punishment. Tyler, who loved that particular part of the book was eager to recreate the scene. Identifying with Tom, Tyler played that role and assigned Ozzie the role of gullible school chum. Unlike Tom Sawyers friends, however, Tyler couldn’t talk Ozzie into taking on the task of white washing the entire fence.

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From the cobblestone square outside Mark Train’s home we faced Becky Thatcher’s House and J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office.

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We then walked a block along the Mississippi River to the Mark Twain Museum. We were charmed by downtown Hannibal and the girls had fun poking their noses into cute little shops.

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The Mark Twain Museum was wonderful. The downstairs was comprised of vignettes taken from five of his books.

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In the Adventures of Tom Sawyer vignette  they had the famous white washed fence with boxes that lit up revealing the treasures turned over by Tom’s friends for the privilege of being allowed to white wash his fence.

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Tyler was thrilled to see that his favorite payment collected by Tom was represented:

The rat who was tied to a string.

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Other scenes included Huck’s raft where the kids could sit and watch the old black and white version of the movie, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

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and the castle from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, one of my favorite Twain books.

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Upstairs there was a replica of a Mississippi River steamboat. Here the kids could try their hand at the wheel and blow the steam whistle.

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We were very impressed with the museum and enjoyed visiting with the staff, all of whom were retired school teachers that volunteer there part time.

As we walked back to the bus we decided to take a detour down to the river where replicas of the Nina and Pinta were on display for the public.

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These are moving “museums” that travel up and down the rivers of America, docking in various cities, so that the public can experience what life would have been like for those who set sail for a new world with Christopher Columbus in 1492.

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We didn’t go aboard since we had toured them last fall when they were docked in Pittsburgh, but it was fun to see them again, even if just from the shoreline.

Then it was back in the car for the nine hour drive to De Smet, South Dakota.

We spent the day with Twain…

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Next stop will be spent with another one of our favorite authors…

Laura Ingalls Wilder!

The St. Louis Arch

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We couldn’t have asked for a better day than the one we had at the City Museum. We stayed until closing, which on Tuesday was 5:00 pm. As we walked back to the Metro station we made an impromptu decision to head over to the St. Louis Arch. Everyone was still holding up well and rather than go through the process of taking the Metro back into the city the following day we decided to go ahead and stay in the city later than planned and visit the St. Louis Arch a day early.

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We got back on the Metro where we met a kind young man who filled us in on all the must see stops of his city. He also guided us through the process of getting to the Arch via the Metro.

When we stepped off the Metro we knew he hadn’t steered us wrong:

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There was a lot of excited and nervous energy as we walked toward the Arch. Everyone was excited to see it up close but some were less excited to travel up inside. Before we left on our vacation I worked with Molly and Ozzie (my two that were most scared to go up inside the Arch) to prepare them with what to expect. We watched YouTube videos of the experience so that they could see exactly what would happen. I told them I would stay on the ground with anyone that didn’t want to go up. (I was not too thrilled with the prospect of climbing into a little capsule and riding 630 feet into the air.) As we approached the Arch I could see that both were facing an internal battle with their own fears, not wanting to miss out on this cool experience but both shaking in their boots.

Because of renovations currently taking place on the grounds of the Arch you now have to go over to the old justice building to purchase your tickets to the top.

Inside there was a sample capsule that guests could try out prior to making a decision about riding up to the top of the Arch. It was such a helpful tool. Everyone was able to get a feel for whether the experience was beyond their comfort zone BEFORE getting locked into the capsule for the 3 ½ minute ride up. After sitting in the test capsule both Ozzie and Molly decided to go for it, which meant I was going up too…Eek!

They were nervous, but both felt they would regret it the rest of their lives if they didn’t try.

Testing out the test capsule also gave me a chance to snap a picture of them all together in the capsule since we would have to ride up in two separate groups.

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As we waited for Toby to purchase tickets we wandered into the domed center of the justice building. There the kids were educated by a wonderful park ranger about the history of the building. She had them each take a turn standing in the exact center of the dome where they got to experience the cool phenomenon of acoustics and amplification. She explained that in years past, before the use of microphones, politicians would give speeches in that very spot. Because of the amplifying effect of the architecture thousands of onlookers positioned around the balconies would be able to hear the speech.

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I was amazed! The effect was incredible. It truly did sound like I was speaking through a microphone as my voice amplified through the domed room…so cool!

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As we walked through the back doors of the justice building we were greeted by this amazing site:

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We then headed over to the Arch for our 6:30 pm tour. The crowds were low, due in large part to it being a Tuesday and because so many kids are back in school. Just a month ago we were told the lines to get up to the top were 3 hours long. We are SO glad we decided to postpone our trip until fall.

As we approached the Arch we were astounded by the sheer size and visual impact. As you drive by and view it from a distance you really don’t get an accurate feel for how large and magnificent it is.

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As we moved inside we went through security and then got in line for the ride to the top of the Arch.

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The capsules move like connected train cars. You are assigned a door to stand in front of and you wait for the capsules to arrive caring passengers down from the top of the Arch. Each capsule holds 5 people…very tightly, with shoulders and knees touching.

Tyler, Ozzie, Toby and I rode in one capsule and the big kids rode in another.

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The ride to the top of the Arch took 3 ½ minutes. It is a slow moving journey since it can’t go straight up and down like a traditional elevator. I was very anxious but didn’t let Ozzie in on that fact, knowing how he feeds off the energy of those around him.  So I kept things light hearted as my heart pounded in my chest.

When we arrived at the top we stepped off the tram cars and found ourselves at the top of the St. Louis Arch, looking out those tiny windows we saw from the ground.

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The top of the arch is comprised of a hallway with narrow windows you can lay and look through.

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Each of the kids wanted a picture of themselves at 630 feet, especially Molly and Ozzie who were proud of themselves for overcoming their fears and making it to the top.

As we looked out the windows of the Arch we were rewarded with stunning views of the Mississippi River and of the city. We could see for MILES!

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It was Toby who spotted our bus. I never cease to be amazed by his eagle eyes and keen sense of direction. I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for our parked bus, but within a minute of looking he had found it. He then helped the kids find it.

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Can you see it??

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How about now??

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We were pleased to see that it was still where we left it, although at that distance we couldn’t tell if anyone had added any new” details” to our paint job. (FYI- It was just fine!)

After spending 20 minutes at the top of the Arch we got back in line for the ride down. The ride down was much quicker.

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When we arrived at the bottom we headed to the theatre to view “Journey to the Top,” a film documenting the building of the Arch.

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All I can say is, “Wow!” The movie scared me more than the ride to the top. As they played the actual footage of the workmen, cigarette in one hand and wrench in the other, hanging over the edge of the Arch hundreds of feet up, to tighten a bolt…WITH NO ROPES OR HARNESSES…I felt my limbs go numb.

For a person with an extreme fear of heights that movie is crazy!

But boy, did it give us all a more profound respect for the monument and the men who labored so diligently and dangerously for two years. I found it a miracle that no lives were lost during the construction of this National Monument.

When we finally left the Arch the sun was low in the sky and the St. Louis Arch was bathed in lights. What a stunning symbol of American ingenuity and pioneering spirit.

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 Next Stop: Hannibal, Missouri!