Tag Archives: travel

That is one BIG houseboat!

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IMG_0607 (2)We have now been home from our Texas trip for about a week. Upon arriving home I got hit with a killer flu and was down and out for five days. Now that I have emerged from the world of the living dead it is time to wrap up the recordings of our travels with a recap of our final day on the road.

On our way back to Pennsylvania we traveled northeast through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, with the intended purpose of visiting the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.

I had seen pictures and read the reviews of this amazing structure, but nothing could have prepared me for the visual impact of seeing this massive boat sitting in the middle of the Kentucky countryside.

The 511-foot-long gorgeous, timber structure was awe-inspiring from the moment we arrived.

Upon arriving we found ourselves in the middle of a massive parking lot with a shuttle station situated in the center. It is here we purchased our tickets for the Ark. From our car we could see the Ark in the distance but to get to the Ark visitors are loaded onto shuttle buses and driven a mile to get to the Ark.

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We arrived 20 minutes before opening and were among the first visitors taken into the park. Because we had to be back home by 4:00 for Gracie’s evening work shift, we only had 2 hours to explore the Ark. We made sure we arrived as early as possible to beat the crowds.

The bus dropped us off in front of the Ark, and there up close, we were able to really grasp the massive size of this ship.

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The outside was beautifully landscaped and the Ark sat behind a reflective pond that created beautiful photo opportunities.

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As we neared the Ark it seemed to increase in size. Standing at the base and looking up was incredible. Pictures simply don’t do it justice!

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This life-size re-creation of Noah’s Ark, built to biblical specifications, is the largest timber framed structure in the world.  The craftsmanship is amazing and completely impressive.  It is hard to describe what you feel when you first see the Ark.  Even before stepping a foot inside I would say that this sight alone would have made the trip worthwhile:

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WOW!

You just can’t fully grasp the enourmity of the task God that was placed before Noah until you are standing at the base of this structure.

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Using the dimensions given in the Bible (in Genesis), the ark is built to be a full size Noah’s ark replica.

God gave Noah the dimensions for the Ark in cubits. “And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it  thirty cubits.” (Genesis 6:15)

How long is a cubit?

About this long…

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The Ark was 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high!

The Ark had the same storage capacity as about 450 standard semi-trailers. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, so the Ark had the capacity to hold at least 120,000 sheep.

The thing was HUGE!

So what is the Ark Encounter all about?

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Well…

It is the opportunity to  walk through the decks of this replicated Ark to experience how Noah, his family, and the animals might have lived during their time on the Ark.

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The Ark Encounter helps you answer questions you have about the Noah’s ark story. How did Noah build the ark? Did he fit all the animals in the ark? What methods were used for Noah and his family to take care of all the animals? What was life like on the ark? Using Bible scriptures from the Old Testament, we got an idea of what life may have been like on the ark.

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I will say that while much of the experience was biblically sound, there was some artistic license taken in their interpretation of what Noah’s sons and their wives were like and what life on the Ark would have been like. Signs throughout the Ark explain that because of limited information given in Genesis as to the details of everyday living, creative interpretation has been taken in the recreation of many scenes.

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In addition, not all who visit will agree with the science behind some of the exhibits. While I found some of the renditions not fully in line with what I  believe to be true, it did not diminish the experience for us. Overall, I found it to be an amazing experience.

Tyler loved the animals on the ark. As we walked through we enjoyed peeking in the many cages, filled with two of each animal. I loved the added touch of sounds as you passed by some of the cages. You may hear hissing to represent snakes and bears roaring.

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The visual impact from the inside was as powerful as that from the outside. My carpenter husband appreciated the sheer artistry of the woodwork within the ark. It was all so beautifully done.

“Ark Encounter is the largest timber frame structure in the world, built from standing dead timber, in part by skilled Amish craftsmen.”

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We found going to the Ark Encounter made us want to learn more about Noah and his life.

 

When Tyler was younger I remember him trying to explain to us what Bible story he learned about in church as we drove home one Sunday. He couldn’t remember any names or details.  He finally summed up what he learned with:  “You know, the one about the old man, with all the pets, who lived on a houseboat!”

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Well touring Noah’s “houseboat” and seeing all his “pets” made me want to go back and study the story of Noah in more depth. 🙂

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Life on the Ark would have been challenging…

Remember, it was just Noah and his family that had to feed ALL those animals! Have you ever thought about how they could have done that? The Ark Encounter gives examples of ways that all the animals may have been fed.

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The visuals of food and water storage and the logistics of how that massive task might have been accomplished was fascinating to me. That was my favorite part of the experience.

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Have you ever wondered about how Noah made sure all the animals had water to drink and their living area cleaned?

Maybe not…but the Ark Encounter answers questions of how it might have taken place. And many other questions you have not even thought of. Find out for yourself things like a possible ventilation system, jobs that needed to be done on the ark, and a possible light source! Theories are based on what is known from the Bible.

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The family friendly Ark Encounter offered interactive displays, reading, and life-like visual exhibits. We found it to be very kid friendly and engaging.

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Ever wondered what life was like on the Ark? Noah was told to build the Ark and how to do it. But, he wasn’t told how long he was going to be on it. The Ark Encounter gives examples using very detailed, life-like props!

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It was fun to walk through the living quarters and imagine ourselves in the same scenario and what life would be like on a daily basis.

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There were three floors (or decks) of exhibits  available to explore! On the first floor we learned about why God caused the flood. The second floor explored how life may have been onboard the Ark. (This was my favorite part of the Ark experience.) The third floor answered questions about  what happened when the floods receded.

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We managed to see the entire Ark in the two hours we were there without feeling as though we were rushed through any part of it. If we had a full day to explore we would have stopped to watch some of the videos playing throughout the ark and explored the grounds outside where there is a petting zoo and other fun activities, but unfortunately we had to run.

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It was an awesome thing to see. I’m glad we stopped.

 

Little Rock Central High School

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On Tuesday morning we woke up in Little Rock, Arkansas with plans to drive past Little Rock Central High School, site of a major test in 1957 of the Civil Rights act where nine (the Little Rock Nine) African-American students integrated the all-white school.

We didn’t realize that our “drive by” would turn into a much more profound, educating and moving experience until we pulled up to the site and discovered that it was more than just a high school with a historical plaque. It was a National Parks historic site.

Little Rock Central High School is the only functioning high school to be located within the boundaries of a national historic site. Across the street sat a National Parks Visitor Center that depicted the struggle through exhibits and photos.

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We began at the Visitor Center. The story of the Little Rock Nine is one we have all read about in our high school history books, but the story of those nine brave high school students and the effect their stand had on the course of history really came to life as we walked around the Visitor Center.

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In a key event of the American Civil Rights Movement, nine black students enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957, testing a landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The court had mandated that all public schools in the country be integrated “with all deliberate speed” in its decision related to the groundbreaking case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. On September 4, 1957, the first day of classes at Central High, Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas called in the state National Guard to bar the black students’ entry into the school. Later in the month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the “Little Rock Nine” into the school, and they started their first full day of classes on September 25.

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We were moved by the photos of that day,

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As we read the words of those who were there,

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And as we listened to the actual first hand accounts of those involved.

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As we walked through the Visitor Center the reality of a world that now seems so foreign to my generation and my children’s generation, became real.

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We listened as a park ranger walked visitors through the events of those days. His deep, melodic voice painting a picture of what happened on this site, a picture far more impactful than the watered down version we read about in our history books.

The concept of segregation and such intense hate over the idea of integration is so foreign to me. It is so far removed from the reality of the world I was raised in decades later, and unrecognizable to the world my children live in today, that I find it surreal that this event was only 60 years ago.

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If your remembrance of that historic event was as cloudy as mine was prior to visiting this site here is some background on this historical encounter as taken from the History Channel’s website:

Despite the opposition, nine students registered to be the first African Americans to attend Central High School, which opened in 1927 and was originally called Little Rock Senior High School. Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls had been recruited by Daisy Gaston Bates, president of the Arkansas NAACP. Daisy Bates and others from the Arkansas NAACP carefully vetted the group of students and determined they all possessed the strength and determination to face the resistance they would encounter. In the weeks prior to the start of the new school year, the students participated in intensive counseling sessions guiding them on what to expect once classes began and how to respond to anticipated hostile situations. The group came to be known as the Little Rock Nine.

On September 2, 1957, Governor Orval Faubus announced that he would call in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the African-American students’ entry to Central High, claiming this action was for the students’ own protection. In a televised address, Faubus insisted that violence and bloodshed might break out if black students were allowed to enter the school. The following day, the Mother’s League held a sunrise service at the school as a protest against integration. That same day, federal judge Richard Davies issued a ruling that desegregation would continue as planned the next day.

The Little Rock Nine arrived for the first day of school at Central High on September 4, 1957. Eight arrived together, driven by Bates. Eckford’s family, however, did not have a telephone, and Bates could not reach her to let her know of the carpool plans. Therefore, Eckford arrived alone. The Arkansas National Guard ultimately prevented any of the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High. One of the most enduring images from this day is a photograph of Eckford, notebook in hand, stoically approaching the school as a crowd of hostile and screaming white students and adults surround her. Eckford later recalled that one of the women spat on her. The image was printed and broadcast widely, bringing the Little Rock controversy to national and international attention.

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In the following weeks, Judge Davies began legal proceedings against Governor Faubus, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower attempted to persuade Faubus toremove the National Guard and let the Little Rock Nine enter the school. Davies ordered the Guard removed on September 20, and the Little Rock Police Department took over to maintain order. The police escorted the nine African-American students into the school on September 23, through an angry mob of some 1,000 white protesters gathered outside. Amidst ensuing rioting, the police removed the nine students. On September 24, President Eisenhower sent in 1,200 members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and placed them in charge of the 10,000 National Guardsmen on duty. Escorted by the troops, the Little Rock Nine attended their first full day of classes on September 25.

Legal challenges to integration continued throughout the year, and Faubus publicly expressed his wish on numerous occasions that the Little Rock Nine be removed from Central High. Although several of the black students had positive experiences on their first day of school, according to a September 25, 1957, report in The New York Times, they experienced routine harassment and even violence throughout the rest of the year. Patillo, for instance, was kicked, beaten and had acid thrown in her face, and at one point white students burned an African-American effigy in a vacant lot across from the school. Ray was pushed down a flight of stairs, and the Little Rock Nine were barred from participating in extracurricular activities. Brown was expelled from Central High in February 1958 for retaliating against the attacks. And it was not only the students who faced harassment: Ray’s mother was fired from her job with the State of Arkansas when she refused to remove her daughter from the school. The 101st Airborne and the National Guard remained at Central High for the duration of the year.

On May 25, 1958, Green, the only senior among the Little Rock Nine, became the first African-American graduate of Central High.

In September 1958, one year after Central High was integrated, Governor Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools for the entire year, pending a public vote, to prevent African-American attendance. Little Rock citizens voted 19,470 to 7,561 against integration and the schools remained closed. Other than Green, the rest of the Little Rock Nine completed their high school careers via correspondence or at other high schools across the country. Eckford joined the Army and later earned her General Education Equivalency diploma. Little Rock’s high schools reopened in August 1959.

Several of the Little Rock Nine went on to distinguished careers. Green served as assistant secretary of the federal Department of Labor under President Jimmy Carter (1924-). Brown worked as deputy assistant secretary for work force diversity in the Department of the Interior under President Bill Clinton. Patillo worked as a reporter for NBC. The group has been widely recognized for their significant role in civil rights history. In 1999, President Clinton awarded each member of the group the Congressional Gold Medal. The nine also all received personal invitations to attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Jefferson Thomas became the first of the Little Rock Nine to die when he succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 67 on September 5, 2010. After graduating from Central High, Thomas served in the Army in Vietnam, earned a business degree and worked as an accountant for private companies and the Department of Defense.

We then walked across the street to Little Rock Central High School, the scene for this historical event. It is still a functioning school so access is only allowed with a park ranger led tour.

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The school is stunningly beautiful. As we stood outside I thought of all the photos I saw at the Visitor Center and could imagine the chaos that reigned on these school grounds during that period of American History. It was sobering.

We ended our visit with a film at the Visitor Center. It was awesome and I highly recommend if you are able to visit this site that you make time to watch the 30 minute video presentation. In it the men and women who were the Little Rock Nine are interviewed and asked questions about their choice to volunteer. They speak of what life was like that year in high school, the choice they made to not retaliate, but rather be peaceful in their resistance. They spoke of how being one of the Little Rock Nine changed the course of their lives and the history of a nation. It was powerful to watch the interviews of these men and women who are now in their 70’s speak about the impact we can each have as human beings when we stand up for what we believe.

The video then transitioned to three stories of youth today who are making an impact on their communities. One story spoke of youth in Baltimore who are fighting legislation to allocate funds for a new juvenile prison in their community, funds that they are asking be put towards education and other preventive programs. Another story spoke of youth on a Native American Reservation who are using social media to change the world’s perception of life on reservations. And the third story was about youth in New Mexico who have engaged in a battle against a big coal corporation to pass emission laws to protect their air quality.

The thread that connected the stories of the youth today with the interviews with the Little Rock Nine was the powerful message that we have the power to better our communities. We can take a stand and say, “This is not acceptable.” We can demand better of our leaders and of our nation. It was a powerful message, especially for my teens, that we can ALL have an impact for good if we are courageous and persistent in our beliefs.

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It was an ideal message to end our experience with…

An experience none of us will soon forget.

Diamond Hunting!

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It’s finder’s keepers at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The only public diamond mine in the world, Crater of Diamonds offers you a one-of-a-kind adventure – the opportunity to hunt for real diamonds and to keep any mineral you find.

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Monday we woke up early with plans to get on the road by 5:30 am. Our intention was to work our way towards Memphis, TN. We said our “goodbyes” the night before to all our family. The last of the wedding guests were heading out after a magical weekend, with Kelly’s family and our family the first to pull out since we each had a 11 hour drive ahead of us.

As we drove along I searched for sites along the way that we might want to see while we were in the area. We are firm believers that if you are in an area of the country you normally don’t frequent, you might as well stop and see the top sites, for who knows when we will be out that way again.

It was  that mindset that led us off the highway to Crater of Diamonds State Park. I remember hearing about this unique state park and when we discovered it was along our path of travel there was no way we could drive by and not stop.

When else in our lives will be have the opportunity to go mining for diamonds?!

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We arrived and headed first into the Visitors Center where we learned more about the geologic history that led to the formation of the diamonds in the park, as well as the history of discovery and mining on the land.

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We also saw displays that showcased the diamonds that are found in the park and what they look like in their uncut state, giving us a better idea of what we needed to be on the lookout for.

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Then we paid the mining admission price and headed out to the mining fields to begin searching,

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after a quick stop at the pavilion to rent our mining equipment.

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What a thrill it was stepping out onto the field, with the prospect of finding a diamond a distant but exciting possibility.

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The kids were convinced they were on the brink of discovering their life’s fortune.

We began searching the 37-acre plowed field – the eroded surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe.

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We had three options for diamond hunting and ended up exploring all three strategies.

The first was surface searching. With this strategy visitors search the surface of the field in search of crystals that have been exposed by rain or plowing. We began our search with surface searching.

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The second method is screening. With this strategy visitors shake soil through a screen to find minerals. This method is most effective when the soil is dry. This was the next method we tried.

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The third method, and the one we spent the most time using, is wet screening. With this method of diamond hunting visitors use the water available at the mine washing stations to rinse dirt through a screen and collect the minerals that are left behind.

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It was so much fun. The process was as satisfying as the hunt itself. We filled bucket after bucket from the field and sifted and rinsed, collecting the minerals that were left behind.

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In addition to the diamonds in the soil, other rocks and minerals were found hidden in the soil, including: Jasper, Agate, Quartz, Amethyst, Calcite, Barite, and Mica.

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But as cool as all those pretty minerals were, everyone was tunnel focused on finding the elusive diamond.

Since diamonds were first discovered on the site in 1906, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed.

When John Huddleston plucked two diamonds from the greenish-colored dirt of his farm, a hysteria known as “diamond fever” ensued. Although the excitement has since waned, interest in Arkansas’s diamond mine remains high. About 120,000 people come to Huddleston’s old farm site, now the Crater of Diamonds State Park, each year to search for these precious gems.

This Arkansas crater is the only diamond mine in the world where the public can pay a fee to dig and keep any gems they find.

Although thousands of people have dug and sifted through the volcanic “lamproite” soil, there are still plenty of diamonds waiting to be discovered. Since the park opened in 1972, more than 30,000 diamonds have been found. This is still a place where diamonds are found regularly — park officials say about two are found by park visitors each day.

Not all of the finds have been small. The largest documented diamond find is the 40.23-carat “Uncle Sam” diamond, which was discovered in 1924. The largest diamond retrieved since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park was the 16.37-carat “Amarillo Starlight,” discovered in 1975.

Other notable finds include the “Star of Arkansas,” which was 15.33 carats and the 8.82-carat “Star of Shreveport.” The 4.25-carat “Kahn Canary” diamond was found here in 1977 and was  mounted on a ring worn by Hillary Clinton during the presidential inaugural balls. The 3.03-carat “Strawn-Wagner Diamond,” found in 1990 was cut to a 1.09-carat gem graded D-flawless 0/0/0 (the highest grade a diamond can achieve) by the American Gem Society.

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Geologists believe these diamonds were formed millions of years ago with tremendously high pressure and temperature and shot to the earth’s surface during a violent volcanic eruption. The portion of the crater that is known to be diamond bearing is about 37 acres and is the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe.

Test drilling at the crater has shown that the reserve is shaped like a martini glass; it is believed to be the eighth largest diamond reserve in the world, in surface area.

We stayed for 4 hours digging in the dirt and playing in the water, in search of a diamond to call our own.

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When we were ready to leave and get back on the road in our journey towards Little Rock, we stopped at the Diamond Discovery Center to have our haul examined.

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A kind and informative ranger looked over the kids’ pile of rocks as they held their breath. After careful examination, he broke the news that we didn’t find any diamonds but sifted through their pile explaining to them all that they did find out in the field. It was an awesome geology lesson, as he took 20 minutes to explain to the kids why diamonds exist in this particular area, and describe the unique characteristics of the rocks and minerals they did find.

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We didn’t find any diamonds during our visit to Crater of Diamonds State Park, but I left the proud owner of something of far greater worth:

A once in a lifetime experience with my greatest jewels!

What an awesome day!

“To the Bat Cave!”

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A year ago we had the opportunity to experience a once in a lifetime thrill when we attended the evening bat show at Carlsbad Caverns. I struggle to even describe the thrill it was to sit quietly in that stone amphitheater and watch as millions of bats exited the caverns over our heads. It was awe-inspiring.

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When we arrived in Fredericksburg, Texas we were told by the locals that before we left we needed to take the kids out to Old Tunnel State Park to see the nightly emergence of the bat colony that makes its home in the abandoned railroad tunnel located in the park.

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After our experience at Carlsbad Caverns there was no way we were going to miss the opportunity to witness this awesome show by Mother Nature a second time and we made plans to drive out to Old Tunnel State Park on Saturday night after the wedding.

Knowing that the bats typically emerge to feed just before sundown,  we made plans to arrive at the park by 8:00pm.

It was a beautiful drive through Texas hill country to get to the state park that was located 20 minutes away from downtown.

When we arrived the first clue that we had miscalculated the time was the wave of visitors leaving the park. It is never a good sign when you find yourself swimming upstream! It wasn’t until we made it over to the viewing pavilion and spoke with the park rangers, that our fears were confirmed.

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They explained that although the bats usually emerge closer to 9:00 pm, lately they have been exiting earlier and earlier. They explained that the drought in the area makes hunting for insects more challenging for the Mexican free-tail bats, which means they have been emerging earlier than usual to get in their food quota each night.

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We were disappointed to have missed the bats but stayed to enjoy the park with plans to return the following evening to catch the show.

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While there we enjoyed checking out the cacti:

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Catching up with family:

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And enjoying a spectacular Texas sunset.

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The next day we returned. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the bat show two days in a row so we arrived by 6:30 pm. And it is good that we did! Rather than the 7:25 emergence that occurred the night before, on Sunday they began making an appearance by 7:00 pm.

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Here is a little information about this special show, as taken from the state park’s website:

Watching a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge is truly a special experience! During emergence, the bats spiral upwards in a counter-clockwise direction in order to gain altitude. Aerial predators, such as red-tailed hawks, are sometimes seen catching bats as they emerge, and terrestrial predators, such as raccoons, feed on fallen bats. The large, serpentine column of bats can travel as high as 10,000 feet and 60 miles, one-way, each night to feed on agricultural pests such as the corn earworm (a.k.a. cotton bollworm), cutworm, and webworm moths. Each bat can eat its weight in insects nightly, and the Old Tunnel colony may devour over 25 tons of moths per night!

There are two viewing options for the bat show:

Lower Viewing Area Tour

A close-up view of the emergence is one of the most unique experiences in nature. The flapping of millions of tiny wings is usually audible and often creates a light wind that can be felt by visitors in the lower viewing area. Lower viewing area tours are conducted Thursday through Sunday, May through October. An educational program is given about bats, with an emphasis on the fascinating life history of the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana).

Seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum seating capacity of 70 visitors. Reservations are not accepted. The activity tour fee for the lower viewing area is $5 per person ages 4 and up. Due to the bat’s sensitivity to noise disturbance, children age 3 and under are not allowed at the lower viewing area.

Upper Viewing Area

The upper viewing area, located adjacent to the parking area, is open nightly for use by the general public. The scenic view from the upper viewing area allows visitors to experience the rugged beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Many bicyclists, motorcyclists, and car clubs stop at Old Tunnel to enjoy this view. Bats are best viewed from this area during August and September, when bat emergence times are earlier and more light is present. Fantastic views of red-tailed hawks feeding on emerging bats can also be seen from this area. No fees are charged.

(To protect and conserve the resources and for the safety of our visitors, they only allow 250 people at the upper viewing area. If they reach that limit they close off the parking lot next to the upper viewing area and will admit more visitors to the upper viewing area as people leave. )

 

We felt the upper viewing area was a better fit for our crew so we got settled and waited for the show to begin.

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Wow, what an experience! It was unreal watching those millions of bats flying out of the tunnel in a funnel of activity, soaring out of the trees into the skies above. Once again I found the experience affecting. There is something so humbling about watching the God’s greatness highlighted through nature’s displays of beauty.

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And it was so special sharing the experience with my family.

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What a awesome way to end our special weekend with the ones we love, in Fredericksburg, Texas!

Admiral Nimitz Historic Site

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While the girls were off helping the bride prepare for her big day, the boys took the groom out for a guys’ day. It wasn’t a traditional bachelor’s party, given the age range of the fellows ranged from 3 years old to 62 years old, but they had fun, nonetheless. 🙂

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My Dad took Travis, Toby, Tom and all 6 boys out for the day. They headed into downtown Fredericksburg to the Admiral Nimitz Museum.

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The dads weren’t sure how the younger boys would do at a war museum but all enjoyed it immensely and came back full of new knowledge that they were eager to share. Toby and Tom both said it was an incredible museum. Toby remarked that he found it to be a “Smithsonian level” museum, and all commented that it was one of the best museums they had ever visited. It makes me wish we had an extra day in Fredericksburg so the girls could tour it too.

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The museum is huge and as a result a visitor’s admission ticket allows them to return the next day to continue exploring free of charge. Our boys’ didn’t take advantage of that privilege, however, because of the simple fact we had a more pressing engagement…Travis’s wedding!

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 But my men all gave this museum two thumbs way up.

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Here is a little information about the museum as taken from their website:

The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in Fredericksburg, Texas the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz. Fleet Admiral Nimitz served as CinCPAC, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet during World War II.

“Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

Fleet Admiral Nimitz’s words in 1945 ring true today as we tell the sweeping story of World War II in the Pacific. This is the story — the history — we are dedicated to honoring, teaching and preserving at The National Museum of the Pacific. Visit us to experience this extraordinary chapter of our nation’s history.

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Explore the 6-acre Museum Complex and immerse yourself in Pacific War history, American and Japanese culture of the time, and heartfelt tributes to the heroes of the Pacific Theater.

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ADMIRAL NIMITZ MUSEUM

This is the flagship of the Museum Complex, where the original Pacific War Museum was located before our facilities expanded to include three museums on a 6-acre campus.  A landmark in Fredericksburg since the late 1800’s, the building was the old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, owned and operated by Admiral Nimitz’s grandfather Charles Henry Nimitz Sr. and is where Chester W. Nimitz spent his early childhood.

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The Gallery exhibitions vividly convey the shock and destruction of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941… “a date which will live in infamy.” The displays provide what we call high impact experiences, and central to the experience is a spectacular artifact — the HA-19, one of five Japanese two-man subs that took part in the attack.

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Within the Gallery we tell the story of the Pacific War through media-rich presentations, meaningful testimonials and historically significant artifacts. We make it clear that the Pacific Theater was not a sideshow to the war in Europe, but a conflict that affected the course of world history. Go island to island with the brave marines and Army as they fight their way to ensure America’s freedom. Sail with the U.S Navy Pacific Fleet as they battle for the seas of the pacific.

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The Pacific Combat Zone is a re-creation of a Pacific island battlefield, and includes a Quonset hut hospital, a PT boat and base, Japanese tank, palm trees, and machine gun placements.

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“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to insure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live.”
— Chester W. Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, USN 1885-1966

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We have a special place where we honor the individuals, ships and units who fought in the Pacific Theater — our Memorial Courtyard. The 19th Century limestone walls that surround this solemn garden now bear plaques that recognize heroic contributions to the war effort in the Pacific. The Veterans’ Walk of Honor winds through the Courtyard, paved by bricks inscribed with additional tributes.

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The guys ended their “Boys’ Day Out” with lunch out and a trip to Dooley’s 5 & 10 store on Main street to spend the $5.00 bill Mimi and Pop Pop gave each grandchild to spend. It was a fun way for the guys to spend the day with Travis on his final day of bachelorhood.

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Fort Worth Stockyards

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Fort Worth, Texas is known as the City of Cowboys. One of the most popular things for families to do is spend a day at the Fort Worth Stockyards. With its brick lined streets, historic buildings, a weekly rodeo and twice daily cattle drive, this is the place where tourists come to experience the American West.

And this is where we spent the day on Wednesday.

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When we asked for suggestions of something fun to do with the kids in the Dallas, Texas area a friend suggested the Fort Worth Stockyards. I looked into it and knew at once that it was a must-see stop on our Texas journey.

The girls were excited to have an excuse to pull their cowboy hats out again.

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We arrived and easily found parking near the end of Exchange Ave. Tyler loved the parking payment system at the Stockyards that involved pushing your folded dollar bills in the slot that corresponded to your parking spot. I’ve never seen a system quite like it.

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Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center where a helpful young lady gave us the low down on the Fort Worth Stockyards. She explained the cattle drive, including what time to line up along the road and the best spots to stand to best see the longhorn cattle (and view them from the shade. A key tip in the 100 degree heat!). She also went over the various activities available and her recommendations for the best BBQ joint in town. All were helpful tips that helped structure our day and determine what we ended up seeing and doing.

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We found the Visitor’s Center to be a worthwhile stop before beginning our day at the Stockyards.

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It  had the added appeal of giant misting fans out front…another huge perk in the 100+ degree heat.

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Our first stop was the Cattle Pen Maze. It too was recommended by my friend. The cost was $6.00/ child but ended up being one of the highlights of our day at the Stockyards. The kids each received a ticket that was marked with their starting time. They then had to race the clock, seeking out the four hidden stations to punch their card, before finding their way out of the maze.

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It proved to be far more challenging than they thought it would be.

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There was a covered observation deck that extended above the maze, allowing us to look down at our kids and watch them scramble through the blind twists and turns of the maze.

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Rusty was the first one to find the four punch stations and get out of the maze. He did it in 10 minutes.

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Grace was next with a time of 13 minutes.

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Molly came in third with a final time of 16 minutes,

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And Tyler brought up the rear with a time of 20 minutes. I will say, though, that Tyler lost time because of his kind heart and willingness to backtrack and help a lost mother find her way through the maze.

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Then we walked over to the petting zoo. At $2.00/person this was a fun and affordable experience for all of us animal lovers. Once again, for the second day in a row, Molly got her goat fix and loved it.

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Tyler also LOVED feeding the goats and sheep.

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Rusty made a special friend while we were there.

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We all enjoyed this nice little petting zoo.

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Then it was time to get in position for the cattle drive.

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“The Old West comes to life before your eyes during the Fort Worth Herd’s twice-daily cattle drive. Genuine Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas longhorns down Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards national Historic District every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Every detail of the cattle drive—from the saddles and chaps to the boots and hats – is authentic and historically true.”

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It was incredible to see these iconic Texan Longhorn cattle up close as they walked down the main street of town.

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What a thrill!

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It was the highlight of the day for me!

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After the cattle drive we had fun exploring the stockyards and seeing the pens where the Longhorns are held,

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And catching a glimpse of the cowboys at work.

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We also stopped in Billy Bob’s- The World’s Largest Honky Tonk.

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This 6000 person capacity nightclub is open during the day for families who want to grab a bite to eat or buy a Fort Worth souvenir. It was fun to check out the bull riding ring and the huge nightclub that becomes a line dancing haven when the sun goes down.

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I best this place gets crazy at night!

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We didn’t eat at Billy Bob’s, but walked over to Risky’s Bar-B-Q instead, as suggested by our new friend at the Visitor’s Center.

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Toby, Rusty and I followed the recommendation of the waiter and ordered the specialty: Beef Bar-B-Q ribs. The girls ordered the brisket sandwiches.

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The ribs were incredible, made all the tastier by their awesome sauce.

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We ended our day at the Stockyards with a little shopping at Stockyards Station,

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and some horseback riding…

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Hang on kiddos! Those are some wild stallions!

Next stop: San Antonio, Texas

 

Oklahoma City Zoo

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The next stop on our journey towards Texas took us to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

We woke early this morning for a quick “fill-up” at the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast before we were on the road again. From Springfield, Missouri we had a  4 hour stretch of road to drive before reaching Oklahoma City…the next stop on our itinerary. We left by 8:00am with the goal of reaching Oklahoma City by noon.

When researching things to see and do in Oklahoma City we had a few options. I really wanted to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial which stands in remembrance of those whose lives were lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, but felt that given everyone’s emotional state it was probably too heavy a place at this time, so instead we decided to spend the day at the zoo.

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After reading many reviews online I was excited to explore this zoo that received high accolades for their affordable price and awesome exhibits.

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We arrived to find the zoo empty. We had the place to ourselves, which was shocking given the fact it was the summer season. Our “out-of-town visitor” status soon became apparent when we realized that the locals, who are more familiar with Oklahoma City summer temperatures, were all home enjoying their air conditioning.

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But we didn’t let the 97 degree heat (103 degree heat index) dampen our day…although it did dampen our shirts!

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Luckily there were water misters and industrial fans sprinkled throughout the zoo.

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Each cooling spot became an oasis for these “desert travelers.”

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The nice thing about visiting Oklahoma City Zoo in July is that you have the place to yourself. There were no lines and no fellow visitors to maneuver around.

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We were so impressed with this zoo. They had such a fun variety of species that we hadn’t seen in other zoos, particularly in the reptile house and the aviary.

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Some of our favorite exhibits included:

The Pygmy Hippo:

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The Galapagos Tortoise:

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The Elephants:

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The Tiger:

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But the best exhibit, hands down, were the Gorillas.

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We spent the longest part of our day sitting at this window, interacting with this amazing group of Gorillas.

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There was a beautiful Silverback, a few female Gorillas and two babies. There was a four year old male named, “Liom,” and a two year old female named, “Rubi.”

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And they were hilarious to watch!

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It was just like we were watching preschool siblings.

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Rubi killed us. She is just starting to interact with the public and spent much of her time at the window interacting with us.

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We died when she ran along the window with her tongue to the glass, licking it all the way to the other side.

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Both babies would follow the big silverback anytime he would move across the yard, but unlike her big brother that moved in a straight line from point A to point B, Rubi would spin like a two year old doing pirouettes across the living room.

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Then she’d tip over and roll on her back when she got too dizzy.

We could have stayed there all day!

The thing that really set this zoo apart from its counterparts was the staff. We were amazed by the amount of staff that were positioned at the various exhibits around the zoo to answer the visitor’s questions and educate the public on each animal. With so few visitors, it was like having our own private, backlot tour of the zoo. They were all so informative and it greatly enhanced the experience to have an employee who personally works with the animal, telling us about that animal and answering any questions we had. It was so much more engaging than simply reading plaques on the sides of exhibits.

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There were also employees stationed at the intersections of the various sections of the zoo to direct you to your destination if you were turned around, to inquire if you needed anything, and to remind visitors to drink  water.

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The staff at the Oklahoma City Zoo was amazing!

Although we really enjoyed all the cool exotic critters, my kids were inevitably drawn to the farm animals that were so familiar. There was a nice little petting zoo area where the kids could brush goats, sheep and miniature donkeys.

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Molly, my goat whisperer, was in heaven.

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Tyler also really enjoyed the lake where you could purchase a handful of fish feed for a quarter and feed the catfish, ducks and turtles that congregated at the edge of the dock.

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The heat was intense enough that Toby indulged in a way we don’t normally, at places like the zoo, and bought everyone ice cream cones. They tasted so good. I don’t know if it was especially good ice cream or if it just tasted exceptionally good because we were so hot. Either way, our cones were delicious!

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We stayed until 4:30 pm and then drove over to Five Below. Toby’s uncle, Dave, lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and manages the Five Below store there. Since he was working, and couldn’t meet us at the zoo, we decided to come to him.

It was so great to see him and catch up, even if just for a short time.

He generously gave the kids each $5.00 to purchase a souvenir. The kids loved it, and it was so sweet of Dave.

Grace bought a cute hat, Molly purchased a new backpack, and both boys picked a Heliball after Dave told them it was the coolest toy they sold in his store.

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He was right! The boys have had a blast with their new toys. Thank you, Dave!

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It was a very hot, but VERY FUN day, in Oklahoma City.

Next Stop: Ft. Worth, Texas.

 

 

 

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!

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!

Tyler’s Gotcha Day

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Today we celebrated our 4 year anniversary of being Tyler’s parents. Today was his “Gotcha Day,” which means four years ago on this day we stood before a judge and committed our hearts, home, and life to Tyler. That was the day he became Tyler McCleery. It was one of the happiest days of my life. My heart grew 10 sizes that day.

Every year on the anniversary of our boys’ adoption days we celebrate the blessing of joining our lives with an activity of their choosing. The activities vary from year to year and from boy to boy. There have been “Gotcha Days” that involved going out for ice cream, playing at the park, seeing a movie and even playing tennis as a family. The only constants are:

1. The “Gotcha Day” boy does the choosing.

2. The activity is a whole family, bonding experience.

This year we were on the road for Tyler’s “Gotcha Day.” We are on our way to Texas for my brother’s wedding and this was our first long driving stretch as we made our way from western Pennsylvania to St. Louis, Missouri.

We got on the road early.

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The kids each received their travel treat bag filled with snacks, games, activity books and bottled water. Everyone settled in and off we went.

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As we drove we had fun playing travel games like “Bingo,” “The Alphabet Game,” and Mad Libs.

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Tyler elected himself navigator thanks to the free maps that are handed out at rest stops along the way.

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As we traveled west we drove through many rain showers.

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Although we had a nine hour drive ahead of us we wanted to do something special to celebrate Tyler’s “Gotcha Day,” so we planned an impromptu stop in  Terre Haute, Indiana after reading some reviews online of the awesome children’s museum found in this smaller Indiana city.

The impressive reviews were the first draw. The second draw for this children’s museum was the price, which was a third of the cost of the large children’s museum found in Indianapolis. At a cost of only $8.00 a person this place was a steal!

My only concern was that perhaps it would be geared too young for the teenagers to enjoy it, but I knew they were such good sports that they would happily tag along so their little brother could enjoy this neat experience on his special day.

I didn’t need to worry. This children’s museum had something for everyone, from 9 month olds to 90 year olds…this place was incredible!

What an awesome hidden gem is tucked away in Terre Haute!

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We walked in and the fun began at the door with a cloud maker.

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We paid and began exploring.

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There was a little of everything, from interactive science exhibits to creative play areas.

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If we lived in Terre Haute when my kids were little this would have been our playground.

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The first big exhibit we encountered was a vacuum powered tube maze that hung on the wall. The kids  placed bath loofahs in the ends of the tubes, press the air button, and watched the loofah balls fly through the maze of tubes then shoot out the various ends. We all had a blast playing with this interactive toy. It set the tone for the rest of the day and gave us a preview of the fun we would have.

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One of the displays the Terre Haute Children’s Museum is best known for is their giant tree house…and rightfully so. It is epic! Tyler ran for it right away, quickly followed by his older siblings. The tree house can be accessed by a walkway on the second floor or could be entered from the base of the tree through a vertical climbing maze. At the top of the tree house there were ball shooters that could be used to launch foam balls across the room into the hanging flowers on the opposite wall. As the balls fell back to the ground they could be gathered and sent back up to the kids at the top of the tree house via a hanging basket that could be loaded with balls and be pulled up pulley style. A lot of our day was spent here.

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Tyler’s second favorite exhibit was the animal race track. Here the kids could pick an animal to race. They would pick a continent, and then pick an animal from that continent that they wanted to try racing. Then they would stand at the end of the race track and begin running down the track. As they raced red squares appeared below their feet, representing the footsteps of the animal they were racing. They had to outrun the red squares to win the race. Then at the end of the track both speeds were posted so they could see how close the race was and who the winner was.

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It was fun to see how fast or slow various animals were. We were shocked by many of them. For instance we had no idea a porcupine was such a slow poke. It only runs 2 miles an hour. Who knew?

On the first floor they also had a cool Dino Dig site,

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a pump piano that Rusty enjoyed,

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and a “Build and Race your own Bottle Car” experience:

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On the second floor there was an agricultural area, which is fitting, I suppose, since we were in Indiana. Here the kids learned more about farming and got to milk a cow, drive a combine, and play with a mommy pig and her piglets. It was so cute!

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On this floor they also had a race car the kids could climb in:

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AND a bubble wand so big that they could climb inside the bubble. It was awesome!

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One of the neatest parts of this children’s museum was the many areas set up for creative play. Here the kids could use their imagination and play pretend.

There was a kitchen:

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A Supermarket:

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A construction site:

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And a Vet’s office:

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All were set up with such wonderful attention to detail, making kids feel as though they had stepped into a mini version of  real world places. Even my big kids had fun playing pretend.

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We stayed until it closed at 5:00 and then continued on to St. Louis for our first night’s stay.

It was an amazing day,

one that will go down in the books…

a “Gotcha Day” that won’t soon be forgotten!

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Thanks for Terre Haute for a fun day.

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And thank you, God, for bringing Tyler into our lives four years ago.

We love you, Tyler!

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