Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ohio Caverns

On the morning of our fourth day of vacation we ventured Northwest of Columbus to where Ohio Caverns is situated. It is 4 miles west of a small town called West Liberty. I assure you it is long, windy, cool and our group of about 20 people took at least an hour to venture through here. There is time to take photographs during the tour but it is better if you have a professional camera or photographer with you to use them instead. I found that a lot of flash photography with regular digital cameras in the semi dark is definitely not good quality.

Our boys loved this cave experience and think it is a pretty cool thing to be 100 feet underground and see this rock formation in different colors. they have one stalactite and stalagmite formation that have joined together to form the shape of a water pump. Another humongous formation looks like a baseball bat and still other larger ones like pillars holding up buildings. The original owner of the land preserved these caves haphazardly until someone bought the land from him and then the next owner begun to stop visitors from touching the stalactites and stalagmites to prevent deterioration. I'm glad this happened as we probably would not have this natural wonder to enjoy if someone had not taken the care to preserve the natural history on this farm. Andy is above pictured next to a big icicle shaped stalactite.

We came out of the caverns at the end of our tour and had thoroughly cooled off with the temperature underground about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, to a whopping 95 degrees outside. It was a dramatic change! We picnicked on the grounds and there are shelters available to do that under too.

We later drove through the countryside on our way to an Amish restaurant (Family style) to partake of a late lunch early dinner in their buffet section. That was probably a mistake for two of us as the food did not entirely agree with us almost immediately. We are also not used to so many additives in what we eat. We will not be doing that for a while either. Photo above of the boys in the Amish wagon!

We drove slowly back to Columbus, OH for to tumble everyone into a bath as they were filthy from the caves. (Tip: wear old clothes) The fresh country air makes one weary too. So ended the fourth day of our mini-vacation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

COSI Museum and Historic Roscoe village

On waking up on our second day we ventured downtown Columbus to the phenomenal and kind of big COSI Museum ( ). This Museum is definitely geared towards children of all ages but after visiting all the levels, and most of the museum, except the 3D movie theatres it was worth the visit. We were blessed to not have to pay admission due to being members of the Indiana State Museum. There is a link between some state museums called the Passport Program (link here: ) . This sure helped us out. There were 2 3D movies at the time of our visit but we did not have the time in our 8 hour day to watch either of them. One was on Whales and Dolphins and the other on The Titanic. We hope to visit the Titanic exhibit when it comes to the Indiana State Museum.

COSI Museum had a special area for the toddlers and no child over 3 was allowed to visit. There were lots of interactive things for Andy to participate in in this area. When about an hour had passed and it came time to move to the next exhibit we had a few tantrums to get through.

I can not honestly remember all the different things that we saw in there, although there was a special exhibit that only teachers who attended that day got to see. As I had registered for the teacher conference that day we got the opportunity to visit the Valley of the Unknown. Inside here we were given a map and clues to find, and tried to solve each part of the ancient language message on our map. At the end we entered the Temple and found the treasure. My son Dan was in his element as he searched for the clues, and eagerly looked for anything else we needed to know. He had fun. This exhibit was a trial run that was officially being opened to the public later this year.

Our day at the Museum was so fun and over too soon. We will go back on another mini vacation and see what they have changed and enjoy what has not!

Roscoe Village, Coshocton, Ohio

We travelled a few hours NorthEast from Columbus to Roscoe Village ( ). Here is a small colonial town which dates back to the 1800's. There are Living History Exhibit Buildings all over the tiny town but we did not have time to purchase the tour through all the buildings that they visit. Our toddler would not have done very well with all the walking too. The buildings look interesting but are only opened with a tour guide especially during out of season times. The main tourist office for the village does have a small shop attached to it , as well as an educational center inside. The children tried on hats and clothes from the 1800's and played with some of the toys that would have been popular in that day and time.

We walked across a park area to the place where we boarded our Canal boat for an hour's ride on a restored boat from the 1800's. This ride was quite a treat for my son and I as we had studied the Erie Canal last fall and enjoyed reading about the families and businessmen that had built and used the canal. It cemented a lot of the information that we had read about. the walk between the Visitor's Center and the Canal Boat Ride is far so it is advised to drive especially if you have small children.

Once we had returned to the Visitors Center a storm was brewing and we had to walk back to our vehicle. This entailed more walking as we were parked at the other end of the village. Of course we took it in turns to carry an extremely tired 3 year old. He then started eating his lunch in the van and promptly fell fast asleep in the middle of his third bite of food, and no sooner was he asleep than the heavens opened, and we were all rocked around in our van by thunder, lightning and rain. We were reasonably safe but on driving out of the village realized how severe the straight line winds had been in that storm. Giant trees, medium sized trees and debris were everywhere on the roads - it was amazing what power the winds had that day!

Roscoe Village is somewhere to visit if your children are studying Colonial America, the Erie Canal, or life in the 1800's. We wished we had more time to visit but glad that we saw what we did!

Ok the pic at the top of the post is me all dressed up in Colonial clothing - whew it was hot!

On the way home we stopped by an amazing Ice Cream shop. Velvet Ice Cream ( ) make their own ice cream on site, with a viewing window to see into the processing room, as well as a cafe to sample some of their wares and they ship all over the USA too.

It was a fun and exciting day filled with learning experiences and some fun ones to fill our bellies with!

Vacation Highlights August 2010

We decided to stay at a Homewood Suites Hotel in Columbus located on the Northwest side of the city. It was fairly central to all the places we had planned to visit. We like these hotels as there is a light evening meal provided between 4-7pm, especially for the businessman or family I presume. Breakfast is a full breakfast with a cooked selection as well as the usual cereals and breads. We figure that the cost of eating dinner out with 4 of us ordering plus a cheaper hotel and dingy Continental breakfast, equals or or is more than staying at Homewood Suites. The evening meals I must say are only Monday through Thursday. The breakfasts are great no matter what and definitely fresh fruit is a big draw for our family. We had a King Suite with sofa bed. The suites are ideal for a small family like ours, we could fit nicely and could utilize the kitchen that they provide in the rooms too.

Our first day we drove down to "The Wilds" situated near Cumberland, Ohio. We had visited this game park before when Daniel and Brendon were much smaller. It is a touch of Africa in the middle of Ohio for me. Hopefully we can go back every few years. The Wilds has a wide range of animals, insects, amphibians and birds to see. No two days are the same say the bus and game truck drivers. One can tour on an air conditioned bus, an open-air safari or an individual jeep ride, depending on your level of comfort and pocket book!

There are animals from Africa, China, other Asian countries, and others found in the United States that have become endangered. I love to see my favourites like giraffes, zebras and rhino in the wild. I do not like seeing them caged in a zoo. At The Wilds you can view them in a natural setting with trees, grasses, birds, and insects all around them! It is an awesome place to visit.

There are camping experiences that you can have there too, stay in a yurt, or perhaps next summer book your child in for a really educational week to stay at The Wilds in a tent, and help them gather data on their animals and birds. We have found the day visit is a good start and really educational. We hope next time to be able to ride in an open air jeep to give our children more of the feel of being in the wild. I am not sure if I will ever get them back to my wonderful Africa. There are Family and Adult Camps available too throughout the year

Here is a link to their website if you want to go on over and peruse it . I put a picture at the top of my boys with the overlook and view behind them.

This is the first day and there is more to come!

Vacation Summer 2010

I decided it has been forever since I updated everyone on our lives. It has been a busy summer with us continuing to homeschool throughout only taking breaks for our week of vacation during August and a week in June for VBS.

Our vacation/holiday this year was overshadowed by a very sad event. My husband's stepmom passed away on our first day that we were away. We knew she was very ill as her cancer had progressed substantially this summer, but thought she would fight a little longer. She declined quickly the week before we left and somehow the Lord prompted or warned me that she was not going to make it. We decided to take our family away even though we did not know when she would pass away.

On arrival at our hotel in Columbus I checked my email briefly after taking our oldest son out to dinner for his birthday. The dreaded message we had been waiting for was right there in front of my eyes to see. I wished I had had no access to the email that week at all because we were in the land of should we/shouldn't we go back for the funeral. This funeral was in Monroe, Wisconsin jsut a few days later which would have been a 14 hour drive for us with 2 young children!

We heard when the funeral was the day before and decided we would not have time to drive all the way and be exhausted. We think it was a good decision and we are blessed to know that even though we were missed, no-one was mad at us!

I will post about our vacation spots in the next post so keep on reading if you are interested.