We're so glad you joined us!

Here we are – kids, dogs and all! Thanks for visiting our page! We're hoping that you will enjoy hearing about our travels and experiences as a family. We intend for this blog to share more than just travel journals, but also insights and lessons learned during our daily adventures. Please share your comments and come back often! * update * as of August 2010, we finished our journey, so new entries to this site will be rare. Linda's starting a new personal blog here. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Creation Museum

From Niagara Falls, we drove due west across Ontario to enter the US at Port Huron, MI. Although there certainly are beautiful portions of Michigan, we were anxious to reach our next major attraction, the Creation Museum. We stayed at a terrific campground near Flint, MI to catch our breath and enjoy some activities such as archery, canoeing and kayaking. Then, we headed south to stay near the intersection of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. We drove through a portion of Ohio, before stopping overnight just over the border into Indiana. The next day, we then drove a meandering path (thanks to an unforeseen construction project and our GPS) through portions of Ohio and Indiana and stayed near Rising Sun, Indiana. A pleasant 30 minute drive along the Ohio River brought us to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. We enjoyed beautiful weather for our 2-day visit.
We were anxiously waiting outside the entrance at 10 am on the first day.

We knew we could expect some terrific presentations, but were not prepared for the excellent finesse in the design of this tremendous attraction. The details in the construction and presentation are on a par with any contemporary exhibition in Disney World. We were thrilled to see that extremely talented artisans and builders had been hard at work to build a facility to help our society to get the straight scoop on the origin of our world!
The visit began with a theater presentation regarding The Created Cosmos emphasized the dimensions of the tremendous universe. A nice blend of astrological wonders of light years and relative dimensions of the sun, the planets and other stars in the solar system and beyond, we found the information entertaining and humbling!
'Men in White' was the next theater presentation with a satirical but factual discussion of God's created world versus the evolutionary theory discussed in most public education forums.
By that time, we were ready for a lunch break. The boys enthusiastically downed individual sized pizzas while we ate some hearty sandwiches. Tables alongside the beautifully landscaped pond enhanced our meal on this terrific spring day.

Refreshed, we began the primary feature - Walk Through History. A series of exhibits that begins with a discussion of paleontology and thought provoking questions, the museum guide recommended at least 2-3 hrs for completing the tour. They're not kidding. We made it through about half the exhibits before deciding to take a break. We wanted to pace this tour appropriately for observation, contemplation and absorption and there's a ton of information provided along the way.

We wanted time to ask and answer our own questions, and especially questions from our kids!
Information digestable by all ages is available and museum staff had provided a 'treasure hunt' activity for our 9 yo that helped occupy him when the presented material was a bit over his head.
Exhibits included presentations to validate the truth of God's Word.

The most colorful and detailed exhibit was the depiction of the Garden of Eden.

Everyone enjoyed taking a stroll in the garden and imagining what it might have been like - with no worries of illnesses, troubles, or fears of anything.
Next were depictions of the Fall of Man that could be a little frightening to young children. Loud noises and darkness are part of the displays that help make the point of the evil that entered God's perfect creation. The distance through this exhibit was short, but we'd strongly recommend parents with children younger than 8 yo to preview this portion first before taking the kids through.

The scaffolding before the boys is beside the Ark, under construction! A life-size scale model of 1/100th of the Ark demonstrates the magnitude of Noah's work and God's provision.
Several dioramas show the full model with details of the animals to scale to show that there was room for every one and every thing that God commanded to go in the Ark.

This was hardly a little tugboat but a massive cargo ship - without an engine or sails!

One section of the museum is dedicated to presentations of dinosaurs and the guys really enjoyed the up close look.

The lunch meal completely forgotten, we took off for the RV park to see if the pool was open. It was, and the guys jumped in for about an hour. Then, the hunger pains returned and we set out to try something new to us - Cincinnati Chili. Skyline Restaurant is a chain famous for this dish and one was nearby.
Here it is, in two favorite serving styles. Cincinnati chili supposedly is prepared without any chili powder. That's right - no chili powder. As a matter of fact, it has several ingredients very foreign to Texas chili consumers: cinnamon, allspice, cloves and unsweetened chocolate. The chili has beef, but it is more of a consistency of spaghetti sauce. As a matter of fact, it is commonly served on top of spaghetti noodles. Then, additional toppings can be added as follows:
1 - just the chili (apparently no one eats it plain)
2 - spaghetti topped with the chili
3 - spaghetti topped with chili and huge quantities of grated cheddar cheese (known as 3-way chili)
4 - spaghetti topped with chili, huge quantities of grated cheddar cheese and either chopped onions or red beans (known as 4-way chili)
5 - spaghetti topped with chili, huge quantities of grated cheddar cheese, chopped onions and red beans (known as 5-way chili)
Or, you can bypass the spaghetti version and enjoy the chili on a hot dog.
And we remembered Cincinnati as the locale of WKRP!
We slept well that evening and were anxious to return to the museum for another day the next morning.
Each day, the museum offers lectures at least twice during the day and a children's session with museum staff. There was no time for that on our first day's visit, so we checked the schedule and purchased tickets for lectures for Craig and Cory and the children's session for Will. Then, we picked up where we left off with the Walk Through History. We picked up at the flood and several exhibits explaining evidence of the flood in the Grand Canyon and other locales in the world. Next was a depiction of God's judgment of man by dispersing the population after the Tower of Babel. The last portion includes a theater presentation of Jesus' death and resurrection with a presentation of the gospel.
We returned to the cafe for lunch, then Craig took Will to the children's session on dinosaurs while Linda and Cory visited the botanical gardens, petting zoo and a revisit to 'Men in White'. Then, Cory and Craig attended a lecture entitled 'Three Ways to Create an Apeman' by Dr. David Menton while Linda returned to the botanical gardens and petting zoo with Will. Those all wrapped up about the same time and after purchasing several books and DVD sets in the bookstore, we headed back to the RV.
Overall, we found the museum to help provide clarity and strength for our faith in God. We also found inspiration to equip ourselves for any future discussions in which we might be able to provide that same clarity and strength to others.
2 Peter 3:15 "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."
We're confident that we will return again and encourage anyone that has ever been even remotely interested in the offerings of this museum to make a visit. We're confident that you will not regret it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ahhh...Niagara Falls!

Niagara Falls is one of the major milestones along our family journey. We wanted to see the falls from both sides, Canada and New York. Each side has a very different feel as well as a very different view of the famous natural wonder.

We stayed at an RV park in Canada on the banks of Lake Erie, a few miles beyond St. Catherine. The drive to Niagara took about 30 minutes and we made an early start, intending to dedicate the day to the Canada side. The route to public parking passes right alongside the Falls and through Victoria Park. Parking is a premium! We paid $18 for all-day parking near the visitor center. We saw other lots close to the restaurants that advertised $13 parking, but there are a limited number of spaces. The weather was so beautiful and our fascination with the falls so great that we didn't mind the walk at all. Before seeing the Falls, we saw the mist rising high into the air.

The visitor center is a very attractive structure with a pedestrian walkway from the parking area to the falls and several attractions.
Do you see the wet walkway on either side of us? That's mist from the Falls on the other side of the building!
From the Canadian side, the view of the Falls is straight on. The Horseshoe Falls on on the right, an edge of the American Falls is on the left.
Our first look at the Horseshoe Falls! The mist was so thick rising from the crashing water below that we could not see the falls on the other side.
From the walkway along the river, the American Falls come into view.

Looking back at the Canadian Falls, you can see the mist in the middle of the 'horseshoe'.

This structure provides a frame for the American Falls behind the boys. The age of the walkway is obvious everywhere along the path. Hard to imagine the millions of people that have passed along this way with the same view!

We skipped the Imax presentations that are heavily promoted everywhere to go straight for a voyage on the Maiden Mist. The boats board from either side, US or Canada, pass by the American Falls and head straight into the Horseshoe Falls before returning passengers back to the boarding dock. A narrator was speaking to us the whole time, but either crowd noise or noise from the falls obliterated the message. The blue ponchos are provided upon boarding the boat.
The boys led the way to a railside view front and center on the boat.
Getting closer....last photo before getting too wet to take out the camera!

The blue poncho is really more like saran wrap and the turbulent air with all that mist prevents it from working very well. At least our clothes were mostly dry!

The Canadians win the prize for spring landscaping! The bright floral beds were covered in blooms all along the riverside walkway.
Since we made it before summer break for the schools and were visiting on a weekday, the crowds were minimal. The mornings were especially quiet and allowed us to really enjoy ourselves!
The plantings were and framed the falls beautifully! These are the American Falls again.

Later in the afternoon, the sun was behind us and rainbows appeared everywhere in the falls. This is a view of the Maiden Mist taking a load of spectators in close for the look and sound of the falls. Remember...we were right up front and center of the bow on our turn!

A more dispersed prism is visible in the American Falls with another Maiden Mist trip passing by.

The boys are posed below our dinner spot - the rotating restaurant in the Skylon observation tower. The restaurant turns 360 degrees in an hour. When we arrived, our table was directly across from the Falls and we were back at the Falls in time for dessert!

The food was great with generous portions. The ticket was a little pricey, but considering a ticket to go to the observation tower was $13 by itself, we didn't feel too bad about the cost. The elevators climb along the outside of the tower, so the view is terrific all the way up.

The trip up is well worth the trouble, providing a grand perspective to the mighty wonder on display below!

After dinner, we had some time to kill as we waited for nightfall when the Falls are illuminated with huge spotlights across the river. We found a black variety of squirrel that was a new sight for us!
We visited Starbuck's to enjoy while we watched the sky display beautiful sunset colors. Finding an unoccupied bench across from the American Falls, we enjoyed the leisure of simply sitting with no agenda!
At last, the lights came on and we found it worth our wait!
Oh, that's not the end of this extremely long post - we've got to show the New York side of things so that you can decide for yourself where you should see this amazing sight, should you take the opportunity!

This is the view of the falls as we crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

A fellow American on the Maiden Mist had tipped us off to a free parking area on the New York side. In New York, the area is a state park with no admission fee. Three parking areas are available: Lot 1 (closest and $10 per day), Lot 2 (next closest and $8 per day) and Lot 3 (no charge, but the furthest walk). We chose Lot 3 and enjoyed the walk along the river toward the falls. It seems like it only took about 10 minutes of walking at a very leisurely pace.

The sights and sounds of rapids are with you every step of the way.

Before long, here's a preview of the coming spectacle. Those tall buildings are hotels on the Canada side of the river.

As we approached, the more of the beautiful rainbow presented itself for our morning treat!

It was such fun that it absolutely took our breath away! God is a masterful designer of beauty, isn't He?

We purchased an excursion called 'Cave of the Winds'. No longer a cave, it's actually an elevator ride down to the river level with a series of boardwalks to bring you close to the American Falls. Years ago, tourists walked behind a section called Bridal Veil, but a large boulder protecting them from the rush of the water deteriorated and finally was removed. No longer safe to allow tourists to go that direction, the stairs climb up alongside the falls for the closest look on foot.

As we approached the boardwalk, we found a vast flock of gulls perching in the riverside rocks.

Then, we noticed the babies!

This mama was very indifferent to the close proximity of people and allowed us a peek at the still wet hatchling beside her other egg.

The hatchling is on the left, well disguised by the nesting material.

On to the main attraction in our souvenir ponchos, yellow this time but equally ineffective as the blue ones of yesterday! We also were furnished water sandals - not optional!

We paused for a moment before tackling the wettest part of the trail.

And here it is - the Hurricane Deck where the force of the turbulence as the falls hit the boulders is equivalent to hurricane force winds. Craig and the boys are up there on that upper deck. The camera got wet and several other shots had big water bubbles in the middle.

After we rode back up in the elevator and dried out a bit, we took this photo looking down on the decks we had walked just a few moments ago. The trails along the river on the New York side are not formally landscaped and allow a closer look a the river rapids.

This photo demonstrates the view across the American Falls toward the Horseshoe Falls in the distance. Completely different in its perspective, the US view is very worthwhile with the unforgettable sounds that accompany the spectacle.

In closing, a few footnotes about the two sides of the falls. To capture that Canadian view, you now must have a passport or other proof of your citizenship to cross the international border. Children accompanied by both parents doe not require a passport at this time, but a birth certificate demonstrating both citizenship and proof of parents is necessary (at the time of this writing). Before scheduling the trip, check the current international border crossing requirements for documents to assure a trouble free crossing. The Canadian side has a river view look at the Horseshoe Falls similar to the Cave of the Winds. We saw the folks at the base of the falls and it didn't seem to compare well for getting as close as possible. You also wouldn't get nearly as wet! There are no towers that really provide the view of the falls on the US side. The Canadian side is full of casinos, but we found them to be set back from the beautiful park that allows continuous strolling along the river. The walks on either side are flat and paved, so good walking shoes are needful, but it's hardly a hike! Trolleys and buses provide some relief for foot sore or the physically challenged, but if able - put on those tennies and enjoy the exercise!