Category Archives: Mega Field Trip 2018

Colonial Williamsburg ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Colonial Williamsburg

After eating lunch at Pocahontas State Park, we headed into Williamsburg and checked into our hotel. We had found a great deal on a package with one of the Colonial Williamsburg hotels. If you visit, I would suggest checking to see the prices. We were able to stay at the hotel within walking distance of the entrance AND get our passes for three days (we only used one) for about what it would have cost us for a hotel elsewhere in the area. So, we basically got our passes for free. And the hotel had a fabulous continental breakfast included.

As I stated, we checked in during the late afternoon. It was really too late to head over since much of Colonial Williamsburg closes at 5 unless you have tickets for some of their special events. We knew we would be extremely tired by this point in our trip and so we elected to not push it. We stayed in the hotel room, vegged out, took a swim, ate dinner, and slept. We woke refreshed and eager the next morning.

We got into Colonial Williamsburg about the time it opened. We took a tour of the Governor’s Palace right off the bat. It was spectacular. The armament was basically kept here and there were TONS of weapons. They created beautiful decor in the entry way. They also would have served well to warn folks about how serious the area was in their protection. The gentleman we had giving us the tour was well versed in his material and knew not just about the Governor’s Palace but was able to answer questions about all of the city and the history and time period. He did a wonderful job of acquainting us with the time and all that was going on in the area.

The Palace was beautiful. It was furnished as close as they could to an original set up, including ordering rugs and paint colors to be done exactly as they would have originally. It was beautiful.

From there, we hurried across the way to a museum so that we could hear a performance of the glass armonica. This is the instrument that Benjamin Franklin invented. It is glass and played by spinning the glass instrument quickly and playing the edges with wetted fingers. It was lovely and the music is ethereal. Dean Shostak is a well known musician and talked much about how to play the armonica, as well as how it is made. He performed a number of pieces on it for us. He also pulled out a glass violin he had had made. Now, it had nothing to do with the colonial time period but it was a stunning instrument. His performance on it was stunning, too. Needless to say, we came away with several of his recordings.

glass armonica picture

After that, we just kind of wandered through the area. We ended up following a school tour and that allowed us to hear quite a bit more than if we had just come through on our own in several of the craftsmen’s shops. We did find that most of the folks were less than eager to answer questions, which was a bit disappointing. So, following the school group was a good thing for us.

We visited the tin smith, the leather smith, the dress maker, the silver smith, the tavern, and the school. Many places were closed, which we found very odd.

Another of my favorite parts came at the close of the day – the drum and fife group. We hung around to be able to hear them play their day ending ceremonies. They were dressed in stunning red uniforms and marched military style to their performances. They performed a number of pieces and it was lovely to watch. The drum and fife group would have been fairly essential to the life of the colony and it was a neat way to close out the day.

I did find myself wishing we had time to go back the next day but we decided we needed to head on. We were heading to New Bern, NC, to meet someone for lunch so we couldn’t dawdle too long. Our time at Colonial Williamsburg was very interesting and the girls still talk about hearing the glass armonica. That will be a lasting memory and well worth the trip.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

National Museum of the American Indian ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Museum of the American Indian

Another museum we visited in Washington, D.C., was the National Museum of the American Indian. I grew up in an area strongly populated by Indians. I think the history of these people native to America is fascinating – both interesting and horrifying. I have wanted to visit this museum since it was established. It was not open when I got to first visit DC so it was high on my “must do” list this time around.

The museum did not disappoint. It is densely packed with exhibits and information that helps each of us understand more about these peoples and their history. From artifacts to badly done movies and advertisements, this museum covers it all.

One area that we found fascinating was the artifact exhibit that showcased hundred of items. Each item is number and listed. There are electronic screens close by that you can touch to find out more about the items that interest you. Each item seemed to have information on where the item came from, the Indian group that it is associated with, how old it is suspected to be, and what it was used for. There were many items that were similar but from different Indian groups and those were interesting to look at and compare. We spent a fair amount of time in this area.

Another interesting area showcased articled that had been intricately beaded. One of the most fascinating was an American flag that had Indian group named embedded in the beads of the strips of the flags and the initial of each state on the stars. It is stunning!

We made sure to visit the floor that covered many of the different Indian Nations and their history. It was presented well and we went from group to group, seeing the difference in what they ate, how they dressed, the different ceremonies they had, and other things that made each nation unique. It was extremely well done.

There was a small area that had seating close to some video screens. Those screens were showing animated tales and legends from the Indian nations. It was interesting to listen to the legends and stories, to see them animated. Miss J was particularly interested in these tales.

The last part we had time to visit was the advertising and other promotional items area. This was a huge room that had every advertising thing that had ever been done with any relation to an Indian or native peoples group. From Barbie dolls, which the girls found interesting, to Big Chief Tablets, from motels in teepee shapes to drinks named after Indians, it was really a unique look at how our nation saw/sees these Americans.

One the main floor there are several examples of canoes and other water craft. These life sized craft were interesting and really help see how the area of the country the people lived in influenced their construction. This was also true just outside the exit, where we were able to see some crops planted and some outdoor ovens.

From the walkway up to the entrance through the exit and onto the sidewalk going away from the museum, this was a fascinating place to visit. I enjoyed it very much and truly wish I could remember many of the things we read in that building. It was stunningly created and displayed and a stop I would highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Natural History Museum ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - Natural History Museum

In Washington, D.C., we made sure to visit the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. It is humongous museum packed full of exhibits. We knew it would be a huge hit for two reasons – minerals and gems and the live butterfly exhibit. Miss J – age 9 – and Miss L – age 12 – we excited for those reasons. We went to the Natural History Museum while At Home Dad and Miss E visited the Holocaust Museum.

The Natural History Museum has so many amazing parts to it to visit. A large elephant greets you as you enter the museum. From there, you really have to choose what to see. We went straight to the butterfly exhibit. It was an additional cost but well worth the price. We spent over an hour just watching the different butterflies. We learned the names of several and just watched them fly, land, eat, rest, and whatever else it is that butterflies do. Miss L is still very fascinated by butterflies so she was elated the entire time we were there. Her highlight was when a butterfly finally landed on her and rested there. Because photos were allowed, I gave her the camera and let her take as many pictures as she wanted. She loved that!

The blue morpho butterflies were just stunning. As beautiful as they were, though, I liked many of the smaller ones more. I particularly enjoy watching yellow butterflies. There were helpful attendants throughout the exhibit and they were pleased to answer any questions that they were asked.

While we were enjoying the butterflies, my sister-in-law was enjoying the medical exhibit that talked about epidemics. Totally not something I am interested in but right up her alley. So, we did the flying things and she did the germs. 🙂

We met up after that and visited the gems and minerals exhibit. The gems were stunning and I truly enjoyed their beauty. Miss J, surprisingly, got really bored, even looking at the Hope Diamond and crown jewels! When we got to the end of that exhibit and stepped into the minerals? She came to life. She absolutely was thrilled to spend time in the gigantic mineral exhibit. She enjoyed the hands-on part where a computer went through the different crystal structures, pointing out many of the minerals that are created by that. It was a wonderful way for her to learn more about what was fascinating to her. She would look around her and try to identify some of the minerals that were using what the computer was showing her.

We spent a very long time in the minerals, probably another hour. Then we got some lunch. It isn’t cheap to eat in the museums. However, the convenience can’t be beat and the food carts and such outside were not any cheaper
overall.

We spent the afternoon looking at many different animal exhibits. There was one that showed a whole lot of animals from different countries and their habitats. The taxidermy was interesting and the girls found some of the animals interesting. Of course, Miss J loved the giraffes. I thought the tigers were neat. From these very large creatures to some very small ones like owls, there were lots of animals to look at.

There was a dinosaur section but it isn’t fascinating for the girls so we did not spend much time there. The insect section behind the butterflies was short-lived for us. There were too many creepy-crawlies for us.

We visited the ocean exhibit that showed many of the creatures found in the oceans and described the different parts of the ocean. (It ended up being a great precursor to the Marine Biology class that Miss L is taking now.) There were some really unique animals they had exhibited from the different depths of the ocean.

There was so much more that we could have looked at. We could easily have spent a few more hours due to the amount of material there. However, we were museumed out for the day so we called it quits at this point.

Blessings,
At Home.

New Bern, NC ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - New Bern, NC

My posts are getting out of order but at least I am getting a few more up, right?

After we had finished at Williamsburg, we headed south to New Bern, North Carolina. You might recognize the name from the news – they took an almost direct hit from Hurricane Florence. We had a friend we were meeting for lunch. She knew the area and recommended a restaurant in downtown to meet at.

We were shocked at the recovery the city had made already. Most of the businesses were up and running, just a couple of weeks after being flooded. This was a town that was not going to be knocked down! There were piles of debris that were very large but it was so easy to see the spirit rather than the piles. Their determination was a joy to witness!

The restaurant was so yummy! The girls enjoyed it, also.

After a fabulous lunch, we took a walk around downtown. Did you know that this is where Pepsi was invented? I had no idea! We visited a soda fountain and looked at a display of Pepsi memorabilia. There was, of course, lots of neat Pepsi logo items available for sale. Nothing struck me to purchase, which I was kind of sad about. My mom has always preferred Pepsi so I was hopeful of finding her a neat gift but no such luck.

One of the neat things we saw in New Bern was the large bears. These are statues that different artists and groups have purchased and painted. They are placed in random spaces around the downtown area. Maybe even outside downtown; that I don’t know. We enjoyed seeing the different depictions on the various bears.

After a nice walk, we came across a unique gift store. There were lots of neat items in there and I ended up purchasing the book Mysterious Happenings of Coastal North Carolina by Sherman Carmichael. It was an interesting read about the shipwrecks, hauntings, and strange happenings along coastal NC. I learned a lot and enjoyed reading about different people that I had heard of but didn’t really know much about.

Along the way, there was a neat spot in an alleyway where someone had painted big butterfly wings on the wall. It was a perfect spot to do a photo so the girls each took their turn being a butterfly.

New Bern NC Butterfly Girls
Our stop in New Bern did not allow us to meet one of my blogging friends, as our schedules did not correspond well and I was disappointed. However, I was so pleased to be able to visit New Bern, see their can-do spirit, and learn about the place.

Blessings,
At Home.

Clara Barton Museum ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

mega field trip - clara barton museum

We heard that there was a museum about Clara Barton in Washington, D.C. We have studied Clara Barton before and so when we heard about it, we knew we had to visit. At Home Dad and Miss E headed off to the Holocaust Museum and we hiked up the hill from where we had parked. The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum was really neat and one I highly recommend.

There is a short film (under 15 minutes) that introduces Clara Barton, her work, and how the building that the museum is housed in was found.

clara barton museum entrance

The story of the building – a man who was working for the government was checking it out, trying to figure out what needed to be done to get it torn down. While on the upper floors, he noticed something strange poking out from the attic. He grabbed a ladder, got the paper and took a look, as it was clearly old. It turned out to be the first of over a thousand artifacts from the Civil War era. One of the artifacts gave away what the building had been – the offices Clara Barton and her Missing Soldier’s Office. There was no way they could tear the building down now!

And that started the work of preserving and restoring parts of the building. The third floor was restored to what it would have looked like at the time of Ms. Barton’s use of the building. There are even pieces of wall paper that they were able to locate and then replicate so the wallpaper is appropriate.

The upper floor is set up somewhat like it might have been at the time of Ms. Barton. There are documents preserved to be read, along with information describing the work she did. She spent so many years helping others from this building. There are places where you can see the original wall papers. There are photographs and original papers. There are some examples of things like socks that were precious commodities during war time.

Clara Barton is an interesting and important figure in American history so it was special to be able to visit the Missing Soldiers Office, take a look at the large pages of names that she worked from and read letters from people seeking her assistance. To know that where we were standing had made a difference in so many lives was incredible.

It is a fascinating place to visit and I am so glad we were able to visit. They operate on donations and on purchases made from their store. I was disappointed that they only had a few biographies on Ms. Barton, several of which did not look engaging for me or the girls, though they did have the biography that we studied from YWAM. I did make a purchase of one of my favorite authors and a book I didn’t have – Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches.

If you have opportunity, I do recommend visiting this museum.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

Linked with the Homeschool Review Crew Homeschool Collection.

Homeschool Collection {Monthly Round UP}

Air & Space Museum ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

An interest of mine since I was a child is space and flight. I have enjoyed reading about it, visiting places related to it, and dreaming about. I enjoy learning about it. That is just one of the reasons we stopped in Dayton, OH, to learn more about the Wright Brothers. Thus, one of our first Smithsonian museums to visit in Washington, D.C. was the Air and Space Museum.

It is so much fun to see all of the historic airplanes and rockets. It is interesting to read about the people who have made an impact on flight and space exploration. The artifacts are unique and really bring history to life. I know – we read and say that a lot but it is true for me.

One of the rooms at the Air and Space Museum was a hands-on room. It was so much fun to see the girls run from place to place and learn something new. From how to control an airplane to the difference in weight from planet to planet to how to design a rocket path and see if it works or fails there were so many activities for the girls to work with. We spent quite a bit of time in that room.

We also visited a travelling exhibit on the Wright Brothers. That was really neat since we had already visited their National Park museum.

In addition to all of the “don’t touch” rockets and airplanes, there was a big airliner that we could walk through. It was neat to see the inside of an airplane since the girls have only flown once in their lives and that was years ago. I don’t remember the age of that aircraft but it was fun.

Of course, my favorite parts were the lunar landing modules and rockets. Have I mentioned that I have always been fascinated by space exploration and travel? Just one reason that we turned on the Mars landing a couple of weeks ago.

While the girls will always have to put up with my museum fascination, it is a great way to do school and learning and I think we tend to learn more this way. I absolutely enjoyed this experience, including the exhibit on Amelia Earhart. (Did I share with you the book on her that was fascinating? I don’t think so. It is titled The Sound of Wings and is written by Mary S. Lovell.) The girls enjoyed themselves in spite of not wanting to. 🙂 And they remembered having visited this museum six or so years ago. At least a few parts of it they remembered.

This is definitely a museum that I recommend if you can’t see all of the Smithsonian museums. And let’s face, if you don’t live in the area, who can? You always have to pick and choose. So we chose this one and I am thrilled that we did. I enjoyed it immensely.

Blessings,
At Home.

Washington D.C. monuments ~ Mega Field Trip 2018

Mega Field Trip - this stop was the National Monuments in Washington, D.C.

One of my favorite memories from my first two visits to D.C. were seeing the monuments. They are such imposing structures dedicated to important men, women, and times in our history. And they are just stunningly beautiful. For this reason, and many others, our first stop for our time in D.C. was the national monuments. We wanted to make sure the girls got to see them and the weather was a tad questionable for several of the days we were planning to be there. So, we went walking. 

It is a nice long walk from the middle of the mall area down to the Lincoln memorial, which marks the farthest memorial on the mall. We visited the Washington Monument, which was fenced off for work, first. It is neat to see this tall building up close and to take a look at the change in color where work had to be halted for a while. 

We then walked on down to the World War II Memorial, with a glimpse of the White House along the way. There was an Honor Flight from Michigan at the memorial when we arrived and it was breathtaking to see them all sitting there proudly, most in wheelchairs, visiting the memorial dedicated to them and all those comrads that were lost in the war. It was touching to see them gingerly touching the monument and taking pictures alongside the marker for their state. Knowing many of these men will not be alive much longer made this a special time and it was wonderful to be able to talk to the girls about the important role those men there that day played in our history.

Next we visited what is often called The Wall – the Vietnam Memorial. It was sobering to look at the seemingly-never-ending list of names on the wall. To know that each of those names represents a lost life for a conflict that our nation was involved in. We walked quietly along the wall, discussing with the girls what was going on with some of the folks who were doing rubbings of names or looking through the inches-thick directories trying to locate the name of someone important. We were able to talk about how so many of these were lost and the circumstances surrounding much of the conflict. 

We walked past a few of the statues that represent different people from different populations in all of the wars and read what we could about each of them. The National Park Service provides brochures that come in handy for many of these. 

We visited the Lincoln Memorial, climbing up the steps to stand at the base of his statue and imagine what an imposing man he was. We read the engraved speeches on the walls and just stood in awe of this great president. We talked about what a influence he was on America and how he truly tried to unite the states during the Civil War. His work is often underappreciated, I think, and it was great to be able to chat with the girls about President Lincoln. 

Next we walked over to the Korean Memorial. This is a harder-to-explain war for me, since I am still trying to learn more about it. I have read some lately that helped me talk to the girls a bit about it. We talked about why it is represented the way it is and we looked at the different parts – with the soldiers in rain gear trudging through plants.

While there, one of the girls hit her breaking point and I was talking with her about why we were visiting these memorials – to remember the people who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom, that other people who were around us could very likely have been the family of the men that fought the war, etc. A veteran was listening and chimed in, saying something along the lines of “Young lady, you are very special and blessed to live here. I and many other fought for this and this place represents those who couldn’t come home. It is a special place.” That made an impression on me and I think it did her, as well, because she got quiet and we just sat in the shade for a bit. Then she was ready to move on. 

We called it a day at that point, as it was really hot and getting late in the afternoon. We knew the walk was long to get over to the Jefferson Memorial and the others on that part of the tidepool. We opted to just chat with the girls about those. While I was disappointed, I knew it wasn’t wise to push that hard on our first full day in D.C. After all, we were going to be there for several more days and there was no way we could possibly see everything we wanted to. The monuments were important, though, and I am glad we chose that day to do them, hot as it was. The next few days were off and on rainy so that would have made it unpleasant to visit them. 

Blessings,
At Home.

%d bloggers like this: