Monday, October 16, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #16


Our last stop during our trip was Lincoln's Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.  Through all of our stops, we learned a great deal about him. His life was definitely not an easy one. 

To be honest, I used to be a huge Lincoln fan. I admired him as the man who ended the horrors of slavery.  I read many of his quotes and speeches, and thought I knew much about him.  This trip opened my eyes to other sides of his story. In our journey, I searched for what would have made him understand the cruelty, and made him fearless in the fight against injustice.  I thought that perhaps he had African American role models, and he had seen, and felt their suffering.  While at the museum my curiosity escaped me.  I asked a historian if Lincoln had any Black friends. The historian told me no. Yes Lincoln "freed" the slaves.  But there is much more to know about him.  Thanks to the History channel, you can read more here

I am not trying to take away from Lincoln's accomplishments. He is a role model for his hard work, perseverance, and honesty.   But,  history is someone's version of a series of events. The truth will always be more complicated than that, and it is necessary to search for it.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #15

We visited the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.  There you can get a very good picture of Lincoln's life from his days reading by the fire to the day of his death. The kids felt like experts talking to the historians about how we had followed Lincoln's life from his humble beginnings.  The two shows shown are not to be missed. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #14

We continued our journey following Lincoln's life.  The next day, we spent the morning at Lincoln's New Salem in Petersburg, Illinois. Here is where Lincoln became a clerk, split rails, enlisted in the Black Hawk War, served as a postmaster, failed as a businessman, and started his political career. 

That afternoon, we went to Springfield to visit Lincoln's Home. We learned about his life as a lawyer, and a father.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #13



We visited the Nature Center at the Lincoln State Park.  A wonderful volunteer guided a corn's husk doll making activity.  He told the kids a Native American story about corn dolls, and showed them ways to make not only dolls, but also "ninjas." My two kids were thrilled.
On our way out, we walked in the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza. It has several pedestals and markers depicting Lincoln's life in Indiana.  Finally, we headed back to the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial to answer a few more questions, and take the oath as Junior Rangers. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #12



We visited Lincoln's Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana.  Here is where Lincoln lived from the time he was 7 to the time he was 21 years old.  It is in Indiana where he lost his mother to Milk Sickness, and his older sister during childbirth.  In the Memorial Visitor Center we explored the exhibits, watched the movie, and got started on the kids' junior ranger booklets.  We walked on the Lincoln Boyhood Trail, visited the Pioneer cemetery, talked to the staff at the historical farm, ran around the Trail of Twelve Stones, and even sat on the lid of the Lincoln spring.
 We camped at the Lincoln State Park right across the street from the Memorial. 
The campground was a bit crowded for my taste, but the attendants were amazingly kind to help me find a flat spot for our RV.  Also, they had activities for the kids at the Nature Center.  The kids made corn husk dolls, and I got to deposit recyclables.  There is no recycling in the rest of the park. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #11


The following day we visited the Lincoln Birthplace Memorial at the Knob Creek unit.  Here is where Lincoln moved at just two years of age.  We visited the house of Austin Gollaher, who claimed to have saved Lincoln's life from drowning in the creek.  We also learned that Lincoln and his sister walked two miles to school from there. My kids loved walking in the creek where perhaps Lincoln almost died.  The water was crystal clear, and refreshing.  

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (returning from the south) #10



After the cave we started our return home. We live in Illinois, "the land of Lincoln."  I wanted to use the return trip to learn more about the 16th president.  First we found out Lincoln was actually from Kentucky.  We visited Lincoln's Birthplace National Historical Site. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Vacation Learning: Summer road trip 2017B (south) #9


We got rained out of Big South Fork.  We needed a place with something to do inside.  We headed over to Mammoth Cave!
I had visited the cave years before, and to be honest, I was a bit disappointed this time.  Yes! the walkways are very nice. Yes! the guides are amazingly knowledgeable.  Yes! the magnitude of the cave is breathtaking. But with a group of 60+ people the experience was a bit rushed.  It just felt too crowded. 
Nevertheless, the kids' loved the Historical Tour.  If you ask them about the cave, they will tell you about cave crickets, and fat mans misery (a part in the path that was very narrow. See pict. #2).

We stayed at the Cave's campground, and were able to get tickets for the Formation Tour early the next day.  That was where my heart was broken.  The stalagmites, and stalactites were difficult to see. The Frozen Niagara was impressive but the rest was clearly abused by the public.  Parts of the stalactites, and stalagmites were fenced off to be protected.  It was almost as if we were visiting formations in a zoo. 
I do want to add a note about the visitor center.  It is beautiful, and worth a visit by itself. It is loaded with information, and very neat displays.