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  1. Default Mom & Boys: Highs & Lows

    (See my planning thread here)

    Day 0: Departure Day

    Best laid plans, and all that ;)

    The original plan was to leave the house at 4:30pm, and arrive in Lima around 7:30. As with pretty much every time we leave the house for longer than a day, we were delayed by about a half hour. We should have probably delayed even more, as evidenced by issues we experienced later.

    I knew the batteries in my digital camera were dead, so we stopped at the local drug store to pick some up. After waiting in a dreadfully long line for 5 minutes, they announced that the debit/credit was down. Since I had a ton on US cash, and no Canadian, I abandoned the batteries, and we headed out.

    We arrived at the border about 5:30, and sat in tunnel traffic for a good half hour. finally it started moving and we got on the highway. About the time we crossed into Ohio, I realized that not only did I not have camera batteries, I had forgotten the camera memory card in the computer (it was full and I needed to clear it off before we left).

    It wasn't a serious issue, there's always a Walmart around. We stopped once to fill up with with gas, and once to grab some take-out supper at a highway-side McDonald's.

    We hit Lima, OH right about 8:45pm, and began the search for the hotel. Or rather, the search for the road that led to the hotel. We could see the sign, and the building, but the access road was no-where to be found. Since we lacked a 4x4 to hop the curbs restricting access to the connecting parking lots, I got pretty frustrated. (It was also at this point that I realized I had left all my nicely printed maps at home.) Ultimately, after about 15minutes of driving on the same two roads, we abandoned the hotel, and continued down I-75 toward Wapakoneta, the location of the next morning's destination.

    Finding the hotel in Wapakoneta wasn't alot easier. We gave up trying to find the access road to the Holiday Inn, and instead went for the Comfort Inn we could see the access to. (It was really dark!) Funny enough, this was the first hotel I selected when planning the trip. One good thing about trying to find the hotel, was that we located the local Walmart ;)

    We got settled into the hotel, and by 11pm, we were asleep.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Yikes

    Sounds a little harrowing for first day. OK, what were the good points of the day?


  3. Default Day Two

    Haha. The good points were that everyone got along in the car, and we made it to our destination safely and healthy ;) Today was far more interesting.

    Day Two: The Highs (Air & Space Museum)

    We woke up in the morning at about the right time, which was good since we also realized last night that none of us had remembered to bring a watch ;) It reminded me of one of the things I recall from the few family vacations that we took when I was a kid. My dad would always make a big production of taking his watch off, and leaving it on his dresser before we left for vacation.

    Anyway, as we were getting dressed, C2 (my younger son) noticed a dome out our window--it was the dome of the Neil Armstrong Space Museum--at least we knew we wouldn't have any difficulties finding it :)

    We headed down for the complimentary breakfast. A few MYO-waffles, some fruit and toast, and we were stuffed. We drove to Walmart, and found the things we needed with ease (probably because it was a Friday morning). We had a little time to kill before the museum opened at 9:30, so we spent it taking pictures in front of the Wapakoneta sign, as well as some replica lunar modules in the museum's parking lot.

    The museum itself was well worth the admission price. ($13 for the 3 of us) They do focus somewhat on Neil Armstrong, and the other Ohioan (?) astronauts, but it is an excellent experience. The first section of the museum gives you a bit of an overview of Neil Armstrong's life, and there is numerous memorabilia specific to Mr. Armstrong.

    The museum then switches focus a little, and walks you through the space race, and the journey to the moon. The dome we noticed in the morning is actually a little theatre, where they show a short documentary on the first lunar landing.

    They then continue on up to the present day in the space race. Ending with my boys' favorite part of every museum--the gift shop!

    Some of the more interesting displays included the food eaten on the early missions, as well as current missions. The boys enjoyed the "how astronauts went to the bathroom" display as well. They also had a mission badge recovered from Christa McAuliffe's (sp) flight bag as part of a tribute to the Challenger.

    As far as time spent, we took about 1h 15m to go through the museum, including viewing the movie and ~10m browsing the giftshop. I'm a fast reader, but the boys drew me through the museum faster than I would have if I was alone. You could easily spend another hour listening to the talking exhibits, and reading everything.

    Once we were finished at the museum, we got back on I-75 and headed to the Lockington Locks.

    To get to the locks, we had to get off the highway, and follow a VERY winding surface road. The fall foliage was beautiful, but I did not take any pictures, as there really wasn't anywhere to stop safely. We ended up driving past the turn-off for about 10 minutes, when I realized that the crossroads we had passed was probably the turn-off. Sure enough, after backtracking, and turning, we hit the locks less than a quarter-mile from the turn-off.

    Unfortunately, the locks themself really weren't worth it. As a historical site, I found it interesting, but I was incorrectly expecting actual locks. Likely too, had we meandered through the lock system it might have been more interesting, but after a picture, and walking along the first of the 6 locks, the boys were back in the car to play with their gift shop finds.

    We returned to I-75, and drove to Piqua for lunch at Arby's. (We're fast-food people for the most part.) There was a sign indicating a historic downtown, so we drove into Piqua. While the downtown definitely looked old, it wasn't anything we hadn't seen at home. We never saw the historic site indicator, so we headed back to the highway to continue on to Loveland.

    Castle Laroche, or Loveland Castle, in contract with the Locks, was very worth the trip. Especially at $3/person for entry.

    The castle was handbuilt by Harry Andrews, who led a boy scout troop in the 30s. The group was called the Knights of the Golden Trail, and Harry was inspired to build the castle--after all, knights need a castle. He handbuilt on the banks of the Little Miami River over many years, using stones collected from river. He was still working on it at 90 (he died in 198? at 91).

    The castle itself, while small, is incredible if for no other reason than that one man built it. He studied in France after world war 1, which is where he gained his knowledge.

    It's well off the beaten path, and you have to traverse a short but steep downhill switch-back like trail to access it. We're glad we did, especially after the disappointment of the locks.

    Finished at the castle, we headed to Louisville. The trip was uneventful, and we managed to get some while-driving pictures along the way. We arrived in Louisville, crossed the Ohio River into Indiana, and found the hotel. I had originally thought we might try to add in a little tourism this evening, but we're all a little road weary, so we called it a night.

    The plan for tomorrow has changed a little, in that I'm anticipating that we will not use all the time allocated for viewing the 3 museums. I've tentatively added in the Louisville Science Center, as it's within walking distance of the other 3 places.

    General road trip observations

    Driving multiple days is alot different than driving all at once. Almost every long trip we've ever taken has been a one-day affair. It would be easier if I had my husband to switch off the driving, so it's something to keep in mind when planning future trips.

    Also, my kids never as "Are we there yet?" I hadn't really noticed before. They ask "Will we be there soon?" or "How long until we're there?" Is it a mark of intelligence that they have been able to comprehend that if we're still driving, we're not there? :)

    Last observation: I think for our next trip I will go ahead and rent a satnav system. It's very frustrating when the driver is also the navigator (my kids aren't old enough to saddle them with this responsibility). Also, it can make getting un-lost easier. (An add-on to the laptop isn't practical as it is almost unreadable in the daytime.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Great details

    Castle Laroche,
    I was not aware of this place -- thanks for the details.

    In Louisville - you might enjoy going to this restaurant (Lynn's Paradise Cafe) -- it is kind of zany and your kids might get a kick out of it. And most kids enjoy seeing this huge bat.
    Also, it can make getting un-lost easier.
    Well, maybe -- but you are supposed to get lost on family road trips aren't you?

    Enjoying the tale....

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-29-2007 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Good Neighbor Code

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Great Tale So far

    I've never explored Ohio, you make it sound like a wonderful place to go. And of course your kids are highly intelligent. It's the mark of a good momma to believe this. :)

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-29-2007 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Editorial oversight

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Your Boys Sound Like a Great Asset

    Quote Originally Posted by rennick boys' favorite part of every museum--the gift shop!
    Don't be too upset. When I took my nephews to a shuttle launch, that was their favorite part of the Cape as well, and my grandsons spend as much time in the gift shop here at the Pima Air & Space Museum as viewing the Blackbird or the old Air Force One. It's just the nature of young boys that the large history is not as appealing as the model they can hold in their hands.

    Your boys actually sound pretty engaged and observant. I actually don't think it's at all too early to start letting them navigate. Not on this trip, of course, but start having them read maps and give directions on shorter journeys from home and actually follow their directions so that they can see the consequences and learn.

    I'll also second Mark's appreciation of the attention to detail that you're providing in your reports. Thank you.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-29-2007 at 10:07 AM.

  7. #7


    Fantastic reports -- I'm loving the warts and all style. it reads so truthfully. You know, of course, that these 'problems' are what will remain with you in your memories in future. I am forever reminded of a certain place and time when I encounter a similar problem years ago and, far from stressing out, the memories actually end up cheering me up! :)

    Looking forward to the next installment!

  8. Default

    Glad to hear that others are enjoying our trip as well.

    This morning we woke up and enjoyed another complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in New Albany, IN. The included scrambled eggs and bacon fortified us well for all the walking we would do.

    Getting back across the Ohio River and into Louisville was relatively simple, and we got to the downtown area and a parking garage fairly easily.

    The first thing we noticed as we tried to get our bearings, was the feeling that the downtown was deserted (this was around 9:15am on a Saturday). There was noone around, the parking garage was empty, and there was almost no traffic. It was a little weird. The downtown also seems to be experiencing a period of restoration and renewal, as many buildings were empty and under construction. We found (and photographed) one building from the rear, when we discovered it was actually only the front, with windows and door holes, that even existed. The rear was an empty lot. It was a bit strange.

    C1 (the oldest) lost the brochure for the Frazier Museum, so we were unsure exactly where we were heading. I did have the brochure for the other places on our itinerary, so we just headed towards them. Louisville has a number of tourism kiosks that we quickly located, so we were able to start our day at the Frazier.

    The Frazier

    The Frazier museum was an interesting experience. The upper level is a part? of the British Armouries, so it covers the early English periods from the Medieval times through to the end of the "British Empire" period at the beginning of the 20th century. There are numerous displays of period weapons and armour, and a number of video kiosks. One such kiosk that was enjoyed by the boys was the one describing the evolution of cross bows and the methods used to span them (pull the bow string back in preparation for the placement of the arrow). Many of the videos were "boring" according to the boys, as they described battles, as well as significant people of the times.

    The second level transitioned to covering the American Frontier era, and the evolution of weapons, etc. The many variations of handguns and shotguns were interesting, but at this point, the boys were pretty tired of walking around.

    The museum also puts on interpretive exhibits every hour or so, but the boys weren't interested in the one that was on while we were there, and we were otherwise occupied for one that they were interested in. One nice thing is that as long as you retain your receipt, you have access to the museum all day, so with proper planning, you can potentially enjoy many of the presentations.

    Because the museum was very reading heavy, it was a little much for the boys. Even so, we spent about 2 hours there. Another hour or more could easily be expended, if one watched each of the videos available (the one's we did see were very well done.)

    Louisville Slugger

    Unfortunately the factory was not running when we were there (which was as I expected, being a Saturday), but the tour was still quite interesting. They're well set up, with microphones and short video presentations. We got to see how they make bats for the pros, as well as hold some of the bats that select pros have held. We got a couple of pieces of wood from the bat manufacture, as well as some complimentary mini-bats. Overall, for $21 for the three of us, it was time well spent. The boys aren't particularly baseball fans, so the history room (wouldn't really call it a museum) was of little interest. The next tour was starting only moments after we arrived, and it lasted about 20 minutes, so we spent less than an hour total in the factory/museum.

    At this point, all six of our legs were tired, and we were pretty hungry too. We opted for a quick sandwich lunch before hitting our next destination, instead of driving somewhere to eat. There are remarkably few restaurants in the immediate downtown area--probably due to so much restoration happening.

    The Muhammed Ali Center

    This place was the hidden gem of the day. While the center is somewhat disguised by the extensive construction happening on the outside of the building, the inside is worth the effort.

    An extremely modern and interactive experience awaits. Your tour begins with a short film showcasing Ali's life and career. I felt the film was extremely well done.

    You then traverse Ali's life, both his boxing career and his religious/political changes. The exhibits are a combination of video and traditional "read the info" displays. There is one area that actually has 6 leather couches for you to lie back on to view the short video presentation--on the ceiling. Another area is set up for you to view the presentation from above, looking down on the screen--the floor of a boxing ring.

    The boys really enjoyed the "Train with Ali" section. They had a speed bag, and a heavy bag with some interactive features. They also had a training ring where a video of Layla Ali walked the visitor through some boxing moves during a 3-minute round.

    We spent 2 hours at the museum, and the many areas to sit and view presentations, combined with other video and interactive displays made the time fly. We probably could have spent another hour, had we watched and read everything. At $17, we would definitely go back there if we returned with my husband.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Another place I was unaware of

    The boys really enjoyed the "Train with Ali" section. They had a speed bag, and a heavy bag with some interactive features. They also had a training ring where a video of Layla Ali walked the visitor through some boxing moves during a 3-minute round.
    That is really cool -- thanks for the detailed report!


  10. Default Dinosaur World Gets High Marks

    No problem. It's kind of fun reliving the trip each night, and it'll be a reminder to me of what goes with all the pictures we took.

    Okay, I left off at day two, after the Muhammed Ali Center. From there, we headed for a quick stop at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

    The main attraction, for us, wasn't so much the falls, but the exposed fossil beds. We spent about 20 minutes climbing the rocks down to the bed, taking advantage of some photo ops, and climbing back up. The Park has an interpretive center, but because we were just doing a "drive-by", we chose not to pay. We did, however, pay our self-regulated $2 parking fee ;)

    Funnily enough, the big attraction for the boys at this location was the 25-foot hill adjoining the parking area. Before we left, they ran to the top. C2 ran down, and C1 opted for the kid-favorite--lying down and rolling sideways to the bottom ;)

    This completed, we were ready to head for Cave City. As we had made good time both throughout the day, and driving, we arrived at Cave City about 5pm (and the boys were duly amazed at how my cell phone automatically changed time when we crossed the CST time zone border). This provided us with an opportunity to take in one of the most looked-forward-to attractions: Dinosaur World.

    Dinosaur World

    Though it was one of the most expensive destinations on the trip, the boys completely enjoyed it (truth be told, I thought it was pretty cool, too). We arrived just as a children's "fossil dig" was beginning. The boys, along with a number of other kids, were provided a sand sieve and a container to store their "fossils". They had about 15 minutes to search for fossils. At the end of the time, they were able to select three, and their choices were placed in a little baggy for them to keep. This time was great for me, as the boys were old enough to do it themselves, and I was able to just sit on the sidelines and rest and relax.

    Then we began the dinosaur walk. I was surprised at the number of models they had. In the center of the walk is a huge diarama-like area that contains about 20 dinosaur models that is viewed from about 3 different areas of the walk. We especially enjoyed the "photosaurus", though the sun was at a bad angle to get any decent pictures.

    We walked through the small museum, which was basically a display of a number of fossils and artifacts. The boys enjoyed it, for the most part. There is also a small dinosaur-themed playground for smaller children to burn off some extra energy.

    I'm not sure how long we were there, but it was over an hour. I tried to linger to read the plaques for each dinosaur--they were pretty short. The boys know quite a bit about dinosaurs, and they have great memories, so they were often adding little tidbits of information that weren't on the card.

    I'm not sure how much a party of just adults would enjoy the displays, but I think any kid would enjoy it. They do offer reasonably priced yearly passes, which would be a great idea for anyone that lives a day-trip away.

    We headed to the Comfort Inn just off the highway. It's a brand-new hotel, and the rates were reasonable, and the hotel was nice. I'd promised the boys a Cracker Barrel breakfast, but because every where we'd stayed had free breakfast, we decided to eat there for dinner. (They don't have those around us, so it's a vacation thing.)

    I set the alarm to be sure we'd awake for our tour the next day, and we went to sleep.

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