Monday, August 29, 2011

Indianapolis, Day 6

 Thursday, July 14 was day 6 of our Indianapolis adventure.  For the afternoon, 8 of us piled in the SUV and headed to the Children's Museum.  This is the world's largest children's museum and a "must-see" if you're ever in Indianapolis.  Lou took Rob and I there in 2003, but a lot had changed.  The above picture was actually taken on the way back from the zoo, as the way we went to the museum totally missed the front.
This picture below shows that these large fellows really do go through the glass wall!  Okay, I know it's dark, but trust me!

 I couldn't find evidence that these fellows were also inside, but we didn't see everything there either.
Upon entering from the parking garage, there is already a lot to see before getting through the turnstiles or into the exhibits.
 This dude is from the Transformers movie; I assume he's a real, live, full size character?
This wasn't the best picture to show the detail, but this picture (and several others) are made entirely from jelly beans!!
Lou's family comes to the museum a lot, but living in the city, they have the luxury of coming for only a few hours at a time.  We got there rather late, and the museum closed at 5pm, so we had only a few hours to try to please 4 kids (and two guest adults, LOL).  As soon as Hugh saw there was a dinosaur exhibit, he HAD to see it.  He was a huge dino freak as a kid, and has only seen one other dino exhibit that I can recall (Toronto Zoo).  The girls in the group were not too thrilled, but it was still interesting and they kept themselves busy.  We kept losing the adult men though!

 There was a neat area where you could dig for fossils.  It looks like loose pebbles, but it's actually ground up rubber that gets compacted (like at many playgrounds, for the paths).  It was hard work chiseling out those bones!
There is a real working lab in the dino exhibit (behind glass).  This is an actual triceratops skull!  At certain times you can talk to paleontologists!
The one thing I really remembered from our 2003 trip was the vintage carousel.  I told Meg about it and we HAD to make sure to do that!
 There is a large area devoted to an exhibit about Egypt.  There was lots to interest the adults, and lots to keep the kids entertained (and educated).

 Who wouldn't want to pose on a life-size model of a Nile crocodile?
The newest exhibit is National Geographic's  "Treasures of the Earth".  It starts with a fun elevator ride, and then you can explore three areas...China's Clay Warriors, an Egyptian mystery tomb, and a shipwreck believed to be Captain Kidd's.  In this picture the kids are exploring the shipwreck.

I wish we could have had more time at the museum.  Luckily, the gift store stays open a little longer as we had promised the kids they could do some shopping.  They all picked out some nice things, although it was hard to keep to their budgets!

I highly recommend this museum if you're in Indiana.  It's not too busy, although I suppose camp groups could change that but there's so much to explore that I'm sure there's room for every one.   I really liked the miniature houses exhibit, and we never even made it into some of the exhibits!  Two trips, if you can do it, would be the way to go.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Indianapolis, Day 5

Day 5 brought us to mid-week, Wednesday.  In the afternoon, our BIL, his daughter, and the 5 of us packed into his SUV to head to the Lego Store.  It was interesting, but not cheap, and a little headache inducing.  The wall of single bricks is really neat if you're missing something particular.  After that, we went shoe shopping.  Yup.  Two men, one woman, three young girls and one pre-teen boy.  The first store didn't even carry children's shoes.

 We didn't find anything we thought were suitable for Meg and Lucy, and headed home for an early dinner as the family photographer was coming over to take pictures.  Rob's sister didn't want the adults hanging around too closely while the kids got their shots done, but I wish I had taken a few of the adventure.  After doing some at the house we moved to a beautiful park (please check out the link!).  The kids were "playing" on a knoll while Stacey took photos.  There were a few disturbances as they really aren't used to playing together, LOL.  Then, they were to hold hands and jump.  Somehow, Hugh wrenched Lucy's wrist and really hurt her.  Then, while trying to console her about that, a bug bite on her leg started bleeding.  That was it for her, end of her model aspirations, right in time for the individual close up pictures.  No matter what the adults did (mostly Rob and Stacey), they could not get her to smile again.  Now, Lucy does pout a lot, so a pouty picture would actually be in her nature.  However, when we got the online proofs, there was only one pouty picture and it wasn't pouty enough; she just looked sad. 

After the photo session we headed to an ice cream shop, Brics.  A delicious treat was had by all, and we enjoyed the "family game" on the table...a little box of cards, each with a question to ask your family, such as "what talent would you like to have".  The 10 of us took up a lot of space, and looked rather funky in our bright outfits, but it was a nice end to the day.

 I don't have any pictures of the day's activities, but took some after day camp when the kids showed me the zip line at the school.  It's geared more for children though as Daddy's bum hit the ground!
 Even Granddad gave it a try.  I did it too, but no one took a picture!

Monkey Meg!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Indianapolis, Day 4

Day 4 was Tuesday.  Probably the hottest day of the summer.  After camp (which included my FIL and I searching the campus for a lost Hugh), we headed to the Indianapolis Zoo.  This is a really nice mid-size zoo.  Lou's husband is on the board of directors and arranged a "Behind the Scenes" tour for all of us, as well as his daughter's friend and her nanny.

The main part of this tour was the orangutan house.  The zoo has been fundraising for a new primates exhibit, but somehow (I didn't hear the whole story), these furry guys became available before the new exhibit even has broken ground.  So a home was built for them "backstage".  It was a long hot walk to the exhibit, but worth it!

 This guy on the left is the dominant male.  His hormones will inhibit any other male from developing the hair growth and facial structure that makes him so fascinating.
 They like to drink from tetra boxes!  I think the big guy's name was Larry, and the keeper says he's "Lazy Larry" and she hand feeds him.  They are really smart, and can be trained to do things like give a urine sample on command (one of the ladies has diabetes).  The keepers do not go in the cages at all, so that's pretty fascinating!
One of the girls is named Lucy!  We couldn't go up to wire, but had to stay about 5 feet back.  The keepers have never seen any indication that these guys could be harmful, but you never know.  They are still animals.

After spending some time with these guys, we headed off to the dolphin show.  Man, the backstage areas of the zoo are very sunny!  It was SO hot!  We were already running low on water!  We could see and hear some bits of exhibits, but unfortunately we really didn't get to see much of the zoo.  The dolphin show was fun to watch, and the kids got to be "Junior Dolphin Trainers"!

 (My new camera has an "aquarium" setting!  I really wish I had had it for this trip!

Next up was a stop at the new tiger exhibit.  Nothing "behind the scenes" about this, except that we did have a tour guide.  I think there are two tigers here, but I could be wrong.  Although he looks skinny, he is actually perfect...tigers aren't supposed to be plump!
 Then we went into the bat exhibit.  Yawn.  LOL!  Watching them stretch while sleeping was exciting as that got!
We tried to look at other exhibits, but since Lou's family comes all the time, they weren't really into sightseeing in the hot weather, and wanted to get to the splash pad.  That was fun too, although I'm sure we could have gone to a park to do that, I would have liked to see more of the zoo, however, since all the adults were on the trip, and Rob and I were that night's chefs, we had to get home.  I'd highly recommend spending a day at the zoo if you ever visit Indianapolis!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Indianapolis, Day 3

Day 3 of our trip was Monday, and the first day of 1/2 day daycamp for the four kids.  They went to camp at "Park Tudor", a huge, pre-K to gr 12 private school.  I can't even think of an equivalent in the Durham Region here; most private schools start around grade 5 here.  Meg and her cousin were in "Edible Science", Lucy was in drama camp putting together "Annie Jr. Jr" and Hugh got to take the Lego Robotics camp.  While they were at camp, Rob and I drove around a bit and then got groceries for our turn to cook dinner on Tuesday.

After lunch, Lou, Grandma, Rob and I took the 4 kids to "the JCC".  This is the "Jewish Community Centre".  They have an outdoor aquatics park that is just wonderful!  I didn't take pictures, due to it being full of kids (Park Tudor camps come several afternoons), but check out some other images.  Mmm...can't find too many pictures on line!  That's too bad.  There is a large L shaped pool with 12ft depth at the deep end (but no diving board).  The kids had fun there working on their dives as the pools we go to at home don't allow diving.  Hugh also worked on his strength and distance swimming as it wasn't too busy in the deep end, he didn' t have to do a swim test to swim there, and the depth meant he HAD to swim, LOL..  The younger girls could also swim in the deep end, but they also enjoyed the family splash area.  Everyone loved the lazy river.  Once up on the tubes, that is.  Next to doing dives, the lazy river was Hugh's favourite.  There was also two water slides.  One was open, one was a dark tube.  The girls enjoyed these, Hugh did them a few times too.

It was a very hot and sunny afternoon and it was fairly busy there.  Lou's husband gets a pass through work, and then she buys a pass for her and her daughter.  It was $25 for us to go, I don't know if that was discounted because of her pass.  Rob thought it was expensive, but I thought it was reasonable...compared to the cost of indoor public swim at home, which has time limits and much less to do.

Only one picture today.  The kids were sharing one bedroom, which had just a queen bed and a single air mattress.  At first, everyone wanted the air mattress, but by this night, no one wanted it.  Lucy is NOT good about sharing, and that includes beds.  But when I went in to take Meg to the bathroom, this is what I found:
They were in the queen bed, and my plan was to sleepwalk Meg to the air bed after potty.  Hugh hadn't gone to bed yet.  But while I had her in the bathroom, Hugh got in the airbed, LOL, so I had to kick him out.  Musical beds every night!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Indianapolis, Day 2

On Sunday, July 10, we headed out to Connor Prairie.  This is a cool "living museum" because it has several different historical periods within the grounds.  The first stop though was the balloon ride.
Now, it is a tethered balloon, but it does go 350ft high, and it's not so tethered that you feel anchored, if you know what I mean!  I've always wanted to go in a hot air balloon (went in a tethered one before, but it went up maybe 100ft).  I was WAY more nervous than I thought I'd be!
This is where they have "Symphony on the Prairie" performances.  Lou and her first husband brought us here in 2003 and it was wonderful.
This view shows about 3/5 of the areas to explore.  We didn't get out to the Civil War section way at the top.

This is a view looking straight down into the balloon winch.  The circular roof covers a promenade with displays, and the larger portion to the left is the snack bar, and leads to the outdoor areas.  There's also a large indoor exploration exhibit.
Another view of the bandshell.
Similar to the earlier view, this one also shows a bit of the Indian trading village, and the dirt patch in the lower middle is the tomahawk throwing zone!
Coming in for a landing.  There are many wheels on the bottom of the circular gondola, and the dark brown area slopes towards towards the middle which is cone shaped.  So the balloon always rolls right into position.  There is a bit of a bump though when you get up in the air and the winch stops!

The rest of the afternoon we walked around the buildings.  The Indian/Frontier Trading Post was the most interesting for the kids (and the first area we explored).  Of great delight was the tomahawk throwing instruction.

 Even the 5 year olds got to try!  Aunt Lou was the only one to sink the tomahawk into the target!
 There was a display of skins that were used in trading times.  I could name them all!  From top:  deer, raccoon, otter, beaver (missing his tail).
The last skin is a bobcat (smaller than a lynx which it's often confused with).
This is a "blue shirted staff" that provides an educational link between the modern world and the exhibits.  He was demonstrating the various tools used in starting fires.  It was fun just to listen to his slow, almost-Southern drawl.  And the kids were fascinated.  In the background, you can see a young man.  Later, he taught the kids some frontier times games, which they also enjoyed.  We weren't really aware yet that the people in costume could not "get out" of their time period/position.  Made for some frustrating questions and answers sometimes!

We had a somewhat quiet night as we tried to get the kids to bed early so they could start camp the next day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Indianapolis, Part 1

Rob's sister lives in Indianapolis.  In August 2003 Rob and I went down to visit her, leaving their parents looking after Hugh and Lucy during the "Great Black Out of 2003".  They didn't even have a non-cordless phone to get in touch with us to let us know their power was out for only about 10 hours.  At the time, Rob's sister---Lou---was living in a condo in a converted school house, where David Letterman had gone to school.  Our visit was fairly short but fun.  Then Rob and Hugh went down in July 2006 for a Suzuki truck off-road event and stopped in for a couple days.  Then, Lou and her 2nd husband were living outside of Indianapolis and had just had a baby.  This trip though, is the first trip for all 5 of us, and we were also taking the grandparents!  Seven people invading their brand new, not quite finished house!

We left Whitby at 6:10am.  The kids, amazingly, did not fall asleep (although Meg did have a very short nap late in the afternoon).  We stopped at the rest stop near London, where Rob discovered the parking brake had stuck on again.  He hadn't brought any tools; and his dad's tool box did not include a hammer.  We were headed across to Sarnia and there's not much along the way.  We decided to get off at Strathroy and there was a country hardware store just off the highway.  Brake fixed and back on the road just a few minutes behind his parents.  Crossed the border at about 10:35, after visiting the duty free shop.  I had forgotten my "fear" of high/long bridges, and that there would be one crossing from Sarnia!  I do enjoy the view, but too many "what if"s go through my head!
We plowed on and stopped for lunch at a rest stop.  Great picnic lunch!  Lucy decided to ride with the grandparents for awhile.  It's a pretty uneventful trip, although we were surprised to see construction crews on a Saturday (maybe they were making up for the holiday Monday?).
We arrived in Indianapolis at 6:40.  Long day, but we survived.  Having two vehicles (and two sets of snack options!) helped.  Despite the early morning, the kids were still full of energy, so Lou and Pawel decided to put on a fireworks show for us; belated July 1/4.  We sat in the driveway, and they set up in an area between the driveway and the road....there are a lot of trees around the house, but this was the best we could do.
Lucy provided some pre-show entertainment!
 The first fireworks were these little UFO shaped things that spun around on the dirt.  Then the next firework fell over and shot large flaming bits right at us!  It just missed Hugh's head.  The adults realized they needed to brace the fireworks with large rocks, and all went well (except the kids were now frightened and didn't like the noise, and there were mosquitoes...).  There were some close calls as sparks landed on vehicles, in the trees, and a rooftop patio!
 Hugh has his fingers in his ears.  Smart boy!
 After the fireworks, we tried to get the kids into sparklers.  They hadn't really enjoyed them on Canada Day,  and by the time they warmed up to them, they were all used up!
It was a late night, but it was Saturday, so that was okay!