More of the U.P. – Michigan

On August 2, we moved to Green Light Resort & Campground in Chassell, Michigan.  After setting up our RV, we went to see our friends, the Guilis, who we met our first time visiting San Antonio, Texas in 2015 before moving there in 2016.  They had recently moved to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan from San Antonio.  We got to spend that evening and the next evening with them catching up.

On August 8, we visited A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech in Houghton, Michigan.  There were many displays about rocks, some precious or semi-precious, and copper, silver, and gold.  There was a lot about copper, because there are lots of copper mines in the area, and in the late 1900’s, there was a copper rush.  This place is one of the Keweenaw National Historical Park sites.  We also visited other ones this day, which I will talk about later in this post.

After that, we went to Isle Royale National Park’s visitor center in Houghton, Michigan, where we did junior ranger books and watched a short film about the islands.  The park is a wilderness that has many canoeing, kayaking, and hiking opportunities.  It is a big island surrounded by many small ones, and it protects animals such as wolves, moose, and bald eagles.  We weren’t able to go to the island because the ferry boats were cancelled for the summer due to COVID-19.

Then, we went to a few other sites of Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Quincy Mine in Hancock, Michigan:  This is an area of copper mines, which were operated from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.  We did not go into the mine itself, but we were able to see some of the old buildings and structures that were part of the mining operations there.

Copper Country Firefighters History Museum in Calumet, Michigan:  There were historic fire engines, some of which had hand cranked sirens.  The fire station was in use during the time of the copper rush.  It used to have stables for horses to pull the fire engines, which were horse powered at that time.  The upstairs was set up to show how things would’ve been set up for the firefighters, with beds, tables, and a bathroom.

The Guilis joined us after the Firefighters Museum and took us to see a waterfall in Eagle River, Michigan.  From there, they took us on a tour of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  We stopped with them at some lookouts, beaches, and playgrounds along the shores of Lake Superior.  One of the places we stopped at was Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan.  The U.S. army built and occupied the fort during the copper rush to keep peace in the area between the miners and Ojibwas, as well as help with law enforcement.  The fort had buildings which were set up to look how they would’ve when the fort was occupied.  After the fort, the Guilis took us to Brockway Mountain.  It was a bumpy ride all the way up the  mountain, but well worth the view at the top.  The main picture above for this blog post is the view we had of trees and lakes below.  We ended the day back in Houghton at a city park named Chutes and Ladders because of the huge wooden play structure that was made up of many slides (chutes) and stairs (ladders).

Pictured Rocks – Michigan

On July 26, we moved to Pictured Rocks RV Park and Campground in Christmas, Michigan.  It was raining/drizzling when we left, and it was cloudy for most of the day.  The clouds cleared and it was  sunny in the evening.  It was humid the entire day.  After we had set up our RV in our RV site (in the rain), we went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  We visited the visitor center first to get information.  There was a video about the rocks at the visitor center, but most of the video and displays were about fishing in Lake Superior (because Pictured Rocks is right on Lake Superior).

Next, we drove along the main road through Pictured Rocks NL which goes from Munising to Grand Marais, which takes about an hour to drive and stopped at a few places:

Munising Falls:  We walked the short trail to view the waterfall from the bottom.  The first part of the trail was walking along or near the river that flowed from the waterfall and we crossed some bridges to get there.

A lookout over Lake Superior

Log Slide:  This trail is called Log Slide, but I didn’t see any logs as I had expected to see.  A trail led to a big sand dune, which was almost 200 feet above Lake Superior.  It was named after a chute that logging companies used to slide logs down into the lake.  We didn’t go down the sand dune; it can take five minutes descend, and an hour to get back up because of its steepness.

Sable Falls and Beach:  This trail had 168 steps.  We hiked to the waterfall, then beside the river, then to the beach where it emptied into Lake Superior.  The beach was mostly rocks.  There were a lot of pretty ones like quartz and granite.  On the beach, I was able to wade in the river that came from the waterfall and led into the lake.  It was pretty fast flowing.  I took a rock from the beach that was half granite and half quartz (or at least that’s what I think the rock was).

I will talk about the actual “pictured rocks” later on in this blog post.

On the way back home, we stopped at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.  There was a seven mile auto tour route, called the Marshland Wildlife Drive, leading through the refuge that we drove on.  It took us though forests and wetland areas with ponds and marshes.  We saw some trumpeter swans and a few sandhill cranes.  Along the sides of the roads, there were lots of milkweed plants with pretty pink flowers, berry bushes, pine and other trees, and monarch butterflies.

On August 1, we rented a pontoon boat from Seaberg Pontoon Rentals on Lake Superior.  It was the perfect day to go boating, since it was sunny and warm.  We went around Lake Superior and an island in it called Grand Island.  We got to see an old lighthouse, waterfalls, beaches, rock formations, and the pictured rocks.  The pictured rocks were very pretty.  They were tall rock cliffs with stripes of color, from brown and red to green and blue, streaking across and down them.  On top of the cliffs, I saw hikers and trees.  Parts of the cliffs had fallen down into the lake and on the beaches under the cliffs, along with the trees that were on them.  While we drove around the lake in our pontoon boat, we saw a lot of kayakers, who were looking at the rocks.  They were able to go into small crevices of and very near to the rock walls.  Under one rock arch, there was a pile of debris from something crumbling.  It could’ve been part of the arch itself.  The pile was really tall, and tons of seagulls were sitting on it.  They made me laugh, for their squawks echoing off of the arch’s walls sounded like the hooting of monkeys to me.  We got to drive through another arch with our boat, and the water underneath was quite shallow.  Water was dripping down from the top of the arch, so it looked like it was drizzling in some areas.  We stopped at a few beaches as well, where my brothers swam in the water and played in the sand and rocks.

We had lunch and dinner on the boat (spam musubis and pasta salad), and we stayed out almost all day.  We also ate a lot of snacks, like chips and pastries.  It was very enjoyable for me to be out in nature, and it was a very long day, but after boating, we went to one more place.

After returning the pontoon boat and taking everything back to our truck, we stopped at Bay Furnace Historic Site, which is in Hiawatha National Forest.  There was the ruins of a furnace at the site (which was recently stabilized), that was once used to make iron in the late 1800’s.

More of the Upper Peninsula – Michigan

On July 23, we visited the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St, Ignace, Michigan.  There, we read about different Native American groups who lived around Michigan.  We learned how their lives were centered around family, and how their lifestyles changed when French came to them.  For example, one display showed how the Native American children looked before and after they attended a school run by Catholic nuns.  Also, did you know that different Native American tribes were hire to transmit coded messages (using their languages) for the U.S. during World War II?

The museum is near where a Jesuit priest named Jacques Marquette started the St. Ignace Mission in 1671.  The mission was a log cabin, where he administered to Native Americans until his death in 1675.  His followers buried him at the mission, where he is still resting to this day.  The mission continued growing, and in 1705, it was abandoned then burned.  In the early 1800’s, when settlers started moving into the area, a chapel was built, which is where the museum now is.

On July 24, we moved to Gerometta’s Resort in Manistique, Michigan.  On the way, we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where we walked two short trails to see the upper and lower falls.  It was sunny and hot, but the trees around the path shaded us.  The waterfalls were brown from tannins, which comes from decaying vegetation.  The falls looked like root beer to me, complete with the bown color and foam.  Tahquamenon River is near Lake Superior, which is one of the Great Lakes.

At the Lower Falls, people were swimming in the shallow-ish, rushing water, while in the Upper Falls, which were much higher and rougher, people were standing on a viewing platform to see the waterfall.  People were also kayaking and canoeing in the river where it was calmer.

 

On July 25, we went to Fayette Historic State Park, which is a historic town that ran a iron smelting operation and made charcoal.  The day’s weather was sunny and hot.  The town was in use in the early 1800’s, and it had two blast furnaces, homes, a large dock, and charcoal kilns.  Around 500 people lived in the town, most immigrants from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe.  When the demand for charcoal and iron went down, however, the town shrank, and it became a fishing village and resort. It changed hands over the 1900’s but eventually ended up becoming property of Michigan’s government – and a state park.

The historic town was full of restored buildings, some of which we could walk through.  We learned about life in the town, and what different buildings were used for.  The park also had some really nice scenery, with the trees and lake.

After that, we stopped at the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, which we were planning to walk to, but didn’t go all the way, since the waves were going up over the walkway.  Instead, we just walked on part of the nice trail.  There were nice flowers, some of which I picked and pressed.  There were also monarch butterfly caterpillar.  Mommy got three of them, and we named them Busy Bee, Billy Buchanan, and Bibimbap.  We have since then put them in a plastic container with leaves from the plant they were on, with a paper towel on top to keep the caterpillars inside the can.  We are waiting for them to turn into butterflies.  An interesting thing about the sidewalk we walked on was that part of it had tilted down towards the shoreline, because the waves had eroded the ground underneath it.

Finally, we went to Palms Book State Park.  There was a cold-water spring called Kitch-iti-kipi, which is up to 200 feet wide and 40 feet deep.  More than 10 thousand gallons come out from it each minute.  Above the spring, there was a viewing platform that could be moved across the surface of the spring by turning a wheel.  We went on the platform after waiting in line for a little while.  In the middle of the platform, there was an opening where we looked down into the water beneath us.  I saw a bunch of big fish, as well as clouds of sand from where the spring water was coming out of the ground.

Boating in the Great Lakes – Michigan

On July 16, we went to Soo Locks Boat Tours in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  It was drizzly and cloudy that day, but it was also warm.  The tour boat took us on a relaxing two hour ride through two sets of locks (on both the US side and the Canadian side) which separate Lake Superior and Lake Huron.  The lakes are at a 21 foot elevation difference from each other, so the locks act as elevators for boats.  When the boat enters a lock, the gates behind are closed, and the lock fills up with water (or empties if you are going down instead of upwards).  Then, the gates in front open, and the boat can sail into the higher lake ahead (or vice versa).  It was really cool to see how the locks work by experiencing it on the tour boat.

On the way back to the dock, we went through the Canadian side of the river and its lock, which borders the city of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada.  Yes, you heard me right.  There are two cities with the same name, one on the American side of the river, and one on the Canadian side.  Even though the US-Canadian border was closed (for non essential travel) due to Covid-19, we spent all of maybe 30 minutes in Ontario, Canada in the river.  This was as close as we’d get to visiting Canada this year; no passports needed since we weren’t officially touching land on the Canadian side.

After that, we visited Castle Rock in St. Ignace, Michigan.  Castle Rock is a limestone stack, formed by erosion.  We walked up to the overlook by climbing tons of stairs (maybe five stories’ worth).  We didn’t stand on the actual limestone rock, because there was a platform of protective cement on top with rails to keep people from falling over.  Below, we could see forests and Lake Huron.

There were Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues below all the stirs, which we took a picture by.  These statues were of fictional characters from a tall tale.  Because of COVID-19, Paul Bunyan was wearing a mask.

The next day, July 17, we went to Mackinac Island, which interestingly was American’s second national park (after Yellowstone) from 1875 to 1895.  In 1895, it was turned over to the State of Michigan to become Michigan’s first state park.  During this time as our nation’s second national park, Mackinac Island went from the center of fur trade to a Victorian-era summer vacation destination.

In order to get to the island, we had to ride on a ferry from St. Ignace where we were staying.  Unlike the previous day’s boat ride, this one was way rougher and speedier.  On the way to the island, the wind blew water from the lake into the boat from the right side.  Leaving the island, water sprayed from the left side, and my brothers sat on that side purposely to get a refreshing splash after a hot day of exploring Mackinac Island.

On the island, we went to Fort Mackinac.  During the Revolutionary War, the British decided that Fort Michilimackinac (remember, we went there last week in Mackinaw City) was too vulnerable to American attack.  Therefore, they moved to Mackinac Island, where they built Fort Mackinac.  When the U.S. won the war, it became America’s.  In the years that followed, this fort was a center of the fur trade.

Fort Mackinac was similar to Fort Michilimackinac (see this post), with its buildings restored to look how they would’ve in the late 1800’s.  There were buildings such as a storehouse, hospital, school, living quarters, guardhouse, and blockhouses.  We explored inside of them and read the displays, which explained what each building was used for.  To get into the fort, we had to climb a small distance on ramps.  At the top, there were stunning views of Mackinac Island’s main city area and Lake Huron below.

During our visit to the fort, we watched a few demonstrations.  There were demonstrations where guns and cannons were shot, and there was another where men dressed as soldiers showed how bayonet drills were done.

After visiting the fort, we rented bicycles and rode around the southern side of the island.  An interesting fact about Mackinac Island is that in 1898, all motorized vehicles were banned on the island (due to their scaring the horse-drawn carriages, which was the main mode of transportation on the island at the time).  The ban on motorized vehicles has helped to preserve the historical feel of the island.  Currently, visitors can take horse-drawn carriage rides, as well as rent bicycles (or bring their own over on the ferry), and of course, can also wander around on foot.   We rode our rented bikes around the main downtown area as well as a few miles out where we could see the shoreline and trees.  Near the shore, waves from the lake splashed up onto the concrete in some areas.  There were some uncrowded and very pretty areas.  We also rode through small sections of forest.

Before leaving the island back to St. Ignace, we had to get some fudge.  Some consider Mackinac Island as the fudge capital of the world.  During peak tourist season, 10 thousand pounds of fudge is handcrafted every day.  On the one short street in downtown Mackinac Island we saw about 13 fudge shops.  This tradition started in the 1880’s when the Murdick family started a candy shop for all the tourists and started crafting fudge on marble tables as not only a sweet treat, but a show in seeing how it was being made.

The picture at the very top of this blog post was taken at Fort Mackinac.  I added the speech bubbles.

Mackinac State Historic Parks – Michigan

On July 12, we moved to Tiki RV Park in St. Ignace, Michigan.  To get there, we had to cross the Mighty Mac, which is an almost five-mile-long bridge. It is a suspension bridge that connects the Upper Peninsula to the rest of Michigan.  The weather was nice and cool while we were there.

After setting up our RV, we went to different attractions that are part of the Mackinac State Historic Parks system.  The first was Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse, established in 1892, housed four generations of lighthouse keepers as they maintained and operated the lighthouse to help sailors navigate the dangerous waters of the Straits of Mackinac.  There was a foghorn demonstration, where we got to hear a foghorn.  Then, we went inside the lighthouse and learned about how the lighthouse used the foghorn and light signals to warn ships where dangerous waters were.

The second was Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park.  The mill was built by Robert Campbell and used from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s.  It was built to supply lumber especially for the Settlement on Mackinac Island.  At the park, we watched a presentation where a man, dressed how someone would have dressed in the days that the sawmill was used, demonstrated how to cut logs into boards.  The first way was a long process, using axes and a two-man saw.  The second way was using the sawmill.  The sawmill was powered by a river.  It was also reconstructed to be as close as possible to the one that Robert Campbell would’ve used.  By pulling some levers and turning a couple of wheels, the demonstrator was able to control the flow of water underneath the building, which powered the saw, and he was able to control how the water made the sawmill move and cut the log.  The video of it being used is below.

We walked around the park as well, and us kids climbed up a tower with lots of steps.  Once I got to the platform up on top, I could feel it swaying.  Looking down did not help my fear of heights!  However, the view was great.

The third was Colonial Michilimackinac.  Fort Michilimackinac was built by the French in 1715.  The British took over the fort following the French and Indian War.  Then, after America won the Revolutionary War, the fort belonged to America.

At the fort, there were people dressed up as people would’ve been during when the British controlled the fort and doing work that they would’ve been doing.  We first met a lady washing laundry the historic way.  She explained to us how a woman doing that job could make more money that a soldier in a day, and how people during that time spent lots of money on keeping their laundry clean.  The woman showed us the different things that she used to treat the clothes before rinsing them.  There was lye water, bluing water (to contrast the yellow of old clothing and make it appear whiter), vinegar, starch, and other things.  There were also sort of gross things which smelled bad before you rinsed out the clothes like milk and fermented pee.

There were other buildings in the fort which had been built based on archeological findings, like a blacksmith shop, storehouse, guardhouse, priest’s house, and a Jew’s house.  These were furnished to look like how they probably looked like when they were standing.  There was also a museum with lots of artifacts that had been found in the fort area when archeologists excavated the area.

Finally, at the end of our visit, we went to a musket firing demonstration, where the man dressed as a British soldier fired the musket that they would’ve been using at the time.  The man fired it three times in total, but it misfired the second time.  He said that that was to be expected because the musket has a low accuracy rate when affected by things like weather.  The gun firing sounded about as loud as a firework.

Before going home, we stopped at the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show, where we got to watch two lumberjacks do a friendly competition/show.  They threw axes at targets, raced at chopping and sawing wood, walked across a line of floating logs, tried to make each other fall off of a rolling log, and raced to climb up and down a tall tree.  There was a bit of comedy involved as well, when the two men “tried” to make rabbits carved from wood.  The first man just chopped off the top of the log and said that it looked like the rabbit he had seen on the side of the road earlier that day.  He also said that it was “sleeping” (roadkill).  The second man started to make a rabbit, but ended up with a small chair which he gave to someone in the audience.

Food – Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio

Here are the few pictures that I have of the food that we ate while in these three states.  An interesting dish in Cincinnati is their chili.  Compared to chili that we normally eat (in Texas), their chili was very different.  Cincinnati chili usually has spices like cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and it was served on top of spaghetti.  It was created by Greek people, so that is probably why it tastes so different.  Anyway, I liked the dish, but I wouldn’t call it chili.

Sleeping Bear Dunes – Michigan

On July 10, we moved to Northwestern Michigan Fair in Traverse City, Michigan.  The RV park had only electric and water (no sewer connection) so we were only staying the weekend.  The Traverse City area was similar to Michiana, but less populated since it is farther north in northern Michigan.  The towns were more spread out and there were more pine trees and other beautiful foliage.  It is also close to the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, and Traverse City is along the shore of Grand Traverse Bay.

The next day, July 11, we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and went to the following places:

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan:  There were displays with stuffed animals that could be found in the area.  It was neat to learn about the different ecosystems in the park, such as the beaches, forests, and wetlands.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive:  Very pretty drive where we could see Glen Lake from some overlooks, as well as Lake Michigan and North and South Manitou Islands (which represents the two bear cubs in the Legend of Sleeping Bear).

Dune Climb:  We climbed about half of this giant sand dune.  It was steep and very tall, so half was a lot.  From the top, I could see Glen Lake and an ocean of shining cars in the parking lot below.  Running down the dune was fun!

Glen Haven Village:  It started as a refueling stop for ships traveling west on the Great Lakes.  Over time, it grew into a village.  We stopped at the blacksmith shop, where a blacksmith apprentice told us the history of the town and showed us a hanger/hook that he had tried to make to look like one done by an experienced blacksmith.  He showed us some tools that are used in blacksmithing.  The bike racks right outside the shop had been made in the blacksmith shop.

USLSS Maritime Museum: the Museum building was closed, but there was a volunteer in the boathouse who talked to us about the U.S. Life-Saving Service and showed us the equipment used by them in many rescues in the dangerous Manitou passage.  He told us about the dozens of shipwrecks in this passage, which were common due to the shallow shoals that were unknown to sailors.

Esch Road Beach:  Esch Beach is one of the many beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  This beach had very pretty rocks and fossils on the shore.  This stretch of shoreline on Lake Michigan is also known for the Petoskey stone, which is a rock and fossilized coral.  The Petoskey stone can only be found around Lake Michigan.  The water here at Esch Beach was just like we experienced in the lower parts of the lake: cool and wavy.  In the water, there was a pretty quick decline to a (around) 4 1/2 feet deep water level.  After that, it sloped back up to where the water only covered my legs.  Out from there, I am pretty sure that the water was deep, but it was very cool to be standing on a sand dune/bar in the middle of the water.

On the way home from Sleeping Bear, we stopped at this U-pick fruit and berry farm called Jacob’s Berry Patch.  We picked local Michigan grown raspberries and cherries.  The strawberry season had just finished and the saskatoons were not quite ripe yet.  The raspberries and cherries were sweet and tasty.  The evening was cool and perfect for fruit-picking.

A Great Lake – Michigan

On June 22, we moved to Ohio.  We stayed at National Road Campground in Zanesville, Ohio for a week, visiting with some friends, the Hoffmans.  We had met the Hoffmans over 4 years ago in 2016 while we lived in McKinney, Texas and they lived nearby in Richardson, Texas.  They recently moved to Ohio a few years ago to be closer to family.  We went over to their house a few times, and they came over to our RV park once.  The RV park had a playground with swings and a cornhole (bean bag toss game) area, so we played there.  Mr. Josh made his famous bacon grease popcorn.

We also saw our first Tim Horton’s here in Zanesville since Canada last year in 2019.  We didn’t realize Tim Horton’s was in the states and were thrilled to get coffee there!

On June 28, we moved to Bear Cave RV Campground in Buchanan, Michigan.  This general area is known to locals as Michiana (a combination of Michigan and Indiana) because the areas blend into each other around the state boarder here.  Locals go back and forth to shop, eat out, and recreate.  In this area, there are lots of fruit farms (blueberries were in season when we were there as well as cherries) as well as fruit farm stands and U-picks.  It’s a very pretty area but also very crowded as many locals and tourists flock to the beach along the shores of Lake Michigan during the summer heat.

On July 3, we went to an Indiana Dunes National Park in nearby Indiana.  The national park stretches 15 miles around the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is known for its sand dunes.  The state park area with beach access (which is within the national park) was packed this holiday weekend with a huge line of cars down the main road, so we opted to drive to a different area of the national park: the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education.  Here we learned more about Indiana Dunes and did junior ranger books.  Later in the day, we took a scenic shoreline drive within the national park and got to see the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress Homes, which were built at that time to show the modern houses that could be built, with materials like glass, and with things like dishwashers and air conditioners.

After that, we went to Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois.  We were given a tour by a ranger and learned about the Pullman area.  George Pullman designed sleeping cars that were comfortable and luxurious for railroads.  As demand for his cars grew, Pullman bought land and started a model town.  He designed his town to be beautiful, clean, and orderly, and he allowed only his workers to live there (while paying rent).  By the day’s standards, it was a very nice town, far above other towns’ standards.  However, Pullman put strict rules over the town, even to where tenants had to ask permission to plant flowers in their front yard.

When the demand for Pullman’s cars went down, Pullman decreased his workers’ wages without decreasing their rent.  This led to strikes and boycotts, which were sometimes violent, and they spread across America.  Pullman died in 1897, the Pullman Company was ordered to sell all non-industrial holdings, and Robert Todd Lincoln became the new president of the company.  Eventually, sleeping cars on railroads were no longer needed.  Pullman’s model town was a failure.

At the town, we looked at the historic homes and some of the old buildings.  We didn’t go inside, however.  The houses were being rented out.

On July 4, we visited Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, Michigan.  We took a hike through a marshy forest, over hot sand dunes, and finally arriving at the shores of Lake Michigan.  The sand dunes were really big, and they were also super hot.  Climbing up them was difficult, but running down was fun.  The water of Lake Michigan was refreshingly cool and there were fun waves to swim in (just like the ocean).  However, unlike the ocean, it was freshwater, meaning that it didn’t sting my eyes.  The sand here was very fine and soft.

When we were going back home to our RV park, we found people doing fireworks right outside the park entrance in the residential area.  We were able to pull over and watched them set off tons of big aerial fireworks for about an hour.  There must have been thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks.  It was like a professional firework show.  At the end, they did a grand finale, which is the video below.  It was a nice ending to our Independence Day.

The next day, July 5, we went to Local Harvest Michigan Fruit Stand, where we bought some local Michigan vegetables, blueberries, and cherries.  (We recently tried the Michigan grown onions from there, and they were super sweet and delicious!)  After that, we went to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan and stayed on the beach for a few hours.  Just like Indiana Dunes and Grand Mere, Warren Dunes is known for its huge sand dunes and the cool waters of Lake  Michigan.  The sand here was more rocky than the last beach, with small pebble-sized rocks mixed into the sand.

The Creation Museum – Kentucky

Ark Encounter

On Saturday, June 20, we visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.  First, we went to the zoo and playground there.  The playground had a zipline sort of thing, which we really liked.  At the zoo, there were animals, including a wallaby, coati, zorse, and zonkey (all animals we had never seen before).

The museum was very well designed.  The decorations, colors, display setups, and wall designs gave each room a unique theme.  Mostly everything in the Creation Museum was about the Bible and how science relates to it.  It taught how evolution and creationism are different, how the different views line up with the evidence, and how, based on the creationist point of view, you should respond to it.  We watched a few movies inside, including one that was projected onto a wall and looked like it was being painted, a movie in the planetarium about aliens being fiction, and there was also a 4-D movie that was really cool about the seven days of creation.

Outside, we walked on a floating bridge and looked at the beautiful landscaping.  The floating bridge was bouncy and shaky, so some of us jumped while we walked to make it go up and down.

Going here was a very nice change for me.  This was the only museum I have ever visited that teaches from the creationist point of view.  All others I have been to teach from the evolutionist view, which omits God from the picture.

The next day, June 21, we visited William Howard Taft National Historic Site in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio.  William Taft was our 27th president.  He is the only person to have ever had the highest position in both the judicial and executive branches of the U.S. government.  We self-toured the Taft family house where William Taft was born and grew up.

After the Taft NHS, we stopped by at the Cincinnati Art Museum (also in the city of Cincinnati), which was free.  There were a lot of different types of paintings, sculptures, statues, and other art things like pottery and cultural decorations.  The building itself was a piece of art, with its architecture and design.

Finally that day, we went to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.  It is basically a recreated version of the ark that Noah, his family, and tons of animals would’ve waited out the worldwide flood in.  The ark was built to be as close to Noah’s one as possible.  The people in charge used the measurements from the Bible, and they decorated the inside based off of the most logical explanations of how the animals and people would’ve fit in the ark.  Exhibits inside explained the flood, how the world was before it, and how it was afterwards.  The ark was really big, with four stories and tons of wood.  It is actually the world’s largest freestanding timber frame structure.

Outside the ark, bushes were cut to look like pairs of animals marching into the ark.  We also went to the zoo and playground there.  The zoo was a little bit different than the one at the Creation Museum in the animals it had (we saw kangaroos and an ostrich).  The playground was bigger here, and it had more things to use.

The Bluegrass State – Kentucky

On June 14, we moved to Diamond Caverns RV Resort & Golf in Park City, Kentucky.  Then, we went to Mammoth Cave National Park and hiked a few miles on trails which were a little steep.  Mammoth Cave protects the largest known cave system in the world, with over 400 miles of cave.  We didn’t go into the caves, and we just hiked above them, because the tours cost money and were sold out anyway.  It had been drizzly at first in the day, but when we got to Kentucky, it was sunny and hot, though it looked like it had rained earlier.

On June 19, we moved to Little Farm on the River RV Park, in Rising Sun, Indiana.  On the way, we went to Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park and Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home at Knob Creek.  At the first place, there was a monument for Abraham Lincoln with 58 steps, 2 to represent the number of terms he served as president, and 56 to represent his age when he was assassinated.  There was also the Sinking Spring, which is a spring slightly lower than the ground, which the Lincolns would’ve used to get water when they were living there.  It was cold near the spring, probably because it was underground.  Abraham Lincoln was born here in his family’s log cabin in 1809.  In 1811, they had to leave Sinking Spring over land disputes and moved to Knob Creek (the second place that we visited).  Abraham Lincoln lived in a few more places later on his life.  He was our 16th president, and he is known for preserving the Union and abolishing slavery.  Abraham Lincoln, although born and raised on a farm out in the country, mostly educated himself and was able to become many things, eventually the president of the United States of America.  The second place, Knob Creek, had cabins, which we couldn’t enter, because of COVID-19.  The weather was humid and hot.

Food – Tennessee

Most of the food that we ate in Tennessee was homemade.  The green cakes and crepes are made with pandan, which turned them green.  You can also see a lot of asian food, which Daddy made at home, and the fish that he fried after we caught them in the lake at our RV park.

James Knox Polk – Tennessee

On June 13, we went to an Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee.  This was our first time visiting an Amish community and seeing and learning how they live.  We drove around and looked for roadside signs in front of their homes that listed what items they were selling.  We then pulled up into their driveway and they often had constructed little “stores” where they sold things like peanuts, peanut brittle, fudge, fresh baked bread, and handcrafted items.

After, we visited the President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tennessee.  James Polk was our 11th president.  He gained a lot of land for America during his presidency, but he wasn’t as popular as other presidents before him.  His wife, Sarah Childress Polk, was a very much loved first lady, however.  An interesting fact about Polk is that he was the first president to be photographed while in office in 1849.

The house was decorated with fancy things, had a nice garden, and although the house was James Polk’s house from before his presidency, it was set up and decorated to look how his house would’ve looked like after.

After touring the James Polk house, we went next door to the John James Audubon exhibit, where we got to see a few first-edition paintings from his book, Birds of America.  There were also buttons by the paintings, and when you pressed them, they made the sound of the bird in the painting.

COVID-19/Part 3 – Tennessee

May 16, 2020 – Daddy and us four children went on a scenic drive on and around the Natchez Trace Parkway.  We stopped to hike a couple of trails and look at waterfalls and rivers.

May 2020 – We went a few times to the lake in our RV park and swam, kayaked, and boated in it.  The water was warm enough to swim in because the temperature of the area had warmed up considerably since the first time we had gotten there.  In the lake, there were lots of turtles and fish, so we also fished.  Daddy fried the fish we’d caught, and we ate them for dinner.

This is the last post in the COVID-19 Blogs series, so here are my thoughts and feelings about the pandemic:

My life during and after the COVID-19 stay-at-home-thing was basically the same as it had been before.  We stayed at home during the week, most of the time, and on the weekends, we did something (usually).  Because we were in a lowly populated area, we could go out into nature and hike without masks.  Daddy still worked as he always did – from home, on his computer.  I could still do everything that I usually did for “work” – writing and blogging (although bad wifi often messed with my blogging).  I could play video games and knit for fun, as well as read books, so I was never bored.  Us children still did school like usual, since we had been doing homeschool for our entire lives.

When we went to the grocery store, however, it was interesting to see the shelves of toilet paper, water bottles, meat, pasta, and pasta sauce almost empty.  We only had to wear our masks a couple of times when going to places like the grocery store, but we didn’t go many times.

But what about the virus itself?  Was I ever worried about that?  At first I was, but I reminded myself that if I died from catching the virus, I would go to heaven, and that was a good thing.  I would be able to start my eternal life of happiness and worshiping the one who’d saved me and loves me most.  Besides that, I and my family are young and healthy, and people like us don’t usually die from COVID-19.  In fact, a lot of people don’t even show symptoms when they get it.  Also, God tells us to not worry and to trust in him.

There was, however, one big difference in my life that COVID-19 made: we couldn’t go to other places and travel to other states.  But that was a temporary change, and I found it relaxing for the time that it lasted.

To sum it up, COVID-19 didn’t affect my life very much in a negative way.  If anything, it brought me closer to the Lord, and it helped me to trust in him more.

We Got a New Cat – Tennessee

Kayla Wong

We recently got a new cat, which Daddy and Mommy found in our truck’s engine.  She is only a kitten, and we cleaned her up and gave her medicine before letting her roam freely around our RV.  Right now, she is getting along pretty well with Julius, but she still needs to work things out fully with the dogs.

COVID-19/Part 2 – Tennessee

March 27, 2020 – The Ehrenheims (our family who we visited a few blog posts ago) came over to stay in a cabin in our RV park for a few days.  We had fun with them, eating, fishing, and roasting marshmallows and Peeps over a campfire.

I got my first tick ever.  Since it had gotten hotter recently, the bugs and insects had started to come out.  The tick I got was a female lone star tick.  It had a white dot on its back.  I have to admit, I was totally freaked out, and I got my oldest brother to pull it out for me.

April 4, 2020 – We drove on the Natchez Trace Parkway and stopped at a few places.  There were a few trails, waterfalls, lookouts, rivers, and pretty forests.  We also got to see a historic brick house, the site of where an iron works used to be, and a historic tabacco farm.

Note that the trees are green now in the pictures, and flowers are blooming.

May 4, 2020 – We went to stay with the Ehrenheims again, because our RV was getting some repairs done on it.  During our stay, we sewed cloth masks to wear because of COVID-19, watched The Secret Life of Pets 2, and ate food.

May 11, 2020 – We got a new kitten.  Daddy and Mommy found her in our trucks engine.  She was only a few weeks old, and she had round worms, mites, ticks, and other parasites.  We started with the name Meri for her, then we changed it to Tennessee, then we updated that to Tennessee (aka Meowzy-D).  Check out the YouTube video that I made about her here.

And now, here is a funny story about my second encounter with a tick:

I woke up from a very nice dream to what I thought was a scab in my bellybutton.  Still half asleep, I tried to pick it out, and it wouldn’t budge.  Then, I realized that it was pinching and burning.  On second thought, I decided that it was a black widow spider (crazy mind), then I remembered that I’d gone into the forest recently and that it could be a tick.  At that thought, I suddenly woke up fully and looked to make sure.  It was a small female lone star tick.  I freaked out just like the last time and woke up Aiden to pull it out, because I was too scared to (sorry, Aiden).  In the end, Aiden could only pull off the tick’s body.  The head was still inside my bellybutton.  Legend has it that the tick head is still there to this day.

Food – Alabama

Here is some of the food that we ate in Alabama.  Included are pictures of German plate lunches, birthday cake, homemade food, fried chicken, and buffet food.

COVID-19/Part 1 – Tennessee

When the government started ordering everyone to shelter in place, we were staying at the Natchez Trace RV Campground in Hohenwald, Tennessee.  We remained there for just under three months.  This series of blog posts talks about the time we spent waiting for things to open back up, so that we could start traveling again.

March 21, 2020 – We moved to Natchez Trace RV Campground in Hohenwald, Tennessee.  The internet was bad, but the place was very pretty.  The weather was cold, and most of the trees were bare at first.  Aiden, Mason, Tanner, and I explored in the forest behind our RV.

March 22, 2020 – The weather was still cold.  We went to Meriwether Lewis’ burial place.  Meriwether Lewis was traveling to America’s capital, when he stopped to stay in a cabin for the night.  He was found bleeding from two gunshot wounds, probably from suicide.  By the morning, he was dead.  The monument was a pillar (on a base), which looked chopped off at the top.  The part that looked chopped off was to represent a great life cut short.

Aiden got to play his bugle here, since there weren’t lots of houses or people around.  The bugle was very loud.

March 24, 2020 – We celebrated Mommy’s birthday at home with cake and presents.  I made Mommy two clay cat charms, one which looked like Julius.  I also made her a picture of Ruby sleeping and another of Julius with oil pastels.

I Got a KNWBOOKS Shirt Made by a Relative

KNWBOOKS

March 2020 – My aunt, Kristy Ehrenheim, made me a unique, custom shirt with the KNWBOOKS logo on it.  She created the sticker of my logo using a Silhouette machine, and I got to help.  First, we downloaded my logo.  Then, we got the machine to cut the logo out on heat transfer vinyl.  Finally, we ironed it onto the back of a white shirt (which happened to fit me perfectly).

Aunty Kristy was really fun to be with because she is creative and enjoys doing a lot of things that I do, such as crafts and music.  Thank you, Aunty Kristy, for making this shirt for me.

More Battlefields of the Civil War – Mississippi

On March 9, we went to an escape room at Escapology.  The room was called “Antidote,” and it was made to look like a scientist’s lab.  We started the escape room off with a short introductory movie, which told the story of how the scientist has been developing deadly viruses, and you are investigating his lab.

In the process of investigating, you accidentally knock down and crack open a vial of the deadly virus.  You are supposed to find the antidote and key to unlock the room, because the lab has gone into lockdown and will kill any living organisms in an hour.

Then, the timer started, and we began to hunt around the room.  There were actually three rooms of the “lab.”  We started in the first and had to find codes to open each room.  Clues were hidden around the room, in files of fake people, on a periodic table of elements, in test tubes of colored liquid, in the weight of fake bottles of medicine, etc.  In the second room, there was a rubber alien-like figure on a table which freaked me out when I first saw it (I thought it was a person).  We finished the escape room with only 28 seconds left on the timer.

On March 15, we moved to Cross City RV Park in Corinth, Mississippi.  On the way, we stopped at multiple NPS sites visitor centers.  There was Shiloh National Military Park, Tupelo National Battlefield, and Brices Crossroads National Battlefield Site.  All were about battles fought during the Civil War.  in one of the pictures below, you can see piles of granite blocks with names of battles fought during the civil war.  The bigger the block, the more casualties there were for that battle.  There was a small waterfall above the blocks and a pool below them.

Caving and Visiting My Cousins – Alabama

On March 1, Sunday, we went caving in a cave on a privately owned property.  The cave was called Tumbling Rock Cave.  Inside the cave, we saw a lot of small, brown bats sleeping.  The cave was a little difficult to travel through, as there were no maintained trails or lighting.  It seemed very natural,  and there were rivers, stalagmites, stalactites, slopes, drop-offs, mud, and ledges.  That made it very fun to explore.  We stayed for about three hours, and we traveled up to a formation called Elephant’s Feet, which were big, thick pillars of calcite.  

On March 6, we moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where we stayed at Daddy’s brother’s family’s house for two days.  This is where Aunty Kristy (see this blog post) made me my personalized T-shirt.  I also played with my two younger cousins.  During those two days, we went to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and Hellen Keller’s Birthplace with them.

At Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, we took a hike and looked at the swamp.  We also attended a presentation in the visitor center’s theater about different birds.  The presenters carried and flew the birds around the room so that everyone could see them.  Some birds that were included were a screech owl, vulture, and bald eagle.

We got to tour the place where Helen Keller was born and taught by Annie Sullivan.  Helen Keller was born in 1880 with both sight and hearing, but at a young age, she lost both to a severe illness.  At age six, Helen met Annie Sullivan, who eventually taught Helen to communicate through the fingertip alphabet, behave (she was spoiled), and read braille.  Helen eventually grew up and graduated, and she helped to improve education for other blind students.  

On March 8, we moved to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s RV park and went inside the place.  There was a planetarium, displays, rides, actual missiles and aircraft, rock wall climbing, a fake mini space station, and more

After, to celebrate Mason’s 12th birthday (which happened on March 7), we went bowling.  We ate dinner there, had cake, and enjoyed ourselves.