More Fun in Zanesville – Ohio

Russo's Pizza Ohio

On January 16, we went to The Works, which is a museum in Newark, Ohio, with interactive exhibits on science, the history of the area, and other things.  The museum had cool simulators, two car simulators, and one airplane simulator.  For a lot of the time, us four kids used the car driving simulators, which really challenged our attention and reflex skills while driving.

There was a glassblowing demonstration, where a glassblower with 40 years of experience demonstrated to us how he makes a glass olive oil dispenser.  We watched him take molten glass onto a metal rod, make it expand, and shape it into a bottle.  He even added colored pieces of glass and texture to the bottom half of the bottle.  It was very cool to watch.

Also, we went to the planetarium show, where we watched a show on other planets and galaxies.  According to the show, scientists are trying to find another planet like Earth that can support life, but haven’t been able to yet, given that Earth is such a unique planet, and it has so many factors that make it able to support life.  Earth is just the perfect distance from our sun, is able to trap the perfect amount of heat to sustain life, and has the perfect atmosphere, air, and temperature.  No other planet has been found that has the same conditions.  I think this shows just how intricate our world is.  This proves just how precisely God has planned everything, making Earth just the right place for humans to live.

Before going to the museum, we went to a restaurant called Skorpios Gyros (for lunch), which had Greek food:

Another day, we went to Russo’s Wood Fired Pizza and ate pizza for lunch:

Of course, in all these places, they were taking precautions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, including wearing masks, using plexiglass, wiping/cleaning everything, and only letting a certain amount of people into closed spaces at one time.

Getting Things from Storage – Texas

Kayla Wong

We drove down to Texas to get things from storage, like next year’s school books for us children.  On the way down, we stopped at two different RV parks, a NPS site, and Buc-ee’s (a favorite roadtrip stop).

The two RV parks we stopped at were Tanbark (in Dickson, Tennessee) and Home Sweet Home (in Texarkana, Texas).  Tanbark had very pretty trees in fall colors, and there was a horse that we looked at.  The RV park we stopped to stay at near our storage was called Medina Lake RV Campground (a Thousand Trails RV Park), and it was near Medina Lake in Lakehills, Texas.  There were lots of twisty trees and friendly deer which were used to being fed by humans, and it was hilly in that area.

The NPS site that we visited was Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We went there on October 21.  Central High is where the U.S. began an experiment to start integrating black people into white schools.  The ranger at the visitor center gave us a tour of the outside of the school.

In 1857, Central High allowed ten black students with perfect grades into the school (out of 200 students who had applied).  A lot of white people were upset about it and showed up at the school to protest integration.  In order to help the ten children more smoothly in their new school, Daisy Bates (also black) was chosen to help them.  The night before the ten were supposed to go to school, Daisy called all of their families with a plan, except for Elizabeth Eckford, since she had no phone.  The plan was to escort the children to school, along with both black and white ministers in hopes that the mob would be less likely to attack anyone.  Daisy planned to get Elizabeth early the next morning.

But Dasiy Bates forgot.  So Elizabeth, only fifteen years old, showed up at school the next day on September 4, 1957, unprepared for what she faced.  The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called the National Guard to block all African American children from entering the school, which directly defied federal law.  They did their duty, and Elizabeth, very confused, walked away from the school with a mob following her.  They called her mean things, spit on her, and threatened to kill her.  Eventually, with the encouragement of a few nice people and a bus, she was able to get away.  However, that day greatly affected her, and she suffers from mental health issues because of it.

Meanwhile, the other nine children went to school as planned.  However, at the door, they were turned away.  For the first time in their lives, these children had missed a day of school.

On September 25, 1957, President Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Infantry Division to escort nine out of the previous ten students into the school.  These nine are known as the Little Rock Nine.

On October 1, the National Guard, which had previously been ordered to block blacks from entering the school, took over the 101st Airborne’s duty.  They were sent to keep watch over and escort the Nine to the school.  However, the National Guard was able to be in basically only the school’s halls, so the students who didn’t like integration harassed and even tried to kill the Nine.  Eventually, the National Guard were removed from the school.  The Little Rock Nine went through the school year bravely.

Rather than repeat the previous year, Orval Faubus got Arkansas’ schools shut down, since he didn’t like integration.  This caused the state’s economy to be affected negatively.

Down in San Antonio, we saw our friends, the Paynes at both their house and the campground we were staying at.  We did a lot of things with them, including playing basketball and card games, visiting parks, and reading the Bible and singing with them.

On November 2, we drove up to Hickory Creek, Texas, where we stayed at Hickory Creek Campground.  We visited the Pattons for dinner a couple of times.

On November 4, we moved to Hot Springs RV Park in Arkansas, right near Hot Springs National Park.  On the way there, we stopped in Hope, Arkansas to go to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.  We weren’t able to go inside the home, due to COVID, but we were able to read signs about Bill Clinton’s childhood and family in the visitor center.

Afterwards, we drove on to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When we had set up our RV at the RV park we went to look around the national park.

First, we went to Bathhouse Row, which is a street with bathhouses built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s which use water from the hot springs.  Fountains with hot spring water were scattered throughout the area, and we tried the water.  To me, it tasted like normal but hot water.  There was no sulfuric scent to it, like there had been at other hot springs we’d seen in the past.

We also went on a short walk and a scenic drive, where we could see the city and beautiful fall colors

The next day, we moved to Cross City RV Park in Corinth, Mississippi.  On the way, we stopped at Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center in Baldwyn, Mississippi, where we read about Civil War battles.

On November 6, while on the way to a Cracker Barrel in Florence, Kentucky, we stopped at Shiloh National Military Park.  We had visited there a year ago, looked around the park, and done junior ranger books, but we hadn’t been able to turn our completed books in due to COVID.  This time, we turned our books in and got badges in return.

On November 7, we drove up to Zanesville, Ohio to National Road Campground.

Zanesville – Ohio


In the last blog post, I wrote about the RV park we were staying at.  Well, this RV park had a few trails that were very pretty, so with our new bikes (some of which my brothers had bought, and another which the owner of the RV park gave to us), we explored the trails.

Fall in Zanesville is very pretty.  There are beautiful red, orange, yellow, and pinkish trees.  In Zanesville, we went to a roadside farmer’s stand, where they sold produce.  We also went to a weenie roast event with the Hoffmans, where we roasted hotdogs and my brothers participated in a cupcake eating contest.

We see the Hoffmans a lot to evangelize and fellowship with them.  For evangelism, we go door to door and talk with the people we meet about the gospel.  One day while we were evangelizing, a stray cat followed us to the Hoffman’s house, where my brothers pet and played with it.  We named her S.C. (stray cat), but we haven’t played with her again, but we have seen other cats that look like her around the neighborhood.  At the Hoffman’s house, we eat and sing together.  Us children like to climb the trees in the front and back yard and give the Hoffmans’ kids rides on our backs (hence the picture of Aiden with the two oldest Hoffman kids on his back).

For Tanner’s 10th birthday, September 28, we ate cake and gave him presents.  Some things he got were painting supplies, rock painting kits, and a bike.  We video called our family in Hawaii who got to sing to Tanner and talk with all of us.  It was nice to see our family on the video calls.


Oh, and here’s a pesky insect that we found was planning on hibernating in our RV for the winter.  It’s the brown marmorated stink bug.  There were tons of them in our RV slides which came out when we recently moved our RV (we killed them), and I’m guessing that there are dozens more still.  When they are dying, they release a stench, which smells like stinky watermelon.  It turns out that our pets don’t like the smell.  Tennessee, our kitten, was playing with one and got sprayed and ran away, and another stinkbug sprayed my bed where Ruby usually naps, and Ruby avoided sleeping there for a while.

Back in Ohio to Stay – Indiana and Ohio

“Back in Ohio to stay…wait, did she write stay?”  Yes, I did.  As a matter of fact, we are planning to stay in or near Zanesville, Ohio, by our friends, the Hoffmans (I wrote about them in this post).  Some reasons for this choice is wanting to fellowship with likeminded believers in Christ and to share the good news of the Gospel with people in this area.  But more on that later.

On the way to Zanesville, we stopped at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana.  George Clark was the older brother of the famous William Clark (if you don’t know who that is, maybe the phrase “Lewis and Clark” will trigger your memory).  George Clark is known mostly for his success in gaining the Northeast territory for America, from the British.

In the late 1700’s, the British claimed land west of the Appalachian Mountains and proclaimed that no one should settle in the land there.  When settlers did not listen, and the Revolutionary War was intensifying, the British sent Native American groups to fight the disobedient people.  As a result, George Clark took a party of Kentucky militia to fight back where the raids were happening the most.  This went on for a while, but when Clark learned that the British would be attacking in the spring, he organized a group of tough, persistent Americans and Frenchmen to travel through the freezing, flooded lands of Illinois to get to the British fort of Hamilton, believed to have been where the park now is – Indiana.  They captured the fort, the British surrendered, and the British had been stopped from achieving their goal of stopping Americans from gaining the Northwest.

The park had a very tall memorial that was circular, made of granite.  According the the NPS website, it is 80 feet tall, 90 feet wide, and the walls are two feet thick.  Steps led to the memorial’s inside, where a statue of Clark stood, just a bit taller than he was in real life, and seven murals painted on Belgium linen lined the walls, depicting Clark’s mission.  The memorial was completed in 1933.

We took much longer than we’d expected to get to the Hoffman’s house, due to traffic, bumpy roads, and construction.  We arrived around 10 o’clock, but we took long to park.  The neighborhood had steep streets and narrow roads lined with vehicles, which made it difficult to navigate the area.  We got stuck a few times, had to ask neighbors to move their vehicles, and in the end, we couldn’t make it into the Hoffmans’ driveway.  The neighbors were really nice and accomodating, and the people at the bar down the road offered to move their vehicles out of a parking lot so we could park there.  We parked, but the space was too unlevel to take out our slides, so we stayed in the Hoffmans’ house for the night.

The next day, we moved to Campers Grove RV Park in Hopewell, Ohio, about 10 minutes away from the Hoffmans.  We are here right now (check the published date at the top to make sure you don’t get confused when “now” is), and we plan on staying here until we can find some land to buy.

More updates will come later!

Butterfly Metamorphosis

Monarch Butterfly

We got three monarch butterfly caterpillars in Michigan (I wrote about them briefly in an older post).  We named them Big Billy Buchanan, Bibimbap, and Busy Bee.  Now, here’s what happened to each one.  By the way, I don’t know the genders of any of the insects.  I am guessing.

Big Billy Buchanan was the biggest caterpillar.  He ate and grew, and eventually, he turned into a chrysalis and emerged as a monarch butterfly.  He was the first of the three to come out.  He took a while to dry, and when he felt like it, he flew out the window in Wisconsin, glided for a few seconds, then landed in the grass.  He stayed there for a few hours and left towards nightfall.

Busy Bee was the second largest caterpillar.  She ate and grew bigger, but while she was hanging upside-down, turning into a chrysalis, she died.  It was a short but sweet life.  RIP, Busy Bee.

Bibimbap was the smallest of the three.  She ate and grew, and after a while, turned into a chrysalis and became a monarch butterfly the day after we arrived in Zanesville, Ohio.  When Bibimbap emerged, she took off quickly.

Here is a slideshow of the butterflies, from when we found them on a plant in Michigan and took them home in a red plastic cup, to when they became full grown butterflies and flew away.

Food – Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ohio

spam musabis

Here are pictures of food that we ate mostly in St. Louis or with the Hoffmans.  You can also see the cheeses and salami that we got from Wisconsin.  The main picture above is of spam musubis (in this case, spam fried in teriyaki sauce, sandwiched between two blocks of rice, wrapped in nori or sprinkled with sesame seeds) that Uncle Dean made when we were visiting him and other family in Missouri.

Saint Louis – Iowa and Missouri

On August 17, we moved to St. Louis RV Park in St. Louis, Missouri.  The RV park was in the middle of the city, and it had a pool, which my brothers played in.

Before leaving, however, we stopped at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa.  It is where Hoover was born and lived until he was nine and was orphaned.  He became our 31st president, and he was president during the Great Depression.  It surprised me that his family was Quaker, and they lived in a Quaker community.  The site had buildings which Herbert and his family would’ve lived or worked in, such as a blacksmith, their cottage, and their Friend’s meetinghouse.

After that, we went moved to the RV park in Saint Louis.  We set up our RV, then we went to Gateway Arch National Park, which has the iconic arch of Missouri.  The arch itself was closed because of COVID-19 (you can usually take a tram to the top of the inside of the arch for a price), but we were able to view it from the outside, learn about it in the visitor center, and stand inside a replica of the top of the arch.  The replica was a very small sliver of what the arch would be like inside, and it had “windows” on it that were actually screens that showed live feed from cameras up on top the arch.  The screens were bigger than the windows would actually be.  We could even see our truck from the cameras.

The site included the Old Courthouse, where the famous first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held.  The case was about freedom of enslaved black people, Dred Scott and his wife specifically, because they filed suit for their freedom in the mid 1800’s.  In the end, Dred Scott and his wife lost, but it helped bring on the fight for enslaved people’s freedom in America, which eventually gave freedom to black people.  We weren’t able to go there, however, because it was closed.

After that, we ate at a restaurant and drove around the city.

The next day, we went to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  The site had a home and some other buildings on it.  Grant’s future wife, Julia Dent, and her family lived here.  Grant met her here, married her later on, then lived with the Dents on the property (which was about 850 acres) in the mid 1800’s.  He tried out farming, but that didn’t work out for long, so he rejoined the army (he had been in the army earlier in his life).  He eventually became a high ranking leader in the army during the Civil War, and later, the president of America.  Grant helped to win the Civil War for the Union side, and he valued African Americans as human beings, even allowing them to fight in the Civil War when others wouldn’t, and he fought against discrimination against black people.

We got to take a tour of the Dent house, called White Haven, even though it is now bright green.  We also got to see Budweiser Clydesdale horses, which are a rare breed of horses.

For dinner, we went to Uncle Dean and Aunty Jeanette’s house.  They are actually Daddy’s uncle and aunt, and we hadn’t seen them since we lived in McKinney (years ago).  I met their son, Evan, and his wife, Emily, as well as their son.  We talked, ate, and played Splendor with them.

The Mississippi River Again – Wisconsin and Iowa

On August 9, we moved to ​James N. Mcnally Campground in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.  That week, we got to visit the Zens.  Mr. Jon is a Christian and writes books about the Bible.  His wife, Miss Dotty, painted our faces or arms.  She is very skilled at art, and she actually illustrated some books with her paintings.  We enjoyed spending time eating and talking with the Zens that day.

On August 16, we moved to Little Bear Campground in West Liberty, Iowa.  Driving through the area where a derecho (a very bad storm with high wind speeds that is like a hurricane) had hit earlier that week, we saw a lot of damage.  Trees were knocked down, crops of corn looked stripped, tall plants were bending in one direction, and RV’s and houses were damaged.

On the way to the RV park, we stopped at a visitor center for Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway in Prescott, Wisconsin.  The visitor center was where the Saint Croix and Mississippi merge to make the Mississippi river.  The river was full of boats, and some areas looked like a traffic jam, except on the water.

There was a program at the park with “Bruce the Bug Guy,” where he showed us bugs that he kept, such as moths, millipedes, and cockroaches.  I didn’t watch the entire show because I couldn’t stand to see the condition the moths were in, but everyone else watched the whole thing and got to see and hold the millipedes and cockroaches.  The moths were very pretty, with vibrant red bodies and legs, and mostly black and reed wings.  In order to keep them from flying away, they were kept in a cooler with ice, in what looked like small wax paper bags. This caused their muscles to not work, so that little kids could hold them.  The one I was given had wings that were torn.  Even after I warmed it up, it couldn’t stand, and it couldn’t lift its wings.  In fact, I thought it was dying.  I tried to allow it to stand on my finger, but after struggling to do so, it flopped back down into my hand, its scales rubbing off.  I felt really bad for it.  On the other hand, it was really cool to see the moths.  The moths in the pictures below that seem to be in good condition are different moths, and I think they were males, unlike the one I was holding.

Food – Michigan

In Michigan, we tried pasties (for the first time) from restaurants and stores, with gravy or ketchup or nothing.  We also had smoked fish a few times.  In one of the pictures, you can see gummies shaped like Michigan.  I, having not given much thought to Michigan’s shape, thought that maybe they were supposed to look like bats and owls on branches.

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.