Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vacation May 2016 - Part 2

What you believe about who you are, where you came from, affects your whole worldview. -Ken Ham

I am back dating the publishing date this to when I started this post rather than when I finished it, because over a month flew by and much happened in that time. So here is the rest of the story of our vacation.

Having settled ourselves in downtown Cincinnati suite, we well were poised for 25-30 minute drive to the main attraction of our vacation: the Creation Museum. We arrived an hour before it opened because we did not check the times, but there were no barriers or guards once we were inside the main gate, so we walked in the gardens as it was not raining, although it was a bit cool. Such lovely colors and textures that I would like to incorporate in my own gardens!

Even local wildlife got into the act! We spotted a wild rabbit and a bird nest.

What can I say? You just never know what to expect with a teenager in the wild.

Then it was open. Since the weather was good for it and my husband had this burning desire to do it, the first thing we did was buy tickets for zip-lining. (You may remember my aversion to heights, if not scroll down No Public School Day to The Really Crazy Thing I Did at Stone Mountain Park.) Tickets for zip lining can sell out quickly, but schools were still in session and we went on Wednesday so there were not that many visitors, let alone those wanting to zip line. I mean, there was a couple of buses with a large retiree group, maybe a bus full of teenagers from a Christian school with strict dress codes of skirts only for girls, a few families of homeschoolers, and perhaps a small group of Mennonite teenagers. We went for level 2 and were three of the four to zip line in our group, which has a ten person maximum.

Although I dislike heights still, I have gotten better since the SkyHike encounter at Stone Mountian years ago. Climbing up is not as much of an issue. Standing on a narrow platform a few stories up and having some time to think is a bigger issue.

Jumping off that first platform even in a secure harness over a large pond after having time to think was the biggest issue.

Then there was remembering how to slow down when I was still just dealing with the height thing, but all went well for all of us.

We actually did not go into the museum proper to see exhibits the first day but we did all that the second day. The museum is really great. I was hoping that they would have expanded a bit more on historical accounts of dragons in the displays, but it was well worth the two days we spent there. We listened to two lectures (one on the first day and the other on the second), bought some books, watched two free short videos on the first day, and walked through the petting zoo area on the first day. We did not get to the planetarium films and I would have liked to have spent some more time in the gardens, but at least we left some things to do for another time...since no one go this eaten this time.

The one thing that changed my perspective on creation vs. some form of Christian-based evolution is that I believed it really did not matter what a person beliefs about how God created the world or how long it took Him to do it as long as one believed God created everything. I personally have chosen to believe in a literal six day creation and a young earth. After going through the museum and hearing Dr. Terry Morterson's lecture covering some highlights of Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (one of the books I bought), I came away with a sense of the importance of being grounded in that belief far stronger than I ever have in my entire life. He went through the history of how famous Christians bent their beliefs to accommodate scientific beliefs of evolution and I could have listened to him speak for at least another hour or two. Wow...just wow!

The exhibits for the last 3 C's of the 7 C's of History are yet to be completed: creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. Then there is the upcoming Ark Encounter exhibit, which is just Phase I of something more of a theme park, is opening in early July. This life size ark is not at the Creation Museum, but about 40 miles south of it. We probably will not go in its first year of opening as it is expected to be very crowded, but next year sounds promising. The museum even it its present state it is enough to wear out a teenager.

The last day of our vacation, we planned to stay at a hotel just a couple hours from home. We wanted to hike and had a place in mind but it had been raining so much in the entire area from Georgia up through Ohio that we decided not take a chance that it would be miserably muddy trying to hike to the Chimney Tops in the Smoky Mountains, which would have also forced us to go east and have a longer drive home. So we found a fairly new state park along the way and that turned out to be more interesting than expected too. Actually, it was an adventure just to get into the park because Google Maps trying to get us in on a road that had been closed, so we drove around until Google Maps finally gave in about us not turning around and pointed us toward the main entrance way.

We were deciding on what walking trail to take from the Enterprise South Nature Park map, which was more detailed with a legend than the one on their website, and not paying attention to the other markings. As we walked along the level 4 trail in dark blue called Hawk's Ridge, we came across a mound that was too cone shaped to be natural. At first I thought it might be an Indian mound, but it was not as rounded or flattened at the top as they usually are. We could see a road beyond the trees so the Princess walked around and saw the metal wall with a door: a bunker.

When we saw the sign, I immediately thought military, but my husband speculated it could have been a place to store explosives for a mining company...I did not see anything that suggested there was mining in the area though.

When we took a better look at the map we grabbed when we came into the park, there were actually 100 of these bunkers! Some had a visible vent at the top of the mound and some had barred windows in the steel doors which just allowed us to peer into a dark, empty cement room. I have since looked it up. In support of World War II, the Army Corps of Engineers built the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant to manufacture TNT which was stored in these bunkers, an unexpected history lesson!

We had a nice lunch and drove the rest of the way home, arriving around 4:30. Our house sitter had left in the morning. She did great with the animals, but it seems she is not as much of a plant person, for while it rained and rained all around here for most of entire week, it obviously missed my little patch of the world that I call home and all my plants were in distress for lack of water, but most seem to be recovering now.

My Lord, thank you for providing a good time together and helping us to realize why Genesis is truly the beginning.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Vacation May 2016 - Part 1

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.
~Author unknown

We had the first vacation we have had in many long years. We went to visit my aunt and uncle in Ohio, whom I have not seen since my mother's funeral in 2009. I cannot believe it has been seven years, but it has.

A reduction in income was the first major issue; the second was saving for the house new siding and windows when our income improved, and then refinancing. We still have much to do on the inside of the house, like painting and repairing walls around the windows, and the outside, like replacing all the deck boards that somehow sounds like less work than it is, and the in between, like reorganizing our garage so that we can use it for the car again since all the painting stuff is in the way now.

Yes, very much to do have we, but we have been trying to go to Ohio every year and every year something got in the way. To ensure we had even more incentive this year, we took advantage of the two for one ticket special at Christmas for the Creation Museum and bought three tickets to use within a year. Our original plan was to go on the third week of May and everything was set, but then our youth pastor, who would be house-sitting, realized that she made an error and had already promised that week to another, so we bumped up to the second week. We wanted to go before my husband had to go to the U.K. for training and while public school was still in session so it would be less crowded and we would not feel so rushed. Since my most excellent next door neighbor moved too far away, a good friend who would have happily have taken care of the furry ones and the plants, a house-sitter was really the best way to go as we have the rabbitry, two outside cats, and a German Shepherd dog, who has skin allergies, which gets more aggravated when she is excited; trips definitely excite her.

The one very good thing about my husband traveling so much for work is that he gets hotel points and he has lots of them built up over the years. Because another one of my cousins moved in a few years ago with my aunt and uncle and their son and his wife, they would have have the room but it would have been crowded even though they now only have one dog instead of three and we were leaving ours at home this time. We felt it would be better for everyone to stay at a hotel, which was at no cost to us.

We went to their church service to meet up with my aunt and uncle. There the Princess was able to sit at a piano to play her memorized pieces from the recital at the end of April for my aunt to hear in person. Then we went out for dinner, which was no small thing as it was Mother's Day but we only had to wait a few minutes. It was a family owned restaurant with a field landing strip next to it for small planes and there were three that day.

My aunt is having some memory issues, fairly minor for the most part, but evident. Losing her memories was the one thing that scared my aunt, having taken care of her aunt with Alzheimer's Disease, but while we were there at least, she seem to handle it more graciously than I had thought she might. We planned to visit for only two days as we did not want to tire everyone out and we had other things planned as well, but the weather was mostly rainy so that kind of changed the things we could do.

The Princess enjoyed looking at all the artwork my aunt has created over the years, seeing all the family photos and histories, and hearing all the stories of which they both many, but it is my uncle that can go on for hours and hours. When she was bored or just needed some space, she would draw. It was the only time I could get a picture of the child because she is in the face-hiding phase.

Since the Princess likes old cemeteries and it has always been a tradition with my grandfather to visit my grandmother's grave, the one thing I wanted to do was to go to the cemetery to see my mother's and brother's graves, next to each other as my mother wanted even though it did not start out that way, as well as my grandparents' and other family members. It was a chilly, drizzly day, but the Princess and I took a walk to the older parts before the Civil War because the older grave stones with the wear and tear of the years are far more interesting. Then my uncle, who does not have just one sweet tooth but many, suggested that we go across the river into the small town proper for ice cream for us and onion rings for his diabetic wife. The cousins continually thank God that he has not become diabetic as he has no self control when it comes to sweets.

On the third day, it was not raining as was expected so I suggested we visit a place that I had not been to but once as a teenager: German Village Historic District. My first time there was just after it was designated by National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974; it was one of my uncle's after-Sunday-services mystery outings—would it surprise you that he found the one and only ice cream place there? The restoration project expanded to a 233 acre footprint. In 2007, it was made a Preserve America Community by the White House. Today, it is the largest privately funded historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is said that it is also the largest in the world.

Of course, we found a bookstore. The Book Loft has 32 rooms jammed packed with books and we lost each other several times! My husband found a cookbook he just had to have (the guy loves to cook) and the Princess found The Atlas of Cursed Places, which did not thrill me but I thought maybe she would get ideas for settings of the many fictional stories she writes. I looked for a hardcover of Atlas Shrugged to give to my cousin, but they only had a soft cover with very small text, so I did not get anything. After finding each other again, we decided to lunch at Katzinger's Delicatessen where my husband and I shared a very tasty Reuben. It started clouding up preparing to rain so we drove on in the rain to our next destination, Cincinnati.

Now, I really do not like being in cities, especially downtown. That is probably why my husband did not tell me that the hotel he picked was exactly where I would rather not be. However, I was not driving so at least I was not as anxious about driving in the city, particularly since our GPS stopped charging due to a bad wire and we were using Google Maps on my smart phone, nor was I concerned about parking, since there was complementary valet parking. This is the cityscape from our hotel window.

When I really began to inspect the architectural and ornamentation of the Cincinnati Enquirer Building, I softened up to the idea. Wow! This building originally was the headquarters of the local newspaper, but I felt as if we were walking into a restored grand theater. They just do not make buildings like this anymore! We were at the back of the hotel where we could see a neighboring building also was being restored.

Our suite was roomy and modern in decor, of course. However, the nicest part was that the hotel provided a complementary buffet breakfast and dinner. This is the kind of place at which we would typically not stay because it would be too costly as in three nights is a mortgage payment, but my husband's hotel points covered everything. My husband was very wise, because all we have to pay for in food was our lunches for three days, so I definitely warmed up to having to stay in downtown Cincinnati.

Thankfully, it stopped raining with sunshine in the forecast for the morning, at least!

My Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend some time with my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his wife, and another cousin as well.