Friday, February 7, 2014

Family Favorites Friday: Super-Duper Field Trip, Arkansas to Pennsylvania

This is Part Two of our trip from Arkansas to Pennsylvania twenty years ago. Part One, which reviewed our family friendly camping spots can be found as a guest post at 9PeasMom.

Originally, I had planned for us to stop at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park , which looked like a very fun place to have some hands on learning, but they were closed the day we were passing by. If you ever get a chance to visit, it still looks like a fun place to go!

Because we homeschool, our two week vacations are more like super-duper field trips. Due to the area we were traveling through, this trip focused mostly on forts and life in the 1800's.

Our first big excursion, however, was the U.S. Air Force Museum  in Dayton, OH. This was listed as a 'must see' by AAA and it did not disappoint. Lots of interesting history here and everyone enjoyed it.

national us air force museum




The National Road and Zane Grey Museum was our next stop. My husband is a fan of Zane Grey and his western novels, so he was especially interested in this. The National Road was the first federally sponsored major road. The exhibit tells about the construction of the road and the vehicles that travelled the road. A 136 foot diorama illustrates what it was like to travel on the road from its beginning into the 20th century. This museum turned out to be much more interesting than I anticipated and the children enjoyed it, too.

Mill Bridge is home to two historic landmarks: the longest covered bridge in Lancaster County and Herr's Grist Mill. You can tour Mill Bridge village, as we did, and learn about the Amish. We took a buggy ride through the covered bridge. The children really enjoyed this. This camping area was a very fun place to stay. We took day trips to the surrounding area.

mill bridge village

One of the places we visited was the Choo-Choo Barn. Even if you are not a model train collector, this is a very fascinating place to visit. Twenty-two model trains run over 1,700 square feet of area with intricate details built into over 150 animated figures and vehicles. We were all mesmerized. Definitely a must see if you are in the area.

Anderson Pretzels are made in Lancaster, PA. We stopped in for a factory tour and a tasty snack.

We also went to Hershey, PA and enjoyed the Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour.
This is a free tram tour that follows the cocoa bean from the rain forest to the chocolate bar. Visitors enjoy a free chocolate sample at the end.  Sweet!



two hole outhouse

Preparing for the estate auction and exploring my grandma's yard was 

 an education for my children. My grandmother's house was built right 

 next to a road that was originally a buggy/wagon trail. The front porch is 

literally just feet from the paved road. There was still a functioning 

two-hole outhouse that fascinated my children. The house only had one 

bathroom and sometimes you need a second 'toilet'.



old fashioned water pump
My two older sisters, my cousin, and myself in the middle picture, plus my children in the other pictures, all fascinated with the old-fashioned water pump.





 Even though I only visited my grandmother in PA a handful of times, I still remember enjoying pumping the water pump in the yard. My children were no different and enjoyed pumping the handle.

The day of the estate auction, my husband took our four older children to Gettysburg 
and left me with the baby (5 months old) to attend the auction. 

gettysburg national cemetery

Gettysburg is full of Civil War history. The museum is very interesting, but walking the battlefields brings a new perspective to the history books.

*Update- My oldest daughter, who was six years old at the time, remembers this as being 2 different days.  She thinks the first day was a gun museum.  In reality, it was only one day, so visiting Gettysburg might be more interesting for older students who have studied the Civil War.  Otherwise, it might feel like the day that never ends!


Although Ft. Boonesborough was closed on our return trip, Old Ft. Harrod was open and we visited it the next day. Ft. Harrod is a full-scale replica of a fort built by James Harrod in 1774. Daniel Boone spent some time here, so we didn't totally miss the "Daniel Boone' experience. Like most of the places we visited,, we were the only visitors so the demonstrators were willing and able to answer our questions and spend more time telling us about the fort and the craft they were demonstrating. We observed a working blacksmith, quilter, basket-weaver, and corn-husk doll maker.

Because we were not able to visit Conner Prairie on our way east, we added the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR to our trip. The whole Mountain View area was totally worth the stop!

ozark mountain folk center
See how close we were able to get to the demonstrations?  That is because there are not any crowds in September!  My children had plenty of time to talk to the demonstrators.
 The Ozark Folk Center works to preserve the crafts, music, and herblore in the Ozarks. The village has over 20 craftsmen demonstrating. The children were really fascinated with this. They especially liked the broom maker and the potter. The corn husk dolls made here were better quality than the ones we saw in Kentucky.

Our two week trip is a fun family memory. If you ever have the opportunity to visit any of these places, I recommend that you do.
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