Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Atlanta Vacation Day 5

Today is our last full day in Atlanta. It’s been fun to visit the city and spend time with family, but I am also looking forward to sleeping on my on pillow. I can sleep on most beds but I’ve become really picky about my pillow. I’m spoiled to have a gel foam pillow, designed to accommodate your neck and head in the most orthopedically correct way. I can’t stand the fluffy down pillows I’ve had to use on our last two trips.  My head sinks right through them.

We began by visiting the Atlanta Children’s Museum downtown with Caitlin, her girls and my mom. We were there as they opened, and had the place most to ourselves for the first 30 minutes.

The museum had a ball machine area, where kids could use simple machine tools such as incline planes, pulls, and wedges to move the balls across different elevated tracks connecting the various parts of the machine. The little ones had fun turning the wheels which turned the cork screws, and other conveyer belts and moved the balls along. The older kids tried to understand the various mechanisms, and how to get balls where they wanted them to go.

Another big area in the museum is the grocery store and diner. Addison and Andrew loved filling up their carts with play food from the grocery store shelves and ringing them up at the various registers. Andrew learned how to push the open button on the register and spent quite some time playing cashier. He also loaded up his grocery carts and raced around nearby exhibits pushing his cart.

 The play diner was one of the best I’ve seen. The stainless-steel kitchen area was a true replica of what you would find in a diner. There were soda and specialty drinks dispensers, hot tea and coffee maker sitting on the counter, a sink and a large commercial size fridge. The stove was a large rectangular hot plate with a selection of breakfast foods, and steaks for the kids to cook.

Andrew enjoyed banging pots together and flipping the tab on the drink dispenser- just like he does at home with our water dispensers.

Next to the grocery was a play farm. There was a full-size cow that kids could milk. I showed Andrew how to squeeze the milk out into the pail. He loves cows, so he ran towards me to check it out. Just as he reached his arm to touch the cows’ utters the cow mooed. He leaped back wide-eyed and didn’t trust approaching the cow again the rest of our visit.

The older kids attended a mini musical where they learned about sound and how it travels through the “Earie Canal.” A space man crashed into earth and visited with a cave woman. The two explored various natural and man-made sounds. The kids go to sing, dance, clap and go up on stage to help with the production. Stella helped with the snake and later with the lion sound. Addison did the frog sound.

The travel exhibit next to the mini musical stage featured the Blue Men Group. They are known for making music from PVC pipes and other strange instruments. Carson played Mary Had a Little Lamb by banging flip flop soles against color coordinated PVC pipes openings.

The kids shot foam rockets and played with kinetic sand, climbed through a vertical indoor playground into the center of a giant spinning earth.

Andrew spent some time exploring the various train tables representing five continents. He loved crashing the trains off the track.

The stairs to the second floor were set up with light sensors. Each time a person steps in front of the sensor a musical note plays. So, going up the stairs we played a scale. I had fun reaching to the center of the stairs and swinging my leg back and forth to play various notes. I need one of those at our house!

Upstairs they had toys geared more towards older children. They had a programmable robot that would travel, spin or change colors according to the kids’ preset instructions.

Carson, Emilia and Stella learned about the different systems within the human body (respiratory, digestive, circulatory, nervous, etc.) through one of the interactive games.  They were fascinated by the digestive system, especially the large intestine simulator which showed how food is broken down and eventually released from the body (pooped).

The three older kids are pros a  playing the virtual slingshot game. They stood in front of a screen which mapped their body to a character using something similar to Microsoft Kinect technology.

The point of the game is to hit a target canvass with a paint ball. Each time it was hit, the painting was hung on the wall displayed on the screen to uncover a larger picture. Think Angry Birds with paint balls and canvasses. It was fun to observe the kids’ actions as they grabbed the virtual sling shot and released it to fire away.

At noon we left the children’s museum and had lunch across the street at Olympic Park. The Park commemorates Atlanta’s hosting of the 1996 summer Olympics. They had a wonderful play area and wooden tables in the shade.

Dario’s family and my mom left us at the park to take care of other commitments they had in town. We agreed to meet again for dinner a few hour later.

After lunch we left downtown Atlanta and drove to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. The center and gardens occupy 36 acres in one of the most expensive areas to live Atlanta. The property was originally owned by the Inman family and comprised  the Swan House, Carriage House and gardens. Upon the death of Mrs Emily Inman in 1965 his son donated the all of it to the Altanta Historica Society.

Just outside the museum is the Smith's Family Farm as it would have been in 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States and just one year before the US Civil War begins.

At the house we saw the comforts the Smith family enjoyed compared to the slave shack where their slaves lived. I think it was a great educational opportunity for the kids from that point of view.  It was also great for them to see how different, and more difficult life was merely 150 years ago.

Swan House was built in 1928. A different era from the Smith Farm. It was also a city dwelling for a very affluent family, so it's purpose was more than shelter and a place for the family to work. Swan house was built to entertain.

Unfortunately the gardens right next to the house were not open to the public so we weren't able to get great outdoor shots of this beautiful mansion.

Lastly, we explored the museum. By far my most favorite exhibit was the one that explained the Civil War. The graphics and displayed did a fabulous job at describing the social and economic drivers that led to the war in an impartial way. In very simple terms, the northern states' economy had changed significantly since the US Independence from England. There was an influx of population to the city and a growth of manufacturing. Whereas the south's economy did not change and remain primarily based of farming during that same period of time. Those divergent tracks led to difference of opinions as to the roles of slavery and desired for change which in turn led to war.

The exhibits were so fascinating, I wished I would have had the time to read all about them. The kids however were done. Especially Andrew, who was in dire need for a nap.

After leaving the Atlanta's History Center we had approximately one hour before meeting Caitlin and Dario for dinner.  The restaurant we selected was 20 minutes from the Atlanta temple so we decided to visit the grounds while waiting. The gardens were beautiful.

Carson was not very excited about having his picture taken, but eventually agreed to look at the camera for one photo.

The girls, especially Stella who likes to pose for the camera, took a lot of beautiful pictures.