Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Vacation Fun

We spent the second part of our trip in Nebraska. One of the sights I really wanted to see was this great monument of mystery, rising from the Salisbury Plains Great Plains:
Unlike Stonehenge, you can actually go right up to Carhenge:
Vinny found some wheels that still turned, within his reach:

We then went to my grandmother's memorial service, which went quite well (as far as memorial services combined with family dysfunction goes). Actually, though, I got to see a lot of relatives whom I hadn't seen in decades, as well as my oldest sister's gravestone (she died of leukemia when she was four years old, a year before I was born), and spoke plainly and honestly to my mother about the situation between us. This isn't really the place to discuss it, but it's possible that some progress has been made.

Anyhow, we decided to go to every single children's museum in Nebraska. We are now children's museum connoisseurs, folks. It's interesting to see what other children's museums in other states have.

The defining characteristic of Nebraska children's museums is that they all have these pin boards that you can press into, like the picture below:
Jeff pressed first his face and body, and then Vinny's, into this particularly large specimen at the Lincoln Children's Museum, which I would rate as an excellent children's museum.

We also went to the Children's museums in North Platte (a fantastic little museum in its own right), Kearney (where Vinny had a lot of fun with a cloud generating machine), Hastings (where he had a great time with their pizza place), and Omaha, where he got to ride on the carousel
and played for hours in this room full of gears, wheels, and balls:
The "super gravitron," as they call it, consists of all these different ways to move the balls through the Rube Goldberg-esque tubing via different techniques, such as levers, pulleys, and gears, but also pneumatics and hydraulics. Every so often, a siren would go off and the plexiglass bin on the ceiling would open (as it is in the picture) and all the balls would fall out. Vinny enjoyed this room so much that we went back to the museum the next morning. I must admit that I had a blast in that room myself.

We didn't just see children's museums. It's just that those were the only places I had my camera out. But we also saw some interesting museums for grown-ups, including the Nebraska Prairie Museum and Harold Warp Pioneer Village. Did you know that German POWs during World War II were held at Holdredge, Nebraska? They actually were free to work in the area and provided a lot of labor to the local economy.

I spent a summer in Lincoln, Nebraska as an undergraduate, so I had to expose my family to some Nebraska culture. We ate at Valentino's (a fabulous regional pizza chain that originated in Lincoln) and Runza (also emanating from Lincoln, whose eponymous menu item is a unique calzone-like sandwich -- stuffed with ground beef, cabbage, and spices).

After leaving Nebraska, we traveled to my former babysitter's house and had the fabulous windmill cake you saw in the previous post. We had a great time playing games with Alice and Jerome as well. We played one called Labyrinth, another one about zombies, and lastly Settlers of Catan. They were all a lot of fun.

We left their house on Sunday at about noon. The original plan was to stop somewhere for the night, but eventually we just decided to go the whole way. So, we arrived home at about 4:30 am on Monday.

It was good to be back home. Plus, I got to sleep in my own bed for twice as many nights before heading on business travel as I would have otherwise.

It was a really fun and refreshing trip overall. A break from work to spend some fun time with my family was just what I needed. Now, it's back into the grind.

1 comment:

EcoGeoFemme said...

Sounds like a great trip!

I think you must be very patient parents to visit that many children's museums in such a short time. :)