Getting our ‘ Eastern Pioneer’ fix…

…which is much different than a Western Pioneer fix!  ;)

While we were family camping at Tanglewood RV park, we were located nice and close to Winston-Salem; this gave us a great chance to explore the area!  We drove in one day to see their downtown.  Our first stop was at their unique Visitor’s Center; we picked up brochures on popular attractions, and asked the staff questions to help us identify where we wanted to go in the city.  DSC_0369_001wWhile we were in the downtown area, we went to Old Salem Museums & Gardens.  Old Salem reminds me of Williamsburg (but much less expensive ;) )…there was a lovely visitor’s center


complete with 2 different gift shops, a few exhibits, and a cute treat shop.  The staff was very helpful, and gave us hints on what to be sure to see, and pointed out stops that might be easy to miss.
DSC_0379_011w We were given a couple of paper maps that had tips on what each building was, and made it easier to choose our route to make sure that we didn’t miss anything…DSC_0386_018w After leaving the visitor’s center, we crossed the nearby main road by walking across an old-fashioned, wooden, covered, pedestrian bridge to get to the Frank L. Horton Museum Center.  The center offers a gift shop, and guided tours through the musuem (check for restrictions at main visitor center, or call for details as tours sometimes fill up; tours last about 45 min, no photography).  DSC_0387_019wYou can walk the streets of Old Salem without a ticket, but you cannot enter the museum buildings (includes all buildings that are part of OS with the exception of the visitor’s center) without one.  Tickets admit you to the 14 museum buildings that are open to the public, and staffed with costumed reenactors who will tell you about their ‘job’ at that location.
DSC_0389_021w One of our favorites was the Timothy Vogler Gunsmith Shop, where we spoke with 2 gunsmiths, including Timothy Vogler himself.  ;)  The gunshop is run circa 1831, and is one of the earliest gunsmith shops remaining in the US!


We got a informative talk from Timothy, and he told the kids all sorts of interesting info about running a gunsmith/blacksmith shop in 1831; he also asked the kids if they had any questions (he was very knowledgeable), and told my pro-gun patriots some interesting facts about the firearms of the time!  We learned that he made mostly guns, and coffee and meat grinders.  A gunsmith could make 12 to 20 guns per year, and a plain gun would cost about 1/3 of a year’s wages for an average laborer!DSC_0400_032w Then it was up the street to the Salem Tavern, including the 1835 tavern barn,
DSC_0409_041wDSC_0411_043w (back view of the tavern…  I love big old brick buildings like this!…DSC_0416_048w Inside the tavern were 3 reenactors, who told us the reason for the tavern.  This area was settled by Moravians (in fact, the Moravians founded Winston in 1766!), and this tavern was for housing travelers/visitors that were not of the Moravian faith (believers were hosted by Moravian families).  The tavern is shown as it would have been in 1791 – the year that George Washington visited the area and stayed at the inn!!!DSC_0425_057w This is most likely the room he slept in as it is the only private room in the tavern…DSC_0429_061wWe got a tour of the main floor, the second floor where the dining and sleeping rooms were (you would rent HALF a bed, so you would probably end up snoozing next to someone you didn’t even know!), and the cellar.  We then went outside and entered the kitchen.  Such an interesting place, and we were told all about the many activities that would have happened in the kitchen area…
DSC_0448_080wNext we walked by the quaint restaurant that is located next door.  It seemed to be a popular place to eat, and the staff were very friendly… DSC_0452_084wIntermixed between museum buildings are private residences/businesses, which are maintained to fit in with the historic theme of Old Salem.
DSC_0454_086w This location was my favorite; the Single Brother’s House, circa 1769-1786DSC_0464_096w Inside were 4 re-enactors (at busier times in the season, there are even more) who showed us various areas in the house.  This woman was so informative!  She gave us the inside scoop on the Movarian culture, and it was incredibly intriguing!!!  I won’t go into all the details, but I sure had fun asking her questions about it and found their history, beliefs, and convictions fascinating.  We learned the signification of the color of ribbon on a believer’s bonnet, and found ourselves checking out each reenactor’s bonnet, and remarking on it! LOL! DSC_0468_100wInside the house are many shops that were once run by the single men of the Moravian faith, including (among others) a joiners shop (woodworking), tailor, blue dyers shop (dying wool), and a pottery workshop.

You can tour the main floor, and the basement (which is below street level in front).  The left side of the house was built in 1769; you can tell it is older by the timber framing.  The right side of the house was added on in 1786…
DSC_0509_141wWe visited the Miksch House, and it’s gardens and baker’s oven out back.  The garden was just being planted, and we found it interesting that one of the rows had smallish dead branches stuck in the ground in a line.  We asked about it, and learned that the branches were cuttings off of various garden fruit trees, and were placed there for the peas to climb as they grew.  The interesting thing about it was that the gardener told us that the cuttings are not dead; they will bloom beautifully as the peas climb them, but they will not take root in the soil!!!  …really makes me want to try that! LOL!
DSC_0513_145wThe next door private residence.  I love the timber framing (the kids, not so much ;) ) – so much character!

DSC_0521_153wPart of Old Salem is the still-used God’s Acre.  God’s Acre is a unique cemetery, and is still used by the nearby (and tour-able if open during your visit) Moravian Church.


The headstones are laid in neat lines, each one identical to all the others in recognition of the equality of the dead in God’s eyes.  There is no distinction between rich or poor, black or white.  Men and women are buried in separate sections of the cemetery, as are children, and they are buried in order of death.

DSC_0527_159wWe got so into our tours of Old Salem, that we didn’t watch the time, and missed out on visiting the home Moravian Church before it closed, and a few other of the museum locations (like the Dr’s house, fire engine house…).
Touring Old Salem takes a MINIMUM of 3 hours  :)  (much longer if you ‘get into’ stops like this! LOL!)

While we were touring Old Salem, we found the original site of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, which was founded here in Salem).  Nothing exists of the shop here, but there is a plaque (located in the lot next to the Miksch house)…

DSC_0534_166We had such a fun, fun time geeking out at Old Salem!  We love educational, engrossing, enjoyable destinations like this!!!  Tickets are just $23/adult, $11/child, and children aged FIVE and under are FREE (most places it’s 2!).  You can even turn your tickets into 2 day admissions for just $3 more.

And since we were in Winston-Salem, the home of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, guess where we HAD to go before we left the area…
DSC_0349_251 Yeah, because the light was on, and the smell was pulling us in.  ;)DSC_0347_249You can’t say you’ve discovered Winston-Salem until you have stopped at KK for fresh hot doughnuts picked off the bakery line!

Loved, loved, loved our time in Winston-Salem, from our fantastic stay at Tanglewood Park to learning about the Moravian founders at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, to tempting hot doughnuts!  <3
Can’t wait to return!!!

RV Tanglewood Campground, Winston-Salem, NC…

While my crew was volunteering in High Point, we stayed part of the time in a Thousand Trails park that is part of our membership, but we also spent 4 nights at an RV park closer to Winston-Salem while we were exploring that area.
We spent 4 nights at the Tanglewood RV campground, which is part of an 1,100 acre county park.  The campground is very reasonable at $31 a night, with no extra kid fees, especially for such a nice park.  Our camp hosts were super friendly, and besides full hookups, we had free wifi and cable!  We parked in 29 (so I remember and reserve that one next time! :) ), and were right next to the bathhouse, and backed up to a huge field with a pavillion and volleyball net – and tons of room for the kidlets to run and play!
And, stretch those imaginations… they fished in the field too ;)DSC_0362_001wDuring the summer, there are even special Saturday nature programs just for RV campers in the 44 site campground (no tents allowed).
We LOVED this park.  It was clean, peaceful, and quiet (except for when our kids were playing outside ;) ).  I loved all the tall deciduous trees that were spread throughout the campground…DSC_0373_012w The whole 1100 acre park is meticulously maintained, and there is a ton of extra stuff to do!  There are extensive biking and walking paths that lead all over the grounds, and you an use them to visit the riding stable, where you can rent horses for horseback rides.  Or how about driving your golf cart to one of the two golf courses, the par 3 course, or the driving range (yep, a def visit if you like to golf! LOL!).  Personally, we would have loved to ride our bikes to the WATER PARK!!!  (well, except that it doesn’t open until Memorial Day…)  We did drive around the park (your campground tag gets you into the park without having to pay the daily entrance fee, but some of the activities (golf, horses, water park…) do have extra fees, but they are very reasonable.  You can also rent paddleboats, go fishing, play on the real steam locomotive they have onsite (next to the water park), and there are 2 different playgrounds!  My kids were really wishing that we would have brought the bikes this year – me too; this would have been such a lovely park to explore on 2 wheels!DSC_0379_018w This is the campground check in station.  There was both reg vehicle spots, and a long area for big rigs to pull off to check in.  The staff was super nice, giving us a packet of info about the park, including a map of the park along with schedules and prices.  One of the things that they gave us was a menu for the grill that is located in the golf clubhouse; it’s very reasonably priced, but we forgot all about it.  We definitely could have stayed here longer than 4 days!DSC_0381_020wIn the middle of Tanglewood is a lovely bed & breakfast, circa 1859…
DSC_0386_025w and while we weren’t interested in staying at the b&b, we did love walking through their arboretum.  The area is tended by local master gardeners, and there is even a section just for the kids to explore and experience…DSC_0388_027w They even teach them about square foot gardening!DSC_0391_030The rest of the arboretum gardens were very pretty- and we were here in March – I think that they must be heavenly in full bloom!!!
The bulbs were just beginning to flower for us…DSC_0394_033 The b&b from the road…DSC_0397_036w There are several sets of tennis courts in the park,DSC_0399_038w and an extensive water park/pool area.  It consisted of 4 areas, all were fenced, but accessible to each other, the layout making it easy to keep track of the littles.  There is a pool with diving boards and 2 slides, a lazy river with slides, and 2 splash pads…DSC_0401_040w The cost was really reasonable too!  Course, they weren’t open for the season yet, much to the disappointment of my kidlets (even tho it was no-where near warm enough to swim, even for us Montanians!).

There are a couple of lakes/ponds within the park, and on Mallard Lake you can fish, rent paddleboats, or hang out at the beach area.


Across the parking lot is a picnic area and one of the playgrounds.
Bethy hanging out while the littles play on the equipment…
DSC_0418_057w They were not happy when it was time to go!
DSC_0423_062w There is one main road through the park, but there are a couple of others – one takes you on a loop past a BMX course (! limited access – Thurs nights while we were there), and this pretty pond with a fountain.  It then winds you back through some pretty treed areas, and out past the horse pastures. DSC_0432_071w

While we were in the Triad area, we were able to meet with Vaughn’s cousin Gale (R)!


Those 2 had not seen each other for about 30 years!!!  Dale drove out to Tanglewood and we hung out together for a few hours as the guys caught up.


We LOVED Tanglewood RV park!  It was just our speed!  Tons of optional activities, yet the campground was peaceful and relaxed!  There is so much here for families to do – we could have spent a week here and not done everything we wanted to do and see!  While it is a great jumping off spot to visit Winston-Salem (I think it was about 20 minutes to downtown Winston-Salem), and is very convenient for overnighting as it is right off I-40 (and between them is a Harris Teeter grocery store (handy!)), it would also be great as a destination in itself!  The kids would have been more than happy to just hang out in the park, exploring all it has to offer!

If we find ourselves in the area again, Tanglewood will definitely be our top pick for a campground!!!

High Point Disaster Relief efforts…

Towards the end of March, we spent 2 weeks in North Carolina while Vaughn and the 3 oldest (with us) volunteered with ice storm cleanup efforts.
We were camping near High Point, NC, which is located between, and just south of Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  High Point is known as the furniture capitol of the world for it’s huge upholstered and wooden furniture industry.  In fact, the city is home to over 40 furniture outlets.  Looking for new furniture?  High Point is the place to shop at!
Being the Furniture Capital of the World is a title they have long embraced, and are proud of…   ;) DSC_0360_305wThis set of drawers stands at 38 feet tall, with 2 socks dangling out of a slightly opened drawer, as a nod to the cities textile/hosiery industry. (Daniel and Joel ran across the street to be in the pic for me so it would be easier to tell just how tall that dresser is!).   :)
There is actually another set of drawers in the city that, at 80 feet, is twice as tall as this one!!!  It is not freestanding, however, and is attached to the front of the Furnitureland Bureau building – we didn’t make it out to take a picture of that dresser, but it sounds cool!

The reason that we were near/in High Point was to help out with cleanup after an ice storm went through and created a lot of tree/power line damage.
Vaughn, Beth, Jacob, and Thomas all spent 2 weeks volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse to help homeowners clean up the mess left from the damaging ice.
Now that Beth is 18, she can run the saws…  :)
DSCN3036_020.1 Jake is my muscles at home – apparently he is good at using them to help others too  :)DSCN3039_023 There were over 150 work orders completed in High Point (we were here for only half of the time as we were volunteering in Augusta the first weeks that SP was in High Point).
The work was all tree debris clearing – some homes had just a few limbs that an elderly homeowner would not be able to take care of themselves, and others were lots of cutting and dragging.  The most tedious job happened to be scheduled for a cold day when it was pouring down rain – the crew needed to take out a huge oak tree that had lots of big, sprawling limbs (no, of course they didn’t take any pictures! :/ ), and located between 2 homes.  They had to whittle away at the limbs, working towards the trunk, taking off pieces that they could control to keep from dropping the limbs and trunk on the homes.  It only took about 90 minutes with everyone pitching in.  (pic from diff job site)
DSC_0011_011My crew met lots of wonderful people, both other volunteers and the homeowners, and they were treated to some fabulous black gospel singing by one of the homeowners.  The kids got practice stepping out to lead in  group prayer and to present the Bibles, signed by volunteers, to the homeowners (Thomas did both for the first time here in High Point; so proud – it can be really intimidating). DSC_0019_019 My crew spent almost the whole stay working with team leader Bruce, and had a great time!

DSC_0028_028While they were off working, the other kids and I were busy checking out the area – and just staying home; things can be a little crazy when part of the family is getting up at 5something every morning, and not getting home until after 9pm.  The littles want to stay up and see them of course, and nights get pretty hectic and late.
When we are traveling, we love to try out anything that is unique and local when it comes to foods.  When we had been in Augusta, right before High Point, we noticed that their food court offered a BBQ sandwich – complete with coleslaw on it!  I had heard about that before, but never tried it.  It’s marvelous  :)   So while we were in High Point, we made pulled pork, and those of us that like coleslaw had it on our sandwiches!  Yum. And for the record, in case I forget and have to come back here for reference, creamy coleslaw is better than vinegar. ;)
Of course we had sweet tea. all.the.time.

DSC_0540_172While we were in High Point, we parked at 2 different RV parks.  Most of our time was spent at Forest Lake, which is just south of Winston-Salem.  Even though it was a good half hour from the campground to the SP host church, we stayed there because it is one of our membership parks and we could stay there for free!  The kids loved it here.  Those poor middle boys spent so much time finding these adorable baby turtles for the girls to check out…DSC_0043_009wThey were the cutest!  If I had MY choice of a camper pet…DSC_0039_007wwell, let’s just say that the girls were making progress with their debates on the pros of having more pets (as if a haughty cat isn’t enough pet!).  But we did NOT adopt any wild turtles from the campground.   They were SO CUTE tho!!!
DSC_0073_027w Caleb loved Forest Lake – lots of rocks to play in, water to fish in, a fun playground area, and lots of wide open areas to run around in.DSC_0090_035w This campground even had fire rings!  Yay!  You would not believe how many campgrounds do not allow fires of any sort, meaning no campfires either!  Caleb practiced keeping his hot dog/marshmallows out of the dirt.  :)DSC_0096_041w The boys had fun on the park’s mini golf course, and spent some time fishing in the small lake. DSC_0098_043wIt was the perfect campground to stay at while the volunteers were volunteering.

International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Greensboro, NC…

The littles and I were able to do so many fun things during our visit to North Carolina!
One of the destinations that I really wanted to go to was the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.  This stop was a lot different than the others as it wasn’t really a ‘fun’ field trip.  While I had checked out the museum online, I really wasn’t sure which of the kids it would be appropriate for, if any.  I ended up taking Joel, Emma, and Peanut, and just hoped that they wouldn’t be scarred for life. DSC_0090_090w

It ended up being a very educational stop!

The ICRCM is located here in Greensboro as this was the location of the historic Woolworth’s sit-in, where on February 1st, 1960, 4 local college students sat at the Woolworth’s diner counter and asked to be served.  Lots of people sat at the Woolworth’s counter for lunch, every day.  It was a popular place.  Have a seat and order up a $.60 turkey dinner, a nickel Coke, and a $.10 piece of pie, then relax while you enjoy your meal.
Unless you were black.  Then, while you could order the same foods as the people who sat at the counter, you got your meal in a to-go bag and had to go eat it elsewhere.
In protest, the 4 young black college students protested with a peaceful sit-in, taking their places at the dining counter in the Woolworth’s store, and waiting/asking to be served.  They stayed until the diner closed, without being waited on.  They returned the next day.  While it was not the first sit-in of it’s kind, the movement grew and with others volunteering to spell each other, they would take turns sitting at the counter doing their homework while waiting to be served. from open to close. day after day.
Inspired by the peaceful protests of the Greensboro students, other students began to hold sit-ins in their local towns; within 60 days, sit-ins had been/were being held in 90 cities.

The building that houses the ICRCM is the original Greensboro Woolworth’s store.  Here we were led on a guided, group tour that led us though the many galleries in the 2 story museum.
Our guide explained each room’s theme, and we were led through very tastefully, professionally done areas that incorporated multiple medias to engage the visitor.
The galleries each have a theme, beginning with the ‘Jim Crow era’ of segregation.  The tour shows you some of the forms of segregation, including waling through a reproduction (smaller scale) ‘Colored Entrance’ from the local train depot, and checking out a 2-sided Coke machine.  The Coke machine was mounted in a wall, with the ‘white side’ being open to a whites only area, and the ‘colored’ side of the machine in a blacks-only room; same soda out of the same machine – $.05 for a bottle dispensed from the ‘white’ side of the machine, $.10 if you were ‘colored’.

DSC_0087_087w The museum covered some of the differences between ‘colored’ and ‘white’ churches, schools, and businesses.
There is a wall dedicated to people killed because of racism/segregation/kkk (they aren’t all black either).
You can try out the interactive sit-in map where you can choose locations of sit-ins and see pictures and the press coverage of them.
There is even the original Woolworth’s dining counter, still in it’s original spot, still sitting on the original floor tiles!  There are a couple of the counter sections that are accurate reproductions as pieces of the original counter have been loaned/given to the Greensboro Historical Museum and to the Smithsonian.  In fact, the counter is longer than it was for the sit-in; eventually the store had to close the restaurant over the sit-in controversy, and when they chose to re-open and serve all customers, no matter their race, their business boomed and they had to add more seating.  :)

The museum tour was very interesting!


Ideally, I would say that kids ages 8 and up would get the most out of a visit to the ICRMC.  Peanut (6) was fine touring it, and while she got the gist of it, much of it went over her head too.  There was one gallery, the Hall of Shame, that I walked the girls through at the suggestion of the tour guide (photos depicting violence and dead bodies).  The girls just sat in the adjoining theater and waited for us to finish in that room.

Would Emma and Savanna chose this stop over the children’s museum?  no  :)
Did they hate it? not at all
Would I bring them back/the other kids here?  Absolutely!
Joel (10) had no issues being taken through the museum (including the Hall of Shame) – in fact, it was incredibly interesting and educational for him.  His only complaint with the center was that ‘they should have had a bigger exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen!’  (that’s my boy. lol.)

Tours take between an hour and an hour and a half, and the staff is very friendly yet professional.  No photos beyond the lobby, and the museum is ADA accessible.
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is located in downtown Greensboro, just blocks from the free Greensboro Historical Museum, the Greensboro Children’s Museum, and the train depot.  The locations are all within walking distance (we walked over to the Historical Museum when we were done), and would be a great day trip via the train if you are not camping locally.  Also located between the ICRCM and the other destinations is a city park, and there are multiple sit-in or take out restaurants within a few hundred feed of the center (Subway, tacos, pizzaria, several bar & grills).
It is a great place to visit if you enjoy learning about local history!

Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield, Greensboro, NC…

Just up the road from the Greensboro Science Center, is the Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield; the location of a Revolutionary War battle on March 15, 1781.

While there is nothing left of the small courthouse that once stood on the grounds, the acreage where a decisive battle between the British and the Americans once raged is now a National Park.  There is a visitor’s center, complete with bookstore, theater, and museum, miles of level walking paths, and a 2 1/4 mile road that winds through the treed area where parts of the battle took place.
We chose to visit the museum first.  We had picked up Jr. Ranger booklets on a visit to Greensboro the week before, knowing that we might be pressed for time on the day we would visit.  The kids had done all the activities that they could do outside of the park, so we headed into the visitor’s center to complete the portions that they needed the museum information for.
Inside, we watched a short 10 minute battle shakedown in the ‘map room’.  Then we watched the dramatization of the battle in the theater (shown on the hour); the 30 min show was great – a little gory, for some, at the hospital scene when they amputated a leg, but it didn’t bother us!

After these great overviews of what happened, we were preparing to work our way through the museum section.  Instead, we got a great lesson from the Friday morning volunteer.  This guy was really passionate about Revolutionary War details, and he gave us a whole lecture about the 3# Light Infantry Gun, also known as the ‘grasshopper gun’.  It was known as the Grasshopper Gun because of the way that it would bounce up in the air, and back, when it was fired; you did not want to be in it’s path!  Our gun professor showed us all the different kinds of projectiles that would be shot from the cannon, and which ones were used when, and why.  He even told how when the soldiers would run out of regular ammo, they would pack shots full of broken glass and pottery, rusty old nails, anything nasty really, for close-up defenses.
We love it when we find staff passionate about the location – makes for such an interesting and engaging visit!!!  :)
DSC_0002_002w - Copy Then we were off to the museum…DSC_0009_009w - Copy where the kids worked on completing their Jr. Ranger booklets…DSC_0020_020w - Copy The ‘Field Musick’ display was one of the most popular ones with the littles.  They had to listen to the different battleground musics, and try to figure out what tune is still used today (and for what song).  DSC_0024_024w - Copy While the British technically won the battle of Guilford Courthouse, it cost them a 28% soldier loss, while the Americans only lost 6% of theirs.

Here in North Carolina was a very patriotic area.  If you were a British sympathizer, you kept it to yourself; Torys were hung while their farms were burned.  North Carolinians were serious about their freedom.  DSC_0029_029w - CopyAt Guilford, Nathanael Greene (whom Greensboro is named after) met up against Cornwallis and Tarlton (Bloody Tarton – who earned his moniker from his role in the Battle of Waxhaws where, a year earlier, his soldiers had slaughtered surrendering American troops).
We found it very interesting that Robert E. Lee’s father, ‘Light-Horse Harry’ Lee, had fought here (he was considered a Revolutionary War hero).

We then took the short drive around the park.   You can purchase an audio tour of the park from the bookstore, otherwise, just grab a brochure, and do a quick read-aloud tour on your way through the park like we did.   We saw a hawk dive and catch a squirrel and eat it, which I think the littles found most interesting! LOL!  The grounds are covered in trees; it must be lovely and lush during the spring and summer here!
The grounds host 28 different monuments to commemorate the heros of the Guilford battle, as well as other patriots (like the Hooper-Pen monument; H & P were 2 NC signers of the Declaration of Independence, and are buried on the grounds).
DSC_0051_051w - Copy This is the General Nathanael Greene statue.  Even though Commander Greene was from Rhode Island, Greensboro was named after him in 1807 because of his leadership in the battle at Guilford Courthouse. DSC_0065_065w - CopyAfter our tour of the grounds, it was back to the visitor’s center where the kids turned in their Jr. Ranger booklets and received their badges…DSC_0080_080w - Copy

Guilford was a great roadschooing field trip!!!  :)

Greensboro Science Center – check out their new Sciquarium!!!

This past week the kids and I went to the Greensboro Science Center – which happens to be a museum, zoo, and aquarium, all wrapped up in one great destination! DSC_0104_049,3 The museum covers all sorts of topics, and does so through a variety of different types of exhibits!  They have recently completed a major addition (their large aquarium section), and are now getting ready for some more remodeling!  This fun ship for the kids will stick around and be included in their new beach-themed wing!  The girls had fun checking out the ship, and walking the deck…DSC_0272_217,2 The museum has a play area for the younger crowd.  Caleb loved the water table!DSC_0269_214,2

The museum even has a lower level (basement), that will be part of the renovation efforts – the basement will be transformed to a cave-like exhibit that will mimic being underground, and will feature a phosphorescent minerals display along with mining-themed exhibits.

Since we were in North Carolina helping with disaster relief efforts after the major ice storms hit the area, we found the museum’s Extreme Weather room very interesting!

There were engaging displays for numerous acts of nature like lightening strikes, tornadoes, floods, hail, and hurricanes.

DSC_0251_196,4 The lightening touch screens were a very popular feature in this room…w2The center offers quite a few keeper programs/feedings/talks, as well as an Adventure Theatre (weekends only) and an Omni-Sphere Theatre, which shows full dome and 3D shows.  There is even a laser light program on the last Thursday of each month.

The science museum has various temporary exhibits throughout the year, and while we were there, we stopped in to see…

‘Sue’ has her own area in the museum, and the whole place is set up to learn all about discovering dinosaurs!DSC_0152_097 The kids loved the interactive exhibit on how different dinosaurs eyes were positioned – like how the triceratops saw a wide range of vision, and off to the side to be able to watch for predators.  Peanut got the panoramic view…  :)DSC_0182_127,3 There were a couple of volunteers in the room that interacted with the kids and shared all sorts of interesting information with the kids about dinosaurs.  DSC_0184_129,3 The ‘Sue’ exhibit included a lot of hands-on fun for the kids, from electronic exhibits to a scavenger hunt and puzzles and coloring pages.
By far, the littles’ favorite activity here was to dig fossils.  :)
DSC_0150_095,2 Set up in a tent, just like on an archaeological dig site, the kids could unearth dinosaur bones (replicas) using tools and brushes… DSC_0171_116,4 The ‘Sue’ exhibit had several reproduction skeletons that you could check out, and plenty of hands-on stuff for the kids to do.  I found ‘Sue’ to be intriguing and engaging for me too. :) DSC_0167_112,4The museum has other dinosaur exhibits as well…

The Health Quest area of the center focuses on human health, from birth through death, and culminates in a unique way with an end-of-life meditative room and quiet area.

Located in the back of the center is the museum’s zoo.  You can tour the zoo via the ADA paved path – it is under 1/4 mile long, and winds through treed areas and to lookouts for each animal.  The zoo is in the process of adding an enhanced zipline to their zoo area!  The zipline will open this spring, and will feature 7 platforms.  This unique Ariel Adventure will offer a hands-on activity at each platform; the activity will be based on the animal whose enclosure the platform is located in!
DSC_0212_157,4 This area of the GSM has a fun petting zoo


where the kids got to pet and see-up-close-and-personal goats, sheep,


chickens, ducks, and pigs…DSC_0235_180,3The rest of the zoo offers visits to tigers, maned wolves, lemers, a red panda, wallaby, (+ others) and our favorite – a family of gibbons…complete with the most adorable baby gibbon!!!
DSC_0204_149,3 Back inside, we completed our visit to the GSM with a second stop in at their fabulous newDSC_0145_090,4The Sciquarium is a new area of the museum, and is a great place to check out water-loving animals!  These African Penguins were so amiable, and would swim up and show off in front of the kids…
I didn’t know that there were warm weather penguins, but these African Penguins are!  They are the mascots of the center’s annual Tuxedo Trot fundraiser that is held every April.
DSC_0293_238,2 There were educational displays, that taught about different animals, and features that are unique to water mammals and to fish…DSC_0279_224,2 The kids’ favorite part in the Sciquarium was the sting ray touch tank…DSC_0126_071,3 the touch tank has large windows in the sides so you can see the rays swim by, and there is lots of room to stand along the sides and wait for the rays to swim by.  There are several staff members there to help the kids know proper etiquette for touching the rays (2 fingers extended, run softly on top, don’t try to touch ‘face’ or underneath of ray, and feet on the ground because swimming with them is not allowed ;) ).DSC_0336_281,2 There were a couple of aquarium tanks – including a shark tank, and this large wall tank with tons of different kinds of fish, and this HUGE ray in it!  (I love watching sting rays – they always look like they are smiling)…DSC_0344_289,4

The Sciquarium has a couple of lab areas, where the kids can watch staff work with the animals, including the Living Lab, where animals are quarantined when they first arrive at the center, to ensure health, or to isolate an animal that seems ‘off’.

The Sciquarium has a large wall that features animals of the Amazon, as well as several other large exhibits that feature unique animals like the Fisher Cat.  The area also houses Asian Small Clawed Otters, including a batch of 5 babies that were born last November.

The Greensboro Science Center is a great place to spend half a day while you are in Greensboro!  They are located just down the road from the Guilford Courthouse National Battlefield, and the 2 together would make a great day trip!DSC_0357_302,2
The Greensboro Science Center is a popular destination for school field trips, so if you are planning a visit during the school year, and on a weekday, it is advisable to plan your outing for the afternoon timeframe.  Plan on a minimum of 2 hours for your visit.
The center has a great gift shop, a cafeteria area, and even a Fresh Market Cafe, which offers fresh, health conscious food choices.  Definitely a great destination if you are anywhere in the area!

More educational Kindle apps…

I’m adding a few more apps to the list of our FAV schooling apps on our ‘Roadschooing via Kindle’ page; all math ones this time…

King of Math Junior is a cute app that lets you practice your math facts, starting with counting (yay for pre-reader Molly!) and covers +, -, x, division, simple geometry, comparing (less/more), puzzles, measuring (weight/volume, review time, patterns…), and fractions. This is the cutest app!  It’s a a little addictive – you earn points for correct answers to work your way up the renaissance era class system.  Your progress is saved under your name – you start as a farmer, and work your way up the ladder (through bard, alchemist, ogre or ogress, knight…10 levels) I won’t ruin it for you; I had to keep playing until I’d ‘reached the top’ just to see what my next occupation was, and check out the pics (and boys and girls have different pics)! LOL!  <3

King of Math is an more advanced version of KoM Jr.  Runs pretty much the same, subjects are: +, -, mixed 1 (mixed + and -), x, division, arithmetic, geometry, fractions, powers, statistics, equations, and mixed 2 (various mixed problems).  Same premise of earning points thru correct answers to move up the class ranks (blacksmith, merchant, jester…)  avatars not cutesy like Jr. version, more humorous.  Fun graphics, and covers lots of different types of equations.

Geometry Quest
is a tour around around the world, that is, if you can pass each level without losing your passport  ;)  7 levels, 28 questions in each level, 3 wrongs and your out.  Simple app, covers shapes up to 10 sides (names, # vertices), area and perimeter, lines, radius and diameter, angles, graphing, slope, volume, equations (? from last level: A line that is perpendicular to y=-(1/5)m+6 must have the slope… options are 4, 5, 6, 8 (answer is 5) ;) ).  Questions are varied, so it’s not repetitive, and gets harder as you progress.  If you get all 28 answers right, then you earn a passport stamp for that level.

BTW – Kindles are on sale right now…
7″ Kindle Fire HD 8GB is $20 off, and the 16GB is $40 off!
Just in case you wanted to know that…   ;)




Fun at the Greensboro Children’s Museum…

We’ve been enjoying our stay in North Carolina very much!  Now that the ice has melted, the kids and I have been getting out and about while the others have been volunteering with ice storm cleanup.  I’ve been trying to get the work crew to bring me home some decent pictures to post, but they’ve been too busy working to bother with my request! LOL!

Last Thursday, the littlest 6 and mom spent the day in Greensboro.  We first visited the Greensboro Historical Museum, then walked across the street to finish out our day at the Greensboro Children’s Museum!

The kids loved it right away, and beat me to the front, where there is a maze painted on the ground…DSC_0141_040In the lobby are some fun tables full of blocks, and big nuts and bolts, to keep the kidlets busy while you get tickets.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an armchair in a children’s museum before,DSC_0148_047but this one sure was a hit with the kids!  It was so fun the girls ASKED to have their picture taken in it!  :)

DSC_0152_051 The well-maintained museum is over 33,000 sq ft, chock full of energy burning activities!
Heading down Main Street,


the girls’ first stop was The Market.


This fun grocery store had lots of realistic groceries to choose from, including the store bakery, were the kids could dress up in the baker’s coat and assist the customers to choose their foods out of the stocked case.  DSC_0167_066The market has multiple checkouts, and the tills are stocked with play money. Peanut is quite the little worker, and went from being the produce manager, to the baker, to the cashier… (she is just a Very Busy child all the time! LOL!)
DSC_0163_062Course, if the girls would have been thinking ahead, they probably would have hit the Pizza Pan before grocery shopping instead of after, and saved money by not shopping on empty stomachs  ;)DSC_0226_119The Get Out and Play area was one of Caleb’s favorites!

DSC_0175_071 Did you know that Greensboro is the North American headquarters for Volvo truck?  Volvo employs over 2,000 workers here, and has a strong community presence.  They are a major supporter of the Children’s Museum, including donating this fun truck and sponsoring this area of the museum!
Caleb loved to walk up the stairs (on the passenger’s side) and go in and ‘drive’ Mack (sorry Volvo – that little Cars fan is pretty convinced this is the real ‘Mack’.  LOL!)

DSC_0179_075 Caleb was so excited in this area, running back and forth between the semi and ‘Lightening’ (which is really a Petty Enterprises car!!!)…  ;)
Caleb takes after his brother Eli, and likes cars, and power, and fast, so he was quite content to park it in this room!  ;)
DSC_0191_085He would have been happy to stay in this area, with it’s race car, fire truck, semi, and police car, all afternoon!DSC_0183_079But we were able to bribe him to the next room, where we found the quaint Elm Street Train Depot!  Greensboro is called The Gateway City because it was a major train hub; from Greensboro, you could catch the train to ‘anywhere’. DSC_0194_088

Kids can climb on the Gate City Express, toss on the coal, and speed down the tracks!  No, really!

The pint sized train has an interactive coal fire; the ‘fire’ must be on a motion sensor because when the kids toss in the mock coal piece in, the fire ‘stokes’ up and lights the cab.  The engineer can then sound the train whistle, and steam on down the track… the kids can choose to move along slowly, or speed up the locomotive, and cover the miles on the screen over the fire…

DSC_0202_096The Gate City Express also has a fun dining car, complete with a silver tea service so riders can relax in style as they puff down the tracks…DSC_0209_102Next they can time travel across the room


to a DC-9 jet where they can be the pilot, or a passenger who makes a quick exit down the slide…
DSC_0228_121…right next to the jet kids can make their own planes at a paper airplane station!

Joel loved this magnetic …building…thingy…
I don’t know what it was called, but it had all sorts of ramps and tubes that clung to the wall, and he could build ball ramps, making jumps and drops, and experimenting with how extreme he could make the course before the ball would veer off the track and bounce away.
DSC_0231_124 The GCM has a mock Post Office complete with boxes to sort on the conveyor belt, and transfer bins and sorting counter.  There is a customer window, and a couple of different mail boxes.


All of the different ‘locations’ down Main Street have postal boxes, so the kids can even deliver the mail down to the market or the doctor’s office, or the bookstore….

Right next to the Post Office was another favorite with my tribe.  The News Station!  With props for the news, the weather, and a cooking show, the kids had a great time ‘being on TV’ (now if they would only be so at ease and themselves in front of the real thing! LOL!).DSC_0253_146 The littles spent a bit of time in the craft area, creating art, but my favorite stop in the museum was Peanut’s also.  DSC_0260_153Nonie’s house is an adorable traditional cottage with a front porch, complete with rockers, that overlooks a garden and chicken coop.  Inside, it’s a typical ‘gramma’s house’, and Peanut had a great time cooking up dinner for Caleb (they had spaghetti ;) )…DSC_0257_150I loved this museum!  The cheerful staff goes through occasionally and tidies up the areas so they are neat and organized for the next kids.  Nothing like showing up at Nonie’s house and finding the kitchen just as gramma would have left it.  <3

There were many other rooms also, like the Theater, where the kids put on quite a few rousing concerts for me!  DSC_0271_164The other kids would dress up in crazy costumes (everything from a turtle to renaissance dresses), and put on skits or do dance and music.  Daniel had a grand time running the sound board – there were so many sound effects – from “IT’S SHOW.TIME!!!” to clapping, from a calvary charge to the bling of a fairy godmother wand.  The theater even had adjustable lighting, and a ticket booth complete with tickets.

We visited on a beautiful spring day – the first day of spring to be exact.  The perfect time to check out the Children’s Museum’s Edible Schoolyard.
DSC_0286_179The edible schoolyard has the distinction of being the country’s first edible garden at a children’s museum!  The GCM’s edible schoolyard opened in 2010, and covers half of an acre.  The goal of the ESY is to teach kids how their food choices affect their health, environment, and the community. DSC_0287_180On your walk through the ESY, you can follow the book path, and read the story that is posted along the path.  While we were there, the book was Henry’s Freedom Box, the story of Henry ‘Box’ Brown, a slave who mailed himself, in a wooden box, from down in the south up to freedom in the northDSC_0290_183The Edible Schoolyard offers summer camps, birthday parties, even cooking classes, including some that are child/parent, for teens (exceptionally popular!), to adult directed classes.   The museum has all sorts of extracurricular activities to participate in, and for all age brackets (I’m pretty sure ‘handcrafted cocktails’ is not for the schoolyard crowd ;) ); the different events are detailed on the GCM website, link below.DSC_0147_046There are fun activities in this part of the museum also.  A teepee for the kids to explore, a ‘sun tunnel’ for them to check out, even an area just to dig in the dirt.DSC_0292_185 The ESY also has chickens and bunnies!  Since it’s only March, the garden is just coming to life, but it will soon be filled with edible plants.  It’s a great concept to help kids understand where their food comes from who might not otherwise get to learn about a garden, and to help them make wise food choices.

So, what did we think of the Greensboro Children’s Museum???
Well, this was Peanut when it was time to go…

Yep, that happy to be heading home.

The Greensboro Children’s Museum is conveniently located downtown, right across the street from the Greensboro Historical Museum.  The GCM has it’s own parking lot (tho not big rig friendly), and is situated just a block from the train station – if you are staying in an outlying town, riding the train in and walking to the Children’s Museum and the Historical Museum, would make for a memorable and enjoyable day trip!

The GCM is open Tues – Sun.  Ticket prices can be found here, as are the details for $2 ‘First Friday’, which is the first Friday of each month, from 5 to 8 pm (other Friday nights, from 5 to 8, are $4).  The GCM is an ACM member museum, so if you have the ACM membership, you will get half price off of the regular admission.
If you are in the surrounding area, or heading up the east coast now that ‘spring’ is supposedly ;) here, mark your calendars for April 12 – it’s Family Fun Day at the Greensboro Children’s Museum; entrance is free for all!  There will be lots of extra ‘visitors’, including Olivia the Pig (from the children’s book), and they will even have a special Playmobil exhibit (don’t tell my tribe – they LOVE Playmobil, and we will no longer be in the area!).DSC_0145_044 We had a great time visiting downtown Greensboro and the Greensboro Children’s Museum!  It’s a fun place to stop to learn some local history and burn off some of that youthful energy.  :)

The Greensboro Historical Museum, NC…

After wrapping up our visit to Georgia, we pulled out last Sunday.  We overnighted in Charlotte; we tried to park in the Bass Pro Shops parking lot but since this one is part of a mall, we were asked to leave by an external security company (they were super nice about it!).   We went down the road to Walmart, which was fine, but then V didn’t get a chance to spend his B-day BPS gift card.  :(

Monday, we pulled in to a park just south-west of Winston-Salem, NC.  The drive up had been cold and rainy (we had to stop in Charlotte because we had the wipers on high, and still struggled to see the lines on the wet road with the glare from the headlights).  And it was that way for a bit.  Give me a blizzard any day…way easier than this awful ice! LOL!
Tuesday we woke up to everything being covered in a layer of ice…

DSC_0013_013We stayed off the icy roads, and Vaughn and the bigs stayed home and rested and relaxed.  It was a much needed family day  :)

Since then, dad and the bigs have been busy every day doing ice storm cleanup in nearby High Point.  Lots of chainsaw work and hauling off limbs.

The littles and I have had it a little easier  ;)
Last week we drove over to Greensboro for the day.  It’s about 45 minutes away (once you figure out the ill-signed detour due to road work on the way).
Our first stop was the…
DSC_0031_031 where we got the scoop on the best family-friendly stops in Greensboro!  The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable, and she had lots of brochures for both city and area destinations; there were a ton of things to choose from!  (Be sure to pick up the little Greensboro Visitor’s Guide magazine – it has some great coupons in the back!)
We decided our first stop would be the FREE Greensboro Historical Museum…DSC_0033_033 We were surprised by how nice it is!!!  The museum is paid for out of the city street taxes (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what he said); no reciprocal membership needed.
There are two floors of exhibits.  On the lower (which is really the second floor), there is a section of pottery…DSC_0075_074Then there were some beautiful rooms that were reproductions out of a local mansion…DSC_0040_040 And a fun gift shop (but unfortunately they were a little classy for bumper stickers. bummer. LOL!)…DSC_0043_043 Then we got to the chronologically ordered history of the state.  We loved this well-done, concise area.  The exhibits were brief enough that we wanted to check out all the info, displayed appealingly, and had lots of visuals that kept the littles interested.


This case is about the Guildford Courthouse, which is now a National Battlefield (and we’ll be visiting there this week!)…DSC_0051_050 The kids thought this board was a hoot!  ’It’s your choice’ has 5 different questions, each with 3 different options for answers.  You slide the question block to be underneath the answer that most represents how you would react to the question.  When you are all done answering the questions, you let go of the board, and it tips one way or the other, or stays level.  There is a small window to the right of the board – slide up the little lever, and it displays what side you would have been on in the Revolution.  The options are British Loyalist, Quaker, or American Patriot.
Of course we got American Patriot.  :DDSC_0053_052Fun and varied displays showed us the history of Greensboro…
DSC_0056_055There were some bigger than life portraits, with narration…DSC_0061_060 This area, like Augusta, our previous stop, has a history in textiles.  In fact, Wrangler grew out of one of the companies here (Blue Bell – and I thought BB was only an ice cream company in TX!), and there is a Wrangler factory right across the road from the museum!DSC_0066_065 The history of media in the area (don’t believe everything they feed you, folks ;) )…DSC_0074_073We really enjoyed the historical walkthru, but upstairs we found an even better section of the museum (IMHO)…
The John M and Isabelle F Murphy Collection of Confederate Firearms!

This is believed to be the largest collection of Confederate longarms in the world!
DSC_0081_080Mr. Murphy retired from the Navy; during his service, he was active duty in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters in WWII.

He and his wife amassed this large collection of CW era southern rifles, and collected the historical data on each one.  It’s a very interesting display!
DSC_0082_081 Sprinkled throughout this section of the museum are incredibly detailed paintings that depict CW sights.
This painting is titled, “Band of Brothers” by Don Troiani…
DSC_0086_085There was another area on the top floor called Welcome to the Gate City.  It depicts Greensboro businesses in the early 1900s.  Greensboro is called the Gateway City because it was a railroad hub, and thus was the Gateway to the rest of the nation.
The kids really liked the mock switchboard.  It took a bit of explaining on my part to give them the history of the telephone, and explain how phone calls would have been made in the early 1900′s!  They were pretty lost. LOL!  but before too long, they were busy putting calls through, and evesdropping on the lines!


…Ok, not really evesdropping ;) each connecting ‘number’ had a recording of a person telling about their life at that time…
DSC_0092_091the entrance to the area is made to look like the check-in area, or lobby, of the old Hotel Clegg…DSC_0096_095 and through the double doors on the other side of the lobby, is the town of Greensboro…DSC_0101_100each shop front opens into a mock schoolhouse…DSC_0109_008 theater…DSC_0113_012 or drug store…DSC_0115_014 there were others too, like the firehouse.  In the theater there was a movie playing – it shared the history of Greensboro, and explained that the city is named after Revolutionary war hero Major General Nathanael Green who was the commander of the American forces during the Battle of Guildford Courthouse.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Greensboro Historical Museum.


After we toured the inside, we walked through their grounds outside.


The buildings were not open, but it was a lovely day to be wandering among trees filled with buds that were just beginning to bloom,DSC_0132_031and some beautiful flowering bulbs. It was especially delightful as it was the first day of spring, and the rest of the country (at least back home) were all posting pics of more snow and lamenting their freezing temps! LOL!    :D DSC_0138_037The Greensboro Historical Museum is an exceptional museum for being free!  It is clean, well laid out, and meticulously maintained.  It is open Tue – Sun, and you can visit the GHM’s website to check out times, get directions, and find more info on the museum.  There is a small parking lot behind the building, and a parking lot across the street, both exclusively for museum visitors (I didn’t see any big rig friendly parking as this is the downtown area of Greensboro).  I would suggest 1 to 2 hours to cover the museum, but set aside more if you like to read every plaque, or your kids will want to play in the ‘Welcome to Gate City’ for extended amounts of time like mine did! (we are leisurely tourists!) ;)
You can find out more about the GHM at the Greensboro Historical Museum website here.  :)

Camping in Georgia…

I had forgotten that I didn’t finish up our visit to Augusta, Georgia!
We were there for nearly 3 weeks, and spent most of that time at the Petersburg campground on Thurmond Lake, just nw of Augusta.
It is a lovely campground, with big sites that all have flat yard areas 9 (pea gravel) with a picnic table and fire ring.
The little girls caught snails in the lake…
DSC_0355_028 Which we did not let them keep.  While we were there, Vaughn and the 3 big kids would be gone all day, 6 days a week, in Augusta helping with the ice storm damage.  We had company over one of the weekends, and the day after she left I made a comment about the back room being smelly – Emma said that maybe it was her fault – and she pulled an unsealed ziploc bag out of her school drawer.  In it was a large, very dead snail that she had been saving since we were in New Jersey.  She said she didn’t want to throw it out because she found it when Greg was with us.  <3 , but ewww!  I still made her throw it out, despite her emotional attachment to it. LOL!  I wonder if our company noticed our unpleasant odor and figured it was because we have 9 kids in an RV (which I guess it kinda was!)ROFL!!!
The little girls were required to return theirs to the lake in short order.  ;)
DSC_0361_034 The little boys spent some time fishing…DSC_0632_005 And we celebrated Thomas’ 15th Birthday!!!  DSC_0640_013The kids and I took the kayaks out…DSC_0674_013 including Peanut taking the Hobie out herself (it’s the only one light enough), DSC_0687_026the little bay we were in was perfect for it.
DSC_0696_035 And we all rowed over to the boat docks to check them out.  The lake is a little bigger than our favorite one back home that we like to kayak around.  No chance doing this whole thing. LOL!DSC_0715_054 We even kayaked to the playground…DSC_0751_090

We had a great time in the Petersburg campground.  We caught lots of lizards, fished, played on the playground, had fun games of cornhole and pingpong, and lots of campfires.  We had a laundrymat across the street (a single washer and dryer in the bathhouse), fabulous camp hosts (both in our loop, and at the gate), and even got lots of schoolwork done (and was ruefully reminded to never try to do any bookwork AFTER a field trip – none of us managed good attitudes! LOL!)


We loved our time here and in Augusta, and hope to be back someday!