Sand Flats Recreation Area – Moab, Utah

Slick Rock is amazing. I like the colors and shapes in particular, but it’s also nice just to sit and feel it. Hannah has decided that she likes climbing – everything. And I can’t even begin to keep up with Daniel. We all definitely agree that we like rock MUCH better than sand. I’ve always liked sand, but I discovered I don’t like hiking in sand. Hiking on rock, however, is a different story. You cover much greater distances much more easily.

On Friday night we stayed at Sand Flats Recreation Area in Moab, Utah. It is a pay campground – $15 overnight. This is a little steep since there is only a vault toilet with no other facilities, but it definitely is a nice campground and you’re really kind of paying for “entertainment” here. It appears that most people come prepared with their bikes or ATVs to swarm over the rocks in the morning and evening hours. Although we had neither, it was quite fun watching all the vehicles on the slick rock. After watching this for a couple of hours, we finally decided to give it a try with what we had available – our feet. Clambering over massive boulders and reaching the top to see amazing vistas was a terrific experience.

There is no water at this campground, but one thing we really liked is that you’re only about five to ten minutes from town and a well-stocked grocery store. We normally wouldn’t drive back into town for anything, but we had forgotten ice and really needed this. We were able to go to the store, buy ice and snacks and use my cell phone to call my husband, in less than an hour.

As for sleeping, this has been one of our favorite spots. Despite the fact that this is rock, the lower areas (including the campgrounds) are covered in a fine reddish dirt (from the rock) and the ground is quite comfortable. The bikers were out of the campground by 10:00 (curfew) so it was also quiet. We considered going back there for another night, but opted to use one of our hotel stays after a long day in Arches. This was definitely a great campground, though, and a nice recreation area whether or not you have all terrain vehicles.

(I’m having difficulty getting photos to load on here in any reasonable time, but they go onto FB just fine so I’m going to put the blog posts here and the photos on FB. I’ll combine them when I go home.)

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Kentucky Horse Park

Recently my daughter and I visited the Kentucky Horse Park so that she could try to meet some of her scout requirements to earn the horsemanship badge for American Heritage Girls, a Christian scouting organization. We had the pleasure of spending several hours at the park watching shows, visiting exhibits, touring the grounds and, of course, learning more about horses.

In addition to the shows that are included with the price of admission, visitors can walk through various barns, including the Big Barn, the Hall of Champions Barn, the Breeds Barn, the Kids Barn and the Mounted Police Barn. Each barn highlights something unique and visitors are certain to come away more knowledgeable. There is also a Farrier Shop where guests can learn about appropriate hoof care for horses and why it is necessary.

Set on more than 1,200 acres in the famous Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, visitors also have several museum options. Visiting these museums was one of my favorite parts of the horse park. The International Museum of the Horse was especially insightful, with exhibits that include historic artifacts, interesting facts and equine history recreations in miniature. Exhibits include Draft Horses in America, Horses in Sport, Horse Drawn Vehicles, Angels for Horses:  The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Al-Marah Arabian Horse Galleries and others.

While a visit to the horse park in person is ideal, if this is not possible, I would recommend a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park website for anyone who wants to research horses, equine breeds, equine history, etc. In regards to scouting requirements, it is possible to meet several of the requirements just by visiting the website. A link to the International Museum of the Horse site provides further resources and most exhibits are online as video or slide presentations so it’s really more like a virtual tour. Students could spend hours on this website alone learning about history related to the horse. For those who live close enough or who can travel, I would definitely recommend an in-person visit to the park.

In addition to general admission tickets, there are also options for season passes, group discounts and additional activities such as horseback rides. Traveling guests can choose to stay at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground for a reasonable nightly fee.

Whether you’re visiting the Kentucky Horse Park to meet scouting requirements or for a day of fun and entertainment, I’m sure your visit will be memorable and you’ll come away with a new appreciation of these beautiful animals.

Creation Museum

The wildflowers along the trail at the Creation Museum bring beauty to the landscape.

When considering explanations for the creation of our universe, it’s difficult to know where to go for accurate information. If you’re willing to consider various theories, including the possibility that a divine Creator is responsible for all the beauty we see around us, it’s an even greater challenge. Most of us don’t have much of a choice anymore. We take our children to museums where we are bombarded with evolution, stories of an old earth, and a conscious exemption of God, unless it’s to talk about human “myths.” Unfortunately, we receive these same messages on television, in school and the workplace, and sometimes even in church. There is a conscious effort in our society to ensure that upcoming generations have no faith in the Biblical accounts of creation, sin and redemption.

 

So what’s a parent to do? Perhaps you are a Christian and you just aren’t sure how to defend your faith from a scientific standpoint. Or perhaps you’re not a believer, but you are willing to consider the possibility that the earth and all that’s in it didn’t just evolve from a few specks of bacteria.

Even among families, you can see much diversity. Insect collections on display at the museum show some of the amazing differences within the same species.

At the Creation Museum, part of a 100,000 square-foot complex near Cincinnati, visitors can walk through fascinating state-of-the-art, family-friendly exhibits that share the story of mankind from creation through modern times. As you travel through the museum, you begin to develop a greater appreciation for the authenticity and authority of the Bible. Hard evidence from scientific fields such as astronomy, geology, physics, biology and anthropology support Biblical accounts of historical events – dating all the way back to creation. Visitors will be thrilled by all the wonderful things they can learn about our world if we take the time to study all the evidence and they will be amazed at how the evidence lines up with accounts passed down through the Bible.

This was one of my favorite displays. Scientific evidence supports the “orchard” theory (that various animals came from an original animal of that “kind”) much more than evolution’s “tree” theory (that all animals came from a single cell organism that changed into other organisms).

As a Christian parent, I greatly enjoyed the Creation Museum because the exhibits are designed not just to assert Biblical truths, but to show how these Biblical truths are evident throughout science, history, anthropology, medicine, and so many areas of our lives. As a writer, however, I was trying to put myself in the position of a non-believer or even a Christian who just wasn’t sure about all the Biblical accounts of history. This wasn’t difficult to do because I talk with a lot of people who say they are believers, but yet they still believe the earth is billions of years old, for example, or that we possibly could have evolved from some lower life form. I believe the designers of the Creation Museum have done an excellent job appealing to all groups of people – and it’s difficult to come away without a realization that perhaps our science teachers – and others in positions of authority – aren’t telling us everything.

These were some of my favorite flowers along the walking trail.

 

One thing I enjoyed most about the museum is the fact that they present an account of history based on scientific evidence. Yes, some of this i s even the same evidence used by evolutionists, but it is interpreted differently. Many evolutionists approach science with a pre-conceived bias that they already know what the answer is so they’re not really looking for the truth, but instead they’re trying to find a way to support what they already believe. It’s circular reasoning. Scientists at the Creation Museum have addressed this issue and allowed the evidence to speak for itself.

 

Another aspect of the museum we enjoyed was the fact that they do present the story and purpose of mankind. Why does man exist? Why does sin exist? How are we supposed to treat one another? What is our purpose in life? These are among many of the difficult questions addressed at the Creation Museum.   After touring the exhibits inside the museum, there is a beautiful flower-lined walking trail outside that leads to a petting zoo. The walking trail is a great place to reflect on the exhibits and even discuss some of the concepts with your family.

 

Whether or not you believe in a Divine Creator, I would highly recommend a visit to the Creation Museum. It was refreshing to visit a museum that wasn’t afraid to allow the science to be interpreted without the prejudiced eyes of those who have an agenda to push evolution. Since most of us have been raised in secular classrooms, your beliefs might be challenged. You will learn something new. Your eyes will be opened to scientific truths that have been hidden. And I believe you will come away with a new understanding and appreciation of Biblical truths.

 

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Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Even before you purchase your tickets, it’s obvious that the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is a magical place. The foyer has all sorts of interesting items that will catch your child’s imagination, including a life-size brontosaurus climbing through the entryway with a smaller baby brontosaurus. During our visit, there was also a temporary Transformers exhibit at the museum so we also were able to see Bumblebee in the entrance area.

After you purchase tickets and enter the museum, there are five floors of exhibits to choose from. Yes, literally five floors. This is the largest children’s museum in the world! We choose to begin at the bottom (in the Dinosphere) and work our way up.

Dinosaurs at Indianapolis Children's Museum

Dinosaurs at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The fossils collected at the Indianopolis Children’s Museum are amazing. We’ve been to a lot of museums and this is the most extensive collection of dinosaur fossils I’ve seen other than the National Museum of Natural History (part of the Smithsonian). With that said, the only disadvantage to this area (and subsequently my only criticism) is that there is no presentation of various theories of how the dinosaurs were preserved or the time in which they lived. As with most modern museums, it is assumed that the earth is billions of years old and the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. It would have been nice to see an exhibit or at least a small area dedicated to the fact that all these ideas are theory and that in fact the earth might be only thousands of years old and it’s possible that the dinosaur fossils were preserved through the Biblical flood event. But anyway, regardless of one’s beliefs about when the dinosaurs lived, you can’t help but be completely amazed at the presentation of these majestic creatures.

Adult Duckbill fossil

Adult Duckbill fossil

From the dinosphere, we back up toward the first floor. Since I was in a wheelchair for this visit, it was nice that there were ramps all over the museum. There is also an elevator, but the entire museum was wheelchair accessible. Awesome!

As we traveled back upstairs, we enjoyed an amazing exhibit about trains. There is a neat opportunity for visitors to sit in the back of a train while scenery buzzes by through a window so it looks like you’re really in a moving train. Even older visitors will enjoy this area.

Display of antique electric trains

Display of antique electric trains

Hannah in the back of the train while the scenery "moves" past the window.

Hannah in the back of the train while the scenery “moves” past the window.

One of my favorite exhibits was the Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit with replica soldiers from a terra cotta army found in China in 1974. Workers were digging a well when they found the first terra cotta soldiers – one of thousands. It’s an amazing story. This area of the museum has many fun activities, including a dig area where children (or adults!) can unearth a soldier.

Digging up a terra cotta soldier

Digging up a terra cotta soldier

Further on, we spent a good deal of time reassembling a sarcophagus lid in the Tomb of Seti I. The artifacts and hieroglyphs in this exhibit were beautiful and amazing to look at.

It took forever to put that sarcophagus lid back together. Someone's little hands are already preparing to dismantle it again... :)

It took forever to put that sarcophagus lid back together. Someone’s little hands are already preparing to dismantle it again… 🙂

On the lower level, we were also mesmerized by the Fireworks of Glass exhibit. This spectacular work of art was created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly and completed in 2006. Visitors can recline back on a revolving platform and look up at amazing works of glass art. The glass art is stunning and could literally captivate visitors’ attention for hours if not pulled away. If you have someone who doesn’t want to leave the area, just remind them that there is also a glass tower that extends all the way up through five stories that they can enjoy as they travel through the museum!

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Some of the amazing “Fireworks of Glass”

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More “Fireworks of Glass.” This glass art is a permanent exhibit and it is amazing.

Some other highlights of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum are temporary exhibits like Inside Hollywood (with a terrific collection of movie memorabilia), the SpaceQuest Planetarium, What’s Your Style and Take Me There: China. In the China exhibit, there are small replica buildings for a Chinese market, restaurant, and herbal shop. There is even a plane that can “take” you to China. One of my favorite parts of this exhibit, however, was the language demonstration. Both Hannah and I were able to learn some Chinese symbols from a couple of very sweet ladies visiting from China specifically to help others learn about their culture. We normally don’t buy souvenirs, but when we left the museum we even bought our own tools to do Chinese writing at home. (There are all kinds of goodies in the gift shop!)

This lady did an excellent job teaching visitors a little about Chinese writing. The girls were captivated.

This lady did an excellent job teaching visitors a little about Chinese writing. The girls were captivated.

In short, this is an amazing museum. I could literally write another few pages about the wonderful time we had there. I wouldn’t hesitate to strongly recommend a visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It really is the best children’s museum we’ve ever visited and there is something for everyone. Here are some final notes…

You can find hours and admission prices here.

Most of the exhibits we visited are permanent, but you can always read about exhibits here.

There is a food court for easy accessibility to food during your stay. I would recommend that you make plans to eat here so you don’t have to leave the museum. The food was reasonably priced and tasty (although the chili was a little spicy!). More information for the food court is here.

Parking is free and directly beside or in front of the museum. There was also plenty of handicapped parking with easy accessibility. I had encountered difficulty all week with parking and accessibility at various places so it was definitely refreshing to find a place that actually did have good wheelchair access.

Service at the museum was excellent. From the front door through various exhibits and into areas such as the food court and the gift shop, service was top notch. Workers were polite, served with a smile and eager to help.

Plan to stay for a full day. We arrived at the museum when it opened. Later, we ate lunch in the food court, which only took about 30 minutes, and we didn’t leave until the museum closed at 5:00. Even with an entire day, we still didn’t have time to see all the exhibits (although we spent a lot of time in each one we visited). If you can only visit for a few hours, then by all means do so, but if you live near the museum, I would recommend one of the membership packages the museum has to offer.

Finally, if you’re able, take a camera or phone that can take photos. Throughout the museum there are opportunities to take photos and post to social media. Or just take them for your own collection, but you’ll want keepsakes of the visit if possible. If not, don’t worry. With the life-size dinosaurs, spectacular fossils, amazing exhibits and countless opportunities for fun and learning, you’re not likely to forget a visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum!

Life of Washington – book review

If you’re looking for an absolutely terrific history book that hasn’t been modified to satisfy the liberals trying to force “political correctness,” then you need to read this book!

Originally published in 1842, the reprint has retained original spelling and vocabulary (a GREAT way to build vocabulary skills).  It shares stories from George Washington’s life that integrate his faith and character.

This should be essential reading for all students  of American History.  It would be especially beneficial for homeschool families (or other educators) who want to integrate original, classic works into their studies.

Sonya Haskins

Publisher:  Attic Books  /  New Leaf Publishing Group (Another wonderful option from New Leaf PG!)

Format:  Hardcover

Retail Price:  $16.99

Publication Date:  reprint of 1842 vintage original text  (reprinted in 2

Living Fossils Teacher’s Manual

 

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With so much confusion today about how life originated, Living Fossils, by Dr. Carl Werner, brings a ray of light into the educational community with non-biased scientific data to explore Darwin’s theory of evolution, present prejudices in the scientific community, and the significance of fossils. The author does a fabulous job of helping the student develop discernment in regards to how we interpret fossilized remains.  It’s wonderful to find a book that examines this material in detail for students from junior high to college level that actually pays attention to the data rather than trying to adhere to a politically correct myth. 

The teacher’s manual provides chapter objectives, class discussion questions and tests and answers that complement the textbook perfectly.  Now students can test their knowledge through true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer questions. 

In addition, there are other teacher-friendly tools such as a test record and perforated pages that can be easily removable if you want to administer tests outside the paperbound book. 

Since I believe everyone should have to take a science course that includes the Living Fossils textbook, I recommend the Living Fossils Teacher’s Manual highly enough!

Sonya Haskins

www.thehomeschooladvocate.com