Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chattanooga: Day Two, Part Two

After Thomas, we went back to the hotel and traded our walking shoes for flip-flops and sandals so the kids could enjoy the water exhibits outside the aquarium and inside the Childrens' Museum.

We did the water exhibits first, because it was a Sunday morning and still relatively empty.  It was gorgeous out -- hot in the sun, perfect in the shade, and the sky was out of a painting, Carolina blue with puffy cottonball clouds.  WHM was slow to get in the water, but eventually started to enjoy it.

Not so sure about this whole water thing.  Maybe I'll just walk along the ledge.

Okay, fine, I'll try it, Daddy.

Help!  My britches are too long!

She is about to sit, not jump.  Don't worry.
Until, of course, he got wet.

Then he wasn't so happy.

He got over it, though, and survived.

(You'll notice that the redheads all have on long-sleeved shirts.  That's intentional.  We're so fair, I don't need my kiddos getting sunburns.  Yes, we do sunscreen, but if it's not 200 degrees outside, I try to put them in cool long-sleeves whenever practical.)

The Childrens' Discovery Museum opened at noon, and we got there right at noon.  I was parched, though, so before we went in, we stopped at the Dino-Mite Cafe and got me a sweet tea and Mick a Diet Coke.  The kids were impatient.  Whoops.

The museum entrance is in two places, and if you enter to the left, you get to go through a water exhibit with a giant (three-story) "riverboat" that you can climb up, over, across, and slide down ... what I love is that besides being clean and study, it is also handicapped accessible, AND they want parents on it.  Most places limit their stuff to kids and at that, to kids of a certain size, but this is accessible -- or at least most of it -- for wheelchairs, and there are signs everywhere welcoming parents to climb, too.  That was great, because it allowed WHM to do some stuff he might not have done (or been able to do) without me, including going down the long twisty slide.  I have to say, I would have done that all day long!

Driving the riverboat.

Playing with one of the water mechanisms downstairs.  The entire room has water stuff.  This one lets you spray water at different trajectories to make different things happen in the tank.

Upstairs in the riverboat.  This is actually only the second story.

Another cool thing was that the museum clearly has permanent exhibits and semi-permanent exhibits.  So although the basics were the same as last time we were there, some of the rooms were different.

Oh, look.  Trains. 
Archaeologist CAM.  She would have stayed here all day, but WHM was wet and I wasn't keen on the water/sand combo.  At this point, WHM and Mick were still playing with the train, but when they got here, we left before WHM had a chance to think he was missing out on anything.
Building ramps and tracks to let physics move the ball.
Here, I'm on a stage and the kids are controlling the lights and sound effects. 
And of course, there's a traveling exhibit. This time it was about the children of China.  Our kids weren't too excited about it (by comparison, last time was Bob the Builder, so it had more stuff to "do"). There's also a decently large outdoor roof terrace with simple machines that you can use to lift people, and it was warm enough -- but not insanely hot -- to still enjoy it.  Besides the machines they have "life-size" chess, and a potted garden.  A giant potted garden with a whole bunch of different plants.  They also had an experiment going to see if they could successfully grow tomatoes in bales of straw/hay, and Mick actually got to talk with the gardener about that, which was pretty cool.
One of the giant simple machines.  See that red chair?  You walk it around the base clockwise and that turns the screw.

Playing with the white balance.  Whoops.
 And because we were there so early, we had the place practically to ourselves!
On the way out, the kids got to put themselves in a giant bubble.  Super fun until WHM lost his mind that there were suds on his shoes.  Traumatic.
After the museum, we went to lunch at Sugar's Ribs, which is on a hillside overlooking much of Chattanooga.  We went there last June and enjoyed it, and so we went again this trip. 

 The food was hands-down some of the best barbeque I've had in months, and we eat 'que a lot (and I don't typically rave about food).  We sat outside on their covered porch and ate to our hearts' content.  They also have, strangely, a goat farm.  There is even a goat balance beam.  I am not kidding.


See? A goat balance beam.  I wasn't lying to you.  The goat walked down from the top of the hill to this particular platform before my own eyes. 

And then we headed home.  We weren't even out of Chattanooga before both kids were asleep, and they stayed that way 'til we were about half an hour from home.  I won't talk about how CAM pitched a full-on fit about not having gone to Cracker Barrel, though, won't talk about that at all. 

Verdict:  successful, relaxing, very fantastic, kidtastic, family-tastic little getaway for not a lot of money (a tank of gas, a hotel and some food; we already belonged to the aquarium and museum and the Thomas tickets were already paid for).

When we came home, a package from Grandma and Grandpa awaited the kids and was filled with these:

And you all know CAM is a huge Downton Abbey fan.  In fact, we called Grandpa a few weeks ago to ask him to send us his DVDs to borrow, and instead he and Grandma went out and bought CAM her very own set!  This afternoon while I tutored the kids watched Beauty and the Beast, and on our next trapped-inside rainy day, we'll do a D.A. marathon. 


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