Popular Posts

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kellogg Discovery Center: Battle Creek, Michigan

A one-tank trip article that appeared in the Northwest Indiana Times in 2010. This place was quite interesting! It was one stop on a lovely trip that began in Shipshewana and Nappanee in Indiana and then extended up to Battle Creek, Michigan.


Historic village reflects Adventist lifestyle, highlights Dr. Kellogg

ONE TANK TRIP: BATTLE CREEK, MICH.
April 10, 2010 12:00 am  •  
The medical advances that have come about in our country are truly amazing.
When you think of the treatments, vaccines and machines available in the present day, it's hard to imagine that people once died of illnesses that afflict very few today.
 It also wasn't all that long ago that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was hard at work creating machines and methods for maintaining good health. At the interactive Kellogg Discovery Center on the west end of Battle Creek, you can learn about his career and some of the many health-related inventions he created. Some of his exercise machines may seem silly now, like a machine that vibrates your body, but others caught on, like a rowing machine. The one on display is similar to his model that was used on the Titanic.
 Kellogg ran a sanitarium in Battle Creek and was an advocate of holistic medicine, nutrition, exercise and vegetarianism as keys to overall good health.
Exhibits show the sanitarium decades ago when it was booming as a draw for the wealthy looking to extend their longevity. The welcome center also has a small theater for viewing a short documentary on Kellogg and his brother, Will, and their invention of Corn Flakes breakfast cereal. The lower level houses a gift shop.
 When the Great Depression hit, the number of rich patients who had frequented the sanitarium dwindled, but it continued operating until World War II when it became an Army hospital. It later was used as a government facility housing federal offices.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. Now known as the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, it can be toured for free on weekdays on a limited basis.
 A Seventh-Day Adventist, Kellogg's sanitarium was located near an Adventist village. Now called the Historic Adventist Village, the three-block area includes several original buildings, along with some that have been replicated. Some of the restored buildings date back to the 1850s and give a glimpse into what life was like for the spiritual residents of this tight-knit community.
 On a tour, a costumed guide takes you through several buildings explaining the housewares and covers the lives of significant figures who founded the village. A meeting house, deacon's home, a log cabin, church and school house are among the structures. 
Allow at least a couple hours for a leisurely look at the village and the Kellogg Discovery Center to get a good understanding of the lifestyle. On our tour, our guide asked for volunteers and gave the youngsters an opportunity to see how grueling chores were for children at that time.
 Informal tours of the historic neighborhood began in the 1950s and little by little, additional structures were restored and added. The village has regular hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but in the off-season only the Kellogg Discovery Center and James and Ellen White home are open for tours from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Appointments can be made for groups of 10 or more.  



For more information:
* Dr. John Harvey Kellogg Discovery Center, 411 Champion Street, Battle Creek, Mich., (269) 965-3000, ADVENTISTHERITAGE.ORG
* Historic Adventist Village, 480 West Van Buren Street, Battle Creek, Mich., (269) 965-3000,ADVENTISTHERITAGE.ORG
 How to get there: I-80 E to I-94 East to exit 92 Battle Creek to I-94-BR. Go right on Dickman Road, then left on Kendall Street. Left on Jackson Street, right on Wood Street, right on Champion Street.
 Admission: Donation requested for admission.
 Hours: Sunday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day. Open year round on Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m.
What to bring:
* Your camera -- for photos of the grounds and historic structures and some of the interesting medical devices invented by Dr. Kellogg
* The whole family -- It's an educational and entertaining visit for any age group. Just be aware that getting a stroller in and out of the many buildings may be difficult and a tight squeeze.
* Pack a bag -- Make it an overnighter and also take in the nearby zoo, a museum or some of the other historic or natural sites.
 You'll like: Learning about the lifestyles of the pioneers who settled to form the historic village in the mid-1800s.
 Kids will like: The interactive exhibits in the Kellogg Discovery Center offer some early creations for exercise and good health.
 And don't miss: Take time to also stop and visit the Binder Park Zoo. There's an amazing African-themed area that transports you to a wildlife park where you're able explore many of the animals native to Africa and even hand feed a giraffe.



Civil War Museum: Kenosha, Wisconsin

In the coming weeks, I'm going to post some of the travel pieces I've written that have appeared in the Northwest Indiana Times. This one printed on October 23, 2010. I was very impressed with this museum and Kenosha remains one of our family's favorite getaway spots. With plenty of museums amd indoor activities, it makes for a great cold-weather destination, but if you visit during the winter, you MUST return in the summer to take full advantage of the lovely beaches!




Civil War Museum highlights Midwestern contributions

October 23, 2010 12:00 am  •  


Although no Civil War battles were fought on the soil of Wisconsin, the upper Midwest felt the effects of the war through the hundreds of thousands of individuals that went off to fight for the cause – a total of more than 740,000 from the states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.
So, it is only fitting that a museum highlighting the contributions of those men be placed in the Midwest. The two–story, 58,000-square-foot Civil War Museum in Kenosha, Wis., opened in 2008.
The main exhibit area is called "The Fiery Trial" and takes visitors on a chronological journey through the second half of the 19th century to give a sense of life before, during and following the war. As your tour begins, placards and video introduce you to the struggles of slavery and demonstrate what a small portion of the population was made up of African Americans in the free states through census reports. A gallery follows Lincoln in the years leading up to the war.
Lifelike interpreters tell their stories of facing the unknown as they headed off to the warfront, setting off in a railcar. You then wind around to "Seeing the Elephant" (a phrase that means "seeing battle"). A battle laser map is part of the 360–degree immersion exhibit that places you in the middle of the action.
Surrounding the exhibit are cases highlighting each state in the upper Midwest and on the outer portion of the circle are weapons, supplies, uniforms, musical instruments and other tools. Details of the draft can be read, along with the exceptions that were made for those who were wealthy enough to be relieved of duty.
Additional exhibits return you home via riverboat to a world much different from the one left behind. Social, economic, industrial and cultural changes are covered. You exit to a memorial and cemetery dedicated to the many soldiers who lost their lives.
Also on the first floor is a Veterans Memorial Gallery honoring soldiers of all wars that have affected the United States. A sculpture of Civil War soldiers around a campfire sits under a fiber optic sky surrounded by military memorabilia.
Upstairs a resource center is available for further research and a space for changing exhibits. Running through Dec. 5 is "It's a Grand Old Flag," an interesting collection of 19th century flags, which includes a battle flag from a Kenosha volunteer infantry. Opening Dec. 11 is an exhibit dedicated to Civil War fashions.
The museum is one of three in the Kenosha Public Museums Foundation Inc. and is situated on the lakefront beside the Kenosha Public Museum at HarborPark.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Road trips for the holiday break


The past week was hopefully full of presents and food and time with family as the Christmas holiday was celebrated. It’s always such a whirlwind of activity and most kids in the region still have at least another week off of school, so there’s time for lots more fun. The upcoming week is a perfect time to connect as a family with a little road trip. It can be short or long. It can be near or far. If you have an empty calendar this week and are looking for some family fun, here are some of my suggestions based on our family’s wintertime trips of the past. Hop in the car and have a little fun, either in your own back yard or a little beyond. Be sure to check hours in advance as some attractions close on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day or have shortened hours.

1)      Indiana Welcome Center – This place is just a hop, skip and a jump away, but through January 6, the free “A Christmas Story Comes Home” exhibit remains on display, with elaborate scenes from the classic movie, “A Christmas Story” created by Hammond Native Jean Shepard. The John Dillinger Museum is also located in the center and can be toured for a nominal fee. Because it’s a tourism center, it’s also jam packed with brochures and booklets that you can peruse to start planning your next family trip together. Finish off the afternoon with lunch next door at Cracker Barrel and then head over to Peteyville at 3033 Crane Place in Hammond (last day up is December 31) to check out the elaborate holiday display.
2)      Chanute Air Museum – This expansive museum in Rantoul, Illinois is dedicated to the accomplishments of Octave Chanute, the Chanute Air Force base that once occupied the site and the history of military aviation and Illinois aviation. For any fans of aeronautics, this is a wonderful collection of aircraft that spans decades. I especially liked learning about the area and how it was once a bustling base. Kids will love seeing these planes up close and seeing how huge they really are. We visited in early January and the crowds were small and there were opportunities for some great photos.
3)      Springfield – Anyone who lives in Illinois and who hasn’t been to ours state’s capital needs to add it to their travel bucket list. Not only is it worth it just to get a glimpse at the many government buildings (the interior dome of the state capitol is amazing!) but there are also the many Lincoln attractions to be enjoyed, many of which are free. Lincoln’s Home can be as well as Lincoln’s Tomb. The Abraham Lincoln Museum is a must see, with two state-of-the-art theatres that will amaze you, rooms full of Lincoln family artifacts and detailed historic information on the Civil War. We stayed at the Hilton Springfield, which is within walking distance of some attractions.
4)      Splash Universe – A favorite activity of our family when traveling is to visit water parks. With the frightful weather outside, it’s nice to be able to splash in the water inside where it’s warm. If you’re up for a drive, there are several great spots in Wisconsin Dells to visit with plenty of indoor water fun. A little closer to home is Splash Universe in Shipshewana. The area is home to a big population of Amish and while you won’t be able to visit the roadside farmstands or see an abundance of buggies going down the road, the area always seems so tranquil and slow-paced and it’s a perfect place to relax for a couple days. The indoor water park is ideal for ages 10 and under.
5)      Chicago – It’s always fun to play tourist for a day or two and see the big city that’s so close. Navy Pier has lots of indoor fun, including the Chicago Children’s Museum. Recently, our family made our first visit to the John Hancock Center Observatory, which was a lot of fun. Lincoln Park Zoo is a fun spot if you’re willing to brave the weather.

And a few others that make for a nice cold-weather road trip or day trip:
Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, South Bend, Fair Oaks Farms, Michigan City in Indiana; Battle Creek or Grand Rapids in Michigan; Milwaukee, Kenosha in Wisconsin and Galena, Rockford or Gurnee in Illinois.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Miracle on 34th Street playing at Round Barn Theatre

With some time of off school for the kids coming up, I always try to squeeze in a little over-nighter or short getaway during the holiday break. For those families who'd like to get away, but not travel far, Indiana's Amish Country is a great option. We like to stay at the Splash Universe Shipshewana, which has an indoor water park. It's a great place to have fun as a family while it's cold outside.

I was looking up what's going on in that area this month and I see that the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres is having a performance of Miracle on 34th Street. Sounds to me like a wonderful way to spend a chilly evening with family.

Details are below. Tickets can be ordered online at www.amishacres.com.



November 14 – December 31
Adapted by Mountain Community Theater from the novel by Valentine Davies; based upon the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture Miracle on 34th Street.
Musical Arrangements by Travis Smith

Produced by special arrangement with the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois.

Adapted from the novel by Valentine Davies and the hit MGM film, this musical play tells the classic tale of Kris Kringle, a charming elderly gentleman who stumbles into a job as the department store Santa Claus at Macy’s in New York City.  Kris unleashes waves of good will with Macy’s customers and the commercial world of New York City when he ignores instructions to steer parents to goods that Macy’s sells, and instead refers them to other stores to find exactly what their child has asked for. Seen as deluded and dangerous by Macy’s vocational counselor, Kris ends up in a court competency hearing to prove to the world that he is in fact Santa Claus. Especially at stake is one little girl’s, Susan Walker, belief that dreams really do come true if you will open your heart and believe. 

Lansing Historical Museum has free tree exhibit

For the past 15 years of so, I've been involved with the Lansing Historical Society and I'm always amazed at the great job that is done in putting up the annual holiday "Festival of Lights" exhibit, which many have said rivals the holiday tree exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

The exhibit includes over 30 trees, each decorated to represent a different country, culture or aspect of life in Lansing. There's also a collection of nativity scenes and Santa himself resides in the museum for naptime. Admission is free. The exhibit continues through December 29. Hours are 6 - 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 3 - 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m .to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.




Thursday, December 13, 2012

Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum

I haven't had as much time to post on this page as I'd like since I also have two other very active blogs along with several Facebook pages that I manage in addition to my other writing work. Oh, yeah, and I have five kids, too, that keep me a tad busy. So, I thought I'd start sharing some of my previously published articles here when I don't have time for a lengthy post. There are so many interesting places we've been in the 13 years that I've been doing travel writing. For many years, I wrote "One-Tank Trip" articles for the Northwest Indiana Times, but last year as things were getting trimmed down, that column was one of the casualties. And I really miss it. Here's a one-tank trip article I wrote back in 2006 on the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum. Having boys who love anything with an engine, this was a perfect place to take them. And being a history buff, I was fascinated by all I was learning there. I think it was the trip that I first really learned who the Tuskegee Airmen were. I'd love to repeat the trip again soon. It was a nice place to visit in the winter. If you decide to check it out, be sure to comment and let me know how you enjoyed it.

Here's some updated information on hours and ticket prices from the website, www.aeromuseum.org.


Normal Hours - Mar 19 thru Nov 21, 2012
Monday thru Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 PM
Winter Hours - Effective Nov 23, 2012 thru Mar 10, 2013
Monday thru Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 Noon - 4:00PM
Holiday Hours
Easter: Closed - Apr 8, 2012 (Sunday)
Thanksgiving: Closed - Nov 22, 2012 (Thursday)
Christmas: Closed - Dec 25, 2012 (Tuesday)
New Years: Closed - Jan 1, 2013 (Tuesday)
Admission Prices:
Adults
$10.00
Seniors(62+)$  8.00
Active / Retired Military $  8.00
Students(K-12)$  5.00
Children(4 years or under)$  FREE





One-Tank Trip: Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, Rantoul, Ill


January 21, 2006 12:00 am  •  
The Wright Brothers often are the first names that come to mind at the mention of aviation. The name Octave Chanute may not be as familiar. However, he was experimenting with aviation long before the Wright brothers took to the sky.
A military base, which opened in Rantoul, Ill., in 1917, was named Chanute Field in his honor. After the Chanute Air Force Base closed in 1993, one of the buildings was converted into a museum, which is full of historical exhibits pertaining to Chanute, the military and Rantoul.
As you turn onto Century Boulevard leading to the museum, it's as if you've suddenly driven into a ghost town. Empty barracks sit along the street of what was once a bustling air base, which reached its peak population of 25,000 soldiers during World War II. A large military plane greets you as you reach the museum.
Once you step inside the museum, this ghost town comes alive with the faces of personnel that served at the base with exhibits that chronicle the history of military aviation. Several small planes are on display in an exhibit called Illinois Pioneers in Aviation and many more are housed in the attached hangar.
Visitors can start their self-guided tour next to the gift shop in one of a series of rooms full of artifacts once used at the base. One room is full of Frasca Flight simulators, one is dedicated to POWs, another has an example of what the barracks once looked like and another has an exhibit on the Korean War.
The Illinois Pioneers in Aviation exhibit recognizes some of the blacks who have played a significant role in aviation, including Robert H. Lawrence Jr., who was the first black astronaut and Cornelius Coffey, the first black to hold both a pilot's license and an aviation mechanic's license and to establish an aeronautical school in the U.S. An adjacent room has a display on the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first all-black Air Corp. Squadron in 1941. An expanded room will open in June.
The Rantoul Historical Society also operates a museum in the building, offering visitors a look at the past.
Along the first main hallway is a visual timeline of the base's history with photos. The historical displays are fascinating, but what is most impressive is the large collection of military aircraft, which, with the exception of a few replicas, were all used at the base at one point.
The museum houses about 40 aircraft in all, including a B-25 Mitchell, B-58 Hustler and an F-104 Starfighter. The F-104 was the USAF's first Mach-2 fighter and held the world's speed and altitude records in the early 1960s. The one on display was used at Chanute for inspection purposes.
In the hangar, you'll also see an airport firetruck and replica of a 1931 field staff car, which cost $630 when it was purchased new. There also is a missile silo that was used for training.
Just outside the hangar are several more planes, including two that are in the process of being restored. The outdoor fleet is made up of larger planes and you'll find a Navy seaplane and a B-47 in the group.
What to bring ...
* The kids or the grandkids. The young ones will love seeing the enormous military jets on display.
* A light jacket or sweater if visiting in cooler weather. There is a place to check your coats, but if you plan to spend time looking around in the hangar, you'll probably get a little chilly, so bring an extra layer.
* Some cash for an aviation-related souvenir or T-shirt in the gift shop.
* A camera to capture shots of some of impressive military planes or shots of the kids as pilots with their head in the cutout of a wooden life-size character.
How to get there ...
Take I-57 south to the Rantoul exit. Go east on Highway 136 (Champaign Avenue) to Century Boulevard. Turn right onto Century Boulevard. You'll see a sign (and a C-97 plane) at the corner of Flessner Avenue directing you to go left to the museum. (If you happen to see a pilot, call about fly-ins.)
What's there ...
An extensive collection of over 3,000 artifacts from when the area was an operating Air Force Base, including over 40 aircraft.
You'll like ...
Learning about the history of the base and seeing the faces of many pilots who were trained there.
The kids will like ...
Stepping down into a missile silo once used for training.
And don't miss ...
The Korean War Veterans Museum and National Library, located at the other end of the building.
If you go
Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays
Where: 1011 Pacesetter Drive, Rantoul, Ill.
Cost: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and retired military, $4 for children ages 4 to 12 and free for children 4 and younger
FYI: (217) 893-1613 or www.AeroMuseum.org

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Volo Auto Museum

Volo Auto Museum

If you love cars, you will love the Volo Auto Museum.  The huge site includes not only the auto museum, but a gigantic antique mall, or rather 5 malls strung together. Kids will love the Hollywood Showroom with movie vehicles, including the "Back to the Future" DeLorean and Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine. There are also some antique kiddie rides.

If you're in the market for a classic car, you'll also find dozens of cars for sale in climate controlled showrooms. A military exhibit showcases several military vehicles from different time periods. The 1950's food court and gift shop provides a blast from the past.

The museum is open daily all year round.

VOLO AUTO MUSUEM
27582 Volo Village Road
Volo, IL
815-385-3644
www.volocars.com