Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Newest Junior Rangers of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Following along on our fall break field trip to Ohio?

We spent the first day at the Girl Scout National Convention in Columbus.
We spent the second day touring Native American mounds near Chillicothe.

And on this day we were in Dayton, seeing all the things related to the Wright Brothers and the first airplanes!

We saw the actual Wright Flyer in the Smithsonian, so these are mock-ups:

This is a dresser built by Wilbur and Orville Wright when they were CHILDREN. I'm starting to feel like the Girl Scout Woodworking badge isn't quite cutting it now...

Here's a model of the first working engine on a Wright Flyer.

And here's a model of the first working propeller system, an innovative design!

There was also an exhibit on parachutes, because parachutes are pretty important in the history of airplanes!
I don't normally love Junior Ranger badge books that can be completed solely in the visitor's center, but the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is kind of different, in that in incorporates sites around the city. Each small site has its own special Junior Ranger badge, the first of which the kids earned in the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, whose Park Ranger swore the children to an oath that will serve me well through the rest of their childhoods:

I'm a mean mom in that when I travel with the kids, we might have one special meal or two, but otherwise, we eat our packed food or we go hungry! The downside is that I may not eat another sandwich until the NEXT time we travel, but the upside is that our picnic spots often include something quite worth exploring--such as this Little Free Library behind the visitor center!

The books were all a little damp (it rained all night, and it's going to pour again later on this day, you'll see), but I found a copy of Glass Castle that I encouraged Will to take, so score!

Also on the subject of travel food: as part of a Girl Scout badge, and because doing all the travel prep work myself is tiring, I required each kid to research and create one main dish or snack item for this trip. Will learned that making trail mix that includes anything chocolate is a BAD idea if the food will be anywhere above room temperature, such as in a car on a 90-degree day in Chillicothe, but Syd found an epic recipe that she's already planning to use again on a Girl Scout overnight later this month. Seriously, it SAVED our meals on this trip!

Although later we'd have to drive to Huffman Prairie, Google Maps told me that our next stop, Paul Lawrence Dunbar's house, was only .8 of a mile from where we were right then, so of COURSE we walked it.

Maybe we shouldn't have, because Syd exclaimed in delight at all the deflated balloons she saw along the side of the road... but anyway, it gave us a chance to check out on the way THE building where the Wright Brothers did all of their inventing and designing--

--so there you go.

Here's what they did in that building during the daytime!

The Paul Lawrence Dunbar House was a compelling biography of an author I hadn't before heard of. He wrote some of his work in the Southern black dialect of the time, so that started some interesting conversations with the kids. We discussed the difference between using dialect to be racist and using it to be realistic, and I explained to the kids that without writers who took care to represent dialogue the way it's really said, people in the future would have little idea of how people actually spoke in the days before everything was video-recorded. For that reason alone, Dunbar's work is priceless.

AND he's the first person to explain to me why my persimmons are always so late to fall off the tree!

He's also an example of a person who became addicted to prescription drugs, and this is as good of an explanation as any I've seen for how that happens:

Such an interesting, complicated, brilliant person:

Our final stop in Dayton on this day was Huffman Prairie, where it was now POURING. First, the Memorial to the Wright brothers--

This vista is a beautiful tribute to the brothers whose work have allowed us to see so many more beautiful vistas than we'd otherwise be able to.
--and as we were meandering around, a child suddenly shouted, "Mom! MOUNDS!!!"

Indeed, we had wandered into another Native American mound-builder site!

And do you know what the sign said about not climbing on these mounds?



Now, through the rain to the visitor center--

--through the visitor center to earn the Junior Ranger badge--

--and then down the winding, vacant, wet country roads to Huffman Prairie itself:
Her face? It's because somehow it is raining EVEN HARDER.
 It is absolutely pouring on us by now, but there is no way that we are going to be AT Huffman Prairie itself, THE place where manned, motorized flight first happened, and not run around it:

Rather, there's no way we're not going to run around it WHILE PRETENDING TO BE AIRPLANES!!!

And then a trudge back to the car--

--and down the rainy highway, made kind of dangerous and stressful because of COURSE it was rife with road construction, to Cincinnati. We got out of our cold, wet clothes and into our jammies, and had a nice night in, as Syd was feeling a little run-down after all the excitement and running around in the variable weather.

Good thing we had two more doughnuts left over from Dayton, then! Good thing we had the last half of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to watch!

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