Friday, November 30

Sunny Afternoon (Kinks)

On a cold, sunny afternoon, we parked up under the Mackinaw Bridge and stepped back in time to the early 19th century at Fort Michilimackinac(Guess how long it took me to spell that correctly....)

If you like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, or any other re-enactment-based historic attraction, you'll fall in love with this little slice of northern Michigan history!  With sixteen historic buildings, representing different time periods, a few movies, crafts and hands-on exhibits, an active archaeological dig, and several demonstrations...this is a perfect field trip for a day of immersion learning!
The entrance to the fort is also home to the section on Native American tribes of this area.  We were able to crawl inside a home, get hands-on with some of the tools, and see what a typical day was like for these peoples.
First and foremost, this was a military outpost.  The time period that we visited was 1814, when the British controlled the region, and thus the British flag was flying above it.  Here, we got a demonstration of the cannon and musket-loading.
We learned a bit about the different jobs that were held at the fort, visiting a merchant and a tradesman.  Each man was also part of the militia.
Peeking into the barracks, we saw how an average soldier would live.  The men worked in shifts, sharing beds and living space.  We decided that the daily rations may not be enough to feed these teenage boys!
We played dress up (of course) and walked around some more, visiting with other re-enactors.  One thing we found interesting was the rowhouses...these were like the first apartments of the area!  Each family had two small rooms and a plot behind the home for a family garden.
Blacksmithing is a fairly new interest for the boys, and so they were quite interested in the different types of shot and tools that were made in the forge.
I found the root cellar far more interesting...it would be really neat to have one of these at the house, and I'm trying to figure out whose arm needs twisting to get one!  This is the original root cellar, and was part of the archaeological dig that is ongoing at the site.
From the walkway, you can see far across the lake.  It was such a beautiful day, too!  The youngest was more interested, however, in the cannon and how far it could fire...

Unfortunately, we did not have the time required to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island and visit Fort Mackinac, but as I've always wanted to venture into that step-back-in-time, it's definitely on our future stops list!
Just hangin' around.....

Thursday, November 29

The Coldest Summer (Kosi)

With a day to kill and passports in hand, we headed up over the Mackinaw Bridge, another hour north, and into Ontario, Canada.  It was the boys first trip north of the border, but given how much we enjoyed our short time probably won't be the last......as long as we visit in summer.

We passed this really old building on the way in that we still haven't figured out....if you know what it is, please drop us a line and end the curiosity!!  

You know him; you love him; you've learned more than you ever wanted to know about airplanes because of him!  Oh wait...maybe that's me.  😏  Our airplane kiddo was desperate to visit the Bush Pilot Museum....as this is his new career goal - bush pilot in Alaska...and so that was our first stop.

The inside is much larger than it looks!  There are hands-on exhibits, airplanes you can crawl up inside of to play, airplanes you can get inside of to 'fly' over the area, and a lot about fire safety.  (We learned that one of the things these bush pilots do is airplane firefighting.)  There are also exhibits about life in the bush camps, where they live when it's too far to get back to base in the same day.

Just as happy as a bug in a rug, this one!  He took so many pictures, playing around with his new photography hobby, like this one...it's a work in progress!  Seriously though, we spent several hours chatting with the folks who worked there, many of whom were past bush pilots themselves.  Where the museum is used to be an emergency outpost...

These airplanes, too, are much larger inside than  you'd imagine!  We toured emergency planes, hospital planes, research planes, and good old passenger planes.

There are models of airports past and many hands-on STEM exhibits, such as this one, where you can fiddle with the mechanical drawings of several different planes.

One of his favorite planes was the old DC-3 passenger jet.  He loves the golden age of flight!

He also liked the large cargo jet, where he was able to get into the cockpit and actually 'fly.'  If you have children, or just airplane folks, this is an affordable and fun museum to visit in the northwest Ontario region!   

If you have a kid that's interested in flight, you might check out AV-STEM.  It's an online class that we've been doing for about a year, and is taught by an Alaskan bush pilot.  It comes with all of the equipment needed and will prepare you to get your pilot's license...and the customer service is fantastic.  ***Pick up our comprehensive Aviation Unit Study here!***



War of 1812 Resources 

Canada Resources

As much as one loves airplanes, the other loves historic costumes.  Every museum we visit (that has uniforms) involves us stopping to take dozens of pictures of the minute details for future re-creation....  These War of 1812 uniforms were discovered inside the Ermatinger-Clergue Museum just across the street from the airplane museum.

Not only were there uniforms on display, but there were costumes to play dress up!!  I am totally the mom who will dress up and re-enact with her kids.  😊  We played here for a bit, watched a historic video (where the characters actually say 'Eh!'), and then headed to the second part of the museum.

One of the things we discovered in the house was this old map.  Not being from Canada, we'd never seen one like it before, and the boys love historic maps!  We'll be studying it further as we study Canadian history next year in our curriculum.  We also found snowshoes, furs, and other cold-weather gear that aren't often seen in the historic homes in our neck of the woods...  (pic above)

This house was built by Charles Ermatinger, of the NorthWest Company, and is the oldest surviving house in northwest Ontario.  It was constructed when the area was a fur trading post on the Upper Lakes, and became the center of the region's social and business life.  It also served as military headquarters briefly.  We enjoyed looking around at the inside, which is set up to represent family life in the 19th century, and wondered at the architecture of the home beside it, which was not open to the public.
With daylight rapidly fading, it was time to cross back into the US, meet up with dad in Sault Ste. Marie, pick up some fudge, and prepare to hit the road again!


Wednesday, November 28

The Dirty Glass (Dropkick Murphys)

At the Roanoke Island Festival Park, we stepped 400 years back in time and got an intensive history lesson on the area, from the Native Americans to modern times.

Before stepping off the ship into the New World, we checked out the captain's quarters...


Venturing further into the camp, we saw signs of the colony...

At the settlement site, we saw settlers from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585. They show what daily life was like for the soldiers and sailors who traversed the Atlantic Ocean to build a permanent colony for England.

The boys learned to turn the lathe, and also got to try their hand at blacksmithing.


One of us was being good, while the other was being a little teenager-ish....and ended up in the pillory.


This is a large-scale replica of the Queen Elizabeth II, which sailed over in 1585.

We learned about the different types of furs, and the advantages of using each, as well as how to plant the Three Sisters successfully!

It wasn't our first trip to Roanoke Island, but we always learn something new.  Want to know what we learned on the last visit?  See more from that trip here.