Hey, friends! As you probably already realized from my last post, I have returned from vacation. I spent 10 days traveling in Kentucky, and after a 3-day break, some friends came over to my house for 3 more days. But now I’m back, and I’m here to tell you about my vacation.
I’m going to write this post sort of like a travel journal, with some pictures included. I don’t remember exactly how everything happened, but I’ll do my best (:
All photos in this post are mine unless noted.
They are all also unedited and have no filters. So the beautiful blue skies really were that way. And I really am an inexperienced photographer who randomly pulls out her phone to snap a quick shot without any plan. Sometimes I don’t even hold the phone still.
All photos accurately represent what happened and how much I was thinking about the photo I was taking 😝
day 1: traveling
We left at about 10 am on our first day. We were driving about 5 hours to our campsite in southern Indiana, but it ended up taking more like 7 or 8. A two-hour lunch/bathroom stop contributed, as did the fact that we had to drive slower because of our (new) camper.
We arrived at last, and then it took a long time to back our camper into our site (it was surrounded by trees) and set everything up. After a dinner at about 9 pm, we went to bed. My two closest-in-age siblings and I shared a tent, and the rest of them slept with my parents in the camper (which is what happens when you have a lot of people in your family but a van with limited towing capacity).
I didn’t get any pictures of our campsite in Indiana (update: I actually have one; see below), but it was beautiful, if a bit dirty.
day 2: Creation Museum
My sister and I traveled to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter back in January 2019 with our youth group, but this was our first time as a family. If you’re a Christian (or even if you’re not, but just curious about what Christians believe), I definitely recommend traveling there someday!
Because of COVID-19, the museum required social distancing (mostly followed by most people… but a little hard in some crowded hallways) and recommended masks (which we ended up not wearing). We walked through the gardens, over a floating bridge, and to the main entrance. I was very excited to get inside, partially because I love the Creation Museum, but partially because it was so hot outside! It was in the 90s all week in Kentucky (and it wasn’t any cooler at home in Michigan!).
The entrance is incredible. You walk into a tall, wide corridor. On your left is a wall of glass; to your left, a rocky cliff face replica. Workers (in masks) greet you and tell you about today’s programs. Then you walk slowly through the gently curving hall. Displays about dragon legends and Biblical evidence of dinosaurs line the walls. Music that sounds like something from a fantasy movie fills your ears.
If you look closely, you can see your reflection in the displays 😆
Don’t forget to stop and browse the beautiful journals, bracelets, purses, and other souvenirs at the fair trade gift shop.
Of course, I’ve left out the talking children. The sibling who wants to read every single thing on every single wall. The sister who can’t decide what to buy, if anything. The careful people crossing 6-ish feet away from you.
But even with all that, it feels like you’re in a historical epic story. It’s amazing.
My parents bought fancy coffees at Noah’s Cafe, and then we headed to the 4D theater to watch “In Six Days,” which is a shorter cut of this movie (warning: the non-museum version requires skipping around to find the narrative sections, which are hidden among commentary and historical talks).
In the beginning, God created…
The movie takes you through the creation story from Genesis 1. A narrator reads the Biblical account while stunning animations show the events. Even if you don’t believe in the truth of Genesis, please check out the movie — the animation is awesome!
Every time I watch something like this (The Chosen is another example), it brings the Bible to life for me. Every time I read the Gospels now, I picture the disciples as the actors who portray them in The Chosen, and it helps me keep them separate in my mind and realize that they were actual distinct individuals, not just a unit of 12 men. (I do know that the TV series is partially Biblical fiction, and that Simon Peter didn’t necessarily look or act like the actor who plays him. But it helps me to recognize his individuality and personality.)
In the same way, “In Six Days” makes me think of Genesis 1 differently. Imagine being there at the beginning with God — it would be like hearing Aslan sing Narnia into existence. Or watching Elsa bring spring back to Arendelle. Only it’s real and true and perfect. Watching the movie (which is, just like The Chosen, an interpretation of what it might have been like) makes me imagine it that way and gives me a new appreciation for what God did.
Okay, back to the story of my family at the Creation Museum 😁
The actual museum is a passage that took my family a couple hours to walk through. It starts with a recently renovated section about creationism vs. evolutionism (I know that some people don’t like that term, so let me know if there’s a better one to use). I enjoyed seeing the differences and I appreciated that the portrayals of evolutionistic ideas were supported with quotes from scientists who believe in evolution — so that it’s not just a negative portrayal by creationists, but an actual attempt at accurately representing a different worldview.
If you believe in evolution and want to know more about creationism, check out this website (or, you know, just visit the Creation Museum).
Here’s a slideshow of some photos I took during our trip through the museum:
We had lunch at the restaurant inside the museum.
Then we went out the same way we came in. While we stopped at the gift shop (my sister picked what she wanted to buy), I took some pictures of my littlest brother, Milo. Here’s my favorite:
We stopped at the playground on our way out. It was so hot that not even the little kids wanted to stay for long, so after a few minutes playing on their zipline and hiding out in the slightly cooler underground tunnel, we left and got slushies at McDonald’s.
Thus ended our Creation Museum trip.
day 3: canoe trips
We hung out at our campsite on the 3rd day. It was, again, very hot outside, so we spent a lot of time hanging out in our camper.
In the morning, I went out in a canoe with my littlest sister, while my dad took two brothers in a rowboat. We got stuck on a sandbar, switched boats twice (the second time because I apparently cannot row a rowboat), and got nice and sweaty.
That afternoon, I drove two other siblings over to the lake, and sat reading while they took out a canoe. I don’t know about them, but I got very hot. Again.
Here’s a picture of them canoeing (blurry because I had to zoom in a lot in order to see them):
I took some more pictures of Milo (I’m kind of addicted to it):
And I tried to take a panoramic picture of our campground. You can judge for yourself if I succeeded or not.
day 4: Ark Encounter
At some point, one of my brothers asked me to take crazy pictures of him to send to my friends. (I’m not sure if it was on the same day we went to the Ark, but I think so.) This was the result:
He, not I, picked the emojis and captions.
Milo wasn’t feeling great, so my mom stayed back with him. The rest of us headed to the Ark Encounter. We got there a little before it opened, so we parked in a long line of cars waiting to be let in and ate our lunch in the car.
We stood in another line, had our tickets scanned, and boarded a bus to get to the Ark!
Here’s my sister Ellery walking up to the Ark:
It’s a truly impressive site. Even though I’ve seen it before, I was overwhelmed at the sheer size of it. Imagine somebody actually building something this size. Something that could float.
We walked around to the back to enter. On the way, there was landscaping, including this monument:
Just imagine if there were a shell on top…
All kidding aside, if you can’t read the text in the photo, check out this site to learn what the 12 stones mean.
Like the Creation Museum, the Ark has a specific order in which you walk through it. The first floor features infographics about how it was built and the differences between it and the Biblical ark, as well as a section that sounds like you’re in the Ark during a storm.
The second floor has a video imagining what it might be like if Noah was interviewed for a newspaper plus exhibits about the Ark, its depictions in secular and Christian media, and the animals on board.
The third has another video (this one set in the present day and following a reporter who visits the Ark Encounter), several rooms imagining what it might have been like to live on the Ark, and other exhibits.
Here’s a slideshow of pictures from all three floors:
I took a few other pictures, as well.
Here’s a very blurry selfie of a brother with me at one of the video theaters. He wasn’t a fan of the loud speakers and didn’t want to smile.
Some siblings at a display in the gift store:
And pictures of my arm (ring made by my sister, scrunchie from Amazon, and bracelets from the Museum and Ark) and shoes:
The bracelet picture was intentional because I want to remember where I went. The shoes picture was because I was bored (we were watching one of the videos, and I honestly don’t like them that much) and sending random pictures to my mom.
I took a couple of pictures of myself in a mirror. It’s something of a tradition, since I did the same thing last year (I was even wearing the same shirt).
Pardon my nonexistent posing skills.
Here’s my favorite picture I took on our whole vacation:
It’s my phone background now.
We had lunch at Emzara’s Restaurant (Emzara is the name used for Noah’s wife throughout the Ark’s exhibits):
(The coffee was not very good. But I was happy it existed.)
Walking away from the Ark, I experienced some weird emotions. I was sad that I was going, glad I’d been, impressed (yet again) by its magnificence, and (again) very hot. Is “oppressed by summer heat” an emotion?
We rode the bus back to the parking lot. I tried to capture what the Ark looks like from that far away:
The first photo is a zoomed-in look. The second is the actual view; if you look carefully and use the first as a guide, you can (barely) see the Ark on the horizon.
We drove back to the campsite and prepared to pack up for our second stop the next morning…
day 5: more traveling
…and we woke up to rain.
We ended up packing up and leaving around lunchtime. A few hours later, our huge van, camper, and (wet) tent arrived at our new campsite.
I took these pictures on our drive:
If you look carefully at the first one, you can see the city name “Nashville” on the road sign.
While we didn’t visit Nashville on this trip (it was discussed but never carried out), something about seeing its name on a sign made me very happy. Almost as if it said “Narnia” or “Goldstone Wood” or “Rivendell.”
(Well, we actually did pass Rivendell on this trip. The sign was beautiful and the grounds looked somewhat Middle-earth-y, so I had my dad look it up and…
…it’s a behavioral health facility.
So I don’t actually want to visit Rivendell, at least not the one in Kentucky.)
I was checking on my holds on Libby and found this book cover:
The boy the cover looks like my character Aionladon (the first time I’ve had a faceclaim for him!), or at least what he will look like in a few years. And the girl could be his sister Karen.
Yay for random fantasy book covers.
My littlest sister was cute, as usual.
We set up our wet camper and tent on a site so devoid of trees that our clothesline was attached to our van on one side, had a late supper, and went to bed.
days 6-10: Mammoth Cave, the National Corvette Museum, and campground attractions
random pictures from the campsite
Our campground had a waterslide, mini golf, a lake, two pools, a splash pad, an arcade, a recreation hall, several playgrounds, and go-carts, so we were never out of things to do (except, of course, when it was too hot to do any of it, and we hid in our camper and watched movies and played games).
About halfway through our time at this campground, we switched sites to one with more shade. Here are some pictures of our second site:
More Milo (with me making strange faces behind him. Ignore me. He’s the focus of these photos):
The mirror in the camper feat. what happens to my hair after a couple days in a bun (it’s hard to tell, but it’s wavy), and my feet + my Hillsdale bag (I’m always wanting people to ask me about it. Seriously. I don’t like talking to strangers most of the time, but if you ask me about my Hillsdale bag or sweatshirt, I will talk you for a long time about how amazing it is):
Ellery and Milo, several versions:
I listened to a lot of Six: The Musical on vacation (thanks to a recommendation from Emily).
A tip for anyone with a free Spotify account: find a whole bunch of playlists of the musical/album you want to listen to in order, then shuffle them over and over until you get the song you want. Repeat as necessary.
I don’t have any pictures of it, but we met a family with many children, also from Michigan, who have a child with Down syndrome (there was a group of families with children with disabilities there!), and we hung out one night and had a water balloon fight. It was lots of fun!
Mammoth Cave (day 7)
This was one of my favorite things we did. I especially loved how cool (temperature-wise) it was underground, and how we learned a lot of history about the caves. There are still wooden pipes from saltpetre mining during the war of 1812 in the cave, and we walked right past them.
The photos from the cave are my worst ones of the trip, because it was dark and hard to see what I was doing, and I was walking for most of the time.
National Corvette Museum (day 9)
Our stop at this museum was an unexpected one. I didn’t love it, not being a huge fan of Corvettes (or cars in general), but I enjoyed learning about the sinkhole that happened in 2014.
You can still look 30 feet down to see the pit that multiple cars fell into:
And see the damaged cars:
And, of course, many non-damaged cars:
The green car was used in a Transformers movie, and a lot of the unusual-looking ones were created by a Corvette enthusiast who loved making artistic and impractical cars. My favorite is the brown one, which looks like something from a steampunk novel.
After the museum, we went to a local restaurant. The food was amazing and everybody loved Milo. I took a screenshot of the note I made to keep track of who wanted what:
(The order with no initial is mine; everyone who was older than C ordered their own food.)
day 10: driving home
We were initially going to stay until the morning of day 11, but we found out it was going to rain then, and we didn’t want to pack up wet things again. So we left on the afternoon of day 10 (and got home at 3 am!!).
Here we are packing up:
And here are some pictures from our drive home:
I wasn’t able to capture it very well, but there was a huge storm going on, and lightning struck right next to the highway once.
We got home, collapsed into bed, slept in until 11, and then started cleaning up and unpacking in preparation for our friends to come over.
books I read on vacation
THE SCORPIO RACES: I read this on Olivia‘s recommendation! It was a dark, exciting, and rich fantasy, with elements of mythology and one of my favorite ships ever. I didn’t like that some of the worldbuilding was very confusing and that there is no sequel. I guess I’ll have to try The Raven Boys instead. 4/5 stars.
I smell seaweed and fish and the dusky scent of the nesting birds onshore. Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I’m perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.
MORE THAN WE CAN TELL: This one was recommended by Charis, and I liked it (surprisingly, considering I almost never read contemporaries). 100 Days of Sunlight is still my favorite contemporary, though. While MTWCT had well-written characters with interesting backstories and a sweet romance, the sometimes-superficial worldview and sometimes-unnecessarily mature content didn’t make me love it. 3/5 stars.
He doesn’t challenge me, which I was worried about. “There’s this verse I like,” he says. “‘The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.'”
My eyes narrow. “Are you quoting the Bible?”
“Yes.” He says this like it’s the most normal thing in the world. “You know what I like about it? I like how it makes doubt seem inevitable. It’s okay to be unsure.”
WIVES AND DAUGHTERS: A friend of my sister’s suggested this book as an interesting read for vacation. I was dubious when I saw its length, time period, and subject matter, but it turns out she was right. This book is a hilarious and engaging romance, family story, and mystery, with dialogue reminiscent of Jane Austen and a setting that reminds me of Gene Stratton-Porter. 5/5 stars.
Did I ever say an engagement was an elephant, madam?
And a more serious quote, in case you should get a wrong impression of the book:
How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly.
THE CHESTNUT KING: I finished up my 100 Cupboards series reread while on vacation. I’ll never not love this series (though the Ashtown books are still my favorite NDW fiction), and I always forget how good the ending of this one is. 5/5 stars.
Let evil hear the pounding of our feet! Let evil hear our drumming and our chanting songs of war. Let evil fear us! Let evil flee! In any world, may dark things know our names and fear. May their vile skins creep and shiver at every mention of the faeren. Let the night flee before the dawn and darkness crowd into the shadows. We march to war!
And now I’m home. I spent a lovely 3 days with some old friends from family camp (it was canceled this year) and went to a reunion of people who were in InterVarsity with my parents in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
I’m back to writing and reading and all sorts of things, and I have more posts planned. Expect some funny literature-related ones!
Until next time,
P.S. How have you been? Have you read any of the books I finished on vacation?
There are lots of things to talk about in this post; don’t feel like you have to respond to it all XD (and if you have questions about creationism, Christianity, Down syndrome, or literally anything else, don’t be afraid to ask; I love talking about basically anything).