Thursday, September 1, 2016

Summer Road Trip, Pt. 2: Kentucky

After leaving the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, we hit the road for Kentucky. We drove roughly four hours to a town called Corbin for a little extended pit stop at Cumberland Falls, called the "Niagara of the South."I discovered this stop by Googling "things to do on I-75 between Florida and Detroit," which apparently is a common query. A number of things popped up, but this seemed like a good way for the kids to expend a little energy without spending any additional money. And they were boht really excited to see a waterfall (though it was often referred to as a water "fountain")!

We drove through Tennessee...

...on our way to Kentucky!

We didn't spend long at the falls, but it was really nice to get out and stretch our legs and take in some pretty scenery. You can walk to a little overlook right at the top of the falls, then continue on down a trail/steps for a full view from a distance. They also had a gift shop and a "mining" activity but we didn't partake of those offerings.

View from the top of the falls

Ellie checking things out from further away

Family at the falls

The view

Sweet E.J.

Happy kids on a rock

Ellie playing in the mining station

Checking out the riverbank at the top of the falls

Pretty Ellie!

After a short walk, it was back in the car for another hour and a half until we reached our hotel for the evening in Georgetown, Kentucky. The weather was pretty rotten when we arrived but we braved the elements to run across the street to a Fazoli's for dinner, then got everyone settled into bed.

I should mention how well it went having both kids share a room on this trip! It was entirely unexpected. Right before we left E.J. started having trouble going to bed at night (as soon as you left his room he would stand up and cry totally heart-wrenching things like, "Mama, wait! Don't go, Mama! Stay, Mama! I scared!"), so I really worried how it would all work out. I had visions of E.J. refusing to sleep and Ellie (and thus, the rest of us) paying the price. But instead, I think it actually helped him to have Ellie with him. When he would pop up and start crying, she would lean over to him and tell him that it was okay, she was there, and calm him down. Then, in the mornings, they would wake up and chat with each other until Eric and I came to get them. It was wonderful!

Ellie calming E.J. down after I put them to bed in Kentucky

In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then gathered our things and drove roughly a half hour north to the Ark Encounter. This attraction just opened a few weeks prior to our visit, and it is what you might imagine: a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark. I didn't even know such a thing existed, and Eric came across it totally by accident when he was searching for hotels in Kentucky and saw some mentioning being in a great location for the Ark. Upon discovering it, we thought, well, somebody built an Ark directly on our path from Florida to Detroit, so it seems like we should stop to see that. So we did.

We arrived and parked (parking fees are not included with admission, FYI if you're planning a trip) and then took the shuttle from the parking lot to the Ark. It was quite impressive, I must say.

The Ark!

Ready to explore!

Inside, it was very interesting. There were replicas of animal housings (and some good attention to detail, I thought: in the lower decks of the ship you could hear the waves beating against the ark, and thunder and lightning, and birds chirping in their cages), and of course, depictions of the living quarters for Noah and his family. There was also a lot of information to absorb, describing how exactly this whole Ark thing could actually have worked. Basically, if you have a question about how it could have been possible, they had an answer for it. I would have loved to spend more time reading through all the signage and examining the displays, but we really moved through it pretty quickly because, well, kids. It was neat, though.

Small animal housing

Bears in a cage

A sample of the kinds of questions that were answered around the ship

Sample replica of the living quarters

The kitchen

The dove with the olive branch

When we had toured the ark we explored the grounds a little bit. They had a little petting zoo that we took advantage of, and a few other animals on exhibit. They also offered camel rides, but the fee for that was not included with admission (which was already a bit on the high side, in my opinion), so we skipped that.

"Hi, goat!"

Petting a donkey

"That's a crazy bird!"

Before leaving, we stopped to have a nice little picnic lunch underneath the ark.

Enjoying lunch!

Eric and E.J. beneath the Ark

One last look on our way out

Then, it was back to the car to continue on to Detroit! That will be coming up next week!

To see more pictures from Cumberland Falls, click here.

To see more pictures from the Ark Encounter, click here.

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