Hello there, all you loyal and long-patient readers! I am slowly but surely updating from JULY through NOVEMBER!! (I'll start with our latest trip to Atlanta, but then go back to July and update from there....) Stay tuned!
Originally, I had planned on bringing all three kids to dinner tonight at Medieval Times, but Justin was tired and Dave volunteered to hang out with him in the hotel room while just us girls enjoyed a night on the town.
After an HOUR transit time via uber (traffic in Atlanta is crazy!), we arrived in time to be escorted straight to our seats. I paid for normal tickets, but we were upgraded to front row seats!! I had never been to one of these shows before-- it's dinner theater with a medieval flare......and no silverware.
Knights and horses compete in games and mock battles in front of you! Each section of the audience has a specific knight to cheer on-- our Green Knight was so taken with the sincerely cheering Taylynn that he not ONLY threw her the first rose of the evening, but ALSO presented her with a special keepsake scarf, as he chose her to be his "Queen of Love and Beauty". She was beside herself! Alex did not want ANY of this attention, and was only too glad that it was not focused on her. She didn't shy away from cheering on our knight during battle, though-- I've never heard her scream and cheer the way she did that evening!
The night was really fun and a great capstone to our entire "Roadschooling" vacation together. The girls slept VERY well that night!
Our last stop as a Roadschooling group was the Fernbank Natural History Museum. This was kind of an afterthought-- the City Passes I purchased for our trip included admission, so it was was a "why not?" type of excursion.
As we entered the main rotunda, that changed into an "THIS IS AMAZING" type of excursion. Why? Because there was an Argentinosaurus skeleton next to a Giganotosaurus skeleton. Think huge-- then think even BIGGER than huge. These guys were seriously impressive!
We very much enjoyed ourselves in the 'giant dino' exhibit (where stats about a Mamenchisaurus are mind blowing).
We explored their outdoor wild woods exhibit a bit-- the boardwalk was impressive, but the kids weren't very enthused about their 'natural playscapes'. I guess we are REALLY spoiled with natural playgrounds here in MN.
We ended the afternoon with an IMAX about dinosaurs-- I was a bit leery about Justin being able to handle the large screen and loud noise, but he enjoyed it for the most part. It helped that it was pretty dry (I would classify it as almost boring) and didn't rely too much on flashy CGI effects with scary dinos.
Because we'd been so lucky with timing (and avoiding school groups), we ended up with a 'free' morning on Day Four. Not wanting to have any dead time (they had already closed the outdoor pool down for 'winter', so there went my 'free time activity'), we headed to Zoo Atlanta to check it out.
It is a nice-sized zoo. The weather was beautiful, the exhibits well maintained. We each picked out our "must see" animals and the kids were each in charge of navigating the map and leading our little group to that animal.
My choice was first-- the Great Panda! We don't have many opportunities to see Giant Panda in the US, so this was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, we'd missed seeing "the Twins" (juvenile females- Mei Lun and Mei Huan) by just one day. They'd been shipped to a zoo in China the day before! Mama (Lun Lun) Panda has two new babies, so they were all off exhibit (but you can see them via panda cam here), so it was just Daddy (Yang Yang) Panda who was left. He was still a pretty awesome creature to observe!
Justin chose to find ....... the Train. Yep. Honestly no surprise here. We were a little early for it's inaugural ride of the day, so we stopped off at the petting zoo for a bit.
Taylynn went in search of the Black Rhino, another not-often spotted animal at the zoo. We found him, but she also decided to have an adventure with a giraffe!
For our last animal, Alex orienteered our way to the Red Panda. She was absolutely adorable. The kids were all a bit tired from all the walking, so after a quick snack we jumped back in our uber and headed back to the hotel for our daily rest.
If you follow me on Facebook, you'll be quite aware that we've been studying Jim Henson for the past month. The kids have read a biography, watched a documentary, viewed his films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth as well as studied the Muppet Show (the ORIGINAL version) and even dabbled in a little throwback Sesame Street in preparation for this part of our Roadschooling vacation. All worth it.
We got back to the Center for Puppetry Arts and it was completely dead. We were the ONLY visitors around (score!). This meant that our 'Jim Henson Tour' was a private , exclusive, Riley-Marotz Homeschool event ONLY. Our guide (Justin) was so ultra-impressed by the kids' general (and sometimes specific) knowledge of Jim Henson's career and filmography that he let us completely steer the tour. It was out of this world! I'll just walk you through with photographs!
Alex startled the guide by recognizing the sheet music "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" in Rolf's hand!
....then the kids jumped ahead in the tour by stating that they KNEW Rolf was a two-person puppet operated by Jim Henson AND Frank Oz. Justin the tour guide blinked a few times and rolled with it, offering us some 'more advanced' trivia instead!
A really fun room was a mock-up of part of a workshop. The materials were (kind of ) neatly stacked, but still visually appealing!
The Storyteller's animatronic dog rested in the center-- a true piece of puppeteering history.
The Sesame Street room was way more nostalgic for me than the kids. My two didn't ever watch it, and Taylynn declared "that's just for little kids" before moving on--- I did, at least, get a picture of them with Big Bird.
Another room contained a mock-set for kids to practice overhead puppeteering. Our guide wisely decided that they would learn more by just DOING it than he could ever explain in a lecture. They got to play for about 5 minutes, and I only got them to move on by promising we could return after the tour!
Famous muppets from our FAVORITE muppet movie-- Muppet Treasure Island. This photo was for you, Cathleen!
Justin was SO excited to find the entire cast of Fraggle Rock, INCLUDING Doozers!
But the kids were PINGING around this gallery--- every creature was more exciting than the last. Our guide got a HUGE kick out of the fact that these three were truly 'geeking out' for Dark Crystal and Labyrinth characters.
What a truly energizing and entertaining museum! I am so impressed by the collection, curation and exhibition of all these amazing pieces of puppetry and movie history. I would totally live here if I could.
After we were done exploring the National Historic site, we caught another uber to the Center for Puppetry Arts. We had tickets for an 11:00am puppet show- The Headless Horseman of Silly Hollow. We arrived a bit early, so we had time for a quick snack before checking out the world puppetry gallery and catching the show. Due to a huge school group in the cafeteria room, the janitors escorted us to the boardroom where we could enjoy ourselves in private!
The room was covered with photos of famous puppeteers, and it was also the place where muckity mucks (like the big JIM HENSON himself), would meet when they were in town! Pretty lucky kids, these!
Once we were fueled up, we headed upstairs to check out the special Labyrinth exhibit. I can only tell you that I geeked out completely. And then I geeked out watching Alex, Justin and Taylynn geeking out completely. Absolutely amazing. There are no words to describe what it felt like to see those creatures in person!
original watercolor by Brian Froud!!!
Then we headed to the Global Puppetry hall, where there were examples of puppets from all over the world. Alex was stoked to find some Julie Taymor work (the kid knows who Julie Taymor is.... I've totally WON this parenting thing!)
The kids played with some marionettes until it was time to grab our seats for the production.
The show was great. All three children were giggling-- the puppeteers were very talented, the story was witty.
We had special tickets for a Jim Henson- specific tour at 3pm. It was about noon when we exited the performance, so we decided to uber it back to the hotel, take our afternoon rest, and then uber it back in time for the tour. Great decision, as we were rested and ready for the activity later on--