Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Field Trips

It seems that most, not all, of our field trips this month, either in part or in full, had a common theme: our nation in conflict.  We had an interesting time seeing how much the business of war changed from the 19th century to the 20th.  I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to visit these sites; our history lessons will be so enriched by these experiences.
1.  Fall Creek Falls Mountaineer Festival
5th-generation furniture maker!

This festival celebrating pioneer skills and lifestyle tends to be similar from year to year, but the kids won't hear of skipping it.  Since we all enjoy it so much (plus it's nearby and free), we make room on the schedule for it every September.  

Broom maker
We had the opportunities to talk with and watch a broom maker, furniture maker, several blacksmiths, alpaca farmer & his wife who spins and weaves, a sorghum farmer, and several members of a Civil War encampment.

Ready!  Aim!  BOOM!  
2. LST 325 World War II ship
We had a chance to see the real deal this day-- an actual ship from D-Day.  This floating museum was there on the beaches of Normandy that awful day of 1944.  We were first given an introductory history of the LST's and their important role in WWII.  Then, touring the ship, we saw various photographs and exhibits.  One exhibit that was a particular favorite of the kids was a detailed replica, made entirely of Lego-style bricks, of an LST unloading tanks and men onto a beach while under attack.  During the tour, it was a honor to meet and talk with some of the men who not only work to bring this museum to us, but many of whom are veterans, including one from WWII.

3. Chickamauga Battlefield

We attended the 151st anniversary weekend of the Battle of Chickamauga.  Now, I am by no means a Civil War buff, but I am forever fascinated by the history, the soldiers, the politics, and the family stories from this era.  This was a great opportunity to have a blow-by-blow walk-through of a significant battle by an extremely knowledgeable historian, Jim Ogden.  The park itself is really neat, too.  In the years after the war, veterans came back and verified the locations of certain important movements during this two-day struggle.  Many monuments (300+)  have been erected to show locations of the heaviest fighting of different divisions of infantry and cavalry, and to mark the places where high-ranking officers were killed or mortally wounded.  This place certainly warrants another trip; we spent all day here and yet left much unseen.
4. Hike to the base of Fall Creek Falls and "Dangers of the Wild" ranger talk
I love living so close to Fall Creek Falls!  We called ahead for this trip to the park and were able to meet with a ranger for guided hike and a presentation about wild animals.  We had a beautiful day for hiking and enjoyed a great time with friends, Misty, Aloni, and Anna.
First came the talk about animals in the wild, in particular ones that can pose a threat to our safety.  Then, Ranger Jon brought out a non-venomous snake for the kids to hold.  Marian's always game for this type of thing, but Drew and Ellie surprised me.  This was a first for them.  Reagan would not even touch it. :)
At the base of the falls
  After this, we hiked from the overlook of the falls to the base.  The kids and I did this hike about the same time last year, which was the first time for all of us.  This second trip was no less awe-inspiring.
In places like this Psalm 8:4 come to mind, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
These pictures don't quite do it justice.  As we hiked down into the gorge of the falls, the trail takes us along a towering wall of rock.  The ranger provided some interesting information about Indian movements in this area many years ago, but...
As I walked, my mind wandered back much further.
I tried to imagine the great flood... the fountains of the great deep... perhaps this very rock splitting apart... water gushing forth with tremendous pressure... the sound of the earth in trevail... and Noah & his family, far away, obediently (nervously?) waiting in a boat.  What an incredibly powerful God!

And even today, He meets us in the most surprising places.  Field trips!!

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